Leslie Mann

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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: Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Published March 12, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of:  Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Patrick Warburton, Mel Brooks, Stanley Tucci.

Rated: PG.  Animated/Comedy.  Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.

Smart.  Witty.  Furry.  Mr. Peabody is one sharp pup and he lights up the screen in this wonderfully clever tale.  Peabody (Burell) is in jeopardy of losing custody of Sherman (Winter), his adopted human son.  And all because of a total misunderstanding on Sherman’s first day of school.  Well, because of the misunderstanding and also because he was being antagonized by a very mean classmate.  Up until now, Mr. Peabody and Sherman have been living a happy, healthy and quite interesting life together.  Peabody is an advanced canine who can speak – and he speaks quite eloquently.  He is an acclaimed scientist, a Nobel laureate, a gourmet chef, a musician, a business titan and an inventor.  But his favorite role is being a father to his pride and joy, his tiny ginger pal, Sherman.  His most prized invention is a time machine called the WABAC (pronounced “way back”).  He and Sherman time travel in the WABAC and learn all about history.  Peabody is wonderfully charming and he can usually weave his way through any hardship with sheer intelligence and swagger.  But he meets his match in Mrs. Grunion (Janney), the beastly woman from child services who seems Hell bent on taking Sherman away from Mr. Peabody.

Maria, and probably most of you reading this, have never seen the old cartoon version of Mr. Peabody and Sherman.  Part of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, I watched them when I was a little dude in the 70’s and I can attest that screenwriter Craig Wright has brought our heroes to the present day in style.  Mr. Peabody and Sherman followed a theme, pardon the pun, way back then; Sherman would get into mischief and Mr. Peabody would have to bail him out, and I’m happy to report they’ve stuck with what works.  Ty Burrell is terrific as the smartest canine in history (though I had wrongly guessed he was Hugh Laurie, a rare miss), and the Sherlock Holmes-esque scenes of Peabody showing us how he figures his way out of impossible situations in a split second, are pure genius.  If you’ve seen the Robert Downey Jr. versions of Holmes, you know what I mean.  The romp through time is hilarious and educational, the time spent with da Vinci is a personal favorite, but we also run into King Tut, Marie Antoinette, The Trojan Horse and Einstein among others.  The world has never seen anything like Mr. Peabody, now or in the past, and he has a positive effect on all he encounters.  My only concern is that he’s following (a bit too closely perhaps?) the megahit, The Lego Movie.  Hopefully, parents aren’t tapped out from the two or three trips they’ve had to take to the land of interlocking blocks. MPAS is too good though, word of mouth should easily help recoup it’s daunting $120,000,000 production cost.

The Lego Movie was certainly a hard act to follow, but this animated feature should do well.  It’s way too cute and endearing to be overlooked.  And the spruced up animation of yesteryear still echoes a familiarity to its roots, while adding some much needed flair and excitement.  I was extremely impressed with the 3-D effects, which is one of my biggest pet peeves with these animated films.  But MPAS put it to good use with scenes involving the time travelling and Mr. Peabody’s daily shenanigans.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, especially because it was smart and very well done.  It maintains its fun and hilarity, while providing some educational anecdotes.  And Mr. Peabody drops a lot of puns, which is one of our favorite sources of amusement.  Ethan had to ask us to explain a few of them, which only benefits his already impressive vocabulary.  I mean, the kid references Stockholm Syndrome.

Retooling old franchises is a Hollywood staple.  But for every Superman there is a Lone Ranger.  Every Batman a Green Hornet.  Every Scooby Doo a Flintstones.  I must admit when I heard about Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I was thinking “there’s a friggin’ train wreck ready to happen”, but it was very well done and I’m happy a whole new generation, or two, will enjoy the adventures through the WABAC machine.  I’m guessing it’s success will lead to a parade of more obscure characters from the 60’s and 70’s being resurrected.  Who might be next?  Snagglepuss.  “Exit, stage left.”   Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumley, the penguin and walrus team always trying to escape from the zoo?  Maybe Top Cat, that wisecracking, streetwise hustler?  Anybody but Woody Woodpecker, that guy always annoyed the shit out of me!     

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

Ross’ Rating: 3.75 Gummies. 

Recent DVD Release: This Is 40

Published May 1, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segal, Megan Fox, Charlyne Yi, Robert Smigel.

Rated: R.  Comedy.  Running Time: 2 hours 14 minutes.

I am a fairly big fan of writer/producer Judd Apatow.  I loved Freaks and Geeks, the series that launched more careers than my daughter Gina launches F-bombs.  And there’s Ron Burgundy, 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Step Brothers, Year One, Bridesmaids.  The guy makes me laugh, most of the time.  He does throw in the occasional dud, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Wanderlust, Five Year Engagement.  But honestly, even those sub-par efforts had some decent moments and entertainment value.  This Is 40, a quasi-sequel to Knocked Up, in that we pick up the lives of the always unhappy couple Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) and their growing kids Sadie (Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow), is at the very bottom of his body of work IMO.  While Pete and Debbie were fine side-kicking Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up, watching their train wreck of a marriage and life for a Hobbit-like two plus hours, was excruciating.  Businesses failing, marriage failing, oldest daughter spoiled and screeching throughout, just very few laughs in this “comedy”.  I thought the youngest Apatow was the best of the clan here.  Iris’ Charlotte was cute, wise beyond her years, and had more sense than the rest of her family.  You know a movie is in trouble when a highlight is Megan Fox.  She does a fine little parody of her persona, and seems to being having fun with it.  This Is 40 is nepotism at it’s best, or should I say worst. 

I usually love an Apatow flick.  The endless sea of hilarious one liners from the bulk of his work have been uttered from my lips millions of times.  I had a lot of hope for This Is 40.  Cute Paul Rudd.  Bitchy, but always a hoot, Leslie Mann.  I dug their take on marriage in Knocked Up.  It rounded out that little film nicely, but on its own this story of real life problems is weak.  I mostly enjoy going to the movies to lose myself or to gain a fresh perspective on something.  There was no such lesson or shred of entertainment to be gained here.  Also, it was just strange.  Was this a sequel?  Were Rudd and Mann just supposed to play the same couple in a parallel universe?  It was all very confusing.  The moments of laughter were fleeting, the story seemed forced or stretched and the cast didn’t have its usual spark of chemistry.  And it was WAY too long.  It was like an epic tale of doomed suburbia.  This film felt like the friend that won’t stop telling you about their relationship problems, but won’t do anything to resolve their issues.  Ross is definitely right in stating that the highlight of this diddy was Iris Apatow.  That little nugget has a bright future in acting.  I am not completely renouncing my allegiance to Mr. Apatow.  I would only like to say to him: “Judd, listen dude, take a little time off.  Come up with something fresh and get back to us.  Don’t just spit movies out for the cash and to distribute titty shots of your wife.  We’ve all seen them…about one hundred times since Big Daddy.  We get it – you think she’s hot.  We do too, you don’t have to keep bombarding us with it.”

Boring, long and not funny.  Definitely three things you don’t want in a comedy.  It really is hard to figure out what they were trying to accomplish here.  Did they look at this finished product and say, “Oh yeah, we nailed it!”?  Hey, I’m with Maria, I’m not giving up on Apatow, but you never know.  Look at  M. Night Shyamalan.  The guy wows with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs.  Then slowly drags us down into the abyss with The Village, Lady in Water and The Happening.  You could draw some parallels, both have been truly great and REALLY bad.  No, no ,no, I have faith.  Judd will be back.  My advice: give Will Ferrell a call.

I stand by the fact that on the set of Signs, M. Night & Joaquin Phoenix were drinking bad water.  It seems those two lost something after that.


How’s that rap career going?  Also, quick note to self Joaquin – write the words on the opposite hand next time.  Anyways…Apatow will be back.  Just did not have the right formula for This Is 40.  If I were you, I’d just skip this one altogether.  Your welcome.

Ross’ Rating: 1 Gummy Bear out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 1.5 Gummies.