Top Five Movies That Made Me Laugh

The other day, I wrote about the top five movies that made me cry.

Since everyone could use a little levity right now, I thought I’d reverse that today and look at the top five movies that made me laugh.

1. My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Perhaps it was the context in which I saw this movie, but I NEARLY DIED LAUGHING.

We saw this film shortly after the birth of our second son. He was born in extraordinary circumstances while we were in Switzerland (we lived in Germany at the time).

My mother had just died, and one week later, the apartment had emptied of guests and visitors who had come for her funeral. It was just Chico, our Bug, my dad and me, and this tiny little newborn person.

We needed a good laugh. So one night, after putting our firstborn down to bed, my dad said, “Let’s watch My Cousin Vinny.”

Chico and I had never heard of this film, and my father was aghast. It turns out, it was the last film he and my mother watched together before she died, and they had both laughed so hard they had tears running down their cheeks.

So we watched it. And we laughed, and laughed, and laughed. I was dying. Marissa Tomei earned that Oscar in my books. (Her outfits! They killed me!) She was just delightful.

It’s a miracle our guffawing didn’t wake the sleeping toddler, much less the infant sleeping on my chest!

2. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Jamie Lee Curtis. John Cleese. Kevin Kline. Michael Palin.

If those names don’t mean anything to you, you have not seen comedy.

This movie has me gasping with laughter every single time I see it. It is still just as funny now as when I first saw it.

When Kevin Kline’s character realizes the safe they’ve robbed is empty, leans back on his heels raises his hands and says, “DisaPPOINTED” that way? Tears are running down my face.

3. The Full Monty (1997)

When six Sheffield former steel workers are desperate to make ends meet, they turn to striptease dancing to earn some money.

But they’re not just stripping down to thongs. Oh, no. They’re going for the “full monty.”

They’re not pretty, they’re not built like Magic Mike, but man are they funny.

What’s wonderful about this film is that it stays consistently hilarious, all the while dealing with some heavy themes like depression, suicide and broken families.

(PSA for people whose native language isn’t English or who struggle with unfamiliar accents: you might need to put the closed captioned subtitles on for this one.)

4. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Great music. Great actors (John Tuturo anyone??). Eminently quotable.

This was the first movie I saw with George Clooney in a comic role, and I loved him.

This one could also use the closed captioning subtitles. It’s so quick that a lot of the hilarious lines can be lost in the pace. The Coen brothers are geniuses, and this is probably my favorite of their comedies.

5. Death At A Funeral (2007)

Frank Oz’s ridiculous slapstick comedy doesn’t pull the punches right from the get-go.

In the opening scene, the undertakers arrive at the family home with the coffin. They place it in the living room and open the lid. The mourning son (played by Matthew Macfadyen) steps forward and looks down at the corpse in the coffin. There’s a pause. Then, with a totally straight face, he says, “That’s not my father.”

It’s a strong start.

Things only get more ridiculous from there. This movie has it all: blackmail, psychedelic drugs, poop jokes, nudity, grumpy old people, Peter Dinklage. And through it all, Matthew Macfadyen is so wonderfully bumbling, inept and hilarious.

You can see why I could never take him seriously as Mr. Darcy.

Honorable Mentions

We recently watched Knives Out, and that had both Chico and me laughing. Daniel Craig is surprisingly hilarious, despite his terrible excuse for a southern accent. And Jamie Lee Curtis. I love her.

Airplane! gets me laughing every time, even though I know it is SO STUPID. I just can’t help myself. And the black knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? You can’t tell me it doesn’t make you giggle.

Finally, any comedy movie list would be incomplete without at least mention of a Robin Williams film. The Birdcage never fails to slay me with its standout performances by Williams, the irrepressible Nathan Lane, Hank Azaria and Gene Hackman. I recently rewatched it on a flight and didn’t regret a moment of it.

Your Turn

What are the movies that set you giggling uncontrollably? Please share!

Top Five Movies That Made Me Cry

53. Tear-Jerker: Watch a movie that makes you cry. Write about that scene in the movie.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

Please Tell Me It’s Not Just Me…

But ever since having kids, I CRY LIKE A BABY in movies.

Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? It’s especially bad if it involves crying children, parents being separated from children, children losing parents, children getting lost, or anything in that vein.

Not that I’ve ever been particularly stoic when it comes to films. I was known to have a good cry at the movies even before having kids.

Here’s a list of the top five movies that made me cry.

1. Life is Beautiful

This is the first film I remember really breaking down and weeping in.

I saw it with my family in NYC when I was a teenager, and I remember going to the bathroom with my mother after the movie ended and helping her fix her mascara.

What’s wonderful about this movie is the combination of comedy and drama, which makes it all the more poignant.

2. Schindler’s List

I ugly cried during this film, it’s true. But that very fact annoys me.

See, I have this beef with Steven Spielberg. Yeah, the dude knows what he’s doing (he’s one of the world’s most successful film makers, after all), but he plays unabashedly on people’s emotions.

“How is that different from ‘Life is Beautiful,'” you ask? There is no subtlety to Spielberg. He whacks you over the head with his point, driving it home with a sledgehammer.

For example, as Liam Neeson playing Schindler weeps at the end of the film saying, “I could have saved more!” the discerning viewer already KNEW he felt that way! You didn’t have to state the obvious!

Okay, all that to say that I ugly cried in this film and still hate myself for it.

3. Of Mice and Men

I don’t know what was up with me when I saw this, but I just lost it. The friends I was watching it with thought they had scarred me for life.

It was in high school at a New England boarding school. My advisor, the dean of the school lived on campus and she would let students use her living room to study, have group meetings, or just hang out and watch TV.

“Of Mice and Men” was showing on TV. The awkward part is that the gun shots were edited out for the TV audience, so you had some guesswork to do to figure out exactly what was happening.

It was pretty obvious, though, and I cried like I’d never cried in a movie before.

4. Mary Poppins

You weren’t expecting this one, were you?? Yeah, I choke up each and every time I watch this movie. We own it on DVD and have a DVD player in the car. We’ve watched it three times in the last month on long car rides. I still get a lump in my throat every time.

Don’t ask me why. It’s the poignancy of it, I guess. That, and Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent.

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I know what you’re thinking, but wait! Don’t judge!

Chico and I sat down to watch this film shortly after our first son was born. At one point, James Franco’s character has to leave his incredibly intelligent chimp in an animal shelter, and walk away.

I was postpartum. I couldn’t handle it. Enough said.

A Couple Others for Good Measure:

6. Coco: You cannot tell me you didn’t cry at the beginning of this movie. YOU CANNOT HONESTLY TELL ME THAT.

7. Up: Ditto for this one. I mean, COME ON! They fall in love as children! They dream of traveling together! They lose the baby! They grow old together! She gets sick AND DIES! I was weeping.

There Are Probably More…

I have definitely cried or at least teared up in other films. But these are the big ones I remember.

Which movies always get you crying?

From “Robin Hood” to “Ivanhoe” to “Hamilton”

I forgot “Hamilton” was airing on Disney Plus tonight.

In my defence, I don’t follow musical theater much and I’m not overly familiar with the music from “Hamilton.” I have been curious to see it, and had planned to nab tickets when it came to the Kennedy Center in September.

Thanks to the coronavirus, that’s been postponed (coronavirus, you beeyatch!).

But back to my forgetfulness.

Tonight, in addition to forgetting I had a skype date with some girlfriends, I also forgot about the airing of “Hamilton.” In fact, instead of watching “Hamilton,” I was watching “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” starring Errol Flynn.

If that doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because this version of the legend came out in 1938.

Yes, 1938. Yes, I am an old woman.

An old white woman.

Ivahnoe

I once read that in antebellum America, the most popular novel in the northern states was Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It was a huge bestseller, and some argue its publication precipitated the conflict that became the Civil War.

In this same source (which I cannot currently remember, sorry!) I read that the most popular novel in the antebellum south was Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel, written by a black woman, which depicts the horrors of slavery and is the source of the name Jim Crow (as in racist Jim Crow laws).

Ivanhoe is a romance, set in medieval England, in which a Saxon knight fights for the liberation of Norman Richard the Lionheart, king of England, from captivity in Austria. It’s full of battles, witch trials, forbidden love, and features our friend Robin of Loxley (AKA Robin Hood).

I Grew Up with “Ivanhoe”

As a child, we had the 1952 film version on VHS. It starred Robert Taylor, Joan Fontaine and Elizabeth Taylor. It was romantic. It was glamorous and adventurous.

I watched it over and over again.

I have never seen a film version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (probably because there hasn’t been a Hollywood production of it since the silent film era, when white actors in blackface played the leading characters and danced in almost every scene).

Whitewashing Literature

I have never read Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Nor, in fact, have I read many novels by authors of color. I’ve read some hispanic authors, south Asian and middle eastern authors. But I’ve never read anything written by a black American author.

Is this racist?

Yup.

By reading predominantly novels written by white men and women, I am devaluing literature by people of color. I am also missing out on a large part of what reading is supposed to do for you: opening your eyes to different experiences.

What does this have to do with “Hamilton” and “Robin Hood”?

Just the fact that I forgot about the airing of “Hamilton” because I was watching an old movie starring nothing but white actors shows how well entrenched I am in my white world.

I’m not trying to draw parallels between “Hamilton” and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or even to belittle the quality of “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (it’s a fun, swashbuckling adventure!).

I’m just musing on how the choices we make (like which films to watch and which books to read) can keep us in our little white bubbles.

What To Do?

Branch out. That’s what I’m trying to do.

The book Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad has been helpful in opening my eyes to the extent of my own complicity in racism.

I recommend it as a starting place for anyone who really wants to know how we are complicit, and how to break the cycle.

Movie Night: Easy A – UPDATED

Chico left town on Saturday night, so I decided to make a movie night of it and watch Easy A starring Emma Stone.

I had low expectations of this teen film.  Though Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 85% on the Tomatometer, I was still somewhat skeptical.

Aside  from the horrible quality of the Netflix Canada streaming, I have to admit that I was delighted!  I found myself thoroughly enjoying Emma Stone’s sassy, smart attitude, the clever re-interpretation of a classic, and the way it gets people thinking about a very serious, à propos topic.

Easy A
Emma Stone is Olive Penderghast

First, a quick summary.  Olive Penderghast is not popular at her California high school.  One Friday, when trying to get out of going camping with her best friend that weekend, she makes up a story about having a date.  On Monday (after a weekend of dancing around on her own in her bedroom), her lie spins out of control when her friend mistakenly thinks she lost her virginity to the non-existent date.

Tired of trying to convince her friend otherwise, Olive goes with the lie, which is overheard by the ringleader of the school’s fundamentalist Christian crowd.  It spreads like wildfire, and when Olive agrees to help out a fellow sufferer of unpopularity by pretending to have sex with him, rumors abound that she is having sex for money.  As the lies spiral out of control, Olive is defined by her schoolmates by a falsehood, and finds herself starting to believe it.

Emma Stone is (or arguably “was” before Jennifer Lawrence hit the scene), Hollywood’s “it” girl.  She first caught my notice when she starred in The Help in 2011.  What I liked so much about her in Easy A is that she comes across as intelligent, sassy and quick-tongued (almost à la Gilmore Girls but not that annoying), but she still shows so well the contrast between thinking she’s so knowledgable while being completely clueless.

The film is loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, which, appropriately enough, Olive is studying in English class.  Like Hester Prynne, Olive is maligned as tales of her supposed promiscuity circulate around the school.  I thought the film successfully made the premise of a great work more accessible to a modern, young audience, much like other great teen versions of classics have done (10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless for example).

This film also brings to the fore an issue that is getting a lot of press lately.  The term “slut-shaming” came up in popular media only after Easy A came out.  It is used to describe the act of making a woman feel bad or guilty about her sexuality, and sometimes to describe the practice of blaming sexual assault on a woman’s clothing.  The term became popular after the SlutWalks which began in Toronto in 2011 following inappropriate comments from a Toronto police officer.

Rehtaeh Parsons
Rehtaeh Parsons’ heartbreaking story is in sad contrast to the happy conclusion of “Easy A.”

Recent events here in Canada, such as the suicides of teens Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd, demonstrate that slut-shaming (or whatever you want to call it) and bullying like those experienced by Olive in Easy A are huge problems.  Easy A was not a film to address these issues; it predates either of those sad stories.  For that reason, it paints what has become a very serious concern in a rosier, comedic light.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s not like the filmmakers could predict what was to come.

Easy A concludes with an important point.  Though rumors, gossip and (sadly) nasty bullying are accepted as part and parcel of high school life, that does not make these practices okay.  Olive Penderghast sparked the fire herself and remained largely in control of her situation.  However, in most cases acts that give girls such notoriety are not imagined, and are often documented, shared, transmitted and never forgotten (see an earlier post I wrote about how the internet never forgets).

So what is the conclusion of Easy A?  Without giving away too much of the story, I can tell you that one of Olive’s last lines is about potentially losing her virginity.  She says she doesn’t know when it will be, but, “the really amazing thing is: it’s nobody’s God-damned business.”

That’s easy to say, but for people to actually mind their own business (especially teenagers) is another thing entirely.  While Easy A may appeal to a teenage demographic, and one can hope the message gets through, more needs to be done to combat bullying.

If it’s an issue that has affected your home, or if the stories about the two teens I linked to above have touched you, find out how you can get involved in your community, and in your own family, to stop bullying.  Here in Montreal you can find resources and information at MontrealFamilies.ca.

In conclusion, Easy A is a great film because it’s cute, funny, poignant, and most importantly it gets you thinking.

***

Update: On TV this evening I saw an ad for a bullying awareness website.  You can find it here: Bullying Canada.

Movie Night: Ginger & Rosa

Yesterday, the girls and I were wondering what to do with our evening, as we were all three of us alone for the weekend.  We were browsing through the movies currently playing and weren’t too inspired, until I came across Ginger & Rosa, which got a promising 79% on Rotten Tomatoes (I do like to check the Tomatometer).  My curiosity was piqued and for lack of any other inspiration, we decided to make a movie night of Ginger & Rosa.

Ginger and Rosa

First, a brief synopsis: Ginger and Rosa are born on the same day in 1945 to mothers who are good friends.  Quick flashes forward show us that Rosa’s father soon abandons his family, and Ginger’s parents Natalie and Rolan, (played by Christina Hendricks and Alessandro Nivola) are not happy together.  Ginger and Rosa are inseparable, until Ginger’s interests begin to tend towards activism against the Cold War, and Rosa’s remain focused on boys, smoking, and more dangerously, Roland.  As Ginger becomes more and more convinced of the world’s imminent destruction, she becomes desperate to save the world and her broken family.  (Adapted from the Rotten Tomatoes synopsis.)

The whole movie is seen from Ginger’s (Elle Fanning) point of view.  She is in every single scene, and though she does not narrate, all events are presented from her perspective.  By shooting the film this way, director and writer Sally Potter successfully draws her audience into Ginger’s world and make her boredom, then curiosity, confusion, anger and sadness feel personal to the viewer.

Elle Fanning & Alice Englert
Ginger & Rosa are inseparable until their interests come between them.

The girls, especially Ginger as mentioned, are the focus of the story and the two young actresses deliver powerful performances.  They are also surrounded by an extraordinary cast of supporting characters, played by greats such as Oliver Platt, Annette Bening and Timothy Spall.  Not only do these three characters bring some small measure of stability and sanity to Ginger’s life, but the actors themselves help make Fanning’s acting shine by delivering excellent performances themselves.  The casting of this film is superb.

Ginger’s parents are, as parents would naturally be, a hugely important part of her life.  Though rebelling against her frustrated painter mother, and in awe of her free-thinking, romantic pacifist father, Ginger is in desperate need (as any teenager is) of their attention and support, which she simply isn’t getting.  Too engrossed in his selfish pursuit of independence and true love, Roland is blind to how his actions affect his family.  Miserable with her lot as a homemaker and the neglect of her husband, Natalie’s depression makes her incapable of being the mother Ginger needs.  The only stability and parental guidance Ginger gets is from Mark and Mark 2 (Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt), her two godfathers.  But even they know they cannot take the place of the mother and father.

Roland - Alessandro Nivola
Alessandro Nivola plays Roland, Ginger’s romantic, free-thinking pacifist father.

There isn’t much dialogue in the film, and it moves along slowly like a pot simmering over low heat, getting ready to boil so slowly that you hardly see it happening.  Throughout, there is a sense of tension and danger in each scene, leading towards a climax which you cannot predict how it will happen until it does.

While all this might sound horribly depressing (and yes, it’s true this film is not light and warm-hearted), the movie does not leave the audience entirely without hope.  Intelligent, observant and with a maturity which neither of her parents possesses, Ginger is able to draw conclusions from her experiences and make choices which prove her not entirely devoid of hope.

We are left at the end with uncertainty for her future, but assurance that Ginger understands the value of forgiveness, something which she has had to learn on her own.

This isn’t one of those powerful films which will send you home deep in thought or discussion, but it is an insightful film.  It shows us what it is to be a teenager again, and how much, though teens may deny it, we need guidance in our adolescent years.

game-of-thrones-season-4

Game of Thrones is Taking Over My Life

Second Update, April 6 2014

game-of-thrones-season-4

Season 4 is starting tonight and Chico and I don’t get HBO here in Canada. So we’re patiently waiting to be able to watch it by some other (TOTALLY LEGAL) means.

Please, please, pretty pleeeeeeeease, say nothing!

First Update, May 9 2013

I feel it necessary to inform you that the madness has only intensified.

A colleague offered to put all of seasons 1 and 2 on my external hard drive.  Chico went away on a long business trip, but when he got back we delved back into the world of Game of Thrones and polished off season 2 in short order.

Now we’re catching up on season 3, though we’re experiencing less of a sense of urgency this time.  We’re just as hooked as ever, but I suppose we have managed to discipline ourselves enough not to rush our viewings.  Pretty soon we’ll have caught up and we’ll have to wait a whole week for a new episode, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

In other news, this morning I dreamed about Game of Thrones again.  This time it also involved the blonde chick and dragons, but I was the blonde chick and I was threatening everyone with my dragons.  Sounds like something I would do.

Game of Thrones is Taking Over My Life

I can’t do anything.  I cannot blog, I cannot read, I cannot SLEEP.

I must watch “Game of Thrones”.

I have been sucked into the vortex of addiction to this TV series.  Chico and I had never seen it.  Then, in anticipation of the new season, ShowCase started showing it from the beginning of season one.

We didn’t get ShowCase, and in a move that sealed my fate, I went online and switched it for some useless channel we never watched.  It was showing at 10:00pm on Fridays (way past my bedtime) so I set it to record.

What.  A.  Mistake.

Game of Thrones Has Taken Over My Life
Yes, I already know. DON’T YOU SAY A WORD!!!

I invited Chico to watch with me, and pretty soon we were hooked.  For a few weeks, we watched the episodes as they aired, enjoying it but not feeling sucked in.

But then, one fateful night, we finished an episode (I cannot even remember which one now) and Chico said, “Shall we see if we can watch another episode online?”

That question was what led to our downfall, and I blame my Chico entirely.  He started fiddling around on the iPad and located the next episode.  It was already late, and I said, “We can start watching it but I need to go to sleep” (I really do need my beauty rest).

Bah!  Fat chance!  We watched the whole episode, of course!  By the time we finished it was past midnight and I don’t know about you folks but I REQUIRE a good solid 8 hours of sleep.

 

Game of Thrones Khal Drogo
That there is some serious eye makeup.

Since then, we have watched one episode per evening (it’s been three days), but that’s only because the links take forever to load on the iPad.

The other night, I HAD A DREAM ABOUT GAME OF THRONES.  It featured men in eyeliner riding horses and blondes and swords and dragons and perhaps more but I can’t be sure.  It was like the story continued in my sleep and I woke up muddled between what had actually happened in the series and what had happened in my dream.

The madness will only stop when I have seen all of seasons one and two, and somehow caught up on season three (we don’t get HBO… Yet…).

In the meantime: IF YOU SPOIL ANYTHING, I WILL CURSE YOU TO AN ETERNITY OF DIAL-UP INTERNET CONNECTION.

 

Twitter #Hashtag of the Week: #Oscars2013

It’s a little late coming, I know, but the #Hashtag of the week for February 18th through 25th has got to be (what else?) the #Oscars2013!!  Woo-hoo!!  Glamour!  Dresses!  Fashion!  Ridiculously good-looking people!  Awards for mediocre artistry!  Oh wait, no I was kidding about the last one.  To be fair, I have only seen four of the nine nominees for best picture and I never saw “Argo”, so I cannot comment on the winner.  One thing everyone can agree on after the #Oscars2013 is that Jennifer Lawrence has stolen our hearts.

Jennifer Lawrence with her parents
She went to the Oscars with her parents! What’s not to love?

There are many reasons to love Jennifer Lawrence post- #Oscars2013.  For one, she fell up the stairs as she went to collect her award.  Yes, it’s all over the internet, and it seems to be all that people are talking about.  But ladies, how many of us have done this?  Now let’s be honest.  My incident of falling up the stairs to the history building in college, sending my books scattering and my skirt flying over my head as the cute guy in class came up the stairs behind me might not have been on the same epic scale as falling at the Oscars, but I can imagine how she feels.  And I love her for how she owned it.

Another reason to love Jennifer Lawrence is her attitude about being famous.  It’s like she can’t believe this is all happening to her, and is unabashedly star-struck and in awe of the whole experience.  Her post-Oscars press conference is absolutely hilarious, as she answers some pretty silly questions with humility, humor and a great sense of timing.  When asked about “the process” for getting ready for the Oscars, she frankly answers: “I woke up, took a shower, tried on the dress and it fit, thank God, and then I got my hair and makeup done.”  That’s it, folks.  Just like the time you had your hair and makeup done for your cousin’s wedding.  Except, not.

But my all-time favorite J.Law (as the kids are calling her on Twitter) moment of the night was when Jack Nicholson approached her during a post-ceremony interview.  Despite the fact that Jack-Jack was clearly ogling her (creepy Uncle Jack, anyone?), she responded with hilarity and grace.  Her reaction is just what any of us would have: something to the effect of “HOLY CRAP, IS THAT JACK NICHOLSON??”  I would certainly have reacted the same way (okay, I would probably have fainted), and it made me so happy for Jennifer Lawrence to know that she is a regular girl like me, living the dream.

So my #Oscars2013 commentary has turned out to basically be a fan love letter to Jennifer Lawrence.  There were a few other choice moments (hungry on the red carpet).  While I would not have voted for her to win best actress for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook,” I will say: Well done, Ms Lawrence.  It will surely be a pleasure to follow your career (and daydream about swapping situations for a day–like for #Oscars2014).

Movie Night: Les Misérables

Last night Chico took me out on a date for dinner and a movie.  I love date nights!  We saw “Les Misérables” which I had wanted to see but never got to.

Les MisérablesBefore I go any further, I will say that those of us who know and love the stage version of Les Mis will only be able to fully enjoy this film if we check our musical expectations at the door.  That said, the acting was fine, the film was visually stunning, my biggest disappointment was Hugh Jackman, and my greatest delight was Anne Hathaway.

First, the negatives: I’ve always been a fan of Russel Crowe, especially since “Master and Commander” (he makes ruffles look SEXY!).  But, not to put too fine a point on it, his singing was, well… weak.  He can carry a tune, yes, and he was clearly trying hard.  I think we all expected him to sound bad, but his obvious discomfort at having to sing made him appear stiff and uncomfortable on screen.  One could argue that Javert is a stiff character, but for the most part I thought Crowe just looked pained at having to sing.

And then there’s Hugh Jackman.  I had heard and read that he was on broadway and was a talented singer.  I even heard him singing at a Tony awards ceremony and in some YouTube videos, so I had high expectations.  Talk about disappointment!  His singing, while better than Crowe’s, is by no means good.  After hearing his first song, I realized I had to seriously lower my musical expectations.  As far as acting goes, he is fine, though I would argue that Valjean is not a particularly challenging or nuanced character.

Not to harp on, but another let-down were Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter as the Thenardiers.  Their “Master of the House” scene was disappointingly lame, and I struggled to understand many of Helena Bonham-Carter’s lyrics (I had the same problem with her singing in “Sweeny Todd”).  Thankfully, I already knew all the words, so her lack of enunciation couldn’t leave me mystified. Foiled, madam!  I felt the director could have done so much more with Baron Cohen’s comic genius (did anyone else find him hysterical in “Hugo”??).

After accordingly lowering my standards, imagine my delight when Anne Hathaway showed up.  True, her voice is not particularly strong, but it is clear, true and wonderfully fragile.  The close-up camera during the iconic “I Dreamed a Dream” aria was harrowing, and her performance was, I believe, the strongest of the film.  She was heartbreaking and, frankly, perfect.  Well done.

The younger members of the cast were the most talented, and Marius, Cosette, Eponine, Enjourlas and the children are all quite good.  As I said, the film looks amazing: gritty, dark, with great sets.  Despite sounding like a Debbie downer, I really did enjoy the film!  There’s plenty of eye candy and who doesn’t love a costume drama?  I DO!!