Watching: Freaky Friday (2003)

Freaky_Friday_Cover

Much of the 2000s flew right by me, and upon finally watching Walt Disney’s Freaky Friday I never really understood exactly how much I ignorantly passed by. A barrage of teenage comedy films. Questionable fashion fads. Normal Lindsay Lohan. But while these things may have been a thing of the past and I now live in a completely different world, I thoroughly enjoyed this family comedy for what it was – a heartwarming, albeit whimsical, story about family ties.

I’ve always managed to scroll past this film when browsing the listings on what I should watch next. I’m a very big horror junkie, and so I never really payed any attention to a Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls, The Parent Trap) film until I noticed Jaime Lee Curtis (Halloween, A Fish Called Wanda) was also in it. Seeing as I absolutely loved the Halloween series, I gave it a chance. I was not disappointed.

Anna Coleman (Lindsay Lohan) and her mother Tess (Jaime Lee Curtis) couldn’t be anymore different – while Tess is an uptight mother trying to keep her family in line, Anna is a rebellious, rocking teen. Really, the only thing they seem to share is… arguing and fighting. On a visit to a Chinese restaurant they’re at it again, fighting, until an old Chinese woman (Lucille Soong) offers them fortune cookies. Unfortunately (heh), the next morning not all is at it should be, as both mother and daughter find they have switched bodies – and must learn to walk in each other shoes.

I’m not sure if I’m starting to enjoy comedies a lot more, but I had a great time watching Freaky Friday. Yes, while the premise is more common than it should be, and the strained mother/daughter relationship a tad cliché, the film is more than deserving of praise for the amazing Curtis/Lohan performance. They seem to work well off each other, and both did a great job in portraying the other’s character. Props definitely go out to JML though: my eyes were glued to the screen whenever she was on it. She was vibrant, exciting, and most importantly, genuinely funny. It amazed me when I found out she was put on the cast only four days before filming, which made me all the more impressed with her performance. Other than that, dialogue in the film was above average at best and average at worst, and the rest of the film pretty much plays out on that line. The supporting cast does well to compliment the unique personalities of the mains, and a very special mention goes out to Lucille Soong for making me burst out in laughter at the end scene.

I have to say, I quite enjoyed a taste of early 2000 Disney. Freaky Friday overall was a great film to pass my Sunday morning, and I have no regrets about watching it. Oh, except for the music video-esque performance by Lindsay at the end – yeah no, I cringe at those things, really, skip right past it and onto the scrolling credits. But other than that, I suggest you don’t do what I did – don’t hesitate! Enjoy this fun and heartwarming film that is sure to leave you laughing.

Bry Rating: 3.5/5
Recommended? Go for it!
Country of Origin: America
Language: English

Advertisements

Watching: The Help (2011)

The_Help_Cover

Exploring the racial segregation of the 1960’s, The Help is a film that incorporates a unique blend of humour and heartstrings. Speaking straight to the heart, it is a faithful adaption to the book of the same name by Kathryn Stokett. The powerhouse cast is to thank for it’s degree of success, as is the translation of the narrative from novel into film. With beautiful settings and a performance driven plot, it’s no wonder that this movie has been positively received the world over.

There are only a handful of films that have managed to make me cry and The Help is one of the lucky few. It was as intense as it was heartfelt, and I couldn’t help but adore Viola Davis’s (Prisoners, Doubt) performance as Aibileen. The entire film is well thought out and its story, although a tad predictable and melodramatic, is highly engaging and leaves the viewer asking for more. I’ve watched this with the family a few times since it’s release – and it’s just as powerful every time.

It’s the 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi as racial rights are trotted on by the hegemonic White society. Skeeter (Emma Stone), an ambitious writer working on a mundane cleaning column, becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the treatment of the coloured help by the people around her. Determined to voice out their opinions, she approaches Aibileen (Viola Davis), a maid who has raised White kids throughout her life, with the intent on writing a book on her experiences. As tensions rise between the White and the Black, Skeeter and Aibileen, along with fellow maid Minny (Octavia Spencer) and others, push through their social boundaries to expose what really happens behind closed doors and white picket fences.

The star ensemble of the film are without a doubt the film’s success. Davis is more than capable of pulling of an emotional performance, presenting the audience with a compelling act that is as touching as it is powerful. I would say that it is impossible not to feel for the characters the team gives life to, even if those emotions range from pure hate to heart wrenching pain. Stone’s (Easy A, Amazing Spiderman) act as Skeeter is, although not a strong as Davis’s is still solid and carries its own weight through the film. Although not part of the main story, an honourable mention goes out to Jessica Chastain’s (The Tree of Life, Mama) role as Celia Foote, who – like Davis – provides a surprisingly fleshed out character to the audience without overstepping her boundaries. On another note, the setting of Jackson seems to me to be highly authentic – it simply breathes a 1960’s air. Whether this vibe is used to heighten the tension between societies or to represent the simplicity of these times, Tate Taylor’s understanding of the original work is to thank for the beautifully created scenes. Add in an eloquent musical score, carefully selected costumes and the right shots – and you’ve got yourself a triumphant film that speaks for itself.

As a whole, The Help is a remarkable film that uses the talents of it’s actors to their full extent. Performances are ripe with emotions and sincerity, giving life to this beautiful and humorous fight for truth. While it at time may dip it’s toe into a melodramatic puddle, it never seems to coincide with the cliches that fill films that centre on race and ethnicity. With it’s comedic flair, topic gentility and emotional poise, The Help is a rewarding film experience that any film junkie should not go living without.

Bry Rating: 4.25/5
Recommended? Without a doubt
Country of Origin: America
Language: English

Watching: Frozen (2013)

Frozen_Cover

How do you write about a film, when it seems the rest of the world has already seen it? Arriving fashionably late to the hype of Disney’s Frozen, I managed to savour the newest addition to the Disney archives. I will admit, the film is genuinely funny, moving and is an excellent film for families or the Disney viewer. That being said though, I found the movie to be overrated by the fanatics of the internet (I’m looking at you Tumblr) and I expected more out of it, though I do agree with the aray of awards it has garnered.

I managed to finally get my hands on a copy of Frozen through the release in Australia. I watched it with my family on a Sunday afternoon (as we often do), and began listening to the story. At this point my older brother and I had already learnt the lyrics of all its songs, as such was the hype of the newest Disney film. While we were mostly happy with the overall film, I personally felt wronged. It’s story – although good – just wasn’t as fleshed out as I had hoped it to be.

Frozen takes place in the Kingdom of Arrendale where King & Queen rule with two daughter, one of which – Elsa (Idina Menzel)- possesses cryokinetic powers. After hurting her sister Anna (Kirsten Bell) with her powers, Elsa is shielded from the world and lives her life in isolation.  Years later, Elsa and Anna live very different lives – whereas Anna is an optimist, Elsa has become a recluse, creating a rift between the two. Elsa’s powers seem to be affected by her emotions, and so after she becomes stressed at her coronation, she runs away from the kingdom, accidentally setting off an eternal winter. Feeling responsible for her outburst, Anna teams up with Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), an iceman; Sven, his loyal reindeer; and Olaf (Josh Gad), a living snowman, in order to return summer to Arrendale and reconcile with her sister.

As expected of modern computer animation, Frozen’s characters and world are essentially flawless. There’s no doubt that a lot of detail went into the film’s creation, and it seems to have payed off – character movement is fluid and believable, structures are impeccable and objects rival their real counterparts (have you seen those snowflakes?) . Minor points are filled with information that would otherwise be overlooked (i.e. the symbolism of both princesses’ dresses), making it ripe with secrets and facts. The characters, namely Elsa and Anna, are portrayed in a realistic manner, and it isn’t an overstatement to say that both Bell and Menzel give life to the sisters. Anna’s quirky and joyful personality is rivalled only by Elsa’s stoic and refined behaviour, presenting to the audience two princesses that stray from the fairy tale norm. Whether this is the product of the string of films Disney has produced in recent years or the desire to portray a larger variety of female characters (and not just the damsel in distress stereotype), it seems Disney is headed in the right direction. The musical score of the film doesn’t fail at all, possessing a variety of memorable songs that I find myself humming to every now and again. The one point I think the film failed for me was its story – it’s not that it was bad, in fact, it is smartly written. It’s just that through all the hype and the commotion, I thought that there’d be more to it than what I was presented with.

In total, Frozen has become a hit worldwide, and personally one of my favourite animated films. I do think that Disney is returning to it’s roots, simulating the inspiring hits of the 20th century (In particular The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast) with a new formula that seems to be working quite well. While I wasn’t completely satisfied with it, I think that its been one of the better movies of 2013, and one of the best movies to come out of the 2010’s so far. If you have been left completely in the dark on this snowstorm of adventure, like I was until a few days ago, be sure to check it out. There’s nothing better than a Disney film to put you in the right mood.

Bry Rating: 4/5
Recommended? Don’t miss out on another Disney hit!
Country of Origin: America
Language: English