Friday, August 12, 2016

Pete's Dragon

Family Faire: Pete’s Dragon (2016) PG In the Pacific Northwest, Forest Ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) finds a young boy named, Pete (Oakes Fegley), who has remarkably lived in the woods for six years.  Pete claims that he was under the protection of a dragon named, Elliott. Could Elliott be real? I am not a fan of the original 1977 Disney film, but this movie does improve on the story, mostly due to a fantastic and imaginative dragon (think a giant puppy with wings) that clearly loves Pete and is his best friend. Kids will enjoy the film, but parents may get a little bored with the simple storyline. The kid who plays Pete, Oakes Fegley, is a joy to watch, especially in the first half of the film where he is solely interacting with Elliott. The flying sequences are well done, but it’s not necessary to see it in 3-D. My biggest objection to the film is that the villain of the story is so broadly and clumsily written that he belongs in a 1950’s comic book. Pete’s Dragon is not a bad film, but I just wish it was a little more complex.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Pete's Dragon Website
My ViewSausage Party  (2016)  R  Food has one objective at the grocery store, to be chosen to go home with humans. A hot dog sausage named, Frank (Seth Rogen), learns the horrible truth that humans want to cook and eat food.  Now Frank must convince his friends in the grocery store that they must fight back if they want to live. A bit of a warning: If you are easily offended, don’t see this film. If you don’t like cursing in movies, don’t see the film. If crude jokes about sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or just about any other subject offend you, don’t see this film. This is a hilarious movie, but man, is it weird. At one time, I had my hand in front of my face because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This film is looks like the creators took all the raunchy parts from This Is the End, Neighbors and Knocked Up, decided to animate it and then said, “Well, that’s a start.” This is a hilarious film that basically takes the tried and true formula of a quest to get back home and turns it on its ear.  Though even with all of its crude jokes and over-the-top stereotypes, it’s got a deeper message about religion and race/ideological relations. But be warned, you are going to have to hear/see a lot of jokes about sex to get to that message. By the way, producers had to cut scenes to avoid an NC-17 rating.  After seeing this film, I can’t imagine what those scenes showed.   My Take:  Full Price   Sausage Party Website
My View:  Florence Foster Jenkins  (2016)  PG-13  Florence (Meryl Streep) is a beloved socialite who entertains her friends and family with her Opera singing. Urged on by her husband (Hugh Grant), she decides to record an album and play Carnegie Hall.  The only problem: she can’t correctly sing even one note. This delightful film is reminiscent of the screwball movies of the thirties, though it never gets to a frenzied level of the comedies of the past. The film is funny, moves at a quick pace and has a few twists and turns (one which you won’t see coming). As with any comedy, it does have serious moments as well as an underlying sadness of what Florence’s life could have been, but her “can do” attitude and perseverance dominate which makes for an upbeat and joyful film. I liked Grant as the supportive but caddish husband and especially Simon Helberg as Florence’s quirky accompanist. This is, of course, Meryl’s movie, and she jumps with both feet into the deep end with relish portraying this fascinating woman. It’s a high energy performance that makes Florence extremely likable, making us root for her to succeed, even though we are aware Florence can’t sing. It doesn’t matter because, against all the odds, she thinks she can. Not everything is perfect in Florence’s world, particularly when her husband leaves her every night to sleep with someone else, and Streep allows her character to have that sadness just in the background of her character’s actions.  It's Streep’s boisterous performance that makes this film so much fun to watch.  You may not always enjoy the singing, but you certainly will admire the gusto.    My Rating:  Full Price   Florence Foster Jenkins Website
IndiefestDon’t Think Twice  (2016)  R  A long time New York improv group loses their lease, and one of the members lands a TV show.  I loved writer/director Mike Birbiglia’s first picture “Sleep Walk With Me,” which was about the trials and tribulations of being a stand-up comic on the road. I am happy to say that Birbiglia has done it again with “Don’t Think Twice,” as this movie is as humorous and inventive as his first film. The joy of this movie is the improv scenes (some were scripted, and others were improvised) that will have you on the floor laughing. Even some of the scenes away from the club are fun to watch as the group makes fun of each other constantly, though, sometimes the kidding can go too far and touch a nerve or two. This is a heartfelt, funny film that deals with all the pain, sacrifice and lows that comedians face in their everyday life just so that they can get those few minutes in the spotlight. “Don’t Think Twice” is a film that shows us that as painful as those struggles are, if you can make someone laugh, it’s all worth it.    My Rating: Full Price   Don't Think Twice Website
IndiefestGhost Team  (2016)  PG-13  Louis (Jon Heder) is obsessed with the paranormal and decides to investigate a possible ghost-filled sight. He brings along his depressed best friend (David Krumholtz), a cable access medium (Amy Seders), a girl who works next door (Melonie Diaz) and an over-eager security guard (Justin Long) to help him with his investigation. With this cast, this film should have been funnier, but the script lets them down. The film has an interesting premise, but after a promising start, becomes bogged down in a plot that is too transparent and light. There are some funny moments, but they are far too scarce. I also felt the creators dropped the ball and didn’t make the ghost element in the film scarier, which would have created some much-needed tension. Of the cast, Justin Long stands out as the wannabe cop who has a tendency to cry in pressure situations. I just wish this had been a much more enjoyable film.   My Rating:  Cable   Ghost Team Facebook Page
Forgotten Film: A Kiss Before Dying  (1991)  R  Jonathan (Matt Dillion) has been secretly dating Dorothy (Sean Young), a twin daughter of a wealthy tycoon. Realizing that her pregnancy will destroy his plans for his future (she won’t get the family money due to the scandal of an out of wedlock pregnancy), he pushes her off a building and makes it look like a suicide. He then sets his sights on Dorothy’s twin with the plan of marrying into her family’s money.  But Dorothy suspects that something isn’t right with Jonathan and begins questioning if her sister committed suicide. While I am not entirely happy with this thriller (there are a lot of plot holes that have to be ignored), this film is worth watching due to Mat Dillion’s brilliant and mesmerizing performance. Dillion is creepy and attractive all in one, an almost impossible task to perform on the screen, but he carries it off. I also really enjoyed the ending that ties in well with the opening scene.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   A Kiss Before Dying Info

Weird Credits: From Pete’s Dragon:  Fur Groomer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Don’t Breathe  (2016)  R  I am hearing great things from film critics about this suspenseful film about a group of friends who break into a house inhabited by a blind man. They think it will be an easy heist…boy are they wrong.   Don't Breathe Facebook Page

Until Next Time!

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