Bridge to Terabithia

Thursday, June 28, 2007


When I first saw the preview for Bridge to Terabithia, my first feelings were excitement, and then my excitement turned to horror when I saw that the production company for this film was Disney. In the last few years, Disney has been producing some of the worst movies in family film history; Dinosaurs, Brother Bear, The Haunted Mansion; and let's not forget its butchered remakes of classics like Herbie Fully Loaded, Blubber, That Shaggy Dog (<--this one Disney re-made about 10 bajillion times). ::shudders:: Why Disney, why? You filled my childhood with beautiful movies like Pollyanna and The Little Mermaid. Why do you insist on giving Generation Y crap? . . . And then there was Bridge to Terabithia. It would have been so easy to mess up this film, and yet, it was near perfection.

Based on the classic novel, Bridge to Terabithia, the film Bridge to Terabithia involves the same general plot lines. Jesse Aarons is the middle child and the only boy among his 4 other siblings. Finding no niche at home, and also out-casted at school, meeting Leslie Burke was like a breath of fresh air. As the new kid, she also didn't fit in, but she befriends Jesse and together they create a world where they rule. With Leslie around, anything is possible, and her presence allows Jesse to find comfort and confidence.

Falsely advertised as a children's fantasy, Narnia knock off, Bridge to Terabithia carries heavy themes and is essentially one of the best coming-of-age stories I've seen in a very long time. It holds a very strong resemblance to My Girl.
**********SPOILER WARNING************
Parents must be warned that there is a very abrupt, significant death that will catch you off guard. Children will need an explanation, and questions will be asked. Please be prepared if you choose to show this to any little person under the age of 12. Some complain that this ending came out of nowhere. There was no significant foreshadowing, and there was no final closure to the friendship. But the story mimics reality. This is life, and to cushion harsh certainty would be an injustice to the film's key theme.
**********SPOILER END***********

I struggle with my rating of this film, and I wonder if it deserves that extra 0.5 GOOMBA. The acting was flawless, especially Josh Hutcherson. His Little Manhattan performance was definitely no fluke. These two kids made me love them and wish for a friendship so grand that I almost cried reveling in its beauty, so if I decide to change my rating after a few days, don't be surprised.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:22 AM 0 comments  

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Monday, June 25, 2007


Originally, I was planning on giving this movie 3 GOOMBAS. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't fantastic, as the name implies. The action scenes were short and mediocre, the themes were really blatant and simple, and it was actually kind of a dumb movie. I also realized that if I gave it 3 GOOMBAS, I'd be saying that it was better than Spiderman 3, which it definitely was not. Spiderman 3 had some really terrible parts and some really cool parts, but Fantastic Four: ROSS was dry and bland.

I don't remember what happened in the first Fantastic Four movie, since it also wasn't fantastic. Usually I forget about those mediocre plot lines pretty quickly, but I think Fantastic Four:ROSS basically started where it left off. Reed Richards and Sue Storm are trying to get married, Ben Grimm is still a rock (happy, but still a rock), Johnny Storm is still a narcissistic, man whore, and the entire world is fixated on the Fantastic Four's celebrity. Then, this Silver Surfer, alien thing comes to Earth and leaves city-size craters everywhere and says that in eight days the world will die.

When I walked out of theater 23, I wasn't fraught with anger or annoyance, like I usually am with films that had so much potential and failed so horribly. This movie kept me interested, but it didn't provide anything other than a two hour window of freedom from the real world (for that I was greatful for at the time). Jessica Alba and Chris Evans were really nice to look at, the rock guy was funny, the shots were well framed, and the CG was pretty cool. It wasn't bad but it wasn't good either, so eh? It's what you make of it. Go see it and tell me what you thought.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 1:36 PM 0 comments  


Sunday, June 24, 2007


I love food movies. Maybe it's because of my favorite hobby, eating like a pregnant woman. I have a talent for consuming a large quantity of food and then immediately crave dessert right after. My personal best was at a Las Vegas buffet where I pounded 4 full plates of food, went 2 rounds with dessert, then ate a slice of pizza, followed by a bowl of clam chowder. Then I stuffed chocolate tarts in my purse for later. Mmmmm, yummy. . . so of course I was quite taken by the preview for Waitress, staring Keri Russell and some glorious pies.

Jenna is a waitress at a small pie diner, in a small town, and she leads a pretty small, unfulfilling life. Her only escape from her controlling and selfish husband is to dream up different pie recipes; Marshmallow Mermaid Pie, I Hate My Husband Pie, Kick Me In the Pants Pie. All pies, a manifestation her own life. She finds out that she has been impregnated by her husband (I Don't Want Earl's Baby Pie), and the role of mother didn't exactly spark a smile on her unhappy face. She eventually begins a comical affair with her OB/GYN.

******SPOILER WARNING*******
But for advocates of the Dr. Pomatter saving Jenna from her husband scenario, it just doesn't happen. Its only in the end that she realizes the pie that she is baking in her own, personal oven, is the pie that she's been waiting for her whole life, and its through this pie, that she finds the confidence to begin a life of her own.
*****SPOILER END*****

Overlooking some weirdness in tone, the style and comedy of this film is what I would imagine Tim Burton doing if he weren't so dark and obscure. Waitress was kind of like the first hour of Edward Scissor Hands; perfection exaggerated and colorful. Visually, it was wonderful and cheery; facilitating the comedic aspect of an otherwise sad story.

A piece of pie can move anyone, even if this movie doesn't, but that's what it's all about any way; finding your way through life to get to your slice of heaven, whatever that is.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:08 PM 0 comments  

Alpha Dog

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I was pleasantly surprised by the raw and disturbing tale that this film presented, and who knew Justin Timberlake could act? I guess fans of the Mickey Mouse Club might have . . . and hello, what about Ben Foster?! Flash Forward Tucker no more is all I have to say.

Chronicling three days in the life of willing hostage Zach Mazursky, Alpha Dog bases its story on real life events of Jesse James Hollywood and the kidnapping of Nicholas Markowitz. Out for revenge, Johnny Truelove and his high rollin' posse plan to jump Jake Mazursky but see his kid brother Zach walking along the road. They kidnap Zach, beat, bind and gag him. However, once Johnny explains they have no malicious intent, they just want the ransom money, Zach goes along with the kidnapping, trusting that he'll be treated well and that his brother will pay. For once in his short and sheltered life, he'd have the freedom to party, drink and smoke, and make out with girls. Sure, why not go along with it?

Filmed like a docudrama, this movie was inventive with its presentation of details (i.e. the count of witnesses and the time and place of each location). It offers this feeling of finality and retrospect rather than taking you along for the ride. This film assumes you know the ending but wish to know how it came to be, and for it's this reason that Alpha Dog is not only painful, but ominous as well.

Raw, abrasive, and realistically disturbing, Alpha Dog is a testament to how youthful irresponsibility and wrong choices can lead not only to very messed up kids, but to serious and disconcerting situations. For those with virgin ears, please keep in mind that the four letter word and all its derivatives is said 310 times in this gritty flick.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 4:54 PM 0 comments  

Little Children

Monday, June 18, 2007


I often dream about having a beautiful two story white house, like the one from Father of the Bride, with the garage in the back, an attic and a basement (for my movie collection, of course), a huge front lawn, and tree branches kissing my rooftop. The perfect home; ideal for raising a family. Your kids can learn how to ride a bike on the street without any hesitation, you can walk to the local park, have the neighborhood kids come over for grilled cheese sandwiches, have the convenience of 'big city' perks in a 'small town' atmosphere. Ah, the suburbs ::sigh:: . . . and then I watched Little Children. An American Beauty-esque tale of suburbia gone wrong, Little Children portrays suburban living as not so perfect.

Sarah Pierce is wife and a mother, but she sucks at both jobs. At the park where she takes her daughter, she is constantly shown up by the other "perfect" moms, who sit and gossip, bring the perfect healthy snacks, for their perfect 6 year old spawn. Sarah can hardly remember to bring her daughter a granola bar. She has a husband who finds online erotica more arousing, and she often feels trapped and unable to show any love toward her daughter. Brad Adamson is a stay-at-home dad who is mentally castrated by his successful working wife. He and Sarah begin an affair. Other happening in Wisteria Ln.; there is a sexual assailant who lives in their neighborhood and a washed-up cop who thinks it's his moral duty to harass the sex offender.

Each character is representative of a childhood/adolescent archetype. The popular, shallow but perfect blond, the glamours ,knock out brunette, the bully, the "Prom King" football star, the gross, scary nerd, and the artistic girl who pays no attention to appearance but has a crush on the football star. Not such a new idea, but by placing this in the context of the "ideal" adult life, things that were just deemed childhood angst can create pretty sinister and serious events. Other strong themes to look out for include castration, voyeurism, and selfish, emotional disconnection.

This film, portrayed like a scientific test case, is a creative way of showing the dark side of that perfect two story white house.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:53 AM 0 comments  

Ocean's 13

Monday, June 11, 2007


Not as good as the first movie, but definitely better than its previous installment, Ocean's 13 was smart, entertaining, and pretty darn funny. Top that off with very handsome Clooney and Pitt, who makes even Matt Damon look pretty average, you can't ask for a better third chapter in the adventures of this heist pack.

The 11's need to get even with Al Pacino's character, Willie Bank, who cheated Reuben out of his fortune, and in the process need some help from some alternate associates.

I don't know what else to say about this movie without giving anything away, but Ocean's 13 is worth seeing if you're a heist fan or just in it for the eye candy. The plot can be complicated, but the ending is pretty straight forward. The 11's provide some pretty comical scenes, and it's nothing like the Tess pretending to be Julia Roberts scenario (<--that was just plain dumb). Also worth mentioning is the great style this movie brings, both in its savior faire characters and in its editing approach; split screen action to illustrate the various happenings of the same moment.

Don't expect too much of a twist at the end, as one can pretty much figure it out a mile ahead of time. But the 11's have so much charisma, that Ocean's 13's entertainment value overrides any negativity.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:15 AM 0 comments  

The Last King of Scotland

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


As first generation Filipina American, my parents always told stories of what it was like to live under a dictatorship. I'd hear stories of rigged elections, strange disappearances, convenient assassinations, and how bad it was to live in a country that you couldn't trust. Watching The Last King of Scotland reminded me of how lucky I am to be so sheltered from the oppression in this world, but other than this reminiscence, this movie was not anything special.

The Last King of Scotland is a fictitious story loosely based on the real life events of the brutal Idi Amin regime. Fresh out of med school and not yet wanting to deal with reality, Dr. Nicholas Garrigan ventures to Uganda to help support a struggling provincial clinic. Under an unusual chance of luck, President Amin takes a liking to him and offers him a position as his personal physician.

This movie was really able to portray the fear and agitation that I can only imagine was happening in Uganda at this time, not to mention Forest Whitacker's performance as, the likable one minute, savage the next, Idi Amin. He deserved every award he received for this role. He made flawless transitions in mood, and only after did I say "Dang, was Idi Amin bipolar?" However, other than these positive attributes, this movie had a lot of loose ends and some undeveloped cinematic style.

I don't know what the filmmakers were going for when they made Dr. Nicholas infatuated with the British wife's doctor and then infatuated with one of Amin's wives. And why did they decide to use some weird, jerky camera angles during seemingly random times in the film? I was also taken by the opening credits of this movie. It was so happy and carefree; very different for Dr. Nicholas' departure from Uganda. I understand that this distinction was Garrigan's "coming of age," slap of reality symbolism, but it was SO different. The opening credits almost seemed like it was suppose to set the tone for the entire movie, but of course, this movie was anything but happy-go-lucky.

Overall, this film was very interesting to watch. I struggle to not mention the fart scene, but how can I not? There are so many great parts to this movie, but at the same time, I don't think it was a work of art. The Last King of Scotland; not the drama I hoped it would be, but all the while, still a decent flick.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 4:57 PM 0 comments  

Epic Movie

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Not the world's smartest movie, Epic Movie is to Citizen Kane, as InTouch Magazine is to The New York Times. It's basically garbage, and yet these movies make millions of dollars. Let's talk about why.

Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie were fresh and original on top of making people laugh, but as the creators got more and more greedy, film after film was produced to create this egregious collection of cheapness. Kind of the same class as the National Lampoon movies, these popcorn flicks have no surprises. People know what they're getting themselves into, and sometimes people may just be in the mood for this type of movie. So they watch these, regardless of whether or not it's any good. Eventually, the filmmakers will make another one, and another, and another; but soon the audience for these movies will diminish. We'll just be over it.

With Epic Movie, I think they've reached their saturation point. They'll probably make a couple more of these movies, just to be sure. Maybe they can squeeze another $10 bucks from the average moviegoer's pocket for a piece of regurgitated nonsense. It's the same kind of humor over and over and over and over again. "Dude, we should make it like, Willy Wonka's child winners be the kids from Narnia, and then throw in MTV Crib, Nacho Libre, Da Vinci Code, and whatever other movie references in to create a like totally more awesomeness!"

I do give it some kudos for the creativity of intertwining so many movies into one film, as random as those intertwines may be. However, while movies like this maybe funny for a little while, these references won't stand the test of time. They'll soon be forgotten, and hopefully this movie along with it.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 3:08 PM 0 comments  

The Fountain

Monday, June 04, 2007


Interesting and significant is the director's choice to omit the word 'youth' from the title. In the world of myth and lore, if one drinks from the Fountain of Youth, he/she will remain young and live forever. And always in this tale, there is a man and woman who cannot be together, for they do not agree on what it means to live.

The Fountain chronicles a love story across three life spans; Tomas, the Conquistador, and Queen Isabella, in 16th century Spain, Tommy and Izzie in the present, and in the future, Tom and Isabelle personified into a tree. Stated in simple terms, in all three scenarios, Tom desperately tries to keep Isabelle from what he understands is death. All the Toms search for his own version of the fountain, not concerning himself with youth, but with life. "Death is a disease, it's like any other. And there's a cure. A cure - and I will find it."

Written and directed by the same man who produced the films Requiem For a Dream and Pi, Darren Aronofsky, this is a sure tell about how this film is styled. Abstract and artistic, The Fountain strives to obtain a level of profound understanding, but fails to achieve its goal of portraying an unoriginal idea in an original way. What you get is visual ideas all jumbled together.

Death as a catalyst for new life is a great and old idea, but by emphasizing this through such abstruse imagery, the significance of death and sacrifice is almost trivialized. Interweaving story lines and repeating scenes allude to the idea that life is never ending, but I thought this movie was about new life as a result of death, not just about new life. Death is a heavy theme in this film, but I really felt like something was lost in translation. It was like Tom was the only one carrying the burden of death, and everyone else around him had already found their peace.

The Fountain is more of a visual art piece than a movie. By definition, a movie is "a form of entertainment that enacts a story by sound and a sequence of images giving the illusion of continuous movement," but to me, it was like watching performance art. You don't really get what's going on while you're watching it, and if you tried, you'd fail. All you're left with is a general idea of what it was about; death and new life.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:31 AM 0 comments  

The Man From Snowy River
& Return To Snowy River

Friday, June 01, 2007


What a find at the public library! I haven't been excited like this since Banks gave Charlie the American flag to hold up in Mighty Ducks 2. I just needed to gush over this great piece of work, regardless of how old and unknown this film may be.

From my favorite cinema period also known as the 1980's, The Man From Snowy River and its sequel, Return To Snowy River, is just a gem of a family film. A movie that is about horsemanship, love, and what it means to be a man, its just about as perfect as it can be for an 80's family film from Australian cinema. It features beautiful, sweeping landscape shots, a pretty great romance story, amazing horse footage, and a very rugged and handsome Tom Burlinson in his late 20's. Who knew someone could be better looking when he was dirty and sweaty?

There are some cheesy parts, but what family flick doesn't have that? I highly recommend this movie if you want some child-friendly action scenes or if you just want to see some skill on a horse. It’s all about the riding and the whip action. It’s an all around child-friendly kind of badass.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:49 PM 0 comments