Tag Archives: Bailee Madison

[Review] – Parental Guidance

7 Jan

Parental Guidance

Title: Parental Guidance
Year: 2012
Director: Andy Fickman
Writers: Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse
Starring: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott, Bailee Madison
MPAA Rating: PG, some rude humor
Runtime: 104 min
IMDb Rating: 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Metacritic: 37

Parental Guidance is the kind of movie that just shouldn’t really exist. During December when some of the very best films of the year are being released to vie for some awards attention we sometimes get stuff like this, family movies that are just absolutely horrible and that, like is also the case with this one, still manage to make a nice buck. Plus, no disrespect to them, but Billy Crystal and Bette Midler shouldn’t be the headliners of a movie in this decade.

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Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

17 Sep

Title: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Troy Nixey
Writers: Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins, based on the 1973 teleplay by Nigel McKeand
Starring: 
Bailee Madison, Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Alan Dale
MPAA Rating: 
R, violence and terror
Runtime: 
99 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 
58%

 

I actually had some high hopes for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, I really wanted this to be just a hard R-rated super spooky scare-fest of a movie to really get me frightened. Now, the main reason for my huge expectations was that Guillermo del Toro’s name was all over this film, he was a producer, a co-writer, he did some of the creature voices, it was just this huge passion project for him for a long time that he was really involved in through every single step of the way, and considering the master hasn’t directed a film since 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and won’t direct one again until 2013’s highly-anticipated Pacific Rim, I was really excited to see anything with such a huge involvement from the man.

And ultimately this was a good film, and first-time feature director Troy Nixey, who was handpicked by Mr. del Toro after he saw Mr. Nixey’s short Latchkey’s Lament, does a decent job at crafting this scary atmosphere that really offers up some nice chills from the very get-go, but as it progressed I thought this one felt a bit too generic and really didn’t get to match the heights of the original 1973 cult film. The problem I think this one had was, weird as it may sound, its rating. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I love more than an R rating when its needed, and the films of Mr. del Toro usually need them and make the most of it, and when I first heard this film was getting that rating I got really psyched about the filmmakers being given that much creative freedom and thought it would mean some real scares. However, here’s my problem with the R rating in this film, the scares it warranted weren’t as effective for adults because by now we know all too well the clichés and methods of scares of the haunted house genre, but they would have been awesome for a slightly younger audience that wasn’t as familiar with them, but their exposure to this film is obviously limited by that rating.

The influence of Mr. del Toro is evident here, you have that vision of a fantastical universe with a fair share of scary undertones and all of it seen through the eyes of a child, stuff that resonates with his masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth and his excellent The Devil’s Backbone, in fact it has been said that he didn’t direct this one because it was too much like stuff he had done before. However, this is a film that I can see being seriously great with a direction as sure-handed as the one that could have been provided by Mr. del Toro. And even though, like I said, Mr. Nixey does a fine job at it, the stuff he brings to the table doesn’t amount to all that much, I mean, yes, there’s style, there’s some kooky imagination, it’s a very intense ride, but you can tell this is a guy that doesn’t really have the experience needed to craft the best atmosphere possible, no matter who he had guiding him all along, and haunted house movies are all about atmosphere.

Sally is the child in question, a nine-year-old who moves into the haunted house in question with her father and her father’s girlfriend. Obviously, these sort of movies also depend quite a lot on the young actors tapped to play the child in the haunted house, and Bailee Madison, the actress in charge of playing Sally, does an effective job here, she seems like an intelligent actress, embedding Sally with this sense of bravery that honestly helped this film a lot. Her father, Alex played by Guy Pearce, and her father’s girlfriend, Kim played very well by Katie Holmes, have purchased this old manor that they plan to restore and get on the cover of Architectural Digest and then sell at enough of a profit that they can restart Alex’s business. Of course the house happens to have been the source of an evil years before, as it’s explained in that sinister start to the movie that I talked about before that really made it out to seem that this film would be sincerely scary.

However, as amazing and spooky as that opening prologue of sorts may have been, after that the film takes on a more typical approach to the genre, and we’ll see Sally discovering this hidden basement, and hearing voices and then discovering the little monsters from which these voices came from. It’s cool that the screenplay accentuated quite a bit the fact that adults are quick to dismiss a child’s imagination going wild and imagining things, because a lot of the film’s best uses of tension comes from that, from knowing what Sally has seen and from being frustrated at how much the adults ignore her claims of it. It’s quite a bit of a disappointment, though, actually getting to see these creatures that were in the basement. This is one of those cases in which the scarier thing would have been to show very little at all and let our imaginations run wild and scare the crap out of us, because the little creatures don’t live up to the scares that we’re supposed to get because of them.

But this is a good film, I wanted it to be better because of the Guillermo del Toro connection, but as haunted house films go, this one is still very good, it gets us frustrated at the adults, it gets us feeling our inner child as we see Sally, and there are one or two scenes that stand out from the otherwise predictable pacing and really get to be quite scary (chief amongst them the scene in which Sally tries hiding under a bed sheet, you know the one). But, like I said, these scares would have worked much better on a younger audience that wouldn’t have been as aware of the familiar scares as we adults are, they’re the ones that would be affected by this film, and maybe even get inspired by them and grow up to the be the next Guillermo del Toro.

Grade: B

Just Go with It

3 Apr

Title: Just Go with It
Year:
2011
Director:
Dennis Dugan
Writers: Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling, adapting from the 1969 film screenplay by I.A.L. Diamond, which was adapted from the stage play by Abe Burrows, which was based on the french play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy
Starring:
Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nicole Kidman, Dan Patrick, Dave Matthews, Nick Swardson, Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck, Rachel Dratch, Kevin Nealon, Heidi Montag, Minka Kelly
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language
Runtime:
117 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
6.2
Rotten Tomatoes:
18%

 

By now we all know what to expect from an Adam Sandler comedy, we know what his style of goofy comedy consists of, so you know if you’d like to stay away from his films or not. Now, I personally like his style when it’s done right, but that hasn’t really seemed to be the case for his last few films, and even though Just Go with It is a film that you can, pardon the pun, totally go for, it’s not an amazing one by any means.

Moreover, I think it’s time for Mr. Sandler to go back and do a dramatic role. He is, much like Jim Carrey, one of those physical comedians that are super silly in their comedy, and yet have a really touching sensibility when they do dramas that I find incredible to watch. Adam Sandler has done two dramas, 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, a film by the master Paul Thomas Anderson and one that I can’t praise enough, the other one was 2007’s Reign Over Me which wasn’t as perfect a film, but was still quite remarkable. I guess we could potentially count 2009’s Funny People, a film I liked better than many seemed to, as more of a dramatic entry in Mr. Sandler’s canon, but it wasn’t a straightout drama film like the others, so I won’t. But yes, Just Go with It was fine and all, Adam, but please, give us another drama.

But, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the actual film. I’ll say this much for Just Go with It, for a romantic comedy, it’s pretty damn competent. I mean, it’s a film that while entirely predictable, does offer us a few surprises along the way to keep things fresh, and it has Brooklyn Decker in it, who is gorgeous enough to have any film she’s in bumped up a grade just for her sheer presence in it considering she wasn’t asked to really act all that much. Not to mention that Jennifer Aniston, who had been in last year’s The Bounty Hunter, needed a role like this to get her back to being her awesome girl-next-door self which we all love. But then again, I’d also like Ms. Aniston to go back and do another drama in the vein of The Good Girl again.

This isn’t a perfect film, don’t get me wrong, I’m not recommending it, I’m just saying that’s totally bearable and that, while it’s far from the best film you’ll see all year, it’s a good option in the horrible rom-com genre. I mean, it’s very very easy going, it tries to play naughty, but you know it’s innately good-hearted, it may try to seem as though it’s pushing the envelope with some of its stuff, but you know it’s actually quite the passive little bugger you’ll let pretend otherwise. And as such, there will be bits in which you’ll get frustrated by it, but there will also be parts you’ll find yourself laughing with it, and the ratio of those two is better than you’d expect going into it.

The thing is, we all feel like we know Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler already. They have been part of our media-loving lives for the past decade and a half, and they have been great friends themselves from way before that, so there’s that sense of watching people you know being funny and warm to each other, and that’s genuinely nice to see in this one. I mean, this is after all better than Mr. Sandler’s previous effort, which was the unfortunate Grown Ups. And, as for Ms. Aniston, even though I probably liked last year’s The Switch a bit better than this one, this is still heaps better than the disaster that was The Bounty Hunter.

If you’ve seen the trailers you already know what this one’s all about. Mr. Sandler has his heart broken on what was supposed to be his wedding day, and decides to get back on the horse by having a lot of sex with anyone he could find who would be disarmed by a man armed with a wedding ring and tales of a wife that broke his heart. Ms. Decker plays one of those girls, except when it’s all said and done, Mr. Sandler’s character, Danny, thinks she might be more than just a one-night thing, and she’s probably thinking the same way, except she first wants to meet Danny’s soon-to-be ex-wife, who obviously doesn’t really exist.

So then Danny enlists his assistant Katherine, the character Ms. Aniston plays, to pretend to be his crazy ex. And you probably know how the rest of this one goes. And there’s no shame in this film for being so obvious in its next steps, it still has the likable and beautiful Ms. Aniston, the gorgeous and sexy Ms. Decker and the dependably goofy Mr. Sandler to keep it afloat. Not to mention that the supporting cast includes an Academy Award winner in Nicole Kidman and Minka Kelly, who I personally find to be even more beautiful than Ms. Decker, not to mention that she’s actually got some acting chops, not that this is the sort of film in which she could prove that.

Go see this one if you have time to kill, if not, don’t bother with Just Go with It. I mean, I liked it much better than I thought I would, which is why this review may sound a bit enthusiastic, but that only says things about how low my expectations were, the greatest thing I can say about this film is that it looked as though everyone involved had a great time making this one, and since it’s not as though we were invited to hang out with movie stars in Hawaii then I guess that’s neither here nor there, so go see it if you’re a fan of the stars or if you have two hours of free time and the other options seem crappier.

Grade: C+