Month: November 2013

Movie Trailer – Expecting

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jessie McCormack
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Michelle Monaghan, Jon Dore
Release: December 6th, 2013

I expect this to be very bad for a multitude of reasons.  This is director Jessie McCormack’s first movie.  Not good.  Both Mitchell or Monaghan have very little talent.  Not good.  And the plot seems beyond recycled, bordering on mundane.  No thank you.

Movie Review – The Wedding Singer

Category : Movie Review

Director: Frank Coraci
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Matthew Glave
Year: 1998

I know some people just don’t like Adam Sandler.  And, hey, I might be one of them.  I didn’t really enjoy Billy Madison, Waterboy, or 50 First Dates, and those are supposed to be his funny ones.  Of course no one liked Click, Mr. Deeds, Little Nicky, or his other ridiculously stupid movies.  But on a very rare occasion he gets it right.  He did it in Punch-Drunk Love and he did it here with The Wedding Singer.  He can act a little when he chooses to, when he’s not just being a moron for the hell of it, and he can bring real emotion & real humor to a character as long as it’s written well.  Robbie Hart the wedding singer was a part almost tailor-made for Sandler and he pulled it off.  Maybe you don’t like him, maybe you think he’s hilarious, but either way this is a film worth seeing.
Robbie is obsessed with marriage.  Not only is he a wedding singer but he’s been talking about getting married since he was a kid.  He wants a wife, kids, a house, love, the whole package.  The only problem is, on the day of his own wedding his fiancee doesn’t show, announcing that she’s not in love with him any more.  Robbie spirals downward and writes off anything to do with love, even quitting his wedding gig job.  But a special someone might change his new outlook on life.  Her name is Julia and she too is thinking about weddings.  She’s getting married soon to a rich asshole name Glenn who Robbie can’t stand.  And when he starts to fall for Julia things really get screwed up, as she begins to question her choices & to see Robbie in a whole new light.  Will they get together, or will true love elude them forever?
First off, Adam Sandler does a terrific job in this film.  He tones down the stupid, he shows some real emotion, and he makes Robbie believable.  Drew Barrymore on the other hand, is pretty awful.  It seems like she just read the script and is reciting the lines for the first time.  The side characters, apart from Glenn, are really bad too, although there are a few cool cameos; John Luvitz, Steve Bushemi.  But when makes this movie great is the 80s vibe.  It’s not exactly a spoof, but every 80s cliche is thrown in, joked about, and make to look ridiculous.  From Flock of Seagulls to Deloreans, no funky icon is left unmolested.  So take a simple love story, set it in 80s, add in Billy Idol, create some original humor, and you’ve got yourself The Wedding Singer, an enjoyable experience that barely stops itself from going over the top.  It’s just dumb enough to laugh at but not idiotic enough to turn us off.  Get through the first 15 minutes, which are rough, and the rest will amuse you at the very least.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Movie Trailer – The Pirate Fairy

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Peggy Holmes
Starring: Mae Whitman, Christina Hendricks, Tom Hiddelston
Release: March 3rd, 2014

Well, I’ve seen all the rest, might as well see this one too.  They really aren’t that bad; kinda funny, fairly enjoyable, and my daughter loves them.  My favorite is Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, I gave it four stars.  Don’t judge me.

DVD Review – St. Louis Cardinals Championship Collection

Category : DVD Review

Presenter: Major League Baseball Productions
Studio: A&E Video
Year: 2013

When it came to baseball, my dad was always a St. Louis Cardinals fan.  He didn’t grow up there, but it was his team as much as any native’s.  Now, there are two types of sons: the rebels who would have rooted for the Cubs just out of spite and the ones who cheer for the same teams their dad always did.  I’m the latter, a Cardinals fan from birth.  I grew up watching them when they weren’t that good, a drought in the 90s with no NL Pennants and obviously no World Series rings.  But I never gave up hope in the quality of my team, and finally they came through for me and other fans around the country.  With World Series trips in 2004, 2006, 2011, and 2013, the Cardinals were a legitimate force.  But they have also been so throughout the history of the game, a baseball dynasty with championships in its blood.  This DVD chronicles the greatest moments of the past eighty years, the titles of a team that has always been rich in talent and in history.

The Movie

Disc 1 features game by game coverage of five World Series championships: 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, and 1982.  In 1944 the St. Louis Cardinals faced the St. Louis Browns, both teams sharing the same home field.  The Cardinals won in six games under manager Billy Southworth.  In 1946 the St. Louis Cardinals faced the Boston Red Sox, with Enos Slaughter’s “Mad Dash” to home plate.  The Cardinals won in seven games under manager Eddie Dyer.  In 1964 the St. Louis Cardinals faced the New York Yankees, leading to the firing of Yogi Berra.  The Cardinals won in seven games under manager Johnny Keane.  In 1967 the St. Louis Cardinals faced the Boston Red Sox, a rematch of the ’46 classic.  The Cardinals won in seven games under manager Red Schoendienst.  In 1982 the St. Louis Cardinals faced the Milwaukee Brewers, the “Sud Series” between beer towns.  The Cardinals won in seven games under manager Whitey Herzog.
Disc 2 features game by game coverage of two World Series championships: 2006 & 2011.  Both segments are Official World Series Films, the first narrated by Billy Bob Thornton and the second narrated by Jon Hamm. In 2006 the St. Louis Cardinals faced the Detroit Tigers, Adam Wainwright emerging as a star closer.  The Cardinals won in five games under manager Tony La Russa.  During the regular season, St. Louis had a record of 83-78, which was the second-worst record ever for a league champion.  They beat the 95-67 Tigers easily in five.  In 2011 the St. Louis Cardinals faced the Texas Rangers, MVP David Freese delivering game savings hits.  The Cardinals won in seven games under manager Tony La Russa.  During the regular season, St. Louis was behind the Atlanta Braves for the Wild Card spot, but took the berth thanks in part to a Braves collapse.  The Cardinals were one strike away from losing the Series twice in game six, only to come through with clutch hitting and eventually win in front of their home crowd.

Watching Disc 1 is like a walk through baseball history.  The names that jump out from the screen are some of the greatest in the sport; Yogi, Whitey, Red, Enos.  To see the games being played one by one in that era is really fascinating and so very different from the game as it is today.  These classic games are etched in time and each led to where the St. Louis Cardinals are today as a franchise.  Any fan of this team or of the game can appreciate this rich history.  The DVD runs two hours and forty-eight minutes, with roughly 30 minutes given to each World Series.  They are not tied together in any way and can be watched separately or all in a row.  Each Series has its own feel, but they are all presented in a game-by-game manner, allowing you to follow along with the pace of play.
The feel of Disc 2 is slightly different because of the recency of events.  The names are still as big but they are modern characters, not legends yet: Carp, Waino, Pujols, Eckstein, Freese, La Russa.  For a Cardinals fan watching this disc it is a reminder of what just happened, a look back on the glory of winning and the thrill of success.  Some of these games are instant classics and will be remembered forever in baseball history, and the moments that defined them are captured forever and available to watch whenever the mood strikes.  This DVD also runs for two hours and forty-eight minutes, with roughly 80 minutes given to each World Series.  They are also not tied together and can be watched separately, but have the same feel & general delivery.  Both narrators are strong, with my preference being for Jon Hamm in the 2011 Championship video.


Video – Disc 1 is done in full screen with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.  Disc 2 is done in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  Of course the second disc has a clearer picture quality and is quite enjoyable to view, with the first disc being nostalgic & classic but not crisp.
Audio – The audio was done in Dolby Digital English 2.0.  There are no sound options on either disc and no subtitles.  Again, of course the second disc has a better sound quality.
Extras – There are no extras with either DVD.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  This is really only a collection for either Cardinals fans or extreme baseball enthusiasts.  That said, it’s a must-own if you love St. Louis, as you can watch the moments of glory over & over again.  The championships are detailed nicely and kept separate for your convenience, which is nice, and the quality of the work put into the collection is strong.  The video is fine, the audio is passable, and there are no extras.  A DVD for the super-fan & for baseball aficionados.

✰ ✰ ✰ – Content
✰ ✰ ✰ – Video
✰ ✰ ✰ – Audio
– Extras
✰ ✰ – Replay

Movie Trailer – Sabotage

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: David Ayer
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Sam Worthington
Release: April 11th, 2014

For just a second I thought this movie might be alright.  And then, thankfully, that feeling went away.  It’s like there are a shortage of people who can make action seem interesting.  How hard can it be?  Could I direct an action flick?  Probably.  You just say things like, “do a flip” or, “shoot that!”.  Doesn’t seem too hard.

Sports – 2013 NFL Picks, Week 13

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 13 Picks
(7-6-1 last week, 116-59-1 for the season)
Bye teams: none

GB @ Det – Well the Lions lost another one they shouldn’t have.  Good thing the other teams in their division suck because Detroit seems to be looking for a way out of the playoffs.  With Rodgers still down the Packers don’t really stand a chance in this one, even with the Mighty Flynn.

Oak @ Dal – Another team that likes to lose and is lucky that they’re at the top of their division despite some very poor play.  Romo looked good last week & the Boys always play well at home.  Add that to the fact that the Raiders can’t win on the road.  Happy Thanksgiving for Dallas.

Pit @ Bal – This is a really tough one to call.  The Steelers have been doing great lately, going on a 3 game win streak after starting the season 2-6.  Big Ben is finally scoring some points, but I have to go with the home team here.  The Ravens are 4-1 at home and should win a close game.

TB @ Car – The Panthers got a bit of a scare last week in a game that wasn’t that surprising given the context.  They’re still a great team and will look to play focused football this week vs a Tampa team that has won 3 in a row after starting 0-8.  Carolina 4-1 at home, Bucs 1-4 away.

Jax @ Cle – The Jags are actually starting to win a few games and don’t look quite as pathetic.  And both their wins have come on the road, so they shouldn’t be counted out of this game.  And don’t forget that Weeden is back as QB for the Browns, which is good sign for their opponent.

NE @ Hou – The Texans have now lost 9 in a row after starting 2-0.  They may have passed the Jaguars as the worst team in football.  The Pats are coming off a huge win vs the Broncos and are starting to click.  That’s a bad thing for any team they face the rest of the season.

Ten @ Ind – The Colts have been playing some very bad football lately, but most likely will still win their division.  A win here would aid that goal and I think they can get the job done at home.  They’re a better team than the Titans, they just have to show it over the course of 60 minutes.

Chi @ Min – So what’s worse; losing Jay Cutler or having Christian Ponder?  The Vikings won’t be good until Ponder is gone, but the Bears are reeling without their gunslinging QB.  Adrian Peterson should be able to do enough to lead him team to victory over the awful Chicago defense.

Mia @ NYJ – The Jets have had the month from hell.  They are now out of the playoffs, have scored the second least amount of points on the year, and Geno seems to be in a giving mood; turning over balls with fervor.  If they’re to get back on track they need a home win right here.

Ari @ Phi – Talk about a hot team.  Arizona is firing on all cylinders and can match up well with any team they face.  They’re much better at home, but given the Eagles’ poor record in Philly you’ve got to think that the Cards must feel pretty confident.  Palmer vs Foles; surprisingly relevant.

Atl @ Buf – I just can’t stop feeling sorry for the Falcons.  This season has been a nightmare that won’t end and they don’t deserve that.  Unfortunately it doesn’t matter, teams continue to beat them up.  They are winless on the road and will most likely lose against a solid Buffalo team.

STL @ SF – A tough division game, could go either way.  The Rams have been playing well, but so have the Niners, as they seem to have figured out a solution to some of their problems.  I may not be a big Kaep fan, but he’s talented enough to beat this upstart St. Louis team.

Den @ KC It’s probably the last time I’ll do it this season, but I’ve got to pick against my Broncos again.  That loss last week was stomach-turning rather than lesson-teaching and I don’t think they react well to it.  And a cold weather game in KC where even bad Chiefs teams beat us?

Cin @ SD – Well-coached teams come off byes playing their best football.  Poorly-coached teams come off looking rusty.  I’m gonna say the Bengals are the latter.  They’ve not been playing great football, Rivers has been pretty hot, and this is a touch matchup that they’ll probably lose.

NYG @ Was – So who do you pick here; the bad away team or the awful home team?  Neither team deserves much confidence,  but at least the Giants were looking better before they lost last week to the ‘Boys.  The Skins haven’t looked good all year and I doubt they start.

NO @ Sea – This is a simple numbers game.  Both the Saint and the Seahawks are excellent teams and will probably play each other for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  But New Orleans is 3-2 on the road while Seattle in undefeated at home.  The 12th man wins.

Movie Trailer – Muppets Most Wanted

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: James Bobin
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell
Release: March 21st, 2014

Although I’ve never been a Muppets fan (except for Muppet Babies in my youth), I think this looks really funny.  I’ve always wondered why I never watched this show or these movie because I think the style of humor is right up my alley; I like slapstick in kiddy movies, it’s funny when people fall down.  So maybe this’ll become my first Muppet experience.

Movie Review – Road House

Category : Movie Review

Director: Rowdy Herrington
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Kevin Tighe, Kelly Lynch
Year: 1989

Patrick Swayze, like Kurt Russell, is a one trick pony.  Sometimes he falls into the perfect role for his demeanor and it just happens to work, through no real talent of his own.  For Russell it was Backdraft, or maybe even Escape from New York.   For Swayze it was Dirty Dancing, which launched him into stardom and got him a ton of jobs: Ghost, Point Break, and of course Road House.  But he never really found that special role again, he had peaked and it was over.  That’s a sign of someone who’s really not that great; Tom Hanks never peaked, Ed Norton never had a perfect moment followed by a downhill slide.  And yet, Swayze is a likeable actor & an icon of an era, so he deserves some credit for at least making a mark and leaving us with some unforgettable if fairly awful films.
In this classic, Swayze plays Dalton, a cooler by trade.  He manages a team of bouncers in a club and is the best that money can buy.  And when a man named Tilghman offers him a boatload of cash to turn a run-down road house into a swinging hot spot, he takes the job & the new challenge.  But he’s about to be in way over his head.  The little town where the Double Deuce resides is controlled by a millionaire madman named Brad Wesley who takes a little from every local business as tax for his ongoing support.  He doesn’t want the club to be cleaned up & independent, and so Dalton’s work is a little harder than he thought it might be.  Teaming up with his old pal Wade Garrett and with a little help from his new doctor girlfriend, Dalton will try to save the Double Deuce, bring justice to a wild town, and face the demons that drive him from place to place without ever calling them his home.
Talk about a mess.  It’s as if a hundred writers got together with a hundred directors and asked a hundred actors what they’d like to see happen, making a movie of everyone’s collective ideas.  A bouncer who knows kung fu!  A monster truck!  Strippers!  Beer bottles smashing!  Polar bears!  Sam Elliott!  If someone had just known when to stop the film could have been salvaged, but it was more a wild rampage than a movie.  That said, it was still pretty fun to watch.  Patrick Swayze kicking people repeatedly in the knees & faces?  Sure, why not.  Add in a rocking soundtrack, a lot of stupid lines, and some naked girl and we’ve got ourselves a good time.  This has got to be one of those movies that’s incredible when you’re drunk, but comes off as a head-scratcher when you’re sober.  It’s hard to imagine anyone taking this one seriously, and really as long as you don’t there are some parts that can be enjoyable.  But watch it for fun & with low expectations.  Just don’t come in expecting Dirty Dancing.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰

Movie Trailer – The Nut Job

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Starring: Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Katherine Heigl
Release: January 17th, 2014

Bad bad bad bad bad.  Just bad.  I like to think that when I was a kid I liked movies with less stupid humor.  Am I imagining things, or did fart jokes used to be less funny?  I don’t know, but there is a lot of good animation out there if you look for it and this isn’t it.

Book Review – A Little Princess

Category : Book Review

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Year: 1905

I’ve always enjoyed reading to my daughter and now to my son.  Even though they are quite young, just the act of reading aloud is both enjoyable & beneficial.  When she was a baby I would lay beside my daughter and read her The Chronicles of Narnia while she had tummy time.  During snack time I would read Animal Farm, just to have literature alive in the house, even if the concepts of the novels were lost.  Now, as both my children get older, they are beginning to appreciate these times even more & catch on to the wonderful stories that I’m reading.  We’ve covered a lot of classics; Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, The Secret Garden.  And it was the latter that opened my eyes to the greatness of Burnett, author of so many children’s classics.  And now, after having read A Little Princess, I can say that it’s one of the most beautifully written books for young people that I’ve ever read.
The main character of the story is Sarah Crewe, wealthy daughter of a single father, a Brit stationed in India.  Sarah leads a pampered life, and even when she moves to London to go to boarding school she is treated as a princess, with all the amenities she might need for a comfortable stay.  But when her father dies suddenly, Sarah find herself penniless & without a home.  Although she is not thrown out of school, she is only invited to stay as a worker, a slave in all respects who is treated worse than the paid servants.  And yet she never loses her dignity or her wild imagination, an ability that keeps her sane in the most desperate of times.  With the help of her friends Becky, Lottie, and Ermengarde, Sarah survives this dreadful turn of events & brings joy to the people around her, showing that no matter what she looks like she will always be a little princess.
What an amazingly simple and yet stunning book.  The concept isn’t complicated and it’s a perfectly easy story for children to understand, and yet there are so many undertones to the plot and to the character development of Sarah.  She is an optimist, a compassionate friend, a heroine who truly rises above any dire situation she finds herself in.  There are some pretty powerful lessons to be learned in this book, lessons about how we treat each other, how we take advantage of each other, and how hope is never completely lost.  It’s just a great story and one that is written marvelously.  Burnett writes with beautiful language & precision, not wasting words and not over dramatizing everyday life.  The characters come to life in the way their speech is shown to us and we can imagine these girls & their lives; they become so real so quickly.  Not only is this an excellent children’s book because of it’s simplicity & relatable characters, but it can be enjoyed by adults as well because it is written so well & is full of deep meanings & wonderful messages.  I’m glad I had a reason to read the classic stories that I might otherwise have passed over and I recommend that you do the same.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰