Entries in David Blaustein (4)


Movie Review: "Brave"

Disney/Pixar(NEW YORK) -- Brave marks the first time Pixar has given us a female protagonist. At first, Merida, a feisty Scottish teen who happens to be a princess, seems like a great character.  As the father of a two-year-old who has adorable yet hopelessly curly hair, Merida’s beautiful red locks, along with her fierce independent streak and beguiling intelligence, made her seem like a future role model for my little girl.  

Then the second act of Brave unfolds and suddenly, Merida isn’t who I thought she was.  But we'll get to that.

Brave takes place in mythological Scotland. Under the watchful eye of her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), Merida, voiced by Boardwalk Empire’s Kelly Macdonald, is being trained to be a princess -- and if she can’t be a princess, then at least to act like one. The rebellious teen spends her lessons longing for her day off when she can hop on her trusted steed and practice archery with a bow given to her by her father the king when she was a wee lass.

Let’s talk about the king, Fergus (Billy Connelly). The day he gave Merida the bow, he fought with and lost his leg to a demon bear.  The story became the stuff of legend and King Fergus has apparently spent his waking hours since fantasizing about the day he can exact his revenge on the creature. It’s not just his fantasy alone -- he’s forced it on the clans that make up his kingdom.  Let’s face it, exacting revenge by violently killing a bear are always important lessons we want to impart to our kids.

Back to Merida.  She’s 17 and the queen thinks it’s time for her to get married. To that end, she’s invited the heads of the three clans to present their sons to her daughter, at which time Merida will decide which of the suitors she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Our little renegade disagrees with that tradition and finds a loophole to buy herself some time.  An epic mother-teenage daughter disagreement ensues.  Merida runs to the forest to cool her clogs, where she ultimately encounters a witch who gives her a potion to help change her mother’s mind.  Instead, it changes her mother into a bear -- seriously -- and it’s all downhill (down highlands?) from there.

I’m almost convinced this movie's title is a statement about the courage it took to make a film that completely flies in the face of the great storytelling we’re used to enjoying from Pixar.  With Brave, the studio once again gives us incredible visuals -- creating something gorgeous for moviegoers has apparently become for them as natural as breathing.  However, when it comes to telling this particular story, I think everybody’s favorite animation factory developed a bad case of asthma.  It’s hard to believe these are the same people who gave us Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3.  Fortunately, if you can re-suspend your disbelief for the last five minutes of the movie, there’s sort of a cathartic payoff to remind us that if Pixar had kept it simple, Brave could have been more accessible, kid-friendly and just plain better than it is.

Rating: Two-and-a-half out of five stars.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Movie Review: ‘Tower Heist’

Bobby Bank/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Despite his misdeeds and all the misfortune he wrought for so many families and businesses, we can thank incarcerated financial fraudster Bernie Madoff for at least one thing. Without him, we wouldn’t have the gift of Tower Heist.

Ben Stiller is Josh Kovacs, the thoughtful, affable manager of one of New York City’s finest apartment buildings. Besides catering to the obscenely wealthy, the building is home to billionaire investor Arthur Shaw, a hometown boy from Queens who cultivated the ability to charm the hell out of his clients while robbing them blind without batting an eyelash.  More about him in a moment.

Josh oversees a large and eclectic staff of service professionals, including his dopey brother-in-law Charlie (Casey Affleck); a Jamaican cleaning lady named Odessa, played by Precious star Gabourey Sidibe; a former Burger King employee-turned-elevator operator named Enrique (Michael Pena); and the doorman, Lester, played by Stephen Henderson.

Within the first 10 minutes of Tower Heist, we meet all of these characters and learn what a great guy Josh is…especially when he’s asked to essentially evict Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), a Yale grad and father of two who was downsized and has lost everything. Josh arranges for Mr. Fitzhugh to stay in the building for a few more days. Aww.

For all of his good intentions, Josh made one terrible mistake. Unbeknownst to his staff, he asked Mr. Shaw to invest his staff’s pensions -- a total of $20 million. This foolish decision comes back to bite him when Mr. Shaw is busted by the FBI for bilking his investors.  Josh slowly realizes the great guy who owns the penthouse is, in reality, a great big (insert your own expletive).

Shaw needs to get his staff’s pensions back.  But how?  Enter Eddie Murphy’s Slide, a career criminal Josh went to school with when he was six years old.  Josh assembles a team consisting of Slide, Charlie, Mr. Fitzhugh and Odessa -- who, as luck would have it, knows how to crack a safe.  Together, they concoct a caper to retrieve the stolen money.

If this entire setup sounds ridiculous to you, that’s because it is ridiculous.  It’s also incredibly entertaining. Murphy makes one of the better decisions of his recent career in doing a comedy where he doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. Stiller, Affleck, Broderick and Pena are all hilarious, with an honorable mention for Gabourey Sidibe, who’s surprisingly funny after turning in one of the last decade’s most memorable dramatic performances in Precious.

However, the person who may deserve the most credit for Tower Heist is director Brett Ratner.  He shows a level of maturity with this film that he’s never before displayed, taking a ridiculous story and keeping it grounded in reality by masterfully playing to all of his actors’ strengths.

Rating: Four out of five stars.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jersey Shore’s Sammi: The Sweetest ACTRESS You’ll Ever Meet?

ABC News Radio(NEW YORK) -- Jersey Shore’s Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola is branching out.

“To be honest, I’m focusing on me and my brand and wherever that takes me,” the 24-year-old Hazlet, N.J., native tells ABC News Radio.

And where it’s taking her – for now – is on a press tour promoting her new perfume, “Dangerous.”

“It’s something that I worked really long and hard on, and it’s something I’m extremely proud of and I put a lot of heart and soul into it, and I love it.”


Giancola says she really wants to be an entrepreneur.

“I just want to get into clothing and things that I really love,” she said.

But what the self-proclaimed “sweetest bitch you’ll ever meet” is truly interested in -- beyond her role on MTV’s wildly-popular reality series Jersey Shore -- is acting.

“It wasn’t until ... I did a [6 Hour Power] commercial and ... some other things like The Three Stooges ... that I really got a taste of it and I really loved it,” she said. “And now I’m like, ‘Wow, maybe I should think about this,’ because it came easy to me."

“I loved it!” Sammi said, referring to her on-screen cameos. “So, why not do something that I love?”

Giancola says her inspiration to act comes from Angelina Jolie because, “she just does a lot.”

“I like her movies that she does. I like her as an actress. She’s involved in a lot of charities. I like the life that she lives,” Sammi said.

Giancola’s life has been on full display since the series debuted in December 2009 -- and her on-again, off-again relationship with Jersey Shore co-star Ronnie Ortiz-Magro has been one of the show's most galvanizing plot points.

If you’re wondering whether the pair is still together – spoiler alert – they are, indeed.

“We both kind of grew up and became adults,” Giancola told ABC News Radio. “Towards the end of Italy we really made it work. We were able to communicate. We got over the fighting issue.  We kind of really figured out what we wanted in our lives.”

Jersey Shore fans will see the two together in season five, but the drama, she reveals, will shift away from her own relationship and onto others.

“The drama’s really going to unfold on some other people and it’s going to be very dramatic.”

Giancola says she’s aware of the reputation she and her castmates have now, based on their on-screen portrayal -- and that, she says, is just fine.

“That show makes everybody look bad at times, including myself, and it makes me look pretty bad,” she admits. “Let’s be honest – it makes me look pretty bad, but I go with it because that’s what I chose to do and that’s me.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Bachelorette' Winner: Ashley's "Smokin' Hot With a Great Ass"

ABC News(NEW YORK) – There are a lot of things that newly-engaged JP Rosenbaum loves about his new fiancée, Bachelorette star Ashley Hebert. And speaking to ABC News Radio’s David Blaustein on Tuesday, the 34-year-old construction manager from New York wasn’t shy when asked to name some of Hebert’s best assets.

After rattling off some of the typical responses – “she brings out the best in me,” “we just work,” and “we complement each other perfectly,” Hebert nudged Rosenbaum, and quietly reminded him of her good looks.

"Oh yeah,” Rosenbaum said. “And she's smokin' hot with a great ass!"

“Baby!” Hebert exclaimed, appearing startled by Rosenbaum’s choice of words.

The former Bachelorette contestant asked Blaustein, “I can say that?”

"There's no turning back now,” Rosenbaum said.

“She is absolutely gorgeous,” Rosenbaum conceded. “The attraction was there from the get-go."

Hebert, a 26-year-old aspiring dentist who lives in Philadelphia, accepted Rosenbaum’s marriage proposal on Monday’s season finale of ABC's The Bachelorette. JP popped the question after Ashley turned down a proposal from the other finalist, 28-year-old winemaker Ben F. of Sonoma, Calif.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio