The 40-Year-Old Virgin (***¼)

Posted on August 9th, 2005 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

So, Steve Carell has just burst onto the scene as a new major Hollywood film star. We knew him from The Daily Show, where we found him to be…enh. He was okay, but when he left we didn’t miss him. We heard that he was starring in the US version of the British TV show “The Office”, but never saw an episode.

Then one day a couple of weeks ago while watching another movie we saw a trailer for “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”. It looked pretty funny and so it was on our radar as a possibility, but we’ve seen thousands of funny trailers for movies that sucked, so I wasn’t too sure we’d go see it. But over time we kept hearing good buzz about the film, and the trailers kept getting funnier. So today we decided to go see it, and, boy, am I glad we did.

The movie is hysterically funny, and also a bit touching and heartwarming. Carell plays Andy Stitzer, who is, well, a 40-year-old virgin whose workmates find out about his…intactfulness…and decide to “help” him lose it. One of the best characteristics of the film is that it doesn’t mock or deride Andy’s virginity, and actually shows it to be kind of noble. Oh, it sure pokes fun at him, but in a natural way that seems to fit the oddness of an actual 40 year old virgin male.
Carell plays the part with perfect pitch, and walks a fine line between disturbed, lonely electronics store worker and lonely, inexperienced yet still nice and normal electronics store worker. As his “friends” give him advice and try to get him hooked up with an assortment of…um…”available” young ladies, Andy instead becomes enamored of Trish, who runs a store near his workplace. Trish is played with refreshing reality by Catherine Keener. In a wonderfully un-Hollywood move, Keener and Carell actually appear to be about the same age, and the character of Trish has three kids (and one of those kids has a one year old of their own, making Trish a “hot grandma” in the opinion of all of the male characters). I’m sure somewhere there’s a Hollywood exec who is sure that the role should have gone to Lindsey Lohan (who is 20) instead, to grab that key (and imaginary) Won’t-Plop-Down-$10-To-See-Anyone-Over-30 demographic.

Rant Directed At Hollywood Execs:

We know you think that 15-25 year olds are your key demographic. However, what you are missing is the fact that the reason this is your key demographic is because, as a general rule, younger people are not discriminating movie-goers and so you can still count on them for a big opening weekend as long as you have the right “names” and a big marketing budget. To put it another way, you can sucker teens into watching a crappy movie as long as you “spin” it the right way, and that can be done purely with dollars. Making

The Dukes of Hazzard (**½)

Posted on August 6th, 2005 in Movie Reviews by mynagirl

Critical pans be damned. The Dukes of Hazzard was exactly the brainless, fun-loving, dorky, indulgent, hilarious, don’t-have-to-think-too-hard piece of cornball southern-fried guilty pleasure I was hoping it would be. After I couldn’t quit cracking up at the trailer, I knew I had to convince Engineerboy to take me opening weekend (he gamely obliged, sweetheart that he is). We’ve actually already seen it twice!

The movie is perfectly cast, the plot has good bones (but with some lazy writing in areas), and they went the absolute right direction with it in just makin’ it about what it is: hot rods and hillbilly silliness, and letting the cast shine at what they do best.

March of the Penguins (***)

Posted on August 5th, 2005 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

The March of the Penguins is an astonishing documentary that follows one reproductive cycle in the lives of the Emperor Penguins. As the long Antarctic night falls, the penguins jump out of the ocean and onto the ice, and proceed to walk, waddle, and belly slide to their ancient breeding ground, sometimes covering over 70 miles. Once there, the penguins then find a suitable mate and and proceed to remain monogamous, at least for the current season.
After several weeks their relationship produces, at most, one egg. During the entire gestation period the mother and father both remain in the breeding ground, which means they have nothing to eat the entire time, and the only liquid they get is the snow they eat. Once the egg is produced it is handed from mother to the father (they keep it on their feet with an insulating flap of fat to protect it from the cold). The mother then proceeds to walk/waddle/belly slide the ~70 miles back to open ocean to have her first meal in weeks. Meanwhile the fathers all huddle together cheeck by jowl, belly by belly, heads tucked, eggs protected, against the unrelentingly harsh winter storms, with winds of 100 MPH and temperatures of 30 below. All while having had nothing to eat since leaving the ocean.

The mothers eventually return, the couple spend a little time snuggling, and the fathers immediately had off the ~70 miles to get their first meal in months.

The couples continue this tag team for several rotations until the chicks are born. As the season progresses the weather warms, so the open ocean gets closer and the roundtrips get shorter. Once the chicks are born, the mothers return, the fathers spend a little time exchanging chirps with their offspring (imprinting both with each others distinctive voice), and head off to the ocean one last time. Before they return the mothers will also leave, leaving the maturing chicks behind on their own and dependent on the return of their fathers for sustenance and survival.

The documentary follows the entire cycle, and clearly shows the beauty and the harshness of life in Antarctica for the penguins. Be warned, however, that contrary to the trailers and the marketing of the film, and also contrary to what one might presume about the nature of this nature film (heartwarming chicks! crazy antics on the ice!, etc), this film is an unblinking recorder of both the successes and the failures of the cycle of life. And the failures are heartbreaking, harsh, cruel, and explicit.
If you are an animal lover you may find yourself unable to watch some of the more disturbing scenes. However, unlike the gratuitous violence of a Hollywood film, the psychotic violence of “sport hunters”, or the staged violence of a sporting event, this violence is totally natural and unsullied by outside interference. That makes it slightly less disturbing to watch, but not much.

I don’t think I’m

The Best Petsitter in the Houston Heights (or all of Houston, for that matter!)

Posted on August 1st, 2005 in Houston by mynagirl

Jenny Jurica, Pet Sitter

281 546-5941

We recently had the opportunity to take our I guess-it’s-gonna-be-annual cross-country road trip. While the two hounds got to romp the week away at Urban Tails, the kitties were gonna need some in-house attention. At that point, I sort of knew who Jenny was from an email she’d sent me months ago — she’d found our puppies’ web site and let me know about her petsitting service.

Boy am I glad she did… she was GREAT!! We’d used various petsitters in the past — all were competent but none made me feel like the cats were in true pet-lover hands like Jenny’s. When she came to our house for the meet-and-greet before we actually left, our dogs just went right up to her. Weagle the guard-dog Rottweiler didn’t even bark — I think that’s a first!! I think they could just tell she was an animal person. Our tabby Tigger — a lovebug once she gets to know you but pretty reserved with new people — also went right up to her within 45 seconds of her being in the house. Those are all pretty strong recommendations in my book.

And not only do the animals approve, but she gets my vote as well — she is SO organized! She had a “don’t forget” checklist for things to help make the petsitting experience better for your animals and for her (tell your alarm company you’ll be having a petsitter if needed, leave a radio on to a calming station to give the pets a sound of a human voice). She emailed me reports during our trip and left us a full printed report of our cats’ activities for when we returned. She even checked the Urban Tails’ web cam while we were gone and let us know how the dogs were doing!!

All in all she was GREAT and I’m so happy to have really found a petsitter I love. And I’m sure Scout, Bouncie, and Tigger can’t wait until she comes back to visit! I highly recommend her.