Margaret Williams
Former Contributor

WRITTEN BY Margaret Williams

Mr. Bean's Holiday

This is just a movie for the fun of it and nothing more. It is a fluff film that doesn’t hurt anyone and certainly portrays Bean doing what he does best; being ridiculous. Mr. Bean’s Holiday doesn’t have the substance to fly off store shelves, but in the midst of everything that is out there, if there ever was a film just to watch as a family, eat popcorn, and laugh, this could be it.

Sicko

The strength of the film Sicko lies in the editing, music, and humorous narration by Moore himself. It is full of intense interviews, saddening life stories, and certainly builds on the frustrations and sympathy for people who have lost their homes and their hope, all because the government won’t step in to regulate the ripping off of citizens by corporations. Sicko is to health care as Supersize Me is to the fast food industry. Moore is asking for the government to realize that, “all men are created equal,” no matter how much medical need they have.

Ratatouille

To date Pixar’s biggest accomplishment is that they always make “real” movies. There is pretending and there is creation, but all of it happens in what-if scenarios of real life. It’s as if they say: this is how the restaurant business works, but what if there was a rat that could cook? John Lasseter needs to get to work, but what if he takes the Porsche instead of the Benz? Pixar has made a formula for success without making movies that are formulaic.

The Reaping

Even though it is promoted as a horror flick and “terrifying”, The Reaping actually and strangely nestles itself somewhere between The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs. If you like your popcorn flicks and using your mind at the same time, this is an indulgence into the horror genre, but if you were expecting to be blown away and tossing for lack of sleep at night, turn back now.

Meet the Robinsons

Time travel is a complex theme to pitch to five-year-olds. To top it off, then there comes the premise of changing the past and altering the future. With Meet the Robinsons there’s just so much information to condense down to a childrens’ level and a shorter non-Peter Jackson time length to fit it into. A Back To the Future for kids, with singing frogs and a dinosaur is going to be hard on Junior if he has ADHD.

Alpha Dog

There’s not a single grammatical reason to use the F-bomb more than twice in one sentence, and these guys are spitting them out like watermelon seeds. If there was some more tweaking on the script side of things these young boys could have looked less like posers and more like gangsters.

The Marine

What doesn't work on the disc is the set of WWE promotional clips. These are shots which range from thirty seconds to a minute long that aired on television during WWE shows to promote the film. That’s fine, but given the repetitiveness of the clips, hitting the Play All option is brutal. These definitely work best spaced out over periods of time and beer. Come to think of it, it’s quite possible the same could be true for the movie as well. Call your local Budweiser representative and ask about home delivery.

The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines

From the beginning of the film the character of Flynn is perfectly set and doesn’t change. He’s cocky but not arrogant, book smart and has common sense, and portrays someone capable of doing all the zany things he does and at the same time physically able to fight off those ever present bad guys and sometimes hippos. While the movie is titled The Librarian, not much of the events of the film take place in the actual library. There’s almost a tongue in cheek humor to the film whereby Flynn’s adventures are suitable training for him to become a great librarian, not just a good one.

Idiocracy

Idiocracy has a lot to offer as far as social commentary goes and Mike Judge keeps up his opinion without pausing to worry about what others will think. That’s what makes him so good. But, unlike his other film and the lasting effect of Office Space and its cast of characters, Idiocracy won’t be so loved and memorable. It’s a good film for the time that it is running, but after the movie is over, it is not so endearing. Idiocracy is definitely a film to watch, but not necessarily a DVD to buy.

Ice Age: The Meltdown

While this sequel is still comical and keeps kids’ and adults’ attention throughout most of the film, it definitely seems this should be the last film of the franchise. Listening to Manny the Mammoth talk about sex is about as uncomfortable as listening to Ray Romano talk about sex. And as great as John Leguizamo is there’s only so much spittle a person can take. While it was nice to see new characters take on the world with the original trio it would be awful to think that with every new movie the core cast would double again.

Edmond

In any other film a slight twist or change in direction for the ending would have been welcome. With Edmond, the surprise ending doesn’t just change directions, it slams on the breaks, kicks you out of the car in the middle of the road, has you run over by a Mack truck and then kidnapped and thrown into the trunk of another car.

A Slight Case of Murder

While I already had an appreciation for Macy, A Slight Case of Murder raises the bar because he doesn’t “star” in movies, he acts out a character to the truest and best of his ability to tell their story, not build his resume. With lines like, “if you're going to commit a murder -- and I don't recommend it -- one thing you should definitely not do is sleep with the investigating officer's wife. It just makes for a lot of unnecessary complications,” you know it’s going to be a great flick.

Manderlay

The film knows it’s about slavery, cruelty to your fellow man, and the difference perspective can make on any situation. While it is addressed somewhat formally, almost stiff at times, Manderlay never once tries to protect the audience. It shows everything without flinching.

United 93

While there isn't a person in this country that doesn't know what happened on September 11, 2001, most of the somber spotlight tends to fall on the collapse and tragedy in the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The other two incidents, the crashing of a plane into the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania crash, often seem to be overlooked.

On A Clear Day

Another aspect that makes Clear Day such a success is the absolute strength of the actors in the film and also the variety of the actors. To be a British independent film doesn’t mean that every character is an older white man with an accent and a cup of tea in his hand. The movie is made more real and true by having characters played by Benedict Wong and Billy Boyd who each present new viewpoints and energy to Frank’s goal.

Annapolis

If someone knows about the Navy and the Brigade boxing beforehand, this is probably a great film. However, if all you know of the Navy is white bellbottoms and all you know of boxing is Mike Tyson’s ear biting event and Million Dollar Baby, chances are you’ll be lost in Annapolis.

Madea's Family Reunion

While the acting for Madea is top notch with an excellent and well balanced cast including heavyweight guest stars like Maya Angelo and Cicely Tyson and of course the extremely funny Madea her(him)self, the trouble is definitely a lack of a specific direction as well as not being originally created for the medium.

Failure to Launch

Too often these types of films have some horrible actor with a British accent doing nothing but fawning on the girl and caring about her feelings, and lets face it, those types of men don’t exist. I’d much rather prefer a film like Failure to Launch where the guys don’t always focus on women because that’s more true to life.

Nanny McPhee

What makes this film great is that where Mary Poppins would have sung the kids into happiness and smiles, Nanny McPhee gives them a taste of their own medicine and then makes them swallow it to see how their current behavior is unwelcome and that everything they do has consequences.

Casanova

The saving grace of the film is that Casanova is meant to be a comedy. If it took itself seriously it would be really horrible. It hits on all those classic setup points that a comedy should be: mistaken identity, love starved virgins, and the great lover that needs to settle down and chose a head strong bride.

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