Return to Me – The beautiful, poignant chickflix nobody’s ever seen!

RETURN TO ME

Return to Me poster

I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon this one years ago, but I sure glad I did. Now I’m not a huge fan of chickflix in general, especially those with the quintessential formula of ‘boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back and they live happily ever after.’ So it’s sooo refreshing to see one that isn’t quite so cookie-cutter. Being that we just saw this recently on our monthly movie nite, it’s still fresh in my mind.

David Duchovny (of the X-Files fame) plays a Chicago builder named Bob Rueland who’s happily married to a beautiful zoologist Elizabeth (Joely Richardson). The beginning scenes show a contrast between a charmed life of the couple at a benefit party, and a young woman strapped in a hospital bed in dire need for a heart transplant. But Bob’s happiness is cut short when his wife is suddenly killed in a car accident. You can easily guess what’s happening next. The young woman’s loving grandfather Marty (played by Carroll O’Connor with his thick Irish brogue) received a call on his special black phone inside his restaurant. It’s clear the phone is dedicated for when his granddaughter Grace gets a heart transplant (on the wall right above it is her name circled with a heart). Her close friends all wait in the hospital for her as she goes through the surgery, whilst Marty spent the entire night at the chapel praying for her.

Fast forward a year later, Grace (Minnie Driver) survives the operation and is recovering at home. She is shown painting in her garden and helps out waiting tables at the Irish-Italian restaurant owned by her loving grandpa and his Italian business partner, Angelo. A rather odd cuisine combination indeed! At his friend’s urging, Marty finally gives Grace a plane ticket to Rome so she could paint in Piazza Novona (‘where real artists paint’ says Angelo). Grace is ecstatic as she’s never been able to travel all her life due to her condition.

Off she goes to her BFF’s house Megan (don’t we all wish we had a friend like this, played by Bonnie Hunt who also wrote the screenplay). She and Megan’s large family—she’s got 5 kids and obviously overwhelmed by them—goes to the zoo. Grace is still holding on to the thank you letter she plans to send to the organ donor, but Megan says that she needs to move on (‘send it off and move on, honey, I’m sure they have’), and so she finally did. Right after she drops it off the mailbox, she unconsciously rubbed elbows with Bob! She sort of stopped walking, not sure what just hit her, then quipped ‘whatever it was, it didn’t hurt.’ By this time, I was yearning for the two to meet!

Bob’s BFF Charlie’s been wanting to set him up, and after a year of being all alone with his dog, Bob finally agrees to meet him at, you guessed it, O’Reilly’s!! You know the term how a couple ‘meet cute,’ well their first meeting is exactly that without being overly clichéd. Bob immediately says ‘have we met before?’ and when he ditches his annoying blind date, Grace gives her someone else’s to-go order ‘on the house.’

Bob leaves his phone at the restaurant (intentionally perhaps?) and the night he goes back to retrieve it is when they finally have a chance to be alone together. Gracie’s grandpa & friends happily play matchmakers (as they all share a common bond of being widowers). David and Minnie have a great chemistry together and it’s fun watching them being smitten by each other. Even though it’s clear Bob adores her, Grace still hides the fact that she had a heart transplant and is quite insecure about her scar. There’s a cute scene where she thought Bob was going to unbutton her blouse and she slaps him. She then apologizes nervously and in the end gives him a kiss, leaving Bob bemused yet blissful. it’s a genuinely funny yet moving moment!

It’s great to see Bob finds love again and for Grace to love for the first time in her life. Everything seems all rosy until the night Grace is supposed to reveal her ‘secret’ to Bob. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but that incident leads to her decision to go away to Rome. One of the most memorable scenes is when grandpa Marty tells Bob ‘when Gracie meets you, her heart beats truly for the first time …perhaps it’s meant to be with you always’ Awww … have those tissues handy, gals!

Unlike most chick-flix, even though it’s predictable that they’d be together, it still feels fresh and sincere. Given what each of them has gone through, you just root for them to be happy. Bonnie Hunt‘s debut as a director is truly impressive, the film is sprinkled with cute humors and witty dialog. The acting is believable and natural, and the supporting cast (including James Belushi) are all top notch. Minnie Driver, who’s British, also pulls off a decent American accent. I commend Bonnie for injecting faith into the story without being ‘preachy.’ This is also one of those rare romantic stories that blooms without being ‘physical,’ kind of like a Jane Austen pic for modern day. The soundtrack is also a major plus with classic songs by Dean Martin, Sinatra, etc. It adds pizazz and energy throughout the film.

I definitely recommend this to all of you. Go put it on your Netflix queue! =)

4halfReels


Have you seen this movie? I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: Wolverine

I realize I should’ve put a spoiler disclaimer on this from the start. Sorry to all of you readers who haven’t seen the movie, this ‘review’ is meant as a post-viewing discussion/observation. I’ll make sure to be clear on that in the future, and enhance my flix reviewing skills!

Marvel and DC ought to thank Bryan Singer for resurrecting the comic-book flix franchise with the highly-rated X-Men: The Movie. If you’ve seen even just one of the series, it’s obvious Wolverine is the one character that sticks out. The then-unknown Aussie Hugh Jackman inherited the role from Dougray Scott who was bound to finish shooting Mission Impossible II. Lucky for Mr. Jackman (and women everywhere) that he did, as he was PERFECT as the brooding mutant with claws of steel.

The critics aren’t too keen on Wolverine, so I came in with a pretty low expectation. But guess what, I quite enjoyed it. The story pretty much centers on the relationship of half-brothers James and Victor, who’s later known as Wolverine and Sabretooth. The opening credit shows the journey of these two men across time and multiple wars, as their regenerative powers prevent them from being killed. Given Victor’s vicious temper, James had to constantly restrain him. In fact, it was his brutality that got them condemned to die by firing squad in Vietnam, but of course those bullets merely ‘tickled’ them and they’re back in jail again. That is until Stryker visited them and offered them to be part of an elite team of mutants, Team X. It’s pretty obvious Stryker had his own agenda and pretty soon, a group of mutans under his command were in Legos, Nigeria looking for a meteorite. Repulsed by the murders committed by his teammates, James leaves the group.

Wolverine emerged with new, shiny metal claws!
Wolverine emerged with new, shiny metal claws!

Six years later, James–now goes by his last name Logan–was now a lumberjack living peacefully with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox. That peace was soon threatened when Victor started killing his old teammates from Team X. Stryker found Logan and told him that someone’s been hunting down the now disbanded group. He asked for Logan’s help but he refused. Predictably, Victor came after Kayla and killed her. The hurt & furious Logan ran after Victor, but he wasn’t strong enough to defeat him. So when Stryker came to him a second time for help, he agreed. Next thing you know Logan is on the ‘island,’ Stryker got him into a very painful experiment in which a series of metal needles insert adamantium, an indestructible metal compound retrieved by Team X, into his skeleton system. Just watching him go through that makes my whole skin crawl! Apparently, even though Logan has strong regenerative powers, he still feels pain like anybody else. Just before the procedure started, he asked his dog tag to say Wolverine (natch), in reference to a story Kayla once told him. Wolverine nearly died in the procedure, but woke up just as Stryker ordered his memory to be erased. He emerged of the ‘aquarium’ with a ferocious growl (just as you saw in those ubiquitous movie promo pics), displaying his now shiny metal claws.  For a 41 year-old, Hugh’s physique is impressive, albeit too huge for my taste personally (are those humps on his shoulder??). Still, I commend his discipline and dedication to get so buff (and he’s obviously proud to show it off), he looked unbreakable even without the claws!!

Ok, back to the story, Wolvy (sorry, Wolverine is just too long) then fled the scene and Stryker ordered the dexterous marksman, Agent Zero, played by the hot-looking Korean-English actor Daniel Henney, to kill him. A chase ensued, and Wolverine got to show off his now indestructible claws. After some outlandish acrobatic scenes, he’s able to bring down the chopper with Agent Zero in it (darn, the eye candy is dead already?!). With the help of an escapee mutant named Gambit, Wolvy later returned to the island to confront Stryker. There, we learn who Silverfox really was, and what’s Stryker’s been working on in his lab. The final battle was pretty intense when Stryker prematurely released Weapon XI, who possesed several powers from the killed/captured mutants. Wolvy and Victor joined forces briefly to fight the mutant frankenstein monster. Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool character half made up Weapon X’s face, but with his blabbermouth sealed. There’s a funny quip by Wolvy, “Looks like Stryker finally found a way to shut you up.”

The end actually ties well with the first X-Men, with Professor X making an appearance to save the escaping mutants. Wolvy and Victor’s whereabouts are left a mystery, which we later learn in the X-Men trilogy that they end up on opposite sides once again.

Pretty cool movie overall, but the storyline is pretty complex for this type of film that the plot often get convoluted. It seems as if the film tries to do too much (romance, action, sci-fi, drama) that it sometimes lost focus. Despite the great cast led by Jackman and thespian Liev Schreiber, it just isn’t ‘sharp’ enough (pardon the pun) as the original X-Men. But if you’re just looking for fun thrill on a Saturday afternoon, it’s fairly entertaining.