A Late review of Ragnarok: Uncle Thor’s Goofy House of Wacky Fun!

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Thor: Ragnarok has been out for weeks and I am only just NOW going to talk about it?! Yep, I saw it this weekend – I very rarely go see a movie on its opening weekend, remember? I mention that in almost all my movie reviews…

I was worried when I read the initial stories about this third Thor movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The press described it as a Hope & Crosby-esque Road Movie with Hulk and Thor. As the premier weekend arrived, the movie’s humor was the focus.

I was leery. Humor has its place in the Marvel Universe (cinematic or otherwise): Spider-Man revels in it. Robert Downey Jr imbues his personality into the Iron Man franchise. Guardians of the Galaxy had lots of laugh-out-loud-moments. Two words: Deadpool. Okay, that’s only one word.

The Thor franchise is the weakest of all the MCU films, with the exception of the two Hulk movies. Perhaps the powers-that-be thought to shake up their weakest link. The more successful movies are peppered with humor (Guardians, Deadpool), perhaps piling on the snark can revive this branch of the franchise and give it a blockbuster that will stand with the first Iron Man, the first Captain America and the first Avengers movie.

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Humor has its place. Unfortunately, not in Thor; at least not this kind of humor.

It is mostly man-child dialogue enjoyed mostly by men-children. Goofy Wacky Fun. There is some physical/slapstick moments in the movie (as in the scene with Doctor Strange), but it is appropriate (it fits the scene) and does not smack of Stoogania…

(Oh, to have seen more of Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston together. Only one long shot of the two splendid actors together. Someone needs to develop a vehicle for the two actors. Please!)

Anyway, let’s get back to more Goofy Wacky Fun …

Chris Hemsworth may be excellent in comedic roles … in the future it may be what he is best known for …

But Thor is not a comedic role.   Having other characters around him being the focus of humor, perhaps, may have worked better. But not Thor. He doesn’t need to be funny – Jack Benny and Bob Newhart made their careers allowing others around them to be funny. Thor could be serious – and more in character – and still have scenes with many laughs.

Remember the first two Thor movies had their comic relief with Darcy Lewis and Dr. Erik Selvig. So it CAN be done. I only wish in the prior movies it were done better.

Hiddleston’s Loki is ideal for this kind of humor – the character has shown it since his inception.

But not Thor. Seeing him shout “Oh my god” or “What the hell” or whine about his hair in the best frat-boy manner is out of character and takes us out of the immersion; reminding us we are watching a movie. A movie filled with Goofy Wacky Fun (hereinafter “GWF” for brevity’s sake).

And it seemed everyone had to have their day in the snarky sun, whether it fit the character or not.

Not even Cate Blanchette as Hela the Goddess of Death was immune. Her GWF (snarky comments) aimed at Karl Urban’s Executioner were also out of character.

Even Anthony Hopkins gets in the act – although only when he is Loki in disguise – otherwise his character is the typical (read: unknowable and unpredictable) All-Father.

It worked better with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner – the befuddled scientist lost inside the Hulk for over two years. Banner is normally played as the pitiable victim or the super-scientist. The whiny wise-cracker here fit, considering his situation.

However, the dialogue between Hulk and Thor is mostly infantile posturing. Eight-year-olds on a playground. GWF.

The eye-rollingly bad acting of Jeff Goldblum as the secondary bad guy the Grandmaster is a waste of celluloid, but fits in perfectly with Director’s Taika Waititi’s vision of GWF.

While we are on this subject, the ending clip after the credits is not worth the wait.  The middle clip after the cast credits apparently sets up Thor’s appearance in Infinity War.

The only character immune from GWF Syndrome was Heimdall, excellently and nobly played again by Idris Elba.

In sum, the GWF turned Thor into Downey’s Iron Man or Deadpool. We don’t need another snarky quipster.

It was humor at the expense of characterization and continuity; and that’s not worth the cost.

Plus, much of it wasn’t all that funny…

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But I LIKED the movie! The good points vastly out-weigh the bad:

Tessa Thompson shines as Valkyrie. She will make a fine addition to the Marvel Universe – and note that except for Nighthawk we have most of the late-1970s Defenders in this movie!

The battle scenes are inspiring, helped by Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” as a soundtrack – a canny but good choice with its lyrics based on Norse and Tolkien (itself the son-of-Norse) mythology.  (as with Wonder Woman‘s No-Man’s Land battle, the initial battle with Surtur is more effective and exciting than the big battle in the conclusion). Obvious, but it works. By the second airing, though, the song loses some of its thunder.  Pun intended.

Cate Blanchette’s Hela was as evil as she was incredibly sexy!

And wasn’t it fun watching her and Karl Urban together? Two Lord of the Rings vets together again for the very first time…

Heroes acted heroically.  Characters redeem themselves and we cheer.  Characters and situations irrevocably change and we mourn. That’s all I can say without spoilers.

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Some basic questions:

Why was the identity of the “Champion” so coyly secretive when the audience knew exactly who it was since the first preview aired?

Will we ever see Asgard (or at least Asgardians) again? It is hinted that after Infinity War II our original superheroes and the actors portraying them will be gone. Will Valkyrie take over Thor’s role in future films?

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Another good-but-not-great Thor movie. A pity … the god of thunder still deserves better.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

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National Adoption Awareness Month spotlight on … Jerry Lewis!

Last year I did a series on the three biggest comedians of the 20th century – Bob Hope, Jack Benny and George Burns – who adopted all their children.

lewis hope benny

But they weren’t the only legendary comedians who adopted. Jerry Lewis did, too.

For those who need a brief bio of Jerry Lewis … from Wikipedia:

Jerry Lewis (born either Jerome Levitch or Joseph Levitch; March 16, 1926 – August 20, 2017) was an American comedian, actor, singer, producer, director, screenwriter and humanitarian. He was known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. From 1946 to 1956, he and Dean Martin were partners as the hit popular comedy duo of Martin and Lewis. After that, he became a star in motion pictures, nightclubs, television shows, concerts, album recordings and musicals.

Lewis served as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and hosted the live Labor Day weekend broadcast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for 45 years. He received several awards for lifetime achievement from the American Comedy Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Venice Film Festival and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences He was also honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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lewis and daughter

His only daughter was adopted during his marriage to SanDee Pitnick (his second marriage): Danielle Sara Lewis (born March 24, 1992.

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The story of Jerry’s adopted daughter has taken a controversial turn since his death:

From People Magazine:

“According to his Last Will and Testament, provided to PEOPLE by The Blast, the funnyman emphatically cut out all six children he had with his first wife Patti Palmer — meaning they will inherent nothing.

“I have intentionally excluded Gary Lewis, Ronald Lewis, Anthony Joseph Lewis, Christopher Joseph Lewis, Scott Anthony Lewis, and Joseph Christopher Lewis and their descendants as beneficiaries of my estate, it being my intention that they shall receive no benefits hereunder,” the will, written in 2012, states.

“Lewis’s potentially vast estate (estimated at 50 million dollars) will be passed to his widow, SanDee Pitnick. Second in line to inherit his fortune, should something happen to his wife, is his 25-year-old adopted daughter Danielle.”

http://www.angelfire.com/ok/kingofcomedy/article/daughter.html tells a controversial story about his sons and his new daughter.

Daughter Danielle was Jerry’s manager in his last years.

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“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival!

Abby’s Road is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at Smashwords.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

National Adoption Month Spotlight on Meg Ryan!

It’s National Adoption Awareness Month! This year my theme will be famous celebrities who have adopted!

From Wikipedia:

Meg Ryan (born Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra; November 19, 1961) is an American actress, director, and producer. Ryan began her acting career in 1981 in minor roles, before joining the cast of the CBS soap opera As the World Turns in 1982. Subsequently, she began to appear in supporting roles in films during the mid-1980s, achieving recognition in independent movies such as Promised Land (1988) before her performance in the Rob Reiner-directed romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally… (1989) brought her widespread attention and her first Golden Globe nomination.

 

Ryan subsequently established herself, both nationally and internationally,[2] as one of the most successful actresses in the 1990s and early 2000s, particularly in romantic comedy films such as Sleepless in Seattle (1993), French Kiss (1995), You’ve Got Mail (1998), and Kate & Leopold (2001). Her other films include The Doors (1991), When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), Courage Under Fire (1996), Addicted to Love (1997), City of Angels (1998), Proof of Life (2000), and The Women (2008). In 2015, she made her directorial debut with Ithaca, a film in which she also acted.

Meg Ryan

In January 2006, Ryan adopted a 14-month-old girl from China whom she named Daisy True.

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“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival

 

Abby’s Road is available at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and at Smashwords.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

Adoption Month Spotlight: Calista Flockhart!

It’s National Adoption Awareness Month! This year my theme will be famous celebrities who have adopted!

Calista Flockhart!

From Wikipedia:

Calista Kay Flockhart (born November 11, 1964) is an American actress. She is best known for starring as the title character in the legal comedy-drama series Ally McBeal (1997–2002) and Kitty Walker in the drama series Brothers & Sisters (2006–2011). She has also been featured in a number of films, including the comedy film The Birdcage (1996), the romantic comedy film A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), and the drama film Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000).

Flockhart has won a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award, and garnered three Emmy Award nominations.

Flockhart

From: https://mom.me/entertainment/4004-celeb-moms-who-have-adopted/item/calista-flockhart/

In 2001, 36 and single, Calista Flockhart decided to become a mom, adopting son Liam, now 10. Naturally, a few months later, she met the love of her life, Harrison Ford, while spilling a drink on him at a party. Already a father of four, Ford embraced Flockhart and her son with open arms. “She’s brought a child back into my home,” Ford told Reader’s Digest in 2009. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be a part of a child’s growing up, which is always an endless springtime. You see the blossoming and the growing and the nurturing and the payoff.”

(Interesting that an article about Calista Flockhart spends most of its time on Harrison Ford …)

Ironically, Calista has recently been known as playing Cat Grant on the CW’s Supergirl, whose eponymous character was also adopted by Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers (named Fred and Edna Danvers in the comics), an echo of Jonathan and Martha Kent’s adopting of Superman…

See? I can’t get away from comic books no matter how hard I try …

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frontcover

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival

 

Abby’s Road is available at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and at Smashwords.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

 

Adoption rocks! Elton John

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! Throughout the month I will be spotlighting celebrities who have adopted!

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From Wikipedia: Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight; 25 March 1947), is an English singer, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date. In his five-decade career Elton John has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world.  He has more than fifty Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive No. 1 US albums, 58 Billboard Top 40 singles, 27 Top 10, four No. 2 and nine No. 1. For 31 consecutive years (1970–2000) he had at least one song in the Billboard Hot 100. His tribute single, re-penned in dedication to the late Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997” sold over 33 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts.  He has also composed music, produced records, and has occasionally acted in films. John owned Watford Football Club from 1976 to 1987, and 1997 to 2002. He is an honorary Life President of the club, and in 2014 had a stand named after him at the club’s home stadium.

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Elton and husband David Furnish have adopted two sons, Zachary and Elijah from the same surrogate mother from California, and have kept a close relationship with the birth mother.

‘We have a very close bond with her and were in constant touch throughout the pregnancy, getting updates, seeing scans and sharing all the little details that make those nine months so exciting.

‘She has given us two amazing gifts and we in turn have a duty of care to her and are fiercely protective of her anonymity.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2269318/Sir-Elton-John-David-Furnish-proudly-new-baby-son-Elijah.html

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“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

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WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival!

Abby’s Road is available at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and at Smashwords.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

 

Adoption Spotlight: Mariska Hargitay

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

Mariska Magdolna Hargitay; born January 23, 1964, is an American actress best known for her role as Detective/Sergeant/Lieutenant Olivia Benson on the NBC drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, for which she has earned multiple awards and nominations, including an Emmy and Golden Globe.

She is the daughter of bodybuilder and actor Mickey Hargitay and actress Jayne Mansfield (should you wish to attempt to withstand it, watch “The Loves of Hercules” starring both and recently featured on the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix).

Hargitay made her film debut in the 1985 horror-comedy film Ghoulies and her major television debut in the 1986 adventure drama series Downtown. She appeared in numerous roles in film and television shows throughout the late 1980s and 1990s before being cast as Olivia Benson, a role that led to her founding the Joyful Heart Foundation, which provides support to women who have been sexually abused.

In April 2011, she and her husband Peter Hermann adopted Amaya Josephine and attended her birth. In October 2011, they also adopted a baby boy, Andrew Nicolas Hargitay Hermann, who had been born in mid-2011.

(above provided by Wikipedia)

Hargitay

 

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“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

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WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival!

Abby’s Road is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at Smashwords.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

Adoption Spotlight: Hugh Jackman

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

Hugh Michael Jackman (born 12 October 1968) is an Australian actor, singer, and producer. Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in a variety of film genres. He is known for his long-running role as Wolverine in the X-Men film series, as well as for his lead roles in films such as the romantic-comedy fantasy Kate & Leopold (2001), the action-horror film Van Helsing (2004), the magic-themed drama The Prestige (2006), the epic fantasy drama The Fountain (2006), the epic historical romantic drama Australia (2008), the film version of Les Misérables (2012), and the thriller Prisoners (2013). His work in Les Misérables earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and his first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy in 2013.

In Broadway theatre, Jackman won a Tony Award for his role in The Boy from Oz. A four-time host of the Tony Awards themselves, he won an Emmy Award for one of these appearances. Jackman also hosted the 81st Academy Awards on 22 February 2009.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Jackman kids

From: http://www.more.com/entertainment/celebrities/27-famous-people-who-have-adopted-children

Hugh Jackman and wife of 20 years Deborra-Lee Furness have two adopted children: Oscar, 15, and Ava, 10. Jackman has said that he and Furness planned to have adopted and biological children but found out they couldn’t have children naturally.

 

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“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival!

Abby’s Road is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at Smashwords.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry