Movie and Music Reviews

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Mr. Holmes

By Jill - AV   |  November 27, 2015

Mr. Holmes portrays the famous detective (Sir Ian McKellen) as an elderly man who has retired to a country estate where he keeps bees and is watched over by a housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker). Holmes’ powers of deduction are still sharp, but his memory is quickly failing. This loss and haunting memories of his final case have spurred him to try writing his own version of the case, rather than relying on the fictionalized story written many years before by Doctor Watson. Aided by the curious and clever Roger, Holmes attempts to recall the truth while simultaneously solving the mystery of his dying bees. The movie beautifully blends scenes of the present day - 1947 on the English coast - with flashbacks to London thirty years earlier. McKellen gives a brilliant performance in both timelines and the young Parker is a worthy sidekick. I particularly enjoyed a brief cameo by Nicholas Rowe who played the great detective as a teenager in The Young Sherlock Holmes. The last time McKellen starred in a film directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) both men were nominated for Oscars. It could happen again. Overall Rating: B+


By Pam - AV   |  November 20, 2015

Max is a highly trained military dog whose handler Kyle Wincott was killed during a nasty firefight in Afghanistan. Max is so traumatized by the event that he won’t let anyone near him--except Justin, Kyle’s younger brother. The Wilcotts find out that if they don’t take Max in, he will be put down. There are several scenes throughout the movie that will have you reaching for some tissues. An especially emotional event at the beginning of the movie happens when two Marines and Max come to pay their respects at Kyle’s funeral. The last part of the movie is action packed. Some of the situations that the teens and Max get out of are unbelievable. The dog on dog combat scenes had me on the edge of my seat. Even though the movie was predictable at times, it was still enjoyable to watch. Overall Rating: B

Inside Out

By Amy - AV   |  November 13, 2015

Pixar’s newest animated film is Inside Out, an intelligent and moving story about a young girl, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and her emotional journey as she deals with a traumatic move to a new city. The movie’s other characters are Riley’s emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler); Sadness (Phyllis Smith); Fear (Bill Hader); Anger (Lewis Black); and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). These emotions run “Headquarters”, the place in all of us where our feelings guide us. At first, Joy tries to keep things positive and works hard to keep the other emotions in check while Riley adjusts to her new home, but soon Sadness gets involved, and a wild adventure through the inner workings of Riley’s mind begins. Although the many psychological references may go over young children’s heads, the film is an accurate metaphor that thoughtfully explains how emotions work in a way children can understand. There are a few painful moments to watch, but those scenes really convey the message that it’s okay to express your feelings, even your sad feelings. This is a great family movie that opens up many opportunities for discussion. It is very entertaining, and I predict it will become an all-time favorite of many. Overall Rating: A+


By Angie - AV   |  November 6, 2015

Rusty Griswold (played by Ed Helms) returns in an all new comedy about a dysfunctional vacation featuring a new generation of the Griswold family. Rusty is all grown up and has a family of his own now – wife Debbie (played by Christina Applegate) and 2 sons, James and Kevin. The family is stuck in a rut, so as they are planning an upcoming vacation, Rusty takes it upon himself to plan a new adventure for them, by recreating a vacation from his past – the infamous trip to Walley World. If you are familiar with the Griswold family, you have come to realize that nothing they attempt to do ever happens easily – wild and crazy antics seem to follow this family everywhere they go! All this being said, I was not impressed with this re-creation of the classic movie. The nostalgia behind the film made me hope for something better, but unfortunately I did not find this version nearly as entertaining or funny as the original. I also was disappointed that Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) wasn’t a more prominent character in this movie. He is the head of the beloved Griswold family after all! Unlike its predecessor which has become a classic, I don’t feel this movie is worth watching again. Overall Rating: C

San Andreas

By Melinda - AV   |  October 30, 2015

San Andreas is one of the best action-packed American Disaster movies of all time. From the opening scene to the ending scene, I was on the edge of my seat anticipating what was going to happen next! Dwayne Johnson sets off a remarkable performance portraying Ray Gaines, a LAFD search and rescue helicopter pilot that is in the midst of a divorce with Emma, his estranged wife (Carla Gugino). As Ray (Dwayne Johnson) sets out to go on a trip with his daughter (Alexandra Daddario) to San Francisco, the plans slightly change and she goes on ahead of him. He does not foresee that the largest earthquake recorded in history is on its way to cause massive destruction from Los Angeles to San Francisco! With this being said, Ray ends up using his LAFD expertise to bring his estranged wife and daughter back to him safe and sound no matter what the cost! If you love Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson like I do, and thriller, action-packed movies that keep you on the edge of your seat, well this is a great choice for you too! Overall Rating: A

The Flash - The Complete First Season

By Darla - AV   |  October 23, 2015

The Flash stars Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, a 21st Century, Central City, forensic scientist who witnessed his mother’s death as a child. Barry’s father was incarcerated for his wife’s death, and Barry strives to find his mother’s killer. After exposure to a blast from Dr. Harrison Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) laboratory, Barry becomes the fastest man alive. Afterwards, Barry uses his powers to fight crime as Central City becomes overrun with villainous, super-powered humans. This captivating DC Comic book film is fast-paced and includes several characters from the larger DC Universe. Overall Rating: A+

Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves

By Jill - AV   |  October 16, 2015

The 2013 album Same Trailer, Different Park won two Grammy awards and introduced Musgraves to the world as a new kind of singer-songwriter who uses traditional instruments and smaller arrangements while tackling subjects not often found in country music. On this new album, Kacey Musgraves is still intent on exposing the realities of life in a southern small town, while she champions the idea that each of us has to follow our own path in order to be truly happy. Whether she is poking fun at her lack of skill as a pageant girl (“It ain’t that I don’t care about world peace, but I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage”) or writing a love song to her hometown (“You can take me out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of me”), Musgraves paints a clear picture of real life in small town America, and bucks the current trend of “bro country”. She dismisses the good old boys network of Nashville by singing “Another gear in a big machine, don’t sound like fun to me. I don’t wanna be part of the good ole boys’ club” which many see as a dig directed toward Taylor Swift’s Big Machine production company. It seems fitting that Musgraves ends the album with a duet with another unique country artist- Willie Nelson- that updates Willie’s song Are You Sure. She has a fresh voice that breathes new life into the country genre. Overall Rating: A

What We Do In The Shadows

By Allison - AV   |  October 9, 2015

What We Do in the Shadows is a fictional documentary that gives viewers a glimpse into the lives of Vlad, Viago, Deacon, Nick, and Petyr, five vampires living in the same flat in New Zealand. Despite the fact that they are creatures of the night, the quintet of vampires is surprisingly easy to relate to: They fight over chores, fret over what to wear, and enjoy visiting nightclubs. These common experiences become humorous, however, as the vampires explain how hard it is to get blood stains out of the couch cushions, to plan outfits without a reflection, and to attend parties when they can’t enter a building unless they are invited in first. The humor continues throughout the film, and I found both my husband and myself laughing out loud at various parts. Although none of the actors have many lead roles under their belts, each portrayed his assigned character wonderfully, and, I admit, I was a bit saddened when one of them met his demise. Even though it is more of a comedy than a horror flick, What We Do in the Shadows is perfect for the Halloween season. Overall Rating: A-

Cinderella (2015)

By Pam - AV   |  October 2, 2015

From lavish costumes to elaborate sets, Sir Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Cinderella is quite magical. The film begins by introducing us to a very young Ella and her loving parents. Unfortunately, her mother becomes ill unexpectedly, and on her death bed she tells Ella to “have courage and be kind.” After a few years, her father decides to marry again. Enter the wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters. Cate Blanchette gives a top-notch performance as the wicked stepmother. I found myself disliking the character more and more as the movie progressed. Lily James is marvelous as Ella as she portrays a kind young woman, without being sugary. Richard Madden is dashing as the handsome Prince, and he and Ella share a fascinating chemistry. In addition, Helena Bonham Carter is delightful as Ella’s Fairy Godmother. The special effects used during the transformation of the pumpkin to a carriage, mice into horses, and lizards into footmen were incredible. This live action Cinderella is a treasure to be enjoyed by all ages. Overall Rating: A+

Planet Ant

By Amy - AV   |  September 25, 2015

A documentary about leaf cutting ants may not sound very interesting, but the BBC’s Planet Ant turned out to be an absolutely fascinating learning experience. Two scientists, entomologist George McGavin and leaf cutter expert Professor Adam Hart, team up to transport a colony of ants from Trinidad to a man-made habitat in Glasgow, Scotland. The habitat is similar to their own very large colony, with many chambers and caverns; however, this world is made of glass and allows for unprecedented views into the daily life of this very complex society. This film offers up-close observations of these tiny creatures and, through the use of time-lapse cameras, microphones, microscopes, and radio tracking technology, allows the viewer to get a better understanding of how these societies function. It is astonishing to realize that these creatures communicate, have a caste system, are farmers, and solve complicated mathematical problems. The cinematography is incredible, but if looking at ants and other bugs bothers you, then you may want to think twice about this one! I personally got over my squeamishness early in the film and quickly became very interested. This documentary makes you realize that humans are not the only civilized society on this planet. Overall Rating: A+

Where Hope Grows

By Angie - AV   |  September 18, 2015

Where Hope Grows is an inspirational drama starring David DeSanctis as “Produce”, a young man with Down syndrome who works in the produce department at a local grocery store, and Kristoffer Polaha as Calvin Campbell, a former professional baseball player who is struggling to find his place in life. Calvin and Produce develop a friendship after meeting at the grocery store, and along the way, Calvin is reminded of the important things in life, including hope and faith. I thought this was a heartwarming, family-friendly movie with the underlying theme that hope can be found in the most unexpected places. The storyline was endearing, and for those not typically fans of the inspirational genre of movies, the religious message in this particular film is more subtle than most, with the plot focusing on overcoming hardships in your life versus trying to “preach” at the audience. This film is a pioneer in its own right by casting a young man with Down syndrome in a lead role, and raising awareness to #StopTheRWord. Overall Rating: B+

The Age of Adaline

By Melinda - AV   |  September 11, 2015

The Age of Adaline is a romantic drama about a woman named Adaline Bowman (played by Blake Lively) who amazingly remains the age of 29 years old for close to almost eight decades. Adaline Bowman has mostly had to live a lonely, mysterious life to keep her secret from everyone that she meets and gets close to due to the consequences that her timeless youth may cause. Adaline’s plan has seemed to work until she meets a handsome, charming, philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) that rekindles her love interest and passion to live again. As their romance begins to spark, they decide to take a weekend getaway together to meet Ellis’s parents and this encounter reawakens her past and leads to questions that may divulge the truth and can change Adaline’s life forever. The ending of the movie may appear somewhat predictable, but if you love romantic, nostalgic, heart-warming movies, like I do, then this movie is a great choice for you too! Overall Rating A-

The Last Ship - The Complete First Season

By Darla - AV   |  September 4, 2015

The television show, The Last Ship, based on William Brinkley’s well-received novel, kept me on the edge of my seat. Eric Dane stars as Commander Chandler who heads the Navy Destroyer, USS Nathan James, through troubled waters, after humankind experiences a deadly pandemic. Doctor Scott, portrayed by Rhona Mitra, is a virologist on board who attempts to develop an antidote, to save humankind from the devastating virus. Watch for some great moments, when alpha Captain Chandler sounds amazingly similar to John Wayne. Although, the fact that the 316 sailors at sea for four months, with modern technology, did not know about the deadly pandemic is a major flaw, the rest of the drama was so entertaining that I could move on and enjoy the compelling drama. Overall Rating: A-

The Royals - The Complete First Season

By Jill - AV   |  August 28, 2015

The Royals is the first scripted series produced by E! Television, the station that gives you the latest news about celebrity scandals and the continuing adventures of the Kardashians. It seems fitting then that this new series about a fictional British royal family is filled with characters who lie, drink, hook up with strangers, do drugs, plot murders, blackmail each other and the servants, and generally carry on like rock stars who can’t quite escape being caught on film as they misbehave. The queen (Elizabeth Hurley) and her younger children (William Moseley and Alexandra Park) are such a disappointment to the king (Vincent Regan), that he asks Parliament to dissolve the monarchy after the sudden death of his older son. King Simon is trying to save his family, but he throws their entire lives into chaos, and the queen aided by the king’s evil brother (Jake Maskall) plot to keep their royal lifestyle intact. This series combine camp and over-the-top drama for a fun roller-coaster ride of a show. Elizabeth Hurley is brilliant as the scheming queen and the casting of Joan Collins as her equally ambitious mother is the cherry on top of this royal sundae. Overall Rating: B

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

By Allison - AV   |  August 21, 2015

Before sitting down to watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, featuring Kevin James in the lead role, a friend said to me, “Hopefully, this is a good, old-fashioned, funny movie.” When the same friend leaned over later and whispered “Only 15 more minutes left!”, I realized I wasn’t the only person who felt a little let down by the film. Throughout the movie, James’ character could only be described as “over the top”. Every action and interaction was exaggerated to be funny, which actually made it less funny and more annoying. The storyline was too coincidental for my tastes (What are the chances that art thieves would be at the same casino at the same time as a Security Officers convention?) and there were enough gaps and inconsistencies to make me wonder how much the producers were really paying attention as the film came together. However, in spite of it all, the film did have underlying themes of loyalty and the importance of family, and the thoroughly PG humor would probably appeal to pre-teens. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 isn’t necessarily a movie I would recommend, but it might be a good choice for a family pizza night. Overall Rating: C-

5 Flights Up

By Pam - AV   |  August 14, 2015

Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton play Alex and Ruth Carver, an elderly couple who have decided at the urging of their niece, Lily (Cynthia Nixon), a real estate agent to list their apartment and move to another location with an elevator. Through the use of flashbacks, viewers get a look at life events that have shaped Alex and Ruth’s relationship. Claire van der Boom and Korey Jackson deliver a solid performance portraying a young Ruth and Alex. The chemistry between Freeman and Keaton is superb. Cynthia Nixon’s character, Lily is annoying as are many of the people who come through their open house. Zoe, a young girl whose mother drags her to all of the open houses in the area is played by Sterling Jerins and is the one bright spot in the parade of people. I expected more from a movie starring Freeman and Keaton, and was disappointed by the slow movement of the film. Overall Rating: C


By Amy - AV   |  August 7, 2015

Home, the newest animated feature from DreamWorks Entertainment, is an adventure tale about a lovable misfit alien named Oh, (Jim Parsons) and his friendship with the lonely and courageous Tip, (Rihanna). Oh finds himself on the run from his own people, the Boovs, purple aliens who have taken over the Earth, while Tip, who managed to escape the invasion, is desperately trying to find her mother, Lucy, (Jennifer Lopez). The Boovs are led by the arrogant Captain Smek, (Steve Martin), who thinks the best way to solve any problem is to run away! The Gorgs, the aliens the Boovs are hiding from, are now threatening the Earth and only Oh can save the planet from destruction. The movie includes great music and teaches important lessons about loyalty, family, and being yourself. Kids will enjoy it, but I didn’t feel it was the kind of film that would draw in adults. Jim Parsons is great as Oh, his character is a lot like his portrayal of Sheldon Cooper but sweeter, and the character of Tip is refreshing, as she is much more realistic than your average animated heroin. All in all, it’s a fun family movie, not really memorable, but worth bringing home for the kids. Overall Rating: B


By Angie - AV   |  July 31, 2015

’71 stars Jack O’Connell as young British soldier Gary Hook who is accidentally abandoned by his unit during some intense, violent riots in Belfast in 1971. The movie takes place over the course of one night as you follow the soldier’s journey alone through the streets of Belfast, trying to figure out who he can trust – who is friend versus enemy, even among his so-called comrades. This action-thriller is intense at times, and depicts the real struggle between the Catholic and Protestant forces in Northern Ireland during a very troubled period in their history. (The storyline never picks a side though – it just shows the devastation caused when 2 groups are at war within the same town.) The movie can be a bit confusing at times though, as you try to keep characters straight and you yourself try to figure out who Hook’s friends and foes are. I would also recommend watching this with the subtitles turned on, as the dialogue can be difficult to understand at times. Overall Rating: B

Project Almanac

By Melinda - AV   |  July 24, 2015

This sci-fi, thriller stars Jonny Weston who plays David Raskin, a high school senior who loves science and whose dream is to attend MIT. As he awaits for his dream to un-fold, David comes across an odd instance that he can’t explain from an old video camera in his attic. While trying to make sense of all this, him and his friends discover in his basement the blueprints to a secret time machine that his late father had been constructing but did not get a chance to complete. David and his friends have this genius idea to finish what David’s father had started. As the group begins to experiment with this mysterious time machine that they believe is amazingly going to change their pasts for the better, it inadvertently ends up making them fear the future. If you enjoy sci-fi, action, suspense, and romance this is a great movie to see! Overall Rating: B

Black or White

By Darla - AV   |  July 17, 2015

In this provocative film, Kevin Costner stars as Elliot - a white, Los Angeles, maternal grandfather and recent widower - embroiled in a custody battle with a black, paternal grandmother, Rowena - played by Octavia Spencer - over his charming granddaughter that he has raised from birth. In the custody hearings, the granddaughter Eloise’s (Jillian Estell) opposing family members conspire to viciously air each other’s dirty laundry. Alcohol abuse, substance abuse, class differences, and stereotypes of people are brought to the limelight, both inside and outside the courtroom; not a soul comes out smelling like roses. Key family members face off, hours before the family court judge’s final decision. The early events in the movie were realistic; however, the ending was Hollywood.Overall Rating: B-

Seventh Son

By Jill - AV   |  July 10, 2015

A century after she was imprisoned by the witch hunter Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges), the evil Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) has regained her powers thanks to the rising Blood Moon. When she kills his apprentice, Gregory must begin training Tom (Ben Barnes), a farm boy, who has inherited certain powers as the seventh son of a seventh son. Together they will have to defeat not only a coven of shape-shifting witches who follow Malkin, but her half-human niece, Alice, who has fallen in love with Tom. This film has some great visual effects and gorgeous costumes, but the story, loosely based on a young adult book series, is rather predictable and flat. It’s still worth watching for the campy performance of Oscar winner Moore as Malkin, but her reunion with Bridges, her Big Lebowski co-star, is spoiled by his ridiculous accent (think drunken Gandalf with a mouthful of marbles).Overall grade: B-

Get Hard

By Allison - AV   |  July 3, 2015

I thought that Get Hard, a prison comedy starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell, looked like a funny movie, but all of my good humor was lost very early in the film. From the onset, I didn’t appreciate the sex, stereotyping, and various racist and homophobic remarks that the film seemed to showcase and, because the storyline was predictable, I found myself losing interest as the movie progressed. Throughout the film, Hart and Ferrell tried too hard to be funny, and I was disappointed to note that many of the funniest parts were shown in the two official trailers. In an effort to find a redeeming feature of the film, I searched the internet for someone with a higher opinion of Get Hard, but, somewhat unsurprisingly, I was unable to find anyone with a positive opinion of the movie’s content. All-in-all, I’m sure there is an audience for this film, but I’m glad I didn’t waste my money to see it in theaters. Overall Rating: D

McFarland, USA

By Pam - AV   |  June 26, 2015

Kevin Costner and cast do not disappoint in McFarland USA, a movie based on a true story about Jim White (Kevin Costner) a high school teacher & coach who takes a job at a predominately Latino high school in McFarland, CA. Hired as a PE teacher and Assistant Football Coach, he soon realizes the football team won’t amount to much, but sees potential in a handful of students who can run like the wind. One of the challenges facing Coach White is how to reach his students and their families. His wife and daughters face their own challenge in adjusting to life in a town where one of his daughters asks on moving day, “Are we in Mexico?” One of my favorite scenes in the movie takes place at the starting line of an invitational meet, when one of the competitors said to McFarland’s top runner Thomas, “Nice shorts Dude”. Thomas replied, “You play golf?” Competitor said, “Yes” to which Thomas replied, “This ain’t golf!” Be sure to watch the bonus features where Kevin Costner is joined by Coach Jim White and the men who were part of the first McFarland Cross Country Team. Overall Rating: A+

Kingsman: The Secret Service

By Amy - AV   |  June 19, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service is an action-packed spy thriller based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar, which stars Colin Firth as Galahad/Harry and Taron Egerton as Eggsy as part of an all-star cast that also includes Michael Cain, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mark Hamill. The movie is about a super-secret gentleman's spy organization and it's recruitment of a young delinquent who, along with the other characters, must foil the plot of the evil Richmond Valentine (Jackson) and save the world. This movie had a lot of potential and I was very excited to see it, thinking it would be similar to a James Bond film, but with Colin Firth's cool demeanor and dark humor, but I was actually quite disappointed because the film played more like an ultra-violent, unrealistic video game. I will say the movie is laugh-out-loud funny at times and I really enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson as the villain, but it is definitely not family-friendly due to the over-the-top violence and very strong language. This is one of those movies that's really a matter of personal taste; it was entertaining enough, but I was not wowed. Overall Rating: C+


By Angie - AV   |  June 12, 2015

Focus, Will Smith’s latest feature film, centers around veteran con-man, Nicky, and his female counterpart, Jess (played by Margot Robbie) as they swindle their way through New Orleans and beyond. Although Smith plays in both comedies and dramas, Focus really encompasses the best of both worlds: I went back and forth between sitting on the edge of my seat and laughing out loud several times during the feature. I also enjoyed trying to figure out which characters were conning each other before the storyline gave it away! Throughout, the acting was fantastic, the costumes were beautiful, and the storyline was engaging, albeit a bit unbelievable at times. Certainly worth a second viewing, this film would appeal to anyone who enjoys a twisting plot and a good laugh. Overall Rating: A-

The Boy Next Door

By Melinda - AV   |  June 5, 2015

“The Boy Next Door” stars Jennifer Lopez who plays Claire Peterson, a lonely, separated, high-school English teacher that becomes intrigued by her handsome and charming new neighbor Noah (Ryan Guzman). Claire encourages Noah and her teenage son’s friendship, while she also engages in a harmless flirtation with Noah in the beginning. Well, one night, Claire and Noah’s harmless relationship spirals into a steamy, seductive affair, and Claire wakes up the next morning realizing that she has made a horrible mistake and wants to end her relationship with Noah, but unfortunately Noah does not see it her way. Noah then becomes obsessed with Claire and his obsession turns violent and escalates to destroying Claire’s life if it’s the last thing he does! All in all, I enjoyed this movie, despite a few over the top scenes, but, if you enjoy thrillers as much as I do, this film is for you. Overall Rating: B

Strange Magic

By Darla - AV   |  May 29, 2015

Strange Magic is a family, animated, musical film that takes place in a magical forest, full of singing fairies, all manner of goblins, affable elves, a rascally imp, and talking mushrooms. I expected the story line, penned by George Lucas to be solid, instead I found the plot simple, and was surprised instead to find this Glee-like motion picture to be one long karaoke, full of songs from the last several decades. Two fairy princesses, Marianne (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood), and Dawn (voiced by Meredith Anne Bull), have misadventures in their quest to discover true love in this film that is loosely based on Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." The kaleidoscopic animation detail is striking in one of the singing sequences. I recommend this film to the young at heart, to children, to lovers of fairies, and to musical fans; however, if you are looking for Shakespeare, you should skip this film. Overall Rating: C

The Rewrite

By Jill - AV   |  May 23, 2015

The Rewrite stars Hugh Grant as Keith Michaels, a one-hit wonder of a Hollywood screenwriter who reluctantly accepts a teaching position in New York when no one will hire him any longer in L.A. As soon as he arrives on campus, Mr. Michaels begins an inappropriate relationship with a student, gets drunk at a faculty party, and offends the resident Jane Austen expert and head of the ethics committee played by the brilliant Allison Janney. This role is a very familiar one for Hugh Grant – he seems to always play a loveable cad with a twinkle in his eye, and the audience knows that it will just take the affection of a good woman to redeem him. That woman, played here by Marisa Tomei, is a single mother who has gone back to school to rewrite her own story and that of her two daughters. The ending is a foregone conclusion as the script never offers more than a few very funny moments and no surprises, but the excellent cast (including a hilariously sentimental J.K. Simmons) saves the film from being truly awful.Overall Rating: C

Spare Parts (2015)

By Allison - AV   |  May 15, 2015

Based on a true story, Spare Parts describes the journey of four undocumented Mexican boys who, with the help of their substitute teacher (George Lopez), enter an underwater robotics competition. Despite overwhelming odds and an underwhelming budget, Oscar, Christian, Lorenzo, Luis, and “Stinky” (the robot) defeat the reigning champion MIT in this remarkable underdog story. Throughout the film, the boys are faced with numerous hardships, including the difficulties of attending a poverty-stricken high school, being part of families faced with the danger of deportation, and the issues that come from not having an American birth certificate. However, the film also highlights the themes of hope, teamwork, and the importance of doing your best, even if the odds are against you. Overall, Spare Parts was an exceptional, family-friendly film that I would recommend to viewers of all ages. (Also available at the library is Underwater Dreams, a documentary directed by Mary Mazzio that tells the real story of these boys who accomplish what no one thought was possible.) Overall Rating: A

Jekyll + Hyde by Zac Brown Band

By Pam - AV   |  May 8, 2015

My initial reaction to Zac Brown Band’s newest album Jekyll + Hyde was disappointment. The album is a showcase for what is clearly a versatile group of musicians; but going from the country sound of “Homegrown” to the big band sound of “Mango Tree” to the hard rock sound of “Heavy is the Head” was disconcerting. However “Beautiful Drug”, “Loving You Easy”, “Homegrown”, “Bittersweet” and “Tomorrow Never Comes (Acoustic version)” are a few favorites. Zac Brown Band always includes one song on an album that they didn’t write, and “Dress Blues” written by Jason Isbell about a young husband, father and Marine who was killed in the Middle East was their choice. There is something for everyone on this album, and perhaps after a few more listens, it will grow on me. Overall Rating: B-

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