Miss You Already

Miss You Already

Posted on November 5, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: Very strong and crude language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, drug references
Violence/ Scariness: Serious illness, sad death, some graphic and disturbing images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: November 6, 2015

Copyright Lionsgate 2015
Copyright Lionsgate 2015
Friendship has the best aspects of romantic love and the best of family love, and the worst of both as well. Your friends as are close to you as anyone in the world, which means you can rely on them and they can rely on you, whether it’s telling you if your butt looks too fat in those jeans or you need someone to come pick you up because a date has gone horribly wrong. And it means that they can hurt you terribly, because they mean so much to you and because you trust them and because they know you so well.

And yet, while there are hundreds of thousands of movies about love and family, there are not very many great movies about friendship. “Miss You Already,” from director Catherine Hardwicke, is a worthy attempt, the story of two women who were friends since childhood, and whose friendship is nearly destroyed by the complications of grown-up life. Though it appears only once in the film, the title refers to a catchphrase the two women use to say goodbye, making fun of themselves for being so deeply in one another’s lives, but really meaning it, too.

Drew Barrymore plays Jess, an American living in England and the more serious and responsible of the pair. Toni Collette is Milly, the wild party girl who improbably is living happily ever after with Kit (Dominic Cooper), the roadie who got her pregnant and then married her, started a successful business, and turned out to be a wonderful husband and father. They have darling children, a beautiful home, and satisfying careers and they are still mad for each other. Jess is happily married to Jago (Paddy Considine), though they do not have any money and are struggling with fertility problems. But they live on an adorable houseboat. It is one of the movie’s wisest choices that the husbands are not complaining (most of the time) or complained about. They are full partners to their wives and full partners in supporting the friendship.

Milly has always lived lightly, skimming along the top of life, still a party girl at heart. She loves her husband, children, and Jess, but she is admittedly superficial and vain. And then she gets a cancer diagnosis. Jess is happy to live up to the assigned tasks of “bringing treats and not being annoying” to help Milly through chemotherapy. And wig shopping (with the wonderful Frances de la Tour). And changing dressings. But she believes that Milly’s illness is so all-consuming that she cannot share what is going on in her life. And then Milly does something that creates the first serious breach in their relationship.

Yes, we’re in “Beaches” territory, so get out your handkerchiefs. Drew and Collette make a touching screen team, and Jacqueline Bisset, almost unrecognizable with platinum blonde hair, is a welcome antidote to over-sentimentality as Milly’s self-absorbed mother, a moderately successful actress. Hardwicke, who began her career as a production designer, has a superb eye and a great gift for using the settings to tell the story. If she cannot avoid the usual touchstones of women’s friendship movies (singing along to a favorite pop song), at least she changes it up a little — REM in a taxi instead of the usual Motown into a hairbrush. “Miss You Already” will make you want to call a friend you miss, and then bring her along to see it again.

Parents should know that this film includes very strong language, sexual references and situations, serious illness with some graphic images, a very sad death, a childbirth scene, alcohol and drug references.

Family discussion: What makes a great friendship? Ask family members about their most important friendships, how they met and their favorite moments.

If you like this, try: “50/50” and “Beaches”

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Why We Love Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Synch Contests: Fallon, Ferrell, and Hart Perform “Drunk in Love,” “Let It Go,” “All of Me” (Plus Drew Barrymore)

Posted on February 4, 2015 at 9:22 am

I always enjoy Jimmy Fallon’s lip synch competitions and this is one of the best, with Will Ferrell performing “Drunk in Love” and ‘Let it Go,” Kevin Hart going all out with “All of Me” and “Roar,” and Fallon rocking out to “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “Time of My Life” (with a guest appearance by Drew Barrymore).  Hart and Ferrell were there to promote their upcoming comedy “Get Hard.”  It is great fun to see stars show themselves as fans.  They have to be more than performers to do these numbers — they have to truly love these songs and listen to them so often they know them inside out.  Apparently, even enormously talented and successful performers are just like the rest of us when it comes to singing into a hairbrush and imagining ourselves rocking an arena like Beyoncé.  I also think part of what makes it fun is the gender and racial fluidity.  No one ever hesitates to take on a song by someone of a different race or gender.  All three men do more than fully commit to performing songs by women; they embrace the opportunity to pretend to hit those notes with pure joy.  Every one of the performers seems to love the chance to do something completely outside his or her normal range or physical type.  Who can forget Emma Stone doing “All I Do is Win,” in my opinion the greatest lip synch yet!

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Posted on May 22, 2014 at 6:00 pm

blendedOh, if perennial Razzie-winner Adam Sandler must keep making movies, I suppose they are less terrible when he includes his sweetest co-star, Drew Barrymore. She always brings out the best in him (“The Wedding Singer,” “50 First Dates”). The imperishable sunniness of Drew can somehow persuade us that Sandler is not as unlikeable as he seems. Sandler just might escape the Razzie award for cinematic atrocity this year. That might not be progress, but at least it’s a respite.

Thankfully, Sandler does not do that awful baby-voice or force Rob Schneider into another disgusting cameo in “Blended,” and no one has sex with an old lady. So, as Adam Sandler movies go, this is not as terrible as some of them. Yay! Of course that does not mean that Sandler foregoes his trademarks: a lot of gross-out humor involving bodily parts and functions, adults behaving like children and children precociously preoccupied with sex, and a lazy, almost haphazard approach to the story. Plus: Sandler regulars Kevin Nealon and Alexis Arquette, the genuinely funny Terry Crews and Wendy McLendon-Covey (“Bridesmaids”), a bunch of less funny people in the credits with the last name “Sandler,” a walloping product placement placement from a tourism bureau, this time South Africa, and a gooey, sentimental, retro vibe to remind us that boys are boys and girls are girls and it is great to be part of a family. While there was laughter in the theater, it is telling that following a fire alarm and brief evacuation, about a third of the audience decided not to come back. Consider yourself warned.

Sandler plays Jimmy, manager of a sporting goods store and single father of three girls he calls by boy names, one named for his favorite television network: Espn. He dresses them in khakis and polo shirts. Drew plays Lauren, a single mother of two sons, one who throws tantrums when he strikes out in Little League, one exploding with adolescent hormones.

We meet Jimmy and Lauren on their disastrous blind date, for each of them the first date since before they were married. They are awkward with each other and agonizingly uncomfortable. He brings her to Hooters. She has not one but two spit-takes. He looks at the TV while she’s talking.  “There’s a very tight game going on up there.”  And he insults her closet organizing business.  “Did you start by organizing glove compartments?”  They agree on just one thing — they never want to see each other again.

But then they end up on the same trip to Africa. Lauren and Jimmy discover they are on the “blended family-moon,” a special week for second-marriage couples and their children. Their loathing turns to respect and affection as they go on adventures and bond with each other’s children. If you guessed that this bonding would include a makeover for Jimmy’s 15-year-old girl (hair extensions, lipstick, miniskirt) to help her achieve her goal (attention from a boy) and batting practice and boxing lessons for Lauren’s sons, then you are familiar with the “Brady Bunch”/Bazooka Joe level of plot and character development that Sandler inflicts on his fans.  The retro humor crosses the line from lazy to skeezy, with locker-room-style gender and sexual orientation jokes that were outdated twenty years ago.

Intended to be a laugh riot: a child repeatedly having his head slammed into walls and doors when his mother tries to carry him, a young teenager who puts his babysitter’s face on a nude fold-out that he keeps under his bed, a “meet cute” involving the two leads’ mutual inability to cope in the drugstore as Jimmy is trying to buy tampons for his daughter and Lauren is trying to buy porn for her son.  There is attempted comedy about the appropriate tampon circumference for a 15-year-old and the appropriate masturbation material for a middle schooler.

Closer to the mark: the always-great Terry Crews as a pec-popping tummeler with a traveling group of township jive-singers, ubiquitous white minivans, and a couple of the jokes. A couple as in two.

Most of the jokes are disappointingly lazy, as usual in Sandler films. These are joke-ish, not actual jokes. In one scene, Jimmy’s youngest daughter (a darling Emma Fuhrmann) looks in a mirror and realizes that what she thought was cute kitty cat make-up face paint applied by her father was a mess. She screams that she looks like the “Walking Dead.” This is supposed to be funny because she is surprised that it looks different from what she envisioned and because a little kid knows about “The Walking Dead.”

But it’s a sloppy, easy, cheap joke, and it’s a sloppy, easy, cheap movie. Sandler should keep working with Drew Barrymore, and next time he should also film a script that has had more than one draft.

Parents should know that this movie includes very strong and crude language for a PG-13 and a lot of sexual humor including extended references to teen masturbation and discussion of adultery and divorce and jokes about Kegel exercises, bondage, a 15-year-old’s private parts, cameltoe, animals having sex, and giving someone a rufie. There is comic peril and violence and a sad off-screen death of a parent and a joke about developmental disabilities.

Family discussion: What did Lauren and Jimmy learn from watching each other as parents?  Which of the activities in Africa would you like to try?

If you like this, try: “The Wedding Singer”

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