The overused word DYSFUNCTIONAL could have been coined about the Gregson family. The matriarch of this mess is Tara, who has several diverse and loony multiple personalities, including a teenage-like wild girl, a June Cleaver-esque housewife, and a MALE Vietnam Vet who smokes and drinks way too much. Her kids and husband are all very aware that this personality disorder is something their mother is afflicted with. Often, the personalities come out at the most inopportune times, causing havoc in the kids’ lives. Like I said, dysfunctional with a capital D! And, most times, I stay clear from families-in-crisis shows (like Married With Children, etc.) but this time, Tara and her antics make the show so appeal and fun. I also felt myself drawn to the kids’ plights and what their lives must be like with a mother like Tara . Their frequent frustration is believable and not overdone in anyway. But, I would have to say that Tara and her “alters” as she calls them is the reason to watch this one. Toni Collette has won raves and awards for her portrayal of Tara and I think she is key to the show’s appeal and quality. If Tara were not as believable as she is, the show would not hold together and the audience would lose interest fast. Collette’s strong acting and huge range allow this show to be a hit rather than a miss.

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Why, oh why, did I keep watching this? Maybe because I had no choice – it’s addicting…in a “bad girl” kind of way. What do I mean? Well, the main character, Jackie, is UNLIKEABLE in a rebellious, mean-spirited, devious sort of way. She is a compulsive liar when it suits her, is a drug addict, and almost has two complete different personalities…NURSE Jackie who is nice ONLY when she has to be and MOM/WIFE Jackie who is A LITTLE softer. And its hard to like either of the two Jackies. She has this close-to-idyllic family life…a loyal, hardworking husband and sweet kids…but she has a steady boyfriend and sex partner at the hospital where her NURSE alter-ego works. She pops pills on a regular basis…right before or after scolding others for even thinking of doing the same. She’s a warped, unholy mess of a woman, but somehow, she’s highly watchable. Maybe because you want to see her get caught (which she “kind-of” does at the end of season one (her hospital boyfriend (who did not even know she had kids must less was married) catches her with her husband). Maybe because the SOFT side she shows all too infrequently (a good mom, a compassionate (at times) nurse) is likeable and we cheer for GOOD Jackie to come out more often. All I know is that I really couldn’t stop watching. I think much of this has to do with Edie Falco, who, has in the past, taken unlikeable characters and made them tolerable. Even when Jackie is being bad, there always is a little humor behind her demeanor, which Falco allows the audience to glimpse. And, because of Falco, Jackie and all of her flaws becomes a watchable, interesting character that we need to keep tabs on. Considering how unlikeable Jackie is, that’s a very impressive mountain to climb.

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Not being the biggest fan of multiple vignette movies, I didn’t have high expectations here. I find that usually, in vignette ensemble movies like this one, ala Short Cuts, Crash, I get so upset with one story that no matter what is happening in the others, I lose interest in the whole thing. But, this had such a great cast, how could I pass it up? And, thankfully, it’s MUCH sweeter and more enjoyable than I expected. The storylines are all pretty much what you would expect from a Garry Marshall-directed romantic comedy. They are all about love in its various forms…broken love, falling in love, old love, love that’s not really love at all, friendship love, etc. The sweetest storyline would have to be the two friends who THINK that are having great fortune in the love department. Then, all of a sudden, one of the relationships crashes and the other soon does as well. The friends come together to find solace in each other and end up finding love as well. Also, the plotline with an older couple (played by Marshall rom com regular Hector Elizondo and the fabulous Shirley MacLaine) finding their way back together after a past betrayal is heartfelt and endearing. Basically, this film lives up to its goal…to make us all feel like going out and falling in love! If only it were that easy…

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Yes, it’s a cutsie rom com. We know this because there are two good-looking, youngish people starring in the film and on the cover of the DVD, etc, plus there is instant sexual chemistry, though, naturally, the two do not like each other at first. Your typical rom com fare. Here the good-looking couple who are determined NOT to fall in love are Amy Adams (so irresistibly perky and vibrant) and Matthew Goode (so brooding…doing his best “I do not want to be lovable” routine). The two of them almost make us forget that not only have we “sort of” seen this type of material before, we have seen almost EXACTLY the same material in a 1995 Lawrence Kasdan film, French Kiss with rom con queen Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. There, Ryan, like Adams, runs off to follow her boyfriend abroad where she meets Kline, a Frenchman, and naturally nature takes its course and soon the boyfriend is forgotten and Kline is the ONE! So, Goode is Irish not French and plotwise, the boyfriend in French Kiss met another woman in Paris and in Leap Year, it’s that said boyfriend hasn’t proposed yet. But, still, they are pretty similar. And, to top that off, I LOVE French Kiss. It’s one of my favorite films from the 1990s and definitely one of my favorite contemporary romantic comedies. And I still like Leap Year, with its copied and clichéd characters, plot, etc.? Yes, I do. Amy Adams and Matthew Goode are so likeable (separately, but mostly together) that we do not care that we already know the ending and have heard much of the dialogue and seen much of the plot before. Another bonus here is Ireland…the lush scenery, the vistas, the gloom and rain… Well, you can’t have sunshine everyday, right? Think again – it’s sunshiny everyday in Romantic Comedy Land.

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Right off the bat I will say it: NOT MY KIND OF MOVIE. But, oh well, it has a great cast so I though I would give it a whirl. And, when it began, I almost said “I told you so” to myself. But, then the plot really kicked in and the characters all came to life right on the screen…and boom, before I knew it, I was hooked. Not by the music (most of which is pretty much the kind of music I like), not by the 60s culture, but by the characters. You REALLY get involved and attached to the characters…all of them. They all have their own quirks that really give each of them panache…and then all of them together give the movie a special touch that resonates with audiences…because they will all know characters like this. In a cast lead by Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (the token American), other British actors including Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost and even Oscar-winner and icon Emma Thompson all lend their own spice to add color and vibe to the film that already rock with 1960s British pop. The story is based in reality – in the 1960s, Britain had bans on rock radio stations. So, to get around the law, tons of “pirate” stations popped up all over, most on the waters surrounding the small island. Not that the politicians couldn’t find them, but the bureaucracy just had no grounds to shut these little stations down…until now. But, being a character-driven story, this film is less about WHAT happens and much more about WHO it happens to. Mostly told from the point-of-view of “Young” Carl, a young man who’s been sequestered off on this ship in the middle of the North Sea by his mother in order to learn a lesson, all of the characters become equally dear to us…we love some, we hate some, we empathize with some, with are jealous of some. Make sure you check out this little gem of a film that is part romance, part drama, part comedy, part historical, ALL FUN!

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I must admit, I had serious doubts about this one. I’m not much into music…especially 70s music. And I am not really interested in the 1970s in general. But, it’s directed by Ang Lee, so I gave it a chance and it turns out to be a very strong film. It’s part comedy/part drama and all heart. The story starts off with a dinky “resort” in upstate New York that has seen better days (or more likely…it never saw a good day). It’s run by a comical, loud Jewish family whose son, Jake, is the only normal member (the mother is maniacal and the father hardly ever speaks). Jake runs a yearly musical festival in the town…which most of the old-timers of the town love…it’s classical or jazzy music mostly…nothing too severe for the townspeople who are VERY set in their ways. When Jake reads that the Woodstock Festival has lost their location, he suggests his town. And, of course, plans work out. This is where the fun begins for Jake. He’s hated by much of the town for bringing these “hippies” in. He’s loved by others for bringing in more cash than they’ve ever seen in their lives. The actor who plays Jake (Henry Goodman) is spot-on as the befuddled, naïve young man. And director Lee sticks to Jake’s story…and point-of-view. Lee never really shows the Woodstock stage to the audience…since Jake never makes it to see the music. And Liev Schreiber is a MUST SEE as a philosophical drag-queen. Over-all, it’s a fun film…about a wild and carefree period in our history.

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Adam’s Rib
Affair to Remember, An
All That Heaven Allows
Annie Hall
Apartment, The
Awful Truth, The
Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, The
Barefoot in the Park
Born Yesterday
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Bride Came C.O.D., The
Brief Encounter
Bringing Up Baby
Casablanca
Come September
Desire Under the Elms
Desk Set
Doctor Zhivago
From Here to Eternity
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Gilda
Glass Bottom Boat, The
Gone With the Wind
Graduate, The
His Girl Friday
Holiday (1938)
Houseboat
How to Marry a Millionaire
Indiscreet
Intermezzo
It Happened One Night
It’s a Wonderful Life
Lady Eve, The
Last Time I Saw Paris
Love in the Afternoon
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
Love Story
Lover Come Back
Magnificent Obsession
Manhattan
Meet John Doe
Move Over, Darling
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
My Favorite Wife
My Man Godfrey
Ninotchka
Notorious
Now, Voyager
Pat and Mike
Philadelphia Story, The
Pillow Talk
Place in the Sun, A
Random Harvest
Robin and Marion
Roman Holiday
Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Sabrina (1954)
Same Time, Next Year
Sandpiper, The
Send Me No Flowers
Shop Around the Corner, The
Summer Place, A
Talk of the Town
Teacher’s Pet
That Touch of Mink
Three Coins in the Fountain
Thrill of It All, The
To Catch a Thief
To Have and Have Not
Touch of Class, A
Two for the Road
Way We Were, The
Wife vs. Secretary
With Six You Get Eggroll
Women in Love
Young at Heart

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10 Things I Hate About You
American President, An
Away We Go
Best Man, The
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Brown Sugar
Bull Durham
Chasing Liberty
Chocolat (2000)
Continental Divide
Daddy’s Little Girls
Dave
Definitely, Maybe
Doc Hollywood
Down with Love
Failure to Launch
Family Man, The
Fever Pitch (2005)
Four Weddings and a Funeral
French Kiss
Good Year, A
Groundhog Day
Hitch
Holiday, The (2006)
Honeymoon in Vegas
How to Deal
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
Intolerable Cruelty
It Could Happen to You
Jerry Maguire
Jersey Girl
Just Like Heaven
Just Married
Kate and Leopold
Keeping the Faith
Kissing Jessica Stein
Laws of Attraction
Leap Year
License to Wed
Little Black Book
Lot Like Love, A
Love Actually
Made of Honor
Maid in Manhattan
Mickey Blue Eyes
Moonstruck
Music and Lyrics
My Best Friend’s Wedding
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Mystic Pizza
Never Been Kissed
New in Town
No Reservations
Notting Hill
One Fine Day
Only the Lonely
Phat Girlz
Pretty Woman
Proposal, The
Return to Me
Roxanne
Runaway Bride, The
Serendipity
Shakespeare in Love
Sleepless in Seattle
Someone Like You
Something New
Something’s Gotta Give
Sweet Home Alabama
There’s Something About Mary
Tin Cup
Two Weeks Notice
Valentine’s Day
Wedding Date, The
Wedding Planner, The
Wedding Singer, The
What Women Want
When Harry Met Sally
When in Rome
While You Were Sleeping
Wimbledon
Working Girl
You’ve Got Mail

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A fun, lighthearted film that really, really, really made me want to eat. Not cook, mind you. Some would want to copy the co-main character, Julie Powell, on her quest to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking classic cookbook. I just wanted to eat my way through the movie. Aside from this film encouraging my foodie-ness, it is highly entertaining, though I must admit, I enjoyed Meryl Streep playing early Julia Child on an odyssey to to get a French cooking cookbook published in English MUCH more than the odyssey of Powell and her recipe crusade. Amy Adams as Powell is appealing, as Adams always is, but I had little interest in Powell’s saga. She cooks and blogs about cooking and talks about cooking and fights with her husband about cooking. It gets a little tiresome. The Julia Child parts, mostly set in Paris after WWII, are full of life and passion…just like Child herself. It is impossible to take your eyes off of Streep’s Child…not only is the characterization by Streep spot-on, but the storyline is also more vibrant and lively. We take a vested interest in Child and her cookbook quest, whereas with Powell, we honestly don’t care by the end. Fortunately, the Julia Child pieces of the film are so overwhelmingly funny and sweet, they make the film worth watching. And, it’s not that you will HATE the Powell storyline…you just won’t want to be best friends with her. With Child, you want to be her pal…to help her along with her cookbook…to talk with her…and especially, to EAT with her. And, I’m sure this has to do with both Child’s gregarious personality and also with Streep’s vivacious performance. All in all, an engaging, entertaining film that you most definitely should not watch on an empty stomach!

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