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!

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This Means War

This Means War (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ½ (3.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ (2/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Yes! Lots of explosions & your guy def had a dude-crush on Tom Hardy in Inception.

If a deadly terrorist with a German(?) accent had you at gunpoint… would you choose to spend the rest of your life making steamy, hot lovin’ with Tom Hardy (devilishly handsome, British) or Chris Pine (blue-eyed beauty, flawless complexion)?

Unfortunately poor Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon) has just that very problem! Struggling to get back in the game after catching her long-term boyfriend doing the nasty with a pilates instructor, Lauren’s best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) makes her one helluva online dating profile. Within seconds, “travel agent” and single FILF, Tuck (Hardy), messages her and they have a casual but chemistry-flared first date. But for whatever reason the date ends by, like, 4PM (judging by my internal sundial), so Lauren stops to rent a movie on her way home. It just so happens, this video store is frequented by ladies man FDR (Pine), who hangs there to prey on single women. (Perhaps FDR should’ve had the initials “JFK” instead?) Of course, Lauren doesn’t fall for his suave shtick, and he’s all the more into her because of it. Since Lauren’s a top product tester for a consumer magazine, deciding between the two should be no problemo. But what she doesn’t know is that Tuck and FDR are BFFs/CIA partners…and they’ve declared war over her.

Now, before I go any further, I have to ask two questions:
1) Can someone find me the dating site that has one guy as perfect as Tom Hardy?
Cause generally IF they do happen to actually look as hot as their profile photo portrays (which is a less than 1% chance), then they have a major personality flaw, like severe anger management issues. Not that I speak from experience or anything…
2) Are video rental stores even around anymore?! I know this script was written 10 years ago, but doesn’t every script go through re-writes? There wasn’t ONE other place Lauren and FDR could have met? Cause even if there is one store left somewhere, I’m pretty sure a top product tester like Lauren would know that Netflix is the better only way to rent.

Those logistics aside, I did enjoy watching This Means War. It aimed to strike the same chords as Charlie’s Angels, another McG directed chick flick. Although not as successful, it certainly had its fair share of action-packed thrills, laughs, and cheesy romance. Were there a ton of plot holes? Of course. Did I see the ending coming from a mile away? Sure did. Did Tuck and FDR destroy an entire restaurant during a fight, but somehow the managers/patrons disappeared into thin air? Um, yes. So why was I able to enjoy This Means War when I hated the similar One For The Money? Easy: the acting. With a different cast, this movie could’ve been a complete fail. But these actors have fun with their roles and create hysterical chemistry between Lauren/Tuck, Lauren/FDR, Trish/her cheeto-eating husband, and of course, the Tuck/FDR bromance. Tuck & FDR’s attempts to win over Lauren are creepy but in a pathetically endearing and AWESOME way, requiring FDR to rescue an “old bastard of a dog”, Tuck to whoop a little kid’s ass in paintball, and for both of them to take severe liberties with the Patriot Act.

Sometimes it’s nice to go to a movie you can just enjoy and not think too hard about. So I recommend seeing This Means War in theaters when you need a little break from real life. In the meantime, comment below and let me know who you would choose! I’m Team Tom. Yes, obviously because he’s British. But also because I have a bit of a personal vendetta against Chris Pine after he replaced Robert Schwartzman in The Princess Diaries 2. I never fully recovered from that sequel…

American Girls Are Sneaky Bitches

W./E. (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ (3/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend friendly: You’ll enjoy it more without him looking up basketball scores on his iPhone.

I’ve always been intrigued by the love story of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII. I first heard about them in a 6th grade World History class, where I was still clinging to the whole “Princess Dream”. (To my credit, this was wayyy before Prince William started to go bald and the same year that The Princess Diaries came out – so not my fault). I was instantly fascinated by Wallis. She was just an average, American woman who captured the heart of a Prince so heavily that he abdicated the throne and lived in exile just so he could marry her. Sheesh! How dreamy is THAT? And hey – if she could do it, then surely that meant that I could marry a Prince one day too… or at least Aaron Carter.

If you didn’t learn about Wallis & Edward in school, then you probably recognize them as minor, rather unlikable, characters in The Weinstein Company’s Academy Award winning film, The King’s Speech, about Prince Edward’s younger brother who took the throne following Edward’s abdication. But there are two sides to every story, so this year the Weinstein bros decided to show another perspective. And who better to direct a film about a highly scandalous American woman with British infatuations than Madonna?

Now, our Madge has never been one to take the easy route. So, if you think tackling the “greatest romance of the century” was enough for her, you’re mistaken. W./E. instead weaves together two women: Wallis Simpson, who had to find a Prince before she could find love, and Wally Winthrop, who seemingly found the Prince but is missing the love story. Wally’s story is set in 1998 Manhattan, where she feeds her obsession with her namesake during a Sotheby’s auction of Wallis and Edward’s estate. The film plays a bit of show and tell: Wally examines Wallis’ possessions, like her Cartier diamond bracelet, and envisions what happened – where Edward gave it to Wallis, how she reacted. Eventually Wally’s daydreaming leads to actual conversations with Wallis’ spirit, who explains that Edward wasn’t the only one who had to make sacrifices for love. Wallis, too, had to say goodbye to things dear to her, such as her privacy and acceptance.

Andrea Riseborough is breathtaking as Wallis Simpson, and it is easy to understand how Prince Edward (or David, as he is known by close friends) becomes so smitten with her. Between her witty banter, piercing blue eyes, swinging hips, and “I-couldn’t-careless-that-you’re-a-Prince” façade… I couldn’t help but feel seduced by her as well. History books portray her as the villain: a gold-digging, twice divorcée who selfishly changed the course of British history. But in W./E., Wallis is the victim. At one point, she even tries to end the romance to save the royal family humiliation. But Edward refuses to go forward as King without her. After all, what’s a King without the woman he loves by his side?

Everything about the Wallis & Edward story is so perfect – from the beautiful camera movements to the majestic set design – that I resented the other half of the movie for being there. Abbie Cornish is a phenomenal actress, but here, as a battered trophy wife, she was underwhelming. Her one-dimensional Wally Winthrop doesn’t stand a fighting chance against the multidimensional Wallis Simpson. Even if looking at the handsome Oscar Isaac as Evgeni, a Sotheby’s security guard who flirts with Wally, wasn’t exactly punishment, this part of the movie was certainly less strong. Perhaps even unnecessary.

Despite that, I truly enjoyed W./E. and I feel it’s worth seeing in theaters if you enjoy a good romance. Yes, it’s getting panned by critics but that’s exactly the reason I started this website. The film absolutely has its flaws, but there is something beautiful about an imperfect film about imperfect people. I also believe if Madonna’s name wasn’t attached, critics may have been a bit more sympathetic towards it. If I learned anything from W./E., it’s that you can’t help who you fall in love with, and I couldn’t help falling for this film.