August 31, 2011

Vacation In Reviews

Remember me?  I know I disapeared without warning for a while but the fault lies entirely with my sister who came to visit for a little over two weeks and took up so much of my time I had none left over to write.  I did have some time to watch a movie or two as well as two seasons of The Vampire Diaries.   

Crazy Stupid Love - I'm not going to lie, 95% of the reason I wanted to see this movie was to ogle Ryan Gosling.  The other 5% was because I adore Emma Stone.  This movie could have been terrible and I would not have cared.  It could have been two hours of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone standing in a room, side by side, staring blankly at the camera and I would have been FINE with that.  But as it turns out, the movie was delightful. 

There actually was a plot - Cal (Steve Carell) is unceremoniously dumped by his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), after her affair with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon).  He proceeds to spend night after night at a bar near his sad new middle-age divorcee apartment, telling everyone his problems while they try to ignore him.  Jacob (Gosling) is a ridiculously attractive and successfull hound who makes that same bar his home court.  After spending several nights listening to Cal's sad, sad story, he can take it no longer and essentially takes Cal under his wing by force.  He transforms Cal into a much less dorky guy who is capable of picking up and having sex with a woman. 

From there, Cal hooks up with a woman who turns out to be his son's teacher, which leads to his wife finding out thereby derailing a near reconciliation.  Meanwhile, Cal's son is in love with the 'sitter who is, in turn, in love with his dad.  There is a whole thing with some inapprotriate pictures (kids these days!) and people getting punched and tackled.  And finally, Hannah (Stone) breaks up with her pathetic boyfriend - played hilariously by Josh Groban - and goes looking for a hot one night stand in the form of Jacob.  Instead of meaningless sex, the two end up talking and laughing all night in that way that super attrative people do in romantic comedies.  They start dating and when she's ready for him to meet her parents those parents turn out to be Cal and Emily. 

Then a lot of other stuff happens which all ends up fine in the end because this is a romantic comedy so it's legally obligated to leave you with warm fuzzies and an intense desire to get naked with one of its leads. Check and double check. 

The Help - I loved the book.  Everyone I know who read the book loved it.  There was an episodic quality to the stories yet they were seemlessly woven together into something that was greater than the sum of its parts.  The best part of it were all of the small details that made the characters whole and real.  The little things, blown up into big mysteries that amped up the humor and brought these people to life.  The movie didn't have much of that. 

It told the story, hitting most of the highlights of the book and getting the "point" of it across, but it left out most of the sad parts, most of the little moments, most of the details that I loved the most.  Stewart was given very short shrift in the movie as they included only the scene where he acted like a dick on his first date with Skeeter and then when he came to apologize and skipped straight ahead to his breaking up with her after the book is published.  Stewart seemed like quite a one-dimensional jerk whose relationship with Skeeter was nothing more than that of a guy she briefly dated. 

Mini and Celia never bonded over the naked man in the yard.  Mini never suspected Celia of a drinking problem.  Mini never found out that Johnny knew about her and carried on any charade about him not knowing she worked there.  And Celia learned how to cook.  Boo!

Skeeter's father wasn't in the movie at all and her mother's cancer was downplayed to the point of barely even existing.  The movie version of Constantine's dismissal painted Charlotte in a much more favorable light than the book version where I thought she was not terribly sympathetic but was real and flawed and interesting and exactly the kind of person who'd have raised Skeeter to be someone just a little less racist than she herself was.  Racism isn't something that just abruptly stopped one day.  Every generation had to teach the next to be a little less racist than they themselves had been and that was what I saw in the book version of the Phelans.  They were the first step people in the road to eradicating racism from their own family. 

The movie was fine and if I hadn't read the book I probably would have loved it.  But I did read the book and so I guess I just liked it for what it was.  The acting was mostly terrific (man that Bryce Dallas Howard is blank though, isn't she?) and if Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis aren't nominated out the ass for every award we can think of, then awards mean less than nothing.  But on the whole, I'd sooner read the book again than watch the movie for a second time. 

The Vampire Diaries - It's become quite a tradition for me to get my little sister hooked on a TV show when she comes to visit.  Over her spring break I introduced her to Friday Night Lights which instantly became her favorite thing ever.  This time, before she arrived, she piped in on a conversation that Mikey and I were having over Twitter and said she thought this summer she'd like to give Everwood a shot.  We watched the pilot but it didn't really take.  She was luke warm at best on it and was pretty much resigned to not watching anything new on this trip. 

One morning, while she futzed with her hair, I decided to rewatch the Switched At Birth pilot on Netflix Instant.  She came out and asked me a few "what is this about" type questions and then declared she'd like to give it a shot.  She liked it and she thought Emmett was adorable.  She wasn't wrong. 

But Switched At Birth is only 10 episodes old and hardly the kind of thing we could really bond over since it didn't get really good until 1/2 way through it's 10 ep first season.  So I convinced her to give The Vampire Diaries a shot. 

She was only 1/2 convinced at the end of the first episode.  She thought that it was good and that the people in it were super hot, but she was squicked a bit by the blood and the "violence."  She particularly hated how Damon kept killing people.  By the 6th episode, she no longer cared who Damon killed, as long as he did it while facing the camera with his beautiful eyes.  She was HOOKED. 

This is her new crack and I seriously can't wait to get her texts as she watches the third season play out in real time. 

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