Life of Crime – There’s Something Familiar Going On

Rated R
98 minutes
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Mos Def, Will Forte, John Hawkes,  Mark Boone Junior

Jennifer Aniston as Mickey in "Life of Crime"
Jennifer Aniston as Mickey in “Life of Crime”

This is what happens when you kidnap a wife for ransom except the husband isn’t really interested in paying the $1-million dollars.

Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins) is a real estate guy who seems to be getting away with his illegal international transactions. When a couple of common criminals with little money learn how much Frank has in the bank they scheme to kidnap his wife Mickey (Jennifer Aniston) for ransom. Family friend Marshall (Will Forte)

is making it all too clear to Mickey how he feels about her. But serious complications arise when its realized Frank has a girlfriend by the name of Melanie (Isla Fisher) and he doesn’t really care that his wife has been kidnapped.

This crime story set in the 70’s in Detroit, provides dark humor, some clever plot twists (though you kind of see them coming) and several great actors portraying some interesting characters. (Who isn’t just a little bit afraid of Mark Boone Junior.) Life of Crime looks a little familiar. Very similar to Ruthless People in the 1980’s. But this one is based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, published in 1978 called “The Switch.”

It may have arrived on the perfect weekend. Labor Weekend typically doesn’t get much movie traffic but if it rains in enough parts of the country, Life of Crime could generate a little more revenue than a weekend against the films anticipated to hit theatres this fall.

Arruga! – 0
Fidget Factor – 0
Age Range – 13 and up
Overall Grade – B-

“When the Game Stands Tall” – I love sports movies. Some more than others.

PG
115 minutes
Drama/Sports

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Inspired by a true story, football couch Bob Ladouceur, leads the De La Salle High School Spartans to an incredible 151-game winning streak that lasted from 1992-2003 in Concord, California. The pressure to keep the streak alive is intense and comes with dedication, teamwork and sacrifice. And regardless of the hard work every winning streak eventually ends. What now?

The film is based on a book by Neil Hayes, same name and printed in 2003. The real coach Bob Ladouceur retired in January 2013 after winning his last Open Division state championship in December of 2012.

I’m a sucker for sports films. I like Draft Day earlier this year. I love 42, and who didn’t love The Blind Side?

I “like” this movie for several reasons. Anytime there’s a group of teens doing something positive you better believe we need to peek into the locker room and watch practice to see why the formula is working. And it’s clear that this couch and this program wasn’t just about winning football.. it was, as the film says, about growing up boys to become young men. And how Bob Labouceur does that is quite impressive.

I don’t have boys but I’m told by friends who do…once they get to high school, they stop telling you (parents) anything and everythere you want to know. “How was your day?” gets a grunted response… because boys don’t talk. The boys on couch Bob Labouceur’s team do in a safe and healthy environment that builds them up and helps them feel safe and connected. More young boys need safe places like that in their lives, in my opinion.

The acting was well done with great performances from Laura Dern,  Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, and Michael Chiklis.  I was a little surprised by the religious elements to the film…though not offended, just wasn’t expecting that.  It was by no means over the top, simply accurate to the story and the real life character of Coach Bob Labouceur.  And one of many tools in his tool box used to create such great men out boys from all walks of life.  And whenever I run across someone who seems to have a formula on how to nurture and develop solid character, I enjoy learning from them in hopes to have a positive influence on someone but first on myself.  I hope I’m never too old to learn.

Arruga – 0
FF – 1
Age range 11 and up
B-

The Expendables 3 – What was I thinking?

The-Expendables-3-Cast

The Expendables 3                                                                                                          PG-13                                                                                                                                          126 minutes                                                                                                                        Action, Adventure, Thriller

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Victor Ortiz

It’s an elite group of militants engaged in a covert operation where they watch and defend each other’s back. Their mission is clear – kill the arms trader who is selling massive explosives. Sooo… use explosives to kill the dude who is sharing explosives with others who like explosives. Did I mention this is an action film?

It’s a pretty simply plot. Barney (Slyvester Stallone) is after the arms trader but then he discovers the arms trader is actually Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) who was once head of The Expendables. When Stonebanks turned on the group, Barney (previous film) went after him and killed him or so he thought. Now Barney is faced with killing him again. Yet some of the film makes no sense at all. You see Barney is apparently sort of a softie who remembers the old and good members of The Expendables, even holds onto their dog tags after they’ve died. When he’s afraid this mission could be his last, he replaces his senior members with a younger bunch that’s faster and more tech-savvy for fear his loyal members will be killed. All of this concern for others yet Barney, all The Expendables, Stonebanks and his bundle of thugs have annihilated hundreds – maybe thousands – of innocent people. Just gunned them down as the two sides go after one another. Oh, how lovely. I would bet, the rounds of ammunition shot off in this film would put most combat operations in the Middle East to shame. Continue reading The Expendables 3 – What was I thinking?