REVENGE CAN BE THE perfect balm for scorned, hurt feelings. Before I grew up, give or take a decade or two, I was a master of revenge. Not having the insight to acknowledge my feelings or at least look unemotionally at the troubling event that initiated feelings of anger and hurt, I would immediately go on the attack; my goal was to inflict pain as quickly as possible on the person who “hurt” me, so they would feel as much pain as I was feeling. The beauty of revenge is that it floods the mind like a dam bursting open to wash away all of the brain’s thoughts. What replaces those thoughts is darkness and anger. It consumes the person, numbing their sadness. Plotting a way to hurt back the person who harmed you becomes a twisted pastime. Please keep in mind I am not referring to physically abusing another individual, nor am I promoting any form of physical pain on a person. My revenge experiences were more of a verbal and mind games nature. FROM FILM AND REAL life experiences I have seen a variety of ways people show their revenge. How many movies have we seen where two people in a car are fighting and one of them gets kicked out; at least I have seen this type of scene many times. There was a wedding I attended where during the reception a couple got into this huge shouting match. One of the combatants was making all of these derogatory remarks of a personal nature that made everyone around extremely uncomfortable. The two had to be escorted out of the ballroom. Another example of a person getting revenge can take place with couples in troubled love relationships. Let us say the issue is one of the partners took money out of their joint savings account to buy an extravagant item for themselves. To make up for the loss of funds the other partner may make an outrageous demand that would inflict some type of hardship on the “big spender.” I have always said if communication is not cemented into the foundation of a relationship, the life ahead will always be filled with landmines where feelings will get hurt and people may want to take revenge. The demand made in this biographical drama took everyone involved by surprise. WITH THEIR MARRIAGE IN trouble Deborah and Ron Hall, played by Renee Zellweger (My Own Love Song, My One and Only) and Greg Kinnear (Thin Ice, Flash of Genius), were at a crossroads until Deborah made an unusual demand on her husband. She not only wanted Ron to volunteer at the local food pantry, she wanted him to make friends with a violent, homeless man. Based on a true story this film also starred Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator) as Denver and Jon Voight (Woodlawn, Heat) as Earl Hall. The story was unique enough to keep me intrigued throughout the movie. I thought the cast did a good job, adding a certain chemistry of belief to the scenes. What bogged down the story however; was the heavy handedness used to force scenes to their emotional limit. The actual story was amazing, but what the writers and director did with the script was to make this syrupy, cloying emotional heaviness that did not sit well with me. I was not left with angry feelings by the end of the picture; it was more of sadness that such a good story, with a competent cast, was not treated well.
Before I write this review I want to say it is not my intention to offend or ridicule anyone’s beliefs or religion. I follow the advice given to me by my very first employer; never discuss politics or religion in mixed company. With that being said, I have noticed the older people get the more comfort they find with the idea there is a heaven. Most people like to know where they are going in life so it makes sense they would want to know in death. I have heard a variety of interpretations from several people on what heaven means to them. For me heaven would be a place where there are no calories in food. Being able to eat something without thinking how it will affect me sounds like total bliss. I have attended funerals where someone commenting on the deceased will say they are now with the person’s significant other or family members and I can see this is meant to comfort the living. Since heaven is not some tangible item that one can hold or visit on vacation, it is open to anyone’s interpretation. Four year old Colton Burpo, played by newcomer Conner Corum, had a very distinct and vivid recollection of heaven in this dramatic movie based on a true story. Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine, Thin Ice) played Colton’s dad Todd. After a near-death experience Colton began speaking of heaven as if he had visited it during the time of his surgery. His father who was a preacher began to question his own beliefs as people in their small town began reacting to the news. The movie studio scored big time by choosing Connor to play Colton in this film version based on the best selling book of the same title. Connor was so good that I started to believe he was Colton. Greg Kinnear and Margo Martindale (The Hours, August: Osage County) as Nancy Rawling were way above the rest of the cast in regards to acting skills. The direction was okay but I felt there were passages that slowed down as the story at times verged on becoming preachy. I hope what I say next does not make me appear to be stereotyping people, but the movie audience I was sitting with seemed almost reverent. Everyone and I do mean everyone sat quietly in their seats. There were no sounds from people munching on food or commenting to each other. At the end of the movie a good portion of the viewers applauded. I think this will be of those movies that will draw in a specific crowd. Heaven knows if viewers will find this film entertaining.
I had a cousin who every day would leave her house with a thermos of coffee, 2 mugs and a folding chair. She would drive to the cemetery where her mother was buried. Upon arrival she would open up her chair, place the coffee mugs on the top of the headstone, pour coffee into each cup and visit with her mother. This was a daily ritual that she did every single day, no matter the weather. I am not one to judge; but I am willing to bet her conversations with her mother were not as funny as the exchanges in this comedy. Mean-spirited dentist Bertram Pincus, played by Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying, Night at the Museum franchise), had the most unusual aftereffect come out from his recent colonoscopy. He was able to talk to dead people. Once word spread through the afterlife that Bertram could communicate with the dead, swarms of ghosts sought him out for help. One particular insistent apparition was Frank Herlihy, played by Greg Kinnear (Thin Ice, As Good as it Gets). Frank offered his help in stopping the other ghosts’ requests if Bertram would prevent Frank’s widow Gwen, played by Tea Leoni (The Family Man, Deep Impact), from remarrying. For the plan to succeed, it would take a major transformation. What made this story succeed was Ricky Gervais’ dry wit. I would not consider him a leading man character; but I found him endearing, by not playing his character in an over the top way. Greg and Tea added fullness to the story, making this film quite amusing. Adding the cherry on top so to speak was the hilarious Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Paul) as a surgeon. This was an easy enjoyable film to watch and if I would have thought my cousin’s visits to her mother were just as fun, I certainly would have brought the cream for their coffee.
2 2/3 stars — DVD
It does not take long after perusing my reviews to notice movies mean a lot to me. Whether on a physical, emotional or cerebral level; there is some kind of connection made between me and the movie. From several of the comments left, there is an appreciation to the personal relationship that a film forms with me. That is one of the wonderful aspects of watching a movie. The way it can trigger a memory, make me think, cause me to burst out laughing; I love the way a movie can take me away so easily. This is why I am so thrilled to say there was absolutely no connection between me and this worthless, offensive comedy. To say I was stunned by the tasteless subject matters would be an understatement. After sitting through this movie, despite several people walking out, I felt every actor and actress should come out publicly with an apology. The movie consisted of several short films that were loosely connected, each one vulgar and tasteless. The cast is more than I can list here, but there are a few that stood out. Let me start with Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables, The Prestige) and Naomi Watts (The Impossible, 21 Grams). These two have been nominated for best actor and actress in this year’s Oscars. I want to know how they can walk the red carpet, knowing what they did in this dreadful piece of garbage. If Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas, X-Men franchise) was concerned she would never live down her role in Catwoman, she won’t have to worry about that anymore. Let me just say she reached a new low when she was mixing guacamole with her breast during her film segment. Add in Richard Gere, Liv Schreiber, Greg Kinnear and Kate Winslet; did all of these movie stars owe someone a huge favor? I could go on and on, but let me end on a positive note. This movie has earned a special place on my movie review site: it is the first film to receive a single star from me. I would have given it a zero; but when I started this site, I decided to make 1 star my lowest rating. Obscene and vulgar language in trailer.
The announcement was confusing to me when I heard my aunt say her daughter was getting a baby in six weeks. I had only seen my older cousin the week before and there were no telltale signs she was pregnant. Though I was a little kid at the time, I understood it took 9 months for a woman to have a baby. When I tried to question my aunt, she would only tell me that the baby would be coming soon and everything would be fine. It took another cousin to finally explain adoption to me. Even back then, once I understood, I remembered thinking what was the big deal that my aunt could not say her daughter was adopting a child. I am glad those times have changed. In this comedy successful 37 year old business woman Kate Holbrook’s, played by Tina Fey (Date NIght, 30 Rock-TV), biological clock was loudly ticking over a body that was having a hard time making a baby. With her options dwindling, Kate looked into finding a surrogate mother. Enter Angie and her husband Carl, played by Amy Poehler (Mean Girls, Parks and Recreation-TV) and Dax Shepard (When in Rome, Hit and Run). Would these two women manage to survive the following 9 months together? It may have been a challenge to them but it was fun for us to be a witness to it. Having the two actresses play women from opposite sides of the social economic spectrum made the story ripe for many humorous scenes. Not necessarily loud roars of laughter, but certainly chuckles could be found throughout this film. Gifted with great comedic timing, the chemistry between the two was wonderful. In brief cameos with big impact were Greg Kinnear, (Thin Ice, Little Miss Sunshine) as Rob and Steve Martin (Roxanne, It’s Complicated) as Barry. When done watching this movie, you will understand why the Golden Globes picked these two wonderful women to host this year’s awards show.
2 2/3 stars — DVD
I am the least likely person to review a football movie. Having been an overweight, unconfident boy; there was never a time I felt safe to play the game. In high school an aunt of mine insisted I try out for football because of my size. She must have been confusing my body mass with muscle mass. If I had not already felt like I did not belong on any of the high school sports teams, my gym class confirmed it for me. When a student was exceptionally brutal to another student in any competitive way, our gym teacher would only smile with a soft chuckle. This P.E. teacher took my fearfulness, absenteeism and various doctor notes to be excused from class as a sign of weakness. I always felt he chose to ignore the truth, that I was being abused and bullied in the class and locker room. That experience back then was what spurred me on to become a group fitness instructor. It took heart and determination for me to overcome all of my insecurities. Watching the same drive in 30 year old Philadelphian Vince Papale, played by Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Boogie Nights), kept bringing me to tears. This movie inspired from a true story was less about football and more about the heart and soul of a man. After his wife left him and he was cut from his substitute teaching job, Vince had no reason not to try out for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team when new coach Dick Vermeil, played by Greg Kinnear (Flash of Genius, Little Miss Sunshine), decided to have open tryouts. Despite being harassed, Vince would not give up, pushing himself beyond anything he had ever done before. One need not know anything about football to be inspired by this satisfying story. This was the type of role that Mark Wahlberg is best suited for, a working class easterner. Both he and Greg Kinnear were well matched in this drama. Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, People Like Us) also fit well in her role as Janet Cantrell, a new bartender at the same bar Vince worked at a couple of nights a week. I love a story that allows the viewer to root for the underdog and after watching this great film I surprised myself by wishing I could have been a fan in the football stadium.
3 stars — DVD
From a mundane object a great idea was born. Based on the true story about Dr. Bob Kearns, played by Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine, Ghost Town), who had a great idea that would affect everyone who drove a car in the rain. He invented the intermittent windshield wiper. With the support of his wife Phyllis, played by Lauren Graham (Bad Santa, Evan Almighty), and children; Dr. Kearns created a prototype that he planned on selling to the Detroit auto makers. However, his dreams did not come true the way he had expected. This heartfelt movie told the story of the courage, determination, some say insanity of the Kearns family taking on the deep pocketed car manufacturers to protect Bob’s invention. I get fired up from a movie that roots for the underdog and this excellent movie had the perfect set-up for a battle between the every day man against corporate big business. Mr Kinnear was perfect in this role; giving a solid, believable performance to his character who had everything to lose, including his mental state. Also, Alan Alda (Tower Heist, The Aviator) gave an excellent performance as the lawyer who was willing to take on Detroit’s auto makers. One has to wonder how often this type of behind the back shenanigans takes place in the business world. A terrific movie that was about a great idea and so much more.
3 1/4 stars — DVD