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Movie Review: Home

Published April 8, 2015 by mrsrag

Home the movieStarring the voices of: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones, Brian Stepanek, April Lawrence.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes.

Home is the story of The Boov, these ghosts from Pac-Man looking creatures, that are inexplicably and constantly running away from their mortal enemy, the Gorg.  Their travels take them to Earth, where they imprison the whole planet, all the while acting like they’re doing us a favor.  The Boov are delusional, and they’re led by Captain Smek (Martin) a particularly self serving megalomaniac.  Oh (Parsons) is that most annoying Boov, you know the type, that guy/girl you run away from before they spot you and you’re trapped by inane conversation until you want to blow your brains out.  Oh quickly runs into Tip Tucci (Rihanna), a little girl who’s been separated from her mother Lucy (Lopez), and for all intents and purposes, the interaction between those two is the whole movie.  Their quest to find Tip’s mom and Oh’s growth into self awareness give the movie a sweet heart while projecting important life lessons.  We had our own Oh right behind us in the theater.  After returning from refilling our popcorn, Maria informed me, “the people behind us are horrible.”  More specifically, this one kid, maybe 11, was screaming a constant commentary of every action on the screen.  “Hahaha, the Boov need to run away!!!”  “Look Oh made the car fly.”  Then, something happens that doesn’t bring a chuckle from anyone else:  horrible, annoying, screaming, horse laughter.  After a firm shooshing from Maria, and another from the people behind him, he got a little better, but talk about brutal!  All I could think of was, imagine living with that kid everyday??  Talk about blowing your fucking brains out!!  

It was bad.  Honestly, I would have made a much bigger deal about it, but then I thought that the kid may have an actual disorder.  Whomever was accompanying him to the film was more at fault for this behavior anyhow.  All of the previous loud commentary and excessive laughter was followed by the kicking of my seat.  For the first twenty minutes of the movie I thought I may need to leave or strangle myself with the handle of my purse.  Nevertheless, this made it difficult to enjoy the entire movie.  But about half way through, the behavior settled to a tolerable lull.  It’s difficult to make a kids movie that impresses me.  I mean, everything has been done and over done.  It’s quite something when you get a Lego Movie or a Frozen experience.  Especially when you’re expectations are so low.  I wouldn’t quite say that Home deserves to be on the same shelf as those new classics, but there was something very likable about this story.  It had some very important underlying lessons and the dynamic between our alien and human are sweet.  Oh learns how to stop running from his problems and start solving them instead.  Something that eventually benefits the Boov and the humans.

I agree completely, Home is a cut below the Wreck-it Ralph’s, Up’s and Finding Nemo’s of the past, but after a slow start, it won me over.  Even Parson’s Yoda/Jar Jar Binks-like speech patterns for Oh, I found endearing after a while.  DreamWorks pulled in 54 million the first weekend with this effort, and our theater was packed on the following Friday, so word of mouth has been decent.  I would recommend it for sure, especially if you’re on the fence.  The good news for you if you go: the crowds should be dwindling, so if you draw your own Oh in your area, you can always move.  I’m jealous!

This is definitely worth the trip, especially with the kids.  I think it says something that I still found this movie fairly decent even with all of the disturbances surrounding me.  And one last note about that; we were accompanied by a similar age child, Ethan, who was quiet and respectful of those around him.  That’s because it has been explained to him at length over the years that anything other is unacceptable.  So, if you’re a frequent movie going family, it’s probably best to have a nice outline of rules before venturing into the theatre.  And guess what, if you get in there and your kid isn’t acting right, you should pull a Boov move and skedaddle.

Ross’ Rating: 3.25 Gummy Bears out of 5.    

Maria’s rating: 3 Gummies.

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Movie Review: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Published February 13, 2015 by mrsrag

sponge bobStarring the voices of:  Tom Kenney, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence, Mr. Lawrence and Antonio Banderas (in the flesh).

Rated- PG.  Animated.  Running Time- 1 hour 33 minutes.

SpongeBob (Kenney), Patrick (Fagerbakke), Mr. Krabs (Brown), Squidward (Bumpass), Sandy (Lawrence) and Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) have been holding court in Bikini Bottom since 1999 on Nikelodeon, and occasionally on the big screen. Ethan is 11 and has been watching them since he was 3, so I have seen more SpongeBob than I probably would have liked.  And while it’s no Regular Show or Phineas and Ferb, it definitely has its’ moments.  Something about SpongeBob’s eternal, annoying optimism, Patrick’s epic stupidity, Mr. Krabs constant chasing of the dollar and miserly cheapness, Sandy’s know-it-all, Texas-twangy cockiness, and Plankton’s relentless pursuit of the Krabby Patty formula, work in a way that keeps you chuckling year after year.  And the plot of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, with the interjection of Burger Beard (Banderas) actually brings some freshness to the franchise, though you may feel like you’re on a bit of an acid trip.  The Krabby Patty formula is stolen, but not by Plankton?  SpongeBob betrays his idol/employer Mr. Krabs?!  Patrick at odds with his porous, yellow best friend?  The gang ends up in the “real world”?!  The action is non-stop, the puns fly freely and the laughs are better than sporadic. If your kids need to go, take them, you’ll enjoy yourself.  One bit of advice though, we here at MRSRAG are big supporters of the legalization of cannabis, so smoke’em if you’ve got’em!  You’ll be glad you did.

I sure wish I had.  I was very optimistic about viewing this one in 3D.  Judging from the previews, I had a feeling that it was going to be well worth the few extra bucks.  And it most certainly was.  Some of my favorite parts were the trippy, time travelling sequences where I felt like I was plummeting through a psychedelic wormhole.  This is the first time I have felt like the 3D made the experience exponentially more enjoyable.  I love that the SpongeBob humor has always had a sarcastic, sharp and humble flair.  The show has always had a knack for poking fun at itself and the whole gang…mostly Patrick – but he doesn’t seem to mind.  Or he just doesn’t know any better.  Sponge Out of Water will keep kids and adults entertained.  I was giggling on the ride home about jokes from the film.  And there is something lovable about that annoying little sponge.

I love the voice cast of the SpongeBob series.  Bill Fagerbakke the voice of Patrick has made a career playing idiots.  You may remember him from the TV show Coach, but my favorite character of his was the simple-minded, well intentioned Tom Cullen from Steven King’s The Stand.  “M-O-O-N, that spells Tom!”  And how about Mr. Krabs?  Voiced by none other than Clancy Brown, you know, “the toughest screw at Shawshank Prison.”  Ironically another Steven King vehicle, but again my favorite role of his was The Kurgan from the 1986 movie Highlander.  Clancy went from, in my opinion, one of the top 3 best villains of all time to voicing a miserly, cartoon crab.  Then there is the voice of Plankton, simply known as Mr. Lawrence.  You know that guy has to be a character.  If you like SpongeBob to begin with you won’t be disappointed with Out of Water, and if you’re not familiar with the denizens of Bikini Bottom, you probably won’t be going anyway.  It’s a total win-win situation.   

Ross is constantly blowing my mind with his voice recognition.  This dude’s ears are unbelievable!  I’ve been overhearing these voices for years while Ethan watches episodes and truthfully, I had watched a handful on my own during college.  There’s one episode I fondly remember where SpongeBob and Patrick decide to start following ‘The Magic Conch’.  In this day and age of technology, you could probably find it on YouTube.  I suggest you do so ASAP.  The episode is genius.  And it was the catalyst for completely transforming my opinion of the show.  This franchise continues to surprise me and this latest offering does not fall short of its usual standards.  But it’s mostly just fun.  Which is what the show is really all about anyway.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.

Play Review: The Book of Mormon

Published December 31, 2014 by mrsrag

bomStarring: Declan Egan, Rob Colletti, Denee Benton and a monstrously talented supporting cast.

Sold out 1543 shows in a row on Broadway and counting.  We saw it at the The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, FL; but possibly coming to a town near you soon.

Musical/Comedy.  Written by: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Robert Lopez.

I have to begin with the background story of how Maria and I were able to attend The Book of Mormon.  I didn’t even know it was coming to town until the day before it opened at the Kravis, as I read about it in the paper.  Also, I had no clue how popular this show was, but I soon discovered in my attempt to get tickets.  I called my brother Randy, because I know he donates to TKC every year, and I thought he might have an “in” for getting tickets.  He did, but there were simply no tickets to be had anywhere, for any price.  My brother, however, is not used to taking “no” for an answer.  I had called him on Monday, he proceeded to embark on a five day crusade to find tickets.  At the eleventh hour, he found a pair, in Las Vegas (yes Vegas!) and had them FedEx’d on Saturday morning.  He showed up at our door at 10 AM: “Merry Christmas!  You have no idea what I went through to find those.  Have fun.”  I also shudder to think what he paid for them, but oh my goodness, did we ever “have fun”!!

We just felt so lucky to even have the opportunity to go and see this play, especially under the circumstances.  But we had a wonderful night out on the town thanks to Randy.  And we had a ball getting decked out and doing something a little different.  This show is pure, unadulterated fun.  What I love about Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of a little t.v. show called South Park, is that they aren’t simply filthy or just silly, they’re fucking brilliantly smart.  And their writing beautifully displays their knack for raunch, storytelling and an admirable fearlessness.  The Book of Mormon was right up our alley of humor with innuendos, puns and a supreme selection of musical parodies.  One of our most favorite things.  The most unbelievable aspect of this rendition is that most of this cast was comprised of second string actors and the performance was still absolutely flawless.  I can’t imagine it could be any better on Broadway.

It would be fun someday to get to the Broadway version to compare the performances, but I’m with Maria, hard to imagine anyone doing it better than this cast.  The humor here is definitely not for everyone, but absolutely in MRSRAG’s wheelhouse.  Let’s face it, Mormons have some crazy ideas: magical underwear, your own planet when you die, white people were here in the U.S. before Native Americans etc., so making fun of them is easy.  Matt and Trey rarely disappoint when it comes to laughs and the songs are fantastic, only equaled by the people singing them.  The play kicks into high gear when Elder Price (Egan) and Elder Cunningham (Colletti) get to Uganda to do their two years as missionaries and bring as many of the locals into the fold as possible.  As you may guess, the Ugandans are less than receptive as they have many horrific problems to deal with, and one of the first numbers; reminiscent of the hakuna matata song from The Lion King, is hilarious.  Faith, persistence, despair, loss of faith, innovation, hope; all examined here in song, performed brilliantly with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  If you’re not easily offended, do yourself a favor and try to find The Book of Mormon if you get a chance, you’ll be happy you did and you won’t even end up with “maggots in your scrotum”.  Just believe, because I say so, it’s the Mormon way!

This isn’t the first time Matt & Trey have poked fun at the Mormons.  Some of you may be familiar with the South Park episode where a constant stream of, “dum, dum, dum…” plays in the background during an explanation of how Joseph Smith developed the faith.  I imagine growing up geographically close to Mormon country has had some hand in influencing this pair’s affinity for the religion.  They originate from Colorado and Mormon land is only a hop or skip away in Utah.  I don’t want to give anything away, but I have found myself singing their Hakuna Matata-esque mantra, ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’.  If you don’t find yourself as lucky as us with the ticket situation, you can always check this one out on YouTube.  It’s well worth stealing five minutes away from cat videos.  And one final note, did we mention that our seats were two rows from the stage?!  Now THAT is some Christmas present.  Thanks again Randy!!

Ross’ Rating: 4.25 Playbills out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4.5 Playbills.

 

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part One

Published December 24, 2014 by mrsrag

mockingjayStarring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci.

Rated: PG-13.  Adventure/Science Fiction.  Running Time: 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Harry Potter, Twilight and now The Hunger Games.  I know you’ve heard this lament before from both of us, but it bears repeating.  Why must they take our favorite books and split up the last installments?  The only possible answer is money.  They KNOW we’ll pay and they take advantage of that to get two monster box offices out of one.  It’s a shame and a terribly exploitive practice.  These movies become incomplete weigh stations for the final payoff, yet they need to be seen.  A truly sorry state of affairs.  At any rate, when last we saw Katniss (Lawrence) in Catching Fire, she was being airlifted out of the games’ dome after taking it out with an arrow.  Shit was hitting the fan as the revolution had begun in Panem in earnest.  In THG:M-P1, she wakes up on the ship pissed off and confused.  Plutarch (the late Hoffman), Haymitch (Harrelson), Finnick (Claflin) and Gale (Hemsworth) are there among others, but no Peeta (Hutcherson). He got left behind during the rescue, and is apparently working propaganda for the Capitol.  Katniss meets a new character, President Coin (Moore), leader of the rebellion, who convinces her to be the inspirational face that the resistance lacks.  Originally reticent to the idea, Katniss signs on after she sees the ruins of her home District 12.  From District 13 they plan their strategy, and we watch and wait for Part 2. 

Here’s an idea:  just make one great movie modeled after the one great book.  They stretch it into two and the 1st installment consistently blows.  Infuriating & insanely boring.  Ross was actually sleeping at one point and I had to elbow him awake.  J.Law still delivers a convincing portrayal of Ms. Everdeen, but it’s starting to feel a bit stale.  Possibly because I’ve been disappointed with her transformation lately.  I miss that genuinely funny, salt of the Earth chick she was when she broke onto the scene.  She seems to have given into the stigma of Hollywood.  The only thing that breathes any kind of life into Mockingjay is the chemistry between Donald Sutherland’s President Snow and the new poster girl of revolution.  However, without the entertainment provided by the usual games, we have to settle for the raw brutality of war.  This coupled with the lack of resolution to our story make this one a snoozer.  But, like Ross said, they don’t care.  They churn out shit, but they’re still making big bucks.

I really hope Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t end up a diva like everyone else, but she does seem to be on that path of late.  She is only 24, and she’s been on the fame train for many years already, it must be difficult to keep perspective with all the money and people telling you how great you are constantly.  And she IS great by the way, so maybe she’ll turn out okay.  As for THG: Mockingjay- Part 1, Maria has it right, it’s a snoozer.  My eyes were droopy, and that NEVER happens to me.  From now on, if they insist on keeping up with the split finales, I’m waiting for video for the first installment.  That being said, I can’t wait for Part 2!

After all that bitching and moaning, I’m still looking forward to Part 2 as well.  Shit has really got to start hitting the fan now.  Although, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they are going to stay true to the books and still get a PG-13 rating.  Luckily, after THG: Mockingjay- Part 1, my hopes aren’t too high.  But it can’t be worse.  For starters, our story will finally come to a conclusion.  And all of our characters will find themselves immersed in a violent and turbulent end.  Hopefully, at some point soon J.Law will level out and find her roots again.  I’d like to see her involved in an independent project, like her break out role in Winter’s Bone.  Getting back to the basics would be good for her.

Ross’ Rating: 2.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3 Gummies.

 

 

 

Book Review: Sharp Objects

Published December 22, 2014 by mrsrag

sharp objectsAuthor: Gillian Flynn.  Originally published in hardback in 2006. 393 pages in paperback.

Murder mystery/Psychological drama/Suspense.  Fiction.

The reading world was smashed wide open after Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl reigned atop Bestseller’s lists across the country following its release in mid 2012.  I remember hearing the first glowing reviews from friends and knowing it was a must for my beach season repertoire.  I absolutely loved it and lately have been hearing great things about her other novels.  My recent stint in an airport bookstore left me desperately seeking something of interest and I came across Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects.  I gave the back cover a quick read and knew this suspenseful mystery would more than captivate me.  This lady has a penchant for writing about twisted broads.  Flynn is talented, unique and absolutely fearless.  Her first novel pushes boundaries and disproves numerous stereotypes often used to describe women writers.  Her style can be described as wicked, crazy and brilliant.  She is capable of weaving a vicious web, sending readers on a journey of moral exploration and self doubt.  Just as soon as you believe you have a handle on what’s going on, she throws in another twist that changes the readers perspective.  This time we find ourselves immersed in the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri, following journalist Camille Preaker back to her roots and an uncomfortable home life she’d rather leave in the past.

“Twisted broads” indeed.  Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne was one mercenary, crazy woman, and Camille holds down the crazy quite well in Sharp Objects; but her mother Adora is at the very top of the literary food chain of fucked up nasty bitches.  Camille works for a small paper in Chicago, and when one little girl is murdered and then another goes missing in her hometown in Missouri, her editor thinks it’s a good idea if she goes back to cover the story.  Camille isn’t too happy about the assignment though, she hasn’t seen or spoken to her mother or her younger half sister Amma in years.  Camille was right to be hesitant to go back to Wind Gap.  There’s a reason she likes to carve words into her flesh (yes you read that right), like “WICKED”, “NASTY”, “HARMFUL”, “WHORE” and a myriad of others, but you’ll have to read to find out.  I don’t know what kind of women Gillian Flynn has in her background, but I sincerely hope she is writing from her imagination and not life experiences. Steven King had nothing but superlatives for Sharp Objects, calling it “a terrific debut novel” and “an admirably nasty piece of work.”  I couldn’t agree more with the greatest writer of my lifetime.  Gillian Flynn is badass!

Flynn has received vast amounts of praise for her growing body of work and personally I can’t wait to see what she does next.  She isn’t afraid to discuss sexuality, violence or a myriad of taboo behaviors.  And I believe it’s this freedom in her writing that allows her to reach a pinnacle of creativity and excellence.  Her novels are the kind that you just can’t put down.  I found myself stealing away during the Thanksgiving holiday just to plow through another chapter.  It creeps into the dark recesses of your mind, into your dreams and daily thoughts.  I was feeling mighty thankful that I was raised by a nurturing and caring woman.  And that my family is comprised of loving and kind people.  Sharp Objects will introduce you to a cast of players ranging from emotionally disturbed to pure evil.   I’m planning on picking up another of her twisted tales, Dark Places.  We’ll see what that has in store for me during my Christmas travels.

Gone Girl was made into a movie (an excellent adaptation, check out our review in the MRSRAG archives) and I just read Sharp Objects is coming to the small screen soon, presumably as a mini series.  Ms. Flynn is hot and her style is unique as Maria pointed out.  There’s nothing like a book that you just can’t put down, and she’s two for two in that department with me.  Sharp Objects has some dark shit going on, but it will keep you thinking, guessing and reading until the wee hours of the morning.  Dark circles under your eyes?  A small price to pay for such an exquisitely demented journey through the mind of a master storyteller.

Maria’s Rating: 4.5 Bookmarks out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 4.25 Bookmarks.