IT SOUNDED LIKE A SOLID game plan. We were going to drive an 18 foot van filled with all of his furnishings from Arizona to relocate him to Colorado. Attached to the van would be a trailer to haul his car. Since he had more experience than me driving trucks it was decided he would do all the driving and I would be the navigator. We left on a hot sunny day; the air conditioning in the cab groaning as it tried to lower the temperature. I joked that I felt like we were starring in a remake of an old Lucille Ball movie where her and Desi played newlyweds that decided to drive a trailer across country. We christened the truck and trailer the “Beast” because it felt so massive to us. Neither of us realized with it being packed full, our ability to keep up with traffic made it feel as if the truck was lumbering like a grizzly bear looking for a place to hibernate. All things considered we could not complain; the weather stayed sunny, there was no construction or road blocks and our route would mostly be all highway driving. ONCE WE DROVE INTO COLORADO our drive would take a perilous turn. The Rockies stood ahead of us, as if they were daring us to try and get through them. It did not occur to either of us that the bogged down van would struggle through the mountain passes. Actually going uphill was not as scary as downhill. There were some cars that honked at us because we were not keeping up with the speed limit; like we had a choice, the poor van felt like it was trembling in fear. I wanted to ask about the sounds I was hearing out of the engine; but my friend was concentrating so hard on keeping the van steady, I did not want to distract him. We were halfway through the mountains and it was still light out gratefully; we did not want to be stuck there after sundown. It was not until we were finally going downhill before I felt any calmness. It did not last long because anytime we were going downhill the van wanted to go faster. It was like the Beast had woken up, ravenous for a meal. My friend had to ride the brakes which caused them to heat up and emit this burning smell that filled the cab. I was freaking out, afraid the brakes would give out and we would hurl down the road, knocking drivers out of the way. Never had I been so frightened and vowed I would never be part of such a plan again. Too bad there was no one among the young adults in this film festival nominated, dramatic comedy that had the same feelings as I did regarding their plan. WHEN HER MOTHER’S BOYFRIEND’S SON comes to live with them Erica, played by Zoey Deutch (Why Him? Everybody Wants Some!!), doesn’t want anything to do with him. That is until he tells her a secret about a man she has been crushing on. With Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms franchise, Bad Words) as Laurie, Adam Scott (The Vicious Kind, Step Brothers) as Will and Eric Edelstein (Jurassic World, Green Room) as Dale; I felt the script was written to shock the viewer from the get go. The story had some similarities to others of this type but what pulled me in was Zoey’s amazing performance. She really took over the screen from everyone else; I honestly had no idea she could act this well. As a whole this movie watching experience was a mixed bag. There were scenes that felt fresh and new, but then others seemed redundant to me. Honestly I still am not sure I cared for the way the story ended. Maybe with more planning from the writers and director this film would have had a bigger impact on me.
2 ½ stars
It always happens around the same time, where I notice uncharitable acts on the rise. The first one I saw was a couple of weeks ago in the parking lot of the shopping mall. I was driving around looking for a space when I drove up behind a car that had its turn signal on; they were waiting for someone to pull out of a space just ahead of them. As the parked car was pulling out another car came barreling down towards us from up ahead. Due to the direction the parked car was backing up, they blocked the car in front of me from taking the space immediately. The new car cut off the reversing car and whipped into the now empty parking spot. The poor driver in front of me could only glare at the driver as they drove off looking for another space. Welcome to the holiday season! I see such craziness around this time of year, where people seem to have been programmed to take no prisoners while they are on their shopping missions for gifts. Once I saw two people fighting over a flat screen TV, each trying to grab the last box from the other person. They looked like maniacal warriors in their tall stocking hats with their single pom-poms jousting in the air. Looking in from the outside I am curious where this whole idea of gift giving took on the attitude that the bigger present always win. It seems as if more and more people every year go through the season at a higher level of stress, complaining about a multitude of things from food prices to relatives. Don’t they know who may come and visit them? WHEN the young son of Sarah and Tom, played by Toni Collette (Miss You Already, The Way Way Back) and Adam Scott (Black Mass, Sleeping with Other People), became disgusted with how the holidays were turning out, he unwittingly invited an unwelcome guest to visit his family. This comedic horror story surprised me. I was not familiar this fantasy was based on German/Austrian folklore. The opening scene was the perfect way to start out this story in my opinion. With David Koechner (Anchorman franchise, Get Smart) as Howard and Conchata Ferrell (Erin Brockovich, Edward Scissorhands) as Aunt Dorothy, the whole cast worked well together even though they were close to being stereotypes. The script kept things moving along; some scenes were predictable, others were fun in that sort of creepy way for a horror flick. This is not a movie for young children; there were some scenes that would I think be scary for them. Since I had never heard of Krampus, this picture was enjoyable for me. I actually liked the idea behind the story and felt it could be a reality check for people like the ones I have already encountered out shopping at the stores. There were a couple of scenes that showed blood.
2 1/2 stars
The evening went from cordial to odd to bizarre for me. I was brought as a guest to a dinner party, unfamiliar with the couple who were the hosts. Their place was cool looking with a mixture of furnishings from the past several decades. Each room had one wall painted for the color theme of the room; accompanied by matching accents that gave each space its own dramatic flair. The conversation was lively right from the start; however, since I did not know this couple I could not tell if some of the things they were saying were supposed to be a joke. I had to take my cues from the surrounding guests. When dinner was ready we all sat around an oval dining table that was perched on a carved wooded pedestal. It gave the appearance of a wide tree. During the meal there were times where the topic of conversation would veer off into areas that I had a hard time following what the hosts were trying to say. In addition I found some of the things they were saying were not appropriate. Unfortunately the food only added to my discomfort; some things were undercooked in my opinion, besides having a taste that I could not tell was due to spices or spoilage. I know it was a tough spot to be in because there was no way I, who was essentially a stranger to the hosts, was going to say anything. So my time sitting at the dining room table was made up of nodding my head, smiling and picking at my food carefully. I do not know what I would have done if I were with the two couples in this movie. NEWLY transplanted couple Alex and Emily, played by Adam Scott (Friends with Kids, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One, Orange is the New Black-TV), felt they were making their very first friendship in their new city when Kurt, played by Jason Schwartzman (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Listen Up Philip), invited them to come over for dinner and meet his wife Charlotte, played by Judith Godreche (Stoker, The Man in the Iron Mask). It would be a dinner they would never forget. This film festival nominated comedy had some great dialog in the script. There were parts of this movie where I could relate to what the characters were feeling; but other times I sat in my seat in disbelief. The actors did a good job with their characters, even with the uneven script. I appreciated the fact the writers tried to put a different spin on a story that easily could be found in a comedy show on cable television. It was not fair that I got to experience some of the actors’ emotions in the scenes but did not get to have any of the food.
2 3/4 stars
The restaurant came highly recommended so it was worth the time and money to check it out. The appetizer was wonderful, crisp and fresh. However the soup was ghastly with globs of grease floating on the surface like used puppy pads. The main course was not hot and had a slightly sour taste, though the potatoes were outstanding with a hint of garlic and a touch of chili powder. When the dessert came with its main ingredient being chocolate it was devoured right up, feeding the remaining hunger inside. So the experience did not match the expectations; maybe it was an off day for the chef or possibly the wrong items were picked. After receiving such high compliments about the place it just seemed odd not to have had a similar experience. Trying to be the optimist (not my forte) another visit was planned with hopes the food would be vastly improved. The only thing learned by going back to the restaurant for a 2nd time was that the food was just not good. What made things worse was the food did not settle well in the stomach causing waves of nausea to wash over the body with a bitter taste coating the inside of the mouth like old rubbery primer. It was confirmed the restaurant was awful. PLEASE accept this review as your confirmation that this sequel was worse than the first movie which starred John Cusak (High Fidelity, Martian Child). Whether it was a scheduling conflict, broken negotiations or a desire not to reprise the role, John must be feeling mighty lucky that his name was not associated with this crude comedy. The weak story had Lou, played by Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies, Sex Tape), in serious trouble. His friends Nick and Jacob, played by Craig Robinson (This is the End, Pineapple Express) and Clark Duke (Kick Ass franchise, Greek-TV), needed the help of their hot tub time machine if they were going to save their buddy’s life. This unfunny sci-fi film was total trash. Among many other adjectives I could use to describe this horrible picture; I found it vulgar, offensive and infantile. We just finished up the Oscar season and I could not believe so early into the new Oscar season we already have a film that deserved my lowest rating. Now I saw the first movie and did not find much to like about it; though the idea for it was mildly novel. Watching this garbage was like being locked in an outhouse that had not been cleaned out for several weeks; it reeked of bad taste. Even if you do not agree with my taste in movies I am pleading, please do not go see this picture; it will only encourage the movie studio to think about another sequel.
I was at the same event, even sitting at the same table. It is always fascinating to me how two people at the same function can have different memories of the occasion. The memories I have for this particular event were all of a negative nature; the food was cold, the overpowering music made conversations difficult and the room was too cold. My friend thought it was one of the best charity events he had ever attended. Similarly, this type of scenario happens frequently between family members. I cannot tell you how many times two relatives will recall a specific event and have completely different recollections of it. The use of perception was a key factor in this comedy movie. Adam Scott (Friends with Kids, Parks and Recreations-TV) played Carter, an adult child of divorce. With the impending wedding of his younger brother coming up, Carter forced his divorced battling parents to put their bitterness aside to attend the event. But by Carter bringing the combatant spouses back, he discovered he had different family memories then they did. Having bought a movie ticket to this film without seeing a trailer for it, part of my enjoyment came from the blending of the hilarious cast that was a surprise to me. Catherine O’Hara (For Your Consideration, Home Alone franchise) as Melissa and Richard Jenkins (White House Down, The Visitor) as Hugh were perfectly in synch as Carter’s parents. Amy Poehler (Baby Mama, Parks and Recreations-TV) as Hugh’s new wife Sondra and Jane Lynch (Afternoon Delight, Glee-TV) as Dr. Judith were standouts in their roles. I had to wonder if their dialog was all scripted or did they do some ad libbing; it was wonderful to watch them. As for the story, it was somewhat cluttered which did not give much time to further explore the characters. What kept this movie together was everyone’s comedic skills. On the one hand I can see where movie goers would feel this film played more like a television sitcom; but for me, it did not make a difference because I enjoyed this light, funny movie. At least, that is how I recall my time spent in front of the theater screen watching this film. If you go to see this movie, stay through the rolling of the fun credits.
2 1/2 stars
Am I to assume that having children is just a different form of a prison sentence? Seeing the married couples portrayed in this movie, it certainly looked as if marital quality took a nosedive once a child was born. Let me start by saying I give props to Jennifer Westfeldt (Ira & Abby, Kissing Jessica Stein), the writer, producer, director and lead actress of this comedy. Her character Julie Keller with close friend Jason Fryman, played by Adam Scott (The Aviator, Step Brothers) decided they wanted to have a baby. However, witnessing the drama of their married friends and their children, Julie and Adam wanted to maintain their platonic friendship, avoiding the stresses of holy deadlock. The wild portrayals of their friends were crazy in this movie; with some great, funny lines of dialog. The stand outs for me were Jon Hamm (The Town, Sucker Punch) as Ben and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Date Night) as Missy. I felt the premise of the movie was original, taking the “can a woman and man be best friends” question to a new level. One of the issues I had with this movie, however, was Jennifer’s acting. There was something about it that was lacking for me. This may sound odd, but her face seemed as if it had just been treated with botox; I could not get any visual cues on her emotions. By the end of the movie, I felt the story lost its edge and went the safe route. More chuckles then belly laughs; this film was a good idea that did not carry through by the end.
2 1/2 stars