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

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie Review: CHEF

Writer/Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Emjay Anthony, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Amy Sedaris

Jon Favreau got his big break when he wrote and starred in 1996’s indie hit Swingers. Lately he’s been found in the director’s chair with huge movies like Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Elf. With Chef, he seems to be returning to his roots by writing, directing, and starring in a film that is far smaller in scale and budget compared to those films.

Favreau sharpens his knife skills as Carl Casper, the head chef at a fine dining restaurant. Carl is starting to lose his creative edge after having to cook the same menu for the last ten years. When a famed foodie blogger (Platt) decides to review the restaurant, Carl wants to try a new menu to liven the place up. The restaurant’s owner (Hoffman) forbids him from changing the menu as this is the menu the customers come to the restaurant for. They don’t come for culinary experiments or highbrow tricks. Carl abides and cooks the standard menu with the help of his sous chef (Cannavale) and line chef (Leguizamo). He receives a scathing review and decides to quit his job at the restaurant.

When you have a passion for something, you don’t let one critic ruin it for you. During a trip to Miami with his ex-wife (Vergara) and son, he decides to reinvent his brand and image by starting a food truck selling Cubanos sandwiches. The food truck goes on the road and becomes a bonding experience for him and his son. Carl teaches him about food, cooking, and living out your passion in life.

Sometimes when you watch a foodie movie, it can be quite apparent if the actors don’t really know how to cook or if they aren’t believable as chefs. Favreau looks quite comfortable with his chef’s apron and knives. He trained under Chef Roy Choi who also served as the inspiration behind the story. He is thought of as one of the founders of the food truck movement. Foodies will love all of the scrumptious shots of all of the food used throughout the movie. I love to cook and bake, so I had audible gasps numerous times and promptly wanted to cook when I got home.

There’s more to the story than just a passionate chef who takes his job seriously. There is a father/son element to it that was really endearing. I give kudos to Favreau for not making Carl a deadbeat dad. So many times when we see a divorced couple that share custody of their child, the dad is usually some loser who can’t take care of the kid, shows up late, forgets a birthday, etc…Carl makes mistakes at times, but there is no denying that he loves his kid. This element of the plot really comes into play when Carl takes his son on the road trip to get the food truck off and running. The film also provides an interesting commentary on the power of social media and the power it has over a business, brand, and image. I wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter and Vine were sponsors of the film for how often they come up in the movie and the impact they have on Carl’s businesses.

The movie is a bit too long and could have trimmed the fat at times. There are many transitional scenes and moments that are unnecessary, especially in the third act once we get into the traveling food truck portion of the story. This tends to happen when people pull double or even triple duty if they are acting, directing, and writing the movie. A good editor needs to come in with a fresh eye. Despite that, Favreau has a wonderful supporting ensemble, many of which he has worked with before. Scarlett Johansson pops up as the restaurant’s waitress. Amy Sedaris is as funny as always in a scene-stealing role as Sofia Vergara’s publicist that could help get Favreau’s career back on track. Favreau’s buddy Robert Downey, Jr even cameos as Vergara’s ex-husband. It’s one of those smaller films that doesn’t have a huge marketing budget and relies on good word of mouth to get people to see it. I hope it becomes a little sleeper hit that doesn’t get lost amongst all of the huge blockbusters that are out. It’s an endearing film for those that couldn’t care less for those superhero movies out there.

Is it worth your trip to the movies? Anyone that loves to cook will enjoy this movie.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Ticket Stubs

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Thursday, May 29, 2014


Director: Shawn Levy
Starring: Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne, Dax Shepard, Timothy Olyphant, Debra Bonk

It’s become a joke with my parents that I love movies about dysfunctional families. As an actor, I’m always drawn to those types of large ensemble dramas as there are rich characters for the actors to play with. I was immediately drawn to This is Where I Leave You when I first saw the cast list and a publicity photo in Entertainment Weekly. Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, and Dax Shepard are just some of the fantastic actors that appear in this adaptation of the Jonathan Tropper novel of the same name. Jane Fonda stars as the matriarch of the Foxman family and insists her children (played by Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver) reunite after their father passes away. As you can tell by the trailer, some of them are going through their own drama on top of the death in the family. The cast boasts quite a few actors known for the television work, and I’m excited to see them tackle a different medium. I recently bought the book, and hope to start and finish it before the movie comes out this fall.

Take a peek at the trailer and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Release Date: September 12, 2014

Here's the trailer:

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE--May 28, 2014

May 21, 2014

I had an absolute blast today on Twin Cities Live with Elizabeth Ries and guest co-host B.T. from KTWIN.

Here are today's movies and links to my reviews of each film.

1. Chef, starring Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past, starring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
3. Inside Llewyn Davis, starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman

Here's the video:

Video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/KSTP

You can find all of my past segments HERE.

As always, thank you so much for watching and your continual support. I truly appreciate it!
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore

The fans rejoiced when it was announced that Bryan Singer signed on to direct the latest outing in this series. He got the series going with X-Men and then upped the ante with the stellar X2 in 2003. Unfortunately he departed the series and we were left with Brett Ratner directing X-Men: The Last Stand, which still leaves a sour note in moviegoers’ memories. Since the original trilogy, we have had two terrible stand-alone Wolverine films and a prequel called X-Men: First Class. I really enjoyed X-Men: First Class despite the horrendous casting of January Jones. Call me a purist, but I really think this series is best served under the hands of Bryan Singer. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, not only do we get Singer, but we get the best of both worlds as it reunites the original trilogy cast members plus the new actors that played their younger selves in X-Men: First Class.

A war carries on between the humans and the mutants. The humans have unleashed massive robotic killing machines called the Sentinels as their weapon. They were created in 1973 by Dr. Boliver Trask (Dinklage) who at the time was assassinated by the mutant Mystique (Lawrence). She believed if she killed him it would stop the Sentinels from being mass produced and given clearance to be used by the government. Her plan backfired as the assassination caused the mutants to become thought of as an even larger danger and threat to the public than before.

In the future as the mutant population continues to decline, Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart) and Magneto (McKellen) devise a plan to travel back in time in 1973 to stop Mystique from killing Dr. Trask. They seek the help of fellow mutant Kitty Pryde (Page) who uses her powers to send Wolverine’s (Jackman) consciousness back to 1973. When he arrives, he needs to find the Professor (now played by McAvoy) and Magneto (now played by Fassbender) to locate Mystique’s whereabouts.

Time travel movies can be tricky if the story goes back and forth numerous times throughout a movie. The story can become convoluted and confusing to the audience. When they work, the payoff is thrilling and it makes the movie all the more accessible. X-Men: Days of Future Past falls into the second category. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg keeps a majority of the story in the 1973 timeline. This helps enhance the character development that was started in X-Men: First Class as we learn more of where these characters are coming from and how their relationships have changed in the decades in between both settings. There is a clear shift in the relationship between Professor X and Magneto from where they started out in terms of their friendship or lack thereof. In this film, we see a very different version of Professor X. James McAvoy gets to play out the disheveled, addicted, and depressed side of him which is a far cry from the stoic leader we know of him through Patrick Stewart’s performance. The only downside to having a majority of the film set in the past is that we don’t see a lot of Stewart and Ian McKellen who are such fantastic actors. I’m sure their busy theater schedules and McKellen’s work in The Hobbit films made their availability limited or maybe that was always the intention of how the structure of the story was plotted out.

One of the great characteristics about the X-Men is how universally relatable they can be compared to some of the other Marvel Comics heroes. You may be thinking that idea is a stretch as no one has the ability to teleport, control the weather, or have claws come shooting out of their hands, but there is the underlying message of not being accepted for the way you were born. Many of these characters face adversity and discrimination due to their powers and fight for their voice to be heard or be accepted like any other human being. I think many people can relate to that concept in one way or another. Plus, who hasn’t once thought about what superpower they wish they had. Bryan Singer has a deep understanding of this theme and is able to bring it out with these characters while making it a fun, exciting, action filled comic book movie. With a majority of the story set in the past, the film poses a general reminder on how far our society has come in the last few decades regarding the acceptance and tolerance of others. We can look back, learn, and grow from history.

I think if people are hesitant about comic book movies, I would recommend the X-Men films to help them get on the bandwagon. X-Men: Days of Future Past is a fantastic return to form that has won the fan base over again. I get that giddy feeling seeing this huge ensemble of actors step away from the stage or other indie movies to play against a green screen and return to characters the audience has invested in over the years. Sometimes reunion type movies can feel hokey and contrived, but I never got that impression here. One of the highlights of the movie was new cast member Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Quicksilver who has a funny slow-motion action sequence with a bunch of armed guards. The ending of the film will get fans excited for X-Men: Apocalypse, the third entry in this new trilogy, as there are cameos galore that pop up that further tie it into the timeline of the original trilogy. Good news, Bryan Singer is set to helm that one as well.

Is it worth your trip to the movies? The X-Men are my favorite in the Marvel Comics canon, and the return of director Bryan Singer has made it the best one since X2.

RATING: 4 out of 5 Ticket Stubs

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Movie Trailer: LIFE ITSELF

Director: Steve James
Starring: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog

One of Roger Ebert's favorite movies from the '90s was the documentary Hoop Dreams from director Steve James. It seems quite fitting that James has now made a documentary about the extraordinary life of one of the best film critics who had a tremendous impact on the film industry. Roger has been a huge inspiration to me ever since I was a young boy watching "At the Movies" every Saturday night. I own quite a few of his books, including his memoir, "Life Itself", which this documentary is based on. Last year when he passed away, I wrote this piece about his influence on me.

I am so happy to hear the film is getting a wide release after playing at numerous film festivals and receiving extremely positive reviews. I know I will love it, and I already get a little choked up just by watching the trailer.

RELEASE DATE: July 4, 2014

Here's the trailer

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE--May 21, 2014

May 21, 2014

It was a mixed bag today on Twin Cities Live as Elizabeth Ries, Bradley Traynor, and I discussed two theatricals releases and one movie you can now found on Blu-Ray, DVD, OnDemand, iTunes, and other home rental services. I may have claimed that Lifetime makes better movies than one of the ones I reviewed...

Click on the links below to find my reviews of each film.

1. Godzilla, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston
2. Million Dollar Arm, starring Jon Hamm, Lake Bell, Suraj Sharma
3. Veronica Mars, starring Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni

Here's the video:

Video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/KSTP

You can find all of my past segments HERE.

As always, thank you so much for watching and your continual support. I truly appreciate it!
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Movie Review: GODZILLA

Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn

That big scaly monster has stayed dormant for too long, and now Godzilla is back to wreak havoc upon the Pacific. Seismic activity occurs around a nuclear plant near Tokyo, Japan causing a massive explosion which leads to the collapse of the plant and the area to be quarantined due to radiation. Plant supervisor Joe Brody (Cranston) feels a responsibility toward the events and tragedies that occurred on that day. Over the next fifteen years, he becomes a paranoid conspiracy theorist who believes there is more to the seismic activity than what the government is leading on to as he tries to connect it to a previous nuclear bomb that was detonated to kill Godzilla.

When he and his son Ford (Taylor-Johnson), a US NAVY officer, return to the quarantined area for more research, they are arrested and taken to a secret facility. The facility has been built around a giant chrysalis being studied by scientists Ishiro Serizawa (Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Hawkins). There Joe and Ford learn that not only Godzilla exists but he may not be the only creature seeking the destruction of the Pacific. I typically go into a bit more plot detail when it comes to my reviews, but I am stopping right there with Godzilla. No spoilers as it is best to just go on this high octane ride without knowing a lot about it. The less you know, the more thrilling it is!

I should say that I have never seen a Godzilla movie before. I know it is a bit shocking for a film buff to have never seen those old black and white classics, nor have I watched that Matthew Broderick remake from 1998. I hear that is completely wretched and not worth a viewing. This review comes with a fresh open mind. With an all-star cast consisting of Oscar and Emmy nominees with Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, and Sally Hawkins, I felt I could trust that if these guys were going to star in a CGI heavy monster flick, this was going to have potential. Director Gareth Edwards catapults the audience with a huge jolt early on with some shocking choices and I thought “They are going there already? Okay! I like this unexpected choice.” Some moviegoers may roll their eyes at times and think there is some over the top acting or cheap shots, but I find there is a tongue in cheek quality to it. Edwards lets his actors have fun here as they are fully aware they are making a Godzilla movie. You can’t take yourself too seriously here. Bryan Cranston plays the paranoid guy that believes something is out there. You can find this type of character in many of these types of movies. I had no problem with some of Cranston’s heightened line deliveries. This is a far cry from his character Walter White on Breaking Bad. The other characters are a bit more on the realistic side with Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing the US NAVY officer and Elizabeth Olsen playing his doting and concerned wife back at home. These two will also be appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron next summer.

Playing off the concept of knowing what kind of film they are making, it is quite evident that the director is playing homage to Steven Spielberg films like Jurassic Park and Jaws. I would not say that Edwards is ripping Spielberg off, but learning from what he did in those films to scare the audience. Like the T-Rex and the shark, Godzilla doesn’t appear until much later on in the film. There is a buildup of suspense and tension as our title character is slowly revealed, and you hear that loud roar that rattles the walls of the movie theater you are in. This feeling is also amplified by Alexandre Desplat’s score. I was surprised to see his name down as the composer as I am more familiar with his scores for films like Philomena and The Grand Budapest Hotel, which have a very different feel to them. I feel like there are some elements of John Williams and Bernard Hermann in there with his grandiose full symphony sound.

The best way I can describe Godzilla is that it is huge just like our title character. I felt like it was a two hour roller coaster ride that never lets up. I get very critical when I feel like directors just rely on overblown CGI effects to create the story they are telling. If you need an example of this, watch The Hobbit movies versus The Lord of the Rings trilogy and see which ones look better. With Godzilla, the visual and sound effects are stunning and may be some of the best we see all summer, if not of the year. I would not be opposed to it being recognized with a few nominations from the Academy next year. This is the kind of film that you want to see on the biggest screen with the best sound system. If you live near a theater that is showing it in the in new Dolby ATMOS sound system, I cannot recommend it enough. Holy crap! You will feel like you are in the middle of the action. I did not see it in 3D, but I would be leery about. 3D typically makes the picture quality far darker than its 2D counterpart. Godzilla is already so dark at times that the 3D could muddle that even further. It’s nice to see a monster movie back on the big screen that is done correctly. It should be no surprise that a sequel is already in the works.

Is it worth your trip to the movies? Godzilla will be one of the best films of the summer. This is the type of movie that defines the idea of a summer blockbuster popcorn flick.

RATING: 4 out of 5 Ticket Stubs

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Jon Hamm, Pitobash, Alan Arkin, Madhur Mittal, Suraj Sharma, Aasif Mandvi, Lake Bell, Bill Paxton

Jon Hamm trades in his Don Draper suits for a baseball cap as sports agent J.B. Bernstein. His agency is losing money faster than it’s coming in, and he and his two business partners are on the verge of losing their careers unless a drastic move is made. His colleague Aash (Mandvi) is obsessed with cricket, but J.B. does not see the point of it and thinks it pales in comparison to baseball. That all changes late one night when J.B. starts flipping channels between Britain’s Got Talent and a game of cricket in India when a career saving idea pops into his head. He wants to create a reality show style competition in India hoping to attract cricket players and in turn find the next best pitcher in Major League Baseball.

When he arrives in India, the culture shock is a bit alarming to him. The lifestyle is quite the opposite of the normal Los Angeles pace he leads. After seeing hundreds of young men come and line-up for their shot on “Million Dollar Arm”, he sees the potential that could be had. J.B. and retired coach Ray (Arkin) sit through countless of failed try-outs until Rinku (Sharma) and Dinesh (Mittal) show up and may just have the golden arm they are all looking for. The boys head to California to train with USC pitching coach Tom House (Paxton), while J.B.’s career is riding on if they can learn baseball fast enough to get signed by professional teams.

The film follows in the footsteps of many other Disney sports films that are based on a true story like: Miracle, The Rookie, and Remember the Titans. Have we now reached a point where this is too many? Has the genre already grown tired? Million Dollar Arm is beyond predictable in every possible way from the supporting characters to the plot points and conflict. I felt like I already knew the general outline of this script and the writers just changed the names and the sport involved. You probably already knew that our main character was going to be a cocky businessman who only cares about his job and how much money he is making instead of his actual clients. There will be some cute girlfriend type that puts our main character in his place after he becomes a jerk. Of course there is going to be some old retired cranky coach. The ballplayers will no doubt be completely out of their element. With so much of this story played with that Disney sheen to it, I questioned how authentic it was to the true story. That being said, I always enjoy seeing the photo and video montage during the credits of the real life inspirations, and that was one of the highlights of the movie.

Jon Hamm has made a few movies while he has been on hiatus from Mad Men, but he tends to do more supporting roles like Bridesmaids or Friends with Kids. As J.B. Bernstein, he goes back to leading role status, but his character seems far too similar to Don Draper at times. This comes across in a way that he seems to be a bit bored here. I don’t question him as an actor as I am a big Mad Men fan, and I have liked him in other roles. His character is so unlikeable that I wanted him to open up more and show a bit more warmth. I wonder if the real J.B. was really like that. We have seen Alan Arkin (Grudge Match, Little Miss Sunshine) play numerous characters like this cranky coach. He can do this role in his sleep, and conveniently enough, his character spends a majority of the film with his head down or completely asleep. Is he the new Morgan Freeman where we can expect him to play the same type of character in each movie? There are some saving graces here as Lake Bell (It’s Complicated) is completely charming as Brenda, J.B.’s tenant who is renting out the pool house. While there is sexual tension between the two characters, she is not merely a bimbo attached to his hip the whole movie. I suppose that wouldn’t be Disney friendly. Audiences may recognize Suraj Sharma who plays Rinku. He was phenomenal a few years ago in Life of Pi. I’m glad to see he’s getting more work.

I admire the idea behind taking both parties and putting them into worlds and cultures they are not used to and watching them grow in the process. It was interesting to watch J.B. Berstein quickly adapt to the Indian style of doing business, the driving, and the food and how vastly different it is than the L.A. pace he lives. The same goes for Dinesh and Rinku when they land in America for the first time. I think they could have delved into this concept a bit more to give it the full effect. There is so much to learn when you are a fish out of water. I am sure Disney and director Craig Gillespie (Fright Night, Lars and the Real Girl) want Million Dollar Arm to be one of those feel good inspirational sports films. I suppose some moviegoers will feel that way, but I didn’t come out cheering. There are so many other baseball movies that pull at the heartstrings and get the audience rooting for our characters that this one falls flat in comparison.

Is it worth your trip to the movies? At one point we see Jon Hamm and Lake Bell watching The Pride of the Yankees. I’d recommend watching that baseball movie instead.

RATING: 2 out of 5 Ticket Stubs

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE--May 14, 2014

May 14, 2014

It was another wonderful day on Twin Cities Live! Today's picks are the Seth Rogen and Zac Efron flick Neighbors and my choice for the home release is Her. Click below for the links to those movies.

1. Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, and Dave Franco
2. Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, and Amy Adams


video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/KSTP
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Movie Review: NEIGHBORS

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jerrod Carmichael, Lisa Kudrow

Let me get this straight. Seth Rogen plays a pot smoking guy looking to reclaim his youth. Zac Efron plays a ridiculously chiseled college guy. These are some bold casting choices. Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) Radner have moved into a warm neighborhood with their new baby girl and are looking forward to the next stage of their lives. They see a young gay couple moving in down the block and think they have really found the right neighborhood for them. That joyous feeling comes to an abrupt end when they see a fraternity move in right next door. They attempt to get on the boys’ good side by introducing themselves as the cool neighbors and offering frat president Teddy (Efron) and vice president Pete (France) some pot in an exchange for them to “keep it down” once in a while. Mac and Kelly attend the boys’ first party where Mac partakes in all of the debauchery. A promise is made between both parties that if it’s ever too noisy that the Radner’s will call Teddy first before calling the cops.

With each passing night, the parties are getting bigger and the noise is getting out of control. They try to call Teddy to “keep it down”, but no one seems to be answering over at the frat house. What a surprise. The Radners have no choice but to break their promise and make an anonymous phone call to the cops for a noise complaint. It should come as no surprise that the cops rat them out to Teddy and Pete. The breaking of the promise leads to an all-out war between the Radners and the boys at Delta Psi Beta. Outrageous pranks ensue as the Radners hope to get the boys kicked out of the house, while the boys remind them who rules the neighborhood.

If you are looking for a clean wholesome comedy, Neighbors is not for you. When a movie stars Seth Rogen and frat boys are involved, it should be expected that the humor is raunchy, gross, vulgar, and crude. There will be copious amounts of sex, nudity, drinking, and drugs. Director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five-Year Engagement) and screenwriters Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien know what kind of movie they are making and push the boundaries of comedy and decency to the extreme. There are shocking moments and gags where you wonder if they have gone too far. If you are sensitive to this type of crass humor, you will definitely feel like they have crossed the limits. There is a very loose feeling at times to its structure, and it’s very evident that there was a lot of improvisation happening as the camera was rolling. Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment) and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street) have mentioned in interviews that improv was encouraged and that five writers were always watching the monitors giving new jokes and lines with each take. Some scenes and transitions feel a bit choppy. I give Stoller credit for showing some restraint when it came to the execution of the jokes and gags. These types of dumb comedies can tire quickly if the pace isn’t kept up and if the gags are played to death.  I have seen far too many comedies lately, ahem Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, where the jokes go on for too long and the movie is thirty minutes longer than it needs to because they are too impressed with their writing and don’t know how to edit. Stoller keeps the run time in check as the movie is only 96 minutes long. I would have grown tired if it was any longer than that. You may even notice that some of the scenes shown in the trailer didn’t make the final cut. I would bet that if the movie is a huge success we may see an “unrated” release at some point and a DVD/ Blu-ray full of deleted scenes.

Seth Rogen is playing the same type of character you have come to expect from him. I think it is rare if you don't see him playing someone that gets chemically altered at some point in the movie. He has had many on screen relationships from Katherine Heigl, Michelle Williams, and now Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids, Insidious). While it seems like an odd pairing on the outside, they have really great chemistry together. I always think of her being so prim and proper, but she gets to let loose and dive into the pranks. Her character even mentions that she doesn’t want to be that responsible and nagging wife like you would see in a Kevin James movie. She also gets to keep her Australian accent. I do wonder if they wrote that into the script before or after she got cast.

Say what you will about whatever pre-conceived notions you have about Zac Efron, but he is one of the highlights of the movie. No, it is not because of how good looking and ripped he is throughout it. As Rogen’s character states, “It looks like something a gay guy designed in a laboratory”. I think this type of comedy may be new for him, but it’s one of the few roles he has taken in his post-High School Musical career that completely fits him as an actor. While I applaud him for taking risks in past career choices, he has taken some roles that were a bit of a stretch for his type. Another highlight of the film belongs to Lisa Kudrow in a two scene cameo as the school’s dean. I would assume Stoller let her improv her way through a majority of her stuff as it’s very much a Kudrow creation.

I have seen quite a few frat themed movies like Old School and Van Wilder. None of them can hold a candle to the quintessential frat movie that is National Lampoon’s Animal House, which is one of my favorite comedies of all time. I was pleasantly surprised that there is more to Neighbors that just a bunch of young men partying and causing a ruckus for 96 minutes. There is the underlining idea that you can’t partake in wild shenanigans every night for the rest of your life. You eventually have to grow up, get a job, and deal with adulthood. There are so many joys that come with being married and having a new baby that far outweigh the ridiculous and wild nights that just turn into a hangover the next morning.  Our central characters go through this life change as Byrne and Rogen try to hold onto their youth a bit longer, while Efron and Franco’s characters must succumb to the fact that they will be graduating and have to find a job.    Neighbors will definitely attract those college aged moviegoers that are still going to frat parties on the weekend. I think it will also appeal to others, like me, who are on the Rogen/Byrne end of the spectrum. My college years are long gone, but the movie was a good trip down memory lane.

Is it worth your trip to the movies? Sometimes after a long week at work, this is the kind of silly comedy I am in the mood for. I wanted to laugh and forget about the week. Mission accomplished.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Ticket Stubs

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Thursday, May 8, 2014


May 7, 2014

We chatted about two different movies on Twin Cities Live today, one big blockbuster and a sweet rom-com that you can enjoy at home!

Today's movies are:

1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2., starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, and Jamie Foxx
3. About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Nighy

Video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/KSTP

As always, thank you so much for watching!
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti, B.J. Novack, Campbell Scott, Denis Leary, Chris Cooper

With the multitude of comic book movies released every year, the bar has been set pretty high with Marvel’s The Avengers and The Dark Knight trilogy. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the sequel to the reboot and technically the fifth Spidey tale since the release of 2002’s Spider-Man. Have I confused you yet? When we last saw our web-slinging hero, Captain Stacy (Leary) admits to Peter Parker (Garfield) that there is a need for Spider-Man but pleads with him to keep his daughter, Gwen (Stone), safe and out of danger. The responsibilities that come with being the city’s hero while attempting to keep the vow to her father puts a massive strain on his relationship with Gwen. Throughout all of this, Peter is attempting to get to the bottom of his parent’s death.

Back at OsCorp, CEO Norman Osborne (Cooper) is dying and leaves behind his life’s work in the hands of his son, Harry (DeHaan). Harry and Peter are best friends but haven’t seen each for years until Harry shows up to be with his father. Things become even worse for OsCorp when Max Dillon, an electrical engineer, falls into a vat of electric eels. Instead of dying like a normal person, he mutates into Electro becoming a human energy source with enough electricity flowing through his body to take out all of Times Square. Harry falls ill with the same disease his father died of and turns to Spider-Man for the use of his blood in order to live longer. Unaware of the effects his blood would have on Harry, he refuses setting Harry off into a destructive path transforming himself into the Green Goblin to seek revenge on Spider-Man.

If you feel like there seems to be a lot going on for a superhero movie, you are correct in your assessment. For a film that is nearly two and a half hours, the screenwriting team of Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, and Jeff Pinkner got far too excited when mapping out this story and forgot to keep an eye on focus and editing. There are scenes that drag on for too long, and there are characters that seem unnecessary. There is so much going on that I never really felt that they had a handle of what the point of this sequel was going to be. It’s not uncommon to have two villains in a superhero movie. This film kicks it up a notch by having THREE villains. However, in order for this to work, the writing of these characters has to be top notch. The only villain that works entirely here is Harry Osborne/Green Goblin. He remains an interesting character before and after his transformation into the Green Goblin. Jamie Foxx's Electro falls in the middle of the spectrum. I liked the concept of Max Dillon being this nerdy nobody engineer who is obsessed with Spider-Man. Once he becomes Electro, he lost that edge that any great villain should have. I blame this on all of the CGI work done on the character. I felt the same way toward Lizard in the last movie. Let’s not forget about Paul Giamatti who we see at the beginning of the film as Aleksei Sysevich and then disappears until the very ending when he reappears as Rhino. This second ending acts as a coda to the film but feels completely unnecessary. Are we to assume that Giamatti will come back for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 or is this the only glimpse of Rhino that we’ll see? Frankly, I could have done without Electro and just had Rhino and the Green Goblin as the two villains. They each retain their human aspects without turning into a CGI character.

The film works far better in the non-action sequences when we get down to the core relationships Peter has in his life. As Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have a natural infectious chemistry due to their real-life relationship. They make for a far more believable couple than Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst did in the Sam Raimi trilogy. Sally Field returns to the series as the darling Aunt May who has raised Peter since he was a child. There is warmth and care to their scenes together, which are some of my favorite scenes in the whole movie. Field always carries with her a maternal instinct that works so well with Aunt May, especially when she gets so flabbergasted with Peter. As Harry Osborne, Dane DeHaan brings an untrustworthy quality too him early on. Peter and Harry are supposed to be best friends, but the writers could have done a better job at building up their friendship. I’ve spoken about Dane DeHaan (The Place Beyond the Pines, Lawless, Chronicle) numerous times on my site as he always shines and leaves a lasting impression on me. He is a young talent than should and will become an A-lister within the next few years.

Director Marc Webb is back after helming the reboot, but he has not quite hit the bullseye yet. I felt lukewarm regarding The Amazing Spider-Man, and this is a hair better. I think the screenwriters got a bit carried away with the idea of making a “bigger and better” type sequel, and in turn, added too many characters instead of fleshing out and digging deeper into the core characters in Peter’s life. It makes me wonder if more was written for Chris Cooper, B.J. Novak, and Paul Giamatti, but then cut down in the editing room. They are all great actors whose characters seem to have more going on than what their limited screen time may suggest. Shailene Woodley (Divergent) shot scenes as Mary Jane Watson, but those were left out early on as well. When it comes to the core characters, Webb executes those intimate scenes quite well, which makes the movie enjoyable. I cannot forget to mention composer Hans Zimmer. He seems to be the go-to guy to score superhero movies after having worked on The Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. His score has that grand throwback feel reminiscent of John Williams’ classic score to Superman. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not a bad movie, but it is not nearly as good as it could have been. I like this cast better than those in the Sam Raimi trilogy, but I like those movies better. If only we could get this cast under Sam Raimi’s vision, we’d have one hell of a Spider-Man movie.

Is it worth your trip to the movies? The chemistry of the cast makes the movie enjoyable despite the lack of focus in the directing and writing.

RATING: 3 out of 5 Ticket Stubs

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE--April 30, 2014

April 23, 2014

I spent another wonderful afternoon on Twin Cities Live chatting about some of the newest offerings at your local movie theater plus my pick for a release you can watch in the comfort of your living room!

Today's Picks
1. The Other Woman, starring Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton
2. The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine, Stellan SkarsgÄrd
3. Enough Said, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener

video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/ABC

Thank you so much for watching!

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