Why is it that when Blockbuster was around, I never went there but now that they've shut them all down, I'm dying to find a video store that still rents DVDs near the house?

Why is it that when Blockbuster was around, I never went there but now that they’ve shut them all down, I’m dying to find a video store that still rents DVDs near the house?

I hope you’ve already ordered your flowers and bought your cards.  Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and I would hate for you to wind up in the doghouse for forgetting.  If you don’t have a plan yet, get going folks.  You’re running out of time.

If, however, you are like me and without a significant other this Valentine’s Day, you might end up doing what I plan on doing: watching movies and eating ice cream on the couch in flannel pajama bottoms.  Don’t judge.  It’s been cold lately.

Once of my friends told me the other day, “Hey Collin, maybe you should review some romantic movies for February.  It might help folks figure out something they can watch with their boyfriend or girlfriend.  Like Bridget Jones’s Diary or something.”  After stopping myself from biting my buddy, I replied “Sure, why not?”  So, I borrowed a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary from my friend, found another good love story to watch for my reviews and sat down to what I assumed would be 3 – 4 hours of movies making me feel bad about being alone on Valentine’s Day.  Imagine my surprise when I put the Bridget Jones’s Diary DVD in and it started playing without the sound.  I tried all manner of things to get the sound to work but no dice.  Part of me was relieved that I wasn’t going to have to sit through it but then I remembered I had promised my buddy I would watch it.

As I am a cougar of my words, I decided that I would indeed watch the movie regardless of whether I could hear it or not.  So here is my review of what I think Bridget Jones’s Diary is about.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) [Rated R]

Renee Zellweger plays charming, “every woman” Bridget Jones who appears to work for a publishing company in London and wears Spanx.  Her mom is trying to set her up with Collin Firth.  The first meeting doesn’t really work out.  Instead,  Bridget falls for Hugh Grant who appears to be her boss.  Curiously mirroring his real life, Hugh Grant’s character is a bit of a jerk and Bridget catches him cheating on her with another woman so she moves back to where her parents live and ends up falling for Collin Firth.  Then Hugh Grant pops back up.  He has a fight with Collin Firth but in the end it doesn’t matter because the charming, quiet guy beats the handsome bad boy and wins Bridget’s heart.

“Collin!  You just ruined the movie!”  Come on, you knew that was going to happen.  You knew she was going to end up with one of them when you saw the DVD cover.  Regardless, that’s pretty close to what happened in the movie, right?  I figure having the sound working might add a little nuance here and there but I’m pretty sure I got the idea right.  So what did I think of it?  Eh . . . doesn’t look bad but doesn’t look great.  Zellweger got an Oscar nod for this but I’ve got to tell you, unless her dialogue is incredibly well performed, I didn’t see anything special here besides an inordinate amount of puckered lips and squinty eyes.  I’m going to have to give it a 5.  It just seemed to be the same old love story told the same old way.  I need your help on this though guys and gals.  Am I right or wrong on this one?  Do I need to re-watch this with sound or can I let this one go?

5 paws out of 10

I Hate Luv Storys (2010) [Rated PG]

Yeah, I spelled that right.  This one was recommended to me by another friend and I have to give her credit, she did a good job on that recommendation.  I Hate Luv Storys is light-hearted Bollywood romance that interestingly got sort of trashed by critics for being clichéd.  Um, it’s a romance.  It’s going to be clichéd.

The story is about Jay (played by Imran Khan), who works for a film company and, as you may guess, hates love stories.  He’s a happily single bachelor who has no intention of settling down when he meets Simran (Sonam Kapoor).  Simran is engaged to the perfect guy, Raj, and finds Jay’s distaste for romance to be too much for her to deal with.  But deal with it she must as Jay’s boss puts Jay on Simran’s team (she’s a set designer and he is going to be her assistant).  You can see where this is going already, can’t you.

There are no surprising plot twists in I Hate Luv Storys.  You know where the story is going. The dialogue, while genuinely witty and charming, was never going to win any awards.  This is a popcorn-and-cuddles with your significant other on a Friday night, sort of movie.  Don’t take it too seriously.  Just enjoy the beautiful sets, the chemistry between the two leads, the sumptuous colors and the wonderfully staged, if slightly out of place, song and dance numbers.  I’m serious about that last part.  Make sure you turn your surround sound up when you watch this because the songs are really good.

If you have never watched a Bollywood movie before, this is a pretty decent place to start.  It’s light, funny and easily accessible.  It’s a little long being just over 2 hours in length and the second half drags a bit but if you can accept it for what it is at the core, you might just find yourself a winner, kinda like your Valentine sitting next to you.

6.5 paws out of 10

Last but not least, for those of us who won’t be watching love stories on Valentine’s Day, I’ve got one more review for you.

Ender’s Game (2013) [Rated PG-13]

Good news, folks, no love story in this one!  Instead, we have a story about children, the morals of war and intergalactic genocide.  You know, light-hearted stuff.  Also, for those of you who were curious, I didn’t pay to see the movie, a buddy of mine took me.  It was all his idea.

“Wasn’t this a book,” you are asking me?  Yes, and as with all books made into movies, don’t expect it to be a perfect visualization of the novel.  If you can go into it with a clear head, though, I think you’ll find it quite entertaining even if it is a little strange in parts.

If you don’t know the story already, here’s the rundown.  Earth has been ravaged by ant-like aliens known as the Formics but is saved at the last minute by a hero, Mazer Rackham.  Seventy years later, the aliens are back and Earth’s last hope are a bunch of genius children who are trained in combat by Harrison Ford.  The Earth’s best hope is Ender Wiggin who is separated from his family and sent to battle school to train to fight the Formics.

It’s a really good setup and, actually, the plot of the movie holds up fairly well.  For a book that has been labelled unfilmable for so long, they actually do a pretty good job visualizing things.  Really, the only place that the movie stumbles for me is in the acting.  Harrison Ford does his Harrison Ford thing.  Ben Kingsley does his Ben Kingsley thing.  The real trouble I have is with the child actors. I have a sneaking suspicion it was the direction they were given and not their choices that caused them to err.  I get that it is the future and everything is supposed to be cold and technical but those kids just did not emote any palpable emotion.  Even when Ender is angry, I just didn’t feel connected to his character.  There just wasn’t enough warmth in his performance for you to care about him.

Again, I would bet that the cold performances by the children are at the director’s bequest.  That aside, the director Gavin Hood, actually made a pretty decent adaptation of the novel and an entertaining movie with a strong moral center.  Don’t let his previous directorial job, X-Men Origins Wolverine, sway you.  He’s actually a very capable director with Ender’s Game.

7 paws out of 10

As always, if you have a movie you think I should check out or you want to talk further about one of these reviews, drop me a line at collincougar@collin.edu or leave me a message on Facebook.

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