THERE WAS NOT AN ANNOUNCEMENT, LET alone any acknowledgement, but I knew someone had walked into the ballroom. There was a shift in the air, like that moment before lightning strikes when the air has an electrified, static crispness. I was attending a fundraiser that was being held in the ballroom of a downtown hotel. Easily, there were over two hundred people in the room, dressed in tuxedos and evening dresses. When I felt that shift in the air, I started to look around the room. My gaze shifted to the far end of the ballroom when my ears detected a low buzzing sound from that direction. It was the crowd murmuring to each other as President and Mrs. Obama had walked in. The two who were tall compared to the guests around them, were easy to spot. I am not exaggerating when I say there was a definite shift of energy in the room; a building excitement and respect as the guests started to nonchalantly shift around to get a better look at this couple. The term “power couple” was something I had heard before, but I had never experienced it live, until now. These two were a major power couple; one could feel it on and below the skin surface. It was an extraordinary feeling, I have to say. It was as if the energy in their bodies was emanating out to every person standing in the room. THE TERM “POWER COUPLE” TO ME is more of a modern term. I cannot recall it being used back even in the 1970s or 80s. It seems as if a marketing department created the title to bestow on a couple where both participants are active in their fields of interest or work. One of the earliest couples I can remember who were considered a “power couple” was Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. I remember how the news reported on them, from walking the red carpet of a movie premier or awards show to a humanitarian trip at a place that had experienced a natural catastrophe. For some reason, I never thought of a king and queen being a “power couple,” though I guess it could happen. By my definition, Eva and Juan Peron of Argentina would be labeled a “power couple.” It is funny, I never thought of the couple in this documentary as a “power couple;” however, after watching this movie I have to say they were most definitely a strong, dynamic couple who deserved to be called a “power couple.” WITH SO MANY TV SPECIALS AND articles having been done on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, one would think there was nothing more to learn about them. Luckily, it turns out not to be the case with the release of this intimate, biographical comedy. Directed by Amy Poehler (Baby Mama, Parks and Recreation-TV) and written by Mark Monroe (The Cove, The Dissident), this film focused on honoring the celebrity couple. With the blessing of Lucy’s and Ricky’s daughter Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill, never seen footage was expertly mixed within the story and celebrity interviews, which were given by such celebrities as Carol Burnett and Bette Midler. It was obvious while watching this movie that Amy has a strong fondness for Lucy. But I also appreciated how Amy handled Desi’s successes and demons; he does not always get the credit he deserves for the new and progressive things he did for the industry. The home footage used was wonderful to watch. I felt like I was seeing Lucy and Desi in a fresh, unique way. Part tribute, part history; this was a well-done film that provided not only entertainment but unknown facts about one of Hollywood’s true “power couples.”
3 ½ stars
My grandmother had no friends. It was her choice, since her only concern was her family. I cannot recall a time when my grandmother did not have some home baked sweet treat ready for us to eat. Knowing I would be stopping by her house for Halloween, with my two buckets (I was always paranoid a shopping bag would rip); she would have bags of candy and licorice made up to pass out to me and my friends. She never said a bad word about anyone; her harshest criticism was saying the word “feh” to something or someone she did not like. My grandmother had nothing in common with the grandparents in this comedy. In fact, I do not know of anyone who have grandparents similar to the two in this film. Billy Crystal (Analyze This, When Harry met Sally…) and Bette Midler (Beaches, The First Wives Club) played grandparents Artie and Diane Decker. When their daughter Alice, played by Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler, The Lincoln Lawyer), asked them to babysit their three grandchildren; Diane jumped at the chance while reluctant Artie had no choice but to agree. However when the two elders’ old school way of child rearing smacked up to Alice and her husband Phil’s, played by Tom Everett Scott (Because I Said So, Dead Man on Campus), new school methods; all discovered they could still learn a thing or two about each other. If you happened to see the trailer, you already saw the best parts of this abysmal movie. Besides every humorous moment being predictable, I thought the characters Billy and Bette played were more like two comedians on the comedy circuit tour through the Catskills or Florida (no offense to those who live in either place). Having two actors gifted in comedic timing, I only wished the story had some original ideas for Bette and Billy to mine through and surprise moviegoers. Instead the actors seemed as if they were mugging for the camera. On a positive note, this film was suitable for most of the family; no vulgar language or sexual innuendos, only a little bathroom humor. For a movie like this I would have waited for it to come out on DVD. If my grandmother were alive to watch this film she would have said feh.
1 3/4 stars
There is nothing like being at a live concert, feeling the energy and power the performer(s) has over the crowd, it is amazing. Having attended a multitude of concerts, I have seen all kinds of artists in various stages of sobriety and dress. From a heavy metal band member taking swigs out of a bottle of scotch, to a singer so high on drugs he barely could stand up; some could not handle the power of being a star. I never understood how the artist’s closest friends and advisors could tolerate such behavior. If for no other reason job security–these performers are meal tickets. Inspired by the tragic life of Janis Joplin, this movie should be seen just for Bette Midler’s (Beaches, Outrageous Fortune) performance. Having seen Bette in concert, her character Mary Rose Foster was nothing like Bette. The movie was about the life of a self destructive rock star. As her popularity rose, the demands of touring were taking their toll on Mary Rose. Her manager Rudge Campbell, played by Alan Bates (Women in Love, Gosford Park), would push her by any means possible to keep her up on stage. This being Bette’s 1st major movie role, she was worthy of her Oscar nomination for best actress. With a mixture of power and vulnerability, she was the driving force in this musical film. Her concert performances in this movie were outstanding; I felt I really was at the show. There was nothing new about the story; most of us have heard the same with many movie and rock stars. From all the musical acts I have seen there are two performers that are extra special to me. They are Tina Turner and Bette Midler. I have seen them perform 3 hour concerts; singing live, dripping in sweat as they poured their life and emotions into each song. There is a saying that goes something like this, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Watching this film I was reminded of so many great artists we have lost due to their destructive power. When this movie came to an end I wanted to hold up a lighter in the air like I used to at concerts.
3 stars — DVD