Sunday, January 01, 2006

2 Reviews in 1 post!

I saw two movies over the holidays and thought I’d pass on my thoughts on them here.

By the way, I just finished watching Ebert and Roeper’s top ten movies of the year and I’m sad to report I did not see any of the films on their lists. Oh, well. To paraphrase John Lennon, life is what happens when you’re busy not sitting in movie theaters.

Anyway, I saw Fun With Dick and Jane on Christmas day. It had a lot of good elements but overall I wouldn’t recommend anyone waste their time with this one. It stars Jim Carrey (who is also one of the producers of the film) and Tea Leoni in an updated remake of the 1977 film of the dame name.

I’m not sure why they remade this film. The original was just OK and this new version really doesn’t come together or bring anything new to the table.

There were a lot of good things about this flick. The soundtrack is great and relevant to what’s happening on the screen. There is a very strange looking scene involving the robbery of a black light lit head shop which is almost worth the price of admission. There is also a big takedown of the Enron’s of the world even thanking Enron and WoldCom et al in the credits at the end.

The story revolves around an upper middle class couple that suddenly find themselves with no income (she quits her job while he is Enroned out of a job). They turn to crime to maintain their lifestyle. Actually, one other good part of the movie is the costumes they use in their robberies (it helps to have the costuming weight of a Hollywood movie behind you).

Despite a lot of good parts, the whole doesn’t result in a good time at the movies. Nice try guys, but this one’s a miss. I think Jim Carry made this film for the sole purpose of being able making out on-screen with Tea Leoni.

On New Years Eve I saw The Family Stone. Now this is a good film.

I was not expecting much when we decided to see this. Based on the trailers, I figured it was just the lasted in the “Meet the Parents” genre.

I’m not sure where this new meet the screwball family genre came from but Hollywood has really been buying into it lately. Even this year’s Wedding Crashers involved a very lengthy “Meet the parents” segment. In fact it was the main part of that movie. My guess is that this genre provides an easy vehicle for gathering a wacky group in one place for fun and hilarity. Or something.

Anyway, The Family Stone turned out to be more than just another Meet the Parents rip-off.

Sarah Jessica Parker plays the serious girlfriend who is taken to spend Christmas with her boyfriend’s family. She has not met them yet so of course the Meet the Parents thing is all set up for us. Parker plays a rally uptight high intensity businessperson with a seemingly very limited range of emotion. She doesn’t along well with the family. Halfway through the movie Parker puts on one of the best ‘drunk chick’ performances I think I’ve ever seen.

Actually, there are tons of good performances in this movie. Diane Keaton, who plays the mother of the family, is excellent. She is the new queen of the ‘mother of the recently grown children’ roles. She comes across as so real in that role. But then so does everyone else in this movie.

Even the house in which most of the film takes place feels real. It‘s warm and lived in and nothing looks like it’s just part of a movie set. I kept thinking, I’d like to live there.

There are lots of very funny moments in this picture but there is also a very serious and sobering thread running through it (involving Keaton’s character) that really pulls the whole story together. There is even a unique and very touching love scene (of sorts) between Keaton and her on-screen husband played by Craig T. Nelson. This movie, on several occasions, goes where few films have gone before.

My only complaint about this film is the quickly evolving relationships between several of the characters. I mean, we’re talking about a 24-hour period, for the most part, in which loves are lost and gained. I know it’s done for the efficiency of the story but it annoyed me a little as a Hollywood trick.

Otherwise, I was both moved by The Family Stone and got some good laughs out of it. I recommend it highly.

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