So I saw “17 Again,” but I wasn’t really seeing it…

17_againIn the world of cinema, it doesn’t take much to make me swoon. A slight grin; gently tousled hair; a longing glance or two; some tears; a dynamic love story. And an incredibly good-looking guy doing/being all of the above!

And after seeing Zac Efron in “17 Again” on Saturday, my quota of ridiculously hot ogling has been filled.

It’s a really cute movie . . . really. Twenty years ago, Mike was the hotshot basketball player with his whole life — and career — ahead of him. An unexpected, erm, development derails his plans of going on to greatness and instead lands him squarely in the role of husband, father and office drone. At the end of a terribly long day capped by his discussions of his impending divorce from high school sweetheart Scarlett, some sort of magic — and an observant school janitor — allows him to transform back in his 17-year-0ld self. He basically gets a mulligan.

At first, Mike (played by Efron or, for about ten minutes, Matthew Perry) believes he’s been given a second chance at adolescence in order to go after all those dreams he sacrificed for Scarlett and their son and daughter. He’s basically living in a selfish wasteland. And I won’t ruin the film for you . . . not that there are too many spoilers, persay. But Mike heads back to high school with the help of his longtime best friend Ned, he gets a firsthand look at what life is really like for his kids. And he realizes that his true purpose in being 17 again is, in fact, not selfish at all.

Yeah, I know . . . blah blah. Plot stuff. Things happening. I laugh out loud a bunch of times, and I’m watching the movie but I’m not watching the movie. I’m too busy staring at Zac Efron pushing his hair out of his eyes (how is even that quirk adorable to me? Why doesn’t he just get a haircut?), Zac Efron twirling a basketball, Zac Efron leaning back casually in a chair. I can’t stop staring at his face, the way he crosses his arms. And before you think I’m a cradle-robber, let me remind you that Mr. Efron is, in fact, 21 years old! I had to Wikipedia that before I got too involved! I’m 23, so I figure my window of opportunity hasn’t quite slammed shut just yet . . . never mind that he’s, uh, perhaps a wee bit out of my league!

But that’s just depressing. Let’s move on to the eye candy! I present to you . . .

zac_efron

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

Exhibit B? Yeah. Mama’s got a new desktop background. And it’s high-res!

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‘Slumdog’ is sweeping

Slumdog Millionaire posterAfter getting Oscar-winning song “Jai Ho” stuck in a perpetual loop in my head last week, my parents and I decided to head out to the movies to see “Slumdog Millionaire,” a gritty and moving account of a young man’s rise from poverty to fame in the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, India. I haven’t stopped thinking about the film since I saw it Saturday!

Jamal, our protagonist, travels around the country with his brother eking out a hard-scrabble income and looking for his long-lost love, Latika, a childhood friend whom he was viciously separated from years before. After he finds Latika only to lose her again, Jamal tries out to be on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” titled “Kaun Banega Crorepati.” He doesn’t for a minute believe he’s going to win — he just knows that Latika will be watching the show with the rest of India, and he’s desperate to find her. And he does — after a series of twists of destiny that simultaneously bring them together and pull them apart. But ultimately bring them together again.

Jamal and LatikaI can’t say exactly what I loved about this film — it was just as that all the elements combined to create a poignant work that had my head spinning. I’ll be frank and say that the violence in the movie was disturbing — and there were several scenes I never saw coming. I was on the edge of my seat with worry, really, and I had to keep reminding myself it was just a movie . . . it was just hard to watch such devastating things happen in quick succession.

But the story has a happy ending.

Ultimately, the movie was about hope — and it was about destiny. Some of the seemingly unplausible plot points of “Slumdog Millionaire” can easily be traced back to this idea of fate, the knowledge that “it is written.” Latika and Jamal find each other in a city of more than 90 million residents because they’re supposed to find each other. Oh, I love fate! 🙂 The love story here was spectacular, and really sweeping. When Jamal finds Latika and floats into her kitchen like a ghost to wrap his arms around her, I definitely had tears in my eyes. Actors Dev Patel and Freida Pinto were amazing — and that scene was so beautiful.

“Slumdog” picked up a massive haul of eight Academy Awards Feb. 22, including the award of Best Director and Best Picture. I saw fellow-nominee “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” back in December and really enjoyed it, too, and recently thought that perhaps Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett’s stunning film should have won. But while I liked “Button” and was completely engrossed in the story and cinematography, I’ve definitely thought more about “Slumdog” since leaving the theater. The film has opened widely in many areas (hey, including Southern Maryland!) and I would absolutely recommend it. Just bear in mind that it’s rated R for a reason — definitely no one younger than 17 should be there. And be ready to avert your eyes if, like me, you can’t stand the gritty stuff.

Are you afraid of the… office?

I got back from a quick lunch at Panera to discover that the lights in our office building were out! It’s been incredibly windy all day, so I guess the storm blew the power lines around. The main traffic light across the street was out, too. And, as I often whine, I have a windowless office . . . and with only a tiny security light to keep us safe, Brandon, Sandy and I hunkered down for about a half hour waiting for order to be restored — and our lamps and computers to come back to life.

So, reclining in the near pitch-black, what could we possibly do to fill the time?

We told scary stories, of course!

Well, by “told scary stories,” I mean rehashing the plots of the creepiest movies we’ve ever seen — culminating in the acting out of some of said terrifying scenes. Sandy’s votes for scariest movies ever include “Children of the Corn” and “The Village”; Brandon is not a fan of “Predator” or the Jason films. I don’t like anything creepy at all, period — and I really hated “The Ring.” I know, most people thought it was stupid . . . but watching it during a theater lock-in in high school, shifting about in a huge, cold and darkly empty auditorium with that creepy undead girl climbing around on the giant projector screen, I was terrified! I think I watched most of it from the tops of my eyelids, staring at my lap.

Rehashing all the gore and psychologically terrifying plots we’ve been privvy to over the years was pretty fitting right before Halloween. My sister has long been afraid of “Edward Scissorhands,” and I actually cringe when “Hocus Pocus” comes on — Bette Midler screeching with those gigantic teeth for the “BOOOOOOK!” And I don’t like seeing people being hanged (not that anyone enjoys that!) — it really disturbs me. So the opening sequence is just a little too much.

But it was a fun, tiny break from the routine! Everything came back on about an hour later and we had to then work double-time to get everything to press as scheduled. But all’s well that ends well — and now I’m thinking about all sorts of creepy things.