jalapenoman

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Reviews

Joseph Smith: Plates of Gold
(2011)

Worst non-church produced movie ever
This is easily the worst non-church produced church movie ever! It is even worse than The Home Teachers or The Work and The Glory films.

At least the Work and the Glory tried to get Joseph Smith right by getting a charismatic actor to play the part. In this movie, Joseph can best be described as nerdy and mostly clueless.

The history is definitely revisionist and inaccurate. My least favorite was the part where Martin Harris browbeat Joseph into giving him the manuscript at the exact moment when Emma was having a stillborn baby.

They also refer to something as history that first appeared in the famous forged Salamander letter (remember Mark Hoffman?), and was then seized on in several anti publications for a few years. It's nice to know that the author did his research from anti-Mormon histories!

I wasted twenty bucks buying this one. Don't waste your money too!!!!

Kiss at Pine Lake
(2012)

Bad even for a stereotypical Hallmark movie
This one was awful even for the stereotypical Hallmark movie. The script was awful, the acting was weak, the editing was bad, the continuity was terrible....

It was either this or an NBA playoff game the other night. I should have watched the NBA (and I hate pro basketball).

The actress who played Zoe as a girl was taller than the one who played her as an adult (that's great casting for you).

Most Hallmark movies are overly sentimental and sappy, but are at least entertaining. This one was almost campy funny in places (no pun intended).

The Shunning
(2011)

This one sure leaves a lot of unresolved issues and plot holes.
Okay, this was kind of mediocre up until the end, when it left everything hanging and did not resolve several of the major plot points. Are we looking at a series of films here?

Unresolved issues included:

1. Does she get to see her mother before she dies?

2. Do her parents and the busy body midwife get into trouble for violating the shunning?

3. If her former boyfriend who taught her how to play the guitar (and who she promised to marry) still actually alive and living in a city somewhere? We are told that he drowned and that they never recovered the body, but he obviously wanted "out." (and where did he ever get that guitar in the first place?)

4. Will she, if she returns, end up with The Bishop?

Another thing... the shunning itself happened for the wrong reasons. You don't shun someone just because they left you at the altar and have some unresolved issues with their parents. This seemed like a contrived way to move along the plot.

In reality, the Amish are a very forgiving people. They would not treat someone like this girl was treated for such minor things.

Overall, I'd say that this was a very weak 4/10 (and that is probably being generous).

Emma Smith: My Story
(2008)

Another movie that tries to make a hero of Emma Smith
Somewhere along the line, the makers of this movie forget that Emma Smith never "endured to the end." She left her church. She denied historical events within her church happened, where she was there as witness, and she later denied them.

She founded her own church, setting up her son as the President of that church.

She sold off historical materials from her husband's life and mission for money, rather than giving or selling them to the church that should have had them.

The movie does not depict her reaction to or participation in polygamy, as it would show what type of a shrew the woman really was.

To paraphrase an actual quote, Joseph Smith once told Brigham Young that he'd go to hell for Emma. Brigham's reply was something like "you'll probably have to." This was a horribly inaccurate movie from Emma's descendants. It is even less accurate than the "Work and the Glory" series and actually makes those awful movies seem watchable in comparison. Don't waste your time.

An Old Fashioned Christmas
(2010)

Yawn!!! That's the best one word summary I can come up with
Okay, I'm generally a sucker for Christmas movies. I also enjoy the Merchant-Ivory style films about the prim and proper Victorian age. This should have both, right? Wrong.

The acting from some of the principles is bad. The story is pretty lame. The ending is predictable. Having the Bissett character show affection for a character she loathes (and who despises her) is out of character and doesn't fit in with the movie.

The local romantic figure is such a loser that we wonder what Tillie ever saw in him or why she would even question her relationship with Gideon/Gad.

Yawn is a good description. "Lame" would work just as well.

Turn Around
(2007)

Another Extended Seminary Video
For those who are members of the LDS Church (for whom this movie was made), you'll know exactly what I mean when I say that this is nothing more than an extended seminary video (better than Tom Trails, but somewhat along the lines of Like Unto Us).

The acting is awful (especially by the people playing the male lead's parents). The special effects do not exist (where they could have done more than some quick flashback pictures for the "death" scene). No one kisses or hits anyone else. What you suppose to be beer is seen only in colored plastic cups so that you are not sure.

I'll give it three stars just because the female lead seems to be trying, though her facial expressions in some scenes show how frustrated she is with the really bad material.

Watch this movie only if you enjoy seminary videos.

Everybody's Fine
(2009)

This may be DeNiro's Best Performance Since Awakenings
I saw this movie last night in a crowded theatre with persons of varying ages. At the conclusion of the film, I noticed smiles and tears in the eyes of the older viewers and some boredom and rush to leave in the younger ones. This is a movie for parents and will probably not appeal much to the under 25 set.

That said, this is a beautiful, heart-felt, and sometimes painful story of a father recognizing and coming to grips with the reality of his parenting and his lack of control over his children's lives. It is about truth and how we try to spare others pain or discomfort. It is about how many parents still see their grown up children as small children who we are responsible for.

While the supporting cast turn in good performances, this is Robert DeNiro's movie. It is his best performance since Awakenings (he deserved that Oscar, and not just the nomination).

I suspect that this film will get a lot of nominations, but don't think it will win many awards. I base that on the idea that they younger voters have not yet been in the shoes of the older ones and will not be fully able to appreciate the character or his growth and understanding.

One Man's Treasure
(2009)

Not a great film, but enjoyable as light entertainment
Mormon cinema attempts to create it's own version of National Treasure (a team of people following clues to find hidden treasure) in this movie.

Okay, the acting is not the best and the story is not the greatest. It was, however, better than some of the really bad Mormon cinema (Out of Step, The Home Teachers, Church Ball) and not as good as others (The Singles Ward, The Errand of Angels, The Best Two Years).

The craft needs time to grow and develop and movies like this are going to come out in the process. It can make for an enjoyable Family Home Evening, but will never win any Oscars.

Understandably, you are going to hate this film if you are not LDS.

Rescued
(2008)

If you are Mormon, think....extended Seminary video. If not Mormon, just think...bad acting.
There have been some really good movies made in the "Mormon Universe" the last few years (The Best Two Years, The Other Side of Heaven). There have been a few enjoyable films (The Singles Ward, Passage To Zarahemla). There have also been a lot of stinkers (The Home Teachers, Baptists at our BBQ).

This falls into the latter category.

Once again, a film maker has decided that it is okay to make a "moralistic, 90 minute seminary video" and pass it off as a feature length movie. Sorry, it didn't work for seminary (remember Tom Trails?) and it does not work here. It also didn't work for Out of Step or Charly or many of the other LDS films that try to take this approach.

Once you get the set up, you can always see the punchline coming. My wife and I sat there and told you what was coming next each and every time! "Now, she's going to pray." "When they get off the island, he's going to take credit for making the flares." There were also some big plot holes. Notice that she loses her flip flops when she almost falls down a cliff. 15 minutes later, she is wearing them again. Because of the ever changing beard growths, it is also obvious that this movie was shot out of sequence. The opening scene shows a city obviously on the ocean, but the scenes in the office show the Wasatch Mountains in the background.

I am being generous in giving this a two, and that is only because some of the scenery was pretty.

Junebug
(2005)

It could have been a great film, but was ruined by a sub plot
This is an incredible dysfuncional family story that is simply ruined by the sub-plot of the country artist.

Everything he paints involves penises and scrotums in poor quality work that is supposed to be brilliant. I am not prude, but this turned what could have been a great movie into a piece of crap. It was impossible to look and see past this as we have it in the beginning and all through the story.

It does not tie in to anything, is not really symbolic of anything, and ruins what could have been another "Ordinary People."

Amy Adams (Enchanted) was brilliant in her role and deserved the Oscar nomination. The acting was mostly superb and the interaction was heart rending and heart felt.

Take a Chance
(2006)

The Worst Yet From the Mormon Cinema Sub-Genre
It's bad. It's awful. It's not so bad that it is funny or campy, but it is just plain terrible.

I thought that Out of Step or Pride and Prejudice were the worst of the Mormon cinema sub-genre, but this is worse.

The story can't seem to decide if people are LDS or not. You have two guys on bikes in white shirts and ties (obviously missionaries) who are bug sprayers? You have an Idaho community with everyone being brother and sister, but they are some kind of protestants? You can also see every plot twist coming from a mile away (such as where both guys get their girls in the end). Even when that happens, neither guy kisses either girl! The script sucks.

If you want good, funny LDS cinema, stick to the original Singles Ward or The Best Two Years. Leave this one behind.

Enchanted
(2007)

Wow. This is the most enjoyable film I've seen in years
Excellent. This simple, sweet, family film is the best motion picture that I have seen in a long time. I am a natural born cynic, and yet I loved this movie! Amy Adams is wonderful as Giselle and deserves an Oscar nomination for the role. Her acting is fantastic, from the voice over cartoons in the beginning, through the fish out of water scenes, through the production numbers, through the emotions displayed and the dancing at the ball, to the kick butt action in the climactic fight on the outside of the skyscraper. She was wonderful! The second star, and big scene stealer, was the chipmunk. The scene where he plays both the princess and the overweight side kick to pantomime what is going to happen is hilarious.

The other characters are magnificent in their parts. The prince has the required charm along with the inflated ego (Think Gaston from Beauty and the Beast). He stays in character the entire movie. The lawyer puts just the right amount of confusion and frustration into his role. Susan Sarandon shows that she could also be Cruella DeVille brought to life.

This is the best family movie since the original Shrek, without all of the adult jokes from that film. It may also be the best overall movie of the last three or four years.

It was strange, but the vast majority of the audience that I saw this movie with were adults. Most did not have children with them! It was an audience of adults enjoying and laughing at a pure, sweet, children's film.

SHOULDN'T THAT, BY ITSELF, SEND "HOLLYWOOD" A MESSAGE THAT WE WANT MORE FILMS LIKE THIS!!!!!

I can't wait until the movie comes out on DVD.

Piccadilly Cowboy
(2007)

Pretty bad even by LDS cinema standards
I'm from Texas. I've lived all but about two years of my life in Texas or New Mexico. That guy on the screen isn't a cowboy and can't play a cowboy. That horse just don't buck! The plot is formulaic and you can see everything coming at you five minutes in advance. In fact, you could probably guess the ending just by reading a short synopsis. Nothing new here, it's all been done before.

While this is not as bad as "Out of Step", it is as bad as the LDS version of "Pride and Prejudice" and does have some of the feel of an extended, two hour seminary video.

I had hoped the quality made LDS cinema like "The Best Two Years" might start leading to other good stuff. I got really happy when "Saints and Soldiers" came out and begin to see it happening. Work like this, and other recent movies in the genre, have moved us back to square one again.

Underdog
(2007)

If you enjoyed the cartoon as a child, you'll think this is a waste of time and money
Only three words are really required for this review: Piece of crap.

If you enjoyed watching the cartoon as a child, you will find this movie to be a complete waste of your time and money. The best thing about your two hours in the auditorium will be your feet sticking to the floor.

Yes, they do use all of the names and catch phrases. The even name the dog "Shoeshine" (in reference to the dog being "Shoeshine Boy" in the cartoon). They name the love interest Polly, but she isn't Miss Sweet Polly Purebred.

My wife and son drug me to see this. They should have drugged me to see it.

The original Underdog was voiced by Wally Cox, the ultimate nerd. This one is voiced by someone with a "smart alleck teenager that knows more than all the adults" attitude.

As a stand alone movie, it is awful. As an homage to Underdog, it is even worse. It is not an homage. It is not a retelling of the story. It is not an updating of the story. It is purely an attempt to cash in on a known title and create merchandising. The next time I go to the store, I fear that I will see Underdog toys, pajamas, towels, sheets, clothing, etc. McDonalds and Burger King probably fought over the kid's meal rights for this.

The worst part of this movie, however, is the soundtrack. THEY DO THE UNDERDOG THEME SONG TO RAP (read that with a silent "C" at the beginning)! Great, now that we are going to destroy something, let's go all the way.

I knew that it would probably be bad before I went. My fears were confirmed when I arrived at my local 12 plex and found that they opened it for the first day and first showing in their smallest auditorium (and one of only four without stadium seating). Even the theatre people knew it was going to be garbage! Save your money on the tickets and invest it better by going out and buying the original series on DVD. It will be more entertaining and have better production values.

Money or Mission
(2006)

It's just a longer seminary video with slightly better production values
Slightly longer than a fifteen minute seminary video. Just as bad, just as cheesy, just as predictable. The bad kids really are not that bad, the kid who falls doesn't really fall that far, you know...all the clichés.

Still, like most LDS films (Seminary and mainstream), the acting is mediocre, the scenery is always Provo (are there any other mountains in the world that can be used as background), and you start looking at your watch.

Avoid the movie. Yes, he does go on a mission (as if you couldn't guess) and does get the girl. That's all you need to remember.

Casino Royale
(2006)

Not as bad as Die Another Day or View to a Kill, but still Awful!
Okay, as an action movie, it isn't too bad. As an espionage movie, it isn't too bad. As a Bond movie, however, it's (to use the vernacular) bloody awful.

Daniel Craig is not James Bond. He cannot bring off the suave playboy. The film's apologists try to say that this is because they are showing us the development of the character. No, they are just giving us excuses because of the shortcomings of their actor. Daniel Craig belongs in the class of Stallone and Van Damme, two other men who can beat people up but could never be James Bond.

This movie is not as bad as Die Another Day or View to a Kill, the two worst Bond movies ever made. It is, however, less than the Lazenby film.

From the beginning action scene, which has always given us a thrill ride, I knew we were in for a yawner. This action scene is Bond shooting a man in an office and attempting to drown a man in a bathroom. Nothing spectacular or exciting.

The credits, which have always featured silhouettes of often naked women with guns, was instead lousy cut-outs of fighting men and playing card images. It got no better after this.

I will admit that I was not disturbed by the fact that there was little or no of the famous Bond gadgetry (at least John Cleese was not here this time as comic relief!). This did, however, bother my 13 year old son and his buddies.

The general grumble and chatter of the people walking out of the theatre was not positive. There were a lot of "okays" but no "greats" were overheard. The dominant word would have been "fair" or just "ehhh." Proper sentiment for a mediocre film.

Sean Connery has nothing to worry about, the role is still his. Craig, in fact, may be the second of the one movie Bonds.

The Benchwarmers
(2006)

Awful, stupid, lame, worthless, waste of time, and I'll need a thesaurus to find more synonyms for it.
This movie was a waste of time and money. I saw it last night as an in flight movie, so was part of a captive audience and couldn't really leave the auditorium. I tried turning on my reading light once, but got comments and nasty looks from the people on the same row.

Funny? If you saw the previews, you saw all of the mildly amusing moments.

The guy from Napoleon Dynamite is proving that he is a one hit wonder. The other three mail actors should have stayed on things like Saturday Night Live, as they can't carry a movie either (or even a TV commercial, if you've seen Jon Lovitz trying to sell Subway lately). At least in "The Hot Chick," Rob had some hot chicks to surround him to take attention away from his "acting(?)".

I know that this is a sophomoric comedy that appeals to a target audience. If your high school graduation was more than five years ago or your IQ is over 75, you are out of that group and should run away from this film. Fast.

Don't waste your time renting the DVD, buying the DVD, watching it on pay per view, seeing it on HBO, or eventually seeing it on regular television. It is ninety minutes that would be much better spent picking your toenails or watching the grass grow, events that include much more talent and several more laughs.

Butterflies Are Free
(1972)

Excellent adaptation of a play, made better by the acting
This is an incredible movie. It has everything: great acting, an Oscar winning performance (Heckart as the mother), believable characters, and a young, hot Goldie running around for thirty minutes in her undies.

The acting of the three principles deserved three Oscar nods, but only one was given (for the top performance). Mother Bird goes from being overprotective to having to push her son from the nest. The different emotions portrayed by the character are wonderful and we can all see ourselves as overprotective parents in her role.

Edward Albert's performance makes us wonder why he never became an A list actor.

With Goldies performance in this film, along with her other early performance and Oscar in Cactus Flower, I wonder why she lowered herself to the stupid comedies she made the next several years (Protocol, etc.). The ditsy, dumb blonde was and is a better actress, as is evidenced by her work here.

Why does Paul Michael Glaser seem to show up in bit parts in all the great 60's and 70's films? He was also in Fiddler on the Roof! This is one of the great romantic comedies of all time.

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
(2006)

Yes, it is awful and full of holes, but it is hilarious and will make you pee yourself
Yep, the acting is poor, the story is poor, the plot is poor, there are a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies, it is not believable on any level, and it probably got panned by every film critic on the planet.

The only problem with that is that this movie is so funny you will wet yourself. My wife and I died laughing. When we stood up at the conclusion of the movie, we felt discussed it with the people around us. Everyone said the same thing: "Man, that was one stupid, lame movie,...but it was really funny."

I always considered Larry to be the weak link in the Blue Collar quartet, but he definitely comes into his own with this movie. Yep, he makes fun of just about everyone on the planet that the politically correct want to protect. Yep, you might be offended once or twice if he skewers your group!

It looks like a lot of people are giving it a "1" in the ratings, but I'll bet money 90% of them never saw it. Sure, it is a "1" quality wise, but it's an "11" on the laugh meter, so I averaged it out to a solid "6."

Remember, if you're one of those (as Larry calls them) "Tofu Fartin' Fairys," you'll hate this. If you are a real human being, enjoy the laughs.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
(2005)

The weakest of all of the Harry Potter films
Let's be honest here: the French actress who played Fleur could not act and walked through her part, the guy who played Krum snarled through his, Ron didn't due much more than just mope and whine, and Harry just had the same dumb smile.

The friendly feeling of school chums in the first few movies was gone. The intimate school set of the third film changed to a huge, forbidding and foreboding place for this one.

The direction was terrible. Even Chris Columbus did a better job (and that is saying a lot).

The only spark to this film was the acting of Emma Watson, who seems to have matured in the craft while her co-stars have stood still. If this were not a big budget blockbuster, she might get a supporting actress nomination just for her scene of telling off Ron on the steps after the dance.

The CGI was also pretty good here.

So, two good things in a film with dozens of bad ones. That does not make for a good movie. Hopefully, this director is not brought back for the next one.

It's Latter-Day Night! Live Comedy
(2003)

Comedy sketches that don't work and comedians that aren't that funny
Okay, I laughed a few times. Overall, however, I did not enjoy this film. It is basically a stand-up film (Think Blue Collar Comedy Tour or Eddie Murphy's Raw) with sketches and skits thrown in between the stand up monologues. The problem is that it just isn't that funny. In fact, the stand up routines that only lasted a minute or two in The Singles Ward were a lot funnier and showed LDS humor in a better light. I did like the way one comedian started off his routine as if it was an LDS sacrament talk, but when he finished that bit, he just seemed to trail off to nowhere. The Apple Brothers, part of the between stand-ups comedy relief, were an old joke that got really lame and stupid as time went on (not even my children laughed at them). For good LDS humor, stay with The Singles Ward.

Saturday's Warrior
(1989)

Not as good as the stage play, but still fun
I'll admit first of all that I loved the play. I saw it twice with different casts (one was the original). I had the soundtrack and played it all of the time when I was a Mormon missionary in the 80's. I still remember the words to all of the songs.

I caught the video of this the first time a few years back on the BYUTV channel and was hooked again. Yes, the acting has problems at times. Yes, I only give it a seven (because the original stage play was a ten and the second touring company was an 8). Yes, the special effects are kind of hokey. It does, however, have the ability to reel you in and make you care about the characters.

My son loves this video and sings along with all of the songs. He loves Kessler and Green.

I recommend this as a good FHE flick. Avoid, however, Starchild. It was the sequel that did not transfer well to video and has real sound problems.

Out of Step
(2002)

This is an extended seminary video
If you cheered for Tom Trails, you'll love this movie. If you cried with Like Unto Us, you'll love this movie. Yes, Mormons, this film is nothing more than a 90 minute extended seminary video disguised as a theatrical film. It is a morality play that teaches us the evils of dating non-Mormons and how much fun life at the institute can really be. While it is not as bad as The Home Teachers, it may be (along with Pride and Prejudice and The R.M.) in a fight for second place on the worst film in the LDS sub-genre. Don't waste your money on the DVD, even if you do want to support LDS cinema and films. Instead, spend your money on The Singles Ward or The Best Two Years.

The Home Teachers
(2004)

Possibly the worst of the current sub-genre of LDS cinema
This movie is one of the worst of the current sub-genre of LDS films (films made by Mormons and catering to a Mormon audience). The best of the lot were The Best Two Years and The Singles Ward. This is worse than Out of Step or Pride and Prejudice. It would not make a good seminary video and makes the lame Tom Trails series of the early seventies look like great film making. All of the characters are shallow stereotypes and one gag wonders. If you are careful, you can see all of the laughs approaching and will not be surprised by any of the sight gags or attempts at jokes. This was an amateur film that should never have played in theatres.

Amazing Grace and Chuck
(1987)

The worst film I ever showed in 8 years of theatre management
I spent eight years running movie theatres in the 80's and 90's. This was, by far, the worst film I ever showed to the public. One thing that made it so bad was that it put on airs of trying to be a great, inspiring film. Even the great Gregory Peck could not save this horrid piece of drivel from being far less than mediocre. Jamie Lee Curtis, in an early non-horror film role, demonstrated clearly that she had not yet learned to act (she's still trying, but it isn't getting much better).

I'm sorry, and here's the spoiler, international nuclear disarmament is never going to happen just because it makes children afraid to play little league baseball! Even the shows on Nick and The Disney Channel are not stupid enough to try to make us believe that dreck.

This is not worth the time you would waste watching it on cable TV. It is not worth the price of a movie rental; your dollar would be better spent on an extra package of microwave popcorn to go with the other movie you picked (because it can only be better than this).

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