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Entries in John Corbett (2)

Friday
Jul232010

Ramona and Beezus

Well, what a surprise. In a summer that has been bombarded by bloated action flicks and unnecessary 3D extravaganzas, I almost forgot what it was like to see a nice, G rated charmer like Ramona and Beezus. Based off the hit books by Beverly Cleary, Ramona and Beezus hits all the right notes. It pleases the children in the audience while simultaneously reminding the adults what it’s like to be one.

Meet Ramona Quimby (Joey King). She’s nine years and three months old and contrary to what her sister Beezus (Selena Gomez) will tell you, she is not a pest. She’s actually a lively young child who spices up her everyday life with some imagination. Unfortunately, she does so at school, much to the dismay of her teacher Mrs. Meacham (Sandra Oh). It’s because of this that her latest report card suffers, though her parents have bigger problems. Her father Robert (John Corbett) has just been laid off due to downsizing and can’t find another job, which forces her mother Dorothy (Bridget Moynahan) to abandon her job as housekeeper and find one that pays. However, her checks aren’t big enough to pay the bills and it begins to look like they may lose the house, but not if Ramona can do anything about it.

Ramona and Beezus is simply wonderful. Its hopes and aspirations lay only in the desire to make the audience smile and it succeeds. Joey King is simply adorable as Ramona and perfectly captures the essence of a kid. She runs and laughs and screams with her friend Howie (Jason Spevack). She loves her parents and, like all children, has that underlying fear that her parents may get a divorce. She has a pet she adores. She’s a nuisance in school, but not because she’s a rotten child. Rather it’s because she dreams of the impossible and builds whole worlds, many of which you get to see onscreen through cartoony digital effects that effectively show how her imagination works.

On top of her delightful performance and those actors I’ve mentioned above, you also have the impeccably handsome Josh Duhamel and unbelievably cute Ginnifer Goodwin who play old high school sweethearts who are now all grown up and begin to rekindle their old flame. The cast is full of charming, likable people who are kind to each other and love each other unconditionally.

It’s a sweet movie to be sure, perhaps a little too sweet. The whole film teeters on the line of mushy sentimentality and at times crosses it. You get the feeling that this family exists in a world where happiness is the only emotion because, other than a few small moments, little else comes across. There are a few too many scenes that are forced to the point where it begins to feel manipulatively upbeat, like a late water fight scene that leads up to the cheesiest moment in the movie.

Still, the Quimbys are a loving family surrounded by loving friends and it’s hard not to root for them. Despite the title, the film is just as much about the rest of the characters as it is Ramona and Beezus and that’s where the strength of the film lies. It’s easy to relate to the titular characters because we’ve all been there as kids, but it’s nice to see everybody else fleshed out as well. Despite some schlock, you’ll see the genuine chemistry between Duhamel and Goodwin and you’ll feel the part of Robert that fears he may not land a new job and won’t be able to support his family. All of that is handled with care.

Ramona and Beezus is an absurdly cheerful movie that will undoubtedly move even the manliest of men. Everybody wants to receive a similar love and acceptance that the characters get in this movie and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear or two by the end.

Ramona and Beezus receives 3.5/5

Wednesday
May262010

Sex and the City 2

There’s a term we movie reviewers like to use to describe certain films, those that already have an existing fan base and will make loads of money regardless of what we write. That term is “critic proof.” Now I’m aware that I’m the last person whose opinion you’d ask for when it comes to Sex and the City 2, but duty calls nevertheless, so here it goes. I hated this movie.

The story takes place sometime after the first movie. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is married to her dream man, Mr. Big (Chris Noth), but they are in the middle of a slump. Big wants to stay home and relax while Carrie pushes for outside interaction. Eventually, Carrie gets an invite to attend a movie premiere with her friend Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and her young boy toy. Meanwhile, the other two girls are dealing with parenthood. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) loves her husband and her child, but is unhappy at her job and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is finding it hard to deal with a constantly crying baby and a beautiful nanny (Alice Eve) who she fears may lead to her husband’s infidelity.

Meanwhile, Samantha gets invited to spend a week in Abu Dhabi, all expenses paid, but she refuses to go alone and drags her three friends there with her. Besides, they are all having problems and need to get away for a while. But while there, Carrie runs into an old flame, Aidan (John Corbett), which threatens to throw her marriage further off track.

Again, I know nobody cares about my opinion on this movie, but I fear you may consider it even less valid when you hear this. I have never watched a single episode of Sex and the City. I’ve seen chunks of it here and there, but never found it tolerable enough to sit through an entire episode. I’ve always found the characters insufferable, people I would never want to hang around with. Materialistic and shallow only begin to describe them. Take an early scene, for example, where Big and Carrie have a warm, romantic evening together where they hold each other and watch an old black and white movie, the classic It Happened One Night. For their anniversary, Big buys her a television for their bedroom because he wants to recreate that night. He thought the idea of wanting to be with him would trump any material possession, but Carrie misses the romantic gesture and insists that a piece of jewelry would be better.

Maybe it’s because I’m a man and my ignorance of the female mind plagues me, but I found myself siding with Big most of the time. Soon after the above events, Big comes home from a terrible workday and wants nothing more than to spend a quiet evening in, but still he humors Carrie and accompanies her to the aforementioned movie premiere. Yet she still isn’t satisfied. Eventually he goes a little overboard and asks for two days a week away from her, which any woman would understandably scoff at, but she actually goes along with it. Carrie's problems are all self inflicted, but they are all blamed on outside factors. I wasn't buying it.

The writing, if not already understood, is fairly bad. The story meanders, the dialogue is boring, consisting of scenes where the four sit around a table and talk about food, fashion, clothes and shoes (as well as the obligatory "man hate" speech where they insist men in America don’t want them to "have a voice")—and the humor is mostly pretty lame. The opening of the film sees our protagonists at a homosexual marriage and they drop more gay jokes than MacGruber. It’s all pretty trivial, really.

Like the original Sex and the City movie (which I have seen), this thing goes on and on with no signs of letting up. It spends two and a half hours throwing the girls into random, contrived predicaments that come off as over-the-top and cartoony, including a late scene where Samantha shows off her condoms while thrusting around a group of Middle Eastern men who find her sexuality offensive.

These are not the type of women that should be idolized. Yes, they have some redemptive qualities and yes, they are strong, powerful and independent, but that doesn’t mean they are exemplary. They’re sex crazed materialists who are, at times, quite selfish. I bring up their unfortunate influence for one reason. At one point in the movie, a prominent character cheats on her significant other, something that is clearly wrong, but struggles over whether or not she should tell him. The girls sitting behind me, talking amongst themselves, argued that she shouldn’t, agreeing with another character onscreen. Sex and the City 2 is daft, and that’s fine, but when that daftness translates to the audience watching, something is clearly wrong.

Sex and the City 2 receives 1.5/5