Film About A Love Affair Turned Bad Hits Big Screen & It Feels Like You’ve Seen It Before (Because You Have)

The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door

Release Date: Friday January 23, 2015

Running Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes

CastJennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth

MPAA Rating: Rated “R” for violence, sexual content/nudity and language

Fans of stalker-thrillers looking for their next fix will likely be flocking to the theater late at night to see the latest film which hit the big screen nationwide today.

But does “The Boy Next Door” hit the spot?! 

In the midst of a separation following the infidelity of her husband, Claire Peterson (played by Jennifer Lopez) is emotionally vulnerable when she first meets Noah Sandborn (played by Ryan Guzman), the sexy eye-candy who moves in next door. Noah who is oddly still just a high school senior a few months shy of his 20th birthday (an age, perhaps, that makes the cougars feel a little bit better) is, at first glance, the perfect guy. He’s attractive, smart, kind, helpful, and strong so it’s easy to see how Claire is so easily seduced by him that fateful night when her entire world was turned upside down.

After sleeping with Noah, Claire tries to move on with her life. She emerses herself in her work, attempts to patch things up with her estranged husband, and vows never to make the same mistake again but Noah doesn’t share the same desire to let go of their one-time fling. Noah’s infatuation with Claire becomes alarming, things get pretty awkward, and I think we can all guess how the remainder of the story goes…because we’ve seen it before.

Following in the footsteps of predecessors like “Fatal Attraction” and “Swimfan”, “The Boy Next Door” follows a very formulaic script that is highly predictable and leaves you wanting more…of a plot, better acting, and perhaps something new. No matter how attractive the cast is and how steamy the one-time love affair might be, it just doesn’t make up for the lack luster storyline which was this film’s downfall.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again, I give “The Boy Next Door” a 9.350943132095 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “Woah, Ryan Guzman is HOT!”

Man With No Friends Has Wedding: Hilarity Ensues

The Wedding Ringer

Wedding Ringer

Release Date: Friday January 16th, 2015

Cast: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting

Running Time: 101 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for crude and sexual content, language throughout, some drug use and brief graphic nudity

Josh Gad has no friends.

From “Bridesmaids” to “The Hangover”, audiences have seen their fair share of wedding related comedies depicting the lengths some will go in the name of friendship. “The Wedding Ringer”, which hit theaters nationwide yesterday, isn’t exactly like those other movies…

“The Wedding Ringer” tells the story of Doug Harris (played by Josh Gad), a workaholic groom-to-be who, at the behest of his fiancee (played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) , is forced to locate and recruit seven of his closest male friends for the wedding party. The only problem is that he doesn’t have seven close male friends. He doesn’t even have three. He doesn’t have one. He doesn’t have any friends. He’s also out of time. With just about a week until he ties the knot, Doug is out of options. Or is he?!

That’s where Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) comes into play. Jimmy is a professional best man – someone who rents himself out for faux-best friendship for weddings (and, apparently, funerals). Doug meets Jimmy, Jimmy meets the future in-laws, someone catches on fire, and hilarity ensues. Josh Gad and Kevin Hart have a great bromantic chemistry that enables them to deliver a dynamite performance in a silly, funny movie (emphasis on silly).

Although I don’t see any awards being handed out for this film, I thought (for what it was) it was pretty good. It’s funny and it doesn’t take itself too seriously – which is something that I happen to really enjoy.  Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “The Wedding Ringer” a 6.89803498304981098 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “hahaha ahhhhhhhhhh”.

Story Of The Aftermath Of War Comes To Life On the Big Screen

American Sniper

AmericanSniper

Release Date: Friday January 16, 2015

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner

Running Time: 132 Minutes

In what is, perhaps, one of the most important roles of his career thus far, Bradley Cooper portrays a Texan cowboy who feels the call to serve God & country in “American Sniper”. 

Deeply impacted by the terror attacks on the United States of America, thirty-something Chris Kyle knew he needed to make a difference and so he left his home and life as a traveling bull rider to join the Navy SEALs where he became one of the greatest snipers in US History.

In this true story, audiences watch as Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), serves in four tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom helping to protect countless soldiers and complete his mission overseas. Director Clint Eastwood excels in bringing the gravity of war to the big screen reminding us all of the sacrifice the men and women in uniform make on a daily basis during combat. More so, Eastwood (along with the entire cast) depicts the impact that war can have when our soldiers come home.

Struggling with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in the aftermath of war, Kyle finds that he can’t let go of Iraq in between deployments, impacting his home life and family. It isn’t until his fourth tour down range that Kyle recognizes his need to come home. Upon his return to the states, Kyle begins to seek help for his disorder and connects with other veterans to promote mental health.

This true story captures the difficulties of our soldiers and brings to light a topic that is often brushed under the rug. It’s rare to sit in a full, silent theater as the credits roll at the close of a movie but that’s exactly what happened with “American Sniper”. I believe that’s a testament to how impactful this film really is.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “American Sniper” a 4.3498293892 with an emoticon-based sub-ranking of “Wow.”

Joaquin Phoenix Does Drugs: Strange Events Ensue. Randomly, Reese Witherspoon Shows Up – It’s Nothing Like “Walk The Line”

Inherent Vice

inherentvice

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon
Runtime: 148 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R for drug use throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some violence (mostly drug use, a whole lot of drug use)

Set in sunny Los Angeles, California in the 1970’s, “Inherent Vice” tells the story of Doc (played by Joaquin Phoenix), a constantly doped up private detective (not actually a real doctor, at least probably not) who’s set up shop in a medical office (hence the name Doc?). Doc unexpectedly finds himself amidst illegal activity, police corruption, and general bizarre activity after a visit from his ex-girlfriend Shasta.

Shasta tells Doc about her new boyfriend, Mickey, a billionaire real estate developer. Shasta asks Doc to help prevent a plot by Mickey’s wife to have have Mickey abducted and put in an insane asylum. Lot’s of other things happen. There are drugs, characters come and go with little explanation, there’s drugs, paranoia abounds, and there are drugs.

I’m still not entirely sure about everything I saw, but it was entertaining, which is ultimately what matters. Joaquin Phoenix delivered a great performance for which he will likely earn an oscar nomination; however the incoherence of the plot does make it difficult to really care about any of the other characters.

It’s hard to convince people that the movie was enjoyable because, honestly, it’s hard to describe but I promise you this: in all of the confusion and disarray, you’ll find a pretty good movie that inspires laughs throughout. It’s the kind of weird that is oddly attractive – like PeopleOfWalmart.com or polka dancing.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again, I give “Inherent Vice” a 3.56623423
with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “uuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh, what?!”

It’s An Ordinary Blog On Vacation! Part 1: Sarasota, Florida #IAOBVacation2014

Sarasota

At some point after my daughter was born in 2011, my life focus started to gradually change. I started to realize that life is all about the memories we have, the love we share, and the people that we share them with. I started to value moments more than things and my love for travel reached an all time high.

Vacation [vey-key-shun]

noun: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used forrest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday

Recreation, travel, recess, or holiday…what’s not to love about vacation?!

Kansas City to Sarasota

At some point early on in 2014 (I can’t remember exactly when this plan happened), my husband and I decided that we would take a few weeks in December to travel to the South-Eastern seaboard of the United States to visit family, friends, and for a few days in Orlando.

Don’t let that map fool you – I did NOT spend $446 each way for plane tickets (Google, no.). What I did do, however, was follow the sales. I’m a big fan of flying Southwest and I regularly follow their sales for good travel deals. In early June, flights from Kansas City, Missouri to Tampa, Florida went on sale for a little under $140 each way – if you’re planning to travel and you know far enough in advance, I definitely suggest watching the sales and getting your tickets when the fares are low.

Plane

With our bags packed and excitement bursting at the seams, we left for the airport. As we were boarding the aircraft, the captain pulled us aside for a special tour of the cockpit. In all my years of travel, I’d actually never seen the inside of the cockpit up close and so it was an unexpected surprise not only for my three year old (pictured above) but also for me. C loved it. She got a real kick out of pushing the buttons (only the ones that she was told she could) and hearing the plane “talk” to her. Future pilot?! Perhaps!

We flew from MCI (Kansas City) to TPA (Tampa) direct and the ride was smooth and easy. After landing, we made the short drive down to Sarasota for the first few days of our vacation.

Sarasota

Sarasota was warm, sunny, and beautiful…the quintessential Florida destination. While we were there, we trekked through local parks and eventually made our way over to The Mall At University Town Center (UTC). The mall has a great display up for the holidays where children can visit Queen Elsa’s Frozen Ice Palace before chatting with Santa (he’s there!). You can take a peek at some of my pictures from our time at the mall over on the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page.

As wonderful as the indoor shopping center is (and I imagine it’s GREAT during the heat of the summer), our favorite spot in Sarasota was, by and far, the ocean. Living in the heartland, we don’t get to see the shore very often and the beaches in Florida are truly beautiful. We spent an entire afternoon in Siesta Key, enjoying lunch and splashing around in the water.

Sarasota

Please note that the Bead Shack in Siesta Key, Florida sells GLasses, not “asses”. Sorry ’bout that, folks…

There’s a little place in Siesta Key called Daiquiri Deck that offers fresh seafood and drinks at reasonable prices. When in Florida, I think it’s important to get fresh fish so I ordered their Lobster Wrap New England Style for lunch and it was really, really good (like super good, delicious). You can find pictures of that (warning: your mouth might water, mine is just thinking about it) here.

Sarasota

We couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon at the beach. The temperatures were ideal for playing out on the sand and, although the water was chilly, splashing around in the ocean was really enjoyable.

The beaches there are stunning. One thing that I was most impressed with was the fact that I was able to walk out into the ocean pretty far (you can see the picture below) and the water was still only up to my knees. I felt really comfortable letting C play in the water without having to worry about riptides or the water getting deep too quickly.

Sarasota

Our few days in Sarasota were absolutely relaxing and enjoyable. My husband’s sister and her family live in the area and so we were able to spend time with them, letting the cousins play, and just appreciating our time together. I can’t wait to go back!

Sarasota

Next up on the blog: Our visit to Orlando! Stay tuned…

Gifts That Give Hope Blog Series: PuraVida Bracelets

Hello, Friends!

It’s December and the cold(ish) weather has started to settle in here in the area (just in time for our upcoming trip to Florida!).  There’s something about cold weather that really helps me get into the Christmas spirit (and not in a Grinchy kind of way – I genuinely enjoy it).

Make A Difference With Your Gifts

You know what else gets me in the Christmas spirit?! Doing Christmasy things…like shopping for the people I love and giving back to the World. That’s exactly why I really enjoy intentional gift giving – which I discussed in great detail (#sorrynotsorry) a couple of weeks ago on the blog. If you missed my Heart of Haiti post, you can find it here. Today, I wanted to share about another great company that gives back to the community with every purchase: PuraVida Bracelets.

CH-story

PuraVida, which literally means “Pure Life” is an awesome organization that my friend Sarah over at The House of Boys & A Girl introduced me to when she gave me one of their bracelets as a gift (thanks again, Sarah!). Not only is their primary goal to employ artisans in Costa Rica but they also donate to over 190 charitable organizations when you purchase from their site. Take a peek:

I’ve got the 1% for the Planet bracelet and am planning to order a few more for myself (gasp!) and some to give away to friends and family as well. I, personally, think that these are great little gifts that are not only affordable but also have a purpose and I’m excited to share them with all of you.

If you know of a charitable organization that could use some fundraising, they can apply to become a charitable partner with PuraVida and benefit from your purchases.

Gifts That Give Hope Blog Series: Heart Of Haiti

Make A Difference With Your Gifts

I woke up this morning and it was November 24th (how did that happen?!). I woke up this morning and I realized that it’s the week of Thanksgiving. I woke up this morning and realized that Christmas is coming and it’s coming fast. I woke up this morning thankful.

I’m thankful because I’m lucky. I’m lucky to live in a place that isn’t stricken by disaster, a place that is generally safe. I’m lucky because the basic needs of my family are met. I am lucky and my guess is, if you’re sitting at home (or on your phone) reading this right now, so are you. Not everyone on this beautiful planet is fortunate enough to, by mere happenstance, be so lucky.

I woke up this morning thinking about how I can make a difference not only within my own community but also in the World. What can I do to enact positive change for others?

I woke up this morning with Haiti on my heart.

Heart of Haiti is a beautiful project that was started by Willa Shalit, a social entrepreneur, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund after the earthquake that left more than 250,000 Haitians dead and more than a million homeless in 2010. Their efforts, combined with Macy’s department stores, provide an income to the estimated 400,000 Haitian artisans who rely solely on their handcrafted items as a source of income for their families. Participants in the Heart of Haiti program are paid 50% of the wholesale price for each item, which can all be purchased at Macys.com (search for “Haiti”).

Metal Tray From Heart Of Haiti

I recently had the distinct privilege (and I truly, genuinely mean it when I say it’s an absolute privilege to work with the Everywhere Society) to receive my very own handcrafted metal tray from a Haitian artisan in Croix-des-Bouquets (just outside Port-au-Prince).

HeartOfHaitiMetalTray

Like many of the items available at Macy’s from Heart of Haiti, this metal tray is made from sustainable materials (recycled oil drums) and has been hammered, chiseled, and sculpted to create an amazing piece. The talented metal work of the Haitian artisans make for beautiful gifts for your loved ones this holiday season.

Metal Tray Heart Of Haiti

I made the decision about a year ago to be more intentional in my gift giving. I love when gifts have meaning and are impactful. The pieces that are available through the Heart of Haiti program provide that opportunity of enacting change and giving back with each gift that you purchase. When you employ just one artist with a sustainable income (through your purchase), the entire Haitian community benefits helping to rebuild this sector of Haiti’s fragile economy.

HeartOfHaitiTray

I truly believe that purchasing gifts that give hope for your loved ones is a simple way to enact a positive change in the World and I am so excited about the extensive line of beautiful pieces that are available right now at Macy’s. The best part about it is that many of my favorite items (hint, hint to my friends and family) are on SALE right now.

For additional information about how Heart of Haiti is helping the community through trade-not-aid, please visit this webpage.

*I am a member of the Everywhere Society and they provided me with this product for review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*

Teenage Girl Takes on Government: Unifies Nation

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Release Date: Friday November 21, 2014

Total Run Time: 123 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated “PG-13″ for  intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material

CastJennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-One-Poster-HD-Wallpaper

Anyone considering attending “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1″ probably fits into one of two categories: you are either a fan of the first two movies, or a fan of both the books and (at least to some degree) the movies as well.  While those of us who read and liked the books should enjoy “Mockingjay”, fans who just loved the action of the first two movies may find themselves somewhat disappointed.

The first two entries into this highly successful franchise were somewhat similar. Both of the first two films lay emotional groundwork before getting into the titular Hunger Games competition wherein most of the films’ action occurs.   This time around, there are no Hunger Games, and there is less action.

All that is not to say “Mockingjay” is not entertaining. It is, it’s just different. The story starts where the last one ended. Katniss has just been rescued from the games and is taken to the underground District 13. There, she is recruited to become The Mockingjay, the symbol of hope and freedom for the rebellion, but she finds it difficult to overcome the emotional trauma that she has suffered, and her distrust of the people who want to make use of her.

More so than the first two films, this movie relies on the talents of its cast, and Jennifer Lawrence delivers. Her performance is heartfelt, nuanced, and restrained. You like her, pity her, and root for her. One of the things the film does cleverly is toy with your emotions while also making you aware that they are toying with your (and the fictional people of Panem’s) emotions.  It is an effective commentary on the power of propaganda during war, and a balancing act that they could not have pulled off without Lawrence leading the way.

While it may not have been action packed, “Mockingjay part 1″ effectively sets the stage for “Mockingjay Part 2″.  Hopefully the final chapter can be a worthy conclusion to what has so far been an enjoyable franchise.

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from 1 to 10, where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Mockingjay: Part 1″ a 5.523983908 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “Wow”.

Jim Carrey Selflessly Gives Up Kidney to Save Friend: And It’s The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Seen

“Dumb & Dumber To”


It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since one of my all-time favorite movies (yes, it’s true) was released. “Dumb & Dumber”, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, has to be one of the better {dumb} movies of all time next to films like “Airplanes” and “Blazing Saddles”. The original film provided seemingly effortless and completely unexpected entertainment that still leaves me laughing all these years later. I’ve said it before (No joke, it was in my employee profile for a job I had a few years ago) and I’ll say it again: I wholeheartedly believe that there’s a “Dumb & Dumber” quote for just about every situation in life.

Example A: You’re on a very long and very boring road trip and your car is suddenly filled with that awkward silence we all know and hate, “I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this” … “Yeah, that John Denver was full of shit.”

Example B: You’re making plans with a friend: “Does 7:45 work for you?” … “Oooooh, no, that’s not going to work. How about we make it quarter ’till 8?”

See, there’s a quote for everything. I think that’s why I was so excited when I heard that Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels planned to come back together for a sequel. “Dumb & Dumber To” hit theaters nationwide this weekend. Does it live up to its predecessor?

Dumbanddumberto

Release Date: Friday November 14, 2014

Run Time: 110 Minutes

Cast: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references

Just one month and two days (not that anyone’s counting) shy of 20 years ago, our friends Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) set off on the adventure of a lifetime to return a piece of luggage to the love of Llyod’s life, whom he’d met just moments earlier, Mary Swan..sun…swam…SAMSONITE (it’s Swanson).  Their journey inspired laughs from audiences young and old for two decades and would be considered a classic comedy by some (me). Viewers were left wondering: what did Llyod and Harry do with their lives after their trip to Aspen, California (Colorado)?!

 Fast forward to 2014 when we meet the duo again. Audiences discover that Lloyd has spent the last twenty years in a rehabilitation facility where Harry has been visiting consistently since 1994. Long story short (it’s actually not that long)- we find out that Lloyd has been faking the entire time and that’s where the story picks up.

The two inadvertently find themselves on another cross country road trip (because taking a three hour plane ride is apparently a lot less fun): And you’re there with them the whole time.

“Dumb & Dumber To” is (obviously) not nearly as good as the original movie but it was nice to catch up with Harry and Lloyd to see how far (not far) they’ve come over the last twenty-years. The film was chuckle worthy and, although not quite as quotable as “Dumb & Dumber”, worth checking out if you’re an existing fan. Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Dumb & Dumber To” a 2.985945898013 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Heh Heh Heh”.

Iranian Government Wrongfully Imprisons Journalist: Bores Audiences

“Rosewater”

Rosewater (2014) Poster

Release Date: Friday November 14, 2014

Starring: Gael García Bernal

Runtime: 103 Minutes

Rating: Rated R for for language and violent content

There are some movies that capture a person’s attention and hold it regardless of the viewer’s interest in the subject matter. “Rosewater” is not one of those movies.

Written and directed by “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart, “Rosewater” tells the story of a journalist who is wrongly accused of being a western spy. The journalist, Iranian-Canadian Maziar Bahari, is imprisoned and interrogated for 118 days in Evin prison in Iran.

As a student of Middle Eastern culture, this was a story that naturally had my interest. Because of that, I was able to forgive some pacing problems that would cause the story to drag for people who are not inherently interested in an exploration of corruption within the Iranian government.

The movie also suffered slightly from stylistic and tonal inconsistencies.  There are some scenes at the beginning of the movie, specifically a “shaky-cam” scene, where it seems like Stewart is trying too hard.  The rest of the movie is directed in a more straight-forward manner and the more stylized scenes feel disjointed.  There are also some attempts at humor that lighten the mood but undermine any attempt to build a sense of urgency.

Despite these flaws, this is a solid telling of a relevant story. Stewart unfolds the story with patience and care.  It is evident that this is a personal project for Stewart.  Bahari was accused partly because of a satirical interview conducted on “The Daily Show” and it is easy to imagine that Stewart was compelled to tell this story due to feeling, in some way, responsible for the events that followed that interview. Stewart’s outrage towards the actions of the definitely shines through and become the focal point of the film.

Overall, this was a flawed but solid debut for Stewart as a filmmaker, and I’m curious what other stories he will want to tell.  On my “It’s an Ordinary Blog” movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again, I give “Rosewater” a 3.3498493704 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “Hmmmm”.