Chris Kelley's Movie Reviews

Let me start by saying that I am not a movie critic. I don't sit down and scrutinize a movie. I am just your average movie goer who enjoys good movies. Everything that I write is based on me watching a movie one time in theatres. That being said, I may miss some points about the plot that you think are obvious. I apologize, but here is what I think about the following movies, graded on your standard school grading between F and A+. E-Mail me and let me know what you thought of them.

Click on the link to see what I think

About Schmidt Anger Management Bringing Down the House
Catch Me If You Can Chicago Gangs of New York
My Big Fat Greek Wedding Old School Sweet Home Alabama
Two Weeks Notice

About Schmidt 3/21/03

I just don't know what the Academy sees. About Schmidt was up for a couple Academy Awards and got good critical reviews, so I was expecting to see a gem of a movie. But I walked away thinking Schmidt was nothing special. Jack Nicholson does a very good job portraying Warren Schmidt. He plays a really good depressing old guy. But other than Nicholson's performance, I just don't see much to this movie.

I think that the most important part of a movie is the ending. I'm not one of those people who need everything to end up in a nice pretty bow, but a little substance is nice. Schmidt didn't have much. It just ended.

Nicholson's performance, though very good, was not enough to save this movie. Perhaps I just don't understand movies like this. Sure, it had some good laughs. There were some good points to the movie. But in general, the movie was a disappointment.

My grade = C-

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Anger Management 6/13/03

I should have known better than to see a movie that didn't look good to me. At first look, Anger Management seemed like it would be a great movie. Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson together in a comedy seemed like it should be a good enough duo to carry a movie. Unfortunately, they didn't live up to their potential.

When I saw the previews for Anger Management, I wasn't very impressed. I thought that they must be saving the good stuff for the actual movie go'er. Throughout the movie, I was waiting and waiting for the story to get better. It never did.

I know that you shouldn't go into a Sandler movie expecting to see an Oscar winning performance. After movies like Mr. Deeds and Happy Gilmore, I would have been happy for a typical Adam Sander stupid comedy movie. But recently, it seems that Sandler has been trying to develop more depth in his characters. Maybe it will work for him down the road, but he falls short this time.

Everything just seemed too forced. It seemed like the writers knew the Sandler - Nicholson relationship was interesting enough to get people into the seats, so they didn't need to worry about developing the plot. The timing on the jokes wasn't very good and the jokes themselves weren't good enough to carry the film. I'd wait for HBO for this one.

My grade = D+

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Bringing Down the House 3/7/03

I wasn't sure what to expect going in to Bringing Down the House. I was hoping that it wasn't one of those movies that show all of the funny parts in the preview. Queen Latifah and Steve Martin together in a comedy didn't seem like a great duo. But I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

It turns out that Martin and Latifah had great chemistry together. The fact that they are so different is what keeps the plot moving. The plot was very predictable, which is my least favorite flaw in movies. But there are enough good jokes and funny sequences to keep it interesting.

I wouldn't say that it is an instant comedy classic, but it was better than I thought it would be. It is one of those movies that would be good to go to on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

My grade = B-

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Catch Me If You Can 1/17/03

Catch Me If You Can was a very clever movie. What made this movie so appealing was the fact that it was based on a true story. If this story was entirely made up, it wouldn't have been as fun to watch. The fact that parts of the movie actually happened made it that much better.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Frank Abagnale, Jr., a boy who lives his teen years robbing banks by writing fake checks. Tom Hanks plays Carl Hanratty - the F.B.I. agent in charge of tracking down Abagnale. But this proves to be a much harder task than anybody could have imagined. Abagnale becomes a master of disguise, and pulls off a variety of highly skilled jobs, all before the age of 18.

The entire movie was a nice mixture of great acting and great comedy, with a dash of drama mixed in to make things interesting. The plot flows very well with only a few slow spots in the middle. Overall, it was a very good story with an ending that I actually liked! I don't know about you, but these days that is something that is pretty rare for me.
My grade = A-

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Chicago 4/10/03

The only musicals that I had seen prior to Chicago were Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls and Singing in the Rain. It's not that I don't like musicals, because all of those movies were fine. It's just that it always seems like something is missing. They were never as good as they could be.

However, Chicago was everything that I hopped it would be. It was very well thought out and the storyline was very original.

One of the things that bothers me the most about musicals is that it sometimes seems that characters are singing just because it's a musical. Some of the songs don't sound natural. I never felt that way during Chicago. All of the songs were necessary to the story and fit perfectly with the plot.

For once, I agree with the Academy. Chicago did deserve the nomination and the win for best picture. There's just so much energy to it. All of the actors and actresses played really strong roles and the plot was great.
My grade = A

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Gangs of New York 1/9/03

I'm not sure if Gangs of New York was a great movie or a terrible movie. It is the type of movie that you have to go home and think about it for a while before you can decide. It is based in New York City during the Civil War, a time when New York was being flooded by immigrants. This caused an economic split in the population. On one side there are the American born Natives, and the other is the Foreigners. The story is about how they co-existed to form a society.

Essentially, Gangs is split between two movies. The last half was the movie that I came in expecting to see. The first half was about an hour and a half of character development and plot setup. I am all for developing the plot, but the first half of the movie was slow at times. Luckily the ending made up for the slow start. Gangs of New York won't go down as a classic, but it is definitely a movie worth seeing.
My grade = B

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 1/1/03

When I walked into the theatre to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I hoped that all of the buzz this movie generated was accurate. Everybody I talked to that had seen the movie absolutely loved it. Why I waited so long to see it, I don't know. But I'm glad that I did. I'd classify Greek Wedding as a romantic comedy, but unlike most romantic comedies it relied more on the comedy aspect than the romantic aspect. The plot flow was pretty good and I never really got bored. One of the things that I enjoyed is the fact that I didn't know anybody in the movie. I had no perceptions of the characters before they were developed in the plot, which is always a good thing. I thought it was a great story.
My grade = A

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Old School 3/8/03

Old School was everything that I thought it would be. This is pretty much Will Ferrell's first major role in a movie, not counting Night at the Roxbury. I've been waiting for a Will Ferrell movie since he left Saturday Night Live, and he finally delivered.

I'd compare the style of comedy to an Adam Sandler movie. This movie isn't driven by plot. It's not going to make you think. The sole purpose of a movie like Old School is to make you laugh, and laugh I did. It is probably the best comedy that I have seen in a while.

The supporting characters were really good too. Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn both were enjoyable. The whole movie had kind of an Animal House feel to it, which probably has something to do with the fact that it is based on a Fraternity.

The comedy did kind of get lost toward the end of the movie. Not that the end wasn't funny, but it just didn't measure up to the pace that the beginning set. Don't see Old School with the expectation of seeing an Oscar winner. Old School's purpose is to make us laugh, and it did.

My grade = A-

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Sweet Home Alabama 1/10/03

I never like knowing how a movie is going to end before I walk into the movie theatre. Unfortunately, that is how I felt as I watched Sweet Home Alabama. This is one of the movies that show the majority of the plot in the movie trailer.

Maybe the reason I didn't like Sweet Home Alabama was the fact that I don't really see the plot as being to realistic. Reese Witherspoon plays Melanie Carmichael, a southern girl who moves to New York City to make it big and distance herself from her childhood home. In New York, she gets engaged to the mayor's son and develops a great career as a fashion designer.

The only thing holding back their marriage is the fact that she is still married to her childhood sweetheart, even though many years have gone by. Carmichael goes home to Alabama to convince him to sign the divorce papers and, surprise surprise, she realizes that what she left behind wasn't quite so bad.

Needless to say, I wasn't happy with the ending. Anybody who sees the movie trailer can imagine exactly how the movie ends and exactly how the plot will flow to get there. Sweet Alabama simply couldn't overcome its predictability.
My grade = C-

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Two Weeks Notice 1/3/03

No genre of movies is more predictable than the romantic comedy. It seems like it's the same plot everytime. Simply plug a few big name actors and actresses in and you've got yourself a movie. Two Weeks Notice was your average romantic comedy. Sandra Bullock played her average character - a beautiful, independent woman who doesn't think she is beautiful. It is pretty much the same character that we have seen in While You Were Sleeping, Miss Congeniality, and most of her other films. Hugh Grant played the charming rich guy who needs the help of a woman to survive his daily life. Two Weeks Notice wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good either. The plot was very predictable because it is pretty much the same as every romantic comedy. But, I wasn't walking in expecting to see an Academy Award winner either. Everything about this movie was average, but it did have a few good laughs.
My grade = C

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