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Archives for : May2014

Movie Review: “Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom” Becomes Uncomfortable very Quickly

Oh Lifetime, you never cease to amaze me.  Just when I think I’ve got your repetitive stories figured out, you go and throw in an unexpected domination and submission twist that I didn’t see coming.

That’s right people; Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom is a more tamed, mature, TV approved version of 50 Shades of Grey (minus the bondage).

After Delaine (Ashley Jones) discovers her jerk of a husband, Robert (Scott Gibson), has been cheating on her she immediately blames herself, as does her husband.  After all, if she tried harder and got implants this would have never happened!  Feeling as though she owes it to her two children to make the marriage work, she stays with Robert.  But then she meets Graham (Jeff Roop), an attractive acupuncturist that she can’t help but feel physically drawn too.  As they begin their own affair, Delaine gets the strength to finally divorce Robert.  Unfortunately after ending things with her husband, things with Graham quickly fall apart as well.  Hello online dating!  Among her many emails from the site, she stumbles upon a striking message from “The Duke” (Alex Carter).  He promises to turn Delaine into an alpha female that will never to be walked all over by a man again. His strategy: He, A MAN, will dominate her and tell her exactly what to do on dates and in her personal life; while she, A FEMALE, must be his submissive and obey his every word…um; okay…I guess that works for some girls.  Delaine is just delighted by this idea and agrees to his terms.

Given that this is a Lifetime film, we are usually introduced to some unbearable acting.  However, given the dialogue the two leads must deliver, I was quite pleased with their conviction.  We’re talking some pretty embarrassing and idiotic lines here.

It takes a while for this film to pick up.  Until we meet “The Duke,” you might be wondering where the story is headed.  Well, I’ll tell you it’s not headed where you’d expect.  Once she speaks with “The Duke” for the first time on the phone, the ball starts rolling.  The content of what we’re watching at this point isn’t necessarily good, it’s just so awkward and intriguing.  You can’t help but be curious to know how far Delaine will go to please her master.

Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom is a decent flick to DVR and watch in your spare time, but don’t expect the intense drama we’re accustomed to in the usual Lifetime movies.

Rating: 2.5/5

Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom premieres Saturday, May 31, at 8pm ET/PT.

Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom Official Trailer

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Blended” is Nothing more than a Desirable Trip to Africa

Let’s begin with the real star of this film, Africa!  It is one of the most beautiful locations to visit for either a romantic getaway or a fun-filled family vacation.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about this generic romantic comedy that sadly does no favors for Happy Madison productions.

We’ve grown accustomed to Adam Sandler’s raunchy and outlandish sense of humor, which for a good period of time produced authentic comedies.   Recently, Sandler’s projects have been quite the disappointment.  Obviously it’s hard to top Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore, but among his past flubs there are some truly wonderful classics.  The Wedding Singer is easily one of his greater films.  It’s the first time we got see an enchanting blend of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.  The chemistry was there, and I don’t blame Sandler for wanting to continue making movies with the adorable comedic actress.  Seven years after their first collaboration, they reunited for the off-beat comedy, 50 First Dates.  Given this was such a unique story and their chemistry was slightly apparent, I would categorize 50 First Dates in the “wonderful classics” pile.  Not my favorite, but definitely a memorable romantic comedy.  Now, after nine years since their second film, the two have joined forces once again for their new family rom-com, Blended.

After Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) endure a horrible blind date they hope to never cross paths again.  Jim a widowed father with 3 girls is still grieving his deceased wife.   Lauren a divorced mother with 2 boys just wants to bring romance back into her life.  While dealing with their own personal issues, they make sure to put their kids’ happiness first.  So when they get the chance to vacation in a luxurious African resort, the single parents jump at the opportunity hoping their kids will be thrilled.  Unfortunately they have been suckered into a family “blending” vacation, purposely meant to bring families closer together.  Oh no!  But they hate each other… I think you can already see where this is going.

Blended is not as bad as the trailers make it look, especially if you compare it to movies like Jack and Jill or That’s My Boy.  It’s a cute film. The problem is there isn’t anything special about this story to make it stand out.  In fact, his flubs may stand out more just because they were that bad.  This is a forced love story with the most cliché subplots, and the expected slap-stick moments.  The climax had to be the weakest turning point I’ve seen in any romantic comedy.

I did enjoy seeing Adam Sandler play a loving father for once.  And though he and Barrymore still play off each other well, they seemed to have lost their romantic spark in this film.  All the kids did a nice job.   Bella Thorne (Shake It Up) had some laugh out loud moments as the tomboy daughter desperate to show her feminine side.  Terry Crews (White Chicks) makes for some chuckles as the ultra-exuberant, wide-eyed, muscled lead singer of the resort’s Thathoo Harmony Group.  Also, keep an eye out for some familiar faces you’ll recognize from the stars’ past two films.

Blended is a sweet and at times heartfelt film that is exceptionally fun while watching, but when it’s over you’ll remember the scenery and not necessarily the scenes.

Rating: 2.5/5

Blended hits theaters May 23.

 “Blended” Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Petals on the Wind” is Sexier and more Deceitful than the First Installment

Petals on the Wind Official TrailerIf you thought the Dollanger clan was messed up in Flowers in the Attic, just wait till you see them freed from their “prison” and fully blossomed in the real world. It’s so wrong! Yet these characters make it seem so right! Christopher and Cathy’s relationship continues to internally conflict audiences with their brother/sister romance.

V.C. Andrews’ popular book series continues to come alive through Lifetime’s original films. (For a refresher of the first film’s premise, refer to my previous review of Flowers in the Attic)

Petals on the Wind follows Christopher, Cathy and Carrie after their escape from Foxworth Hall as children. Just a heads up, if you grew fond of the actors who played these characters in the first film, expect to see a new and an older cast as they correlate with the 10 year time jump of this sequel. The siblings were actually quite lucky when they rode the bus to Florida. They were taken in and cared for by Paul Sheffield, a wealthy doctor who leaves his estate and inheritance to the kids after his passing. As the family attempts to put their shameful past behind them, they realize certain secrets can’t stay hidden for long. When Cathy tries to get over the forbidden feelings her and Christopher developed during their captivity as young teens, she forces herself in an abusive relationship with a fellow dancer. This leaves Christopher no choice but to move on with his life, while Carrie deals with her own struggles of getting through high school. But when tragedy strikes the Dollanger’s once again, Cathy returns to Foxworth Hall to confront her grandmother and seek revenge on her mother.

What can I say? This is one twisted story. It’s unbelievable, it’s sick, and shockingly enough, it’s entertaining as hell. Fans of the novel should be pleased to see how well they incorporated most of the book’s story-lines to fit this hour and half TV movie. The film is jam packed with so much drama it will have your head spinning going from one subplot to the next.

The romance isn’t bottled up in one little attic this time around. Cathy, who is now played by a sensual Rose McIver (The Lovely Bones), may be in love with her brother, but she’s able to heat up the television screen with ANY man she’s making love to. Sadly, that temperature is only one-sided when she is embraced with Christopher. Wyatt Nash (Pretty Little Liars) plays the stoic brother who gives a lifeless and disappointing performance. Luckily, if you keep your eyes on Cathy you might not be able to notice, and either way you still root for this disturbing relationship. An emotionally scarred Carrie is impressively performed by Bailey Buntain (Bunheads) and both Ellen Burstyn and Heather Graham reprise their roles as the children’s wicked grandmother and devious mom.

From the way things pan out in this movie, you can expect another film adaptation of the next novel, and most likely the entire book series. If you enjoyed Flowers in the Attic there is no doubt that you will once again relish in the guilty pleasure that is Petals on the Wind.

Rating: 3/5

Petals on the Wind premieres on Lifetime Monday May 26 at 9p ET/PT

“Petals on the Wind” Official Trailer

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Chef” is an Appetizing Delight

Jon Favreau’s recent passion project takes the audience on a charming and delectable ride of self-discovery.

Carl Casper (Favreau) is a high strung chef who has spent years building up his name within the food industry.  But when one bad online review by the top food critic in LA gets blasted all over twitter Carl seems to take it personally and can’t shake the negative remarks.  This leads him to get on twitter himself, and start a fight with the well-known critic who has quite the following.  Eventually, the two are face to face in the restaurant and Carl has a major breakdown.  He completely goes off on a screaming rampage.

Unfortunately for Carl, the general public was there to witness and film the entire thing.  After the video of his explosion goes viral, Carl is unable to find work in any LA restaurant.  But this downfall goes uphill quick, once Carl recognizes that this is really a blessing in disguise.  The truth is he’s dreadfully unhappy with his life.  Besides the fact that he has been unable to truly share his unique culinary skills, he is also divorced from his wife (Sofia Vergara) and barely knows his son (Emjay Anthony).

During a last minute trip to Miami, he is inspired by the cooking that started it all and decides to start up a food truck.  Thus, beginning the predictable yet heartwarming road trip of father/son bonding and realizing what really makes you happy in life. Chef also showed how a “hater’s” words can also be the fuel that pushes you to succeed at your dreams.

The magnificent ensemble cast is rounded out by Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, and many more.  You can’t help but fall for the charisma of this film.  It is easily relatable to anyone who feels passionate about doing anything they love.  And as a film critic myself, I felt motivated by the fact that Carl was making his love for cooking a career no matter what the stipulations were.  I also felt a little bit of guilt for any bad review I have given in the past.  Obviously I can’t stop, but know that all reviews from an objective standpoint.

The film also greatly exemplifies the use of social media.  It is amazing how fast one tweet or Facebook post can become an internet sensation.  And if used correctly, it can be the best marketing tool.

Be sure to either eat before or dine during, because the mouth-watering dishes prepared throughout the film will have your stomachs growling.  And honestly, there is nothing you can eat after this movie that will be as satisfying as the dishes you have just seen. (Speaking of, can I get the recipe to EVERYTHING that was cooked in this film?)

Chef is a simple story that isn’t looking to compete with box office blockbusters (However, I did enjoy it more than Godzilla).  It’s a fun family film with a star-studded cast that includes plenty of laughs and a sincere message about following your heart.

Rating: 4/5

Chef opens in select theaters May 16.

“Chef” Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Mom’s Night Out” Pays a Great Homage to Mothers

It’s the film that will have every mother holding back tears as they are recognized and assured that their job as a care taker of their family is valued.

Being a mom is a 24 hour job.  And for Allyson (Sarah Drew), a stay at home mother with 3 children, the chaos never stops.  She is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and questioning her happiness in life.  All of her “dreams” have come true, yet she is miserable?  This is why when her always traveling husband (Sean Astin) is finally in town, she quickly schedules a girl’s night out with her two best friends.  Allyson, her longtime friend Izzy (Logan White) and the pastor’s wife, Sondra (Patricia Heaton) get all gussied up and ready to use their groupon for the most talked about new restaurant.  But of course, this wouldn’t be a fun family film without its obstacles.  What begins with a reservation mix up, goes onto become a night of madness involving car chases, no cell phones, dislocated shoulders, and a search for a missing baby!

It may sound like a lot to take in, but it is all handled in a controlled approach.  You won’t ever really be on the edge of your seat in this film.  The moment you almost think you’re in for some suspense,  it will quickly be squashed by a reaffirming scene that guarantees everything is okay.  Luckily, Mom’s Night Out’s main focus is not about the mystery or how everything can go wrong in one night.  This film is sending a message, surprisingly, a spiritual one that is delivered through small doses of liberal Christian sermons.  These sermons try to disguise themselves as casual conversation that somehow never feels out of place.  Early in the film we meet the three women at church and you are aware this is going to be a faith-based film, geared to resonate with young parents and multigenerational families.

The acting is what saves this film from being a potentially cheesy predictable comedy.  Sarah Drew does a great job embodying a frantic mother who is just about ready to explode at any minute.  While Sean Astin plays a more subtle and less comedic supporting husband role.  I personally enjoyed the relationship between Patricia Heaton’s character and her teenage daughter (Sammi Hanratty).  The two played off each other well, and portrayed one of the more genuine arguments in parenting.  Country singer, Trace Adkins, plays a biker tattoo artist that comes to the women’s rescue at their time of desperation.  He fails when trying to deliver moments of laughter.  But in a climactic scene that is both touching and revealing to the film’s theme, Adkins gives an effortless speech that seemingly comes from the heart as he mentions Jesus and his own mom.  He explains to Allyson that she shouldn’t be so hard on herself, questioning whether or not she’s doing things right.  He continues to say that Allyson’s role as a mom is not one that she chose, but was chosen for her by God.

Mom’s Night Out is specifically meant for moms.  I can’t say a group of teens or even young adults will want to choose this film over Neighbors, or some of the other movies opening this weekend.  But for all the moms who want to feel a great sense of appreciation this Mother’s Day, you would be most satisfied with Mom’s Night Out.

Rating: 3/5

Mom’s Night Out hits theaters May 9.

Mom’s Night Out Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Belle” is a Beautiful Tale Told by a Radiant Cast

In this day and age, if you’re young, beautiful, smart, and wealthy, you are the whole package!  Parents want to show you off, and boys are lining up to be with you.  But, in late 18th-century England all that money and poise meant nothing if your skin wasn’t the right color.

If you know the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, well then you already know how this film will end. And even if you don’t know the tale, you can make a pretty good assumption of what will happen.  Luckily the strong cast, led by the incredibly talented Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Larry Crowne), gives enough of a spell-binding performance to make us completely enthralled in this story.

After 12 Years A Slave, you may not want to endure another oppression piece.  Don’t worry; Belle is a much lighter true story with no images of physical abuse or even derogatory language.  This is actually a film the whole family can see.

Belle is a romantic drama about Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of Royal Navy officer Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode) and an African slave, who was brought to England by her father after he discovered he had a child with his former lover who was of African descent.  He then left Dido in the care of her great-uncle,  Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), the Lord Chief Justice (the highest chief justice in the land) and his wife (Emily Watson) while Lindsay returned to his Royal Navy service.

At first the two are taken aback by the idea of raising Dido, especially since they are already caring for her cousin, Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Godson).  It isn’t long before the couple fall in love with Dido and treat her as if she were their own daughter.  The only difference is she is excluded from certain events that Elizabeth is allowed to attend, and she can not to eat dinner with the family when guests are in attendance.  So yeah…basically she’s living the dream life.  The funny thing is; Dido’s father has left her his entire inheritance so she is rich!  She doesn’t need a man to take care of her, unlike her cousin who desperately is seeking a wealthy husband.  Elizabeth’s father has left her nothing; therefore she is “penniless,” which apparently was a major turn off to guys back then.  It’s not exactly something Elizabeth wants to publicize to her top choice suitor (Tom Felton) either.

Dido, on the other hand, has different conflicts to deal with once a romantic relationship develops between her and an outspoken young lawyer, John Davinier (Sam Reid).  A union that Lord Mansfield strongly disapproves of because he feels Dido is of higher class, even though Davinier is his legal apprentice.  Their romance is sweet and best of all, it isn’t rushed.  It is easy to root for this couple from the moment they first meet.

I don’t think they could have picked a more perfect cast.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw is phenomenal, and I am certain we will be seeing plenty more of her beauty gracing the silver screen.  I do hope that Tom Felton will eventually clean up and be given a character that isn’t absolutely despised or disgusting.  A leading man role is just not looking very promising for him.

For a period piece, Belle moves fast.  There is no pointless dialogue or dragged out scenes.  It is an uplifting film that connects you with its tender love story and prevailing message of strength, courage, and proudly accepting who you are and what you believe.

Rating: 3.5/5

Belle hits theaters May 9.

Belle Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on

Interviews: “Draft Day” Tom Welling & “Dom Hemingway” Richard Shepard

Tom Welling talks “Draft Day”

tom welling



Director Richard Shepard on “Dom Hemingway”

dom rich

Movie Review: “Neighbors” is One of the Most Hilarious Comedies of the Year

It is Rogen verses Efron.  And in this battle, we, the audience are the winners.

After his let down performance in That Awkward Moment, I was a bit wary when walking into this film.  I wasn’t sure if Efron could compete with Rogen in the “real” battle at hand.  Which star can generate more laughs?  And would Zac Efron offer more to the story than just his chiseled abs and deep blue eyes?  Well folks, I’m here to tell you that Zac Efron not only proves himself as a genuine comedic actor, he is also able to hold his own against Seth Rogen.  At times, he is even funnier than the Knocked Up star himself.

The more I think about this movie, the more I appreciate the whole premise.  Such a simple idea/nightmare has made for a truly fantastic laugh out loud comedy.

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) have just moved into the perfect home with their beautiful new born baby.  Kelly is a stay at home mom who gets to spend all day with baby Stella.  Mac works a 9-5 desk job that he tries to endure with a little bit of help from “Mary Jane.”  Their days are starting to feel routine, and they are unable to go out because of the baby.  It’s beginning to feel stagnant for the new parents.  But all that changes when we hear the sound of the boisterous fraternity that has moved in next door.  In hopes of keeping this a quiet neighborhood for their little girl, the couple head to the frat’s first rowdy party.  What was supposed to be a quick noise complaint visit turned into a refreshing night out for Mac and Kelly.  And after having what will probably be remembered as the best debate over “who is Batman,” Teddy and Mac form a bond and an understanding of trust is made.  Unfortunately that trust is broken within 24 hours, and leads to an epic war between the two houses.

It is hard to even pick a side because both leaders of the house are written as such likeable characters.  On one hand, you have a new father trying to prove to his wife and himself that he can handle being the responsible one, while still being cool.  Then you have the devoted frat president who spends way too much time partying, and caring about the mark he leaves behind in his brotherhood rather than thinking about the real world that is ahead of him.

Neighbors is not just carried by their two stars.  This film has a strong supporting comedic cast filled with even better cameos.  Rose Byrne is the perfect mix of wit and wholesome beauty.  Dave Franco plays Teddy’s Vice President, Pete, and shares great chemistry with his fraternity brother.  Young Franco is easily following in the footsteps of his talented, successful older brother; and I look forward to seeing him in many more projects, hopefully in leading roles.   A shout out also goes to The Mindy Project’s co-writer and cast member, Ike Barinholtz.  Like on his sitcom, Barinholtz’s role as Rogen’s best friend may not be huge, but produces enough chuckles to make him memorable.

What is most satisfying about Neighbors is how it is more than just a hilarious slapstick comedy.  There is heart and a sense of authenticity.  A lot of us are afraid to grow up. It can feel as though we will be missing out on “the party,” when in reality, your life and how you choose to live it can be the most legendary party that never ends.

Rating: 4/5

Neighbors hits theaters May 9.

Neighbors Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on

Top 5 Best Shows on ABC’s TGIF

Like most kids in any decade, Fridays were always the days I felt most anxious to be let free from school.  But growing up in the 90’s, the anticipation wasn’t from the thoughts of finally sleeping in the next morning or going outside to play with friends.  No, instead every Friday I eagerly awaited getting home, sitting in front of the TV, and watching new episodes of ABC’s Friday night line-up!  Also known as TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Funny).  In honor of the upcoming Boy Meets World spin-off, Girl Meets World, I have decided to look back, and recognize my top 5 shows that aired on the popular program.

5. Full House (1987-1995)

This was an extremely campy show about a single dad who recruits his best friend and brother-in-law to help raise his 3 daughters.  Even though it wasn’t always the best writing and unfunny jokes were supported by laugh tracks, they still attempted to tackle some tough issues like, DJ’s eating disorder and the usual peer pressures of smoking/drinking.  But with such a star studded cast, including the Olsen twins’ first break out roles, it was impossible not to fall in love with all these characters.

4. Family Matters (1989-1998)

Steve Urkel is probably one of the most annoying characters to this date.  His “Did I do that?” catchphrase still makes me cringe.  Despite all this, the writers somehow managed to have us root for him.  A part of us always wanted him with Laura, and we desperately wanted the Winslows to accept him as a second son.  And with the father’s occupation as cop, Family Matters  allowed audiences to see a different type drama and sometimes the most suspenseful episodes out of the line-up.

3. Step By Step (1991-1998)

Here’s a story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls…oh wait, I mean two lovely girls and brainy son.  So maybe Step by Step didn’t follow The Brady Bunch’s exact formula with their kids, but it was basically the modern version of the show.  Surprisingly enough, that decade made for a much more entertaining family.  Realistically, it wouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows when two single parents marry and want their teenage children to treat each other like family.  Needless to say, there would be a significant amount of fighting, which this sitcom was not afraid to show.  We got to enjoy watching these kids go from hating each other, to gradually caring for one another other as siblings.

2. Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003)

It’s crazy to think that a show about a teen witch would become one of the longest lasting series on TGIF.  So long in fact, that it moved Sabrina’s adult years to The WB.  But the show was truly its best when it was on ABC.  I think what made Sabrina a hit, was the fact that Melissa Joan Hart was so relatable.  She was a “normal” girl trying to fit in.  She had all the same problems any teenager would deal with in high school: A mean girl, tough teachers, a secret crush, etc.  It was just fun watching her solve those problems with magic.  I guess we could all live vicariously through her and only wish we had those powers.

1. Boy Meets World (1993-2000)

Boy Meets World isn’t in first place because its new spin-off.  In fact the, only reason anyone is watching that potential disaster is because we all want to see Cory and Topanga as parents.  That and we also hope to see all the other original cast members make guest appearances.  Boy Meets World easily takes the top spot because it was and still is a GREAT show.  The acting was solid, the writing was smart, and it was genuinely funny.  To this day you can still laugh when you hear Eric say “Feeny? Fa-fa-fa-fa-feeny!”  Growing up to a sitcom like this one, I can truthfully say it had an impact on my childhood.  They hit issues that most family kid shows wouldn’t even mention today: Divorce, death, abuse, true love, and so much more.  We can only hope that the Girl Meets World, set to air June 27th, will at least try to touch on some honest age appropriate topics.  So basically nothing like what Disney channel has been producing.  And please don’t give Cory Matthew’s daughter a recording contract!

Honorable Mentions: Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, Dinosaurs, Two of a Kind