REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

bars

WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020)

Superhero sequel takes place in 1984 and has Diana foiling a robbery at a mall. Her heroics also uncover a black market operation dealing with ancient antiquities. Amongst the items recovered is an ancient stone, that literally grants wishes…with a price. Not only does Diana use the stone to bring back her lost love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), but it finds itself in the hands of power-hungry entrepreneur, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), and it transforms the meek and shy Dr. Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) into a predator…literally. But will the price of returned romance, cost Diana the power to stop her new adversaries?

Sequel is once again directed by Patty Jenkins from her script and story with Geoff Johns and David Callaham. While the first film dealt with serious themes like the horrors of war and the evils that men do, this next adventure takes on a much lighter tone, though the corruptive power of greed is certainly a subject here. The movie has fun with switching the roles, with Trevor, this time, being the fish out of water and Diana being in familiar surroundings. Obviously, setting the film in the 80s also invites having a little fun with the outrageousness of that decade as well. The moments between Diana and Steve are indeed entertaining, but eventually Diana must turn her attention to stopping Lord, whose use of the stone is getting dangerous, and Barbara, who is transforming into classic Wonder Woman villainess Cheetah. It takes a little while to get to the action, but it is an entertaining enough build. The movie does move along at a nice pace. Not too fast, but not too slow. When the action comes, it is big and spectacular, like a scene in Cairo, but avoids the overblown theatrics of the first installment. It’s not perfect. It is definitely a tad too long and could have been tighter in a few spots, especially in the last act where it starts to get a little messy here and there. It doesn’t have the impact of the first movie, but is an entertaining sequel nonetheless. It is more fun.

The cast is top notch and helps make this more fantasy heavy story click and work. Gal Gadot once agains proves she was born to play this part and gives her comic book heroine some nice depth and nobility. Pine is fun as the resurrected Steve Trevor. A soul in another man’s body, Pine has a good time being the man in unfamiliar territory, discovering the modern world of the 80s. He and Gadot still have great chemistry. Pascal is also fun as Maxwell Lord. He evokes Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor here and is both a fun and lively villain, while never loosing that air of being lethal and threatening. Kristen Wiig is perfectly cast as the nerdy Barbara Minerva turned classic villainess Cheetah. She starts out awkward and clumsy and once getting her wish, becomes confident, sexy and then dangerous, literally turning into a predatory cat. There are return appearances by Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen in flashbacks and a “Wonder”-ful cameo during a mid-credits scene. A great cast.

Overall, this may not have the same intensity and impact as Diana’s origin tale, but is a more fun sequel. It has a lighter story, with a magic wish granting stone, but grounds it enough that it is not silly, nor does it rob it’s villains of their threat factor. It avoids getting too over-the-top, so we take the story as seriously as we need to for it to work. It has a good time skewering the 80s, especially through the fish out of water eyes of the returned Steve Trevor. Most of the action comes in the last act, but it is an entertaining ride to get there and when it comes, it delivers the heroics we are waiting for. It may be a bit too long, and wouldn’t lose much with about ten or fifteen minutes trimmed, but is a satisfying enough sequel and a lighter toned DC hero flick. Watch through the credits for that fun cameo.

Rated 3 (out of 4) Wonder Women!

-MonsterZero NJ

 

 

 

 

 

**************************************************

bars

WONDER WOMAN 1984 FINALLY GETS A TRAILER!

MZNJ_NEW_news

Wonder Woman stole the show in Batman v Superman and was a hit in her first solo feature. Now Gal Gadot is back in action as the Amazonian heroine and director Patty Jenkins is back in the director’s chair. With a script from Jenkins, Geoff Johns and David Callaham, that sets her next solo outing in the fabulous 80s, Wonder Woman is going to take on arch enemy Cheetah as played by Kristen Wiig. Chris Pine somehow returns as Steve Trevor and the flick opens on 6/5/2020! Check out the fun trailer below, after the character poster gallery…

 

***************************************************

-MonsterZero NJ

Source: youtube/internet

bars

BARE BONES: SAUSAGE PARTY

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

sausage-party

SAUSAGE PARTY (2016)

Animated comedy for adults has a group of foods, led by hot dog Frank (Seth Rogen), slowly discovering that being purchased is not a ticket to paradise, but a trip to a horrible fate.

Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tieman, from a screenplay by no less than four writers, Sausage Party can actually be a funny movie at times. Sure it has the sense of humor of a horny 13 year-old boy, but there is a lot of cleverness and wit, too and that helps make it work. It also has the audacity to “go there” and giddily tries to offend everybody equally. Add to that a really talented vocal cast, including Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Edward Norton, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill and James Franco, to name a few. Even at 88 minutes it is a tad too long and it starts to wear out it’s welcome about 10 minutes, or so, before it actually ends, but there are some genuine laughs and some very clever bits. Who can hate a movie whose villain is a douche (Nick Kroll)…literally an actual douche.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

BARE BONES: WELCOME TO ME

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

welcome to me

WELCOME TO ME (2014)

Comedy/drama finds emotionally and mentally troubled Alice Klieg off her meds and obsessed with TV, namely Oprah. When she wins $86 Million in the lottery, she pays a down on his luck producer (James Marsden) to let her have her own TV talk show…one that stars Alice, is about Alice and the only guest being Alice.

Kristen Wiig is a brilliant actress and comedian and the only reason this flick is as watchable as it is, is because of her performance. The concept from Eliot Laurence’s script, as directed by Shira Piven, is interesting but the film never really takes full advantage of it’s premise. We follow Alice as she reflects back on incidents in her life, such as having make-up stolen out of her bag as a teen and cooking her own concoctions such as meatloaf cake with sweet potato icing…all in front of a live audience. Predictably, she becomes a cult hit until the whole thing starts to backfire as all those she blames for her problems in life take issue with her finger pointing. The filmmakers roll out these mundane and ludicrous set pieces, as Alice goes from one tangent to another, but miss the opportunity to really provide some satire and commentary on today’s society and it’s obsession with the lives of others. It also only weakly touches on the current trend of seeing ourselves as some kind of celebrities with our posts on social media, as if everyone cares what we’re thinking, watching or eating (says the guy with the movie blog. LOL!). It really misses a golden opportunity to skewer the notion that through reality TV and social media, we all have become celebrities in our own minds and can’t wait to share our most droll thoughts with millions of others. Instead we just get yet another indie flick about yet another self absorbed person learning some life lessons about being less selfish and thinking a little more about those around them. It’s a shame, Wiig is up to the task but not given material worthy of her talents or the story’s premise. Also stars Wes Bentley, Linda Cardellini, Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Joan Cusack.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

REVIEW: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

ghostbusters 2016

bars

GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The 1984 Ghostbusters is a true classic and as this is the day and age of reboots and remakes, it was only a matter of time before this property got the rehash treatment as a sequel was stalled in development hell for years. This reworking is brought to us by Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and the only thing different about this new version is that the team are now all female. The story is very similar with scientist Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) being fired from her university job due to the resurfacing of her past as a paranormal investigator. She reluctantly re-teams with her old associate Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and her current partner Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) who are still in the ghost hunting business. Their timing is perfect, as NYC is suffering from an increase in paranormal activity and someone is trying to turn the Big Apple into spook central. Joining forces with street-smart MTA worker, Patty (a hilarious Leslie Jones) and their hot but dumb-as-nails secretary, Kevin (Chris “Thor” Hemsworth) they form the Ghostbusters and set out to save the city from this spectral epidemic and the villainous individual (Neil Casey) responsible.

The new Ghostbusters is nowhere near as bad as early speculation had it pegged to be, but is still a bland retread that isn’t as entertaining as it should be, considering the talent involved. The problem here is that Feig’s script, that he co-wrote with Katie Dippold, just isn’t that funny and the story is thin and un-involving. The rambunctious fun of the original film is sorely lacking and the laughs and thrills are few and far between. The new team do have a chemistry with each other and that helps, as does Leslie Jones getting all the best lines and moments and running with them. Hemsworth is also having a visibly good time playing a dolt and the updated SPFX are all very impressive. The film is weighed down, though, with simply having a weak story, including a weak villain, namely a revenge minded janitor named Rowan, who wants to unleash an apocalypse to get back at the world for being mistreated. Boo Hoo. Add in that a lot of the gags fall flat and the film’s climax lacks any real sense of urgency and we get a rather bland reboot with a few moments scattered here and there. The film also overdoes it with the 1984 Ghostbusters cameos with practically every major actor or character turning up at some point and only Slimer and Ernie Hudson’s bits actually feel like part of the film and not a “Hey, stop the movie…it’s so and so!” like most of them. The key to a good cameo is to have it feel like an organic part of the movie, Feig fails to give all but a few that feeling. One can appreciate trying to honor the 1984 flick, but here they try too hard. The film also plays it too safe and never really does it’s own thing and thus never truly reboots the series, but instead just recycles it. It really doesn’t justify it’s existence when all is said and done, even if it does have some entertaining moments.

We have a talented cast here and it’s a shame Feig doesn’t give them better material. McCarthy is showing some nice restraint like she did in St. Vincent and that is when she is most effective…if she has good material. Here she really doesn’t have much to work with. Same can be said of the brilliant Kristen Wiig who plays the straight women here and rarely gets to show her comic gifts and certainly isn’t required to give her Erin the dramatic depth she’s capable of. Kate McKinnon on the other hand, gives such a weird and off-putting performance as the apparently demented Holztman, that she just makes one uncomfortable with her mannerisms and line delivery. She would have made a far more effective villain than the bland Casey, she’s that unsettling at times. Leslie Jones is fortunate to get most of the best lines and moments in the flick and the hardest laughs were given to her antics and her fiery line delivery. She really makes her sassy MTA worker come alive and the rest of the cast needed her spark and energy. Hemsworth’s part is the thinnest, as the incredibly stupid Kevin, that the girls hire only for his looks. His character may be annoyingly clueless, but the actor seems to be having a blast playing him and it does become infectious, especially when he figures more prominently in the climactic confrontation. Rounding out is Neil Casey who is sadly underwhelming in a part that is underwritten to begin with. He makes a lame villain and not even a funny one such as the original film’s possessed Rick Moranis.

Overall, the film is not a total disaster, but not a success either. Despite a talented cast and director, the film is simply not all that funny, nor does it have the audacious fun of the film it’s rebooting. It gives it talented leads little to do with their proven skills and thankfully, at least Leslie Jones was able to make the most of the best moments of a weak script. The SPFX are impressive, but the action scenes lacked any real energy or urgency and the bad guy was all sorts of dull. The film never really dares to be it’s own thing and as an imitation of the original classic, forgot to emulate the most important part…it’s heart. Do stay through the credits, as there is some funny stuff and a post credit sequence which may imply where a sequel would head if there is one. The fact that the film was dedicated to the late Harold Ramis and he does get an amusing cameo (sort of) was a nice touch and earned a few extra points.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) spooks.

paranormal activity 5 rating

 

 

 

**************************************************

bars

BARE BONES: WARCRAFT and WHIP IT

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

warcraft

WARCRAFT (2016)

Video game based flick tells the tale of the world of Azeroth, which has been invaded by Orcs from the dying world of Draenor. As the Orcs prepare to open up a portal using the life-force of Azeroth’s citizens and bring in their massive army, an unlikely group of heroes, including a noble Orc chieftain, band together to stop them and save the land.

Co-written, with Charles Leavitt and directed by Moon director Duncan Jones, this is an insufferably boring fantasy adventure. It’s not quite a mess, but seems like a bunch of random action vignettes strung together over the course of it’s 2 hours without much of it actually effecting the already thin plot. The cast is also rather bland with live actors, like Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper and Paula Patton teaming up with CGI creations voiced by other actors. And as for poor Paula Patton, she looked embarrassed and uncomfortable the entire time in her green make-up and lower jaw fangs as a half-breed Orc. The production is lavish and the flick is very FX heavy, yet lacks intensity, substance and most of all, heart. It’s a very cold and dull fantasy that never at any moment is the least bit involving, despite the abundant action and frequent scenes of magic and monsters. And worst of all, you sit through two hours of this mundane sword and sorcery epic for an open ending that resolves little. A waste of two hours unless you are a fan of the game and absolutely must see it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

poster art

WHIP IT (2009)

Drew Barrymore scores in her directorial debut with a funny, sweet and fiesty little movie about Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page), a young woman finding herself and what makes her happy, when she joins a roller derby team. Now all she has to do is keep her straight-laced, beauty pageant obsessed mom (Marcia Gay Harden) from finding out before the ‘Hurl Scouts’ reach the finals!

Sure it’s a bit slow paced and the rollerderby scenes could have had more energy, but for a first flick, Barrymore entertains without being preachy and gets good performances from all her cast, so we’ll let her slide. She also succeeds in presenting the clichéd aspects of the story in a fresh way and earns points there too. An entertaining and fun little indie flick with it’s heart definitely in the right sassy place. Whip It is based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross, who also wrote the screenplay. Flick  also stars Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon and Green Room’s Alia Shawkat.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

BARE BONES: THE MARTIAN

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

martian

THE MARTIAN (2015)

The Martian is a fun and suspenseful sci-fi adventure directed by Ridley Scott from Drew (The Cabin In The Woods) Goddard’s screenplay, based on Andy Weir’s book. It tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney who, while on a manned mission to Mars, is left behind after being lost in a storm and thought dead. Now Watney must find some way to let NASA know he’s alive and then survive till help comes…which would be long after his food supply runs out.

This is a very well crafted and really entertaining survival story of one man’s determination to overcome the impossible…living on a lifeless planet. There are some fun and clever ways Watney uses his knowledge as a botanist and astronaut to grow food, elongate the use of crucial equipment and communicate with Earth. Damon is great as the ever chipper Watney, who refuses to give up even when his food supply is damaged. Meanwhile on Earth it’s a race against time to try to figure out a rescue before Watney’s time runs out. If the film has any flaw is that as a crowd pleaser, we do feel manipulated when things go right…and wrong…at exactly a crucial time to elicit an emotional response or suspense…though it works more often than not. That and even at 141 minutes, it seems like certain things are rushed to keep the film at a reasonable length. The film does jump ahead a lot.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable flick with a totally engaging hero played by Matt Damon. It’s fast moving and cleverly written with just the right amount of sentiment. Damon is supported by great cast including Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Ant-Man’s Michael Peña and The Winter Soldier’s Sebastian Stan. Recommended!

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

REVIEW: THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (2015)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

diary of a teenage girl

bars

THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Great indie comedy/drama is based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner and tells the story of 15-year-old aspiring cartoonist Minnie Goetz (Bel Powley). Self-conscious Minnie lives in 1976 San Francisco and has a sexual awaking when she starts to have an affair with the handsome 35-year-old boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgård) of her free-spirited mother (Kristen Wiig). The experience opens her up to exploring her newfound confidence and sexuality…and all the emotional turmoil that comes with it.

Written and directed by Marielle Heller, this is a provocative and daring movie about a young woman’s coming of age that is also touching, brazenly sexual and sometimes very funny. The film boldly breaks the double standard by unapologetically portraying a young woman sowing her newfound sexual oats and thus dealing with all the conflicting emotions that it brings. It also bravely portrays a very taboo relationship between Minnie and the much older Monroe, who is basically taking advantage of a young woman’s budding sexual appetites due to his own emotional insecurities. It’s done with intelligence, class, style and a touch of whimsy as Minnie’s cartoons often come to life to accent the situation or further explore what’s on her mind. This is a refreshingly honest film, made by Heller from her clever and very smart script that presents it’s story without judging the characters inhabiting it, or their behavior. The film is never smug or pretentious, either, nor is it ever exploitive or insensitive, despite the plentiful sexual situations involving a character that is supposed to be 15-years-old. This is an energetic and emotional film that has it’s heartbreaks, but also presents Minnie’s experiences as a natural progression out of childhood and a stage of self-discovery and maturing that some of the “adults” around her have yet to do. Watching Minnie coming to terms with not only all the new emotions and blossoming confidence, but the power and control her sexuality can sometimes afford her, is portrayed with the honesty and respect it deserves and there is an energy to Minnie’s awakening that resonates thanks to a firecracker of a leading lady.

While on the subject of cast, Heller achieves much of this, not only from her heartfelt script, that never trivializes the subject matter, but from great performances from her core actors. British actress Bel Powley is simply amazing as Minnie. She gives a brave and complex performance portraying all the emotions that a young girl, who is discovering her sexuality, would have. From the excitement, to dealing with the unexpected attachments, to the disappointment and heartbreaks, Bel is simply a powerhouse as a very real teenage girl becoming a young woman, who has urges and desires and learns to take control of them, all the while finding out who she is and who she wants to be. A young woman not afraid to use her newfound sexuality to get what, or who she wants either. Alexander Skarsgård does a really good job at the difficult task of making Monroe a person we don’t jump to conclusions about. A man with his own flaws and insecurities that lead him to have a very inappropriate relationship with his girlfriend’s young daughter. He keeps him from being just a one dimensional stereotypical creep, by giving us someone with his own emotional issues that lead him to irresponsibly respond to Minnie’s advances. Kristen Wiig is fantastic as Minnie’s mother Charlotte who has been married and now has adopted a more Bohemian lifestyle of drugs and sex to sate the emotional emptiness in her life. A woman sadly too involved in her own life to really see what is going on, practically in front of her. A great cast to portray well written characters.

Really loved this movie. It’s boldly sexual by presenting it’s subject of a young woman’s coming of age in a frank and unapologetic manner and at a time without the fear of AIDS and STDs. We get a dazzling performance by Bel Powley as Minnie and Marielle Heller takes us on her emotionally turbulent sexual awaking skillfully and with a lot of heart. There are some clever artistic touches too from the writer/director, as well as, an intelligent script with multidimensional characters that treats it’s subject with honesty and respect. A great little indie movie. Also stars Christopher Meloni as Charlotte’s ex, Pascal and Abigail Wait as Minnie’s little sister, Gretel.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 ans 1/2 stars.

three and one half stars rating

 

 

 

bars

BARE BONES: THE DEVIL’S HAND and THE SKELETON TWINS

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

devils hand

THE DEVIL’S HAND (2014)

While presented in all seriousness by director Christian E. Christiansen, from Karl Mueller’s script, this Amish set slasher/supernatural horror comes across as fairly silly and very cliché. The story has a prophecy of a coming evil being fulfilled when six girls are born on the same night, in the same Amish village on the sixth day of the sixth month. One mother fearing she has unleashed this evil, murders her child, but the other five are left to be. We pick up as they all are about to turn 18 and now someone…or something…is killing them off. Film is actually fairly well directed, but just can’t rise above the familiarity of these type of ancient prophecy flicks such as the village elder (Colm Meaney phoning it in) using his people’s fear to control them and the rebellious girl (Alycia Debnam-Carey) breaking the rules to investigate…and date a boy from the outside. We’ve seen it all before and better. It was never boring, but never scary or suspenseful either. Also stars Dexter‘s Jennifer Carpenter who visibly looks like she would rather be anywhere else but in this movie. The young cast members, including Adelaide Kane, give it their all and there is some decent bloodshed, so that helps a bit. Not unwatchable, just nothing special.

2 and 1-2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

skeleton twins

THE SKELETON TWINS (2014)

Directed by Craig Johnson, from a script he co-wrote with Mark Heyman, this indie comedy/drama follows the indie formula fairly closely by inhabiting an emotion-filled story with eccentric and dysfunctional characters on a journey to discover themselves. It is the story of estranged twins, the suicidal Milo (Bill Hader) and the married but unfaithful Maggie (Kristen Wiig), who are reunited when Milo attempts to kill himself. Milo comes to upstate New York to live with Maggie and her clueless husband (Luke Wilson) and they learn to love themselves and each other. And as in a lot of these films, there are some character revelations, but ultimately the film really doesn’t go anywhere story wise, though it’s not really meant to. While I found a lot of it to be cliché for these type of flicks, even though I do have a soft spot for indie films, I did find it worth watching for the acting from Hader and Wiig and the film is never dull and can be subtly funny at times. The two leads are superb and both play roles a bit different than we are used to seeing them in and they have great chemistry together and it makes all the clichés work. So, I recommend it for an enjoyable 90+ minutes of two underrated performers creating two very offbeat, but ultimately likable characters and personally I loved all the Nyack, New York locations, especially during the Halloween set sequences.

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

REVIEW: HER (2013)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

her_xlg

bars

HER (2013)

Finally caught up with this interesting, involving and slightly whimsical Spike Jonze flick and found it a very enjoyable, offbeat and heartfelt movie. The story takes place in a not too distant future and focuses on Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who writes letters for others for a living and has just suffered a heartbreaking separation from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara). Theodore, in his loneliness, buys a computer operating system with an artificial intelligence made to learn and adapt to their owner’s wants and needs. Theodore chooses a female voice and the OS chooses the name Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). But, the more time Theodore spends with Samantha, the more their relationship grows and the more Theodore thinks she’s all he needs and starts to fall in love with her. And Samantha feels likewise but, as Samantha grows and evolves and begins to experience new emotions and desires, will Theodore be all she needs?

Writer/director Spike Jonze delivers a rarity, an intriguing and very original romantic-comedy, a sub-genre that is one of the least adventurous genres and one that rarely steps outside the stale formula. He presents the idea of a computerized operating system that becomes such a perfect fit for it’s owner that it creates an emotional attachment, becoming a friend and a lover. Especially poignant, as it does so at a time where Theodore is wounded and afraid to connect with others of flesh and blood including his cute best friend Amy (Amy Adams) who has also recently gotten a divorce. Of course Jonze is making a comment on the increasing reliability on personal computers and cellphones, which almost seem to be a more important part of our lives then our friends and loved ones. We seem to spend more time communicating with and through our computerized devices and less and less actual time socially interacting with those around us. Why commit to the emotional investment of talking to someone face to face when we can text or E-mail and be done with it. Jonze gives his cautionary tale of loving our gadgets too much a very subtle and sly sense of humor and filmed his romance in the city of Shanghai to give it that futuristic look. The cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema accents Jonze’s colorful but slightly sterile future and there is a very effecting score by the band Arcade Fire that really embellishes the atmosphere and mood set by Jonze’s deft direction and clever story.

The cast is wonderful with Phoenix creating a very strong character in his Theodore, a man with his own intimacy issues who is wounded by the collapse of his marriage and afraid to start looking again and thus finding the perfect mate for his current emotional condition in the artificial intelligence that grows to suit his every need, Samantha. As the voice of Samantha, Scarlett Johansson gives a wonderful performance as an intelligence that is learning new emotions and experiences and who falls in love with the man who teaches them to her. She has only her voice to convey her feelings and does a simply amazing job of portraying the wonder of discovering new emotions and the joy of love for the first time. She and Phoenix make this work. If either of their performances were off, the film would simply have not come together and so well. We also get another strong performance by Amy Adams as the nerdy Amy, Theodore’s best friend and a person he cares for more then he wants to admit. The actress has become quite the chameleon. Rooney Mara is fine as the estranged wife who still haunts Theodore in his thoughts and has a really nice scene with Phoenix as they hesitate when the moment to finally sign the divorce papers comes. A very effecting and real sequence as they both must face the fact that it is indeed over. There are also some eccentric supporting performances by Chris Pratt as the quirky receptionist at Theodore’s job, Olivia Wilde as a pretty blind date that Theodore wasn’t quite ready for and Portia Doubleday as Isabella, a beautiful young woman who wants to act as the surrogate for the bodiless Samantha. A very eclectic and strong cast that really make Jonze’s vision work very well.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this film very much. It’s a heartfelt romantic comedy as it is an original one. It is also a cautionary tale about becoming too close to our computerized gadgets and letting our flesh and blood relationships fall to the side. It is well directed, intelligently written and has some wonderful and understated performances by all the cast. A very unique indie film and a real treat. Highly recommended! Also features vocal cameos by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig.

MonsterZero NJ extra trivia: Pretty actress Portia Doubleday who plays the surrogate Isabella is the daughter of actor Frank Doubleday who played the creepy Romero in John Carpenter’s classic Escape From New York!

3 and 1/2 Scarlett’s.

her rating

bars