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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trailer Watch: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

You can now watch the full length theatrical trailer for the much anticipated follow-up to 2007’s Transformers. Click Here to watch it on Yahoo!. The film looks really good, and is sure to be a huge hit. It will likely be especially eye-popping in IMAX. Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

-John C.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Official Up Running Time Announced

It has been officially announced that Up will have a running time of 1:36:06. Before the feature presentation, Pixar’s new short film Partly Cloudy will play with a running time of 5:45. Also included with the presentation will be a new trailer for Disney’s upcoming 2-D animated film The Princess and the Frog. This new trailer will be 2:32. The runtime of the entire program will be 1:44:23.

The film will be on 5 reels, and have an aspect ration of 1.85:1 flat.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts below.

E1 Films releasing Coronation St. Vol. 1 on DVD

Today, E1 Films is releasing Coronation St. Vol. 1: 1960-61. The 2-disc set contains a selection of episodes from the first season. The show premiered on Dec. 9th, 1960 and is still popular today. This is worth getting if you are a fan of the show, this would also make a great Mothers Day gift. It’s being released today, April 28th. You can buy it off Amazon, Here.

-John C.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Trailer Watch: Adam

Yahoo! now has the trailer for Adam, a new film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It follows the story of Adam (Hugh Dancy), a young man with Aspergers Syndrome, who falls in love with Beth (Rose Byrne). The film hits theatres on July 29th, and looks like it will be quite good and worth checking out. It will be distributed by Fox Searchlight.

-John C.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Soloist Review

The Soloist - A Paramount Release



Opens: April 24th, 2009

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug use, and language.

Running time: 109 minutes

Joe Wright (dir.)

Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez

Catherine Keener as Mary Weston

Tom Hollander as Graham Claydon

Lisagay Hamilton as Jennifer Ayers-Moore

Our reviews below:


The Soloist Review By John C.

***1/4 (out of 4)

The Soloist is the story of Steve Lopez, a journalist for the LA Times, who goes out to look for a story. What he finds is someone in need of a friend. Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr. is a mentally ill homeless man, who sits on the streets playing a two-stringed Violin. The film is based on a book, which is based on a true story. I have been told that the movie serves as a much condensed version of the story compared to the book. Having not read the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Now I look forward to reading the book.

The acting by Jamie Foxx, as Nathaniel, is superb. Convincingly playing him, saying things that seem to just pop into his head and sometimes just losing it. Foxx is very believable playing someone with a mental illness, never going over the top. The film was originally going to be released in November, presumably for Oscar consideration. I honestly don’t think it would have been nominated for Best Picture, but some acting noms could have been in the mix.

Although it is at times heartbreaking with it’s images of some of the 90,000 homeless people in LA, it is also uplifting with it’s message that sometimes all people need is a friend. While the film has some minor flaws and it leaves out a lot of the events that happened in real life, sometimes due to timing, sometimes due to it being to hard to film. Problems aside, the characters are unique and believable, if not always likable and the acting is excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and it is quite worth seeing. Go out and see it, it will make you think and lift you up.

I liked this film a lot, but not quite enough to warrant a rating of 3 and a half stars, so I am giving it a strong rating of 3 and a quarter.

On a side note, whoever had the idea to play the Angels & Demons trailer before the film should be fired. Angels & Demons is a totally contradictory film to The Soloist, and audiences seeing a human drama may not like being welcomed by a trailer for a violent and disturbing thriller. The two films don’t even share a studio, The Soloist is Paramount and Angels & Demons is Sony.


The Soloist Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

The Soloist is the story of LA Times columnist Steve Lopez who, while on the look out for a new column idea, hears music in the park. Following the sound, he finds a homeless man, playing a two-stringed violin. When the piece stops, he introduces himself, and finds out that this man, who’s name is Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr., claims that he was formally a Juilliard School of Music student. Intrigued to know if this is true, Mr. Lopez rushes back to the LA Times building to call Juilliard to confirm. As he gets to know Nathaniel more, he finds out that the instrument he was trained on was cello, not violin. A column develops and finally goes to print called, “Violinist Has the World on 2 Strings”. The column soon catches the attention of many, and a cello is donated for Mr. Ayers. Anxious to get him off the streets, and afraid that the cello will make him a target for theft, Mr. Lopez says that he can play the cello, but only at a shelter called LAMP. For Mr. Ayers, a talented musician, music is his life, and soon the lure of the cello brings him towards shelter.

The Soloist is a true story, the book being written by Steve Lopez himself. (We have included a link to his original articles as well, underneath the movie website address at the top.) Before seeing the movie adaptation of The Soloist, I had read the first 8-10 chapters or so of the book it is based on, (also called The Soloist). The movie is fairly similar to the book, or at least the parts that I have read so far. Unfortunately, the book seems fuller. In the movie, du to time constraints, it seems rushed. For example, it seems as though Mr. Lopez has only known Mr. Ayers for a few weeks by the time he gives him the donated cello that he can only play at LAMP, thus he comes across as more blunt and bossy. In the book, it didn’t seem so much this way, as they had already established a relationship by that point, having known each other for months rather than a mere few weeks.

I would definitely recommend going to see The Soloist. I think those who have not read the book will probably enjoy it slightly more, but should definitely read the book afterwards. Although it could have been done better, possibly by better choices of what to include and what to not, this is a good movie that anyone interested in music will want to see.


The Soloist Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Based on the nonfiction book by Steve Lopez. The Soloist tells the story of an unlikely friendship between journalist Steve Lopez and homeless prodigy Nathaniel Ayers Jr. The movie begins when Steve Lopez is injured after falling off his bike. He is stressed out, and is looking for a fresh idea for his column in The Los Angeles Times. Just when he thinks he is out of ideas, Steve Lopez stumbles across a mysterious homeless man playing a a violin with only 2 strings. The man introduces himself as Nathaniel Ayers Jr., and tells Steve Lopez that he went to Juilliard: He also tells Steve Lopez that he used to play a cello, but now plays a violin, as it is easier to carry. Steve Lopez now has a story, which he entitles “Man has the world on 2 strings”.

Nathaniel’s story touches readers, and one elderly woman donates her cello to Nathaniel. Steve Lopez gives Nathaniel the cello, but only allows him to play it at LAMP, a drop-in/transitional housing unit for homeless people. Nathaniel at first refuses, but later reluctantly follows when bribed with lessons from a cello instructor. Nathaniel’s many struggles, as well as triumphs, make for a thought provoking and uplifting story. We hear of Nathaniel's childhood through flashbacks, and find out what led him to the street. But what struck me the most was how Nathaniel, when he would play music, would become lost in the music. As a musician myself, I found this to be very believable. I really liked the scene where Nathaniel gets so enraptured in listening to a concert, he closes his eyes, and experiences the music synaesthstetacally. (There is no mention to Nathaniel experiencing synaesthsesia in the book.)

I really enjoyed this movie, as the music was beautiful, as was Nathaniel’s devotion to music, particularly Beethoven music. That being said, however, I could only give this movie 3 stars out of 4, because the book was better. In the movie, Steve Lopez is a rather bossy man, who is estranged from his wife and son. In the book, however, Steve Lopez is a happily married man who lives with his 2 year old daughter. He is strict with Nathaniel, but more in a friendly, and parental way. In the movie, we don’t really get a sense of the heartwarming friendship between Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers Jr., because the story is really condensed. That being said, this film really brings to light the often forgotten realities of mental illness, and homelessness that affect people in our cities. Watch the movie, and when you have seen it, read the book.


The Soloist Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

I enjoyed watching ‘The Soloist’. Having read the original book ‘The Soloist’ I was a little disappointed that the movie couldn’t do more to give the viewer a sense of the depth of the friendship between Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers, Jr. The disadvantage of a movie portrayal is that due to time constraints a movie can’t fill in the background and little details the way a book can. None the less, this is a really nice story.

The Soloist is based on Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez’ articles about a homeless, schizophrenic man, Nathaniel Ayers, Jr. who was a gifted cellist. Steve Lopez discovers Nathaniel among L.A.’s homeless community and is fascinated by Nathaniel playing a two-stringed violin beautifully. Lopez writes the articles, public support floods in and he is able to provide Nathaniel with a cello to play. Over time Nathaniel grows to trust Steve Lopez and a mutual friendship evolves. Steve Lopez helps Nathaniel get into LAMP, a supportive housing unit for individuals struggling with mental illness.

The movie does well showing the difficulties of living with a mental illness and the lack of adequate support for the homeless population in a big city. The movie doesn’t try to come up with pat answers to the issues of mental illness or homelessness. Rather, you come away with the understanding that friendship is what moves us all forward in this life.

I found Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Nathaniel very believable and very moving. Robert Downey Jr. also gave a good performance as Steve Lopez. I’m glad I saw ‘The Soloist’. It moved me and made me think. This movie is worth checking out as is the book.


The Soloist Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Nathaniel A. Ayers (Jamie Foxx) is a busker in Los Angeles who has been written about in the L.A. Times columns and book of Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) upon which The Soloist is more or less based. The columns Lopez wrote, about how the homeless Ayers had dropped out of Juilliard due to schizophrenia and moved to L.A. because it was warmer than his hometown Cleveland, were well received. The cello sent to Ayers by an old woman in the film was only one of a number of donated instruments that replaced the two-string fiddle he was found with. Lopez introduced Ayers to the L.A. Philharmonic conductor E.P. Salonen (seen in the film) and he was invited as a fellow musician to attend concert rehearsals and eventually concerts when he was ready. The evangelical cellist played by British actor Tom Hollander is a fictional counterpart to the real mentor, Ben Hong, that Lopez introduced to Ayers. Hong recorded the cello music for the film, and coached Jamie Foxx (a trained classical pianist) to appear authentic on the cello. Lopez also arranged supported housing for Ayers with the Lamp Community and reunited him with his sister. A major conflict arose when Lopez questioned the gentle group counseling approach of Lamp to its people’s mental problems, insisting that aggressive drug therapy was the answer. Fortunately Lopez lost that battle, since despite his challenges Ayers is now doing reasonably well.

The Soloist is the first American film by the British realist director Joe Wright, supported by a largely British creative team. Like Danny Boyle in India, Wright insisted on spending time on Skid Row and a number of its people appear in the film. The Skid Row of 2005 was recreated on an empty lot and the mayor’s “Safer City” attempt to clean it up was reenacted, as it must have seemed to the inhabitants, as a sort of pogrom. Both Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. spent time with their real-life counterparts to get the essence of their characters without trying to impersonate them. The music by Dario Marianelli consists mostly of arrangements of Beethoven, from his 3rd & 9th symphonies, the triple concerto, and the late quartets, where the cello is prominent.

As a lifetime music listener, I really enjoyed this film. Without falling into sentimentality, it celebrates the transcendent power of music despite the real challenges faced by both principal characters. One of my favorite scenes, excerpted on Apple Trailers, shows the donated cello filmed from a camera mounted on a mail cart as it moves through the (actual) L.A. Times editorial offices. Then, when Ayers first takes the cello in his hands, he plays an excerpt from a late quartet that resonates brilliantly in the underpass as pigeons fly up, their flapping wings like applause, as the camera (on a 100 foot crane) soars up with the music through an opening into the air above the birds.


Consensus: Although the book The Soloist, by Steve Lopez, is more well rounded, this movie is still worth seeing, especially for those into music. If you haven’t already, you should definitely read the book as well. *** (Out of 4)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Review

In honour of Earth Day, Disney•Nature's first film Earth opened today. Our reviews are here below. Happy Earth Day!

Earth - A Disney•Nature Release


Opens: April 22nd, 2009

Rated G

Running time: 90 minutes

Alastair Fothergill (dir.)

Mark Linfield (dir.)

Narrated by James Earl Jones

Original Music Composed and Conducted by George Fenton

Images © BBC Worldwide Ltd. All rights reserved.

Our reviews below:


Earth Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Earth is the first film under the new DisneyNature label. The movie has beautiful visuals and a sweeping, epic score. Part of what makes Earth so special is the way the camera intimately follows the animals, getting up close and personal. We’ve seen this type of footage before, but never quite like this.

While most of the footage comes from the BBC miniseries Planet Earth, this is a 90 minute edited version, that never shows blood and isn’t too scary for kids of any age. So this works just fine for those who don’t have time, or are to young to watch the miniseries.

While never directly addressing the effects of climate change, it is still powerful and gets it’s point across just as well. Because of this fact it may not be Oscar bait, but it is definitely crowd pleasing. Earth makes us appreciate the beautiful planet on which we live and that is the best thing you could want from this type of documentary. One of the only things that would have made this more spectacular is if it had been in IMAX.

Any excuse to see this kind of thing on the big screen is a good one. Besides, you can’t go wrong with Mandarin Ducks learning how to fly, or exotic jungle birds doing a mating dance. Go see it at a theatre and make sure you stay right through the end credits for an inside look at what the camera crew went through to get these images.


Earth Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Disney•Nature’s maiden voyage Earth is stunningly spectacular to look at, and provides a window into parts of the world that most of us would not be able to see in real life.

Our planet is beautifully made, and seeing this is like watching footage taken of some of the most beautiful works of art in the world. Seeing all of the birds of paradise, many of them too unusual for us to have ever imagined. Then there are the familiar images that we never tire of seeing. Polar bear cubs taking their first steps across the ice, penguins sliding on their bellies, caribou and the wolves which hunt them, and elephants trying to cross the desert to find water and the lions they encounter also looking for that same water. There are also the slightly more unusual images that we don’t always see, such as Southern humpback whales traveling to Antarctica in search of krill to catch in a bubble net, great white sharks catching seals with a clear leap out of the water, a giraffe wading through a flooded plain, and a lynx hiding in the far reaches of the North, near the end of the tree line, and far to many more to name here.

This is a wonderfully made documentary that is edited in such a way that the whole family can watch and enjoy it. Some younger children may be slightly frightened in the chase scenes between predator and prey, although it is cut before any animals are actually killed, so no blood is shown. I look forward to next year’s edition to the Disney•Nature platform, Oceans, which promises to be as spectacular to look at as this first edition, Earth. I can’t wait to see dolphins on the big screen.

Be sure to stay during the credits, which gives an interesting little look into some of the challenges faced while filming the footage used. And as a end note, a fact that I found interesting about this documentary from IMDB’s-trivia-page, is that this is the first production ever to shoot aerial shots of Mount Everest. Unique access to a Nepalese Army plane enabled them to shoot the first aerials ever. The reason why it can’t be done with helicopters is because of the altitude, and it can’t be done with jet planes because they are too fast to get the proper shots they needed.


Earth Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Disney Nature’s first documentary is a beautiful fusion of panoramic visuals and a magnificent score by George Fenton.

The movie begins in the Arctic tundra, following a mother polar bear and her two adorable cubs. We follow their story, as well as see other Arctic wildlife, such as the predator/prey relationship between caribou and Arctic wolves. We see footage of the boreal forests, and catch a glimpse of an elusive lynx. We also see a little brood of Mandarin ducklings “fall with style” into the soft fallen leaves of a broadleaf deciduous forest. The film shows various courting displays of birds of paradise in Papua New Guinea which was fascinating to watch. We also watch elephant families make a perilous journey across an African desert, as they try to reach the fertile flood plains. Here, they face hungry loin prides. We also see a cheetah catch a gazelle, as well as the dry land come to life when the floods come. Here we see a baboon troop wade though the water. This was fun to see. We also see rivers meet the sea, which leads into footage of humpback whales, and their journey to the Antarctic, in search of krill. We see the beautiful ocean world that the wales occupy, as well as the frozen Antarctic home of the penguins. The film comes back to the Arctic, and we see the tragic effect that climate change has on a male polar bear. This really makes us think about how our actions affect animals. We finally see the baby cubs grown up, and thriving, and we marvel at both the fragility and resilience of wildlife.

Earth is a beautiful celebration of the magnificent planet we live on. Despite seeing the hardships animals face, this movie is still G rated enough for families, as the footage of animal predation are tightly cut, so no blood is seen. As a wildlife artist, I found the footage of animals, as well as the scenery, absolutely breathtaking. It is too bad this movie was not in IMAX.

I also loved how the score fit the visuals perfectly. Another thing that is interesting is that there are no people during the film. Earth is one movie that everyone should see. (Make sure you stay till the end of the credits, to see the filmmakers filming the footage.)


Earth Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Seeing the movie ‘Earth’ on Earth Day was a nice way to celebrate our beautiful planet. I hadn’t seen the BBC Planet Earth series, so this movie was a fresh experience for me.

The footage in this film is absolutely beautiful. Earth opens in the Arctic with a Mother polar bear and her two cubs. The narrator, (James Earl Jones), introduces us to these adorable cubs and to the idea that climate changes effect their chances of survival. The narrator takes us on a journey through the seasons with the help of nicely shot time lapse photography and through other parts of the world including the rainforest, Africa, and Antarctica. The narrator’s tine throughout is low-key and often humourous. The narration is matched by a very pleasant musical score by George Fenton.

It seems to me the focus of this film is on the absolute beauty in nature. Even the scenes of animals hunting other animals are tightly edited so the graphic reality is minimized. I can’t say this is a bad thing. Sometimes just allowing the viewer an opportunity to visually experience a wide range of amazing animals and scenery is enough to generate appreciation of the beauty of this planet. Appreciation leads to concern and concern to action. The message about climate change comes across in this film in a quiet manner. Earth is a really nice way to introduce kids to the planet they call home. If you can’t get out to a theatre, check out the Planet Earth series on DVD.


Earth Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Disneynature is the company releasing Earth on Earthday. With its frozen Magic Mountain logo, it is the 21st century counterpart to the True-Life Adventures that ran in theatres and on television from 1948 to 1960. By the way, the trailer for next year’s Earthday feature Oceans (shown before Earth in theatres and available on Apple trailers) has clips from this series introduced by Walt Disney himself. Earth is in fact taken from the series Planet Earth co-produced by the BBC, Discovery Channel and Greenlight Media of Germany. Oceans will be co-produced by the French, presumably the Cousteau people who have done marine documentaries forever.

Compared to the original series, Earth is edited to be family-friendly, cutting away the gory bits and simplifying the language slightly, narrated by James Earl Jones. It takes the viewer from the arctic to the antarctic and from one winter to the next, for a nice overview of the major ecosystems–tundra, taiga, deciduous forest, grassland, mountain, desert, rainforest and marine. Moreover the film’s website provides lots of educational materials for students of all ages. Filmed over five years and taking advantage of the latest digital technology the land-based, aerial and underwater footage was spectacular throughout. High-definition slow-motion (captured at 1000 frames/second), infrared photography for nighttime scenes, and time-lapse cleverly combined with a slow pan were all used effectively.

While the film highlights three families–polar bears, elephants and whales, 42 species in all are shown in their various environments. The lush musical score by George Fenton was recorded by the Berlin Philharmonic. During the closing credits some interesting footage of the various film crews is shown, such as the hot-air balloon with the cameraman hanging from a chair getting caught in a baobab tree. As a retired science teacher, I found this to be an excellent introduction to the subject.


Images © BBC Worldwide Ltd. All rights reserved.


Consensus: Earth is a spectacular look at this planet which we call home. G rated, this is a nature documentary that the whole family can go out and enjoy. ***1/4 (Out of 4)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Up" rated PG

According to the Up official website, Disney•PIXAR’s 10th feature film has received a PG rating from the MPAA, for some peril and action. This doesn’t at all come as a surprise to me, although I was expecting it to also be rated for thematic elements. No word yet on what the OFRB will be rating the film, although it will likely be PG. Up opens in North America on May 29th.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

-John C.

Toronto Stories DVD Review

Toronto Stories - A E1 Films Release


On DVD: April 21st, 2009

Rated 14A for coarse language, and nudity.

Running time: 88 minutes

Aaron Woodley (dir. segment "Shoelaces")

Sook-Yin Lee (dir. segment "The Brazilian")

David Sutherland (dir. segment "Windows")

David Weaver (dir. segment "Lost Boys")

Carly Pope as Roshanna

Lisa Ray as Beth

Gil Bellows as Henry

Julian Richings as Leather Jacket

Sook-Yin Lee as Willia

Joris Jarsky as Doug Shannon

Shauna MacDonald as Lowry

Tygh Runyan as Boris

Stephen R. Hart as Greely

James Lafazanos as Night Manager

Toka Murphy as Boy

Mojalefa Murphy as Interpreter

Cameron Kennedy as Zach

Our reviews below:


Toronto Stories DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories is a well made and interesting film about the city. It opens with a nameless immigrant boy wandering off from the Pearson Airport. Not speaking a word of English and his only possession being a Canada postcard, we watch as he wanders around the city. The film follows four different situations and in each situation, how the people involved see or hear about the boy.

The four segments, each one by a different director, are titled Shoelaces (Aaron Woodley), The Brazilian (Sook-Yin Lee), Windows (Sudz Sutherland) and my probably favorite of the four, Lost Boys (David Weaver). The film was slightly confusing on the first viewing, so I look forward to watching it again, now that I know what's going on. The best of the four shorts are definitely Windows and Lost Boys.

The DVD has no extra material. It would definitely be worth at least a rental.


Toronto Stories DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories starts with a young boy arriving at Pearson International Airport. Dressed in a suit, and carrying nothing but a Canada postcard, airport staff bring him to the office to try to sort it out. They take his picture, and when they turn their backs for a second, he walks off. The picture is soon used in an Amber alert across the city, yet no one recognizes the boy for a while.

The movie is then divided up into four short stories, where the boy crosses through each of them. In the first one, Shoelaces, he meets another boy around his age, but then disappears again. The other boy, then goes out with a girl who he is friends with, and together they try to find an elusive ‘monster’. The next story is called The Brazilian, in which a women meets a man, and they have a sort of relationship where neither of them are quite in tune to what the other one wants. In the next story, Windows, a window washer meets up with his old friend who has just escaped from jail. Tension soon mounts as the purpose of his jail break becomes a chance to see his ex-girlfriend who wants nothing to do with him. Then, in the last and final story, The Lost Boys, a man named Henry, who lives on the street and invites people to play chess with him in the subway, finds the young boy standing in front of him. He notices the boy’s picture on the screens around the subway, and brings security to where he left the boy, only to find him gone. When he sees him taken by a man known around the streets as not nice, he takes it upon himself to get the kid rescued. The boy, who enters all of the stories at some point, has his story resolved in a satisfying enough way by the end.

Toronto Stories is an interesting indie movie, that would probably be enjoyed more by people in the GTA, due to the recognition of the different landmarks. An interesting concept and delivery, this is a film that is worth checking from the festival circuits. The fact that there were four different directors on this project gives it a very interesting feel, with four different styles, almost like a film class project. If you can find it, check out Toronto Stories - it’s worth watching.


Toronto Stories DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories is a unique film that looks at the hidden, and often darker side of urban life. The movie follows a lone boy from Africa, who arrives at Pearson Airport. Nobody knows who he is, and before anyone can figure out who he is, the boy runs off. The boy, unaware that an Amber alert has been issued for him, runs through the city, and winds up downtown. He encounters another boy, then disappears again. The child that the mysterious boy encountered meets up with a young girl, and they search for an elusive “monster”, (really a homeless man sleeping in a culvert). The next short segment involves a woman who meets a lonely , “love shy” man in a bar, and has a relationship with him. The same woman later sees the mysterious boy in a library then hears about him on the radio. Meanwhile, a window washer encounters an escaped con, and , in a harrowing scene, has to rescue the convict’s ex-girlfriend. Around the same time, a street person named Henry encounters the boy, and feels a need to protect him. Henry’s story brings the boy’s story to an exciting conclusion.

Toronto Stories is a movie worth seeing. Each story is directed by a different person, each in their own respective styles. The stories play out like parts of a book, each having a different name. (The stories, in order of appearance are aptly titled, Shoelaces, The Brazilian, Windows, and Lost Boys.) The score by E.C. Woodley really fits each story perfectly. There is some relatively mild violence in this film (none of which is graphic or deadly). The 14 A rating is deserving for the language and the nudity (some of which is brief full frontal female nudity, in a non-sexual setting.) The nude shots are not really necessary to the plotline.

However, Toronto Stories is a unique film, that makes you think about how everyone is connected. As a Torontonian, this film made me think about who my neighbour might be, and how we don’t always think about who might live next door. Whether from Toronto or not, Toronto Stories is a thought provoking art film that you should definitely see.


Toronto Stories DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories provides an interesting glimpse into the inner city lives of several ordinary and marginalized people. The four distinct stories - Shoelaces, The Brazilian, Windows, and The Lost Boys are connected by a common thread, a lost boy.

The film starts at Pearson International airport where a young immigrant boy is found alone with nothing more than a Canada postcard in his possession. While authorities are trying to sort out his identity, the boy manages to board a bus heading to downtown Toronto. Once in Toronto, the boy manages to weave in and out of the four stories linking one to the other.

The individual stories on their own are not that remarkable. Yet we watch with curiosity and throughout each story a sense of isolation in each character’s lives. It is no wonder they all end up connecting like links holding together the fragile chain of a big city. The final story, ‘Lost Boys’ ties everything together and the ending about the missing boy is satisfying. I enjoyed watching Toronto Stories. It has a real film festival feel to it. Living in Toronto, it was fun to watch for familiar landmarks. The music score was really nice to listen to and it moved the four stories along well. This would be a good film for those studying film or social studies. Torontonians who enjoy indie films will also want to see this one if they haven’t already.

This is worth checking out if you like this type of film and especially if you have a connection to Toronto.


Toronto Stories DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories starts with a prologue (directed by David Weaver) where a silent African boy (Toka Murphy) arrives at the airport without papers and evades authorities to find himself in the middle of the city. The boy appears briefly in each of the four stories that follow.

In the first story Shoelaces (directed by Aaron Woodley), a young boy Jacob (Ricardo Hoyos) first discovers the lost boy and takes him to Riverdale Farm. That night Jacob and his friend Cayle (Samantha Weinstein) search for the legendary Cabbagetown Monster near the west bank of the Don River below the Viaduct and Necropolis and make not one but two scary discoveries.

The Brazilian (directed by Sook-Yin Lee) is a story about the quirky relationship between two deeply isolated people in Kensington Market. Willia (Sook-Yin Lee) is strangely drawn to Boris (Tygh Runyan) who is not sure what he wants. Note that this segment contains some brief nudity, if only to justify the title.

Windows (directed by Sudz Sutherland) takes place around St. Clair and Vaughan, a largely African-Canadian neighbourhood bordering the affluent Forest Hill. Alton (K. C. Collins), on probation from previous crimes, now has a responsible window washing job and a pregnant wife. His former partner Doug (Joris Jarsky) has escaped from prison and is going after his rich former girlfriend Roshanna (Carly Pope) with a gun. Alton arrives just in time to try to defuse the situation.

In Lost Boys (directed by David Weaver) a homeless man Henry (Gil Bellows) spends his days playing chess at Union Station. It is implied, though never stated, that the loss of a son in their swimming pool contributed to the separation between Henry and his wife Beth (Lisa Ray) and his mental breakdown and crack addiction. When he spots the boy with a child molester, Henry’s appeals to the police are not taken seriously at first.

Toronto Stories is an ambitious project by four young Toronto directors that uses interesting tales to celebrate its diverse locations in rich 35 mm film. The musical score is good throughout, composed by E. C. Woodley for Shoelaces and Lost Boys and elsewhere using tunes by various local artists. We hope the DVD release will give it the wider audience it deserves, after its limited exposure in festivals and typically brief one screen run in Toronto itself.


Consensus: With four different directors on Toronto Stories, this film has a very interesting feel. A very film festival kind of movie, if you can find it, it’s worth checking out. *** (Out of 4)

Frost/Nixon DVD Review

FROST/NIXON - A Universal Release


On DVD: April 21st, 2009

Rated PG for coarse language, and mature theme.

Running time: 123 minutes

Ron Howard (dir.)

Frank Langella as Richard Nixon

Michael Sheen as David Frost

DVD Bonus Features:

• Deleted Scenes

• The Making of Frost/Nixon

• The Real Interview

• The Nixon Library

• Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard

Blu-ray™ Bonus Features

• Deleted Scenes

• Discovering Secrets: The People and Places Behind the Story

• The Making of Frost/Nixon

• The Real Interview

• The Nixon Library

• Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard

• BD Live Download Center

• U Control - Picture-In-Picture

• U Control - The Nixon Chronicles

Our reviews below:


Frost/Nixon Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Frost/Nixon is based on the true story of David Frost, a talk show host, who wants to get an interview with Richard Nixon about Watergate. Each man has their own selfish reasons for doing the interview: Frost wants it as a ratings boaster, Nixon wants it for the money. The film is paced and set up like a news documentary and with a running time of 123 minutes, I am not sure if regular movie audiences watching it for the sole purpose of entertainment will be able to get through it. But it is an important part of American political history and that is why I highly recommend you watch Frost/Nixon.

Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Frost/Nixon went home empty handed at the 81st Oscars. Director Ron Howard has a very deserve resume, including the masterpiece A Beautiful Mind and misfires like The DaVinci Code and the live-action How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This is one of his finest films.

The DVD includes feature commentary by director Ron Howard, deleted scenes, a making-of, part of the real interview and a featurette about the Nixon library.


Frost/Nixon DVD Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

An emotionally charged political drama, Frost/Nixon tells the story of the famous interviews conducted by David Frost of Richard Nixon back in 1977. Becoming the most watched television interviews of all time, the third interview, (fourth in the movie for dramatic effect), dealt with the issue of Watergate. Frost/Nixon was originally a play in 2006 by Peter Morgan, writer of The Queen. The play, like the movie, also starred Michael Sheen as David Frost, and Frank Langella as Richard Nixon.

I found this movie utterly fascinating. The fact that this really actually happened, (to a certain extent, considering that there are always changes when transferring events like this to film), fascinates me in itself. I have always been interested in politics, although I didn’t really know much about the Watergate scandal, I will admit. This is due to the fact that it was a little bit before my time...

Some people may find Frost/Nixon slow moving, although I found the pace worked and I was able to follow along in the story quite well with little knowledge of Watergate prior to the film. Nominated in five categories including Best Picture at the Oscars this past year, this is a film worthy of the attention it has garnered from critics. While it only made an estimated $35 million at the box office, (both domestic and worldwide as of February 2009), this is a film worth seeing, and is one that I hope many will check out on DVD.


Frost/Nixon DVD Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Before seeing Frost/Nixon, I had never heard of the history of Richard Nixon and the controversy he created. The movie Frost/Nixon made me aware of this important event in history. Frost/Nixon follows the story of how Richard Nixon, after the Watergate scandal, tries to save face after he resigns. When television host David Frost gets wind of Nixon’s resignation, he can’t wait to get interviews, knowing an interview will boost his number of viewers. Frost keeps trying to make Nixon confess all the things he did, but Nixon keeps saying banal things to Frost, to sabotage the interviews. This movie is slow moving at times, but really builds up to a climax when the last interview is conducted. Here, Frost figures out what he must do to make Nixon confess. This part of the movie is very interesting, and holds you on the edge of your seat. The very last scene is funny, and kind of sweet at the same time.

The acting in Frost/Nixon is superb, and very believable. The storyline is interesting, and Hans Zimmer’s suspenseful score really moves the movie along. Frost/Nixon is a story that should not be forgotten.


Frost/Nixon DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Whether you are familiar with the events leading to Richard Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency or not, this movie is fascinating to watch. The war of wits between a former U.S. president trying to save his image and an ambitious television host trying to score high rating builds brilliantly.

The series of interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon have two distinct egos each trying to fulfill their own agendas with the tapings. Each man is intelligent in his own way and the tension that builds in the final interview is amazing to watch. The acting by Frank Langella as Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen as David Frost is excellent. The pair have been playing these roles in the play by the same name since 2006. It’s clear they know their roles. The movie is slow-moving at times as it is made to feel like a documentary. However it is worth watching through to the final interview when Frost finally gets Nixon to admit his guilt.

The DVD has several bonus features including “The Making of Frost/Nixon” and “The Real Interview” with footage from the actual interview between Frost and Nixon. This is a fascinating look at a significant piece of political history. This is a smart film deserving of it’s Academy Award nominations.


Frost/Nixon DVD Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

Frank Langella (Nixon) and Michael Sheen (Frost) reprise their roles in the Peter Morgan play for this film directed by Ron Howard. In order to be taken more seriously than just a talk show host, David Frost arranged in 1977 to have a series of four interviews with Nixon where he hoped to get him to admit to and apologise for his role in the Watergate Scandal for which he had resigned in 1974. Finding himself outclassed by Nixon in the first three interviews and struggling to keep afloat financially, Frost finally in the last interview segment got what he wished for and more.

After months of stage experience in their roles, the two principal actors are totally convincing, along with a strong supporting cast. Using some news footage from the period, the story unfolds like a documentary, building suspense up to the final confrontation.


Consensus: Frost/Nixon is a look at the famous interviews on the Watergate scandal. Filmed like a documentary, and based on the play from 2006 of the same name, this is a film that deserved it’s five nominations at the Oscars, including one for Best Picture. **** (Out of 4)

The Wrestler DVD Review

THE WRESTLER - An Alliance Films Release


On DVD: April 21st, 2009

Rated 14A for sexual content, coarse language, and violence.

Running time: 109 minutes

Darren Aronofsky (dir.)

Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson

Marissa Tomei as Cassidy-[Pam]

Evan Rachel Wood as Stephanie

Special Features:

• The Wrestler Music Video

Mickey Rourke stars in The WRESTLER, an Alliance Films’ release.

All images © 2009 Alliance All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved. / © 2009 Alliance Vivafilm. Tous droits réservés. Distribué exclusivement au Canada par Alliance Vivafilm. Tous droits réservés.

Our reviews below:


The Wrestler Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

While I am not a fan of wrestling, The Wrestler is a powerful and moving film. Randy “The Ram” Robinson was a well known name in the world of wrestling in the late 1980’s. Flash forward 20 years and he is a washed up has-been, competing in small matches at schools and community centres, barely making enough money to pay for his trailer. He has a heart attack after a particularly brutal fight and is forced into retirement. At this point in “The Ram’s” life, wrestling is the only identity he has. He tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel-Wood), and falls in love with an exotic dancer, Cassidy (Marisa Tomei).

The film shows a dirty and gritty portrayal of wrestling. In the film’s most brutal and disgusting fight scene, the wrestlers use barbed wire, thumbtacks and a staple gun against each other. Inside the ring, they really do get hurt. They have become so desensitized to being hurt in the real world, that inside the ring they will injure themselves for the enjoyment of the audience. At times the film is not pleasant to watch, but always keeps us hooked in the story line.

Darrin Aronofsky’s film is not a masterpiece because of it’s brutally realistic portrait of life inside the ring, but because of it’s painfully honest portrayal of the wrestlers outside the ring. Battered, broken down people who can’t shake their identity of who they once were. Most impressive about Mickey Rourke’s brilliant performance is that it is a comeback of epic proportions. The end of the film is left up to interpretation, but is perfect in every way. Probably the most moving and real film ever made about the world of wrestling.

The DVD’s sole bonus feature is Bruce Springsteen’s The Wrestler music video. I have no idea why that song was not nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscar’s. It’s surprising that the DVD does not have any more bonus features, but what can you do? It’s still a great film, one of the very best of last year.


The Wrestler DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/4 (out of 4)

The Wrestler is the story of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, (Mickey Rourke), a wrestler who is finding it hard to admit that he is at the end of his career. After a particularly brutal wrestling match, he has a heart attack, and is told in the hospital that he must give up wrestling. It is what he knows, and by giving it up, he finds it kind of hard, as though giving up a piece of himself. One of his only real friends is Cassidy, ([or Pam], played by Marisa Tomei), who is a stripper at a club that he frequents. Feeling very alone, she suggests that he go find his estranged daughter, Stephanie, (Evan Rachel Wood), to make amends with her. This is the story of a man who is so into the life of wrestling that he has created for himself, he knows practically nothing else. And it is one that can come crashing down all too easily.

The Wrestler is not really my kind of movie. I am not into professional wrestling, and a few of the scenes were quite violent, and I looked away several times. This being said, I cannot really give it four stars. Some people may disagree with me, but I can see why this wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. It got the acting noms both for Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, and they are well deserved. It is the acting that really carries this movie. Don’t get me wrong, to a certain extent, I did enjoy this movie - just not so much the violence and nudity. I am writing this literally just after watching it, and I still can’t decide between three, or three and a half stars, hence the rating I have chosen above...

The only special feature on this DVD is the Bruce Sprinsteen music video for his title song ‘The Wrestler’. Before seeing the movie, I had heard the song, and while it was slightly surprising that it was not on the nomination list for Best Song, (for some reason, they only nominated three instead of five this year), I was not overly shocked. I must say, that after seeing the movie, the song does mean more to me. It is a very good song and the music video they made seems to fit it. While the song was passed over at the Oscars, it did take home the Golden Globe.

Overall, The Wrestler is worth checking out mostly for the acting. That is what carries this movie. Whether or not it would be more worth renting or owning, I can’t say for sure. With only one extra, (the music video), you could easily get through the whole DVD by renting. For me? This wouldn’t be one that I would be watching over and over again. While it is very well made and acted, I would say if you just want to check it out, a rental would be fine.


The Wrestler DVD Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

It is good to see a film that takes a critical look at what society sees as entertainment, and the industry’s effect on people. The Wrestler follows Randy “The Ram” Robinson, an aging wrestler, who is now pushed to the side 20 years after his popularity has died down. No longer working professionally, Randy still performs locally, at school and community centre gyms. But when Randy sustains a heart attack during a particularly brutal performance, his wrestling days are over. So Randy tries to rebuild his life. He befriends a woman named Pam, who works at a strip club, and goes by the name of “Cassidy”. Randy is able to look beyond Pam’s rough exterior, and see her a person and a friend. At Pam’s advice, Randy visits his estranged daughter, Stephanie, whom he has not seen in several years. Over time, Randy begins to see how his past has affected his life.

Normally, I wouldn’t watch a movie with this level of violence. The first fight scenes at the beginning are brutal, so sensitive views will want to look away. However, they are integral to the story, and really capture how far people will go in the name of entertainment. This paralleled in the scenes with Pam, which show how strip clubs are nothing but exploitative to women. The nudity in these scenes is not exploitative, but necessary to bring home the dehumanizing reality of strip clubs. In this movie we really see the human sides of Randy, and Pam. We also see how Stephanie is affected by Randy’s past. Mickey Rourke and Marissa Tomei are perfect in their roles, and very believable. Although The Wrestler is in no way a happy movie, it is a very moving and believable film.

The only extra on this DVD is a music video of Bruce Springsteen’s song “The Wrestler”. While it may have been nice to have more bonus features, the music video is worth seeing. Bruce Springsteen's song is very moving and memorable. The song, in both melody and lyrics really sum up the film, and I don’t understand why it wasn’t nominated for Best Song at the Oscars.

The Wrestler, while hard to watch at times, is an excellent movie, which should be added to your collection.


The Wrestler DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

I wasn’t looking forward to seeing this movie because neither the world of wrestling nor the exotic dancer club scene appeal to me. However Mickey Rourke’s performance as has been wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson won me over. While the wrestling scenes were still hard for me to watch it was interesting seeing the theatrical performers take on an identity.

The strength of this film is the struggle “The Ram” has in wrestling through an identity crisis after a heart attack forces him into retirement. Watching this clearly aging, and broken man come to terms with his physical limitations and his fragile relationship with his daughter was moving. The viewer grows to feel for Randy “The Ram” and wants things to work out for him with his daughter and with his budding romance with exotic dancer, Cassandra/Pam (nicely acted by Marisa Tomei). There is frustration then when he is drawn back into the only identity he is comfortable with, professional wrestling. The conclusion to this movie is inevitable. As frustrating as it is for the viewer, it is the only ending that rings true.

The Wrestler is worth checking out on DVD if you can get past the gritty wrestling and club scenes. Mickey Rourke’s performance makes it worth while. The DVD only comes with one bonus feature - a music video of Bruce Springsteen's title song, “The Wrestler”.


The Wrestler DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Randy “The Ram” (Mickey Rourke) is a wrestler whose best years are behind him. Though well-liked and respected by his colleagues and fans on the eastern seaboard, he has to work part time in a supermarket to make ends meet, and sleeps in his van when he is in arrears on the trailer he rents. He befriends a stripper Pam (Marisa Tomei), who also is nearing the end of her career, but at first she feels a need to keep her professional distance. Both characters could only feel fulfilled when performing. After he has a heart attack and recovers from bypass surgery, Pam encourages him to contact his estranged daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), now at university. Rejected at first after many years of neglect, he persuades her to spend a day with him, but their relationship remains fragile. Bored with retirement and ashamed to be recognized serving deli customers in a hairnet, he decides to reenter the ring.

By now many people are aware of the parallels in this film between actor and character. Trained at the Actors Studio, Mickey Rourke had a brilliant career in the 1980s but like Marlon Brando had an attitude that alienated his colleagues and his acting career largely dried up. He had some success as a boxer. With therapy and the support of friends like Sean Penn, Sylvester Stallone and Robert Rodriguez he appeared in a few films over the past few years. Despite his track record, Darren Aronofsky knew he had to do this film. With the discipline imposed on him by the director and wrestling coaches, Mickey Rourke rose to the incredible challenges of learning a punishing new sport and confronting his own demons to take on this role. Marisa Tomei had her own challenge of learning the art of exotic dancing.

Personally I am not a sports fan, much less for wrestling, which is more choreography than competition. Its real physical challenges deserve at least grudging admiration however, despite the gratuitous bloodshed from “gigging” (self-cutting with concealed razor blades), staples, barbed wire, and broken glass. With a small budget of five million dollars, The Wrestler takes us into this world as well as the world of strip clubs and the outside world, largely with handheld cameras. Real venues with crowds of real fans were used. A lot was improvised, including Randy’s interaction with the other wrestlers outside the ring and his work behind the deli counter in a real supermarket with some real customers among the actors. Essentially on probation, Mickey Rourke agreed to work for nothing up front, and as a favour to him Bruce Springsteen wrote and performed the closing song for free.

The DVD has no extras except for an unplugged video of Bruce Springsteen’s title song. The website makes up for it with all kinds of material, including long interviews between Darren Aronofsky and Danny Boyle and between Mickey Rourke and Charlie Rose.


Mickey Rourke and Marissa Tomei star in Darren Aronofsky’s THE WRESTLER, an Alliance Films’ release.


Consensus: The Wrestler is worth checking out, especially if you are into film. It is nice to finally see what everyone has been talking about. Mickey Rourke’s comeback performance carries this movie, taking it to an extra level. ***1/2 (Out of 4)

Monday, April 20, 2009

17 Again Review

17 AGAIN - An Alliance Release


Opens: April 17th, 2009

Rated PG-13 for language, some sexual material, and teen partying.

Running time: 102 minutes

Burr Steers (dir.)

Zac Efron as Mike O’Donnell

Matthew Perry as Mike O’Donnell (Adult)

Leslie Mann as Scarlet

Thomas Lennon as Ned Gold

Michelle Trachtenberg as Maggie

Sterling Knight as Alex

Melora Hardin as Jane Masterson

Zac Efron and Sterling Knight star in 17 AGAIN, an Alliance Films’ release.

All images © 2009 Alliance All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved. / © 2009 Alliance Vivafilm. Tous droits réservés. Distribué exclusivement au Canada par Alliance Vivafilm. Tous droits réservés.

Our reviews below:


17 Again Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

17 Again is a very funny and lighthearted comedy about 37 year old Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry), who gets the chance to be 17 again and relive his senior year. At 17, he is played by Zac Efron. His friend Ned (Thomas Lennon, who steals every scene he’s in) pretends to be his father and enrolls his “son” in high school. There he gets to reconnect with his kids, Alex and Maggie (Sterling Knight and Michelle Trachtenberg) and by being with his kids, he also gets to reconnect with his soon be ex-wife, Scarlett (Leslie Mann).

Matthew Perry is only on screen for about 10 to 15 minutes, this is really Zac Efron’s movie. Despite the fact that Matthew Perry and Zac Efron don’t look alike, (maybe his wife’s leaving him because after 20 years he’s stopped looking like the guy she married), the movie’s premise works well, sharing some similarities to other films like Freaky Friday and Big.

The film is very funny, with most of the laughs coming from his friend, Ned. A lot of the humor will be appreciated by Star Wars fans and will likely go over the heads of the audience that will see the movie just because of Zac Efron. Adults should not be deterred by the fact that it stars the actor from High School Musical. As we saw in other films like Hairspray, he actually can act.

17 Again is sweet, funny and has a good heart. I don’t think it would hold the interest of most kids under ten, but this is a film that families with older kids and teens can all see and enjoy.

Let’s just hope they don’t ruin the material with a needless sequel titled 17: Again? This is a lot of fun in theatres, but it would likely play just as well on DVD. So if you miss it now, don’t hesitate to check it out in a few months time. I am fully recommending this film.


17 Again Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

In 17 Again, Mike O’Donnell, (Matthew Perry), a 37 year old man wishes that he could be 17 again. He wishes to be able to relive his highschool senior year, in hopes of getting the basketball scholarship that he missed out on when his girlfriend told him at the last game of the season that she was pregnant. When he gets his wish, (he is played at 17 by Zac Efron), along with the help of his friend, Ned Gold, (Thomas Lennon), he enrolls in highschool and makes the team. At the same school as his teenage son and daughter*, he soon realizes that maybe he became 17 again to help them rather than himself.

This is a fun movie, that exceeded my expectations. Quite funny at times, while it uses a premise that has been seen before, (in reverse in Big e.g.), it still seems new. Zac Efron plays his character well, convincingly acting as a 37 year old might in a highschool situation, despite himself being 21. Watching this movie was the kind of fun family activity that you would want either during the day on weekends or later in the day on weekdays. What I really appreciated about this film is that fact that some films like this seem to be made so that only kids and teens can enjoy them. This is one that the adults bringing the kids will have fun with too. You should go out and see 17 Again. It’s worth the price of admission.

* When 17 again, Mike ends up in the same class as his daughter, who obviously cannot be 17, considering when his girlfriend announced her pregnancy. This is how it could possibly work. At the beginning, when he finds out about the pregnancy, he is 17, but only a few days shy of his 18th birthday. His girlfriend is approximately 3 1/2 weeks pregnant. Presuming it’s the end of April at the beginning, the baby would have been due, and born, full term at the beginning of January 1990, when he is 18 years and 8 months old. When he goes back to highschool later in the year, his daughter will have just turned 19. This means that she started her senior year at 18, thus repeating a grade somewhere along the way.


17 Again Review By Nicole

***1/4 (out of 4)

Following in the tradition of movies like 13 Going on 30, and Big, 17 Again is a similar premise, only in reverse, and with a fresh new look. It follows the story of Mike O’Donnell, starting in 1989, when he was 17. Mike has to sacrifice his basketball game to tend to his pregnant girlfriend, Scarlett. Fast forward 20 years, and Mike’s kid's attend Hayden High School, the same school he used to attend. Mike’s marriage to Scarlett is strained, and they are on the verge of divorce. But an encounter with a mysterious school janitor grants Mike’s wish to be 17 again. Mike’s geeky highschool friend Ned, at first doesn’t recognize him, and in a hilarious scene, Ned tries to defend himself. But after noticing an old picture, Ned recognizes Mike. So, posing as Mike’s single Dad, he enrolls Mike at Hayden. At Hayden High School, Mike realizes that his kid’s lives are more challenging than he previously thought. His involvement with them, as a 17 year old with a parent’s mind, helps them through the challenges of going to school and growing up. Through Mike’s journey as a 17 year old, Mike learns the importance of being committed and involved with his family.

17 Again is a fun movie. There is not a lot of adult content, and the messages about family, and growing up, are really lovely. The subplot about Ned, the Star Wars and Lord of The Rings fanboy, is both funny and sweet at the same time. For those of you that know people who are passionate about their favourite subjects, but have trouble with social skills, Ned’s character will really make you smile. There are a lot of laugh out loud scenes, as well as many heartwarming scenes. 17 Again is one movie you will definitely want to see.


17 Again Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

I don’t think I’d want to be 17 again. But it was a whole lot of fun watching 37 year old Mike O’Donnell, (played by Matthew Perry), become 17 year old Mike O’Donnell, (played by Zac Efron), on a dark and stormy night. There were a lot of clichéd moments in this story but overall this was an enjoyable and frequently very funny movie for the whole family.

Zac Efron is a delight to watch and Ned , hilariously played by Thomas Lennon is one of those Star Wars/fantasy geeks that those of us who know and love these special kind of guys absolutely love. The scenes with Ned were my favorite laugh out loud moments in this movie.

The story unfolds with Ned pretending to be 17 year old Mike’s father and with Mike returning to his old highschool. Thirty-seven year old Mike’s two kids, Maggie and Alex happen to attend the same high school. In the meantime Mike’s wife, Scarlett has filed for divorce. Mike as a 17 year old gets the opportunity to influence his children’s lives in a way he couldn’t as their 37 year old Dad. Mike also comes to the realization that he doesn’t need to be 17 again to find what he really wants in life. The ending is satisfying and I know I left the theatre with a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart.

17 Again is good family fun. Treat yourself and your family to an afternoon or evening out at the movies. This one’s worth it.


17 Again Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Back in 1989, Mike O’Donnell (Zac Efron) gave up a basketball scholarship to marry the girl who was having his child. About 20 years later, with his wife leaving him, his kids ignoring him, and passed over for a promotion at work, Mike (Matthew Perry) crashes with his high school friend Ned (Thomas Lennon), now a super rich software developer. With the help of a phantom janitor, his wish to go back and do things right is fulfilled when he finds himself transformed back to a teenager. With Ned posing as his father, he enrolls in his old school to rescue his kids from the school bully and eventually things work out just in time for him to be changed back.

This film was surprisingly good. Reminiscent of other stories, notably Back to the Future, It’s a Wonderful Life, and currently the CBC series Being Erica, the inevitable clashes set up by the premise are well handled here. The cast is all good, notably Thomas Lennon who steals every scene he is in as Ned, a Lord of the Rings and Star Wars geek with a house full of memorabilia such as a land speeder bed, much of which was borrowed for the film from the Skywalker ranch. It is too bad that many of the more clever cultural references will be lost to the tweens that come just to see Zac Efron.


(L-R) Leslie Mann as Scarlet and Zac Efron as Mike O’Donnell in 17 AGAIN, an Alliance Films’ realease. _____________________________________________

Consensus: This is harmless fun that everyone 10 and up will be able to enjoy. Go out and see 17 Again if you have the chance. *** (Out of 4)