Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pitch Perfect 2

This 2nd movie about a group of girls who sing in an all-girl a capella group known as the Bella’s again stars the same characters from the first movie.  Anna Kendrick plays Beca, Rebel Wilson plays Fat Amy and Brittany Snow played Chloe.  Added to the sequel was Hailee Steinfield as Emily Junk-Harden, a freshman who has dreamed of being a Bella most of her life.  Katy Segal plays Katherine Junk who is Emily’s mother and a former Bella herself.  

The movie begins with the Bella’s performing at the Kennedy Center for President Barack Obama’s birthday.  The presentation, however, goes horribly wrong when Fat Amy comes in on a makeshift trapeze and has a wardrobe malfunction while not wearing any underwear.  This incident causes the Bella’s to be banned from any further competition. 

After lobbying to reduce their punishment, they reach an agreement that if they can win the world competition, they can be reinstated.  Anna is tasked with coming up with a new routine for the Bella’s but she is sidetracked by her desire to pursuit her career as a producer and the Bella’s seem to lose their way. 

This movie is outrageously funny and even has guest appearances by Snoop Dog and members of the Green Bay Packers.  The Green Bay Packer members participate in a “Sing-Off” which only adds to the hilarity.  As before Anna Kendrick shows off her fabulous voice and acting abilities. Rebel Wilson again keeps you laughing the aisles.  All of the actors were fabulous. 

I gave this movie 4 out of 4 stars.  Go see it!  

Hot Pursuit

This comedy stars Reece Witherspoon as policewoman Rose Cooper and Sofia Vergara as Daniella Riva, the wife of a cartel informant.  Rose’s father was a police officer who often took her with him in his squad car.  This led to her desire to follow in his footsteps and become an officer herself.   Rose, however, has problems separating her police life from her personal life because of her intensity.  She is the butt of many jokes on the police force.  

One day she is asked by her captain to help escort Daniella and her husband to safety before he testifies.  While at the Riva house, shots begin flying and Rose and Daniella escape together in one of the Riva’s cars.  Rose and Daniella then get into one escapade after another since many on the police force are on the cartel’s pay roll. 

Reece Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara were terrific in their parts and Anne Fletcher did a great job of directing.  The movie started out making me laugh and really didn’t let up.   This is a movie where you really need to check your mind at the door and just allow yourself to enjoy.  

I gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars. 

The Age of Adeline

This movie is the unique story of Adeline Bowman who is played by Blake Lively.  Adeline was born in 1908.  She married and had a child but was widowed at a young age after her husband was killed in an accident while helping to build the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  At the age of 29 while driving home from her parent’s house, it begins to snow.  She has a car accident and then is hit by lightning.  From that day on, she never ages.

Adeline soon realizes that she can no longer remain Adeline Bowman as people begin to question her.  And so she changes her identity often and moves around a lot.  The only person who knows her true identity is her daughter Flemming who is played by Ellen Burstyn. 

Adeline meets a young man who steals her heart but when she realizes that he intends to propose to her, she suddenly leaves him without a word.  Many years later, a very lonely Adeline allows herself to fall in love with Ellis Jones who is played by Michiel Huisman.  He invites her to come with him to his parent’s 40th wedding anniversary celebration.  Adeline agrees but much to her surprise, Ellis’s father William, who is played by Harrison Ford, is her prior love that she had left behind.

I thought that this movie was exceptional in all things.  The story, the characters, and the acting were all fantastic.  Blake Lively played her role beautifully.  Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker (William’s wife) worked well as husband and wife.  I also applaud Ellen Burstyn in her part.  

I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars.    Don’t miss this one.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Monkey Kingdom

This Walt Disney movie follows Maya who is toque macaque monkey living in ruins in the jungles of Sri Lanka.  The film is narrated by Tina Fey.  Maya is of the lower caste within the Monkey Kingdom and knows her place in the pecking order.
After another male shows up and takes a liking to Maya, she finds that she will soon be a mother.  The leader of the monkeys chases off the newcomer leaving Maya alone again.  She must now find food for her and her newborn son if he is to survive. 

This movie is cute and enjoyable and leaves a warm feeling inside while teaching the ways of this kingdom of monkeys.  

I gave this movie three out of four stars.  

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

This sequel again stars Kevin James in the lead role and Raini Rodriguez as his daughter Maya.  In the previous movie, Paul married Amy.  At the beginning of this movie, he receives notice that Amy has filed from divorce.  Soon after that, his mother is hit by a milk truck and killed. 

Paul is struggling to find happiness again when he receives notice that he has been requested to attend a security guard convention in Las Vegas.  At the same time, Maya is reading an acceptance letter to UCLA.  Paul tells Maya his news and she decides to keep UCLA’s letter to herself. 

They travel to Las Vegas where someone leads Paul to believe he will be the key-note speaker.  He soon learns that this was incorrect but a series of events leads to a request for him to speak anyway.  In the meantime, Maya has made a friend out of the hotel’s valet, Lane. 

As usual trouble seems to find Paul.   A very wealthy man has made plans to steal all of the valuable art work that is in the hotel.  Maya and Lane attend a party in one of the hotel’s suites and stumble upon the heist.  Both are kidnapped and Paul takes action. 

I loved every second of this hilarious movie.  You need to go in and check your brain at the door.  If you do, you will truly enjoy.  The whole cast was great.  

I gave this movie three out of four stars.  

The Longest Ride

This movie was an adaptation of yet another novel by Nicholas Sparks.  It stars Scott Eastwood as Luke Collins who is a successful bull rider, Britt Robertson as Sophia Danko who is an art student about to graduate from college, and Alan Alda as Ira Levinson, an older gentleman who the two find after he was in a car accident.

Sophia’s friends convince her to leave the studying behind to attend a rodeo even though it’s not Britt’s cup of tea.  While there she catches the eye of Luke and he tosses her his cowboy hat.  Later at a bar, the two meet again and Luke gets Sophia’s phone number.  After ignoring several of Luke’s calls, she finally answers and they go out. 

When returning from a date, they come upon a car accident involving Ira.  Sophia retrieves a box of old letters that were in the car and delivers them to the hospital to give to Ira.  They become friends and Sophia begins to read the letters to him.  The letters were old love letters between Ira and his wife, Ruth, who had recently died. 

Rodeo is a dangerous sport and Luke has been seriously injured many times.  His mother, played by Lolita Davidovich, has been trying to get Luke to quit for years.  
Sophia tries as well but also with no success.  Luke and Sophia who are from two very different worlds must figure out how to make their lives work together. 

I really enjoyed everything about this movie. Scott Eastwood who is the spitting image of his dad Clint Eastwood was terrific as was Britt Robertson.  They make a great couple on film.  I normally do not like Alan Alda but he was really quite good in a pretty big role.  He pulled off the part quite nicely.  

I gave this movie three out of four stars.  I enjoyed it from beginning to end.  

The Woman in Gold

This movie based on a true story stars Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.  Helen Mirren plays Maria Altman who was a Jewish woman from Austria who had escaped the Nazis in the 1940’s.  Both Maria and a sister fled to the United States.  Their parents were unable to leave and eventually died in Nazi-run death camps.  Ryan Reynolds plays Randy Schoenberg, a lawyer who is the son of one of Maria’s friends who is also a Jewish woman from Austria. 

Maria was brought up in a well-to-do family who loved art.  Maria’s aunt was the subject of an Austrian painting known as “The Woman in Gold”.   All of the art the family owned was confiscated by the Nazi’s including the painting of her aunt.  It was now being held in an Austrian museum with ownership belonging to Austria.  

When Maria’s sister dies, she begins to go through old belongings and discovers a letter leading her to believe she may be the rightful owner of the painting.  Maria enlists Randy to help her take her case to court to reclaim “The Woman in Gold”. 

I thought this movie was spectacular.  Both Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds did a fantastic job.  I loved the replay of Maria’s life as a young woman as remembered through her daydreaming.  These memories made the story what it was.  

I gave this movie 3 ½ out of 4 stars.  Helen Mirren’s performance was worthy of an Oscar.