Saturday, July 27, 2013

Reign Over Me

Reign Over Me (2007)
Directed by: Mike Binder
Written by: Mike Binder
Starring: Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler
Rating: R
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

WOW! I can't believe I've got time to do this again! I love writing and being able to bring you this quality literature and journalism (pause for laughter) time and time again really does bring me joy. So without further ado, here we go!

Obviously my vacation involved a lot of movie time (there were a couple of rainy days) and it was one of my greatest pleasures to share Reign Over Me with my friends and fiancee. Reign Over Me is an incredible film. It's number 10 on my Top Ten favorite movies of all time, and hopefully I can make you see why!

Brief Synopsis:

Alan Johnson  (Don Cheadle; Iron Man 2), a dentist dragged down by the battle of everyday life runs into his old college roommate, Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler; Billy Madison), who lost his entire family on September 11th. With the help of a psychiatrist in his office building (Liv Tyler; The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring) Alan decides to rekindle their friendship, and it turns out to be a good thing for both of them.


I think this film is fantastic. In viewing, I constantly found myself wanting to know more about Charlie. Unfortunately for the first half, Charlie didn't want you knowing anything about him! Director Mike Binder did an excellent job of crafting the story so that he didn't reveal too much too soon, and keeps the audience's interest.

One of the most excellent components of this film is how real it feels. Charlie Fineman and Alan Johnson are not real people, but their story resonates with the Americans who lived through September 11th. This could be anyone you encounter on a daily basis. The illustration and the storytelling of the writer/director and the actors feels INCREDIBLY real, and that really appeals to my taste in films, generally speaking.

Of course (I'm certain people who haven't seen this will cringe at my saying this) but my favorite element of the film was Adam Sandler. As I often reveal to anyone who talks to me for more than 20 minutes, I have an obsession with comedic actors in serious roles (like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show or Steve Carell in Dan in Real Life) but this is one of my favorites. What Sandler brings to the table in this film, I can't see many other actors bringing. There are incredible, really funny moments (you know when you share a moment with your former college roommate? I'm looking at you, DG), and then you see Charlie Fineman's obviously tormented soul. As he opens up to Alan, Charlie hits barriers and emotional hurdles, and Sandler channels them brilliantly. On several occasions I've been able to catch Sandler take on a serious role, and I've yet to be disappointed.

The above is not to take away from the acting of the rest of the cast, either. Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2) is great as the wife of emotionally drained and frustrated Alan, and Liv Tyler's Angela (the psychiatrist) is a perfect casting fit. Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games) also has a minor role later in the movie, and he is brilliant (as per usual). Though his dramatic chops are no secret, Don Cheadle deserves a lot of credit for the performance he gives in this film as well. Cheadle's Alan is dragged down by the details of his every day life. After reaching out to Charlie, Alan has a renewed sense of self that impacts all the areas of his life. Cheadle is perfect for the part, and his scenes with Sandler have so much emotion packed into them.

This film tops my list of overlooked movies. I vaguely remember it hitting theaters when I was 18 years old and transitioning from high school to college, but my first viewing came from the same DVD a few days later. In my research for this post (which I do actually do from time to time) I read a lot of critical reviews, and the worse they got, the more impressions I got that the critics had a short attention span (though it DID make me want to be a better writer). Paying attention and following the story really pays off in this film's case.

Final Thoughts:

As I said above, an attention span that will last you for two hours and 4 minutes will really pay off for you in this endeavor. It is NOT for everyone, but if you have a good attention span and are in the mood for a realistic, human, dramatic journey, I'd recommend you dive in. If you've never seen Sandler be serious, this would be a good starter (there are others).

Generally I will not accept someone's criticism of Adam Sandler until they have seen him in a serious role, so keep that in mind as you comment (HA! Like anyone ever does that!). That may seem narrow minded, but (to me) it isn't being fair to Sandler as an artist to pigeon hole him as a washed-up comedian.

In conclusion, I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts on this film. If you have seen it, what was your impression. If you haven't, would you watch it knowing what you know now? Let me know via comment, Facebook, or Twitter (@archivesreport) what you think!! I'd love to hear from you!!

Thanks for reading as always, folks! I always welcome discussion!

God bless!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Ghostbusters II

 Ghostbusters II (1989)
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Siguourney Weaver
Rating: PG
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Here we go again! This is my second sequel review in just a matter of days. Don't worry. I'm not claiming that Ghostbusters II, while dear to my heart, in any way touches the original. It doesn't. But, one of the whole reasons I write this blog is because I feel that critics today are too harsh and cynical, and I try to spin my thoughts and reviews with positivity. Lord knows the world could use a bit of it!

Ghostbusters II is creative. It's fun, and I'll be the first to give credit where it's due. It's a good film. Here is a brief synopsis.

Aforementioned Brief Synopsis:

Since saving the world 5 years ago, the Ghostbusters have faded into obscurity. They all have new jobs, and only become Ghostbusters to be ignored at kids birthday parties. Sooner rather than later, their old pal Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver; Avatar) is in paranormal trouble again, and then Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd; Ghostbusters), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis; Year One), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray; Caddyshack), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson; Miss Congeniality), along with the help of their accountant-turned-lawyer, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis; Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves), must deal with more adversity as they save the world a second time!

Hope that was brief enough!

My thoughts:

Ultimately, Ghostbusters II doesn't get enough credit. Even I had been avoiding it in favor of the first for the last several years. Upon my latest viewing, however, I re-discovered the magic of the sequel.

Ghostbusters II stacks up to the original in a few ways. Mostly, the use of quick witted, dry comedy that made the first one so funny. Nobody remembers jokes in II because, well, frankly, they aren't as memorable, but they ARE just as fun.

The same character traits which made the characters so loveable in the first place are also extremely present. The sequel versions of the characters really haven't changed that much. Venkman is still witty and over-confident, Ray and Egon still the same loveable nerds, and Louis is the same awkward, nerdy character we all fell in love with the first time around. A new set of circumstances creates a slightly different feel, but if you look closely, you'll find the same Ghostbsuters we all know and love (and maybe a slime ghost, too)!

The next section will be a little different.

Why I think people rag on this film:

Usually this section is dedicated to what I didn't like about the film, but I didn't mind it. I enjoyed it for what it was, and I've always been a Ghostbusters fan. Besides, the films came in a two pack , so who was I to turn it away?!

Anyhow, I think Ghostbusters purists get a little upset about numero dos because (even for the Ghostbusters) it's implausible. It's slightly plausible that in 5 years after they're saving the earth, the people and the government will again reject the Ghostbusters, but that Dana just happened to be out of orchestra and into art restoration, and Lous Tully just happened to have a law degree from night school in addition to his accounting profession. I think all of these elements worked, but for hardcore fans of the original films (myself included), I can see how they would be slightly disconcerting.

Ultimately, I see these "gaping" plot holes as a way to include actors/characters from the original that may not have otherwise been included in the sequel.

Bottom Line:

Obviously, I like this movie anyway. Flaws and all, I accept it for what it is and I enjoy it more with each viewing!

This movie is funny, entertaining, and even a little more family friendly than the first (it has a PG rating despite the PG-13 rating debuting before its release). I recommend you watch if you haven't, and if you have, maybe try to approach it from a different angle, because frankly, Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and the gang deserve as many second chances as we wil give them. They're all extremely talented and fun to watch!!

Ghostbusters II deserves some respect, and I'd recommend it to everyone. Of course, I'd DEFINITELY recommend seeing the first one first! It's incredible!

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Like GB2? Hate it? Let me know! Let's chat! You can always comment on this blog, or let me know via Facebook or Twitter @archivesreport!! I'd love to know what movies you'd like me to write about, or hear your recommendations as well! Thanks, as always, for reading!

God bless!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Seven Pounds

Seven Pounds (2008)
Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
Written by: Grant Nieporte
Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Barry Pepper
Rating: PG-13
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Hello? Is it me you're looking for?

I'm back again! This is the second installment of the Archives Report: Vacation Edition. I watched plenty of films over my 9 day vacation, so there is still more to come.

Hopefully your wounds aren't too salted from all the outrageous claims I made in the previous entry, and that you can look past it into my relative objectivity from this point forward.

To be frank, this is not my freshman viewing of Seven Pounds. Far from it, in fact. But I happened to watch said film with three people who WERE watching it for the very first time, and it brought back some memories. I think the best time anyone watches this film is the first time.

That being said, I don't want to give away any plot details for those embarking on their maiden "Seven Pounds" voyage. I will try to keep the synopsis brief and aloof.

Brief and Aloof Synopsis:

A man called Ben with a fateful secret (Will Smith; Men in Black)  embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers, including a heart transplant patient (Rosario Dawson; Men in Black II) and a blind man (Woody Harrelson; Zombieland).


Hopefully I didn't give too much away. I took some liberties from the brief synopsis posted on IMDB and that's all!

I still don't want to say that much about the movie. Will Smith has always been one of my favorite actors, and he never stops short of proving his dramatic chops. Dawson and Harrelson both really shined in their roles as well.

Barry Pepper (The Green Mile) actually gave one of the most impressive, un-sung performances of the film. He didn't have an incredibly large role, and at first his role is unclear. After his role becomes clearer, Pepper shines in this extremely dramatic and impactful role.

The remaining supporting cast is strong but does not stand out. Smith, Dawson, Harrelson and Pepper command the scenes they are in.

Now that I have gotten through my thoughts on the actors (I have college level acting training, you know!) I will start in on my favorite element of this film: the story's presentation.

One of the basic but fundamental elements to writing or creating a successful script is to create some kind of questions. When the audience has questions, they hang on and become interested in the answers. A main source of criticism that I read on films and plays alike is that they didn't resolve all their questions, or the questions weren't deep enough to care about the answers.

While fundamental, Seven Pounds uses this element well. When you watch this for the first time and are remotely interested in what is going on, you will have a TON of questions. Why? Because I did, when I saw this movie in theatres back in 2008. How do I know YOU will? ....I don't, but I'm assuming for 1 reason, and that would be the quizzical looks and explicit questions asked by my three movie watching companions. My steadfast response continued to be "Keep watching".

Seven Pounds was succesful in part because of the strong performances of its main actors, but mainly because of its commitment to basic dramatic elements, and executing them well.


I recommend this movie. It is imperative that you have a few tissues handy when you decide to embark on this particular quest. However, what we learn from this movie is that ultimate good can come from ultimate bad, and Barry Pepper has some great acting chops!

Seriously, I can't give too much away, but watch this. You won't regret it.

Thanks for reading as always. I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions! Comment, Facebook us or Tweet @archivesreport! Thanks again! God bless!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Men in Black II

Men in Black II (2002)
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfield
Written by: Lowell Cunningham, Robert Gordon, Barry Fanaro
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn, Rosario Dawson, Lara Flynn Boyle
Rating: PG-13
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

And So You're Back, From Outer Space!

Hola! I'm back from vacation, so I'm slowly working on the mountain of un-written entries that have piled up after my two days of nothing but lounging around a Gatlinburg cabin and watching movies! As fun as that was, I now feel obligated to write on them in a reasonable time frame, so I can recall them while they're fresh. With this particular entry, that shouldn't be an issue. Why? I've easily seen this film 100 times.

I'm prepping my bold statement about this film now, so you can stew about it and argue with me at the end of the entry in the comments or via Twitter or Facebook.

Bold Statement:

(LOL, see what I did there?)

Men in Black II is better than the original.

Yes, I do understand that I may receive hateful comments despite this just being an opinion. I get it, I really do. This is not to say that I don't love or appreciate the original Men in Black, either! Obviously there couldn't be a sequel without an original. I think as far as fun, action/comedy/scifi films, that Men in Black II accomplishes more. It's funnier, just as action packed, and faster paced than the original.

Again, I realize there are a lot of sequel hating movie purists who will give me crap on this one, that's why I went ahead and got it out of the way. More on that later!


Agent J (Will Smith; Seven Pounds) stumbles on to a case that MIB worked on years ago involving Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle; Wayne's World) forcing his need for help from Zed (Rip Torn; Dodgeball, a True Underdog Story), who in turn insists that he de-neuralize his former partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones; Lincoln) to help him save the earth...again!!


I've always loved this film...almost as much as I love gettin' flushed!

The comedy in this film is very strong. Will Smith has always been one of my favorite comedic actors (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will always hold a special place in my heart, and never ceases to make me laugh), plus the straight man Tommy Lee Jones, and comedic ensemble of humans and aliens alike, make for a strong comedic presence. Frank the pug, the worms, the two headed guy (Johnny Knoxville; The Ringer) and Jeebs (Tony Shaloub; Galaxy Quest) are some supporting cast highlights.

One of my favorite aspects of a comedy film is its quotability (I'm not 100% sure that is a word, but let's go with it). Of course, what I mean by that is when a movie is extremely quotable like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story or Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. While more people from my generation have seen the latter two than MIIB, it still retains that same memorable quote material.

The action half of the film is strong as well. I wouldn't say it was AS strong, but largely due to a static performance by the film's main villain, Serleena. Johnny Knoxville accomplished his dopey sidekick role (in true Men in Black fashion) but the main villian just didn't seem to be evil enough. Ironically, Lara Flynn Boyle was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress for this role!

Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds) stays relatively neutral throughout the film. She has a ton of acting talent but didn't pick a great venue to showcase that. She serves her purpose in the film well, though, and I have nothing bad to say about the performance she gave.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are as compatible as they always were, and the supporting cast (aside from Boyle, of course) shines in its comedic glory!

Response to Bold Claim:

Now that you have had time to either get madder about my bold claim, or stop and reflect, I wanted to elaborate on the claim I made that MIIB is better than the original, MIB. Historically, it is not often that the general public accepts sequels as better than the first. The Godfather Part II, The Empire Strikes Back, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation often top a list of sequels widely accepted as better than the original, though often that list is a short one. I think Men in Black II should at least be considered.

Of course, I have never met anyone (I mean it. ANYONE) who agrees with me, so of course there will be dissent. Though, if you are a kindred spirit, I would love to meet, chat hours on end with, and become best friends with you. Always looking for people who also love to get flushed!

Here are some reasons that I love MIIB better than the first:

1. It's funnier. I'm a big fan of movies with both comedy and action and MIIB doesn't disappoint.

2. Many of your favorites from the first film return. I think this is an important part of any sequel. Sequels with only a few (or one) returning character can sometimes be interesting, and even great movies in their own right, but more often than not, I want to see all of my favorites return! MIIB brought back not only Agents J and K, but also Zed, Frank, Jeebs, and the Worms. Not even the third installment of the Men in Black series can boast that, and (while I enjoyed it) I was honestly disappointed by that.

3. It enhances the experience of the first installment. If you have seen the first MIB movie, you are 10x as likely to enjoy the second. Through dialogue and visuals alike, it pays homage to the original in several ways, all while preserving its integrity as a stand-alone film. Though it is made better for a franchise fan, it is also a fun time on its own.

All the above reasons are what I look for in a sequel. Though I can certainly appreciate The Dark Knight's of my day, with a sequel to a fun movie, I expect just as much if not more fun.

Again, I'd love to hear your responses to this. Let's discuss! I could discuss all day!

Final thoughts:

I say you should see this movie, if you haven't. I'd recommend watching the first MIB, then the 2nd, then waiting 10 years and then seeing the third. Just kidding, but seriously.

I enjoy this movie for several reasons that I've already stated, but don't forget what you can learn from it. Your calling is your calling, whether you accept it or not.

Watch this film with an open mind. While I'm sure the folks at Universal greenlighted this sequel as a cash cow, it should not be written off as such. Watch with an open mind, otherwise, "(Jeff) I am SO NOT IN THE MOOD FOR YOU RIGHT NOW!!"

That about wraps up my entry for one of my favorite sequels. I really encourage feedback of any kind, so please do not hesitate to comment or tweet me @archivesreport or find us on Facebook! Thanks so much for reading! I look forward to your thoughts! Thanks so much!

God bless!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Billy Madison

Billy Madison (1995)
Directed by: Tamra Davis
Written by: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler
Starring: Adam Sandler, Darren McGavin, Bridgette Wilson, Bradley Whitford, Norm MacDonald
Rating: PG-13
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Hello readership! Since I wrote last I've had significant growth in readership thanks to the creation of the new Facebook page and Twitter account representing the Archives Report! I've been really excited to continue writing lately, and now that I've gotten some vacation time, I have more time to contribute, and of course, to watch more films.

First up was Billy Madison. Everyone gets in the mood now and then to watch ridiculous silliness. For me, of course, it happens more often than it should, probably. 

I came across a copy of this several years ago (in my college, prime movie watching days) in the Wal-Mart $5 bin, and it has served me well. If you have never seen this film, you are missing out on some classic Sandler comedy. Let's begin, shall we?


Billy Madison (Adam Sandler; Grown-Ups) is the son of an extremely wealthy hotel mogul, Brian Madison (Darren McGavin; A Christmas Story) but has done nothing with his life. Then, Billy finds out that Brian plans to leave the company to young executive Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford; The West Wing) instead of him. Billy and his father strike a deal, and if Billy can complete the core requirements of each grade in two weeks (1-12), his father will leave the company to him instead (regrettably, having paid off his teachers the first time through). Billy then embarks on a quest to prove he isn't stupid, and ends up finding a lot more.

Thoughts (Part 1):

For those of you who are new readers, I write like I speak (so I'm aware of my comma splices, run on sentences and overuse of the parentheses) and I also tend to write mostly positive reviews. I'm starting with the parts I didn't like today because, well, there wasn't much.

To preface, I am a huge Adam Sandler fan, and especially of his older movies. I think they're unique, funny, and all-around fun. One of things I didn't like about Billy Madison was Tamra Davis' direction. She hasn't done much other work that I've seen, but I felt like she tried to force some of the comedic moments. Adam Sandler is known for being over the top and slightly ridiculous, but the director didn't harness it well at all. At times, the overgrown child motif worked for the movie, and made it loveable, but in the scenes when Sandler's character was supposed to be drunk, it felt like he was trying too hard, and (had I been watching it for the first time) I would have the impression that Sandler didn't know what it was like to be drunk.

Thoughts (Part 2):

What I liked about this movie goes beyond finding it funny. While, yes, I DO find it funny, I also became a Sandler fan because (unlike some/most comedies of today), because his films often carry a deeper message.

First off, I really enjoyed the well crafted comic moments, like the academic decathlon. Sandler and the rest of the cast have obvious comedic talent, and in those scenes, it shows.

Second, I love the minor roles by comedic celebrities, like Chris Farley (Tommy Boy) as the bus driver and the "Adam Sandler repertory company" recurring player Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), as former picked-on high schooler Danny McGrath, to whom Madison called and apologized to for bullying on the first time through high school.

Third and finally, I love this film because of the message. It emphasizes the importance of education, of treating other human beings with respect (regardless of their high school social status), and finding your purpose in life (which I truly believe everyone has). Sandler's films have always done a good job keeping a good message prevalent throughout, and (in that respect) Billy Madison does not disappoint.

In Conclusion:

I would recommend this movie to someone with taste like mine. I love silly comedy and I love taking a good message out of a movie with some questionable content in the middle. Pretending every movie you see is going to be squeaky clean in today's day and age is kidding yourself, and many people get wrapped up in the content and miss the point.

So my suggestion to you is this, watch a movie like Billy Madison and look for the silver lining. I firmly believe that we can learn something from every cinematic endeavor, and Adam Sandler has always been an unlikely teacher of those lessons. So open up your eyes and ears, and take a look! I know you won't regret it!

I really appreciate you reading! I have several more reviews queued up already and my vacation is only half over! Thanks so much for reading, and if you haven't already, you can now follow The Archives Report at or on Twitter at @archivesreport.

Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share, or somehow send me your feedback!! I really appreciate any discussion whatsoever! God Bless!!