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Archives for : music

Movie Review: “Marry Me” Plays a Great Beat, but Fails to Make a Hit

As a rom-com lover I am so torn on my feelings for Universal Picture’s new film, “Marry Me”. I wanted this movie to give me the same feels that Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant created in “Notting Hill”. Sure, it wasn’t the most realistic plot, but their chemistry sold it. Sadly, the only spark in this film is ignited through the music.

I would like to preface this by saying, I think both Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson have done wonderful in other romantic comedies (i.e., “The Wedding Planner” & “Wedding Crashers”). Unfortunately, they just aren’t a great match.

In “Marry Me”, Kat Valdez (Lopez), a pop superstar is set to wed a sexy singer named Bastian (played by Colombian sensation Maluma) live on TV for millions of people to see. Just before the nuptials, news breaks out that her fiancé cheated on her with her assistant. She is shocked, embarrassed, and at a loss. As she stares at her adoring crowd, she spots single dad, Charlie (Wilson), holding a “Marry Me” sign. She brings him on stage for an unexpected exchange of “I do”. What follows is the most cliché rom-com formula. They give the marriage a chance for appearances and fall in love during the process. But of course, their relationship isn’t easy. Kat is more than just a famous singer. She also markets products, and is constantly being filmed for social media. Charlie doesn’t even own a smartphone, and leads a simple life as a math teacher and father.

I don’t mind that the film is predictable. Every rom-com pretty much is, and there’s great comfort in that genre because of it. However, in order to keep these movies fresh, at the very least there needs to be a sliver of a spark between the couple we’re supposed to root for. I honestly would have been fine if Kat just ended up single making hit pop songs. She seemed more passionate about that than her relationship with Charlie. And sadly, the script did not do the cast any favors. There was not enough humor, excitement, or intrigue.

Despite all the negatives I’m saying about the film, there was still some bright spots. The diverse cast at the school gave representation of all kinds of children and teachers. Sarah Silverman playing Charlie’s coworker and friend produced multiple laughs. The music was fantastic! I’ve already ordered my soundtrack (Yes, it’s that catchy). And the brightest light of them all is the charismatic JLo. She may not have sold me on her love for Owen, but she sold me on her love for herself. As a producer on the movie, Lopez also portrays a character much like the real her; divorced three times, a pop sensation, a badass dancer, and her life is constantly on display for the world. You can’t help but admire her ability to poke fun at herself, but also show her strength.

“Marry Me” may not have had me swooning over the “romance”. However, the film made me care more for Jennifer Lopez as an artist and human being. So, not quite the Valentine’s Day movie you’re hoping for, but might satisfy the JLo fans.

Rating: C

“Marry Me” opens in theaters and streams on Peacock February 11, 2022

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Movie Review: “Sing 2” is an Upbeat Musical Blast

Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ “Sing 2” may still play a familiar tune, but this time around, they crank up the music and add a few new beats to the story.

In the first film, koala bear, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) was on the brink of having his theater shutdown until an open casting call (American Idol style) brought in various animals who were hiding their musical gift. The theater was saved! The group created a bond and a re-occurring sold out show in their small town.

The theme in “Sing” was about following your dreams and taking chances. Well, in “Sing 2”, these beloved characters are faced with the question of whether or not they are worthy of something greater.

After a talent scout dog, Suki (Chelsea Peretti), attends Buster’s reimagined “Alice in Wonderland” show; she tells him, he and his cast don’t have what it takes to make it in the big city. But that won’t stop an ambitious Buster. He gathers his crew to Redshore City (essentially Las Vegas), and they manage to sneak their way into an audition with the head of Crystal Entertainment, an intimidating white wolf named Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale). They surprisingly impress Jimmy with their spur of the moment sci-fi musical idea and mislead him to believe they know the reclusive rock legend Clay Calloway (U2’s Bono). Jimmy allows them to move forward with the show, but during rehearsals everyone seems to be facing their own obstacles. Housewife pig, Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) has to find the courage to take on the highflying stunts that come with her lead role. Rugged gorilla, Johnny (Taron Egerton) must stand up to a bullying dance teacher and prove he’s got the moves. And shy elephant, Meena (Tori Kelly) has to pull off an on-stage romance while managing her crush in real-life.

Director/writer Garth Jennings returns to make a sequel that doesn’t veer too far off from what we enjoyed about the first film, which was lovable characters performing sing-along dance numbers. “Sing 2” has a little more depth behind the melody.

As someone who is still trying to follow her dreams, this story struck a chord with me. When following any challenging career path, one of your greatest fears is that you will come to find out “you’re not good enough”. It was interesting to watch how everyone navigates this insecure thought in the movie.

One of the most endearing things about these films is the heart of its characters. Through their internal struggles they have formed a supportive friendship, and even though Buster is the most fame hungry of them all; his care for them comes first.

And U2 fans can rejoice in the moments whenever Bono is on screen. He makes a great addition to the cast and might even move audiences to tears during a heartwarming duet.

Sadly, I can’t say there’s much suspense or originality in “Sing 2”. It’s incredibly predictable. However, I don’t care! The film is much better than its predecessor. No, it won’t be able to compete with the more complex animated films this year like “Mitchell’s vs. The Machines” or “Encanto”, but it is just as fun. With so much crazy continuously going on in the world, “Sing 2” is the musical distraction the whole family can dance to.

Rating: B

“Hard Luck Love Song” Interview w/ Michael Dorman & Sophia Bush

Roadside Attractions’ new film, “Hard Luck Love Song” is based off the song “Just Like Old Times” by Todd Snider. It’s a gritty love story about a troubled musician living out of motels and making bad choices. One night he reconnects with his old flame and the two experience an emotional and unforgettable evening. I spoke with the stars of the film, Michael Dorman and Sophia Bush, to talk about personal discoveries, what puts them at ease when meeting new people, and more.

“Hard Luck Love Song” opens in theaters October 15, 2021.

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Movie Review: “The Green Knight” and “Paper Spiders”

David Lowery is an Irving High School alum who has gone on to make critically acclaimed films like “Pete’s Dragon” and “A Ghost Story”. His new movie, “The Green Knight,” is a Medieval, fantasy re-telling of Sir Gawain based on the 14th century Arthurian poem. Watch the video below to find out my thoughts on the movie, along with a review of the independent film, “Paper Spiders”, starring Lili Taylor (“The Conjuring”).

“The Green Knight” opens in theaters July 30, 2021 and “Paper Spiders” is available to rent on various VOD platforms.

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“Finding You” Early Virtual Screening!

Want to take a trip to Ireland on the evening on May 12, at 7:00pm, well here is your chance!  Join Roadside Attractions to watch the new release of “Finding You.”  Be the first to see this delightful film and tell your friends and family about your fun journey… before it hits theatres on May 14! 

You can RSVP now and the first 100 RSVPs will receive a confirmation to view the film on May 12, at 7:00pm.

RSVPs are now being taken FOR THE VIRTUAL SCREENING on May 12 at 7:00pm at   https://watch.eventive.org/findingyou/play/606f780897f06600a1eb8c7b

Use this code to login—-   Code:  25EZXT

You will receive a confirmation email once you have RSVP’d.

FINDING YOU is an inspirational romantic drama full of heart and humor about finding the strength to be true to oneself. After an ill-fated audition at a prestigious New York music conservatory, violinist Finley Sinclair (Rose Reid) travels to an Irish coastal village to begin her semester studying abroad. At the B&B run by her host family, she encounters gregarious and persistent heartthrob movie star Beckett Rush (Jedidiah Goodacre), who is there to film another installment of his medieval fantasy-adventure franchise. As romance sparks between the unlikely pair, Beckett ignites a journey of discovery for Finley that transforms her heart, her music, and her outlook on life. In turn, Finley emboldens Beckett to reach beyond his teen-idol image and pursue his true passion. But when forces surrounding Beckett’s stardom threaten to crush their dreams, Finley must decide what she is willing to risk for love.

Runtime 115 minutes

Rating PG

Based on the Book “There You’ll Find Me” by Jenny B. Jones

Cast – Rose Reid, Jedodiah Goodacre, Katherine McNamara, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Patrick Bergin, Tom Evertt Scott, Vanessa Redgrave

This film opens wide in Theaters on May 14th, 2021

Enjoy the trip!

Movie Review: “Voyagers” Gets Lost in Space

Neil Burger’s new sci-fi thriller, “Voyagers” fails to make any significant impact.

The start of the film explains how earth is growing hotter. Drought and disease have caused severe damage to the population. Scientists are looking for a new planet that can support human life, and they find one in 2063. They decide to send a group bioengineered teens into space in order to populate the new world that is hundreds of light years away. The trip will take them 86 years. Meaning their future grandkids will be the ones carrying out the end of the mission. The only adult on board is Richard (Colin Ferrell), who leads and counsels the kids as if they were his own. To prevent chaos and create order, the teens are given a “blue drink” that has essentially been drugging them, and inhibits them from feeling, really, anything. Two of the voyagers, Christopher (Tye Sheridan) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead), figure this out. Zac angrily stops taking the substance, then all hell breaks loose.

Suddenly, the movie turns into “Lord of the Flies” IN SPACE. It becomes so predictable and wild, that you just want to skip to the end. It’s not that the storyline is boring. In fact, at times it can be engaging; but it offers nothing new. The beginning makes you think this familiar tale will have a refreshing spin. But when it’s over, you’re left wondering if this really needed to be a movie?

Story wise, “Voyagers” is nothing special. But perhaps, the purpose was to showcase the talented, young actors. However, most of their impressive diverse cast were merely background noise. The film primarily focuses on Sheridan, Whitehead and Lily-Rose Depp, who plays Sela. Depp and Sheridan play off each other well and have great chemistry, but the film never dives too deep with its characters. We get to know everyone at a surface level, except for maybe Zac whose villain-like qualities gradually grow, the more jealous he gets of Christopher.

“Voyagers” is well shot. The cinematography by Enrique Chediak is beautiful. The music by Trevor Gureckis compliments the tone of the film, and provides the right amount of suspense.

Burger’s script is not bad, either, it just feels derivative. It’s disappointing when the premise of the film allowed for so much more. I mostly wish we explored the other world. The concept is realistic, and it would have been interesting to learn more about why they chose to create new life on this particular planet. Instead, “Voyagers” chooses to focus on the characters resenting their isolation, and their lack of “feeling”. They want to take advantage of getting to experience pain and all sorts of pleasure. This raises the question of whether or not they prefer a wild-life of “freedom”, or to go back to their routine, monotonous life that serves a greater purpose; one they won’t be alive to see come to fruition.

“Voyagers” may still be worth the watch for purely entertainment purposes. It’s plays out like a teen drama you’d watch on the CW. So if that’s your cup of tea, then this film is right up your alley. Otherwise, keep your expectations low, and be prepared for a rushed and underwhelming ending.

Rating: 2/5

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Interview: Writer Mike Jones talks “Soul”

“Soul” follows Joe (Jamie Foxx) , a music teacher who has lost his passion for music and sense of purpose. But when he is transported into another realm to help someone find their spark, he discovers a new appreciation for life. I chatted with writer Mike Jones to discuss the film, what little things he appreciates about life, the value in asking people questions, and much more.

“Soul” is available to stream on Disney+ December 25.

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Movie Review: “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is Not Going to be Everyone’s Jam

It’s been over 30 years since we first met Bill Preston (Alex Winters) and Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves). In their first adventure, they had to travel back in time to pass a history class. In their second trip, it was a mission to win the battle of the bands. Now they are back to fulfill the prophecy of saving the universe with their rock and roll in “Bill & Ted Face the Music”. Too bad their band, the Wyld Stallions, is pretty much washed up and haven’t made a good song in years.

Bill and Ted are now middle-aged men still married to their wives, Joanna and Elizabeth (now played by Erin Hayes and Jayma Mays), and fathers to two teenage girls, Thea and Billie (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine). The two still have hearts of gold, but are more clueless than ever. It seems as though their daughters take after their fathers.

As the plot begins, Bill and Ted are assigned by Kelly (Kristen Schaal), daughter of George Carlin’s time-traveling tour guide, to write a song that will save the world from temporal collapse. Only problem; they only have 75 minutes to do it. To make the deadline, the two dudes set out to travel in time to find versions of themselves that have already written the song so they can plagiarize their own work. Meanwhile, their daughters embark on a parallel quest to put together the best back-up band ever, which includes past icons like Jimi Hendrix (DazMann Still) and Kid Cudi, as himself.

It pains me to say I was not the biggest fan of this film. And yes, I enjoyed the first two movies. Don’t get me wrong. The entire cast does a great job with the material they are given; and it is so wonderful to see so many of the original cast back together again, especially, William Sadler as Death. Even a new addition, like Anthony Carrigan as Dennis Caleb McCoy had hilarious one-liners.  The issue here is the script.

The premise is solid and simple, which with I have no problem. It’s the dialogue and in-between that is so ridiculous. Even though the film is around the same runtime as its predecessors, it feels rushed due to the multiple characters and chaos. The film is just all over the place.

By the time the movie finally finds its rhythm, it’s basically over. There’s an over-the-top ending that has a decent but surface-level message about how we should all try to be more excellent to each other, but it’s not worth the hour and 20 minutes of disarray it took to get there.

Unfortunately, “Bill & Ted Face the Music” didn’t capture the same whimsy and charm we’ve seen before. I’ll admit, even if I knew the film was bad I’d still want to see these guys finish out their journey. So that being said, if you’re a newbie to the franchise, I suggest you skip this one. But, if you are a fan of the original films you may be too curious not to see if, and how they finally save the world.

Rating: 2/5

“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is available On Demand and in Select Theaters.

Movie Review: “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is a Musical Delight

Image result for mamma mia 2 poster

The whole Mamma Mia gang is back! But this time we’re looking back to see how it all started.

Ten years ago the first “Mamma Mia!” introduced us to Donna (Meryl Streep) and her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). At the time, Sophie was engaged to her then fiancée Sky (Dominic Cooper), and wanted to know her father was so that he could attend the wedding. Given that there were three possible candidates, she invited all three of her mother’s past lovers, Sam, Harry, and Bill (Pierce Brosnon, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard) to her wedding. After meeting the three men, they fall in love with Sophie and they all commit to being her father.

Now in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” Sophie is pregnant and this sparks a stroll down memory lane. Flashbacks allow us to see when her mother met her fathers, and how it eventually led to her birth. Right after college, young Donna (Lily James) decides to take a European trip. Along the way she runs into a much younger Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan), and Sam (Jeremy Irvine). All three newcomers do a fantastic job and leave lasting impressions.

But it’s Lily James who steals the show with her striking beauty and incredible voice. Who knew this girl could sing!? James’ energy and charisma leaps off the screen. However, she’s not the only one with popping vocals. Amanda Seyfried continues to sing with voice of a Disney Princess, and her on screen Grandma played by the one and only, Cher, brings down the whole house with her powerful vocals.

The only thing more stunning than the music was the setting in Greece. The crystal blue waters and landscape is eye candy to even someone who doesn’t care about what else is going on.

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is a film that moves quickly. Since we are given brief moments in about a song length capacity with each man Donna meets, the film never lags. Although, I would not have minded seeing a longer storyline between young Donna and Sam. James’ and Irvine’s romantic chemistry makes us realize why the two characters immediately fall for each other again in the first film.

Though the plot is corny and the random bursts into song can be cheesy at times, it just doesn’t matter. Take “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” for what it is; and that’s a fun, toe-tapping musical that everyone can enjoy.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” opens in theaters July 20.

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Concert Review: ‘Jason Mraz’ Mesmerizes At The Winspear Opera House

Jason Mraz continues to let his voice do all the work.  Not relying on flashy lights, crazy props, or even choreography to distract from his hauntingly gifted vocals.


Have you had a bad day?  Or maybe you just think life sucks in general?  If that’s the case, it might be time to alter your negative perspective and start looking on the bright side of things.  Jason Mraz performed his latest uplifting album, YES!, in a packed opera house filled with audiences who were entranced by every word spoken and every lyric sung.  Mraz is probably one of the most genuinely grateful and happy artist out there, and he makes sure to spread that positive aura.

This is my third Jason Mraz concert. And I will tell you that, besides the incredible music, the best thing about his live performances is his banter in-between songs.  He is quick-witted, funny, and a smart story teller.  He understands how to be philosophical without being preachy.

Mraz introduced his opening band, thanked his audience for their support and choosing to spend a night with him instead of in their beds.

Mraz’s opening act/partners, Raining Jane, were the perfect addition to his special, stripped down, instrumental show.  After Raining Jane sang three of their own songs, Mraz joined them on stage for a magical collaboration.  These girls were no background singers.  In fact, they stood by Mraz’s side during the entire show.  Raining Jane gave Mraz the unique flair he was hoping for in order to keep each concert tour fresh.  The band only heightened the Grammy winner’s voice, by actually letting us clearly hear all his beautiful lyrics.

Though the show primarily featured songs from YES!, including the hit single, “Love Someone,” Mraz also played many old favorites, including “Remedy” and “I’m Yours.”

I love going to concerts, and seeing a singer that can get me dancing up out of my seat is of course great.  But, watching an artist truly hold an audience for nearly 2 ½ hours solely on their voice is the reason I love listening to live music.  Jason Mraz never disappoints, and this latest performance at Dallas’ Winspear Opera House is hands down Mraz’s best concert tour yet.