Bride Wars with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway is Cute but Predictable

I did not go to this movie voluntarily. My girlfriend had been asking me for weeks. I finally succumbed on Friday night by using two free Fandango movie passes to get us tickets for a ‘date-night,’ not something we get many opportunities to do. We met for dinner, got popcorn and candy (though I wasn’t too keen on sharing my candy) and then settled in to watch Bride Wars. Good old Friday night date style…ish. Other than a gay couple – or two chummy male friends? – I was among very few men, all of whom were there with their ladies, presumably by force, coercion or bribery.

It was certainly better than I’d expected but, a. that’s not saying much and b. movies for which I have low expectations are almost certainly better than they would have been if I were expecting the cinematic experience of a life-time.

There were some hardy laughs, and jokes of differing style and laugh potential, depending on what makes you chuckle. So, there, I have to give Bride Wars credit. But is that enough? It was far from hysterical all the way through. The antics and shenanigans (can there be both at once?) were mildly amusing but they hardly elicited bouts of guffaws throughout. It was, to say the least from the perspective of a man who actually does enjoy romantic comedies but prefers for them to have a little something more (do they ever?), tolerable. I was not unhappy or uncomfortable being there. It wasn’t too long and I didn’t look at my watch. It kept moving quickly enough, but that brings me to my final problem.

It was predictable.

Now, I think most women, though their powers of prediction generally surpass mine, consciously ignore the inclination to predict when watching romantic comedies for fear of realizing that the vast majority of the genre is silly and not worth blue-lighting. However, I can’t turn that switch off and found the entire thing mesmerizingly predictable. Part of that is, no doubt, due to the commercials which leave little to our imaginations, and the rest is a result of the number of possible outcomes there could be (very few, in case that was unclear) and then picking up on the none-too-subtle hints that the director drops (but I don’t think means to!).

But what of it? Is it a crime to work within an inflexible genre? No. Is it my fault for going to see this movie that I had to know the end to before it happened? Partly.

So at the end of the day I’ll give this flick 5 Chocolate Salty Balls.

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Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant is Classicly Twisted and Testimony to a Fascinating Mind

Wow this was a great book. I am a huge Chuck Palahniuk fan. I’ve read most of what he’s written, and I really liked it all. Awhile back I stopped reading a lot of Palahniuk, though, because the stories – though always cool and twisted – had a similar trajectory. You know, the one with the crazy twist towards the end. I just got tired of the big twist we were all waiting for.

But Rant is not like that at all. Though there are a million fascinating surprises and weird as hell things going on towards the end as your understanding of his crazy ideas and terms start coming together and you realize that you’re reading about something other than you imagined, there’s no big twist – just dozens of “oh,” and “ah” moments that make for a fun and exciting read.

The other thing that made it different from Palahniuk’s other books is the way it was told: as an oral biography. The first page explains this style, but basically, you’re reading a few paragraphs at a time from dozens of different people whose tales interweave and ultimately tell the story of one person – a person who is dead before this telling begins. It’s a fascinating way to learn about characters and to hear a story – and you are hearing the story.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Chuck Palahniuk once and some of the stories he told me were ones that I could detect snippets of in this book. That was really cool. Here’s a photo (taken 6 years ago so cut me some slack) of me with Chuck Palahniuk.

P.S. I'm not the Asian kid

P.S. I'm not the Asian kid

Have you read Rant? What did you think? What is your favorite Palahniuk book?

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Mamma Mia!, as Reviewed by Lisa, Receives Wonderful Accolades for Spirit and Fun

There are some movies this summer that I just won’t get to, but lucky me, my stepmom, Lisa, was ready and willing to write a review of Mamma Mia! Now, I can’t really say that we have the same taste in movies, but with her own watchful eye and scrutinizing ways, she has put together an excellent review of what she calls one of the summer’s most fun movies. Hope you enjoy!

It’s about time.  All summer long I’ve wanted to go to the movies and be entertained. I didn’t want to spend the little time I had for “fun” scared out of my wits, or gripping the seat in anxiety during some kind of race or shoot-out. I’ve been waiting to go to a movie that is fun, uplifting, and most of all, entertaining. Mamma Mia! is it.

Even if you start out watching Mamma Mia! with little confidence that a musical, based on the songs of successful Swedish pop group ABBA, will be worth your while, the clear singing, beautiful ocean blue eyes, and exuberant style of Sophie (played by Amanda Seyfried) in the opening scenes will irresistibly sweep you in. Suspend your rational thinking, and allow yourself to be charmed by Meryl Streep, who stars as Donna Sheridan, a former 70’s rocker and Sophie’s mother.  Ms. Streep, an Oscar winning actress, puts the same energy and intensity into this role as she has with other serious characters from previous movies (Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, Out of Africa, The Devil Wears Prada).

Sophie is about to be married on an idyllic Greek island and wants to invite her dad to her wedding, but alas, doesn’t know who he is. She finds her mother’s diary and doesn’t know whether her dad is Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) or Harry (Colin Firth). But even though she knows them only as names in the diary, she manages to track them down and secretly invites all three to her wedding (like I said, suspend logic).  Lo and behold, they all show up, as do Donna’s old friends from her rock-n-roll youth, Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters).

Baranski almost steals the show with a number (“Does Your Mother Know?”) that is funny, sexy and a real show-stopper. Pierce Brosnan, always easy on the eyes, works hard to belt out several duets with Streep.  Also, the movie has some touching and tender moments, particularly as Donna helps Sophie prepare for her wedding day.  The movie ends with an unexpected but delightful twist, and don’t leave the theater until all the credits roll for some hysterical last scenes.

Go see Mamma Mia! – one of those films that works on every level. If you discount this movie solely based on the material you may be missing out on one of the most surprisingly fun moments to be had in theaters this year.

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