Morgan Freeman

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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.

Recent DVD Release: Last Vegas

Published February 6, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco.

Rated: PG-13.  Comedy. Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

An A-list foursome of old codgers head to Vegas and rip it up.  Sounds like my last trip out there; just kidding.  Seriously though, I’m not quite as old as those boys but some of the themes hit pretty close to home.  Billy (Douglas) is getting married to a woman less than half his age, and he needs his three best friends to come to Vegas for his bachelor party.  Archie (Freeman), Sam (Kline) and Paddy (De Niro) come from New York, Jersey and Florida to complete the “Flatbush Four”.  They’ve known each other for fifty years and even though they’re thousands of miles apart, they’re as close as ever.  One problem, Paddy is seriously pissed at Billy for missing his wife’s funeral.  There is more to the story, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.  The guys quickly meet an interesting lounge singer of a certain age, Diana (Steenburgen); and make an impression in the casino, which leads to a comped suite.  Things move at a fast pace in Last Vegas, and you get the feeling the guys can hear their clocks ticking down.  The prostate jokes, references to small strokes and oodles of prescription meds are flying around, but the chemistry between these four legends is smooth as silk, and they really feel like lifelong buddies.

When I first saw the previews for Last Vegas I thought, “It’s ‘The Hangover’, geriatric style.”  Which it kind of is.  But I love these four guys and they keep it entertaining.  They can laugh at themselves and they genuinely seem like they’re having a good time doing it.  The four friends embark on this spontaneous trip, each hoping that it will breathe new life into their progressively mundane lives.  Kline is suffering through water aerobics classes at his Florida community.  Freeman is being treated like a big child, nearly imprisoned in his son’s Jersey home.  DeNiro is a grieving widower and he spends his days sitting around his apartment in a bathrobe and refusing soup from a concerned neighbor.  Douglas appears to be the only one of the ‘Flatbush Four’ with blood coursing through his veins.  He’s got a beautiful young lady on his arm and a successful business.  But he’s still unsatisfied.  He’s faced with his own mortality at a close friend’s funeral and pops the question to his ‘child bride’, as they so often refer to her.

We can certainly relate to the Douglas’ story line as Maria and I are getting married in August and we have a fairly significant difference in age.  Unlike these relationship stereotypes, which are clearly on display here, I am not rich and Maria is not an empty-headed bimbo.  I am also not quite ready for the nursing home, but can clearly relate with the guys facing down their own mortality and fears of not being able to live life to it’s fullest.  Beyond all of what appears to be morbid subject matter, Last Vegas is an enjoyable watch.  As I mentioned the action is fast paced, the laughs are plentiful and there are some decent supporting roles.  Steenburgen is sultry, and surprisingly can carry a decent tune, as the lounge singer/possible love interest.  Romany Malco (from 40-Year Old Virgin) is great as the guys’ reluctant at first concierge, he was supposed to be handling 50 cent for the weekend.  And Jerry Ferrara is very Turtle-like (his role in the HBO series Entourage) as Dean, a cocky bar rat who gets knocked down a peg or two and becomes the Flatbush Four’s personal boy Friday.  Certainly not going to be a cinematic classic, but I saw enough to hope they have at least one sequel in them.  One final note, keep an eye out for the scene where Morgan Freeman’s character has one too many Red Bull vodkas.  We’ve all seen, or been, that guy before.  “It’s like being drunk and electrocuted all at the same time!” 

Freeman was the highlight for me.  He provided the best laughs and was my personal favorite character.  The bar scene Ross is referring to is literally the best five minutes of the whole movie.  But there’s a few more laugh out loud moments.  The ‘child bride’ storyline is formulaic and the age difference is much more substantial in this plot than our real life relationship.  The young woman is always portrayed as a money grubbing, ditzy bimbo.  And honestly, I can’t blame them for this.  I’ve seen that stereotype played out in real life.  Fortunately, it does not at all reflect our story.  I think I would have played my hand a bit better if that was my mission.  Firstly, I’d get some filthy rich Palm Beach resident.  I’d have my eye on someone with more money than God.  And secondly, he’d be attached to some oxygen and rapidly approaching his expiration date.  What does this look like, amateur hour?  Last Vegas turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  These four seasoned actors don’t take themselves too seriously in the film and that translates on screen.  It was most certainly a better choice than watching ‘The Hangover 3″.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3.5 Gummies.

Recent DVD Release: Olympus Has Fallen

Published August 18, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring:  Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, Ashley Judd, Cole Hauser, Robert Forster, Finley Jacobsen.

Rated: R.  Action/Thriller.  Running Time: 2 hours.

In recent years an annoying phenomenon has appeared in Hollywood, the release of movies with nearly identical subject matter, right on top of each other.  There was Deep Impact and Armageddon.  Red Planet and Mission to Mars.  The Girl and Hitchcock.  Now we have White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen.  We haven’t seen the former yet but we just rented the latter out of our beloved Redbox.  A far-fetched, action packed, predictable hostage story that I realized half way through, was just Die Hard set in the White House.  Gerard Butler is John McClane, Rick Yune is Hans Gruber.  The White House is Nakatomi Plaza, Robert Forster is the inept FBI agent that sends in the troops against our hero’s advice.  Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett team up to form a composite of the sympathetic Sgt. Al Powell, and Aaron Eckhart plays the President but is really just Bonnie Bedelia as Mrs. McClane.  There’s a failed helicopter assault/rescue, and plenty of wise-cracking one-liners from Butler, as he McClanes through the scores of North Korean bad guys.  I loved this movie, in 1988, the first time I saw it.  Now?  Not so much.

Recently, Ross has been offering up insightful synopses of our entertainment.  He first pegged my new series crush, Ray Donovan (Showtime), as “Soprano’s West”.  And when he fixed Olympus Has Fallen as a Die Hard rehash, I knew he nailed it again.  Although, if it wasn’t for Butler’s McClanesque one-liners I would have found nearly no amusement in this flick.  Sure there are some action packed artillery scenes and tons of dramatic explosions, but it definitely didn’t add up to Die Hard standards.  It lacked Die Hard’s effortless charm.  To sum up Olympus Has Fallen in one word: forgettable.  I found myself missing the days of Butler donning a red loin cloth & ball kicking some Persian dude bellowing, “THIS IS SPARTA”.  I like to remember him at his best.  As for the other mish mash of famous faces, I saw people who I also like to remember as their past characters.  Aaron Eckhart; Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face.  Ashley Judd; Dr. Kate McTiernan (Kiss The Girls)…I’d have to include Olympus co-star Morgan Freeman with this film.  He is the only man allowed to play Alex Cross.  That last line is directed at you, Tyler Perry.  Please stick to what you know – dressing up as old black ladies.

Gerard Butler is a likeable dude, and man’s man.  He disposes of the henchmen well in this movie and has some pretty cool moves.  That being said, I’ve always found him lacking as a movie star.  I did enjoy 300 and Chasing Mavericks was okay, but he is just stiff.  He doesn’t have “It”.  You can’t really define “It”, you just know it when you see it.  Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Nicholson, De Niro, Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cary Grant.  You get the point.  They’re trying to make Butler a star.  They’re trying with Ryan Reynolds too, but you can’t make champagne out of lemons.  The other actors in Olympus Has Fallen don’t do much here either.  For crying out loud, Morgan Freeman just played the President not long ago in the aforementioned Deep Impact, now he’s the acting President.  Ashley Judd and Cole Hauser stop by for a cup of coffee.  Aaron Eckhart is tied up most of the movie, probably wishing he could escape entirely.  Rick Yune is okay as the head bad guy, but really he’s pretty much the evil nephew from Karate Kid 2.  And his female sidekick is a carbon copy of the Asian bad girl who gets her ass kicked by John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard.  Hell, that fourth installment of Bruce Willis’ series was ten times better than OHF.  And come to think of it, they fake blew up the White House in that one too.  Instead of renting or ordering Olympus Has Fallen, take the time to revisit any Die Hard movie, the guy in those films is a bona fide movie star.  “Yippee ki yay, Motherfucker!”  

Butler’s McClane tribute was a lame, “Let’s play a game of fuck off, you go first.”  I’m not saying I won’t use the line, it just didn’t suit Gerry.  Anyhow, OHF was a mediocre movie with a potentially decent plot that failed to execute its ideas.  There were some glimpses into clever writing, such as the relationship between Butler and the President’s son, which proves to be an asset as the boy seeks refuge during the attack.  It just seemed like something we’ve already seen, good guy is offered redemption, saves the day, blah blah blah.  In order for a story of this nature to translate, it has to find its niche.  Olympus didn’t have a niche, it just carved out a tiny little spot next to the Die Hard series.  Sorry Mike Banning (Butler’s character in OHF), but John McClane kicks your ass.


Ross’ Rating:  1.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating:  2.25 Gummies.