Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Terrible, nauseating, and not even redeemably corny, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, features an acclaimed cast who failed to deliver. Molly Mahoney works at Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, a magical toy store in the middle of a bustling city, but her dream is to be a famous pianist and composer. When eccentric Mr. Magorium's lifetime shoe supply has reached its last pair, he decides that its time to go. He is 243-years-old after all. Yet when the store gets wind of the news, it decides to throw a temper tantrum, forcing Mahoney, Eric - the Hat Collector, and Henry - the Mutant to find the magic without Magorium. Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman, and Jason Bateman star.

As a family film, I don't understand the message it was trying to send to the younger generation. Could it be, give up all adult responsibility in favor of being a kid? Or to give up your dreams to work at a magical store? Mahoney wanted something else for her life, and instead, she gives that up to be the owner of a toy store with feelings. I still don't understand how that was the better choice.

Don't watch this un-wonderful flick. It will rot your kid's brains out and take away any hope of a bright future they they thought they had.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:07 PM 0 comments  

Dan In Real Life

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I am so happy that The Office is back with new episodes. After the Gilmore Girls season finale, I didn't know what to do with myself. It was okay for a while. It just seemed like a long summer. Then Heros and The Office came out of hiatus; but my wonderful gleam of excitement was promptly squashed by the unfortunate, but necessary, wirter's strike. I had absolutely nothing to look forward to; nothing at all. No, not even serious, exciting life changes could pull me out of my constant channel flipping stupor. Though, I've had more time to watch movies - but watching Steve Carrell in Dan In Real Life isn't the same as watching pitifully selfish Michael Scott harass his staff.

The trailer for Dan In Real Life was obviously a sales pitch for Steve Carell, the person, not Steve Carell, Dan. Because of his fame from the popular television series and from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, advertisers seem to think that Steve Carell is their best selling point. Rather than sell it as a romantic comedy, which it is, by the way, they pitch it with Carell as a lonely widower who faces the comedic complications of raising three teenage daughters. Quite differently, the meat of the film is about Dan's attempt to control his love for a woman who happens to be his brother's girlfriend.

Patient, protective, pitiful Dan brings his daughters for a long weekend at the shore for an annual family reunion. On his first day, he stops by the bookstore and for the first time in a long time he makes a connection with a woman. However, when he returns to the house to recount his meet cute with the rest of his family, he's shocked to see the woman already there - as his brother's girlfriend.

The quality of this movie was quite surprising. Under the guise of a Tim Allen-like comedy, this movie seemed like it would make a nose dive to the bottom of the bin at the Dollar Tree. Yet it was particularly enjoyable to watch, and I found that the romantic comedy genre suits Carrell. I was taken by his simplicity and earnestness, and I was also completely jealous of his game playing, morning group aerobic exercising, boys vs. girls speed crossword puzzling family. They are totally awesome.

I expect this flick to make it to the small screen sometime in the next year. I also expect TBS to buy the rights to this film fairly quickly. It'll be around soon, so I suggest denying Blockbuster your $5. I think you can stick it out. It's not fantastic, but it'll do. I mean, its real life, so it can't always be good. Sometimes its just okay.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:44 PM 0 comments  

Bee Movie

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


My office building is basically in the middle of a canyon. Every week there's a new department memo reminding us to be "aware of the rattlesnakes that like to hide in the shade," "wary of the coyotes who wander the parking lot early in the morning," or "mindful of the ducklings who could get run over by our cars." What's bizarre is I don't work in the middle of nowhere. This particular building was built by the freeway in a prominent business district, but it just happened to be nestled into a canyon. And with the summer quickly approaching, the latest nature warning memo was about a bee hive in a tree next to the building entrance. Bees freak me out.

Now, this particular bee hive doesn't have anything to do with Bee Movie, which is fine by me. However, I did like to see how creative Dreamworks could be with bees for its subject.

Barry B. Benson, a honey bee, has just finished school (all 3 days of it) and is off to the workforce to pick his life long job. Unsatisfied with the choices he is offered, Barry decides that he wants to be adventurous - even though he wasn't built to leave the hive. After venturing out on his own, he meets a human, Vanessa Bloome, and basically falls in love with her. But durng his time outside the hive, he finds that humans are stealing bees' honey. With the help of Vanessa, a florist, he progresses to sue the human race and wins, but when all the honey is returned to bees, the bees, without reason to work (now with more honey than they can imagine) grow lazy.

Completely outrageous, Bee Movie is over the top and sometimes very strange. I thought Barry's crush on Vanessa was out of line. It actually made me feel very uncomfortable. Not to be prejudice or anything, but he's a bee and she's a person. That's weird. It was even more bizarre when Barry was competing with Ken (Vanessa's ex-boyfriend) for her attention. That was just wrong. Plus Jerry Seinfeld's voice on a bee doesn't fit. I couldn't get past that middle-aged, matter-of-fact, tone. It didn't belong to Barry, a young, college graduate bee; it belonged to Seinfeld. The moral was pretty basic and uninspiring, which is a huge ding for a family flick. It had some good gags and some creative imagination. Dreamworks did a pretty good job imagining up a world of bees with humanistic qualities, but suing the human race? Come on. Will kids really buy that? Mutant Turtles or Transformers are so much more feasible. Maybe my 80's childhood puts me at a disadvantage, but I don't care. Bee Movie wasn't good.

I don't like bees. They sting and buzz and fly around so you can't tell where they'll land. Yes, they make honey, but rightly, I don't like honey either. I had a traumatic childhood experience involving chicken nuggets and dripping honey hands. So I guess the universe is aligned. I don't like bees. I don't like Bee Movie either.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 8:18 PM 2 comments  

No Country For Old Men

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I have trouble watching scary movies by myself. Hence, I tend not to blog about them because I've seen so few. I'll eventually try and rectify this deficiency because I made a new friend at work who happens to like horror/slasher films. She's 60 years old and still loves to be scared. I guess we can be scared together then. So No Country For Old Men had to be watched with company. I've been warned that this film can be very disturbing.

Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director, No Country For Old Men is a suspense thriller about a greedy opportunist who finds himself in a sticky situation. While hunting out in the valley, Llewelyn Moss, comes across the remnants of a gun battle, and as he takes in the situation, he discovers a case full of money. Deciding to keep the money, he becomes the mouse in an elaborate chase for the fortune; the cat being a deranged serial killer with a crazy haircut.

Well thought out and intelligently crafted, No Country For Old Men is like Moby Dick; genius, yet entirely un-entertaining. I'm not saying that it was dull. The suspense and disturbing tension that predominates the film is 5 star, but as the ending approaches, the film increasingly becomes Coen-esque (i.e. weird). Conventional, key scenes slowly become omitted from the track, and I for one, almost lost the ball on the plot. "What, did she die? Huh? Did he die? What just happened? Where is he going?" were all questioned that I asked out loud. There was also a seemingly abrupt ending, accompanied with a seeming lack in resolution. However, for the Coen Brothers, it's always about motif, commanding themes, and prominent symbolism; usually never about the actual plot.

Each character in No Country For Old Men is a Coen-commentary on the people in our society and what our choices mean. The serial-killer, hit man - the epitome of evil (he's got the haircut to prove it; not to mention his weapon of choice establishes his complete detachment from normalcy); the cowboy, Llewelyn Moss - a man who makes bad choices (and is basically a bad person) but has a conscience; and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a worn police detective who is a model citizen but has given up all hope on humanity. Each of the main characters is symbolic, and the ending is esoterically complex and original.

With all that said, I enjoyed the movie as much as I enjoy Mondays; not much. It was creepy and disturbing in all the right places, mostly due to a crazed Javier Bardem, but this film is for a very fine palette; one that I do not have. It's for the film artist, the complex thinker, and the Indie die hards. Not really for the movieGOOMBA's taste.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:01 PM 0 comments  


Thursday, April 10, 2008


As I watched this movie, I reflected back on the first time I’d seen someone I knew play Black Jack with real money. Vegas: August 2004. In some smoke smelling, alcohol ridden casino, Joe, my fiancĂ©, puts $40 cash on the table. The dealer explains the general rules. He's given the equivalent in chips. Then, two seconds and 4 hands later, it was gone. My friends and I groaned, we patted him on the back, and off we went play something not as disappointing. Now, $40 seems like Shrewt Bucks (1/100 of a penny) compared to what the kids in the Kevin Spacey film 21 coughed up.

Jim Sturgesse stars as the hot yet nerdy Ben Campbell in this teen audience targeted flick, 21. It first seemed to appeal to a wider audience, but I think that was a product of the marketing. No, this film is youthful and kind of MTV, trendy-edgy, especially in regard to its shot techniques. Though it dominated the box office in the recent weeks, it’s mainly because it’s the “coolest” movie out there. . . and your other choices are either that, Leatherheads or Horton Hears a Who.

So, what is this movie all about? It’s about making money, the shady, smart way. Ben Campbell is intelligent and hardworking as they come. A senior at MIT, Ben happens to impress one of his professors (Spacey) and is soon invited to the professor's secret Black Jack team. They count cards, hustle money from casinos, and make obscene amounts of cash. As Ben gets wrapped up in the world that is Las Vegas, his character takes a hit while his ego becomes gargantuan.

I thought the special effects in this movie were neat, and it glamorized the seemingly infinite possibilities that money can offer; the special effects were seamless, as effects should be, and it was kind of fun watching people my age swim in luxury (probably the same guilty reason why I read celebrity gossip magazines). However, the plot was soooo utterly predictable. As fun as it was to watch, I can’t honestly say that this is a good movie. Spacey’s performance was seedy and dirty (as in old man), but otherwise, it definitely wasn’t one of his best. I did like staring at Jim Sturgesse, and was thoroughly impressed by his ability to hide his British accent and camouflage it with a Boston one. But the impression he left on screen is as much as Kate Bosworth eats these days - not a lot. He should stick to singing.

Overall, I’d watch this movie again with a group of friends who don’t want to think too much about a movie. This film was made entirely for entertainment purposes. Any more expectation and you’ll bust.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 8:57 PM 0 comments  

Into the Wild

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I'm an indoor kind of girl. I grew up in a suburb of LA where the idea of nature was going to the neighborhood park and feeding the ducks in the man-made lake. The great outdoors? That was venturing out to my backyard, where the bugs lived. I've only been camping once, and it had bathrooms and actual showers. Remember Troop Beverly Hills? I would have fit right in, so the notion of burning my money and seeking a vagabond, hippie, sleeping outdoors kind of lifestyle just isn't quite appealing to me. But apparently to Christopher McCandless, this is nothing short of ideal.

A film adaption of the novel Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, which is based on the real life adventures of Christopher McCandless (AKA Alexander Supertramp), Into the Wild is a story about a lifestyle so simple and carefree, something seems wrong with it. Following his college graduation, McCandless donates 90% of his lifesavings and leaves town to become a wandering road tramp and to eventually make it to Alaska. From his travels, he meets a series of charaacters who shape his perspective and affirm his deliberate choice in the vagrant life.

Hopefully, before you continue reading this, you already happen to know the ending. It's not really a surprise. The film even takes the audience's premium knowledge on the ending into account, but I'll try my best to not be too obvious.

Alex Supertramp (Chris's alias) is the anti-consumer. He takes what needs, eats off the land, and lives for life experience. He's an economist's worse nightmare. He's free from red tape, societal responsibility, and instead of career worries, financial burdens, or relationship issues, his problems are about survival. Alex Supertramp wants a meaningful life, and the film depicts him as a charismatic and inspiring person. Yet I felt like he got punished for his drastic and radical choices. I'm not sure if this was the filmmaker's intent, but that was my interpretation.

Emile Hirsch was amazing as usual and Sean Penn did a superb job directing. Yet as much as I rooted for Alex and the message he lived, I couldn't help but say, "What the hell was he thinking?!?" Man has evolved to live as a society for a reason, and though some may have lost sight of the simple pleasures in life, a person has the ability to make choices. Making the decision to maintain a balance of both material and immaterial seems like the best option, given the movie. It's never a good thing to be a diva or a caveman.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:47 PM 0 comments  

Death At A Funeral

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


The first dark comedy I ever saw was in college, my freshman year. It was the Royal Tenenbaums, and as much as I'll be persecuted for saying this, I hated it. Next was Pumpkin, my sophomore year in college. I hated that too. Then a Gross Point Blank and Heathers later, I was sure I hated the genre. Wait! Before you throw that rock, I luckily watched Shuan of the Dead and realized that somewhere deep down, I could like dark comedy. It just had to be British.

Death At A Funeral comprises an ensemble cast which includes Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) and a slew of other recognizable British actors. Daniel's father has just passed away, and when the funeral home brings his father's casket to house, it turns out to be the wrong body. This opening scene sets the tone for the entire film. As the story progresses, Daniel's father's private sex life is revealed, acid is inadvertently taken by the fiancé of the deceased's niece, and and the death of an unexpected visitor occurs.

When I popped this baby into the DVD player, I had no idea what I should expect. I hadn't even read the synopsis, so as the plot unfolded, it just got more and more absurdly funny. Each scenario feature in Death At A Funeral was darkly inappropriate and it put a hilarious spin on a traditionally sad familial experience. I think that it was even funnier because it was British. Don't as me why. I say what I think; I know not what I do.

I don't think I can say anymore about this film without explaining the different situations the characters found themselves in; which would be taking an edge off of the funny. The only other thing I have to say on the subject is, after Little Miss Sunshine, I realized that I can definitely like dark comedy. It doesn't have to be British.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 6:43 PM 0 comments