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Feb 22, 2008

Bloggarhea (or Smorgasblog - you choose)

So much to write about and so little time. On a personal note, the vacation had to be cut short. Mrs. Fletch got sick pretty much upon arriving in Vegas, and instead of going to Washington on Wednesday, we headed home. So blah. the only silver lining has been that I've had oodles of time to give here and at the LAMB. Lots to cover today, so let's get to it:

Survivor - Episode 3 recap. Not happening. At least, not a full one. In short, here are my thoughts:

* Joel can talk all he wants about how Mikey is trying to run the show, but he's blind and/or a hypocrite for not seeing that he's doing the exact same thing. Just because he talks less, that doesn't make him any less annoying.

* Two good, physical challenge ideas that didn't pan out so great in execution. For the Reward Challenge, the teams had to get 5 sandbags in their "endzone" before the other team did the same. It was violent and nasty, but the James/Joel showdown was not there and/or not shown, and in general, the camera work was too all-over-the-place to really tell what was going on. For Immunity, in which half the team held a rope holding up a basket while members of the other team made it heavier by tossing coconuts into it, the editing was just a bit too fast. If the challenges take so long in real time that they must be choppy for the viewer, maybe the challenges shouldn't be so long?

* Damn you, Cirie. I don't care if you were put in a position of power - getting rid of Yau-Man only serves to make millions of fans hate you. It's not like you have a chance at the million anyway (right?). Also, your fight with Penner was annoying.

TGITDNMAR - see here.

Fletch's Film Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles
Freddie Highmore (whose voice is somehow getting higher as he ages) stars as a pair of twins in this kids adventure based on the book of the same name. David Strathairn (apparently loyal to co-writer John Sayles, whom he's co-starred in many films for) co-stars as the twins' great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick, a man who came to learn about the mythical world of ogres, goblins and other such fairy-tale creatures that inhabit the world around us. Arthur made an encyclopedia of sorts during his time that mysteriously vanished when he did, as a man in his 40s. His daughter was left behind (no word on the mother, really) to decipher just what had happened to her father, and what was going on in and around her house.

Fast forward decades later, where his daughter, now a senior citizen herself, has been placed in a mental institution. Some of her remaining family (Highmore's Jared/Simon Grace, their sister Mallory and their mother) take it upon themselves to move into her now empty house, what with the family in a crisis of their own, as Dad (Andrew McCarthy) may or may not be joining them out in the country.

As we soon learn, our chief protagonist (Jared) is pretty close with his father, and as such, is none too thrilled that the family is moving to the sticks. Simon and Mallory, meanwhile, are fine with the move and only bothered by Jared's attitude as of late.

In no time flat, Jared, troubled yet curious, stumbles upon his great-uncle's attic and subsequently, the titular book. Despite an attached warning to not open it, Jared does, and with it opens up a Pandora's Box of potential trouble for not only his family, but for the world at large.

Although the film never reaches the magical heights of something like Harry Potter, it holds its own fairly well. It has some high-level talent in Highmore, Strathairn and Mary-Louise Parker (playing the Mom), but there are some additional casting surprises, including Nick Nolte as the humanoid version of the evil Mulgarath (and apparently more sober than he was when last seen in Paris Je t'aime), and Martin Short and Seth Rogen are on board as vocal talent. Put together, you have a near A-list cast.

Also surprising, though some may see this as a negative, is how dark and violent this is for a children's adventure. You get the sense that the family is in true peril at times, and the kids must literally kill dozens of goblins who seek to capture the book for Mulgarath.

As nice as the storytelling, effects and talent are, though, the characters are lacking in any real definition beyond cutouts. The twins might as well be combined into one person, for as they are, they're really only half a person each, with Jared (the "bad" one) having just a few modes, and Simon being given the others (fey, book smart, sweet). Meanwhile, sister Mallory is just a surrogate mother to the boys while their real mother is away at work.

Overall, this makes for a strikingly similar piece alongside last year's Highmore-starring Arthur and the Invisibles. The plots, while not mirror images, could certainly be fraternal twins, though Arthur turns into a full-on animated movie for at least half the time, while Spiderwick is all live-action, with scads of CGI. Both are good for what they are and shouldn't lull adults to sleep - were I 10 years old, I might fall in love with either.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

Fletch's Film Review: Definitely, Maybe
Definitely, Maybe, the debt album from Oasis, featuring such hit singles as "Live Forever," -- wait a sec, that's not right.

Definitely, Maybe is the fourth feature from director Adam Brooks, writer of such Brit-hits as Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Wimbledon (okay, so that one wasn't a hit). However, it's also brought to us by the producers of such other Brit-hits as Love, Actually, and Notting Hill, so overall, it's got a pretty
good pedigree. It also has a terrible, generic, means-nothing name, but that's neither here nor there.

Now, Mrs. Fletch and I aren't real big fans on romantic comedies, but this one has had quite a few things going for it. First, it has a highly appealing cast, from star Ryan Reynolds, to all of it
s leading ladies (Rachel Weisz, Isla Fischer, Elizabeth Banks), to the always likable Kevin Kline and Sunshine-y Abigail Breslin. Second, it's gotten good-to-great reviews all around. Third, it's even been called "unpredictable" by some, which all by itself counts as high praise for a rom-com in my book.

On most counts, it delivers. The movie is sweet and charming, at times funny, but never much more than a chuckle. In fact, I think the spots I laughed at most were stock footage of George W. Bus
h (looking younger and dumber than ever, if that's possible) and of Bill Clinton, also not in his brightest moment, asking for the definition of "is." With most of the action taking place in the mid-90s, it gives much of its target audience a bit of nostalgia, and (thankfully) it doesn't insult us by making a joke of the past. There are references to Nirvana, The Smiths and Gennifer Flowers, but you won't see any Furbies or flannel shirts.

Finally, since I have no other organized thoughts, here are some disorganized ones:

* When I first saw the trailer, I thought to myself "No way am I buying Ryan Reynolds as the father of an 11-year old! He can't be more than 28!" And sure, while it's certainly biologically possibl
e for 28 or 29-year olds to be fathers, I wasn't getting the impression that his character was a Pauly Bleaker type. Well, I was wrong. As it turns out, Ryan Reynolds is but a week younger than I am, though still has a baby face (like I do) at 31.

In that case, I'm flipping my argument. In the film, his character, Will Hayes, is a graduate of Wisconsin in 1992. Let's assume that made him 21 at the time. Therefore, we're supposed to believe that he is now in his mid-30s?!? I think I buy Ryan Reynolds as a 36-year old even less.

* At 112 minutes, the film runs a bit long in the tooth. Sure, I might sound like a broken record, but 2+ hours for a rom-com is 20 minutes too much, no matter how good.

* I was shocked to see some of the characters smoking, despite the film's attempt at demonizing them for doing so. In this day and age, it's just jarring to see characters that aren't villains or Europeans smoking.

* Though the opening sequence featuring Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People" was kind of fu
n, it really didn't add anything to the movie, or have anything to do with what happened afterwards.

* It's really not unpredictable, but kudos anyway to the writer (also Brooks) for a good concept (rom-com mystery of sorts).

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"

Fletch's Film Review: Atonement
Nope. I'm tapped...perhaps another time.

2 people have chosen wisely: on "Bloggarhea (or Smorgasblog - you choose)"

Dave said...

Sorry to hear your vacation got cut short. Hope Mrs. Fletch gets to feeling better soon.

I am surprised about the Definitely, Maybe review. I have not seen it yet because it just looked too blah, but after your review I might make it out to see it sooner. I have to admit that I actually did like Love Actually, but it didn't seem like this duo could do the same damage as the actors in Love Actually.

mrs fletch said...

Thanks Dave. :)