Endless Love for Endless Love

Endless Love (2014)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend Friendly: No. But he sure as hell better take you anyway. With a notepad in hand.

I will start this review out by saying that it is exactly movies like this that made me start this site in the first place. Endless Love is currently at a 14% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 14%! That’s so low that on Valentine’s Day, I opted to see Her for the 3rd time because I didn’t want to risk being more bummed than I already was (it was my first single V-Day in 5 years, gimme a break). So instead, I dragged myself to a matinee this morning. And you know what? I loved it. Apparently, so did 67% of the Rotten Tomatoes audience – proving once again that critics need to chill the eff out and critique a romance film like a romance film. Or they don’t because, you know, I do take pride in being the voice of reason.

I have never seen the original Endless Love, nor I have read the book that the 1981 film is based off of, but I have read summaries of both and they sound really depressing. I mean, I can recognize the beauty in a solidly-written tragic love story. I am a bit of a Romeo and Juliet junkie, to the point where I’ve already picked out the brownstone future me plans to live in on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. But it is awards season, which means there are enough heavy movies out right now that sometimes you need to throw a good ole fashioned whimsical romance into the mix. Is that so awful? According to Peter Travers, yes. To me? Quite the contrary.

The trailer tells you all you need to know about the movie: “She comes from a world of privilege and power, but she’ll leave it all behind for him.” Clichéd? A bit. Melodramatic? That’s an understatement. But aren’t all romance films to a degree? Hell, aren’t ALL romances in general? I know every relationship I’ve ever been in has had its fair share of both – doubly so in the melodramatic department. Plus, I never get sick of seeing the good girl meets “wrong side of the tracks” guy story play out because, as a notorious good girl, I can say with confidence that most of us do have a hidden desire to run off with a quote/unquote bad boy. Granted, I can also say with confidence that when that does happen, it more often than not ends the way the original Endless Love does. But that story is for a different day!

Anyway, I’m not going to spend too much time on the plot because you’ve seen it rehashed a million times but Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) is a beautiful, teenage recluse whose spent her high school years locked up mourning the loss of her older brother. On the day of graduation, her classmate David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), who has been eying her for years from afar, finally gets to make his move when the Butterfields show up for dinner where he valets. He invites her for a joyride in a Maserati he’s parking, and in an instance of spontaneity she says yes (obviously while holed up at home she got the chance to watch Transformers and knew that 50 years from now, she’d want to say she had the guts to get in the car). Thus, the beginning of a glorious summer romance. The only issues are that her Dad is a total hardass/jackass who isn’t into the fact that David’s only aspiration in life is to work as a mechanic in his father’s garage and that instead of a whole summer together – they only have two weeks, because Jade’s leaving for Brown early for an internship.

The movie is chock full of darling love scenes and montages that will make you swoon (or make you really bitter… depending on your outlook on love this week), including an adorable moment where David calls the cops on a rival party going on so that all the kids there will come to Jade’s graduation party, which was formerly a no-show bust. Pettyfer does this 911 call in his legitimate British accent by the way… which, given the fact that he and Wilde are both Brits, I just don’t understand why they didn’t set the film in the UK because that would have been too hot to handle. I know some had complaints about the pair’s chemistry, but I am the self-proclaimed chemistry police and I didn’t have any issue. Pettyfer, who I didn’t care for in Magic Mike, was charming and I totally bought him as a hopeless romantic (or as Jade’s father called him a “homeless romantic”). His attraction to Jade started as a mere infatuation but I saw where that transpired into actual love (post-grad party, when he is walking on the hoods of cars like a giddy boy who just discovered masturbation). I also enjoyed seeing Jade find herself, as she grew from a closeted girl to a spontaneous woman finally ready to enjoy life. Many critics had problems with the way Wilde constantly twirled and pranced around on camera, but I challenge all of those writers to go back to the first time they experienced love and try to claim that they didn’t do the same. I mean, I remember when I got my first KISS I came home screaming and jumping up and down like a lunatic. My family rushed downstairs thinking something terrible happened. No, Gary, some guy named Alex with a car just kissed your 15 year-old daughter in your driveway. Go back to sleep.

I am so used to romance movies ending SAD and unrequited lately, that I was petrified (pettyferfried?) this would end like the film/novel it set out to remake. When everything went up in flames at the end (literally), I couldn’t help but let out a gasp and clasp my mouth in fear. But this film has a happy ending, and I was grateful for that. Endless Love is not life-changing, but it knows exactly the type of movie it is and it does it well – incorporating romance, adventure, fireworks and all of the others things I ever want into a sappy, feel-good chick flick.

Since there hasn’t been enough Ryan Gosling on screen lately, I will end with a shout-out to my new favorite website, KissingRyan.com. You’re welcome, ladies:

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Let It Go, Let It Snow, Let It Go

Frozen (2013)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend Friendly: This movie is so girl power that you won’t even want him there. Go with your sister instead so you can fight over who’s the Anna and who’s the Elsa afterwards.

As I sit here watching the Sochi Olympics, lamenting over my short-lived career as a 7 year-old figure skater where I was much more focused on the piping hot churro that I was rewarded with after every lesson than I was on landing my toe loop (can you blame me?), I figured this would be the perfect time to write a review on the pretty-surprising Disney smash Frozen.

Now, let me start off with a disclaimer: for as much as I loved it, I did have some issues with Frozen – mostly with the plot, which at times felt rushed and at other times had its holes. For this alone, I do not think it holds a candle to The Lion King, and is definitely not above Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast. BUT the animation was gorgeous, the music was uplifting, and the story was inspiring and fairly feminist as far as Disney movies go. So, it was a win in my book. Plus, I definitely shed more than my fair share of tears during the show-stopping “Let It Go”… but, more on that later.

Frozen is based off Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and when I say based I mean that, like Andersen’s fairytale, there is a fierce woman who has the ability to turn things into snow/ice and the comparisons really stop there – give or take a troll or two. But that’s okay, because truthfully that story can be a little scary and very preachy so I was good with the creative liberties that the Disney team took (No offense, Hans). Anyway, Elsa and Anna are princess sisters who live in the luscious realm of Arendelle and all is good and well except for the fact that Elsa was born with icy powers that sometimes shoot out of her unexpectedly. This can be fun when you’re doing things like transforming your banquet hall into a winter wonderland, but not so much when you accidentally strike your baby sis with a laser beam of ice. The King and Queen rush Anna to some magical trolls who heal her, but warn the King and Queen that Elsa’s powers must be controlled and that any memory that Anna has of Elsa’s powers must be erased. Cut to a bunch of years later: the King and Queen are dead (Disney HATES parents), Elsa is about to be coronated, and the two sisters haven’t had much interaction since The Ice Incident – which Anna doesn’t remember and therefore thinks Elsa is just a cold-hearted b*tch. But really, Elsa has been hiding in her bedroom in fear, wearing gloves, and trying not to freeze everything in sight. (And you thought King Midas had it bad… at least he had the power of gold, not cold.)

*Groan*. I just re-read that last sentence. Sorry guys, this is my first review in a year and a half. I’m a little rusty. Moving on…

The day of Elsa’s coronation, the castle doors open up for the first time in years and all of the teenage hormonal angst that had been building up within Anna erupts when she meets Prince Hans of Mutton Chops. Actually, he was from someplace else but I can’t remember where because I was so focused on his facial hair and being fearful for poor Anna, who must have never gotten the memo that you should never trust a man with mutton chops. Anna tells Elsa that her and Hans plan to marry, and Elsa – like any respectable older sister – tells Anna she’s crazy, shoots out some ice, and sends Arendelle into an eternal winter. The people of Arendelle accuse Elsa of being some sort of evil sorceress, so she flees to the North Mountain and Anna goes after her, leaving Hans in charge of the kingdom. Along the way, she runs into mountain man Kristoff and his BFF/pet reindeer Sven, as well as a talking snowman named Olaf who was a product of Elsa’s and has some insight as to where she went.

Although the setup of the film did have its fun moments, the writers squeezed in a lot in a short amount of time – sometimes a bit haphazardly. Within the first half hour, Elsa almost killed Anna for the first time, their parents died, Anna fell in “love,” and then Elsa almost killed Anna for a second time – exposing her powers. The film didn’t really take off for me until Elsa fled to the mountains and burst out into one of the most “Screw Everyone, I’m Awesome” songs of all time: Let It Go. I’m including it here because if you haven’t heard it yet well, what’s wrong with you? And if you have, your play count is probably in the double digits already so why not make it triple:

I love this number for so many reasons, from Idina Menzel’s powerful vocals to the fierce look Elsa gives as she slams the doors to her ice castle closed at the end. It’s an anthem for anyone who beats to their own drum and has ever felt like they had to hide it. It challenges girls everywhere to shed those obedient female stereotypes society has laid out for us and to just do our own thing. I could seriously write a whole review about just this one song. But, I won’t. From that moment on, the film really took on a life of its own. I loved the spunk that Kristen Bell brought to Anna. I loved the innocence that Josh Gad brought to Olaf: a snowman whose only wish is to feel the warmth of summer. And even though I saw the ending coming the second the trolls said “only an act of true love can cure a frozen heart,” I loved that what saved Anna in the end wasn’t her love for a man, but her love for her sister. One thing that did really bother me though was Han’s reveal as a villain. I knew it was going to happen the whole time, but I just hoped it wouldn’t. Granted, the movie needed a bad guy, but this just seemed like a cheap mechanic to use to add some drama. Plus, they named him Hans and like… poor Hans Christian Andersen who inspired the story, amiright?!

Truthfully, even though Anna was the selfless one who sacrificed herself for her sister, Elsa remains the heroine for me. Perhaps it’s because, particularly at this stage in my life, I identify more with her: a good girl/perfectionist who grows up in fear of showing her true colors until the pressures of adulthood leave her no choice but to just let it go. Elsa is my soul sister, and I thought it was really cool to see another Disney heroine with absolutely NO love interest (Brave’s Merida being the first to my knowledge). Hopefully Frozen’s box office numbers will inspire Disney to make more movies about fearless heroines who don’t need no man to legitimize their awesomeness.

To end, here’s a throwback to my figure skating days. I’m the one in green with the churro gut:

Aw, shucks! I totally forgot to fit in a Polar Vortex/Disney marketing scheme joke somewhere… Too easy.

The Chick Flick Critic Is Back!

Hello! So, I haven’t made a review on here since the colossal flop that was Rock of Ages. Mostly this was because in July 2012, I left the freelance world and started a full-time job at a television network which has been totally awesome, yet time consuming. (UGH, total cop-out I know!) But additionally, there was kind of a lull in the chick flick market. There were months and months where none would come out, and then one would and it’d be awful, even by MY standards. Every time I went to start a new review, I’d get uninspired and it’d just sit in my draft box (I promise one day I will publish these as they are because the sporadic train of ridiculous thought I wrote down for a post called “Tragic Mike” is something really special). With the exception of Pitch Perfect – which WAS perfect – I really can’t think of another chick flick that I truly LOVED from August 2012 to November 2013.

And then something beautiful happened. Something I have decided to dub “The Renaissance of The Chick Flick”. Within a span of a few weeks, Hollywood decided to bless us with a handful of seriously solid chick flicks (Her, Catching Fire, and Frozen to name a few)! Even the ones that weren’t perfect, were still enjoyable… like About Time. Anyway, I began to feel left out of my own party and made it a resolution to start this site back up. In addition to reviewing new films, I will also retroactively go back and review some that I missed in my break (like Pitch Perfect), as well as some older ones that are just classics. Because why not?

So stay tuned ladies! Missed ya!

Snow White and the Hunksman

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ½ (3.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ (3.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Just tell him that you’re going to see “that new movie with Thor”. You won’t be lying, and he’ll think you’re going to The Avengers for the 9th time.

I already went into a rant about how lame of a princess Snow White is in my review of Mirror Mirror, so I won’t dwell on that any longer (although I will point out that Disney World must have had a reason for taking down Snow White’s Scary Adventure this May). Therefore, it should be no surprise that I had zero desire to sit through another disastrous attempt at remaking an already mediocre story – and judging by the drab three minute trailer that just did not appeal to me at all, I was certain this would be just that. But I knew I had to see it for the purposes of this blog, so I dragged myself out of bed this morning to catch an 11:30AM showing ($4 movie tix before noon, yo!) and by, George, I think I liked it!

Snow White and the Huntsman closely follows the well-known tale (evil queen obsessed with beauty, talking mirror, poisonous apple, seven dwarfs) but adds a few welcome additions (sexy huntsman, intense battle sequences, evil queen back story). Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is an evil sorceress with some serious Daddy issues. She has a nasty habit of feeding from attractive women to sustain her own beauty, seducing powerful men with said beauty, then killing them and taking over their kingdoms. Unfortunately Snow’s father, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), is no exception. For reasons we never really understand, Ravenna decides to spare her pretty, young step-daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart), and locks her up in a high tower. Years later, however, her magic mirror reveals that Snow’s beating heart is the one thing keeping Ravenna from immortality. She sends her brother to retrieve Snow from her prison cell, but Snow pulls the ole stab-him-in-the-eye-with-a-rusty-nail trick and escapes. Moral of the story: Never send a man to do a woman’s job. Snow makes a break for the eerie Dark Forest, where the Evil Queen’s powers are useless. Ravenna hires the only Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) who has been to the Forest (and lived to tell the tale) to chase after her. He finds Snow in like 3 seconds flat, but is so struck by her beauty and kindness that he decides to switch sides and help her in her journey to find Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan), an old friend of her father, and his son William (Sam Claflin), her childhood bestie. With all of her new allies, including a band of dwarfs led by Bob Hoskins, a revolt is planned to claim Snow’s rightful throne.

Let me start out by stating the obvious: Charlize Theron was absolutely magnificent as Ravenna. Her Evil Queen was dark and, of course, evil but also very complex. She wasn’t just evil for evil’s sake, like the Queen in the original Snow White or in Mirror Mirror. There is a good reason she is so full of hate, and at times I truly felt sorry for her. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want Snow to completely kick her ass in the end. Chris Hemsworth also surprised as the hunksman huntsman ’cause I have to be honest: Thor just does not do it for me. I guess I prefer the superheroes who make their own power, like Iron Man and Batman, which is no fault of Chris Hemsworth, but I definitely preferred him here as the brooding huntsman who drinks just a little too much but always steps in at a clutch moment. He also was the only one with any sort of funny lines in a movie that could have used just a tad more comic relief. And K. Stew was actually tolerable in the title role. Her accent went in and out, but she did a good job at making Snow pretty resourceful and kind of badass. Think Katniss, not dainty princess. She also wasn’t required to smile until the last two seconds, so that must have made it a bit easier for her.

The costumes were completely stunning. I loved every single item that Ravenna wore, from her beaded gold dresses to her cloak made of raven’s feathers, and Colleen Atwood’s homage to the original Snow White costume – little hints of red in the sleeves of Snow’s dress – made me smile. Rupert Sanders also created a fantastical world, complete with a petrifying Dark Forest, some interesting-looking fairies (they look like the killer aliens from Galaxy Quest!), and some scary-ass evil soldiers who form out of shards of black glass. It surprises me to say that this movie was more faithful to the original story than Mirror Mirror, and every addition or change was carefully thought out and welcomed (including a twist to the classic poisoned apple scene and a LOVE TRIANGLE, which every half-decent movie with Kristen Stewart apparently needs). Don’t be fooled though: this is not a “fun for the whole family” fairy tale and the little kid in my theater who sobbed throughout the entire Dark Forest scene is proof.

Of course, there were problems. The movie dragged considerably in the middle, and it seemed like Sanders began slipping things in just so he had an excuse to play with some fancy CGI. There is one too many fight sequences, and a scene with a white deer who has abnormally large antlers that could have just been cut out and no one would’ve known the diff. It also raised a lot of unanswered questions: Wouldn’t Snow be a little unstable after being held captive all those years? If the Evil Queen hates men so much, why isn’t she a bit more compassionate towards women? And for Christ’s sake, why were Stewart and Hemsworth the only two soldiers without protective helmets in the final battle scene? I thought it was supposed to be safety, not sexy, first!

Honestly, this might just be the “fairest” of all the Snow White movies. That’s a bold claim though, because I don’t think I’ve actually seen the original Snow White since that time I was 5 and I tried to make the well in our backyard garden talk back to me, like she does in the beginning, and I fell down it and cut up my leg pretty badly. True story. Anyway, I still think the Snow White story kinda sucks and I am much more excited for Maleficient: the live-action take on Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie due out in 2014.

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!-

First Impressions: Think Like A Man vs. The 5 Year Engagement

Since I saw Think Like A Man and The Five Year Engagement back to back – and since both have Kevin Hart in the cast, underlying motifs about baked goods, and aspiring chefs who open up a food truck in the midst of heartbreak – I decided that smushing the two into one review would be appropriate.

First up…

Think Like A Man (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ½ (2.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: The title and predominantly male cast will make it hard for him to realize you tricked him into seeing a chick flick.

In a world where women are cursed with longer bathrooms lines, our “monthly friend”, and the joy of pushing babies out of our vaginas (seriously?), female intuition is the one thing we’ve always had going for us. So why would any woman want to “think like a man”? That was my first thought when I saw the trailer a few months back, and I walked into the theater ready to sit through a misogynistic movie that encouraged girls to modify their values in order to get a guy. Instead, I was pleased to find that, like dating, first impressions can be deceiving…

Based on the actual dating advice book by Steve Harvey (seriously?), Think Like A Man is an ensemble comedy about four different types of men boys whose girlfriends begin taking the advice from Harvey’s book to heart and turn the tables on the relationship. When the guys catch on, and realize that Harvey has betrayed the sacred bro code by revealing their secrets to women worldwide, they decide to use the book to their advantage by planning a counterattack. Of course, this backfires and the women end up with exactly what they wanted. Like I said, female intuition is a force you just can’t mess with. Zeke (Romany Malco) is a player, who is determined to get into the pants of Mya (Meagan Good)… little does he know she’s just as determined to wait 90 days before giving him “her cookie” (seriously?). Michael (Terrence J. Corwley) doesn’t skip a Sunday dinner with his Momma and still has her do his laundry – much to the dismay of his single-mother girlfriend Candace (Regina Hall), who is sick of being number two in his life. Dominic (Michael Ealy) is a waiter/valet parker/aspiring chef whose relationship with Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), a COO of a Fortune 500 company, is based on the illusion that he drives a Lamborghini. Turtle – I mean Jerry Ferrara – plays Jeremy, a frat boy who graduated years ago and still won’t propose to his breadwinning college girlfriend, Kristen (Gabrielle Union). However, it is Gary Owen and Kevin Hart who steal the show in supporting roles as their friends. Owen plays Bennett, the token white guy of the bunch who is actually happily married and damn proud of it. Hart plays new and bitter divorcée Cedric, who is determined to get over his ex-wife (Wendy Williams), either by hitting the strip club… or Michael’s mom. And even though I hate to say it, because I despise him with every fiber of my being, Chris Brown also has a hysterical cameo role as a former one night stand of Mya’s, who she runs into everywhere. Guess playing an asshole wasn’t that far of a stretch for him, huh?

Though a little long (2 hours!) and very predictable, there are more than enough laughs that make up for all of the film’s faults. (Generally it’s a good sign for me when parts that made me laugh in the trailer still make me laugh in the theater.) I was also relieved that I never felt like the women were actually “thinking like a man” – to me, they were actually thinking in a very calculated way that only a woman could think, and I was pleased that they never had to change who they were/settle for anything less than what they deserved in order to be happy in love. However, I would highly NOT recommend seeing this if you expect to come out of it with any sort of new insight into the male brain. Something tells me that asking a guy what his short-term and long-term goals are on the first date, or inviting him up for a “night cap” and only giving him a cup of coffee, won’t go as well in real life as it did in this movie. Nice try Steve-o, but I’ll stick to Cosmo.

Sidenote: Can someone please start giving Michael Ealy’s sexy blue eyes their own line in the credits?

Moving on to…

The Five Year Engagement (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ (3/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Humor you can both enjoy. Unless you’ve been (im)patiently waiting for him to pop that question… then do everything in your power to make sure he doesn’t ever see this movie. Ever.

It was love at first one-sheet sight for me and The Five Year Engagement. Emily Blunt’s cake-filled mouth and Jason Segel’s tux-under-bathrobe attire still manages to squeeze a smile outta me every single time I see it. However, an itty bitty voice inside my head kept telling me to be skeptical and not fall too hard. Sure, it was written by and stars Jason Segel – the man behind one of my absolute favorite movies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and the man who makes up 50% of my all-time favorite fictional couple (Marshmallow and Lilypad!). But there was something about the premise that always irked me. Why would moving to Michigan mean you’d have to delay your wedding by five years? One or two years while you get settled – sure. But five?! I’ve known people who’ve had super long engagements, but it’s usually for logistical reasons, like the reception hall the bride-to-be’s been dreaming of since she was a little girl is booked for the next 3 years or that her sister got engaged at the same time and she wants her own separate year to be a “Princess Bride”. Having to postpone tying the knot because you move to Michigan and the relationship gets a little rocky? Well, that has me wondering if the couple should even get married in the first place…

The Five Year Engagement starts off where most romcoms end. Tom (Segel) proposes to his girlfriend of exactly one year, Violet (Blunt), on the rooftop of the San Fran restaurant where he works as a sous chef, while fireworks go off ringing in the new year. She accepts and engagement parties and pre-wedding bliss ensue… until Violet receives an acceptance letter inviting her to participate in a two-year post-doctoral psychology program at the University of Michigan. Tom is supportive, saying he can cook anywhere, so the two say goodbye to the Bay Area and head to the snowy North. Only the adjustment isn’t as easy for Tom as he thought it’d be. While Violet’s career blossoms, attracting special attention from the Professor she works under, Tom gets a job making deli sandwiches on College Row. Wedding plans continue to loom farther and farther on the horizon, particularly as Violet’s program gets extended a few years and as Tom becomes complacent hunting in the wilderness, wearing dopey hand-knit sweaters, and sporting an uneven beard. The major blow to the relationship comes when Tom eats part of Violet’s psychology experiment – a stale doughnut.

It was interesting to see this movie with my younger sister, who is my polar opposite, because we both picked different sides. I have always been very driven with a “career first, love after” mindset and eloping sounds more appealing to me than dealing with the madness of a wedding, whereas my sister came out of the womb wearing a tiara and is positive that Kate Middleton’s special day won’t hold a candle to hers. So it makes sense that I was very sympathetic towards Violet, who was trying to follow her dream, and that my sister was sympathetic towards Tom, who was trying to follow his heart. In fact, my sister and I got into a very heated debate after the movie over this. I felt that Tom never even tried to make himself happy there for her, and that he was a sulky cry baby about everything. Take the deli job and then keep looking! There’s gotta be a fancier restaurant somewhere in the state of Michigan! It also bothered me that he was never honest with her about his feelings – she asked him a countless number of times if he was unhappy and he always lied, which caused him to lash out in passive-aggressive ways via repulsive beards and deerskin mugs instead of trying to fix the problem like an adult. Sissy on the other hand was very aggravated by Violet’s selfish and insensitive attitude, believing that she knew Tom was unhappy there but never wanted to admit it to herself because then she would have to make compromises. Instead of trying to help her fiancée adapt, she complained about him to her Professor – who interpreted it as a call for help. In the end, we both agreed that the characters really were not compatible for one another and that the only reason we were rooting for them to end up together was because of the adorable charm each actor brought to them.

What The Five Year Engagement lacked in romance, it made up in laughs. There were some really, really funny parts. Chris Pratt – who, if you remember, got his start on angsty teen dramas like Everwood and The O.C. – has really proven his comedic chops lately: first on Parks and Rec, and now here as Alex, Tom’s obnoxious-in-a-fantastic-way BFF. Alex’s parody of We Didn’t Start The Fire, which was sampled in the trailer, is only one of two amazing song performances he has in the film. The other is a sincere, full-out rendition of Cucurrucucu Paloma, dedicated to his shot-gun bride and Violet’s sister, Suzie (Alison Brie/Mrs. Pete Campbell). In all honesty, it has Grammy potential. If Alex’s singing steals the first half of the movie, then it is Suzie and Violet’s conversation using Elmo and Cookie Monster voices at the request of Suzie’s daughter that steals the second half. Come to think of it, I think that the coupling of Pratt and Brie is what made the entire movie for me, and I kinda think Segel should consider writing a spin-off about them a la Get Him To The Greek.

When The Five Year Engagement was funny – it was funny. But when it wasn’t, it was sad and depressing and dragged. I know Segel wrote it, but I almost wish John Krasinski, Blunt’s real-life husband, had played the part of Tom instead. He could have definitely pulled the role off just as well, and then perhaps there would’ve been more chemistry. I really do adore Emily Blunt but this is the second movie I’ve seen of hers in a row where the on-screen chemistry just was not there (See: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)! I wonder if that is mere coincidence, or if it is a problem we are going to see more of…

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You probably won’t get this unless you’ve seen both movies but…
                           “When Sesame Street Meets Think Like A Man”

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.