The superb Sherman Brothers version of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer (a great summer movie), with Johnny Whitaker, Jodie Foster and Celeste Holm can be
, along with lots of other good (and not so good) MGM owned movies through Hulu.
LEMONADE MOUTH SHOOTS FROM THE HIP
Posted on Jun 06 2011 by Greg
It might be easy for the jaded among us to dismiss Lemonade Mouth
as a TV movie attempt to launch another Hannah Montana
franchise, this time with a full group, or to make the High School Musical
lightning strike again. That may all be true to a degree; surely Disney Channel would welcome a new vein of gold, especially since so many of their series (Hannah, Jonas, Zack and Cody, Wizards of Waverly
) are now in the rearview mirror.
But Lemonade Mouth
is actually a solid little teen drama with music. The songs are more or less incidental to the story. Each of the leads has his or her own cross to bear and the film is about their journey through acceptance of their situations, not simply easy, Brady Bunch
style solutions. They that also launch a successful rock band is perhaps preposterous, but their cohesion as a group is really the focus, not the showbiz glitz. It's not the dazzling Barbie-playset fantasy of Hannah
or the recent Sharpay
And these young people are actually given roles to play, some rather complex. It is a credit to the actors and the director that they don't take the easy route of teenage overacting so common in teen dramas that it almost becomes self-parody (and was actually skewered on Sonny With a Chance
, another Disney Channel series that has ended, albeit retooled as a sketch series called So Random
I like this film much more than I expected to and so did my wife. My 13-year-old daughter adored it and watched it multiple times. But parents be warned -- this is not your usual pratfall-but-good-natured goofball Disney Channel fare. One girl is asserting her question of authority, a very natural course for the age group but still uncommon in this venue. But though these kids have fairly dark and realistic problems, it's all done with taste and restraint.
Ably heading the cast is Bridgit Mendler
, skillfully carrying off a much deeper characterization than she is allowed to do on the broad sitcom, Good Luck Charlie
. She reminds me of a young Audrey Meadows
, or perhaps Victoria Tennant
really should apply for a patent for the role he once again plays -- an insufferable, narcissistic glory seeking bureaucrat -- this time as a principal on wheels. His performance is a nice example of comic timing and lightens the mood as well as providing a foil.
And Mel's Lemonade looks like something I would want to buy if I could find it in a vending machine.
I AM NUMBER FOUR. YOU ARE NUMBER SIX. WHO IS NUMBER ONE? I'M NOT A NUMBER, I'M A FREE MAN!
Posted on Jun 02 2011 by Greg
Baby boomers will get the reference in the title -- couldn't resist it. Ah, if only I Am Number One
were even close to the original series, The Prisoner. Alas, it's not to be, but that's not to say that this film is a total loss if you're looking for a date movie or a Saturday afternoon popcorn-cruncher.
In a blend of the displaced but hunky alien of Starman
with the telekinetic oomph of the Witch Mountain
movies on steroids and the prerequisite serious teenage heaviness of Twilight
and certain Life with Archie
comics, I Am Number Four
strives to launch a series by setting up a teen magazine contender as a haunted yet stalwart hero searching for truth, justice and a lovely young lady. Sound derivative? If you saw Disturbia
and Rear Window
, the similarity cannot be denied, though Shia LeBeouf
's performance often transcends the material in the earlier film helmed by the same director, D.J. Caruso
will no doubt flutter many a teeny bopper's heart but he tends to speak in a brooding monotone without much facial expression. Understated would be a kind way to describe his performance. He was being directed, so we can't be sure if these were all his choices, since he seems so have more personality in the bloopers.Teresa Palmer
plays the Lara Croft-type super catsuit lady -- a modern-day movie and TV action icon, by the way, that was really created in 1962 by Honor Blackman
on TV's The Avengers
and perfected by Diana Rigg
, who replaced her on the same series in 1965. Dianna Agron
is earnest as the object of Pettyfer's affection, but resembles Palmer to the point where you're not sure who's doing what until you sort out the characters (and hear Palmer's Aussie accent).
Best aspects: Timothy Olyphant
's standout performance, bringing depth to his character, excellent special effects and some really creepy, easy-to-loathe villains (whose sadistic cruelty makes this a little too strong for younger viewers).
No commentary on the bonus features, but there is a set of bloopers and a short feature focusing on the lovely Ms. Palmer.
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