The Game Plan (2007)

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From IMDB:

An NFL quarterback living the bachelor lifestyle discovers that he has a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Joe Kingsman) has teamed up with Disney to bring home a feel good movie about learning to live life even when it throws you curve ball. Following traditional Disney formula of having one parent in peril with the other having to be the sole provider is what has worked for Disney and it’s audiences for years now.

Honestly I haven’t seen a movie that ‘The Rock’ has done that it seems like he is having as much fun with as he appeared in this one. With his young co-star Madison Pettis (playing Peyton Kelly, is enjoying a very bright child acting career) they bring that old magic that the big “D” has been needing for a while. Though nothing too original it’s really nice that they can still bring family magic to the screen when so many other companies fail in that area.

The story goes that Joe is a football sensation that is still looking to get his first championship ring despite his talents and being with a good team for years. Life is good for Joe he has a great pad, host big parties, drives a Mercedes SLR and couldn’t ask for anything more in life. That all seems hallow though as you notice with Joe sitting in his big empty pad after one of his parties all alone. After a day or two more of show boating like he has been use to for so long he receives a call from the doorman that he has a visitor. After hearing that she is cute Joe readily tells the voice on the phone to send her up right a way.

Ding dong. Guess who’s at the door? You got it, this cute little 8 year old girl that’s not selling cookies bringing with her some luggage in more respects than the obvious. Joe is taken back by this. Of course there is no way that he could have a child, it’s just not possible. Lo and behold there Peyton stands waiting for her father with open arms.

The rest goes that this really disrupts Joe’s whole life style and he has to learn how to over come his shortcomings as a surrogate parent for a month while still having to concentrate on a championship season that matters so much for him and Boston. Messes abound, spaces are invaded and a whole new way of living is brought forth right before Joe’s very eyes whether he wants to accept it or not. He has to put away his selfish lifestyle and make the best of the situation that he has no control over. Learning to live with bedazzled footballs, losing his precious SLR in exchange for and SUV and learning that his 3 A.M. parties just don’t fit into his life any more through the school of hard knocks. At one point Joe even has to take up ballet lessons to make up for mistakes that he made between Peyton and her teacher for not picking her up on time. This all makes for a story that has plenty of funny scenes.

The story isn’t anything that we’re unfamiliar with. Especially if your a family that has watched just about every Disney movie that is out like ours has. The movie isn’t great but it’s fun and that’s what really matters in a film like this. You have to ask is it something that the family can enjoy or will it just be something that will just pass time? It’s a movie that has enough feel good spots and makes a genuine attempt at showing ‘The Rock’ as a big teddy bear that brings magic to the screen where other actors may have missed the boat on this one. something has changed in the Disney camp to really feel lie they are turning a corner. Coming off the success of Ratatouille it feels like they may be able to restore some faith in their companies production value that they have been missing for quite some time. Frankly I am glad to see Disney making a series of decent films again. We’ll just have to wait and see what they can pull off with their acquisition of Pixar to get back on top with there CG department to finally get ahead of the game away from Dreamworks. They have really missed the boat on the last couple of films with “Chicken Little” and “Meet the Robinsons”

Here’s to looking for some more good to come in the future, and thank you Dwayne for finally making a film that I can sit and enjoy with my family also.

This movie gets 3/5 stars for the script and 4/5 for bringing back the good ole’ formula to the screen.

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Mr. Woodcock (2007)

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From IMDB:

Taken aback by his mother’s wedding announcement, a young man returns home in an effort to stop her from marrying his old high school gym teacher, a man who made high school hell for generations of students.

Billy Bob Thorton (Mr. Woodcock), Seann William Scott (John Farley), and Susan Sarandon (Beverly Farley) team up with a very outgoing cast.

John Farley is a noted self help author that hails from Forrest Meadow, Nebraska an unassuming small farming community and after being gone from his home town for a period of time is invited back, at the reluctance of his publicist, to receive the coveted “Corn Cob Key” to the city.

With the signature comedy of Billy Bob and the stereotypical comedy of Sean William that we have become accustomed to in previous flicks, it’s only a matter of time before the movie takes on a good array of slapstick humor that is good for many laughs.

Soon after John arrives back home to accolades and a very warm welcome from his mother, Beverly, we find out that she has been dating the infamous Mr. Woodcock who was and is the bane of children everywhere and to the folks that he is around when they do something that he sees as wrong. Time to take a lap loser. Even with 13 years behind him since John had Mr. Woodcock for a gym teacher he is still haunted by his past that he has tried so hard to put behind him and let go.

As time goes on John tries to accept the relationship between Mr. Woodcock and his mother. Beverly is blind to the horrors that lay in her sons past at the hands of his former teacher and blindly goes through the movie wishing the best for both of them and wanting nothing more than to make both of the guys in here life a part of the same small happy family. John just can’t seem to comes to terms with his past and “Just let go” in this one instance and is haunted in his sleep by the repetitive gestures of Mr. Woodcock and the new found interest in his mother.

Can John ever learn to grow a set of balls and face this terror from his past that has wrecked havoc on so many children through his callousness and fear mongering, or is saying “I’m sorry” really only for convicts and the weak minded?

It makes for good fun to watch John struggle with himself about the pure hatred that he has with his former teacher and walking on eggshells when he has to be around him. How would the rest of us survive in life with a true to life Mr. Woodcock? I am loser and damn proud of it… suck it people! 🙂

This movie gets 3.5/5 stars

Straightheads – Closure(2007)

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From IMDB:

After surviving a gang attack, a middle-class couple embark on a violent spree.

Opening the movie we are introduced to Alice (Gillian Anderson) and Adam (Danny Dyer) in a series of events that lead them to be infatuate lovers. It’s not surprising that after the the downturn of Gillian Andersons’ career from the X-files that she would have to bear a little skin to capture the audiences attention. It’s not entirely tasteless but it seems to me to be more of a ploy to get you to see more of how the movie is going to play out and to an extent it works. It’s kind of sad though that some female actresses feel that they have to go to those lengths to try to capture some screen attention when their career has really slowed down. Her performance must have reached out to someone that takes notice because she is on the books to be in 4 more movies. The busiest that she has been since she was starring in the X-files.

Adam and the much older Alice seem to be having a very solitary fun night out, going to a party and sneaking off to have clothed sex outside the house they are at. When they decide to leave, the thrill of the night still stays with Adam. He can’t believe that he bagged this amazing cougar and proclaims that this is the best day of his life. all seems to be going well until they pass a truck on the road which Adam flips off and a few moments later while Alice isn’t paying attention hit a dear full on with her Lexus. This has to be one of the least damaging deer hits that I have ever seen. It was hard enough to bust up the cars windshield but not had enough to do damage to the grill or the bumper, in the scene following the car doesn’t have any damage to even the windshield, oops. You have to love the artistic license that you can have in a movie or maybe it was the incongruity that the director thought the audience wouldn’t catch to try to save a little money on having the car repaired. It’s not too distracting though, just more of a personal bitch than anything.

After hitting the deer and sending it for a loop (of course it’s not dead) the couple comes up with the bright idea of moving it off the road and trying to finish it off with a tire iron. That’s where there mistake comes in. Waisting time to do something that they think is humane when they are approached by the same truck they had passed earlier full of roughnecks that would like nothing more than to party in their own fashion. Proceeding to beat the dog shit out of Adam and deciding to have a nice bit of soul reducing rape with Alice with a gun to her head. The beaten and battered couple try to come to terms with the ordeal they have just experienced the next morning while still in the woods, and thus sets the tone for the rest of the plot.

A month later the couple still hasn’t come to terms with the ordeal of the horrible events of that night. Poor Adam, standing in front of a mirror after playing some video of Alice undressing, can’t even get a good wank going after because his life is in such ruins from the ordeal. Nothing like seeing a 20 something guy jerkin’ his gherkin and crying the whole time this is going on. This guy is really fucked up from all this. Not able to do much else with his life except crash on the couch, smoke weed and feel really sorry for himself. Alice, in the mean time, has decided to go off a do a little exploring and is gone for a couple of days. She finally finds the guy that she believes raped her.

The plot for revenge sets in for the couple and they turn their lives toward vigilante justice when they haven’t received help for their case from the proper authorities. Firing guns off in a field begins the detachment with what is left of normalcy for the couple, as if anything is ever normal after you go through a night as the two of them has experienced. They have to start small though before working their way up to bigger prey so the couple sets their sites on a helpless dog . Adam becomes weaker as the moments pass and Alice proceeds to set things straight by smacking him in the face and bring her part of reality to light. She wasn’t going to be having anymore of this shit in her life and revenge is cold in her heart.

The movie plays out well through to the end and you really have a feel for the tension that this couple has trying to deal with life.

Jillian Anderson and Danny Dyer bring a very convincing chemistry to the screen and a impassioned sense of how would a person really feel if they ever had to go through such an ordeal. This is a strong story with some very well rounded actors that pull this off without a hitch. The tensions builds an crescendos drawing you more into the plight of the villains. Making you wonder if Adam and Alice are really going to be able to pull off this self redeeming quest or if they are going to lose more of their souls in reacting to their tumultuous plot against their attackers.

This movie gets a 4/5 stars

The Cradle (2007)

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From IMDB:

When Frank and Julie move to a small isolated town with their son Sam, both Julie and Sam become ill. Driven by terrifying nightmares of torture that come true Frank begs a local midwife Helen to care for Sam as he desperately searches for a way to stop this curse on his family. When he discovers they are being tortured by the vengeful spirit of a child that was buried alive years earlier, Frank is pushed to the brink of madness as he tries to stop the ghost and save his dying family.

The film opens with a long scene of a car getting on a ferry to get a new couple to there newly purchased secluded home. It’s a long slow experience. When you are introduced to the main characters you can’t help to wonder if Julie (Emily Hampshire) is subcombed by some for of depression but you just don’t know. The films somber pace doesn’t help to resolve this question. Frank (Lukas Haas) plays the supportive father and acts like he really doesn’t have a clue as to what is going on in his own life. It’s not a bad story it’s just hampered by the fact that it moves so damned slow. Oh yeah somewhere in here I should mention that there is a baby, Sam. Very cute but you don’t know how his role will play out for the audience. Evidentially we are supposed to worry about the childs well being, and Frank is the first one to bring that to our attention, but where is Julie? Woo scary, she is huddled in a corner complaining about the baby not breathing. What a fucking emo.

I know that this is supposed to be played out to build up suspense for the audience but I just don’t feel it. In all it makes me believe even more that Julie has some severe mental issues and puts the baby at risk more than anything supernatural could possibly do. Hell the family doesn’t watch T.V., doesn’t go to work (of course they don’t because Frank is a writer) way to keep things at play at home there guys. The only thing that seems somewhat normal is that Frank tries to reach out to a neighbor that wants nothing really to do with him because she is whacked out and scarred as bat shit. I don’t know if this really matters but the spinsters name is Helen, but who really cares.

The movie seems to try to draw from older suspense thriller movies in the way that it doesn’t really show anything. That would be fine if you could really see the plot move somehow in movie time, not taking how it would happen in real world time. That’s the reason one of the reasons that I like to watch a flick because I can get to the story faster than having to deal with it in real life. It’s called pacing and this movie slumbers on without any real sense of suspense. Even the music (if you can call it that) doesn’t really help to do anything except to let you know that something is supposed to be important.

To give you an example of how slowly this move plays out I am writing this as the movie is playing and it’s about half way through and I still don’t feel anything of what the production staff or writers were trying to make me worry about with this film. Frank freaks out because he hears the baby fussing a little bit and forgets that they had but him in the nursery. SPOOOOKY. Then finally about 40 minutes into the film you get to see a glimpse of a shadowy figure that is supposed to scare you also. I think I’m going to shit my pants, false alarm it was just gas. Dad is starting to look like he might be losing it more than mom is at this point and that may have something to do with the fact that he is the only one that has anything to do with the poor kid because mom is so helpless that she can’t be bothered to get out of bed for the most part.

It is fun to see the parts of the movie that Franks paranoia starts to get the better of him though and it becomes increasingly more intense as time goes on. He must really have issues with being a good dad because he freaks himself out one time with leaving the baby alone on the kitchen counter and walking out of the room and another time he has a bad dream that his son is going to fall from his carrier, that is placed on a folding table, into a 50 year old washing machine. I know when I movie into a new home I want to use ancient appliances such as these, and being a successful writer we all know he doesn’t have the money to afford new ones.

I’m still trying to piece together exactly what I am supposed to be frightened by. I think somewhere in this mess there is supposed to be a ghost story, but what the hell do I know. Although Helen offers some insight into why she is freaked out by babies it doesn’t move the story along one single bit and it’s just as drawn out and boring as the rest of the movie.

Then Frank decides that audio monitors aren’t good enough to look over poor Sam so he installs a video monitor, until they can get out of there. Hell they moved there no problem what’s the deal with them leaving? I still think Frank is progressively going more nuts as the movie move on. He stats to see things on the monitor that couldn’t possibly have happened because sweet loving postpartum depression Julie is in the room with Sam. As the movie goes on you get more than your share of Franks delusions and begin to wonder if anything that Frank ever worries about is warranted. For all that he worries it’s really surprises me that he leaves the baby on it’s own as much as what he does.

There seems to be something lingering around the family in the bad juju area but the film never really solidifies the reasons for the fears except for the tricks that our characters minds are playing on themselves. Is any of this real? Do I really care? For arguments sake I will say that it had an ok twist at the end. Nothing you can’t really figure out but it makes this strange story make some resemblance of sense.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not bashing the movie because it has a small cast, on the contrary there are a lot of movies that this works really well for. Most notably films produced by Lions Gate are really big on making due with low budget, small cast, really insightful movies. They have a knack for bringing out suspense in spite of those shortcomings because that’s what they do and are good at it.

I’m trying to really give this movie a chance, truly I am but it’s about as much fun to sit through as a root canal. Maybe someone out there will find it fun to watch but it just didn’t happen for me.

This movie gets a 1.5/5 stars

This movie is such a winner that there isn’t even a preview for it out there.

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

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From IMDB:

The Fantastic Four learn that they aren’t the only super-powered beings in the universe when they square off against the powerful Silver Surfer and the planet-eating Galactus.

Yeah, yeah… you don’t have to tell me. I know this movie has been out for a while and yes I did see it when it was new. But when the top notch editorial staff here at Monkeys says I have to write a review, I better do it or I might be out of a job. 😉 For those of you that want to skip the bullshit you can just check back another day and hope that I’m keeping things more current.

The Fantastic Four make a comeback with all the original cast from the first episode and even the original director, Tim Story. The changes in the sequel aren’t many with the notable exception of adding Don Payne to the screenplay and John Truman to the story, both of which have little in the way of productions under their belt, though it seemed to be a wise choice on the studios part to add fresh perspective to the franchise. The plot is much better than in the first one. I understand that sometimes when creating a franchise that there has to be a way to introduce the characters but it’s sad that sometimes they have to do it in a way that leaves you feeling somewhat empty as was the case for me with the first Fantastic Four. That being said the sequel is much richer in story and has a good pace that keeps you wondering what is going to happen next even if some of the acting is a little weak.

To tell the truth the only one that I have had a real problem with in the acting department has been Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards). He might fit the bill right and all to the vision of the casting department but I can’t help to feel as being the leader of something as prolific as the Fantastic Four he is a little on the weak side, not to mention that something about him just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t know what it is exactly but the guy just bothers me. It seems like the casting department couldn’t find it in themselves to cast someone that had a commanding personality and intelligent. The rest of the crew played their parts very convincingly and made me feel that there was a bond there that was carried over well from the first movie.

Jessica Alba (Sue Storm), Chris Evans (Johnny Storm), and Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm) carry there perspective roles wonderfully in an effortlessly fun a carefree manner. Of course Ms. Alba is just as hot as ever and is great to watch in whatever she is in.

The downfall of the movie isn’t that they reprised the role of Julian Mcmahon (aka Victor von Doom). The problem to me comes with the ending of the movie. I didn’t read very much in the way of Fantastic Four comics in my youth but I do remember Galactus being more of a bad ass then what the movie gave him time to display. It would have been nice to add more of his side story in this than making him nothing more than a side note at the end of the movie. That really sucked to me. If they would have done it right the writers could have milked the movie for an extra 1/2 an hour and made the story so much more eventful and not such a let down at the end. I would have liked to have seen Galactus really doing some destruction on a foreign world giving us a true glimpse of what the Fantastic Four was really going to have to face if the Silver Surfer hadn’t have saved their asses.

Over all the movie was a much better production than the first one and it really showcased what the new talent that was brought to the writing cast. It leaves me wondering what is in store for our heroes in the future though. It’s going to be a big bill to fill after you have the group having to take on the scourge of the universe.

If you are a fan and have the first one and don’t have the sequel then there is something just not quite right in the noodle department.

This movie gets a 3.5/5

Red Line (2007)

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From IMDB:

“Redline” is an auto/action thriller that features the personal exotic car collection of the producer, real estate investor Daniel Sadek. Sadek who is financing the $26 million movie used his own cars including a Phantom Rolls Royce, Lamborghini Murcielago, Enzo Ferrari, Ferrari F430, Ferrari Scaglietti and two Mercedes SLR McLarens. Sadek’s $450,000 Porsche Carrera GT is actually crashed during one sequence. Eddie Griffin accidentally crashed and destroyed the Enzo Ferrari, one of only 400 ever produced.

Don’t look for much in the way of a good plot here. It just doesn’t have one. The acting was harsh and the fight scenes were weak. The only shining part of the whole casting experience was Nadia Bjorlin. She can actually act somewhat and has a set of deep blue eyes that make it had to keep your eyes off her.

Without leading into the poor story line let me give you a real reason to watch this film… the cars. Daniel Sadek waisted no expense bringing his personal collection of supercars to the screen and let them get put through their paces. If you remember a few months back there was a youtube video of Eddie Griffin wrecking a $1,000,000 Enzo Ferrrari, this is the movie that it happened for and for no good reason I might add. It’s nice to see fools throw out their money so shamelessly. Back to the task at hand.

This movie isn’t going to attract the average movie goer and it really doesn’t need to. What is done really well though is that they bring you into the race scenes and if you are a fan of PGR, Forza, Gran Tourismo, and sim racers of the like then this movie will definitely catch your eye. It would be hard to identify the plethera of big dollar automobiles used in this movie and the crash scenes were something that you just want to shake your head at. It seems such a travesty to do such incredible damage to these wonderful autos for the sake of a movie. Hey they need to get their rocks off somehow I suppose and apparently Mr. Sadek believed that he would net enough money from this venture to cover his cost, though his insurance company may beg to differ.

Don’t look for anything as contrived even as the plots in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise. As I stated before everything, except for the cars and the racing, is weak. You don’t even know why some of the characters are needed to be featured any ways, and they way that some of the plot dilemmas are settled is nothing short of shameful. Who said that you needed good actors when you have so much eye candy on the screen though? I’ve seen porn with better scripts. I’ll give him this much though, Daniel Sadek had some balls to bring this much to the screen with money from his own pocket. I don’t know about the rest of you out there but crashing a $450,00 Porsche could be better served by putting my broke ass in a nice home.

This movie gets 1/5 stars for the story and 5/5 stars for pure lunacy for putting his collective cars asses on the line the way that he did.

Den Osynlige – The Invisible (2002)

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From IMDB:

A teenager is assaulted and killed, but returns as a ghost to find his killer.

First I apologize for not being able to find a good version of the original poster so the one that is shown is from the American remake.

I know that this might sound familiar and it should the movie was reproduced for American audiences in 2007 from the Swedish original film “Den Osynlige”

It was produced with a small budget and with an obscure to American yet seasond cast. The movie comes off every bit as well as it’s American counter part and in some areas maybe a little better. There are a few scenes in the movie that make you want to sit back an proclaim “Oh shit that looks painful!”

As with the American version we are introduced to the lead surrounded by his family and friends having a celebration in his back yard. Everything seems to be going well for everyone except for Niklas who is having trouble with the direction that his life is going. So he proceeds to leave the table that his friends are sitting at and heads off to the garage. There you see our main character look around for a bit then pick up a shotgun place the barrels in his mouth and proceed to paint the walls of the garage with his brains. As soon as the shot is finished you find that poor Niklas has just succumbed to a very bad dream. If you watched the remake you know the scene is all to familiar but it is still a powerful one to say the least.

The story is very well done and played in a way that will make you want to watch it more than once. It’s not a traditional ghost story in any sense of the term. You find that poor Niklas can’t walk through walls or run his body through other people and he still fully interacts with his environment even though right after that has happened we see that nothing has really been disturbed. Purgatory is really an awful place to be when you aren’t even good at being a ghost. After a while you really feel the frustration that builds up from this.

The ending feels well thought out and complete in a very appropriate manner. You can tell that the writers put a lot of care in how they were going to convey their message and it permeates through out this entire film. Don’t look at this film if you are looking to be freaked out though, it’s just not going to happen. But what you will find here is a good drama and a cast that will draw you into the story in a very convincing manor. It’s nice to find a movie that can hold it’s own even after an American production company gets a hold of it, and it was equally nice to see that there wasn’t much that had changed. That to me lends a ton of creditability to all those that brought this film to fruition both in Sweden and the U.S.

If you can get a chance definitely give the original a look it’s more than worthy.

This movie gets 4/5 stars

If you want to watch it on your home DVD player make sure that you have a region 2 PAL compatible one.

You can pick up a copy at Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Osynlige-NON-USA-FORMAT-Reg-2/dp/B000FWEARC