The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974), San Andreas & Pixels Movie Reviews 

Three quickie reviews today & I mean it. I’m going to try to not ramble on in my reviews anymore. I mainly just like discussing movies with people in the comments so I’m only really here to say whether I liked a film or not & then to hear what others have to say about it.

It’s an odd assortment today but I can tell you that one was really good, one was really bad but fun, and one was just really bad with a great concept it somehow managed to shit all over. I’m sure you can guess which is which…

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Directed by Joseph Sargent

Based on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey

Starring: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this movie. I love movies from the 1970s and was happy when both this & Escape From Alcatraz became available on one of our movie services. Man it’s hard keeping track of which movies are available where, when & how – I know I’m old school but I still kind of prefer just being able to go to a video store. So, anyway – I made the hubby watch them both with me about the same time last year and they were great. Alcatraz was better and I highly recommend that one but Pelham was really good as well. No, I’ve not seen the remake with John Travolta and I don’t plan to.

If you’ve not seen this, imagine Speed set on a subway train in 1974 instead of a bus with attractive people in 1994. So, I guess Walter Matthau is kind of the Keanu Reeves in this. Gotta say I prefer Keanu (he was such a hottie in Speed). Actually, I found Matthau a bit distracting but he was probably the only thing I didn’t really like about this as he just seemed out of place. Robert Shaw was great as one of the hijackers, though! I think I’d only ever seen him in Jaws before this (which he’s AWESOME in). All the hijackers were great & I loved all the drama on the train. The only times the movie dragged a little were when we got away from that action and back to the cops & Matthau’s character dealing with the hostage takers’ ransom demands. Overall, though, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three is a great 70’s action thriller I’d definitely recommend to anyone who is a fan of this sort of genre.

My Rating: 7.5/10

San Andreas (2015)

Directed by Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.

My Opinion:

Ha! This movie was so bad. But it was “fun bad”. It was exactly what I think we’ve all come to expect from these cheesy disaster movies so, therefore, I kind of enjoyed it. It’s utterly ridiculous. Some random people get saved at the last minute, which is supposed to make the audience all cheer while thousands of others are sucked into the Earth to their deaths. Never mind those people as long as a girl with big boobs & a dog get saved! Actually, San Andreas didn’t pull the “save the dog” trick. Damn – I always laugh out loud when the dogs get saved…

Alexandra Daddario wears a shirt over a tight tank top which, conveniently, has to he taken off & used as a bandage or something. I don’t remember. But this is just in time for the coming flood which will see her submerged in water while wearing the tight tank top, of course. She’s ended up with a somewhat dorky boy her age who can’t believe his luck at being in an earthquake with such a babe and his little brother who I realized was Rickon Stark. Then they had to run from the earthquake while Kylie Minogue shot arrows at them. Okay, not really but that would’ve been funny. But Kylie Monogue was seriously in this. WTF? Not for long, though – she falls out of a building. Sorry! That’s not really a spoiler since she’s a bitch & this film follows the disaster movie rules of “If you’re an asshole, you die”. Then Dwayne Johnson dies. HA! Just kidding! Of course he doesn’t. He’s not an asshole – he’s the hero! Can you believe that this is the only Dwayne Johnson movie I’ve ever seen??? Oh yeah – and I totally forgot that Paul Giamatti was in this in a completely pointless role. I guess we all gotta pay the bills, huh? And, let’s see… Dwayne Johnson & Carla Gugino (Alexandra “tight tank top” Daddario’s parents) are divorced because they have a tragic past that tore them apart but now they have to work together to save their daughter and THE END IS A COMPLETE SHOCK THAT I DIDN’T SEE COMING!!!! Lol. Just kidding. Predictable disaster movie bullshit every step of the way. GOOD! That’s exactly what I wanted & this movie delivered. Fun bad! But still very bad… 😉

My Rating: 5.5/10

Pixels (2015)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Based on Pixels by Patrick Jean

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

My Opinion:

When I found out they’d be making a full length movie of the fantastic Pixels short film, I was excited. It’s such an awesome concept & the short is great. What could possibly go wrong, right? Holy shit – how did they manage to mess this film up so completely?! You can watch the (far superior) short film HERE.

I actually don’t hate Adam Sandler like I know a lot of people do. He’s been in plenty of movies that are complete & utter shit but he’s also been in several that I liked okay. He’s from “my” era of SNL and, overall, I don’t really have anything against him. But I worried like hell when I heard that this would be an Adam Sandler film & thought “well, maybe it will have decent writers & he’ll just star in it”. Nope, this is an Adam Sandler movie. It’s not the worst of his worst: it’s one of the “mediocre” Adam Sandler movies. But that’s not what this should’ve been! There was so much potential here to make a decent movie out of that brilliant short and instead they decided to make The Waterboy version of Pixels. Pixels Gilmore! Pixels Madison! Pixels Nicky! You Don’t Mess With The Pixels! I Now Pronounce You Pixels & Larry! 8 (Bit) Crazy Pixels!

This movie was such a massive disappointment. Sandler is actually fine, I guess – he’s far less annoying than the other characters. Kevin James plays the most unbelievable President Of The United States in the history of film. Peter Dinklage is, sadly, just plain embarrassing. Not only did this movie piss all over the short film but it also managed to somewhat destroy one of the greatest Game Of Thrones characters for me! Rickon Stark was better in San Andreas. Oh, and that reminds me: Sean Bean has a small role in this too. How could I forget Ned Stark being in this as well?! Because the movie is forgettable, that’s why. Michelle Monaghan, unsurprisingly, plays Sandler’s usual paint-by-numbers love interest. Q*bert plays a character WHO TALKS. What the @!#?@! That really annoyed me. Wreck-It Ralph got Q*bert right! Wreck-It Ralph got a lot of things right. That movie has really gone up in my opinion over time & Pixels made me appreciate it even more. Watch the Pixels short & watch Wreck-It Ralph. Watch any of the movies in my list of My Top Ten Video Game Movies. Then watch The Wedding Singer if you want to watch an Adam Sandler movie because that one is good. Then, if you really MUST satisfy your curiosity, watch Pixels with extremely low expectations. After all my bitching, I should give this a lower score but I’ve seen movies that are worse and I have to admit that one cool thing came out of watching this: it got my daughter very interested in classic arcade games. That alone made the movie worthwhile but, dammit, I really wish it had been good.

My Rating: 5/10

**The soundtrack for Pixels predictably features songs that you just KNOW Sandler chose from his own collection of personal favorites. The main song featured was Cheap Trick’s Surrender:

Advertisements

The Help (2011) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Natasha of Life Of This City Girl. Thanks for the review, Natasha! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of The Help, IMDB rank 234 out of 250…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Movie Review: The Help (2011)

Plot: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Rating: 8.5/10

Hey, T9M readers! I’m reviewing The Help here today, because when I saw it was on T9M’s remaining movies to review for her IMDb Top 250 challenge I greedily claimed it as my own, seeing my chance to finally watch it.

I was surprised. Not only is The Help a really good film, it is also right up my alley and has stayed with me since I saw it.

What works well for this film first and foremost is a fantastic cast. To name a few, but certainly not limited to, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Allison Janney to Anna Camp all came to life as some form of a Southern Belle working to adjust to changing times.

The Help focuses on a time in America when things were changing. Women were entering the workforce, they were suddenly allowed to have bigger dreams than being barefoot and pregnant, and alongside that liberation came a movement where people realized that black people also had rights. Shocking, I know. Idiots. That’s where Skeeter Phelan comes in – she’s recently graduated and in look of making a name for herself. She moves back to Jacksonville, her home town that has not progressed with racial equality at all, and starts working a dead end job writing housekeeping tips for the local newspaper. Skeeter seeks to find the nanny who raised her, a woman whose disappearance makes her very worried – this is the woman that truly raised her, not her scatterbrained and often mean spirited mother. This leads her to embark on a project that records the tales of the black women who raise white children while their own sit at home.

In a very idealistic fashion, The Help isn’t particularly violent. I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence at all. There is a time and place for it and only in certain films, and I get upset especially when it involves minorities being beaten down. Django Unchained is pretty much the threshold for me, and let me tell you, as much as I love Tarantino, that film was almost too much to watch. The Help tells and accurately depicts inequality without making it an unnecessary blood fest nor a pity party, and yet you walk away feeling definitely disgusted with white ancestry. I saw that a lot of people did feel that the movie fancily glosses over the atrocities that happened and I do agree on that point though.

I liked the most that there were some genuinely sweet white people that offset the heinous racists that were also depicted. Jessica Chastain plays the particularly kind Cecilia Foote, who has been shunned because she’s just a bit too attractive and fun loving for Hilly Holbrook, excellently brought to life by Bryce Dallas Howard. Hilly is racist and underhanded, using her status in town to control everything– social events, treatment of staff and generally just getting her way in everything. The good tries to offset the bad, but it is still so obvious about how unjust the system was – I recently saw that it was a time period where it was finally acknowledged that black people deserved rights, just not quite as many as white people. I’m not going to go all swearing about this, because I am guest blogging here, but you can please include a number of profanities to gather my opinion about this.

Most of all, the end impressed me – things do not end perfectly for Phelan. After successfully publishing her novel, Phelan is shunned by many in town, including her boyfriend, but since he was a pompous, primitive prick from the very start I’m not feeling that she’s missing out on something special. It shows that actions have consequences, even when the action was required and did something good.

If you are looking for a film that accurately portrays inequality in the 1950’s, this probably isn’t for you. The Help is mostly feel good with some bad moments between, a very well-produced and acted out film for this. Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for this and it is well deserved – her sassy attitude is a scene stealer every single time. I’m likely to watch it again at some point, and am pretty glad that I took the time to watch this.

Thanks for having me lady!

Home Alone (1990) Guest Review

20140309-095859 pm.jpg

This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rob of MovieRob. Thanks for the review, Rob! Let’s see what he thinks of Home Alone. 🙂

20140309-100158 pm.jpg

“Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.” – Kevin McCallister

Number of Times Seen – 1 (3 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis –An 8 Year old kid gets left at home by accident when his family travels to France for Christmas. He must try to find a way to fend for himself and to keep 2 bumbling burglars from robbing his house.

My Take on it – Surprising, I have never seen this whole movie from start to end before I sat down to watch it for CPD’s amazing John Hughes Blogathon.

I have never been the biggest fan of Macaulay Culken and didn’t really think this movie would be enjoyable on a whole. Some of the clips I had seen in the past were funny, but I didn’t believe that they could keep it up for 100 minutes.

I put all my negative thoughts aside when I sat down with the hope of giving this one a chance.

In retrospect, I can now say that this movie was enjoyable to watch, but I don’t see myself wanting to watch it again in the near (or maybe even distant) future.

Hughes does a great job placing all the puzzle pieces at the beginning of the movie to make most of the plot seem plausible. I can conceivably believe that two large families traveling together and in a rush to catch a plane (yes, post-9/11, they wouldn’t have a chance of getting on that plane to France) would forget a kid. No parent, myself included would admit to having such a thing happen to them, but Hughes’ writing makes it at least seem plausible if not possible.

The burglars staking out the place dressed as cops and the lax security systems of the late 80’s also helps move the idea of the plot along.
When I think about it, the last few comments that I made actually prove that the concept of this movie and the way it was done is so timely and only worked up until 1990 or so because of all the technological advances since then. This is one of the few Hughes movies that I can currently think of that isn’t timeless and couldn’t be re-made well enough today. (I’m not advocating Hughes remakes or any remakes for that matter.)

Being the parent of a 9 year old and an 8 year old, I can’t imagine either of them or any of their friends for that matter being able to survive like Culken did over 4 days all alone. I’m not sure if this says something about today’s youth or something about the implausibility of a young kid being able to fend for himself so well.

I’m aware that I’m a strong advocate for suspension of disbelief when watching a movie, but I usually refer to unexplained science in a movie or things that might be plausible in certain movie worlds, but here I’m referring to the fact that very few (if any) 8 years olds could act as independent as Culkin does here and that actually somewhat disappoints me.

Besides that, the slapstick humor in this movie is great whether it be the ways Culken fends off the burglars, the way he can perfectly use a VCR remote to get a pizza or even the way he searches the house for things to do worked well.

This movie also has its sentimental parts, but I had a lot of trouble sympathizing with the mother and her quest to get back home and also with the caricature of the neighbor Old man Marley (perhaps a reference to Jacob Marley since this takes place around Christmas????) who is used as a plot device similar to the furnace to show us that even though he can fend for himself, he is still a kid who fears things only a kid would be able to fear. His character tho is not developed at all and his appearance at the end is strange if not inexplicable.

Nice cameo by John Candy here.

Bottom Line – As enjoyable as this was, I think Hughes was much better at creating teenage characters as opposed to younger ones and I’m quite glad he didn’t make too many from a kids perspective. Recommended!

Rating – Globe Worthy

CPD Classics: Adventures In Babysitting (1987) Review

20140130-104748 pm.jpg
Adventures In Babysitting (1987) (aka A Night On The Town in some territories. That title is even worse!)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Starring:
Elisabeth Shue
Maia Brewton
Keith Coogan
Anthony Rapp
Penelope Ann Miller
Bradley Whitford
Calvin Levels
Vincent Phillip D’Onofrio
George Newbern
John Ford Noonan
John Davis Chandler
Ron Canada
Albert Collins as himself
Lolita Davidovich
Clark Johnson
Kirsten Kieferle

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Chris Parker’s (Elisabeth Shue) boyfriend cancels their anniversary meal plans so Chris decides to take a job babysitting the Andersons’ 8-year-old daughter Sara (and 15-year-old son Brad, who has a huge crush on Chris so sticks around as well). Chris gets a call from her friend Brenda to say she’s run away from home & is now stuck in the big city (Chicago) with no money & needs Chris to come get her. With Sara, Brad, and Brad’s obnoxious friend Daryl in tow, Chris leaves the suburbs & heads into the city. A night of hilarious high jinks & mishaps ensues! Don’t f*^k with the babysitter…

20140130-104916 pm.jpg
Why It’s A CPD Classic:

This movie came out when I was in my early teens and, my god, I loved this thing! I think a big part of the reason why I liked it so much was that I could really relate to Elisabeth Shue’s character Chris. I had a similar babysitting job one summer where the boy wasn’t much younger than me but couldn’t be trusted to look after the younger sister so the parents had me “babysit”. I also had to deal with the boy’s annoying friends (although none were as obnoxious as Anthony Rapp’s Daryl). Oh, and I think the boy had a crush on me, too, just like Keith Coogan’s Brad had on Chris. I was too young to drive, though, so we had no crazy adventures in Chicago. I shouldn’t admit this but… (You know I will! Lol). Okay – I think I wanted to BE Elisabeth Shue in this. We had similar hair, I thought she was really pretty & her personality in this was a lot like mine, and (this is the sad part) I totally got a coat very similar to her “dead grandpa’s” coat that she wears all through this & topped it off with a colorful scarf just like hers. (Should I have kept that to myself?) 😉

20140130-105111 pm.jpg
As for the film, I think it’s actually very funny & even a little bit on the naughty side for a movie with the word “babysitting” in the title. It’s probably aimed more at mid to late teens and I think the title may have put those that age off it as it does sound like more of a “family” film than a teen movie because of it. I know this film so well that I’m having trouble on what to write for those who may know nothing about it. Let’s see….

20140130-105157 pm.jpg
You already know I loved the character of Chris. I’m from a very small town & I thought it was funny how they took these kids from the suburbs & put them in the big mean city where, naturally, they come across gunfights & car thieves & men with hooks for hands & blues singing & subway gangs & toe stabbings & hookers & spiking Tab with Drano & Thor. Of course! And the whole time this is going on, we’re shown Brenda thinking SHE’S having the worst night of her life stuck at the bus station with a crazy homeless man demanding she get out of his house (a phone booth), someone stealing her glasses, and a run-in with a rat.

20140130-105240 pm.jpg
The Anderson kids are good. Sara is quite smart & feisty for an 8-year-old and Brad’s crush on Chris is sweet. His friend Daryl is a typical, horny, annoying 15-year-old boy. You’ll probably hate him but he does have some great funny lines. The car thief who befriends them is totally loveable, there are lots of quotable lines I still say to this day, the “Babysitting Blues” scene is a CLASSIC (I don’t care what you say! It’s funny & the song is so catchy!), and the sweet babysitter from the suburbs taking on two rival gangs on the subway gives us one of my all-time favorite scenes & quotes in a movie.

20140130-105313 pm.jpg
Then we also get some fabulous songs: Real Wild Child by Iggy Pop being my favorite. Also 25 Miles by Edwin Starr and a very fun opening scene where Chris dances around to Then He Kissed Me, setting her character up as a sweet, suburban 17-year-old girl from 1987 (nowadays she’d be twerking up against that bedpost). I know this movie won’t be for everyone and a teenager today may just find it silly but I was the right age for it and I’ll always love it. That’s why Adventures In Babysitting is (yet another late 80’s/early 90’s!) CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

20140130-105348 pm.jpg