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LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | June 25, 2012
Longtime readers know that I'm a huge fan of the Disney computer animation division known as Pixar. I love their whimsy, their attention to detail, and their ability to pull on my heartstrings. I'll put in a good word for all of their films, from the highly well-regarded "Toy Story" series to the unfairly underpraised "Cars" movies. Pixar has kept up the good work with their latest offering, "Brave". Set in medieval Scotland, "Brave" tells the story of Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald, in an excellent voice performance)
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | August 29, 2011
"Our Idiot Brother" is a movie where you can figure out the ending halfway through the trailer.   Paul Rudd plays Ned, a dumb burnout who has to crash with his three sisters (Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel). He inadvertently meddles in their lives and eventually leads them to feel ruined. You can probably guess that by the end of the movie Ned's sisters will see that he has a lot to offer and his meddling will have benefits that they are too narrow-minded to see initially.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | September 26, 2011
"Moneyball" is a pretty good movie about baseball, but a better movie about the baseball business. The main characters are not players or coaches - and there's barely any mention of fans.   It is a story of businessmen, men who are typically depicted as greedy tycoons in other baseball movies. Everybody knows that wins and losses are the bottom line in baseball, but these are the men who have to make the hard decisions based on that bottom line.   There is still supposed to be an element of judgment, of intuition, of heart to their jobs.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | April 15, 2013
Too many weeks ago, I proclaimed "Jack the Giant Slayer" to be the first half-decent movie of 2013. Now along comes "42," and I am proclaiming it to be the first really good movie of 2013. It should not have taken us more than three months to get the first really good movie of 2013 (even with my understanding that the post-holiday season is a dumping ground for the studios' garbage releases), but that shouldn't diminish the achievements of "42" as an admirable sports film. The film tells the story of pioneering black baseball player Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman)
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | May 21, 2012
My mom used to make a home version of the game "Battleship" for me and my brother. She would draw the 10-by10 grids on paper, and we'd put down Xs for misses and Os for hits. She knew that she didn't need to spend 10 bucks on a plastic "Battleship" game.  Universal Pictures should have known better than to spend more than $200 million on a "Battleship" movie. The film was a joke before it opened because of the studio throwing so much money at a project based on a simple board game.
NEWS
July 22, 2013
When I see horror movies in a theater, one of my favorite moments is when everybody screams and then everybody laughs. Usually they're laughing at each other for screaming, and, of course, sometimes they're laughing at themselves for the same reason.  This happened at several points during “The Conjuring,” and to be fair the scream/laughs are just as fun here as with any other movie. But the problem was that most of the time I didn't scream. I didn't gasp. My eyes didn't bulge.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | April 8, 2013
The ads for "Evil Dead" claim that the film is the scariest you will ever see. This is untrue unless you almost never see horror movies, in which case why would you want to see a movie called "Evil Dead"? The ads also claim that the film is the bloodiest you'll ever see. There is some truth to this. The film might not be scary or funny or interesting, but in terms of straight-up blood quantity I think we have a champion. The characters are a group of twentysomethings who are staying at an isolated cabin while one of them tries to kick a drug habit.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | November 7, 2011
"Tower Heist" is one of the better dumb movies I've seen lately.   It's good for some cheap laughs, which is fine because it promises nothing more than cheap laughs. A movie like this will never be mistaken for anything of legitimate high quality, but it far exceeds bad films with delusions of high quality.   Movies like "Tower Heist" need to be graded on a curve, not based on how "good" they are, but on how fun they are. Of course, some movies are both "good" and fun, and this isn't quite one of those movies, but there's still plenty about it that's enjoyable.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | November 1, 2011
Seven years ago, swarthy assassin-turned-good-guy Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) stole the show in "Shrek 2. "  The film itself was clever and funny, but Puss made it even better.   As the series went along, the films became much worse and Puss became less appealing along with them. Now the decision has been made to remove the ogres from the equation and see if the films are any better with Puss center stage.   The resulting film is about as unfunny as the lesser "Shrek" movies and proves that their critical failure had less to do with the choice of characters and more to do with the choice of writers.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | October 24, 2011
This is the third consecutive Halloween where we've gotten a "Paranormal Activity" movie and the door is certainly open for sequels.   I'm all for a horror franchise with annual installments, a tradition you can share with your family and friends. It's the one thing I liked about the now-thankfully-dead "Saw" franchise. And it's even better with "Paranormal Activity," a relatively nonviolent franchise that doesn't try to out-gore itself with every installment. The films are content with scaring the audience with startling noises and baffling phenomena.
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LIFESTYLE
By Bob Garver | Special to The Herald-Mail | August 26, 2013
“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” gets off on the wrong foot with its terrible title. It's bad enough when sequels have that annoying colon, but “The Mortal Instruments” is not yet a series, so there's no need for this film to differentiate itself from other films. It would be like presumptively putting a “1” at the end of the title; it might make sense down the line if the film spawns sequels, but we don't know that yet. What if this film bombs and they don't make any sequels?
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LIFESTYLE
By Bob Garver | Special to The Herald-Mail | August 5, 2013
At the end of their first weekend, new releases “The Smurfs 2” and “2 Guns” were practically tied at around the $27.5 million mark at the box office.  “Smurfs 2” must have sold more tickets because much of its audience was children who got in for a reduced rate and therefore had to come out in larger numbers for the film to equal its R-rated rival.  On the other hand, “Smurfs 2” (which opened July 31) had a two-day head start on “2 Guns,” which means that the latter had a much larger day-to-day average and made money more quickly.
LIFESTYLE
July 29, 2013
It has been four years since Hugh Jackman's Wolverine got to carry a movie in the pile of cinematic garbage that was “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”  The entire “X-Men” franchise would be a joke right now if it hadn't creatively rebounded with the (mostly) Wolverine-free “X-Men: First Class” two years ago. I have to question the wisdom in letting him stand alone again, but then again there's no denying that he's the face of the franchise. Many critics argue that he shouldn't be, favoring other mutants with “better” powers, but it's a harsh fact that we're expected to find him terribly interesting.
NEWS
July 22, 2013
When I see horror movies in a theater, one of my favorite moments is when everybody screams and then everybody laughs. Usually they're laughing at each other for screaming, and, of course, sometimes they're laughing at themselves for the same reason.  This happened at several points during “The Conjuring,” and to be fair the scream/laughs are just as fun here as with any other movie. But the problem was that most of the time I didn't scream. I didn't gasp. My eyes didn't bulge.
LIFESTYLE
By Bob Garver | Special to The Herald-Mail | July 15, 2013
There's a very specific age range where one can find Adam Sandler funny. He's too dirty for very young kids (unless he's blatantly doing a kids' movie), but it doesn't take a lot of maturity to know that you've outgrown him. Let's say his target demographic is preteens. That's how old I was when I laughed my way through “The Waterboy,” “Billy Madison” -   and the movie I've seen more times than any other in my life, “Happy Gilmore.” I haven't seen any of these Sandler “classics” in a while, partly because I have plenty of new films to see and partly because I'm afraid I wouldn't find them funny anymore.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | July 8, 2013
I wasn't the biggest fan of 2010's “Despicable Me.” It was this film that inspired me to begin using the term “junk food” to describe many kids' movies. By this, I mean that the film was a collection of dumb (usually annoying) humor that was likely to entertain kids, but wouldn't enrich them in any way. The humor in “Despicable Me 2” is about as useless, but at least this time around it seems sharper, with almost all of the new ideas succeeding even if there's too much reliance on the old ones.  The new movie sees reformed supervillain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell)
LIFESTYLE
By Bob Garver | June 10, 2013
“The Purge” is a moderately effective horror movie that covers the familiar ground of the home-invasion movie while embracing a unique setting. It's 10 years in the future and a new government program called The Purge allows for a 12-hour period every year where all crime is legal. The idea is that The Purge encourages people to get their violent tendencies out of their system so they'll be better behaved the rest of the year. Of course, the downside is that people are just as likely to be victimized as they are to be vindicated.    It's silly to think that such a program could ever work.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | June 3, 2013
The trouble with “Now You See Me”  - or any other movie about magic - is that you know there's going to be a huge twist at the end. These movies make you wait until the last minute to find out who was really in control, how they pulled off their ultimate trick, who was being tricked and indeed what the trick even was. Sometimes the big twist is impressive, usually it isn't. But it almost always negates a lot of the plot points that came before it. The action might be exciting, but don't bother to follow the story, because when the time is right, everything is going to turn topsy-turvy anyway.
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | May 6, 2013
"Iron Man" is probably the most lucrative superhero franchise in Hollywood. Nolan's "Batman" series is sadly done, the "Spider-Man" reboot was hardly Marvel-ous, and I'm not convinced that Zack "Sucker Punch" Snyder can sell this generation on Superman in the upcoming "Man of Steel. " The real powerhouse is of course "The Avengers," the unprecedented convergence of superhero franchises that managed to rule the box office in an extremely competitive 2012. But as much as that film emphasized teamwork, there was little doubt that the most popular member of the team, and the one most capable of carrying the first follow-up film, was Iron Man. The new film sees Iron Man aka Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)
LIFESTYLE
By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail | April 22, 2013
I was prejudiced against "Oblivion" because about a week before it opened. A friend of mine got to see a movie in advance and left after the first half hour. At around the 31-minute mark, I was jealous of my friend. It's not a terrible movie in that "clearly a bomb" sort of way, but it failed to hold my interest and it was depressing to know that it was nowhere close to ending. The film stars Tom Cruise as Jack Harper, a drone repairman on an abandoned Earth in a bleak future. Humanity had to evacuate the planet after an alien invasion rendered it uninhabitable.
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