25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: JOY

CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Bradley Cooper (Serena)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Dascha Polanco (Orange Is The New Black)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander 2)
Isabella Rossellini (Death Becomes Her)
Elisabeth Rohm (Heroes)
Diane Ladd (Kingdom Hospital)
Melissa Rivers (First Daughter)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes Reborn)
In 1989, Joy Mangano is a divorced mother of two, working as a booking clerk for Eastern Airlines. She lives with her two young children, her mother, Terri, her grandmother, Mimi, and her ex-husband, Tony in working-class, Quogue, New York. Her parents are divorced, and her mother and father fight whenever her father shows up at her home. Joy’s older half-sister, Peggy, is an overachiever who constantly humiliates Joy in front of her children. Peggy and Joy’s father Rudy are very close. Terri spends all day lying in bed watching soap operas as a means of escape from her life, leaving Joy to run the household. Only Joy’s grandmother and her best friend Jackie encourage her to pursue her inventing ambitions and become a strong successful woman.
Robert De Niro, Elisabeth Röhm, and Jennifer Lawrence in Joy (2015)
After divorcing his third wife, Joy’s father starts dating Trudy, a wealthy Italian widow with some business experience. While on Trudy’s boat, Joy drops a glass of red wine, attempts to mop up the mess, and cuts her hands on the broken glass while wringing the mop. Joy returns home and creates blueprints for a self-wringing mop. She builds a prototype with help from the employees at her father’s shop. She then convinces Trudy to invest in the product. They make a deal with a company in California to manufacture the mop’s parts at a low price. In order to avoid a potential lawsuit, Joy also pays $50,000 in royalties to a man in Hong Kong who supposedly has created a similar product. When the company repeatedly bills Joy for faulty parts they create, Joy refuses to pay the fees and tells her father, Trudy, and Peggy not to pay them.
Joy needs a quick, easy way to advertise her product, and is able to meet with QVC executive Neil Walker. Neil is impressed and shows Joy his infomercials, where celebrities sell entrepreneur’s products through a telethon system. Neil tells Joy to manufacture 50,000 mops. Joy is advised by Trudy to take out a second mortgage on her home, in order to pay her costs. The first infomercial fails, but when she goes on QVC, Joy and her product become an overnight success. Things look up for the family, with the mop earning thousands of dollars on QVC, and Terri falls for Toussaint, a Haitian plumber Joy hired earlier in the film to fix up a leak in Terri’s bedroom.
Joy’s grandmother dies suddenly. Rudy and Trudy send Peggy to California to conduct Joy’s company business. Afterwards Peggy tells Joy that she paid excessively raised production fees. Joy is angry and travels to California to meet with the manufacturer, who refuses to pay her back. Joy also discovers that the manufacturer is about to fraudulently patent her design. Her lawyer reveals that there is nothing they can do to prevent this, and Joy is forced to file for bankruptcy. Joy discovers that the manufacturers have been defrauding her the entire time she has dealt with them. She confronts the owner, and forces him to pay her back.
Several years later, Joy is wealthy and runs a successful business. She continues to take care of her father, even though he and Peggy had unsuccessfully sued her for ownership of the company. Terri is the only family member who does not live off Joy, finally finding stability through her relationship with Toussaint. Jackie and Tony remain Joy’s most valued advisers, and the film ends with her helping a young mother develop a new invention.
Based loosely on the life and career of Joy Mangano this is the story of her fight to keep her home and her very dysfunctional family together on the way to inventing the miracle mop. In other hands this could make a very bland lifetime movie but steered by David O Russell and headed by a terrific performance from Lawrence, who is proving herself to be superior to any other female actor, Joy is a great experience. It’s worth noting that both Cooper and DeNiro are superfluous in this movie, it is Jennifer Lawrence who carries it from first to last.

25 DAYS CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Bradley Cooper (The Hangover)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Jacki Weaver (The Voices)
Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
Anupam Kher (Bend It Like Beckham)
John Ortiz (Fast & Furious)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Julia Stiles (O)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)

JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
After eight months of treatment for bipolar disorder, Pat Solitano is released from a mental health facility in Baltimore, and returns to Lansdowne, Pennsylvania into the care of his father Patrizio and mother Dolores. Pat soon learns that his estranged wife, Nikki, has moved away, and that his father is out of work and resorting to illegal bookmaking to earn money with the hopes of opening a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after a violent episode sent him away.
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While talking to his court-mandated therapist Dr. Cliff Patel (Kher), Pat explains why he was hospitalized: Coming home early from his high school teaching job after getting into an argument with the school’s principal, he had found his wife in the shower with the history teacher from his school while his wedding song is playing, and nearly beat the man to death. Pat recognizes that hearing the song, My Cherie Amour, can trigger a violent episode, and that sometimes when he is distressed, he hears the song though it is not playing. Despite this, Pat doesn’t believe that he needs medication to manage his condition. He tells Cliff that he has a new outlook on life. This is a reference to the name of the film, as he attempts to see the good, or “silver linings”, in all that he experiences. As part of this outlook, and his transformation to become a more worthy husband, he has lost weight and is attempting to read the books that his wife Nikki teaches to children at her school.
At dinner with his friend Ronnie and his wife Veronica, Pat meets Veronica’s sister Tiffany, a young widow who lost her job and is suffering from depression. Her dark past and blunt way of speaking make others uncomfortable, but she and Pat develop an odd friendship through their shared neuroses. They get together to eat at a diner and after an argument in the street which Tiffany escalates claiming Pat’s assaulting her, she then comes to his defense when the police show up and he becomes distressed, hearing his wedding song. Tiffany eventually offers to deliver a letter to Nikki if, in return, he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. He reluctantly agrees and the two begin a rigorous practice regimen over the following weeks. Pat believes the competition will be a good way to show Nikki that he has changed and become a better person.
Things go well for Pat until his father asks him to attend a Philadelphia Eagles game as a “good-luck charm”, partly because he has bet virtually all of his money on the outcome. Pat asks Tiffany for time off from practice to attend the game, which she begrudgingly allows. Tiffany also gives Pat a typed reply from Nikki, in which she cautiously hints there may be a chance for a reconciliation between them. While at the game with his friends, Pat does well and is having fun at a tailgate, until some racist fans harass the Indian fans there, including Dr. Patel. Pat gets involved in a fight after seeing his brother get punched, and he is hauled away by the police. The Eagles lose the game and Patrizio is furious. Tiffany shows up at their house and berates Patrizio, pointing out that the way she is “reading the signs,” Philadelphia teams do better when she and Pat are together, as they won every game they played when Tiffany and Pat were spending time together. Patrizio, now convinced that his son being with Tiffany is actually good luck, makes a parlay with his gambling friend that if the Eagles win their game against the Dallas Cowboys, and if Tiffany and Pat average a score of 5 out of 10 in their dance competition, he will win back double the money he lost on the first bet. Pat is reluctant to participate in the dance contest under those conditions, goes outside to consult Nikki’s letter, and notices that it also refers to “reading the signs,” realizing that Tiffany wrote the letter. With the Solatanos’ finances in danger, Tiffany and Pat’s mother persuade Pat to dance in the competition by telling him that Nikki will be there.
Tiffany, Pat, and their friends and family arrive at the competition on the night of the football game. Tiffany despairs when she finds that Nikki actually is in the audience, so Tiffany goes to the hotel bar and starts drinking with a stranger. Moments before their dance, Pat finds her and practically drags her onto the dance floor. They begin their routine as the Eagles defeat the Cowboys. At the conclusion of their set, cute but obviously unprofessional, Tiffany and Pat score exactly 5 points. Amid cheers from friends and family and confused looks from the crowd, Pat approaches Nikki and speaks quietly into her ear. Tiffany sees this and runs from the hotel. Pat leaves Nikki behind after a short conversation, intent on finding Tiffany. Pat’s father informs him that Tiffany left and tells him that he loves her right now and that it will be a sin if he does not reach out to this moment that life has given him. Pat tells his father that he loves him, and runs after Tiffany. He hands Tiffany a letter that he wrote to her, in which he admits that he knows she forged Nikki’s letter. He confesses his love for her and that he loved her from the moment he met her, and apologizes that it took him so long to come to terms with this. They share a kiss, become a couple, and Patrizio opens a restaurant with the money he has won. The final moments in the movie between Pat and Tiffany show that both of them are no longer wearing their wedding rings.
The film out by a mile from a lot of films out the sae year this was. The film also portrays mental illness in an exceptional way, as both of the leading figures are mentally disturbed following bereavement and marital break up.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie)
Tom Hulce (Amadeus)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice In Wonderland)
Aidan Quinn (Legends of The Fall)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Richard Briers (Watership Down)
John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda)
Celia Imrie (Highlander)
Hugh Bonneville (Paddington)

In 1794, Captain Walton leads a troubled, expedition to reach the North Pole. While their ship is trapped in the ice of the Arctic Sea, the crew discovers a man, Victor Frankenstein, traveling across the Arctic on his own. Victor grows up in Geneva with his adopted sister, Elizabeth Lavenza, who will become the love of his life. Before he leaves for the university at Ingolstadt, Victor’s mother dies giving birth to his brother William. Victor vows on his mother’s grave that he will find a way to conquer death.At university, Victor’s interest in the works of alchemists make him unpopular with professors. He finds a friend in Henry Clerval and a mentor in Professor Waldman. Victor comes to believe that the only way to cheat death is to create life. Professor Waldman warns Victor not to follow through with his theory; he tested it once, but ended his experiments because they resulted in an “abomination.”  While performing vaccinations, Waldman is murdered by a patient, who is later hanged in the village square. Victor breaks into Waldman’s laboratory, takes his notes, and begins to work on a creation. Victor gives his creature dead body parts from various sources, including the body of Waldman’s murderer and Waldman’s own brain. He is so obsessed with his work that not even a cholera outbreak tears him from it. Victor finally gives his creation life, but he recoils from it in horror and renounces his experiments.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe creature escapes, running off to the wilderness with Victor’s coat which contains Victor’s journal. He spends months living in a family’s barn without their knowledge, gradually learning to read and speak. He attempts to earn the family’s trust by anonymously helping them with their failing farm, and eventually converses with the patriarch, an elderly blind man, after aiding him and his grandson against violent debt collectors. But when the blind man’s family returns, they mistakenly think the creature committed the assaults against the patriarch and grandson, and chase the creature away and abandon the cottage. The creature reads Victor’s journal, learning of the circumstances of his creation. He vows revenge on his creator.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinVictor, who believes the creature has died of cholera, returns to Geneva to marry Elizabeth. He finds his younger brother William has been murdered. Justine, a servant of the Frankenstein household, is framed for the crime by the creature and hanged by a lynch mob. Victor is approached by his creation demanding that Victor make a companion for him, promising that if Victor does, he will disappear with his mate. Victor begins gathering the tools he used to create life, but when the creature insists he use Justine’s body to make the companion, Victor breaks his promise and the creature vows revenge.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinVictor and Elizabeth are married. Shortly after, unknown to them, the creature silently kills Baron Frankenstein in his own bedroom. Victor takes every precaution to defend his wife on their honeymoon, but the creature gains access to their bedroom and tears out Elizabeth’s heart, killing her. Maddened with grief beyond measure, Victor races home to bring Elizabeth back to life. He stitches Elizabeth’s head onto Justine’s fully intact body, and she awakes as a re-animated creature. The two are briefly and happily reunited until the creature appears. Victor and the monster fight for Elizabeth’s affections, but Elizabeth, horrified by what she has become, commits suicide by setting herself on fire, burning the mansion to the ground.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe story returns to the Arctic Circle. Victor tells Walton that he has been pursuing his creation for months to kill him. Soon after relating his story, Victor dies from pneumonia. Walton discovers the creature weeping over Victor’s body. The crew prepares a funeral pyre for Victor, but the ceremony is interrupted when the ice around the ship cracks. Walton invites the creature to stay with the ship, but the creature insists on remaining with the pyre. He takes the torch and burns himself alive with Victor’s body. Walton, having seen the consequences of Victor’s obsession, puts his own obsession aside and orders the ship to return home.Image result for mary shelley's frankensteinThe ending goes beyond the scope of the original novel, and it does so in a strikingly grisly way, but the overall effect of this film is true to Shelley’s original vision. Robert De Niro gives a particularly compelling performance as Frankenstein’s monster, the look and feel of the late eighteenth-century setting is spot on, and the musical soundtrack complements the plot extraordinarily well. While I would prefer to see a movie strictly faithful to Shelley’s novel, this exemplary albeit somewhat effusive adaptation hits the core messages of the story dead on and stands, in my opinion, as a truly impressive cinematic accomplishment.

REVIEW: LAST VEGAS

Starring

Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Kevin Kline (Dave)
Mary Steenburgen (Elf)
Jerry Ferrara (Sunny)
Romany Malco (Kindergarten Cop 2)
Roger Bart (Trumbo)
Joanna Gleason (Crimes and Misdemeanors)
Michael Ealy (Takers)
Bre Blair (Quarantine 2: Terminal)
50 Cent (Spy)
Elisa Gabrielli (The Brady Bunch Movie)

Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline in Last Vegas (2013)Billy, Paddy, Archie, and Sam are childhood friends from Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, who are now living in their senior years. Sam and his wife Miriam are living mundane lives in Naples, Florida. Archie, twice-divorced and recovering from a minor stroke, lives with his overprotective son Ezra and his family in Englewood, New Jersey. Paddy lives alone in his Brooklyn apartment, a curmudgeon in grief since the death of his wife, Sophie, over a year ago. Billy is a successful entrepreneur in Malibu, California, who lives with his 31-year-old girlfriend Lisa. Shortly after proposing to Lisa, Billy finds an old bottle of scotch he and his friends stole in their childhood days and calls Sam and Archie, who immediately propose a bachelor party for Billy in Las Vegas before his wedding that weekend. After being given permission by Miriam to cheat on her, Sam collects Archie and Paddy and fly off to rendezvous with Billy in Vegas.Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline in Last Vegas (2013)Arriving in Vegas, Billy and Paddy get into a heated argument about Billy’s failure to attend Sophie’s funeral. They head to Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel to check in, only to realize that the hotel is closed for renovations. They agree to try the Aria Resort and Casino, where the wedding will be held. Before leaving Binion’s they are attracted to the lounge by the singing voice of Diana, who is immediately charmed by their appreciation of her singing. The five share a drink, and they convince Diana to join them at The Aria.Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline in Last Vegas (2013)While waiting to get rooms, Archie goes to a blackjack table and has a brief altercation with a cocky gambler named Dean. Archie buys chips with $15,000 (half of his pension funds), planning to enjoy his escape from medical worries. When Paddy and Sam return, they find that Archie is up to $102,000, and they quickly leave the table in fear of being accused of card counting. Meanwhile, as Billy tours the wedding chapel with Diana, he becomes charmed with her as she explains to him that she moved to Vegas because she was recently laid off as a tax attorney in Atlanta and always wanted to sing despite being a divorced empty nester.Last Vegas (2013)The quartet later become judges of a wild swimsuit competition. They are then confronted by the casino manager, who offers the group his largest penthouse suite for free, in hopes that Archie will stay and spend his winnings at the hotel. They are assigned Lonnie (who is disappointed because the original person staying in the room was going to be 50 Cent) is their host/butler. Billy suggests they open the old bottle of scotch to celebrate the gang’s reunion, but Paddy confronts him about his absence from Sophie’s funeral and leaves the suite. That night, the remaining three go to the Aria’s popular nightclub, where they accept the bouncer’s suggestion that they earn immediate entrance by purchasing $1,800 bottle service, using some of Archie’s winnings. There, Billy and Sam talk with the bachelorette and her maid-of-honor from a bachelorette party while Archie goes dancing. Dean comes by and begins groping the bachelorette and is confronted by Archie, Billy and Sam. Dean attempts to throw a punch at Billy but is knocked down by Paddy, who stopped by to give Archie his cell phone due to several missed calls from his son Ezra.Last Vegas (2013)The next day, while the others are hungover and recovering, Paddy visits Diana and tells her that he and Billy were both in love with Sophie when they were younger and she picked Paddy. Diana catches his eye while she tries to convince him to stop grieving and move on with life because Sophie would want it. Afterwards, Paddy joins Billy at their pool cabana and admits he needs to move on from Sophie’s passing while also showing concern for Billy about marrying a younger woman. Sam and Archie join in and decide to throw a big bachelor party for Billy in their suite that night. Lonnie brings Dean to the cabana to apologize for his behavior, having convinced him that the quartet are mafia members from the East Coast called “The Flatbush Four.” Dean, fearing for his life, agrees to become their errand boy for the day. With Lonnie and Dean’s help, they prepare for the party and invite several people including the bachelorette group from the nightclub, exotic dancers, a band of transvestite entertainers, and cast members of Zarkana.Last Vegas (2013)While the others prepare his party, Billy visits Diana. She admits that she is fond of him, and asks if he truly loves Lisa. As they walk along The Strip, Billy tells Diana that Paddy gave Sophie an ultimatum to choose either Billy or him and she secretly chose Billy first, but Billy told Sophie that she was meant to be with Paddy. The bachelor party goes into full force as Paddy gets ready to be social again, finally removing his wedding ring. Sam meets the maid of honor from the night before, who begins flirting with him to his delight. Archie dances with the bachelorette, strippers, transvestites, then gives advice to Dean on how he, too, can meet women properly. Archie is surprised by a worried Ezra, who tracked Archie’s cell phone. Archie convinces him to calm down and enjoy this chance for some special father-son time. Sam and the maid of honor head upstairs to be alone, where he encourages and enjoys her seductive ways but eventually turns down sex, realizing that he tells Miriam about all the wonderful things that happen in his life, and telling her about this soon-to-be wonderful moment would devastate her.Last Vegas (2013)Paddy tells Billy he invited Diana to the party because he likes her and wants to start anew after Sophie’s passing, but realizes Billy likes her too. When Diana arrives, Billy pushes Paddy into the decorative pool in the suite and takes Diana upstairs to tell her that Paddy likes her and to give him a chance. She states that she feels like she is being treated like Sophie and “gifted” by Billy to Paddy, which Paddy overhears. Paddy is devastated to learn about Sophie’s choice and throws the old bottle of scotch in the trash as he leaves the party.Last Vegas (2013)The next morning, Paddy confronts Billy at the pool and tells him he does not love Lisa like Paddy loved Sophie and that the wedding must be stopped. As Lisa and her bridesmaids arrive, Paddy pushes Billy into the pool and tells Lisa that Billy is calling off the wedding. Billy and Lisa talk it out and Lisa leaves with her bridesmaids. As the guys pack up to leave, Billy comes to terms with his age and admits his fear of getting old and being alone. They come together as friends again and tell Billy to go see Diana. Billy shows up at the lounge where Diana is singing and reveals his feelings for her. The guys say their goodbyes to Dean and Lonnie and finally decide to crack open the old bottle of scotch for a final toast, however to their surprise, all but Paddy find the taste to be repulsive. A couple months later, Billy and Diana call Archie and Paddy to announce they are getting married. They try to call Sam but he is unable to answer the phone as he is busy in bed with Miriam.Last Vegas (2013)In all, this is not a movie that’s going to win any awards. The game cast does try hard and succeeds at the comic moments more than anything else. So, sure, it’s a geriatric version of Tom Hanks’ old Bachelor Party, but it does have some sweet elements to it as well as a few endearing performances. Lost Vegas is perhaps a movie best appreciated on a smaller screen

REVIEW: SHARK TALE

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jack Black (Goosebumps)
Angelina Jolie (Salt)
Michael Imperioli (Goodfellas)
Vincent Pastore (Revolver)
Peter Falk (The Princess Bride)
Lenny Venito (The Neighbours)
Saverio Guerra (Buffy: TVS)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)

In Reef City, an underachieving bluestreak cleaner wrasse named Oscar fantasizes about being rich and famous while making his way to work as a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash, a job in which he is following in his father’s footsteps. Soon after arriving he is called to the office of his boss, a pufferfish named Sykes, to discuss the fact that he owes “five thousand clams” and has to pay it back by the next day. After explaining this to his angelfish best friend Angie, she offers him a chance to pay back the money by pawning a pink pearl that was a gift from her grandmother. Oscar brings the money to the race track to meet Sykes, but becomes distracted by his dreams of grandeur. Upon hearing that the race is rigged, he places it all on a long-shot bet by the name of “Lucky Day”. Such a million dollar bet is noticed nearby by a beautiful lionfish named Lola, who flagrantly seduces an excited Oscar, but Oscar is disappointed when she leaves upon learning that he is a whale washer. Sykes is furious that Oscar bet the money but nonetheless agrees to see how the race turns out. Moments before their betted “horse” crosses the finish line, he trips and falls on the line.Meanwhile, on another side of the ocean in the wreck of the R.M.S Titanic, a family of criminally-inclined great white sharks has a problem with one of their sons, Lenny, who is a vegetarian and refuses to act the part of a killer, wishing not to have to live up to those expectations. His crime lord father, Don Edward Lino, orders Lenny’s more savage older brother Frankie to tutor Lenny in the family business. After the two sharks depart their father, Frankie sees Oscar being electrocuted by Sykes’ two jellyfish enforcers Ernie and Bernie and sends Lenny off to attack. The jellyfish spot Lenny and flee, leaving Oscar alone with him. Instead of attacking Oscar, Lenny frees him, upsetting Frankie who becomes annoyed and charges at Oscar. However, Frankie is killed when an anchor falls on him. Lenny flees, overcome with grief and guilt. As no other witnesses were present and Oscar was seen near the body, everyone comes to believe that he killed Frankie, an opportunity that Oscar decides to exploit for fame.Oscar returns to the city with a new title of the Sharkslayer. Sykes becomes his manager, Lola becomes his girlfriend, and Oscar moves to the “top of the reef” to live in luxury. At the same time, after Frankie’s funeral, Don Lino has everyone out looking for Lenny. When several sharks get close to Oscar’s neighborhood, Oscar’s neighbors expect him to drive them away so he goes and runs into Lenny. Since he does not wish to return home, Lenny forces Oscar to let him stay with him since he is aware of Oscar’s lie. Soon, Angie finds out about the lie as well and threatens to tell everyone. Oscar and Lenny convince her to keep quiet, though she is heartbroken by Oscar’s dishonesty. Oscar’s situation is not helped by the shallowed Lola, who indicates to him that her interest in him extends only as far as he remains famous. With Don Lino planning revenge, Oscar and Lenny stage an event in which Lenny pretends to terrorize the town and Oscar must defeat him throwing him into the depths of the ocean. Though this further cements Oscar as the Sharkslayer, it greatly angers Don Lino. Oscar leaves Lola for Angie after Angie reveals that she had feelings for Oscar even before he became famous, but this leaves the rebuffed Lola determined to get revengeOscar buys some Valentine’s Day gifts for Angie, but before he can present them to her, he finds that Don Lino has kidnapped Angie to force a sit-down. Lenny comes along now disguised as a dolphin named Sebastian. They arrive at the meeting to find Lola next to Don Lino, while Angie is tied up and gagged and presented to Don Lino on a plate who prepares to eat her if Oscar does not comply. Lenny grabs Angie into his mouth, but later regurgitates her. When Don Lino realizes that “Sebastian” is really Lenny, he chases Oscar through the reef. Oscar heads for the Whale Wash and ends up trapping both sharks. He is given an ovation by the other fish, but Oscar confesses that he is not a “Sharkslayer” and reveals the truth behind Frankie’s death. He then tells Don Lino that everyone likes Lenny for who he is and strongly urges him not to prejudge people before he knows them properly and make the mistakes he made in prejudging his wealth. Realizing that Oscar is right, Don Lino apologizes to Lenny and reconciles with him while making peace with Oscar, stating that he and his gang bear him no ill will. Oscar forsakes all the wealth he has acquired, makes peace with the sharks, becomes co-manager of the Whale Wash (now frequented by sharks, killer whales, and swordfish), and starts dating Angie and enjoys a happy, honest life. During the credits, Lola tries to find Oscar to make amends, but all she finds is a hermit crab named Crazy Joe, one of Oscar’s friends.Although this is a cartoon movie, it suggests it is for children, however, it is most definatly for all ages. I really enjoyed the humour of this film. Will Smith & Robert De Niro as the main characters was an excellent choice for voice overs for their respective characters. Great Film.

REVIEW: WAG THE DOG

CAST

Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Anne Heche (Spread)
Denis Leary (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Willie Nelson (The Dukas of Hazzard)
Andrea Martin (Black Christmas)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
William H. Macy (The Cooler)
John Michael Higgins (Stil LWaiting)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eyed)
Woody Harrelson (The Hugner Games)
Suzanne Cryer (Veronica Mars)
Phil Morris (Jingle All The Way)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
Craig T. Nelson (My Name Is Earl
David Koechner (Anchorman)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Jack Shearer (Star Trek: First Contact)
Dustin Hoffman and Kirsten Dunst in Wag the Dog (1997)
The President of the United States is caught making advances on an underage “Firefly Girl” less than two weeks before Election Day. Conrad Brean (De Niro), a top-notch spin doctor, is brought in to take the public’s attention away from the scandal. He decides to construct a diversionary war with Albania, hoping the media will concentrate on this instead. Brean contacts Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Hoffman) to create the war, complete with a theme song and fake film footage of a photogenic orphan (Dunst) in Albania.
When the CIA learns of the plot, they send Agent Young (Macy) to confront Brean who convinces him that revealing the deception is against his best interests. The CIA announces that the war has ended, but otherwise maintains the deception and the media begins to turn back to the President’s abuse scandal. Motss decides to invent a hero who was left behind enemy lines, and inspired by idea that he was “discarded like an old shoe” has the Pentagon provide him with a soldier named Schumann (Harrelson) around whom he constructs a further narrative including T-shirts, additional patriotic songs, and faux-grassroots demonstrations of patriotism. At each stage of the plan, Motss continually dismisses setbacks as “nothing” and compares them to past movie-making catastrophes he averted.
When the team goes to retrieve Schumann, they discover he is in fact a criminally insane Army prison convict before their plane crashes en route to Andrews Air Force Base. The team survives and is rescued by a farmer, but Schumann attempts to rape the farmer’s daughter and the farmer kills him. Motss then stages an elaborate military funeral, claiming that Schumann died from wounds sustained during his rescue.
While watching a political talk show Motss gets frustrated that the media are crediting the president’s win to a tired campaign slogan of “Don’t change horses in mid-stream” rather than Motss’s hard work. Despite previously claiming he was inspired by the challenge, Motss announces that he wants credit and will reveal his involvement, despite Brean’s warning that he is “playing with his life”. Motss refuses to back down, so Brean reluctantly has him killed and makes it look as if he had a heart attack. The president is successfully re-elected and a news report about a violent incident in Albania is shown, but it is ambiguous whether this is a true event or simply a continuation of the fictional war.
“Wag the dog” gathers a very good cast to tell a clever story about politics and its close connection to the TV business. Although the story sometimes seems to be topped by real-life events (Clinton-Lewinsky) it still remains a very entertaining flick. This is due to the many great characters and its precise dialogue which delivers a whole lot of sharp little comments on the dirty business of politics.

REVIEW: STARDUST

CAST

Charlie Cox (Daredevil TV)
Claire Danes (Terminator 3)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Dark Shadows)
Robert De Niro (Limitless)
Sienna Miller (Layer Cake)
Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying)
Peter O’Toole (Supergirl)
Ben Barnes  (The Chronicles of Narnia 2)
Henry Cavill  (Man of Steel)
Mark Strong (Green Lantern)
Jason Flemyng  (X-men: First Class)
Rupert Everett (Shrek 2)
Julian Rhind-Tutt (Rabbit Fever)
David Walliams (Little Britain)
Sarah Alexander (Green Wing)
Joanna Scanlan (The Bad Education Movie)
Mark Williams (Harry Potter)
Dexter Fletcher (Cockneys vs Zombies)

A village lies near a gap in a stone wall bordering the magical kingdom of Stormhold. The gap is guarded constantly but Dunstan Thorn manages to go through and meets an enslaved princess, Una. She offers him a glass snowdrop in exchange for a kiss, then invites him on her trailer. Nine months later, the Wall Guard delivers a baby to Dunstan, saying his name is Tristan.Eighteen years later, the dying king of Stormhold throws a ruby into the sky, decreeing that his successor will be the first of his fratricidal sons to recover it. The gem hits a star, they fall together and the remaining sons, Primus and Septimus independently search for the gem.In Wall, Tristan sees the star fall and vows to get it for the object of his infatuation, Victoria, in return for her hand in marriage. Tristan learns that his mother is from beyond the wall, and receives a Babylon candle that she had left for him, which instantly takes the user to any desired location. Tristan lights it and is transported to the fallen star, personified as a beautiful woman named Yvaine. He promptly chains her to take her home to Victoria.Three ancient witches in Stormhold resolve to eat the fallen star’s heart to recover their youth and replenish their powers. Their leader, Lamia, eats the remnants of an earlier star’s heart, and sets off to find Yvaine. She conjures up a wayside inn as a trap.Yvaine becomes tired, so Tristan chains her to a tree and promises to bring food. In his absence, a unicorn releases her but unwittingly takes her to Lamia’s inn. Tristan discovers Yvaine gone, but the stars whisper that she is in danger, telling him to get on a passing stagecoach, which happens to be Primus’s. At the inn, they interrupt Lamia’s attempt to kill Yvaine. Lamia kills Primus, but Tristan and Yvaine use the Babylon candle to escape into the clouds, where they are captured by pirates in a flying ship who teach Tristan how to fence.Septimus discovers that, as the last surviving son, he need only find the stone to claim the throne. He learns it is in the possession of the fallen star and realises that the heart of a star grants immortality. After leaving Captain Shakespeare’s ship, Tristan and Yvaine confess their love for one another and spend the night together at an inn. Come morning, Tristan leaves Yvaine sleeping and goes to Wall with a lock of her hair, to tell Victoria he won’t marry her, having fallen in love with Yvaine. When the lock turns to dust, he realises Yvaine will die if she crosses the wall, and rushes back to save her.Yvaine finds Tristan gone, and starts walking towards the wall, thinking he abandoned her for Victoria. Tristan’s mother Una notices Yvaine walking to her doom, so takes the caravan of her enslaver, a witch named Ditchwater Sal, to the wall to stop her. Lamia arrives, kills Sal, and captures Una and Yvaine, taking them to the witches’ castle. Septimus and Tristan both pursue Lamia, agreeing to work together for the time being. Barging into the castle, Septimus recognises the princess as his long-lost sister and Una informs Tristan that she is his mother.Septimus and Tristan kill two of the witches, but Lamia uses a voodoo doll to kill Septimus and make his corpse fight Tristan. Lamia is about to finish Tristan off, when she appears to break down over the loss of her sisters. Lamia frees Yvaine but her feigned defeat was just a ruse to bolster Yvaine’s broken heart. As Tristan and Yvaine embrace, their love allows her to shine once again, vaporising Lamia in a blinding flash of starlight.Tristan retrieves the jewel that Yvaine was wearing. As the jewel turns red, Una explains that, as her son, Tristan is the last male heir of Stormhold. He becomes king with Yvaine as his queen whilst Dunstan and Una are reunited. After 80 years of ruling Stormhold, they use a Babylon candle to ascend to the sky, where Tristan also becomes a star and the pair live forever in the sky.It’s difficult to think of any negatives with this movie. It’s light, breezy, fresh and fun but not shallow. A great story with intelligent characters it is laugh-out-loud funny in many places, but with some real moments of pathos and emotional intensity elsewhere. Fantasy movies as good as this don’t come along very often these days.