Where in the World is In a World?

I so wanted to go see In a World last weekend. It looks hilarious. It’s written by, directed by, and stars a woman: Lake Bell. That’s the kind of movie that makes me plunk my money down.

It opened August 9, but it is nowhere to be found in my city. What’s up with that, In a World? When do I get to see you?

Have you seen it yet? What did you think? Sound off in the comments.

Muppets Most Wanted Official Trailer

I love the Muppets. They have charm, humor and moves like Mick Jagger. Here’s the trailer for the next Muppets movie, Muppets Most Wanted.

Humans included in the film are Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey.

I’m ready to get my Muppet on and go see this one!

Images ©Disney Studio

Strong Women: Gale Ann Hurd

I’d never heard the name Gale Ann Hurd before last weekend when I attended the BlogHer13 Conference in Chicago. Gale Ann Hurd was a keynote speaker at the event and I’m a believer in Gale Ann Hurd now.

She’s currently producing The Walking Dead on AMC. Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne on The Walking Dead, narrated a brief video explaining who some of the characters brought to us by Gale Ann Hurd are and why this producer is so empowering for women.

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See if you recognize any of these characters.

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See any favorites? I sure did, which is when I realized that I’ve been a Gale Ann Hurd fangirl for years and didn’t even know it.

Bonus points to her for bringing everyone a copy of the latest Walking Dead novel and for showing us a preview of season 4 of The Walking Dead. It’s going to be exciting!

Is this your first introduction to this seriously awesome producer? Were you as in the dark as I was about who is behind some of our favorite heroines? I used to love only Joss Whedon, but now I love Gale Ann Hurd, too. Hope you’ll forgive me, Joss.

The Way, Way Back is Way, Way Good

The Way, Way Back opens on the miserable face of Liam James as 14-year-old Duncan, sitting in the way, way back seat of a vintage woodie Buick station wagon. Driving this aging monster is Trent (Steve Corell), his mom’s boyfriend. His mom is Pam, (Toni Collette) and his possible future step-sister filling the middle seat with all her teen-age horribleness is Steph (Zoe Levin). They are on their way to Trent’s beach house to spend the summer.

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Rounding out the star-studded cast we have Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb (remember how wonderful she was in Bridge to Terabithia? She’s even better now.), Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, and Amanda Peet. It speaks to the quality of the writing and the story that so many accomplished actors were willing to take part in this production.

The trailer shows them in action.

The story revolves around Duncan. This teen has issues. His parents are recently divorced. His mom’s new boyfriend is an asshole. His dad has a new younger girlfriend and “now isn’t a good time to visit.” He doesn’t know how to talk to people. His mom is bending herself into someone else to fit into the new boyfriend’s life. He has to go everyone on a pink girl’s bike which is as dated as Trent’s Buick.

When they arrive in the beach town, Duncan is befriended by Owen, the manager of a water park (Sam Rockwell), who teaches him how to laugh, how to assert himself, and how to take chances. As improbable a plot point as it is to imagine a grown man befriending young Duncan for purely selfless reasons, there’s a scene to somewhat explain how they connect. When the Buick pulls into town, with Duncan staring morosely out the back window, they stop in traffic. The car behind them is driven by Owen, who makes eye contact with Duncan and they share a moment while waiting for the traffic to move.

Duncan manages to find his way while all around him the significant adults in his life are drinking themselves silly, smoking pot, and damaging their own children in countless ways. Young River Alexander as Peter pronounces his mom the worst parent, but there are several candidates for that prize in this tale.

With such a stellar cast, even the smallest of characters in this busy relationship drama turn in full-blown performances. There’s a romance of sorts between Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph’s characters. There’s cheating going on – I won’t spoil it by telling you who – and there’s a first kiss for Duncan before it’s over.

Duncan’s awakening spurs his mom to gather up her strength, too. The movie closes on a heartwarming note.

Heartwarming is probably the best description of The Way, Way Back. There are real people with real life problems and a hopeful ending. A perfectly heartwarming movie.

Have you see it? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Veronica Mars Movie Sneak Peak (Video)

This Veronica Mars movie sneak peak was released at the recent San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). In case you aren’t aware of the back story, the money for this movie was raised in a Kickstarter project. The funding goal was raised in almost seconds (just a slight exaggeration). The Kickstarter project raised millions beyond its goal. It is one of the biggest fan-driven fund raising events to date and the start of a new trend in how movies get made.

Fans will get their movie in 2014.

If you missed Veronica Mars when it was a TV series years ago, it’s available via streaming services, and it’s worth watching. She’s a high school girl who helps out in her dad’s detective agency. I know, high school kids – I’m so beyond that – but it’s a good show.

Pitt vs. Eastwood in the World Series of Baseball

Moneyball (2011) and Trouble with the Curve (2012) are two baseball stories that are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of theme. Yet both are good movies. Since both are out on DVD now, it seemed like a good idea to review them together.

The earlier film Moneyball takes the stance that technology can solve any problem, even the problem of who to draft for a baseball team.

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Moneyball stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Jonah Hill plays a geek who uses a computer and stats to decide who a team should draft. Brad Pitt trusts him to know who to pick and the film is about how they convince other people in their organization that using this new technological technique to predict baseball greatness will work. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the coach.

Moneyball is based on a true story about the Oakland Athletics in 2002. Since Oakland proved their point with an amazing team, many other baseball organizations have learned to rely on technology to predict the best picks.

You don’t have to like baseball to like Moneyball. It’s a great underdog story and certainly has good actors. It earned 6 Oscar nominations including ones for Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. I particularly love the geeky part of this film, since I’m pretty much the elder geek of the interwebs.

Trouble with the Curve

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Trouble with the Curve, on the other hand, is the anti-technology baseball story. It comes at draft picks from an experience-can’t-be-beat point of view. Clint Eastwood represents the experience, of course. He’s a talent scout named Gus who is going blind. He can still pick ’em better than any computer based on his years around baseball.

Amy Adams is Eastwood’s daughter in this film. She brings the theme of father-daughter relationships into the story, which gives both Eastwood and Adams some nice opportunities to dig in and show their chops. Justin Timberlake plays another talent scout.

Amy Adams. Justin Timberlake. You know what happens when boy meets girl. That. Adams and Timberlake are particularly effective at telling this ages-old tale in the condensed form it takes when mixed into the larger story about Gus and his draft picks. Two stories in one, it’s a bargain.

The final important character is John Goodman, who is a lifelong friend of Gus’s and is backing him in his picks against the guys who want to do it with technology. There are a few interesting plot twists along the way, especially involving Amy Adams character, but I’ll let you enjoy them as they are revealed in the movie. I will share one spoiler. Amy Adams sings in this movie – and not very well. For a fabulous singer, she must have really had to work at sounding like a normal person singing.

Have you seen either of these baseball stories? What did you think of them?

The Heat: LMAO

This movie is hilarious, profane, packed with purposely clumsy action stunts. Add in two top notch actresses who bring the full power of their multi-talented punch to every scene. That’s The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

The trailer was cleaned up for language a bit, and hammed up a bit, but it gives you the basic idea.

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Bullock plays Ashburn, an uptight FBI agent, McCarthy is Mullins, a never-mind-the-rules Boston cop. The two get off to a rocky start when Ashburn takes the parking space Mullins had her eye on. Mullins is super mouthy and she lets Ashburn have the whole verbal barrage. Then, of course, they get assigned to work together on a case.

Everything about Melissa McCarthy is funny in this picture. They way she’s dressed, the car she drives, the foul-mouthed verbal assaults she is capable of delivering, and the incredulity she expresses over the character portrayed by Sandra Bullock. These two are an outstanding match – both are willing to go anywhere for a laugh, both are nuanced actors, and both are capable of carrying a film on their own. Together they are perfection.

Some Plot Points (Spoilers, too)

In one scene our two law officers go to Mullins grungy one-room apartment where they bond over the contents of Mullins’ refrigerator. It’s full of pistols, rifles, rocket launchers, ammo, grenades (one very important, sometimes ticking, grenade) and other gun-related paraphernalia. Ashburn makes appreciative comments about several of the deadly items stored in the fridge, and we know these two are a matched pair despite their apparent incompatibility.

Among the mayhem, the two actresses are allowed to have some quiet moments in which we glimpse what the characters are made of, where they come from, and who they care about. In between trying to catch the bad guys, they fend off men, they get drunk, and they visit Mullins’ crazed and hilarious family. Here’s the wonderful part. It isn’t just Sandra Bullock who is getting hit on by men. Melissa McCarthy is, too. And McCarthy is the one who plants a big wet one on a guy. I love that.

Mullins’ family includes Michael Rapaport as her brother and an underused Jane Curtain as her mother. Just having Jane Curtain show up in this film is a bonus: she’s one of the all-time funniest actors around. If all she did was pose as a statue it would be a plus for the film. Mullins put her brother Jason (Rapaport) into prison because he was doing/dealing drugs. He’s just out of jail and trying to behave, but the family won’t forgive her. Melissa McCarthy is brilliant at letting us see how this hurts while maintaining her tough bitch facade. Not-quite-going-straight-yet brother Jason is once again see in the company of the drug dealers our heroines are trying to lasso. Ah, plot complications.

Because of threats from the drug dealing mobsters they are trying to put in jail, the duo have to move Mullins’ whole loud-mouthed, ungrateful family and assorted girlfriends into a safe place. This maneuver includes a monstrous dog who should win an Oscar for best supporting actor for his interactions with Sandra Bullock.

They think they have the whole case wrapped up thanks to the use of the suspiciously ticking grenade, but even more bad guys show up after the grenade goes BLAM. Brother Jason gets shot but not killed. Ashburn gets stabbed in the leg – once by a bad guy and once by Mullins who is attempting to insert the knife back in the same wound so the bad guy won’t know they took it out to cut their bonds.

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This being a action comedy, I don’t think I’m revealing any terrible spoilers to say that eventually all the bad guys are caught, all the wounds are under a doctor’s care, and our two heroines admit their admiration and respect for each other (sisterhood, even). With all this bonding, could we have a sequel please? The Heat 2 sounds perfect. Ready by next summer would be nice, too.

The movie was written by Katie Dippold who worked on Parks and Recreation and directed by Paul Feig, who also directed McCarthy in 2011’s Bridesmaids.

We need about a million more movies like this. Blockbuster summer fare starring two top names who are buddies fighting the bad guys. But the buddies must be women. Must be.