Emma Stone

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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.

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Movie Review: The Croods

Published March 25, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the Voices of: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes.

The Croods are a family bent on survival, who often forget the importance of living.  Of course, they are in prehistoric times and face various danger every time they leave their cave.  But their overprotective father, Grug (Cage), has become excessively paranoid after witnessing the obliteration of all the neighbors.  He imposes his will on the others by sharing nightly fables outlining his rules.  Grugg’s rules consist of absolutely never trying anything new, waiting for the signal every morning before hunting as a pack and hunkering down in the cave before sunset.  These rules suit most of the family just fine, with the exception of Eep (Stone).  Eep despises the cave and hates the dark even worse.  One night, as her family sleeps, she breaks the cardinal rule and leaves the cave to further investigate some noise outside.  This event is the first in many that result in a transformation for Eep, her family and everyone’s way of life.  She also meets a male her age, appropriately named Guy (Reynolds), who introduces the family to all sorts of new things, including fire.  The entire family seems intrigued by the young man, with the exception of Grug, who feels a growing resentment toward this new leader and his innovative ideas.

We see A LOT of kids movies and most of them are very good.  The Croods is certainly no exception.  It started a little slow, but once Eep left the cave and met Guy things really opened up.  And, for the second movie in a row (Oz the G+P being the first), I felt the 3D effects enhanced the viewing experience.  The two films are a bit similar, in the rich and colorful landscapes and wildlife, and the 3D makes them burst through the screen.  A personal favorite in The Croods, is the huge flock of seemingly harmless red birds who descend upon their prey and strip them to the bone like piranhas in a matter of seconds.  Make no mistake, it’s a dangerous place where the Croods live, and they have to keep moving.  Along the way there are some wonderful lessons portrayed here.  Learning from your mistakes and admitting when you’re wrong.  Discovering how to trust and work with others.  Never giving up, and as a parent, knowing when to let go.  I’m not sure The Croods is going to crack the upper echelon of my animated favorites, but it was an enjoyable romp, well written, original and had me walking out of the theater with a smile on my face.

I agree, the 3D was a welcome enhancement once again.  As Ross just said, we see A LOT of kids movies, because we like to take Ethan with us.  I thought The Croods was the best one we’ve seen since Wreck-It Ralph, but I also don’t see it cracking my all time favorites.  Those spots are reserved for my early years of Disney movies and my coveted sing-a-longs.  The lessons were also a welcome addition and some important subjects were broached.  Like trying new things, opening your mind, staying positive and expressing your feelings.  It’s more important than ever that we try to share these lessons with young people and a lot of these movies prove to be effective segues.  Of course, you don’t always need a movie just to have a nice chat with your kids.

Absolutely, parents are the number one role models and teachers, as they should be.  But it is nice when Hollywood gives a helping hand too.  Also, voice acting is an underrated talent IMO, and this cast does a wonderful job.  Ryan Reynolds, Cloris Leachman, Catherine Keener,  Clark Duke (who sounds like a young Michael J. Fox BTW), Emma Stone and Nicolas Cage really “fit” their characters perfectly.   And in a positive side note, Maria, who is far removed from being a Nic Cage fan, didn’t have to “look at his stupid face.”  The Croods, a win-win-win movie.  Enjoy!

Maria’s Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummies.