How to Watch: “17 Again”

Step 1: Finally admit to yourself Zac Efron may just have the stuff to make it big. Do it. Do it NOW.

Step 2: Notice how the film jumps to life once tired, depressed, middle-aged Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry), shunned by his kids and getting a divorce from his wife (a very fetching Leslie Mann, doing the very best she can with the role), magically turns back into his 17-year-old self (Zac Efron) again for some sort of life lesson. A reverse Big, as it were.

Step 3: Pay no attention to the very contrived plot line. But you can enjoy Efron’s effortlessness at playing the affable young Mike, dealing with his teenage kids AS a teenager and falling for his wife all over again – cougar-ish as it may seem. Seriously, Efron really can woo a girl.

Step 4: Do pay attention to the hilarious performance by Reno 911‘s Thomas Lennon, as Mike’s former geeky high school friend, now a multi-millionaire software designer with a penchant for all things fantasy – from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings. He speaks fluent Elfish, too.

Step 5: Now watch High School Musical 3 again (or for the first time) and see how Efron stands out.

Level of difficulty in watching 17 Again: Moderate. You’ve really got to stretch that suspension of disbelief, but I’m telling ya, Efron has got the chops. He just has to stop playing basketball in all his movies.

How to Watch: “State of Play”

Step 1: First and foremost, State of Play is a love letter to the now dying print/newspaper industry. Remember that and you’ll get the gist of the film.

Step 2: There is also some All the President’s Men political intrigue to add to the mix. Such as: Washington D.C. journalist Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), after being assigned to report on what seems to be a random drug murder, stumbles upon something bigger – like, corporate cover-up-type bigger, which may or may not also involve Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), Cal’s former college roommate.

Step 3: Refer to Step 1 – Cal does things old school, but he ends up having to share leads with his newspaper’s online blogger Della Frye (the convincing Rachel McAdams, back in film from a short hiatus), who is investigating Collins’ scandalous affair with a recently murdered member of his staff. Connections? You bet.

Step 4: Pick out the best screenwriter. Although three writers (Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray) are credited with penning State of Play, which is based on the highly acclaimed 2003 BBC miniseries of the same name, there’s really one that stands out: Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity). All the plot’s twists and turns have the clever writer’s signature stamp.

Step 5: Find a good cast. Brad Pitt was originally attached to play McAffrey – until he dropped out four days before shooting was to begin. The quick fix was to get Russell Crowe. The film is the better for it since Crowe never does anything half ass. The always good Helen Mirren as the newspaper’s editor in chief delivers as well, while Jason Batemen is a breath of fresh air as a cog in the cover-up wheel. But double check some casting choices. Edward Norton was originally set to play Collins, but the job went to Affleck. Just not the same caliber.

Step 6: Get a director who’s passionate about his subject matter. The Last King of Scotland‘s helmer and former documentary filmmaker Kevin MacDonald is a journalist at heart (he went to school to become one), so it’s clear where his devotion lies in State of Play. Make to sure to pay attention to the end credits as we see the giant printing presses putting the newspaper to bed.

Level of difficulty in watching State of Play: Easy to Moderate. Just don’t nod off in the slow parts or you might miss something.

How to Cast: Cinematical’s Gift

I really like Cinematical.com. The writers have the same sensibilities as I do, maybe a tad more fanboy than me but that’s what makes them more fun to read. For example, they found this trailer to a new Japanime show called Cat Sh*t One (aka Apocalypse Meow in the U.S.) It’s one of the more disturbing and hilarious things I’ve seen in awhile. It’s not even cats but giant gun-toting military rabbits! Check it out … and laugh your ass off …

Anyway, I can be just as big a movie geek and Cinematical fits my bill. Here’s a few things I’ve learned from their site today:

Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince is now opening two days earlier on July 15, instead of July 17. Woohoo!

Brian Austin Green — from the old Beverly Hills 90210 — wants to throw his name into the hat to play The Green Lantern in the upcoming adaptation of the comic book. Why, because his last name is Green?

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Funny Or Die.com just keeps getting better. They even got Lindsay Lohan to make fun of herself in an eHarmony video spoof.

Hottie Chris Pine, who is going to thrill the hell out of us as a young James T. Kirk in the upcoming Star Trek movie, wants to play the dude Murdock in the upcoming A-Team film, directed by Joe Carnahan. OK, whatever floats your boat, Chris.

Hi, I’m Kit Bowen and Welcome to TheMovieKit.com.

OK, the title is a tad cutesy (and clever, no?), but I’m just doing my part to stand out in the crowd, to contribute to the already overcopulated, er, populated movie bloggersphere. Why? Because I want to. I’m sort of a junkie for movies (TV, too but that might be for another blog), and I feel compelled to share my obsession with others. What I say won’t make or break anything; it’s just my opinion. But still, I might connect with someone and if I can reach just ONE person, then I know I’ve done my job. Wait, that sounded like a teacher. No, that’s not what I mean. Instead, think of TheMovieKit.com as a how-to manual to movies. A “kit,” as it were. Get it? Oh, nevermind …

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