amy adams

American Hustle (2013) Review | Jamie Daily

American Hustle (2013)
86th Academy Awards 2014
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 10 awards.
Nominated for Best Picture (Charles Roven, Jonathan Gordon, Megan Ellison, Richard Suckle), Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Costume Design (Michael Wilkinson), Best Director (David O. Russell), Best Film Editing (Jay Cassidy, Alan Baumgarten, Crispin Struthers), Best Production Design (Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler), and Best Original Screenplay (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell).
Watched June 5, 2014.

David O. Russell is becoming an unstoppable director in recent years.  From The Fighter to Silver Lining’s Playbook, and now onto American Hustle, he groups his favorite actors together in this film to punch out another excellently made, sharp piece with similar humor that we all loved in Playbook.  Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence are the revisiting dream teams, but their performances are complimented this time by Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K. and other big names in the industry.  The star studded cast combined with the fabulous director should be a recipe for greatness, and although the film took home zero Oscars on awards night, it was certainly a strong contender.

The story is a little unoriginal and one we have seen often.  It is the late 70s and early 80s.  Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) is a small time scammer married to a young woman named Rosalyn (Lawrence).  When he meets vivacious Sydney Prosser (Adams)–if that is her real name–he falls in love and ropes her into his business.  They’re eventually cracked by the feds and ambitious Richie DiMaso (Cooper) offers them a deal to get off the hook.  If they will help him to take town some big time scammers they’ll walk.

Irving is a piece of work, and an excellent character, which is probably what attracted Bale to the part.  The opening scene shows precisely how the man creates his masterpiece of a combover, complete with hair piece.  He knows what he wants and how to get it but he also knows when things aren’t right.  Sydney might turn out to be better than him, but I’ll let you decide on that front.

Despite the fact that Rosalyn knows about Sydney, she comes off as a few crayons short of a set and is constantly setting things on fire or talking about her manicures.  She is surprisingly dangerous and passive aggressive.  In true Lawrence-fan fashion, she was one of my favorite characters in the film.  She brings a different side to the comedy that the other characters don’t, although everyone seems a bit gaudy.  As Christy Lemire  from Roger Ebert says, “Her complexity and unpredictability make her fascinating to watch—she’s just unhinged enough to think she’s the voice of reason—and Lawrence is a radiant scene-stealer.”

The costuming is truly on point.  Sydney is obsessed with the plunging neckline.  Just as distracting is Richie’s head of incredibly curly hair (which he curls every night).  Each character is so delectably unique, and yet somehow the story line doesn’t get bogged down with their loud, semi-insane character arcs and holds things together surprisingly well.

Jeremy Renner plays the mayor, Carmine Polito, who is one of the many they are trying to scam.  He is a big time family man who passionately wants to make a difference in the city, but unfortunately his methods are against the law and Richie is chasing after him.  Irving and Sydney have no choice but to go along.  Rosalyn is the loose cannon that could ruin the entire operation, and everybody knows it.  Instead of keeping her at home, they continue to take her to all of the events and set her free.

The big personalities are a recipe for disaster within the film, but outside of that, everything came together fairly well.  Russell went at the con artist angle with more humor than we typically see.  This is perhaps an attempt to make the plot more unique, but really it’s just a rehash of everything we have all ready seen out of Hollywood.  Everything is executed well, as you can tell from the list of nominations, but what was missing was the twist of originality we typically see from the director and his star studded team.

The film is rated R, but is a great comedy with a lot of wit, laughs, and ridiculous situations.  I can appreciate this type of humor a lot more than something like “Ted.”  If American Hustle sounds like something you would enjoy, I would definitely recommend it.

The Muppets (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

The Muppets (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Best Music, Song (“Man or Muppet” by Bret McKenzie).
Watched February 9, 2012.


The MuppetsJason SegalAmy AdamsKermit, and the rest of the crew are delightful in all the right ways in this nostalgic, blast from the past episode of the Muppets and their crazy, cute, sometimes childish adventures.  If you didn’t love this film, perhaps you have lost your love of the Muppets somewhere among the many years of growing up.


Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) and his brother Gary (Segal) have grown up in an idilic small town suburb and are the cheesiest friends the big screen could ask for.  Gary’s long time girlfriend Mary (Adams) is slightly less happy-go-lucky than the two boys, but not by much.  Although the side-plot of Gary and Mary is a little distracting from the best story-line, it does give a bit more depth to Gary and grows him into less of a sidekick and more of a main attraction, even though he isn’t a frog.


Walter has been in love with the Muppets since he discovered them as a young boy.  To commemorate Gary and Mary’s 10th anniversary, the three of them take a trip to LA, where Walter is ecstatic to see the Muppets studios, which to his dismay have fallen into extreme disrepair since the show has been off the air.  Here follows the entrance of the super-villain and oil tycoon, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), who is slightly over-done in acting and under-done in character development.  His one goal is to buy the studio and drill for the oil that is underneath it.


Walter, Gary, and Mary seek out Kermit and the rest of the crew to save the studio!  Kermit is reluctant at first, but soon his nostalgia wins over and they set out on an epic road trip of Muppet proportions to pick up everyone else, including a trip “by map” across the country, and the Atlantic, to wind up in Paris where Miss Piggy is a prestigious editor of Vogue.


They set up a telethon, repair their condemned studio in minutes, and put on a show in just as much time.  The famous cameos are to die for, and it’s obvious that everyone from Emily Blunt to Whoopie Goldberg is having a fantastic time.  Jack Black has a something-to-be-desired sort of role that doesn’t nearly explore his full potential, although the fact that they were able to make a role of his NOT be completely about Jack Black is pretty impressive.


All it in all, it is your typical Muppets film, and will be especially enticing for those who grew up with them, and loved them.  It has an extreme undertone of nostalgia, even for the characters, and brings back many famous songs, as well as introduces a few new ones.  It is delectably cheesy, audience engaging, and everything that it should have been.  By no means will it wow you cinematically, or artistically, but it should bring you back to a more simple time and impress upon you how much things have changed.


Even if you don’t have kids, I would recommend The Muppets for a few laughs, a good time with Jason Segal and Amy Adams, and quite the reunion with Kermit and the gang.

Sources: IMDBRotten TomatoesNY TimesJohn Likes MoviesFilms According to Chris Wyatt