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.

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…

                                                                   * * *

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

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!

Bridesmaids with Babies

Friends with Kids (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ½ (3.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ (3.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: He’ll get a kick out of the monogamous “woe is me” males. But he’ll also probably return that engagement ring.

In a world where the divorce rate is at 50%, a baby can be conceived in a test tube, and chivalry is so dead that today – in a subway car full of men in suits – I was the one that gave up my seat to a pregnant woman, why bother with the all traditional bullshit?

In Friends with Kids, Julie Keller (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason Fryman (Adam Scott) are two single, thirtysomething Manhattanites who decide to fuck tradition (figuratively, but also kind of literally). Julie is perfectly content at being mediocre: she has good hair, can pull the rest together, and has a decent job with a nice boss. Jason comes from money, really enjoys his sex life, and likes to play a game where you have to pick one out of two terrible would-you-rather situations. BFFs since the college days, the two are dumbfounded when they discover their married-with-children friends (aka the entire cast of Bridesmaids – Maya Rudolph & Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig & Jon Hamm), who were once so hot and heavy they’d have quickies in restaurant bathrooms, are now resentful, spiteful and only have sex once a month (if it’s a good month). On the endless journey back from visiting the couples in Guam Brooklyn, Jason jokes that divorced people who remarry have it great: they only have to take care of a kid 50% of the time, so the other 50% can be spent intimately with the one they’re meant to be with. When Julie agrees, he takes the joke further saying that they should have a kid together and split custody. After all – not only are they best friends with nothing but platonic feelings for one another, but they live in the same apartment building. 9 months after some awkward, almost-incestuous-feeling sex – Joseph Keller-Fryman is born.

The concept behind this movie isn’t groundbreaking by any means – especially given the last few years in rom-com world (i.e. The Switch, The Back-Up Plan, Life As We Know It). But this is the first time it’s been done by someone as wickedly sharp and funny as Jennifer Westfeldt – who not only starred in this, but also wrote and directed it. With a smart script that was able to make me want both things (for the arrangement to work and for Julie & Jason to end up together), and an all-star cast that she was able to nab through the connections of her longtime, real-life lover Jon Hamm, the idea of having a kid with someone you’re not in a relationship with felt… well, genius.

Of course, as it turns out, life with a kid isn’t all that much sexier just because you’re single. Little Joe can have a diarrhea attack at any moment, and he won’t hold it back just because Megan Fox is in the next room waiting to bang your brains out. And, as Ben (Hamm) points out in a drunken tirade that is spot-on though spurned from jealousy, what do you tell Joe when he’s older and finds out Mommy and Daddy never loved each other? Jason and Julie think they have all the answers, but soon Joe is close to 2 and throwing a heartbreaking tantrum because he wants Daddy to stay the night.

Friends with Kids is a great romantic comedy (with the perfect combination of both) and I highly recommend it, as it acts like an unofficial, more mature sequel to Bridesmaids. It skips all the conventional “honeymoon bliss” and cuts right to the core of a relationship. When there’s not enough time to have shower sex every morning, what else is there to hold it together? Friends with Kids will never be a classic because it is just slightly too familiar, slightly too smart, and slightly too painfully honest at times. The 3.5 rating comes mostly from the last five minutes of the film, which tries to be edgy with an indelicate “I Love You” speech by Jason that uses my favorite four letter word when it just isn’t appropriate. Westfeldt does give us the happy ending though, and in some twisted way it seems that their crazy idea inevitably worked out. Baby first, love story after.

And now I leave you with a link to Chick Flick Critic’s Jason-Fryman-Inspired “Would You Rather” Quiz. Have fun!

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.