Dysfunctional Family? More Like a Normal Family.

Little Miss Sunshine

Genre: Drama, Comedy, Adventure

Director: John Dayton, Valerie Faris

Actors: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin

This week I’m writing about probably one of my all time favorite movies, Little Miss Sunshine. The movie is about an extended family’s trip to the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant for the daughter. The family consists of a motivational speaker father who never gives up (Greg Kinnear), a working mother (Toni Collette), a silent, Nietzche-loving son (Paul Dano), a heroine-addicted, foul-mouthed Grandpa (Alan Arkin), a gay, suicidal, scholar uncle (Steve Carell, the character was almost played by both Bill Murray and Robin Williams, but Carell did an amzaing job at being a pretty serious character), and a daughter (Abigail Breslin) who isn’t necessarily the prettiest, but still has the drive to go out and try to win the beauty pageant. The family is as eclectic as the actors who are playing them and they have a great amount of chemistry, or at least as much chemistry as your average everyday dysfunctional family has. The characters are truly the driving force behind the movie and they are what really make the movie unforgettable and different from your everyday dysfunctional family. Even though the family is so dysfunctional, the audience can still tell that the family is also very much in love and no matter how much crap they have to go through you can still tell that they still love each other and always remember that they are family.

The Dramatic-Comedy Genre (or if you like shorter words, Dramedy) is definitely my favorite genre, because life is basically a dramedy or at least the way I see life. One can find comedy in almost all facets of life and this movie does a great job of showing the comedy in everything. Even thought they have been through some very demoralizing things on their journey and in their lives in general the writers were still able to incorporate laughs and insanity into the script without making anything distasteful. This movie really exemplifies the thought that no matter how much life seems to suck, make sure you stop and laugh from time to time, because life is just as much funny as it is dramatic. Also, this movie does a great job of showing the power of family. They also do a great job of telling the audience and the characters in the play that you should never give up and whether you lose or win the road you take is always the best part.

Family is an amazing force in most people’s lives and even though some people tend to hate their families, this movie does a great job of showing that your family, no matter how dysfunctional, is always there and there are always people in your family who can help you out with anything going on in your life. Family is important, Remember to laugh, and no matter how hard life is, remember that you will end up doing fine in the end. Those are the three big ideas that I get from this film and everytime I watch it I am reminded that life is fun and that I shouldn’t take it as seriously as I do sometimes. I love this movie, like I said before and that is why I would recommend it to anyone, because I think it can help out anyone at anytime in their life. I give this movie a 10 yellow Volkswagen buses out of 10.


Movie Numero Dos: Blade Runner

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Noir

Actors: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young

Director: Ridley Scott

Blade Runner is a movie I have been wanting to see for quite some time now, but just really haven’t gotten around to watching it. After watching it I’m kind of mad at myself for putting it off for such a long time. I wasn’t completely sure what to expect before I watched this movie, and I’m still not completely sure how to exactly describe the movie even after watching it. This is not to say that it is a bad movie at all. In fact, I really liked it, but it was definitely a movie that made you think about the future and how the world might look in 20 years from now.

Now it’s time for my patent-pending “Davis Steen spoiler-free plot summary” presented by YOUR COMPANY NAME HERE. The film is set in the year 2019 in a very dark and bleak Los Angeles, California. The exposition they give at the beginning of the movie is actually very good for explaining the how the world is. it goes as such: “Early in the 21st Century, THE TYRELL CORPORATION advanced robot evolution into the NEXUS phase – a being virtually identical to a human – known as a Replicant. The NEXUS 6 Replicants were superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers who created them. Replicants were used Off-World as slave labor, in the hazardous exploration and colonization of other planets. After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS 6 combat team in an Off-World colony, Replicants were declared illegal on earth – under penalty of death. Special police squads – BLADE RUNNER UNITS – had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicant.

This was not called execution.

It was called retirement.”

The story picks up with a possibly retired Blade Runner cop named Deckard (Harrison Ford) and he is called in to stop four new replicants who have just recently been identified on Earth. Deckard tries to find them in the very futuristic yet very dark city of Los Angeles and “retire” them before anything happens. The replicants on the other hand are trying to find the one that created them, Tyrell. They know that replicants can only live for four years before they die and are trying to find a way to live longer than that and they hope Tyrell can help them.

Now, I’m gonna disclose some information that might seem a little shocking, but I have never seen a Film Noir film before. This film isn’t only a Film Noir, but it definitely fits the description. Blade Runner is almost a mutt of a film, mutt meaning a mix of two different things, not any other connotations that go along with it. It is a mutt in the way that it combines the genres of Film Noir and Science Fiction and does a great job of it. The film is set in the future, and if that weren’t Sci-Fi enough, it also has robots, genetic engineers that can make both toys and humans that seem very real, and a very futuristic city that is only lit by neon light and spotlights that are constantly scanning the area. They also make it seem like the characters are constantly being watched by both the police and by a giant spaceship type thing that is constantly hovering over the city and playing commercials at the same time. The world that the makers of this film have created is almost scarily close to what an extreme of what our world is currently becoming. Advertisements are everywhere (Coca-Cola must have paid them a ton of money), the streets are crazily crowded, and it almost seems as if the minority in this world is a Caucasian male. Now, I don’t know if this is how Los Angeles is now, but it was probably a good estimate for what might happen to Los Angeles  in the future. Blade Runner also keeps its Film Noir genre strong throughout all of these futuristic occurrences. They give you the feeling of being in a dark, leaky basement for almost the entirety of the film. Even during the daytime it is dark and smoggy (Once again this could be how Los Angeles is currently, I don’t know) and you never feel like light will ever come, rain just comes instead. Over all, Blade Runner does a great job of keeping the two genres working well together and making them both feel almost like they were meant to be (Almost like a very freaky romantic binding of two completely different genres).

The characters in this film are also very well written. Deckard is a lonely cop who has pretty much no one in his life and he almost seems like he has nothing to live for, but he still fights to make the world a better place. They also do a great job of making sure you know nothing of his past so, even though he is the good guy, you never completely and totally sympathize with him. Also, Harrison Ford does a great job of keeping the character dark and distant, while still allowing the character to change himself in order to get into the different situations that he is forced to get into while searching for the replicants. Then there are the replicants who really have no reason to be anywhere, but they are still searching for the answer to eternal life. The characters clash in a way that keeps the story going while creating a great conflict that adds to the story at the same time. The characters are searching for their objectives and that is what really keeps the story going.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is the constant theme of death within the movie. I’m not saying that I like death or anything, but I like the way that the replicants are looking for eternal life and trying desperately to keep themselves away from death. This is almost true with people in this world to a point. Everyone is scared of death (I know you are don’t lie) because of the mystery that is involved with it, but we all come to a realization at some point that this world is very fleeting. the end speech given by Rutger Hauer’s character, Roy Battey, really sums up how short lived, yet beautiful, things in this world are and how we can’t keep them forever (I won’t give away the speech, because he says it better than I could write it). The line from the movie that really sums up this theme is spoken by Gaff, Deckard’s somewhat assistant cop. He says “It’s too bad she won’t live. but then again, who does?”

I strongly recommend this movie to a person who is OK with a slower moving thriller. It basically makes you wonder what is going to happen the entire time then it finally puts you on the edge of your seat towards the end of the film. it is a great mix of two genres, Sci-Fi and Film Noir, and, even though it is quite slow, it does a great job of reeling you in and keeping you guessing what is going to happen nearly the entire time. Also, if you enjoy either genre then this is definitely a film that I recommend you watch. I give this film eight Coca-Cola Advertisements out of ten.

(I’m trying out a few different ratings systems for films (4 star ratings are cliche) so let me know what you think of this one. I am trying to rate the movies out of 10, but I rate them out of things that are prominent in the film, for instance the movie Airplane! I used airplanes as the unit.)

Starting it off with a comedy classic, “Airplane!”

I decided to start my adventure through the book “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die” with one of my favorites, the  1980 comedy film “Airplane!” starring Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, the late Leslie Nielsen, and Peter Graves. “Airplane!” is a comedic movie that aims to parody disaster films that had come out around this time. It is a movie where the actors are all constantly acting seriously, except Stephen Stucker’s character Johnny, but the movie never takes itself seriously, making the humor even greater. When watching this movie you can see that it is basically just your typical dramatic movie characters put into very comedic situations, most of them involving the plot and the plane itself, and having them use their flawed movie logic to interact and with one another and try to solve the problem they are in.

The film delivers an abundance of laughs that are very cleverly written and don’t ever seem to be as obvious as they should be. Most of the jokes are hidden in their very deadpan and serious acting making this movie one that you can see many times and still catch a new joke that you didn’t before. I even found some new jokes watching it today, which was about my 20th time watching it. The movie is definitely hilarious, but you do have to be ready for some pretty lame jokes, I would recommend having a sense of humor while watching this movie.

The writing of this film is probably one of the wittiest things one will ever see. they did a great job of having the actors stay completely serious while the world around them went crazy. I thought to myself while watching this movie “This is terribly witty writing with serious acting” (I was talking with a British accent in my head, which is weird). The writing especially shines when the characters take everything literally or misinterpret what the other characters are saying, “Surely, you can’t be serious.” “I am serious, and Don’t call me Shirley.” The movie has plenty of jokes like that one and does a great job of keeping them coming, while still trying to keep up a plot.

The plot is definitely nothing to write home about, but they do a good job of keeping it up throughout the comedy. the basic plot (with no spoilers!) is ex-army pilot Ted Striker’s (Robert Hays) girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty) has decided to leave him, she’s a stewardiess (had to look that word up to figure out how to spell it.) who requests a flight that will take her away from him, and he decides to follow her on the plane to get her back. The problem with this is during his flying days in the army he was semi-responsible for a failed mission that killed nearly all of his team. He has never been on a plane since and is extremely scared to go in the air again. disaster ensues when the people who ate the fish get sick and they need Ted to fly the plane. Will he get over his fears and help them fly the plane? Will he ever get the love of his life Elaine back? Can anyone be funnier than Leslie Nielson? I guess you’ll have to figure it out b watching “Airplane!”

I recommend this movie to anyone who likes jokes and thinks they have at least a little bit of a sense of humor. It definitely goes for the comedy and isn’t a movie that will ever win an academy award (because they don’t like comedy for some reason), but it is still a great movie that you definitely need to “see before you die.”

P.S. This is my first blog posting and also my first written movie critique, so if you have any constructive criticism (not you suck, jerk) I would love to hear it! Thanks and hope you enjoy.

“1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die” Book

Movies have been, and still are a large part of our culture. Movies have affected people’s lives in vastly different ways. in my life, currently spanning 20 years, I have watched many different movies, from all kinds of different genres, but I have not even come close to watching even half of the movies from the book “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die” by Steven Jay Schneider. This book features movies from since the beginning of the 20th century, when movies were just beginning to be made, to movies that have just come out in the past few years. “1001 Movies” compiles a great list of movies that, as the title states, you must see before you die. I have made it my task, well not task, because that makes it sound not fun, but rather my goal/dream (yeah that works a little better) to see every movie within this book and I’m going to write about each and everyone one I see. I’m going to write a new post every week featuring a movie from the book. I don’t necessarily plan on going in any order, but rather just watching any movie that I happen to open the book to for that week. I have already seen about 200 of the movies from the book, but I plan on going back and seeing every movie again so it will be fresh on my mind when I write about it for that week. This is going to take a while ( It’s 1001 movies!), but I hope you will join me as we go through every single movie in this book, even the horror movies, but those might take a while for me to get to. There’s going to be movies you’ve probably never heard of and classics that you’ve watched hundreds of times, but ether way each and every single one of these movies are in this book for a reason. It’s going to be a fun and long adventure that I can’t wait to get started. Enjoy!

This Blog Thing is Going to be Fun.

Hi! My name is Davis Steen. I am a college student at NDSU in Fargo, North Dakota (Yep, like the movie). I was born in Fargo and have live my life in Fargo for the first half and Moorhead, Minnesota, for the second half, two towns tat are only separated by a river and a state line. I am currently twenty years old, but I will probably keep getting older as this blog goes on so that will not be the case in the future. I am both a movie enthusiast and a Comedy lover. I love to watch movies and sometimes make one or two with my friends for Youtube. I plan on critiquing movies I watch and going through the book “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die,” watching and writing about every movie in that book. I also enjoy doing comedy with my improv group, “To Be Determined,” which I am currently the president of, and plan on trying to do a few more things with comedy, standup and writing,  as soon as I build up the courage. I will be writing about those experiences in this blog, as well. I believe I can create two different blogs, so I might end up separating the two topics into two different blogs, but don’t worry I’ll let you know when that happens. I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I hope to enjoy writing it. So, sit back relax and be ready for a thrill ride of awesomeness! In blog form.