by Keith Kilburn
I kept seeing the ads for this movie and the thing that went through my mind was, ‘I’m not sure who that guy getting hit with the exercise ball is, but I’ve got to see it on the big screen…’. I’m not a huge fan of Kevin James; I’ve seen him in episodes of ‘King of Queens’, but beyond that I’ve not been to impressed with him either as an actor or a comedian. I’m also not a fan of mixed martial arts, boxing or sports where people beat each other senseless. I’m not against them; they’re just not my thing. That being said, I was surprised at how much I truly enjoyed this movie.
The movie is about a slacker teacher played by Kevin James, who once upon a time used to be really good at what he did. Somewhere along the way he gave up and became resigned to the fact that life wasn’t what he wanted it to be. Enter the school music teacher (played by former Happy Days alumni Henry Winkler…) who discovers that his wife is pregnant with their second unexpected child just before finding out that the school is cutting the music program. When James comes to the defense of the beleaguered music teacher, he is told that if he can produce the forty-eight thousand dollars for the budget then the school can keep the music program. Add to the mix the saucy school nurse (played by Selma Hayek of Desperado fame…) who James is trying to romance while desperately trying to come up with some way to save the music program and you have the beginning of something good.
The turn into the realm of M.M.A. comes at the hands of character who James is teaching in an America citizenship class, it turns out the gentleman in question used to be an M.M.A. fighter back before he came to the states and Kevin James, after realizing that he could possibly win thousands of dollars just for losing, begs the fighter to train him. Between the would-be romance and the fighting the movie is funny, but also surprisingly engaging as he begins to realize how much he enjoys his job as a teacher and the interaction he has with his students. You can probably guess the ending, so I won’t spoil that for you.
I didn’t like the other Kevin James solo movie I saw, ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ as I can just imagine how the talk with the studio executives went for that movie. ‘It’s Diehard, but in a mall….’ This movie reminded me of ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’ (with Richard Dreyfuss of Jaws fame.) but only if Mr. Holland was being forced to get into the ring with Rocky every ten minutes. Even with that comparison I found myself moved by the writing, it’s not award winning by any stretch (surprisingly Kevin James wrote part of the movie too…) but it makes the movie relatable to the audience and enjoyable to watch. Kevin James pulls off the part well; Selma Hayek is enjoyable to watch in a part that allows her a fair amount of comedy despite not being known for that sort of roll. Henry Winkler steals the movie in my opinion; I can remember watching him as the ‘Fonz’ on television all those years ago and to see him, as old as he is still out there working is wonderful to behold.
In the end this is a movie you can take your kids to see, it’s a fun movie and one certainly worth taking the trip to your local theater to see on the big screen.
4 stars out of 5.
I had wanted to see Prometheus when it was in the theaters, but somehow I missed seeing it. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but as soon as it came out on DVD I bought the movie. Director Ridley Scott hasn’t directed a science fiction movie since ‘Blade Runner’ starring Harrison Ford back in 1982, for him to return to the genre after thirty years was a huge thing. His only other journey into science fiction was the movie ‘Alien’ in 1979, which relates directly to the movie Prometheus which serves as a prequel to the aforementioned film (there is also bonus material on the DVD that serves to link both movies to Blade Runner as well.) as the two movies are set in the same universe and thankfully ignore the previous attempts in various formats to tell the story Ridley Scott has finally returned to tell.
Prometheus deals with a group of scientists and industrialists who travel for two years from earth in cryo-stasis to search for the origins of the human race on a distant alien world. What they find there changes their outlooks on life, religion and their relationships with one another. The special effects combine both the practical hand built sets and make-up, there is some computer generated imagery, but it’s kept to a minimum to keep the viewer engaged in the movie. I don’t want to get to in depth into what does or doesn’t happen, but I can tell you the movie manages to do more for Science Fiction than the last three movies in the Star Wars series.
This is a beautifully filmed movie with sweeping vistas of exotic locations and while I have no idea where they found their locales, watching the scenes unfold on a television screen make me regret not having seen it back during the summer. There is also a wealth of bonus material on the DVD that tells the tale of how the movie was made as well as the background behind the deleted scenes, webisodes and nifty story bits. I can’t recommend the Blu-ray version nearly enough, if you have the means to sit down and enjoy this movie take the time, you won’t be disappointed.
5 Stars out of 5.