Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation

PG-13

131 minutes (2 hrs, 11 minutes)

Action, Adventure, Thriller

 

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) may be a few years older along with the rest of the highly skilled former IMF team but he hasn’t lost the drive to destroy the bad guy. William (Jeremy Renner,) Benji (Simon Pegg,) and Luther (Ving Rhames) all eventually surface again, this time to eradicate the highly skilled agents in the Syndicate (an International rogue organization.) The CIA has pushed the IMF out so if they’re going to get to the core of Syndicate, they’re on their own. I’m sure this story doesn’t sound nearly as cool and exciting as you think it should sound.   Hang with me anyway.

My favorite moment with any new Mission:Impossible movie is anticipating the latest version of the film’s nostalgic open – both the presentation of the “mission” (if you choose to accept it) and the predictable theme song that’s been around since the first episode in 1966.  But once you get through that, the big question is, will you want to stick around for the rest of it?

If you haven’t seen the video of Tom Cruise hanging off the side of a plane which actually happened eight times making this movie, it’s impressive. When I learned there was no CGI involved only Cruise with some concealed safety straps, it almost made me forget about the weird Tom Cruise of 2005. A very impressive stunt for sure.

Once again the personality of the M:I characters play well off of one another. Benji is the nerdy computer wiz with confidence in his own technology abilities but not real comfortable when required to fool somebody. Unlike William (Jeremy Renner) who can pass any lie detector test even when he’s knowingly and willingly lying. All of them, including Luther (Ving Rhames) have just the right amount of comedic enhancement to keep it real and keep it light when necessary.  It was thoroughly entertaining.

The suspense kept my attention with multiple precarious moments when I thought “how will they get out of this one?” A couple of times they don’t “get out of it” which only made the story better and the suspense more intense.

This was one of my favorite M:I films in recent years.   And I almost forgot Tom Cruise is really a nutty man.  And that’s just One Chick’s Opinion.

Arruga! – 0

Fidget Factor – 0

Age range – 13 and up

Overall Grade – B++

 

Minions is no Despicable Me

TheMinionsMovie2015

PG (for action and rude humor)

91 minutes

Animation, Comedy, Family

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin as The Minions

If those Despicable Me films ever had you wondering where those little yellow pill shaped creatures that speak part English, part some other language and part jibberish came from, wonder no more! We see the quick progression of the Minion from single-celled yellow organism through the pre-historic times up until the 60’s when they fall into a deep depression because they don’t have anyone to serve. Then Kevin has a great idea – travel the world in search of a villain, a trek that takes him, Stuart and Bob from Antarctica to New York City and all the way to London in 1968. While attending Villain Con (think Comic Con) their potential master, Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) challenges them to a task. Whoever can steal the large red gem stone from her hand will be allowed to serve this super villain and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm.) I’m sure you can guess who gets the job.

Through a series of fumbling, bumbling events the Minions are half helpful and half clueless when it comes to doing evil. They are surprisingly well versed in the rock songs of the ’60’s. The playlist covers everything from Happy Together by The Turtles, You Really Got Me by The Kinks and of course, Mellow Yellow by Donovan. The list is impressive. The only catch – with a few exceptions – most of the songs are sung in Minionese – ugh!

There was way TOO much Minion chaos going on in this film if you ask me. Without Gru it’s just not that charming, nor is it that funny, and really not very entertaining.  I miss the solid story line, the likeable characters and the funny little minions with fewer lines. When they’re not the main focus but appear in smaller doses they are much more entertaining.  Too much high pitched minionese gets really old, really fast. The script is just… ho hum… boring. The cast voicing the characters is impressive enough. (See list above.)  There just isn’t any stand out characters.   The script needs help. Too much Minion too much of the time.

Arruga! = 1

Fidget Factor = 1

Age Ranging = 7 and up

Overall grade = C

Not Surprising: Magic Mike XXL is Rated XXL-ish

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Rated R – Strong sexual content – particularly in scenes where characters perform striptease dances. No sexual activity. Only nudity is the back side of guys wearing thongs.   Dancing involves intimate contact with female patrons, suggestive dance moves which mimic sexual activity.  Strong language. If the f-ing or mother-ing bothers you, this won’t be fun for you.  And, drug use.

115 minutes (just call it 2 hours)

Comedy/Drama/Music

Cast:                                                                                                                            Channing Tatum (Magic Mike,)  Joe Manganiello (Big Dick Richie,) Matt Bomer (Ken,)  Kevin Nash (Tarzan,) Adam Rodriguez (Tito,) Jada Pinkett Smith (Rome,) Amber Heard (Zoe,) Michael Strahan (Augustus,) Donald Glover (Andre.)

Storyline:
The Xquisite Strip Club in Tampa is shutdown.  Dallas is nowhere to be found.  Mike has started a custom furniture company.   But the other guys are just not ready to stop dancing without one last big performance.  So they head to Myrtle for the male strippers convention, a road trip that becomes a personal journey for each of the dancers and many of the women they meet.

Initial reaction:
You have to see this movie with a serious sense of humor! No one dances like these guys in real life, at least not in any dance club I’ve been to in Kansas City. The sexual gyrations are cross between athletically outstanding and ridiculously raunchy. There’s so much twerking, and grinding, and pumping that it’s hilarious.

Better than the first?                                                                                             What makes this Magic Mike XXL a LOT better than the first one is the storyline. How they reconnect, travel, the stops along the way, the people they meet provides a lot more texture without ever getting too serious. We learn more about each of their personalities, their qualities, their fears.  Who knew Ken was so zen?  Who knew that Big Richie had some issues with the ladies?  And who knew Jada Pinkett Smith could be such a bad ass?  What’s Jada Pinkett Smith doing there? She becomes their new emcee and actually makes us women feel better by giving us permission to indulge in this naughty fun.

A few favorite elements: 
1) The spontaneous dance scenes in places that actually made total sense.
2) An encounter with women MY age which felt like I was with girlfriends.

3) The way the male strippers revered the woman they came in contact with treating them like queens and reminding all of us that no matter our size, shape, or age every woman deserves to be feel good about herself and that includes her sexuality.

4) Surprise appearance by Michael Strahan!

RATINGS:

Arruga! = 2
Fidget Factor = 1
Age Range = 21 and up
Overall Grade = B+

Side note: A dear friend years ago taught me, “It doesn’t matter where you get your appetite as long as you go home for dinner.”  So ladies it’s okay to have a night laughing and screaming as some sexy guys on a giant movie screen.  Indulge!  You’re not hurting anyone and after coming home to your husband, he may send you back to see it again!