About Double Feature

Double Feature is the title of a column that I write for the newsletter of Lehigh Pocono Mensa, the local group to which I belong. It gets published monthly in "Magniloquence." I used to belong to Central PA Mensa, so I offer the column to the editor of "Penn Central" and it shows up there pretty regularly.

As the title implies, each Double Feature column features brief reviews of two movies that I have seen. I try to find a connection between the two films - subject matter, stars, awards, etc. - but, since it's my column, I reserve the right to occasionally choose two films that have no connection to each other at all.

The reviews found in the Movies section of this Web site serve as the basis for Double Feature. I try to keep each column somewhere around 500 words (which fills about one page in the newsletter), so I usually have to edit the original reviews to fit into the space allotted.

If you'd like to read the individual reviews for the films mentioned in Double Feature, you can do so here.

The rating scales are a little different. The conversion chart is as follows:

  • **** = Loved it
  • *** = Liked it
  • ** = Ehhh, it was OK
  • * = Hated it

Current Column

November 2019 - After a summer in which I managed to see three movies in the theater, I've reverted to not seeing any movies at all. But, I do have a list. I want to see Knives Out, due out around Thanksgiving. And, at some point, I hope to see Hustlers, which has earned Jennifer Lopez some good reviews. Here's the lowdown on two of J-Lo's earlier efforts.

In 2005, she squared off against Jane Fonda in Monster-in-Law, a PG-13 romcom. Lopez plays Charlie, a clothing designer who makes ends meet by doing a series of temp jobs including dog walker and receptionist at a doctor's office. One day, while walking dogs, she literally runs into Kevin, a hunky doctor played by Michael Vartan. They meet again when Charlie serves hors d'oeuvres at a party Kevin is hosting. After that, he seeks her out, they start dating and they move in together.

Then, it's time to meet Kevin's mom, Viola (Fonda). She's a Barbara Walters-type host of a TV show who went off the deep-end after learning she was being replaced by a younger woman. Viola likes Charlie well enough until Kevin suddenly proposes. After that, the war is on, with Viola trying to drive Charlie away and Charlie fighting to keep her man.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. This film is about 90-minutes long, but it seemed longer. Lopez got top billing, but this movie is all about Fonda. She plays her character over-the-top and does it over and over. There's not really a lot to like about her. Wanda Sykes practically steals the film as Viola's sassy assistant, and Elaine Strich upstages Fonda in a small but pivotal role as Viola's own monster-in-law.

Five years later, Lopez was tasked with carrying another romcom, The Back-up Plan. But, even Lopez's star power isn't enough to save this PG-13 film.

Lopez plays Zoe, a single woman who gave up a career in high finance to run a pet store in New York City. Now that she has a job she loves, she wants a family. The original plan was to find a nice guy and settle down. But, since that hasn't happened, Zoe turns to her back-up plan (get it?), artificial insemination.

Of course, as soon as Zoe finds out that the procedure worked, she just happens to meet a cheese maker named Stan, (Alex O'Loughlin), a guy who could just be "the one." With plan B already in motion, is it too late to revert to plan A? Well, what do you think? Did I mention "cheese?"

Overall review: Ehhh, it was (barely) OK. I watched this movie on a Sunday and, as I recall, I thought it would be a decent way to kill time before the program I really wanted to watch came on. Well, not so much, as it turns out. At one point, I took a break from the movie to consider whether I needed a back-up plan of my own. Ultimately, I did finish watching the movie. But, it's utterly predictable. The few moments that aren't predictable aren't enough to move this movie beyond mediocre.

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"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." »» Roger Ebert