Monthly Archives: August 2013

Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron (2002) – As told by my girls

Hollywood Movie Reviewers

Hollywood Movie Reviewers

Friday night is often slumber party night at our house.  This week while mommy was on vacation we watched the 2002 Academy Award Nominated Best Picture – Spirit:  Stallion of the Cimarron.  For today’s review, I interviewed my viewing companions Patti & Suzi (Ages 7 & 4) to get their thoughts on this movie. I can tell you it was an emotional roller coaster for them. They’re such girls.  And now, on with the interview:

CC:  Patti, Suzi:  What is Spirit about?

Patti:  It’s about a horse and he talks but only without moving his lips because it’s like somebody is talking in the background.

CC: That’s called a narrator.  In this case, the narrator is Matt Damon.

Patti:  Yeah, he talks a lot.

CC:  Who are the main characters?

Patti:  Horses, humans, soldiers, and indians

CC:  What happens in this movie?

Patti:  Spirit gets caught in lots and lots and lots of ropes.

Suzi:  Spirit makes friends with an Indian and he gets a girlfriend horse too.

Me:  Were there any bad guys in the movie?  Why were they bad?

Patti:  Soldiers.  Because they wanted to ride Spirit and they were mean to him.

Patti:  I also have a joke:  Spirit says to the Colonel:  Knock knock.  Who’s there?  Spirit.  Spirit who?  Spirits gonna knock knock you over for being so mean!  HAHAHAHAHA.

CC:  hilarious

CC:  Did you girls like this movie?  And Why?

Patti & Suzi:  YES!!!  Well some of it I did like, some of it I didn’t like, and it was funny, sad, and happy.

spirit_stallion_of_the_cimarron_ver4_xlgCC:  What’s your favorite part of the movie?

Patti:  When spirit keeps knocking over the soldiers over and over.  But my other favorite part was watching it with my favorite daddy and Suzi.

CC:  Awwww

CC:  Were there any sad parts?

Patti:  Yes.  The parts where the piano played sadly and soft it made me cry.

CC:  That makes sense.

CC:  What’s your favorite line in the movie?

Patti:  “One minute I’m free, the next minute, more ropes.”

CC:  Well that about sums it up.

Patti:  Are we being paid for this?

CC:  I’ll make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Patti:  Yay! Collings family is out.  Peace.

CC:  Ummm, OK.  Thanks for your time.

And there you have it.  This was a great movie that will be a good addition to my list of movies you’ll actually enjoy watching with your kids.  I’ll give it a 6 out of 10.

The World’s End – Let’s go to the pub

worlds-end-posterA bunch of middle-aged guys attempt to recapture their youth by going on a pub crawl and getting hammered while the world burns down around them.  Around here we call that “Saturday.”

Alien invasion movies are usually ridiculous, but that’s part of the reason we like them, and The World’s End is no exception.  In this the 3rd installment of the so-called Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright bring their signature form of subtle British humor to the alien invasion genre with very enjoyable results.

The lads return to their hometown to attempt to finish a pub crawl that they’d tried unsuccessfully to complete on the last day of high school many years ago.  A day that the leader of the group, Gary (Simon Pegg), claims to have been the best day of his life.  Along the way, they discover that the townspeople have all been replaced by alien replicas intent on assimilating them.  Undaunted they charge forward on their quest to complete the crawl (good lads) and get to The World’s End pub.  The action accelerates until the world literally burns down around them.

the world's end gif

One of my favorite parts of the movie are the names of the pubs, which when put in order loosely forecast the plot.  I thought that was kind of fun. There’s a nice detailed explanation of it here.

The list of pub names:

  1. The First Post
  2. The Old Familiar
  3. The Famous Cock
  4. The Cross Hands
  5. The Good Companions
  6. The Trusty Servant
  7. The Two-Headed Dog
  8. The Mermaid
  9. The Beehive
  10. The King’s Head
  11. The Hole in the Wall
  12. The World’s End

And now a few more random thoughts about The World’s End that I can’t seem to organize into a proper paragraph:

There really should be more pub crawl movies.

Business Idea:  1) Open a pub called The Famous Cock 2) Decorate with pictures of prize roosters and male porn stars 3) Watch the money flow in.  It’s Foolproof!

I’ve got a serious craving for a marmalade sandwich.

Towards the end of the movie I did think that it had gone over the top a bit with all the aliens and all the fighting, but it still managed to stay funny.  All in all, The World’s End was good fun.  I give it a 6 out of 10.  If you’re a fan of the other 2 movies in the Cornetto Trilogy you’ll probably like it even more.

In theaters now.

CC’s Twenty-Seven Best Movies Available On Netflix Streaming

netflix-logoSince Netflix came on the scene in 1997 and started streaming in 1999 I’ve been a fan.One of my biggest complaints is the seemingly limited library of movies available to Watch Instantly, and it’s no wonder. While the catalog of DVDs available through Netflix is enormous the streaming catalog is reportedly only around 3,000 titles and it’s changing practically every day.  Adding to the confusion, Netflix Watch Instantly streaming function is by no means limited to movies. There’s a wide variety of TV shows, original programming, and kids programming which is getting stronger all the time.

My point here is not a full accounting of Netflix services, instead it is to say that as an avid user of Netflix Watch Instantly, I’m confused.  I need help.  So today, August 27th, 2013, I sort through the clutter and provide you a list of 20+ awesome movies available to Watch Instantly on Netflix, right now.  I’ve come up with a variety of movies each of which I’ve personally seen and give my seal of approval.

UPDATE:  As of Jan 1, 2014 Netflix lost and added a lot of movies.  The list below has been updated to reflect those changes.

(Removed:  Billy Elliott, Up In Smoke, Hoosiers, For The Love Of The Game, Good Will Hunting, Top Gun, Braveheart)

(Added: Bull Durham, Red Dawn, Skyfall, Amelie, Fargo, Forrest Gump)

—–

27. Skyfall – One of the better James Bond movies in recent years.  The opening action sequence is worth the price of admission.

26. The Giant Mechanical Man – For me, a movie like this is Netflix Watch Instantly at its finest. I’d never find this movie in a theater much less go see it. But it’s totally worth checking out. Jenna Fisher and Chris Messina star.

25. Beverly Hills Cop – Admit it, you can hear the theme music now right?

24. Clerks – Shot in black and white for $25,000, this movie launched Kevin Smith’s career and introduced us to the foul-mouthed Jay & Silent Bob. Snoochie boochies!

23. Tommy Boy – The Chris Farley & David Spade classic doesn’t seem to age. This movie is as funny the 1st time and it is the 100th time.

22. Super Troopers – If you haven’t seen this one you need to do so, right MEOW!

21. Clueless – Alicia Silverstone’s only good movie, but it’s very good. Best line: I have a shotgun and a shovel, I doubt anyone will miss you.

20. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - Oh how we miss you John Candy!

19. Coming To America – Full of satire, slapstick, and hilarious dialogue, this is my favorite Eddie Murphy movie of all.

18. Bernie – The story of Bernie Tiede is as wild as East Texas. Richard Linklater directs a hilarious Jack Black in a very fun and entertaining yarn based on a true story.

17. Jackass: The Movie – If you haven’t watched this one because it’s too gross or too juvenile, get over yourself.  This movie is really funny.

16. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Ferris, Sloan, and Cameron skip school and have the most epic day 3 teenagers in Chicago have ever had. You’re singing Twist & Shout now aren’t you?

15. Private Parts - The King of All Media Howard Stern recounts the early days of his journey to the top.

14. The King’s Speech – The King of England can’t speak without stuttering and Colin Firth & Geoffrey Rush stammer their way through an awesome film.

13. Into The Wild – Emile Hirsch sells everything and goes to live in the gorgeous Alaskan wilderness.

12. Bull Durham – Great baseball movie, great dual love story, one of Costner’s best.

11. Traffic – Gritty movie about drug trafficking, set on both sides of the US/Mexico border.

10. Red Dawn (1984) – The Russians and Cubans are coming.  Wolverines!

9. Terminator 2 – The Governator in his best movie, according to me.

8. Pretty In Pink – Molly Ringwald stars in another John Hughes classic that deserves to be on this list but also scores me bonus points with the Mrs.

7. The Breakfast Club - John Hughes’s classic has us spend the day in detention with 5 kids from different backgrounds that all unite against a common enemy and in the process they change for the better.

6. The Avengers – Just when most superhero movies were starting to suck, Joss Whedon drops this action-packed and hilarious superhero romp on us.

5. The Hunger Games – This was one of those movies based on a book that I loved and happily loved the movie just as much. Jennifer Lawrence is awesome as Katniss.

4. Lost In Translation – More…intensity! Bill Murray & Scarlett Johansen star in this classic movie about love, loneliness, jet lag and culture clash.

3. Fargo - This is the Coen Brothers best movie.  A very pregnant, small town sheriff Marge Gunderson tracks down a band of idiot criminals in an awkward and hilarious manner.

2. Pulp Fiction – Tarantino’s twisted bloody masterpiece of hit men, power, redemption, and foot massages is as good as movies get.

1. Forrest Gump - Absolutely one of the best movies of all time.  I’m going to go watch it again right now!

So there’s the list. Now stop complaining about how there’s nothing to watch on Netflix Watch Instantly and get to it!

Agree to disagree?  What movie did I miss?  What movie doesn’t deserve to be on the list?  Please leave your suggestions in the comments and thanks for reading!

CC’s Top 16 Animated Movies You’ll Actually Enjoy Watching With Your Kids

list1I know from experience that it can be a challenge to find movies that both parents and kids can enjoy together.  On Friday nights at our house we frequently have slumber parties in our living room where we pull out the hide-a-bed, pop some popcorn, and put in a movie for the whole family to watch.  I’m not ashamed to admit that most of the stuff that the kids like makes me want to start drinking immediately and fall asleep as soon as possible.  But there is hope.  After years of careful research, I’ve compiled a list of 15 animated movies that both kids and us grown ups can agree on.

If you have any other great suggestions, please leave them in comments below.  Enjoy!

16.  Spirit:  The Stallion Of The Cimarron – This is a very nice movie and a new addition to the list.  Click the title for my full review…as told by my kids.

15. Wall-E – This movie is just awesome and in fact it’s my favorite on the list. With hardly any dialogue, it’s a visual masterpiece. It’s at the bottom of the list because this is the only movie that my kids weren’t too fond of. They watched it, said it was good, but never asked to watch it again.

14. Gnomeo & Juliet – This fresh new take on Romeo & Juliet is brought to life with animated garden gnomes and set in neighboring yards is a hoot of a good time.

13. A Bug’s Life – This may be the most watched movie in my family’s history. It was on regular rotation for about 3 years and still gets the occasional play. It’s loaded with double entendres and other subtle jokes laid down for parents to chuckle. But my kids like the bugs, and it’s the bugs that carry this movie.

12. Monsters, Inc. – In a parallel universe monsters power their cities with the terrified screams of children. Billy Crystal and John Goodman are absolutely hilarious in this one.

11. Ice Age – This is touching story about an lost boy being looked after by a lovable band of misfits. Ray Romano and Manfred the Mastodon, Dennis Leary as Diego the Saber Tooth Tiger, and the hilarious John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth are irresistible to kids and the touching story is compelling to adults.

10. The Lion King – This is a classic. With great voices by James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, and Whoopi Goldberg (just to name a few), a soundtrack by Sir Elton John and a classic Disney coming-of-age story it’s no wonder we’ve watched this gem so many times around our house.

9. Happy Feet – Robin Williams with penguins that dance and sing. What more do you need?

8. Finding Nemo – This is an absolutely fantastic story about a little clown fish that makes his way across the big open ocean. Ellen DeGeneres give a memorable performance as Dory.

7. The Incredibles – A family of super heroes attempt to live as ordinary people until a new enemy drags them out of hiding. I think the Incredible family characters are great and my kids do too. They frequently pretend to be Dash or Elastigirl and of course I get to be Mr. Incredible.

6. Despicable Me – Mr. Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) adopts 3 young girls to use as cover for his plot to take over the world. Along the way he finds his humanity. The real star of this movie are The Minions. Those little yellow dudes are hilarious!

5. Rise of the Guardians – Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, The Sandman, and Jack Frost fight against The Boogie Man. This movie is just so well done and compelling, I enjoyed it and my kids watched it for three days straight.

4. Bee Movie – Jerry Seinfeld does his stand up routine as a bee. And it is SOOOOO stinking funny. I’ve watched in 10 times and I still laugh at some new subtle joke that I didn’t realize was there before. So much fun!!!!

3. Shrek – Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy are so dang funny as Shrek and Donkey.  Every time we watch this both my kids and I laugh like crazy.  Kids like Donkey because he’s a blabber mouth and adults like the all the fairy tale references and rather adult jokes that are all carefully disguised throughout the show.

2. Toy Story 3 – The fantastic 3rd chapter in the Toy Story series. Andy’s all grown up and headed off to college when his mom accidentally donates all the toys to the daycare center. The closing scene is enough for this dad to tear up just thinking about it. Probably the most touching scene in any movie, of any kind, ever.

1. Toy Story – This is the movie that changed how animated movies were made. But the real magic is in the powerful story of Andy and his two best friends Woody & Buzz Lightyear.

There you have it. Agree to disagree? Put your favorites in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Red Planet (2000)

Guest blog: TrevorD reviews classic science fiction movies for @CCAtTheMovies

red_planetUnique among the earth-is-dying-we-have-to-move-to-Mars-type-movies, a crew of above-average-looking astronauts led by Trinity (Carry-Ann Moss), Ice-Man (Val Kilmer) and Detective Curtis (Benjamin Bratt), go on a joy-ride to Mars trying to figure out why early colonists have disappeared.

Bad luck and an-emergency-landing-later, the team of scientists must confront their own philosophical, ethical and spiritual beliefs as they try to make the best of their limited oxygen supply. In their darkest hour, teetering on the brink of annihilation, the red planet opens the kimono and bears its secret.

Plot twists? Not really.

A maniacal renegade robot? Of course.

An unlikely yet humorous escape using antiquated-decade-old Soviet technology? Check.

Reuniting the two hottest astronauts to help procreate our species? Bonus.

With a unique and plausible story, modest dialogue and reasonable action sequences it’s no wonder TNT snatched up this gem a long time ago. Check it out…cheese and all, this is a decent sci-fi movie.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

butler_ver2_xlgForrest Whitaker plays former White House butler Cecil Gaines who served 8 presidents starting with President Eisenhower and continuing through President Reagan.  In seeing his story, we get a front row view to the seat of power as presidents deal with the issue of civil rights though the years.

This movie is basically the same type of movie as Forrest Gump. Just substitute Forrest Whitaker for Forrest Gump and set the whole thing inside The White House. Drop in Oprah, make the whole movie about race relations, shake it up with some awesome sauce and there you have it. Easy peasy, not so easy. Turns out that changing 200 years of historical thinking doesn’t always go too smoothly.

The Butler takes us on a journey from the deep south in the 1920′s all the way up to the election of President Obama.  We’re given the opportunity to see the issue of race relations in America from 2 basic points of view.  First through the eyes of the butler himself, and also though the eyes of his son who grows up to become a crusader for equal rights.  The story culminates with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.  I can only imagine how African Americans, especially the elder generation, must have felt to see Barack Obama take the podium in Roosevelt Park the night he was elected.  It must have seemed like a dream.

As a white man who grew up in remote North Dakota far away from the battlegrounds of the equal rights movement in both time and place, I’m not qualified to write much about it.  So instead I’ll just say “Thank you!” to the freedom fighters both past and present who have never stopped working towards social justice in our country.  Our nation is stronger because of you.  And I say “Thank You!” to the “butlers” of our country both past and present who change people’s hearts and minds on a daily basis.  You remind us to judge others not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.   And to both groups I want to say “Thank you!” for forcing us as individuals to learn, to evolve, and to grow even though it’s not easy.  “Thank you!” for giving us the opportunity to lay down the invisible shackles of prejudice and to show our children that there is a better way, to show them that change isn’t easy – but it’s worth it,  to show them that it’s never too late to do the right thing, and to show them the power of forgiveness.

The Butler did it for me.  It’s a pretty good movie that takes on some persistently tough issues but was still enjoyable to watch.  And for that, I give it a 7 out of 10.  

Now in theaters

2 Guns

two_guns_xxlg (1)

Denzel and Marky Mark try their hands at comedy while running back and forth across the Mexican border shooting everything that moves.

Paula Patton is the token hot chick and shows us her “2 Guns” in a scene that’s becoming a regular in Denzel’s movies. That is, him alone in a room with a super hot, young gal in various states of undress. Off the top of my head this same basic scene is also in Training Day, Flight, and Book of Eli.  It’s as if he has that type of scene as part of his contract.  I don’t blame him.  If I had a million dollars I know what I’d do:  two chicks at the same time, man.

2 Guns gets a 4 out of 10.  The dialogue is OK, not too good not too bad, just OK – the low end of OK.  The rest of the movie is very meh.

In theaters now, but I recommend waiting until it comes out on DVD.

The Way Way Back

way_way_back_xlgA bunch of divorced and philandering adults load up the station wagon and head to the coast for the summer with their teenagers in tow.  The teens are in full angst mode, and not surprisingly 14 year old Duncan is having issues with his mom’s new jerkface boyfriend.  So he sneaks out and gets a job at the local waterpark.  There he experiments with break dancing, begins to find his confidence, and makes friends.

We should all be so lucky to have our kids rebel by sneaking out and getting jobs and break dancing behind our backs.

I really enjoyed this movie.  It made me laugh and it made me think.  I found myself identifying with both the teenagers and their parents.  The story triggered a lot of memories of times past with my family growing up and of times ahead with my kids. I remember trips to the lake with my dad, and my sisters would always fall asleep in the way, way, back on the drive home.  I remember long trips to Wyoming in our giant station wagon, and I’m thinking of past and future trips to the coast with my girls.

But mostly I’m reminded about how tragic divorce is for children and how I need to do my best every day to not let my girls know just how terrible it feels to have your parents split and you’re forced to live with the aftermath.  Even if 30+ years later I now have the perspective to understand that it was the best decision my parents could make, and life worked out for the better, it still hurts.  There’s a song by the band Everclear called “Father of Mine” and near the end of the song they sing “now I am a grown man, with a child of my own, and I swear I’m never gonna let her know, all the pain that I have known.”  That lyric has hung with me for 20 years and over time it’s become sort of a motto for me.  And now after watching The Way Way Back I finally felt OK with writing about it.

Why? Because this movie reminded me that sometimes shit happens that’s not your fault.  But the past is the past, the future is unknown, but today, right now, I can make a decision to be happy.  I can decide that I’m going to go in the next room and play Twister with the cutest girls in the world and laugh.  Then I’ll remember that sometimes The Way Way Back is way, way better than the front, as long as you’re with the ones you love.

The Way Way Back is way, way, good.  I give it a 8 out of 10 and can’t wait to watch it again. 

Still in theaters

Spring Breakers (2013)

spring-breakers-posterSome Disney teen idols get too old for tween movies so they head to Florida, change into bikinis, and make an incomprehensibly terrible movie.

I can’t believe how much I hated a movie that had so many topless girls in it. Usually more topless girls = more like. But Spring Breakers defies even my juvenile logic.

The best thing Selena Gomez did in this movie was get on a bus and get the hell out of it about halfway through, leaving the rest of the cast to continue the slow, painful crash and burn.

It’s a good thing for James Franco that he wore so much makeup you could hardly recognize him, but he should still fire his agent for putting him in this piece of shit.  He should be embarrassed by this.

I give this a 1 out of 10, because those naked girls shouldn’t go completely unrewarded.

Available on DVD, but don’t bother.

Fast And Furious 6

fast and furious 6Vin Diesel and his band of renegade bad boys are enjoying retirement when The Rock tells them that “one of their own” (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive. **GASP!**  So they get the band back together and set off all over the globe to drive hot rods, hack computers, shoot guns, and jump out of airplanes ‘n shit.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but contrary to the glowing reviews:  I. hated. it.

It was just way too fast and way too furious for my egg brain. I give F&F 6 a 3 out of 10, only because The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) was funny and made portions of it borderline tolerable. But it was mostly a rev’ed up turd.

I saw it in the Dollar Theater and paid too much.

Plan to be run over by the Special Edition Blu Ray & Digital Copy promos soon, very soon.