Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

My Opinion:

I saw this a few weeks ago but never reviewed it and now it’s annoying me because I at least try to review the current releases I actually go out to see, so…. I’ll keep this short! I don’t have a lot to say.

I liked this but, as I often say about these sort of movies, I’m getting very superheroed-out. There are some that I truly do enjoy (like Wonder Woman & especially the Guardians Of The Galaxy films) but I’d probably never bother to re-watch half the superhero movies I’ve seen. I think Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the ones I’m unlikely to watch again. Sorry… It’s not bad! It just feels like, you know, more of the same old thing despite trying to be a little bit different with certain things (like with saucy Aunt May).

The storyline is a pretty standard Marvel storyline so I couldn’t get too excited about that but I did like the John Hughes-esque teen movie thing going on, which worked well instead of feeling forced. Tom Holland & his friends felt like actual teenagers, as they’re meant to be. Which leads me to the very best thing about this movie: Tom Holland is great. He’s easily my favorite Spider-Man between him, Andrew Garfield & Tobey Maguire. I think they finally got the character right (not that I can have a fully informed opinion since it’s not like I read the comics or anything). But, seriously – he’s the most believable as a teenager (he’s 21!) and easily the most likeable.

I also really enjoyed Michael Keaton & Marisa Tomei in this. I like the career revival Michael Keaton has had these past few years (he’s still my favorite Batman, okay??) and I’ve liked Tomei ever since Untamed Heart (that movie rules & I love it). I like saucy Aunt May! I looked up Tomei’s age as well as Holland’s. She’s 52! That’s awesome. I like that Hollywood is actually seeming to be a little less scared lately of using actors & actresses who dare to be over 40. Anyway – Holland, Keaton & Tomei are perfect in these roles and are what make this movie so enjoyable since the story itself is a bit “whatever”.


I can see why people do like this movie and I’m sorry that I think I sound more negative than I actually feel. If I was a teen/early twentysomething, I think I’d probably love it & would see it as “my” Spider-Man (like those who grew up with the Tobey Maguire ones are so fond of those). I think this latest incarnation of Spider-Man is easily the most promising of the last three & the younger generation are lucky to have Holland as “their” Spider-Man. I assume we’ll be getting to see more of Zendaya in a sequel (I was surprised her role was so small in this), which would be good as I want to see more of Peter Parker’s awkward teenage high school life & all of his relationships (even more than his Spider-Man life). But, as for his Spider-Man life, I think he’s the perfect fit to work alongside the other Marvel superheroes. That’s one of the best things about the Marvel films – I think all the actors are pretty much perfect in their superhero roles and also have great chemistry when they’re all brought together. I’m happy to know that this is the Spider-Man we get to see working with them. I think the previous two would have felt out of place with them so Holland clearly has a certain star power to work so well alongside such established actors & actresses.

My Rating: 7/10

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Jackie Brown (1997) Blind Spot Review 

Happy Birthday to Quentin Tarantino, who is 54 today. I figured this would be a good time to finally review my 2017 Blind Spot choice of Jackie Brown. And tomorrow I’ll be reviewing The Hateful Eight, which I’ve finally just watched as well. At least I liked one of these two movies! Here’s my review for Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Based on Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to finally watching Jackie Brown, the only Tarantino-directed film I’d never watched (okay – not counting that Four Rooms movie or his guest director credit on Sin City, which isn’t a movie that I liked anyway).

Jackie Brown is an odd one in that I’m of course used to Tarantino’s style now & this one has a very different feel to it. I suppose the main reason for this is that the film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch instead of a Tarantino original story like his other films. I think this works in the film’s favor but I’d also hazard a guess that it isn’t the number one favorite film for most diehard Tarantino fans.

I’ll be honest – I think someone needs to rein Tarantino in a bit. Not long after watching Jackie Brown I watched the overblown The Hateful Eight and it definitely made me appreciate Brown much more. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Jackie Brown. It’s a good but uneven film and, although I confess that I know nothing about the book and have never read anything by Elmore Leonard in my life, it feels pretty obvious which bits were probably embellished by Tarantino. There’s a welcome subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown that’s especially missing in Tarantino’s most current films. Don’t get me wrong – I like his movies and know they’re going to be over the top (Kill Bill being my favorite, which is OTT to the extreme, but in a good way). But…. What am I trying to say? I don’t know. I think Tarantino is just another director who has come to believe his own hype a bit too much & he needs to take a step back and focus on the great writing that made his older films like Reservoir Dogs such a success. Okay – I’m focusing too much on not liking The Hateful Eight. More about that one tomorrow but I can’t help but compare since I watched these two almost back to back & they’re so very different.

I loved the overall mood of Jackie Brown, which was of course helped once again by the use of a truly fantastic soundtrack. If there’s one thing that Tarantino always does right, it’s picking the music for his films. I loved this soundtrack so much. Best music (as in, songs as opposed to score) that I’ve heard in a film in a long time! Remember when movie soundtracks used to be good like this?? Sorry to go on about this so much but it’s not something that is done as well in films nowadays. When I think back to my teen years, I bought loads of movie (song) soundtracks. There were so many good ones then. What the hell happened? The music in a movie is very important to me as I think it plays such an integral part in creating a film’s mood. I keep saying “song” to differentiate as I’m actually more of a lover of original film scores than of “song” soundtracks usually but, when a movie puts together a lot of previously recorded music as perfectly as Jackie Brown does, it makes me happy. Hey – at least I have to give credit to Tarantino for getting Ennio Morricone to score The Hateful Eight. I worship people like Morricone & John Williams the way that most people worship the pretty celebrities who are in front of the cameras. Maybe I’m weird?! And, shit – I’m talking about The Hateful Eight again. Sorry.

As I said, there’s a subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown unlike in Tarantino’s more recent works and it’s these understated scenes that were easily my favorite bits of this movie. Pam Grier & Robert Forster were brilliant and I was happiest when the movie went back to the scenes involving their characters. Loved their chemistry! I totally wanted a love story there (if you’ve not seen it, I won’t say if this happens or not).

There are bigger name stars in this one (Robert De Niro and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson) but the scenes involving them were the ones that I felt had a little too much of that “Tarantino vibe” going on. Who the hell doesn’t love Samuel L. Jackson, right? He’s awesome. But he’s his usual “Tarantino-self” in this and, for once, I enjoyed having those Grier & Forster scenes involving more than just Tarantino/Jackson sweary banter and extreme violence.

Speaking of extreme violence, this is the least violent Tarantino movie (well, maybe that Four Rooms thing isn’t violent?). I think it’s the first of his films that I was able to watch with my eyes fully open the entire time! I mean, it’s of course plenty violent but it’s not explicitly shown. I’m a wuss. I prefer to not see full-on gore. Yet Kill Bill is my favorite so I suppose that makes no sense… Eh, I just love a good revenge story (and women who kick ass). And I have yet to watch all of Kill Bill with my eyes fully open. I guess, looking at it that way, Jackie Brown is the first & only Tarantino movie that I’ve actually seen. 😉 And I appreciated that.


Perhaps Tarantino should try adapting someone else’s work again sometime. I do like his style and I didn’t mind Jackie Brown having that Tarantino stamp on it but I also liked the way in which adapting someone else’s work meant he kind of managed to keep the story more on track & to not go so medieval on our asses. Again, I think Jackie Brown is also unfortunately somewhat uneven because of this and it’s certainly not a perfect film but I do think it’s better than several of Tarantino’s other films (yet I don’t think it’s widely accepted as so?). I did a post a very long time ago ranking the Tarantino films I’ve seen, which I’ve finally updated HERE. Have a look if you really want to see where I’ve placed Jackie Brown (although you can probably guess where The Hateful Eight ranks!).

Jackie Brown is a good film. It probably deserves more credit than it gets and I’m glad to have added it to my Blind Spot list as it was well worth finally watching. Grier & Forster are the true stars who make this film and it’s unfortunate that they’re somewhat overshadowed by “more famous” names being in the movie as well. I have a confession: I seriously don’t know Robert Forster. I know his face but never could have told you his name and had to look him up after watching this. He’s been in 177 things!!! And I watch loads of movies & know my actors. Is he one of these actors who flies under the radar & won’t get any proper recognition until he’s gone? Or have I just seriously overlooked him for years? He’s so damn good in this & I’m happy to see that he got an Oscar nomination for this role. But… Where the f*^k is Pam Grier’s nomination?!? What the f*^k, you m*^herf*^king Academy?!? I’m going to go Samuel L. Jackson on your asses! She’s great. She’s super sexy at fortysomething. I want her & Forster’s characters to live happily ever after (maybe they do? I’m not saying). I’m going to go listen to that Delfonics song now…

My Rating: 8/10

Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – The Delfonics:

And here’s the opening of Jackie Brown, with Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street. God I love this soundtrack. Can I just post YouTube videos of the whole soundtrack??:

Who Is He (And What Is He To You?) – Bill Withers:

And this one is bizarre. I like it! Good job, Tarantino. I’ll stop posting videos now. I need to buy this soundtrack… The Lions And The Cucumber – The Vampire Sound Incorporation:

Wait. Gotta end with Pam Grier! Long Time Woman – Pam Grier:

Shit. I didn’t post Strawberry Letter 23. Or Street Life… (This is a good soundtrack. Watch the movie. Listen to the songs). 🙂

Spotlight (2015) Review

Last weekend, I tried to catch up on watching some Oscar nominees. Of the Best Picture nominees, I’d already seen Mad Max: Fury Road (awesome), Room (amazing), and The Revenant (pelts!). I went to Spotlight & then what I really wanted to see was The Hateful Eight but it was sold out & I was stuck having to go to The Big Short instead. Were Spotlight & The Big Short worth my time? Let’s find out. I’ll review Spotlight today & The Big Short on Wednesday. 

Spotlight (2015)

Directed by Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic Priests. It is based on a series of stories by the real Spotlight Team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

My Opinion:

Yes, Spotlight is a good film. It’s very much “Oscar material”, so I can understand why it’s up for awards. Is it the BEST MOVIE EVER?? No. Is it one of those Best Picture nominees that people will barely remember ten years from now? Hmm. Yes, I think so. Sorry. It’s pretty much your typical “serious true story” made into a Hollywood drama just in time for Oscar season. I mean no disrespect to the unthinkable true story behind this film but, judging it just as a film as opposed to the topic the film covers, it’s indeed a solid piece of filmmaking but is certainly not up there with some of the absolute classics that have been nominated for Best Picture in the entire history of the Oscars.

But, yes, it’s at least worthy of a nomination (for Best Picture – not so much for the acting categories). Sorry to start out sounding so negative – I promise that I have nothing bad to say about this movie from here on out (I’ll save my negativity for my next review). I’ll talk about all the things that I thought were good about Spotlight. There’s honestly nothing at all bad about it – I think my negativity is aimed more at the Academy being so out of touch with the general public nowadays. But I’m getting ahead of myself again – that complaint belongs in the review I’ll be posting on Wednesday. I apologize to Spotlight – I think it’s just unfortunate that I saw it on the same day that I saw The Big Short!

Spotlight takes a serious issue and, thankfully, doesn’t exploit it. Movies based on true stories can often take things too far down that tearjerker, emotional DRAMA(!!) route and quite often end up feeling insincere. The story focuses mainly on the Spotlight team of investigators as opposed to the actual victims of sexual abuse by their priests and I think that was the best way to approach telling this story. We don’t need to see the abuse or get specific details – just knowing that such a thing could happen and that it was so widespread is bad enough. It disgusts me that adults in a position of trust can betray children in such a horrible way. But back to discussing the movie itself, not the topic it covers…

I liked this film’s approach as I’ve never been a fan of over the top melodrama and I think the quiet & subdued performances in this are much more realistic. However, it also felt like any professional actor could have played any of the roles in this film so I’m quite surprised that both Mark Ruffalo & Rachel McAdams are up for acting Oscars. I don’t think they have any chance of winning. It’s not because they’re not both good in this (they are) but these just aren’t exactly defining roles. Actually, the best performance here may be from Stanley Tucci in a small role. 

I think the Academy too often confuses “worthy topic” with “good filmmaking & acting”. But a lot of what I’m saying may also be down to my own personal preference – I like a worthy film now and then but I most often watch a movie for escapism so will almost always choose sci-fi, fantasy, etc, over a dramatic true story. The story behind this film is a very important one so it’s great that they did a Hollywood film about it as that’s (sadly) sometimes the only way the public becomes fully aware of a certain topic. But, for me personally, after watching movies like these I often feel like I’d be better off just watching a documentary (if one exists) instead of the Hollywood version of true events. Spotlight is a good film, though, and most certainly one you should watch if you like the genre and want to see how they’ve handled the story.

My Rating: 7/10

Minions (2015) Review

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Minions (2015)

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda

Starring Voice Actors:
Pierre Coffin
Sandra Bullock
Jon Hamm
Michael Keaton
Allison Janney
Steve Coogan
Geoffrey Rush

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.

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My Opinion:

First of all, I must confess that I love minions. LOVE THEM!!!! They’re hilarious and adorable and I desperately want some of my own (to do my evil bidding, of course). I specifically want a Bob after seeing this movie – he’s so sweet with his little teddy bear!

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So, anyway – I’m probably going to be far more forgiving of this movie’s flaws because…. MINIONS!!!! 🙂 Is this movie great? No. Is it even remotely as good as Despicable Me or Despicable Me 2? Hell no. But that’s okay – I didn’t expect it to be. I was hoping it would be better than it was, though, so that was a little disappointing. For the record, I think the first Despicable Me is absolutely brilliant (which shocked me as I’ve never really loved a kids’ film that wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney). I think it’s very funny as well as very sweet (without being schmaltzy). The relationship between Gru & the girls is done perfectly and I knew when they announced there would be a movie with just the minions that it would never live up to the Despicable Mes as Gru and the girls are what really make those movies so great. The fault with Minions isn’t the minions, though – they’re just as silly and loveable as ever. Unfortunately, the story and script are very weak as are all the non-minion characters. Bullock’s Scarlet Overkill is especially boring – I found her and the family the minions first meet to all be a bit stupid and pointless. We cared about Gru in Despicable Me and, even when he was at his most evil, he was at least funny & entertaining. In Minions, I really just wanted the human characters to go away. Maybe the next minions movie should be nothing but minions??? I suppose it would have to be narrated or subtitled through the whole thing, though… Okay, I suppose it wouldn’t work. I’d still watch it, though!

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I’m keeping this review short because, well, there isn’t much to say. If you adore the minions as much as I do, you’ll have fun with this movie even though you’ll recognize that it’s far from perfect. If you’re not a fan of the Despicable Me films or of the minions, I wouldn’t recommend Minions (I’m not sure why you’d want to watch it anyway in that case). I had plenty of fun laughs throughout the film but it’s lacking the heart of Despicable Me (as well as the amazing Pharrell soundtracks). For a soundtrack full of pre-existing music, though, I’d have to say that I did really enjoy the great 60’s songs they chose for the film (from The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, etc). Plus, thank god, they were smart enough to include Mellow Yellow by Donovan! (because, like, minions are YELLOW! Yeah?!). 🙂 I also enjoyed several 60’s pop culture references but, overall, it didn’t make up for the mediocre story and villain. I still love those minions, though!!!! Just do me a favor & watch Despicable Me instead if you’ve never seen it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

And if you’re curious, these would be my Despicable Me ratings:
Despicable Me: 9/10
Despicable Me 2: 7.5/10
**Updated post to add Despicable Me 3: 7/10**

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My six-year-old’s opinion: I’ve not done this as a “family” review as, to be honest, I’d have watched Minions even if I didn’t have a kid. But I did ask her for her opinion of the movie as I always do after we watch one together. She of course enjoyed it and giggled plenty throughout the film but I know she didn’t like it as much as Despicable Me. She gives the Despicable Me films 10/10 & Minions 8/10 (she tends to rate things too highly). 😉 She sat pretty still through the whole movie so it did keep her attention the entire time. I’d say it’s definitely worth going to if your kids love the minions as much as mine does. Oh, and her favorite bit has to do with a famous band (but I can’t say any more to avoid spoilers).

What my hubby had to say:
“Such a wasted opportunity. Yes I giggled at the odd thing here and there… but what a waste of some of the most iconic creations of the past ten years.”

Is there a scene after the credits? YES! There are a lot of scenes throughout the credits but there’s also a very long scene after the credits as well. It’s worth staying for (in my opinion. if you’re a music lover…).

Porco Rosso (1992) Review

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Porco Rosso (1992)
Kurenai no Buta
Japanese: 紅の豚

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Shūichirō Moriyama
Tokiko Kato
Akemi Okamura
Akio Ōtsuka

(English Dub Voice Cast: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Susan Egan, Brad Garrett, David Ogden Stiers, Kimberly Williams-Paisley)

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot revolves around an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing “air pirates” in the Adriatic Sea. However, an unusual curse has transformed him to an anthropomorphic pig. Once called Marco Pagot (Marco Rousolini in the American version), he is now known to the world as “Porco Rosso”, Italian for “Red Pig”.

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My Opinion:

Version watched: English dubbed version

I’m sorry but I have to use the word “odd” again in a Studio Ghibli review. Maybe I should buy a thesaurus. Hey, does anyone own an actual dictionary or thesaurus anymore? You can just Google everything. I think back to when I was a kid & had a set of encyclopedias… Bet no one buys those anymore! Anyway, Porco Rosso is bizarre. There, I didn’t use the word “odd”!

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First of all, I admit to only seeing the English dubbed version of this as it was on TV and I know I NEVER enjoy those as much as the subtitled versions so, therefore, I’ll probably be a little more harsh on this movie than it deserves. This is one of the “not for kids” Ghibli films. It’s hard to know who it’s aimed at… I’d say it’s the most “adult male” one I’ve seen so far. As I’m not male & really not at all interested in WWI flying aces (other than Snoopy), this movie didn’t speak to me the way other Ghibli movies have. It has quite a high IMDB rating & I’m sure plenty of people like this one. It’s just my least favorite of the Miyazaki-directed Ghiblis (I only have one left to watch – The Wind Rises. Will be interesting to see how that compares as that’s about a man who designed Japanese planes for WWII).

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Porco Rosso, at least in the dubbed version, is a “manly” man (manly pig? pigly man?). He’s a womanizer & comes across as a bit sexist. He’s voiced by Michael Keaton so it was strange watching this just after seeing Birdman. The voice Keaton uses for Porco Rosso is fairly close to his smart ass superhero “Birdman” voice. There’s a woman who is in love with his character then there’s later a 17-year-old girl who also seems very fond of him (as he seems to be of her). I won’t pretend I didn’t find that a little disturbing. Especially when the girl’s grandfather says something like “keep your hands off my granddaughter” & Porco says “just looking at her makes me tired”. Er… What a pig! 😉

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The 17-year-old girl in this, however, is another strong female Ghibli character. She’s an engineer & helps fix Porco Rosso’s plane. I think a big part of the reason I like Studio Ghibli films so much is because of the great female characters so I’m glad we got a decent one in this movie as well. She’s not the main character but she does help make up a bit for Porco’s somewhat sexist & unlikable ways and kind of brings out the best in him by the end.

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Summary:

What can I say? Porco Rosso just wasn’t really my sort of thing. I respect it in the way I do all the Studio Ghibli films but just didn’t love it in the same way I do most of the other Ghiblis. It’s definitely a more adult one and aimed more at males. It’s certainly not a bad film & still a lot better than most movies out there. I wouldn’t recommend it as someone’s introduction to Studio Ghibli but it’s definitely worth a watch for those who are already Ghibli fans. Sorry for the quick & rubbish review but I’m off to see Ex Machina right now – that seems more “me”. 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) (2014) Review

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Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) (2014)

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Starring:
Michael Keaton
Zach Galifianakis
Edward Norton
Andrea Riseborough
Amy Ryan
Emma Stone
Naomi Watts

Running time: 119 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play.

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My Opinion:

Birdman is definitely a film lover’s film. I’ll probably not mention it to any co-workers today if they ask what I did over the weekend because I know I’d just be met with blank stares. I’m not saying that as some film snob because I’m not – I like some things that are slightly more obscure but I also like plenty of mainstream movies. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Birdman as much I was hoping I would as a film lover.

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First of all, I’ll say that the performances are as good as I’d heard. I’m very happy that Michael Keaton is nominated for an Oscar as I’ve always quite liked him and I think he’s done an excellent job in this so it’s nice seeing him finally getting some recognition (and he’s my favorite Batman). Emma Stone is also very good as his messed up daughter and Edward Norton as a real prick of an actor. I can’t fault any of the acting or the script or… anything, really. It just didn’t really work for me overall and I walked away from the movie knowing it was one I “appreciated” as opposed actually “enjoyed”. Which is fine sometimes but it’s great when you can have both. As far as this year’s movies filled with Oscar nominated performances, I think I actually preferred Foxcatcher as a film.

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Even more than a film lover’s movie, this is an ACTOR’S movie. I can see why actors or anyone with theater experience would love it. It’s not something I can relate to at all but I’ll be very surprised if Keaton doesn’t win the Oscar as he’ll certainly get all the actors’ votes. I really liked the “play within a play” concept and the use of music worked so perfectly with that. I also liked the various storylines for each character and there were some good humorous moments.

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To read a great review from someone who more fully appreciates what this movie is trying to do, I’d suggest you read Cara’s Birdman review over HERE at Silver Screen Serenade. She uses big words like meta! Well, okay – that’s actually a pretty short word… I’m not going to ramble on about this movie or do a summary. This is a good movie with an original concept and great performances (including a career high from Keaton). I very much appreciate what they’ve tried to do and like that it felt fresh & original. But, in the end, I just didn’t really care about the characters (except maybe Keaton’s a little) or what the outcome would be. Still, I fully support movies like this as opposed to the countless remakes, reboots & sequels out there. I just wanted to like it more.

My Rating: 7/10

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Mr. Mom (1983) Guest Review

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This guest review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Josh of JJames Reviews. Thanks for this, Josh! Let’s see what he thought of Mr. Mom. 🙂

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Mr. Mom (1983)

Directed By: Stan Dragoti

Written By: John Hughes

Starring:
Michael Keaton
Teri Garr
Martin Mall
Ann Jillian
Jeffrey Tambor
Carolyn Seymour

Running Time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) loses his job. When his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr) finds work before he does, Jack stays home with their three children. Both Jack and Caroline must grapple with personal identity crises as they adapt to their new responsibilities.

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My Opinion

Humor is Mr. Mom’s greatest strength. Even after thirty-plus years, it is funny enough to maintain attention, not least because it features many quotable lines: “220, 221, whatever it takes;” “Well, you should take pride with some of that fat, porky;” “You can give me two. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing;” and more. Writer John Hughes and Director Stan Dragoti deliver laugh out loud moments with such frequency that Mr. Mom never lags, never becomes less than entertaining.

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Humor is not the film’s only strength. In Jack and Caroline, Hughes and Dragoti develop two relatively complex lead characters. Both are believable and generate concern, facts that mean we can root for them and be happy when they finally start to adapt. Their stories are not dramatic masterpiece material, of course, but they are soulful enough to give this comedy weight.

Minor characters, like Joan (Ann Jillian), Ron (Martin Mull) and Jinx (Jeffrey Tambor) have only one note, but Mr. Mom does not suffer for their lack of development. Why? Because the minor characters’ purpose is to fuel humor, not to drive drama, and they are all very funny.

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As impressively, Hughes and Dragoti mark passage of time seamlessly and quickly, without ever resorting to cheap narrative tricks or lengthy exposition. They do not overwhelm their film with plot-filling montages, instead trusting skillful editing, simple dialogue and visual cues to fill in temporal gaps. Consider how we learn Caroline has found a job, or how we see Jack’s struggle to adjust to his new lifestyle.

Mr. Mom’s performances are also very good. Michael Keaton is enchanting in this comedic role, using exaggerated gestures and facial expressions to deliver punch lines convincingly. Martin Mull is just as good as a sleazy boss with inappropriate intent toward to his female subordinate, and Teri Garr plays the comedy straight man well, providing just enough stabilization to support Keaton’s attention grabbing efforts.

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Yet, this film is not perfect. Chief amongst its flaws is that it has not aged well. Set aside the 1980s fashion, hairstyle and decorations. Consider instead the way Mr. Mom panders to sexist stereotypes. Men do not know how to shop the supermarket; women are scorned by executive work forces; housewives watch soap operas and mostly ignore their children; and so forth. In 1983, Mr. Mom’s hyperbole no doubt effectively questioned society’s perceptions of gender roles, but in 2014, it isn’t so effective. If only because the modern world sees many men take active roles in households and childcare, just as many women now work in professional settings. We can still make more progress, of course, but today’s society looks different than 1983’s, a fact that makes Mr. Mom dated. Indeed, some of the film’s stereotypes are now borderline offensive.

Additionally, Jack and Caroline’s children are under featured, explanations of their presence, activity and care ignored, leaving us to wonder exactly what is happening with or to them.

The movie’s predictability is an even bigger issue. The moment Jack starts staying home, we know what is going to happen, both in terms of plot and character growth. Nothing in this movie surprises us. To be sure, Mr. Mom is funny enough that it doesn’t crumble under the weight of such conventionality, but a less predictable path would have served it well all the same.

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Yet, through humor, fun performances and interesting characters, Mr. Mom still overcomes most of its flaws. It remains an entertaining comedy. Yes, it has limited thematic application for modern viewers, but it is fun all the same.

Conclusion

Despite some flaws, John Hughes’ screenplay vitalizes this comedy. The actors also help keep it lively.

My Rating: 7.5/10