Out to the Movies: The Vow

From the first time I saw the preview last fall, I knew I was going to be in the theater when The Vow came out. It has everything that interests me in a movie: a love story, a good looking guy, a loveable girl. It’s a typical, yet enjoyable, chick flick romance.

Which is why, after seeing it tonight, I’m okay saying that there was nothing spectacular about the film.

Did I like it? Absolutely. Do I think you should go see it? Most definitely. Why, though – you’re asking yourself – if it’s so ordinary? I’ll tell you.

Because it has that thing I think every really truly great romance film should have – that ounce of reality that takes it from fiction-filled, never really going to happen fantasy and steps it up to something that makes you reflect on your own relationship(s).

You may or may not know that the film is actually based on real events. For one couple, an accident took away the wife’s memory. They’re still together today with two children, but she never regained her memory and had to learn to re-love her husband. What strikes me and moves me so much is this:

What if the person I loved more than anyone suddenly couldn’t remember me?

It’s that thought that brings me to tears. It’s that small ounce of reality – something that could potentially happen – that makes all the difference in this movie. It’s the same thing that makes the difference in my other favorite Rachel McAdams film, The Notebook. It’s not the handsome men or the beat-the-odds love story. It’s the portrayal of something that hits close to home that really takes a film to the next level.

OVERALL: The Vow is not an extraordinary love story. But it’s a real love story. And that’s what makes all the difference.


Not such a Smash, but there’s potential

Last night I tuned in for the first episode of NBC’s new show, Smash. It’s all about the makings of a new Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge Marilyn fan (which is why it’s kind of funny that I’ve watched this and Oscar-nominated film My Week with Marilyn in the past month), but thankfully being a Marilyn fan is not a prerequisite for watching this show. In any case, since I’m a sucker for anything that involves singing and dancing, I thought it might be right up my alley.

I will say, for the first 30 minutes or so, I was not impressed.

The storyline is everything you think it will be. Writers get inspired by all the Marilyn Mania happening in pop culture, think “Why not a musical?”, get a kick-butt choreographer/director who no one likes, and we get to listen to some very Marilyn-esque songs.  Yeah, there’s a lot of breathless, high-pitched “Ah!”s and “Oh!”s. In my opinion, if we wanted to listen to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, we can go to iTunes. I don’t need to watch someone else singing it while pretending to be Marilyn to get the point.

Thankfully, about a half hour in, Katharine McPhee FINALLY started to sing.

Katharine McPhee was definitely the high point of NBC's new show, Smash. Would love to see her get more screen time with some great original music.

Now, I’m not an American Idol viewer, so I’d never really seen her before. Let me tell you, though, she lights up the screen. While her performance of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” was nothing to write home about, the emotion and feeling she portrayed while singing it were pretty darn good. As her storyline grew throughout the episode, it was easy to tell that she’s going to be the one who draws people in and makes them connect with the show. While Megan Hilty, Broadway veteran most well-known for playing Galinda/Glinda in my fave show Wicked (after Kristin Chenoweth, of course), is very talented, she didn’t make you want to feel for her the way McPhee does. She may have that chance in upcoming episodes, but she’s not there yet. (Check out this review of my favorite song from the episode – a McPhee and Hilty duet – called “Let Me Be Your Star”.)

Overall, I think I’d give the episode a B- with some room for improvement. If they stay away from the campy Marilyn songs, give Katharine McPhee a chance to shine and really give the audience something to connect with, I think success will be more possible. NBC’s been struggling with their primetime shows, though, so we’ll see if they can make a go at it with this one.

Did you watch the first episode of Smash? Agree with me or disagree? Would love to hear it in the comments!

College is done – when does the “poor college kid” thing end?

I’ve been at my job for the past 6 months and, I will admit, it is absolutely wonderful to have a steady income. However, with all my student loans and regular monthly bills, it doesn’t feel like I’m done digging my way out of the “poor college kid” persona. I know it’s something that lots of recent college grads have to experience, but now that I’m looking at buying a new car this summer, it’s time for me to start making some (important, even if seemingly small) goals.

Below is my list of ways to alter my budget in order to save more. Do you have some suggestions of things to add? I know finances are something most people have to work hard to be good at, so I’ll take any advice or words of wisdom out there!

Amanda’s Money-Saving Goals (until after she gets a new car!):

  1. No more movies out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart/Target.
  2. No more iTunes purchases. If new music is out, listen to it on Spotify.
  3. No more new clothes. Wear what you have!
  4. Eat out no more than once a week (excluding work travel).
  5. Eat at a fast food restaurant no more than once a month (excluding work travel).
  6. No more than one movie (including popcorn and pop) in the theaters per month.
  7. After finishing the movies in current queue, cancel Netflix DVDs.
  8. Get Minnesota driver’s license so I can switch to the carpooling parking pass.

10 Things I Learned While My Immune System Quit on Me

I’ve been sick for the last three days. First I couldn’t keep anything down. Now I can’t breathe. Yeah, I know. TMI. Moving on.

In any case, I’ve learned several important things while being sick:

  1. Owning a full length couch is very important. Otherwise, your feet fall asleep before you do in front of the TV.
  2. Showers and clean clothes essential. Even if they only mean getting clean enough to move from one pair of pj’s or sweats to the next.
  3. Heart Healthy chicken noodle soup? Blech. Bring back the salt please.
  4. There’s only so many times you can apologize to your co-workers for your sniffles.
  5. It is going to be a bad day when even the food on Pinterest doesn’t look good.
  6. Plain bread makes everything better.
  7. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter take far less attention than work. Hence, they are good sick person activities.
  8. Lotion-y Kleenex. Spend the extra money. Trust me.
  9. Super drugs. Spend the extra money. Trust me.
  10. When all else fails, ask your sister to FedEx you her puppy. Puppies make everything better

Any of these sound familiar (if so, I’m assuming your immune system hates you too)? Did I miss something? Leave it in the comments!

Farm-y, Food-y Friday: Creating a multi-dimensional me

For those people who were avid readers of my blog, On the Journey, you may be wondering what on Earth I’m doing with this new, off-the-wall blog that has posts about movies and Broadway and whatever other random thing comes to the top of my head. You thought I was an agvocate, right? A farm blogger. A vocal part of agri-cult-ure. Well, I am.

But I’m also a lot more than that.

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The Delorean will always be cool

I’m going to admit it: I wasn’t born when the first Back to the Future film came out. But that doesn’t mean trilogy continues to be one of my favorites of all time! I just don’t think there’s any way you can go wrong with time travel, Michael J. Fox, hoverboards, Huey Lewis and the News, Doc and a preview of what 2015 is going to look like (those flying cars better get previewing at auto shows if everyone’s supposed to have one in three years!).

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Reasons to love Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Reason #1

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My love affair with red velvet

I love red velvet anything and I’m not afraid to admit it. Since joining Pinterest, my level of red velvet salivation has risen dramatically. Every red velvet recipe I run across just looks so delicious, I can’t stand it. I can just imagine the taste of that delectably dense cake and yummy cream cheese frosting.

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Give my regards to Broadway

I’ve always felt my love for musical theater was just a little strange amongst my peers. Growing up in a small, rural town in the Midwest where my high school had no drama program, you had to travel a few hours to see a traveling production of any Broadway show. It was only after my parents went and saw Phantom of the Opera in Toronto for their anniversary that I got hooked.

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Out to the Movies: One for the Money

A light-hearted comedy, this is one to see with your girls.

When I first moved to the Twin Cities, a coworker and I got together for a trip to the Mall of America. Over lunch we got talking about books we liked. She mentioned this series of books by Janet Evanovich – the Stephanie Plum series. She described the general plot, how each book title was a play on a number and said they were absolutely hilarious. Ever since that conversation, I had been meaning to pick up the first book and give it a try.

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