Tag Archive: Simon Pegg


Cooties

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

What makes a good movie? What makes a bad movie?

How is it that some movies hit all the right notes with a thinner than fresh ice plot line while others with an interesting plot line fail to connect?

Personally, I think it is all about knowing who your audience is and who they could be.

Recently I picked up a movie that looked interesting. It was about how tainted chicken nuggets turned a summer school group of kids into zombies.

Cooties_poster (1)In my head this should be a slam dunk in the horror/comedy genre. There is so much you should be able to mine in this territory to be funny.

But from the start, Cooties hit wrong notes. We start with new substitute Elijah Wood asking his mom how she liked his book when she comes to get him up for his first day at a real job. After her positive affirmations, she pulls out every criticism. This was uncomfortable.

Then he gets to school, makes enemies of various teachers by talking abut this is only a way to make money while he works on his book. One of the teachers turns out to be a former classmate. Potential romance, right? NO! Her boyfriend is the very masculine gym teacher.

We also get very unpleasant sequences with Nasim Pedrad, who used to be great on Saturday Night Live. Here she is a tightly wound teacher constantly talking about what the State of Illinois will not let her do.

After that is when the zombie behavior in the kids starts popping out. Let me just say after a slow start, it goes right into gruesome as a sanctimonious character gets torn apart on the blacktop play ground. And that’s where I stopped watching. If you are going to have gruesome in a comedy/horror movie you need it make it funny. And there has to be at least one likable character that you root for to make it to the end.

I didn’t have that with this movie. But I will tell you one zombie movie that made me laugh and be disgusted at the same time. That was Shaun of the Dead. This movie starred Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as two guys somewhere in England fighting off a zombie horde while trying to save Pegg’s former girlfriend and her friends.

Shaun of the DeadWhy does this movie work? First, we actually like Shaun. He might be a bit of a loser but he actually wants to protect his loved ones. Two, the jokes feel realistic and not taken too far. They are not stiff or uncomfortable. Lastly, the gruesome parts are not that gruesome and they wait until far enough into the movie to be an expected thing.

I actually watched this movie all the way through and not just because I had to. I really enjoyed Shaun of the Dead. Cooties, on the other hand, can go back where it came from. My son later watched the movie all the way through and he stated it started to get good around the two third’s way mark into the movie. It’s doesn’t matter how good Rainn Wilson’s performance is by that point, that is when you hang it up.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Zombie Love and Hate

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Zombie movies have been the bane of my existence. They terrify me and come back to haunt me in my dreams.

And I love them. There is something about them that exhilarates me. I think about how close you are too death and how close you are to life as a zombie.

Yes, I realize this is horrible and strange and fun all at once.

The problem is I can never watch a zombie movie ever again once I have seen it.

The reason has nothing to do with them being bad but being so good I will find myself in a zombie apocalypse for the rest of the night.

Shaun of the Dead

But if I could watch them, the first movie I would go to is Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. This British comedy duo put together a good zombie movie that happens to parody the genre while scaring one to bits. I can’t say what I started to write because this is a family-read paper.

 

 

The story is about a man who is a bit of a sad sack who wakes up one morning to discover that the Zombie apocalypse is happening in his town, in all of his favorite places. His first thought is to save his ex-girlfriend because this turmoil has made him realize that he loves her and wants forever with her.

There are bits that will make you laugh, make you cry, and in the end, make you shake your head just a bit while being terrified because these zombies eat brains and whatever parts of the body they can get their hands on. This movie, despite being a comedy, is not for kids. It has an R rating which means there is lots of blood and gore as well as swearing. The Brits love the f-bomb.

28 Days laterA more realistic zombie movie is 28 Days Later. This movie is about a zombie apocalypse in England. It is 28 days since the outbreak of a virus that makes people incredibly angry. Angry enough to tear family members apart. There is no reasoning with these zombies, only a bullet can stop them. Cillian Murphy wakes from a coma to discover this new world. He eventually meets up with other survivors to find a safe place,

But there may be no safe place. That’s the killing part of this movie by Danny Boyle. It is not easy to watch, not easy to think about but this movie filled with great performances by some of the lions of British film stars. Again, it is rated “R.”

Warm bodies

 

But if you want a zombie movie that is a little easier to handle, the first is Warm Bodies starring Nicholas Hoult as a dead young man willing to kill other humans to be his dinner every night. That is until he sees Teresa Palmer being a hot-shot zombie killer. Something inside of him changes and he slowly becomes more human. Played like a romantic comedy with the what-if scenario of zombies being re-born, it is interesting to say the least.

 

scooby doo zombie IslandThe other is my go-to for kids and that is Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. Here Scooby-Doo and the gang are investigating a haunted island in the middle of the Bayou for a TV segment for Daphne’s Haunted America TV show. But our meddling kids get more than they bargained for as they realized that they are dealing with real monsters, instead of a guy in a suit. It is fun lite scare that will put only the smallest of viewers down nightmare hallway.

That is my favorite place to avoid at all costs.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Stars Above Us

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

A few weeks ago, the husband and I did an Owl Walk at the forest preserve district on Heiland Road. We also had our 12-year-old son and a friend with us.

It was fun to walk through those woods after dark, the pine forest was as creepy as you would think it could be. We heard other critters moving about and then came the owls.

owl-eastern-screechThere were regulars and they call out once they heard our guide make the call. As we went further down the path, our guide made us listen to the cries of two hungry juveniles who were calling for food. But like parents of human teenagers, these owl parents were ignoring them.

Now that I can relate to.

One of the things I discovered on this walk was not only plenty of information on owls but how to find the Northern Cross constellation in the autumn sky. The Northern Cross is actually an asterism and is a part of the Cygnus the Swan constellation.

When you find it, you will also be in the Milky way. This time of year, the Norther Cross is near the center of the sky after dark. The problem is it is difficult to see, you need to be where there is almost no light pollution in order to see it clearly.

On my nightly walks, I go to my special places to see consellations, and planets and asterisms. I look and look. Some nights I find it easily, other nights I am happy to find the crossbar.

Stargazing has become my new hobby and one that gives me joy in finding and identifying planets. Constellations are going to take a bit more work.

Now this past week saw the release of the latest Star Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond. Set two years after the last movie, this time we are presented with a space traveler’s worst nightmare – having your ship destroyed and unable to connect with your crew members.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, John Cho, Simon Pegg, and Zoe Saldana return to the bridge but face new diificulties when an enemy works to destroy the team in order to gain world domination.

star-trek-beyondPerhaps what makes this movie most interesting is that it is filled with a number of references to the TV show and other movies in the Star Trek series. Numbers and images all have a reference to the original series which ran for less than three years on CBS. The movie was released closer to the 50th Anniversary of the show that inspired generations of filmmakers.

I’ll be honest in saying I haven’t seen this movie; I was always a distant trekie. But it is on my list of must sees as I am interested to see how the character of James Kirk has grown and developed as a character. Sure, we want those familiar moments (‘I can’t do it, Captain’ or ‘That is highly illogical,’ or ‘I’m a doctor , Jim, not a …”) but we also want to see where these guys are going – physically and emotionally.

Will the familiar come out of the actor’s mouth, will there be references I will not get in a thousand years? Will I enjoy myself watching this movie?

The answers are yes, yes, and a resounding yes.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.