Monday, April 9, 2012

John Tucker Must Die (2006)

Director: Betty Thomas (1)

Cast: Brittany Snow (2), Jesse Metcalfe (3), Penn Badgley (4), Sophia Bush (5), Arielle Kebbel (6), Ashanti (7)

"It's not you, it's me. You are the girl I want to marry, but right now, I'm too young and I don't wanna be tied down. I want to spread my wings and fly, I want to experience life before I settle down." How many of you (girls) have heard a line like this or some derivative of this line? Well, it happens a lot. And to all kinds of women, and sometimes to men too. I guess when you're in high school or when you can blame your youth for all the stupid things you say and do, this breakup line has been used more than once or twice. You could get mad, or get even with guys (or girls) like this, but would you? Really?

I agree with what the younger Tucker played by Penn Badgley said. Girls know that John Tucker is a player, and yet they still fall head over heels for him. Are they asking for it? Well, I hate to be a bitch, but I think so. If they did not know what he was like in the first place, then yes, I'd say the guy was at fault. But if the girl knew what he was like and still blindly went into a relationship with the guy, then the fault cannot lie solely on the guy isn't it? Maybe they thought he would change for them, or that they were special enough that a player like John Tucker would change for them. Well, the Chinese have a saying: 男人不坏, 女人不愛 (If a man is not a bad boy, the woman would not fall in love with him). And sometimes I agree with the statement. Some women do make it hard on themselves and fall for the bad boy types. 

But still, this is a fun film with a simple and straightforward premise. The cast may not all look at all like high school students, but hey, that's Hollywood for you I guess. The antics are cute if not crude, but it gets the idea across. The acting, well, I think Brittany Snow did more than a decent job playing Kate. She struck a good balance between sweet and innocent vs. sultry and vindictive. The three vindictive masterminds of the 'John Tucker Must Die' operation play their individuals roles well and when the four females get together to plot their evil plans, I do feel like they are kindred spirits pushed together by the fates. Jesse Metcalfe is good looking and he played his character well enough for the story to move along. Although I cringe a little every time he comes onto the screen. There's something about his acting in the film that I didn't quite buy. Playing his younger brother Penn Badgley did not look at all like the younger brother. Or maybe my wires got crossed and Jesse is supposed to be the younger brother. Either way, throughout the film, I heard more than I saw or felt their brotherly relationship, which really isn't good, cos with film, you show not tell. Anyway, I think the brother's did not have any chemistry to speak of. At the very least, the only "successful" relationship in the film, between Brittany and Penn, was done well enough to make their sub-plot believable.

The bottom line is, I enjoyed the film although I feel I wasn't drawn in or invested in the characters in the film.  Which is a pity because John Tucker Must Die could have done better for itself but it fell flat in the end and left me unsatisfied.

(1) Director Betty Thomas has directed films like Dr. Dolittle (1998), 28 Days (2000) and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009)

(2) Brittany Snow has acted in films like The Pacifier (2005), Hairspray (2007), Finding Amanda (2008), Pitch Perfect (2012), 2and Syrup (2013). She also played Margaret "Meg" Pryor in the television series American Dreams (2002-2005) and has guest starred in series like Nip/Tuck, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Gossip Girl, Mad Love, and Ben & Kate. 

(3) Jesse Metcalfe has acted in the television series Desperate Housewives (2004-2009)

(4) Penn Badgley has acted in films like The Stepfather (2009) and Easy A (2010), but he's known for his role as Daniel "Dan" Humphrey in Gossip Girl (2007-Present)

(5) Sophia Bush has acted in films like Van Wilder (2002) and Chalet Girl (2011), but she is known for her role as Brooke Davis Baker in One Tree Hill (2003-2012)

(6) Arielle Kebbel has acted in films like American Pie Presents: Band Camp (2005), Dirty Deeds (2005), Aquamarine (2006)Vampires Suck! (2010), and Think Like A Man (2012). She has also guest starred in shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Gilmore Girls, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Entourage, CSI: Miami, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Life Unexpected, 90210, and Hawaii Five-0. 

(7) Ashanti  is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer, actress, and model who has acted in films like Coach Carter (2005) and had a cameo appearance in the film Bride and Prejudice (2004)

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks… John Tucker Must Die is a film with a lot of fun, but without much heart. It has the potential to send a strong message that revenge is not healthy for the soul, but doesn't quite deliver the goods. It tries to send a positive message of what true friendship should be about but it doesn't get much airtime to do a proper job of that. (2.5 of 5)

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

50 First Dates (2004)

Director: Peter Segal (1)

Cast: Drew Barrymore (2), Adam Sandler (3). Rob Schneider (4), Sean Astin (5), Dan Aykryod (6), Blake Clark (7)

My favourite quote - "You erased me from your memories because you thought you were holding me back from having a full and happy life. But you made a mistake. Being with you is the only way I could have a full and happy life. You're the girl of my dreams, and apparently I'm the man of yours."

(Watch the trailer)

The first time I watched 50 First Dates I.... I.... (sigh) I can't remember how I felt about 50 First Dates, the first time I watched it. But I think I liked it. Cos I bought the DVD and then the blu ray when it was released. So I must have liked it. Its like that isn't it. Sometimes, the first time is special. And sometimes its just so-so. Its sad though. That we don't treasure every moment that we have. Or that sometimes, we don't live life like its the first time. Children are so innocent and inquisitive because they relish every moment and every thing that happens to them simply because it is the first time they experience it. If we approach every day of our lives like its a new day, with new possibilities, a day of many firsts so to speak, maybe we'd be happier and more appreciative of everything around us.

What if we were Lucy? That each day we'd have a brand new day with no memory of what happened the day before. It doesn't matter if an illness like this actually exists or not. Suspend your logical mind and believe that something like this could happen in real life. You will enjoy this movie if you do.

I cried a little when re-watching this film. I was really touched by the efforts of Adam Sandler's Henry and saddened by the situation and circumstance of Drew Barrymore's Lucy. I think the film also teaches you to be grateful for what you have in your life. No matter how bad your life seems to be right now, there's always someone out there who is either experiencing the same thing as you or there's someone who could be worse off that you (read: 10 second Tom). Ignorance is bliss - maybe. But I agree with Dawna Markova:

“I will not die an unlived life. 
I will not live in fear 
of falling or catching fire. 
I choose to inhabit my days, 
to allow my living to open me, 
to make me less afraid, 
more accessible; 
to loosen my heart 
until it becomes a wing, 
a torch, a promise. 
I choose to risk my significance, 
to live so that which came to me as seed 
goes to the next as blossom, 
and that which came to me as blossom, 
goes on as fruit.” 
― Dawna MarkovaI Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion

I'd rather experience life to the fullest with all its good and bad, than to live an unlived life. If I were to become like Lucy, I hope that I would know the truth, and to learn to try and cope with it. Rather than to be at a standstill at that point in life. But that's just me. Perhaps some people would think that Lucy's dad and brother, wonderfully played by Sean Astin and Blake Clark, is doing the right thing by re-enacting each day to save her from the hurt and pain of having to remember what she's lost. But to each his own right.

The comedy in 50 First Dates sometimes come across as 'trying too hard' but overall I really loved the film and I laughed out loud, very loudly might I add, at many parts of the film. Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler's on-screen chemistry is not the best pairing of hers I've ever seen, but they made it believable. I should watch The Wedding Singer to check out their on-screen chemistry there. Nonetheless, I believed they fell in love and they did make me fall in love with their story, and the film. And even though Dan Aykroyd's part in the file is very small, he hit all the right notes in my books. Roy Schneider's Ula was rather annoying and over the top, but he did contribute to the comedy I enjoyed in the film. I may not have enjoyed all his antics, but I have to concede that he is a fantastic actor!

(1) Director Peter Segal has directed films like Anger Management (2003), The Longest Yard (2005) and Get Smart (2008)

(2) Drew Barrymore has acted in films like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Firestarter (1984), Poison Ivy (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Scream (1996), The Wedding Singer (1998), Ever After (1998), Never Been Kissed (1999), Charlie's Angels (2000), Donnie Darko (2001), Riding In Cars With Boys (2001), Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002), Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Duplex (2003), Fever Pitch (2005), Music And Lyrics (2007), Lucky You (2007), He's Just Not That Into You (2009), Whip It (2009), Going The Distance (2010) and Big Miracle (2012). She also did voice work on the animations Titan A.E. (2000), Curious George (2006).

(3) Adam Sandler has acted in films like Happy Gilmore (1996), The Wedding Singer (1998), The Waterboy (1998), Big Daddy (1999), Little Nicky (2000), The Hot Chick (2002), Anger Management (2003),  The Longest Yard (2005), Click (2006), I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry (2007), Bedtime Stories (2008), Funny People (2009), Grown Ups (2010), Just Go With It (2011), and was a voice actor in movies like Zookeeper (2011) and Hotel Transylvania (2012).

(4) Rob Schneider has acted in films like Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), The Waterboy (1998), Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999), Big Daddy (1999), Little Nicky (2000), The Hot Chick (2002), Around the World in 80 Days (2004), The Longest Yard (2005), Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005), Click (2006), I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry (2007), Bedtime Stories (2008) and  Grown Ups (2010)

(5) Sean Astin has acted in films like The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and Click (2006)

(6) Dan Aykryod has acted in films like Ghostbusters (1984), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Ghostbusters 2 (1989), My Girl (1991), Mr Girl 2 (1994), Casper (1995), Pearl Harbor (2001), Crossroads (2002), I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry (2007) and was the voice of Yogi Bear, in the film Yogi Bear (2010). 

(7) Blake Clark has acted in films like The Waterboy (1998), Little Nicky (2000), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry (2007), Get Smart (2008), Bedtime Stories (2008), Grown Ups (2010) and was a voice actor in the film Rango (2011).

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks… 50 First Dates, is a feel-good movie with a great cast, a great story, and a message that everyone should truly reflect upon. Ask yourself, do you appreciate every little detail in your life? Good or bad? This film will remind you to stop and really, REALLY, smell the pineapple. (4.5 of 5)

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Untamed Heart (1993)

Directed by Tony Bill (1)

Cast: Christian Slater (2) and Marisa Tomei (3)

My favourite quotes - "He doesn't make sense, I don't make sense, together we make sense.", "He was like an angel you know? I never knew life could be like that. He was the one thing I followed through in my life, the one thing I didn't give up on. I was good at loving him.", & "You are my peace.".

Romantics always talk about ‘The One’. But does the elusive Mr Right or Ms Right really exist? Untamed Heart takes the stand that your Mr or Miss Right does exist. Marisa Tomei’s character has the worst luck with men but found love in an unexpected manner and with someone she would never consider if not for the unusual circumstances. 

The pace of the film seems a little slow at times, but it slowly but surely creeps its way into your heart and will make you think about its message and feel what the leads are going through. The chemistry between the two leads helps move the story along as well. It’s the kind of film that makes you go ‘Awww.. I want a man like that for myself’. But Adam (4) played by the very talented Christian Slater actually isn’t an easy man to love and be with because of his extreme shy nature and his awkward and strange ways. However, I think he was well matched with the easy-going and too-kind girl played by Marisa Tomei.

I don’t know if you’d agree with me, but I am of the opinion that when you stop looking for love, it finds you in the strangest way possible. Love happens. It just does. Don’t plan for it, don’t keep your options closed and restricted by looking for it, cos you just might be looking for love in all the wrong places. Love should be easy, it’ll creep up on you unknowingly. The hard part is after you fall in love and work to keep the relationship going. While the ending is not at all ideal to individuals who prefer a happily-ever-after-ending, I feel that the ending is as it should. For us to fully appreciate their love story. And I’m not too heartbroken about it cos I am of the mindset that it’s better to have loved and lost than not to love at all. 

Ultimately, I love watching Untamed Heart over and over again because it always makes me feel like there’s hope out there for us yet. That we will find someone special who is just right for us. And when that time comes, make sure you love that person with all your heart and soul, and treasure all the time you have with that person, cos you never know when it will end. As they say, all good things come to an end.

Caroline: Adam, your heart is diseased. You need a new one.
Adam: But this is my heart! I'm afraid that if they take it away I won't be able to love you the same way.
Caroline: You love with your mind and your soul, not actually with your heart.
Adam: (touching his chest) Then how come I hurt here when you're not with me?

(1) Director Tony Bill has directed films like My Bodyguard (1980) and Flyboys (2006)

(2) Christian Slater has acted in films like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) and Bed of Roses (1996)

(3) Marisa Tomei has acted in films like My Cousin Vinny (1992), What Women Want (2000), Someone Like You (2001), The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), and Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011).

(4) Interestingly, in the film Adam, the title character, Adam, is also shy, more than a little strange, and smart but socially awkward.

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks… Untamed Heart is a movie that will remind you that there is a someone out there just for you, no matter how different you are. (4.5 of 5)

MoviePoster from Wikipedia

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Confessions Of A Shopaholic (2009)

Directed by P.J Hogan (1)

Cast: Isla Fisher (2), Hugh Dancy (3), Joan Cusack (4), John Goodman (5), and Krysten Ritter (6)

My favourite quotes - "They said I was a valued customer. Now they send me hate mail.", "When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it's not, and I need to do it again." & "She's not my girlfriend. She's not you."

"10 dollars is a lot of money!" I remember my mum exclaiming when she found out I bought something that cost $10 - I don't even remember what I bought, shows how much I probably didn't need it. I never fully understood her distress until now.

Now that I am a working adult with a mediocre monthly pay, everything seems too expensive. Yes, even that full plate of rice with cooked dishes at my office canteen that set me back $4.30 today seems to be expensive.

Watching this film, I wouldn't say I am as bad of a shopaholic as Rebecca Bloomwood. But I have to admit that I have a problem managing my finances. Sometimes, with a "magic card" (credit card), you forget how much you actually spend a month. You see, when you use a credit card, the money is not immediately deducted from your bank account. So when you check your bank balance, you don't realise that you don't actually have that amount of money to spend. Are these "magic cards" evil then? The answer is no, but credit cards can be dangerous. As seen in this movie, which was adapted from the book series of the same name by Sophie Kinsella (books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed). So credit card holders, you have to be good at controlling yourself and managing your finances.

Everyone has a weakness when it comes to shopping. What is yours? I have a long list of weaknesses - DVDs & Blu Rays taking the top spot in mine, then Threadless T-Shirts, then books, then accessories (like Pandora). Thankfully, I am not into make-up, branded goods, and shoes.

However, the film is not just about shopping or shopaholics. It's about material goods versus what truly matters like friends and family. It's about what you want, or what you think you want, and the price (and I don't just mean money) you have to pay to get it. In the film, when we first meet the male lead in the film, played by the very dashing Hugh Dancy, he said this "You want your scarf, I want my hot dog, cost and worth are very different things."

The film spoke to me because of the value it was promoting. That family and friends are worth more than any material goods you own. Sell everything you own and you are still not a pauper. Because you have your family and friends who will love you no matter how you disappoint them or hurt them (emotionally). Well, at least I hope that's true in your life. So if you need help, don't hesitate to reach out to your family and close friends.

I have to confess that the main reason why I connected with the film is because the feeling and reaction Rebecca has when she gets her credit card bills is the exact same one I have these days. (Cue big bulging eyes, gaping mouth, a look of horror, and heart palpitations)

Isla Fisher did a fantastic job as Rebecca Bloomwood, as did actors Joan Cusack and John Goodman as her parents. Isla Fisher made Rebecca the everyday girl, 'The Girl in the Green Scarf', who could very well be you. In fact, after I watched this film for the first time, I started to pay attention to the films with Isla Fisher in it.

A big shout out as well for Krysten Ritter's turn as Rebecca's best friend Suze who is the right mix of quirky and sensibility. Hugh Dancy's acting was subtle and passable in the film. I say this because after watching him in the film Adam, where he plays a man who has Asperger's, I think his acting here was at best sufficiently believable. Although, perhaps it is because the role doesn't give him the chance to flex his acting muscles as much, so I guess it's a little unfair to judge him so harshly. The focus after all is on Isla Fisher's Rebecca Bloomwood.

Although I try to stay clear of the technical bits of a film, I have to say I love the way the mannequins came to life and started talking to Rebecca. Because sometimes, it does feel like items I want to purchase come alive and start convincing me to buy them. That said, perhaps it is just the voices in my head talking to me. Whatever the case, in the film, the director has helped manifest this inner voice visually and in such an interesting way. Nicely done, P. J. Hogan.

Name: Monica Goh
Occupation: Writer
Jacket: Threadless Hoodie at a discount (read USD$29)
Dress: I don't do dresses. Well, I don't do dresses often enough.
Belt: Practically non-existent
Bag: 15 pounds in cash and worth every penny

(1) P.J Hogan has directed films like Muriel's Wedding (1994) My Best Friend's Wedding (1997), and Peter Pan (2003)

(2) Isla Fisher has acted in films like Scooby-Doo (2002), I ♥ Huckabees (2004), Wedding Crashers (2005), Wedding Daze (2006), and Definitely, Maybe (2008)

(3) Hugh Dancy has acted in films like Black Hawk Down (2001), King Arthur (2004), Ella Enchanted (2004), The Jane Austen Book Club (2007), Evening (2007), Adam (2009), and Hysteria (2011) He also plays the role of Will Graham in the television series Hannibal (2013).

(4) Joan Cusack has acted in films like Sixteen Candles (1984),Working Girl (1988), Say Anything... (1989), Addams Family Values (1993), Nine Months (1995), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Runaway Bride (1999), Where The Heart Is (2000), School Of Rock (2003), Raising Helen (2004), Ice Princess (2005), Friends With Money (2006), My Sister's Keeper (2009), and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012). She voiced the character of Jessie in the animation Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010), the character of Verushka the Witch in the animation Hoodwinked Too! Hood VS. Evil (2011), and the mission control elf in the animation Arthur Christmas (2011). 

(5) John Goodman has acted in films like Raising Arizona (1987), Arachnophobia (1990), Born Yesterday (1993), The Flintstones (1994), The Big Lebowski (1998), Coyote Ugly (2000), Evan Almighty (2007), Speed Racer (2008), The Artist (2011), and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

(6) Krysten Ritter has acted in films like 27 Dressses (2008), What Happens In Vegas (2008), and She's Out of My League (2010)

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks… Confessions Of A Shopaholic will remind you that material goods should not be the center of your life. Surround yourself with family and friends who care for you and are priceless instead of things that aren't worth much but cost plenty. (3 of 5)

Movie Poster from Wikipedia

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