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Thursday, April 30, 2009


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Goolphipp Award: 3.75

Audience: All Ages

Goolsby: Who doesn’t want to see our furry friends? Bring the whole gang and wait for the collective “Awww” to overtake you all.

Phipps: There’s nothing to worry about for little kids in this one. It’s landscapes and happy animals mostly. There are a few predators, and they only show them getting their prey a couple times, without blood and ripping flesh. So moms, cart your little ones to this movie!

Where’s the Objectivity: Solid
Following a couple animal families through a calendar year.

Phipps: Literally, the circle of life in the frame of the year. Not much else to say. I liked this documentary, which is saying a lot. I’m not the biggest animal fan. But I thought it was presented fairly truthfully and straightforward. I was like a little boy though, I wanted to see the lion shred up an elephant – but I also understand that it was a Disney movie. I was surprised that there wasn’t more overtly liberal. I’m happy to report that it stayed with the facts, and made one comment at the very end. A very solid documentary based on the “Planet Earth” series.

Goolsby: From top to bottom of the planet you get a good overview of how the animal kingdom thrives mostly unbeknownst to us, and definitely unbeknownst to the kids. The facts are presented in a very accessible simple and straight forward form to the kids, who are the real target audience.

Cinematography: Gorgeous

Goolsby: Pristine. Stay for the credits to get a look at the difficulties some of the cinematographers’ had – lets just say, balloon chair meets tree, ouch. Thanks guys for getting dirty and most likely injured to deliver this timeless feature.

Phipps: Just beautiful. Great shots. They did a good job in the editing room, as this movie was a splice-and-dice of the “Planet Earth” footage. Word on the street is it took a month to get the shark shots, and I must say, it was well worth it.

Delivery: No Complaints

Phipps: James Earl Jones – you can’t beat him, ever. He’s got that voice. One small complaint, there was an overuse of the word “starving.” It was a little annoying, but other than that, no complaints.

Goolsby: Now Phipps thinks that the use of “starving” was a bit overdone – I however feel that the word “starving” is one of the few words that really conveys an animal’s true hunger. For kids, and even adults, we have many feelings of hunger. From, “I could go for a cookie,” to I-haven’t-eaten-all-day-stomach-pains, we have a wider base of hunger. But for animals, I think it’s a bit different, especially with their food resources growing limited. I think “starving” conveys primal hunger efficiently. So I’m okay with the use of the word starving – kids can identify with it.

Phipps overall: 4

Goolsby overall: 3.5
A good documentary.

Goolphipp rating: 3.75 (No Peanuts Chucked)

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17 Again

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Goolphipp Award: 3.5

Audience: High School Freshman+

Goolsby: When you think about the plot, it’s obvious that jokes will be much more appreciated by an older (young-Dad age) crowd. There was some odd and somewhat uncomfortable small plot development between younger Mike and adult Scarlett. Yes, awkward.

Phipps: I saw a ton of little kids in the theater…and honestly, it’s not for the HSM crowd if you know what I mean. The trailer is deceptive, it looks smart and funny – and most importantly, light-hearted. It is smart and funny - but it is also a rather serious movie dealing with serious issues. Take my advice, you don’t want your little ones watching this until they are a bit older.

Where’s the Drama: Side-splitting
This movie presented its dramatic moment, then retreated and took refuge in its comedy.

Phipps: I appreciated this movie, I did. It was Freaky Friday meets The Kid. I half-expected Spencer Breslin to jump up, point, and say to Zac Efron, “You’re a chickless, dogless jerk with a twitch!” The humor is well-placed to make its audience look, then laugh at a rather sad situation – as in high school girls not respecting themselves enough to demand respect from guys. Aside from the magical aspect, this movie presented real dramatic situations…and real reactions.

Goolsby: Oh gosh. When anyone speaks Elvish, it makes me smile. I love the sidekick character of Ned, and the progression of the romance with the principal. This movie gave throw backs to a lot of older nerdiness-awesomeness, and it was well received. And come on, any movie that revives the use of the “Tool” and “Douche” insult, well you get my chuckle. A lot of the funny bits were used in the trailers for this movie, but the rest of the movie delivers plenty more.

Storyline: Things Happen for a Reason
An unhappy 40-something wishing he could have a “do-over” and magically he gets his wish.

Goolsby: The wish granted by a Norse God of course! Haha. Storyline was simple, not much real build up. You expect what you get, fairly predictable, but I’m fine with that. This movie doesn’t really try to be more than it is. Take it for what it is, and accept what you see coming, and well, there’s always room for Jell-O.

Phipps: Shoulda, woulda, coulda – oh, things worked out for the best. I just thought of It’s a Wonderful Life. This storyline has been delivered multiple times, in multiple ways, and it’s been a staple since the black and white days. Its human nature, I guess, to wonder about the “what ifs.” However in this case, I’d choose Jimmy Stewart over Zac Efron. I must say, I did enjoy the Ned character – and all his Sci-fi memorabilia.

Delivery: Satisfactory

Goolsby: I was impressed. Zac brought his A-game, and it showed. This role is definitely something that he’s using to stretch his wings. Oh oh, one thing though, Zac should work on his man-cry-chin-wobble more, needs a bit more honing. I thought Leslie Mann was a bit too cliché in her delivery. The unhappy, dream-searching almost-divorcee is a pretty cookie cutter character, and I wanted to see her bring something more to her role, and I didn’t see it. It doesn’t bother me that much because her character, although important, is not really part of the main focus or part of the audience’s emotional investment. I was just hoping she would deliver us something a bit different.

Phipps: I thought most performances were generally okay. Zac Efron has said that he needed a lot of help to really get into this character, and the work did pay off. I almost believed it. I was left wondering if Zac Efron has suffered any real disappointment in life, which certainly would have gone a long way to helping him identify with a disappointed 40-year-old. One comment about Michelle Trachtenberg: she’s been in high school for the last ten years. Time to graduate. Thomas Lennon was the perfect Sci-fi geek, and rocks the elf ears. I sort of had a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that Leslie Mann and Zac Efron had to have some kind of romantic chemistry – it’s a little weird.

Phipps overall: 2.5
I’ve got to give it a 2.5 – I kind of wish I hadn’t paid the eleven bucks. It’s a fun afternoon movie.

Goolsby overall: 4.5
I’m much more inclined to the humor side. It was what is was, and I might buy it when it’s on sale someday.

Goolphipp rating: 3.5 (No Peanuts Chucked)

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Monday, April 6, 2009

The Great Buck Howard

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Goolphipp Award: 4.25

Audience: 18 +

Goolsby: Although there is only small adult content, the nature and underlying theme and message of the film would be appreciated by a more adult crowd. Take your mom and grandma with you, I bet they’d get a kick out of it.

Phipps: For you conservative people, I thought this movie is alright for you: minimal sex, minimal language. You could probably let your teenagers watch The Great Buck Howard with you…no younger than 14, I’d say.

Where’s the Drama: Subtle
Like that thirst-quenching glass of not-too-sweet lemonade you never knew you wanted.

Phipps: If you were looking in Blockbuster for this movie, would you check under Comedy or Drama? Goolsby and I decided it was more of a drama – a funny and quirky drama. When you think about it, life can be filled with drama…and also be full of funny moments and strange characters. That’s what I liked best about this movie. It was unafraid of both sides of the coin – to be both dramatic and ridiculous – not unlike its title character.

Goolsby: Finding yourself… forced into law school, double ugh. Forced into a cube, double ugh again. During the end, when Troy watches the show as an audience member, you're sort of on the edge of your seat right there with him. This movie delivers the random suspense delicately and I appreciated that.

Storyline: Finding your place
An unhappy law student finds himself working with an old magician turned mentalist.

Goolsby: The movie starts off a bit slow, but builds beautifully. And once again, we have some throwbacks to the central valley – Bakersfield and Stockton, woohoo.

Phipps: Gosh, for the 18 and older crowd, this is a breath of fresh air. What…you don’t want to be high-powered contract lawyer – GASP! This movie has a good message – sometimes you have to take a strange and random job to learn something important. For all of us that work the 9-to-5 shift, this was two hours of escape to…well, dream along with Troy Gable (Colin Hanks). It’s a slow start, but it’s inventive and quirky.

Delivery: Grade-A class

Goolsby: What a treat! Papa Hanks and Baby Hanks unite, and boy they’ve got similar acting styles (better be careful Colin, don’t fall under Papa’s wing just because it’s there, make sure to carve out your own way). Colin Hanks does well as the soul-searching youngster, but he never seemed too contrived or cliché. Colin keeps the allure throughout the movie. And John! John Malkovich, as always, plays a character. John’s face towards the ending of the movie holds so much emotion. They’re both getting color photographs from me.

Phipps: Ok, ok. So Colin Hanks is the son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson…who cares? Kid has some acting chops…and not all of it from Dad…his mother’s subtle (yet solid) style is also there. I’ve got to admit – I did get quite a kick out of the team-up. Next movie, maybe Mom can join. Listen, he’s gorgeous and talented – and most importantly of all, he’s paid his dues with "Roswell," Orange County, Untraceable, House Bunny, and now Buck Howard. Emily Blunt also is gradually taking center stage, and delivers a good performance. What can I say about John Malkovich? He’s stellar. I hate to say this because the year is early, but I could see an Oscar or Globe nod. And you know what? I think I’d root for him.

Phipps overall: 4.5
I grabbed a free promotion poster at the Indie theater, and I’m going to hang it up in my cubicle. If that doesn’t say it all…I might just have to persuade you to see this movie via hypnosis.

Goolsby overall: 4
Isn’t that wild?!

Goolphipp rating: 4.25 (No Peanuts Chucked)
Doesn’t really get much better, folks.

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Monsters vs Aliens

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Goolphipp Award: 3

Audience: Come one, come all
Monsters vs Aliens is like a wholesome sandwich – providing a good fill for all. This movie has minimal adult jokes, and as in most animated movies, the adult jokes are sure to fly over the little ones’ heads.

Phipps: A mom asked why this movie was rated PG, and I honestly couldn’t tell her. Goolsby and I thought through the entire movie – looking for anything that might be a problem – and couldn’t find one thing. The only thing I can think of to call out is the violence, but it’s along the lines of The Incredibles.

Where’s the Humor: Animated standards
The good mix of characters lends itself to a rounded mix of comedy. The giantess who forgets she is a giant and the brainless blob known as B.O.B keep the laughs steady.

Goolsby: The one-liners are funny as they come, but only a few seems to stick as you walk out the doors. Enjoyable in the theater, but sadly not as memorable in the parking lot. Of course B.O.B was bound to be funny, but the best part was the idealized “Leave It To Beaver” portrayal of the San Joaquin Valley (the real “Valley” of California). Since when did Modesto get white picket fences? That kept me laughing for days… Modesto… ha.

Phipps: Being a native of Fresno County, well, I did appreciate the airtime. I laughed so loud. I think the other audience members probably thought, “I didn’t think it was that funny.” But, I agree with Goolsby, the comedy was standard. But I didn’t find it so original that I would write home about it. In fact, the only thing I’m going to tell my friends is that it featured Fresno and Modesto.

Storyline: Rejects save the day
Girl-next-door becomes monster. Meets monsters. Fights aliens. Monsters make great friends.

Phipps: It does sound inventive, but it didn’t “rock my sox.” I did like the themes of friendship…and accepting the weird. I couldn’t help but wonder if this movie was written by grown-up kids that were bullied. Looks like the “Monsters” won in life, after all.

Delivery: Animated delights

Goolsby: Kudos to all the actors and animators. I appreciated the detailed animation, it never looked cheesy or too cartoonish. Since we saw it in 3-D the effects were well placed and kept in pace with the flow – there were no fancy effects for effects sake. The actors seemed to have a good flow between each other, which can sometimes be hard to do on an animated film.

Phipps: This movie had the look and feel of a Pixar - almost. I know that Dreamworks has been trying to break in on the Pixar monopoly…and is close, but still misses the boat. That being said, I did love the 3-D. Like Goolsby, I liked that the 3-D wasn’t code for cheeseball. As far as the vocal acting, I don’t really have any complaints. Kiefer Sutherland as the crazy general was delightful and strangely believable. Kudos to Seth Rogan for using his distinctive pipes; it’s always a pleasure, B.O.B.

Phipps overall: 2.5
I realized as I was writing this up, that it wasn’t a movie to write home about. I won’t buy this movie later for my kids…well, maybe if it’s five bucks. It had all the right pieces, but I think it was missing the “IT” factor, whatever that is for animated movies. Maybe Dreamworks should send in a spy to discover if Pixar movies are laced with some kind of subliminal message that makes everyone love their movies more. Wow, that sounds harsh, but the bottom line for this movie is, “close, but no cigar.”

Goolsby overall: 3.5
Funny and good. Not much else to say. 3-D was nice though.

Goolphipp rating: 3 (Worth 11 Bucks)

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