Apple of My Eye


Rated: PG | Running Time: 85 Minutes
From: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Available on DVD and Digital:  January 10, 2017
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Apple of My EyeI can guarantee that I am not the target audience for “Apple of My Eye,” most likely it being a tween girl and her mom watching kind of movie, and in no way can I ever relate to either as I don’t have kids, nor am I a mother, but I will say that “Apple of My Eye” is a cute movie with many flaws that I doubt any tween girl would care about.

Here are the basics of the story…

Bailey (Avery Arendes) is an equestrian, training for national competition, and she falls off her horse. She appears okay, but her sight starts to get worse. She tries to hide it, but eventually, thanks to not seeing some sprinkles on some ice cream, the truth starts to come out.

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Brad Paisley – Life Amplified World Tour: Live at WVU


Rated: Not Rated
From: City Drive Films
Available on DVD, CD:  December 23, 2016 | Airing on PBS: January 27, 2017
Get it via : Amazon

Brad PaisleyIn the world of musicians I’d like to see in concert, but just haven’t made the time when they came through the Chicago area, Brad Paisley is one of those guys. I love a great guitarist, I love a guy who writes great songs, and I like seeing country girls at concerts. Brad Paisley has them all, and so does his latest live concert DVD/CD combo, “Life Amplified World Tour: Live at WVU.”

Filmed at, well, West Virginia University, in front of 15,000 folks, Brad Paisley does what he does best, entertain. It’s a DVD/CD filled with performances of his greatest hits, as well as a great rendition of the John Denver classic “Take Me Home Country Roads,” sort of the West Virginia anthem.

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The Dressmaker


Rated: R | Running Time: 119 Minutes
From: Broad Green Pictures
Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, and VOD:  December 27, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

The DressmakerIn terms of some extra weirdness, “The Dressmaker” is right up there with the best of them, especially in the dark comedy genre. I mean, eventually most of the townsfolk women are walking around dressed in “designer” dresses, which wouldn’t seem that odd except it’s the 1950’s in a dirt-road, little town in Australia. Then there is the town Sergeant (Hugo Weaving), traipsing around in all of the flashiness of a matador at a bull fight. Clothes, however, aren’t really what brings Tilly (Kate Winslet in all of her sassiness) back to her hometown. Nope, she has to find out the truth about her past, a past that tarnished her reputation and left her as the town pariah.

As it is Tilly returns to town with a flash, at the rugby game, dressed to the nines which thoroughly distracts the rugby dudes. Enter Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), one of the team members, who tells Tilly she is distracting everyone causing Tilly to change outfits to something even more distracting.

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Greater


Rated: PG | Running Time: 130 Minutes
From: Well Go USA Entertainment
Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Platforms:  December 20, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Greater on DVDI will not lie – at the end of “Greater” i got a little weepy. The thing is it wasn’t really “sad” weepy, it was more of “what a great life, even if it seemed too short” weepy.

Yes, I will come right out of the gate and let you know Brandon Burlsworth died.

It’s not really a spoiler, I mean, if you do any quick Google search about him it’s right out there, but I had no idea. The press release didn’t mention it, the DVD case didn’t mention it, but instantly, as the movie opens with a stone slab for a tombstone my first thought, followed by Google confirmation was “Crap, he dies? So much for an uplifting movie.” But it is, even with his death.

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Chicken People


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 83 Minutes
From:Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Samuel Goldwyn Films and CMT
Available on DVD and Digital Platforms:  November 22, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Chicken PeopleThis is what I call a “Who knew?” documentary? Who knew there were so many kinds of chickens? Who knew there was a National Poultry Show? Who knew there was a Standard of Perfection, a book that details the perfect chicken? Who knew you could be an engineer and systematically breed chickens to try to produce a champion? And yes, who knew there was an Ohio National Poultry Show, the chicken equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show?

The chicken people do.

“Chicken People” is a documentary following the lives of three people over the course of about a year, and their quest to raise a perfect chicken, at least as rated by the Standard of Perfection, and win the National Poultry Show. Yes, that means that they have the best of 9,700 birds entered in the competition. And yes, that’s right, 9,700 birds are entered, one will win.

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Uncle Nick


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 81 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Online:  November 1, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Uncle NickI guess I was at that age when I was old enough to like baseball, but too young for my parents to explain to me what happened at the Ten Cent Beer game, a legendary debacle of fan sportsmanship resulting in a bunch of drunk, unruly fans ruining a lovely day at the ballpark for those who just wanted to see a ballgame.

Who knew you could build a Christmas movie around the progression of events at the Ten Cent Beer Game, but the folks of “Uncle Nick” did a pretty good job.

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The Dark Horse


Rated: R | Running Time: 124 Minutes
From: Broadgreen Pictures
Available on DVD, Digital HD, and VOD:  July 12, 2016
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Sometimes all you need to find is that purpose in life to overcome your personal challenges. Genesis Potini did just that. “The Dark Horse” tells that story.

Based on the true story, “The Dark Horse” weaves the history of Genesis Potini (in the movie played wonderfully by Cliff Curtis), a chess champion in New Zealand battling with mental illness who discovers his passion in teaching others the glory of chess, and in doing so is able to calm many of the demons in his head.

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Back in the Day


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 121 Minutes
From: Virgil Films
Available on Blu-ray and DVD: June 28, 2016
Get it via: Amazon | iTunes

Anthony (William Demeo) does it, he finally wins the boxing championship, and his life is now complete. What to do now? Anthony sits down with Larry Merchant (played by Larry Merchant) to tell his life story. His life story is “Back in the Day,” a fictional boxing movie like many others, mixed with overblown mafia stereotypes.

Well, crap, I could give you the story, but that’s really about it, and that’s too bad.

I guess I’ll expand a bit…

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Bachelor Games


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 87 Minutes
From: Gravitas Ventures / Strike Films
Available on Digital Platforms July 8, 2016

The publicity material for “Bachelor Games” touted the movie as a horror-comedy. I understand the horror part, sort of, but I’m still waiting on the funny.

Let’s get to the basics…

A bunch of dudes get together for a bachelor party. Sounds like a fun time, right? Where are they headed? Vegas? The Bahamas? No, our group is heading to the Andes mountains in Argentina. Yup, they are on their way to a secluded town where they do some drinking, some drugs, and there is even a stripper. There is also local lore about “The Hunter” who protects the land. What are our boys going to do? Go hiking in the land of course!

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The Family Stone


Rated: PG-13 | Running Time: 100 Minutes
From: 20th Century Fox
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

I hate when a movie has potential to, well, not really be a classic, but at least one that I would probably sit down and watch when it comes on cable (lately I’m hooked on “The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause” and I’m embarrassed to admit that), and “The Family Stone” had that potential until it decided to put in an all-too-easy, sentimental, sub-plot, that the movie didn’t need, a sub-plot I don’t want to have to relive at Christmas-time. I’ll try not to reveal this sub-plot, nor the other obvious plot twist that is supposed to surprise you, but here we go…

Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) is in love with Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), and of course it’s the time of the year, Christmas-time, when boy must bring girlfriend to meet his parents and family, and what a more awkward time to do it than at said Christmas-time, especially when your family is slightly dysfunctional, even though you probably don’t realize it. And it’s even worse when your dysfunctional family doesn’t really like your girlfriend, based on an earlier dinner when your sister, Amy (Rachel McAdams), met up with the two of you, and now they fear that you want to ask her to marry you. Such is the problem facing Everett and Meredith. Now, Meredith, is your atypical, big city, career driven kind of woman, perfectly clothed, with tight hair and stuck to her cell phone. Everett seems just kind of lost, yet still supposedly in love. Anyway, Meredith arrives and it’s pretty much Amy’s job to make her feel as lousy as she can, and Meredith is so miserable that she ends up staying at the local inn instead of at the Stone household, and calls her sister, Julie (Claire Danes), to help her save her reputation with the family. Julie arrives, there is a highly uncomfortable Christmas Eve dinner, and all of our cast of characters, also including Mom Stone (Diane Keaton), Dad Stone (Craig T. Nelson), Ben Stone (Luke Wilson), and Thad Stone (Ty Giordano), all have revelations that would change their lives through the next year.

Alright, that’s a pretty crappy synopsis of a movie that at it’s core is a fun look at a wacky family and a girlfriend who really doesn’t fit, although she really does, just not knowing it yet. There’s some seriousness (Mom doesn’t want to give son her Mom’s wedding ring, even though she promised she would if said son found the woman of his dreams), some odd-ballness (Ben is pretty great), some funny-ness (Meredith’s breakdown on Christmas morning gave me one of the biggest laughs I’ve had at a movie in a while), and the typical family-ness (in the end, it’s Christmas, a time for family, and a time for all to get along). But what I didn’t need, want, or want to have to see again, is the sub-plot, that although is a sub-plot everyone will have to go through at a Christmas (not exactly like this sub-plot, but the same concept) or Holiday, I don’t want an entertaining Christmas comedy with a nice hint of drama to make me have to relive every time I see it. I know that might not make sense if you don’t see the movie, but as I just re-read this review so far, nothing really makes sense.

Look, the movie is entertaining, and as much as I’ve been reading bashing of Sarah Jessica Parker’s portrayal of Meredith, I thought she did a pretty good job going from the hoity-toity New York City girl, to the girl who really has a sentimental side, to the girl who just needed some rubbing from Ben to let her freak-flag fly. Luke Wilson was fantastic as the stoner-type brother who always seems to be filled with stoner wits of clarity, and Diane Keaton was just fine as the overly protective mother, who didn’t need to be burdened with the extra story she had. I’ve always been in love with Claire Danes, so she can do no wrong in my eyes, and Rachel McAdams was utterly perfect, especially when she uttered the words “Of course you do,” and then walked away. All that said, dropping the totally sentimental, unnecessary sub-plot, I’d have given this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. With that part in it, I’m dropping this rating to 2 ½ stars out of 5. It did have one of the biggest laughs I’ve had in a while, but for goodness sake, don’t make the tear-jerking so easy.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!