‘This is 40’ offers a glimpse into middle class middle age

This is 40Take a middle-aged couple, throw in two combative daughters, a troubled business, a mooch father and you’ve got Judd Apatow’s This is 40, which is relatable and funny.

Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debby (Leslie Mann) who we met in  Knocked Up are turning 40, and just like they were the first time around, their relationship isn’t the smoothest. The movie sees them go through a tumultuous time (see above) and unlike most movies, it’s more of a window into the life.

While not my favourite Apatow movie, it has its bright spots like painting a realistic image of what people go through while trying to manage a family, careers and life in general. I have a few more years before I fully understand what they’re going through, but certain aspects, like the back-and-forth between Pete and Debby, or their relationships with their parents are stuff people of any age deal with.

There’s a solid supporting cast featuring Albert Brooks, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd and even Megan Fox. The most memorable for me, however, was by Melissa McCarthy as a parent of one of the students at Pete and Debby’s daughter Sadie’s (Maude Apatow) school. Her fiery arguments with Pete, then later with both parents in the Principal’s office were hi-larious. They even made it to the credits, which were made funnier when they showed Mann and Rudd trying to hold in their laughter as she goes on her rant.

I like Leslie Mann, even though she’s in everything Judd Apatow does. She’s funny, but one thing I found this time around is her whining schtick was a bit much, and I don’t see how she’s nominated for a Golden Globe. Her whining was was only outshone by her daughter Maude – I guess it runs in the family?

Overall I found the movie enjoyable and funny, but as mentioned, the constant complaining and whining gets a bit overdone at times. While I knew it wouldn’t be a straight up comedy, I’ll admit it made me stressed out toward the end which I appreciate because it’s always a bonus when a movie, let alone a Judd Apatow movie, hits you like that, but after a while it felt like force fed anxiety from the family’s issues. I give This is 40 a 3/5.

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2012 Entertainment Year in Review

I haven’t blogged much this year, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to share my Top picks for 2012. Instead of sharing a few posts, I’ve combined all into one action-packed review post <images coming>. Share your thoughts!

Top Movie: The Hunger Games

hungergames-1I’ll probably receive some criticism for this one, but I’d read the trilogy in anticipation of the movie,  at the

beginning of the year, and since the story was so fresh in my mind, I was excited for this one to come out. Thankfully, compared to the book, this one did not disappoint. Of course there were some parts that were taken out that I believe should have been left in, but overall it was exciting, well acted/written and visually appealing. A must see if you haven’t already (but read the books first).

Runners up: Comedies come close to taking the top title this year with 21 Jump Street and Ted. If you haven’t seen these, prepare to be in pain from laughing as they are ridiculously hilarious.

Top Book: The Glass Castle

The Glass CastleLike I note every year, my top books aren’t necessarily books that came out this year. As I wrote in my review, I didn’t have any expectations when I started reading this one, but it eventually pulled me in and became a book I didn’t want to put down. Jeannette Walls has a great writing style and I’m excited to read more from her in the future.

Runners up: This hasn’t been a great year for picking good books, and the bulk of my favourites happened at the start of the year. My #2 book was The Hunger Games Trilogy and ROOM.

Top Album: The Killers – Battleborn

Killers- BattlebornThis album felt like it was a long-time coming – four years in fact, since Day & Age was released. From the moment I started listening to it, I couldn’t stop. As a group, these guys are consistent and put out music they know their fans will love. It’s a solid album that I’ll probably be listening to years down the road.

Runners up: This was a tough year as the two runners up – Metric – Synthetica and Dragonette – Bodyparts – could have easily taken the #1 spot.

Reviewed: The Hunger Games movie [SPOILERS]

Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games

It took less than three days to read The Hunger Games trilogy, but I’ll have to wait about three years to enjoy the trilogy in movie form. After watching part one this weekend, I hate having to wait that long.

Whenever they make a movie based on books people love, it’s inevitable that something will be off, like the casting, or they’ll just miss the mark completely. With this one, author and co-writer Suzanne Collins kept it relatively in-line with the book, the casting and sets were phenomenal, and some added adaptations fit well. All that being said, I do have a few criticisms.

The books were largely about the politics of this society, and to me the movie seemed to hint at it instead of going into a bit more detail. Katniss’ many inadvertent thumbs in the face of The Capitol were hardly touched on until the ride back to District 12 when Haymitch says she upset them by forcing two winners. With how the story progresses, the sparks she creates here play a huge part in future events, but for whatever reason they decide to not delve into it more.

Another key point missed was the importance of Katniss playing up her feelings for Peeta. They make it clear that Peeta has feelings for her, but it’s not so obvious that she’s putting on a show to keep them alive. The fake relationship also plays a key part in her relationship with her best friend Gale, but we’re barely given a sample of the struggle she goes through doing what she did.

I know some adaptations have to be made for any film, even if the book isn’t that big, so I’m crossing my fingers for them to touch on some things that were glanced at, a bit more in the next two movies.

As I mentioned before, the casting and sets were phenomenal. While the characters didn’t all necessarily look the same as I had pictured, they certainly acted the same. When it came to the two main ones, Katniss and Peeta, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson made them come to life much better than I could have imagined.

Sets are just as important as the actors in many cases. For this one, it was as if my imagination was on the big screen in many cases, but especially in the Games. Whether it was in the forest trees, the cave or in the open cornucopia space there were times when I couldn’t believe how perfect they’d actually stuck with the book. So often I picture one thing, then when it’s in a movie I think I read it all wrong – not this time.

Forgetting it’s an adaption of a book for a second, I can say this was the best most entertaining movie I’ve seen in a long time. If I hadn’t read the books I would have given it a higher score, but I did, so I can’t forgive the fact that key plot points weren’t touched on enough. I give The Hunger Games a 4.5/5. After some reflection, I edited the score to accurately reflect my review a bit more. Like I mentioned in a sentence above, if key plot points were focused in on a bit more, it would have deserved the 4.5-5 rating.

My 2012 Academy Awards predictions

Oscars Academy Awards 2012

I’ve previously come out with my Oscar predictions, and selected my winners from the entire list, but it was too long and boring (kind of like the show – am I right?) so I’ve just narrowed it down to the big six.

I feel like I did well this year seeing a good chunk of the nominees, but in a couple cases I’m going on limited selection. Below my choice you’ll see the other movies in the category that I’ve seen, just so you know where I’m coming from.

Have a look and let me know what your picks are!

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

(I’ve seen: Jonah Hill (Moneyball))

Christopher Plummer - Beginners

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (The Help)

(I’ve seen: Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Jessica Chastain (The Help), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids))

Octavia Spencer - The Help

Best Lead Actor: George Clooney (The Descendants)

(I’ve seen: Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Brad Pitt (Moneyball))

George Clooney - The Descendants

Best Lead Actress: Viola Davis (The Help)

Haven’t seen the other nominees’ films.

Viola Davis - The Help

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)

(I’ve seen: Alexander Payne (The Descendants), Woody Allen (Midnight In Paris), Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life))

Best Director - Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist

Best Picture: The Help

(I’ve seen: The Artist, The Descendants, Midnight In Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life)

The Help

Safe House: Too much flash, not enough substance

Safe HouseIt’s been a while since I’ve seen Ryan Reynolds or Denzel Washington in anything worth watching, but the two stars are still a good reason to check out a movie.

The basic premise of the Safe House sees Matt Weston (Reynolds), an inexperienced CIA agent who’s the solitary staffer in a South African safe house, get the most hands on experience of his career. Soon after the famous rogue CIA agent, Tobin Frost (Washington) is brought in for questioning, the house is attacked, eventually causing Weston to flee with Frost – and so begins the non-stop shaky camera car chasing, gun shooting and CIA conspiracy-ing adventure.

There isn’t much else to this movie other than the aforementioned action, and it barely slows down enough to let you get to know the characters very well. I liked the idea of the “trust no one” aspect of the movie, but I feel it was a shadow of what it could have been. Washington shows the same kind of intensity that he brought to his role in Training Day with Ethan Hawke and Reynolds is believable as the under-used agent who’s somewhat gullible, but I thought they under used the talent in favour of loud noises. There were glimmers of Washington getting into Reynolds’ head, but that was mostly at the beginning and after a while it trailed off.

If you’re looking for an action movie with a lot of car chases and loud gun shooting then this is the film for you. If you’re looking for a solid script that lets the actors shine, then you might want to pass this one over. I give Safe House a 2.5/5.

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