Saturday, June 19, 2010

Week in Review: Summer ‘10

I love movies, almost as much as I love books. I remember the very first movie I saw in the theater with my parents: a screening of the classic Gone with the Wind. I don’t remember for sure how old I was, but I’m pretty sure we saw the film in the Alexandria Theater, located across from Kyle’s Funeral Home. The cool thing about that theater was the soundproof room where parents could take their crying babies so they didn’t disturb the other patrons.

After the last couple screenings I’ve been to here in Utah, I would pay extra to have one of those soundproof rooms so I could hear the movie over the whimpering, chattering, and out-right talking I’ve sat through recently—and most of that was from the parents!

Sorry, I stray away from the purpose of this blog. I’m here to tell you about the movies I’ve seen so far this summer. Since I tend to find myself spending a lot of hours during the summer sitting in the local movie theaters, and since I’ve been known to express my opinions on things a time or two, I thought I should share. I’ll be careful not to include spoilers, but I’m also warning you—I WILL be honest.

So far, I’ve seen ten movies. Of those ten, I’ll likely buy eight to add to our home movie collection. The other two, I won’t even rent. One time watching them was painful enough, or at least satisfied my curiosity. So, here we go, starting with the best movie I’ve seen so far in the summer of 2010.

Letters to Juliet. I am a hopeless romantic. I have had a passion for Shakespeare since I first saw Leonard Whiting walk onto the screen as Romeo. I’ve taught Romeo & Juliet now for 31 years, and the biggest regret I have from my trip to Europe was that our train only passed through Verona on our way to Venice. I had heard the story before about the ladies who write letters to Juliet and leave them under her balcony, so the story premise made sense to me from the very beginning, and since Venice was my favorite stop on my own trip, I was absolutely in love with the scenery. Add all of these together with a totally clean and incredibly romantic plot, and Letters to Juliet was a perfect date night movie with my husband. We both loved it, and shed a tear or two in joy.

Toy Story 3. In 1999, my husband and I were blessed to welcome into our home two little boys to be ours forever. Chan was 6 and Kent was 5, and they loved, loved, loved movies (How appropriate in a home like ours where my husband works on film sets, and I write scripts). One of their favorite movies was Toy Story, and one of the first movies we took them to the theater to see was Toy Story 2. Woody and Buzz dominated everything in our house from toys to Halloween costumes, birthday cakes to home video nights for the next couple years. “Reach for the sky” and “Are you mocking me?” became family institutions. Is it any wonder that the boys have been non-too-anxiously awaiting the premiere this weekend? Today we went to see the movie in 3D, and although Tommy and Zach went with us, I don’t think they quite understood why Mom and Dad blubbered like babies toward the end of the film. These characters are indelibly linked to our years with Chan and Kent, and the idea of Andy moving out to go to college struck a chord that soon we would be seeing our own little boys moving on with their lives as adults. Where did those little boys years go?

Shrek Forever After. After a forgettable Shrek the Third, I didn’t think I’d be able to drag my kids to see this one, but Zach and I went and I actually liked it—a lot! Enough that Chan and Kent decided to finally go see it as well, and the consensus is in—they ALL liked it. Maybe because this one takes us back to the beginning and lets viewers see an alternate outcome, what might have been in Shrek had never made it to rescue Fiona in the first place. The humor still shines for both kids and adults, the romance makes sparks fly, and the ending was truly satisfying at saying, at last Shrek feels like it’s over, and that’s okay. Of course, I cried a tear or two at this one as well. Are we seeing a pattern?

The Karate Kid. Okay, I told myself there was no way I was going to see this movie in remake. How could you possibly get better than Ralph Macchio and Pat Morika as Mr. Miyagi? Besides, why would I want to go see Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s spoiled son Jaden in a role he got simply because Mommy and Daddy were the executive producers for the film? Okay, okay, so it also stars Jackie Chan and his comedies always make me laugh, so off I went. And, WOW, was I surprised. I was on the edge of my seat during the final match, terrified that Dre Parker (the new name for the Karate Kid) wouldn’t make it back onto the mat. And Jackie Chan showed a whole new depth to his acting that totally sold me on him being the new Mr. Miyagi (So he was renamed Mr. Han) I LOVED the new version, and, you guessed it, I even cried!

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I’m not a huge fan of video games, and think some of my kids have wasted too many hours of their lives attached to the PS 3, but what the heck, I decided to go see what the screenwriters came up with in their quest to turn a mindless video game scenario into a two hour film, and I liked it! Jake Gyllenhaal was funny, agile, and even a little cute in his role of Dastan.  I had Ben Kingsley pegged from the very beginning, but his acting was, as always, superb. The movie was filled with action, adventure, and humor, and so you won’t be disappointed, yes, I even found a moment to cry.

The A-Team. You know, I was thinking it was my dad who used to watch The A-Team on television then I checked the air dates on IMBD and realized, my dad was already dead by the time the show was on, so The A-Team fan in my house had to have been my MOM! This strikes me as pretty funny, until I consider how much I liked the movie. The cast provide a perfect bridge between the original actors and today’s action, adventure movies. I loved the humor, and I wasn’t offended by any of the violence. I wanted to stand up and cheer at the end, and hoped that someone in Washington would get a clue and hire this group to work for the defense of our country. I can’t remember if there were any tears on this one, but I do know I left the theater hoping there would be a sequel to this one.

Iron Man 2: If I can keep the theme song out of my head long enough so that I can think, I’ll tell you that I did like Iron Man 2. Oh, maybe not as much as Iron Man 1, but enough that I would recommend it. Once again, Robert Downey, Jr. is looking fine, and it’s great to see him holding his life together to make the string of movies he’s been in the past two years. I loved the romantic elements that continue to develop between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. The only negative about this film was that I thought Tony’s health issues got solved a little too quickly and without enough difficult to sustain the angst the audience needed, but hey, what can I say other than there were still a couple of minutes that made me cry!

Marmaduke. I have a ten-year-old son. That’s what got me to the theater to see this movie, based on a cartoon character I once hated, and that’s why I’m so surprised I actually thought the movie was cute. Okay, cheesy romance and gang fights between talking dogs doesn’t make for high quality entertainment, but Owen Wilson and pleasant memories of Marley & Me helped me get past the faults and see the fun. I’m sure Zach will want to own a copy, which means I’ll probably have to sit through at least parts of this one again. At least it won’t be totally painful!

Killers. I loved the premise. Some of the romantic and action scenes between Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl were enjoyable, but there was much to be disappointed in with this one. I usually love Tom Selleck, but I never really connected with   him in this one. The look was wrong, the lines didn’t seem to fit him, and the usual charisma he shows in his other films was simply missing. My biggest complaint was that it seemed like the producers were worried about running out of money and chopped the movie into ill-fitting pieces. The story arc was missing, and the resolution didn’t feel well developed. If they had added another ten minutes after the wedding in the beginning and after the climax in the end, I think the story would have been better crafted and worth seeing again (this time without the giggling grandmas who could hardly contain themselves every time Kutcher was on the screen!) As it stands now, I’m hoping that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz bring me a film that is much better at putting it all together.

Robin Hood. By far the biggest disappointment of the summer. Russell Crowe’s mumbling was rarely understandable. Cate Blanchett was the ugliest Maid Marion I’ve ever seen. If I hadn’t already known the back story, I would have been completely lost for the entire three hour movie (it only seemed like it lasted three days!) And, despite its length, never once did we get around to Robin Hood taking from the rich to give to the poor, seeing the Merry Men as his Merry Men, or ever finding Robin Hood to be the kind of hero I would trust to do anything. Boring, boring, boring, and the only tears I cried were those of joy that this painful movie was finally over.

That’s it for this time. I’m sure I’ll be back soon with another ten movies to review. The calendar is already filling up as we await Knight & Day, Grown Ups, The Last Airbender, Despicable Me, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Inception (my husband worked on this one), Eat Pray Love, The Expendables, and Nanny McPhee Returns.



Who You Gonna Call
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Hi Lu Ann,

On behalf of Summit Entertainment, many thanks for plugging "Letters to Juliet" ... .. thanks also, on behalf of the distributors and producers, for not posting any pirate copies or non-trailer clips of "Letters to Juliet" and, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, previews, then the official trailer is available for fans and bloggers to post / host / share etc at ... .. for further details of on-line promotions for this movie, check-out and, for info on Summit releases generally, check-out the official site and YouTube channel at and

Thanks again for your plug.



Debbie Barr said...

I've seen Toy Story 3... and that's it from the list! I like movies a lot, but I just don't think about going to go see them as often as others do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I really want to see Letters to Juliet now. :)

Sherri said...

LuAnn--you made me want to go sit in a cool, dark place! Can't wait to try a couple of your suggestions. My favorite movie lately has been How To Train Your Dragon (or something close to that).