BARE BONES: A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS (2017)

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A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS (2017)

Sequel takes place at Christmas time with our three Bad Moms, Amy, Kiki and Carla (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn) getting visits from their own moms (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon respectively). This turns their lives upside down and threatens to ruin their holidays.

Second flick is again written and directed by Scott Moore and Jon Lucas and sadly lacks the energy and buoyant fun the original was, while doubling up on the melodramatic schmaltz. The first flick was routine and predictable, but it had attitude, some cleverness and a charming cast. This holiday installment is flat, rolling out all the “Christmas in ruins” movie clichés without any ingenuity and the vulgarity lacks the wit that made it work the first time around. It replays a lot of the shtick of the original movie and even with the addition of the bad grand-moms, it comes across as stale. If there is a redeeming quality, it is the cast once again shines and makes the best out of the weak material with Baranski, Hines and Sarandon playing their thinly written parts well. Veteran actresses who deserved better material, as do the Bad Moms trio, Kunis, Bell and Hahn, who also give it their all. Sequel co-stars Jay Hernandez again as Jessie, Peter Gallagher as Amy’s dad and a funny cameo by Kenny G. Maybe they should have taken a little more time developing this instead of rushing it out a mere 15 months after the first flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: BAD MOMS

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BAD MOMS (2016)

Pretty mother of two, Amy (Mila Kunis) has had enough! She works hard at her job, drives the kids to school, does their homework and makes dinner. Her lazy immature husband doesn’t help and even gets caught having a virtual affair with a woman online. Amy, along with new friends and fellow moms Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell), decides it’s time to take a break from and have a little fun!

Written and directed by Scott Moore and Jon Lucas this is a routine and predictable comedy, but thanks to a witty script and charming cast, it is a lot of fun. The film has a buoyant mood to it, as Amy throws her responsibilities aside…and her cyber-cheating husband out…and decides to live life for herself for a bit. Sure the situations that result are totally routine, such as wild parties, picking up the hot single dad (Jay Hernandez) in a bar and starting up a fierce rivalry with the snooty PTA head (Christina Applegate), but Kunis is a delight in the role, even if she comes across as a little too young to be a mother of two kids close to their tweens (She’s 33, so it works). There is some vulgarity, but it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and is witty enough to work and be funny. The supporting cast are also having a blast too, especially Kristin Bell and it translates to the audience even if you have seen it all before. A routine but fun, funny and sometimes very sweet comedy. Added bonus is the interviews with the actresses and their real moms during the credits.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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REVIEW: FROZEN (2013)

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FROZEN (2013)

I’m not the biggest Disney fan. When I was a kid my parents took me to se things like The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure and while we did see the occasional Disney flick, my sister and I seemed bored by the traditional kid stuff. So, I don’t have that fixation on their flicks like others do but, I have seen and enjoyed a lot of the new wave Disney stuff that started with The Little Mermaid… though I do prefer Pixar’s stuff more. So, I finally got around to what has turned out to be one of Disney’s most successful cartoons in years and must say I did enormously enjoy it, though, I am still curious why this particular one has had such a massive appeal. The story opens with two young princesses… big surprise there… Anna and Elsa who live in the beautiful kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa has magic abilities to control and create ice and snow and during some exuberant play with Anna, the younger sister is injured. This causes her parents, the King and Queen to sequester her away from others so, no one finds out about her powers or is hurt till she learns to control them. But, when the two sisters grow to be young women, tragedy strikes and their parents are lost at sea. Now it is the powerful Elsa’s job to take the crown and rule but, a fearful Elsa loses control at her coronation and the new crowned Queen unleashes her power on a frightened populace, causing her to flee into the mountains in seclusion and subsequently throw the kingdom into eternal winter. Now it’s up to the spunky and resourceful Anna to find her sister and help her put an end to the endless Winter and lay to rest the kingdom’s fear of her powerful sibling… their queen. Of course, along the way she is aided by handsome ice salesman Kristoff, his reindeer Sven and talking snowman Olaf while being thwarted by the villainous Hans and the weasel-like Duke Of Weselton. Will she save her sister and the land or will the power hungry villains stop the sisters cold? Written by Jennifer Lee and co-drected by Lee and Chris Buck, Frozen is an enormously entertaining fairy tale that is fueled by some very strongly endearing characters and the usual peril, heroics and romance. The plot in itself is traditional Disney fairy tale stuff but, it is the exceptionally lively and colorful characters that put this over the edge and make it special. Not to mention the computer animation is sumptuous in both character design and the spectacular visuals and backgrounds. There are songs too but, most are simply functional though very well sung by the likes of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel who voice and sing adult Anna And Elsa respectively. The only one that really stands out and is a show stopper is Menzel singing ‘Let it Go’ which is a powerful number supported by some beautiful vocals and animation. I also did like that Lee chose to keep Elsa a tragic figure in that she never turns evil but, is simply too upset and guilt-ridden to fix what she’s done and right what has gone wrong. Other characters become the villains of the piece instead and so we root for both Anna and Elsa to save each other and the day along with the equally endearing Kristoff, Sven and Olaf. And obviously, Anna and Kristof fall for each other, not that they’ll admit it. A really entertaining and fun animated fairy tale/adventure with some very three dimensional and lively characters to populate it. One of Disney’s best animated tales in quite some time… though I did enjoy Tangled quite a lot too. Also features the vocals of Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, Josh Gad as Olaf, Santino Fortana as the devious Prince Hans and the multi-talented Alan (Firefly) Tudyk as The Duke Of Weselton. A delightfully entertaining flick.

3 and 1/2 Olafs… would have been four if not that most of the songs are forgettable save “Let It Go”.

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: SAFTEY NOT GUARANTEED and TAKE THIS WALTZ

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Decided to focus this double feature on two charming and very entertaining indie comedy/dramas that might have flown a bit under the radar but, have familiar faces, good performances and are refreshingly un-Hollywood…

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SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012)

Safety Not Guaranteed is a really entertaining and offbeat romantic comedy from director Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly that tells the story of Darius (Aubrey Plaza) an intern at a high profile Seattle based magazine whose first assignment is to assist self-centered reporter Jeff (Jake M. Johnson) in writing a piece on a man who placed a personal ad looking for a time travel companion. While Jeff uses the story as an excuse to look up an ex-girlfriend who lives in the area (Jenica Bergere), Darius befriends the placer of the ad, Kenneth (Mark Duplass) and soon finds a bond with the eccentric and lonely man. Director Trevorrow  crafts a sweet and quirky tale of two loners who find each other over some very strange circumstances. And while the film sometimes plays like a drama, there are some laugh out loud bits and there is always an offbeat humor running underneath. The cast do really well in bringing their eclectic characters to life with Plaza and Duplass doing a great job of showing the progression of two people learning to trust each other and then discovering much deeper feelings as they get to know each other. We get to watch a sweet relationship form between these two lost souls all the while being teased with the notion that maybe Kenneth may not be so crazy after all… or maybe he is. The other subplot between Jeff and Liz also shows a sweeter side of the cocky Jeff and possibly humbles him a bit as well and is nicely realized by actor Johnson. To elaborate anymore would be to spoil a really nice indie flick that has some pleasant surprises. Also stars Kristen Bell as woman with ties to Kenneth and Karan Soni as accompanying intern Arnau, who Jeff decides to motivate out of his shell. A quirky, original and entertaining indie.

3 and 1/2 hearts!

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TAKE THIS WALTZ (2011)

One of my favorite things about this charming indie drama was that I really enjoyed was just how real the relationships in the film came across. Writer/director Sarah Polley creates a freshness and realness to this story of a happy young married couple Margo (Michelle Williams) and Lou (Seth Rogen) whose happy life is challenged when Margo meets and falls for neighbor and artist, Daniel (Luke Kirby). Margo thought she had what she wanted but, the free spirited Luke makes her question whether she is really happy with Lou or just thinks she’s happy. As Lou becomes focused on writing a cookbook, Margo begins to explore what she really wants… or is it. And that’s the thing that I felt was so real about this charming little movie. Margo’s answers are never clear as in life they sometimes aren’t. Are we really happy or just convincing ourselves to settle for what we have? Is it human nature to always think there is something better for us out there and thus were never are truly content or satisfied? These are true life questions and questions we ask ourselves as we watch Margo pursue a course which could cost her everything. And, of course there is the age old question, of the grass always appearing greener. I really enjoyed how director Polley gave the film a very refreshing style and really made the characters seem like real people. They all have their little quirks and habits and they make decisions based on emotions and are sometimes selfish and not careful about hurting those around them… and they don’t always know what they really want. The performances are strong across the board with Michelle Williams giving another great characterization of the almost childlike Margo, who’s very likable despite her selfish pursuits. Seth Rogen surprises as Lou, a man who obviously loves Margo but, has his own goals and is a little too focused on such to notice his wife is troubled. Luke Kirby is good as the artist Daniel who, much like Margo, decides to selfishly pursue their attraction despite knowing she is married and he will likely undo that. Rounding out the main characters is a perfectly cast Sarah Silverman as Lou’s sarcastic alcoholic sister Geraldine. All in all, this is a refreshingly un-Hollywood indie that takes a look at real people with real emotions making real and sometimes selfish and stupid decisions. Something we are all guilty of and that’s why we can identify with these people and how love or, what we think is love, can be such a confusing factor in our lives. And, most of all, is there such a thing as true happiness or is it an illusion we create ourselves? A very interesting drama that does have a quirky sense of humor to go along with the more serious moments. Also loved director Polley’s visual style and how she made use of the film’s charming Canadian neighborhood locations.

3 and 1/2 hearts!

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