Monday, February 27, 2012

Goon - A Review

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that Veronica is very passionate about hockey and you shouldn’t be surprised that she went to see Goon this past weekend.

Goon was not exactly what you’d come to expect in a sports movie. It boasts that it’s based on a true story and certainly there are clips at the end to support this, but the story itself is nothing new. The same formula has been used many times in many different ways but thanks to an amusing script written by Jay Baruchel (who costars as the bestfriend), Goon doesn’t feel like you’ve been seated to be pummeled to death needlessly.

Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scott) comes from an academic family and his chronic under achievements are an insult to his parents. But he knows his strength; he’s a protector and has fists of steel. After an incident at the local rink, he catches the eye of the coach and is offered a chance to play for the team. As the enforcer, of course. Eventually he gets to play in the Eastern Maritime Hockey League where he meets his match in Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), another enforcer.

The sometimes over the top violence had us cringe in our seats, especially when Doug gets the puck to the face, but with the brutality that you’re shown, Scott’s seemingly naiveté and honesty is a welcome balance. The overall message was not lost on us: violence is tolerated only within the confines of the rink, despite what the long term repercussions may be.

If you’re squeamish and don’t like the sight of blood, then Goon is not for you. But if you can look past the violence and the glorification of hockey fights then this comedy is worth watching.

images from Google images

Friday, February 17, 2012

Potted Potter – A Review

Last night we had the best time at Mirvish’s Potted Potter. This hilarious romp through all 7 Potter books by comedians Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner had us laughing from beginning to end. Being the huge Potter fan that Veronica is, this was one that she would not miss for anything. And we can safely say we’re glad to have seen it.

The Panasonic Theatre isn’t overly large and the leads used the stage and audience to their advantage. We were impressed with not only the program in the form of scrolls we were handed when we walked in but to actually having Turner greet us with a personal handshake as we were seated!

Potted Potter isn’t so much a retelling of all 7 novels in 70 minutes, but a parody of sorts. If you’re expecting a detailed, scene by scene replay then you will be sorely disappointed. What you do have here is a humorous, condensed story highlighting certain scenes from each book for comedic purposes. The two man show sees Jefferson as Harry throughout the bulk of the play while Clarkson plays every other character including Voldemort, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermoine, Hagrid, the entire Weasley family, and Professor Snape. As you can imagine, things get a little hectic on stage from time to time, but that only adds to the humour of it and it all works extremely well.

Clarkson and Turner had us in stitches throughout most of the play with the clever use of props (a Dobby puppet, a stuffed Nagini, and an anti-climactic dragon) and incorporation of audience members for various scenes. The Quidditch match using 2 kids from the audience as seekers was the highlight of the night and had us laughing until tears streamed down our faces. And the icing on top wasn’t the melted chocolate cake Clarkson had smeared all over his face, but was when Veronica got a face full of water squirted at her for being part of the winning Qudditch team.

The show closes with a glorious rendition of “I Will Survive”, aptly rewritten by Voldemort as “I Won’t Survive?”, summing up the last book with a disco-tech flare.

As you can imagine, 70 minutes to get through 7 stories makes for a very quick and energetic performance, a performance that Clarkson and Turner had to repeat for a second showing later in the evening. It’s a lot to take on, you have to give the guys credit. But I guess when you’re as passionate as the fans of the Harry Potter world are, somehow you always magically make it through.

This must see show for any Potter fan runs until March 25, do not miss it.

images from Google images and (c) citygirlscapes

Monday, February 13, 2012

TV to Obsess Over - Cougar Town Returns!

If you’ve been following us through the years, it’s pretty evident that we have strong opinions on pop culture and we aren’t afraid to share them. To this point, we’ve ripped in to movies, music, theatre and restaurants, but outside of making seasonal suggestions for Fall TV, television isn’t something we’ve deeply delved into. So with our 100th post, that is about to change.

Generally, television is inundated with mindless, formulaic crowd pleasers like cop shows, hook-line-sinker comedies and reality shows (shudder). But if you’re strong enough to push past the fluff that has congealed on the surface of regular programming, there are a few beauties underneath that make it all worth it. Beauties like Parks and Rec, Castle, Community, Modern Family, 30 Rock, It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia and Cougar Town.

Yes, that’s right. Cougar Town. Before you stop reading, forget every judgement you just made about this show. Despite what the admittedly horrible title will lead you to believe, the show is not about cougars. It isn’t a Friends replica even though Courtney Cox is the ring leader. In fact, it’s a charming, hilarious take on suburban family life chalked full of quirky characters, clever writing, relatable antics and wine. Lots of wine.

But even so, Cougar Town received the same frustrating fate as Community at the beginning of the year when it wasn’t included for a return on the fall schedule. And like Community fans, Cougar Town fans were outraged and took to the internet with petitions and viral social media outreach to voice their opinions.

But it wasn’t just the fans who were trying to take things into their own hands. Cougar Town creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Clone High, Spin City) unleashed his own aggressive guerrilla marketing techniques to keep the Cougar Town name out there and to build an online cul-de-sac full of supporters for this little show that could.

Lawrence personally financed intimate viewing parties in venues across the United States where fans were able to win tickets through Twitter to attend the event, enjoy free food, open bar, view two episodes of the new season, participate in a Q and A with select cast members and show writers and basically just hang out.

When ABC left Cougar Town out of their 2012 Press Tour, Lawrence and the entire cast (Courtney Cox, Christa Miller, Busy Philipps, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, Brian Van Holt and Dan Byrd – Ashley’s newest TV boyfriend) held their own press party right next door.

These grass root efforts weren’t just limited to the States, however. Lawrence’s Twitter (@Vdoozer) is bursting with activity. He and the cast are the most socially interactive that we have seen from celebs, constantly tweeting, retweeting and personally addressing their fans. Not to mention the daily contests and incentives for followers and fans, such as giving away bottles of Cult Wine to anyone who promises to stay in and watch the season premiere on Tuesday, February 14 at 8:30pm. A contest that this lucky writer is proud to say she won! Hello free wine!!

Quality of the show aside, when do you ever see a cast and crew so passionate about a show and their fans that they go to these lengths to sidestep a bunch of corporate suits that are standing in their way? If nothing else, that should be reason enough to tune in to see what all the buzz is about.

So tomorrow – Tuesday, February 14th – scrap your Valentine’s Day plans, grab an oversized glass of wine and prepare to fall in love with Cougar Town.

Season 3 Highlight Reel

images from google images

Friday, February 10, 2012

In the Heights Doesn’t Quite Soar, but it’s Almost There

It continues to pay to be under 30. At the beginning of the month, Dancap’s 30Cap Community sent us discount tickets to the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, so last night we made the trek north of the city to check it out.

In the Heights explores three days in the lives of hard-working immigrants in a Dominican-American neighbourhood of Washington Heights as they strive to find their place and build a better life for themselves in their new country.

There’s Usnavi, the owner of a bodega, who is in love with Vanessa from the Salon next door. We see Nina, the community prodigy and the only one to go to college, only to drop out and come crawling back home. Benny, the only non-Spanish speaking member of the community, works for Nina’s father and falls in love with Nina upon her return. Along with Sonny, Usnavi’s younger cousin and Graffiti Pete, the community does their best to keep things together during a vicious heat wave, a black out and the death of their beloved matriarch Abuela Claudia, who was like a grandmother to all.

It’s only fitting that a play based on the hardships of an ethnic community be produced by a non-Equity company. However, as a result a number of the cast are right out of university and haven’t garnered much stage experience. That, along with the fact that many regulars were missing and their understudies stepped up to fill their shoes made for a few bumps along the way.

There were a few glaring mishaps in terms of lines and some characters seemed uncomfortable with their roles. Though they did run through quickly the cast change before the show, since our seats were closer to the back exit than the stage, it was hard to tell who was who and compare faces to the program to sort out what actor was playing the different characters.

In the Heights was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Puerto Rican-American composer, rapper and lyricist, and was based on the neighbourhood he grew up in. The Puerto Rican flare has a dominant role in the music and flow of the play, providing us with a musical experience we had yet to explore in our veteran theatre going.

The majority of Usnavi’s musical numbers were done in a form of freestyle rap, creating a non-stop mouthful of story to spit out, something much different than the usual theatrical musical numbers.

We especially enjoyed the random references to Frodo and Lord of the Rings during the numbers, though it would seem that we were the only two in the whole theatre who appreciated the nerdisms.

Perry Young, who I think was in his regular Usnavi role last night, was dead on in every scene and was quite impressive in his portrayal. He was probably the strongest character on stage throughout the show. Sadly, it seemed like some of the other actors fell a little flat in their roles. There were definite moments where talent shined through, but what were supposed to be dynamic characters seemed to get lost in the hustle on stage from time to time.

It was a worthwhile effort, and an entertaining one at that, but we’re thankful for Dancap’s 30Cap discount, as a full price ticket is a bit too steep for these heights.

images from google images

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Of all the Safe Houses in all the world – Safe House Review

When Veronica came upon a screener pass for Safe House, she knew we had to go. After all, Ryan Reynolds is hot and he was surely going to take off his shirt at some point. And we were not disappointed.

We can’t say that we’re huge fans of action flicks but this one brought us closer to being fans. With a run time of almost two hours, it was an adrenaline filled chase through the streets of Cape Town, with the requisite gun fights and explosions. And surprisingly enough, they didn’t rely on having eye candy for this one to be enjoyable for all.

Safe House stars Ryan Reynolds as Matthew Weston, a safe house caretaker in Cape Town, who is still green in the CIA’s eyes. The irreverent Denzel Washington plays ex-CIA operative gone rogue Tobin Frost. Frost is legendary not only in his quick rise within the CIA but his ability to blend in and successfully complete all assignments.

Whatever this film lacked in dialogue it sure made up for it in the non-stop action, with only breaks for us to catch our breath and understand how Frost functions. Surprisingly, Reynolds was able to hold his own against Washington and made for a believable naïve CIA agent.

With everyone on high alert since Frost came back on the grid, death and destruction follows his every move. What makes this film work well was the location showing us the urban scenery of downtown Cape Town as well as the less affluent areas.

Safe House wouldn’t have been as enjoyable without a few twists and turns, and even though the average viewer will be able to figure out the plot and outcome easily, it was still a fun ride.

images from google images

Monday, February 6, 2012

Don’t go chasing after shadows – The Woman in Black Review

When I first saw the trailer for The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliff, I knew I somehow had to go see it. The trailer was sufficiently creepy and left me wondering what it’s about. After much cajoling, I convinced someone to take me Saturday night.

The Woman in Black is (surprise!) another adaptation from a novel by Susan Hill of the same name. This is your basic haunted house flick with a protagonist who doesn’t have the sense to pack up and leave after a series of mysterious sightings. Eel House Mansion itself is sufficiently creepy but where you’re left wondering is why would anyone care to watch Arthur Kipps(Radcliff) clomps about a creepy old house for over an hour trying to figure out the circumstances behind the strange deaths of the town's children through the years.

Arthur is a widowed lawyer struggling to prove to his boss that his grief hasn’t hindered his ability to do his job and takes the case of settling Alice Drablow’s estate. Upon arriving in Crythin Gifford, Arthur befriends Daily (Ciarán Hinds), a local who doesn’t buy into the whole Woman in Black thing, despite the mysterious and unexplained death of his only son, Nicholas.

One of the main problems with this movie is never once are you concerned for Arthur as it’s obvious that his life is never in danger from the Woman in Black who only preys on children.

I wasn’t sure how Radcliff (Harry Potter) was going to leave Hogwarts and his wand behind and was afraid that all I could ever see him as is Harry. Alas, I wasn’t wrong. It seems as though the casting for this film was done all wrong. It could be the fact that Radcliff just looks young but there was nary a young person in the film. Aside from the doomed children, that is.

Despite the created atmosphere for a haunting story, the plot was flimsy at best and the build up to the full frame shots of the scorned woman was the only thing that got our hearts racing. I would’ve improved on this supernatural “thriller” by injecting a bit of Supernatural in the ending. It all could’ve been saved had he just burned her bones, thereby severing her ties to the living world.

images from Google images.