Jamie Foxx

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Movie Review: Rio 2

Published April 23, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann, Miguel Ferrer, Kristen Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Tracy Morgan, Will i Am, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement.

Rated: G.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 41 minutes.


This is going to be a difficult review for me to write.  First off, I didn’t see the first Rio.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, but never viewed it in its entirety.   And secondly, we’ve seen so many fantastic kids movies recently that I have become a super tough judge.  The plot of this second installment lacked ingenuity and although it’s a heartwarming story of protecting your family and your home – it still has an air of formulaic storytelling.  Rio 2 lacked something else that I believe to be the most important aspect of a kids flick; clever and abundant humor.  I giggled a few times, but no memorable jokes come to mind as I’m writing this.  I like when Ross, Ethan and I can sit around and recall the funniest moments or jokes that we find hysterical.  One thing I did enjoy about Rio 2 was the music.  Bruno Mars joins the cast in this sequel as the lady killing crooner, Roberto.  His voice is unmistakable as were introduced to him moments before the rainforest erupts into head bopping song.  I also enjoyed Chenoweth’s Gabi, who’s unrequited love for Nigel (Clement) is literally toxic.  She’s a poisonous frog and he’s a bird.  The musical number she performs was the highlight for me.  None of the kids movies are bad, but Rio 2 was pretty forgettable.

It’s really too bad Maria didn’t get to see Rio because it was far superior to this generic sequel.  In the original, Blu (Eisenberg) lives a nice cozy, domestic life with his owner Linda (Mann).  A Brazilian scientist shows up claiming to have a female (Jewel voiced by Hathaway) of the same species as Blu, and as they’re believed to be the last of their kind, Blu and Linda head for Rio.  They run into smugglers and an assortment of creatures, friendly and not so friendly.  The romp through the jungle and eventually Carnivale, coupled with Blu learning to fly while falling in love with the reluctant Jewel, added up to a very enjoyable film.  Rio 2 finds Blu and Jewel with a family of their own heading into the jungle when it appears that more blue macaws have been located.  What transpires from there is quite predictable.  City birds in the country, long lost relatives, bad guys trying to destroy their habitat, Blu screwing up then saving the day.  Like Maria said, “forgettable”, not horrible, just incredibly mediocre.  The music was absolutely the best part of Rio 2, they let newcomer Bruno Mars strut his stuff plenty and thank goodness for that.  After seeing Frozen, Despicable Me 2 and The Lego Movie within the last six months or so, the bar has been set so high, it’s impossible not to leave the theater disappointed when you view something that doesn’t quite hit the mark. 

Ethan enjoyed it and I guess that’s really all that matters.  But it’s just so much more fun when we all do.  There have been so many awesome kids movies, some of which Ross just listed and it’s tough to compete with those instant classics.  Especially when they have such original and clever storylines.  Ross and I watch quite a number of shows and that market is saturated also.  I found Rio 2 reminiscent of my usual sentiments towards DaVinci’s Demons on Starz.  It’s just not as good as all of the other stuff (i.e. Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, and Deadwood – which HBO has resurrected).

A formulaic plot and not enough laughs did a disservice to a great voice cast.  Rio 2 felt thrown together for a quick 3-D money grab.  Again, not the worst movie ever made, but if your kids aren’t dying to see it, skip this one and don’t give it a second thought.  It’ll be in the Redbox before you know it anyway.

Maria’s Rating: 2.25 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 2.5 Gummies.






Movie Review: Django Unchained

Published January 11, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring:  Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington.

Rated: R.  Action/Drama/Western.  Running Time: 2 hours 45 minutes.

Hi all, we’re back.  Hope everyone had a great holiday and rang in the New Year with gusto.  We certainly did.  Let’s get back in the swing.  For a guy who has only directed 8 movies, Quentin Tarantino has an amazing body of work.  Maria is a HUGE fan of his, she especiallly likes the Kill Bill’s.  I’m a fan, but not of her caliber.  I recognize his genius, appreciate his love of movies, admire his rise from video store clerk and his unique style is obviously unmistakeable.  Django Unchained is his best movie since Pulp Fiction in my humble opinion.  The story of a slave, Django (Foxx) who is sold and separated from his wife Broomhilda (Washington) as punishment for their attempt to run away.  Django meets and joins a bounty hunter named Dr. King Shultz (portrayed by the always fantastic Waltz, a Tarantino favorite from Inglorious Basterds).  Shultz needs Django’s help to identify three fugitives, but along the way he also mentors him, and ultimately the two become real friends.  They formulate a plan together to rescue Broomhilda.  If you go expecting to see Tarantino’s trademark blood and guts, you certainly will not be disappointed.  The film is not for the squeamish, but the story is so good, and the bad guys are soooo bad that it just doesn’t seem that gory.

It’s one of Tarantino’s signature tricks – he creates such heinous human beings that no one minds watching them die horrible deaths.  He is also masterful at building suspense by focusing on minor details.  Perhaps this is why his movies are notorious for having long running times.  He focuses on certain shots which have no pertinence to the story, such as the scene from Django when Waltz is pouring two draft beers at a saloon for himself and his new acquaintance.  But these types of scenes are what define Tarantino’s style as a director and make his movies so enjoyable.  I believe his style has matured over the years.  As I recall his earlier films such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, they seem so different and yet very much the same.  His movies always scream his name as you watch them, but the more recent films have evolved into more than that.  More than his signature bloody violence and titillating twisted tales. This is especially true of Django and his latest film prior to that, Inglorious Basterds.  Recently it seems Tarantino has adopted a fearless approach to historical storytelling.  I’ve heard Basterds referred to as a “Jewish Fairytale”, which I found rather comical.  If that’s so, than Django is definitely the quintessential “Black Fairytale”.  He tells the story with such attractive characters and dynamic dialogue laced with glimpses of humor.  Just the right amount of humor to be thought of as acceptable pertaining to the very serious subjects he’s discussing.  As you can tell, he is one of my favorite directors, but I don’t have much to say about his personality in real life.  His movies are great, but listening to the man speak in an interview makes me wonder where he stores all his creative genius.  In his defense, I’ve never sat down and had coffee with the dude, so I don’t really know him at all.  However, I will say that his movies seem to get better and better.  Django may be my new favorite, but I can’t give it Kill Bill’s coveted number one spot just yet.

Wow, that is one eloquently written paragraph!  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see who the brains of this operation is.  Django Unchained is 2 hours and 45 minutes long and I didn’t notice.  I’d have to think that is a pretty good endorsement of the movie in itself.  Maybe the best acted film I’ve seen from top to bottom also.   The chemistry between Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz is fabulous, and DiCaprio’s deliciously evil turn as the merciless plantation and slave owner Candie, alone is worth the price of admission.  Samuel L. Jackson’s Stephen, had to be difficult to play as he is one kiss ass, Uncle Tom son of a bitch.  Samuel L. bravely dove right into the character and it’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling it off.  One final note, without really spoiling anything, Tarantino has a bit of fun with us with the actor James Remar.  Remar is a longtime favorite of mine .  He played one of the best bad guys of all time, Ganz, in 1982’s 48 Hours, and currently can be seen portraying Dexter’s father on the Showtime hit.  When I saw his name in the opening credits, I was psyched, but then he dies in the very first scene.  I know he’s not the biggest name out there, but I was thinking he’d get more screen time than that.  Well Quentin took care of me, because James comes back to life as a different character later in the movie.  Thanks Mr. Tarantino for saving James Remar and for the terrifically entertaining Django Unchained!

I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  I would go out on a limb and say that Tarantino has never disappointed me.  He has shocked me, disturbed me and even rendered me speechless…but I’ve never gone to the theatre and walked out saying, “What the Hell was that?”  He consistently delivers an entertaining and stimulating piece of cinema.  He is also constantly pushing the envelope and fearlessly trying new things no one else has the courage to do.  For instance, the extremely candid nude scene featured in Django.  There has been tons of nudity in recent cinema, but none as brave as that of Django.  This scene features several camera angles through very precarious positions…I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one.  However, if you’re reading this I would imagine you’d be persuaded to give Django Unchained a shot.  Honestly, it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in quite a while.  And not a bad soundtrack either, which is another expectation of Tarantino fans.  Keep up the good work Q…still digging your style.

Ross’ Rating: 4.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 5 Gummies.