Modern Family Season 3

Created by: Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd

Cast: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rico Rodriguez, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould

Synopsis: It is hard to write a fresh synopsis for a series such as this one.   A comedy of this nature changes little from season to season, with each subsequent episode being its own self-contained story.   The fact that there are no major through line stories however is by no means a criticism.   This show still has an exceptional hit rate for its humour, whether stories last one or just a couple of episodes.

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Modern Family Season 2 – A Review by Film Nerd

Created by: Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd

Cast: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rico Rodriguez, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Reid Ewing

Synopsis:The ongoing stories of the Pritchetts and the Dunphys provide another season of comedy gold.   Little has been done to change the formula, each branch of the family having some absurd but relatable event each week that overall examines what is common between families rather than what is different.   Though each episode is rarely related to the next, the season ends with a delightful reminder of some of the golden moments previously to occur in this season.

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Modern Family Season 1 – A Review by Film Nerd

Created by: Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd

Cast: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rico Rodriguez, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Reid Ewing

Synopsis: A comedy series that focuses on three branches of the same family.   Patriarch Jay Pritchett (ONeill) is married to much younger Columbian second wife Gloria (Vergara), who comes with her own son from her first marriage Manny (Rodriguez).   Jay’s daughter Claire (Bowen) is married to real estate agent Phil Dunphy (Burrell), and they have three children Hayley (Hyland), Alex (Winter) and Luke (Gould).   Finally, Jay’s son Mitchell (Ferguson) lives with gay partner Cameron (Stonestreet) and their adopted daughter Lily.   Somehow, with so many characters, the show manages to pull in many separate story threads quite successfully.

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Morning Glory – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Roger Michell

Cast: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, John Pankow, Ty Burrell

Synopsis: Becky (McAdams) is an executive producer on a morning variety program.   That is until she loses her position and in desperation accepts a job on the slowly dying show “Daybreak”.   She makes a flurry of changed, including firing the co-anchor.   To replace him, she manages to coerce former crack journalist Mike Pomeroy (Ford), whom has no desire to do “fluffy” journalism, much to the chagrin of remaining co-anchor Collen Beck (Keaton).

A review by Film Nerd.

This is an unassuming comedy, that while unable to make a large swell at the box office is a very satisfying and enjoyable film.   I purchased it on Blu-Ray on the strength of its cast, and of some solid reviews, and I am personally very glad idea.   It is by its nature light entertainment, far from ground-breaking, but has a good, clever gag rate to keep interest until the end credits.

It is a film very appropriate to modern sensibilities.   We live in a time when work demands are steep, where often it can be hard to switch off at the end of the day, particularly when a lot is at stake.   For Becky, the wrong choices could mean the cancellation of a national live television show that has been on air for forty-seven years.   McAdams is a personal favourite actress of mine, and here she does not do anything to make my faith in that statement waver.   She takes a difficult character, one who is work obsessed and determined, also soft enough to be likeable.   These characters often lack that quality in cinema, making it hard to garner the audiences support.   No such error here.

Becky has two major thorns in her side on her path to success.   The first is prickly existing co-anchor Colleen Beck.   Keaton is on fine form, and she shares good on-screen animosity than affection with McAdams, perhaps a by-product of their former work together on The Family Stone.   The other thorn is Ford’s Mike Pomeroy.   This is the performance that turns an okay movie into something a little more special.   Over the years he has made gruff with a (very) hidden soft core a speciality.    His performance here for me made me miss seeing him more often on the big screen, and in more than disappointing Indiana Jones sequels.

So in the end, this is a comedy with a good laugh rate mixed in with a good but not sickening dose of heart.   It features fine actors all in fine form.    In addition, it has a plot that is relevant to most people in the workforce today.   As such, this is a film I can highly recommend to a discerning audience.

4 stars out of 5

Morning Glory on IMDB

Morning Glory on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Ed Harris, Harvey Keitel, Bruce Greenwood, Ty Burrell

Synopsis: After the events of the original film, the Gates family name is once again respected in the realm of historic academia.   All this is about to unravel though, with a document uncovered that seems to indicate that a Gates family ancestor was a part of the conspiracy that led to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.   This starts Benjamin Franklin Gates, his parents, and his cohort from the original film on an adventure that goes much deeper than first thought.

A review by Film Nerd.

Sequels can often be either a blessing or a curse.   Expectation is what can draw a crowd, but what can also lead to disappointment.   In a way, that makes National Treasure the perfect film to franchise.   The original film was fun, it drew an audience, but was not the type of release which would lead fans to be overly critical on the success of the follow-up.   And as a continuation of the Benjamin Franklin Gates story, it does what it needs to do.   It is not necessarily better than the original, but it is certainly no worse.

The elements that worked with the original are all on show.   Gates making almost intuitive leaps through each puzzle piece, confusing his colleague Riley (Bartha, who provides some of the best comic relief), and love interest duties once again claimed by Diane Kruger.   This however also leads to my one big beef with the film, and with action-adventure sequels in general.   It has become the cliché to have the lovebirds separated between the films, the idea to re-introduce romantic tension in the lead couple.   Really, it has been done too many times to make it worthwhile anymore.   Clearly, this is what National Treasure has done, whereas for once I would like to see the protagonists presented as a nice “lived-in” couple, seeing how the relationship has progressed.

Soapbox standing aside, the bit players are also fantastic here.   Keitel and Voight reprise their roles, the latter getting beefed up and in this case it works.   This is due to the nature of the quest being more personal to both Gates males.   This is what ratchets up the drama in this film, not the romantic squabbling.   To complete the family we have the ever fabulous Mirren, who despite her pedigree, has the versatility to play well in this type of film, and she develops a very convincing relationship with Voight within her character arc.   Sticking Ed Harris in villain duties was also good casting, but he does not have the same flair as Sean Bean.   I think this is more scripting than performance though.   Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell and Star Trek‘s Bruce Greenwood both have minor but brilliant roles, especially the latter as the President of the United States.   This is the second film I have seen Greenwood in, the first one being the aforementioned Star Trek, in which he played Kirk mentor Captain Christopher Pike.   On the evidence of that film in this, I want to see a lot more of his filmography.

The action quotient has also been increased this time, with a car chase, and a lot more tomb style booby traps.   Thankfully this was a case of bigger is better, even if some of the traps, and the methods of escaping them, did stretch plausibility just a little bit.   Good thing I did not go into this film looking for plausible!!

This is an entertaining stand alone film, but for full impact, and for investment in the characters, it helps to have seen the original first.   That said, if you did not enjoy the original, it is highly likely you will not enjoy this film.   Personally though, I give the thumbs up.

3.5 stars (out of a possible 5)

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on IMDB

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]