Movie Weekend

In addition to seeing Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist on Friday, Manfrengensen and I watched two other movies on video, which is pretty amazing.  I can’t remember the last time we watched movies three nights in a row.

On Saturday night, we watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I know I railed against this movie several posts ago, but I have to admit, that I hadn’t yet seen it.  I was basing my negative opinion on the reviews, specifically one that had been related by Manfrengensen’s younger brother, who almost never hates a movie.  We went in with low expectations.  And even then, we were disappointed.  It may have been worse than Pirates of the Caribbean 3.  It may even have been worse than National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.  The script of Crystal Skull was just plain awful.  The sound editing was amateurish.  The action sequences lacked any kind of spontaneity.  It was shot with lighting that almost made it look soft-focus, like they were trying to soften Harrison Ford’s age or something.  The lighting reminded us of something starring Cybill Shepherd.

The worst part of it (and that’s saying something, because it does star Shia LaBeouf….Shia “The Beef”) was the crystal skull itself.  I am in no way exaggerating when I tell you that this thing looked like a clear plastic alien skull that was filled with crumpled cellophane.  I could make that, you know what I’m saying?

For a vehicle so highly anticipated, so hyped, it was a really amateur production. And another thing:  there’s just too much CGI usage in today’s action movies.  This one was so obviously shot in front of green screens that it was painful to watch.  And the effects weren’t even worth that.  The effects were boring and silly.  Can’t stress this enough: Stay away from this movie!  You will never get those two-plus hours back.

Last night, we watched a really good movie on DVD called In Bruges, a small, indie film starring Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson.  It was funny. It was smart.  It was violent and yet bittersweet.  A fun find, and I think the best I have seen Colin Farrell in a long while. Just want to warn you though, there are f-bombs and c-words in this trailer:



A Sincere Pumpkin Patch

I haven’t blogged in a while about my life as a mom, so I thought I would catch up today.

On Saturdays in the fall, our schedule is typically ruled by the ND football game. Manfrengensen is a bit of a fanatic, you could say, so he must be in front of the TV at kickoff, and for the most part, it is best for the rest of us to just vacate the premises.  But this week was an off-week for ND, and it was a beautiful, near-perfect autumn day, so we thought we would go get our pumpkins as a family.

Usually we go to the local pumpkin patch, which is small, but fairly sincere.  We pick our pumpkins, Manfrengensen pulling the wagon up and down the rows of the field, with the children jumping on and off of it.  After we pick our pumpkins, the kids disappear into the corn maze, or run through the little straw bale one they have, running circles through its simple path. Edison just attended a birthday party two weeks ago at that pumpkin patch though (and while we were there, all three of them thought the most fun thing about it was to roll down the big hills that surrounded the parking area) so I thought it might be fun do do something different.

For years, I have been hearing about this farm that’s about a forty-five minute drive away called Linvilla Orchards.  We checked out the website, and it looked like fun.  They have a little park, and Manfrengensen and I figured we could pick our pumpkins, the kids could play a bit, and we could call it a fun little family outing. We loaded them all into the car and drove up there.

The first sign that this was a bigger deal than we had anticipated, was the parking lot. There was a guy there with a red flag, waving us in, usually a sign of a huge event. And an event it was.  It was a lot of fun, but rather than the small pumpkin patch we had expected, it was like a huge fair.  There were so many things that we couldn’t see them all in one day.

You walk onto the grounds, and they have a little band playing.  Behind the stage were carnival-like food stands, selling all kinds of junk, soft pretzels, pizza, hot dogs, fries, caramel apples and more. They had face painting, pony rides, a petting zoo, pick-your-own pumpkins, pick-your-own apples, a craft fair, jarred foods for sale, all kinds of farm-related activities.  And it was teeming with humanity.

One rest room area with two toilets each.

But anyway, we explored a bit and then let the kids ride the ponies.  Edison and Clooney loved it, but The Princess only let the pony take a few steps before she got off of the thing.  She was tired. She had actually fallen asleep on the way there, and she’s never good in the first half-hour after you wake her.  After that, we went on a hayride, which was fun, and then we took the kids to the playground.  And the playground was insane.  You pay a dollar to get in, and they have all these wooden structures in there.  Kids were running everywhere.  They were climbing. They were jumping.  They were sliding and shimmying, and skooting.  Again, it made my head spin.  But the kids had a great time.

What kind of thing is Manfrengensen?  Is that a vegetable?

What kind of thing is Manfrengensen? Is that a vegetable?

After that, we got a snack, and to be honest, between the hayride and the pony ride, the hay bale maze, the park and the food, we’d expended all the cash in our wallets.  Plus, it was such a long walk back to the car (across the street from the farm and down a big hill, all the way to the opposite end of the parking lot) that we didn’t want to lug a huge pumpkin all the way back there.  So we ended up leaving.  A fun day, but no pumpkin.

Manfrengensen is even more obsessed with the election than I am.  It’s awesome. Friday night we went out to dinner, and it was pretty much all we talked about.  Funny, because usually when we go out, and it’s just the two of us, even though we’re so excited to be out without the kids, the kids tend to be the main topic of our conversation. Talking excitedly about something other than the kids takes me back to the salad days.

Then we went to see Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was pretty cute and fun. Very well-cast with a thoughtful, sincere script. Not a great movie, but a satisfying excursion.

Today, it’s back to typical Sunday morning. Though rather than watching ESPN, Manfrengensen is obsessed with the Sunday morning pundits and watching CNN. I got to sleep in, and then I made pancakes, though only The Princess ate them.  Not because they were bad pancakes, but because the boys are picky eaters. (Please no advice on that, believe me I have tried everything. Talked to the doctors, tried every tactic, even have snuck nutritious things into the foods they like to no avail. Ultimately it comes down to two things: How can you get kids to eat vegetables who won’t even try pancakes??  The power struggle has run its course.  And also, I think of my brother, who ate nothing but french fries and poptarts for the first four years of his life.  He’s now the most adventurous eater of all the kids in my family.  My kids are healthy and in no way overweight, so I am relaxing for the most part.  It will work itself out as they get older.)

The boys are eating their lunches as I write this post, alternately chewing and talking into a little recorder, the playback of which drives them both into fits of hysterical laughter. Even though, I know that in a few minutes I will have to take that thing away from them, lest its shrill, repetitive sound drive me insane, I do so love being their mom.

Yo ho, Ho.

I just read that Johnny Depp is getting 55.8 MILLION DOLLARS to do Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

Fifty-five million, eight hundred thousand dollars.

$55,800,000.  I think that figure is somewhere around my city’s annual operating budget.

I’m not saying he’s not worth that much.  I’m just saying no one is.


And they will probably get the script out of a Cracker Jack box, or more likely, somebody’s orifice.



You wear too much eye make-up.  My sister wears too much...People think shes a whore.

You wear too much eye make-up. My sister wears too much...People think she's a whore.

Indiana Jones and the Irresistible Pile of Cash

So, it seems that George Lucas, Steven Speilberg and Harrison Ford are in “think mode” about a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones series. This, after like twenty years of denying that there would be a revival of the series, or at least leaving us with doubt that there would be, and then coming up with Crystal Skull, an over-hyped disaster that was much like a thrill ride one might find in a broken-down kiddie park. I feel like, with every one of the sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark, they have gotten further and further away from what was great about that movie. That every subsequent installment has been a bigger insult to the first.


We want YOU to come out to see this crap.

We want YOU to come out to see this crap.


Hey I love Indiana Jones. But I hate a crappy script.



So, in honor of this idea, I have decided to initiate a new code phrase in our household. Whenever one of us needs to take a dump, we will tell the others that we need to go into “think mode.” Feel free to adopt the phrase yourself.

What’s Wrong With John Cusack?

I’m a lady of a certain age, so you know I have a fondness for John Cusack.  I’m not saying I need him to be Lloyd Dobler every time, heck I don’t even think that was his greatest role, but I would like to know — who is guiding this man’s career? Does he not typically read a script before he signs on?  Sometimes I think he must just want to work with certain people and signs on before there’s a script.  How else could one explain America’s Sweethearts?  Here’s a bit of career advice for John (and any actor for that matter) and by the way, this is for free: never sign on to do any script in which there is a bit where a dog humps someone’s leg.  I don’t care if it’s Billy Crystal’s leg, hell I don’t care if Scorsese is directing.  I don’t care if it’s Scorsese’s leg. Never take a part in a film that calls for a dog to hump someone’s leg anywhere in the script. Maybe that scene was ad-libbed. Perhaps it wasn’t in the script.  I can give you the benefit of the doubt. If that was case, my advice would be, on the day that the scene is filmed, and every day thereafter….refuse to come out of your trailer. In fact, I would put that stipulation as a rider in any contract I sign.  If a dog humps a leg, I don’t have to come out of my trailer.

To be fair, while America’s Sweethearts is a crappy movie, you can tell Cusack is working really hard there with what he’s got. It does show.  And I think the same would be said for Must Love Dogs, which, let’s face it…woof. (It was a mediocre book.  Somewhat interesting adding the computer element as well as the man’s perspective, but overall, dogs come and go for no reason – much like Christopher Plummer’s Irish brogue, Diane Lane’s got too many siblings and not enough for them to do, she comes off like some kind of PMS-bitch, oh, it’s a mess.)

I say this out of love, really. Heck, I am a person who saw Pushing Tin on opening weekend. I think there’s potential there, but he’s not utilizing it in films like The Martian Child.  I figured this past weekend, I would take Edison to see Igor. And this is actually why I am writing this piece. I still haven’t seen Igor, because the reviews kept me away. I know I shouldn’t feel sorry for Cusack, he’s doing alright, but the man can’t even pick an animated movie.  His sister was Jesse in Toy Story 2!  He did Anastasia.  Where’s his Toy Story 2?  I have faith that John Cusack will have a Toy Story 2 in his career.  I don’t know why I have this faith.  He turned down Bill Paxton’s part in Apollo 13, but around that same period, he did make Bullets Over Broadway, so…

So, I figured, I would put his movies into four catagories:

I actually used to work for a guy just like Rob in a store just like Championship Vinyl.

I actually used to work for a guy just like Rob in a store just like Championship Vinyl.


Say Anything

Grosse Point Blank

High Fidelity

The Grifters

Eight Men Out

Bullets Over Broadway

Being John Malkovich

The Sure Thing

Better Off Dead


America’s Sweethearts

Must Love Dogs

The Martian Child

The Ice Harvest



Con Air (though good for some laughs, especially Nick Cage’s hairpiece)

Hang on, a better script is coming.

Hang on, a better script is coming.



Cradle Will Rock

Map of the Human Heart

Stand By Me

Sixteen Candles

Bob Roberts

Roadside Prophets

Shadows and Fog



Fat Man and Little Boy

Runaway Jury


Pushing Tin

The Jack Bull

The Thin Red Line

Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil

City Hall

The Road to Wellville

By the way, I have not seen 1408, War Inc., or Grace is Gone yet, so I can’t really put those in any of these catagories. Also, to be fair, I don’t remember much of Money For Nothing, which I think I watched at the video store where I used to work,(a different job than the record store, but still had the feel of Championship Vinyl, only in a video kind of way, let’s say Championship Video), while I was working, so I can’t really form a solid opinion of that one.  And I am also going to leave off some early roles, like Tapeheads and The Journey of Natty Gann because I think they are kind of dated and don’t really want to comment on them.  Plus, there’s The Contract, with Morgan Freeman, which I think was straight-to-DVD. Ouch.

But I think that’s a fairly reasonable assessment of his career.  There were a few that could go into different categories, perhaps, depending on your personal taste.  This is just my opinion. He’s got some good ones in there, and you have to give the man credit for not over-reaching, doing something like Troy, where he’d have to do an accent and run around with his shirt off.  I doubt he was offered Troy, but I have faith that if he had been, he’d know better.  Though based on his choices lately, that faith may be a blind one.

Update: 11/20/09 — I did try to watch War Inc. by the way.  Couldn’t get through it.  I had high hopes, but ultimately found it contrived.  Cusack is currently filming one called 2012, which Roland Emmerich is directing.  I saw a teaser trailer for it last night when we went to see the new Bond. Doesn’t look promising, I have to say.  Looks like a big budget disaster movie with more effects than believable dialog.

Here you go.  Based on the script of this trailer, I think I can prove my point:

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Reviews

Now, granted, it’s only Wednesday, and the movie doesn’t open for two more days, but so far the reviews on are running at 67% for Beverly Hills Chihuahua.  Sixty-seven percent!  That’s Certified Fresh. Of course, a big part of that endorsement is from Dog Fancy magazine, but still.

Sarah Palin, the Disney Movie

This is a mock-trailer for the bad Disney movie Matt Damon called Palin’s nomination.  I can’t get it to embed, because I am techno-challenged, but click to see:


Sarah Palin, the Disney Movie: Head of Skate


I haven’t really had time to blog this week as Manfrengensen and I have been caught up in talking about the election and upcoming debates.  I have also been posting my thoughts on the situation elsewhere.  I’m too wound up at the moment to even write about the current situation.  But I do think the debate should proceed tomorrow night.  I want to hear what the candidates have to say.


In other news from the world of bullshit:  Johnny Depp has signed on to do Pirates of the Caribbean 4.  Are you fucking kidding me?  Both 2 and 3 sucked sewage.  In a recent episode I saw of The Simpsons, Bart joins 4-H and drives a bailer off the fields and through all kinds of other stuff.  He runs over a pond, and the fish come out in a cube, etc.  Then he runs over a pile of manure and the bailer spits out copies of Pirates 3.  Hilarious. Hilarious, because it is so true.




The Princess calls Mowgli from The Jungle Book “Man-cub.”



Went back to Jenny Craig today.  This week was not as successful.  I didn’t cheat on the diet at all, but I only lost 1.2 pounds.  So that puts me down a total of five.  I guess that’s success, but I was hoping (and granted, I know I was kidding myself) that in the first three weeks or so I would drop ten pounds.  That the weight would come off me like a coat.

I didn’t drink as much water as I should have this past week as well.  Gotta be sure to do that in the future.  Plus, Manfrengensen and I went out for dinner Friday night to our favorite Mexican place, where I probably should have opted for one soft taco rather than two.  But they are so tasty…


Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Seriously — how does a movie like this get green-lighted?  Which Disney exec read this script or heard the pitch and said, “People love chihuahuas!  They are so funny looking, and we can give them accents.  It will be tits.”  (A friend told me that based on his experience with the director, Tony Scott, “tits” is the expression Scott uses to affirm the things he likes. As in: “It’s tits.”)  But you know, some exec thinks Beverly Hills Chihuahua will make their money back.  Somebody’s going to be keeping his or her fingers crossed opening weekend, watching the box office returns like his or her job depends on it.

But what do I know?  Next year, I could be extolling the virtues of the soon-to-be-released Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.  More likely I will be bitching about it.

And who was the agent who said to Drew Barrimore or to Andy Garcia, “Hey! Have I got a script for you – you’ve just got to get onboard with this one.  It will be the feather in the cap of your career.  It’s called Beverly Hills Chihuahua“??  Yeah, yeah, it’s going to be tits.  (More likely something that rhymes with tit.)

Whatever, maybe the movie’s great.  Maybe it’s going to blow the doors off talking dog comedies.  Maybe it’s like the “Spartacus” of dog movies.



Righteous…right just shut up!

Last night Manfrengensen and I got out to see Burn After Reading.  It was okay.  Not the Coen’s best, but Brad Pitt was fun to watch.  I think he’s better in the supporting roles.  But that’s just me.


Anyway, before the show started, I went to the ladies’ room, which was a hike from our theater’s corner of the multiplex.  So I was making my way there, and the only other people in this long hallway were this guy, late-thirties perhaps, with his kids, neither of whom could have been over eight or nine years old.  And he was yelling at them — yelling — about how they should stay to one side of the hall so other people could pass.  We were in this huge, wide hall, and no one else was around.  Maybe he’d started berating them before they’d turned the corner into this hall, but still.  He had this accent, like New-Jersey-construction/Sopranos-extra kind of accent.  He had the leathery face of a smoker.  Just yelling and berating these two silent kids.  And then they turned to go into their theater — to see Righteous Kill.  Who the hell is taking two little kids to see Righteous Kill??

I’m not even sure Edison (who’s 8 ) is ready for something like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  This guy’s taking his to see Righteous Kill??  I don’t want to tell anyone how to raise their kids, but WTF? Seriously — I know you love DeNiro, but what is an eight-year-old going to take away from Righteous Kill? Can’t you wait until your ex-wife’s got them for the night?


Is that too mean?