Saturday Review: Easy on the Eyes Version

Lately – and by “lately,” you know I mean for the past several months – I have had the strongest urge to see movies in the theater. Unfortunately, my budget and schedule are not so accommodating to my various entertainment cravings.

That is where Redbox comes in, of course, and I am always thankful for dollar rentals. Especially when we find ourselves trapped in a rut of renting lame movies!

The good news is twofold. One, the lame movies all had leading men who are, as my title indicates, quite easy on the eyes. And two, we finally got a night out and an actual theater movie – and the movie was great. Here are my brief reviews.

Me and Orson Welles: I’m not going to lie to you. After I watched Zac Efron in 17 Again, I looked him up on IMDB to make sure he was, in fact, of legal age. Since I now know that he IS, I don’t feel [too] weird telling that he’s totally cute in this movie, too. And more importantly (AHEM),  this movie – though a bit slow – was a nice, feel-good story and a pretty educational (at least to me) period piece about theater in the 30s.

Just for the record, though, I have had to re-type the title of this movie twice now, because I cannot bring myself to automatically say “me and Orson Welles” instead of “Orson Welles and me.”

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: I think this movie might have seemed better if I’d gone in with the right expectations, or at least the understanding that it would basically be a live-action version of Aladdin. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that it was based on a video game. That probably should have been my first clue that it wouldn’t be a work of art. However, it does feature Jake Gyllenhaal doing his best impression of Aladdin. So there’s that.

Iron Man 2: I’d heard that this sequel wasn’t nearly as good as the first one. I don’t know how it could have been. Not that the original Iron Man was so incredible, but it was so surprisingly good. To me, it came out of nowhere. And I liked it a lot. This one? Not so much. As always, Robert Downey Jr. was fun and I always love Don Cheadle, but the movie was actually pretty boring. Also, Mickey Rourke is super creepy. (So was his character.)

Now for the good movie!

A couple weeks ago, my parents kept Annalyn for the weekend so Mark and I could redecorate her room (a.k.a. move in her “big girl bed” and try not to cry too long about how she used to be a baby). We did that but also took advantage of our kid-free evening and went on an actual date. After stuffing ourselves with Mexican food, we saw Red in the theater.

It was SO good. (And they played seven previews before it, which we both love, so that was a point in its favor, too.)

I’m not saying it’s the best movie ever. But it was fun, it was funny, it was fairly clean, and we had a great time watching it. What more could we ask for?

Several times during the movie, people in the theater clapped. That’s right: APPLAUSE. Granted, this is a movie about retired (older) spies coming back for one last adventure and basically kicking the new, young folks’ tail. And, a large part of the audience in our theater fell into that retired (older) category. But still. The movie was so fun, you just can’t help rooting for the characters so much that you clap when they (and special effects) win the fights and take out the bad guys.

And, as it turns out, Bruce Willis – though bald and old enough to be my father – isn’t hard to watch for a couple hours either. Go figure.

What movies have you seen recently?

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Saturday Review: Just Between You & Me

During my Blog-Warming Party, I gave away a copy of Just Between You & Me: A Novel of Losing Fear and Finding God by Jenny B. Jones. And then I promised a review . . . which never happened.

Until today. It’s happening right now. In case you hadn’t figured that out.

That’s a long title, right? Honestly, if I hadn’t seen the book on a list of recent award winners, I wouldn’t have requested it from the library. It sounds serious. And when it comes to my fiction, I almost always prefer, well, NOT serious.

Thankfully, I did check out this book. It was GREAT. As soon as I finished it, I got online to stalk research Jones. I HAD to know if she’d written other books. And if she had, you better believe they were going on reserve at the library, pronto.

Sadly, her other books – which look adorable and fun – are more of the YA variety. And while I like my chick lit fluffy, I don’t typically resort to reading YA. (Typically. I’m not saying never, because I loved As You Wish by Jackson Pearce.)

With the wonder that is Twitter, though, I found out that Jones (or Jenny. Should I call her Jenny?) has another adult contemporary coming out in a few months. I can’t wait.

Until then, I’m reading Jenny’s blog (Yeah, I decided first names are better.) and telling everyone I know that if you read Christian fiction, you should read this book. And, actually, even if you just like adult contemporary, read this book. The Christian aspect is not heavy-handed at all.

So, why do I like this book so much? Well, I’m so glad you asked. I like it because the characters talk like real people. The main character even thinks like a real person, saying things like, “I’m so sure.” and “Crap.”

Yep, that’s really all it takes for me. (See: Brad Meltzer’s first couple of books and my disappointment in his later novels.)

The novel follows the usual pattern of contemporary romance, but the situations play out a little more realistically than a lot of the fairytales – I mean, books – I read. I was hoping it would end differently, but I didn’t mind the story’s resolution too much.

A few times while I was reading it, I thought that it felt a lot like reading someone’s blog. And while I never want blogs to replace books completely (The horror!), I do enjoy hearing Jenny’s characters use a genuine conversational tone.

Here’s the summary:

The only thing scarier than living on the edge is stepping off it.

Maggie Montgomery lives a life of adventure. Her job as a cinematographer takes her from one exotic locale to the next. When Maggie’s not working, she loves to rappel off cliffs or go skydiving. Nothing frightens her.

Nothing, that is, except Ivy, Texas, where a family emergency pulls her back home to a town full of bad memories, painful secrets, and people Maggie left far behind . . . for a reason.

Forced to stay longer than she intended, Maggie finds her family a complete mess, including the niece her sister has abandoned. Ten-year-old Riley is struggling in school and out of control at home. The only person who can really handle the pint-sized troublemaker is Conner, the local vet and Ivy’s most eligible bachelor. But Conner and Maggie keep butting heads—he’s suspicious of her and, well, she doesn’t rely on anyone but herself.

As Maggie humorously fumbles her way from one mishap to another, she realizes she’s going to need to ask for help from the one person who scares her the most.

To save one little girl—and herself—can Maggie let go of her fears and just trust God?

What does it take for you to consider a book great?

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