“The Longest Ride”: A Nostalgic Journey

PG-13
139 minutes
Drama, Romance

Cast: Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin

Young love.
Young love.

“The Longest Ride” is two stories from two different eras that become connected by fate. Professional Bull Rider, Luke Collins’ (Scott Eastwood) career has been impressive though not without serious injuries. Getting back on a bull is a major accomplishment. Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson) is an art history major at Wake Forest with an internship waiting upon graduation in New York. So when the two meet and seemingly share a genuine connection, they’re fearful to cultivate the relationship because they come from two very different places, heading down two very different paths. Then by fate they’re faced with a life-saving emergency when they pull an old man from a burning car.

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He’s Ira Levinson (Alan Alda.) A widow and a curmudgeon whose long hospital stay becomes more pleasant only with Sophia’s visits. Since his failing eyesight prevents him from reading, she visits nearly every today to read to him all the personal letters he wrote his wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin) through their many years of marriage from the first time Ira (Jack Huston) laid eyes on her.

No relationship is perfect and all love requires sacrifice. But does that mean a cowboy has to settle by leaving his ranch for the city? Or that an art history lover has to stay stuck in rural America with no place to practice her passion? Or could there be another way?

Nicholas Sparks seems to often find a way to work it out. And perhaps that’s why women fall for his stories – whether paperback or movies – Sparks knows how to appeal to our gender. His writing may not be award winning but it sure sells novels and pulls women to theaters.  Perhaps it’s because he provides hope that even when it seems there’s no way imaginable for two unlikely loves to stay together, a believable answer seems to appear.

All eyes are on Scott Eastwood, son of Clint, who stars in this dramatic love story. Can the model he act? Sure. Does he look like his dad? Yes, but better. Does he handle his own stunts, in this case, bull riding? No. Well, at least after the bull leaves the gate. He left up to the professionals those famous 8-seconds bull riders are required to “hold on.”

“The Longest Ride” is to women this weekend what “Furious 7” was to men last weekend. It reminds us of our youth, those feelings of our first serious love, the romantic dance in our early 20’s when some hot guy clearly has feelings for us. Could he be THE one? Just like Ira was THE one for his wife Ruth?

The script is simple so don’t expect any academy award wins out of this film. But it’s well shot, well acted, and it left this middle-aged woman reaching for her tissues, even with the snickering row of film critics sitting behind me.  It also kept me in suspense: how would it end?  Was there a way for this young couple to end up together?  Let the critics laugh, I don’t care. It was fun remembering the sense of overwhelming love that comes with a first love. It’s remembering how I felt when I first really fell in love. It’s fun to remember a time when passion came at every turn,  when we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, when we each wondered how if ever we’d be able to be a permanent couple. And how trying times and sacrifice can be the best thing that ever happened to a relationship.

So ladies – hold your head high, grab a few kleenex and if the man you first fell in love with isn’t available to go see this one, grab a girlfriend you aren’t embarrassed to cry around.

Arruga! – 0

Fidget Factor – 0

Age Range – 13 and up

Overall Grade – B

I’m kind of mad about “Furious 7”

 

THE FRANCHISE FANS
Yes. I’m THAT person who has never seen a Fast & Furious flick until now. I thought going in that I had seen at least one of them. Nope. It was clear in the first 30 minutes when I realized everyone on screen clearly knew one another, that they’d been hanging out for several years and I was clearly the new kid in the room. I had no idea who Dom (Vin Diesel) was or Deckard (Jason Statham) was or Letty (Michelle Rodriguez)  or Mia (Jordana Brewster.)  I visually recognized these actors along with Dwayne Johnson and Kurt Russell. But I certainly didn’t understand whose funeral they were attending. I knew who Brian was because I read the news. Paul Walker’s untimely death half way through filming nearly put the brakes on this 7th in the franchise. But it didn’t.  Brian lives on.

LET’S CUT RIGHT TO THE ENDING
Through the amazing technology of computer generated graphics and the love and generosity of Paul’s brothers the 7th in the series was completed. Once the cast had time to mourn his death in 2013, it was decided to reorganize the script, and finish the project by super imposing Paul’s face over his brothers’ who clearly sound a LOT like their late brother. With great taste, film maker James Wan (known for horror films not action films) and writers Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson came up with an ending that in no way resembles the real life ending of Paul Walker – a fiery car crash.

HOW TO SHOOT CARS FALLING FROM THE SKY?                         VERY CAREFULLY
It doesn’t take long to understand that the hard core Fast & Furious fans haven’t been showing up all these years for the story. They’ve been showing up for the very fast cars. Suped up cars have never done much for me. Muscle cars and muscle men have never been my thing. So the revving of engines, screeching of tires and over the top RPMs did little to keep my attention. I impatiently waited for THE scene – cars falling out of airplanes. We had all seen it in the trailers and wanted to find out how it turned out. The free-fall worked for me and I’m sure the sky divers will be happy to know it was worth it. When real cars were shoved out the back of a cargo plane photographers were airborne filming the cars while trying to dodge the huge objects falling from the sky. Hope they were paid extra that day! For the most part the scene worked though I didn’t believe any vehicle with that speed could ever manage such a hard landing and still race through a forest without hitting a tree!  Come on!

TRYING TO SEE IT AS THE TANK HALF FULL                                                  I also didn’t believe a sports car could jump from one building to another AND another and stay in tact. I know. It’s the movies. The Fast & Furious movies and I’m not part of the club. But for those who will be coaxed into going, to spending their hard earned cash on this film plus the cost of popcorn and a drink, know that it’s hard to track, it’s short on humor (you won’t get the jokes) and it’s a bunch of high speed cars, crashes, and stunts with little time for heart and emotion between a bunch of people I doubt you’ll feel any closer to when it’s all over. Except one. And that’s because YOU have heart and emotion. God rest your soul Paul Walker.

Arruga! – 0
Fidget Factor – 1  (137 minutes. Time I will never get back.)
Age Range – 13 and up
Overall Grade – C (But what do I know. I haven’t seen the other six in the franchise either.)

Rated R.  125 minutes.
Drama / Romance

Fifty-Shades-of-Grey
English Literature major Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is studying for finals at Washington State University Vancouver, just weeks away from graduation. As a favor to her friend and roommate Kate (Eloise Mumford), suffering from the flu, Anastasia steps in to interview the man giving this year’s commencement address, 27-year old billionaire businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan.)

In a matter of a few minutes the quiet girl with little dating experience and still a virgin is swept up in his charisma. He’s handsome, intelligent and intimidating. She’s intrigued. So is he. She’s shy, intelligent and not afraid to challenge him on his answers. He wants her for his “playroom.” She wants him as a boyfriend. And their strange relationship of seduction and dominance begins.

I managed to tolerate only 143 pages of the book. My 21-year old daughter called it “mommy porn.” That’s not why I stopped reading. I found the writing horrible. I envisioned some 8th grade girl learning about BDSM on the internet, writing this story with a pornography site open on her computer and a thesaurus in her hand. The story just wasn’t believable to me. How could a bright, confident albeit quiet college woman, so easily fall into the trap of this control freak? But look who’s laughing. Author E.L. James’ life will never be the same. I know more women who’ve read the book than who haven’t. Over 100-million copies of the book have been sold.

The film was more believable to me. It removed the chatter in Anastasia’s head the booked revealed and instead let the pictures and minimal dialogue tell the story. Smart move! It was a better experience than the book for me. It is expected to gross at least $60-million in the opening weekend alone.

Dakota Johnson was amazing and believable – much more than the Ana in the book. Jamie Dornan was, well, gorgeous, but didn’t show the range of emotion Dakota did which was likely part character choice – Christian is controlling. I appreciated Dakota’s ability to turn Ana’s line for humor which added to her character’s intelligence, confidence and innocence. That and the film’s musical soundtrack, which is perfect by the way, were the best parts of this film to me. It didn’t take long to turn into a mama bear, fearful for this 21 year old’s decisions and heartbroken for the young man’s tragic past.

I was relieved to see that the film “50 Shades of Grey” was really less about erotic sex (it’s rated R after all) and more about a tragic story of grief, child abuse, and lost love. Not to be misleading, there are more than enough boob and butt shots to last a while, and plenty of sex scenes. Yet in the end, I just felt sad for the pain so many people have suffered at the hands of another hurt human being. A difficult cycle to end. I felt proud of Anastasia for challenging and saving herself. Every one makes mistakes but no woman needs a white knight. She needs a strong sense of self and a safe, loving place to be.

Do I think you should see it? Not if watching sex on the big screen bothers you and not if you plan to sit for two hours and laugh. It doesn’t  deserve THAT treatment and nor do the other people in the theatre . Don’t judge. If you liked the book, you should like the movie. (Know that several scenes are missing.)  If you tolerated the book, you may find the movie better than you thought it would be.  If you hated the book, don’t bother with the movie. After all, you know how it ends.

Arruga! – 2!
Fidget Factor – 1
Age Range – 17 and up
Overall Grade – C

How to Bring Romance Back into Your Relationship

What is romance?     It’s anything from watching a sunset together to libido on steroids.

But I think we can all agree that having a genuine connection with our partner is what makes the sunset more beautiful and makes the sex not only hot but meaningful. If we aren’t connected as a couple, we don’t feel safe as a couple, and romance takes a back seat. Example: If my husband hasn’t kissed me all week, hasn’t asked me about my life nor I about his, I don’t feel connected. When I’m not connected any romantic gesture will likely just piss me off. I have to feel connected before I feel romantic. I think a lot of women are like me.

Credentials.
But that’s not what qualifies me to write an article about putting romance back in your relationship. I’m qualified to share my opinion because I’ve been happily married to Rick for 29 years. Has every day or even every year been wonderful? No! Not for me and absolutely not for him. But we’ve stayed in love with commitment, with laughter and with connectedness. For those who say real love doesn’t require work… they’re full of it. That’s why for the last 26 years we have set aside time at least once a month to talk about our relationship. We joined Better Marriages (bettermarriages.org) in 1989 to teach us communication skills we never learned growing up. Since then, we’ve nurtured our marriage as much as we’ve nurturedour kids and nurtured our careers. It means that much to us.

Our 29th wedding anniversary
Our 29th wedding anniversary

I WANT ME SOME ROMANCE!   Touch. Talk. Tomfoolery.

Touch. Every day, couples should give each other affection. Non-sexual affection. We just need to be touched and who better than our partner to give us that gift everyday. A hug. A kiss. Holding hands even if for a few seconds or minutes will keep us better connected with our partner. If you’re uncomfortable touching chances are you’re not connected.

Even if you don’t feel like touching or kissing or hugging, do it anyway! Often the act reminds us of the feelings. With enough practice it can rekindle good feelings and reconnect us again.

Talk. Every day couples need to take a few minutes to check-in with each other. Ask each other to rate their day on a scale from 1 to 10. Give your partner a number and explain why it was an 8 or why it was a 3. Then it’s the next guys turn. Celebrate their positive events that day. And when they’re not so positive simply listen and empathize.

So often spouses come home at the end of the day and one is in a terrible mood. Sometime spouses decide that the crankiness is aimed at them or about them. They’re likely not! We can all get out of sorts because of something that’s happened outside of our relationship. We have to have a safe place to share. It’s key to connecting. And please don’t be a fixer upper! Don’t try to fix their problem or fix their feelings. Be a sounding board so they can fix their own damn feelings, after all we’re all responsible for our own feelings. Be an active listener. Letting them know they were heard, that you’re here for them and ask how you can help. Guys, we women typically just want to vent. And ladies, guys may not go into all the juicy details, especially when we commandeer the conversation. If we can learn to keep our mouths shut and simply listen, the more safe he’ll feel to share more feelings.

When I’m feeling connected to Rick emotionally (that verbal connection) and physically (that touch connection) I feel safe. And when I feel safe, I’m ready to take the romance to the next level which is all about the fun!

Photo booth "goof off"
Photo booth “goof off”

Tomfoolery.   Rick and I are playful in everyday life. Humor is one of the key characteristics that drew us together in the first place. Providing each other with space to be funny or silly without making each other the butt of the joke, is a huge connector for us. And occasional surprises adds to the romance!

There are all the usual ways to surprise your partner with a little fun like placing a love note in their pocket they will find later in the day. Or greeting them at the door with nothing on but a smile (assuming children aren’t around!)

A pricey idea.
My husband will tell you that his favorite romantic date occurred on his birthday. I made dinner reservations at the Peppercorn Duck Club at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. At the end of that beautiful meal, after a couple of bites of dessert, I excused myself for the restroom. Unbeknownst to him, I had made an overnight reservation. I jumped on the elevator and called him from the room. All I said in a dramatic, sexy voice was, “pay the bill and meet me in room 1123.” That got his attention! I had pre-ordered wine and chocolate covered strawberries, and in my very large purse I had packet a sexy nighty, candles, bubble bath and toothbrushes (we like clean teeth.) I was running around like a crazy woman setting up the romantic elements before the birthday boy arrived! Laughing at myself when I opened the door with a silly sexy girl pose. He loved it.

A budget friendly idea.
You don’t have to pay for an expensive dinner or night in a hotel to be romantic. You can create fun right at home by playing romantic games. You’ll find many ideas online or you can purchase “An Enchanted Evening Game.” When the children are clearly asleep or staying at grandmas or when you check into a hotel for an overnight getaway this game is so romantic!

It’s an actual board and starts by giving us an excuse to say nice things to one another and ends with the two of us feeling closer to one another. At first you have questions like “In what way is your partner supportive of you?” Then progresses to the steamy ones like “What part of your body would you like to have massaged?”Or “Caress something of your partner’s that casts a shadow.”  Yowzah!  My husband and I have yet to finish the game!

You’ll find other game ideas on the internet like Dirty Scrabble, Strip Poker or other games that require clothing removal and laughter. Romance doesn’t have to be sappy and gushy unless that’s the way you two connect.

1986. Tall hair. Big glasses.
1986. Tall hair. Big glasses.

A totally free idea.
A fun exercise with your partner this Valentine’s Day – reminisce about how you fell in love to begin with. Remember the first time you saw each other, how you met, what sparked the romance and what made you want to commit to one another. Pull out old photos. Laugh at your hair style and awful outfit. Tell him how handsome he is, then and now. Remind her that it was her brains and personality that made you fall in love.

Romance was there in the beginning… right? When we are first dating we give each other a lot of attention. We want to know all about them. What are their beliefs? What was childhood like? What are their dreams? We woo each other by touching, talking and for some us tomfoolery.

Then we get married, pop out a couple of kids and our career is taking up more time then we imagined. We wake up one morning to realize we don’t feel so romantic about that person lying next to us and they don’t feel it either.

Don’t panic, just get back to the basics. Give her a kiss before she leaves in the morning. Give him one when he walks through the door at night. Touch her hand or hair when you’re watching TV. Smack him on the butt when his favorite team scores! Listen when she’s had a bad day. Don’t judge when he tells you about his meeting. And don’t try to fix the others problem. Just listen with compassion, appreciate all feelings, lend a hand and let romance return. It will if you let it.

“Black or White” – Far From It

Two Academy Award winning actors come together for this real life story about a little biracial girl.  Elliott (Kevin Costner) is Eloise’s grandfather, a new widower trying to manage the grief of losing his best friend and wife while continuing to raise Eloise (Jillian Estell) by himself.  Rowena  (Octavia Spencer) is Eloise’s other grandmother who believes that the little girl needs to be surrounded by family, including her biological father.   Reggie (Andre’ Holland) has barely been in her life.  Everyone claims they want the best of Eloise.  A custody battle occurs.

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“Black or White” is a very courageous film that isn’t afraid of hitting this obviously tricky subject head on.  It’s about the real conversations not only biracial families face but that society faces.  Racial stereotypes, name calling, fears and most importantly the desire to not only change negative stereotypes on both sides but to actually do it!  It’s a real life topic that’s current.

When Kevin Costner read the script, it became a passion. And when Hollywood studios didn’t want to make the film, he told his wife he had to finance it, spending $9-million from his own pocket to do so.  He’s was adamant about making it politically incorrect, with all the racial issues on both sides or the story wouldn’t be real.  Controversy is what makes this film compelling and in a very weird way likeable.  No one gets to side step their racism.

“Black or White” won’t win any awards but it’s a solid story, and one I hope will help all people come together a little more.

 

Arruga! – 0

Fidget Factor – 0 

Age Range – 13 and up

Overall Grade – B

 

 

Big Hero 6 -It’s time for new animated movie to watch over and over and over….

Big Hero 6

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PG 108 minutes

Cast: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Damon Wayans, Daniel Henney

Hiro’s (Ryan Potter) big brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) is the closest thing he has to a father. And Tadashi understands his little brothers creative science mind because he’s got one too, so he does all he can to nurture it.

Sidnote: Oh. And the whole story takes place in this super cool city of San Fransokyo (yes, that’s a combo of Tokyo and San Fran) where tech-heads thrive.

Tragedy strikes (warning parents. There is death in this story. (Remember Bambi’s mom? Remember Simba’s dad?) And Hiro finds very little to live for until he spends a little time with his big brothers biggest project – Baymax (Scott Adsit.) Hiro develops a personal connection with this plus-sized inflatable robot.

With love, friendship and a very bright mind, HIro transforms his brother’s friends into a high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.”

Walt Disney animation has created another great one! The writers and directors on this team developed “Frozen,” “Wreck-it-Ralph,” “Monters, Inc,” “Cars, The Princess and the Frog,” and “March of the Penguins” just to name a few. It’s definitely comedy (very little about bodily functions.) It’s highly adventuresome with clever technology (SO much more than simple chase scenes.) It’s full of heart. You WILL fall in love with Baymax. And you WILL want to see this moving again!

We live in a time when being a nerd is not only cool…it’s revered. The geeks, I believe, are the ones who are going to save the rest of us. This very smart, LOL film pulls at our heart strings too. Science and emotion do in fact, belong together in “Big Hero 6.”

You know Scott Adsit (voice of Baymax) from SNL. He’s been nominated a couple of times for voice acting, several times for comedic acting and won once for ensemble in a comedy series – 30 Rock. Scott absolutely MAKES this film. Not to downplay the others at all – they and the amazing writers, producers and animators found just the right equation for another successful animated film.

Arrruga! – 0

Fidget Factor – 0 (1 hour, 48 minutes though it doesn’t feel like it.)

Age Range – 5 and up

Overall Grade – A

“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

St Vincent Movie

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

the-book-of-life

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.

THE-BOOK-OF-LIFE-MOVIE-facebook

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

“This Is Where I Leave You” – A Comedy. Or is it?

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Rated R
103 minutes
Comedy (or is it?)

Cast: Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tiny Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard

A father passes away and when his four grown children return home to his funeral, their nominally religious mother enforces a Shiva, the Jewish seven days of mourning. With much resistance the four eventually agree to honor this request bringing them all together in their childhood home for a week – longer than they’ve been together since childhood.

With children in tote, spouses coming and going and all their sibling baggage (figurative) their is much to rediscover about one another including their mom. Life doesn’t always hand us the life we expected. We’re required to learn and adjust as we go along. And while none of us is perfect… hopefully we’re better in some way for going through challenges, disappointments and realities especially if we have a loving family within arms reach.

I love these characters (and this cast!) Hillary Altman (Jane Fonda) is this accepting mother of reason who loves nothing more than her four children and the husband who just passed away. Her oldest Paul (Corey Stoll) is the reasonable one. He’s taken over the family business, married and he and Annie (Kathryn Hahn) are still trying to get pregnant. Judd left town for a career in radio, living in the city with his darling wife believing his life and career is all that and a bag of chips but then life happens to him right before his father’s death. Wendy (Tina Fey) marries the executive who can’t stop working and pops out a couple of kids. Living out of town helps her forget about the man she really fell in love with years ago and why she can’t have him. And then there’s Phillip. The baby of the family, the wild child, who can’t seem to find himself until he goes to therapy where he finds lot more than himself.

The seven days together reveals a lot about each characters personal struggles as we watch them each wrestle with their own demons. Some of them find a way to live with those ills. Others grow past them. But they all reconnect as a family. And isn’t that what we all really want – people who know us and love us anyway.

Note: Just because it’s called a comedy don’t expect LOL belly laughs. A better description is dramady. But then that’s just one chick’s opinion.
Arruga! = 0
Fidget Factor = 0
Age Range = 16
Overall Grade = B +