Archive for Messes with the space-time continuum

17 Again

DVD (2009)  Written by Jason Filardi / Directed by Burr Steers

Mann and Efron in “17 Again”   (image: New Line Cinema) 

A 37-year-old is thrust into the body of a 17-year-old. No, no, that’s not a description of the photo above — it’s the plot of 17 Again, one of my favourite movies from last year.  Many of you probably haven’t seen the movie because you think it’s for kids, but it’s not.  Nor is it a tale of cougar angst, or a lame vehicle for Disney-grown prettyboy Zac Efron.  17 Again is very much a story for adults (and older teens), and it’s so much fun from start to finish. If you can accept that Zac Efron is going to look like Chandler Bing in 20 years, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Matthew Perry plays 37-year-old Mike O’Donnell. He works at a dead-end job, he’s just weeks away from finalizing his divorce, and his teenaged kids want nothing to do with him. Life is terrible, but with a little help from a mystical high-school janitor, Mike is given the chance to re-do the last 20 years of his life.  He arrives back in 1989 — not to the year, but to the body he inhabited during his senior year in high school. The grumpy and tired Matt Perry turns into the delish and energetic Zac Efron, and once again Mike O’Donnell has life by the tail. Within a day, he’s back as the star of the basketball team and just a scout visit away from a full college scholarship. Plus he can Hammer Dance like there’s no tomorrow. Mike soon realizes, however, that he’s been sent back to high school not to salvage a lost basketball career, but for a greater purpose, and he sets out to save his kids and his marriage to his high school sweetheart Scarlett (Leslie Mann).

This movie contains shades of everything from Big, Freaky Friday, Peggy Sue Got Married, and even  Back to the Future. It’s not really a new idea, but what sets this one apart is Efron’s performance. He channels a 37-year-old man with such authenticity and a lot of the film’s humour is built on this. Efron is a true multi-talent, and in 17 Again he proves he can act, do comedy, and probably also steal away some of our moms if he tried. There is a courtroom scene where he reads a letter to Scarlett, and it’s so well done and so sweet that we suspend all disbelief and feel for this lonely body-transformed man-child who wants so desperately to have a second chance with his wife.

Lovely moments like that aside, 17 Again is a great date movie and it’s both male and female friendly. I imagine there are a lot of you out there who would rather have Jack Bauer cut a cellphone memory card from your stomach than watch a movie starring one of the High School Musical cast members. I urge you not to dismiss this movie because you think you’re too good for Zac Efron (you’re not). If for no other reason, watch this movie for  Thomas Lennon, who plays Mike O’Donnell’s best friend and faux-father. He’s hilarious plus his house of sci-fi memorabilia will keep you drooling for the duration.

Sweet extras   A bit of trivia: at one point in the film, Thomas Lennon claims to be speaking “Elf”, implying it is Elvish, the language created by J.R.R. Tolkien. What Lennon is actually speaking is a form of Gaelic — Elvish is a registered trademark of the Tolkien family and you aren’t allowed to use it without special permission.

Good for who?  I recommend this for 14+ teens and adults. This is definitely not appropriate for little kids (and would probably make the baptist minister’s wife a little uncomfortable). You can find a detailed content description of 17 Again at Screenit.com, a site I highly recommend for parents with movie-loving kids.  I let my 12-year-old daughter watch 17 Again because I liked the movie’s message and because I knew she could handle the content — it was nothing I hadn’t already discussed with her for the most part.  

 

Loved this movie? Live this movie! Hammertime

Did MC Hammer ever stop to think that maybe we don’t WANT to touch this?  In case, however, you’ve got the godforsaken urge to bust a move after watching 17 Again, you can review the dance steps in the basketball court cheerleading scene near the beginning of the movie. In a special feature outtake included on the DVD, you can watch Zac Efron learn to Hammer Dance as well as do The Running Man, The Prep, and The Roger Rabbit (“What IS that?” he asks, after watching the choreographer demonstrate).

If you just can’t wait to rent your DVD before having your own ’80s-dance refresher, watch my favourite description of the Hammer Dance from Howcast.com and get started right now!  The video says Hammer pants are optional, but I think we both know they’re a necessity!

 

 

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Enchanted

DVD (2007)  Written by Bill Kelly/Directed by Kevin Lima                                   STARRING: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden

I think Enchanted is a test of the viewer’s ‘goodness’ level. If you watch this movie in its entirety and the absolute sweetness of it doesn’t touch you – even just a little — then clearly you and your heart were forged in the fires at Mount Doom. I am always secretly teary-eyed at the end of this movie. Is it because of the happy endings for all? Is it Jon McLaughlin singing So Close as the lead characters dance together? Is it that the hapless chipmunk finally returns to Andalasia, regaining his voice and perhaps even his status as a woodland sex symbol? I don’t know, but this is such a funny and friendly movie that casting ill feelings toward it in any way would be like running over a box of puppies or strangling the life out of Maria von Trapp.

What I really like about Enchanted is that it pokes fun at itself and of the whole fairytale genre, yet at the same time it embraces the beauty of seeing the world in an innocent, positive way. True love, the movie concludes, really is magical. (Starting to tear up again, people. Talk amongst yourselves …)

Amy Adams plays Giselle, a cartoon fairytale princess who is just moments away from marrying her prince. Worrying that the marriage will end her reign as queen, the prince’s stepmother (she’s wicked, you see) must stop the pair from sharing “true love’s kiss.”  Giselle is then shoved down a wishing well, and sent to a place where “there are no happily ever afters”—a.k.a New York City. The movie begins as animation, but as Giselle crawls up through a manhole in the middle of  Times Square, the film switches to live action and it is here in this bizarre unfamiliar world of the living that Giselle meets her second love interest—Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey). Robert is a divorce lawyer who doesn’t believe in happy endings and doesn’t want his daughter to waste her time believing in them either. Patrick Dempsey’s cynical and serious character is the perfect contrast to the goofball innocence of Amy Adams who skips through the movie with a perpetual deer-caught-in-the-headlights look. Other cast members include Susan Sarandon as the evil Queen Narissa, and the handsome multi-talented James Marsden as the loveable narcissist Prince Edward. He fights ogres and slays New York City transit busses to rescue Giselle.

Enchanted is usually listed as a kids movie, but the movie is very much for adults too. This film has been in my top romantic comedy favourites since I first saw it in the theatre in 2007. If you like Patrick Dempsey, or Amy Adams, this one shouldn’t be missed.

Sweet extras The movie has several musical numbers, and Amy Adams sings three of them. James Marsden sings as well.

Good for who? This is a great pick for families, or for moms looking to watch a romantic comedy without having to worry about content should the kids pop into the room.

My 12-year-old daughter Mei says: I like this movie a lot. It is a fairy tale with a twist of reality (which I really like). It’s really funny and romantic and I think any kid would like it.

Loved this movie? Live this movie! Sing a happy working song

And they cleaned happily ever after My favourite scene in the movie comes when Giselle wakes and decides she must clean Robert’s messy apartment.  With a melodic call from the window of Robert’s highrise apartment, she summons an assortment of New York City “wildlife” to help her in the task — including flies, roaches, and filthy rats licking their wee wees. What follows is a musical number called Happy Working Song, and without a word of a lie, I do sing this quite a bit while cleaning. Granted, I don’t usually remember most of the words in order, and end up mixing real lyrics with made up stuff like “…cleaning crud up in the kitchen,  la la la I’m Robert Mitchum…”  But it’s the spirit of the exercise that counts, and the song does put me into a happier mood as I straighten up. The entire soundtrack is actually quite fun to listen to during an afternoon of  housework. So put on your wedding dress or tuxedo, grab a broom, and sing along with me (or the soundtrack), won’t you?  Here are  the words:

Happy Working Song

Composed by Alan Menken/Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Come my little friends
As we all sing a happy little working song
Merry little voices clear and strong
Come and roll your sleeves up,
So to speak, and pitch in
Cleaning crud up in the kitchen
As we sing along

Trill a cheery tune in the tub
As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain
Pluck a hairball from the shower drain
To that gay refrain
Of a happy working song

We’ll keep singing without fail
Otherwise we’d spoil it
Hosing down the garbage pail
And scrubbing up the toilet
Ooh!

How we all enjoy letting loose with a little
“La-da-dum-dum-dum”
While we’re emptying the vacu-um
It’s such fun to hum
A happy working song
Hmmm
A happy working song

Oh, how strange a place to be
Till Edward comes for me
My heart is sighing
Still, as long as I am here
I guess a new experience
Could be worth trying
Hey! Keep drying!

You can do a lot when you’ve got
Such a happy working tune to hum
While you’re sponging up the soapy scum
We adore each filthy chore
That we determine
So, friends, even though you’re vermin
We’re a happy working throng

Singing as we fetch the detergent box
For the smelly shirts and the stinky socks
Sing along
If you can not sing then hum along
As we’re finishing our happy working song!

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