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Movie Review Monday: Crazy Stupid Love

Mike Finkelstein obviously needs no help when it comes to the ladies. But IF he did, he would definitely ask Ryan Gosling for some advice. That’s what Steve Carell did, and he got Marisa Tomei! Here is Mike’s review of “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”



Mike Finkelstein obviously needs no help when it comes to the ladies.  But IF he did, he would definitely ask Ryan Gosling for some advice.  That’s what Steve Carell did, and he got Marisa Tomei!  Here is Mike’s review of “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

PLOT: When Cal’s (Steve Carell) life and marriage start to crumble around him, he tries to rediscover and reinvent himself with the help of professional ladies man, Jacob (Ryan Gosling).  Meanwhile, Jacob has his own feelings developing for the one woman he can’t seem to charm (Emma Stone), and Cal’s 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) feels like he found his soulmate in the form of his 17-year-old babysitter (Analeigh Tipton).

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  Finally, after all the romantic comedies recently that have either been mediocre by-the-book fare or fallen on their faces in the dirt, we are given a smart, sophisticated, and real film in the form of CRAZY STUPID LOVE.

CRAZY STUPID LOVE is sometimes crazy and never stupid, but with all the wild foolishness that befalls all these characters on behalf of the noun after the adjectives, it is the perfect title.  We have Cal (Steve Carell), a man void of any style, who after 25 years of marriage to his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) is told that she slept with someone and wants a divorce.  Depressed and lost like a puppy wandering the streets, Cal wanders into a local lounge to enjoy his Vodka Cranberry through a straw and tell anybody who will listen about his wife with home wrecker David Lindhagen.

Enter Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling)—a smooth, “photoshopped” body, ladies’ man who could basically lay any girl he wants…essentially the guy that all guys want to be.  Jacob’s offer is to help Cal find himself again as a man, get his wife back, and most importantly, “be better than the Gap”.

Wait, remember when I said he could get any girl?  I forgot about Hannah (Emma Stone)—the one girl who seems to be immune to Jacob’s charm.  Despite her best friend begging her to stop studying for the bar exam, dump her current tool of a boyfriend, and start studying the ceiling of Jacob’s bedroom (you get the idea), she plays it safe and will no such thing.

Oh yeah, one more thing I forgot to mention—Cal’s 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo).  Robbie is madly in love with his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton).  She, in turn, is in love with Cal.

You see how crazy this movie could get?

What makes CRAZY STUPID LOVE so invigorating is the fact that even with all these people and intertwining storylines, everything still manages to feel fresh and authentic.  For the first time in a long time in a movie, we don’t have a definitive ending for any of the characters.  All we see is how they each deal with their given circumstances and how they try to get through any heartache or dilemma the best way they know how, whether their choices be smart or just plain stupid.  Usually, it’s a stupid choice, and it ends up in a hell of a lot of laughter for the audience.

None of the heart and soul would have been in the film without the witty script and wonderful cast to speak its words.  Love is the main issue here, and with something so sensitive, every line has a subtext to it.  Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei (still as sexy as she was in MY COUSIN VINNY), Kevin Bacon, Jonah Bobo, Analeigh Tipton, Liz Lapira and all the rest of the supporting cast mirror that beautifully, and the chemistry between everyone is so smooth and easy flowing that it’s a pleasure to watch.

The two main leads, though, deserve special attention.  We all know Steve Carell can do crazy comedy, but with DAN IN REAL LIFE, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, and now this, I think we can start identifying him as a leading man.  Seeing him transform at points had the audience cheering.  He can bring out the subtle humor in one scene while playing it straight and honest in the next, and has definitely proven he has chops to keep going further into drama.  As for Gosling, this is the first real comedy the man has done, and he’s good.  He’s still simple and restrained, but his sarcastic nature makes him hysterical.  The man is up there with George Clooney as one of the few actors to mirror the Golden Age of Hollywood, and hopefully, between his serious roles and blog, he’ll throw some more comedies in there.

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have done an amazing job on this movie.  It is smart, funny, beautifully shot and well paced, and you never know what is going to come next (you’ll see…).  The only thing that went a little far at times had to do with the storylines of Robbie and Jessica, but even that wasn’t too bad, especially remembering how confused we all were when we were that age (oh, the babysitter crushes…).  CRAZY STUPID LOVE is easily on my top ten list for this year, and I have no doubt it’ll be on yours as well.  You’d be crazy not to.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) RYAN GOSLING: The man is smooth as anything, and in the realm of women, does what every man aspires to do.  And when he comes across a “game changer”, he someone becomes even more charming.  Oh, and it has just become my goal to have that body in a year…

2) STEVE CARELL: Steve Carell has unrivaled comedic timing.  He knows every beat to hit with both drama and comedy, and even in the more exaggerated moments, comes across real and heartfelt.   You can’t help but love him.

3) COLOR SCHEMES: In the office, everything is sterile and white. At the bar, there are only rich, smoother tones.  At home, it’s just a mix of everything, and as plane as Cal’s New Balance sneakers, only growing richer in tones as he matures.   Glenn Ficarra and John Requa paint three separate beautiful worlds with their color.

4) ASSHOLE: The word was used so much, and in such a great context. It is now officially attached to both “The Scarlett Letter” and this film.

5) LIZ LAPIRA: When you’re in a film with a top billed cast like this one, and yet you still manage to steal every scene you’re in, you know you’re doing something right.  As Hannah’s best friend, Liz Lapira does just that, and I look forward to many more roles from her in the future.

6) FEET: I guess the saying, “Walk a mile in another man’s shoes” has a brand new meaning.  Glenn Ficarra and John Requa use those feet and shoes to show each and every character’s personality, and tell a story.  A great plot device!


1) YOUNG LOVE: I have to admit, while this was cute for the first part, the storyline between Robbie and Jessica started to get a bit creepy…


1) Josh Groban’s feature film debut

2) There are many comments about Hannah’s life being very PG-13.  The film, is in fact, PG-13, and in accordance with the rating’s rule, uses the F-word only once.


REVIEW: “Sing Street” Will Put a Song in Your Heart… and Your iPod



“I have just seen an instant classic.”

That’s what I said to myself as I left the theater, with the music and adrenaline of “Sing Street” still coursing through my veins.

It’s the kind of movie you want to turn around and see again, immediately. Right after you download the soundtrack. Yes, it’s that good.

Haven’t heard anything about it? I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t have known about this film either, except that my Regal Crown Club card finally paid off in the form of free tickets to an advanced screening. (Never mind the $25 popcorn.) Anyway, let’s watch!

Hooked yet? You will be.

Irish writer/director John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”) has conjured a nearly perfect coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Dublin. Think “The Commitments meets “Sixteen Candles meets “Footloose,” but all in one glorious package that manages to be both fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Drawing from his own teenage years at the real Synge Street school, Carney avoids the trap of creating a pure fluff piece by infusing the story with real heart.

A large part of that is due to the breakout talent and hero of Sing Street,” 16-year-old Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. As “Connor Lalor” navigates the tricky currents of a new school, family drama, and first love, Walsh-Peelo is heartbreakingly earnest, predictably awkward, and unexpectedly optimistic. Everything about his performance rings true. No small feat, considering that this is his acting debut.

Thanks to Carney’s non-actor, open casting approach, Walsh-Peelo is also joined by some equally promising new faces. Lucy Boynton is luminous as his love interest, “Raphina,” and Mark McKenna is quietly compelling as Conor’s songwriting partner, “Eamon.”

One of the most satisfying pairings, though, is anchored by the more experienced Jack Reynor (“Transformers:Age of Extinction”).  He shines as Conor’s older brother, “Brendan.”  Dealing with the angst of his own stalled dreams, Brendan tackles his brotherly mentoring role with gusto. Conor soaks up the advice like a ruddy-cheeked sponge, then begins to find his own way as his confidence grows.  Rarely do we see the underlying affection between two brothers played so simply and honestly,  so the relationship between Conor and Brendan is a lovely surprise.

The other undeniable star of “Sing Street” is the music.  While the story could have easily been told with the band only performing covers of ’80s hits,  Carney had a bigger vision for the film.  He collaborated with Scottish songwriter Gary Clark to craft 8 original tunes that not only add layers of light and shade to the storyline, but could be stand-alone chart toppers today.  From the gleefully retro “The Riddle of the Model,” to the Cure-tastic “Beautiful Sea,”  to the EMO ballad “To Find You,”  there’s something for everyone. Welcome to your summer soundtrack, people.

There are few darker notes to the plot, and the ending feels slightly of place, but in general “Sing Street” will leave you feeling as light and fizzy as a packet of Pop Rocks.

The movie poster reads: “Boy Meets Girl. Girl Unimpressed. Boy Starts Band.”  That’s it in a nutshell, of course, but happily, this film is so much more.

SING STREET opens in New York April 15th, and is in theaters nationwide on April 29th.






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Celebrate The Fourth With Our Picks For Great American Movies!

What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?



What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?

It’s impossible to list them all… this is just a handfull! Scroll down and tell us what your favorites are!!!

Let’s start at the beginning!

Do you have what it takes to watch a black and white classic? (Don’t break my heart by replying if the answer is no.) Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 classic starring James Cagney – telling the story of the great entertainer George M Cohan. He’s the man behind the songs “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”  A true classic with distinctly American music and showmanship. Watch the trailer!

There’s something about the fifties and sixties that still plucks at the nostalgic heartstrings of America. And yet, two of the most iconic movies about that period were actually shot decades later, with a heartfelt look back at those times.

Both American Graffiti and Grease come to mind. While American Graffiti can take bragging rights for bringing us more breakout stars, (and being written and directed by George Lucas), Grease seems to enjoy more clout as a family friendly favorite.

1986 was a  good year for Tom Cruise, and a good year for movies. Top Gun starred Tom Cruise stars as a student at Top Gun Naval Academy. It sparked a sense of patriotism, and the continued ascent of Cruise’s career. (If you’re watching with your kids, you might wanna skip ahead once you start hearing the song “Take My Breath Away.” Love scene ahead! Still, some might argue it’s pretty tame by today’s standards.)

Forrest Gump (1994) proved not only to be an excellent movie, but also an impromptu history lesson.
The story follows an unlikely hero (played by Tom Hanks) as he journeys through life, finding himself witnessing (and sometimes even influencing) a series of historic events, but is largely unaware of their significance. A true classic.

Before the luster of Mel Gibson had worn off, he portrayed Benjamin Martin, a man who becomes embroiled in the Revolutionary War. The late Heath Ledger plays his son, who fights in the Continental Army.

The most recent of patriotic classics is 2012’s Lincoln. Daniel Day Lewis delivers a flawless performance as our 16th President under the directorial brilliance of Steven Spielberg. A new classic for the ages.


For more movies updates, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter!

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Movie Reviews

MOVIE REVIEW- WORLD WAR Z Is a Messy, Relentless Zombie Horror Flick That Really Works

Check Out Steven’s review for one of the biggest surprises of 2013, the epic zombie flick WORLD WAR Z.



world-war-z-posterWORLD WAR Z

Paramount Pictures

Director- Marc Forster

Starring-Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale. Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins, David Morse, David Andrews.

Steven’s Quick Review- Yes its production was messy, but WORLD WAR Z might be the biggest surprise of the summer movies in 2013. Thanks to relentless action, a number of good scares, and an on-target performance from Brad Pitt, WORLD WAR Z is an excellent zombie film. Even though it is barely based on its source material, Damon Lindelof’s rewritten third act will keep audiences guessing and add some scares to your summer movie slate.

Steven’s Review- Brad Pitt has become the kind of actor who now only does movies he truly wants to do, and only takes roles that challenge him. So when Pitt and his Plan B studios initially won the rights to Max Brooks bestselling novel WORLD WAR Z the options were endless. Yet from the start of production the movie had issues, between the initial script lacking invention, a director in Marc Forster (QUANTUM OF SOLACE) who was found it difficult to make important decisions and the very public spat between Pitt and Forster that nearly sidelined the film indefinitely.  There were also the on-set issues, besides the arguments between the actor and director, there were problems on set in Hungary when government officials stormed the set and removed live weapons. Also, forced re-shoots that moved WWZ from a winter release to a summer tentpole. It’s easy to assume WORLD WAR Z was doomed from the start. But something happened along the way, something that shocked plenty during our screening of the film in May. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Pitt, Forster, and crew actually made a darn good zombie flick. With help from Damon Lindelof (“Lost”, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) who came to the rescue and reworked an ending  after the studio deemed the initial conclusion was not good enough for release.  Following Lindelof’s changes and a massive marketing campaign Brad Pitt’s newest pet project was ready to show the world.

WORLD WAR Z the book takes place in a post zombie war setting, when a journalist and U.N investigator goes all over the globe talking to survivors and getting their stories.  The film adaptation written by Drew Goddard (CABIN IN THE WOODS), Matthew Michael Carnahan (STATE OF PLAY), J. Michael Straczynski (THOR) and Damon Lindelof  has little to nothing to do with Brooks acclaimed novel. We begin meeting Gerry Lane(Pitt) , a former UN investigator who lives with his family somewhere outside Philadelphia.  Within 5 minutes of the opening credits, we are thrown into a full on zombie invasion, with riots in super markets and speedy zombies chasing people down. WWZ Starts off with a bang. Gerry’s wife Karin(“The Killings” Mireille Enos), and his daughters Constance(Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) desperately leave the city and head towards New York, finding themselves in the streets of  Newark, New Jersey where they pick up supplies and await a helicopter pick-up thanks to Gerry’s old friends at the United Nations.

WORLD WAR Z is in no way a perfect movie; every now and then it finds itself deep into horror cliché, only to drag itself out with one big sequence after another. Pitt carries the film as he finds himself in worse situations every moment, but without being totally indestructible (meaning as an audience you never quite know whether Gerry Lane will make it out alive). Pitt’s performance feels dressed in reality, while he searches the globe for reasons why this zombie apocalypse is happening, worries for his safety and hopes to return to his family.

WORLD WAR Z is a suspenseful zombie flick that contains a few scares, but has the advantage of almost never slowing down.  The filmmakers found a way to protray a lot of violence and still receive a PG-13 rating – they show you enough death and destruction without maimed bodies and severed limbs. I enjoyed the fast paced nature of WWZ and the fact it never drags, it allows characters to develop and story to move forward without forsaking the zombie action fan in all of us.

As far as adaptations go, WORLD WAR Z could be considered one of the worst, it barely contains any connection to Max Brooks brilliant novel, other than a few characters names and one or two plot points. As far as summer surprises, WORLD WAR Z is a welcome break from comedies and super hero flicks that take up most of our time. But the pressure is on: it needs to bring in $500 million dollars to turn a profit for everyone involved. I enjoyed WORLD WAR Z and hope they can find a way to make some cash, so we can get more zombie action just like it.

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