It takes a person with a certain disposition who can enjoy living in a small town. They find comfort in knowing their neighbors, bumping into friends at the local supermarket, having their children attending the same school and living a simpler lifestyle than in a large metropolis. I am so not one of those individuals; in fact, I would probably get claustrophobic if I had to live in a small town. Being born and raised in a large city, I find comfort in the anonymity of being part of the masses. I do not know if it is due to how I was raised or to the hostile environment I experienced in high school, but for years I have always felt safer being invisible and not standing out. Now I will say I do not have a problem visiting small towns. There is something to be said for kicking back and going at a slower pace from time to time. If you can appreciate the attributes of small town living, you might get a quicker kick out of this dramatic adventure film. When mentally confused Woody Grant, played by Bruce Dern (Monster, Last Man Standing), received a notice stating he could be a million dollar sweepstakes winner, he was determined to make his way from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick up his winnings–even if he had to go on foot. With his youngest son David, played by Will Forte (The Watch, MacGruber), being the only family member to show compassion for his dad, they took off on a road trip that brought them some unexpected surprises. This beautiful black and white film directed by Alexander Payne (The Descendants, About Schmidt) unfolded like the sipping of a sweet tea on a lazy summer day. There were no big or thrilling moments per se; instead, scenes bloomed with satiric wit and touching realizations. The actor that stole ever scene she was in was June Squibb (Meet Joe Black, Scent of a Woman) as Woody’s wife Kate. She was a hoot with her take no prisoners persona. I found myself being drawn into this quirky story as it revealed more and more the realities of small town living. There were several scenes where I laughed out loud as the stellar acting carried us along for the ride. Though I still would not want to live in a tiny residential area, I would gladly go visit this family and sit down to a piece of homemade pie and some iced tea.
3 2/3 stars
When you think about it, I suppose you could cast Madea as an employee for the Department of Motor Vehicles or have her be a customer service representative for an insurance company. Would it really make any difference? I mean seriously, will this franchise continue until we watch Madea going into a nursing home? Tyler Perry (Madea Goes to Jail, Good Deeds) who is Madea deserves credit for keeping many people employed at his Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, along with his charitable donations. However, after seeing this tired movie, I felt he could have done much better with the script. In this latest installment; George Needleman, played by Eugene Levy (American Reunion, Taking Woodstock), was a naive businessman who was set up to be his company’s fall guy for a ponzi scheme. With an opportunity to decipher the trail of money and clear his name, Mr. Needleman with his family had to go into a witness protection type of arrangement. And that is where Madea came into the picture. I cannot tell you how bored I was with the stereotypical, low humor about the cultural differences between the families, aka races. Or having Madea say the same threatening things to people; I was able to mimic the lines in my mind at the same time. This was a lowbrow portrayal of shallow people, nothing more. Even copying a scene from the movie Ghost did nothing to make this viewing experience any more pleasurable. Mr. Perry, either write better screenplays or retire Madea already.
1 1/2 stars
I have not been a fan of Adam Sandler’s (Grown Ups, Bedtime Stories) movies for a few years now; to me, they all seem to be the same formula. In fact, I could not bring myself to see that last one where he played both the brother and sister. So imagine my surprise when I watched this DVD. It was the best performance I have seen out of Adam. His character was Charlie Fineman, a man who never recovered from the loss of his family in the 9/11 attack on New York City. Though there were some of Mr. Sandler’s typical acting elements, he was surprisingly good for this role. It was not until a chance meeting of his old college roommate Alan Johnson, played by Don Cheadle (The Guard, Hotel For Dogs), that both men began to find parts of themselves they had lost over the years. Both actors were excellent in their roles, having just the right amount of emotional vulnerability. I, also, appreciated the touches of humor that were sprinkled throughout this dramatic film. Not only was I pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful story, I was moved by these real life characters. This movie validated my belief that there are no accidents in life; there is a reason for everything and with every person we meet we exchange a gift.
3 1/4 stars — DVD
I hope I never lose touch with the little kid inside of me. Harking back to the older, classic animated movies from my youth; this film shined like a well done piece of art. With a beautiful palette of colors, I enjoyed the vibrant scenes that led me through the story. Blu, a domesticated blue colored macaw voiced by Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland), was one of only two such birds left in the world. With the hope of becoming mates, Blu and his owner were flown down to Rio de Janeiro to meet Jewel, voiced by Anne Hathaway (Get Smart, The Devil Wears Prada). The two actors were perfect choices to voice their characters. Jesse with his distinctive way of delivering his lines and Anne’s ability to project sweetness or irritation with her voice, along with her wonderful singing, made Blu and Jewel come to life. This movie had everything: there was plenty of thrilling action when the two birds were kidnapped, a smattering of musical numbers and amusing humor throughout; I had a great time watching this fun, exciting film. All that was missing was my little table and chair from when I was a child, so I could have had my glass of chocolate milk and chocolate chip cookie.
3 1/4 stars — DVD
The title of this movie triggered memories of my own rebellious youth. I know in the scheme of things, my ways of asserting myself were rather tame–I would wear copper metallic pants my parents disliked and as soon as I graduated high school, I let my hair grow long, similar to Angela Davis in her heyday. Pretty much it is a given when Michael Cera (Juno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is chosen as he was for the role of Nick Twisp/Francois; we can expect wry humor with spot on comedic timing. Honestly, I think he has already been typecast for these type of characters. On a getaway trip with his mother and her current boyfriend, Nick encountered beautiful Sheeni Saunders, played by Portia Doubleday (Legend of the Mummy, Almost Kings), at the trailer park where they were staying. She became the object of his desires. But how far would he go, to make her the vessel that would lift him away from his burdensome virginity? There were no surprises in this movie; the performances were good and some scenes stood out for their humor. Overall, it was an enjoyable movie, there was just nothing new added to the story. I guess depending on how rebellious you were growing up will determine how much you enjoy this movie.
2 1/4 stars — DVD