REVIEW: IMPULSE – SEASON 1

Impulse (2018)

MAIN CAST

Maddie Hasson (The Finder)
Sarah Desjardins (Van Helsing)
Enuka Okuma (Slasher)
Craig Arnold (Heartland)
Tanner Stine (The Thundermans)
Keegan-Michael Key (Why Him?)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)

Impulse (2018)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Matt Gordon (Rookie Blue)
David James Elliott (Trumbo)
Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica)
Aidan Devine (A History of Violence)
Shawn Doyle (Reign)
Michelle Nolden (Earth: Final Conflict)
David Alpay (The Vampire Diaries)
Allison Hossack (Reaper)
Danny Pudi (Powerless)

Maddie Hasson in Impulse (2018)YouTube Red’s new series is part of the ‘Jumper’ family, but it’s driven by a very strong lead performance from Maddie Hasson that makes it more of a character drama about sexual assault than a YA thriller.  Directed by Doug Liman, the pilot for YouTube Red’s Impulse begins with a bang. Two men, one played by Keegan-Michael Key, are engaged in a full-on teleportation brawl, exchanging punches as they shift between a remote iceberg and a busy subway train full of confused passengers. It’s a thrilling spectacle. Over the rest of the 10-episode first season of the show, there is no scene of comparable action or scope, and Key’s role in the series is negligible.the-simpsonsAnd if you’re curious why, as I initially was, despite the presence of Liman and source material from Steven Gould, YouTube Red isn’t selling Impulse on its ties to the Jumper book and movie brand, know that the series’ quantity of teleporting fun is minimal and its fidelity to Gould’s novel is close to nonexistent.  Having dispatched and dismissed the major selling points for Impulse, it’s possible to really respect the show for what it actually is, namely a surprisingly effective exploration of a young woman dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault, while at the same time learning very little about her newfound ability to travel through space in moments of extreme emotion. It’s often quite solid and Maddie Hasson effectively leads a fine ensemble, but Impulse really isn’t the show you might be expecting.imageHasson plays Henrietta “Henry” Coles, a vagabond teen who struggles to make friends and connections because her mother (Missi Pyle) keeps moving from one boyfriend and town to the next. Henry’s latest home is somewhere in upstate New York and comes with a popular, dismissive new pseudo stepsister (Sarah Desjardins) and the challenges of being unable to drive due to several recent and unexplained seizures. A conflict with a teacher in class leads to Henry’s latest seizure and to attention from Townes (Daniel Maslany), who’s on the autism spectrum and a bit of an outcast himself, when he notices that Henry’s condition also causes objects around her to move. That’s nothing, though, compared to what happens when basketball star Clay (Tanner Stine) ignores Henry’s boundaries and vocal protestations after some initially benign making-out. Before she knows what happened, Henry is back in the safety of her bedroom and Clay’s life is changed forever.impulseUsing the sexual assault of a young protagonist as a character catalyst can be effective and fertile instigation for drama — see Veronica Mars or Jessica Jones — but it can also be exploitive when ramifications and emotional scarring are ignored to push the narrative forward. Impulse showrunner Lauren LeFranc is admirably determined not to let the series fall into that second category. What the show does best is deal with consent and the lingering trauma a sexual assault can cause a victim. It’s a multi-episode process that’s almost always in the foreground as Henry faces the constant presence of her attacker; suffers self-doubt as her story is questioned; and shies away from other intimacies in her life, already a problem for the new girl in school and for one of those sci-fi characters whose burgeoning adolescence and nascent powers are intermingled.IMPULSE-Maddie-Hasson-YouTube-Premium1Hasson’s balance of tough-girl exterior and inner fragility is exceptional. There’s a volatile minutelong uncut shot of the young actress in the second episode that sold me completely on the performance and her ability to carry the series. Episodes are preceded by sexual violence content warnings and end with hotline callouts to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. LeFranc and the writers, plus a team of post-Liman directors dominated by women, including Helen Shaver, Alex Kalymnios and Cherien Dabis, do right by this sensitive, difficult side of the story. The performances by Desjardin; Maslany (Tatiana’s brother); and David James Elliott, as the father of Henry’s attacker and a local automotive kingpin, are all totally overhauled as characterizations go from one-dimensional to much more nuanced. The series badly needs the comic touches Desjardin and Maslany provide in their finer moments.22c11def757c6d1c4d1d8056a72353faHenry’s understanding of her power is being laid as an interesting foundation for future seasons, but I accused Freeform’s new drama Cloak & Dagger of slow progress in its superhero narrative and that show is positively steaming along compared to Impulse. Much too much of what drives the first season comes from a mostly ludicrous plotline involving Elliott’s character and a Mennonite-run opioid empire that recalls the way the first season of Bates Motel was about small-town Oregon marijuana trade more than Norman Bates’ introduction to motel maintenance.  The drug story, probably developed with confidence that YouTube Red’s core audience didn’t watch the far more outrageous take on similar material in Cinemax’s Banshee, at least offers another reason for Henry to feel guilt and remorse, and another tense situation to highlight how good Hasson is. It’s weakly plotted, but appropriate for a show that wants to make you think it’s a YA action-franchise starter, when it’s really an interesting and somber character study with a heroine who, very rarely, teleports.

 

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REVIEW: MOM – SEASON 1-5

MAIN CAST

Anan Faris (Just Friends)
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Sadia Calvano (Melissa & Joey)
Nate Corddry (Yogi Bear)
Matt Jones (Mojave)
French Stewart (3rd rock From The Sun)
Spencer Daniels (Star Trek)
Mimi Kennedy (Due Date)
Blake Garrett Rosenthal (New Girl)
Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl)
Beth Hall (Mad Men)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)

Mom (2013)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Courtney Henggeler (The Big Bang Theory)
David de Lautour (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Justin Long (Tusk)
Reggie De Leon (Young & Hungry)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Nick Searcy (Justified)
Lauren Bowles (Ghost World)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Kevin Pollak (Willow)
Nick Zano (Legends of Tomorrow)
Ron Rogge (Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue)
Jim Jansen (Gilmore Girls)
Brian Stepanek (Young Sheldon)
Alex Desert (The Flash)
Ryan Cartwright (Bones)
Melissa Tang (A Good Day To Die Hard)
James Earl (Scream Queens)
Crista Flanagan (Epic Movie)
Richard Riehle (Casino)
Mary Pat Gleason (Crucible)
Alison La Placa (Duet)
Jim Piddock (Family Tree)
Sara Rue (Popular)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Rick Fox (Oz)
Ian Reed Kesler (The Finder)
Colin Hanks (King Kong)
Beverly D’Angelo (The Simpsons)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Don McManus (The Mazed Runner)
Clarke Duke (Kick-Ass)
April Bowlby (How I Met Your Mother)
Amy Hill (50 First Dates)
David Krumhotlz (Serenity)
Victor Webster (Mutant X)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Tom Amandes (Arrow)
Kelly Stables (The Ring 2)
Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist)
June Squibb (Shameless)
Lauri Johnson (Waitress)
Emily Osment (Cyberbully)
Lamont Thompson (Evan Almighty)
Linda Lavin (The Back-Up Plan)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Rosie O’Donnell (The Flinstones)
Joe Mangiello (Magic Mike)
Jim Pirri (Suicide Squad: Hell To pay)
Jesse Luken (Star Crossed)
Richard Schiff (Man of Steel)
Stacey Travis (Easy A)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers II)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Christina Moore (That 70s Show0
Nicole Sullivan (Disjointed)
Bradley Whitford (Get Out)
Chris Pratt (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Wendie Malick (American Housewife)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Bret Harrison (V)
Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons)
Missi Pyle (Gone GIrl)
David Anthony Higgins (Mike & Molly)
Michael Angarano (Empire State)
Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)
Steven Weber (13 Reasons Why)
Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies)
Kristen Johnston (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Yvette Nicole Brown (Community)
Patti LuPone (Parker)
Bill Fagerbakke (How I Met Your Mother)

Allison Janney and Anna Faris in Mom (2013)Chuck Lorre’s already-sizable CBS footprint continues to grow with “Mom,” joining “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Mike & Molly” to bring to four his one-man renaissance of the multicamera comedy. While the show breaks little ground, it’s a fairly polished and inordinately well-cast pilot, with a central duo and underlying theme — mother-daughter relationships, and repeating destructive patterns — that should resonate with a chunk of its target audience. At this point, the principal danger is whether in success Lorre might run out of cranky things to say on all those show-ending vanity cards.Allison Janney, Jaime Pressly, Anna Faris, and Mimi Kennedy in Mom (2013)Anna Faris stars as Christy, a woman for whom life hasn’t panned out as intended. She got knocked up early and is so distraught over working as a waitress in a high-end restaurant that a casual compliment about her service unleashes a torrent of tears. Christy isn’t faring much better in raising her teenage daughter (Sadie Calvano), who is already exhibiting a rambunctious, sleep-around streak, prompting mom to tell her, “Don’t lie to the woman who washes your sheets.” Seeking consolation at an AA meeting, Christy runs into her mother, Bonnie (Allison Janney). When Christy recalls seeing her mom snort cocaine out of shag carpeting, Bonnie cheerfully dismisses the maneuver as simply being “thrifty.” If Christy considers her mom with about as much enthusiasm as the title character in “Ray Donovan” reserves for his dad, the new and improved Bonnie is a sprightly sort and eager to help out, setting the foundation for the series in motion.Allison Janney and Ivan Hernandez in Mom (2013)If that sounds like little more than “2 Rehabbing Gals” to follow “2 Broke Girls,” Lorre and co-creators Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker also have given “Mom” a fairly solid B-plot environment, with Nate Corddry as Christy’s manager and French Stewart as the restaurant’s imperious chef.  Janney seems like a natural for this sort of comedic turn, and her character’s zen-like attitude, not over-thinking things and living in the moment, hits home. By that measure, “Mom” has the bones of a pretty durable TV show. with 5 Seasons under it’s belt and a 6th on the way  it looks like this show may well be around for a while.

REVIEW: JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

CAST

Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 8)
Jack Black (King Kong)
Kevin Hart (Central Intelligence)
Karen Gillan (Avengers: Infinity War)
Alex Wolff (The Sitter)
Madison Iseman (Laid In America)
Ser’Darius Blain (Star Trek Into Darknes)
Morgan Turner (Remember Me)
Nick Jonas (Scream Queens)
Mason Guccione (13 Reasons Why)
Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Rohan Chand (Jack and Jill)
Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place)
Tim Matheson (Redline)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Marin Hinkle (Two and a Half Men)
Colin Hanks (Roswell)

Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, and Karen Gillan in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)In 1996 in Brantford, New Hampshire, teenager Alex Vreeke receives the Jumanji board game which was found by his father on a beach after it was thrown over a bridge by Alan Parrish and Sarah Whittle 27 years earlier. Alex sets the game aside. That night, it transforms into a video game cartridge which catches Alex’s attention when he is awakened by the Jumanji drums and he is transported into the game.Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, and Nick Jonas in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)Twenty years later, in 2016, four Brantford High School students serve detention: Spencer Gilpin, caught writing an essay for former friend Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (also in detention); Bethany Walker, who made a video call during an English-class quiz and Martha Kaply, who refused to participate in gym class. They are sent to the school basement to prepare magazines for recycling and to think about their future. Fridge discovers Alex’s discarded video-game system when he explores the basement, and he and Spencer set up the game. Although it has five playable characters, the first one cannot be selected. Spencer and Fridge choose two characters, and the girls choose their own. When Spencer presses “Start”, they are transported into the game.They are in a jungle, in the forms of their game avatars. Spencer is tough, muscular explorer and archaeologist Smolder Bravestone; Fridge is diminutive zoologist Franklin “Mouse” Finbar, whom he chose after misreading “Mouse” as “Moose”; Bethany is chubby male cartographer and intellectual Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (whose nickname she mistook for a woman’s), and Martha is beautiful commando and martial arts expert Ruby Roundhouse. They each have three lives; Spencer deduces that if they lose all three, they really die.They learn the game’s story from NPC Nigel: corrupt archeologist Russel Van Pelt stole the Jaguar’s Eye (a magic jewel) from its shrine, cursing Jumanji. Nigel escaped Van Pelt with the jewel, and the players must return it to a jaguar statue and call “Jumanji” to lift the curse. Nigel warns them that Van Pelt will stop at nothing to retrieve the jewel, which gives him control of Jumanji’s animals. They begin tackling the game’s increasingly-difficult “levels”, losing lives as they do so. The four are rescued by Alex (the missing fifth player, whose avatar is pilot Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough). Taking shelter in a jungle house built by Alan Parrish, Alex believes that he has been in the game for a few months and is distressed to learn that it is really twenty years. The newcomers vow to help him return home. They break into a transportation shed, commandeering a helicopter to fly to the jaguar statue and return the jewel, but Fridge drops the jewel into a herd of white rhinoceros. Spencer uses one of Fridge’s lives, pushing him out of the helicopter as a distraction, and retrieves the jewel. Alex loses his last life when a mosquito bites him, but Bethany performs CPR and transfers one of her lives to him.Dwayne Johnson in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)At the statue, the players are surrounded by a pack of jaguars and Van Pelt’s forces. They outmaneuver their opposition while Spencer and Martha race to the statue. Van Pelt confronts Martha (trapped in a pit of mambas) and demands the jewel, but she sacrifices one of her lives to re-spawn and get it to Spencer. With the players on their last lives, they end the game with Van Pelt disintegrating into a bunch of rats and return to the real world; Nigel bids them farewell, but Alex does not appear with them. They find the formerly-dilapidated Vreeke home restored and decorated for a Christmas family gathering. An adult Alex arrives, returning to where he left off in 1996. Now married with children, he named his eldest daughter after Bethany out of gratitude for saving his life and introduces them to his infant son, Andy.Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, and Nick Jonas in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)Spencer and Fridge reconcile, Bethany begins caring for others than herself and plans a summer backpacking adventure, Martha and Spencer become romantically involved and the four are now friends after their experiences in the game. When they hear Jumanji’s drumbeats, they bring the game behind the school and Fridge destroys it with a bowling ball (also found in detention) to prevent anyone from playing it again.Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, and Karen Gillan in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)Dwayne Johnson just keeps getting better with age. Jack Black and Kevin Hart are very talented actors who know how to temper their roles just enough to compliment the movie. Enjoyed this movie with all the action, unpredicatability and creative direction and scenes. High Recommend!

 

 

 

REVIEW: PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS

CAST

Logan Lerman (Fury)
Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw)
Douglas Smith (Big Love)
Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games)
Stanley Tucci (Easy A)
Jake Abel (Love & Mercy)
Anthony Head (Buffy: TVS)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Brandon T. Jackson (Fast & Furious)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express)
Robert Knepper (IZombie)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Robert Maillet (Hercules)
Paloma Kwiatkowski (Bates Motel)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (Flashforward)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Yvette Nicole Brown (500 Days of Summer)
Derek Mears (Hatchet III)
Alisha Newton (Heartland)

While in Camp Half-Blood, Percy recounts the story of Thalia and her sacrifice. A young Annabeth, Luke, Grover and Thalia are running to Camp Half-Blood while being pursued by monsters. Thalia sacrifices herself to get the others into the camp, and her father Zeus transforms her into a pine tree, creating a magical border around the camp. Soon a Cyclops passes through the border and is revealed to be Tyson, Percy’s half-brother. The camp is later attacked by a Colchis Bull who breaks through the border and ravages Camp Half-Blood. Percy defeats it with the help of Tyson, Annabeth, and Clarisse. Following this, Luke (who had survived his and Percy’s battle in the previous film) appears and confronts Percy, trying to convert him to his cause. When Percy refuses, Luke disappears.The campers realize that Thalia’s tree has been poisoned by Luke and they are vulnerable to attacks. Percy visits the Oracle, who tells him of a prophecy of a half-blood of the eldest gods either saving or destroying Olympus. Chiron tells Percy that he is the only living, human half-blood of the eldest gods, so the half-blood in the Prophecy may refer to him. Annabeth and Grover learn about the Golden Fleece, which has the power to heal anything, and propose a quest in which they retrieve the Fleece and use it to heal Thalia’s tree. Mr. D chooses Clarisse to lead the quest, much to Annabeth’s and Percy’s dismay. Percy convinces Grover and Annabeth to accompany him on the quest, and Tyson joins them. Annabeth hails the Chariot of Damnation, and Percy threatens the three drivers (the Graeae) to tell him of his prophecy, giving him coordinates for the Sea of Monsters (the Bermuda Triangle) before ejecting the group from the cab in Washington D.C. because they lack money.While walking down the street, Grover is kidnapped by Chris Rodriguez and taken to Luke. Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson first locate Luke with the help of Hermes, then ride a Hippokampos to his yacht, the Andromeda. Luke reveals his plan to revive Kronos using the Fleece so Olympus will be destroyed. Percy and they are then locked in the brig, though they later escape when Percy uses his ability to manipulate water. The group is consumed by Charybdis, and they discover Clarisse in the monster’s stomach. Percy and Clarisse work together to escape Charybdis by shooting a hole through its gut, and soon they arrive at Circeland, Polyphemus’s lair. Percy finds Grover, and the five escape Polyphemus, retrieving the fleece and trapping him in his cave. Afterwards, Luke arrives and demands the fleece from Percy, who refuses. Luke shoots a crossbow bolt at Percy, but Tyson takes the bolt in the chest and falls into the water below.Luke begins reviving Kronos and Annabeth encourages Percy to take leadership. The team escapes captivity, and Percy grapples with Luke over the Fleece, like the prophecy said they would, but Luke easily gains the upper hand. Luke is suddenly thrown away by Tyson, revealed to have survived his wound due to the water healing it, as he is Poseidon’s son. Kronos rises from the sarcophagus and consumes Luke and Grover before battling Percy. Percy realizes that Riptide is the “cursed blade” of the prophecy and slices Kronos into pieces imprisoning Kronos in the sarcophagus once again, causing him to regurgitate Grover and Luke, the latter landing in Polyphemus’s Lair. Their victory is short lived as Annabeth is stabbed by the Manticore, who is killed in turn by Clarisse and Grover. Annabeth dies in Percy’s arms but is resurrected by the Fleece. Percy then gives the fleece to Clarisse, and they return to Camp Half-Blood. Clarisse places the fleece on Thalia’s tree. The group returns the next day to find Thalia alive, as the fleece returned her to human form. Percy realizes that Thalia, as a child of Zeus, is another possible child of the prophecy about either preserving or destroying Olympus. The film ends showing the sarcophagus with Kronos’s remains in it glowing, implying that Kronos still has some degree of his power, and is still planning to return.Exciting fantasy film with excellent effects and light hearted banter, great for all ages, sequel to Percy Jackson and the lightening thief.

REVIEW: THE TICK (2001)

Space-Squad-Benikiba-Mad-Gallant

 

MAIN CAST

Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
David Burke (Joan of Arcadia)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)Space-Squad-Benikiba-Mad-Gallant

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lloyd (Piranha)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
Sam McMurray (Addams Family Values)
Maury Ginsberg (Vinyl)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Lori Alan Family Guy0
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)

tik-gerojEdlund first published the adventures of the Tick in a black-and-white comic book that gathered a cult following. Somehow, he got the attention of Fox’s animation studios, and his rather mature story—about an insanely strong, decidedly off-balanced escapee from a mental institution living in a world packed with obscure superheroes and bizarre villains (Chairface Chippendale, the Chainsaw Vigilante, the terrifying District Manager)—into a slightly less offensive, even funnier Saturday morning cartoon. The animated Tick lasted three seasons, and the adventures of Tick and his sidekick Arthur  and their battles against villains like the Eastern Bloc Robot Cowboy, the Guy with Ears Like Little Raisins, and Joseph Stalin, were all that got me up on weekend mornings. 1457674447338But Fox ruined things by trying to turn the show from a cult hit into a mainstream entertainment and they soon cancelled it. Then, five years later, a brief bout of insanity overtook the Fox executives and they commissioned a live-action version of the large, blue, polysyllabic hero. Bringing Tick into the real world without screwing it up would require finesse, and luckily Fox allowed Edlund a ton of creative input. And despite some changes, including the substitution of the comic’s sidekicks with new characters Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey) and Spanish lothario Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell), the live-action version is surprisingly faithful to both the original incarnation and the cartoon series. A large measure of credit goes to star Patrick Warburton and David Burke, a pitch-perfect pair of Tick and moth. Warburton in particular captures his character’s blend of big-hearted hero and moron.1457674447338Of course, it isn’t perfect. It’s a low-budget series, and you can tell—the Tick’s costume (complete with motorized antenna)—looks great, but the rest of the set dressing looks rather cheap. And these first nine episodes are somewhat hit or miss, only occasionally scoring as consistently as the animated series. On the plus side, the show’s late-night time slot and intended adult audience meant the plots could be a bit more mature and subversive. Standouts include Arthur, Interrupted, in which Arthur comes out of the superhero closet to his family and is thrown into a “deprogramming facility” run by guest star Dave Foley; The Terror, in which the Tick faces the dastardly, 115-year-old villain, The Terror (Armin Shimerman); and the heroic duo’s acceptance into a smarmy, elitist superhero team in The Big Leaguestickep4Unfortunately, after bankrolling the series, Fox apparently decided they had made a series no one would watch, so they shelved it for a year. Then they slotted in on Thursdays against Survivor and Friends, pre-empted it so often it took three months to air eight episodes, showed everything out of order, and ended the show without airing the ninth and final episode (which was supposed to be episode three anyway). Even the clout of executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld couldn’t keep it on the air.tick+1If only more comic fans had committed to a show that actually did everything they’d asked… Fortunately, the American dvd gave fans the chance to relive this short lived show. thankfully the amazon revival has brought the Tick back in a form, but fans of the character should check out first attempt of a live action Tick.

 

 

REVIEW: BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE


CAST

Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Queen Latifah (Chicago)
Eugene Levy (American Pie)
Joan Plowright (101 Dalmations)
Jean Smart (The Accountant)
Kimberly J. Brown (Tumbleweeds)
Angus T. Jones (Two and a Half Men)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Betty White (The Golden Girls)
Steve Harris (Minority Report)
Victor Webster (Mutant X)

Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) is a workaholic tax attorney working for a set of competitive colleagues and bosses while he tries to turn his life around. Having just separated from his wife Kate (Jean Smart) and lost privileges to his children, 15-year-old Sarah (Kimberly J. Brown) and 8-year-old Georgie (Angus T. Jones), he tells his wife that the previously planned Hawaii trip will not happen, but he lets them be in their house for some allotted time. While tending to his career, he corresponded with an online friend known only as “lawyer-girl”. On their first blind date, Peter learns that “lawyer-girl” is Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah); a wrongfully convicted felon accused of bank robbery claiming her innocence who wants Peter’s help in getting the charges dropped. He kicks her out but then decides to let her stay.
The next day as Peter leaves the house to pick up the kids, he tricks Charlene to make her leave, but she breaks back into the house along with her friends. As they drive home, he realizes that Charlene didn’t give up on leaving his house and again forces her to leave the house. While Howie Rottman (Eugene Levy) and Peter are waiting to have Peter make a deal promised for Mrs. Virginia Arness, she appears to finally convince him to help her out. Ashley (Missi Pyle), Kate’s gold-digging sister, thinks she is here to serve drinks and food. However, Peter makes it seem that she is the nanny of his house since his ex-wife is not with him. Much later, Charlene appears in Peter’s office informing him of new evidence. When his associate Sofia (Tracey Jones) told Peter that one of his bosses Mr. Edward Tobias (Jim Haynie) wants to see him, he & Howie try to get her out of there but to no avail as Tobias shows up before them. But the two gentlemen manage to get off the hook when Charlene tells Ed about Peter helping with the financial situation at a church and then leaves. At the golf resort, as Peter plays a round with Mrs. Arness and Howie and Charlene are having a talk, Ashley talks trash and nasty enough for Charlene to get in a fight with her.
Later that night, Georgie sits with Charlene as she starts to help him develop his reading skills to impress his dad but by way of an inappropriate magazine Charlene found under Peter’s desk. Georgie later goes to Mrs. Kline’s house for ladies’ poker night. At the same time, Sarah and her friend tricks her father into thinking she’s going to dinner with him at his house; but in actuality they’re going to a party. Meanwhile, Peter goes out to eat with Charlene and for the first time since the start of his separation, he begins to have fun and then Peter & Charlene dance. But Ashley and Kate, who are also at the restaurant are very scared of the scenario. When they return home, they start having sex, but as a way for Peter to win Kate back. When she brings Georgie back, Mrs. Kline believes he accidentally humped his nanny and the next day, Peter explains the whole situation to his bosses. Later that night by the pool, Charlene is speaking to her old boyfriend Widow (Steve Harris) about another piece of new evidence that could help or hurt Charlene. Then Charlene and Widow reconcile after which Peter confronts her, thinking they were planning another crime. Then Peter convinces Charlene not to have any further visitors. Next, Peter receives a call from Sarah who asks her father if she wants to speak to Charlene. So she does and she asks Charlene to take her home. When Charlene arrives at the house Sarah was in, Sarah informs Charlene that she lied to Peter and actually had a different boyfriend who tried to have sex with her to which Sarah refused. So to teach the boy a lesson, Charlene hangs him by his ankles at the balcony and forces him to tell Sarah that he’s sorry and will never try to do it again. As Charlene takes Sarah home, Peter realizes that she was with bad friends but doesn’t get angry after Charlene tells him, “Sarah didn’t need a warden, she needed her father.”
The next night Mrs. Arness comes for dinner but on that same night she’s there she realizes that Peter has for a nanny, an escaped convict (Charlene), wanted for a murder she did not commit. So she walks out and at the same time, Peter kicks Charlene out. The next day at his firm, Peter fearing that his boss is going to fire him, realizes that Arness didn’t call the cops but the FBI. Peter runs out of the firm in terror, but not before Howie asks him to tell Charlene if & when he sees her, this term: “The cool points are out the window and she’s got him all twisted up in the game”. When Peter gets into his car and after adjusting his rear view mirror, he sees Widow in the back. Widow threatens Peter not to reopen Charlene’s case nor go anywhere near her. With that threat in his mind, Peter starts his car and drives off, causing Widow to roll out. This makes Peter realize that Charlene really “is” innocent and was framed by Widow as he made the case affect him all along as he was in hiding. So he decides to forgive Charlene and tries to call her, but he doesn’t know where Charlene is until Sarah tells Peter that Charlene has his cell phone, so he calls her by his house phone. Charlene now knows who set her up and Peter is determined to get a confession. Howie’s positive attention begins to get Charlene to be with him. They reach the Arness house but trouble doesn’t come due to William Shakespeare (her dog) being tied up and Julia, Arness’ assistant out of reach. Todd Gendler (Michael Rosenbaum), Peter’s rival & his apparent replacement gets a punch from Charlene for making a negative remark. Back at the house, the kids told their mom about Charlene and try to persuade her to believing that he moved on from the old ways and he doesn’t think about himself anymore.
Later, we see Peter drive up to “The Down Low”, the gangster club of Widow’s and makes a final confrontation, disguising himself to get in undetected. Widow arrives later and when he sees Peter in disguise, he gets his bodyguards to take Peter in the backroom. The other three (Charlene, Howie and Arness) arrive shortly after. Howie & Charlene figure out a way to save Peter while Arness is having drinks and getting stoned next to two customers. Meanwhile in the room, Peter tells Widow he & Charlene now knows who Widows accomplice was; but Widow tells Peter that there was no accomplice at all, it was just him in disguise. After Charlene calls the FBI, she goes go into the backroom as Peter & Widow came out. Widow throws Peter onto the floor, & then points the gun at both Charlene and Howie. Peter elbows Widow in the groin, causing him to drop the gun. Howie grabs the gun and points it at Widow and his bodyguards, but Peter accidentally nudges Howie and he fires the gun towards the bar, causing everyone to panic and run out the club. Charlene and Widow ensue in a fistfight, but Widow quickly gets his gun off the floor and points it at Charlene. Widow shoots Charlene and she falls on the couch, presumably dead. This angers Howie and he jumps on Widow trying to fight him. Peter goes over to Charlene to grief but Charlene wakes up and pulls Peter’s cellphone out of her shirt and reveals the bullet went through the phone, saving her life. The FBI agents come in the club to arrest them. However, Peter has a lot of proof to not only make Charlene’s record expunged, but to put Widow away for a long time. Mrs. Arness almost wants no more from Peter, but Peter escorts her to an all-night diner, convincing her to make him her lawyer again.
The next day, Gendler tells Ed that he called Arness four times with no success since she said she’ll only talk to Peter. The bosses decide to keep Peter around when they see him move out. When Peter, Howie and Sofia move out, Tobias, and his partners are sorry for understanding the new dynamic in Peter but in self-retiring from the firm, he moves out of the office saying, “Ed, you can kiss my natural black ass!” At the new office, Charlene thanks him for everything he did with one final appreciated remark and she now leaves Peter to have a good conversation with his wife after they see her walk in. Peter gave the same line Howie gave to Charlene to Kate as a way of asking her to give him a second chance, she does and reconciles once and for all. Their reconciliation was briefly interrupted by Peter’s cell phone, but rather than answering, Peter just threw it away and they continued to hug. The end of the film shows Charlene putting braids on Howie’s head and she brings down the shade.MCDBRDO EC029There are many references to racial differences within the film but they’re not unpleasant as some people make them out to be. The film could have been a lot, lot better (blame the writers, not the actors), but it gets four stars just because it’s a nice way to spend an afternoon! But don’t buy if you expect to be rolling on the floor laughing.

REVIEW: AS GOOD AS IT GETS

CAST

Jack Nicholson (Batman)
Helen Hunt (What Women Want)
Greg Kinnear (Movie 43)
Cuba Gooding Jr. (Boat Trip)
Skeet Ulrich (Scream)
Shirley Knight (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons)
Brian Doyle- Murray (Groundhog Day)
Missi Pyle (The Artist)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Julie Benz (Angel)
Harold Raimis (Ghostbusters)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)

jack-nicholson-as-good-as-it-gets-1997Melvin Udall is a misanthrope who works at home as a best-selling novelist in New York City. He suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder which, paired with his misanthropy, alienates nearly everyone with whom he interacts. He avoids stepping on sidewalk cracks while walking through the city due to a superstition of bad luck, and eats breakfast at the same table in the same restaurant every day using disposable plastic utensils he brings with him due to his pathological fear of germs. He takes an interest in his waitress, Carol Connelly, the only server at the restaurant who can tolerate his behavior.maxresdefaultOne day, Melvin’s apartment neighbor, a gay artist named Simon Bishop, is assaulted and nearly killed during a robbery. Melvin is intimidated by Simon’s agent, Frank Sachs, into caring for Simon’s dog, Verdell, while Simon is hospitalized. Although he initially does not enjoy caring for the dog, Melvin becomes emotionally attached to it. He simultaneously receives more attention from Carol. When Simon is released from the hospital, Melvin is unable to cope emotionally with returning the dog. Melvin’s life is further altered when Carol decides to work closer to her home in Brooklyn so she can care for her acutely asthmatic son Spencer (“Spence”). Unable to adjust to another waitress, Melvin arranges through his publisher, whose husband is a doctor, to pay for her son’s considerable medical expenses as long as Carol agrees to return to work. She is overwhelmed at his generosity, and they agree there will be no physical relationship.
4881_4_screenshotMeanwhile, Simon’s assault and rehabilitation, coupled with Verdell’s preference for Melvin, causes Simon to lose his creative muse. Simon is approaching bankruptcy due to his medical bills. Frank convinces him to go to Baltimore to ask his estranged parents for money. Because Frank is too busy to take the injured Simon to Baltimore himself, Melvin reluctantly agrees to do so – Frank lends Melvin the use of his Saab 900 convertible for the trip. Melvin invites Carol to accompany them on the trip to lessen the awkwardness. She reluctantly accepts the invitation, and relationships among the three develop.
as-good-as-it-gets-1997Once in Baltimore, Carol persuades Melvin to take her out to have dinner. Melvin’s comments during the dinner greatly flatter—and subsequently upset—Carol, and she abruptly leaves. Upon seeing the frustrated Carol, Simon begins to sketch her semi-nude in his hotel room and rekindles his creativity, once more feeling a desire to paint. He briefly reconnects with his parents, but is able to tell them that he’ll be fine. After returning to New York, Carol tells Melvin that she does not want him in her life anymore. She later regrets her statement and calls him to apologize. The relationship between Melvin and Carol remains complicated until Simon (whom Melvin has allowed to move in with him until he can fully heal from his injuries and get a new apartment) convinces Melvin to declare his love for her. Melvin goes to see Carol, who is hesitant, but agrees to try and establish a relationship with him. The film ends with Melvin and Carol walking together. As he opens the door at an early morning pastry shop for Carol, he realizes that he has stepped on a crack in the pavement, but doesn’t seem to mind.as_good_as_it_getsDirection is first rate, Brooks made Terms of Endearment so it’s well established that he’s quite capable of making great films. As Good As It Gets is very nearly as good it gets.