Annie – A Musical Treat For Children!

The holiday seasons will kick start with Will Gluck directed musical Annie starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhane Wallis in the title role. Based on a 1924 comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, this is the third film adaptation following 1982 film starring Aileen Marie Quinn and Albert Finney and the 1999 direct-to-television movie starring Alicia Morton and Victor Garber.

The movie tells the story of a 10 year old orphan girl Annie (Wallis) who stays in a foster home run by Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) with few other orphans. Annie visits a restaurant every Friday with the hope of reuniting with her real parents who left a note for her while they abandoned her in front of the restaurant.

Colleen who used to be a performer is now living a miserable life and has turned bitter towards the girls who are in her care and make their life hell. Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a cell phone mogul  “Stacks Mobile” is running for mayor. He is supported by his adviser Guy (Bobby Cannavale), his assistant Grace (Rose Byrne), and bodyguard Nash (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje). Will is a germaphobe and not very popular with voters compared to the current favorite Harold Gray (Peter Van Wagner). Will goes to feed the homeless and tries to eat the mashed potatoes to show how much he cares, only for him to spit it out in the face of a homeless man.

Annie is unable to learn anything about her parents since she’s not in the system. She walks home depressed and sees two boys annoying a dog. Annie runs, yelling at them to stop and is about to be hit by a vehicle when Will saves her. A passerby records the event on mobile and soon the video goes viral improving Will’s chances. On the advice of Guy he brings Annie home for a day to have lunch with her while the media covers the event.

Soon Annie does the impossible for Will as more and more people start favoring him and soon he signs papers and adopts her for the time being. So what happens to Will and Annie? Does he exploit her for his ambition to become a Mayor or change as a human being? Would Annie find her parents and lead a normal life? These questions get answered as you watch the movie.

The movie is quite entertaining and you will definitely feel attached to Annie and Will. Wallis displays a heartfelt performance and so does Foxx. The supporting cast also provide ample support. Director Will Gluck does a wonderful job of keeping the soul of the original story intact while he puts his own twist. The songs are again a plus point apart from the other technicalities of the movie.

On the whole, go for the movie with your kids and they will definitely thank you!

My Verdict: ****
Poor – *, Average – **, Good – ***, Very Good – ****, Excellent – *****

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Serena – Watch it for Jennifer Lawrence!

Serena‘ directed by Susanna Bier was one of the most anticipated movies of the year starring the dream couple Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. With every movie Jennifer at an young age is heading the Meryl Streep way. Each and every performance is praiseworthy and as an actor she has matured a lot. It’s a sheer pleasure watch her enact one character after another in every movie starring her. Similarly, Serena which is a movie adaptation of Ron Rash’s novel of the same name is worth watching only for Jennifer and then Bradley. Their chemistry is scorching and they compliment each other on screen.
The movie is set in 1929 during the depression era – North Carolina. George Pemberton (Cooper) is a timber merchant who is struggling to maintain the future of his timber empire. Serena (Lawrence) is married to George and she has a troubling past where her entire family perished in an accidental fire leaving her an orphan. Trouble starts in their marriage when Serena undergoes a miscarriage and is informed by the doctor that she will never be able to get pregnant. Selena suddenly becomes more possessive of George and when his secret liking towards his son born out of wedlock to a servant woman Rachel (Ana Ularu) is revealed to her she is bent on killing the child and Rachel.

The story is sluggish and falls flat however Lawrence takes the movie to another heights with her performance. This is one of the bestest performances by her and might even help her get noticed in the upcoming awards seasons. Bradley Cooper is as usual and remains true to the character. The performances by rest of the supporting actors are also good. 

The cinematography and editing is good however the screenplay could have been better. Direction by Bier is average and leaves a lot to be desired.

On the whole watch Serena only for Jennifer. It’s a fiesta for Jennifer’s fans.

My Verdict: **
Poor – *, Average – **, Good – ***, Very Good – ****, Excellent – *****

Happy Ending – Worth A Dekho!

The kind of movies that made Saif Ali Khan a super star today are the ones like Dil Chahta Hai, Salaam Namaste, Hum Tum, Love Aaj Kal and Cocktail. This week’s release ‘Happy Ending’ also falls under the same genre and therefore like all his previous similar attempts this one directed by Raj & DK is again an endearing movie.

In the years that followed Dil Chahta Hai, the directors would have changed in every movie that Saif worked but the feel, look, characters and dialogues remains the same. However this time Saif has a wonderful companion in Govinda who takes the tempo of the movie to another hilarious height. How I miss Govinda on screen these days :).

Coming to the story, it is definitely a spoof on all the rom-coms we would have ever seen in our life. Yudi (Saif Ali Khan) is a bestselling novelist who has everything in his life – fame, money and girls. Being a commitment phobic he never went past the dating stage and cut to five and a half years later he is broke, with no other book written after his first one. He has a stalker girlfriend Vishakha (Kalki) and a new competitor in the form of budding bestselling author Aanchal Reddy (Ileana D’cruz).

His agent brings him a proposal to write a rom-com for Superstar of the masses Armaan-ji (Govinda) who wants to make an entry into the multiplex genre of movies. In between his personal and professional crisis the inevitable happens, Yudi falls in love with the equally commitment phobic Aanchal. What happens is something you need to find out.

Performancewise Saif fits the role to the T playing Yudi and his alter-ego Yogi. He is hilarious, he emotes well and gets into the character from the word go. Govinda is in his bestest element. He is a pleasure to watch and the way he has made fun on himself and the kind of Hindi movies being churned out is quite hilarious. Ileana does a wonderful job and one can forget the nonsensical ‘Tu Mera Hero’ or ‘Phata Poster Nikla Hero’ disasters. She still shows some promise. Ranvir Sheorey as Saif’s friend Montu does a decent job. 

Kalki as the stalking girlfriend of Saif does a wonderful job. Although it is an extension of her act in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara character still she does a great job. Priety Zinta still has the charm to floor the audience even in a small role as Saif’s ex-girlfriend turned friend. I believe our industry is not doing justice to a great talent like Zinta’s. Kareena in a cameo is good.

Music is the hero of this movie. In fact every song stands out and is not a surprise gap filler in the movie. The locales of SFO and LA has been captured endearingly by the cinematographer. Choreography by Remo D’souza is good especially ‘Nacho Saare G Phadke’ song.

Raj & DK does a good job better from his previous disaster ‘Go Goa Gone’. The story and screenplay is good although there are traces of ‘Californication’ a hit TV sitcom in the US. However as they had claimed the movie to be a spoof on romantic comedies they definitely justify the same.

On the whole it is a good movie and will do well among the youngsters.

My Verdict: ***
Poor – *, Average – **, Good – ***, Very Good – ****, Excellent – *****

Dumb and Dumber To!

It’s not that only Bollywood churns out inane movies in the name of entertainment. This week’s release ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ is a perfect example of how to make a dumb movie that does not make sense or raise laughter.

After 20 years of its prequel ‘Dumb and Dumber’ director duo Peter Farrelly-Bobby Farrelly come out with a crasy sequel starring the original cast of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels who reprise their roles of dimwits Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas. Not that the original was a masterpiece however it was much funnier and raised more laughs compared to the direct sequel released recently.

After 20 years Jeff Daniels character Harry Dunne finds a mail from his ex-lover Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner) informing him of a daughter born to him. Harry who is suffering from a kidney problem wants to get in touch with his biological daughter Penny (Rachel Melvin) to borrow a kidney. So along with his dimwit soulmate for a friend Lloyd (who has a secret desire to get jiggy with Penny) Harry goes in search for his newly discovered daughter who is given away for adoption. However while they are in search of Penny they encounter few misadventures in the form of
Penny’s evil foster stepmother (Laurie Holden) and her minion (Rob Riggle).

The entire movie does not make any sense and with gross humor and patent Jim Carrey faces you cannot stretch an entire movie. The jokes does not make any sense nor laughter. One can actually feel that the sequel was made only to cash in on the original which was a hit. It is really sad to see an actor of Jim Carrey’s strature who gave a wonderful performance in ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ or ‘Bruce Almighty’ stooping to such levels.

On the whole I would not recommend this movie to anyone as even a die-hard fan of Jim Carrey who enjoys his staple brand of movies might also not find favor in this misadventure of a movie.

My Verdict: *

Poor – *, Average – **, Good – ***, Very Good – ****, Excellent – ***** 

Kill Dil or Kill The Director!

What is happening to our good old YRF? It’s been ages we saw some sensible movie from this giant movie stable. This week we have ‘Kill Dill‘ directed by Shaad Ali (after a long hibernation). Like Rip Van Winkle who woke up after years from his deep slumber to see how world changed while he was asleep, Shaad is still trying to figure out where he belongs.

After giving a frame to frame copy of Mani Rathnam‘s ‘Alay Payuthe‘ as ‘Saathiya‘ and an uninspired version of ‘Bonnie & Clyde‘ in ‘Bunty Aur Babli‘, Shaad makes another non-nonsensical movie like his last almost decade old release ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom‘. I would like to ask Shaad, why did you wake up to make a bad movie like ‘Kill Dill‘? It was better you remained asleep.

Dev (Ranveer) and Tutu (Ali) are two orphans found in a dustbin and brought up by Bhaiyaji (Govinda) to become dreaded professional killers as they grow up. Dev falls in love with Disha (Parineeti) who is a social worker hell bent on reforming the society. Dev leads a dual life to please his lady love and Bhaiyaji. The day Bhaiyaji comes to know about Dev’s transformation and steps he is taking to lead a normal life, he reveals his secret to Disha. Then what happens to Dev and Disha’s love story and against Bhaiyaji’s possessiveness towards Dev and Tutu is something you would not want to know. In fact I feel you would just want to leave the auditorium cursing the makers for wasting your time, money and causing a headache.

The performances are wonderful I must admit. Ranveer is endearing and he lives the character of Dev to the ‘T’. Govinda as usual is superb and so is Parineeti and Ali. The movie falters at the execution level. Shaad has not made a bad movie, he has in fact made the movie badly. A different director would have done a better job.

Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is good but you will get bored watching them unfold on the screen one after the another. Background music is good especially the signature ‘Cowboy‘ style music. Editing and cinematography is good and so are the dialogues.

On the whole, this is not even a one time watch movie.

My Verdict: *

Poor – *, Average – **, Good – ***, Very Good – ****, Excellent – *****

The Shaukeens – Movie Review

The_Shaukeens_2

Remaking old classics should be made punishable in India. This week’s release ‘The Shaukeens‘ is a classic case of borrowing a plot in the name of remaking and then killing the soul of the movie and the audience’s minds. Director Abhishek Sharma‘s second outing is as disappointing as contrast to his debut ‘Tere Bin Laden‘ which was quite hilarious and had a soul.

The story is about three sex deprived old men played by Annu Kapoor, Piyush Mishra and Anupam Kher who after trying their hand in getting laid with women in India head to Mauritius. There they rent out a cottage belonging to Lisa Haydon who is an eccentric and dumb designer who loves to stalk Akshay Kumar and is willing to do anything to meet the superstar. Taking advantage of the situation the three old men one after the other use different means to get her to meet Akshay Kumar in the hope of getting laid with the dumb belle.

The story delves on a thin plot line which runs out of steam in few minutes. Rest whatever run time of the movie is just stretched out to make it last for 2 hours. The Akshay Kumar track is hilarious but it looks like a different movie stitched to the sex starved old men’s story.

Songs pop up at different intervals giving no link to the main story or plot. The direction is quite amateurish and the story, screenplay is plain bad. The dialogues are witty at certain places and evokes few laughter.

Performance wise all the three main characters played by Annu Kapoor, Anupam Kher and Piyush Mishra stand out. Akshay in an extended cameo is good however Lisa does not live upto the promise she showed in ‘Queen‘.

The music is bad apart from ‘Manali Trance‘ and editing is quite patchy. The background score is nothing great to rave about and so is the cinematography which is quite average. On the whole it is a badly made movie with some good performances.  

My Verdict: *  

Poor – *, Average – **, Good – ***, Very Good – ****, Excellent – *****