Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley Here are four average movies, two of which (The Family Stone and Mona Lisa Smile) are pretty screwed up, and two of which (Indian Summer and Unlikely Angel) are unpretentious and easy on the eye. Despite being pure fluff, I would rate the last two better than the first two. The Family Stone ? 2 Stars (Average) A Manhattan couple comes home for Christmas to the groom-to-be's (Luke Wilson as Ben Stone) free-spirited parents and finds their proposed marriage in serious trouble as Meredith, the bride-to-be (Sarah Jessica Parker), cannot find acceptance. The problem is The Family Stone does in fact not like Meredith, an uptight, conservative businesswoman who calls in her sister (Claire Danes) for moral support.
What happens next in this convoluted story considerably lowers the impact of The Family Stone. There are some comedic routines, but writer/director Thomas Bezucha really lowers his creation by mixing in enough language, drugs and illicit activity to cancel out any chance of this being a good film. Adding all of the angst to the film mixes drama with comedy and this goes together about as well as oil and water.
No wonder this film struggles to find acceptance. Thomas Bezucha is not the only writer/director to bomb out. He joins an infamous cast of writer/directors in at least these three terrible films: Jared Hess for Napoleon Dynamite, Robert Rodriguez for Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Paul Thomas Anderson for Punch-Drunk Love. At least I gave Buzucha an average rating. This going nowhere fast presentation of The Family Stone leaves you doubting if it will ever come together and work.
It thankfully does work as the end draws near. You must hang in there with this movie; it does get somewhat better as it moves along. Having said that, I would not watch it again on a bet. It is hardly worth a second view despite the fact that it picked up nominations for 4 Golden Globe awards: Sarah Jessica Parker for Best Actress in a Comedy, Craig T. Nelson as Best Supporting Actor, Diane Keaton as Best Supporting Actress and Rachel McAdams as Best Supporting Actress.
None of them won. The Family Stone mirrors the Golden Globe nominations, close but not able to get it done. Mona Lisa Smile ? 2 Stars (Average) Mona Lisa Smile is the story of Katherine Ann Watson, an art history teacher at Wellesley College outside Boston during the 1950s. Watson (Julia Roberts) supposedly has more brains than breeding and manages to turn the conservative liberal arts college students upside down by teaching methods in thought power that inspires personal growth.
As a man watching this film, trust me when I say that not many guys would be watching this film a second time. I think there may have been only one guy in this film. The cast includes Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhaal among others who were put through a finishing school for two weeks prior to filming.
Some of the outdoor scenes in Mona Lisa Smile were on the picturesque 500-acre campus at Wellesley. Wellesley is ranked by many as one of the top five liberal arts colleges in the country, and is the highest ranking women's college in this category. Mona Lisa Smile (and Julia Roberts) could not sniff an award much less win one in this film, and that is what you call average.
Indian Summer ? 2 Stars (Average) Indian Summer is an easy-going, very slowly developing comedy about friends who reunite at a week-long summer camp that they used to attend as children. The camp is now threatened with closing down. Guess what happens. The characters of Matt (Vincent Spano) and Brad (Kevin Pollak) are based on the two Michigan-born founders of the Canadian clothing company Roots. Matt and Brad attended Tamakwa, a camp in Ontario's Algonquin Park, as youngsters. Indian Summer also has Alan Arkin, Matt Craven, Bill Paxton, Elizabeth Perkins and Diane Lane in the cast.
Lane turns out to be a real 40+ hottie in some other films down the road, notably Unfaithful (really hot) and Under the Tuscan Sun (hot enough). Unlikely Angel ? 2 Stars (Average) Unlikely Angel is a made for TV movie starring (hang on) Dolly Parton, a country music performer who meets an untimely death and cannot enter heaven until she performs a good deed back on Earth. Heavy this is not.
This is an overworked story idea with not much to recommend it, but I did not find any pretense in Dolly Parton's effort. I thought Dolly Parton was being Dolly Parton and found her to be the best thing in this film. I have seen a lot worse movies with bigger acting names than Dolly Parton.
Ed Bagley is the Author of Ed Bagley's Blog, which he Publishes Daily with Fresh, Original Articles on Internet Marketing, Jobs and Careers, Movie Reviews, Sports and Recreation, or Lessons in Life intended to Delight, Inform, Educate and Motivate Readers. Visit Ed at . . . http://www.edbagleyblog.com/MovieReviewArticles.html http://www.edbagleyblog.com/LessonsinLifeArticles.html http://www.edbagleyblog.com/InternetMarketingArticles.html