Tag Archives: Erin 4 Stars

Dan In Real Life (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 3.5 Stars)

There are great movies, there are bad movies and then, somewhere in the middle, there are movies like Dan In Real Life.

With Steve Carrell in the lead role, the story of a widower raising three girls (the middle of which might actually be Satan) and falling for a stranger in a book store only to find out (SPOILER) that it’s his brother’s girlfriend makes for a cute film.

Presumably, the movie is based on what director Peter Hedges perceives to be real life with the plot centralizing on Dan whisking his girls away on their annual trip to help his parents and the rest of his family close up their summer cabin for the season.

Along the way they do quirky things like put on a talent show, engage in a battle-of-the-sexes crossword puzzle and make pancakes for one another. The audience is made to believe these are annual rituals. It’s all very quaint, but, as we wondered in the review, do any families actually do this? It seems that after more than a handful of days together, most families would wind up killing each other off one-by-one in a Hunger Games sort of way.

For the love of Christ, one of them is Dane Cook (with the douchiness turned up to 11)! You are telling us that no one would have tried to murder him with a shovel after the first meal?

Beat him to death with it, Steve! He’s practically begging for it!

The role of Dan (I’m not really sure we ever get a last name, maybe it’s “In Real Life” ?) suits Carrell well, but despite a strong start with Binoche, the chemistry seems to fade as the movie progresses. Coincidentally, Amy Ryan is also in this film in a small role. Perhaps best known as  The Office’s Holly Flax, Ryan and Carrell would go on to share incredible chemistry in the show and it makes you wonder if the movie would have been better if it were her playing Binoche’s role. A similar question could be asked of the Cook role, actually, so maybe it was just the casting of the movie that drove Bret nuts.

In the end, it is Dan’s relationships with his daughters and, to a lesser degree, his parents, that form the heart of the movie and make it enjoyable.

There are worse movies than Dan In Real Life and, if you are a Carrell fan as Bret and Erin are, it is fun film, netting four stars from Erin and 3.5 from Bret.

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Center Stage (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 2 Stars)

You are probably looking at the post title and thinking one of two things: (1) That’s gotta be a typo; or (2) Is Erin on acid?

You are probably also looking at that screenshot and thinking, “were they pretending to be blind?”

I, Bret Barry Rock, do solemnly swear that none of those things are true, but I cannot speak to the mental state of my dear wife either. She absolutely just gave Center Stage a better score than Back to the Future (and a slew of other movies that I won’t bother to mention here).

What do I do with that? Do I commit her to some movie rehab facility? Just ignore it and hope it goes away?

For this one review, I am abandoning all pretense that this will be an unbiased review in order to present the facts in the case of Back to the Future v. Center Stage.

So there you have it, 10 out of 12 categories go to Back to the Future. Were it not for my wife’s secret love of ballet and a poor marketing decision, we’d have had a clean sweep.

As for my score, I gave it 2 Stars because, frankly, to get less than that from me means that I’d rather be water-boarded than have to watch it again (looking at you, Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and it wasn’t quite that bad.

Four stars from Erin, 2 Stars from Bret for Center Stage.
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Casino Royale (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 4.75 Stars)

After a brief, Florida Bankers Association Annual Meeting-related hiatus, the RockMovieProject rolls on with Casino Royale.

“And by GREAT I mean every bit as good as About Schmidt!”

In what has become standard operating procedure, Erin gave a glowing review of the film (“It was GREAT. IT. WAS. GREAT.”) only to hit it with a 4 Star review when all was said and done.

Bret, on the other hand, declares Casino Royale to be the point of demarcation between all 5-Star films and any of those beneath that level (a declaration that he will almost certainly back track on in a future review).

Let’s just say that we are prone to hyperbole here at the RockMovieProject.

In the end, we both thoroughly enjoyed Daniel Craig’s turn as a less campy James Bond.

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Captain America: The First Avenger (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 4.5 Stars)

In a ten-minute time span toward the beginning of Captain America, Tommy Lee Jones watches Chris Evans go from starving Ethiopian to Mr. Universe; run down a car on foot; swim down a submarine; punch a hole in the glass of said submarine so he can rip the bad guy out; and throw said bad guy from the water onto the dock ten feet above and then declares: “I asked for an army and all I got was you.”

And that’s it.

“Pssh…. who can’t run down a car on foot?”

Really? You can’t find a spot in your current Army for a guy that ran down a car on foot and swam down a submarine?

We guess in the end it all works out for the best, but it seemed short-sighted at the time.

As for the entirety of the movie, we loved it. Neither Erin nor Bret are huge Captain America fans, at least not heading into the film, but it was a really fun origin story that felt very organic when it came to the time period and setting — a credit to Director Joe Johnson who actually has had a pretty underrated career: director of The Rocketeer (a Bret Rock favorite and a definite precursor to Captain America), Jumanji and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; and art director on little films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and the first three Star Wars movies.

Chris Evans is very likable and believable as both Steve Rodgers and Captain America, Stanley Tucci is a lot of fun as a German scientist, Tommy Lee Jones — questionable military tactics aside — is fitting as Colonel Phillips and Hugo Weaving always makes for a solid villain.

Captain America: The First Avenger comes highly recommended by the RockMovieProject, with Erin giving it 4 Stars and Bret giving it a four-and-a-half.

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The Burbs (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 3.75 Stars)

What a momentous review for the RockMovieProject! Not only do we debut another room of the house — the common area — but we also finish up the B’s!

Seems fitting that The Burbs should follow Bruce Almighty in the RockMovieProject as both films try to achieve the same goal — to entertain the audience and make them laugh — but go about it in such different ways.

As covered in our previous review, Bruce Almighty is what is generally known as a “high-concept” comedy. The pitch to the studio probably went something like this: “Jim Carrey is a down-on-his-luck guy who is given God’s powers as a means to teach him how good he has it.”

One sentence tells you everything you need to know about the movie. It’s relatable in the most minor sense — that most of us have felt a tinge of “grass-is-greener” syndrome in our lives — but, to the best of our knowledge, God doesn’t seem to delegate very often.

That Big Momma’s House got two sequels tells you everything you need to know about Hollywood.

That is where we are with Hollywood at this point. If it’s not a remake, a reboot or an adaptation of a TV series, book or comic, chances are good it’s a high-concept comedy.

The Burbs is the antithesis of all of that. It’s not Citizen Kane, but it’s a refreshingly original film that is entirely relatable.

It’s basically a story about a bunch of men with too much time on their hands acting like children; who among us can’t relate to that?

There’s no body-swapping, God doesn’t give any of them his powers, and there is no real moral to the story, it’s just a bunch of guys acting like idiots and it’s fantastic.

It doesn’t rely on silly gimmicks to entertain because it’s just the slightest exaggeration of how the real world works and that, more than anything else, makes it funny and enjoyable.

We’ll get down from our soap box before we fall, but please know that this was one our favorite movies of the Project so far.

Well-written and perfectly cast — without any real notable actors outside of Hanks and Fisher —  The Burbs is a refreshing, dark comedy that we highly recommend. It actually feels a lot like a happier, more realistic Tim Burton movie, in all honesty.

Let he who has not found a human femur in his backyard cast the first stone.

Hilarious bits throughout, including a ton of tongue-in-cheek horror movie cliches, but probably our favorite parts are the throwaway lines and moments (Ray eating the sardine on the pretzel, the commando neighbor snacking on animal crackers on his roof, etc.).

Bret highly regrets giving it just 3.75 Stars while Erin delivers a shocking 4-Star review for a film she had never seen before.

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The Bourne Ultimatum (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 4 Stars)

The Bourne Ultimatum is a fun review of ours if only because we both come across as drunk, although we highly doubt that was actually the case.

The film itself is a good ending to the trilogy (at least until the Jeremy Renner version hits theaters later this Summer). Ultimatum has better action sequences, a tighter plot, prettier locations and a more fitting title than Supremacy, but wasn’t quite as good as Identity, at least according to Bret.

Admit it, it’s closer than you thought.

The review, however, tackles the really important questions, like “better looking, Albert Finney or Julia Stiles?” or “is it safe for Bret to yawn while Erin is talking?”

Also, stick around for Erin’s all-out attack on Russia. If Putin sees this, we may be at the dawn of a new Cold War.

The Bourne Ultimatum receives 4 Stars from Erin and 4 Stars from Bret as well.

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Black Hawk Down (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 4 Stars)

“It’s just Jeremy Pivens! Abort! Abort!”

The “feel-exhausted” movie of 2001, Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down was one of the movies that led directly to the creation of the RockMovieProject.

Legend tells of this dvd entering Bret’s collection approximately 10 years ago, yet until earlier this year, the movie had gone unseen by human eyes. Well, Bret’s human eyes at any rate.

When it was watched, we spent the next week and a half coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Seriously, presuming this movie is a fairly realistic portrayal of the events it documents, let us go on the record as saying we don’t need anything more realistic. Just an exhausting film to watch from start to finish, but, in the same token, an amazing one.

Things we really liked about the film:

Black Hawk Down might have taken 10 years for Bret to finally watch and he might not watch it again in the next 10 years, but it was a great film and comes highly recommended from the RockMovieProject.

Four stars from both Bret and Erin.

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Big Fish (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 4 Stars)

True story: We were so loathe to watch Big Fish that the RockMovieProject ground to a halt for three full months before we got around to watching it — and when we did, we loved it. Go figure.

Our Big Fish review also marks a turning point in RockMovieProject history as it became the first one to ever take place in our new home.

After her third glass of wine, Billy Crudup didn’t stand a chance.

After spending a little too much time talking about how we came to own the movie and marveling at how the world has changed since we last watched a film, we get down to the review, including how it gets a little dusty at Rock Manor toward the end.

To her credit, Erin gets loaded and starts ripping on the poor kid actors, Nicholas Cage and Billy Crudup, in that order. And Nicholas Cage wasn’t even in this film.

Still, she found it in her heart to give Big Fish a 4 Star review, matching Bret’s own score.

More importantly/inexplicably, Johnny Depp doesn’t even make a cameo. We were under the impression his contract stipulates he appear in all Tim Burton movies.

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A Beautiful Mind (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 4.5 Stars)

Bret is temporarily suspending all movie discussion to rant about Josh Lucas, he has the floor:

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, can someone please explain to me why Josh Lucas is not a movie and/or TV star? Does he have the worst agent in Hollywood? Does he have some sort of rare blood disease preventing him from being a leading man? Was that Stealth movie really so bad that it actually murdered his film career? Is he actually two midgets standing on top of one another? I don’t understand it. I am terribly vexed.

This guy can’t be a movie star, but writers script roles specifically for Taylor Lautner who looks like a llama.

Look at him. Seriously, does he not look like he should be a star? I am not romantically interested in other men, but if I could look like one other human being, it might be Josh Lucas.

He carried Reese Witherspoon to a successful romantic comedy, which is nigh impossible (Sweet Home Alabama); in Poseidon he made a remake that didn’t need to be made watchable and, more importantly, fun; and in A Beautiful Mind he acted opposite Russell Crowe and held his own. I refuse to believe he is incapable.

You want to know his last five movie role character titles?

1. ‘Cab Driver’ in a Nicholas Cage movie called Stolen, which I imagine is every bit as horrible as it sounds. His character name is Cab Driver, for chrissakes! That’s not even a proper noun! Apparently ‘Him’ was just a shade too generic;

2. ‘Neil Cassady’ in a biopic about Jack Kerouac called Big Sur. He co-stars in this movie with Anthony Edwards five years after his career was pronounced dead and Elliott from E.T. who gets cast in one film a year just so he can fill out a W-4;

3. ‘Charles Lindburg’ in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar. A role which sounds juicy until you check the credits on IMDB and realize that he received 38th billing;

4. ‘Young Mariner’ in Hide Away. I mean… are they just f*cking with me now? ‘Young Mariner’? Apparently he headlined this movie in 2011. The fact that you’ve never heard of it is not a coincidence; and

5. ‘Ted Minton’ in The Lincoln Lawyer, or as you may remember it, that movie where Matthew McConaughey played a lawyer, but not the one where Samuel L. Jackson hopes people burn in hell.

That’s it. Josh Lucas has been cast in two movies that I have ever heard of in the past six years.

We live in a world where Robert Pattinson is adored (and he makes Keanu Reeves look like Tom Hanks), where Nicholas Cage stars in every third film released, where Ashton Kutcher gets paid $11 billion dollars an episode on TV, yet Josh Lucas can only get work as a character named ‘Cab Driver.’

I am exasperated, but I will not stop until this man gets his due. Josh Lucas, although I imagine you to be a somewhat infrequent visitor at the RockMovieProject, please know that I am in your corner (but, seriously, get a new agent).”

As for the film, the Best Picture winner receives high marks from both Bret and Erin (4.5 Stars and 4 Stars, respectively). Erin cops to nearly crying during the acceptance speech at the end, Bret regards Paul Bettany as being “nearly see-through,” and both proclaim Russell Crowe’s performance as one of the absolute best of his career.

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Back to the Future III (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 4.5 Stars)

As the story comes full circle in Back to the Future III, so too does it in the RockMovieProject as Erin admits she wishes she would have given Back to the Future a higher grade.

As we bid adieu to Marty, Doc, Einstein and that sweet, sweet hover board, we also mull over important questions like: Doc Brown, mad-man or scientist?; To what era would we travel back to if we had a time machine?; Is the brilliance of Tom Wilson’s Biff underrated?; Why was Marty not in Doc’s wedding?; and whether or not the series feels dated (Spoiler Alert: Bret says no, Erin, in one final attack on the Back to the Future trilogy, says yes).

Also, have to appreciate the further evolution of Doc’s character:

It’s a long review, but well worth the watch if you are bored enough, and we think you are. Four stars from Erin, 4.5 from Bret.

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