A darling contemporary fantasy, Penelope is the story of a girl affected by a family curse. Due to a great-grandfather’s perfidy, Penelope (Christina Ricci) is born with a pig snout. Legend says only love from one of her own kind can break the curse, and so her mother (Catherine O’Hara) arranges introductions to a string of blue bloods as potential husbands.
Enter Max (James McAvoy). He and Penelope connect, yet something’s not quite right. Penelope flees home, embarking on her first adventure at the age of 25. This charming modern fairy tale isn’t always what it seems.
Angels in the Outfield is a lighthearted baseball movie about Guffy, the belligerent coach of a losing team who “meets” an angel. The angel, who is by no means tender or sweet, challenges Guffy to shape up. With a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, the angel offers to help Guffy win some ball games if he can stop fighting and using foul language. Guffy, who is convinced of the angel’s existence and power, sets out be a better man—at first if only for the sake of winning more games.
Guffy is played by Paul Douglas, with great turns by: Janet Leigh, as the reporter obsessed with covering Guffy’s every move; Spring Byington, as the pragmatic nun—and baseball enthusiast—who runs the orphanage; and Donna Corcoran as the adorable orphan whose prayers for her losing team prompt a band of angels to come to the rescue.
For another look at this movie, check out Bill’s review.
Being John Malkovich is one of those quirky, funny movies that you just can’t miss. Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a puppeteer who discovers…well, let’s just come out and say it…he discovers a portal directly into the brain of John Malkovich. Anyone who walks through the door will actually see what John Malkovich sees for about 15 minutes.
Look back at what Roger Ebert had to say.
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is timeless movie magic and a visual delight. Burton created this stop-motion animation film in which Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of dreary Halloweentown, finds a secret passageway to Christmastown. He likes what he finds so he decides to better himself by taking over for Santa! This ghoulish fairy tale is in no way mean-spirited. It is more playful than nasty so go ahead and add it to your Christmas movie list!
In the sequel to How to Train Your Dragon, viewers are once again transported to Berk, but a much different version than we are used to. Now, instead of hunting dragons, all of the villagers live in harmony with the beasts, many keeping one or more dragons in their homes and using them in sports. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), master of the dragons and set to become chief, is still a bit of an outsider, choosing to skip the games and spend his time mapping the world with his nightfury, Toothless. On his adventures, he encounters a group of dragon hunters, a massive ice cave full of dragons, and the truth about what happened to his mother when he was a baby.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is everything you could want from a sequel. Beautifully balanced, this movie contains all of the drama and action of the first movie and raises the stakes, but doesn’t lose the heartfelt (and heartbreaking) moments, either. This Golden Globe winning movie is great for all ages and would be a fun addition to any family movie night.
The Princess Bride was adapted by William Goldman from his novel, which he says was inspired by a book he read as a child, but its transformation by his wicked adult imagination has made the story witty and irreverent. And the film adaptation has remained popular since its original release in 1987.
It is story within a story with Peter Falk as a grandfather reading a fairy tale to his reluctant grandson. This clever romantic comedy-fantasy-adventure film can be enjoyed by every member of the family.
And if you can’t get enough of The Princess Bride, check out Cary Elwes’ (Westley) recent book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.
Before heading to Disney World and the new Be Our Guest restaurant, I revisited this classic from my childhood. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The Oscars for Best Original Song (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Best Score (the talented Alan Menken and Howard Ashman) come as no surprise as you listen to the enchanting music throughout the film. The story is engaging, the characters endearing (how can you not love a girl who is thrilled by books and libraries?), and the movie simply magical.
Roger Ebert was equally enthralled. Check out his review. And something else to look forward to – Beauty and the Beast will be here live on stage in late March as part of Broadway in Chicago.
Scrooged loosely follows the storyline of the classic Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol. Bill Murray’s comic sarcasm and a romance between Frank Cross (the Scrooge character played by Murray) and old flame Claire (played by Karen Allen) expand on the original theme.
The four ghosts are not lost amongst the modern tale of a selfish, greedy TV executive who learns his lesson the hard way during the holiday season. It was interesting watching this movie from a twenty first century perspective, as Christmas 1988 is already Christmas Past for us.
This 2013 retelling of the origin of Superman is superb. Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill as Superman and Clark Kent, and he is outstanding. Amy Adams gives a fine performance as Lois Lane.
If you are looking for action, there is plenty of it. And the special effects should get at least an Oscar nomination if not a win.
The chief villain is General Zod (Michael Shannon), and he is a great nemesis. The battles between General Zod and Superman are titanic. Kal-El’s father Jor-El is played by Russell Crowe, and he gives a very solid performance. For those of you who’ve forgotten, Kal-El is Superman’s Kryptonian name.
The movie, although a little dark at times, is a lot of fun.
Did you ever wonder what Paris was like in the 1920s? Here is your chance. Owen Wilson is visiting Paris with his fiancé and her family. He is a writer with writer’s block. One evening he decides to take a walk to clear his mind. When a limo pulls up and the passengers offer him a ride, he accepts. This is the start of his adventure and a chance to go back to the Paris of the 1920s.
Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali welcome him into their world. When Owen’s fiancé and her family become suspicious of his disappearing every night, they hire a detective. The results lead one to believe this may or may not be a dream.
Midnight in Paris is one of Woody Allen’s best. The acting is great and the literary characters are true to life.