Bridget Jones’s Baby

September 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey
Directed by: Sharon Maguire (“Bridget Jones’s Diary”)
Written by: Helen Fielding (“Bridget Jones’s Diary”), Dan Mazer (Bruno), Emma Thompson (“Sense and Sensibility”)

It’s never a good idea to milk a film franchise when the story has already dried up. Such seemed to be the case with 2004’s “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” the pitiful sequel to the highly satisfying original “Bridget Jones’s Diary” three years prior. As one of the best romantic comedies in the last 15 years, “Diary” set the bar so high (Renee Zellweger was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress), “Reason” really had no purpose for existing.

Now in an attempt to round out the trilogy and capture some of the appeal of the first film, original director Sharon Maguire returns to helm the third installation “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” a cheery and charming addition that might be considered “jumping the shark” if it was a TV sitcom.

Instead, “Baby” is a bubbly way to re-introduce audiences back to Bridget, now 43 years old and still single, but living life her own way and in less of a state of self-pity than before. After having a one-night stand at a music festival with dating website entrepreneur Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey filling in for Hugh Grant as the romantic foil) and hooking up with old flame Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Bridget discovers she is pregnant but doesn’t know which of the two is the father.

Of course, with Bridget, things can’t be as simple as telling the men one of them is the father. Instead, she strings them both along allowing each of them to believe he’s the baby’s daddy. It’s not until she breaks down and reveals the truth to Jack and Mark and the two men decide to stay in it for the long run that “Baby” becomes less of a sideshow and more of a story about what is in the best interest of Bridget and the baby.

Without Grant’s character, however, all we’re left with is two good guys to cheer for until the very end. Sure, the narrative shouldn’t be as much about the men as it is about our title character and her bun in the oven, but there’s not much conflict when either of the possible men in her life would probably make fine fathers. It’s hard to find much fault in some of that dry British humor though. With Oscar-winning screenwriter Emma Thompson (“Sense and Sensibility”) thrown into the mix, “Baby” definitely takes a step up from where Bridget left off.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

July 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring:  Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey
Directed by: Michael Bay (“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”)
Written by: Ehren Kruger (“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”)

Textbooks be damned. The use of alternative histories has been such a go-to fad in cinematic curriculum recently that no one should be surprised if impressionable movie-going kids really start believing vigilante superheroes helped earn America a victory in Vietnam (“Watchmen”) or that young mutants saved the country from nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis (“X-Men: First Class”).

Sure, there is an obvious difference between the allegorical political statements in Neill Blomkamp’s apartheid-inspired sci-fi thriller “District 9” and the renegade Jewish soldiers who unload a slew of bullets into Adolf Hitler in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” but it’s all in good fun when films mix make-believe scenarios and momentous events of the past. Wouldn’t more people know the history behind the Louisiana Purchase if Napoleon Bonaparte was really a French cyborg soldier?

If anyone in Hollywood needed to avoid rewriting the history books it should have been director Michael Bay, who had already mortified WWII history buffs by making 2001’s “Pearl Harbor” into a foolish wartime soap opera. And yet, a decade later, Bay is back with a unique variation on the Apollo 11 spaceflight in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” the third — and hopefully final — installment of the action- adventure franchise based on the Hasbro toy line of the ’80s. Yes, it’s better than “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” but that doesn’t say much, since the second movie had the aesthetics of what could only be described as rusty robot porn.

In “Dark of the Moon,” Bay and returning screenwriter Ehren Kruger decide the July 1969 lunar landing by NASA was more than just a space mission to beat the Soviets to the moon, a goal we see President John F. Kennedy lay out to Congress six years prior via old news reels and mediocre digital re-imaging. Instead, the objective for Apollo 11’s astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin is to investigate the mysterious crash landing of an object on the moon’s surface, which turns out to be an Autobot spacecraft containing technological secrets.

Flash forward to present time and a carefully crafted close-up of the panty-covered backside of Megan Fox replacement Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (a Victoria’s Secret lingerie model with Walmart-brand personality) strutting up the stairs to her hero boyfriend Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), who is quick to brag about the presidential medal he received for saving the world but can’t land a job that makes him feel as relevant as he did when he was part of the Autobot forces.

A regular 9-to-5 job will have to wait when an exiled Megatron (Hugo Weaving) returns to Earth to once again lead the Decepticons against Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and his Autobots, now working across the globe to protect the human race. When the Decepticons figure out a way to use the Autobots’ technology for their benefit, a new battle begins between the robot races. Sam and his military cohorts find themselves in the middle of a Chicago warzone leaping from crumbling buildings and dodging twisted metal, all in glorious and exhausting 3-D.

Some of the startling computer-generated visuals are what actually make “Dark of the Moon” tolerable, even at an inhumane runtime of 154 minutes. As with most of his films, however, Bay doesn’t take the less-is-more approach when it comes to spectacle. That he saves for his convoluted screenplay and flat human characterizations.

Quirky history aside, “Dark of the Moon” is exactly how you’d expect Bay to end the bankable trilogy. Let’s just hope a promise from LaBeouf to not return for a fourth will be enough to put this series to rest. At least, that is, until we find out Thomas Edison patented Megatron’s weaponry.

Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx
Directed by: Garry Marshall (“Georgia Rule”)
Written by: Katherine Fugate (“The Prince and Me”)

Doing a shameless impersonation of director/writer Richard Curtis’ 2003 witty and warm romantic comedy “Love Actually,” the Hollywood-star-laden “Valentine’s Day” is a movie that’s all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Flashing an attractive cast of audience favorites including Julia Roberts (“Duplicity”), Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”), and Taylor Lautner (“New Moon”) – among a laundry list of others – director Garry Marshall (“Georgia Rule”) takes a poorly-written multi-narrative penned by Katherine Fugate (“The Prince and Me”) and hauls it through the same cliché and predictable plot points usually reserved for this type of cinematic fluff. It’s no wonder sensitive women everywhere have to drag their significant others to the movies for date night. When a feature is as contrived as “Valentine’s Day,” not even a pajama party with Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, and Jessica Biel is reason enough for anyone to endure over two hours (and yes, it feels like it) of unbearable schmaltz.

Without going into too much detail with the storylines – which all somehow connect in the most absurd ways – “Valentine’s Day” spends much of its runtime with Ashton Kutcher on screen as Reed Bennett, the owner of a popular flower shop in L.A. who has just proposed to his girlfriend Morley (Alba) and is ready to settle down and start a family. But like all these sad-sack characters, love is not in the air for Reed and he is left all alone with only his employee (George Lopez) to help mend his broken heart.

More lovesick vignettes follow that are just as sparse on romance and narrative appeal. Jamie Foxx plays a sportscaster who hates V-Day, but is assigned to produce a story by his boss (Kathy Bates); Biel plays a publicist whose client (Eric Dane) is contemplating retirement from pro-football; Patrick Dempsey flexes his acting range to play a cheating cardiologist having an affair with Garner; Cooper and Roberts play strangers who meet on an airplane and make small talk; Bryce Robinson plays a kid in love; Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins play teens in love; Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway play young adults in love; Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine play old people in love; and Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift dole out so much cuteness, you don’t know how the word “cute” even existed before this movie.

The “aww” moments are aplenty for moviegoers who don’t necessarily care about story, character or genuine heartfelt moments that don’t feel like they were mass produced like overstuffed Build-A-Bears. Like an open box of Walgreen’s chocolates in an office break room, gluttons for this type of cheap, faux-holiday filler will eat it up without much thought. For those who want their rom coms to have a bit more taste, it’s easy to pass on the flavorless eye candy.

Made of Honor

May 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Sydney Pollack
Directed by: Paul Weiland (“City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold”)
Written by: Adam Sztykiel (debut), Deborah Kaplan (“Josie and the Pussycats”), Harry Elfont (“Surviving Christmas”)

If anyone knows how to milk their status as a romantic lead it’s actor Patrick Dempsey. From his “McDreamy” reputation on TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy” to his all-around good-guy persona in films like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Enchanted,” Dempsey is a far cry away from the nerdy lead he took in 1987’s “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

That film, at least, could be considered a sweet romantic comedy. In his new rom com, “Made of Honor,” the script makes about as much sense as the homonym in its title, which isn’t much.

Riddled with countless clichés (“You’re the perfect man, but not the perfect man for me.” Really? Is that all it takes to write a screenplay?) and some pointless and annoying dialogue, “Made of Honor” tells the story of Tom (Dempsey), a billionaire inventor who realizes he is in love with his best friend Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) just before she introduces him to her new fiancée.

When Hannah asks Tom to be her maid of honor for her wedding, Tom jumps at the chance, not because he is interested in picking out floral arrangements with her, but because he thinks he has a better chance of sabotaging the engagement by being closer to the future bride.

A hapless, hopeless romantic comedy, there is no real sense of friendship between Tom and Hannah right from the start. The trio of writers who offer this dud want us to believe that such a great, life-long friendship develops because they are able to do things like pick off each other’s food and guess what the other will order from the bakery. The premise and characterizations are so careless and irritating it’s a wonder how the director of Bill Cosby’s “Leonard 6” (considered by many as one of the worst movies ever made) got financing for something so dim-witted and poorly written.

If you want a great romantic comedy, flip the sexes around and revisit “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Even Cameron Diaz’s sometimes earsplitting role in that isn’t as grating as Dempsey’s is in this.