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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Nathan Lane

At First Sight (1999)

Eyes open or closed, we all know Mira Sorvino is downright beautiful.

Young architect Amy Benic (Mira Sorvino) needs a break from the busy high-life of Manhattan and decides to go out to the country-side, relax, and get her massage on. While she’s getting that on, she falls under the spell and hands of the masseur Virgil Adamson (Val Kilmer). She instantly clicks with him and realizes that there’s something between the two that’s as rare as it can be. Rare, because Virgil’s also blind and has no idea what she looks like, or anything else for that matter.

Watching all of these sappy, romantic-dramedies can honestly do a number on a person. Nicholas Sparks has dulled the senses so much, that even when something relatively sweet, sort of nice comes around, it’s hard to fully embrace it. For someone like me, I’m just so used to saccharine, annoying romantic-junk that yeah, it makes you forget about actual solid romantic-flicks out there in the world.

Sort of like At First Sight. But also, sort of not like At First Sight.

Let me explain.

Well, close enough.

Well, close enough.

Granted, it’s nothing special, but it works at being a piece of romantic-drama that you can root-root-root for the couple, and just hope that they end up together because you can see that they’re good people, have the best intentions for one another, and most of all, love each other like silly. Isn’t that what we all want to be reminded of when we watch sap-fests such as these? Well yes, as well as the ability to love and be loved is still out there and if you have a heart big enough to allow that into your soul, that even you can come under it’s spell? I think so, and I think that’s why I actually didn’t mind this movie as much as I was planning to.

Val Kilmer is a nice fit as our blind man for the two hours (way, way, way too long for my liking!), Virgil Adamson. Despite how he may be behind the scenes, Kilmer has always had a certain cool, suave charm about him, which is what works well for this character here, who could have easily just been a later-day saint who also happened to be blind. It’s also a nice refresher to see him play a much softer, more romantic-side, even though the movie surrounding him is, yes, corny and undeniably syrupy beyond belief.

But like I said, the guy’s so charming, he makes it work.

Daredevil totally ripped this movie off!

Daredevil totally ripped this movie off! Damn Ben Affleck!

Playing his love bird for the two hours (once again, way, way, way too long for my liking!), is Mira Sorvino as Amy. Sorvino is always a charmer and is as cute-as-a-button that whenever she smiles, it’s so easy to just feel all warm and gooey inside. She’s got that beautiful look to her that works to her advantage and it’s just great to see that in an actress that can make bad material like this work, even if we do see it coming a hundred-upon-a-hundred miles away. You actually believe that she could fall in love with a guy like this, knock down all of the problems of being blind, and just look at the person instead. It’s obvious stuff, but Sorvino and Kilmer make it work together and if it weren’t for these two in the roles, it’d be really hard to get through this thing.

Then, there’s Kelly McGillis who eventually shows up as Vrigil’s sister that is always there for him and watching over him and is okay, but also where the movie really starts to go off-the-rails. The first hour, while cheesy, is sweet, soft and enjoyable enough to where it’s a nice piece of time passing-by, because it’s never taking itself all that seriously. But then, miraculously, as soon as McGillis rears her head in, everything gets a bit bonkers and far too serious. It certainly doesn’t help the fact that she’s always yelling, upset, and crying about something going on. Thankfully, Nathan Lane is here to save the day and as usual, use his comedic-charm to his ability and have us love the guy like never before.

So when in doubt, just trust Nathan Lane.

Consensus: Is it predictable? Yes. Is it obvious? Yes. Is it long? Hell yes! Is it at least entertaining? Ehh, sure. At First Sight may not throw you any curve balls you won’t see coming at you miles away, but Kilmer and Sorvino at least make the material seem more than just your average, run-of-the-mill romantic-drama, even if that’s exactly what it is.

5 / 10

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you not supposed to pet those dogs or something?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you not supposed to pet those kinds of dogs or something?

Photos Courtesy of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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Frankie and Johnny (1991)

It’s always those ex-cons who will steal your heart away. Literally.

After Johnny (Al Pacino) gets released from prison following a small, but still effective forgery charge, he quickly lands a job as a short-order cook at a New York diner, where he hopes to not just get his feet back on the ground, but go back to living the kind of fun and exciting life that he was living before he was sent to the clink. And he finds that with waitress Cora (Kate Nelligan), who he actually has something of a brief fling with; while she wants it and expects it to be more, little does Cora know that Johnny wants Cora’s friend and fellow waitress Frankie (Michelle Pfeiffer). Due to a long, checkered history with men, love and relationships, Frankie’s not all that interested in any of the advances Johnny makes towards her. While she finds him charming and handsome, she mostly wants to focus on herself now at this stage in her life, and not worry about somebody else tying her down. But eventually, Frankie gives in and decides to give Johnny a chance after all, which is when the sparks begin to fly and, all of a sudden, Frankie finds herself in something that she may not be able to get herself out of.

Oh, Al. So weird.

Oh, Al. So weird.

You wouldn’t know it or expect it, but Frankie and Johnny will sneak up on ya. While Garry Marshall has never been considered the most subtle director out there, he does something neat and interesting here with Frankie and Johnny in that he just allows for the story to tell itself out, piece by piece, little by little, so that by the end, we not only feel like we got the full story of these people, but also had a nice little slice of life that we may not have been able to get anywhere else. There’s a certain sense that Marshall enjoys these characters just as much as we do, so instead of rushing the plot and making everything seem like it has to go somewhere, Marshall takes a step back, relaxes and allows for everything to just speak for itself.

And also, for Al Pacino to ad-lib his rump off.

But hey, who’s better at ad-libbing and making stuff up on the fly than Al Pacino? Nobody, that’s who! While watching Pacino play around with this character of Johnny, you get the idea that he saw the script, saw it as another romantic-dramedy that women and their mothers will all go out to see, but also saw a sweet paycheck involved, so instead of passing on it, he decided to just have some fun. After all, when you’re as wildly talented as Al Pacino, who is going to tell you what you can and cannot do when it comes to how you approach a role?

Maybe Marshall had an issue with Pacino seeming as if he’s making everything up on the fly here, or maybe he didn’t, but either way, it kind of works. It not only adds a certain level of excitement and personality to this character, but makes him seem a lot odder than the script may have originally made him out to be. So rarely do we see rom-coms, or better yet, movies where one of the leads may not be perfectly sane; while they’re not clinically insane, or tearing at the walls, they’re still a bit loopy and seem as if they’re somewhere else completely. As Johnny, whether intentional or not, Pacino is able to make this seemingly ordinary character have a little bit of a personality that has him go far and beyond just another dude. He’s a bit off, he’s a bit cooky, but because he’s Al Pacino’s, he’s pretty damn fun and sincere, too.

That’s why, whenever he’s together with Michelle Pfeiffer’s Frankie, magic definitely occurs. Pfeiffer is a great actress and saying so isn’t all that ground-breaking, but it truly is great to see her take on a role that could have been so boring and uninteresting, if not given the right amount of tender love and care. Pfeiffer connects with some raw energy within Frankie, where we initially seem a quiet, reserved and seemingly tough girl who doesn’t care about those around her all that much, and doesn’t have any need for a man or love in her life. But as the movie rolls on, we get to know and see more of this character than ever before, and it’s these moments of sweet human emotion that really make Pfeiffer’s performance something great.

I'd take Hector as my boss any day of the week. Except for Fridays.

I’d take Hector as my boss any day of the week. Except for Fridays.

And together, yes, Pacino and Pfeiffer are quite solid.

I know I’m putting an awful lot of emphasis on the relationship and the performances between these two stars, but really, that’s all that Frankie and Johnny is – an opportunity to see a romantic-dramedy in which Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer act alongside one another. It’s enjoyable because they’re both great actors and it works as a romance because Marshall pays more attention to the smaller details of these character’s lives and makes us actually feel like we know them, as well as those around them. Even a few brief scenes with the wonderful likes of Nathan Lane and Hector Elizondo, while small in hindsight, do so much in making us feel like we are one step closer to these characters and the world that they’ve created for themselves. Everyone is just a normal, everyday person and it’s believable, as well as charming and breezy.

Sure, the movie gets darker and a lot sadder by the end, but it still works because it goes to show you that you don’t need to force the central romance down our throats to make it work. Sometimes, all you need is a good cast, solid attention to detail, and a believable bit of chemistry that can make it all come together.

Take notes, present-day Garry Marshall.

Consensus: With two great performances from Pfeiffer and Pacino, Frankie and Johnny rises above the usual romantic-dramedy threshold and is a lot funnier, sweeter and emotional.

7.5 / 10

It's love. Without cocaine. Or gangs. Or Tony Montana.

It’s love. Without cocaine. Or gangs. Or Tony Montana.

Photos Courtesy of: Gareth Rhodes Film Reviews, Fanpop, Living Cinema

Mirror Mirror (2012)

Who’s the fairest of the two Snow White movies that nobody asked for?

An evil queen (Julia Roberts) steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess (Lily Collins) enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.

So here we go with the first of TWO Snow White films for the year of 2012 and I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but I hope Kristen Stewart can do a better job as Snow White.

One of the strangest things about this film is that it’s directed by visual artist Tarsem Singh, who has done flicks like The Cell and Immortals. Those films, much like this one, are all about the visuals rather than the actual story itself but it’s not always a bad thing either. Singh brings a very colorful flair to it all with vibrant set pieces and costumes that makes you feel as if you are watching a children’s book being brought to life. Visually, this film is a treat even though it does feel like I’ve seen this done before but it’s still Singh and he can’t really do much wrong when it comes to making things look pretty though.

The one department that he is obviously trying really hard to work on is his writing, and I think this is a clear example as to why. The story isn’t really a loose re-telling of the usual Snow White tale we all know and love but it still offers a lot of cheeky/campy jokes to give the audience plenty of winks. The film does have its witty moments where it made me chuckle at times and I can definitely say that it’s a step-up for Singh considering all of his other movies consist of little or no happy emotions.

Problem that I with this comedy is that it tries way too hard to go for this campy feel that it just ends up being annoying. All of the anachronistic jokes placed within a fairy tale story is a device that has pretty much beaten to death for the past decade ever since Shrek came out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Shrek but there is only so much winking you can do towards the audience when you’re telling a story like this until it seems like you have nothing else to really rely on. There was also something off about plenty of this comedy as well because I don’t really think that Singh understand comedic timing let alone put it in a film where it’s story depends on it to be different. A lot of the jokes just felt strange and whenever they missed the mark, they really missed it and it was pretty noticeable. There was also a very strange George of the Jungle joke that I don’t know if I was the only one to catch but it was just another case and reason as to why this film was trying too hard.

I think the rest of this problem also has to do with the cast and that some had good comedic timing, while others just couldn’t seem to get it right at all. Julia Roberts was the prime example here as the Queen. Roberts is obviously taking a lot of joy in a role where she gets to play an evil and powerful bitch but a lot of the jokes that she makes, either falls flat or come off as if it was some high-class chick who doesn’t really do comedy but is trying her hardest at it for once in her career. Roberts also wasn’t as evil as the Queen and I couldn’t help myself think that she was more likable than she was unlikable, but I guess that just goes to show you the kind of charm Julia Roberts has.

Even though she wasn’t given much comedy to work with here, Lily Collins also comes off pretty flat too. Collins obviously hasn’t had much experience so I guess I should take it a little bit easy on her but she’s so damn bland, so damn boring, and so damn generic here as Snow White that it almost feels like this role could have been played by anybody else in the wholest widest world and it wouldn’t have even matter, which is something I shouldn’t feel with such a character like Snow White. She should be likable, cute, witty, smart, and full of charisma, which are all things that Collins does not have except for huge eye brows. I’m sorry to point it out but I honestly could not believe that those things were real!

The cast that did get the comedy right actually were the best parts of this flick in the end. Armie Hammer went all out for his role here as Prince Alcott and it shows because this guy really did have me laughing. I like how Hammer was able to mess around and poke some fun jokes at his All-American boy look he has sported on so well and it brings out plenty of laughs considering you don’t see an actor that is so young and good-looking as him going to the same depths just for a laugh. Hopefully Hammer continues with his comedic side but also not forget about his dramatic side either because it’s very obvious that he can handle both pretty well. Nathan Lane is also great with his comedy here as Brighton, but then again, when isn’t this guy funny?!? Lane is such a professional that it didn’t seem hard for him at all to bring out a laugh here and I just wish that he chose a better movie to be apart of. This is also one of the rare movies where they actually give dwarves something to do that isn’t just being on the end of every “short” joke known to man. Hopefully this gives Hollywood the idea that maybe they should start giving dwarves better in roles because you never know if they could be any better than any other regular sized, A-list name. You never know!

Consensus: Filled with some campy laughs and nice-looking set pieces, Mirror Mirror will obviously entertain most kids and adults who go out to see this, but it also tries way too hard for its comedy and results in a very strange and bland attempt at trying to wink at the audience while telling a legendary story at the same time.

4/10=Garbage!!

Titan A.E. (2000)

A video-game come to life on screen, but in a good way this time.

Set in the year 3028, many years after the planet Earth has been blown to bits by an alien race named the Drej, a young boy named Cale (Matt Damon) is discovered to hold the secret map of the Titan machine inside of his hand. The machine holds the power to unleash another planet for the few surviving humans still roaming around in space, and the opportunity to re-ignite their evolution.

This may seem like a totally random flick to review but for some odd reason I caught this on my Netflix queue and I haven’t seen it ever since it first came out so I thought it would definitely be a great way to get some nostalgia. Being a kid ruled.

One of the best things about watching movies is how they can sometimes take you out of the world that you’re living in at the present and transport you into this different world with all of its inhabitants and beauty. This is one of the main things I liked about this movie because it takes you out into the galaxy above and around us and shows its beauty and sometimes its darkness. The visuals in some cases may be dated, but they still look glorious because they show these little animated sketches but give it this 3-D look that almost makes it seem like a live-action flick. The film does a great job of combining both styles of animation here which works and takes you to this vision of space that I haven’t seen done before. There are so many great sights to see that it’s hard to just put my finger on one and I almost wish it was in 3-D and released again in 2012 because I think it would actually look even better and maybe get a better box office return.

To add on with the visuals too, the action is very fun and there is some sort of great energy that co-directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman both contain that makes this flick so much fun. There is just enough story here to make sense but when the shoot-em-up action scenes pop-up, they bring a lot to the film and make it feel like a lot of fun as if you’re watching ‘Star Wars’ in cartoon version. Let me also not forget to mention that there are some pretty cool rock songs courtesy of Jamiroquai, Lit, and even Fun Lovin’ Criminals. I don’t understand why more animated flicks let alone more movies in general just don’t use a pretty up-beat rock soundtrack to add to their action because it can honestly do wonders like it did here.

However, on the writing front, there is a lot of problems to be had here. First of all, as understanding as the story is in the first place it still doesn’t mean that it’s original by any means. There’s so much here that seems borrowed from plenty of other sci-fi flicks/stories that it can be very annoying at points. I mean there’s no big surprises at the end of the flick, but I was at least asking for some originality for me to get to that point. I also can’t forget to mention that this flick seems very adultish for an animated flick. Sometimes there will be a random sex joke that may seem more subtle than you expect but it’s still random, and there is plenty of other moments where it seemed like this flick really stepped over the whole PG rating, especially when it’s trying to connect with a kids audience but maybe that’s why it didn’t do so well at the box office in the first place anyway.

The characters here are also very bland and they aren’t very interesting, except for maybe one character, who wasn’t even human. Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, and Drew Barrymore, among others, all do their best with their voice jobs it’s just that their characters are so bland that it’s almost way too hard to root for them to save mankind. They all seemed to be written very dry or lifeless and they didn’t stretch my imagination as much as the cool visuals did either. However, the one character that I seemed to like the most was the Caterpillar-looking type named Gune, voiced by John Leguizamo. I don’t know what it is, but it always seems like Leguizamo is able to make any character he is playing, likable beyond belief.

Consensus: The visuals are very pretty to look at and there is a lot of fun to be had here with the energy in the action, but Titan A.E. still suffers from unoriginal writing, characters, and plot devices that seem to be used from so many other sci-fi stories. Still, what stands out from all of those other ones is its great visuals which make it a lot better than it has any right to be in the first place.

6/10=Rental!!

Win A Date With Tad Hamilton! (2004)

Actors always fall for clerks from a place called Piggly Wiggly. They always do.

Actor Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel) just wanted to promote his new movie when he agreed to go on a date with a fan as a stunt. When he ends up falling in love with the winner — Rosalie (Kate Bosworth), a grocery store clerk at a small-town Piggly Wiggly — all bets are off. But Rosalie’s co-worker and best pal, Pete (Topher Grace), won’t let her go without a fight. Who will win Rosalie’s affections — the actor or the boy next door?

Rom-coms can be really annoying sometimes, but there are usually other times when they make 90 minutes of formula seem not so bad after all. This one is sort of like them.

The one thing that this film has going for itself is that it is pretty funny and charming thanks to script by Victor Levin. There’s some funny moments here and there that surprisingly worked even though I think they were placed in the wrong film, and the great use it had for its character seem very well-done as well because all seemed very fleshed out.

However, the problem with this film that I had other than the formula, was that a lot of it just feels way too cheesy and not so believable. I never understood what about this girl touched Tad Hamilton so much to the point of where he wanted to just leave Hollywood after all and be with her. I mean they have a date that seems nice and cute, but they don’t really talk about much that would seem totally mind-boggling for a famous actor and nothing stands out for her either. She’s just plain, good-looking, and somebody he did not sleep with on a first-date and maybe that’s why he wants her so much.

The plot cliches didn’t really bother me that much until the last 30 minutes where I think this film really starts to become a big eye-roller. There’s a lot of sappy and cliche speeches that these characters give to one another, and the music that takes over it almost every time is over-bearing and just adds to the whole corniness of this film.

I also think that this film was trying to aim this for such a younger audience then it seemed like they had because a lot of the kids don’t talk like kids and seem like they’re still in high-school, even though they’re old enough to drink? I didn’t understand this and I think the film was marketed towards the wrong peeps which is why it didn’t do so well at the box-office.

The cast of this film is what kept me watching in the end, and really added a lot more fun to the film. Kate Bosworth is very good as this pretty and cute girl that seems likable enough for two completely different guys to love, but there was nothing about her that really stood-out amongst any other female in other rom-coms. Josh Duhamel is also very cool and charming as Tad Hamilton, this actor who come’s at a cross-roads in his life, but I just never really understood why he wanted to let everything go because of this chick. Topher Grace is probably the funniest part of this whole film as Pete because he’s essentially playing Eric Forman but his constant nerdy banter and remarks made me laugh every time.

Consensus: Though Win A Date With Tad Hamilton! has some funny and charming moments, thanks to its script and good cast, there isn’t much else that stands out other than a not very believable premise happening and some terribly sappy moments by the end of the film.

5/10=Rental!!

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Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

Ehh, sometimes period pieces aren’t the best.

Life hands Nicholas Nickleby (Charlie Hunnam) a difficult hand when his father dies and Nicholas, his sister and his mother, now penniless, are forced to seek help from his twisted Uncle Ralph (Christopher Plummer), who only wants to tear the family apart. Nathan Lane and Jim Broadbent also star.

The film is a drama at heart, but has little comedic undertones, which I for the most part, enjoyed. The comedy comes into work when the film is just looking grim, and at many times I’m glad they did this because the dark tone at points bothered me.

I mean its a light film, and its not offensive in any way, its just not entertaining enough. I mean it did move at a very slow-pace and at times things wouldn’t even happen that had to do with the story, it was just talking. There were a couple of scenes that actually grabbed my attention, but soon lost it after they started talking about God knows what.

I did like how the story developed over time. I thought it was a interesting story, that didn’t have huge twists, but it did have the nice fun feel. Its basically a fall-rise story, about this one person, but then we see that its about others, who in my opinion were more interesting than Nickleby himself.

In all honesty, I thought that Hunnam as Nickleby wasn’t very good to say the least. If anything I just thought he was cheesy, and could have been replaced by a far better actor. He is structured as this one-note character only showing little emotion, and usually that emotion is anger, and I couldn’t help but laugh all the times when he would make grand speeches, and try to be all scary his face would just light up, and it was too hard to take this guy seriosuly one bit. I did, however, like the ensemble supporting cast. Plummer plays a very evil man, and does it very well, without being a cliched villain, and by the end you sense some great tragedy with him, while Lane as usual is funny and nobody can stop him. Jamie Bell is also in this and you find yourself throughout the whole movie, cheering him on and hopefully overcome what is happening to him.

Consensus: Nicholas Nickleby has a nice supporting cast and a splendid story with good touches, but the at-time non interesting story moves at a slow-pace, and I couldn’t find any truth in liking Hunnam as Nickleby.

5/10=Rentall!!!