Valentine’s Double Feature: Candy Jar (2018) & Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (2011)

Day 2 of Valentine’s Marathon is here and this double feature is C & D selection from Netflix alphabet. This time, we are looking at Netflix film Candy Jar released last year. For the next one is a 2011 Hong Kong International Film Festival opening film  Don’t Go Breaking My Heart starring two Hong Kong heartthrobs, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu. Its already looking up from the starting double feature yesterday!

Let’s check it out!

Candy Jar (2018)

Candy Jar

Director: Ben Shelton

Cast: Jacob Latimore, Sami Gayle, Helen Hunt, Christina Hendricks, Uzo Aduba

Dueling high school debate champs who are at odds on just about everything forge ahead with ambitious plans to get into the colleges of their dreams. – IMDB

Candy Jar is really very borderline teen romance. Its more of a coming of age with some little romance of debate enemies with social status differences as well that end up finding their true meaning together and start falling for each other. There’s some chemistry there but the movie has these heavy debate moments which just keeps repeating over and over again in a rather unnecessary means. I think it was to emphasis the debate process of talking extremely fast that they are like robot and losing the meaning of living and experiencing human emotions. Candy Jar is a pretty average film. Its harmless in its story and has a rather positive message of being true to yourself and living with life’s inevitable wins and losses because sometimes something else is around the corner waiting for you and plans change. “Sometimes we lose” is something that these two learn throughout.

While I can’t say that the chemistry between these two was outstanding but they did have their good bits that worked with me. What I liked was seeing the friendship that they found between themselves when they lost someone equally important to them. It lead them to find their similarities more than their differences. With that said, Helen Hunt does a cameo supporting role of sorts and I really liked seeing her here even if it was a huge role. Although, I’m still scratching my head on why its called Candy Jar other than the fact that candy shows up a lot here.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (2011)

Don't Go Breaking My Heart

Director: Johnnie To

Cast: Louis Koo, Yuanyuan Gao, Daniel Wu, Suet Lam

An original twist on an eternal triangle, where secret crush and unrequited love take on altogether newfangled meanings of their own. – IMDB

Never in a million years would I have thought Johnnie To would direct a romantic comedy. I’m not sure what skills it takes to do it because I’m not a director however as silly as some of this movie, because that is just how Hong Kong romantic comedy likes to do it, there’s this charm to this film that I love. I could be because I personally have been fans of Louis Koo and Daniel Wu since forever. I mean, I’ve almost felt like I’ve watched both of them since the beginning of their acting careers so its hard to not really love how they have grown as actors. However, I’ve never seen Yuanyuan Gao before although I love her style and how she interpreted this character. This movie is a really coming together of Hong Kong and China as the conversation is both in Mandarin and Cantonese and I like how it does that because some films will choose to dub, which almost never a fun movie experience. Plus, I applaud the movie how it give both the male leads their time in the movie, making it less conventional as a love triangle while still giving the ending a unconventional ending as well (at least it went the opposite of what I thought would happen and that made me happy because the female lead finally chose the guy I thought she should choose).

As much as I love Hong Kong film and know their little quirks and signatures that people like to lean towards in their plot lines, its always nice to see the attempt of something different. There are some huge romantic gestures here and some core romance values which is talked about here and the leads have chemistry in both their ways but the story does sometimes feel disjointed. There’s still some fun qualities out of this one that works for myself especially because it keeps its cast very tight so we can connect with these three leads.

That’s it for this Valentine’s Double Feature with C&D selection!
Have you seen any of these movies? Thoughts?

Christmas 2018: The Holiday Calendar (2018)

The Holiday Calendar (2018)

The Holiday Calendar

Director: Bradley Walsh

Cast: Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, Ron Cephas Jones, Genelle Williams, Ali Hassan, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll

A struggling but talented photographer inherits an antique holiday advent calendar, the contents of which seem to predict the future. Will this magical calendar lead her to love this holiday season? – IMDB

I’m going to be honest that I really only gave this one a chance because I really like Kat Graham in The Vampire Diaries. However, I wasn’t as much of a fan of her in Honey 2 so while I don’t know what The Holiday Calendar was about, I decided to take a chance anyways. I do want to say that on one side, I did work for what it was trying to deliver but if you really don’t have much tolerance for these kind of Hallmark films, then it might not be for you. I’m just going to lay it out so you don’t waste your time. I say this because The Holiday Calendar does nothing special. Everything you predict will probably happen right down to who she ends up being with in the end and even how she pieces together the “magic” calendar to the things she missed to leading her to the one. However, while being predictable isn’t particularly a good thing, there is enough fun bits here to make it enjoyable. Its heartwarming and talks about family and dreams and careers and taking chances and not just romance.

The Holiday Calendar

While the antique calendar itself has something of a spirit here in the background with a lot of presence because the film flows with what pops up in the window everyday, the movie does benefit a lot from Kat Graham who does a great job as Abby, a girl who is stuck at a day job that pays her bills but scared to live her own dreams. There’s this really fun element to her character and her friendship with Josh (Quincy Jones) has a lot of sweet moments to it also. Surprisingly, the parts that I liked the best are the ones where Abby talks to her grandfather because there is a lot of genuine and good bits to it all. The family moments and the picture moments and those bits also add to the experience.

The only thing I did feel about The Holiday Calendar is that there is this turning point moment in the middle which felt kind of awkward. It was this weird epiphany moment that kind of felt out of spot but it didn’t really last too long before things got back on track. If you like Hallmark holiday films, this one is pretty alright. Its pretty predictable but also has a nice heartwarming element and emphasizes on more than romance but also on family moments and a lot of Christmas-y moments.

Double Feature: The Kissing Booth (2018) & Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018)

And we’re back with another Double Feature.

Let’s be clear that I originally wanted to do individual posts for each of these movies but one of these  is one, I really didn’t want to put to much time into writing up as I wasn’t a huge fan of it in the first place. Spoiler alert for my own views I guess. You can decide for yourselves which. Either way, both of them are Netflix Original, both films set in high school so they pair up really well also.

Let’s check it out!

The Kissing Booth (2018)

the kissing booth

Director (& screenplay): Vince Marcello

Cast: Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Carson White, Molly Ringwald

A high school student is forced to confront her secret crush at a kissing booth. – IMDB

I’m going to get straight to the point that I’m not a big fan of this movie. There’s a lot of stuff that didn’t work for me. The romance didn’t really work. The humor was a tad silly and at times dumb. There was a lot of ridiculous bits and I don’t know, it just didn’t really have much depth to it. Maybe it has to be the fact that I’m not the target audience. I still remember watching Joey King in Ramona and Beezus when she was younger and loving that one. This one just felt very been there done that aka predictable. There are some cute parts here and there but nothing that really connected with me.

The Kissing Booth

However, the one redeeming point of this film is the friendship between Elle (Joey King) and Lee (Joel Courtney) at least until a certain point. In some ways, this movie reminded me of a flip side of The Edge of Seventeen (review), a movie that is very much more superior to this one. Other than that, these two bond over dancing on the dance machine at the arcades and that is just super cool.

Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018)

Sierra Burgess is a Loser

Director: Ian Samuels

Cast: Shannon Purser, Kristine Froseth, Noah Centineo, RJ Cyler, Loretta Devine, Lea Thompson, Alan Ruck

A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected romance when the most popular girl in high school and the biggest loser must come together to win over their crushes. – IMDB

Sierra Burgess is a Loser is one of those films that I wanted to watch the moment that it was announced. Whether its because I like Shannon Purser and the fact that I gained a liking for Noah Centineo lately, or simply the catchy title and the great premise is just all up my alley. The deal is, as much as this is somewhat of a teen romance between Sierra (Shannon Purser) and Jamey (Noah Centineo) and there are some seriously sweet parts between and cute little moments, even the catfishing bits were a lot of fun, there’s something else that shines out here and that is the emphasis on the friendship.

Sierra Burgess is a Loser

This story’s strength is in the teen coming of age for Sierra Burgess to know her worth and not questioning her worth because we can see how she was a lot more confident in the beginning and losing it as she started comparing herself when she started falling for Jamey. On the other hand, its in the friendship between Sierra and Veronica (Kristine Froseth), which I thought were actually the superior moments because its equally a film about the popular girl realizing there is more than these rather shallow things that she thought was so important. Their friendship helped both of them grow in some ways and to look at themselves in a different way.

With that said, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is a really good film. There’s so much strength in seeing friendships between girls and the support for each other especially in this friendship. I strikes a good balance between finding time to give depth to its characters and letting them grow.

Double Feature: Blade Runner 2049 (2017) & Set It Up (2018)

There isn’t really much of a correlation to this pairing. But they have been sitting in the background for a bit too long so I’m just going to get this done and over with!

Blade Runner 2049 started solely because my husband is a huge fan of Blade Runner, like many people are. I however have never managed to finish the first film for a myriad of questions however, since I did rent this one, I decided to give it a go anyways. As for Set It Up, I like romantic comedies, more the older stuff than the new stuff because most of the new ones are quite lackluster with perhaps a few exceptions which I mostly haven’t had a chance to see. However, this one got some good reviews so I was motivated to see it. Netflix Originals particularly for film has been a somewhat hit and miss department so we’ll see how it goes.

Let’s check out this double feature!

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Sylvia Hoeks

A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years. – IMDB

Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel and I’m guessing because of the space between the first movie’s release until 2017, they actually put in a lot of backstory to help support it. I like this because it encourages people to go into this movie and not feel lost. Nothing sucks more than going into a movie and feeling like you just stepped in the middle of a party where you know no one and just interrupted everything in the process (I’m looking at you Star Wars: The Force Awakens). For that, I am immensely grateful. For the record, I like Blade Runner 2049 a lot. The cinematography is beautiful and the characters are intriguing. There is so much depth to the story, the world and its characters and a well-developed plot. Its a little slow in spots. I’m also guessing that for fans of the movie, it would hold much more meaning and depth but as a newcomer to this world, it still was a great experience. There were some twists and some disturbing moments and the soundtrack is also outstanding. Ryan Gosling is fantastic and I love Ana de Armas as Joi. Jared Leto as the bad guy worked really well.

Blade Runner 2049

I’m not going to lie that I don’t feel very connected to the film and I didn’t go afterwards and psychoanalysis it either. I liked the movie for what it was and there is a lot to like about it. For once, it did make me feel like finding some time, boiling up a pot of tea and just getting through Blade Runner once and for all.

Set It Up (2018)

Set It up

Director: Claire Scanlon

Cast: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Joan Smalls, Meredith Hagner, Pete Davidson, Jon Rudnitsky, Tituss Burgess

Two corporate executive assistants hatch a plan to match-make their two bosses. – IMDB

As I mentioned before, romantic comedies have been slim picking of late. Luckily, Set It Up offers some great fun! The main thing goes to creating great chemistry between Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell who play Harper and Charlie respectively and are the two executive assistants. There are some incredibly over the top moments giving it some sort of The Devil Wears Prada with their unforgiving bosses who just demand so much and lack sensitivity. Don’t get me wrong though. Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs do a great job at being said bosses, granted they are slotted into supporting roles. Its a lot of fun to watch and dial in a lot of comedy which works for its premise. The romance part like I said before has a lot of chemistry behind it. There are some tropes as most romantic comedies do but somehow it keeps it really natural.

Set It Up 2018

I had my worries and doubts before getting into this one but I ended up watching it a second time the next day, which usually is a great sign! When romantic comedies truly hit me hard and I feel the chemistry and truly connect with the couple, its a sign that I know that they’ve delivered their part. Its been a long time romcoms, its great to see a comeback with this one. I foresee myself watching this one again very soon.

And that wraps up this double feature!
I know that I kept it fairly short, but its what I had originally intended for these double features.
Plus, there wasn’t much to criticize. I honestly thought both of these films did a pretty good job and I enjoyed it both (which is getting rare).

Have you seen these films? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Marathon: I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)

I love Michelle Pfeiffer (and Meg Ryan) a lot and for those reasons, I always try to work in their movies into my schedule as much as I can. Its absolutely slim pickings on Netflix for these movies but we do have two right now that just popped up again. In the heart of a romantic comedy, I decided to check out I Could Never Be Your Woman. I have never heard of this movie before so I know very little about what to expect or what its all about. Still, its Michelle Pfeiffer and when the film started, there’s a very young Saoirse Ronan as well, so I think this movie is already looking up.

I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)

I Could Never Be Your Woman

Director (and writer): Amy Heckerling

Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Saoirse Ronan, Paul Rudd, Stacey Dash, Fred Willard, Jon Lovitz, Tracey Ullman

A mother falls for a younger man while her daughter falls in love for the first time. Mother Nature messes with their fates. – IMDB

I Could Never Be Your Woman is an odd movie. Odd doesn’t mean that it wasn’t entertaining but rather that I can’t quite pinpoint how I feel about it. On one hand, it ticks the typical romantic comedy sort of story and feels a little like a partial Clueless reunion tour with Stacey Dash and Paul Rudd doing the high school things since Amy Heckerling did write and direct this movie. The movie feels like the other side of the camera of Clueless if anything. None of these things are bad things. Clueless is a fun movie and remains that way even if its dialogue and fashion is dated so in some ways, this makes this one feel slightly nostalgic levels. My only issue with it was really some over the top scenes that seem fairly ridiculous and made myself feel kind of embarassed to watching it happen. Maybe that was the film’s intention, who knows, right?

I Could Never be Your Woman

In terms of characters and performances, the cast here does a great job. I mean, we have a winning cast in Michelle Pfeiffer, Paul Rudd and Saoirse Ronan. Its funny to talk about Paul Rudd because over the years, he has done some good stuff but when you ask me what, I only remember very few of it. Here, he delivers on his role and is quite fun to watch, especially when he does all his silly things to make the woman he likes smile. He has some boyish charm that seems to not fade away since his Clueless days. Playing opposite him is Michelle Pfeiffer as Rosie, a divorced mom who is the writer of this high school series with dropping viewership and trying to fight through her feelings against falling for this young guy. In many ways, Michelle Pfeiffer is always great for this role because you can see that she still is beautiful and charming no matter the age difference here. While I think the issue here is that I felt like the characters themselves were decent but as a romantic comedy, it did lack a bit of chemistry. If you were to watch this for its funny moments, well, there is a lot of those.

I could never be your woman

However, my favorite part of this was Saoirse Ronan who debuts in a movie role and it is so obvious how talented she is. She plays as Rosie’s 13 year old daughter, Izzie who is believes she is falling in love with a boy in school and trying to get his attention. She is genuine and believable and so creative. She reminded me deeply of how it was to be in some silly high school crush back in my high school days and going through the phase of making everything feel more significant than it should. Of course, part of the best parts is watching her change the lyrics of two 90s pop songs and its both brilliant and awesome. Izzie is way ahead of her time and in the world of learning about loving this boy, Dylan who seems not worth her time, there are some valuable lessons here, even if its about loving who you are and believing that you are good enough. It was an fun experience to watch Rosie and Izzie’s mother and daughter relationship here as they each go through their first step into love both in different stages of life.

i could never be your woman

Overall, I Could Never Be Your Woman is a fun and silly romantic comedy. It falls a little flat on the romance department but has enough comedic moments to make up for it. Its just some simple harmless fun with a great cast who delivers on their performances, regardless if its Paul Rudd and his boyish charms or Michelle Pfeiffer and her elegant wit and especially the Saoirse Ronan, who proves that she was talented right from her debut role here that she’s made for success. While I can’t quite pinpoint the Mother Nature angle, played by Tracey Ullman, that it started with, it still brought in some nice banter and humor.

Valentine’s Marathon: Splash (1984)

Sorry for taking a little while to get back to the Valentine’s Marathon.

The next movie is Splash! Ultimate 70s blogathon has just started up and as I go and rewatch my 70s choice, I was thinking about last year’s blogathon and a few movies that someone else chose and I hadn’t seen. Luckily Splash landed on Netflix recently so I got a chance to check it out.

Let’s check it out!

Splash (1984)

splash

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dody Goodman

A young man is reunited with a mermaid who saves him from drowning as a boy and falls in love not knowing who/what she is. – IMDB

I think about this movie and I start wondering about how I’ve never actually disliked Tom Hanks, in fact, I usually like a lot of his films but then, I also never seem to watch a lot of them or do I make any deliberate move to see his films and then they always turn out to be surprisingly entertaining (or of late, quite grim and intense like Bridge of Spies). I have been meaning to catch up with a lot of older movies of late and Splash is just the start of it all. Splash is a fun little movie, in fact I think that it was fun mostly because I love movies like this where someone who doesn’t understand the human world enters it and then learns about it and in turn does a lot of funny things. Do I think that the romance between the two characters were incredibly unforgettable? I wouldn’t say that but the journey through it was fun enough and it had a lot to do with what was scripted for the mermaid here to do.

splash

Taking a look at the cast here, its a pretty nice one. For one, I always liked to watch older Tom Hanks movies because they were more light-hearted and much more fun to dive into. Splash is absolutely no exception as he plays Allen, a man who honestly doesn’t really know much about loving someone but somehow this unknown beautiful creature that is incredibly forward pops up in his life and suddenly, even her weirdest things makes him curious and feel love. In that sense, both Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah give off really fun and genuine performances for their characters. There were awkward and funny moments and that was really where all the charm was. I’m going to say right now that I don’t think I’ve actually seen John Candy in anything until this movie and his role wasn’t really significant but he’s a fun character and same goes for Eugene Levy as Walter Kornbluth who tries to prove the existence of mermaids in any way possible, many times making a fool out of himself.

Overall, I don’t really have a lot of thoughts on Splash. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and had a lot of fun watching it. The love story was pretty cute but the comedy here definitely stood out more than the romance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that since its some fun comedy and that works well for my preferences. I actually thought that the mermaid here worked so well. It was pretty believable and not to mention the star here does go to Daryl Hannah in her role as Madison who has some really hilarious scripted parts.

Valentine’s Marathon: What If (original title: The F Word, 2013)

And we are finally here! The first random movie to kick off the Valentine’s Marathon is a romantic comedy. I have honestly taken a huge break from these the last few years mostly because a lot of them didn’t seem that appealing. However, Daniel Radcliffe post-Harry Potter phase and the lovely Zoe Kazan sounds like a fun time. So here we are!

Lets check it out!

What If (aka The F Word) (2013)

Director: Michael Dowse

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan , Adam Driver, Megan Park, MacKenzie Davis, Rafe Spall

Wallace, who is burned out from a string of failed relationships, forms an instant bond with Chantry, who lives with her longtime boyfriend. Together, they puzzle out what it means if your best friend is also the love of your life. –IMDB

What If is adapted from a play called Toothpastes and  Cigars. Honestly, I’ve never heard of the original source material so obviously, I have nothing to compare to. With that said, the original title of The F Word seems to be more fitting for this story because we do spend a lot of time with Chantry and Wallace as really good friends. But then, I guess What If works on the level like the all time question, “What If  *insert good friend’s name* was my boyfriend or girlfriend?”  The story itself being a romantic comedy and all, is somewhat familiar and if you are looking for some breakthrough unpredictable story, then you probably aren’t looking for that. However, if you are like myself who enjoys a fun little romantic comedy, What If does deliver on it because of its fun and sharp dialogue between the characters which brings me back to something like why I love Gilmore Girls so much along with a lovely chemistry between the two main characters. There are some annoying parts in What If and we’ll talk about that as well. Plus, the setting is in Toronto. I love Toronto and go visit it at least once each year and always have a great time so let’s say I’m slightly biased as well.

what if 2013

With that said, the setting being as charming as it is, the true bright light of What If is its two main characters. Zoe Kazan has caught my eye since I saw her in In Your Eyes (Review) which is probably one of my favorite movies that I watch at least once a year. She’s very natural in her roles and in this one as Chantry, she’s incredibly charming and silly to watch. Its easy to fall in love with her character. Opposite her is Daniel Radcliffe who plays Wallace. I’m going to admit that post Harry-Potter Daniel Radcliffe, there’s only been one film that I saw and that’s The Woman in Black (review). The fact that I’m a decent fan of Harry Potter even if the movie adaptations at times did fall short from the novels themselves, it really is hard to break away that image. However, something about him playing Wallace seems to work quite well here. Maybe its the weirdness he has or just having the right person to act with. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan bring Wallace and Chantry to life especially when paired up with their fun dialogue back and forth with random responses that truly are quite amusing. Most romantic comedies start off with characters that loathe each other and then see another side and then realize they fell in love with each other (most rom com scenarios, there are exceptions, I know), but this one builds them up as really good friends first and I think that is much more realistic.

What If 2013

Adam Driver, aka all you Star Wars fans’ Kylo Ren, was in What If as one of his roles. Putting Star Wars aside and whether you think he’s adequate as Kylo Ren, he plays Allan, the cousin of Chantry and something like a good friend of Wallace. He gives some good and bad advice and has this somewhat of a sleazy goofball sort of expert thing going on here as Wallace is more of a closed and introvert guy who needs a bit of guidance due to his many failed relationships in the past. While some parts worked, I wasn’t a huge fan of the character here. A few of the things felt so over the top that it seemed to break out from the friendship/relationship between Chantry and Wallace that felt quite believable and grounded. I know that a lot of the character of Allan and his girlfriend, Nicole (played by Mackenzie Davis) was meant to be funny however, it felt much less sophisticated that seemed to throw off the balance a little. Like I always say, humor is subjective.

With that said, What If is one of those romantic comedies that I really did enjoy. Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe really give some great performances that cancel out the negative things I felt about the film. A pleasant surprise is always a great way to start a marathon.

Christmas Belle (2013)

Next up in the holidays movie marathon is Christmas Belle. Its something of a modernized holiday spinoff of Beauty and the Beast which as some of you know, I’m a huge fan of twisting fairy tales. Cinderella and Snow White are two very popular properties that get the spinoff treatment but I have yet to see Beauty and the Beast (except for Beastly which was okay…I think). With that said, Christmas Belle falls into my soft spot so it already has some points before we start.

Let’s check it out!

Christmas Belle (2013)

Christmas Belle

Director: Alex Wright

Cast: Haylie Duff, Nicholas Gonzalez, Mark Famiglietti, C. Thomas Howell, Sheree J. Wilson, Jerry Hauck

IMDB didn’t really have a decent synopsis so here’s my version: Isabella Everhart is sent by her father to document the Lowell estate passed down to Hunter Lowell. Hunter Lowell is a grumpy guy with a lot on his mind and rudely rejects Belle’s appearance however due to his urgency to get everything done before Christmas, reluctantly accepts the arrangement. He is hard to approach and while Belle enjoys this job and the library full of rare books and gets to know the housekeeper Angie very well, her eagerness to prepare the house for the estate sale gets her in trouble when she rearranges a room she isn’t allowed into. However, this breaks the ice a little between her and Hunter as he tries to make amends to her for his behavior. As they know each other more, they become closer and its here that long time friend Tony enters the town with her father to show his love for her with big gestures and a few lies.

Christmas Belle

Christmas Belle plays along with the Beauty and the Beast plot line quite closely. Of course, while Hunter is not called The Beast and his dog is, it somehow hints that Beast growing a fondness for Belle is an overshadow of what is to happen, which to be honest, we all already know the ending. However, regardless of that, Hayliee Duff and Nicholas Gonzalez has a lot of chemistry as their relationship gets closer. It still lacks some depth and feels a little disjointed but they are incredibly charming together and its hard to not fall in love with the genuine feelings between them. Of course, Tony (played by Mark Famiglietti) shows up and tries to break them apart and its here that my frustration for Hunter shows that I have bonded with him because his easiness to believe lies becomes quite irritating as many male romance films tend to build them that way where they falter when doubted and stop believing the girl that they know more and not this bozo that shows up claiming things. Who do you trust, right? Its pretty obvious but it never happens that way. Of course, its the conflict that they need to resolve to get their happy ending. To be fair, its expected and I did enjoy a lot of this whole going on because bonding with Belle and Hunter was part of the deal to hoping they will get together (even if this is one of those movies that it will happen).

Christmas Belle

With that said, Christmas Belle does have some issues. Lets start with something good that leads to something bad. The good part is that the setting of the estate is absolutely beautiful. Its a mansion with a beautiful interior decorating and the land around it is a vineyard with a lovely barn and a covered bridge. Its picturesque. The town itself is wonderful as well being homey and charming. However, the direction of the film wants to make it more dramatic than it is or just that they had an obsession with the score. With that came segments of showing a shirtless Nicholas Gonzalez doing his morning run two or three times to some orchestral music which was slightly unnecessary and over the top. There were other scenes that were more fitting like lens flares on Christmas lights in a decorating scene with some nice orchestral music as well that worked better. However, the score was so loved that in one part it actually overpowered the dialogue between Belle and Hunter.

Overall, Christmas Belle had a little bit of good and bad. It could have used with a less of flaunting the score and overdoing it. Some scenes felt downright unnecessary. At the same time, the source material works for a Christmas theme. Haylie Duff and Nicholas Gonzalez both do a great job as Belle and Hunter and are completely believable as the leading couple here to root for. There are some over the top sappy dialogue but it stay nice and fluffy and the feel good factor here is pretty decent. Although there’s one part that Belle threatens to punch Tony and I wish she did but I think these movies have something about not having violence and foul language so probably thats why it didn’t happen. Still, its a little average but relatively enjoyable.

Double Feature: Astro Boy (2009) & When in Rome (2010)

And we’re back with another double feature!

In the neverending quest to catch up with Netflix and diminish the outstanding titles on my Netflix list before they vanish from selection, I’ve decided to choose movies primarily already on the list whenever I watch something which lead me to trying out a new way than the normal alphabetical approach and that’s to choose a common factor between films, mostly director or actor/actress in whichever role. I honestly don’t know how long this can go for but from the preliminary test, I have at least 20 movies drafted in so we’re in for a ride. I’m liking this new way as it gives variety.

This time will be a lovely Kristen Bell double feature with Astro Boy and When in Rome!

Astro Boy (2009)

Astro Boy

Director: David Bowers

Voice Cast: Freddie Highmore, Charlize Theron, Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Kristen Bell

When an android replica of a boy is rejected by his aggrieved creator, he goes off to find his own identity in an adventure that would make him the greatest hero of his time. –IMDB

While I can’t hate on animated films. Astro Boy really is quite average. Back when this was announced, I had my doubts and I was also travelling when it came out so I never caught it in theatres. A lot of the story here is quite generic and its not very exciting. However, the art is quite nice plus the world is very pretty with lots of colors. The characters are brought alive by its immense talent behind the voices. Kristen Bell does a great job but we also have Bill Nighy as the scientist and Nicolas Cage as the dad and of course, Donald Sutherland as the villain. During that time, Freddie Highmore had a lot of these kid roles and he does a fantastic job as Astro Boy. It may be average but in all its generic and predictable moments, it still has a few decent fun and funny moments.

 

With that said, Astro Boy could be a fun movie for a younger audience. It has a lot of science-y fun and brave kids and takes in the parents angle. Plus, its not terribly long running at about 90 minutes which is always nice because it keeps the pacing decent.

When in Rome (2010)

When in Rome

Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Cast: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Danny DeVito, Dax Shepherd, Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Alexis Dziena, Kate Micucci

Beth is a young, ambitious New Yorker who is completely unlucky in love. However, on a whirlwind trip to Rome, she impulsively steals some coins from a reputed fountain of love, and is then aggressively pursued by a band of suitors. – IMDB

I’m pretty forgiving with romantic comedies. They are really just silly and funny sometimes. There has been widely a shortage of good ones and When in Rome honestly doesn’t do much for itself. Its quite ridiculous in parts and I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes at everything. However, When in Rome has some charming characters. Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel are incredibly fun to watch together and separate. The premise is really where things are a little odd and shaky. Just take a look at the cast, Danny DeVito, Dax Shepherd, Will Arnett are all fantastic as the enchanted lovers chasing after Kristen Bell and they offer some pretty comedic moments. Its always a good time to watch Dax Shepherd and Kristen Bell as they always do these roles and can get the whole not into each other thing really well. When in Rome just seems like it doesn’t have anything special about it other than its charming cast. But then, you can always watch this charming cast in other movies they’ve done better roles for making this one seem not so appealing.

Overall, Astro Boy and When in Rome fall in the very average range. I’m still a fan of Kristen Bell and its definitely not her issues that makes for the downfalls of these two selections.

Have you seen Astro Boy and/or When in Rome?
What is your favorite Kristen Bell film?