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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Ally Sheedy

Welcome to the Rileys (2010)

Need a better outlook on your life? Call up a hooker.

James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo play the titular Doug and Lois Riley, a married couple whose relationship has become lifeless and frozen due to both of their reactions to the death of their daughter Emily. An encounter with Mallory (Kristen Stewart), an underage stripper in a dingy local club, where Doug only wants to pay her to talk to him, eventually leads to a cautious friendship between the two and a realization of life for everybody.

There’s not much of a story to Welcome to the Rileys and it never really offers any surprises, but it’s not boring, or better yet, all that conventional. Because where the movie excels in, is the smaller, more low-key moments in this story that make it more than just your typical tale of a sad person, helping out another sad person, who also just so happens to be a hooker. It’s a simple, tried and true story we’ve seen done a hundred times before, but writer/director Jake Scott, the son of Ridley, does all that he can to make it so much more.

"Wanna come on down to the Bada Bing?"

“Wanna come on down to the Bada Bing?”

Still, it is a pretty simple tale and because of that, it’s hard to fall in love with it.

If there is anything to be found here to fall in love with, it’s each of the performances from the key three leads.

James Gandolfini is great here as Doug Riley, because while there’s something deep and a little dark about him, there’s also something very sweet, earnest, endearing and relatively compassionate about him that makes you believe that he could do something as oddball as this. Every time the guy smiles, you feel a certain drip of happiness pour out from the screen and because of that, you cannot help but just love him and enjoy his presence on-screen. There’s no doubt that Gandolfini was the king of playing mean, nasty and downright grotesque thugs, but he did also excel at giving us characters with hearts and it’s nice to get that reminder – one which, unfortunately, we never quite got the chance to see more of.

Gandolfini almost gets his own show taken away from him though, from Melissa Leo who gives off a very natural and realistic performance as the still-grief-ridden mother, Lois. Leo’s character starts off as a bit of a nutcase as she never comes out of the house because of what happened, but as time rolls on you start to see a more round human-being come out of her and the things that she does and as soon as her pretty face pops into the story big-time about half-way through, the story itself hits a big boost that made it more of a delight to watch. It’s also nice to get a movie where the couple at the center, despite all of the hardships that brought them to this point, still do love and trust one another with all their hearts. Leo and Gandolfini, as a married-couple, would have probably been a great movie on its own, but here, they get a chance to create something lovely and nice. It’s something you don’t usually see in movies and it’s great to realize that trust is still one of the biggest elements in a relationship in order to make it work.

Oh, K-Stew. Shut up and be happy!

Oh, K-Stew. Shut up and be happy!

And yes, Kristen Stewart is also good as Mallory. Granted, she does have the more clichéd role, as whom is, essentially, “hooker with a heart of gold”, but this also helps make her performance much better and impressive. There’s something sad about her character that makes you want to reach out to her, too, but there’s also some sort of mystery, too. The scenes between her and Gandolfini’s character could have easily been creepy and cringe-inducing, but the two have a solid chemistry that truly does seem like a loving, lasting relationship that isn’t played so one can get their kicks off, but so that they both can feel some meaning in their lives.

It’s all so sweet, simple and obvious, but that’s how life works and it’s why Welcome to the Rileys works.

Consensus: The story and message may be a bit of your usual, hokey pokey, after-school special stuff that we are used to seeing in these types of dramas, however, the strong performances from the trio of leads make Welcome to the Rileys one-step above the ordinary stuff we are used to seeing with human-dramas such as this one.

6.5 / 10

Who wants a K-Stew, when you could have a M-Leo?

Who wants a K-Stew, when you could have a M-Leo?

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)

This film actually could have used some elmo to brighten things up.

Best friends and recent Georgetown grads Jules (Demi Moore), Billy (Rob Lowe), Wendy (Mare Winningham), Alex (Judd Nelson), Leslie (Ally Sheedy) and Kevin (Andrew McCarthy) struggle with the newfound responsibilities of life in the real world in this classic Brat Pack drama from director Joel Schumacher. The group copes with drug addiction, infidelity, unrequited love and restlessness in between visits to their favorite college bar, St. Elmo’s.

There was a time when I looked upon this movie as my all-time favorite, a film that helped me define who and what I was. Well, that has changed as I’ve grown older and (hopefully) wiser, but I still have a fondness for this film.

I liked how Joel Schumacher kept this whole film intact without getting it too out of hand. It tells each story as the characters progress, and we understand the situations they go through and what they are doing in their lives as it goes on. The themes of love, life, and addiction all come into play in this film and although I think the love part was used too much, most of the themes were shown very well.

I think the film could have been a bit better with a lighter tone as it did at times. The screenplay is very well-written with a lot of of wit and drama but there are times where the drama just shut me out from this movie because it was kind of annoying.

This is not just a movie about the 80s or about life after college, it is a story about any group of men and women who are closely linked to each other’s lives for any period of time. No matter what brought you together, times will always change, those days will always end and the clarity of hindsight is never what you’re feeling at the time. But it’s the small decisions that make big changes.

The cast is pretty good since they are all so young but I didn’t sense a whole connection of everyone in the group, or maybe only a couple. Demi Moore is very good here and shows off her acting chops very early in her career here as the slut, I guess you could call her. Judd Nelson also does the second best job here and has some very heart-breaking scenes by the end of the film that really do pay-off. Rob Lowe I didn’t like and thought was way too much of an asshole to actually like, because he treated everybody like crap and expected not to get it back in return.

Consensus: St. Elmo’s Fire is a nice and sweet coming-of-age film, that has good performances, and a simple direction from Schumacher, but doesn’t get past its ultra dramatic appearance, and will throw some viewers off.

7/10=Rental!!!