“St. Vincent” – We Don’t Always Get What We Want

Rated PG-13
Comedy
109 minutes
Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Naomi Watts

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Maggie (Melissa McDonald) is a new, single mom, who moves into Brooklyn with her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). Both have to adjust to a new school, new work hours and a new cranky neighbor. Unfortunately, right next door lives Vincent (Bill Murray) – a very crotchety, unhappy, old S.O.B. with little purpose and with too much pain in his life. Due to unforeseen circumstances Vincent quickly becomes Oliver’s nanny. Maggie knows no one else and Vincent could use the cash.

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After-school hours go from watching old TV shows to lessons in self-defense.  The new kid in school is small, and easy to pick on. Oliver knows nothing about defending himself until the war veteran shows him a punch of two.  Without Maggie’s knowledge or approval the two hit the bars and the race track. Oliver meets Vincent’s “Lady of the Night” friend Daka (Naomi Watts) who shows up once a week.  While Vincent is showing Oliver “life” the boy has never experienced, albeit inappropriate for a kid, it’s evident that those after-school life lessons go both ways.

Theodore Melfi wrote and directed the film.  With permission Bill Murray put some of his script in his own words which allows the funny Bill to be seen through the unhappy old man.  It’s great to see Melissa McCarthy is a more serious and sensitive role – she offers an accurate example of single mom’s trying to genuinely “be all.”  Naomi Watt’s does an incredible job of being the pregnant Russian dancer/hooker who knows only how to turn tricks.  She doesn’t appear to have many instincts about motherhood. And Chris O’Dowd’s role as priest/teacher is a character we all wish we would have had in school.  Kind, funny, challenging.

Arruga! = 1 (on the edge of R)

Fidget Factor = 0  (109 minutes)

Age Range = 15 and up

Overall grade = B

“The Book of Life” – A cultural experience for the whole family

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T he Book of Life
PG
95 minutes
Animation/Adventure/ Comedy

Here’s the 20th Century Fox definition of the new animated film “The Book of Life.”

Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

And here’s mine.

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Producer Guillermo del Toro brings together three Latino friends, Manolo (Diego Luna,) Maria (Zoe Saldana,) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum,) who discover why their heritage and family tradition is revered in their community. Through three worlds – the land of the living, the land of the remembered and the land of the forgotten Manolo finds a way to face his fear. The film gives the rest of us a clearer understanding of a cultural tradition called ‘the day of the dead,’ and it provides a message and conversation about family connections, following your heart (or your gut,) facing your fears, and being true to yourself.

Maria is a terrific role model for girls. She isn’t impressed by chivalry, she doesn’t believe she needs a man to complete her, and she isn’t afraid of stand up for what she wants. Her two boy buddies since youth take a little longer to get there. While Manolo comes from a long line of bullfighters he isn’t interested and believes his way out of just about everything is to sing and play music. In Joaquin’s family every man has been a soldier so he believes it’s all about being stud and is obsessed with his medals. All three have a lot to learn.

The spirits from the afterlife – La Muerte from the land of the remembered and Xibalba from the land of the forgotten make a bet over which of the two boys will win Maria’s heart.

The very unique – almost puppetry like animation, along with occasional pop tunes, and humorous characters keeps the audience entertained. There seemed to be some cultural And the cast is impressive: besides those already mentioned, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube and Kate del Castillo are noticed.

This is a great family film, not only for the Latino community but for any parent who wants their child to learn about other cultures, develop character, examine their own family traditions and connections all while teaching their kids to follow their heart, face their fears, and be true to yourself.

Arruga! – 0
Fidget Factor – 1
Age Range – 7 and up
Overall Grade – C+

“Gone Girl” – Hope you’re feeling good about your marriage.

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RATED R
149 MINUTES (2 hrs, 29 minutes)
Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller

Nick and Amy fell madly in love and got married. He was a mid-western guy making a living in NYC as a writer for a men’s magazine. She was a New Yorker also a writer.
Their relationship was smart and passionate.

When his mother falls ill, the two move to Missouri to care for her, buy a bar and settle in. They stay even after his mother dies. Their marriage loses some of its passion, so of its romance.

On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears. Their appears to have been a struggle in the home, Amy’s blood is there, but no Amy. Police and the press quickly turn on Nick. Nick continues to claim he didn’t murder his wife. His twin sister believes him until she discovers he has lied. Why does he appear to be so emotionally detached? Where is Amy’s body?

Nick is a somewhat vanilla, a low-key character who is hard to read. At times it felt Ben Affleck was a little too vanilla. Amy (Rosamund Pike) is almost schizophrenic and clearly a great actress which is exactly who Rosamund Pike is. She yanks our chain from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other.

The real noticeables in this film are Neil Patrick Harris – former boyfriend, Tyler Perry – defense attorney, Kim Dickens – investigative officer and Carrie Coon – Nick’s twin sister Margo. Wow! Great roles to prove their serious chops especially Neil Patrick Harris.

Before you ever walk into this movie, I would recommend you make sure your marriage is healthy and strong, that you and the sweetheart have no hidden secrets and no reason for revenge. If you and your spouse have trust issues, this is NOT the film to make either of you feel better or more importantly, safer. You’ve heard people say “marriage is work.” This creepy drama, thriller is a perfect example of how the lack of attention to a relationship can cause crazy demons in their head to go nuts. (In fact, there’s a great tool called “Better Marriages” you might want to consider if you’re wanting to turn your OK marriage, into a GREAT marriage.)

This best selling book (which I never read) is a thrilling movie albeit long, though I’m not sure where the cuts would have come. But 2 1/2 hours was difficult to sit through. I’m grateful I have nothing to hide from the hubby nor he from me. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be getting much sleep tonight if our relationship was less than best.  I predict a “Gone Girl” will either create more cuddling or more insomnia. And that’s just one chick’s opinion.

Arruga! = 0 (R for a reason)
Fidget Factor = 1 ( Almost 2.5 hours)
Age Range = 18 and up
Overlall Grade = B