Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Chick Flick Double Feature

In celebrating our 5th anniversary, The Lovely Steph Leann and I decided to do two things we dearly love to do... eat great food and watch a movie.

After pulling a long, magical day at The Happiest Place in the Mall on Saturday, we went to PF Changs for a great dinner... it was a little tough at first, because after I dropped her off at the front door, I drove around looking for a parking spot. After driving around the lot for about five or six minutes, making one big circle, I found one, halfway between PF Changs and The Macaroni Grill (they share a lot, with each restaurant on each end) and patiently waited for a small Mercedes to pass by so I could swing into the spot. I even turned on the blinker, a customary way of saying "Hey man, I earned this spot, this one is mine".

Imagine my surprise when the little Mercedes pulled into the spot. I pulled up a little bit, and parked right behind him. I sat there for a minute, really unsure of exactly what I'd say to him when he got out, but he didn't. He stayed in his car. Finally, I drove off, out of the parking lot, and ended up parking half another lot over in the Barnes & Noble parking area. Then, I walked through the drizzling rain. When I found The Lovely Steph Leann, she was in line to claim our reservations we'd made, and I loudly told her, "I would have been here sooner, as I had found a great spot and was waiting on it. But some jerk in a Mercedes actually stole my spot."

The lady ahead of me turned around, smirking, and said, "Don't you wish you could just ram some people?" I replied, again loudly, "Yeah. But I'll get over it. If you do something like that, that must mean you're a jerk and not many people like you." Then I turned my head around a little, and said, "And if you're listen Mr. Mercedes, you're a jerk." Somehow that made me feel a little better.

After dinner, we walked over to the Barnes & Noble, since I was practically parked there, and browsed a bit... our plan was to go to a late movie, either "He's Just Not That Into You" or "Confessions of a Shopaholic", but considering I had KidStuf (our church's children's program) early Sunday morning, and both of us would have to be at church at 730am, and I still had a few lines to learn, we figured we'd get home a little earlier.

The reason we both had to be at church at 730am, and she couldn't meet me there later, considering she wasn't in KidStuf this morning? Because Toni Rocki Honda decided not to start yesterday, so she's got to go in for a check up.

But, it was a moot point anyway, because I received a call at 645am from our KidStuf director Tamara to say because of the Blizzard of 2009, KidStuf was cancelled. So, "see ya at church at 930!". For me, it wasn't that big of a deal, cause I was asleep when she called, and I could go back to sleep. Of course, before I went back to sleep, I had to get up to tell The Lovely Steph Leann we didn't have to be at church until 930. She was in the shower. She then had about 2+ hours to get ready for church. Not a happy wife.

All that is to say, since The Blizzard of 2009, most afternoon activities at church were cancelled, opening up the afternoon for The Lovely Steph Leann to go check out both of the movies we wanted to see.

First up was "He's Just Not That Into You", an ensemble comedy starring, among others, Drew Barrymore, Justin "I'm a Mac!" Long, Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck. Ensemble movies are always tricky, only because when you have just a few stars in the show, you probably have just a single plot, perhaps a subplot (unless its "Spiderman 3", in which you've got 34 subplots). With an ensemble cast, you have many plots that somehow all need to tie together.

The addition of "Friday, I'm In Love" by The Cure definately adds to the whole trailer

"He's Just Not That Into You" is a relationship comedy based on the self-help book that was based on a line from an episode of "Sex & the City", the episode called "Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little", and is a book about relationships, break-ups, hook-ups and so on. I've never actually read the book, but I might pick it up sooner or later.

The star of the movie is Ginnifer Goodwin, who absolutely looks radiant as Gigi, a girl who just wants a guy to like her, and is continually embarrassed as she continually misreads signals about all the guys who won't call her back. You might know her from "Big Love", the Mormony drama on HBO, and especially from "Walk the Line" as Vivian Cash, Johnny's first wife.

The movie moves from character to character, each with their own lives issues and problems. Gigi can't get Connor (Kevin Connolly) to call her back after their first date, so she ends up leaning on womanizer Alex (Justin Long) for advice, but also on her co-workers Janine (Jennifer Connelly) and Beth (Jennifer Aniston). Beth has her own problems with her boyfriend Neil (Ben Affleck), because they've been dating for 7 years, but he won't marry her. Janine has it even worse, as her husband Ben (Bradley Cooper) has begun to take an interest in another girl, Anna (Scarlett Johansson), who happens to be in an on again/off again relationship with Connor, and is best friends with Mary (Drew Barrymore). You got all that?

Chicks doing what chicks do when they are around other chicks... gossip and talk about boys. And feelings.

While Gigi is the character that gets the most face time in the flick, the film does bounce around from story to story, while intersecting their lives to make the transition a little easier. By no means will this film be up for any sort of award come 2010's award season, but at the same time, the film did what it was supposed to... it made me laugh. It made me smile. It made me like some of the characters, it made me dislike some of the characters, it made me remember that Scarlett Johansson is truly a member of my Angelina Jolie Club (chicks that the world tells me I should fawn over, but truly don't find all that attractive), and it made me dig Ginnifer Goodwin... Gigi is the type of girl you want to end up with.


If there was a lowpoint of the movie, it was the indictment on the failure of marriage. The entity of marriage isn't praised all that much, and only in one single scene towards the end is marriage even looked upon as a good idea... personally, I can dig marriage. But thus the difference in a Christ follower and the World.

After the credits rolled, we strode out of theater 10 and down to theater 12, with The Lovely Steph Leann making a restroom pit stop and me making a stop at the refreshment stand for a pack of Twizzlers, a Cocola and a movie combo.

Along the way, we saw the trailers for "Transformers 2", "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince" and "Sunshine Cleaning", three movies I'm really looking forward too.

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" stars Isla (pronounces 'ay-la') Fisher, who'd you'd know from her best known role thusfar as the wacky sister Gloria in "The Wedding Crashers".

Fisher portrays Rebecca Bloomwood, a girl who shops all the time and practically goes into fits of ecstasy when she sees the name brands on the shelf, like Gucci, Prada, Yves St. Lauren and the like. She almost passes out when she finds out how much she has charged on her credit cards, and the problem is intensified when she loses her job at a gardening magazine.

Her dream job is being a journalist at the prestigious fashion magazine Alette, but to get there, she has to take a job working at a lower end magazine under the same company. The magazine? Successful Savings? The job? Writing a column about finance that the "common folk" can understand.

The movie then follows her escapades as she attempts to move in the company, impress her boss/love interest, magazine editor Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), compete with rival Alicia (Leslie Bibb-Ricky Bobby's wife in "Talladega Nights"), prepare for the wedding of her roommate Suze (Krysten Ritter) and, in the part that I found the most enjoyable, avoiding an insanely persistant debt collector (Robert Stanton).

Rebecca finds a pair of cashmere gloves perhaps too tough to pass up

I did find myself enjoying this film, though I noticed it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a slapstick comedy (mannequins coming to life, trying to talk her into buying things or random slipping and dropping food onto expensive dresses) or if it wanted to be taken seriously as a romantic comedy (the chemistry between Luke and Rebecca, the struggle of a single girl trying to make it, etc).

Another thing I couldn't get past was Joan Cusack playing Rebecca's mother, opposite John Goodman as her father. I grew up watching Joan and brother John in various movies, so I know she's not that old... as a matter of fact, Joan Cusack is 14 years older than Isla Fisher...

If anything, the entire movie speaks to the current obsession with credit cards, and how we are a spend-spend-spend-pay-for-it-later nation (a tradition proudly being observed by President B. Hussein Obama), and as the movie does point out, there are consequences to be had. Bills, debt collection, past due notices, credit card company's ridiculous APR policies and yes, shopping addictions are all taken on in this film...

...and while I've got the platform, it should be noted that the debt collector, Robert Smeath, not only shows up at Rebecca's work and causes a scene, he shows up at her door, he threatens her, he encourages his fellow collectors to use humiliation tactics if necessary and there's a scene toward the end where he tries to destroy Rebecca's entire career... this is all illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a law that protects those who owe money to companies. However, either most credit card debt collectors are literally too stupid to know this law, or they figure YOU are too stupid to know this law, so they break it routinely in real life every day. If you have had any of these things happen to you, or worse, you should know your rights.

I'm still trying to figure out to which level I like Isla Fisher. I cannot figure out if she's a poor man's Amy Adams, who I am in love with, or if Amy Adams is a poor man's Isla Fisher... either way, the fact that Isla shares a bed with Sacha Baron "Borat" Cohen doesn't lend itself to currying favor with me.

Final thoughts? I recommend "He's Just Not That Into You" as a theater movie, and "Confessions of a Shopaholic" as a rental, though with either one, I can't imagine needing all the amenities that a $9.25 ticket will buy you, so rent 'em both.

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