The House with a Clock in Its Walls

 

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Hey, kids! Let’s watch the new Eli Roth film!

Not something most parents would say, eh? But The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a kid movie, so it’s okay…I think. I can see why Roth was drawn to this story – it’s full of every kid’s worst fears: dead parents, a creepy old house, being the new kid at school, peer pressure, ghost moms – it’s like a fucking laundry list of fear! And don’t get me started on baby Jack Black – I’m having flashbacks every time I close my eyes.

My kids are coming around on Jack Black, I think. I mean, my daughter practically begged us to see the new Jumanji (haven’t yet) and she was excited about this one.

Cate Blanchett is an amazing actress and a joy to watch. Please let her be in every movie – all of them!

Kyle MacLachlan has got to be having so much fun playing quirky villains these days. He was absolutely chewing the scenery – it was greatness.

I didn’t even realize it while watching, but Angelica Schuyler herself was in the film. Such a shame that there wasn’t a call for her to sing.

I was expecting to play games on my phone the whole time I watched this, but it sucked me in and was a great bunch of fun.

We had watched this film months and months ago…it would blow their little MINDS if they knew this was the same guy who made Cabin Fever.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

 

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Gary Oldman just makes every film better, doesn’t he? I mean, Bram Stoker’s Dracula notwithstanding, he is AMAZING.

Is it totally out of line to say that I think Sirius Black is sexy? I think it’s just Gary Oldman with long hair and a goatee…even though he’s one of the best actors of our generation…he’s hardly ever – ok, mostly never – sexy. Mason Verger? No. Zorg? No. Beethoven? Maybe.

Let me settle down – this is a children’s film, after all.

I think my favorite part was when Hermione punched Draco in the face. To me, Hermione is a much more interesting character than Harry Potter. As a mudblood, she’s subject to just as much – if not more – bullying and hardship as Harry. Yes, sure, she’s got parents – but they’re fucking dentists. Snape fucking straight up ignores her – she knows all the answers and he harrasses Harry instead. She’s been turned into a cat (or dog). She’s been frozen. She solves the mystery of the pipes. She saves the day in this film. I’m just saying, Hermione Granger is the real hero here.

I can’t believe I missed Dobby.

This one is my favorite Harry Potter so far…but then again, I still have 5 films to go.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

 

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Chamber of Secrets? That’s what I used to call my vajayjay back in college…

Thank you folks, I’ll be here all night. My children absolutely appreciate any and all mentions of their former abode and entry into the world, so let’s give them a round of applause for pushing me to revisit Harry Potter and to make inappropriate vagina jokes. My son voraciously consumed Harry Potter books the second he could read. My daughter was slower to get hooked and in fact, only promised to read them if I read them. Challenge accepted!

I saw Sorcerer’s Stone shortly after it was released, but never sat down and intentionally watched the rest of the films. I am fairly certain I’ve seen them all in bits and pieces over the years though. Having just finished reading the second book, my daughter and I had a Friday Night double feature of the first two films…

My favorite part is when I say Her-Mee-Oh-Nee instead of Her-My-Oh-Nee – my daughter has an absolute shit fit about me not saying it right.

Dobby is so fucking annoying. He reminds me of our dog, always cowering and whimpering. I wonder if I give her a sock, she’ll fucking leave?

While watching the film, I told my daughter that Gilderoy Lockhart is a butthole. She said, “No, he’s another B-word, but I can’t say it.” “A bitch?” “Yeah. Can I say that?” “Uh, no.” At what age is appropriate to let a child call someone a “little bitch”?

So, I didn’t know that a Basilisk was a snake – I thought they were lizards. The only thing I know about Basilisks was from playing Magic in college, and they looked like big fucking iguanas. Wikipedia was not very helpful, as they also have chicken legs and a cock’s comb. The fuck?

A fun film, but I feel like it was really long. My daughter fell asleep halfway through, but I made it through both. Onward to the next one!

The Wizard of Oz (3D)

Never before have I written a second review of a film. Not so much out of pride or any kind of belief that my reviews exist as the “final word” on the worth of a film…it’s more because I’m kind of lazy. (Or quite possibly…really fucking lazy.) The 3D re-release of The Wizard of Oz deserves a second review…not only because my original review was written 15 years ago, but because it truly is like watching a completely new film.

The images were so crisp and clear that it was almost detrimental to the experience. Seriously, I could see the edges of every munchkin’s baldcap, the fine edge of the lion’s wig and even the tin man’s white undershirt! Obviously, 3D wasn’t a consideration when this movie was originally filmed, so there’s nothing flying at your face or whizzing over your head. Even so, adding 3D wasn’t a total waste. Glinda’s bubble seemed to be really hanging in the air above us. Any scene with red smoke looked like some asshole had dropped a smokebomb in the front of the theater. Simply dazzling.

In my original review, I whined about having to share my Oz experience with a theater full of people. I wouldn’t say I’ve mellowed over the past decade and a half – I still loathe most theater audiences. But my selfishness over Oz has certainly decreased. When I found out about the 3D re-release, my first thought wasn’t, “I’ve gotta go see this,” but, “I’ve gotta take the kids to see this!” That’s right, my kids are just as obsessed with all things Oz as I am. My son has seen nearly every movie even vaguely Oz related – for several months, he watched The Wiz every day. His newest fixation is Oz Monopoly. My daughter is going to be Dorothy with sparkly boots for Halloween this year, wearing MY Dorothy dress, from when I was 5. I’ve done quite a good job of brainwashing them…and even though they watch the DVD at least once a week, they sat there like me, eyes wide in rapt attention at the 3D version. No screaming at them to be quiet, the only talking was to demand more candy out of my gigantic mom purse. That right there was worth the $14 a head admission price.

Oz the Great and Powerful

So did anyone else notice that Oz the Great and Powerful basically has the same plot as Army of Darkness? No? Just me?

Think about it. A man is whisked away by a cyclone/swirling vortex and transported to another time and place. The locals immediately recognize the newcomer as their prophesied Savior. At first, the newcomer is only in it for the chicks and other benefits…but as he gets to know the locals, he decides to fight the evil that is threatening them. The newcomer rallies their defenses and trains the locals using his otherworldly technology. After a fierce fight, the newcomer defeats the evil and saves the day, ending with a kiss…that’s BOTH films in a nutshell. Of course, that’s an oversimplification of both films, but you see what I’m getting at…I couldn’t stop paralleling them right there in the theater as I was watching.

Now for the $64,000 question – did I love the film? To quote every Romantic Comedy ever made, I loved the film, but I’m not IN love with the film. I’m IN LOVE with The Wizard of Oz and there can never be another. That being said, I did enjoy Oz the Great and Powerful, liked it and will probably buy the DVD. It might not be better than Return to Oz, but then again, it might be. Nostalgia fuzzes my mind and I have to remind myself that I’m not IN love with every film I loved as a kid. (Howard the Duck, I’m looking at you.)

I loved almost everything about the film though. I loved starting off the film in black and white like the original, but totally dispensing with the “it was all a dream” nonsense, which has always annoyed me. I liked Raimi’s not-so-subtle nods to his past films – “You’re all going to die!” and those rather rapey trees…and of course, Bruce himself. I liked the cast. Michelle Williams was underwhelming, but Mila Kunis was good enough to make up for it. Although she’s no Natalie Portman, I would totally have a girlcrush on her…if not for her exasperatingly disgusting taste in men. In fact, there was only one thing that sent a colossal bug up my ass…the romance. Denouement driven by romance sends me over the edge into bugshit nuts territory. Unless it’s The Princess Bride, I absolutely do NOT want to see a film ending with a…I’ll stop before I get carried away and say too much.

I was shocked by the remarkable restraint in marketing tie-ins with the film. I actually only noticed two – World Market sent me a few emails referencing a contest and my absolute favorite make-up – Urban Decay – released Glinda and Theodora themed eye shadow sets. WANT!

Of course my kids loved it, although the five year old had a bit of a problem keeping her 3D glasses on for the whole film. She made it about halfway through. The 3D effects were pretty to look at – especially the paper-cut style opening credits, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks on the TV at home. I’m guessing it will hit cable by the end of the summer? Oh…and they already announced a sequel. Hmmmm…where can they go with this story?

  

Wrath of the Titans

As a fan of Greek mythology, I found Wrath of the Titans to be even more annoying than Clash of the Titans. The writers were plagued by the same problem that annoyed me about that Hercules TV show – Demigods get 1 or 2 myths and that’s it…so how do you make multiple movies about Perseus, who really only had one story?

Hollywood’s answer to that question is to have Perseus standing in for Theseus and fighting a Minotaur. Let’s add a Chimera, just for shits and giggles. And how about having Perseus playing Odysseus and fighting a bunch of Cyclopses? (I don’t think that’s a word – is the plural of Cyclops…Cyclopi?) The one positive thing about this film is solving the Io/Andromeda problem from the first movie within the first five minutes. But that caused even more problems with the plot. Queen Andromeda is now this bad-ass warrior queen, killing a bunch of random folks. Apparently, that’s what gives Perseus a chubby, because he spends the rest of the movie making goofy eyes at her. Whatever…too little, too late.

Perseus’ actions seemed to be driven by more by a mid-life crisis, than any real desire to save the world. Several times, I expected a Danny Glover-style, “I’m too old for this shit!” He seemed vaguely interested in the welfare of his son, but even when his son’s life was in danger, he seemed to be dragging his feet. What a fucking dick.

The special effects were pretty neat, especially the M.C. Escher version of Tartarus. See, at least I had one positive thing to say about this turd.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I’m torn by this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it…but I don’t know that it absolutely HAD to be made.

Let me be clear, I don’t remember much shit from reading The Hobbit. I remember Gollum and I remember big fucking spiders. I do remember that half the dwarves die, so I am not looking forward to how upset my son will be when we take him to see the next film. At first, I was puzzled by all the musical numbers. Then I remembered one thing about reading The Hobbit…I remembered pages and pages of poems and songs that I skipped because I thought they were dumb and boring. Heh. Even in 3D, the songs were still dumb and boring.

Most of the reviews and articles I read about The Hobbit were negative, which was surprising to me. Then I realized that most of the articles were likely written by movie critics…a person who is paid the same amount to review The Hobbit as to review silly twatter like Twilight movies and Oscar contenders like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty might not have a neat box in their head to fit The Hobbit into. It’s not likely to win as many Oscars as Return of the King, but it’s not silly shit like Twilight, either. I cannot even figure out how to categorize it. Is it fantasy? Sure, but it’s also a book adaptation and an adventure story and a film by one of my favorite directors and also a remake of something from my childhood. Is it for kids or adults? It’s PG-13, but I didn’t think twice about bringing my 7 year old. It’s got eye popping special effects, but also odd musical numbers. So I can’t knock that some critics would be annoyed that they have to sit through The Hobbit, a mere decade after sitting through the long, long, long Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s also possible that seeing every 3D movie that comes out takes away the newness of the technology. The Hobbit is only the second 3D movie I’ve gotten to see. My 7 year old has seen more 3D movies than I have. Maybe I’m not yet jaded by the fact that EVERY film that comes out now is available in 3D?

So ultimately, I enjoyed the film, although a few moments had me annoyed. The one reservation I have is whether there is really enough story to make into 3 films. (Note that I said “story”, not special effects. I have no doubt there are enough special effects for a dozen more movies.) My son absolutely loved it, so I had him write a review for it. He was super pissed that he is going to have to wait a whole ‘nother year to see the next one.

Martin Freeman was made to be a hobbit. He looked so much like the cartoon version of The Hobbit, it was disturbing. After playing Arthur Dent, he has cemented his status as a nerd icon. Even so, I still have a hard time seeing him as anyone other than Tim Canterbury.

Is it creepy that I found Thorin Oakenshield sexy? I’m thinking it’s because he looked a little like Rob Zombie. That’s the only explanation I could come up with, because his character was kind of a dick. The rest of the dwarves were not sexy…not even a little bit.

Back in 2003, I predicted that The Hobbit would come out in 2009. That was a long shot timeframe…and I was still off by three years. Should I throw out a date for The Simarillion? 2020?

  

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The hobit was a 5 star production. It was a kind of scary movie. But I loved it. I think you should go see it. Now don’t get me wrong but the hobit is 60 years before Lord of the Rings. There are 3 wizards and their names are Sayramon, Gandalf and Rajagast. There are also 2 wizards that aren’t in the movie that are blue. I don’t know their names.

  

Return to Oz

There are few things scarier to a child than forced medical procedures – anything that requires being strapped down is bad, bad news. Even before I was aware of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I knew that shock therapy was fucked up.

Far scarier than anything that happened in Oz, Auntie Em dropping Dorothy off at the asylum to get her brains scrambled FUCKED MY SHIT UP. Nevermind the fact that Auntie Em was played by Carrie’s fucked up mom.

Even so, I let my kids watch it anyway. They love The Wizard of Oz just as much as I do…besides, I could always turn it off if they freak out, right? Well, they didn’t freak out, so don’t call CPS on me…yet.

The first question my son asked was, “Why isn’t it in black and white?” I’m pretty sure I asked my mom the same question over 25 years ago, sitting in the movie theater. He also wanted to know why the characters didn’t look the same. He understood Dorothy was a different actress , but he was bewildered that the Cowardly Lion was a real lion and the Tin Man and Scarecrow weren’t just dressed up people. I explained that the characters were meant to look like the illustrations from the original book, but I really need to buy him a copy, because my old copy doesn’t have the artwork. He’s one smart cookie for six years old – he caught on right away and didn’t ask too many questions after that. He really liked the film and was disappointed when I deleted it from the DVR to make more room for Hoarders and Animal Hoarders.

I’m still a big Fairuza Balk fan. I liked her as a crazy witch in The Craft, but I loved her as Ed Norton’s crazy girlfriend and Adam Sandler’s crazy girlfriend. She hasn’t done much lately, what happened to the market for crazy?

My three year old wouldn’t look at the screen when the Gnome King was exploding, but that was her only reaction – she didn’t cry or scream or demand I turn it off. She wasn’t scared of Mega Pythons either – she just laughed when it ate people, so I think I may have a little Knobby Jr. on my hands…seriously, DO NOT call CPS, I promise I won’t let her watch Faces of Death until after she starts Kindergarten.