Name: mutuel

Most Recent Reviews by mutuel

The Stepfather

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

The Stepfather (14A) * * *


Daddy Dearest!

By ROBERT WALDMAN



Beware cupid. Once bitten twice shy should have been advice used by a woman who winds up head over heels falling for a new guy in The Stepfather. Call this a rejigging of the classic 70s thriller and this time Sony Pictures has pulled out all the stops. Good acting, tension and a dangerous lover all collide for folks to get their chill quotient fully satiated at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking) Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver city cites across B.C.

We all want love. Poor Susan Harding is coming off a bad relationship and, as luck would have it, meets a new man. Man of the moment David Harris seems like a genuine nice guy and manages to win the 40 something woman over. Even though she has three children this new lover becomes a part of her life.

Portland, Oregon will never be the same for this family as bit by bit bad things begin to happen. Now we have all seen this type of story on film before unfold. Better than your average B-grade thriller The Stepfather is creepy enough to really get under your skin thanks to that calm, cool demeanour of our leading man/villain. David is smooth as silk and under the persona of Dylan Walsh (The Lake House) really uses all that charm to help hide his dirty side. And when the mayhem begins it’s relentless.

Poor Sela Ward (The Guardian) perfectly portrays the woman caught in a love trap, like a deer in the headlights, blinded by love. Cast as Michael, her doubting son, is Penn Badgley (John Tucker Must Die) while his carnal needs seem to be nicely met by Amber Heard (Pineapple Express).
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Naturally, lots of liberties are taken by director Nelson McCormick (Prom Night) with some scenes totally unbelievable that show the stupidity of some of the characters, but for 102 minutes this film does hold your attention as you’re not sure what evil deed this dude will do next. Yes, there are some typical plot gaps that you could run a Mac truck through but The Stepfather nevertheless delivers what it promises: a very creepy main character able to charm his way into a family’s life with reckless, calculated precision.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Couples Retreat

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

Couples Retreat (PG) * * *
Director: Peter Billingsley
Stars: Vince Vaughn, John Favreau,
Genre: Comedy
Audience Suitability: PG
Rating: * * *
Studio: Universal Pictures
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2009


Come Together!

By ROBERT WALDMAN



What to do when the passion is gone? Either give up or try again. In the game of love affection doesn’t necessarily last. One couple’s journey for renewal sparks loads of turmoil in Couples Retreat, a frankly funny film from Universal Pictures drawing crowds to Oakridge Cinemas, Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City cites around B.C.

Doing comedy right can be a real tricky affair. Team up writers/actors Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers) in a tropical setting and all hell breaks loose. Lucky for us this strong script is pretty accurate when it comes to relationships smartly weaving in and out the dirty laundry of some forty something “adults” hoping to salvage their lives.

Director Peter Billingsley very cleverly divides this film into two parts. That all important set up looks at the “home” lives of four “normal” couples. Life between a man and woman can be complicated with outside factors like children and work thrown into the mix. You can see the seeds of disruption among these friends. When one in the group thinks the best way to get the love juices flowing is to go to a couples retreat the others agree and we’re off to the races.

Club Eden is a sort of adult Disneyland. Amid the tropical sun our city slickers travel on uneven sand. Once at the resort all bets are off as we encounter all sorts of crazy workers and the “guests” wind up in more trouble by the second.

Smart, funny and very appealing casting makes Couples Retreat a good time at the movies. Besides Vaughn and Favreau, who really stand out, friends in league Jason Bateman and Malin Akerman are also engaging. Each of the husband wife team brings their own “histories” to the table and to see the sparks fly is really fun to behold. About the only downside to the film is that some of the officials at the club come off as bland, but this is all forgiven by the other cast cameos including a hip fitness instructor who will become an instant star after his performance. Names don’t mean anything here - you have to see his act to believe. Past one trick wonders like the famous Serge from the Beverly Hills cop series come to mind only this newcomer may prove more enduring.

Equal screen time is mostly given to the wives who also turn in rousing performances in this wacky farce that pokes fun at one of society’s most sacred institutions and its aftermath. Unlike reality television like the Survivor series the look of this island resort is lush in the extreme. Like an updated, r-rated Fantasy Island Couples Retreat comes off like a wicked innocent pleasure with lots of good back and forth banter between supposedly well- suited adults on somewhat of a collision course with their own personal futures.

Fit for those married or single, people wanting a good chuckle at the expense of some messed up tourists will find it at Couples Retreat.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Whip It!

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

Whip It (PG) * * * *

Game On!


By ROBERT WALDMAN



Talent runs through some families. Take the case of Drew Barrymore for example. No longer just the child star from E.T. Ms. Barrymore has risen through the ranks to become a top actor and producer. To this list now add director as she makes a rousing debut at the helm of Whip It, an exciting yarn from Fox Searchlight now firing up spectators at the Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking), the Fifth Avenue Cinemas, Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City sites around B.C.

My, has Ms. Barrymore learned well. Directors have a number of functions to fulfill including the all important casting approval. Here the filmmakers have lucked out with a great lead, strong supporting actors and a great atmosphere. Oh, did I mention a pretty good story too. Whip It has got it all.

Small town values versus big scale dreams play pivotal parts to the motivation of our central character. Bliss Cavendar is one mixed up young girl. Still at school Bliss is being “primed” to attend (and win) beauty contests by her rather domineering mom Brooke. Then one day, quite by chance, Bliss comes across the sport of roller derby. Against all odds Bliss breaks with tradition, gets turned on by the sport, and actually tries out for a local team. Yes, in the best Hollywood fashion this little lady becomes a member of the team and the rest, as they say, is history.

Lead actress Ellen Page gets most of her recognition from being the star of Juno. Watch her in Hard Candy and you’ll quickly see she has Oscar written all over her. Here Page is terrific as the little lady who tries to shake things up. All the coverage on the rink, where the ladies ply their skill, is riveting though we’ve seen these sports scenarios all too often. Barrymore succeeds in creating an exciting competitive atmosphere and fully fleshes out the characters that revolve around Bliss’s life. Topics of peer pressure, bullying, romance and family values are wonderfully captured here in this high spirited movie.

Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock) makes good as a domineering mom with a stare that could kill. Even as he goes Daniel Stern (City Slickers) also comes across well as a loving parent in a cast of very well presented characters from a host of different backgrounds. In your face footage of the actual bouts on the track add a zest to this movie and should lead to a revival in interest for this once popular sport.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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The Boys Are Back

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

The Boys are Back (PG) * * *



Welcome Home!

By ROBERT WALDMAN



How a parent copes with children provides the gist for The Boys Are Back, a nice small film from Maple Pictures now hitting home with adults at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas. Hunky Clive Owen (The International) leaves his James Bond image on the backburner as he portrays a struggling dad trying to come to grips with raising a son or two.

Set in beautiful Australia, The Boys Are Back explores relationships within a family. Lots of people are from broken homes and this tale looks at how that all important parent child relationship develops and the effect outside forces have on it. Whether it’s conflicts with work or other amorous pursuits this movie does justice to the topic.

Even though Owen gets top billing here it’s really the young boys that are the true stars of this show. Newcomer Nicholas McAnulty captures the emotions of a child suffering all sorts of problems with loss while George MacKay (Defiance) also does a good job showing internal struggle and the effects a broken home can have on a youth.

Emotions run high in this movie and through the bickering between family members you do sense the gravity of the situation. Director Scott Hicks draws lots of ire among the players and you sense the difficulties parents have raising children these days. Outside struggles and other issues ring true in this small though effective look at the impacts of child rearing and the hardships when dealing with loss.

Laura Fraser (The Passion) also appears in this movie that at times gets a bit too sentimental as illness also rears its ugly form. True to form, The Boys Are Back is nothing new but a retelling of the whole family dynamic and does so with sincerity and frank openness. Not a happy story it nevertheless shows hope and will make viewers think about their own personal situations.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Zombieland

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Reviewed by mutuel

At the Movies

Zombieland (PG) * * * *

Fresh Meat!


By ROBERT WALDMAN


End of the world movies can be doom and gloom affairs. Judge for yourself the campy carnage that unfolds during Zombieland, a fresh farce from Columbia Pictures now turning stomachs at Oakridge Cinemas, Empire Esplanade 6, Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City cites around B.C. Consider Zombieland to be an “Americanized” version of Britain’s hit wonder Shaun of the Dead, only more so.

Over the top fun is the order of the day right from the get go when a nerd basically scared of his own shadow looks to be the only human survivor remaining on the planet. Not so fast, fearless one, for timid Columbus links up with renegade macho man Tallahassee and the pair do their best to ward off hordes of flesh eating scum.

Just when you think you’ve had your fill of this bloodletting the pair meet up with a couple of female survivors. Young Little Rock and older sis Witchita give our two boys a run for the money as they match wits with each other and the scores of non-human attackers as they battle to survive.

Smart, short and sassy, Zombieland is one hell of a flambouyant fun fest made moreso because of the truly witty dialogue and the great interchange between all the characters. Yes, there is lots of flesh munching and body parts scattered in all imaginable directions but this violence surge takes a back seat to the more “personal” issues each of our road warriors faces.

Real strong uncertainty is wisely given off by Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland) who continues to grow with each and every role he takes on. Here he’s terrific as the klutz wrestling with all sorts of adolescent issues we’ve all faced along with a knack for taking on the zombies. Old reliable Woody Harrelson (North Country) is at his aw shucks good old country boy best as the wise-cracking, take no prisoners Tallahassee who gives rednecks everywhere a good name.

Female sparks fly off the screen mainly through Emma Stone (Superbad) who nicely embodies a woman on the run with Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) playing her younger sis in a pretty standard way and not offering up too much new.

Farce in the extreme is well pulled off by Ruben Fleischer who knows how to spoof real good and here the zaniness of the whole situation is pulled off brilliantly with a bunch of one-liner jokes sure to have you laughing silly.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com


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