Posted in movies, Reviews

DVD Review: He Might Not Be Into You, But I Was Totally Into the Movie


I think Ginnifer Goodwin is one of the most adorable actresses around, so when I remembered she was in He’s Just Not That Into You, I got it.  B (because he happened to be sitting in the living room at the time) and I watched it last week.  You know what?  It wasn’t half bad.  It wasn’t great, but it would make perfect in-flight entertainment. 

HJNIY, based on a self-help book for women, follows 5 women through various stages of relationships.  Goodwin plays “Gigi”, a young woman who is looking for love.  Her in-a-bad-marriage-with-Bradley-Cooper (“Ben”) sister, “Janine”, is played by Jennifer Connelly.  Jennifer Anniston (how did these women keep each other straight on the set?) is “Beth”, who wants desperately to be married to “Neil” (a/k/a Ben Affleck) her live-in boyfriend of 7 years–he does not want to get married. 

Scarlett Johansson is “Anna”, a libidinous yoga teacher who is using Kevin Connolly’s “Conor” for validation, while striving to get into Bradley Cooper’s married pants.  Her friend “Mary”, played by Drew Barrymore, is a single, lamenting how the internet has taken over dating.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl* of the film is Justin Long (the Mac guy), who plays “Alex”.  Alex is  the love guru who takes Gigi under his wing to explain how she can tell when a guy Just Isn’t That Into Her.

The cast is great, and is what saves this from being a terrible movie.  There isn’t much of a plot, and most of the characters are difficult to like.  By the end, B had said, “I hate him/her,” about every one of them, save Mary, Beth and Neil.  I had to fully agree, though I couldn’t quite bring myself to hate Gigi because…I’ve been Gigi.

I’ve been Gigi and I’ve been Mary.  I’ve been friends with Anna, Mary, Janine, and Beth.  I saw a lot of familiar “faces” in this movie.

Cutting to the chase, there is this scene where Gigi has misunderstood Alex’s invitation to a party, and where she further misunderstands his request for her to help him keep the party food bowls filled up.  Thinking she is there as his date, she gets excited that she has been upgraded from “date” to “hostess”, and she starts working that room like she’s Caroline Astor.  The girl even cleans up the place while Alex and a leggy model play video games.

She’s starting to clue in, you can tell–great acting from Goodwin here–but she’s not quite ready to admit that she’s been an absolute fool, so she flings herself at the passive aggressive Alex, forcing him to be blunt: He’s not into her that way.

I don’t know who was following me around that NYE party in 1991, but it was exceedingly cruel of you to put my foibles on the big screen.  Especially considering I am not getting paid for it.  Because that exact thing?  That EXACT thing?  I hate so much to tell you that I’ve been there.  I mean, right down to some of the dialog, I have been there.  Poor Gigi! 

I didn’t make the same scene Gigi does, but I did storm out in a fit of pique.  I also ended up with a very similar result to hers–I’m guessing the way her story played out is that she and Alex dated off and on for a long time.  I am guessing that his interest always held just long enough for her to trust him and love him back, then it would wane.  Each time she threw up her hands and said, “You know what?  Never mind,” he would suddenly be interested again.  But, after a couple of years of this, Gigi probably ended up with a massive crush on some other emotionally unavailable weirdo in closer proximity, and transferred her obsessive neediness onto him. 

Hopefully, Gigi had similar life epiphanies to mine, got herself straightened out and married a nice guy.  A nice guy who will watch chick flicks with her and not notice when she is cringing with embarrassment that exists on a cellular level when they watch this particular movie.

The other situation I found hitting way too close to home was a conversation between Mary and Anna, where Mary haltingly–out of love for her friend–finds a way to excuse her friend’s behavior.  There is this moment between Mary’s hearing the problem with the situation, and her reasoning her friend out of condemnation and judgment and the look on Drew Barrymore’s face is…perfect.  She played that perfectly.  Her tone.  Her cadence.  Her willingness to bend the rules for a friend she loves.  Perfection. 

There were several points throughout the movie where I found myself consciously thinking what fantastic acting choices the players were making.  Not in a negative way.  Not like I was taken out of the scene by obvious acting, but because the delivery was so spot on real-live-human-being that I had to stop, drop, and give prop.  There were some impressive deliveries, especially from Goodwin, Barrymore, and Affleck.

I give this a very, if uncomfortably entertaining 3.75 out of 5 stars. 

Where were the 1.25 stars lost?  Jennifer Connelly was terrible.  I don’t know if it was because her character was so unsympathetic, or if it was that her eyebrows were so unsettling, or if she wasn’t feeling well, but her performance just wasn’t there.  I don’t think Bradley Cooper can act to begin with, and I don’t find him as pretty as some do, so he couldn’t save the storyline of the love triangle between him, Connelly and ScarJo from being just gross and sad.  Ever think you’d see “gross and sad” and “ScarJo” in the same sentence?

ScarJo’s character was gross and sad.  I took away .25 stars just because she made me feel so icky.

By the by, I told B never to cheat on me, but especially never to cheat on me with ScarJo.  He asked what was wrong with ScarJo?  I said, “Absolutely nothing, and that is the problem.”  Not even my self-esteem would recover from that one.

*Gigi is what happens when a girl TRIES to be the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and don’t I know that.  Jeez.  That was painful to watch.

Posted in books, Reviews

A Book Review: HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHA–uh–HAHAH!


“My point is that I may not know that Des Moines is the capital of Iowa without Googling it first, but I’m skealthy [a coined term meaning skinny & healthy]and I feel great, and accoding to the people who hire me to model their clothes, I look pretty good, too.”

Sarah Deanna, from Supermodel YOU

I love Amanda deCadanet’s show The Conversation.  I’ve learned a few good things from talks she’s had with her guests, and when she had Sarah Deanna on, I was intrigued by Deanna’s background.  I am a sucker for a good overcomer story, and Deanna’s poverty-to-business-school-to-runway-model tale fit the bill.  Thinking I’d learn a little bit more about that, I bought her book Supermodel YOU.  Amanda owes me some money.

I’ve been wanting to blog about this for weeks, but I had to wait until I could a) quit laughing, b) quit giving myself whiplash from shaking my head, c) muffle my inner mean girl.  Yesterday, I realized I was never going to get to that point, so here it is.

This book is ludicrious.  It is hilariously misguided, terribly written, and just…awful.  But don’t let me tell you.  Let me just drop some choice quotes.

“Your days of making excuses are over–[models] don’t sit around making a million excuses for why we’re not at the weight we want to be.  You’d never hear Heidi Cklum or any other model mommy complaining about how she can’t lose the baby weight.  Heidi Klum doesn’t make excuses, because ther are none!”

“There are other reasons why models maintain a lower body weight than the normal population, and they tend to be reason taht result from healthy behaviors, not unhealthy ones.”

“I don’t have thunder thighs anymore because I took control of my genes and changed my environment and habits and my life.”  (Deanna talks about how she is 5’10” and weighs 117lbs, and earlier writes of how she was asked to lose 20lbs to start modeling.  So, at 5’10” and 137lbs, she was calling herself overweight, and saying she had thunder thighs.)

“The models I know get most of their exercise by going dancing, shopping, or just running around on the job.  The trick is that they think they are getting enough exercise.”

“Most models don’t drink a lot either.”  Excuse me while I stop laughing again.

To be skealthy, you need the 5 Keys, which are:  Self Awareness, Beauty Sleep, De-Stressing, Modercizing (the model version of exercise, which is just natural movement, and not movement for the sake of exercising–sweet lord), and Intuitive Eating (if it makes you feel good, eat it.  if it makes you feel bad, don’t eat it.  Also, you should “think about howyou look when you eat, you might just change your style.”)

So, forget your overactive thyroid, or your medication, or the fact that you have a metabolism.  If you will just love yourself, get lots of massages, take naps, never go to the gym, and sit in front of a mirror while you eat (yes, that advice is in there) you will no longer be overweight, but you will become magically skealthy.

I can’t.  I can’t.  This book.

According to this book, I should weigh about 4lbs because I LOVE myself, and naps, and massages, haven’t been to the gym in months, and only eat things that make me feel good.  Like the pancakes I had for lunch.  Only, pancakes aren’t allowed because they aren’t organic.

I hate to criticize because Deanna seemed like such a sweetheart on The Conversation, and she is so peppy and earnest in her writing.  She’s that sweet cheerleader who is telling you that you don’t have to be Dumptruck Martha anymore!  Just, like, you know, be magical!  Totally!  Yeah! 

God bless her.  At one point she pleads for someone to give her an honorary biochemistry degree after delighting that she verified her theorem of how everyone should eat by watching the cast and crew over an extended Stella McCartney fashion shoot.

I just can’t.  I’m laughing again.

1 out of 5 stars.

(It gets the 1 star because it made me laugh so much, and I love to laugh.)

 

Posted in movies, Reviews

Movie Reviews: Monsters and Men–Super Men


HI!  Remember me?  It’s your long, lost Lane.

I am back with movie reviews of two old favorites getting new life.  Monsters University and Man of Steel.  Granted, Monsters Inc is hardly old compared to Superman, but since one is a prequel, and one is a reboot, I’m smushing them together for the good of mankind.  Or something like that.

***************SPOILER HEAVY********SPOILER HEAVY*************

***************SPOILER HEAVY********SPOILER HEAVY*************

 With that out of the way, let’s talk about Monster’s U because even though it was not the most entertaining movie in the world, I loved the message.  Not the message throughout the movie, which follows the tried and true format of two Monsters meet and it is hate at first sight, but they end up BFFs.  No, the message from the last five minutes of the movie.

Sully (fuzzy wuzzy blue monster) and Wazowski (giant green eyeball monster) meet and hate each other because Sully is a big, dumb jock, and Wazowski is Hermoine Granger.  Through a series of events, they get themselves thrown out of the Scaring Department at Monsters U, then have to claw their way back into it. 

Sully messes it up for them, and he and Wazowski are both expelled from school, but not before accomplishing the greatest Scare the school has ever seen.

I watched the movie with a smile, one step ahead of everything until we came to that point, at which I thought, “Oh, so here’s where all is forgiven and they go on to graduate, top of their class.”  SURPRISE!  Nope, they are well and truly expelled.

I was shocked!  I was delighted!  Consequences being presented as concrete ideas in a childrens’ movie?  Unheard of!

But it got better.  Mike and Sully went to work in the mailroom at Monsters Inc, and talked about working hard to be the best mailboys in the business.  They get promoted to janitorial staff and work to be the best janitors in the business.  They get promoted again and again, each time winning awards for their strong work.  Finally, after these promotions are presented in a montage of photos in their lockers, they make it to the Scare Floor.

I was actually verklempt.

Forget the first 9/10s of the movie.  I sat there with my son and watched a show that promoted adults behaving like adults (enforcing the consequences of bad behavior, without dismissing it because everything turned out okay in the end), and young adults learning to conduct themselves responsibly, growing up to be the strong, hard working, ethical, compassionate adults we know Mike and Sully to have been in Monsters Inc.

I tip my hat to you, Pixar.  That rocked.

3 out of 5 stars for entertainment value

11 out of 5 stars for message

 

I saw the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie when I was 7.  Our car had broken down, so while the nice people at Sears were fixing it, Mom took me to see Superman.  I effing loved Superman.  I loved Superman.  Do you hear me?  I. Loved. Superman.  I was all on board with that movie.  I loved it.

So, it was exciting for me to sit down next to my 7-year-old to watch Man of Steel.  I was sad that his experience was not so transcendent.

Like Monsters U, it was not the most entertaining movie in the world.  I would say it is because I’m spoiled to Iron Man, but that wasn’t the problem.  The problem was in the length and the storytelling.  Too much of Clark Kent wandering alone, like the Hulk.  Not enough Clark Kent whipping off his glasses and saving the world.

Oh, there was plenty of world saving action, and I understand that in the origin story, you need some points of origin, but I feel like the whole first 30 minutes could have been summed up in 5 minutes of montage-y goodness.

Do we really need to start a Superman movie with a live birth scene?  I mean, what small child sees a fully clothed woman reclining on a divan-thing, sweating and grunting and goes, “Ah, labor and delivery.”  Mine did not.  Mine looked up at me like, “The hell you say?”

Here’s what I liked:  Henry Cavill is a good Superman.  He’s got the right look, he’s got the right delivery, he’s got just enough going on behind his eyes that you believe he’s the flip side to Bruce Wayne’s tortured soul.

I thought Amy Adams was a fantastic Lois Lane, and I loved her reboot.  Lois Lane comes out best of all the characters, I think.  She’s smart, she’s driven, and she’s able to deal with the situations presented to her.  Not a lot of shrieking. 

Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner were very well used.  Both men played their roles to the hilt without chewing scenery or making you go, “Wow, that’s some good acting.”  I like Kevin Costner best when he’s playing someone’s dad.  I like Russell Crowe best when he’s–I always like Russell Crowe.  I think this is a character flaw in me.  Even when he is in a terrible movie, I like him–the flip side of my Jim Carrey hatred. Ugh.  Can’t stand him.

Michael Shannon was a brilliant Zod.  I kind of love him, too.  He’s a great actor.  Even though he has a very distinctive look, and he is typecast like whoa, he never plays the same monster twice–even if it is the same monster.  He and Steve Buscemi are the reasons to watch Boardwalk Empire.

I guess I could have saved a lot of space by just saying I loved the entire cast.  This was a wonderful, wonderful cast.  I wish the editing had been tighter, and the movie had been shortened by about 45 minutes.  I wish the score had been better. 

That’s probably my biggest disappointment.  The score for Superman should be soaring.  It should make you feel something.  When you see that cape waving, the music should make you want to rise and put your hand over your heart.  It didn’t.  Nothing about the movie did.

3 out of 5 stars for entertainment

5 out of 5 stars for the job the actors did.

 

 

 

Posted in movies, Reviews

A Movie Review: Fast and Furious 6


I am not even going to pretend that I did not like this movie.  I’m just going to jump right in and tell you that I enjoyed the fool out of it.  How’s the song go?  “I’m not too shy to show I love you, I got no regrets.”  That is exactly how I feel about this movie.

Thor conned me into going to see Fast and Furious 6, last week.  Neither of us had ever seen any of the first five, but he was into the idea of all the cars and explosions, and I was into the idea of taking a nap in the big theater chair, so off we went.  I live “blogged” the movie on my Facebook feed and annoyed half of my friends list into blocking me, but I was alternately so delighted and so…delighted by inanity, that I couldn’t help myself.

I think the basic plot of any F&F movie is bad boys and girls with hearts of gold, with cool cars, race truly bad boys and girls with cool cars.  They have some fist fights, some shoot ’em ups, and some cartoony love stories, and good prevails over evil in some sort of Robin Hood way.  I’m not going to worry about all that because the movie makers don’t.    The plot, the dialog and the acting are about as complex as an episode of Scooby Doo.  But, they are also as satisfying.

Here are two things that truly surprised me: 

Feminists Could Enjoy This.  Even though the women are obvious set decoration (I think it is fair to say that the men are set decoration, too.  I mean, you don’t hire The Rock, Tyrese, or that blond one for their acting ability) and only get about 1/4 as much screentime as the men, their storylines were as strong as the men’s, they were portrayed as important, valuable members of their teams, and they were all physically and emotionally strong.  They are all good at their jobs.  No wilting flowers.  No screw ups.  They rescue the men just as often as the men rescue them, and they make the same important sacrifices for the good of their team.  I felt good about the women, their stories, and their plot twists.  It was a movie a little girl could watch, and walk away saying, “I want to be like her!”  And a little girl could truly get in on the role playing at recess, too.

It is Truly Diverse.  The casting is a feat of diversity, and should be studied and modeled after.  You know how in college brochures, you have the pictures with the two white people, one Latino, one Asian, and one black guy?  You might think that a cast made up of an Italian, White Guy, Samoan Thor (that’s what the caller ID said!), two Black Guys, an Asian Guy, a Latina, a White Girl, a vaugely Italian girl, and two European Girls would look like that brochure.  It did not.  It was startlingly seamless as far as the ethnic variations went.  I was amazed.  I mean, I was amazed.  No one mentioned race.  No one mentioned ethnicity.  There was one moment of a character pointing out the similarities in the bad guy’s team, but it wasn’t College Brochure even on the evil side of the coin.  It was two teams assembled with the best person for the job, and on either team, the best people were a melting pot of variety.  It was a movie anyone could see, and find someone who looked like him/her to “be” when playing outside later.

I’ll tell you, I went into this movie expecting to want to strangle myself with my own hair–like I did watching G.I. Joe.  I didn’t.  I got into it.  I had fun.  Thor had fun.  We walked out talking about the cool things we’d seen, and which characters we liked.  And I will SO be going to see F&F7.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Posted in Hoo, Reviews

A Place Review: Muttworks–Yeah, they do!


Muttworks is a nifty little business model that allows people to “detail” their canine friends, like going to a carwash.  You can drop Rover off to be bathed and groomed by professionals, or you can avail yourself of one of the Muttworks self-service stations and scrub him down to your own satisfaction.

I took our mutt, Hoo, to the groomers when we came back from Port Aransas.  They did a great job of shaping up his shaggy bits, and getting the sand burrs out of his beard, but he had some kind of reaction to whatever soap was used and it was dry skin/dandruff city with the poor guy.  Rather than breaking my back trying to take care of business in the backyard, or grodding out the bathtub, I decided to give Muttworks a try.

Hoo and I hopped in the car and headed over on a Saturday.  Now, I like washing dogs.  I think it’s fun, so I was kind of excited to try this out.  Hoo likes baths.  What could go wrong?

If you have a well behaved dog, nothing. 

Muttworks is cleaner than I had expected, had plenty of space for me to work with Hoo, and lived up to their promise to provide all the products and gear I needed to get my pup in prime shape.  Because I was there while the groomers were working, I got a glimpse into how they treated the animals, and I was pleased with what I saw.

 

Hoo in a quiet moment.  He was deciding at which dog to bark.  See how his fur is turning brown?!
Hoo in a quiet moment. He was deciding at which dog to bark. See how his fur is turning brown?!

 

While we were waiting for our tub, Hoo and I sat on the floor, where I could keep better control of him.  Poor, little, ill-behaved monster that he is–professional, in-home training starts Wednesday night.  He was going nuts barking–was just beside himself.  And when the Husky, who was getting her blow out, started to talk back to him…

Listen, when we walked in, Muttworks was quiet and pleasant.  We ruined the atmosphere.  I was that mother in the grocery store with the screaming kid, only my kid had four legs, fur, and wanted to eat you.

Mostly, he looked like this.  An attack muppet.
Mostly, he looked like this. An attack muppet.

For all that, and he barked 80% of the time we were in there, I only got a couple of dirty looks.  The employees were very gracious.

But you want to know about how it all worked.  It worked well!  I got Hoo into a tub, scrubbed him down twice and conditioned him, then helped him onto the grooming table and blew him dry in a quarter of the time it takes with my Conair.  We’d have been finished even faster if he’d cooperated a bit more.

I would definitely go back to Muttworks, but I would try to find a time when there are fewer dogs around.  I’m hoping the training sessions help.  He’s such a barky little guy!

Muttworks gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. 

Why not 5?  Allergies.  I ended up in a snowstorm of Husky fur while that pretty girl was getting her blow out, and I thought my head was going to explode for the rest of the day.  It’s not a place to go if you have any sensitivity at all to dander or fur.  But that’s not something that can be helped.