Sunday, March 17, 2013

another dozen movie dash

Back in October, I did a "Dozen Movie Dash", where I gave quick reviews on 12 films that I had seen recently. Its been a while since I gave any sort of real movie review, so I thought I'd bounce back with Another Dozen Movie Dash... ready? Here we go...

This movie is terrible. With Nic Cage starring as Marvel anti-hero Johnny Blaze, who, with a deal from the devil in the first movie (just called "Ghost Rider"), turns into a flame headed, fire cycle riding crazy monster guy who feeds off of the souls of bad people, this movie isn't nearly as good as the first one. And the first one was pretty bad. As a matter of fact, I'm still watching this film, and I can already tell you, this movie is awful.

When these three show up, you know its going to be a little different
than most horror/slasher flicks
A horror slasher film for the modern day "been there/done that" horror film society. Five college students head out to a cabin... located in the woods, conveniently enough... belonging to a relative of one of the teens. From there, they get picked off one by one, which isn't a spoiler because you would expect that from a movie like this.

Its the way it happens, and the why that is intriguing. Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins appear almost randomly, it seems, setting up a system of games and death for our heroes that is unexpected... and fun. If you like suspense and scary type of films, but want something different, then check this flick out. There is a needless boobie scene in the middle, and lots of language... plus slasher violence, so get ready for that.

Jeff, played by Jason Segel, does in fact, live at home. In his mom's basement. And he's in his mid 30s. He spends his days watching TV--notably, repeated viewings of his favorite film, the Mel Gibson starring and M. Night. Shamallama directed "Signs"... and he also spends an inordinate amount of time looking around the room, the neighborhood and the universe for "signs" to tell him why he is here, and what is fate is. After getting a phone call for someone named Kevin, he takes this onto himself to discover what the universe is telling him. On the other side of the story is his older brother, Pat (Ed Helms), a different kind of loser, but a loser still, is in a failing marriage to wife Linda (Judy Greer) due to his laziness and apathy. Both Pat and Jeff are also dealing with their mom (Susan Sarandon), who is dealing with her own little issues.

Jeff and Pat, in an important meeting about life.
Expecting a comedy, I was quite surprised when I discovered it was more of a drama... a dramedy, if you will. And, I was also quite surprised how much I enjoyed this film... it all rests on the charm of Jason Segel, who I'm a fan of, and his portrayal of good guy, if not deeply flawed, Jeff. I think Ed Helms is usually dependable and funny, and I really love Judy Greer (also in "13 Going on 30" and "Love and Other Drugs") in the way I love Marisa Tomei and Emma Stone, that is, I'll watch whatever they are in. There is a lot of language, but thankfully, no dirty scenes... the cast brings this together and makes it work.

Ok, so this is Adam Sandler's 2012 entry into his catalog of crap (see also "Little Nicky". And "Mr. Deeds". And "Jack & Jill". And that "Zohan" movie. Better yet, don't see any of those movies). The story goes that back in the day, a teenage Donny had an improper relationship with his teacher, Ms McGarricle, and ended up fathering a son named Todd. And due to Ms. McGarricle's incarceration, Donny, 13, gains custody of his son. And when Todd gets older and is getting married, having told everyone that his parents are dead, here comes daddy Donny--Adam Sandler.

This film is not good. It has its funny moments every now and again, and the addition of Vanilla Ice as a major character, playing a parody (though its probably close to real life) of himself, is a major plus. Maybe more films should have Vanilla Ice in them.

I would totally watch Ghost Vanilla: Spirit of Ice, probably with more gusto and enthusiasm than what's on now.

Anyway, "That's My Boy" has way too much language, and F-bombs everywhere. The material is very suggestive, the jokes are very raunchy, and really, its just all around bad. Maybe wait a bit, catch the somewhat edited version on Spike TV or USANetwork in 2014.

Don't watch this movie. Its a "found footage film" about a party that gets way out of control... and I got through the first 10 minutes of it and couldn't deal with it. Three teenagers who use the F-Bomb, and much worse, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and it's crap. If I want that language from teenagers, I'll watch "Superbad". At least its entertaining.

If you can get past Kevin James as an MMA fighter, than you might
get a kick out of this film.
DO watch this movie. Seriously. This movie is fantastic. Well, I say that being a Kevin James fan... yes, he's kinda dopey, and yes, his movies won't win any awards ("Zookeeper"? Its awful. But awesome. And I love it), but this is a delightfully fun story.

Kevin James is Scott Voss, a high school teacher who is kinda just getting by... but gets a new fire when he finds out that his friend Marty (Henry Winkler) is going to lose his job when the school district cuts out the music program in the school. So, Scott does what any hard working joe would do when needing to earn $48,000... he turns to MMA fighting.

And yes, things turn out exactly like you'd think. Its a silly premise, but Kevin James' charm makes this movie happen. Its completely family friendly... I'm sure there is a bit of language in it, but I don't remember it at all. No sex, and only boxing style violence. Loved it.

The Lovely Steph Leann sez: It was cute.  I liked "Zookeeper" better, if we're ranking Kevin James movies, but it was cute.

Talk about your downer. This is not one to watch when looking for a comedy or something to lighten the mood. Not. At. All.

For starters, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is an alcoholic. He's also a pilot, and the movie is a snapshot of his life over a few weeks following the opening of the film... when he pilots a jet airliner stoned and drunk out of his mind. And in a well shot, harrowing opening sequence, he lands the plane in a field, becoming a hero to America... until they find out he was high and stoned. Did this cause the plane crash in the first place? And does it matter if it did?

Denzel does what he does... takes the role, makes it his, makes it believable, and makes it awesome. That being said, this is in no way a family film... or a nice film... or an easy film to watch. Its got language, its got tons of drug use, some boobies right off the bat, and a depressing downward spiral of a man who seems like a good man. A good man doing very bad things.

Verdict? If you can handle it, its definitely worth a watch, just once. I'll probably never see it again.

The Lovely Steph Leann sez:  Wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Pretty good, but not something I want to watch again.

SIDEBAR: "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" just ended. Frankly, I wanted all of them to die in a fiery inferno. It never got better, just worse.

Some films you go into knowing you're going to like it... and if you don't, its a bigger disappointment than if you "thought it would be better". This is one of these films that I knew I was going to like. And thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.

You just can't help but like Sam
Charlie (Logan Leman) is your typical high school loner... he's a freshman, and on his first day of 9th grade, he only makes a single connection: his English teacher (the always awesome Paul Rudd). He meets two high school seniors, Sam (Hermione Granger) and her step-brother Patrick (Ezra Miller)... and from there, its a high school movie. Romance, conflict, bullying, forbidden love, betrayal and so on.

Though this has all of the aforementioned high school movie characteristics, its also fun. And its got heart. Charlie and Sam have an instant connection, and you want them to be together, despite the freshman/senior difference, and though you may not agree with Patrick, you still feel for him and what he ends up going through. Mostly, its about friendship. And its also awesome to see Emma Watson in something that doesn't involve magic wands and a shouted "stupify!" spell.

Rated PG-13, it does have a few things that are for teens and up, so I probably wouldn't let Campbell watch it.. but its cute and quirky, and I loved it.

The Lovely Steph Leann sez:  I really liked it. 

This was movie that I should love... but wasn't sure if I would.

Much heralded, highly anticipated, Daniel Day-Lewis personifies the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. The film covers the final four months of Lincoln's life, as he is desperately trying to get the 13th Amendment ratified... the one that bans slavery and involuntary servitude.

Lincoln did well in theaters.  Typically, Lincoln's outcome in theaters
has not been very good.
The all star cast includes Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, a fierce abolitionist... Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Abe's wife who turns out is a bit batty... JoGo Levitt as Robert Lincoln, the eldest son... Jackie Earle Haley as Confederate VP Alexander Stephens... and in a part that could have easily been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, David Strathairn as Sec of State William Seward... and what seemed like a billion bit parts for various congressmen, soldiers and so on.

Also among the cast, James Spader as Republican operative William Bilbo, one who is given a task of rallying support for the 13th Amendment. Spader is very recognizable, but its such a juicy role, a part that I don't think he's had in a long, long time.

Its definitely a talkie.. a lot of talking. A lot of talking. A lot. So, don't go into it sleepy, as you will lose yourself amongst the chatter of slavery and freedom and government and war. Even Danny D-Lewis' immaculate performance as Lincoln becomes secondary to the story after a while. Highly recommended, minimal language, and historical war violence.

The Lovely Steph Leann sez:  I really liked it.  Alot.


Yeah, somehow I ended up watching this with The Lovely Steph Leann. Amusing at times, but silly. And stupid.


The Lovely Steph Leann:  (when asked, she laughed).  Um... it was okay.  I liked "Here Comes the Boom" better. 

Oh look... another picture of Amy Adams.  Go figure.
An aging baseball scout (Clint Eastwood) has been told by the Atlanta Braves, who he's been with for forever, that he's just not cutting it in this modern day society of technology and so on. So, Gus is given one last assignment by his boss (the underappreciated John Goodman), but also asks Gus' daughter Mickey (Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with) to join him to keep him straight. They scout a prospect in North Carolina, meet a young rival scout, played by Justin Timberlake, who also becomes interested in Mickey, and also has to fight off Braves executive Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard, who is becoming pretty good at playing the sleaze) who wants Gus' job.

That's the movie. And its pretty good. Slow at times, but the story in engaging, and having a grizzly Eastwood, a really good Timberlake and Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, on screen doesn't hurt. PG-13 for language.

The Lovely Steph Leann sez:  I liked this movie. 

Yes, yes, this seems like Glee-Lite. Or Glee: The Non Concert Yet Still Musical Movie. It does seem like that. Don't be fooled... this movie is wonderful. An absolute delight of a film.

Anna Kendrick (r) and Rebel Wilson (l).  Rebel plays "Fat Amy".  Just
the name itself is hilarious. 
I love Anna Kendrick, which was the main reason for watching this film, and it made me happy that it was such a good movie. Kendrick is Beca, a student who is forced to go to college by her father, and ends up taking an internship at the college radio station. She ends up joining The Bellas, an all girl acapella group, who through much strife and drama (all girls, remember?), make it to the regional competition, taking on other groups like The Treblemakers, High Notes and my favorite name, Pitch Slapped.

Its quirky, its fun, co-star Rebel Wilson steals every scene she's in, and in a subtle shot at Glee, one of the categories of songs during a competition includes "Songs that Glee Ruined".

Some language gives it the PG-13 rating. Its one of those rare movies that I liked the more I thought about it, and am looking forward to watching it again.

The Lovely Steph Leann sez:  I LOVED THIS MOVIE... this movie was freakin' awesome. 

So what happens when a bike messenger in New York City gets a package who's contents are so valuable, someone is trying to kill the messenger to get it? Thus is the question answered in "Premium Rush", this came-and-went-at-theaters little movie that feature JoGo Levitt, That Guy Michael Shannon and a few others that you might recognize, but won't remember their names.

Taking place in the span of 90 minutes, its this adrenaline rush of a film that takes place all over Manhattan, featuring chase scenes with bikes and cop cars and lots of action, even if the plot is a little predictable and unbelievable.

This is much like the Denzel film "Unstoppable"... its enjoyable from start to finish, and I liked the heck out of this movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fun, Michael Shannon is a perfect creep, and the supporting cast is likable enough to keep the film going. Again, the plot is a bit far fetched, especially when you actually learn the contents of the bag, but still... check it out. PG-13 for language.

And finally... here's a few bonus quick reviews:

Why yes, Karl Urban does have this scowl during the entire movie.  And
that's part of its awesomocity.
"DREDD"... Great action flick. A billion times better than that Sly Stallone crap from the 90s. Violent, language, but well shot and lots of fun.

"AMERICAN REUNION"... The fourth in the American Pie series, and perhaps the best since the first one. The entire cast is back, and though its more of the same, its fun watching the characters try and act like adults for once. Rated R for lots of bad things, like the first one.

"WANDERLUST"... I wanted to like this movie alot, with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, as a couple who ends up in a strange commune in Georgia. Mildly funny, but it wasn't what I wanted it to be. Eh.

"BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD"... Really? Nominated for Best Picture? If I had stumbled across this quirky little flick on Netflix, I might have thought "well, that was kinda fun". But because its so ballyhooed and beloved by critics, I didn't expect it to be so... well, blah. Personally, I think it was acclaimed for only a few reasons: New Orleans. Post-hurricane. Poverty. Skip it.

"PIRANHA DD"... Run. Run from this movie. If someone holds a gun to your head, then take the bullet and hope for the best. Just sayin'.

So there ya go.  Hope you enjoyed our little dash through recent filmdom.  I tried to warn you what to expect in terms of language and boobage and the like, so please watch with caution.  And yes, I watch a ton of movies.  Don't hate. 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

no one ever told me...

So, Campbell has his very first ever fever.  I say "first ever", as its the first one I know about... he might have had one here and there, but nothing noticeable and substantial...

...a few days ago, he was a little sluggish and even turned away his food--and just know, he NEVER turns away food... yesterday he coughed all day and had a fever... last night, he slept off and on for most of the day... we took him to the doc today, and naturally, he's pretty fine. 

He has his daddy's immune system, methinks. 

Fatherhood has been an interesting ride, and its no secret that I call Campbell Isaiah our "inconvenient blessing".  He's a definite blessing. And tax write off.  He smiles and you melt, he giggles and it makes you laugh with him, and when he is all cuddly, its the best.  He's a blessing.

But he is darn inconvenient... you know how many movies I saw at the theater in 2011?  38.  You know how many I watched in the theater in 2012?  Less than 10.  Seriously.  I've heard other parents say "Less than 10?!  I would be happy with 5 per year!" but I'm an avid movie goer and movie watcher...

He is darn inconvenient.  Never realized how inconvenient he would be.  There are a few other things that people didn't tell me... for instance...

No ever one told me... can hate car rides?  ALL I ever heard was "Oh, when Junior is upset, we just drive around the block a few times and he goes to sleep" and "Oh, when Little Mary is crying, we don't go home, we just keep driving and she just goes right out" or "Oh, when Bon Qui Qui is cranky, we just put her in the car seat and she just nods off immediately..."

Somehow, someway in my feeble little mind I just had this image of putting little Campbell, bawling his tiny little eyes out, and him just quieting down immediately, and then after a few miles in the Red Robin, he is just snoozing away...

Not so.  Oh, nay.  Nay. Nay, he say.

Matter of fact, Campbell hated that car seat, especially for the first few months.  He wailed and cried and screamed and went nuts... if you are familiar with Birmingham, and Highway 280 in particular, you'll know where I'm headed with this...

Usually after work at The Most Caffeinated Coffee Shop in Birmingham, I take a ride up the mountain to the Greystone area to pick up Little Pocket Change to bring him home (grandparents help to take care of him during the week).

Most of the time he is fine in his carseat... but as we crest the Brookhighlands Hill and get into the turning lane to leave 280 and turn onto Valleydale Road, somehow that is his 15 minute threshold.  And that is where he'd go nuts. In his own little baby squeal, he tells me, loudly, "Get me outta this carseat.... like, five minutes ago, Dad.  Now." 

I thought they loved carseats.  Not so.

No ever one told me...

...I'd have to be a chemist.  We make our own baby formula now, which we feed Campbell, along with fruits and veggies puree'd or chopped into tiny, soft cubes for consumption... but before, in his first few months of life, we used Enfimel, then Gerber's Gentle baby formula.

My bathroom counter for the first five months of my son's life
He had this schedule of waking up around 1am for a bottle... and around 330 or 4am for a bottle... so somehow, The Lovely Steph Leann and I had an unspoken system that just came to be... Campbell cried, I would roll out of bed, stumble into the nursery, pick him up, bring him to the groggy The Lovely Steph Leann, then trundle downstairs to the kitchen to make his bottle... a few scoops of powder, a little bit of water, tighten the cap, shaky shaky shaky, and pour into the bottle.

Then I would stumble back upstairs, hand the bottle off and go back to sleep.  Or stay awake, depending on The Lovely Steph Leann and if she needed me.  Finally, I wised up, and kept the water and powder and ingredients in our upstairs bathroom... so when I handed him off, I could just stumble into the bathroom...

And yet, I found myself at 128am measuring powder and pouring water into narrow bottles, all with sleepy eyes that sometimes let my hands pour powder onto the sink, or water onto the counter... once, I dumped the contents of the newly made formula into a bottle... one without the liner in it, so it went straight through the plastic cylinder and onto the counter and floor with a kersplash. 

I had to be a chemist in the middle of the night.  Really?  Seriously?

No one ever told me...

...that formula was so darn expensive!  Holy crap!   Like, 15 bucks a can, and not even a big can.  And diapers?  FORTY BUCKS FOR 176.... that seems like a lot of diapers, but when Chunk Monkey is filling it up five times per day, that doesn't last as long as you'd like. 

Not just diapers and wipes and bibs, oh my... oh no... nay... we got toys.  And onesies.  And pants.  And shorts.  And shields for the BluRay player.  Which don't work ($14 gone).  And baby gates.  And toy leashes.  And pacifiers.  And paci leashes. And bottles.  And nipples.  Fast nipples.  Slow nipples.  Medium nipples.  And drying mats.  And car seats.  Not one, but three.  One for when he's little.  One for when he's bigger.  One for the in-laws as well.  And the one that was for when he was little now has to be replaced by one since he's bigger.  And strollers.

Is there any need for a stroller to cost $300?  Three.  Hundred.  Bucks.  I was floored.

And don't even get me started on smocked outfits that cost $40 and $50 each, outfits that he will not be able to wear by May.  I don't own a stitch of clothing that cost me anywhere near $50...

No one ever told me...

... that I would so freaking tired.  All.  Of.  The.  Time. 

I don't mean lack of sleep... combined, my hours of sleep are almost normal.  In the years BC--before Campbell--I only slept 4 to 6 hours per night... Combined, in the early days of the kid being in our lives, I'd get that, 4, 5, sometimes 6 hours per night. 

But they were never consecutive.  Sometimes, it would be 3 hours, then wake up, then 2 hours, then wake up.  Sometimes, I'd get 2 hour stretches of sleep 3 seperate times during the night, each interrupted by 20 minutes of baby care. 

In my job, I'm rolling into work around 430 in the morning several days per week.  The Lovely Steph Leann doesn't get much more, as she has to get up many days around 5 or 530, so she can get ready and then deliver Campbell to our caretaker--namely, his Pops and GG. 

So, I'd get to sleep around 10.  I'd wake up at midnight.  Then I'd close my eyes again around 1230.  I'd sleep til 230.  I'd get to sleep around 245, then be awakened around 345.  Then its 4.  And I have to get up.

Campbell Isaiah was born in December 2011.  No joke--I literally did not dream, or at least remember any dream I had, until about April or May.  I could never get enough deep sleep to dream. 

And The Lovely Steph Leann had it worse.  She is used to 7, 8, maybe even 10 hours in the night.  She loves to sleep... well, I do too, but I do like getting stuff done too... and she will sleep anywhere and everywhere she can.  So for her to get cut down to 4 or 6 non-consecutive hours of sleep was pretty much devestating.  Yeah, I was tired... poor her, she was a zombie for 7 straight months.  And still has zombie-like moments, even with Campbell at 15 months old.

And finally...

No one ever told me...

...about night terrors. 

What the what? 

All you people told me about not having a life anymore, and how we'll give up things in our lives, and how we'll have to watch the same TV shows over and over and how we'll have to stop going to the movies and so on and so on and so forth...

But NONE of you people told me about night terrors.

Its 1245 in the morning.  I awake to Campbell screaming his fool head off.  The Lovely Steph Leann turns the lamp on.  Campbell Isaiah is absolutely going bonkers... and yet... no tears.  He is just wailing, but in some weird way, he's not even awake.  He's just looking around, making loud, screaming, crying sounds.  He's not looking at us, and all efforts to console him are completely ineffective...

Of course, we do the parent thing where we wonder if he's hurting, and whether he's hungry, and maybe when he fell off the bottom step and banged his head, you know, two months ago, maybe that is now coming back to hurt him...

So, I Google it.  And I come up with "Night terrors".  The kid begins to cry uncontrollably, but is not fully awake, so therefore won't produce tears many times.  Efforts to calm them down usually increases the problem, so the solution is to let them cry it out.  Or so I read.

The Lovely Steph Leann held him for about 10 minutes, then passed him to me.  I stood by the bed and held him while he squirmed and wiggled and cried and wailed... and in about 15 minutes... he laid his head on my shoulder and went back to sleep, as if nothing ever happened.

She and I looked at each other with a "What the crap was that?" look, shrugged, and went back to bed. 

I would have appreciated one of you, out of the hundreds, nay, thousands of people I know, telling me about this. 

Epic fail on all of you.

And as this kid gets older, I'm pretty sure this list will grow.