Thursday, March 31, 2011

Candy, Chicks and Rock ‘n’ Roll – A Hop Review

A couple of weeks ago, Ashley saw a charming little trailer for a new movie starring James Marsden, Kayley Kuoco and a bunch of animated chicks and bunnies. With feigned excitement, she immediately sent Veronica a message and mocked her about how this movie fused her love of James Marsden with animated animals and laughed at the poor sucker that she would drag with her to see it.

The very next day, karma placed a screener for that very movie in Veronica’s possession and as the fates would have it, Ashley begrudgingly joined Veronica at the pre-screening of HOP last night at AMC Yonge/Dundas theatre.

Just in time for Easter comes this fluffy tale of the Easter Bunny’s teenage son E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), who heads to Hollywood to become a drummer in a rock’n’roll band to avoid taking over the family business. An unemployed slacker named Fred (Marsden) accidentally hits him with his car and ends up taking the injured bunny home to recover. They of course develop an unlikely friendship and eventually push each other to realize their individual priorities and potential.

Directed by Tim Hill (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and produced by Chris Meledandri (Despicable Me), HOP blends state-of-the-art animation with live action and a whole basket full of comedic talent. But it is a kid’s movie, ultimately, so the comedic talent isn't necessary used to their full potential and the laughs are left to animated jelly bean poops, dancing chicks and over the top performances. And it's certainly strange to see the antics of Brand toned down to an almost decent level, void of any inappropriate remarks or gestures.

But that isn't to say they leave us adults hanging, though. There are a few witty remarks thrown in that's bound to tug a little chuckle out... the best being an appearance by The Hoff as the judge of a talent show who's lack of surprise at the talking bunny is best explained because his "best friend is a talking car". We howled. None of the kids got it.

Hank Azaria’s villainous Carlos is a delightful addition, his scheming sidekick persona seems to be one of the more developed characters. But then again, it’s hard to go wrong with a sarcastically bitter, chubby chick with an accent.

Marsden, who everyone seems to solely associate with Cyclops from the X-Men movies, is most fondly remembered by us as the wet shirt wearing, Bennie and the Jets singing journalist Kevin in 27 Dresses. But he is no stranger to children’s flicks at this point, having perfected his animated performance in Enchanted and lending his voice to Cats & Dogs: The Return of Kitty Galore. Frankly, we would gladly see him in anything. Or out of everything. (Boom)

We can’t say this is a must see for everyone, but if you have children or are a big kid at heart, take the hour and half to sit back and enjoy a coming of age-esque story that may not leave you in stitches but will definitely leave you wanting candy.

images from google images

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fugitive, Celebrity, Slacker, Joker, Alien - Paul: A Review

After a three month lull with nothing but painfully uninteresting looking movies, things seem to be picking up again and our love of cinema is being revived. Just in time, too, as Veronica scored us passes to the pre-screening of PAUL last night at AMC Yonge/Dundas.

“From the guys who brought you Superbad”, PAUL is a sci-fi geek’s fantasy road trip following British nerds Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) from Comic Con through America’s UFO heartland.

Along the way they have a close encounter with a rogue alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), who escaped from a top-secret military base after discovering he has been taken prisoner and is determined to return to his homeland, enlisting Graeme and Clive to help him get safely to his mother ship. They end up pissing off a couple of rednecks, accidentally kidnapping and corrupting a straight laced Christian (Kristen Wiig) and having to outrun a slew of secret agents (Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Sigourney Weaver).

The film has everything you’d expect from a geek buffet – inside jokes only the elite will get, clever product placement and set design, numerous subtle references to every classic sci-fi flick (Star Wars, Aliens, Predator, ET, Mac and Me, Star Trek, Back to the Future, Battlestar Galactica, Jaws, Indiana Jones etc.) and even blatant re-enactments from such movies.

Pegg and Frost are comfortable in their roles, no doubt playing exaggerated versions of themselves, which makes the film easy to watch and relate to. And Rogen’s personality translates well into alien form, but his uniquely recognizable voice sometimes makes it hard to forget the comedic Rogen and fuse him entirely with the alien character.

Wiig holds her own as she pulls her character away from a na├»ve sheltered Christian and explores the world of kissing and fornicating and swearing – her innocent attempts at stringing together swear words were comical and certainly added a few new amusing phrases to our vocabulary.

Paul is an enjoyable nerdy flick that is sure to amuse your inner geek. Be sure to catch it after you’ve visited Wizard World Toronto Comic Con this weekend at the Direct Energy Centre.

images from google

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous – Another CityGirls First!

You know you’ve made it when you start rubbing elbows with the rich and famous.

Spotted: the wonderful WOODY HARRELSON (Zombieland, Defendor), nonchalantly slipping off his shoes as the lights dimmed at the production of Yellow Face at Hart House Theatre Wednesday night. We hope he enjoyed the show as much as we did!

Woody is most likely in town preparing for the Spring production of Bullet For Adolf – Almost a Comedy at Hart House, in which he directs and wrote with Frankie Hyman. The play is about eight characters that come together in the hot Houston summer of 1983. It runs from April 21- May 7, 2011 and tickets can be bought through or by calling 416-978-8849.

xoxo CityGirls

really poor quality image courtesy of Ashley's Blackberry Torch

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, It’s True - Yellow Face: A Review

Last night at U of T’s Hart House Theatre, we had the wonderful opportunity to see their final production in the 2010-2011 season, Yellow Face, making this the first time we’ve seen all four Hart House productions in one season! A CityGirls first!

Yellow Face is a satirical play by David Henry Hwang which features himself as the protagonist who examines and endlessly questions what race means and how that plays into politics in society and media. It showcases the importance of presenting both fact and fiction and actualizing who we really are.

yellow face

[yel-oh] [feys]


1. the practice of using Caucasian actors to portray Asian actors by taping up the eyes and yellowing face makeup

2. the systematic bias of surpassing Asians to play Asian roles

As a playwright, Hwang’s plays are written from what he knows and his activism and protests against Hollywood and stage use of yellow face (particularly the casting of Brit Jonathan Pryce in an Asian role in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon) is the base of this play.

In the first act, we see ambitious Hwang (Ben Wong) accidentally cast Caucasian Marcus G. Dahlman (Kristoffer Pedlar) as an Asian in the leading role of his production Face Value. Through a series of comedic scenarios that explore the sensitivities of race, Hwang discovers that Dahlman has no Asian blood at all and tries to cover up his mistake by first convincing Dahlman, and then everyone else, that Dahlman is, in fact, a Jew from Siberia – which is in Asia – and thus, Asian.

Face Value is a bust and closes before opening night and Hwang ultimately fires Dahlman. But Dahlman continues playing his role as an Asian and becomes an activist for Asian rights, which infuriates Hwang and drives him further from his established position in the Asian community.

In act two, we dig deeper into Hwang’s relationship with his father and the Chinese community in America. Hwang’s father and Dahlman, as well as many others in the Asian community, are investigated for suspicion of espionage and Dahlman’s protests begin to expose how the Asian community is being unfairly targeted.

Realizing how ridiculous it is that the government is investigating a Caucasian man, mistaking him for Asian, and how out of control the entire situation has got, Hwang convinces Dahlman to reveal his true identity and break down the investigation. At this point, reality steps out from behind the characters and Hwang speaks without his mask, revealing his own in depth self assessment.

Although this play focuses on the portrayal of Asian characters in film and stage, its core message applies to all minorities. Facing racism and trying to handle ethnic sensitivity is much harder than it sounds; how do you go about asking someone’s heritage? And with the homogenous mixture of cultures in every city, does it even really matter anymore?

Hwang raised a lot of good, thought provoking points about how minorities were treated and are possibly still treated in society. However, the comedic charm, wit and strong characters contradicted the heavy material and made every moment a delight to watch.

With a cast of seven stretching themselves into multiple roles throughout, you have to give them credit for keeping each character in check and lines flowing. The first act had us in stitches, while the second half brought the story to a close and left us wondering and thinking how this really affects us in our daily lives.

Afterall, Hwang said it best, “In the end everything is always about me.”

Yellow Face runs until Sunday March 13, 2011. Ticket Prices: Adult $25.00 Senior $15.00 Student $15.00 Visit Hart House Theatre for tickets.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for details on our exciting and unexpected Hart House encounter!

images from Hart House official website