Movie Review

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Published November 24, 2015 by mrsrag


Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelsom, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Stanley Tucci.

Rated: PG-13.  Sci-Fi/Adventure.  Running Time: 2 hours 17 minutes.

Maria and I have stumbled across and watched two of the worst acted movies of all time in the last few weeks.  1999’s putrescent Resurrection, with Christopher Lambert and this year’s equally abysmal Vice, starring Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane.  Please avoid these movies at all costs! There was one upside to viewing them however, they made me realize that Jennifer Lawrence is the best actress to come along since Meryl Streep, period.  She becomes every character she plays, and brings out the nuances of the human condition with an underlying fierceness, that simply makes it impossible to take your eyes off of her.  Very seldom do you read a book, then see a movie based on said book, and totally agree with the casting, and THG:MP2 is no exception.   Woody Harrelson as Haymitch is off base for me, as are Gale (Hemsworth) and Peta (Hutcherson), but Suzanne Collins had to be blown away by Jennifer Lawrence, she IS Katniss Everdeen and I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.  The final installment does the franchise proud, and stays true to the books.  Actually, I found myself jealous of those in the packed theater that hadn’t read the books.  It would have been better if I didn’t know what was coming.  Either way, Mockingjay Part 2 is fabulous, go see it ASAP!

Well, we’re back in the saddle again.  And what a great time to choose to revisit our reviews.  Mockingjay Part 2 is enjoying its first weekend in theatres, which we all know will result in a number 1 spot run for an undecided amount of weeks.  But this time, it actually earns it.  Last year Part 1 left me pissed off and feeling robbed.  As you all know, I despise when a final installment is cut into two money grabbing sections and let’s be frank, Part 1 does not have the plotline to stand on its own.  Part 2 is presented as a peace offering, with its nonstop action, cameos by every major character and closure on all storylines.  As Ross mentioned, we were both envious of our clueless audience members who either could not remember or never read the books.  We knew what was coming, but that didn’t take too much away from the emotional gut punch and never disappointing Ms. Everdeen.  Lawrence is the glue that makes this screen adaptation work, with wonderful supporting roles from Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) and Donald Sutherland.  The others deliver decent performances, but the three I have listed really steal the show.  Especially the intense and rare interactions between Sutherland and Lawrence.  These two actors fully embrace and embody their characters and it is a pleasure to watch them on screen together.  Even knowing what happened didn’t weaken the tension as the last half hour of the film unfolded.  I truly enjoyed this series, both in print and on screen.

Oh I have to agree wholeheartedly, Donald Sutherland is deliciously evil as the remorseless President Snow.  Very few movies can reach the heights of greatness without a superior villain.  You may have noticed that we haven’t done any plot review in our review, well we figure that if you’re going to the fourth installment of The Hunger Games, you must have a pretty good grip on what’s going on.  Suffice it to say that Katniss and her compatriots have their work cut out for them to save the residents of Panem.  There are equal parts triumph and tragedy and sometimes it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys.  Through it all, there is Katniss, the Mockinjay; Panem would be totally fucked without her.  Three finger salute to you my dear, thanks for the spectacular ride!

The fourth installment can be summed up in a whispered remark passed from Finnick to Katniss, “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games”.  This time the games are set on demolished city streets, and they are a spectacular backdrop for this violent and arduous war.  Snow has some hidden surprises for the rebels who are invading his beloved Capitol.  And he plans to make their deaths as entertaining and public as possible.  It’s war, so of course there will be casualties.  Some harder to swallow than others.  But Mockingjay Part 2 is a proper send off for this cast and crew who have delivered a series worthy of such a masterful story; demonstrative of human beings heroism, defiance and hope.  And we sure could use some of those in our real lives.

Ross’ Rating: 4 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4.5 Gummies.


Movie Review: Trainwreck

Published July 28, 2015 by mrsrag


Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Colin Quinn, John Cena, Tilda Swinton, LeBron James.

Rated: R.  Comedy.  Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes.

Maria and I certainly didn’t discover Amy Schumer, but we do feel we were in the first wave of her admirers.  Her raunchy humor and matter-of-fact delivery are right up our alley.  You should check out her show, Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central, if you’ve not yet discovered this American treasure.  Trainwreck is her first attempt at a starring role on the big screen (she’s had a couple of small parts previously), she also wrote the screenplay and lured Judd Apatow to direct it.  Another of our favorites, Bill Hader plays Amy’s love interest, and their chemistry carries the film.  The tale begins with Amy in a relationship with John Cena’s character, but she’s playing around on him every chance she can, after all, “he’s like making love with an ice sculpture.”  They do have a scene together where she asks him to talk dirty to her during sex, and his epically bad attempt is hilarious.  Their relationship is short lived, the break up is another pure Amy moment, and we never see Cena again which was a surprise to me.  Trainwreck just delivers from start to finish and beyond Amy and Hader, the supporting cast is great as well.  Colin Quinn as Amy’s irascible father, a nearly unrecognizable Tilda Swinton as Amy’s heartless boss and even Lebron James playing himself like you’ve never seen, blend together in perfect fashion.  The theater was packed and the laughs were constant.  Amy has a hit without a doubt, and I’m hoping this is just the beginning for her. 

The Schumes.  I love this girl.  She embodies everything I like to see in a female comedian.  Her crass, unapologetic and true humor speaks to me, and many women across generations.  I’m not saying she’s a role model, as the title infers she (or her character) is quite a hot mess.  But her act subtly filters in female empowerment, while maintaining a healthy dose of humility and self-parody.  Ross and I first saw her on HBO in 2012 when her comedy special, ‘Mostly Sex Stuff’ debuted and we instantly liked her style.  The fashionably short, yet proper looking dress she donned coupled with her understated delivery & coarse wit caught our attention.  And we knew she had that something.  We were pleased when Comedy Central offered her her own show.  One of my favorite skits from ‘Inside A.S.’ is titled “12 Angry Men”, you should look it up on YouTube when you get a chance.  It is hilarious and packed with big stars that will both shock you and make it even more enjoyable.  I would suggest giving the show a test run before going to view Trainwreck, because Schumer definitely has a distinct flavor of humor.  You will either love it or hate it.  And frankly, if you hate it – then we would probably not be a good match up for friendship.  Basically everyone I know loves her or has found something to admire in her quick rise to stardom.  And as she noted, “I’m not really a slut.  I’ve only had sex with four guys, and that was a weird night.”

Beyond the bawdy humor, I was truly shocked at the acting chops displayed by Amy and Bill Hader.  The latter has made a career playing weird, off the charts, cartoon-like characters.  Beyond his numerous SNL bits, check him out in Clear History or 22 Jump Street, or even his voice over work in several animated films.  All quirky, but funny.  He plays it pretty straight here, and as I mentioned before, he and Amy have great chemistry.  Trainwreck grossed $30 million it’s first weekend, just behind can’t miss movies Ant Man and Minions.  Thirty mil for an R rated movie is big business these days when the kiddies are taken out of the equation, and word of mouth has to keep people filling the seats for the foreseeable future.  One final note, here’s hoping that fucking sick prick that shot up the theater in Louisiana doesn’t hurt the films business.  Our country has these types of incidents far too frequently, and I wish there was a quick solution to the problem, but in the meantime we all just need to keep living our lives.  Stay alert for sure, but don’t let them effect where you go or what you do, otherwise they win.  And I for one say, fuck that!  Sorry for the sermon, go see Trainwreck, it’s two hours well spent.

It’s sad that you have to ‘stay alert’ nearly everywhere today.  You can’t send your kids to school, you can’t go to the mall, you can’t even go to the movies without worrying about some self righteous asshole attacking you for no apparent reason.  But those unfortunate human specimens will never keep me from going to do what I love.  You can’t live like that.  It’s just a shame that in the U.S. we seem to harbor so many of these selfish psychos and have to read about a new shooting every other day.  But I digress.  Trainwreck is a guaranteed fun night out with lots of laughs and captivating entertainment.  Schumer delivers a smart and funny assessment of the dating scene in our current culture.  She completely shatters the stereotype that ‘women can’t be funny’, which I’ve heard one too many times in my lifetime.  Men and women alike seem to enjoy her brand of humor and she is redefining what it means to be a woman of comedy.  I wish her all of the success in the world, but I know she doesn’t need it.  I’m a fan Schumes, you keep doing you girl.

Ross’ Rating: 4.25 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.

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.


Recent DVD Release: Fifty Shades of Grey

Published June 11, 2015 by mrsrag


Starring:  Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden.

Rated: R.  Drama/Romance.  Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes.

If you follow us here at MRSRAG, you might remember our scathing review of E.L. James’ preposterously, poorly written book, Fifty Shades of Grey.  Maria and I couldn’t have hated it more, which might lead you to ask: “Why rent the movie then?”  Let’s call it curiosity and the belief that the movie could not possibly be as bad as the book.  The filmmakers indeed stayed true to the book, and in turn created one of the worst pieces of cinema ever made.  Epically bad.  If you aren’t already familiar with the story of  young billionaire Christian Grey (Dornan) and mousy literature student Anastasia Steele (Johnson), and their warped “Dominant”/”Submissive” relationship; I implore you to stay away!   As truly horrible as the book was, the casting of these two is “perfect” in keeping with the theme of putridness that had been set.  The bar was set as low as possible, yet they somehow limbo danced under it anyway.  Jamie Dornan shouldn’t be allowed in a dog food commercial, and Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith’s girl Dakota, surely has to have her parents hiding their faces in shame.  The bottom line for me is, even if the book had been well written, the movie well acted, I can’t understand the audience for this material.  I know there is a market for romance novels, too many people in this world have no spark in their lives, that genre fills a need.  But this soft porn nonsense?  Who needs it?  If you want to rub one out, male or female, there is so much porn out there on the internet for free, you can play with yourself until your hands ache.  What are you getting from Christian and Anastasia?  They have no personality.  They have no chemistry.  There is no romance, only a little rough sex that isn’t all that rough to be honest.  So, what’s the draw here?  I admit it, I’m confused, because Fifty Shades of Grey is fucking horrendous!!!

Christian Grey is an asshole. And let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment ladies: if he wasn’t disgustingly rich, he’d be a total creeper. So, because he owns a helicopter, runs a business and flies G5’s, we can excuse his unacceptable behavior? And answer to his ridiculously condescending terms: ‘submissive shall not consume alcohol to excess, submissive shall not partake in recreational drugs’ etc. How about you GFY? And after all of this written consent, ‘red tape’ and other contractual bullshit, he doesn’t even deliver. He’s like a sad shell of a sadist, if you’re into that type of thing. If you want to see an accurate and erotic depiction of sadism, please rent “The Secretary” starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal, instead. That film delivers, without polluting the story with horrible dialogue and implausible plotlines. Anastasia is a fumbling, clumsy, grade A rip off of Bella Swan. I’ve read that E.L. James based her novel off of the Twilight series, but if you’ve read that collection of books, then you know they should not even be mentioned in the same sentence. Stephanie Meyer can actually write. Some people I love, like and respect, enjoy these books, but I don’t know how. They are SO bad, and the movie somehow matched this atrocious set of novels. I suggest if you’re looking for some smut literature, you talk to my best friend, Gina Gallo. She is the authority on well written smut. Well written being the key term.

Speaking of alternatives, you can easily get the same entertainment value of Fifty Shades almost any late night on Cinemax (aka Skinemax). The bad acting, shitty sex scenes and cheesy dialogue are spot on, and the quality may actually be superior to FSOG (which is insane because Skinemax is laughably bad.) The most egregious thing the filmmakers did in making this movie, wasn’t adapting a rotten book, or casting “D” actors. It wasn’t the miserable score or implausable plot. No, it was having the balls to make the piece of shit over 2 hours long! We can never get that time back, but at least it only cost us $1.59 from the Redbox.

I did get a nice belly laugh and snort from the dialogue during the first few minutes. But those laughs are cheap and get tiresome quickly. The most genuinely entertaining couple of minutes in the film, where they were actually trying to get laughs, is when they conduct a ‘business meeting’ about the terms laid out in Grey’s contract for Ms. Steele. That’s literally all it has to offer, which lasts all of about 30 seconds. Obviously the target audience is women, but what I can’t wrap my mind around is how well educated, bright and beautiful ladies are eating this garbage up! In my honest opinion, I’d have to assume that the majority are single. And if not, their male counterparts are not taking care of them properly. Sorry, but IMO that is the only explanation for how anyone could find anything enjoyable about this trash.  In fact, the best explanation I have heard is from the smut authority, Gina Gallo.  Perhaps she will enlighten us all with a detailed comment presenting her insightful perspective.  I’ve just recently heard that a new book is coming out shortly called, “Grey”. I’ll be sure to pick up a copy on the off chance that we run out of toilet paper. But the pages will most certainly already be covered in shit.

Ross’ Rating: .5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 0 Gummies.


Movie Review: Home

Published April 8, 2015 by mrsrag

Home the movieStarring the voices of: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones, Brian Stepanek, April Lawrence.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes.

Home is the story of The Boov, these ghosts from Pac-Man looking creatures, that are inexplicably and constantly running away from their mortal enemy, the Gorg.  Their travels take them to Earth, where they imprison the whole planet, all the while acting like they’re doing us a favor.  The Boov are delusional, and they’re led by Captain Smek (Martin) a particularly self serving megalomaniac.  Oh (Parsons) is that most annoying Boov, you know the type, that guy/girl you run away from before they spot you and you’re trapped by inane conversation until you want to blow your brains out.  Oh quickly runs into Tip Tucci (Rihanna), a little girl who’s been separated from her mother Lucy (Lopez), and for all intents and purposes, the interaction between those two is the whole movie.  Their quest to find Tip’s mom and Oh’s growth into self awareness give the movie a sweet heart while projecting important life lessons.  We had our own Oh right behind us in the theater.  After returning from refilling our popcorn, Maria informed me, “the people behind us are horrible.”  More specifically, this one kid, maybe 11, was screaming a constant commentary of every action on the screen.  “Hahaha, the Boov need to run away!!!”  “Look Oh made the car fly.”  Then, something happens that doesn’t bring a chuckle from anyone else:  horrible, annoying, screaming, horse laughter.  After a firm shooshing from Maria, and another from the people behind him, he got a little better, but talk about brutal!  All I could think of was, imagine living with that kid everyday??  Talk about blowing your fucking brains out!!  

It was bad.  Honestly, I would have made a much bigger deal about it, but then I thought that the kid may have an actual disorder.  Whomever was accompanying him to the film was more at fault for this behavior anyhow.  All of the previous loud commentary and excessive laughter was followed by the kicking of my seat.  For the first twenty minutes of the movie I thought I may need to leave or strangle myself with the handle of my purse.  Nevertheless, this made it difficult to enjoy the entire movie.  But about half way through, the behavior settled to a tolerable lull.  It’s difficult to make a kids movie that impresses me.  I mean, everything has been done and over done.  It’s quite something when you get a Lego Movie or a Frozen experience.  Especially when you’re expectations are so low.  I wouldn’t quite say that Home deserves to be on the same shelf as those new classics, but there was something very likable about this story.  It had some very important underlying lessons and the dynamic between our alien and human are sweet.  Oh learns how to stop running from his problems and start solving them instead.  Something that eventually benefits the Boov and the humans.

I agree completely, Home is a cut below the Wreck-it Ralph’s, Up’s and Finding Nemo’s of the past, but after a slow start, it won me over.  Even Parson’s Yoda/Jar Jar Binks-like speech patterns for Oh, I found endearing after a while.  DreamWorks pulled in 54 million the first weekend with this effort, and our theater was packed on the following Friday, so word of mouth has been decent.  I would recommend it for sure, especially if you’re on the fence.  The good news for you if you go: the crowds should be dwindling, so if you draw your own Oh in your area, you can always move.  I’m jealous!

This is definitely worth the trip, especially with the kids.  I think it says something that I still found this movie fairly decent even with all of the disturbances surrounding me.  And one last note about that; we were accompanied by a similar age child, Ethan, who was quiet and respectful of those around him.  That’s because it has been explained to him at length over the years that anything other is unacceptable.  So, if you’re a frequent movie going family, it’s probably best to have a nice outline of rules before venturing into the theatre.  And guess what, if you get in there and your kid isn’t acting right, you should pull a Boov move and skedaddle.

Ross’ Rating: 3.25 Gummy Bears out of 5.    

Maria’s rating: 3 Gummies.

Movie Review: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Published February 13, 2015 by mrsrag

sponge bobStarring the voices of:  Tom Kenney, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence, Mr. Lawrence and Antonio Banderas (in the flesh).

Rated- PG.  Animated.  Running Time- 1 hour 33 minutes.

SpongeBob (Kenney), Patrick (Fagerbakke), Mr. Krabs (Brown), Squidward (Bumpass), Sandy (Lawrence) and Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) have been holding court in Bikini Bottom since 1999 on Nikelodeon, and occasionally on the big screen. Ethan is 11 and has been watching them since he was 3, so I have seen more SpongeBob than I probably would have liked.  And while it’s no Regular Show or Phineas and Ferb, it definitely has its’ moments.  Something about SpongeBob’s eternal, annoying optimism, Patrick’s epic stupidity, Mr. Krabs constant chasing of the dollar and miserly cheapness, Sandy’s know-it-all, Texas-twangy cockiness, and Plankton’s relentless pursuit of the Krabby Patty formula, work in a way that keeps you chuckling year after year.  And the plot of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, with the interjection of Burger Beard (Banderas) actually brings some freshness to the franchise, though you may feel like you’re on a bit of an acid trip.  The Krabby Patty formula is stolen, but not by Plankton?  SpongeBob betrays his idol/employer Mr. Krabs?!  Patrick at odds with his porous, yellow best friend?  The gang ends up in the “real world”?!  The action is non-stop, the puns fly freely and the laughs are better than sporadic. If your kids need to go, take them, you’ll enjoy yourself.  One bit of advice though, we here at MRSRAG are big supporters of the legalization of cannabis, so smoke’em if you’ve got’em!  You’ll be glad you did.

I sure wish I had.  I was very optimistic about viewing this one in 3D.  Judging from the previews, I had a feeling that it was going to be well worth the few extra bucks.  And it most certainly was.  Some of my favorite parts were the trippy, time travelling sequences where I felt like I was plummeting through a psychedelic wormhole.  This is the first time I have felt like the 3D made the experience exponentially more enjoyable.  I love that the SpongeBob humor has always had a sarcastic, sharp and humble flair.  The show has always had a knack for poking fun at itself and the whole gang…mostly Patrick – but he doesn’t seem to mind.  Or he just doesn’t know any better.  Sponge Out of Water will keep kids and adults entertained.  I was giggling on the ride home about jokes from the film.  And there is something lovable about that annoying little sponge.

I love the voice cast of the SpongeBob series.  Bill Fagerbakke the voice of Patrick has made a career playing idiots.  You may remember him from the TV show Coach, but my favorite character of his was the simple-minded, well intentioned Tom Cullen from Steven King’s The Stand.  “M-O-O-N, that spells Tom!”  And how about Mr. Krabs?  Voiced by none other than Clancy Brown, you know, “the toughest screw at Shawshank Prison.”  Ironically another Steven King vehicle, but again my favorite role of his was The Kurgan from the 1986 movie Highlander.  Clancy went from, in my opinion, one of the top 3 best villains of all time to voicing a miserly, cartoon crab.  Then there is the voice of Plankton, simply known as Mr. Lawrence.  You know that guy has to be a character.  If you like SpongeBob to begin with you won’t be disappointed with Out of Water, and if you’re not familiar with the denizens of Bikini Bottom, you probably won’t be going anyway.  It’s a total win-win situation.   

Ross is constantly blowing my mind with his voice recognition.  This dude’s ears are unbelievable!  I’ve been overhearing these voices for years while Ethan watches episodes and truthfully, I had watched a handful on my own during college.  There’s one episode I fondly remember where SpongeBob and Patrick decide to start following ‘The Magic Conch’.  In this day and age of technology, you could probably find it on YouTube.  I suggest you do so ASAP.  The episode is genius.  And it was the catalyst for completely transforming my opinion of the show.  This franchise continues to surprise me and this latest offering does not fall short of its usual standards.  But it’s mostly just fun.  Which is what the show is really all about anyway.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part One

Published December 24, 2014 by mrsrag

mockingjayStarring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci.

Rated: PG-13.  Adventure/Science Fiction.  Running Time: 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Harry Potter, Twilight and now The Hunger Games.  I know you’ve heard this lament before from both of us, but it bears repeating.  Why must they take our favorite books and split up the last installments?  The only possible answer is money.  They KNOW we’ll pay and they take advantage of that to get two monster box offices out of one.  It’s a shame and a terribly exploitive practice.  These movies become incomplete weigh stations for the final payoff, yet they need to be seen.  A truly sorry state of affairs.  At any rate, when last we saw Katniss (Lawrence) in Catching Fire, she was being airlifted out of the games’ dome after taking it out with an arrow.  Shit was hitting the fan as the revolution had begun in Panem in earnest.  In THG:M-P1, she wakes up on the ship pissed off and confused.  Plutarch (the late Hoffman), Haymitch (Harrelson), Finnick (Claflin) and Gale (Hemsworth) are there among others, but no Peeta (Hutcherson). He got left behind during the rescue, and is apparently working propaganda for the Capitol.  Katniss meets a new character, President Coin (Moore), leader of the rebellion, who convinces her to be the inspirational face that the resistance lacks.  Originally reticent to the idea, Katniss signs on after she sees the ruins of her home District 12.  From District 13 they plan their strategy, and we watch and wait for Part 2. 

Here’s an idea:  just make one great movie modeled after the one great book.  They stretch it into two and the 1st installment consistently blows.  Infuriating & insanely boring.  Ross was actually sleeping at one point and I had to elbow him awake.  J.Law still delivers a convincing portrayal of Ms. Everdeen, but it’s starting to feel a bit stale.  Possibly because I’ve been disappointed with her transformation lately.  I miss that genuinely funny, salt of the Earth chick she was when she broke onto the scene.  She seems to have given into the stigma of Hollywood.  The only thing that breathes any kind of life into Mockingjay is the chemistry between Donald Sutherland’s President Snow and the new poster girl of revolution.  However, without the entertainment provided by the usual games, we have to settle for the raw brutality of war.  This coupled with the lack of resolution to our story make this one a snoozer.  But, like Ross said, they don’t care.  They churn out shit, but they’re still making big bucks.

I really hope Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t end up a diva like everyone else, but she does seem to be on that path of late.  She is only 24, and she’s been on the fame train for many years already, it must be difficult to keep perspective with all the money and people telling you how great you are constantly.  And she IS great by the way, so maybe she’ll turn out okay.  As for THG: Mockingjay- Part 1, Maria has it right, it’s a snoozer.  My eyes were droopy, and that NEVER happens to me.  From now on, if they insist on keeping up with the split finales, I’m waiting for video for the first installment.  That being said, I can’t wait for Part 2!

After all that bitching and moaning, I’m still looking forward to Part 2 as well.  Shit has really got to start hitting the fan now.  Although, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they are going to stay true to the books and still get a PG-13 rating.  Luckily, after THG: Mockingjay- Part 1, my hopes aren’t too high.  But it can’t be worse.  For starters, our story will finally come to a conclusion.  And all of our characters will find themselves immersed in a violent and turbulent end.  Hopefully, at some point soon J.Law will level out and find her roots again.  I’d like to see her involved in an independent project, like her break out role in Winter’s Bone.  Getting back to the basics would be good for her.

Ross’ Rating: 2.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3 Gummies.




Movie Review: Big Hero 6

Published November 18, 2014 by mrsrag


Starring the voices of: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Daman Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Alan Tudyk, Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell.

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

From the Disney team that brought us the recent classics Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph, their most recent offering Big Hero 6, may not quite measure up to the high bar those films set; but it’s not far off.  Hiro Hamada (Potter) and his older brother Tadashi (Henney) are genius quality minds, growing up in the fictitious, hybrid city of San Fransokyo.  Tadashi spends his days at “Nerd”  University with a group of fellow geniuses, pushing the envelope on cutting edge robotics & technological inventions, designed to further mankind.  Hiro, who is 14, may be the smartest of them all, but he’d rather hustle money at underground robot fights than waste his time in school.  That all changes one day after he gets pinched by the cops and Tadashi has to bail him out.  He subsequently brings Hiro to Nerd U., and the younger boy realizes that this is where he truly belongs.  Shortly thereafter, we meet Baymax (Adsit), a Michelin Man looking creation of Tadashi’s, that is programmed to diagnose and treat human beings with pains or ailments.  Baymax is easily the most endearing mechanical creation since Wall-E.  It isn’t long before a text book Disney catastrophe strikes and the movie spirals off into a different direction. 

I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a fictional, hybrid city, but once I got over San Fransokyo, I saw there were many things to enjoy about Big Hero 6.  It was continuously entertaining with much of the story centering around the action that ensues when Hiro investigates the disappearance of his sought after invention: microbots.  Some clever, yet simple humor fuels the sometimes dark storyline.  And Baymax lightens up the scene with his benevolent nature, which off sets his larger than life, and sometimes spaces, appearance.  It was no surprise to me that this was the work of the Man of Action writer’s collective, which also spearheaded the Ben 10 series.  There are some obvious similarities surrounding the style, tone and execution between the Ben 10 series and the MOA’s first silver screen debut, Big Hero 6.  They filtered in some good lessons involving family and loyalty, which I always like to see.  And they even figured in a nice little twist.  But of course, Ross Gallo knew what was going on the whole time, as he so often does.

I am kind of tuned in lately.  We watched a movie on HBO the other night, Fierce People (not bad by the way), and I nailed the perp in that one quickly too.  Big Hero 6 does have a bit of a twist, but the heart of the movie is Hiro’s relationship with Baymax and his new found “super hero” friends.  His growth from selfish boy to responsible young man and most importantly, laying the foundation for what promises to be another multi-million dollar franchise.  I’m not knocking that at all, I can’t wait to see the next Lego Movie, but make no mistake, BH6 is only the first installment.  It is certainly worthy of the chance, as these Caucasians with Japanese names are a force to be reckoned with.  Add in their exotic yet still familiar Japerican hometown, the technology on display, and all the writers need to do is create a villain worthy of the 6.

I have no beef with franchises, but one thing I find incredibly irksome is the necessity to split every final installment into two parts, i.e. The Harry Potters, Twilight, and more recently The Hunger Games. It is a total money grab. I wish I could say that I am protesting such ludicrous Capitalism, but I will be going to see Mockingjay parts I & II. And don’t let Ross fool you, he hasn’t been tuned in lately – he’s ALWAYS tuned in. And he was right on point with Big Hero 6. This is a must see for those of you with boys, especially if they have gravitated towards Ben 10. This film has a nice mixture of sci-fi and action that will help keep your attention as well.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3 Gummies.

Movie Review: Gone Girl

Published October 6, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Sela Ward, Missi Pyle.

Rated: R.  Drama/Mystery/Thriller.  Running Time: 2 hours 29 minutes.

Wow, I forgot how truly twisted Amy Elliot Dunne is.  Ross and I had read the critically acclaimed bestseller by Gillian Flynn in late 2012 and we were both immediate fans.  Flynn’s writing was edgy, fresh and captivating.  It was one of those books you pick up and absolutely can’t put down.  Each chapter like a breadcrumb leading down a shocking path.  What I enjoyed most about this novel was the fact that Flynn proved that I could still be shocked as a reader.  When Ross told me that he had read about the production of the movie, I was deeply intrigued.  How were they going to pull this one off?  Readers are exceptionally protective of the stories they love and this was so widely adored.  If they screwed this up, they’d be crucified.  The theatre was jam packed, which was quite a treat when certain scenes unfolded on screen.  I was getting a kick out of hearing some of the reactions to things that I already knew were coming.  My final assessment: they pulled it off.  And quite well.  They pretty much followed the book to a tee, which is always a smart approach.  And as a reader I was surprisingly pleased.  The twisted tale translated well to the big screen and delivered some wicked humor along with thought provoking dilemmas.

Nick Dunne (Affleck) is unemployed and aimless.  He owns a failing bar that his wife bought him, and he wakes up on the morning of his fifth anniversary and heads straight for ‘The Bar’.  His sister Margo (Carrie Coon from HBO’s The Leftovers) is the bartender and they each have a mid-morning glass of  bourbon.  Nick returns home after receiving a call from his neighbor that his cat is wondering around.  He finds the front door open, the house in a bit of a shambles and no sign of Amy (Pike) his wife.  So begins the set-up of Gone Girl, the runaway, fantastic best seller brought to the big screen in record time.  We soon find out the marriage was a Grand Canyon away from happy, and that our husband and wife are severely fucked up in the head.  The search begins for “Amazing Amy” and the lead investigator, Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens from another HBO hit Deadwood) quickly focuses on Nick, because it’s always the husband isn’t it?  Maria and I are always careful not to tell too much of the plot, and out of respect for those of you that haven’t read the book, we certainly aren’t changing that practice here, but suffice it to say there are twists for the ages in Gone Girl.  Well cast, well acted and a very worthy adaptation of Flynn’s novel.

They don’t waste any time getting into the action and weaving a web of deception, lies and drama.  Gone Girl is a literal train wreck at full speed without a dull moment.  I really enjoyed the subtle social commentary on how the media reacts when a tragedy of this kind occurs.  Missi Pyle plays Ellen Abbot, a television personality who is no doubt tailored to be our very own Nancy Grace.  It’s a delight to watch her sensationalize the tragedy and then be flippant with her opinions.  Pike’s performance is incredibly impressive as well.  She fearlessly takes on her first starring role as the fierce and unapologetic Amy.  I’d like to imagine that all the ladies of Hollywood were vying for this one.  Pike was not an obvious choice, but she nailed it.  Great performances and a flawless execution make this a must see.  For people who have read and those who haven’t.

There are a few racy and squeamish moments that might not be for everyone, and at nearly 2 1/2 hours it was just a tad too long, but overall I would agree, go see it.  I mentioned to Maria as we were leaving, that the most sure fire way to ensure box office success is to adapt a mega best selling book(s) for the big screen.  She responded that that’s been going on for years, but I submit with Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Gone Girl and the upcoming 50 Shades of Grey (abysmally rotten yet successful, see our review in the archives of MRSRAG) among others, that it has never been more prevalent than today.  I’m not knocking the practice, just an observation.  Gone Girl really is a well acted film.  There aren’t a whole lot of characters to like here, as a matter of fact the bulk of them are vile, but it’s the great, refreshing, original story that drives this one to the finish.

Maria’s Rating:  4.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating:  3.75 Gummies.

Recent DVD Release: Noah

Published September 1, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring:  Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth.

Rated: PG-13.  Action/Adventure/Drama.  Running Time: 2 hours 18 minutes.


I was raised Catholic, but I am not a practicing religious person.  I haven’t read The Bible much, but I did “experience a childhood on the planet Earth” (just heard that line spoken in the movie Kings of Summer and couldn’t wait to use it), so I know the story of Noah and his Ark as I’m sure you do.  What I didn’t realize was that he had Transformer-like rock creatures (fallen angels) help him and his family get the thing built.  Was that in The Bible version?  Noah (Crowe) is one intense dude and fairly shitty father in this dark and humorless interpretation of the story.  I understand this is serious subject matter, flooding, end of the world stuff, but man this movie really blows.  After watching the humans at work here, you don’t blame God in the slightest for wanting to wipe the slate clean.  The problem is, Noah is no better than the people he is keeping from getting on the Ark.  He treats everyone horrible, especially his family, who are the only decent folks around, and eventually tries to kill some of them too.  Beyond the inexplicable rock monsters, they also have some kind of magic smoke that conveniently puts all the animals to sleep (cmon, was that in The Bible story too?), so any possible chance of cute or funny interaction with them is eliminated as well.  Noah the movie, hasn’t one redeeming quality, it’s too long, dark and miserable.  Russell’s last effort on a boat is awesome, one of my “can’t pass it without watching it” favorites; Master and Commander the Far Side of the World.  Paul Bettany as the Doc, the one armed kid, the Jonah dude who kills himself.  Great stuff!  Watch that one if you’ve never seen it, and NEVER see Noah, it SUCKS!  

We just saw a clip of Gladiator as we were passing through the channels today.  I loved that movie immediately!  And many others from Crowe’s resume.  But recently, he hasn’t been involved in anything noteworthy.  I saw a horrible few minutes of The Man with Iron Fists and now this Noah flop?  What is Russell doing!?  I figured this might be worth a try since he was teaming up with Jennifer Connelly, his costar from A Beautiful Mind, but I was wrong.  Honestly, I can’t tell you much about the film because I was literally struggling to stay awake.  I started falling asleep periodically once the ark actually set sail.  I always liked the story of Noah and I think they had the potential to do this movie right, but somewhere along the line they lost focus of the story.  The movie dragged on, took some distasteful turns and continuously missed the mark.  I didn’t feel anything…except tired.

If the putridness of the movie itself isn’t enough to depress the shit out of you, then watching the brilliant Anthony Hopkins “playing out the string” of his career with another useless old geezer part (see Oden of the Thor films), should kick the last few handfuls of dirt onto your grave.  He deserves a much better send off, and I for one hope he finds at least one more role worthy of his talent before he sails off into the sunset.  Emma Watson mewls her way through here as Ila, a girl they found, lone survivor of some sort of massacre, who grows up and bangs Shem (Booth) Noah’s son.  This family would need a team of shrinks to graduate to dysfunctional.  This movie would need to be reshot to have any entertainment value.  It has made it’s way into my elite group of “worst movies of all time”, joining the likes of Tess, The Paperboy, Killer Joe, Melancholia and Caddyshack 2.  A Heaven’s Gate for the new millennium.

Hopkins must have one last role worthy of his acting capability. And I hope Crowe finds some kind of redeeming project. Maybe he should try an Indie. It worked out well for McConaughey. But Noah is not leaving a good taste in my mouth. What I did see was incredibly bad and what I didn’t…well, ZZZ. Instead of counting sheep, I may just replay some of the scenes from this movie. The Lord is cleansing the world in this film, but you may just want to cleanse your queue – and spare yourself the torture.

Ross’ Rating: 0 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 1 Gummy.  (WOW RG…harsh, but accurate.)