Happy Singles Awareness Day!

That Awkward Moment (2014)
Chick Flick Rating: (1/5)
Film Rating: (1/5)
Boyfriend Friendly: If he is actually your boyfriend, yes. If he is a guy you’re just dating and haven’t had the “so, where is this going?” talk yet, then NO NO NO.

If there has ever been a movie to deter me from ever wanting to date in New York City again, this was that movie.

Now listen, I may pride myself on having an unhealthy obsession with chick flicks but I also LOVE myself some guy humor. I mean, I may or may not have spent my Valentine’s Day night sitting on the couch with my two roommates watching fart videos on YouTube like this one:


(Note: our V-Day wasn’t completely void of any class. Prior to this we smuggled some Two-Buck Chuck into a movie theater and saw Her for the 3rd time. Review to come.)

Anyway, my point is that normally I can overlook the copious amount of sexism that is prevalent in most “guy humor” flicks, IF they are indeed funny and original and all of that other stuff that makes a movie enjoyable. But the most awkward moment in That Awkward Moment was five minutes in when I realized I had already cringed at two flat jokes about how easy-yet-needy females are and still had a full hour and 29 minutes to suffer through.

The film opens up with some VO by Zac Efron telling us about this dreaded thing he calls “The So Moment” which occurs after roughly six weeks of fucking a girl where she asks (while his dick is inside her, obvs), “So… where is this going?” because, I mean, girls can just never have casual sex and ALWAYS have to let emotions get involved and just want to be in a relationship with anyone who will be in a relationship with us. Right?! After this, we meet Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) whose wife is cheating on him with some guy “who looks like Morris Chestnut” (and is played by Morris Chestnut, which actually did make me laugh). He tells his besties Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) about it, and they all decide YEAH! THIS IS GREAT! WE CAN ALL BE SINGLE GUYS WHO BANG LOTS OF CHICKS AND PLAY XBOX IN OUR BOXERS WHILE DRINKING WHISKEY TOGETHER! POUND IT.

Except then Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots) who is perfect because she is blonde, and witty, and well-read, and forgives him when he misunderstands what she meant by “dressing up” for her birthday and shows up wearing a dildo (which is not only a total Legally Blonde rip-off but also an inappropriate costume choice for anyone not in a fraternity even if this WAS a costume party). Also, she’s really good at Xbox and drinks Scotch. And did I mention she’s cool with the fact that he thought she was a hooker when they first met? Meanwhile, Daniel starts hooking up with his super down-to-earth gal pal Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), and Mikey and his wife give their marriage another go. But of course, the friends aren’t honest with one another about their relationships. Because they made a pact. And bro pacts are ALWAYS more important than the feelings of a female. So they all downplay it, to the point where Jason stands up Ellie AT HER OWN DAD’S FUCKING FUNERAL because that would make him look weak to the guys. God forbid!

Spoiler alert: Ellie forgives him at the end. Of course.

Anyway, this film – written and directed by Tom Gormican – was just one bad joke after another. It was literally like his formula for writing this script was sexist cliche + trying-to-be-edgy pop culture ref, followed by lame joke, repeat. As you know, I am a big Zac Efron fan for more than just his looks and I defended his acting in my review for The Lucky One. I stand by that opinion here, and I also feel the same about Michael B. Jordan (whose Fruitvale Station performance moved me beyond belief) and Miles Teller, who I haven’t seen much of but like his comedic timing. Why any of them would agree to this movie though is beyond me. Maybe they thought they’d find the comedic success that Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis did after The Hangover, or like the whole Apatow crowd did after Superbad, but sorry guys – the material just WAS NOT there.

As they say, don’t hate the players, hate the game. Well, I REALLY hated this game.

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Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Rock of Ages (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ (2/5)
Film Rating: ★ ½ (1.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Yeah, def (Leppard).

Let me tell you a little story: When I was a freshman in college, I began writing my first musical, called I Wanna Rock. It was set in the 80’s in a run-down NYC night club that was on the brink of foreclosure and the soundtrack consisted of all 80’s classics such as Here I Go Again, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Don’t Stop Believing, We Built This City, Shadows of the Night, etc. Having such a hardcore infatuation with all things 80’s, this quickly became my passion project so when the script was near completion, I began showing it to a few of my privileged classmates – hoping that one of them was actually the granddaughter of Hal Prince or something. None of them were, so I shelved the script figuring I’d just wait until I met the right person. Cut to 2 years later, when I am living in London, and I get a letter from one of those classmates. The letter is enclosed with a press release for a new musical opening on Broadway, called Rock of Ages, which is set in the 80’s in a run-down Hollywood night club that is on the brink of foreclosure and the soundtrack consists of all 80’s classics such as Here I Go Again, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Don’t Stop Believing, We Built This City, Shadows of the Night, etc. I may have been across the pond, but I’m pretty sure my scream that night rocked all of Broadway like a hurricane.

A year later, after conducting hours of stealthy sleuthing to make sure none of the people that read my script were in any way affiliated with this production and finally concluding that it was just a bizarre coincidence, I went to see Rock of Ages on Broadway. And I had a ton of fun. In fact, I was actually relieved because I liked it so much. Of course, mine would have been better – (How could they forget about Jessie’s Girl?!) – but it was high energy, really funny, and they gave out free lighters to wave in the air with every program. I left the theater with a healed heart and an idea for a completely new musical (whose premise I will not reveal to a single soul). Unfortunately, the Rock of Ages movie adaptation was missing the energy, the funny, and the free lighters, and my wounded heart ached all over again while watching it.

It probably comes as no surprise that I am a huge musical goer. There is perhaps nothing in the world that I enjoy more. However, I have never been a huge fan of musicals on screen. With the exception of Grease and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More With Feeling” episode, on-screen musicals generally feel very detached and just out of place. I mean, I don’t even really like Glee. But then, a few years ago, Adam Shankman came out with Hairspray – which totally blew away my expectations – and I thought, “Yes! There is a director who finally gets it.” So when I heard he was directing Rock of Ages, I was fairly confident that my baby was in good hands. Wrong. In fairness to him, I think the film was in trouble before it even got to his desk – mainly due to a script that took out some of the best scenes in the musical to make room for weaker characters, flatter jokes, and a bunch of big names that give small performances.

In the stage version, Drew – an aspiring rockstar by day, Bourbon Room busboy by night – is the lead character, but whoever it is that plays him in the movie isn’t strong enough or interesting enough and the focus quickly shifts to his love interest, Sherrie (Julianne Hough): a small-town girl living in a lonely world who took the midnight train bus from Oklahoma to seek some Hollywood fame. Hough is made for musicals, but her Sherrie was a little too sugary for me. Although the Broadway version is light-hearted and fun, the characters are gritty and real, and Sherrie makes some selfish choices to further her career (i.e. having groupie bathroom sex with rock god Stacee Jaxx). In the movie, any mistakes Sherrie makes are simply written off as a big misunderstanding. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who generally does no wrong in my eyes, actually disappointed me as the Mayor’s determined wife who wants to clean up Sunset Strip. Her acting was fine, but her rendition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot was not all that jazz, if you catch my drift. To be honest, I’ve performed karoake versions of that song better while drunk off my ass. I never like Alec Baldwin, so I won’t even bore you with that tirade. But most upsetting was that my favorite character in the musical, Regina (pronounced like vagina but with a ‘R’), a birkenstock-wearing Berkely grad devoted to saving the Bourbon Room, was cut out of the movie completely to make room for Russell Brand and Malin Akerman. Brand, whose sole purpose in life must be prancing around like an unbathed unicorn that shouts British expletives whenever he gets the urge, made me laugh exactly once. Akerman, on the other hand, was pretty adorbs as a Rolling Stone reporter in tortoise-rimmed glasses, and even though I was convinced her rendition of Foreigner’s I Want To Know What Love Is was totally autotuned, I may be wrong because I have since found out that she is the lead singer of a Swedish band, The Petalstones. Hmpf. In my opinion, they should have cut Brand out and had Akerman play the Regina character and a whole lotta better would’ve come from it.

Surprisingly, I really liked Tom Cruise as the Axl Rose-esque rock legend, Stacee Jaxx. I didn’t think I would buy him as a badass all tatted up with guyliner and assless chaps, but he did Def Leppard proud singing Pour Some Sugar On Me. I was also happy that they made his character somewhat redeeming towards the end, cause Jaxx is just a total villain in the stage production. Paul Giamatti, who played Jaxx’s skeevy manager, is always a delight and my only regret is that they didn’t have him sing because I think that could have added some much needed comedy.

Due to my personal attachment to the story and the fact that I’ve seen the musical, my film review might be a little harsher than others. But, I still don’t think I’d recommend the movie even if that weren’t the case. However, if you do get the opportunity to catch the stage show, whether on Broadway or a local production, definitely do that! It’s a really fun premise (if I do say so myself) that just wasn’t conveyed through the film adaptation. Now I just have to start mentally preparing myself for the emotional anguish that is bound to occur when my favorite musical ever, Les Miserables, self combusts in front of my eyes this Christmas. I lost all faith in this movie when I heard they were considering Taylor Swift for Eponine. Then they released the trailer and holy Lord, I know the world disagrees with me, but Anne Hathaway’s I Dreamed A Dream has got to be the weakest performance I have ever heard of that song ever. (And I’ve seen it staged over 15 times, from Broadway, to the West End, to my local middle school). I generally love Anne, but “toned down” my ass. You only tone things down when someone can’t hit the real notes. Hopefully I’m wrong, but I’m convinced the only thing that will save this film is if NPH and Jason Segel have a surprise cameo performance during The Confrontation:

I Think I’ll Just Adopt, Thanks.

DISCLAIMER: For someone who claims to be a Chick Flick Connoisseur, I have to be honest… I was a bit naughty and chose to see The Avengers and MIB 3 before seeing What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Although I don’t regret that choice, I do regret having to wait so long in between posts because of it. My apologies!

What To Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ½ (2.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ (2/5)
Boyfriend friendly: It’s an easy way to get him to quit bitching about wearing condoms.

Let me preface this review by saying that I have a serious fear of pregnancy. I blame my Dad, which I know is a weird thing to say in context, but he’s the one who had me watch Alien when I was only 5 years old. I’m not sure if it was his intent – though I wouldn’t put it past him – but all it took was that one scene where the alien rips itself out of Kane’s chest and Daddy never had to worry about his little girl ending up on 16 & Pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I want to have kids some day… but I kind of just hope they’ll appear out of thin air because pregnancy really scares the living shit out of me. After a baby is born? I love them, they’re adorbs. While in the belly? They’re creepy naked mole-rat looking aliens. And those horrible new 3D ultrasounds that are flooding my Facebook newsfeed (despite the fact I keep reporting them as spam) aren’t helping me any.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting, based on the self-help book of the same name, follows five couples during those nine terrifying beautiful months before the baby arrives. Jules (Cameron Diaz) is a celebrity fitness guru who gets pregnant by her boyfriend, and partner on a Dancing-With-The-Stars-esque show, Evan (Matthew Morrison). Their clashing schedules are nothing compared to their clashing personalties – as they disagree on seemingly every aspect of child rearing, from name choices to the morality of circumcision. Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) is a parenting author and owner of a children’s boutique, The Breast Choice. After years of trying, Wendy and her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) finally get pregnant only to find that their “happy glow period” is marred with every side effect in the book: nausea, gas, itchiness, hemrrhoids. Not to mention that Gary’s Dad (Dennis Quaid), a highly competitive race car driver, and his young trophy wife (Brooklyn Decker) are also expecting… and they’re having twins. Photographer Holly (J. Lo) and music producer Alex (the hot Brazilian model from Love Actually) are all set and ready to adopt an Ethiopian baby… until they get the call saying that one is actually available. And finally, Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford) are rival food truck chefs whose one night stand has one big consequence.

Ensemble films are always tricky because there are so many killer cast members and so little screen time. Certain films, like Love Actually, Rat Race, and even the more recent Think Like A Man, pull it off and enable the audience to feel like they have gotten a fairly even dose of each character. Other films, like He’s Just Not That Into You, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve, cut back and forth between the characters so haphazardly that the second you begin to care about one story line, you’re onto the next one. This movie fell somewhere in between. The pacing was smooth and each character had their fair share of screen time, but they didn’t necessarily make all that screen time count. Honestly, it was like for every awesome or original character/circumstance the writers slipped in, they also had to put an equally annoying or clichéd one. For example: Elizabeth Banks was hysterical as the anguished pregnant woman who pees her pants in public more than once, but Brooklyn Decker was completely irritating and one-dimensional as her ditzy step-mom-in-law. Surprisingly, I was not all that convinced by the performance of Jennifer Lopez (a real life mom), but was totally sold on the one by Cameron Diaz (not a real life mom). Diaz was over-the-top but entertaining as the concerned mommy-to-be who doesn’t want her baby daddy calling any of the shots (who can blame her?). On the other hand, Lopez also called all of the shots regarding her baby, but it was so melodramatic and I don’t know if her and her husband actually liked each other (but their baby shower was AWESOME). And sometimes Anna Kendrick’s role choices just baffle me. She’s such a great actress, yet she chooses to do movies like this and Twilight. Maybe she just wanted to M.O. with Chace Crawford? I guess I can’t blame her for that. BTDubs– what is up with all of these food truck chef characters? The last THREE films I’ve reviewed have had them! Is that the only trendy occupation in the world right now?

In all seriousness, the best part of the movie actually had nothing to do with the moms at all. When I first saw the WTEWYE “Dudes Group” trailer a few months back, it felt a bit off and completely catered to the wrong demographic. Now, I totally get it. Led by Chris Rock, this clueless group of dads don’t just deserve their own trailer – they deserve their own movie. (I am also happy to report that even though a lot of their humor is given away in that trailer, there are plenty of funny lines that aren’t. Yay!)

What To Expect When You’re Expecting definitely had its fair share of belly-laughing moments. There were also a ton of times that I didn’t laugh, but every single parent in the theater did… so I should probably revisit this movie at some point in the way distant future when I have children (who, of course, have all appeared out of thin air). I just wish they had decided to take a few more risks with it! Instead of the subpar storylines about an old dude and his young wife, or two food truck rivals who have a one night stand, why not try something a bit more modern like same-sex parents, a pregnant teenager, or even a man who is excited about having a child, but a woman who is the hesitant one? There wasn’t even an interracial relationship in the bunch! They paired the Brazilian dude with Jennifer Lopez! Like, come on people – how obvious is that?

Bottom line: What To Expect When You’re Expecting is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Entertaining, sometimes laugh out loud funny, but you’re life doesn’t really change from seeing it… At least not as much as your body changes when that alien-cyclops-fetus begins forming inside of you and takes control of your entire being.

In honor of the upcoming Prometheus, which is an Alien prequel in case you didn’t know, I decided it would be fitting to mash up the audio of the Prometheus trailer with the visuals of the WTEWYE trailer. I call it: What To Expect When You’re Expecting Prometheus. Enjoy!-

The (Wayyy Too) Lucky One

The Lucky One (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ (3/5)
Film Rating: ★ ½ (1.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: No chance. Unless he happens to be some big Nicholas Sparks fan, in which case – tell him to call me, maybe. (Zac Efron was in that music video, right?)

I have been talking about The Lucky One (2012) since I welled up with tears the first time I saw its trailer back in January. I was convinced this movie was going to be right up there with The Notebook in my eyes. I didn’t even read the book beforehand to eliminate any “book bias” when reviewing! But perhaps I should have read it, because without doing so, I felt disconnected from the story and just completely “meh” towards the whole thing.

Now, I created this site so that chick flicks can be reviewed for what they are meant to be. And I think I have done a pretty decent job at not reviewing them as seriously as films of higher caliber, and forgiving the creative liberties they sometimes must take (a la my reviews for The Vow and This Means War). But this film really had me scratching my head at some a lot of points. So, I am going to break down The Lucky One bit by unconvincing bit. Excuse the longer length – I promise, it’ll be fun! Starting from the top…

Warning: I will spoil the entire movie for you. Even though the trailer beat me to it.

Zac Efron plays a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq, Logan Thibault. (It’s French, pronounced like Tebow. As in, Tim Tebow – which would’ve been a lot more Amurrican of a spelling, if you ask me.) The morning after a night raid, Logan finds a photograph of a pretty, blonde woman sitting in front of a lighthouse. As he examines it, an explosion goes off where Logan would have been standing had he not found the picture. He decides to keep the photo, which becomes his guardian angel – protecting him through all sorts of brutal combat. Upon returning home to his sister’s house in Colorado, he decides to make it his mission to find the woman in the photograph and thank her. After a really brief googling of lighthouses, he is able to determine that this woman lives in a small town in Louisiana. He then proceeds to take Zeus, his German Shepherd, and walk there. From Colorado.

Let’s stop there a moment. According to Wikipedia (only the most reliable source ever), there are over one thousand lighthouses in the US alone. And a lot of them look really similar! I mean, how different can 1,000 lighthouses honestly look? And whose to say this girl is American? What if she was British? There were British troops in Iraq and the UK has lighthouses too! Not to mention, she signed the back of the picture “Keep Safe. X.” And British people end everything with X’s. I worked at the BBC briefly and even my boss signed his emails to me with them… kinda creeped me out. But my point is: Americans use XO’s, and sparingly. British people use X’s, but everywhere. Wouldn’t Zac Efron at least consider all of this before hiking all the way to Louisiana?

And how ’bout that hike… Without stopping to eat, sleep, rest, and only using major highways which are illegal to walk on, Google Maps tells me that the walk from Colorado to Louisiana takes approximately 15 days, 9 hours. And that’s state line to state line. So realistically (if there is such a thing), that walk would take at least a month. Seems like an awfully long walk to find a woman that could have been on vacation when that photo was taken. And even if Logan can do the walk, there is no way that a dog who’s been house broken all his life would. I don’t care how loyal he is. My dog won’t even let me take him on the long route around our neighborhood before plopping his fat ass down and refusing to move anywhere but back in the direction towards our home. Nevertheless, Logan walks to Louisiana, stops in a bar, and shows the picture to a guy who happens to know exactly who this girl is and where she lives. Keep in mind, this is all within the first five minutes of the movie. I thought the search for her was going to a major part of it. Wouldn’t a movie about the journey a Marine takes trying to find the beautiful woman in the photograph that saved his life be so utterly romantic? Like, can someone make that movie, please?

So he goes to her home, which is also a family-run dog kennel business (so perf!), and comes face-to-face with Beth (Taylor Schilling): the woman in the photo, former wife of the town Sheriff, and mother to young Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart). Now, there would be no movie if Logan told her why he was actually there, so he chickens out and Beth mistakes him for a job applicant. He takes a job at the kennel, and the two of them develop a steamy relationship (duh) – much to the disapproval of her combative ex-husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson) who uses his power as Sheriff to threaten to take Ben away. During all this, Logan learns that Beth’s brother died in combat in Iraq, which may have been the result of friendly fire, so he decides to keep the photo a secret. That is until Keith raids his house, finds it, and convinces Beth that Logan was the friendly firer. As this all goes down, the gorgeous Louisiana weather rapidly switches to a torrential hurricane and an upset Ben runs away to his safe haven: a treehouse. (I don’t know about you – but the first thing my Momma ever told me was don’t climb a tree when its lightening.) Logan and Keith team up to save him – which they do – but the treehouse falls on Keith and his dead body floats down the river leaving Logan, Beth, and Ben to live happily ever after.

So what else bothered me about the above? Well, once I found out the photo was for her brother I was a little creeped out. It was just a weird photo for someone’s brother. If my brother went to Iraq, I’d give him a photo of the two of us as dorky kids. Or, if I was a mom like Beth, a photo of me and his nephew. Not a photo of me being all sexy in white by a lighthouse! But whatevs – I get it. Logan wouldn’t have fallen for her if he knew she came with baggage. I was also like, “What’s the big deal? Why won’t he just tell her about the photo? Doesn’t he realize any girl in her right mind would think that’s so hot?” But again, there’d be no movie if he did, so I mostly ignored it. Not a huge deal. Then there was the fact that the yummy sex scenes were marred by the art director’s bizarre choice to put one of those white, tulle princess canopy things over Logan’s bed. 8 year-old girls have those things over their beds, not US Marines! Mostly though, Keith’s death felt like a cop out (see what I did there?). Sure, he was a total psycho but that doesn’t mean he deserved to die! And what about poor Ben?! That kid’s gonna be in therapy for life knowing it’s his fault his dad got crushed to death by his treehouse. Alone, I may have forgave the ending. But combined with everything else, it was icing on the cake – and I’m talking one of those fancy Cake Boss cakes that look beautiful but taste like ass.

Now, I am perfectly aware that chick flicks should not solely be judged on how realistic they are. So since I gave this flick 3 hearts on the Chick Flick Barometer, there had to be some things I liked about it, and there were. I know Zac Efron gets panned by critics for his acting, and I was right there with them until I saw Charlie St. Cloud a couple of years back. He impressed me in that, and he continued to show promise here. Logan Thibault might not have been the most complex of roles, but I enjoyed watching him play the brooding solider who falls in love. And it certainly didn’t hurt that the role required him to heave around heavy packages of dog kibble shirtless. I never heard of Taylor Schilling before, but I really liked her as well. There is one scene where she rips Keith a new one, and she completely nails it. The entire audience broke out in applause! It was nice to see a fresh face, and I hope to see more of her on the silver screen. Blythe Danner, as always, was fantastic as Beth’s whacky Nana who says everything on her mind and got some legit laughs. Plus, every Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie adaptation is good for a few killer cheeseball lines that you can’t help but swoon over.

The Lucky One was one of those situations where giving it a “3” seems generous, but giving it a “2.5” would be too harsh. I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t necessarily watch it again. I prepared myself to cry my eyes out and I didn’t even tear up. I would normally think that’s a good thing, since I’ve been getting sick of those trademark Nicholas Sparks sad-for-the-sake-of-being-sad endings, but it means I wasn’t overly moved by the movie either. As I said, I think the story would have been stronger if it focused more on Logan’s journey to find the woman in the picture. But hey, it could have been a lot worse… Beth could’ve ended things with Logan out of nowhere to marry her skeevy, old-man of a neighbor. You know, like that other Nicholas Sparks book/movie about a US soldier in love. I’m looking at you, Dear John.

Not The Fairest Of Them All

Mirror Mirror (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ½ (2.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ (2/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Umm… not so much

I have to be honest – I always thought that Snow White kind of sucked in comparison to the other princess movies. Yeah, I know it’s a classic because it was the first cel-animated feature in motion picture history and yaddi-yadda but seriously – it’s pretty much the same exact story as Sleeping Beauty (an evil witch curses a princess to an eternal sleep that can only be cured by true love’s kiss), except Sleeping Beauty is way better. Now, before you jump all over me, let me make my case: 1) Sleeping Beauty has better hair and a better name… well, at least Aurora is better – I’m not too sure about her undercover code name, Briar Rose. 2) Snow White’s best friends are forest animals and dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty’s best friends are forest animals and fairies. And 3) even though Prince No-Name and Prince Phillip look kinda the same, Phil is hotter because not only does he have a name but he also kills the evil witch by stabbing her when she transforms into a freaking fire-breathing dragon. Prince No-Name doesn’t even kill the evil queen, the dwarfs do!

Needless to say, I was less than thrilled when I heard that 2012 would have not one but two “new takes” on Snow White. But, as I began to see trailers and clips for both versions, I actually started to get a little excited for Mirror Mirror. Whereas Snow White and the Huntsman looks dark and intense, and just not my personal cup of tea, I thought Mirror Mirror’s light-hearted and comedic approach might add some of the excitement that I miss in the Disney version. Unfortunately, the expectations I have for Snow White and the Huntsman seemed to ring true for Mirror Mirror: beautiful to look at, but a boring story with an unoriginal script.

This was one of the harder movies to rate because Mirror Mirror wasn’t necessarily awful – it just wasn’t anything special. Director Tarsem Singh created a spectacular kingdom, with sets and costumes that made my mouth water, but all the magic was lost in a script full of flat jokes and clichés. Although I think Julia Roberts is always exceptional, the material she was given to work with as a humorously insecure evil queen that we love-to-hate was hackneyed. Her vain attempts to slow down her aging body reminded me of Jennifer Coolidge’s evil stepmother in A Cinderella Story, and her childish means of entertainment (like using servants as chess figures) were practically stolen right out of Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen. Phil Collins’ daughter, Lilly Collins, made for a beautiful Snow White but, despite giving her a sword, she felt just as wimpy and oh!-so-perfect-its-annoying as the 1937 version. Seriously, I can’t really blame the Queen for wanting Snow dead… That bitch’s flawless, white skin didn’t even turn red or get goosebumps when she was exiled to the icy, cold forest in a short-sleeve dress! The dwarfs had some good lines (and sweet accordion stilts), but were mostly underused and I was kind of sad when they never burst out into a modernized rap rendition of Heigh-Ho. However, points do go to this version for not only giving the prince a name but also for having Armie Hammer play him. My only lament there is that they didn’t use the technology from The Social Network to create two of him. Yum!

Mirror Mirror definitely plays towards children, but I wouldn’t call it “fun for the whole family”. Times are a-changin’, particularly over the last few years where we have seen more and more actual heroines and less damsels-in-distress. Even my 8 year-old cousin preferred watching Katniss over Snow White this weekend! Perhaps, in that respect, Snow White and the Huntsman will actually be a pleasant surprise. K. Stew does look pretty badass in that suit of armor and – judging by the trailer – she doesn’t actually talk all that much in the movie, which is a win in my book.

And because Wrestlemania was last weekend, and the WWE Disney Princess league should probably happen at some point, I leave you with this. Whose your money on?:

One Fish, Two Fish, British Fish, Yemen Fish

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ (2/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend friendly: If he likes salmon fishing! Or the Yemen.

I have to be honest, I seriously procrastinated seeing this movie – which is unfortunate because the trailer looked cute enough. Just the title is so… blah. I mean, I wanted to see a movie called Salmon Fishing in the Yemen about as much as I want to actually go salmon fishing in the Yemen. And my desire to go salmon fishing in the Yemen falls somewhere after my desire to go crocodile hunting in the Australian Outback but before my desire to go skinny dipping in the Artic. I knew though if I waited until Hunger Games Mania kicks off on Friday, I’d never see it. So today, I saw it. And – it was pretty OK as far as movies about salmon fishing in the Yemen go. (We should make this a drinking game.)

Directed by Lasse Hallström, the film follows the odd pairing of Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), Britain’s leading fisheries expert, and Ms. Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), who works as a consultant for a Yemeni sheikh (Amr Waked) who is determined to bring the fly-fishing industry to the Arabian desert. Dr. Jones is a by-the-books gentleman who has an off-beat sense of humor, only drinks during the weekend after 7PM, and isn’t passionate for much of anything – including his marriage – besides fish. He is initially offended that the sheikh, through Ms. Chetwode-Talbot, would even propose something so preposterous. In an effort to deter the project from moving forward, Jones makes a series of grandiose demands that include access to the world’s top scientists, an enormous budget, and of course – the transportation of thousands of living salmon to the Yemen. To his chagrin, Ms. Chetwode-Talbot gets him a meeting with famed Chinese engineers, the sheikh gives a whopping £50 million to the budget, and the British Prime Minister’s fiery Press Secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) lends government support, hoping to fabricate a good-will story to improve Anglo-Arab relations. As it turns out, with just a little bit of faith and friendship, salmon fishing in the Yemen (drink!) isn’t such a ludicrous idea after all.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a light movie that confronts some heavy topics (faith, love, the environment, politics, terrorism, and war – to name a few). Unfortunately, two hours doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to go into all of them in depth and the result is a lot of unresolved feelings and having to take the writer’s word for it. As a critiquer of chick flicks, the part that was most unsettling to me was the lack of romantic chemistry between McGregor and Blunt. The platonic chemistry was definitely something that developed throughout the course of the film, and I loved watching that friendship grow, but I never truly bought that they fell in love. At least on Jones’ end it was easy to understand why he would fall in love with Ms. Chetwode-Talbot, even if I couldn’t point out exactly when he does. Blunt brings such an effortless charm, cleverness, and sophistication to the character that, of course, a man in such a dry, loveless marriage like Jones would be attracted to her. On the other hand, Harriet starts off in a brand new, hot-and-heavy relationship with a member of the British armed forces. When he goes missing in action, I was never convinced that the feelings she develops for Jones during this time are authentic, rather than a stroke of vulnerability.

Lack of romance aside, I thought Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was an enjoyable movie about friendship. The comedy was sharp and smart involving some hysterical one-liners delivered to perfection by McGregor, Blunt, and particularly Scott Thomas in a terrific supporting role as a ballbusting PR flack. Although, at times, its attempts to be political got my most exaggerated of eye rolls, it did show some interesting optimism towards Middle Eastern relations. It shouldn’t matter what part of the world we live in – we are all part of the same species. Hopefully, like the salmon, our utopia is just a little swim upstream.

Since this title just doesn’t cut it, Vote for your favorite more profitable movie idea below!

Wanderbust

Wanderlust (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ½ (1.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ½ (2.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: He’ll probably like it more.

How does one write a funny review about a movie that wasn’t all that funny?

Ok, that’s a bit unfair because A) I saw Book Of Mormon last night, and that raised the comedy bar for me by a LOT and B) Wanderlust did have some really funny moments…which were all in the trailers, clips, and TV spots. You would think that a R-rated movie would have to leave the bulk of its comedy for the movie but, apart from some male frontal nudity and Paul Rudd offering to pump Malin Akerman with his gonads, I already had seen the best of it. And I just hate when that happens!

If you somehow didn’t see one of the thousand promos that aired over the past few weeks for Wanderlust, then here’s the gist: George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) are a married couple struggling to make it in Manhattan, particularly after buying an expensive West Village studio (excuse me, “micro-loft”). George is the sole bread-winner, working at a job he hates so Linda can bounce around careers until she figures out her “major”. Things take a turn for the worse when George loses his job and HBO rejects Linda’s documentary about penguins with testicular cancer. (Now that I think about it, that HBO scene was actually great… particularly if you’ve ever pitched something to a table of execs before.) Without mulling over any other options, the two sell their apartment and roadtrip down to Atlanta, so George can work for his awful-human-of-a-brother (Ken Marino). That doesn’t last long, and the two find themselves staying overnight at Elysium Bed & Breakfast: a commune (excuse me, “intentional community”) of pot-smoking, guitar-playing, free-loving hippies. They decide to give the lifestyle a try after a night of fun with the residents, who include the senile Elysium founder, Carvin (Alan Alda), the “charming” tree-dwelling team-leader, Seth (Justin Theroux), and a nudist winemaker/author, Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio).

This is the first movie I’ve given a lower Chick Flick Rating than film rating so I am going to focus my review on that since, after all, that is the purpose of this site. Although I loved the pairing of Rudd and Aniston – and they absolutely need to do more movies together – George and Linda just never worked as a couple for me. Obviously George loved Linda very much, since he supported her through all her crazy career changes and agreed to buy the expensive apartment that made her so happy, but I never understood exactly why he loved her (besides the fact that she had Jennifer Aniston’s body, of course). Linda never convinced me that she loved George more than she loved herself, and I was really frustrated with her because of it. Perhaps it’s because Paul Rudd meets my sexy criteria in both looks and personality, thus ringing in at #3 on my Celebrity Freebie List, so I couldn’t understand how even a fictional character could find his sarcasm annoying or feel adulterous feelings towards Seth – with his unshampooed hair and gross beard. I’m also a traditionalist, so when George and Linda agreed to explore Elysium’s open relationship policy… it rubbed me the wrong way and I stopped caring about their marriage altogether. However, if there was no open-love policy, then there would’ve been no scene where Paul Rudd practiced his dirty talk (two words: erection selection) in the bathroom mirror. And that was definitely a highlight, making the ticket price at least worthwhile.

Personally, Wanderlust didn’t do it for me but it had a lot of people in my theater cracking up, so maybe I missed something? It was by no means painful to sit through, and the all star cast continued to drive the exhausted hippy jokes home throughout. I just had higher expectations – especially since I freaking loved Role Models, and this was by the same writer/director. My advice: save your cash and (if you remember) see it when it’s on Netflix. I’ll probably add it to my queue and give it another try as well.