That Thing You Do! (A-). Today was way too cold to venture out and do anything, so I decided to revisit this old favorite. I could hardly believe it was released in 1996! Anyway, if you like feel-good movies, you should keep this one within arm’s reach at all times. Tom Hanks (A Hologram for the King) wrote, directed, and starred in this rags-to-riches story about an Erie, PA garage band that hits it big circa 1964, with the help of a mostly benevolent manager (Hanks). Tom Everett Scott (Hallmark TV’s Christmas Connection) plays the band’s drummer, a good-natured jazz-lover; Steve Zahn (Sahara) is the goofy guitarist; and cute little Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) plays the girlfriend of the band’s moody leader Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech, Flight 7500). The film also features Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde) in a very early role as the drummer’s girlfriend. Bryan Cranston (Argo) also pops up in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him role (as astronaut Gus Grissom!). The DVD also contains a short making-of featurette, two trailers, several commercials, and two music videos of songs from the movie. This movie is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, so get yourself a copy!
Godzilla (C+). I can’t really disagree with Mom Under Cover’s assessment of this reboot of the classic giant-monster movie. It’s loud, it’s kind of long (2 hours, 3 minutes), and it is wall-to-wall CGI destruction. Even so, I kind of liked it, if only because it is a huge improvement on the disastrous 1998 version starring Matthew Broderick (Election). The plot is simple — two giant monsters threaten to destroy mankind, and although the military will heroically do what it can, only Godzilla can save us from them. (It’s never explained why Godzilla won’t then destroy mankind himself, but I got the sense it is because he is such a totally awesome alpha predator that destroying mankind is beneath his dignity.) The cast is high caliber, even though almost nobody gets to do any real acting. Let’s see, there’s Bryan Cranston (Argo), Juliette Binoche (The Horseman on the Roof), Ken Watanabe (Inception), Elizabeth Olsen (Liberal Arts), David Strathairn (Lincoln), and even cute little Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky). The star, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Anna Karenina), was unknown to me, but I thought he did a decent job as the Navy lieutenant who always seems to be on the scene when all heck breaks loose. For a more interesting experience, see if you can find Monsters, a 2010 release that director Gareth Edwards made on a shoestring budget, using very basic computers to create the special effects.
Mom Under Cover versus The Greatest Monster of All
Godzilla – C (cf, three 10-year-old boys rate this flick an A).
I freely admit I must be missing the gene that allows me to appreciate sci-fi. I found this movie interminably long and boring. Rubble, dust, destruction and more rubble. The acting was surprisingly good (Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and briefly, Juliette Binoche). And, there is an interesting plot deviation from the original. Even so, skip this one unless you are a glutton for punishment.