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

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Director: Tom Hooper
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean
Russell Crowe as Javert
Anne Hathaway as Fantine
Amanda Seyfried as Cosette
Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier
Sacha Baron Cohen as Thenardier
Eddie Redmayne as Marius
Samantha Barks as Eponine
Aaron Tveit as Enjolras

Special Appearances by Original Broadway Cast Members
Colm Wilkinson
Frances Ruffelle

Some might say that a film adaptation of the huge beloved musical Les Miserables is LONG OVER. Purists may feel it is meant for the stage and should stay that way. Lord only knows when a big screen musical comes along producers and studio heads are bound to cast some A-Lister who can’t sing or a pop singer who can’t act. I’ve seen the stage version and a couple of the “dream cast” anniversary concerts. I feel pretty confident with the cast Tom Hooper as aligned. Jackman and Hathway have proven they can sing. Seyfried, Carter, and Cohen have all previously starred in movie musical adaptations. Redmayne, Barks, and Tveit are all veteran stage actors. Could Les Miserable be the next movie musical to win Best Picture?

Release Date: December 14, 2012

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Movie Review: MEN IN BLACK 3

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson

It has been fourteen years since the last time we saw Agent J (Smith) and Agent K (Jones) team up to battle some slimy snarly alien with an attitude problem. The notorious Boris the Animal (Clemente) has been imprisoned on the moon since 1969. With the help of a beautiful girlfriend (Nicole Scherzinger), Boris manages to escape in order to seek revenge on Agent K. Back in 1969, K cut off Boris' arm and installed the ArcNet shield around the planet to ward off an invasion of Boris' species, the Boglodites. Boris interrupts the time continuum and heads back to 1969 in order to kill K before all of this happens. After a trippy night, J wakes up to find that K is nowhere to be found. He is not living in his apartment and no one at the MIB headquarters seems to know where K is. Agent O (Thompson) informs J that K was killed back in 1969. J and O realize that Boris has interrupted the time continuum and has killed K.

J determines he must literally time jump back to 1969 in order to find K and kill Boris before Boris kills K. I do mean literally time jump. J must walk out onto the ledge of a New York building and jump off. While falling he must push the magic button at the precise time in order to successfully land back in 1969 on the day before Boris kills K. Hopefully all the time travel talk is making sense. J traces clues back to Coney Island where he is arrested by a young Agent K and taken back to MIB headquarters. After some hesitation, J reveals the truth of the future to K. They decide to team up and work with an alien named Griffin (Stuhlbarg) who possesses the ArcNet and can see into various outcomes of the future. Their back and forth struggles with Boris lead up to a climatic ending at Cape Canaveral during the Apollo 11 launch.

I will admit I was skeptical going into the third outing in this series. The second movie was nowhere near the caliber of the first, so I was hesitant on if this story was going to work again. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are strong enough actors in these roles that they are able to successfully dust off the black suits and bring back the chemistry J and K have together. They work well together and their banter and demeanor is one of the key reasons this series works as a whole. Special attention needs to be focused on Josh Brolin. He does an uncanny impression of Tommy Lee Jones to play the younger version of K. He nails every vocal inflection and facial gesture that Jones is so known for doing. Emma Thompson appears too briefly as Agent O. I always feel she makes any movie better, so I wish she would have been given more screen time. I would not call this third outing the best in the series, but it is leagues better than Men in Black II. The heartfelt ending helps it feel like it is more than just a CGI alien comic book movie. The 3D version is not worth it, so save yourself a couple of dollars and see it in 2D. If you are a fan of the series, you will enjoy this one but I do not think it will be remembered as one of the better summer blockbusters of 2012.

RATING: *** (3 out of 5)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Director: Kirk Jones
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Chace Crawford

Big stars come out yet again for another ensemble romantic comedy. What to Expect When You're Expecting follows five different couples on their way to having a child and making their lives complete. Some are planned while others are by accident. Let’s take a closer look at who they all are. Wendy (Banks) and Gary (Falcone) are finally pregnant after several years of careful planning. Wendy is the kind of woman that yearns to be a mother. She is a published author of a kid’s book and runs a store devoted to expecting mothers. Gary's dad Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) is a retired race car driver who is married and expecting with his wife (Brooklyn Decker) who is younger than Gary. Jules (Diaz) is a trainer on a "Biggest Loser" type show. After she starts dating her dance partner (Matthew Morrison) from when she appeared on a "Dancing with the Stars" type show, they find out they are pregnant. Holly (Lopez) is a struggling photographer who is adopting an Ethiopian baby with her husband (Rodrigo Santoro). Last but not least, there are two Food Truck cooks (Kendrick and Crawford) who knew each other in high school and get knocked up after a one night fling. Each couple struggles through the trials and tribulations of what it means to be an expecting couple. How does it change your life, job, and relationships?

Elizabeth Banks and Ben Falcone play the couple that has tried for years to get pregnant, but it never worked until now. Banks gives another funny heartwarming performance that easily makes her the best actress in the movie. Through the emotional and physically aspects of her character’s pregnancy, she makes the role realistic and believable. The story line between Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford really worked for me as well. It takes some interesting turns that I didn’t always see coming which I found refreshing. Their story probably has the least amount of screen time, which is unfortunate as the two actors know what to do and how to play their characters without going over the top and making it a shtick. Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz seem to be in the wrong roles. I think I would have believed Diaz as the struggling photographer over Lopez. On the other side, Lopez could have been the fitness host who is dating a dancer. Chris Rock has a minor role as the head of a group of dads that get together for stroller walks around the park. I’m not sure if he wrote his lines or if the movie was just naturally funnier when he was onscreen.

I feel like the audience probably knows what to expect going to a movie called What To Expect When You're Expecting. Like Love, Actually and Valentine's Day before it, we have another ensemble romantic comedy with a big cast of actors each playing smaller characters that weave together in the third act. Unfortunately this movie is more on par with Valentine’s Day than Love, Actually. The script is loosely inspired by the self-help books by Heidi Murkoff. Movies like this are tricky because they are hard to write and successfully tell all of the stories. The positive aspect of having many stories is that you can have various perspectives of mothers going in from different backgrounds and ways of having children. It can appeal to many soon-to-be moms that are in the target audience range. The negative aspect can be that there are too many story lines leaving the scenes short and choppy trying to fit them all in. I didn't care for every story line. I would rather have had two or three different couples written more fully then five couples loosely thrown together. The middle of the movie seems to go astray at times, but the ending really brings it all home. I found myself really caring about the characters more than I expected to throughout the movie. There are some really tender and sweet moments to cherish.

RATING: ** 1/2 (2.5 out of 5 stars)

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Unleash Your Inner Foodie: CHOCOLAT

One of my many food vices is chocolate. I blame my mother for our family sweet tooth. I’ve been severely craving chocolate lately, so I thought what better time for a new article for DeeAnn McArdle and “Unleash Your Inner Foodie”. This month’s foodie movie is devoted to Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche in Chocolat. Don’t worry, I devoured a glass of red wine and a piece of chocolate during the movie to satistfy my craving. Chocolat is a perfect movie for a rainy day or to accompany a chocolate tasting party with friends. DeeAnn has posted the review, and it is up on her site.

Here’s the beginning of it:

"Some things are just made to go together. Just like chocolate and wine, Paul McGuire and Movie Reviews are perfectly matched for each other! I know you’re going to love Paul’s review of the classic foodie movie; Chocolat. I hope it inspire’s you to throw a Chocolat Party!..."

To read the rest click here



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Monday, May 14, 2012

Movie Review: DARK SHADOWS

Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter

It is the late 1700s and the Collins family from Liverpool has moved to a town in Maine to start a seafood canning business. They become widely successful and the town is named Collinsport after them. They build a massive mansion and call it Collinswood Manor. Barnabas Collins (Depp) is the young playboy of the family. One of the manor’s maids is Angelique (Green) who dabbles in the dark arts of witchcraft. She has her eyes and heart set on Barnabas. Barnabas’ love is for Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote). In a jealous rage, Angelique casts numerous spells against the people in Barnabas’ life. A gargoyle falls on top of his parents head as they are walking around the manor. Josette walks to the edge of a cliff and falls to her death. Barnabas tries to rescue her, but it is too late. He jumps over the cliff in order to die and be with her. Before he dies, Angelique casts a spell on him and turns him into a vampire in order to live a life of despair, hurt, and anger. Angelique’s plan is not quite finished. She turns the town of Collinsport on him and brands him a monster. The townspeople come after him and bury him alive in a chained coffin.

Time passes and we pick up with the Collins family in 1972. Various family members including Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Pfeiffer), her brother Roger (Johnny Lee Miller), the family doctor Dr. Julia Hoffman (Carter), and some children currently all reside in Collinswood Manor. The manor is run down and not being taken care of by the supposed caretaker (Jackie Earl Haley). The family business is crumbling and a rival canning company is gaining momentum. The rival canning company is Angel Bay which is run by the infamous Angelique who is still alive hundreds of years later. Late one night a construction company is digging deep in the ground and uncovers the coffin of Barnabas Collins. It shakes open and a hungry Barnabas is unleashed. He instantly kills the nine construction workers and makes his way back to Collinswood Manor. The family seems skeptical about whom this stranger is, but he quickly makes Elizabeth a believer that he is THE Barnabas Collins. Angelique soon realizes that Barnabas is back and relishes on this fact. Barnabas is determined to get Collinsport and the family business back to the same reputation it once had. Angelique has other plans. Tension grows even further when she realizes Barnabas has his eyes on the Collins' new governess who has a striking resemblance to Josette.

The latest Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration is another adaptation from a previous work. This time it's based off a campy TV show from 1966. Maybe they should stick to original material instead of re-imaginings. The screenplay is by Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter scribe Seth Grahame-Smith. One of the biggest downfalls to the movie is that the writing is very bland and boring. The story is fairly thin and doesn't always know where to go to keep the movie going for the 113 minute run time. I know the movie is based on a campy show, so I’m not expecting there to be twists and turns or some deep message hidden inside. There is not enough wit or laughter to bring out the camp to match the tone of the original TV show. There are a few gem lines, but not enough to relish in and make the characters interesting. The actors do a decent job given their source material, but no one is really able to take the extra step. None of these characters will go down as the actor’s best or most memorable. Burton does have some good things going for the movie. The whole production design, like any other Burton film, is breathtaking. Colleen Atwood has designed many of Burton’s films to exquisite detail and this is no exception. She has designed beautiful costumes fitting the 1760s as well as the 1970s. The art direction and set design of the Collinswood mansion is a feast for the eyes with the large gothic feel. Dark Shadows will not go down as one of Burton’s best. That seems to be his trend lately which is unfortunate. The movie is beautiful to look at but there is no substance inside.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)

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Sunday, May 6, 2012


Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr.,Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston

Going into Marvel's The Avengers you know you are in for one wild ride. It feels like one big party with all your best friends. A magical blue cube called The Tesseract is being housed in a research facility. It contains an energy source of unknown power as well as a portal to another universe. After the cube starts giving off extra activity, Nick Fury (Jackson) is flown in to assess the situation. He is the head of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, aka S.H.I.E.L.D. A portal door opens and Loki (Hiddleston), a god from the realm Asgard, appears in hopes to steal the Tesseract. He wants to use it for ultimate universal domination. Loki is Thor's brother and feels burdened with a glorious purpose and wants a world without freedom. He uses mind control over Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and Avenger Hawkeye (Renner) to use them in his plan with the Tesseract. Loki escapes with Selvig, Hawkeye, and the Tesseract leaving the research facility crumbling to the ground after a massive explosion. Nick Fury is able to escape in the nick of time and knows the world is in trouble. He calls upon the Avengers Initiative to try to track down Loki and the Tesseract.

The Avengers Initiative is the idea behind bringing in the best of the best heroes to make up one big team. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Ruffalo), Steven Rogers/Captain America (Evans), Thor (Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Renner), and Black Widow (Johansson) are the chosen ones. Naturally, a room full of superheroes leads to a room full of big egos. They don't all know each other so there isn't a chummy bromance between any of them. Tempers easily flare, names are spewed at each other, and some teasing occurs. Iron Man and Thor have a fantastic battle in the forest which Captain America ends up breaking apart. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark do the initial research on where the Tesseract could be and what Loki's ultimate plan of action entitles. They realize that S.H.I.E.L.D is using the Tesseract's energy to build weapons of mass destruction which does not promote a peaceful environment that they seem to be promoting. After some jabs at each other, they join together and capture Loki, but the Tesseract is nowhere to be found. Capturing Loki is only the first step in defeating him.

There have been many movies adapted from comic books recently. Some have been more successful than others. Some of the Marvel movies with the Avengers characters themselves are hit or miss. The movie does not take it self too seriously that people not knowing the Avengers history could not follow or understand. It has a fairly simple plot that leaves enough room for all of the characters to shine throughout the movie. I've seen too many ensemble movies where there are too many characters used and none of them get their deserved screen time. Joss Whedon wrote and directed this smart and exciting adaptation. Being a comic book fan himself, he is a smart choice to take on such a challenging daunting task of assembling such characters together. The script is full of sharp wit with strong writing for each character. Many of the characters come from different time frames or planets, and the writing caters to the atmosphere and region they come from. Tony Stark's dialogue can be hysterically funny when he is being super cocky and arrogant. All but one of the actors has previously played their superheroes in other movies leading up to this one. Mark Ruffalo is the only actor new to his character. Eric Bana and Edward Norton have previously played the Hulk/Bruce Banner role in other movies. Ruffalo makes a fantastic Banner who plays the two sides to his character extremely well. It is a treat to see the CGI Hulk used well and not feel like a computerized monster. There is a humanity and sense of humor to the Hulk which we have not in the other two movies. Tom Hiddleston is another stand-out as Loki.

The ending is one hell of a treat. It is a huge epic finale bigger than most battle endings. I've seen too many action scenes were the camera work and editing is far too fast and muddled leaving you with a jerky feeling. Whedon and team have a way of making the action sequences clean, crisp, and easy to watch. The 3D seems to really pop in the finale as well. When you have smart writing, terrific character acting, and sharp action sequences, a comic-book movie transcends your normal standards of the genre and elevates the expectations for any Marvel or DC movie to come next.

RATING: ****1/2 (4.5 out of 5 stars)

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman

A brand new trailer was unveiled last night for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. This is also the trailer that should be showing before MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS. It was "unlocked" through the movie's digital media marketing campaign that the movies are known for. What do we see in the trailer? More Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwman. There are some nice action shots of her in costume in the fight scenes. Joseph Gordon Levitt's character is featured far more than he has in the other two trailers. You also get to hear a little more of Bane's (Hardy)masked voice.

July 20th, 2012 cannot come fast enough in my opinion. I will be on the edge of my seat from the first frame until the end of the credits.

I've included all three of the trailers below. The newest one is the first one.

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