Tag Archives: comedy

Hope Springs

9 Aug

Synopsis:  After 30 years of marriage housewife Kay, (Meryl Streep) pays for a marriage counseling retreat  in Maine to save her mundane marriage with her emotionally detached husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones).

Cast

Meryl Streep………………………………………………………………………………..Kay

Tommy Lee Jones…………………………………………………………………….Arnold

Steve Carell……………………………………………………………………………Dr. Feld

Jean Smart……………………………………………………………..Eileen, Kay’s friend

Ben Rappaport……………………………………………………………….Brad, their son

Marin Ireland……………………………………………………….Molly, their daughter

Brett Rice……………………………………………………………Vince, Arnold’s friend

Becky Ann Baker……………………………………………………….Cora, the waitress

Review: Hope Springs, the name of a small town in Maine, is really a metaphor for the famous quote “Hope Springs Eternal”. In the town is a therapist Dr. Feld (Steve Carell) who helps married couples rekindled their marriages after the flame has long burned out in their relationships.

Kay, a housewife, and husband Arnold have been married for thirty years, for years now they have slept in separate bedrooms, have the same daily routine of Kay devotedly cooking bacon and fried eggs for Arnold’s breakfast before he commutes to work and watches Arnold fall asleep while watching golf tips on ESPN. This is Tommy Lee Jones’ movie and he gives a remarkable performance as an emotionally detached husband who is comfortable with his detachment and mundane routine in his life.  Arnold is so out of touch he really doesn’t acknowledge how hard Kay is working to make him find her attractive again. When he does acknowledge her he usually talks about himself, golf or his day at the office.  Kay, so devoted,  just listens or agrees with any decision Arnold makes.

Streep, who is a national treasure, plays Kay as a woman whose dogged devotion turns to desperation until she finally takes matters into her own hands. She finds a self help book written by Dr. Feld about how to save your marriage and decides to book a week of intensive marriage counseling with the doctor in Hope Springs, Maine. Needless to say Arnold does not want to go at all but finally gives in when he realizes Kay will go anyway with or without him.

Steve Carell plays the soft spoken doctor with patience and becomes the perfect straight-man to Tommy Lee Jones’ comical yet sometimes angry remarks and self realizations. It is here the character study of the emotionless Arnold takes off and we begin to wonder how much is he really trying to understand his wife or how much he is just placating her. Jones brilliantly navigates from being self conscious and angry to trying to resolve his true feelings for Kay. The sexual innuendo and  comic sensibilities of the story ring true as  does the depiction of long term relationships. This is truly a film aimed at the rest of us who are not in the typical teen to twenties demographic.

If you enjoy well told small stories about people, relationships and life go see this film. Like the film, Marigold Hotel, it is a story about people who seek to improve or change their current circumstances making this an interesting, fun and satisfying movie going experience. I highly recommend you and your “significant other”  take a visit to Hope Springs especially to see Tommy Lee Jones give this outstanding Oscar worthy performance.

Recommended: 

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The Dictator

25 May

Synopsis: The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.  This fish out of water story tells the tale of Haffaz Alladeen who has been the dictator of the oil-rich African nation of Wadiya for 40 years. Alladeen is as egotistical and ruthless as dictators come, executing anyone who disagrees with him by using his signature “head chop” signal. Alladeen is summoned by the UN to address their concerns about his nuclear program. A subplot involves him being kidnapped by Clayton  a hitman hired by his traitorous uncle Tamir . Tamir then replaces Aladeen with a decoy named Efawadh, who he can manipulate into signing a document democratizing Wadiya and opening the oil rich country for business. Aladeen escapes, but his beard has been shaved off by Clayton, making him practically unrecognizable. He encounters activist Zoey who offers him a job at her alternative lifestyle co-op. Aladeen refuses the offer and travels to New York’s “Little Wadiya”, populated by refugees from his country, where he encounters Nadal , the former chief of Wadiya’s nuclear weapons program, whom Aladeen thought he had previously had executed. Peppered with caustic and controversial humor the film follows Aladeen as he tries to regain power.

Cast:

Sasha Baron Cohen: as Admiral General Aladeen and his impostor Efawadh

Ben Kingsley: as Tamir, Aladeen’s uncle

Jason Manzoukas: as nadal

Ann Faris: as Zoey

John C. Reilly:  as Clayton

B.J. Novack

Chris Elliot as Mr. Ogden

Fred Armisen as Death to Aladeen Restaurant waiter

Cameos:

Megan Fox: as herself

Edward Norton: as himself

J.B. Smoove: as Funeral Usher

Chris Parnell: as ABN News anchor

Asif Mandvi: as Wadiyan doctor

Rizwan Manji: as Wadiyan patient

Horatio Sanz: as aide on balcony.

Review: Sacha Baron Cohen has once again teamed up with director Larry Charles (Borat/Bruno) and both have delivered a funny and controversial albeit more mainstream story to tell. Inspired by the book Zabibah and the King by Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein, Cohen takes on a journey through the world of a narcissistic, mad Islamic dictator, Admiral, General Aladeen of the pseudo middle eastern country of  Wadiya. He does things like have sex with Megan Fox, who sleeps with him as a booty call but won’t commit to a real relationship, crowns himself best actor/film-star in the country and wins all the country’s sporting events by shooting the competition, what a guy. It is Cohen’s commitment to character that makes this movie so hilarious. Cohen tends to find his characters from the inside out and makes them so real you believe this chameleon is the genuine article. Cohen is so committed to his character in fact you might remember the stunt he pulled at the 2012 Academy awards spilling the ashes of Dictator Kim Jong ii onto Ryan Seacrest.

Ben Kingsley portrays his Uncle Tamir who wants to democratize Wadiya and sell its’ oil for profit. He does a wonderful job as does a terrific supporting cast. Ann Faris plays Zoey the love interest and holds up well as the foil for all the anti-women slurs Aladeen throws at her. The entire film is a reflection of the world situation and Cohen who also wrote the screenplay deserves kudos for having the nerve to dish up this Islamic, Terrorist Dictator with humor and intelligence.

The cameos are well done and add an element of who will show up next. This is certainly worthy of Sacha Baron Cohen’s inspired lunacy.

Recommended:

The Three Stooges

13 Apr

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Synopsis: Left on a nun’s doorstep, Larry, Curly and Moe grow up finger-poking, yuk-nuking and woo-woo-wooing their way to uncharted levels of knuckle-headed misadventure. Out to save their childhood home, only The Three Stooges could become embroiled in an oddball murder plot…while also stumbling into starring in a phenomenally successful TV reality show. — (C) 20th Century Fox

Review: First off I went into this as a long time Stooge fan expecting the worst but left feeling happy the Farrelly Brothers did such a good job with it. There are three Stooge Episodes back to back in this movie all add up to to one related story. We also get their back story showing us how they where left at the doorstep of an orphanage as infants run by nuns. Needless to say they were never adopted and lived their entire life with the nuns.

As the years go by the nuns get the terrible news that the orphanage is in debt to the tune of $830,000 and the Stooges spend the rest of the movie trying to raise the money in the modern world. Needless to say mayhem, eye poking, face slapping, bops on the head etc. ensue.

As any Stoogephile can tell you the main ingredients for a successful Stooge adventure should include the following three elements: 1) Stooge cartoon violence, 2) The deflation of pomposity at a posh gathering, 3) The Stooges being pursued by either the police or bad guys with guns. This movie has all these elements plus typical stooge dialog. Do you want to hear more? Yes! Was it funny? Yes,Yes! Was it a Stooge Movie worth seeing? Yes, Yes, Yes!

The Farrelly Brothers affectionately use sound effects, The Stooges Theme and three really good character actors who have captured all the Stooging one can take in it’s 92 minute running time.

Chris Diamantopoulos : Plays Moe and has certainly channeled Moe Howard to capture his character as well as he did. He has the look, sound and eye pokes of the real deal.

Sean Hayes: Plays Larry and also channels Larry Fine through voice, movement and of course that crazy haircut. Mr. Hayes has amazing comic timing and looked like he was having a good time as the entire cast did.

Will Sasso: Does Curly impeccably well and was sointenly a victim of soicumstance having to recreate the comic genius of the original Curly Howard. This MadTV actor did a great job also with voice and body language.

The Nuns at the Orphanage:

Jane Lynch: Plays Mother Superior in a role that is the total antithesis of her GLEE role on television. She got the goodness down to a tee.

Larry David:  Plays Sister Mary-Mengele. He is the mean nun everybody tries to avoid. He blames the Stooges for everything that went wrong in the orphanage.  When Mother Superior is willing to forgive, Mengele wants to kill them. The Sister’s name alone provokes laughs.

The cast is rounded out by the cast of the reality show The Jersey Shore. In one of the episodes of the movie Moe accidentally becomes the star of the show and the original Jersey Shore cast wants Moe out of the show. The producers tell them Moe stays and the cast is shocked that all the hiring decisions on the show are based on ratings. Apparently Moe’s appearance raised the roof on the Shore ratings. It’s worth the price of the admission just to see Moe poke Snookie in the eyes. Metaphorically we all get that Moe is really poking reality TV and exposing it for the trash that has permeated the minds of TV producers and our TV screens.

Also appearing in the film are Jennifer Hudson, Brian Doyle Murray, Sofia Vergara and Stephen Collins.

At the tail end of the movie two hunks claiming to be the Farrelly Bros. explain to the children in the audience that the hammer in the movie was made of rubber, the eye pokes never are in the eyes but on the forehead but appear to be in the eyes and they shouldn’t try any of this at home.

The children in the the audience of this PG movie had a good time and their laughter was infectious. So don’t just sit there go out and see this affectionate tribute to the boys who invented poking before Facebook. Don’t make me have to hit you over the head with this sledge hammer, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Recommended for lovers of Knuckleheads & Porcupines: