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Boo's Reviews

Goliath's friend Boo reviews movies (with the help of her 2-legger) for us all with her one-of-a-kind jars of Jif rating system. You may either click on a title below or scroll to browse the current reviews.

[ The Skeleton Key ] [ Must Love Dogs ] [ The Island ] [ Wedding Crashers ] [ Dark Water ] [ War of the Worlds ] [ Batman Begins ] [ Cinderella Man ] [ Madagascar ] [ Madagascar ]


Movie Title:
The Skeleton Key

Date Reviewed:
August 5, 2005

Review:
With the exception of fried chicken and peanut butter, there are few things Boo loves more than a good ghost story. Toss in a haunted mansion (or plantation house, in this case) and probably the best "twist" ending since "Sixth Sense," and Boo is in Ouija board heaven. The only bad thing about "The Skeleton Key" is that Boo finds it hard to review without giving away some of its delicious secrets. In what may be her best performance to date, Kate Hudson plays Caroline, a hospice worker at a New Orleans nursing home. When one of her favorite patients passes away, Caroline is appalled at the uncaring attitude of the "caregivers" who run the place. But Caroline soon spots an ad in the paper offering $1,000 per week to work as a live-in caregiver for a recent stroke victim. The victim, Ben (John Hurt), and his wife Violet(Gena Rowlands) live in a huge old plantation home that practically sits in the middle of a swamp an hour outside of New Orleans. Caroline, eager for some change in her life, soon faces the mother of all changes.

Violet is a bit of an ornery old bird, but she still gives Caroline the skeleton key to the mansion (every room has its own lock and key, but the skeleton key opens all of them). In a deliciously creepy atmosphere that could easily have gone awry but is instead very well executed, things start to go bump in the night. Before long, Caroline heads to the attic, where she discovers a hidden room that even the skeleton key won't open. She also makes three other interesting discoveries: Ben was in the attic when he had his "stroke," he so desperately wants out of the house that he crawls out of his second story bedroom window during a terrible rainstorm, and every single mirror in the house has been removed and hidden under sheets up in the attic. It doesn't take long for Caroline to finagle a way into the secret room, where she discovers all sorts of voodoo-like artifacts (actually "hoodoo" stuff, the film tells us).

Before long, Caroline and Violet are going toe-to-toe over "Ben", with Caroline determined to get him out of the spooky mansion. There is of course an even spookier back story about how the house came to be what it is, but you're just going to have to see the movie to find out what it is. Boo says the house wasn't built on a cemetary like in "Poltergeist," but sometimes a house can experience something almost as bad, or perhaps even worse. And Boo promises you one thing . . . you'll never forget the name Papa Justify, or sleep without the lights on if you hear he's been visiting your attic. Boo enjoyed just about every aspect of this movie - the superb cast, the voodoo on the bayou plot and haunted mansion atmosphere, and the very fine New Orleans style music. You may even want to go back and see the movie a second time just to catch the several hints that are dropped along the way about that little twist at the end. "The Skeleton Key" is more of an old fashioned ghost story, as opposed to the slasher pics that have overwhelmed the horror genre in recent years. Boo liked it quite a bit, unless she finds out that skeleton key can unlock her secret stash of four jars of Jif she was saving for this film.

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jarJif jar

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Movie Title:
Must Love Dogs

Date Reviewed:
August 1, 2005

Review:
As a bulldog chick, Boo could hardly resist seeing a chick flick film with a title like "Must Love Dogs." The title, however, is misleading, except in a metaphorical context. As Sarah, Diane Lane plays a recently divorced pre-school teacher, pushing forty, whose fireman husband dumped her for a much younger woman. So right out the starting gate, the movie tells you that men are dogs, at least when it comes to two-legged females. And the dogs keep coming. Sarah's big Irish-American family unrelentingly pushes her to get back into the dating scene. Sarah balks at first, but curiosity gets the better part of her when her older sister posts a personal ad on an internet dating service. Like most such posts, the details are greatly exaggerated, including the sister's inclusion of Sarah's high school graduation photo, and an advisory that respondents "must love dogs" - despite the fact Sarah does not even own one. The guys who respond are of course a bunch of dogs. One guy is a chronic weeper whose output could compete with a St. Bernard in a dog park fulls of fire hydrants, or a Boo in a Jif-free pantry. Another is a seedy, middle-aged lawyer who openly admits to Sarah that he was hoping for a twenty-one year old. And in the movie's most Freudian moment, Sarah agrees to one date with a guy who seems like the perfect match - until she walks into the restaurant and sees it's her own widowed father (Christopher Plummer as a charming rake). Even Boo went "eewww" over that one.

But Sarah eventually hooks up at a dog park with Jake (John Cusack), who, like Sarah, borrows a dog to carry on the pretense of the online ad. Also recently divorced, Jake obsessively watches "Dr. Zhivago," hoping to find a similarly perfect romance in the real world playing fields. Although the two dogs do just fine, Sarah and Jake's initial encounter is a near disaster. As a steady, responsible, craftsman who loves good conversation and hand builds utterly beautiful wooden boats, Jake certainly has potential. But he also has a slightly neurotic motor mouth that torpedos their first, and apparently last, date. Meanwhile, Sarah's job leads to her meeting Bob (Dermot Mulroney), the devilishly handsome father of her one of her students, who precociously informs Sarah that his mom divorced dad because dad is "incorrigible," i.e., he "likes other women."

Before long, however, Jake gets a second chance and Sarah finds herself dating both guys. Bob is of course as smooth as smooth can be, but Sarah also finds herself increasingly drawn to the neurotic charms of Jake - the obvious "dog" of the two in the looks department. With Sarah's family and Jake's best friend all hovering in the background, Sarah struggles to make the choice that will be true to her heart, while Jake hopes to connect with his "Lara." Boo did find the resolution of the Sarah-Bob relationship a bit contrived and unsatisfactory, but as romantic comedies go, "Must Love Dogs" acquits itself well. The movie does a good job of illustrating the stumbles, miscues, and pitfalls that are typical in new relationships. For those of you who are dog lovers, though, Boo does recommend that you lower your expectations going into the theater. The movie has little to do with real animals as opposed to "reel" animals. The two main characters, Sarah and Jake, do not even own a dog, and the two dogs that appear in the film (a Newfie and a Westie)are just passing props. If any Hollywood studios are listening, Boo would like to personally direct the must-see sequels, "Must Love Bulldogs" and "Must Love Fried Chicken," but until then, Boo will just have to stack her little director's chair with three and a half jars of Jif for "Must Love Dogs."

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jar1/2 Jif jar

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Movie Title:
The Island

Date Reviewed:
July 27, 2005

Review:
There is only one Boo in this world, but such is not the case for the wealthier inhabitants of America in the not too distant future that is the setting for “The Island.” Creating fast track clones has become a very big business in their world. Get in a bad accident that leaves your liver and spleen mangled? No problem, just call the company and tell them to harvest your clone. The movie thus cleverly poses an interesting moral conundrum. If you had the means to do so, would you? Would you even think about the clones themselves who are your walking spare parts?

The movie provides the wealthy investors with somewhat of a moral escape clause. Just think in terms of lack of full disclosure by Dr. Merrick (Sean Bean), the corporate cretin who runs the Clones ‘r Us factory where the first half of the movie takes place. Although the facility is firmly located on terra cotta, its interior atmosphere is more reminiscent of a mutant splicing of a spaceship, a hospital, and a microchip factory. The clones all wear the same nearly all-white uniforms, their living and dining quarters are mostly color free, they eat the same meals every day (Tuesday nights are tofu nights), and they follow the same dull routine each day. Males and females must maintain a minimum distance at all times, lest they be cited for a “proximity violation.” The clones do not attempt to escape because they are told that all of Earth has been destroyed by a pathogen except for one blissful place referred to as “The Island.” And each day, they all gather before a giant television screen to find out which one among them has won the “Lottery” for that day, which, they are told, is a one way ticket to The Island. Although the clones all have adult bodies, they have been programmed since their creation to possess the mind set of fifteen year olds, less the rampant sex drive. But one of the clones, Lincoln Six Echo (Jude Law) develops an unexpected character trait, curiosity. Before long, he finds a way to explore the inner catacombs of the facility, and in a scene reminiscent of “Rosemary’s Baby,” stumbles upon the actual, horrific fate of one of his fellow clones, a pregnant woman who had recently won the lottery. Lincoln has also been developing a forbidden attraction for Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), who herself is soon announced as the winner of the lottery.

Armed with his newly acquired knowledge of what Jordan's "prize" really is, and assisted by a natural born human (Steve Buscemi) who works at the facility, Lincoln spills the beans to Jordan. The pair soon escape the facility and head out to Los Angeles to find their counterparts. Meanwhile (spoiler alert!!), the evil Dr. Merrick sics a force of ex-commandos led by Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou) on their tails in order to keep the outside world from learning that the clones are not just a bunch of organs in a silicone sack of fake amniotic fluid. From that point forward, the movie is mainly one special effects and chase scene after another. Boo did find it a bit strange that the Jude Law character is virtually always seen running quite a distance ahead of Scarlett’s character, despite his clearly expressed interest in being her protector at all times. But between the many chase scenes, there are humorous bits showing the two clones interacting with regular humans, and even more challenging, trying to deal with good old slang. And some of the best scenes involve Lincoln interacting with Tom Lincoln, his real world counterpart who is his mirror image on the outside but moral opposite within. All in all, Boo liked “The Island,” especially the performance of Djimon Hounsou, whose character undergoes an interesting evolution of his own. And she liked the notion that someday she might be able to clone all the fried chicken she could ever want. Well, as long as they don’t turn out to be two headed chickens. Until then, Boo clones one jar of Jif into three and three quarters for a trip to “The Island.”

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jar3/4 Jif jar

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Movie Title:
Wedding Crashers

Date Reviewed:
July 21, 2005

Review:
Boo predicts that “Wedding Crashers” is the film most likely to be this summer’s “American Pie.” Both raunchy and endearing, the movie stars Owen Wilson (as John Beckwith) and Vince Vaughan (as Jeremy Grey) as two lawyers who relieve the boredom of their divorce mediation practice by crashing weekend weddings to snare free food, drink, and – most of all – pretty bridesmaids and female guests. John and Jeremy are convinced that the ladies’ warning bells are easily silenced by the sound of wedding bells, and that the ladies’ hormones are cresting so high as to render them more vulnerable than a Louisiana politician around a ten dollar bill. For the most part, they prove their point, though John starts to experience some pangs of guilt that begin to rise along with his scorecard.

Jeremy, on the other hand, continues full throttle with his efforts to lure the female guests into DWI (dancing while intoxicated), especially when he spots a wedding announcement of what he sees as the Super Bowl for wedding crashers. The wedding of the oldest daughter of the U.S. Secretary of Treasury/presidential candidate (played by Christopher Walken) is on the horizon, and Jeremy convinces an initially reluctant John that it’s a can’t miss opportunity. As with all the weddings they crash, John and Jeremy slip in easily and become the life of the party. To woo the young ladies, they dance with the old women and converse with the old men. As part of his seduction scenario, Jeremy even makes balloon animals for the kids.

But every cad has his Waterloo, and John and Jeremy meet theirs in the form of the bride’s two sisters/bridesmaids, Claire and Gloria (played by Rachel McAdams and Isla Fisher). John falls head over heels for the gorgeous Claire, while Jeremy more than meets his match in the sexually voracious Gloria. Gloria finagles her dad into inviting the two guys over for a stay at the family’s sumptuous mansion on the shore, setting the stage for the wedding-free second half of the movie. Between brutal football games on the lush front lawn and attempts to fend off the girls’ Mrs. Robinson-like mom (played with devilish glee by Jane Seymour), John finds himself in competition with Claire’s ultra arrogant, ultra wealthy suitor/fiance-to-be. Meanwhile, Jeremy is relentlessly pursued by not only Gloria but also her gay brother. The movie starts to lag a bit towards the final quarter, as the guys predictably go mushy when their amusing cad antics surrender to the vagaries of love. There’s no denying, however, the comedic screen chemistry between Owen and Vince. All in all, Boo says that “Wedding Crashers” is one very funny film. You won’t see an apple pie get violated, or even a fried chicken, Boo thankfully observed. But Boo says the movie is more than funny enough to toast with a bottle of champagne and four jars of Jif.

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jarJif jar

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Movie Title:
Dark Water

Date Reviewed:
July 13, 2005

Review:
Like "The Ring" and "The Grudge," "Dark Water" is Hollywood's latest remake of a good Japanese horror film. However, while Boo loves a good ghost story, she doesn't expect this one to attain the same level of success as those two forebearers. Not that "Dark Water" is a bad film, Boo stresses. On a certain level, it is quite effective, especially as a psychological drama about a financially stressed single mother (Jennifer Connelly as Dahlia) caught up in the throes of a nasty fight with an ex who doesn't hesitate to suggest that she is mentally unbalanced in order to win custody of their only child, Ceci. Toss in a ghost at mom's new apartment, and dad definitely has the edge. The problem is that most horror fans go into the theater wanting Freddy, not Freud. And many filmgoers may find that "Dark Water" falls a few Kruegers short on the scare meter.

The film opens with a flashback to Dalhia's own troubled childhood courtesy of an addicted mother prone to abandoning her daughter. The emotional scars follow Dahlia as she desperately tries to find an affordable apartment for her and Ceci in a run down neighborhood of New York where the architectural style is so drab and bleak that it echoes the worst of Stalin's urban Moscow. And the interiors of the apartment building where Dahlia and Ceci finally arrive are even worst. The foyer is dark and creepy, as are the elevator, hallways, stairwells, cloned apartments, the rooftop and its mysterious old water tower, and even the building's super with his near Transylvanian accent. A cheery real estate agent played by John C. Reilly touts the dump as the lower end of penthouses, but Ceci initially hates the place, until she is lured to the rooftop by an unseen force, who quickly turns her into a convert. Fearful of losing custody of Ceci if she does not promptly find a home, Dahlia reluctantly signs on.

At first, everything is as hunky dorry as a bulldog in a peanut butter factory. But then a mysterious stain appears in the upper corner of Ceci's bedroom, followed by strange sounds emanating from the apartment above. When Dahlia goes up to investigate, she finds that every faucet in the apartment has been turned on and the place is flooded with water that is mysteriously dark. Not quite the color of blood, but very suggestive of it. And like the young daughter in Robert DeNiro's recent film "Hide and Seek," Dahlia soon learns that Ceci has an imaginary friend too. One whose voice travels through the floor of the apartment above. If all of that wasn't enough for stressed out Dahlia to deal with, her ex has turned up the heat in the still ongoing custody battle, and Dahlia ends up with a lawyer (Tim Roth) who seems quite capable but also has a non-existent family that he speaks of when he is not running his law office out of his car and a nearby café. But even Dahlia's ex is no comparison to the malevolent force that moves through the walls and floors of the apartment building, though the filmgoer may at times wonder why even that entity would choose to dwell in such a dark and depressing place. Boo says that in the end, "Dark Water" is basically a splicing of "Amityville Horror" and "Poltergeist" gone slumming, but with far less effective scares. Boo loved Jennifer Connelly's performance, but even her considerable talent does not save "Dark Water" from getting any more than three and one quarter jars of Jif.

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jar1/4 Jif jar

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Movie Title:
War of the Worlds

Date Reviewed:
July 4, 2005

Review:
"War of the Worlds" is a pretty good movie about pretty dumb aliens. It's hard to go wrong when you mix in Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, and H.G. Wells, and for the most part the film does stay on the right track (more on the pesky ending later). Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, a Mustang loving crane worker on New York's docks, and divorced father of two, who suffers from serious Peter Pan syndrome (Boo would like to tell Tom that she knows peanut butter, he doesn't, and Peter Pan is no Jif). His pregnant ex and her new husband want to go visit her parents in Boston for the weekend, so she drops off her and Ray's two kids, pre-teen Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and bad attitude-teen Robbie (Justin Chatwin), to stay with their dad for the weekend. Not exactly an attentive father, Ray tells them to order out when they ask what are they supposed to eat, and then hits the sack, only to be awakened by a highly unusual lightning storm.

Before you know it, the ground starts shaking beneath the streets of Ray's neighborhood (as well as the rest of the world), and two hundred foot tall tripods rise up from below and start stomping buildings and zapping humans with curious ray guns that turn human flesh into dust but leaves their clothing intact (one fascinating scene shows a "rain" of shirts, trousers, etc.). It turns out that the lightning bolts from the odd storm were also transporting the alien invaders from presumbably their mother ship down into the tripods, which also have blood sucking tentacles that look like metal anacondas. Lucky for Ray and the kids, he finds one of the few motor vehicles that can still run after the aliens do their thing on the world's electrical devices. Ray wisely decides to drives his kids to Boston to be with their mom, though the movie never quite explains why the aliens and their tripods wreaked any less havoc on Boston than on New York (okay, Boo says, maybe they're Red Sox fans).

The remainder of the movie is pretty much a man-on-the-run caper, albeit with two kids in tow and all those annoying killer machines out to vaporize the entire human clan. The movie drags a bit during an overly long segment that takes place in the basement of a loony survivalist named Ogilvy (Tim Robbins)who offers sanctuary to the fleeing family. But there are enough genuine jump-out-of-your seat scenes to satisfy most moviegoers, and the special effects are spectacular, as one would expect from a Spielberg film. Some fans will undoubtedly complain that the aliens' motive is never explained, but Boo thought that omission added to the movie's overall creepiness, i.e., the suggestion that the invaders view us as no better than we view annoying little insects. Boo's biggest quibble is with the "weapon" ultimately brought to bear on the aliens (and also somewhat with the disappointing look of the aliens). The Olgivy character tells us that the aliens planned their invasion over a million years before, burying their massive tripods deep beneath the earth's surface, and biding their time until telemarketers and email spammers made the human species worthy of extermination (okay, so he left out that last detail). Boo thinks it's a bit improbable that an alien species endowed with the extraordinary intelligence and technological prowess to travel across vast expanses of space, and then study the earth for a million years or more, would not have learned of the "tiny" detail(that's a Boo hint) that proves to be their most formidable adversary. But overall, Boo liked "War of the Worlds," especially since the aliens seemed to spare all the fried chicken joints in their path. Now if only they had zapped all the lawyers, she might have given the movie more than three and three quarter jars of Jif.

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jar3/4 Jif jar

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Movie Title:
Batman Begins

Date Reviewed:
June 20, 2005

Review:
As the title suggests, “Batman Begins” flushes out the details of how billionaire Bruce Wayne evolved into the crime fighting super hero without super powers who takes on the pervasive corruption of Gotham City. It is a dark and tortured genesis, starting with the murder of his parents when Bruce was a little boy, and followed by his young adult years spent traveling around the world to explore and understand evil. Bruce eventually ends up as an inmate in a brutal prison in an unnamed Asian country, where he is eventually rescued by a Svengali-like figure named Henri Ducard (Liam Neesom). Ducard, a masterful Ninja warrior, turns out to be a principal player among an international band of super vigilantes who call themselves The League of Shadows. For centuries, it seems, the League has been orchestrating the collapse of one world empire after another that became too corrupt to be tolerated any further. Seduced by the invitation to join in on their grand fight against evil, Bruce initially becomes Ducard’s willing, and most promising, pupil (think “Grasshopper” from the “Kung Fu” television series). But in a final test become graduation, Bruce refuses to perform a particularly heinous act that will show he is willing to do “that which is necessary,” and a brutal battle ensues between master and pupil. Armed with the extraordinary skills he learned from Ducard, Bruce flees back to fight the criminal element running Gotham City, but on his own terms.

Between flashbacks and fast forwards, “Batman Begins” does an excellent job of showing how a terrifying childhood incident in a cave ultimately motivated Bruce to confront his fears, don the Batman motif, and make his fears his enemy’s fears once he returns to Gotham City. Once back home, he is reunited with his loyal family servant, Alfred (Michael Caine), and best, if not only, friend from childhood, Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), who is now an assistant D.A. in the crime ridden city. Bruce initially puts on a facade of an irresponsible rich playboy, even as he soon finds out that his family’s wealthy corporation was taken over in his absence by a ruthless corporate creep played by Rutger Hauer. However, he also learns to his delight that the company’s scientific genius, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), remains loyal to the Wayne family. Although not blessed with super powers, Lucius and Bruce soon concoct a bat cave-load of super gadgets that quickly turn Batman into a legend as he ventures out at night to fight the city’s criminal element. Chief among that element are crime boss Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) and his corrupt shrink on the payroll, Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), who uses powerful psychedelic drugs, and his “Scarecrow” mask/persona, on opponents of their mob, such as potential trial witnesses and do-gooder D.A.s like sweet Rachel.

As Batman comes to the aid of Rachel and the city’s other innocents, he soon finds himself up against a huge conspiracy involving the fate of Gotham City. Think in terms of a 9/12, i.e., what comes after a 9/11. And in the movie’s signature but inevitable twist, it turns out that Falcone and Dr. Crane work for a much higher, and even more ruthless, master, which is the only bat clue you get for now. Boo enjoyed “Batman Begins” quite a bit, though she was disappointed at the lack of a BatBulldog to help out Bruce when he was running around Gotham City at night leaving his mark on one building after another. Boo did find that the beginning dragged on a bit too long, and that the Ninja-Joe-Karate scenes were a tad too much. But once back in Gotham City, the story shifts into third gear quite nicely, aided by an excellent cast, gadgets galore, and beautiful cinematography. As long as Batman doesn’t try to put furry little birds on the labels on her jars of peanut butter, Bat Boo gladly gives this film four jars of Jif.

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jarJif jar

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Movie Title:
Cinderella Man

Date Reviewed:
June 7, 2005

Review:
Think “Seabiscuit” with boxing gloves and you get “Cinderella Man,” which Boo submits is an even better film (and she liked “Seabiscuit” a lot). This true life movie is perhaps the ultimate film about good guys getting second chances. On the cusp of the Depression, boxer James Braddock’s family life and career in the ring are in a nice upward spiral. But then he breaks his right hand during a fight and puts on such a poor performance in subsequent matches that his license is taken away. By the time economic calamity hits the country, Braddock (Russell Crowe) is reduced to near begging for work on New York’s docks, and he and his family end up living in a hole-in-the-wall tenement that is barely a notch above living out of cardboard boxes. But Braddock is a fighter in all corners of life, and along with his devoted wife Mae (Renee Zellwegger), the family survives, even if they cannot afford heat for their home or milk for their three kids.

Fortunately for Braddock, his manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) also stands by him during the lean years, never forgetting the promise he first saw when Braddock ruled the ring. Gould finds out that the leading contender to take on heavyweight champion Max Baer (Craig Bierko) has lost his opponent for his next, pre-title fight. Gould finagles a one fight reprieve of Braddock’s suspension, and to everyone’s surprise, Braddock flattens his opponent. Turns out all that heavy lifting on the docks has not only rehabilitated Braddock’s right hand, but also given him a mighty powerful left punch too. Braddock’s license is soon reinstated, and after a thrilling series of follow-up matches, the scene is set for a heavyweight title match between James “Seabiscuit” Braddock and the much taller Max “War Admiral” Baer, the much feared brute (in and out of the ring) of a champion who previously killed two opponents in the ring. (As a trivia tidbit, Max Baer was the real life father of Max Baer, Jr., the actor who played Jethro on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”)

There have been so many great boxing movies in the past that one would almost expect to yawn at another. Not so when it comes to “Cinderella Man.” The cinematography is simply magnificent, and it is hard to imagine fictional (or even real life) fight scenes that could be any more thrilling. The emotional resonance is just as compelling. In one scene, Braddock answers a reporter’s question by telling him that he returned to boxing in order to be able to put milk on the table again for his kids. Few viewers will doubt the sincerity of his words. Ron Howard, Paul Giamatti, and Russell Crowe go for the championship in “Cinderella Man,” and they do indeed deliver. Expect Oscar nominations all around, including others for Renee Zellwegger and Craig Bierko. Boo walked out of the theater half hoping for a sequel pitting Crowe in dual roles as James Braddock versus Maximus. But in the meantime, she doesn’t hesitate to ring the bell for “Cinderella Man” with four and a half jars of Jif.

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jarJif jar1/2 Jif jar

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Movie Title:
Madagascar

Date Reviewed:
May 31, 2005

Review:

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jar1/4 Jif jar

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Movie Title:
Madagascar

Date Reviewed:
May 31, 2005

Review:
To zoo, or not to zoo, that is the essential question behind the unfortunately disappointing "Madagascar," the latest animated film from the Dreamworks' crew that brought us the great "Shrek." Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) and his zoo pals Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are living the good life at the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Alex in particular gets juicy steaks every day and enjoys his status as the crowd favorite when he preens his mane (with the help of a strategically placed fan) and puts on his daily show of faux ferocity that wows the crowd. But the wild has long gone out of this group of wildlife, at least until the zoo's psychotic penguins start up with their version of a great escape. Marty the Giraffe in particular gets a bad case of freedom fever, along with some equally bad giraffe advice to the effect that Connecticut is where the wild kingdom lies (bad pun intended). Marty's three friends soon follow in his hoof steps, but the foursome are quickly captured and shipped (literally) to a wild life preserve in Africa. Of course, a not so perfect storm intervenes, and the foursome find themselves shipwrecked on the beaches of Madagascar.

What follows is sort of a zoo-animal version of Robinson Crusoe, cartoon style. A local colony of lemurs, led by their scheming King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his primate prime minister Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer), hatch a plan to entice their "giant" visitors (or, their "New York Giants," as they come to call them) into providing them with protection against the local predators who enjoy lemur stew. But this Manhattan milquetoast mafia aren't exactly up to the job. Alex, for example, is terrified of spiders, among other island things.

Hunger, of course, tosses in the proverbial "monkey wrench" (Boo said she couldn't resist that one), and before you know it, Alex is seduced by the wild side. When he looks at Marty, Melman, and Gloria, he starts to see steaks in his eyes. So, will Alex/Anakin morph into Darth Lion and eat his friends? Well, you just are going to have to go see the movie to find out. Or, follow Boo's advice and wait for the DVD. Boo readily concedes that the animation is superb, as one expects from a Dreamworks' production. The characters are very very likable, and even the basic plot has great potential. But, to use one final pun, Boo says the execution stumbles. The character of Marty, for example, is a pale imitation of Donkey, the humorous sidekick of Shrek. And for the most part, the jokes fall flatter than Louisiana, or a bulldog's bag of bad puns. Very small kiddies will likely enjoy the movie regardless of such flaws, but Boo thinks many parents may find themselves wishing instead for a Shrek version of "Tarzan Goes to Madagascar." Boo laments the fact that there is so little Jif in this jungle, and thus finds herself unable to send over any more than three and one small quarter jars.

Jars of Jif:
Jif jarJif jarJif jar1/4 Jif jar

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