Monthly Archives: December 2015

Knock Knock

Directed by Eli Roth, Knock Knock stars Keanu Reeves in a story that needs to be left on the shelf.  We meet Reeves character as a strong, handsome man, who is devoted to his family. His wife and kids take off for the weekend where he grudgingly remains at home working.  After the wife and kids leave for the beach, he settles down for the evening, which happens to be rather dark and stormy.  He is surprisingly interrupted by someone constantly knocking at his door.

He opens the door and voila. Two sexually energized, hot, hot chicks are at the door and need is Good Samaritan help.  They take over the scene and coyly ask to use his hair dryer because they are soaked through due to the rain.  They wait for the cab while the hot chicks play a clever game of seduction. Reeves’ character tries with all his might not to fall prey to their enticement. It culminates in a brief ménage à trois, French for “household of three”…how appropriate.

The situation gets worse and before it gets better it gets even worse.  Uninhibited pleasure-seeking comes to mind as the women make his life miserable, along with nauseating table manners and a fondness for stay-at-home bullying.

The movie is rated R for obvious reasons and most times feels like a porn movie gone bad.  Reeves’ character is basically good, so feels downtrodden for his moral dilemma he is facing for his infidelity.  The movie trailer promoted a plot twist, but it fell flat on its rear end.

The upside to the movie is the message about being faithful and the consequences of infidelity or going to the dark side of life.

Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos (A Rooster with Many Eggs)

Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos, directed by Gabriel Riva Palaico Alatriste, comes in Spanish and English, A Rooster With many Eggs.  The animated movie is not a compelling story, yet it’s not really bad either.  The characters are lovable with lots of slapstick humor.  The story takes a unique approach by being lively, entertaining, and mildly titillating, without due seriousness, and a lot fun with innuendos and double-entendres.

The movie follows an apprehensive little rooster named Toto, voiced by Bruno Bichir. His is challenged with confronting and handling an evil rancher. He threatens to purchase and tear down Toto’s family farm. The farm has been in the family for generations.   Toto’s challenge is to fight Bankivoide, voiced by Sergio Sendel, a mammoth rooster. The cockfight will end with the winner-take-all stakes. Feeling the pressure of such an unconquerable task, Toto cannot face the ordeal alone, so he asks his pals for help. Strangely, his pals are a frog, mucho huvevos and a strip of bacon. Can they conquer Banki and keep his family’s farm.

As mentioned earlier, the movie is filled with innuendos and to some extent racy humor compared to customary animated feature. Easily, the Spanish jokes are lost in the English translation since it is primarily written for the Mexican audience.  As an English speaking viewer, I still found a genuine amount of jokes that hit my funny bone. The characters are over the top on the ludicrous side, but the charm is their saving grace. Such as the favorable-intended frog, he earns a lot of laughs.

A Horse Tale

horsetaleDirected by Brad Keller, A Horse Tale received the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for all ages.  The story follows a typical uptight city accountant, Michael Thompson, played by Patrick Muldoon. He is raising his daughter by himself and is over protective. His daughter, Chloe, played by Mandalynn Carlson, has an unpleasant incident at school, and her dad stresses out. So much so that his assistant recommends they move to her Uncle Cliff’s horse farm. Her uncle needs help with the books, anyway, before the merciless bankers take the farm away from them.  With Christmas coming up, it is a perfect time to visit the family and help save the horse farm.

Cliff, played by Rick Herod, is grateful for Michael’s help. But, Samantha (Sam), played by Dominique Swain, is in charge of running the farm. She has a hard time with the idea of a city guy stepping in to help. Sam is not interested in any assistance from an outsider. They smooth over the rough edges, and decide working together is the best way to avoid losing the farm.

The story is predictable.  But, it is a good family movie because it promotes getting in touch with your family and working together toward a common goal. It also touches on the importance of accepting help when you are trying to overcome a problem. The movie even offers a message to parents: No matter how hard it may seem, let your children grow up and be in command of their own lives. Be willing to let them make mistakes on their own.

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

IAmBigBird DVD-3DThe big yellow feathered bird on Sesame Street has been a household icon for decades. The documentary I Am Big Bird celebrates more than Caroll Spinney’s life and contributions performing Big Bird for over 40 years. The movie celebrates the making of the Muppets and puppeteers far and wide.

Directors Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker keep the pace even with family home movies of Spinney’s beginnings in both his personal life and career. Interviews with Spinney, his family, original cast and crew of Sesame Street relate tales of early educational television. For example, Spinney and some of the crew tell a time in the early days when he almost quit the Muppets because he felt he wasn’t contributing enough to the show. But, he was talked out of it, and soon Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, Spinney’s other Muppet persona, became well-known puppets on Sesame Street.  Eventually, Big Bird became the most popular character on the show.

The interviews openly discuss his first marriage, which resulted in three dearly loved children, who are also interviewed in the documentary, clearly showing their love for their dad. Unfortunately, he and their mother divorced, and Spinney suffered through the ordeal.

He met the girl of his dreams by three unsuccessful attempts to date her. Debra tells the story so pleasantly. You can’t help but admire their relationship. Debra is interviewed quite a bit in the movie and her love and understanding of Spinney is very clear. Other items come up in the documentary that are surprising and out of the ordinary. Never explained was why they didn’t have children of their own.

Finding out the staggering complexity of Spinney’s work in the puppet costume is spellbinding.  The demands alone for being a Muppet are amazing, but Big Bird is so much more complex and tasking on Spinney’s body. You need to see it. Just being a Muppet is highly demanding, but to be Big Bird is even more so.

The documentary shines a light on Muppets creator and genius Jim Henson. Clearly a very good friend of the Spinney’s, seeing Henson is heartfelt. The documentary shows footage and memories of working alongside Henson. Big Bird sang “It’s Not Easy Being Green” in front of the packed cathedral at Henson’s funeral, one of the most memorable scenes in the documentary.

She’s Funny That Way

She's Funny That WayShe’s Funny That Way is a good movie, coming across sometimes funny and sometimes serious, but has a great cast that keeps the show on the road. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who directed such winners as Paper Moon and The Last Picture Show, does a fine job on this movie as it tries to find an amicable ending.  Another favorite of mine, Wes Anderson, who directed such witty movies as The Grand Budapest Hotel and Fantastic Mr. Fox, is one of the many producers of this movie.

It starts off with a sit down interview with Izzy, played by Imogen Poots, who is a hooker-turned actress and now successful. She talks about her rise to stardom and her first role on Broadway.  She reflects on the people involved with her breakout role, and the movie cuts to that time on Broadway where they are thrown into a romantic state of uncertainty and confusion.

A salacious, but bleeding heart director, played convincingly by Owen Wilson, hires Izzy, a former hooker he solicited, now turned actress, to star alongside his wife, played humorously by Kathryn Hahn, and his wife’s ex-lover, played by Rhys Ifans. Playing on the outer edge of this confusion and adding a lot of hilarity are Jennifer Aniston, Cybil Sheppard and Will Forte. There are also numerous cameos such as Tatum O’Neal, Quentin Taranitino and Peter Bogdanovich himself.

The movie really gets fun when the director’s wife (Hahn) discovers his fetish for soliciting and then helping call girls. It comes to light when one of the more recent call girls he helped, Izzy, auditions for a role in the play he is directing. She does a fantastic reading because she is reading for a call girl, type casting. A hilarious scene follows where his wife, who wants to get back at her husband, rehearses with the lead actor (Ifans) in a passionate love scene, and she makes real sexually advances toward him. The director tries to stay professional, as her husband he is jealous. I was laughing at his reactions, so funny all the way through, and Wilson is hilarious.

Jennifer Aniston plays someone that I have never seen her play before, an unlikeable character, so I was uncomfortable with it at first. She does a great job of being the typical psychologist, who totally makes the patient feel inadequate and weak. Adding to that, in their face telling them what is wrong with them. Aniston is great and funny.

There are so many good qualities in this movie. The reason I really enjoyed it is because of the director, Peter Bogdanovich brought all these fine actors, some is has worked with before, together. He is such a wonderful director, and I am delighted to see him working again.

What We Did on Our Holiday

whatwedidThere are several things that I really liked about What We Did on Our Holiday. It is a Scottish comedy, and it takes place in the Scottish Highlands. The subtle jokes are funny, but you have to be a Scot or familiar with the culture to really understand them. The movie follows three children of estranged parents.  All played wonderfully by Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge, and Harriet Turnbull.

The movie has two directors, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin. After their notable success of their BBC series Outnumbered, they weave an unsteady story about a family visiting their children’s grandfather, played truthfully by Billy Connolly. He is dying of cancer, so his whole family is celebrating his 75th birthday with a huge weekend bash as a final good-bye.

The parents of the three children, Doug, played by Harry Potter’s (David Tennant), his wife Abi, played by Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike, are divorcing and hope to keep it a secret from the rest of their family. They tell their children not to let anyone know about their pending divorce while visiting them over weekend. Keeping a secret or lying about one’s parents has an effect on the children, and they end up telling their grandfather the truth.

The parents are constantly battling over issues such as telling the truth even if the truth is sad or shocking.  It is not just Doug and Abi who are having a rough time.  The children’s aunt and uncle (Doug’s brother and sister-in-law) are going through some rough times in their marriage as well.

The story really gets interesting when the children go to the beach with their grandfather and he passes away on the beach. Before he passes away, he tells them he is a descendent of the Vikings, and he wants to be burned out at sea like his Viking ancestors did long, long time ago.

So, the oldest daughter goes back to the house to tell the parents that grandfather passed away. But, their parents are arguing as the rest of the family is too. They are so busy arguing that they don’t even know the daughter is there and needs their attention. She decides to go back and handle the remains of grandfather instead. The children honor his wishes and burn him at sea like a Viking, which has repercussions in the 21st Century Scotland.

Other theatrics involving the repercussions of the Viking funeral and other family problems are quite funny. The fast-paced editing keeps the story moving and ties together nicely like the ending of a Scottish tale.