Tom Hanks Project – “Larry Crowne” Review

26 Feb

larry_crowne_2If this was the first movie Hanks wrote and directed, we could chalk it up to our favorite actor being outside his element. Maybe he was just meant to deliver dialogue, not write and direct it. But we’ve seen Hanks write and direct the exceptional That Thing You Do! so his failure here is harder to stomach. The formula for Larry Crowne seems like it would be charming enough*. Hanks plays a nice guy working at a Walmart-esque store who gets fired and decides to go back to college. Along the way he makes college friends with a scooter gang and falls for his teacher, Julia Roberts. But as Ebert notes in his two star review, “the screenplay carries blandness to a point beyond tedium.” We hadn’t seen this one and I was hoping the consensus was wrong, but sadly they were not. Larry Crowne is woefully boring and lacking in conflict, and even the romance stinks. Somehow George Takei as an economics professor was the only good part of this movie**.

*And, in the beginning, I’d argue it is.

**I’d sign up for Econ with George at the helm. Continue reading


Tom Hanks Project – “Toy Story 3” Review

23 Feb

Toy-Story-3-Poster2Movie sequels are so often misses*. It feels like common knowledge now that franchised movies are usually just money-making machines for their parent companies, created to cash in on familiar characters and some nostalgia. When Toy Story 3 originally came out, I went in skeptically. I hadn’t enjoyed the new character of Jessie (or, looking back at my recent review, Toy Story 2 in general all that much), and it just seemed like a tired, play-out Homeward Bound** situation that I was kinda bored of. However — and I’m about to lay a fact on y’all right here — Toy Story 3 is the best picture in the trilogy. The. Best. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t work without the original, and honestly I’d say it even benefitted from some additional bonding time in number 2***. But Toy Story 3 grows up with all of us who were children when the original came out. It deals with heavy topics, like mortality and relationships and self-worth, and it even allows its human characters some real, true-blue emotion. It’s absolutely amazing, so let’s get into the plot so y’all can run off and see this thing stat.

*We gave Toy Story 2 a 5.25/10 ranking.

**You know they made a Homeward Bound 2? Should we watch that? They called it “Lost in San Francisco” – essentially the same format as Home Alone 2. Still… could be good? OK, you’re right to be bored of them.

***Maybe the only good part about TS2.

Continue reading

Tom Hanks Project – Best and Worst of the ’00s

18 Feb

2000s collage

Tom started off the 2000’s with one of his all-time best performances in Cast Away. He won the Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for it, but would go cold with awards the rest of the decade, only seeing a Globe nomination for Charlie Wilson’s War. We enjoyed much of this decade of Hanks, but it was a more up and down decade after his incredible run in the ’90s*. He made 10 films in the 2000’s. We loved three (Cast Away, Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal). We were kind of all over the place on the other seven. He took some risks in movies like The Ladykillers and Charlie Wilson’s War, went for a couple big pay days in the Da Vinci Code movies and tried multiple characters out in The Polar Express**. Some of these films worked better than others and some we’ll never watch again, but it was interesting at least. It wasn’t a great decade for romantic interests for Tom and there aren’t a lot of laugh riots in the mix, but there were plenty of movies that had Caitlin covering her eyes***. Let’s get into this eclectic decade of Hanks before we pick up on the ’10s with Toy Story 3.

*To say the least. WAY more weekends where we’d look at each other and go, “Eh…not this weekend,” when considering a Hanks viewing.

**If this helped him warm up for Cloud Atlas, which is one of my favorites of the ’10s, then I’m totally OK with it.

***The headline of the decade! Continue reading

Tom Hanks Project – “Angels & Demons” Review

31 Jan

MPW-41488It’s another decent enough entry for Hanks in this follow-up to The Da Vinci Code. We’d been putting this one off for months after not loving the first film and we were in danger of not watching this one after Caitlin was horrified just reading the parental guidance warnings for Angels & Demons*. But we sucked it up, Caitlin covered her eyes a ton and we ended up not minding this sequel. Still, it didn’t quite leave us counting the days until part three comes in October.

*Seriously. If you don’t care about spoilers, I suggest you go read them and see for yourself why I wanted to run screaming from the room. Continue reading

West Coast Trip 2016 Pt. 3 – San Diego

28 Jan

IMG_0802We arrived in sunny San Diego Thursday afternoon and were picked up by my dad and his girlfriend, Susan. It was our first chance to meet her and we had every confidence we’d get along swimmingly and, of course, we did*. We chatted with them, catching them up on stories from our trip thus far as they drove us to my aunt’s condo, where we’d be staying the next four nights. We looked forward to a relaxing last leg of our trip, with just a night of Seinfeld and a trip to the famous San Diego Zoo scheduled. The rest of the time we’d be content to spend with family**.  

*Susan was super warm and welcoming, which we appreciated very much!

**And in….THE TANK. Aunt Tabby got us completely hooked on Shark Tank, and we spent a lot of relaxation time judging people’s products and pitches.

Continue reading

West Coast Trip 2016 Pt. 2 – Las Vegas

25 Jan

vegasfrontI had a few goals in taking Caitlin to Vegas for her first time. I wanted us to stay in a nice, clean hotel. I wanted to keep her away from the seedy areas of Vegas where guys hand out cards for prostitutes*. I wanted to eat and drink well and see a couple shows**. I wanted to make some $$ and have fun doing it. I’m happy to report we accomplished all this in our three days in Vegas.

*Like…business cards? I hope it’s that and not “drink ticket”-style:(

**He wanted ME to see a couple shows, while he gambled — which I was totally fine with. Continue reading

West Coast Trip 2016 Pt. 1 – Disneyland & Comedy in LA

21 Jan


This 10-day trip came about in a bit of a roundabout way. I’d been itching to make a Vegas run in early January with a work friend and meet Andy there*. Then my dad told us he had tickets with our names on them for Seinfeld in San Diego in January. After contemplating flying back and forth two weekends in a row, we decided to work through the holidays, save up some vacation time and make a long trip of it, spending a weekend in LA, taking a quick flight for three nights in Vegas and flying in to SD for some quality family time**. Everything worked out splendidly. We caught two comedy shows and a full day in Disneyland in LA, got our fill of Cirque du Soleil and gambling in Vegas and enjoyed Seinfeld and family time in San Diego before flying home to our Scooby. We’ll break down our trip in three parts, starting in L.A.

*Initially I was very much not invited, so I was planning on making a New York trip of my own to console myself.

**Zack really made it a point to ensure there were tons of activities I’d love, since he was worried I wouldn’t care for Vegas and just in general wanted me to feel relaxed and happy. Continue reading