Wednesday, November 24, 2010

‘Morning Glory’– Sweet & Funny; ‘Unstoppable’ – Thunderous Excitement

Two for one this week folks! I love this time of year, so many movies, too little time and space to give them all equal time!!

First, ‘Morning Glory’ starring the always amiable Rachel McAdams (as adorable as ever) as Becky, a TV news producer dedicated to her job and craft. She is given the shot she has been searching for with a third rate network and is hired to save a floundering morning news show. This is a formula movie – the kind that is loaded with classic characters: Harrison Ford as the gruff, traditional newscaster; Jeff Goldblum as the crusty station manager, Diane Keaton as the spoiled and whiney co-anchor, Matt Molloy as the wacky weather man and Patrick Wilson as the rich, handsome hunk who steals Becky’s heart. I was waiting for the gay best friend, but I think the writers missed that part of the formula.

The story and dialogue stick so closely to the romantic comedy formula that you can almost lip the lines before the actors spout them. But they are delivered so crisply and the timing of each actor is so near perfect that the movie hums along at an excellent pace. I found myself smiling through the entire movie; even through what I knew was going to happen next. McAdams is perfect in the role of Becky and while just about any other actress would have played the role the same way, McAdams is able to pull off the role without forcing us to gag on the cuteness.
‘Morning Glory’ is one of the better romantic comedies to come out this year and while predictable as well as cookie cutter in its approach, this 3 star effort is well worth the viewing. Perfect for the data night crowd looking for a smile and feel good moment.

In ‘Unstoppable’, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine (Star Trek) are an engineer and conductor on a chase to stop a speeding locomotive that is pulling over 30 cars of toxic chemicals. This is not simply a train; this is a missile of destruction. What is fantastic about this film is the relentless director of Tony Scott, who never seems to make a boring movie. The runaway train is not portrayed as a simple piece of machinery; rather, we come to feel that this is a raging behemoth, a living beast that is bent on destruction.

Early on, during the opening credits, shots of the idle train are centered on making it look and sound like a caged animal. It growls and spews steam as if at any minute it will lunge forward and rip you off of your feet. Scott wants us to know this is the evil giant and he does an outstanding job at giving the locomotive a life of its own. Very quickly, as the unmanned train, without brakes, rumbles through train crossing after crossing, we begin to feel as if it is bearing down on us; we feel the wrath of the beast. The tension, once built, never let’s go for nearly all of the 100 minutes of the film.

Washington is near perfect, as always, as the wise and venerable train engineer. His sole purpose is to ground the film and bring a human life to it. Chris Pike is nothing like Captain Kirk as the conductor who found himself in this job thanks to family connections; however, we quickly learn that he is not a stranger to hard work and is certainly not riding on any connected coat tails. Loosely based on a true story, ‘Unstoppable’ at times can be predictable (the corporate mucky mucks make poor decisions and the wizened ground workers make the best ones), but overall it proved to be a heart racing 4 star effort. This is a film that deserves a big screen viewing!

Rather than my usual Redbox pick this week (don’t worry Redbox, I still love your service!), I wanted to clue you in on a great show that not enough people seem to be watching. ‘Fringe’, on the Fox network, is one of those ‘bubble’ shows that deserve a chance to be seen. Already in its very exciting 3rd season, the show is in danger of cancellation, not because it is bad, but because they moved it to a poor time slot. Produced by JJ Abrams (Lost, Alias), this science fiction/adventure tale is loaded with intelligent stories and wonderful characters. You can catch up on with online episodes at and catch new episodes on Thursday’s at 8:00 PM. And don’t worry, you won’t have to have watched the previous 2 seasons to catch up; they always do a great job of ‘last time on Fringe’ before the episode starts! It’s one of the best shows on TV – check it out!

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