Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

Member of THE LAMB: The Large Association of Movie Blogs LAMB #1588

Follow me on Twitter for updates to my blog and other fun movie news. Find me at @PaulsMovieTrip

Find and "like" me on Facebook at Paul's Trip to the Movies

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Director: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Tom Felton

Will Rodman (Franco) is a genetic engineer working on a cure for Alzheimer's. He has been testing a retrovirus on chimpanzees. The retrovirus causes the brain to reach human intelligence levels. After a chimpanzee escapes her cage and destroys the office, Will's assistant is forced to kill all of the chimps. A baby chimp is left, and Will takes it home to rescue it. The Alzheimer's project is shut down, but Will won't give up his fight for a cure. His father (Lithgow) is slowly losing his battle to Alzheimer's. Will decides to test the retrovirus on his dad. His dad starts to get better as his memory and motor skills return. They name the chimp "Caeser" and decide to raise him in the house. Will notices that the retrovirus has been passed down to Caeser (Serkis). Caeser starts to develop at an astonishing rate. Will fights to get the retrovirus back in the lab and for the research to continue.

Slowly, his dad's immune system starts to fight the antivirus and his Alzheimer's comes back. He gets into his neighbor's car and crashes it thinking that it is his car. He gets into an altercation with his fuming neighbor leaving him shaken and confused. Caesar witnesses this and tries to come to the rescue by attacking the neighbor. Animal control is called, and Caesar is taken away. Caesar is now held captive with numerous other primates by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his son, Dodge (Felton). The primates live in terrible conditions. With his advanced intelligence, Caesar spends his time planning his escape.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the first in the Planet of the Apes series to use all performance capture technology by Weta Digital. Weta Digital is the same company used on The Lord of the Rings and the King Kong remake. There were no actors in ape costumes or make-up. Andy Serkis has become a master at performance capture acting. His characters are always fully formed even though you don't see his physical appearance on screen. Serkis' amazing performance as Caeser is by far the best acting in the movie. The apes escape at the end is the best part of the movie. You really are at the edge of your seat as you watch the apes take over the Golden Gate bridge. I wish the rest of the movie could have been as exciting as the ending. Even though it has an interesting premise, the screenplay could have been better. Many of the supporting characters are merely stereotypes that cause some bad acting and bad line readings. Tom Felton plays your average evil sidekick villain that treats the apes badly. Freida Pinto plays your average supportive girlfriend. Overall, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a good movie that takes a new direction in the series. Make sure to watch the credits before you leave. There is another element to the story that unfolds that I found intriguing.

RATING: *** 1/2 stars (3.5 out of 5 stars)


Director: Joe Johnston
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Haley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones

Steve Rogers (Evans) is short and scrawny, but he is determined to enlist in World War II. He tries to enlist four different times using false information but is rejected each time due to his stature and asthma. On his fifth attempt, Dr. Abraham Erskine (Tucci) allows him to enlist as part of an experiment to create a "super-soldier". Steve agrees because he will do anything to fight for his country. In front of a panel of scientists and war officials, Steve is hooked up and injected with some special serums and "vita-rays". Steve emerges insanely muscular and with extraordinary abilities like: super strength, running fast, and swimming underwater. Steve becomes the model soldier and is branded the name "Captain America". Captain America is the symbol for the all-American soldier saving his country. Captain America teams up with Agent Peggy Carter (Atwell) and Colonel Phillips (Jones) to defeat the HYDRA organization.

The HYDRA organization is led by Johann Schmidt (Weaving), aka "Red Skull". Schmidt along with his side-kick Dr.Zola (Toby Jones) have stolen a magical cube containing enough energy to destroy mass quantities of people. Schmidt's goal is to take over the war like Hitler has and destroy numerous American cities by the energy he uses from the cube. Captain America invades Schmidt's fortress and rescues numerous soldiers that have been held captive. They battle Schmidt's army, but Schmidt and Dr. Zola escape. Captain America figures out where they are headed next. He gathers the troop one more time to finish Schmidt off and save America.

Captain America: The First Avenger
is the last of the four comic book movies to come out this summer. At the end of the movie, Samuel L. Jackson has a cameo as Nick Fury, who has had appearances in some of the other Marvel comic book movies. The filmmakers also included that Captain America will return next summer in The Avengers. Chris Evans is wonderful as a super-hero. He has the look and sense of humor included with being a good super hero. Tommy Lee Jones plays Colonel Phillips exactly the way you would expect him too. He's your standard Tommy Lee Jones type of character with well delivered one-liners. Of the four superhero movies releases this summer, I would rank this second behind X-Men: First Class .

Rating: **** (4 of out 5 stars)

Pin It Now!

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Unleash Your Inner Foodie" Guest Blog: Last Chance Summer Movie Marathons

It's time for another guest blog for DeeAnn McArdle and "Unleash Your Inner Foodie". This month's theme is devoted to last chance summer movie marathons for an outdoor movie party.

As these final days of summer approach, why not gather some friends for an outdoor movie marathon. Have some appetizers, beers, fruity tropical beverages, and catch up on some old favorites. Don’t forget to have plenty of blankets to sit on, pillows, and lawn chairs. You will also need bug spray of some sort, you don’t want the mosquitoes to ruin a good night! And of course, the fixings for S’Mores!

There are so many different themes you could choose from. To read the rest, click here


Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fall Movie Preview

'Tis the season where the summer blockbusters wind down, and we start looking forward to the fall movies. All the Oscar bait movies hoping to catch the attention of Academy voters. I received my Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview and was graced with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson on the cover. I guess they're starring in some little new movie called Breaking Dawn Part 1. I kid, I kid. I'm highly looking foward to the first part in the finale of the Twilight Saga. Here is a look at the upcoming Fall season with the help of my EW at my side.


Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Lawrence Fishburne, Marion Cottilard

Contagion is full of Oscar winners and nominees. The movie is about an air-born virus that kills millions of people within weeks. This movie sold me when they cast Kate Winslet. I bow down. September 9

Director: Bennett Miller (Capote)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Based on the 2003 non-fiction book by Michael Lewis, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane. Billy is the general manager of the Oakland Athletic's baseball team who takes an unconventional approach to gather a group of players to re-invent the team. Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin September 23

Director: Jim Sheridan
Starring: Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz

Just in time for Halloween, Dream House is another movie where a successful couple along with their two young daughters move into the perfect home. As it turns out, this home is not quite the picture perfect house they had their eyes one. While it sounds like a familiar premise, it must have twists and turns if these big powerhouses signed on. September 30

Other September ones to look for:
1. 50/50 (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen)
2. Drive (Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks)


Director: George Clooney
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

George Clooney stars as a democratic presidential nominee on the campaign trail. Ryan Gosling plays a media strategist working for Clooney's character. As the race heats up, secrets are revealed and moral compasses are put to the test. By the looks of the trailer, it appears to be a gritty, faced paced, and edge-of-your-seat political ride. October 7

Director: Pedro Almodovar
Starring: Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas plays a plastic surgeon working on an artificial skin experiment while keeping a woman captive in his house. October 14

Also in October:
1. The Big Year (Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson)
2. Footloose (Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid)
3. The Rum Diary (Johnny Depp)


Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts

Eastwood and DiCaprio team up with a script by Dustin Lance Black (Milk) in a biopic based on the life of J.Edgar Hoover. November 9

Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

Based on the final novel in the Twilight Series, Bella and Edward get married and find out Bella is pregnant. November 18

Director: James Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adam, The Muppets

All your favorite Muppets are back in in this new adventure with a screenplay co-written by Jason Segel. Gary (Segel) finds out the Muppet Theater is going to be destroyed by an oil tycoon (Chris Cooper). He reunites all the Muppets to try to save the theater. You can't help but smile when watching the trailer. November 23

Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Jude Law, Chloe Grace-Moretz, Ben Kingsley

Martin Scorsese's first plunge into the 3D rage. Hugo is based on the children's book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret". It feels like a very different approach for Scorsese compared to his gritty crime movies. November 23

Also in November:
1. Tink, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy)
2. The Descendants (Dir.Alexander Payne, George Clooney)
3. Melancholia (Kirsten Dunst, Alexander Skarsgard)
4. My Week with Marilyn (Michelle Williams, Julia Ormond)



Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr. Jude Law, Noomi Rapace

The follow-up to 2009 blockbuster. Holmes and Dr. Watson are back to come to the aid of a fortune teller from evil Professor Moriarity. December 16

Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent

Meryl Streep plays former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. December 16


Director: David Fincher
Starring: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer

Based on the immensely popular Stieg Larson novel, it is easily one of the most highly anticipated movies of the fall. David Fincher is an amazing director and will do the novel justice. By the trailer alone, you can tell this will be one kick-ass ride. December 21

Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig

This first of two Spielberg movies this fall. Spielberg teamed up with Peter Jackson to bring this 3D and motion capture adaptation of Tintin to the big screen. December 23

Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson, David Thewlis

Spielberg is back at his story-telling roots with War Horse. It's based on the same story as the current play showing in London and New York. It tells the story of a horse sold to the British Army in World War I, and the young boy that goes out to find and rescue it. December 28

Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jodi Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz

Roman Polanski brings the stage play "God of Carnage" to life with three Oscar winners and a fellow Oscar nominee. The story centers around two couples trying to be civil while discussing a playground incident between their children. Did I mention that Kate Winslet is in it?!?!?

Also in December:
1. Young Adult (Dir.Jason Reitman, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson)
2. In the Land of Blood and Honey (Dir. Angelina Jolie)
3. We Bought a Zoo (Dir.Cameron Crowe, Matt Damon, Scarlett Johannson)
4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Dir.Stephen Daltry, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock)
5. Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol (Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner)

I know what I am going to be doing this fall. I better set my calendar now. What are you looking forward this fall?
Pin It Now!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Movie Review: THE HELP

One of the most highly anticipated movies of this summer is The Help. It's based on novel by Kathryn Stockett that has been controversial, popular, and on numerous book club lists. I am currently reading the novel and am a little over half-way through. I will try to judge the movie on it's own merits and not compare it to the book. One that's read the book can't help but think of it as you watch the movie. What did they change, what did they cut out? I won't get into that for this review.

Director: Tate Taylor
Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney

Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, The Help takes place in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement. It tells the story of three women risking their lives to change the world. Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (Stone) has recently graduated from Ole Miss and is back home. She's an aspiring writer who has gotten a job working for the Jackson Journal writing for the Miss Myrna column. Miss Myrna is an advice column on cleaning, cooking, and other household jobs. Even though she has no idea how to answer any of the questions posed to Miss Myra, she takes the job. She seeks the help of Aibileen (Davis), the maid of one of her friends. After sending in her resume for a job with Harper & Row, she is rejected after failing to write about a subject that was original and had some ummph to it.

Skeeter's social group involves Hilly Holbrook (Howard). Hilly is one devout girl who believes in the separation between the white people of the town and the black people. Hilly is snotty, rude, and judgmental. She is planning an initiative in the town to have all homes include a separate bathroom for the maids to use. Minny (Spencer) is the sassy no-nonsense maid who had to deal with Hilly's attitude. After an incident using the bathroom, Minny is fired and vows to get back at Hilly. Boy, does she ever get back at her too.

Skeeter's relationship with Aibileen grows as they do the Miss Myrna columns. After hearing and seeing the prejudice of the other ladies in the social groups, Skeeter comes up with the perfect idea for Harper & Row. She will write a book about what it's like to be a black maid in the south raising and working for white people. She asks Aibileen if she can interview her to get real life accounts and stories. Knowing it is a very risky move, they use different names and keep the project very hush hush. They are able to convince Minny to tell her stories. Harper & Row loves the idea, but tells Skeeter she needs to finish the book as soon as possible as the Civil Rights Movement is gaining speed and she needs to have more stories than just the two she has already. Skeeter's book gets published, and she is credited as "anonymous". The book is flying off the shelves due to it's scandalous nature. Hilly and the other girls are furious. They know Skeeter wrote it and now the town knows about their vicious treatment of the help. The book does wonders and opens the eyes and minds of the community.

The Help is a strong movie with an important message. It successfully tells the story and delivers the message without beating you over the head. Its use of humor with strong, realistic characters keeps it grounded and not bogged down. This has one of the best ensembles in any movie this year. The acting is terrific all around. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are stunning. Viola Davis is part of the "less is more" acting school. She is convincing and knocks you out without being overly dramatic. She makes subtle and realistic choices that just hit a nerve in me. Bryce Dallas Howard won me over with her portrayal of Hilly. She makes Hilly a villain you love to hate. In the smaller role of Celia Foote, Jessica Chastain is a knock-out. Celia is a bombshell blonde that hires Minny to teach her how to cook and clean to impress her husband all while being shut out by the social group. I could go on and on about each actress and actor in the movie. After the movie ended, the audience applauded. You just don't see that too often anymore.

Rating: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5)

Pin It Now!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


It's been far too long since my last review. I was out of town for two weekends straight, and I've been busy packing. Needless to say, very good reasons and situations have kept me away. After being away the last few weeks, it felt so great to finally sit in a dark theater this weekend. TWICE. Each movie was a romantic comedy. Even though they were very different stories, they both revolve around how love is an unpredictable fickle thing. Wait, isn't that what all romantic comedies are about? First up was Crazy,Stupid,Love starring two of my favorites, Julianne Moore and Ryan Gosling. The next was Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis in Friends with Benefits.


Director: Glen Ficcara, John Requa
Starring: Steve Carell ("The Office"), Julianne Moore (The Kids are All Right), Emma Stone (Easy A), and Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine)

Cal (Carell) is out for a dinner date with his wonderful wife, Emily (Moore). When he suggests that they blurt out their dinner order at the same time, he didn't expect to get the answer he got. Emily says she wants a divorce, which is not one of the specials. When they get home, Cal announces to the babysitter that they are divorcing only to realize that his son is also in the room and hears them. Cal spends many nights sulking at the local bar. His loud rants about how his wife cheated on him with David Linhagen (Kevin Bacon) do not go unnoticed. Ryan Gosling plays the womanizer, Jacob. Jacob is the young guy in every bar that knows exactly what to wear and exactly what to say to bring any girl home. Almost any girl. Hannah (Stone) sees right passed his smooth moves. Jacob decides he's heard enough of Cal's moaning and determines to do a makeover on him. Jacob brings him to the finest stores for a complete clothing makeover and teaches him the right and wrong things to say to pick up women in a bar. Like most of Carell's characters, Cal is clutzy and bumbly. Cal finally takes home a school teacher (Marisa Tomei) only to find out she is freaky and crazy.

Hannah is convinced that her boyfriend (Josh Groban) will propose to her once she passes the bar exam. He says it's going to be an unforgettable evening. Instead of a proposal, she gets offered a job at his law firm. They are clearly not in sync about where their relationship is going. Hannah needs the self-confidence and smooth talk, so she heads to the bar and aggressivly kisses Jacob. Jacob and Hannah's relationship starts to blossom as they both realize the other person is not quite the stereotype they had in mind. Cal and Emily's son has a crush on the babysitter, while the babysitter has a crush on Cal. One thing after another leads Cal to spiral out of control. Unfortunately, he cannot get in touch with Jacob. His bar visits are less and less as he spends more time with Hannah.

Crazy, Stupid, Love shows what happens when people of any age get entranced by love and what you will do to make it work. Whether it's a silly young crush or a fading marriage, you should never give up on your soul mate. There is a very strong ensemble cast even though most of the actors don't play too much outside of their comfort zone. Steve Carell is his usual bumbly self. Kevin Bacon plays another scumbag. Marisa Tomei is wild and kooky. Emma Stone is the smart girl that won't put up with bullshit. I always find Ryan Gosling attractive and interesting to watch. He's no stranger to movies about romance or deep relationships. This movie has resonated with me more than I thought it would.

Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


Director: Will Gluck
Starring: Justin Timberlake (The Social Network), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Patricia Clarkson (Easy A)

Can you maintain a purely sexual relationship with a friend without letting your emotions get in the way? That is the concept behind having friends with benefits. Sounds easier said than done according to Friends with Benefits and the other movie with the same premise, No Strings Attached. Dylan Harper (Timberlake) runs a blog out of Los Angeles that gets over millions of hits. He goes out to New York to interview for a job with GQ. His head hunter just happens to be Jamie (Kunis), a young, beautiful, and sassy woman just out of a relationship. Dylan is also fresh out of a relationship. Within a day, Dylan gets the job offer. Jamie leads him around New York showing off the best sites, the coolest spots, and the secret hideouts that make New York unlike any other city. Naturally, Dylan "sells out". He accepts the job offer and moves out to New York.

Jamie and Dylan continue their friendship after he moves. They discuss their previous relationships, the trouble with girls, and the trouble with guys. When it comes down to it, they just want to have sex. They decide to be friends with benefits. They would have sex when they felt like it, but not let emotions take over and ruin their friendship or "sexcapades". They meet each others families including Jamie's hippie mom (Clarkson) and Dylan's sister (Jenna Elfman) and dad (Richard Jenkins) who is battling alzheimer's. Despite their rules, they realize that their relationship has grown emotional which goes against the whole friends with benefits concept.

Friends with Benefits is not an original movie, but it doesn't claim to be. The movie is completely predictable. The writers and director aren't trying to hide this fact either. They know exactly the story they are trying to tell, and they are having fun with it. Dylan and Jamie are frequently talking about romantic comedies and the cliches behind them. Justin Timberlake uses his musical skills to imitate underscoring used to carry the mood along. They talk about song choices that run during the final credits that have nothing to do with the premise of the movie, like Train's "Hey, Soul Sister". Woody Harrelson has a fun smaller role as Dylan's gay sports editor at GQ. Timberlake and Kunis have wonderful chemistry together. They are definitely a hot couple. You can also tell they enjoyed working together as that shines through their chemistry. When you have two very likable leads being cute and romantic, it helps make a "predictable" movie even more enjoyable.

Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Pin It Now!