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Plaza Suite is the breezy 1971 film version of one of Neil Simon's most memorable works, three separate playlets about three different couples occupying the same hotel suite in the famous New York hotel.

George C. Scott and Maureen Stapleton played all three couples in the original Broadway production. Walter Matthau inherits the trio of roles in the film version though Stapleton only appears in the first of the three stories in the film. Stapleton plays a long married woman who rents the suite in order to bring some spice back into her marriage.

In the second story, Matthau plays a lecherous movie star attempting to seduce his number one fan, beautifully played by the criminally underrated Barbara Harris, an actress who always brings more to the role than is in the screenplay.

In the best of the three stories, Matthau and Lee Grant play the parents of a nervous bride who has locked herself in the bathroom hours before her wedding. This segment is definitely the funniest, providing huge laughs, thanks to Simon's zingy one-liners and the professionalism of Matthau and Grant.

Arthur Hiller's energetic direction helps to keep this from being more than just a photographed stage play. Hiller keeps a tight rein on Matthau that allows him to create three distinct characters that all create chemistry with his three leading ladies. Remade for television with Carol Burnett appearing opposite three different leading men.
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Bette Midler had one of her biggest box office hits and her first #1 record ("Wind Beneath my Wings") courtesy of the 1988 comedy-drama Beaches, another variation on a theme, specifically, the female buddy movie, where two people who IRL would probably never be friends, become lifelong friends, but this is a movie.

Directed by Garry Marshall, the story is about two 11-year old girls who meet on the boardwalk of Atlantic City. CC Bloom is a streetwise girl from Brooklyn who wants more than anything in the world to be a star and escape from her suffocating mother. Hillary Whitney is a pampered rich girl whose discontentment with the life that is completely planned for her has her alternately bored to death and screaming on the inside.

Fast forward 20 years or so and the roles of CC and Hillary have now been assumed by Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, respectively. We then watch as the girls battle over the same men, career choices, various forms of jealousy, and ultimately, tragedy.

Marshall's sensitive direction and the surprising chemistry between Midler and Hershey are definite selling points here. Of course, Midler is given several opportunities to sing and makes the most of them. In addition to the aforementioned "Wind Beneath My Wings", mention should also be made of a spectacularly funny production number about the inventor of the brassiere. Midler's brassy performance never overpowers Hershey though, who brings depth to the less showier role here.

John Heard offers one of his best performances as the man who gives CC her first big break and that she and Hillary end up fighting over and Lanie Kazan is hysterically funny as CC's overbearing mom. And yes, that is BLOSSOM's Mayim Bialik playing 11-year old CC.

Based on a novel by Iris Rainer, the screenplay by Mary Agnes Donaghue walks a tight line between comedy and melodrama but never degenerates into total soap opera...this is a vivid and moving story that will tickle the funny bone, tug at the heartstrings, and ignite a tear duct or two. One of the best chick flicks out there.
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Tyler Perry's inexplicably meteoric career rise continues to be an enigma with Why Did I Get Married?, his 2007 comedy-drama that pretty much comes off as a blatant rip-off of the 1984 Alan Alda comedy THE FOUR SEASONS.

Perry has gathered an attractive cast of African American actors together to play four couples who travel to a mountain retreat for an alleged couples seminar that turns into a weekend of ugly accusations, confused loyalties, not-so-surprising revelations, and what Tyler Perry deals in best: tired stereotyped characters.

Perry has the nerve to make these people rich and upwardly mobile with high-powered careers despite the fact that most of the characters don't have a brain in their head. Perry's enormous ego once again casts him center stage as a pediatrician married to a partner in a law firm (Sharon Leal), who had her tubes tied in order to keep babies from getting in the way of her career.

Janet Jackson and Malik Yorba are beyond dull as a couple dealing with the death of a child. Michael Jai White and Tasha Smith are loud and obnoxious as a couple dealing with STD's and an ex that won't go away. Richard T. Jones plays a sexist pig who makes his overweight wife drive to the retreat while he arrives by plane with his mistress. Perry's attempt to present contemporary African Americans just comes off as forced and the stereotyped behavior of some of the characters in the film is just embarrassing.

The only light in all this darkness is a surprisingly charismatic performance from R&B songstress Jill Scott, who lights up the screen as Jones' overweight and insecure wife who eventually finds happiness with a sexy sheriff (Laaman Rucker). There's some nice scenery and the actors try to make the most out of a pedantic screenplay, but the whole thing just smacks of "been there done that."
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The movie that confirmed for me forever what an amazing talent Nicole Kidman is was the 1995 black comedyTo Die For.

This twisted and riveting film has an extremely smart screenplay by Buck Henry and solid direction by Gus Van Sant, but most of all, it has a dazzling, 1000-megawatt starring performance by Nicole Kidman that should have earned her an Oscar nomination. Kidman plays Suzanne Stone, an ambitious, self-absorbed, not-as-bright-as-she-thinks-she is, selfish career-driven woman who marries a nebbish (Matt Dillon)but when he begins to get in her way in her drive to become the next Barbara Walters, she cooks up an elaborate scheme to get him out of the picture.


Van Sant and Henry really knocked it out of the park here...creating the ultimate black comedy centered around a really despicable character, but the character is wrapped in such a sexy and alluring package that you almost don't notice how detestable she really is. The film is shot in documentary style and features interviews with her family and it's really interesting watching Suzanne's sister talk about her...even her own sister comes off as believing her sister was no good and got exactly what she deserved.

Yes, the story smacks of Pamela Smart and many other stories we've all heard but Henry, Van Sant, and Kidman put a delicious gloss on this story that makes it hard to resist. Kidman is brilliant as one of the most cold-hearted yet still sympathetic characters created for the screen. Joaquin Phoenix makes a strong impression as the high school student she talks into murdering her husband and Illeana Douglas is amusing as Dillon's sister. Kudoes also to Dan Hedaya who is chilling as Dillon's father who seeks his own justice regarding his son's murder.

I found this movie riveting from start to finish. it is part of my permanent video collection and I never tire of watching it...a celluloid testament to the acting brilliance of Nicole Kidman. All serious Kidman fans should see this one. [rating]4[/Rating}
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Into the Woods is a musically intricate and enchanting musical from the man who brought us COMPANY,A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC,FOLLIES, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE and SWEENEY TODD.

Sondheim, Broadway's finest lyricist, has once again struck gold with this clever and complex story that incorporates characters from several different classic fairy tales in a mystical blend that might make the Brothers Grimm roll over in their graves but will leave fans of this musical genius clamoring for more.

This musical follows the adventures of a poor Baker and his wife, who want to have a child more than anything and are promised a child by an evil witch, with secrets of her own, if they can bring her Little Red Riding Hood's Cape, Cinderella's slipper, the cow belonging to Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk fame and a lock of Rapunzel's hair and it is their journey into the fairy tale forest to find these items that provides the plot for this delightfully imaginative musical.

As always, Sondheim has provided us with lush melodies and intricate musical arrangements where characters sing on top of each other and it is virtually impossible to catch everything that is being sung, but for us Sondheim-aholics, this is half the fun, requiring careful attention and multiple viewings.

This DVD is a taping of a performance by the original Broadway cast, led by the divine Bernadette Peters as the Witch. Hidden behind heavy makeup for the first act, Peters proves to be a gifted actress as well as the consummate song stylist. Peters stops the show with "Children Will Listen" and "Last Midnight". Joanna Gleason won a Tony for her effervescent turn as the Baker's wife and Chip Zien is beautifully paired with her as the Baker. There are also outstanding supporting performances from Robert Westenberg in two roles as the Wolf and Cinderella's Prince, Danielle Ferland as Little Red Riding Hood, Kim Crosby as Cinderella, and Ben Wright as Jack.

Other musical highlights include "Agony" a funny yet melodic duet between the two princes, "On the Steps of the Palace" sung by Cinderella, "Hello Little Girl", the musical meeting between Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and Gleason's show stopping "Moments in the Woods". A thoroughly original and lushly theatrical musical that provides another testament to the genius that is Stephen Sondheim.
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AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS

Billy Crystal's near brilliant screenplay is the primary star of America's Sweethearts, a breezy and entertaining comedy about a brash ex-press agent (Crystal) who has been assigned to reunite Hollywood's #1 box office team (John Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones)for a press junket for their soon-to-be-released film, even though they have divorced in real life.

Throw into the mix Julia Roberts' as Zeta-Jones' sister/assistant and Hank Azaria as Zeta-Jones' current fiancée and you have the makings of a deft and consistently funny romantic comedy which takes an incisive yet always amusing look into the business of show business and many of the psychos that inhabit it. This is one of those tangled romantic comedies where everyone involved is clearly involved with the wrong people, peppered with a dark and cynical look at the Hollywood machine, this a film that has a little something to entertain and offend everyon.

Billy Crystal's razor-sharp performance is only matched by his equally smart screenplay and the chemistry between Cusack and Zeta-Jones is surprisingly fresh. Roberts makes the most of a thankless role and Azaria is hysterically funny as the foreign fiancée who Crystal struggles to keep on the sidelines until the film is released.

Funny bits are also contributed by Stanley Tucci as a nervous studio head and Christopher Walken as an off-the-wall director who has turned the film into a cinema verite that shines the light on all of the stars' dirty laundry. One of the smartest and most refreshing comedies to hit the screen in years, a winner.
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Amos was a surprisingly effective TV-movie which owes a lot to ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, but stands on its own as competent little shocker. Kirk Douglas, who ironically starred in CUCKOO'S NEST on Broadway, plays the title role here, a cantankerous senior citizen who finds himself committed to a senior citizens facility that is run by an iron-fisted nurse (Elizabeth Montgomery)who Amos suspects is over stepping the bounds of her authority by physically abusing the clients and robbing them of their life savings.

Stanley Gordon West's strong teleplay is an asset,but what makes this film sizzle is the cat and mouse game between Amos and the head nurse, who Montgomery bone-chillingly brings to life in one of her best performances, burying her Samantha Stephens image forever. Strong support is also provided by screen veterans Dorothy McGuire, Pat Morita, and Ray Walston but it is the Emmy-nominated performances by Douglas and Montgomery that are the main selling points here. It's no CUCKOO'S NEST, but it is an entertaining second cousin. 7/10
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License to Wed is a sophomoric and offensive "romantic comedy" that centers around Ben Murphy and Sadie Jones (THE OFFICE's John Krasinski and Mandy Moore), a recently engaged couple who, prior to taking their vows, agree to take a course on marriage being conducted by Jones family friend, Father Frank (Robin Williams), which includes things like classes on carrying the bride across the thresh hold, role playing, animatronic babies, and blindfolded driving lessons.

Pedestrian direction and a screenplay that offends at every turn provide further twists of the knife in this childish and predictable comedy that is an embarrassment to all involved. They lost me when Father Frank actually planted electronic listening devices in Ben and Sadie's home and it just goes downhill from there. John Krasinki's easy going charm almost makes the film worth sitting through, but not quite. Even Williams looks embarrassed to be trapped in this debacle. He must have REALLY needed the money. 3/10
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The late Andy Kaufman was a tortured soul who wanted fame on his own terms and didn't care if others were in on the joke or not.

This seems to be the permeating theme of Man on the Moon, director Milos Foreman's rambling 1999 biopic about the comedian, who would achieve his greatest fame as mechanic Latka Gravas on the ABC series TAXI during the 1970's. This film explores Kaufman's humble beginnings in dingy comedy clubs to his unnerving appearance on the premiere episode of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, his tenure on TAXI and his invasion of the WWF, which ballooned into a full blown feud with WWF wrestler Jerry Lawler.

The film shows Andy's consistent discontent with his success and how no matter what he achieved, it wasn't enough. This purely evidenced in Kaufman's obnoxious alter ego, Tony Clifton, who Kaufman tirelessly worked at creating a separate career for, despite the fact that no one was interested. The film aggravates as we watch Kaufman constantly put up roadblocks to his own success, but also fascinates due to the mesmerizing performance by Jim Carrey in the title role. Carrey channels Kaufman flawlessly, in a performance that's positively spooky in its accuracy and should have earned Carrey an Oscar nomination.

Kaufman, I mean Carrey, gets solid support from Danny DeVito, who plays George Shapiro, Kaufman's agent and Paul Giamatti, who plays Bob Zmuda, Kaufman's co-writer and co-partner in conspiracy and the only one in on all of Kaufman's jokes. Courtney Love's performance as the leading lady is a matter of taste, but it really doesn't matter because this is Jim Carrey's show all the way and he makes the film worth watching.

The film also features appearances by Jerry Lawler, Peter Bonerz as TAXI producer Ed Weinberger and TAXI cast members Judd Hirsch, Jeff Conaway, Marilu Henner, Christopher Lloyd, and Carol Kane. A long but involving look at one of show business' most tragic figures and I'm not completely sure that it's over.
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Marley and Me is a sweet-natured and breezy comedy peppered with equal parts laughter and sentiment which chronicles the lives of John and Jenny Grogan (Owen Wilson, Jennfier Aniston), an upwardly mobile couple, both working as writers, who find their lives forever altered when they adopt an adorable Labrador puppy who they name Marley, "the world's worst dog.".

Marley barks at visitors, cowers during thunderstorms, chews up anything he can get in his mouth, and chases pigeons on the beach, in addition to being the ultimate babe magnet. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it's an entertaining film with plenty of laughs and even a tear or two along the way. Needless to say,p several dogs were actually utilized in telling this story, but the director manages to incorporate the proper animals for the proper moments in Marley's story and you never believe while watching the film that multiple dogs were used.

Wilson and Aniston have a nice chemistry together and there is an effective supporting turn from Alan Arkin as John's boss and best friend. Kathleen Turner also has an amusing cameo as an eccentric dog trainer, but it's Marley's picture all the way, and trust me, you will be in love with this dog by the time the film rolls around to its OLD YELLER-type conclusion. [rating]3[/Rating}
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Mean Girls is the dazzling 2004 black comedy that accurately examines the muddy waters that modern high school students must navigate in attempting to achieve social acceptance among their peers.

Lindsay Lohan stars as Cady Heron, a teen beginning her first year as a public high school student, after being home-schooled her entire life, who becomes friends with Janis and Damian, a pair of bizarre but sincere social outcasts but also finds herself drawn to a venomous clique of Heathers known as The Plastics, the campus Queen Bees, led by the ultra nasty Regina George. When Cady accidentally encounters the Plastics, Janis suggests she try to infiltrate the group as a spy and Cady encounters what appears to be genuine acceptance from the Plastics, and it is Cady's struggle to maintain her friendship with Janis and Damian and the glamorous allure of the Plastics that nearly destroys her first year of public school.

This gutsy black comedy takes the cult classic HEATHERS to a whole new level...the Plastics make the Heathers look like Girl Scouts. Lohan is charming and has a first rate supporting cast behind her, with standout work from Rachel McAdams as the bitchy Regina George, Lacey Chabret as fellow Plastic Gretchen, Tim Meadows as the school's principal, and Lizzy Caplan as Janis.

The real star of this film, however, is the brilliant screenplay by Tina Fey (who also appears in the film as Cady's math teacher), based on a book by Rosalind Wiserman, that takes so many unexpected twists and turns and so accurately pinpoints the teenage female psyche, that complete attention and multiple viewings are required to fully appreciate this complex yet entertaining story. Fey's screenplay should have earned an Oscar nomination.

Mark Walters' imaginative direction of this one-of-a-kind story helps to make this film head and shoulders above the other classics of this genre. A motion picture comedy that requires a little gray matter to fully appreciate its superior quality.
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The 1989 comedy Look Who's Talking was a minor comedy classic that brought Kirstie Alley's TV career to the big screen and revived the careers of writer-director Amy Heckerling and an actor by the name of John Travolta. Travolta has publicly thanked Heckerling for his career renaissance through her decision to cast him in this film, a decision which paid off in spades for this movie and for Travolta's career, which was dead in the water.

The film is the story of Mollie (Alley), a woman who has an affair with her boss (George Segal), which actually results in her getting pregnant. She has the baby and meets cute with a cab driver named James (Travolta) who develops an immediate bond with Mollie's son Mikey as well as falling for Mollie in the process.

The gimmick on which this comic confection so cleverly hangs is the fact that we are let in on all of Mikey's thoughts and emotions, as he is cleverly and delightfully voiced by Bruce Willis. It is especially amusing watching Mikey actually manipulate Mollie into seeing more of James and less of his biological father, who, if the truth be told, really wants nothing to do with the boy. It's a little hard to swallow, initially, the way Mikey senses that his biological father is a jerk and that James is the father that Mikey really wants, but Willis' interpretation of inner Mikey is so ingratiating that you can't help want exactly what Mikey wants.

Olympis Dukakis also has some funny moments as Mollie's mother and her encounters with Mikey are hilarious, as Mike seems to be a little terrified of his grandma. George Segal also scores in the unsympathetic role of Mikey's real dad. Segal's very likable screen persona worked against type to great effect here.

It's safe and predictable but the linchpin of a talking baby makes this film something special. John Travolta also credits Heckerling's casting of him in this film as the beginning of his career renaissance, leading to his casting as Vincent Vega in PULP FICTION. The film also produced two sequels.
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Will Ferrell and his growing rep company provide some of their biggest laughs ever in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, another of Ferrell's sports-oriented comedies that takes a popular American sport and turns it on its ear.

Ferrell plays the title character, an arrogant and dim-witted stock car driver, whose winning philosophy was based on something his father said to him as a child, whose life is altered forever when he has a serious accident and after a lengthy rehab, tries to resume his life and learns that his best friend has moved in with his wife and kids, taken over his career, and has to depend on his long lost father to take his life back.

Ferrell and Adam McKay have concocted one of the smartest and funniest screenplays in comedy history which takes effective pot shots at the stock car driving industry as well as the advertising industry as well. McKay's energized direction is also a big plus, but its Ferrell and his winning cast that really make this one shine.

Ferrell is hysterical, as always, and gets solid comic support from the always reliable John C. Reilly as Cal Naughton, Ricky's best friend who finally takes advantage of his chance to move out of Ricky's shadow, Leslie Bibb as Ricky's gold-digging wife, David Keocher and Michael Clarke Duncan as members of Ricky's pit crew, Jane Lynch as Ricky's mom, and in a performance that comes as close as I have seen anyone to steal a movie from Will Ferrell, Gary Cole as Ricky's derelict Dad, whose training sessions to get Ricky back on the track are hysterical. Sasha Baron Cohen provides some giggles as well in a sexually androgynous variation of his BORAT character.

The film provides solid laughs from beginning to end, especially for Ferrell fans. Check out this comic gem. And make sure you stay tuned through the closing credits.
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Will Ferrell had one of his more realistic characters in Kicking and Screaming, an amusing family comedy in which Ferrell plays Phil Weston, a husband and father with some serious daddy issues, thanks to his overly competitive father (Robert Duvall), who decides to take over as the coach of his son's soccer team when the boy has been benched on his grandfather's team, without even realizing it. As imagined with such a plot set-up, Phil becomes more obsessed with competing with his dad than the one-on-one time with his son that he originally planned on.

This character was a little bit of a departure for Ferrell because he actually plays a realistic and grounded character. Ferrell is a little more subdued than usual here, probably due to Jesse Dylan's tight direction and creates a character that's warm and endearing, though the Ferrell we are accustomed to does shine through here and there, especially during the part of the film where Phil becomes seriously addicted to coffee.

Ferrell get solid support from Kate Walsh as his wife and by Duvall, very funny as Weston's dad, who seems to care more about winning than the love and affection of his own son. However, as incredible as it may seem, this film is effortlessly stolen by former Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka, who is fall on the floor funny playing himself, who lives next door to Phil's dad and has been feuding with him for years and actually ends up siding with Phil in the war between Phil and his father. If someone had ever told me that Mike Ditka would be the funniest aspect of a movie, I never would have believed them.

Doesn't get a lot of points for originality, but it definitely makes up for it in presenting very human characters in comic situations, not to mention some offbeat casting choices that really pay off.
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Some Like it Hot is the 1959 classic that starred Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as Jerry and Joe, respectively, a pair of musicians who find themselves witnesses to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and decide to dress up as women named Daphne and Josephine, and go undercover with an all-female band, in order to avoid the wrath of gangster Spats Colombo (George Raft). Their covers become compromised when Joe falls heavy for the band's lead singer, a curvaceous blonde named Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) and a goofy millionaire (Joe E. Brown) falls madly in love with Jerry's alter-ego Daphne.

The energetic direction of Billy Wilder and the screenplay by Wilder and IAL Diamond are big plusses, but it's the performances of the stars that really make this one shine. Tony Curtis is absolutely charming as he effortlessly channels Cary Grant in Joe's pursuit of Sugar and Monroe is absolutely delicious as the ditzy Sugar, but for me, the best thing about this movie is the performance of Jack Lemmon as Jerry/Daphne. Lemmon makes a complex character (or characters) so funny and engaging, but makes the performance vividly realistic as well, because Lemmon doesn't try to play Daphne. He always plays Jerry pretending to be Daphne and that's what makes the performance so complex to execute and yet such a pleasure to watch. Lemmon's artistry earned him an Oscar nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor and I think the nomination was richly deserved.

Hollywood legend is filled with stories about all of the backstage turmoil involved in the production of this film, particularly involving Monroe, who was arriving to the set late frequently and had a great deal of problems remembering her lines, which apparently ended up being posted all over the set so that she could read them. It's also been well documented that Curtis hated working with Monroe, but none of this shows onscreen.

A director, screenwriter and three great stars at the top of their form here...all filmed in glorious black and white. The film was re-thought as a Broadway musical in 1974 called SUGAR.
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Wayne's World is the 1992 minor classic based on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's most memorable recurring sketches about two rock and rollers who host a cable-access talk show in the basement of one of their homes.

Mike Meyers plays Wayne Campbell and Dana Carvey plays Garth Elgar, co-hosts and best friends who find their world rocked when they are approached by one Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe) to bring their show more exposure by putting it on an actual network and Wayne falls madly in love with the lead singer of a band he sees at he and Garth's favorite hang-out, but she also catches Benjamin's eye. While manipulating Wayne and Garth into changing their show, he also offers to advance the career of the rock singer who Wayne has fallen for.

This laugh-out-loud comedy is, hands down, the most successful transfer of a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE sketch to the screen, thanks to the energetic direction of Penelope Spheeris and a clever screenplay, of which Mike Meyers was one of the contributors, which probably helped to keep the story true to the characters.

Lowe is surprisingly effective as a slimy bad guy and Tia Carrere is an attractive leading lady. The scene in the car where Wayne, Garth, and company lip-sync to "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen is alone worth the price of admission. Needless to say, the film is rich with cameos from former and current at the time SNL cast members. SNL's most memorable recurring characters also produced the best film version of an SNL sketch. Followed by a sequel.
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The Wedding Planner is a 2001 romantic comedy that despite its rampant predictability, still manages to entertain and sustain interest until the long foreseen conclusion.

The film stars Jennifer Lopez as Mary Fiore, the title character, who is so good at her job that she can predict how long a marriage will last by what the couple decide to choose as their song. Mary meets cute with a handsome doctor (Matthew McConaughey) and there is an instant attraction between them that results in them attending a movie together.

Mary then gets a job planning the wedding of a glamorous socialite (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) and guess who turns out to be the groom?

Not big on originality, but the stars do have a certain amount of chemistry and receive solid support from Alex Rocco as Mary's dad, Charles Kimbrough and Joanna Gleason as the parents of the bride, and Judy Greer as Mary's wisecracking best friend, the kind of role that Greer should have a patent on by now.

If you love Lopez or McConaughey, it's definitely worth a look. 6/10
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The ultimate chick flick, 1974's The Way We Were follows Katie Morofsky, a serious-minded college student and radical who works overtime at very liberal political causes that have developed through the turmoil of WWII and though she is the hardest working gal on campus, things don't always go as effortlessly for her as she would like.

Enter into Katie's life a guy named Hubbell Gardner (Robert Redford),a golden boy to whom everything comes easy and who takes life as it comes. Katie and Hubbell meet in college and she is immediately smitten with him, though she tries to fight it. Hubbell admires Katie's spirit, though he doesn't really love her, and from this springs one of the most moving and beautiful love stories ever put on celluloid, ending during the early 1960's.

This movie draws you in immediately because Katie and Hubbell are both people that we can relate to and we understand their feelings for each other from the beginning and even though these people are polar opposites, we want to see them make this relationship work, which is further complicated by their conflicting political convictions. Katie is all about making a difference in the world and Hubbell wants to take things as they come and not quite as seriously as Katie does.

The onscreen chemistry between Streisand and Redford is off the charts and Streisand had to fight hard to get Redford to do the film. He rejected the role after reading the original script and Streisand had re-writes done immediately in order to beef up Hubbell's role.

Pollack's sensitive direction and effective support from Bradford Dillman, Patrick O'Neal, and Viveca Lindfors also deserve mention here, but it is the magic chemistry generated by Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford that made this movie the instant classic it became. Needless to say, the classic Oscar winning theme song, flawlessly performed by Streisand, didn't hurt.
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One of my favorite put-your-brain-in-check-and-enjoy popcorn movies is the 1996 adventure Twister with Bill Paxton as a former tornado chaser getting ready to remarry and become a weatherman who confronts his ex-wife (Helen Hunt) to get her to sign the divorce papers, who is still chasing tornados (she lost her father in a tornado when she was a child), but before she can sign the divorce papers, a major tornado hits the area and Paxton finds himself drawn back into his former gang of storm chasers who never seemed to have received the memo that Paxtn's character has stopped storm chasing.

De Bont demonstrates a real talent for creating viable action sequences, with the aid of a crack special-effects team, creating some vivid and exciting tornado sequences, the scene where a tornado tears apart a drive in movie theater is spectacular as is the final storm that traps Paxton and Hunt, alone but together, fighting to survive. The film is full f storm violence that provide a perfect balance of action and humor, while Hunt and Paxton actually create a viable balance that puts a human love story on top of a roller coaster of an adventure.

Hunt and Paxton are well-supported by Lois Smith as Hunt's Aunt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as one of their storm-chasers. The film is a guilty pleasure for me because it requires no thought or real attention to story detail. If you're a fan of mindless action, have your fill here.
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Robert Duvall was given the role of a lifetime and ran with it in the riveting, 1983 drama Tender Mercies.

Duvall won an Oscar for Outstanding Lead Actor for his performance as Mac Sledge, a country and western singer/songwriter, whose career is pretty much a thing of the past, who, after a very bad drunken stupor in a rundown motel, tries to start his life over again with the proprietress of the motel, a widow with a young son.

Duvall, who had made a career out of being one of the best character actors in the business, proved that he had the talent to carry a film by himself creating a character who is simultaneously likable and heartbreaking. Tess Harper makes a strong impression as Rosa Lee, the new woman in Mac's life and Allen Hubbard is adorable as her son, Sonny. Betty Buckley has some strong moments as Mac's ex-wife, also a country singer, whose career is still solid and has made it her mission in life to keep Mac and his daughter apart. Ellen Barkin made one of her earliest film appearances as Mac's daughter who he hasn't seen since she was a baby.

Mac's reunion with his daughter is deeply moving and one of the film's lovliest moments comes when she asks Mac about a song he used to sing to her and he says he doesn't remember and then goes to the window and sings it the moment she leaves. This moment makes me cry every time I watch the film.

Director Bruce Beresford treats Horton Foote's Oscar winning screenplay with a loving hand and he exterts just enough control over the actors that all the characters, especially Mac Sledge, are flawed and beautifully human, making for a compelling drama told on an intimate canvas.
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