Isn’t It Romantic

Posted on February 13, 2019 at 8:28 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for language, some sexual material, and a brief drug reference
Profanity: Strong language, some bleeped but still evident
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drug dealer, drinking to deal with stress, joke about getting drunk
Violence/ Scariness: Comic peril, mugging, injury
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: February 14, 2019

Copyright New Line 2019
As they say, it’s not a bug; it’s a feature. Yes, romantic comedies keep relying on the same elements. All the Jessicas and Jennifers who star, all the quippy best friends, all the cute apartments and makeover montages, all the strolls through the farmers markets, looking through the mounds of fruit, coming home with grocery bags filled with bottles of wine and baguettes, the kisses in the rain, the misunderstandings, the initial antagonism that turns to love, the race to the wedding (to stop it) or to the airport (to keep that special someone from flying away), and all those bouncy pop songs on the soundtrack to make up for the absence of actual lines of dialogue. Why should we hear what people say to each other when they are falling in love when we can imagine it as we bounce along to the music and watch them stroll on the beach and ride bicycles and playfully toss soap bubbles or autumn leaves or pillows at each other?

We don’t go to see romantic comedies in spite of this repetition; we go because of it. Just like we play the same songs over and over, it is the very predictability we find so satisfying. So “Isn’t it Romantic,” starring Rebel Wilson, is as much an affectionate tribute to the romantic comedy as it is a parody of it. In the first scene, the mother (“AbFab’s Jennifer Saunders) of a young Australian girl is telling her that the movie she is watching, “Pretty Woman,” is unrealistic, like all romantic comedies, and, in fact, she says that there is no such thing as love. “In real life, girls like us can’t get that.” (If this reminds you of the “monogamy isn’t realistic” flashback of the romantic comedy “Trainwreck,” buckle up, because the call-outs of other movies are non-stop.)

Twenty-five years later, that girl has grown up to be Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is an architect in New York, cynical about romance and shy about standing up for herself at work. She has an assistant (a terrific Betty Gilpin of “Glow”) who spends all day watching romantic comedies instead of doing her job and a friend zone buddy named Josh (Wilson’s “Pitch Perfect” love interest Adam Devine). When she bangs her head after a mugging in the subway station, she wakes up in the hospital — and the world has been transformed to a romantic comedy, wisecracking gay best friend, meet cute dreamboat, her apartment quintupled in size, her neighborhood all bright colors, flower shops, and cupcakes, “as though a beauty filter had been applied to all of New York.”

At first she resists, but then she decides the best way to get back to real life is to create a happy ending, at first with a handsome millionaire who finds her “beguiling” (fellow Aussie Liam Hemsworth), and then with Josh, who by this time is caught up in his own romantic comedy with swimsuit model/yoga ambassador Isabella (Priyanka Chopra). The film manages to pay tribute to/make gentle fun of films like “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Notting Hill,” and “13 Going on 30” while folding in some female empowerment, too. It mostly escapes the failures of the silly “Scary Movie” franchises by recognizing that it is not enough to refer to something; you have to have something to say about it. At a brisk 88 minutes, “Isn’t It Romantic” manages to have something to say, and by the time the happy ending and yet another musical number it will have achieved what all good romantic comedies do — it will leave you smiling, and maybe a little bit hopeful about romance.

Parents should know that this film includes strong and crude language, sexual references and non-explicit situations, crude humor, brief nudity, drinking, a drug dealer, comic mayhem and violence and a mugging.

Family discussion: What is your favorite romantic comedy and how does this movie compare to it and comment on it? Why are romantic comedies so popular?

If you like this, try: “Notting Hill,” “27 Dresses,” and “Pitch Perfect”

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Comedy Date movie movie review Movies -- format Movies -- Reviews Romance

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Posted on July 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm

mike and dave2So, two bros — literal, biological bros and bros in the bro-iest of spirits — advertised on Craigslist for wedding dates. This being America, that got them on talk shows, which led to a book deal, which led to a movie starring four of of Hollywood’s funniest young stars. Your ability to appreciate the result of this unstoppably bro-tastic marketing juggernaut will depend entirely on your tolerance for bro humor. Be warned; mine is pretty low. Your mileage may vary.

Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) love each other and their family. They love their life of awesome parties and wild hijinks. But their parents and sister Jeannie (Sugar Lyn Beard) stage an intervention. Jeannie is getting married in Hawaii and she would like them to tone it down, so she can have an elegant, civilized celebration, nothing requiring ambulances, fire engines, or lawyers.

They come up with an idea. The worst problems seem to occur when Mike and Dave are trying to impress or party with girls. If they can find some “nice, respectable, smart girls” to accompany them to the wedding as their dates, it will have a calming effect. So, committed to #doingitforjeannie but with no idea of where to find such nice stable ponies, they of course turn to the place one goes to find used furniture, Craigslist, leading to the Wendy Williams Show, where they are spotted by Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), two girls who are as irresponsible and wild as the brothers. But of course they have to hide that to appear suitable for this occasion and thus get two free tickets to a lavish party in Hawaii. “We’re going to flip the script and Bachelorette that s***.”

Okay, we all know where this is going. Lots of mayhem. Lots of substance abuse and outrageous behavior. An ATV stunt that leaves the bride looking like “burn victim Barbie.” An intimate massage. Many inappropriate comments to various wedding attendees.

But “oh, no, they didn’t” comedy about irresponsible and grossly inconsiderate behavior only gets you so far, even in a gorgeous setting. Four of the most talented, appealing, and very funny performers anyone could hope for cannot make what is essentially a 10-minute sketch into a movie.

Parents should know that this film has extremely graphic adult material with very crude sexual references and explicit situations, comic peril and violence with some injuries, drinking, drugs, and very strong and crude language.

Family discussion: What makes someone a good wedding date?  Why was it so hard for Mike and Dave to behave themselves?

If you like this, try: “Wedding Crashers,” “American Pie,” and “Saving Silverman”

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Comedy Inspired by a true story

Interview: Adam Devine of “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”

Posted on July 6, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Copyright Fox 2016
Copyright Fox 2016
Adam Devine is a busy guy. He plays Andy on the hit television series “Modern Family” and a capella singer Bumper in the “Pitch Perfect” movies. He took time to talk to me about his wildly raunchy new comedy, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” based on the true story of brothers who advertised on Craigslist for girls to take to their sister’s wedding.

You have an epic cry in this movie.

I’ve got a few cries in this movie. I’m a very emotional Mike Stangle. And that’s my actual cry; that’s what I look like when I cry. I’m a true mess of a human. I try not to cry often but when I do it is waterworks.

What makes somebody a good wedding date?

You need to go with the flow. You need to be willing to be cornered by that creepy uncle or weird aunt and have a decent convo with them and you know, no matter how dry the chicken is, say it is delicious. And hit up an open bar but don’t close the bar down.

The Hawaii resort location is just gorgeous. Did you have a lot of fun when you were not filming? Did you do some cool stuff?

Yes, we did all kinds of cool stuff. It was so awesome. We were there for two months so I was a Hawaiian boy for a minute. Zac and I went swimming with the sharks and it was so awesome. We weren’t even in a cage. We were in our boyshorts swimming and there were all these sharks around us and at one point this giant 13-foot tiger shark came out of the depths and Zac swam right over to it and grabbed its fin and rode it. Like an amusement ride. The video is online, you can look it up. It is bonkers and in the video you actually see my green trunks, like hard spin and swim aggressively back to the boat.

Other than your own, what’s the best wedding movie?

I love “The Wedding Crashers” because in the same vein as our movie. It’s a wedding movie but it’s not just about love and the wedding. There’s is a lot of really, really fun stuff. Sometimes I feel like if they get too hung up on the actual wedding and not enough about the fun in getting there. And I think our movie did a really good job with that.

You’re from the midwest, Iowa and Nebraska. What are weddings like there?

Midwestern weddings are awesome because it’s without fail it’s much Milwaukee’s Best as you can handle. And then you know your aunt is really weirdly proud about the beans that she brought for the reception. One uncle has cornered his high school friends to play at the reception so there’s like a really cool weird cover band that’s only covering Poison songs. So yes, I’m a huge fan of Midwestern weddings.

The movie is actually based on a true story?

At the beginning of the movie it says “based on a true story” and people are like, “Oh that’s not real.” but it 100% is actually real and Mike and Dave Stangle are everything you wanted them to be. You think “Oh they are not going to be as fun as you think they are going to be. Like in the movie these guys are super fun and party animals and crazy and then you meet them and they are the best. First of all, they came on set 11 am the first day that I met them. They were already drunk, that night they got kicked out of the Jacuzzi for making out with Australian girls and I’m like — all this cool stuff is happening the first day they get in and I’m the star of the movie and I wasn’t making out with Australian girls, I need to take a page out of the real Mike and Dave Stangle’s playbook.

I think they just go for it. They are the type of guys that, they just do everything until they are made to stop as opposed to asking for permission. They are like “Yes, it will be fine, and then “Would we be kicked out if we take it too far?” And I think that’s a good way to live your life if you want to have the best and most fun.

How did you and Zac Efron work out your brotherly chemistry?

I knew Zac a little bit. Not very well but we went to Hawaii a couple weeks early to sort of bond and rehearse and take scenes and improve them together and when you are shooting something on location and we don’t know anyone there, it was easy to bond with your castmates because you don’t have anyone else to hang out with. And Zac is like the best guy in the world so it super easy to become really good friends with him. And Sugar Lyn who plays our sister — I mean her name is Sugar for a reason. She is truly the sweetest girl you’ve ever met. So it was real easy to love her guts. And Anna and Aubrey are so funny and such good actresses and they really brought it. In fact, I would say for a lots of the movie their characters are way crazier than Mike and Dave. We are trying to hold it together for the family and they really get to let it fly. So it’s a really fun movie. It’s not like a movie where only the guys are going to like it or only the girls are going to like it. It’s really a type of movie that everyone can come and watch and have a good time. It’s not a remake; it’s not a reboot. It’s an original comedy that’s super funny and I’m willing to say that it’s definitely the funniest movie that you’ll see this year.

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Actors Interview

The Intern

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Copyright Warner Brothers 2015
Copyright Warner Brothers 2015
Oh, to live in Nancy Meyers-land, where the 60’s and 70’s really are a golden age, where AARP-eligible Oscar winners go to be universally adored by bright young people, and where every sumptuously spacious but cozy home has the kitchen of your dreams. It’s not a coincidence that more than once in the movie one character compliments another on the decor. Or that you can now buy it all yourself to collect your own accolades, making the movie into an infomercial. It’s soft-focus, feel-good, female empowerment. So of course it’s all to a soundtrack of Pottery Barn-like upscale easy listening songs like “All About That Bass (No Treble).”

Following in the beautifully shod footsteps of Eli Wallach (“The Holiday”), Diane Keaton (“Something’s Gotta Give”), and Meryl Streep (“It’s Complicated”) comes Robert De Niro, with infinite charm and grace in a role he seldom gets to take: an ordinary guy.

De Niro plays Ben, 70 years old, living in Brooklyn, a widower after a long, happy marriage, retired, and looking for something to do. He has traveled, visited his grandchildren, taken classes. There is a single woman his age (Linda Lavin) who would love to date him. But he wants something more. “The nowhere to be thing hit me like a ton of bricks.”

And then he sees a flier. A local start-up is looking for “senior interns,” for no other reason than to make a cute movie plot, but okay. It’s an online sales company, selling fashion with some special ability to make sure the items fit properly), and he still uses a flip phone, but Ben decides to apply. And he is undaunted that applicants, instead of submitting a resume, are asked to upload a video about themselves. “I want to be challenged,” he explains, “and needed.”

He gets the job and is assigned to the start-up’s visionary but harried CEO, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Is the name supposed to make us think of Jane Austen? Could be. She has an only-in-movies adorably precocious moppet and a shaggy (in a cute, artisanal, Brooklyn way) devoted stay-at-home-dad of a husband. And, guess what? They live in an exquisitely decorated brownstone with a couple of legos and a backpack sprinkled around for relatability. Plus, she is played by Anne Hathaway, so she is stunningly beautiful in a we’d-totally-be-best-friends-if-she ever-met-me sort of way. She gets to channel her “Devil Wears Prada” co-star Meryl Streep as the boss who can be terrifying, but she knows and we know she’s there to be loveable, not scary. And he is endlessly calm and resourceful, whether cleaning up the office junk pile, crunching data, giving dating advice, or retrieving a disastrously mis-sent email.

In the normal world of movies, Jules would have a lot to teach Ben about being up with the times and there would be all kinds of cute/funny scenes with him learning what a hashtag is while imparting a few Yoda-like gems of wisdom. But this is Nancy Meyers-land, so the lessons all go the other way. And those lessons are not so much “why don’t you do it this way” as “you can do it!” It is undeniably refreshing, especially to those of us closer in age to Ben than Jules, but let’s face it. This is less a movie than it is comfort food and a glossy shelter magazine wishbook, sprinkled with fairy dust and truffle powder.

Meyers is all about you-go-girl empowerment, so her films are delectable visions of soft-focus fantasy, but there are some revealing moments of personal payback, too, as in her treatment of a wandering husband. It crosses the line from pleasant daydream to selfishness, entitlement, and denial. It’s one thing to create a fairy tale. It’s another to promote the idea that women can “have it all” without a lot of other people having a lot less. And maybe next time we could add some people of color to the cast. This is Brooklyn, for goodness’ sake. It’s practically a living version of “It’s a Small World.” How did the cast get so white?

But Ben’s handkerchief rule? That’s the real deal.

Parents should know that this film features adult themes including adultery and male sexual response. There are references to a sad death, drinking, including drinking and medication to deal with anxiety, and characters use some strong language. There is an awkward and unfunny joke about a child possibly having bipolar disorder.

Family discussion: What most surprises seniors and millennials about each other? What would you like to do when you retire? Do you agree with Jules’ decision?

If you like this, try: “It’s Complicated” and “The Holiday”

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Comedy Drama
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