Ricki and the Flash Movie Review

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Review:

Meryl Streep’s latest is not her greatest, but she is, as usual, a joy to watch. In Ricki and the Flash, Streep stars as a former housewife who left her husband Pete (Kevin Kline) and children Julie, Josh, and Adam to pursue dreams of rock stardom. Years later, her children are grown, her husband is remarried, and she’s making ends meet by working as a grocery store clerk while singing in bars with her boyfriend Greg (Rick Springfield) and their cover band The Flash. Then Julie (Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer) attempts to commit suicide following a divorce, and Pete calls her home to try and help.

The acting was really top notch throughout. You expect excellence from actors like Streep and Kline, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well Mamie Gummer and Rick Springfield held their own, having expected them to be overshadowed by the famous pair at the top of the billings. The other standout in the cast was Audra McDonald as Maureen, Pete’s new wife and the children’s second mother. She had an outstanding confrontation with Ricki that was probably the single best acted scene in the film.

On the other hand, Sebastian Stan (of the Captain America films) and Nick Westrate (of TURN: Washington’s Spies) were both underutilized as Ricki’s sons Josh and Adam, respectively. I’m admittedly a fan of Sebastian, but I would have liked to see a little more of his character in particular. Of the three kids, he was outwardly the least embittered, but I did not get the impression that Julie was lying when she said he didn’t want Ricki at his wedding, so it might have been interesting to see that tension explored a little more. I couldn’t get a great handle on Josh’s fiancee Emily (Hailey Gates) either. She was clearly intensely uncomfortable with Ricki’s sudden arrival in her life, but I couldn’t tell if some of her behavior at the wedding was supposed to be discomfort or an alarming slide into Bridezilla-ness.

Written by Diablo Cody of Juno fame, there was lots of clever and snappy dialogue (fortunately it was also, for the most part, less precious than Juno‘s) and lots of laugh out loud moments despite the heavy themes the film touches on. I thought it handled the heavy issues regarding regrets, absentee parents, and abandonment issues relatively well for most of the film. Greg had an especially good line: “It doesn’t matter if your kids love you or not. It’s not their job to love you, it’s your job to love them!” However, I thought the ending felt too pat and simplistic. I suppose it was supposed to be some sort of “music brings people together” message, which may be true, but also sits a little uncomfortably in a film about a family literally torn apart by music.

Speaking of music, the soundtrack is a fantastic mix of classic rock and more modern hits, though I have to say I was disappointed when the film cut away from Streep’s rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” about 30 seconds in. (The full version is available on the film’s soundtrack.)

Overall, an enjoyable film, but not as memorable as it should have been, given its cast.

My rating:3 Stars (3 / 5)

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Review:

Sleeping Beauty was my favorite Disney movie when I was a young girl, but it later got superseded by Aladdin and I didn’t see it for many years. Then I watched it again in college, for the first time since elementary school, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it held up really well. Today, it’s back among my favorite Disney movies.

Why do I like it?

  • The animation is stunning – very stylized-looking and unique.
  • The music is some of the best ever – it’s Tchaikovsky, after all.
  • Prince Philip is quite the hottie – the best of the early Disney princes by far.
  • Aurora is kind of annoying, but not nearly as insufferable as, say, Snow White.
  • The three good fairies are funny, as are Aurora and Philip’s fathers and Samson the horse.
  • Malificent is the most terrifying and awesome Disney villain ever.

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Supernatural Season 3 Review

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Review:

While I appreciated that Kripke and the writers didn’t allow the Yellow Eyed Demon storyline to drag on and on, it left them without such a strong arc and much of season three seemed to be grasping at straws trying to fill in the gap. On top of that, the Writer’s Strike forced the season to be shortened (16 episodes instead of the usual 22), leading to the compression of several storylines, inconsistent characterization and plotting, and inadequate payoff at the end of the season. Thus, I consider season three to be the weakest of the first three seasons, even though many individual episodes are actually quite good. (I’ve starred the good ones below for your convenience.)

My rating:3 Stars (3 / 5)

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Supernatural Season 2 Review

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Review:

Season 2 of Supernatural was stronger and more consistent than season 1 while continuing the first season’s strengths.

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

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Supernatural Season 1 Review

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Review:

Horror isn’t usually my thing, but so many of my friends were falling head over heels for this show, I decided to give it a shot, and found it much more enjoyable than I expected.

Supernatural follows a pair of brothers on a cross country road trip looking for their missing father, stopping to hunt supernatural baddies of various sorts along the way. The monster of the week plots are generally entertaining, but the real draw of the show for me was the first class family drama. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have great chemistry together as brothers Dean and Sam Winchester. I also enjoyed the show’s soundtrack of classic rock, the focus on small town and rural backroads America (my America) rather than big city locales like New York and LA, and, of course, the eye candy.

My rating:3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

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Gladiator Movie Review

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Review:

To be honest, I think this movie is over-rated, but I picked it out of the $5 movie bin because my husband likes it.

Gladiator has much to recommend it: excellent performances, impressive visuals, classic fight scenes, beautiful score, and cool costumes, among other things. However, I’ve always found the plot a bit paint-by-numbers and predictable to a degree that takes away from the movie as a whole, more so because guy-seeks-revenge-for-murdered-family is NOT a favorite trope of mine.

My rating:3 Stars (3 / 5)

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Singin’ in the Rain Movie Review

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Review:

Before I watched this movie, pretty much the only thing I knew about it was the iconic titular scene, so I knew the singing and dancing were going to be amazing, but I expected the plot to be some sort of corny romance.

I was therefore very pleasantly surprised to discover that much of the movie was actually taken up by a hilarious plot about the bumpy transition from silent films to “talking pictures.” Really the only thing I didn’t like was the strange “Broadway Melody” sequence, which had great dancing courtesy of the legendary Cyd Charisse, but was just kind of weird and out of place.

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

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Enchanted Movie Review

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Review:

Disney isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself! Enchanted is a charming and fun send-up of many of Disney’s stock tropes and cliches. Amy Adams is adorable as Giselle and Susan Sarandon looks like she’s having the time of her life as the wicked stepmother. I also loved James Marsden as the well meaning but hopelessly oblivious Prince Edward. My only question is why they hired a famous Broadway star like Idina Menzel and then never had her sing!

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

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Frozen Movie Review

Review:

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I’m sure I’m not the only Millennial who grew up during the golden age of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Mulan, was kind of disappointed by most of (but not all) Disney’s offerings in the early nolls, and is now delighted that they’re undergoing a revival, just in time for my own kids to enjoy their movies as much as I did when I was a child. The Princess and the Frog was good and Tangled was great.

Frozen may be better still (honestly, I’m torn about whether I liked it better than Tangled or not). The animation was absolutely beautiful, the songs were catchy (my favorites were Let It Go and the opening yoik by Sami composer Frode Fjellheim), and the sidekicks were cute. And I loved that (spoiler alert – click on the blurred text to view) Anna and Elsa saved each other with the power of sisterly love and didn’t need to be rescued by anybody. Destined to be a classic!

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

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Mulan

Review:

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The single best Disney movie to show to girls (and boys), in my opinion.

Although Disney has gotten much better at presenting well-rounded and interesting heroines in recent years, many Disney movies still focus ultimately on romance. In Mulan, by contrast, the romance is a minor and understated subplot, and the focus is squarely on Mulan’s quest to save her father’s life and bring honor to her family. Along the way, her cleverness, resourcefulness, and quick thinking save China as well.

In addition to providing a great role model, Mulan also has some great songs, lots of action and humor, and lovely animation. A must-have for any family video collection.

My rating:5 Stars (5 / 5)

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