Little Miss Sunshine: 8 out of 10.
There is some serious buzz surrounding this film. It's up for four awards at this month's Academy Awards, including best picture and original screenplay, and everyone who sees it likes it and recommends it highly. Throw in the fact it stars some of my favourite actors, like Alan Arkin, Toni Collette and Steve Carell, and the bar is raised quite high.
It's a highly enjoyable movie. You burn through the 101 minutes, the acting is solid and the story bitter sweet. I liked it. I liked it a lot. It's not, however, Oscar-worthy. In fact, I would compare it to another dark comedy that was far superior but tragically overlooked when it came time to announce the best picture nominations. Except The Royal Tenenbaums was a great deal funnier and demanded repeat viewings. I don't need to see Little Miss Sunshine again.
Abigail Breslin is as great as you've heard as the Bee Girl inspired Olive and Alan Arkin is brilliant as Grandpa. This is a nice little film, I just hope it doesn't get crushed by the weight of the surrounding buzz.
Charlotte's Web: 6 out of 10.
This movie isn't nearly as good as the two Babe films, and it's probably not as good as the 1973 cartoon, but it's still a solid story and fairly easy to stomach.
Lots of big name celebrities lent their voices, including Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey, but Steve Buscemi as a rat steals that show. Steve Buscmei as a rat, whodathunkit?
If you're looking to take your kid / nephew / neice / little sibling to a flick, you might consider this one. How's that for a ringing endorsement?
Akeelah and the Bee: 7.5 out of 10.
I've had the soundtrack for Akeelah and the Bee for some time, but last night I actually finished the film. It's an endearing, charming movie with Keke Palmer doing a great job as the lead character who captures our heart.
You know how it's going to end, but you're still choked up when you get there. Good stuff.
The Skeleton Key: 4.5 out of 10.
This one just never captured my fancy. It seemed a little sloppy, a little forced and fairly predictable.
The ending wasn't bad, although I've seen it before, and that decent ending merely helped boost "The Skeleton Key" from the 3 out of 10 I was going to slap it with.
Munich: 8.5 out of 10.
My biggest complaint about this movie is that it's almost three hours long and our wild and crazy lifestyle forced us to break it into three parts. Steven Spielberg has directed another great movie that's not only suspenseful and thrilling but also thought provoking and controversial. This movie completes a great dramatic trilogy alongside "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan".
Not that it's required, but a great prerequisite to viewing "Munich" is checking out the documentary "One Day in September". I saw it last year and it definitely enriched this flick for me.
New York Doll: 8 out of 10.
My lack of knowledge about the seminal New York glam-rock-punk band the New York Dolls going into this doc was a little embarrassing. I knew of them, but I certainly didn't know them. I didn't even realize the lead singer was Buster Poindexter. I certainly didn't know anything about Arthur "Killer" Kane.
Going in cold made this one helluva ride. I won't ruin it for you by giving anything away, but the focus is the resurrection of the New York Dolls after 30 years. Don't miss this one.
Metal: A Headbanger's Journey: 7.5 out of 10.
I was never a metal head. This was as long and crazy as my hair ever got and the hardest rock I would listen to was from Ozzy, GNR or Motley Crue. Still, I respected metal heads and considered many of them friends. In this documentary, Sam Dunn lets me peek into the world of metal. I learnt a great deal.
I love how metal can be broken into several sub-sections and the Norwegian Black Metal scene just scared the crap out of me. If you're a metal head, or a curious observer of the culture like me, you'll enjoy this Canadian-made headbanger's journey.
War of the Worlds: 6.5 out of 10.
I'm one of those guys who thinks Tom Cruise is a pretty good actor. I almost always enjoy his movies. In "War of the Worlds" he's not smiling and playing a super lawyer / agent / pilot or whatever, he's just a guy and it works.
This movie is far from great, but it's a pretty easy view. At least it looks cool. Don't even ask why Boston was left untouched. It's better for us if we don't understand.
The Polar Express: 8 out of 10.
I just sat down with the kids and watched "The Polar Express". I loved it. Of course, I'm a sucker for that "I believe!" stuff.
This DVD had been floating around the house for about a year but I only got the motivation to watch it this afternoon. I'm glad I did, it looks great and gives you that nice Christmasy feeling inside. It also gives me an excuse to share this photo I snapped at the 2004 Santa Claus Parade.
Niagara Motel: 5.5 out of 10.
Part of the deal with TMN, the movie network we get here in Southern Ontario, is that for every quality movie you've heard of there are a few movies you'll never hear about anywhere else. Following another dismal hockey game, we decided to give this unknown Canadian movie a shot.
It's not bad... It's only 88 minutes and I made it all the way through. The big name imported "star" is Craig Ferguson but it's definitely Niagara Falls, Canada. And now, because it's sort of justified by this movie review, here's my photo of Niagara Falls taken from Humble Howard's airplane.
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