"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, February 19, 2011

SNMR 9.8: "Couples Retreat"


Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell) are thinking about getting a divorce. In an effort to salvage their marriage they want to go to an exclusive couples resort for the counseling. But they can't afford it on their own and need to convince their friends to go with them so they all can get the group rate. After much hesitation, Dave & Ronnie (Vince Vaughn, Malin Ackerman), Joey and Lucy (Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis), and recently divorced Shane and his twenty year old girlfriend (Faizon Love, Kali Hawk) agree to go - but for the fun only.

When they get to the resort they are stunned by the beauty (filmed on location at a resort in Bora Bora) of the place and the amazing food but are shocked to learn that the group therapy and couples counseling is not optional and starts promptly at six in the morning.

Through the counseling Dave & Ronnie discover issues in their marriage that they didn't know existed, Joey and Lucy's bickering gets worse and overweight Shane just doesn't have the energy to keep up with a twenty year old.

What follows are some moderately funny situations that couples could find themselves in. After a blowup between one of the couples and a wild night at the singles club on the other side of the island, they all realize that all married couples have issues and that their marital problems aren't as bad as they thought they were.

The starring cast is excellent and there are wonderful performances from the supporting cast, including Jean Reno, Peter Serafinowicz and especially Carlos Ponce.

Former child star Peter Billingsley makes his feature length directorial debut and does a decent job managing this star heavy cast, getting everyone as much screen time as possible within the confines of the story. The script was written by Vaughn & Favreau with Dana Fox is witty and the story moves along fairly well.

The DVD features some nice extras including filming in Bora Bora and on the yoga scenes as well as deleted & extended scenes and a short gag reel.

This is a decent film and well worth a rental on Netflix or better, as a freebie from your library.

*** out of *****

Couples Retreat (2009, PG-13, 114 minutes) starring Vince Vaughn, Malin Ackerman, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell, Faizon Love and Jean Reno. Written by Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Dana Fox. Directed by Petere Billingsley.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

SNMR 9.7: "Valentine's Day"


One year ago today, this aptly titled film was released, ostensibly in celebration of some upcoming couples holiday involving hearts, candy, dating, love and sex. Initially the concept seemed good: demonstrate how different people celebrate this Hallmark holiday by showing multiple couples during the entire day and how they interact with each other. This concept seems like a winner, especially with the recent trend of films that deal with non-linear and multiple story lines all jumbled and going on at the same time. One difference is, in those other films, all the storylines get tied up in the end so it makes sense. Like life and real relationships, not all of the story lines end happily-ever after. That is one thing this film has going for it, anyway.

I like romantic comedies. I really do. I really wanted to like this film more than I did. See, there are two major and one minorproblems with this film. The minor problem involves a continuity gaffe involving Jennifer Garner's character. The major problems are that the film does not have nearly enough comedy or romance in it and a simple case of overkill. Too many stars, too many stories and not enough screen time in a two hour and five minute film to do them all justice. What it all means that we don't have the opportunity to get invested in any of the characters or given enough grounds to care about any of them. This film would have been much more effective if there were half as many characters and storylines.

I have no problem with Garry Marshall as a director. He assembled a fine, all-star caliber cast of excellent and popular actors, who are each talented in their own right. With the amount of screen time anyone gets, I'd imagine the actors had a nice easy one or two days of filming and a decent paycheck to boot.

There were some touching story lines that I'd have liked see developed more, to the exclusion of others, but I won't tell you what they are.

**½ out of *****

Valentine's Day (2010, PG-13, 125 minutes) starring Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift. Screenplay by Katherine Fugate. Story by Katherine Fugate, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein. Directed by Garry Marshall.


Saturday, February 05, 2011

SNMR 9.6: "Love Happens"


Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart) has written a self help book on dealing with grief and moving on with it. He never expected anyone would want to read it when he wrote it. Now he's traveling city to city leading self-help workshops based on the popularity of his book. Lane (Dan Fogler), Burke's promoter, brings his tour to Seattle, unchecked emotions begin to surface about Burke's secret that he didn't expect. During the week long seminar, he bumps into Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), owner of a small flower shop. After a rough beginning, they become friends and she helps him deal with his pain without even knowing what it's all about.

This film, I think, was inappropriately named and is therefore misleading. Based on that, you'd think this movie was just some sappy romantic comedy but it is actually more than that. It's actually another study on how an individual deals with grief, specifically the loss of a loved one.

Aaron Eckhart is a very underrated and versatile actor. He does a convincing job in his lead role. Jennifer Aniston is my favorite Hollywood actress and she also gives a good performance, even though her character is not as fully developed as I'd like. There's one scene of her character's ex and then he's out of the film - his other scenes are found in the deleted scenes on the DVDs extras - which makes that one scene seem out of place. Excellent supporting roles from Martin Sheen and John Carroll Lynch help the film have more emotional depth.

This is Brandon Camp's feature directorial debut and he does a decent job - meaning he doesn't call attention to himself for crappy directing but neither is his debut outstanding. He co-wrote the script and I always say it helps when the screenwriter is also the director because he, better than anyone, knows his story and what he wants it to say. So I'll give him the benefit of the doubt here, until he has more credits on his resume.

The DVD extras include a feature length commentary, deleted scenes and a short bit on how green screen was used to insert the background shots for some of the key scenes.

This is the second time I've watched this movie. The first was in the theater, as I always go and see all of Aniston's movies, no matter what, on opening day. I waited for a while to buy the DVD until the price came down under $10. This movie is a worthwhile rental from your video supplier or your local library.

*** out of *****

Love Happens (2009, PG-13, 109 minutes) starring Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Dan Fogler, John Carroll Lynch, Martin Sheen and Judy Greer. Written by Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson. Directed by Brandon Camp.