Chris Pratt

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Movie Review: Jurassic World

Published June 25, 2015 by mrsrag

jurassic worldStarring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Irrfan Kahn, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Lauren Lapkus, Katie McGrath, Vincent D’Onforio.

Rated: PG-13.  Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi.  Running Time: 2 hours 4 minutes.

When I was in First Grade I ordered these dinosaur booklets for my whole class (they were free and cool as shit!) from Rex Trailer’s Boomtown, a Boston kid’s show that was on Sunday mornings.  I have always been fascinated by dinosaurs since I can remember, like many of you out there I’m sure.  When Jurassic Park came out in 1993, I raced out to see it and to this day have a hard time passing it by when it’s on.  22 years have gone by, two very mediocre sequels were made, but I was still pretty jazzed to see Jurassic World.  Wow, it was even better than I thought it could be!  Without giving too much away, Jurassic World is a functioning theme park on Isla Nublar (the original island), and has been for ten years.  John Hammond’s vision has come true, unfortunately, interest is waning a bit (you know because dinosaurs are so boring.  Humans!) so the park owners create a new hybrid dinosaur: Indominus Rex.  You can see where this is going without me telling you, Jurassic World is great, but it’s still pretty formulaic and somewhat predictable.  What makes it so enjoyable is the chemistry between the likeable Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.  The subtle bad guy turn by D’Onofrio, the cool, state-of-the-art theme park, and of course the dinosaurs.  My personal favorite; Mosasaurus, the huge crocodile-ish creature that has a Shamu-like act in a massive  pool.  Don’t get too close though, you might get splashed…with blood!

I’ve always had a thing for dinosaurs too.  Something about the sheer size of these creatures is naturally alluring.  I remember learning about them in school and being completely captivated.  Unfortunately, in ’93 I was 9 and wasn’t frequenting the movies.  Especially, movies with scary T-Rex’s eating people off toilets and raptors chasing children.  I was probably off somewhere enjoying, ‘The Land before Time’ with Little Foot and the whole gang.  Years later I would eventually get to see Jurassic Park.  It was a real treat getting to view it in 3-D a couple of years ago when they re-released it in theatres.  It has always made sense to me to see these movies featuring special effects on the big screen.  And so, Jurassic World seemed like a perfect pick for Father’s Day weekend with Ethan.  I was impressed with how he handled the jump scares and bloodshed, as this was by far the most violent out of the three.  We had heard a lot of mixed reviews about the film, so I went in with fairly low expectations.  But honestly, I enjoyed myself and I think the boys really liked it too.  There’s only so much you can do – rebuild the park, open it to the public and dinosaurs get loose.  I’m not sure what people are expecting.  The plot is formulaic because they’ve covered all possible storylines.  The cast really breathes new life into this latest rendition.

The violence is pretty hardcore.  Ethan is eleven and he handled it okay, but I’d leave the little ones home for this one.  Keep an eye on Zara (McGrath), Bryce Dallas Howard’s assistant, her demise is epic.   I’ll be honest, I read an article about Chris Pratt in Esquire a few months ago, and the guy comes across as a bit of a dick.  But there is no denying that he has something going on, on screen.  I thought he was excellent in Guardians of the Galaxy and he also voiced the lead, Emmitt, in 2014’s  fabulous The Lego Movie.  The man is on a roll.  The supporting cast scores here too.  Jake Johnson from Let’s be Cops, Nick Robinson of The Kings of Summer, Irrfan Kahn from Life of PI, Omar Sy from the fantastic foreign film The Intouchables, and BD Wong the only holdover from Jurassic Park, all contribute fine performances.  Like Maria said, there is only so much plot twisting they can do, but I say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”   And it’s not like there aren’t any surprises; Velociraptors as good guys?!  No way you saw that one coming.

I have to assume that with the record setting box office success of JW, that they will no doubt have another installment of this series coming soon.  The effects really make these movies and they peppered in just enough flavor of real life, to make the technological advances seem reasonable.  There was a really cool scene featuring these gyroscopic balls that park goers direct into the fields with the gentle giants, but as things always seem to do, something goes awry.  There was a brilliant add on of Jimmy Fallon giving instructions and safety tips on how to operate the gyroscope.  And anyone who frequents amusement parks knows they love to feature a celebrity in their safety videos.  Jurassic World didn’t blow me away, but it was an entertaining and enjoyable film.  Perfect for this set of audience members, as we are trying to branch Ethan out into some more mature fare, within reason.  And he handled it like a champ!

Ross’ Rating: 4.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s rating: 4 out of 5 Gummies.


Movie Review: The Lego Movie

Published February 12, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of: Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Shaquille O’Neil, Jonah Hill.

Rated: PG.  Animated/Comedy.  Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

Ross leaned over toward the end of the movie and said, “This may be the most clever kids movie I’ve ever seen…or the most clever movie ever.”  Which is saying a lot considering he’s seen a TON of movies, especially of the kid genre.  Clever is the best one word description of this film.  He wasn’t even looking forward to it as much as Ethan and I were.  As we walked to the car he declared, “Well, that was 1,000 times better than I thought it was going to be.”  The Lego Movie was full of fun, laughs and tons of heart.  The jokes were so high brow that out of a packed theatre, Ross and I found ourselves to be the only two hysterically laughing.  I’m not saying the two of us are ready to join Mensa, but these jokes were too funny not to be laughing if you understood them.  Some of my personal favorites were the references to things such as ‘Kragle’, an old tube of Krazy Glue with some illegible letters, the orb of ‘Titleist’ – an ordinary golf ball and the ‘Exact zero’ blade, an Exacto knife.  They flawlessly integrated these everyday household objects into the fantastical plot surrounding the Lego characters.  And the cast of Lego people included, but were not limited to the following: Batman, Wonder Woman, Abraham Lincoln, Gandalf, Superman, the Green Lantern, the Green Ninja, a bunch of Star Wars characters and the usual yellow-faced dudes.  One of which ends up fulfilling a prophecy about a master builder who will save the World.  Emmett is just a regular old construction worker who likes to follow the rules, enjoys his daily routine and just wants to make friends.  Until one day when he sets eyes on the girl of his dreams.  While in pursuit, he literally stumbles upon the ‘piece of resistance’ and is thrust into an unexpected adventure.

The “Polish (think Poland) Remover of Nigh-ell, for nail polish remover was one of my favorites!  Having watched Lego based shows Ninjago and The Legends of Chima on Cartoon Network with Ethan, I REALLY wasn’t expecting much from The Lego Movie, and as is often the case I was more than pleasantly surprised.  The voice actors  were perfectly cast here and the writing is off the charts.  Everyman hero Emmet (Pratt), Master Po-like mentor Vitruvius (Freeman), vibrant vixen Wyldstyle (Banks), her beau Batman (Arnett), Bad Cop/Good Cop (Neeson) and Lord Business/President Business (Ferrell) are the core of the movie, and they banter and battle their way through the land of Legos with blissful abandon.  I honestly can’t wait to see it again to memorize more of the classic lines.  And as if the whole romp wasn’t enough on it’s own, there is a spectacular twist at the end (that Maria mostly saw coming I might add), that brings it to an even higher level.  Go see The Lego Movie.  You’re kids will love it and if you keep your attention vigilant, you’ll hear some of the wittiest jokes and references since the Shrek series.  “I will repay you.  Unless of course I can’t find you, or I forget.” 

Much like Shrek, The Lego Movie is full of classics.  It definitely merits another watch.  Along with the witty jokes and clever plot, there is also a deeper allegory that focuses on conformity.  The underlying message being: be creative, think outside the box and don’t always follow the instructions.  This movie just makes you feel good after seeing it and it will make you laugh.  Something I think we could all use.  Just go see this movie because, “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME…”

“Everything is Awesome”, the signature song from the movie is a catchy, brainless ditty that you will find yourself humming on the way out.  We have seen some great animated films in the last year or so.  Wreck-It Ralph (which I thought should have definitely beat out Brave for Best Animated), Despicable Me 2, and the fantastic Frozen.  The Lego Movie fits in nicely with those gems.  First week gross was $69,000,00, easily outdistancing The Monuments Men $22,000,000.  It remains to be seen if TLM can catch Frozen’s $350,000,000 and counting, but I’m guessing word of mouth will push it to the stratosphere.  Would be absolutely shocked if we don’t see more from the land of interlocking blocks, and I for one can’t wait!  Who would of thought, little yellow people with “C’s”  for hands = box office gold?!  Awesome, indeed.

Maria’s Rating: 5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 4.5 Gummies.

Fairly Recent DVD Release: Movie 43

Published September 5, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Charlie Saxton, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Live Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, J.B. Smoove, Emma Stone, Kieran Culkin, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBryer, Aasif Mandvi, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Josh Duhamel, and Elizabeth Banks.

Rated: R. Comedy. Running Time: 1 hour & 34 minutes.

Ross and I rented Movie 43 on a whim.  We were en route to our home from cocktails & dinner.  Neither of us was expecting much at all.  I remember seeing the previews and thinking, “Wow, that’s some cast” (see above listing).  But then it fell off the radar.  And I figured, if no one is talking about it, could it really be worth watching?  The answer is: YES.  The movie makes up for any later transgression in the first skit.  Five minutes in, Ross and I were laughing so hard that neither of us could speak or breathe.  That being said, if you don’t like immature humor, skip this one and you should probably leave my blog for good.  We had no idea what to expect, but what unfolded on the screen left us bewildered, delighted and quite intrigued.  Once the movie got rolling, we realized it was a series of interconnected sketches featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  I kept asking myself, “How did they get all these people!”  There were some promising moments of hilarity & ingenuity…but taken in its entirety – this movie was bad.

I had no idea what we were in for when we rented Movie 43, but with that cast, you had to expect something decent.  I don’t know if I agree with Maria that the movie was bad.  If a movie entertains, makes you laugh or cry or feel exhilarated, I think that’s enough.  I will say the premise, an ever increasingly insane Dennis Quaid (playing a version of himself?) pitching his movie idea to a generic movie executive, Kinnear, is silly.  The “movie” is just a series of skits.  There is no way anyone could think they could make a coherent, full standing movie.  However, many of the vignettes are clever and hilarious.  None more than the first one, a first date for Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet.  If you follow MRSRAG at all, you know that Maria and I rarely, if ever, give out spoilers, and we’re not going to do it here.  But this first skit has a shocking surprise, a side splittingly funny one that keeps on giving.  Beyond the great opener, a few of my favorites were, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts as parents who are homeschooling their teenaged son, complete with all of high school’s worst possible scenarios.  A girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) getting her  period for the first time.  And Terrence Howard as a basketball coach circa the 1960’s (think Pleasantville or Hoosiers) giving a pep talk to his all black team before their first game against an all white squad.  While maybe “bad” isn’t the right word to describe Movie 43, it is hard to believe the creators convinced all these “A” list actors to associate their names with it.  

It was entertaining, but at times, hard to watch.  I’m actually surprised that Ross enjoyed it more than me, since he has some difficulty with awkward humor.  I will say that Movie 43 is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  And the “A” list actors is what put some of the skits over the edge for me.  Watching these Academy Award nominees and winners act out these absurd storylines was not only amusing, but shocking.  It took me a full day to get over the movie.  I kept asking Ross, “Was that real?”, “How did they get everyone to sign on?”, “Did I drink a lot last night?”!  It is in one word: unbelievable.  There were several vignettes, most of which my partner has described, that were pure comic genius.  They must be viewed.  But if I really look at this film in its entirety, it missed the mark.  And that is truly unfortunate because it contains so much potential.  Bottom line, go rent this for a $1.27.  The belly laughs are well worth that price.

An extremely tough movie to review.  Ultimately I have to recommend that you see it.  If you’re in the mood for some raunchy, clever, original comedy, Movie 43 should get the job done.  It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it won’t end up on your Top 20 list, but it’s not quite like anything you’ve ever seen before.  And, you will probably never see a larger collection of stars in one project.  There is one last scene I have to mention; a skit where a man is obviously going to propose marriage to his girlfriend.  “I have something I want to say.”  “Me too”, she replies.  “Ok, let’s say it together.  One. Two. Three….”  She beats him to the punch, and I almost fell off the couch!  You may want to keep some pillows handy for that one.

Maria’s Rating:  2.5 Gummy Bears out of 5. (Mostly for Jackman & Winslet)

Ross’ Rating:  3.25 Gummies.