“Blended”: A Movie Review

When it comes to on screen comedic romances, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler are among those who do it best. From their first on screen kiss in “The Wedding Singer” to their performances in “50 First Dates”, the pair have dazzled audiences for more than a decade. In the more than fifteen (my god I feel old) years since their first movie together, so much has changed. Adam Sandler has gone on to star, write, and produce a variety of films some of which have been great and, some of which have not been so great. Drew Barrymore has also worked on several movies as an actress, producer, and director. Though much has changed in their careers over the years, one thing remains the same: When the two come together, people tend to love them.

blended

Release Date: Friday May 23rd, 2014

Running Time: 117 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language

Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Nealon, Terry Crews

We’ve all had that one, horrible blind date that leaves you wondering what on Earth your friend was thinking when they set you up with that person. For single mom and professional closet organizer Lauren Reynolds (Drew Barrymore), a blind first date at Hooters with single dad and Jim Friedman (Adam Sandler) is that one, no good date. Unfortunately, unlike the rest of us who get to move on from the experience, Lauren’s nightmare date simply does not end. It gets worse. Much worse.  After learning about an opportunity to take their children on an African getaway over Spring break, the two unexpectedly find themselves in the position of sharing a suite for the duration of their African adventure. Little do they know, this particular resort specializes in blended family getaways.  The movie follows their story, the issues that they each have to overcome with their own parenting, and attempts to show audience members what it means to be a family.

I wanted to like this movie. I really, really wanted to enjoy it. I kind of enjoyed it. Sort of. The movie was cute. I laughed a little, cringed a little, and may have even shed a tear (don’t judge me). Overall, the storyline was great. I enjoyed the idea behind this film and, in understanding that it’s an Adam Sandler movie, I could appreciate it at face value. The problem that I had with it, and this is something that is consistent throughout most of the “Happy Madison” movies of late, is that they have a tendency to beat the dead horse. A half witted joke might get laughs during its first circuit but after the eleventybillionth time, it just gets old and eventually starts to take away from the movie. Had they stuck with their roots and not tried to go for it time and time again with the exact same joke, this film might have been a real winner but, unfortunately, that’s just not Sandler circa 2014 style.

Overall, on my scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again, I give “Blended” a movie review rating of 1.3284 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Well, humph.”

 

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“Neighbors”: In Review

"Neighbors" Movie Review

Neighbors Release Date: 05/09/2014

Run Time: 96 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated “R” for all of the things.  Seriously, all of them. Like every single one.

Cast: That Guy From “Knocked Up”, The Australian Chick from “The Internship”, The Kid From “High School Musical” Who Is All Grown Up, & Baby Franco

As any homeowner will tell you, there’s always that one neighbor that nobody wants to live next door to.  You know, the one that never mows their lawn, refuses to fix the issues on the outside of their house, or sports his man sweater all summer long (please, for the love of all that is holy, put on a shirt!).  With the release of the new comedy “Neighbors”, which hit theaters nationwide this weekend, screenwriters Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien aim to prove to you that it could always be worse…You could be living next to these guys:

Neighbors Movie Review

After settling into their new home in a quaint neighborhood along with their adorable daughter Stella, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are excited about the prospect of new neighbors.  That feeling, however, quickly subsides as the pair discover that the house next door will be occupied by a fraternity.  Not wanting to seem ‘old’ or ‘out of touch’ these 30-somethings make a valiant effort to connect with their new neighbors, kindly asking them to “keep it down” so their new daughter can sleep through the night (because, of course, they wouldn’t otherwise have any problem, whatsoever, with the noise).  Once the frat brothers have had the opportunity to get acclimated to their new pad, Mac and Kelly realize that their “keep it cool” attitude towards their new neighbors will be short lived. Antics ensue and the situation rapidly spirals out of control in an outrageous, over the top series of events that leave you thinking that your neighbors might not be so bad after all.

This movie is crazy and outlandish but the best thing about it is that it’s exactly what it’s intended to be.  Like any good Rogen film, “Neighbors” doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are parts that are downright ridiculous but will leave you laughing throughout the movie. Overall, on my scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Neighbors” a solid 4.20 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Ha! Did you see what I just did there?!”

A Review & Giveaway from FlattenMe Personalized Books and Gifts

Book Review and Giveaway

Reading has always been an important part of the daily routine in our household. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since childhood and knew would someday become common practice when I eventually had children of my own. When I was pregnant with C, I found myself reading to her in utero (which, now that I look back, sounds a little crazy) and that trend continued after she was born. Now that a little older, she’s better able to understand and follow sequences of events. Reading to her has transitioned from looking at pictures to enjoying (toddler appropriate) storylines. I’ve noticed that she’s started to develop a passion and love for books and reading which is probably why I was so elated for the opportunity to review a personalized book from FlattenMe.Com. The company has also graciously offered to giveaway a personalized book to one of you (more on that below).

Owl Always Love You Personalized Book

“Owl Always Love You”, written by Robyn Spizman and illustrated by Erica Leighton, is a ‘bedtime story for little night owls’ (who doesn’t love owls?!). Each page is beautifully illustrated and sends a message of abounding love for the main character (which, in my book, is my daughter). It’s a reminder to children that they are loved, always and unconditionally. The pages compare the love we have for our children to things found in nature and daily life like a cradle loving to rock, rain loving a cloud, and kites loving to fly. The message is simple and easy for children to understand: they are special and they are loved.

The hardback book is comprised of fourteen thick, easy to turn story pages each with its own unique and beautiful illustration. You can take a peek at each individual page online here. FlattenMe.com also offers personalized photo books, journals, tshirts, wall art, and more online which make for great gifts for every family member. FlattenMe has offered to host a giveaway for one lucky reader to enjoy a Keepsake personalized Owl book of their very own (less the cost of shipping, which is $3.99).

To Enter (each option earns one entry):

  • “Like” the FlattenMe Facebook page and post a message on their wall telling them that #ItsAnOrdinaryBlog sent you (be sure to use the # hashtag so I can see the post).
  • Head on over to the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page and tell me what your favorite thing about the Owl Always Love You book is.
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me who you would personalize this sweet book for.

A winner will be randomly drawn on Friday November 1st. As always, good luck and my the odds be ever in your favor!

Flatten Me

While FlattenMe sent a personalized copy of “Owl Always Love You” free of charge in exchange for my review and giveaway, I am under no obligation to write a positive review and all expressed thoughts are uniquely my own. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime with questions: ItsAnOrdinaryBlog@gmail.com.

“Captain Phillips”: In Review

CaptainPhillips

Captain Phillips

Release Date: Friday October 11, 2013

MPAA Rating: PG-13

We are quickly approaching that time of year where movie studios will release films in hopes of landing the coveted oscar nomination. To kick off the season, we’ve seen critically acclaimed, star-driven movies released in successive weekends. “Gravity” is already considered to be a sure thing for a best picture nomination, and “Captain Phillips”, with its wide release a week later, is no less deserving.

“Captain Phillips” is a thrilling true story about the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. The movie’s dedication to realism, the immersive style of director Paul Greengrass, the powerful performance by Tom Hanks, and the film’s artful handling of complex global socioeconomic realities combine to make it one of the years best film’s so far.

As far as “based on a true story” movies go, this one seems to have been mostly accurate. Not only does it stay true to the essential details of the story it is based upon, there are many details which make the movie seem more realistic. The filmmakers have real medics and Navy SEALS playing important roles.  The actors portraying the Somali pirates have a very powerful presence. Hanks was not allowed to meet them until they began filming the hijacking scene in order to add an extra level of authenticity to the scene. This is one of many decisions by Greengrass that worked on every level. Greengrass’ style of putting the audience in the middle of the action has never been more effective than it was here. The danger of this technique is that when overdone the viewer can be confused or disoriented. Greengrass uses the style with skill and restraint. The audience is on both the Maersk Alabama and later the lifeboat, but one can always follow the action without getting seasick.

Hanks’ performance is his best in many years. He portrays the titular Captain with a strong sense of unwavering calm. When that calm breaks at the end, it is a wave of raw and honest emotion that will move most of the audience to tears.

Another area where the film shines is its handling of the pirates themselves. With a story that could have played out like a generic rescue mission, the filmmakers resist the temptation to make them caricature villains. As things begin to go wrong for the kidnappers, there is a real sense of fear and desperation that makes the characters seem more real. As the audience learns more about their situation and the people that we work for, we are asked to consider how much their life of piracy is a result of the situation that they are born into. This is not to say that the film acts as though they are not doing wrong, but it recognizes that where you are born plays a large role in what opportunities life gives you.

With two and a half prime movie-going months left in the year it is too early to declare “Captain Phillips” the best movie of the year, but I can say that it is certainly worth seeing and deciding for yourself.

On my scale of 1-10 with 1 being the worst, 5 being the best and 10 being the worst again, I give “Captain Phillips” a perfect 5 with an emoticon based subranking of: ZOMG THAT MOVIE WAS FREAKING GREAT!1!!11!!!1!

Vitacost Swag: In Review

A few weeks ago, I posted about an incredible $100 giveaway from my friends over at Vitacost. As you may remember, I was invited to be part of their incredible blogging program. The more I learn about Vitacost, the more I appreciate and respect the company (I’ll get to that in a minute). Today, I’m excited to share a few of their products with you. I typically do my “disclaimer” at the end of the post but, in case you don’t happen to see it, I want to be sure that I mention that Vitacost sent me these items free of charge in exchange for my review. I am under absolutely no obligation to write a positive review and any opinions I express are uniquely my own. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. Now let’s get down to business!  I am planning to do this review in two parts. Today, I want to focus on introducing these products to you and then I’ll update in a couple of weeks with more in depth information on how the products have worked for me (more specifically the Hydroxycut, Cognitive Support Vitamins, and the skincare set).

Vitacost Swag

Featured for review:

  • “Hello, Beautiful (Dry): MyChelle Dermaceuticals”
  • Hydroxycut
  • Targeted Wellness Cognitive Support Vitamins
  • Vitacare Key Lime Toothpaste
  • Swirl All Natural Green Tea
  • Trace Minerals Power Pack (Pina Colada)

MyChelle Dermaceuticals “Hello, Beautiful” (Dry)

I always appreciate a skin care set that compliments me before I use it. I think that’s one of the things that draws me to the “Hello, Beautiful” line from MyChelle Dermaceuticals. Valued at just over $15.00, Vitacost offers this mini set as a way to introduce you to products for your everyday needs.  The all natural (yes, you heard me) ingredients are intended to leave you feeling fresh and clean and they really do just that. The products smell nice, are easy to use, and leave my skin feeling refreshed. I’m excited to check back with you guys in a couple of weeks to let you know how it’s worked for me over time.

Hydroxycut

I will be the first to admit that I’m a skeptic when it comes to using products aimed at offering a ‘quick fix’ to weight loss. But, at the end of the day, most of us struggle with those temptations for something sweet or maybe need to cut back on our calorie intake during the day. Included in the box, which retails at just over $20, is 21 packets of drink mix which is intended to be mixed with 16oz of water. I decided that I wanted to approach this review with an open mind and my initial reaction to the Hydroxycut is positive. It’s a really sweet drink so, even though the suggested use is to take it 30 minutes before a meal, I could see myself replacing a snack with the drink instead.

Targeted Wellness Cognitive Support 

The name sounds fancy, am I right?! In a nutshell, the Targeted Wellness Cognitive Support vitamins are really just a codename for brain pills. 60 of these bad boys will cost you just under $25 and they’re aimed at promoting healthy brain function and memory recall. I’m excited to try these every day and report back to you my thoughts. Stay tuned…

Vitacare Key Lime Toothpaste 

This fluoride free whitening toothpaste has a minty key lime taste. Yes, key lime. In case you’re not understanding or somehow forgot (which, if that’s the case, see above) I said Key Lime flavored toothpaste. While this isn’t necessarily something that struck my fancy for everyday use, I could see the appeal. If you really like Key Lime and mint, are planning a hot and heavy makeout session with someone who happens to enjoy key lime and mint, or are stuck on an island and want the flavor along with clean teeth. A 3.4 ounce tube retails at around $5.

Swirl All Natural Green Tea Packets

The name of this pretty much speaks for itself. It’s tiny packets of green tea leaves that you drop into a bottle of water and let steep for about ten minutes before drinking it. And it’s awesome. It also happens to be very affordable (two packs of ten for just over $5). It’s what I call a WIN. The packets are really easy to use and the taste was just about what I expected (awesome). The only thing that I wasn’t terribly crazy about was that they don’t come individually wrapped (which is probably better for the environment anyway) so it makes it hard to take them on the go or share with a friend. Don’t let that stop you from trying, though, because I highly recommend them to any tea drinker.

Trace Minerals Power Pack (Pina Colada)

The power packs are a gluten free, vegan fizzy drink mix that offers electrolytes, potassium, and antioxidants. Initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Pina Colada flavor but I’m planning to take a bottle with me during a workout coming up (more on that later) and see if I feel any differently about it then. A box of 32 packets will cost you just over $12.

Vitacost

One of the things I love most about Vitacost is the versatility of their product line. No matter what you’re in search of, they’ve likely got you covered. I’m really excited to report back to all of you in a few weeks to give an update but, in the meantime, if you’re interested in trying any of these products with me you can find them on the Vitacost website. You can also find them on Facebook. When you stop by, be sure to tell them that Holli from It’s An Ordinary Blog sent you!

 

Mad About It Mondays: Toodles The Saboteur

Disclaimer: If you’re offended by strong language and sarcasm, this post is probably not for you.

Check back tomorrow for pictures of my adorable child. Also, I love Disney.

Welcome to Mad About It Mondays

because passive aggressive Facebook posts were so yesterday

Mad About It Monday- Copyright It's An Ordinary Blog

I’m not entirely certain how the love affair started but at some point within the last 10 months my child has developed somewhat of an obsession with Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse“. Being a Disney fan myself, I don’t have a problem with that. I do, however, have an issue with the fact that Netflix has only one Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show available to stream from my Roku device. Really?! Doesn’t Netflix have an agreement with Disney?! I mean, honestly….come on. That’s not even what irritates me. If it was, this M.A.M post would be awfully short, am I right?! Want to know what really pisses me off?! It’s Toodles.

Toodles is a whiny bitch.

There, I said it. Now we’ve seen some of the old shows where he was sweet, didn’t talk, and was relatively helpful. Now? Not so much. I’ve probably seen “Road Rally” (please, Disney, for the love of all that is holy make more available on Netflix) a couple hundred times and every time I watch it, my hatred for Toodles grows just a little bit stronger. If you’ve never seen it, here’s a re-cap:

Mickey and friends decide to go on a fun road trip together where they stop at various points throughout their journey to solve mini-mysteries. Each time they get through one of their pit-stops, they’re rewarded with a special surprise (whoo! Exciting!). Before they’re set to leave, Goofy realizes that he doesn’t have his bike to travel with so the professor gives him a handy rescue truck that he’s been working on to take along. The only requirement is that Goofy agrees to use the rescue truck whenever anyone needs help. Sounds simple, right?! Wrong.

Why?! Because their group has a saboteur in the mix. That’s right, Toodles, I’m onto you. The group is met with a series (as is the case with every episode) of unforseen obstacles along the way and guess who just so happens to have exactly what the group needs to continue along?! Ding ding ding! Toodles. Hmmmm…. sneaky sneaky.

I’ve always been a little suspicious of Toodles but he really shows his true colors in the episode. When Goofy comes to the rescue to help out the team, Toodles looses his shit. And here’s the thing: Minnie actually feels bad for him and tries to rally support. What the hell?! Are you freaking kidding me?! You’re a manipulative bastard, Toodles. And when the trend of recovering from, what I believe are, staged attacks on the group on their own continues, Toodles just ups and leaves. The team feels sorry for him, goes to look for him, and then gifts him with a surprise that’s bigger than everyone else’s at the end. Wow. Just wow.

Even if the obstacles are not of Toodles’ design, he needs to learn that it’s ok for someone else to help out for a change.  What’s more, by placating him, they’re only feeding his insecurities.  He needs tough love.

Dear Toodles,

Knock that crap off.

XoXo,

It’s An Ordinary Blog

Science City at Union Station (Kansas City)

As you know, I recently started writing for iFamilyKC online and one of the perks is that I get to go to some pretty cool events and activities around the metro. Most recently, I went to Science City at Union Station and had a blast. I’ll be sure to post a link to the review on my Facebook page (have you ‘liked’ it yet?!) as soon as it’s up. In the meantime…

I had a really great time at Science City and it isn’t just because the inner nerd in me squealed with delight when I found out we were going, but because I think it’s a wonderful place for people of any age to spend the day. One thing that I thought was weird (and also very cool) is that, unless you’ve been there, you really have no idea what to expect when you first get there. In order to get into Science City you first walk through the gift shop and then into a long hallway with only a few things (like a tube with scarves ‘floating’ in the air and a solar-powered car on display).

 Ball Floating In Air

Toddler at Science City

I will admit that when we first walked into the hallway I thought to myself, “Really?! This is it?!” but once you navigate through, it’s like entering into a whole new world…and I loved it. Take a look:

Melody Park at Science City

A Day At Science City

Astronaut Training Center at Science City

Astronaut Food

Astronaut habitat

Police Helicopter

Science City Crime Lab

Wind Power

Wind Power at Science City

Melody Park Science City

Science City

Science City

Have these pictures piqued your interest?! Check back tomorrow for more or head on over to the Science City website for ticket information.

Nature Box In Review

 

It seems that subscription services for healthy snacks are the up and coming craze and so when Nature Box contacted me for review, I was elated to have the chance to try it out. Oh, you’ve never heard of Nature Box?! Hungry snack lover, meet Nature Box, a company dedicated to delivering you a box full of healthy, yummy goodness every month for just under $20 (shipping included). It gets better! This company donates one meal for every box you purchase to Feeding America. I got my review box in the mail a couple of weeks ago and just finished up my snacks this evening (I’ve been sharing with the husband, aren’t I nice?! ;)). Each box comes with a description of the snacks. Here’s what Nature Box had to say about my goodies:

“This month, we’re forgetting about the over-hyped New Year’s diet mentality and encouraging you to establish healthy habits that you can sustain all year-long. These snacks will keep you energized throughout the post-holiday slump so you can meet all of your New Year’s resolutions, health-related or not!”

You can find all of my pictures of Nature Box snacks on the sneak peek post from last week.

Wild Berry Bunch

“Say goodbye to fruit snacks and enjoy these chewy berries that will remind you of the far-off summer with every bite. Enjoy them on their own or mix into muffins and yogurt.”

Each serving is packed with delicious dried cranberries, golden raisins, dried cherries, and dried blueberries at only 70 calories. These are ideal for a mom on the go who has a toddler that enjoys snack sharing. I ate these on their own and loved every bite.

Lone Star Snack Mix

“Wake up your taste buds with a zesty mix of mesquite almonds, cashews, and peanuts. This snack is perfect if you’re making a conscious effort to pass on greasy potato chips this year.”

Ummmm….hello delicious! This was one snack I was not planning to share with my husband. At 160 calories (130 of which were from Fat) it’s definitely a snack you want to portion out before you start eating it. The chipotle seasoning gives it a nice kick that will keep you coming back for more. The bag they sent me yielded four one ounce servings, each of which offers 12% of your daily dietary fiber and no cholesterol.

Chocolate Ginger Bliss

“If the stress of the holidays has somehow carried over into your New Year, then grab a handful of this blissful mix to relax and stay focused.”

Watching my husband try this snack was hilarious because he grabbed a huge bite of ginger right off the bat and started snacking on it. So I will say that this snack is meant to be eaten as an actual mix (rather than one piece at a time). It’s a great afternoon treat that has chocolate chips, ginger, tamari almonds, cranberries, papaya, roasted cashews, raisins, pineapple, and apricots.

Orange Crush Granola

“If eating breakfast every day is one of your New Year’s goals, this Orange Crush Granola will have you looking forward to breakfast even before you go to bed at night.”

I’ll be honest, by itself I was not crazy about the granola (only because I’m not a marmalade fan) but on top of some yogurt, it’s actually pretty good. My husband LOVED it. The bag has about two and a half 1/3 cup servings at 190 calories each.

Cranberry Almond Bites

“These berry bites are one healthy habit you’ll be able to commit to all year-long! Tart cranberries and crispy rice combine to make a satisfying bite-size snack.”

If you’re reading this, Nature Box, feel free to send me whatever you have left of this snack because it was absolutely, positively my favorite snack of all time. I had a very hard time sticking to only one 8 piece serving of the cranberry almond bites. Each serving has 130 calories and a lot of yum.

Every month of a subscription with Nature Box is packed with nutritional snack items so you’ll get to try something new each time. Itching for more?! Head on over to my Facebook page (don’t forget to “like” it) for a discount code Nature Box has graciously given to my readers.

Toddle Along Tuesday: Favorite Gift

As you know, I’ve been participating in Growing Up Geeky’s Toddle Along Tuesdays. I am so excited to announce that next week (1/14/2013) I will be co-hosting TAT with Melissa. The topic will be “How I Met My Spouse” and I hope you will all consider joining me for that. In the meantime, this week we’re discussing favorite holiday gifts from this year. There are two items, in particular, that come to mind when I think of my favorite gifts from this holiday season and I can’t pick between them so I am going to talk about both.

Almond Cream Kitchenaid MixerI got a KitchenAid Mixer! Squee! We don’t usually do “big” gifts for holidays but my husband and his parents went in together for my birthday and Christmas to get me this beautiful unit. It was so incredibly generous of them and I love it. I love to bake and having a stand mixer makes life so much easier. I made some cupcakes with a vanilla coffee butter cream frosting for my husband’s surprise birthday party shortly after Christmas and it was a breeze. There are so many more recipes that I’m excited to try out including some for homemade bread. Stay tuned, I’m sure I’ll be sharing!

You may remember to when I talked about my new living room set a while back…I talked about a blanket from Target that I really liked and planned to get. Well…..

Target Cable Knit Throw

I got it! I’m too lazy to go take a picture of my actual blanket (which is red) so you’ll have to settle with the white one. It is SO comfortable and soft. C has been trying to convince me since Christmas that it’s her blanket. I’ll share it with her but, at the end of the day, it’s mine all mine.

I trust that you all had a lovely holiday. What was your favorite gift this year?