Larry H's Movie Reviews for 2004 (48)
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My staff, the lovely and talented Margaret M. and Jody B., invited me to eat lunch with them today at the local Mexican food restaurant. But I could see that glint in their eye that screamed "...hey, we're just being nice to the boss...why don't you go to the movies." And I replied, "...well, thank you very much for the invite but I guess I'll just eat popcorn and Mr. Pibb and I'll be back around 1:30 pm." I got back to the office a little before two; close enough. They brought me a cookie.
I've been waiting for the Fockers to come to town ever since I learned that the parents of Ben Stiller's character from the original "Meet the Parents" were none other than Dustin and Babs. Also starring were Bobby DeNiro as the very uptight, distrustful ex-CIA agent and his easy-going wife Blythe Danner. How can you miss with that lineup? This movie comes close to bombing but the one-liners and acting saved the day. Hoffman's performance was my favorite. He plays a touchy, feely lawyer that was a stay-at-home Mr. Mom so his wife Barbra S. could "win the bread" by running her sex therapy practice out of their 100 year old Miami home. Come to find out- Stillers' real name was not Greg but Gaylord Focker. Exsqueeze me?
The audience was large; around 65 and a big cross-section so it will be a big hit, and they laughed a lot and on cue. I thought it was ok and at times hilarious but the script was weak and production unimpressive. Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon instead of eating Mexican food. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 86. Larry H.
I made it to my second movie today, and I am at home before the sun's going down so I guess that makes the day pretty successful. But not perfect.
This movie is "inspired by true events" if you believe the opening credits. The story is about J.M. Barrie (Johnny "Scissorhands" Depp), the Scottish playwright, that wrote "Peter Pan." Seems he got the original idea from hanging around four young boys and their widowed mother (Kate Winslet) in 1903 London. Depp's character is married but he spends most of his time with the Widow Davies and her four boys playing in the park, flying kites and such. Occasionally, the movie will warp into fantasy/animation with intros of Captain Hook/Tinker Bell etc.
But here is the real story: I hated everyone in the movie and walked out about an hour into it. I deserve a medal for staying that long. There were about 10 of us in attendance and I'm fairly certain that the only laughter came from a couple of dreamy-eyed teenage girls that were there to see Mr. Cool. I admit that Johnny D. is in a class by himself and Monique H. thinks he's as cute as I am, but even he couldn't carry this flick.
I knew it was time to leave when Kate Winslet's character was coughing severely because of a "chest cold" and I was hoping she'd die. The little boys were all snotty-nosed brats; Mrs. Barrie was a shrew. And get this: Dustin Hoffman is the financier of Barrie's plays and his character was completely unimportant and forgettable. I felt as though the ending might have some entertaining twists, but I just couldn't risk it.
And here's something else: I don't like the British; they talk funny and they're sissies. Tally ho, Old Chap! Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 69W. Larry H.
When Monique H. got up this morning she found me sitting by the fire staring at the lighted Christmas tree with a smile on my face. I had been up since 5:15 am; I heard the delivery of the paper hit the sidewalk. With her head cocked to one side she said "...you're up to something...you're up to no good...what are you going to do...why are you up so early." Who could pass up such an opportunity? I replied "...why, my dear wife, I'm as innocent as the ...." I could not think of the appropriate word; "innocent" and "Larry H." don't normally share the same sentence. But the truth: I was so excited about my plan today to see two movies and be home before the sun goes down and do all my work at the office... And I have a big Toys for Tots Pistol Match Saturday morning and a Christmas Party Saturday night and then there's church and another party Sunday night. Party on!
I didn't know the difference between Lemony Snicket and Jiminy Cricket, but a movie with Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf and Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine based on a Nickelodeon movie was too much to pass. The is a beautifully made movie and will garner several nominations. My pick for awards include Best Screenplay by Robert Gordon whose adaptation from the original series of books by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) was masterful as were the art and set design, and visual effects. I don't know the names of all those awards but you know what I'm talking about.
The audience was a cross-section from pre-schoolers to Grandpa, but it is primarily a kids movie that tells a story of three wonderful recently-orphaned children: Violet the 14 year old who is pretty, loving, and an "inventor"; Klaus about 12 years old who is cute, loving, and a "reader"; and an infant girl named Sunny who is charming, loving, and a "biter" as in she bites things. The infant Sunny also giggles a lot and utters baby sounds like "ra" and "ga" and then subtitles appear on the screen further explaining what the darling child really means. The adults in the movie are either evil, stupid, or a combination. But certainly not loving.
The story is universal about fear and love as seen through the eyes of resourceful and clever kids with the added theme of "we all need family." Not bad for the Christmas season, I suppose. I found that I had "respect" for this movie which is not really a turn-on for me. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 85. Larry H.
I had to go to court this morning which means I had to wear a coat and tie which means my Friday is off kilter. I've told these judges before not to hold court on Fridays but nobody listens.
This movie is a sequel to "Ocean's Eleven" which was a remake of the old Frank Sinatra/Rat Pack movie from the 60's. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and the old gang return plus Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas. The plot was...I don't care to share; I did not like this movie a little bit. I didn't walk out because I could not believe that the great director Steven Soderbergh could bungle this movie with all that talent.
Here is a suggestion for a re-name of this re-make: "Spit in the Ocean" because it ain't worth spit. All in all, I enjoyed the outing and can hardly wait to go to the movies again. I think we call that glutton. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 70. Larry H.
You know the rule: No one goes to the movies with Larry H. Well, there's this old college bud that came to town and really, really wanted to tag along to see what this Friday afternoon ritual is all about. I said "okay" but I told Martin T. that I pick the movie, the theatre, and the time...and he could not sit by me. I allowed him to sit within a couple of seats, but no talking please. Martin has always been a little crazy which is why we've been friends for over thirty years.
"Christmas With The Kranks" stars Tim Allen as Luther Krank and Jamie Lee Curtis as Nora Krank. I'd go see a movie based on that alone; you gotta love anybody named Krank. The movie is based on the book by John Grisham who strayed from his usual legal thriller to pen this fluffy story about a family, actually Luther, which decides to skip Christmas, save a bunch of money, and go on a Caribbean cruise. The daughter of Luther and Nora was not planning to be home with her parents since she was working for the Peace Corp in Peru so "Skipping Christmas" sounded like a good idea.
The Kranks did not participate in the usual decorating of their home, exchanging gifts, and hosting their annual Christmas Eve party. And the neighbors and friends were outraged that anyone had the audacity to opt out of the tradition of Christmas. The Kranks were the target of much peer pressure and neighborhood gossip and harassment. But Luther and Nora fought back...well actually they hid in their house to avoid the do-gooders.
The storyline is not complicated nor designed to make a huge statement about our society other than the common bah-humbug and Scrooge angle. The additional cast of Dan Aykroyd, Cheech Marin, Jake Busey, Tom Poston, and M. Emmett Walsh are charming and likeable, but the movie never climbs out of mediocrity in spite of some very funny lines and pratfalls by Tim Allen and Jamie Lee. One extra treat for the ladies: Jamie Lee has the guts to appear briefly in a teeny weenie bikini that exposes her very mature body.
Tim Allen's character is a combination of Tim the Tool Time Guy from his TV show and Clark Griswold from "Vacation." Wait for this movie to appear on the USA channel and you'll be fine. The big movies will be out in the next 2-3 weeks. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 82. Larry H.
I got extra butter on my popcorn. Not a good idea. I had to use an abnormal amount of napkins to mop up and I discovered about a two square inch greasy blob on the front of my shirt. I'm thinking about dropping it off at the cleaners on the way home. If Monique H. sees it, she will then bring up the unidentified stain on the carpet in the bathroom and other little accidents and before you know it, we'll have this whole Thanksgiving thing going. It just ain't worth it; I'm headed to the cleaners. But wait...what will I wear home? Dang.
Nicolas Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates who is a third generation treasure hunter. Gates has the cleverness of Indiana Jones, the savvy of James Bond, and the resourcefulness of Mission Impossible. The boy has good skills. He's looking for the biggest treasure of all time and must steal the Declaration of Independence to figure out an intricate series of clues and riddles in order to get closer to the treasure...if there is a treasure...his dad Patrick (Jon Voight) insists that the signers of the Declaration of Independence merely wanted the British to think there was a hidden treasure to throw them off the trail.
Of course, there is a competing rich bad guy (Sean Bean) who has a mean posse with a lot of guns that want to find the treasure first and they are willing to kill people. But don't get too worried; this movie has jokes and gags throughout. And then there is the FBI led by Harvey "Mr. Wolfe" Keitel. By the time Agent-in-Charge Keitel showed up, I was having so much fun with this movie, I wanted to jump up and cheer.
B. F. Gates has a loveable sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha) who is the cute computer guy and Gates somehow involves a document curator from the National Archives to tag along on the chase for the treasure. The curator is a fox (Diane Kruger) who is so upset that the Declaration of Independence has been stolen that she will throw in with the bad guys to ensure the safety of the document. But who are the bad guys? Do not let the seemingly silly plot sour you on this wonderful movie. It is the most fun I've had at the theatre in a while. Do yourself a Thanksgiving favor and check it out; it is going to be a monster box-office hit. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 92. Larry H.
"Would the owner of the silver Toyota Avalon license plate H26 VFB, please report to the manager's office, you are parked in Larry H's assigned parking spot and you are in big trouble, Mister!" You people are taking your life in your own hands; please do not make me come over there.
When I walked into Loew's at the Fountains Theatre #17, there were only a few minutes until show time. This theatre is one of the big ones; seats about 600. After I sat down, there were 599 vacant seats. Then several minutes of privacy passed while I watched the previews of even more animations, two moms and two tots arrive with some fanfare and lots of chatter. Both the kids were wearing caps and I could not see their bodies on the other side of the theatre but I could see those caps bouncing up and down as they climbed the stairs. Please, Lord, this is a giant theatre; please don't let them sit by me. And I'll be dat gum if the whole crew didn't waddle up to within 15 feet of me and sit down in the middle of the row in front of me.
This movie is based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg about a young boy who doubts the authenticity of Santa Claus and all that around the world gift-giving in one night sleigh ride kind of thing. The movie begins on Christmas Eve as the boy is trying to go to sleep and before you can say "Ray Charles" the boy is out his front door in his pajamas and robe boarding a train that will take him to the North Pole and the home of Mr. Claus. There are other kids on the train and the loveable no-nonsense conductor is a computer image of Tom Hanks. The train ride on the Polar Express is exciting and fun, but Director Bob Zemeckis gets bogged down in detail and showy special effects upon arrival to the hometown of Santa Claus and the movie suffers.
However, the movie has taken "animation" to another level; the hair on the little boy was phenomenal as well as the body movements of the characters guided by special suits that react to lasers, computers etc. The music and sound were outstanding. The main character reminded me of my brother, Vernon H., when he was about 10. At times during the movie I felt the spirits of "The Wizard of Oz," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
This is a good movie for kids if they are not taller than a movie theatre chair. Those two kids talked nonstop; here is a sample of their queries: "Mom, where is that train going; is he gonna die; why is it dark in that tunnel; is that really Santa Clause; what's in that present, is he gonna make it home?" Sitting by those little freaks was one of the highlights of the movie. I found myself trying to listen closely to their comments so I would better understand what Zemeckis was trying to accomplish.
Tom Hanks was one of the Executive Producers so I hope the movie is very successful because I know he and Rita could use some extra cash around Christmastime. Hanks recruited the old gang: Zemeckis from "Forrest Gump" and "Cast Away"; Peter Scolari his "Bosom Buddies"; Michael Jeter who played Eduard "Mouse" Delacroix in the "The Green Mile" and Steven Tyler from who the heck knows; maybe Hanks and Tyler sat around the movie set and talked about the bad 'ole days of the 70's. I want to be Tom Hanks' friend. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 78. Larry H.
I got caught by a train on Highway 90 on the way to Loew's, but not to be denied I whipped my silver SUV out of the stalled traffic and sped off and slipped in the "back way" via the Southwest Freeway. Made it in record time considering the obstacles. You kids should not try it.
"The Incredibles" has a very clever premise: Mr Incredible (Craig T. "Coach" Nelson) is a mild mannered guy during the day but also dresses up in a tight-fitting outfit and catches bad guys at night when he is not being Mr. Normal Guy. Unfortunately, Mr. Incredible creates some havoc which causes a few deaths and injuries and so he gets sued repeatedly. What's a superhero to do? Go into the government's superhero protection plan with his superhero wife Elastigirl aka Helen (Holly Hunter) and live a life undercover in suburbia. Mr. I. goes to work for Insuracare which turns down all claims by its policyholders.
Mr I. aka Bob Parr is very sad not being a superhero and working for a crooked insurance company. Instead of dealing with his problem of addiction to super-heroism, he and retired superhero Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) pretend (denial) to go bowling but they really listen to police scanners so they can save people from burning buildings and such. Bob/Mr. I. gets caught up in some shady superhero stuff and ...I don't know what happened next.
I couldn't take it anymore. You people know that I am not prejudice against animation or Pixar. I loved "Toy Story" and "Shrek 1 and 2" but this "cartoon" was too stupid and lacked meaningful character development which I require of my animated flicks. I stayed almost an hour but when the jawbreaker-induced sugar high subsided and my eyes became droopy, I decided that I should also return to my undercover identity in the 'burbs. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 69 W. Larry H.
This movie reminded me of the old Flip Wilson joke in the '60s. "...the court jester (who sounded just like Flip) was trying to convince Queen Isabella of Spain that she should finance Christopher Columbus' crazy adventure, but the queen would have nothing of it...so, the court jester wanting to make his best pitch blurted out "...and Chris gonna find Ray Charles!" If you want to hear that punch line delivered in an uncanny mock of Flip Wilson, call me at the office on Monday and I will be happy to share.
This movie is a masterpiece. I know you think I just got caught up in all the nostalgic music and great acting and then became verklept. Ok, maybe so, but the story of Ray Charles as portrayed by Jamie Foxx will receive numerous Oscar nominations and will be a huge box office hit. There were over 125 folks at an 11:30 am showing and they clapped at the end.
I only got teary-eyed twice, if you count the time I had a flashback to a slow dance in 1965 with a Ray Charles song on the stereo. "What'd I Say" was on the top of the charts when I was a little boy and as a teenager I loved "Georgia" and "Hit the Road Jack." Jamie Foxx was not just playing Ray Charles, he became Ray Charles. Mr. Foxx' life is changed forever because of his performance.
The brilliant screenplay by James L. White takes us back to Ray's childhood of poverty and blindness by age 7 through his musical development, racial segregation, marriage, girlfriends, and his battle with heroin. And his monumental talent and success. The direction by Taylor Hackford and acting by Ray's mother, girlfriend, wife and Ray as a child are all potential nominations. The songs are sung by Ray Charles, but I believed Jamie Foxx was really singing them. And as part of the price of a ticket at my theatre (Loew's) they gave me a DVD entitled "Ray Charles Exclusive Video From the Making of Genius Loves Company." And I love the Raylettes! Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 94. Larry H.
I went to see some of my buds from my church this morning at a retreat center. I couldn't stay very long since this is Friday. I knew there might be trouble when one them shoved a bible across the table and almost hit my coffee cup and said "...hey, how come you can't stay...gotta go to one of those movies you always go to...do you ever work on Fridays?" Being the pious person that I am, I retorted with "...yeah, that's right, New Testament Breath, I'm going to a movie and I'm doing the Lord's work because I watch these movies and then I share my feelings so others will not have to spend their money unwisely and become bad stewards. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
As I was leaving the retreat center, my boy Wes F. suggested that I see the new Jimmy Fallon/Queen Latifah flick - "...it's pretty good." I appreciated his suggestion but I did not think I wanted to see a stupid movie about a Barney Fife cop that loses his driver's license due to incompetence so he pals around with a hip-hop taxi driver that thinks she's driving Jeff Gordon's #24 NASCAR ride built on the frame of Ford Crown Vic.
I got back to the office around noon which is my anointed time to be leaving the office. So, I hurriedly did my assigned tasks in about 15 minutes and then began scanning the show times to choose between the new J-Lo/Goofy Gere movie or maybe even "The Final Cut" starring Robin Williams. But alas, those movies were all starting after 2:00 pm. "Ah, what the heck...maybe 'ole Wes knows what he's talking about" and if I hurry I can catch the 12:35 pm start time for "Taxi." I made it to my seat at Loew's with about five seconds to spare. I was feeling very sassy.
And then the movie began...and I became drowsy... and speaking of God... then the God Bomb Theory kicked in. As a reminder, that theory goes something like this "Dear God, please send a bomb down and blow up this movie (without harming me or the other five people in the audience) so I can get the heck outta here and get on with my life...Amen." Well, the movie did not blow up and I stayed almost an hour in deference to Wes F. but I just couldn't persevere. I forgive you, Wes. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 65 W. Larry H.