Did You Hear About the Morgans

  • Directors: Marc Lawrence
  • Producers: Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer
  • Writers: Marc Lawrence
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Elisabeth Moss, Michael Kelly, Wilford Brimley, Jesse Liebman

Did You Hear About the Morgans? follows a highly successful Manhattan couple, Meryl and Paul Morgan (Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant), whose almost-perfect lives have only one notable failure – their dissolving marriage. But the turmoil of their romantic lives is nothing compared to what they are about to experience: they witness a murder and become targets of a contract killer. The Feds, protecting their witnesses, whisk away the Morgans from their beloved New York to a tiny town in Wyoming, and a relationship that was on the rocks threatens to end completely in the Rockies … unless, in their new BlackBerry-free lives, the Morgans can slow down the pace and rekindle the passion. Once in Ray, Wyoming, the Morgan’s are introduced to the Wheelers, who will be protecting them secretly under the names of Meryl and Paul Foster, who are visiting their cousins, the Wheelers. While adjusting to Ray, Paul tries rekindling their marriage. Meanwhile, in New York, the killer is still after them and has found a way to know where they are through Meryl’s assistant. When Paul hurts his shoulder shooting cans for fun, he is taken to the only doctor in town, whose number the murderer achieves and plans to go down to Wyoming. Meryl makes a phone call to alert an adoption agent she won’t be needing her services, greatly endangering both her and Paul when she calls herself Meryl Morgan over the phone. Still trying to help the romance, Paul takes Meryl on a date. Afterwards, they get lost on the way home, and share a kiss after remembering their wedding day with Meryl repeating you may kiss the bride as a hint. With everything in order, Meryl begins to question whether she should or should not tell Paul she had an infidelity during their separation. Asking the Wheelers for help, they say she should be truthful but gentle. When she is, Paul becomes standoffish. The next day, with the killer in town, the Morgans anticipate leaving Ray for a new, bigger city. The Wheelers invite them to a rodeo, which the Morgans decline due to their budding argument. Leaving the Morgans without any form of security, the killer breaks in, but not before the Morgans are able to sneak out. Going to the Rodeo, they hide in a bull suit and accidentally frighten a live bull into head-butting them. Meryl, unable to walk, stays hidden from the killer while Paul, realizing he has no time to get the Wheelers, takes matters into his own hands. Accidentally spraying himself with pepper spray instead of the killer, he is about to be shot when Mrs. Wheeler approaches with a gun. Soon after, Mr. Wheeler does the same, and friends the Morgans have made gather around proclaiming themselves witnesses. Mr. Wheeler hits the murderer over the head with a horseshoe, knocking him unconscienous and thus leaving police to arrest him. Meryl and Paul realize that when they almost thought one another would die, they had no worse feeling in their lives, and make up for good. Six months later, they come home from China with a baby girl they have adopted. Moving into their new apartment, they decide to name the baby Rae. Admiring the view from their balcony, the happy new family admires that Meryl is pregnant with a biological child as well, with Paul remarking, Wouldn’t if be funny if this one was Chinese too?

Step Brothers

  • Directors: Adam McKay
  • Producers: Jimmy Miller, Judd Apatow, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell
  • Writers: Screenplay, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Story, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, John C Reilly
  • Genres: Comedy
  • Actors: Will Ferrell, John C Reilly, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Rob Riggle

Brennan Huff (Ferrell) is an unemployed 39-year-old who lives with his divorced mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen). Dale Doback (Reilly) is an unemployed 40-year-old who lives with his widower father, Robert (Richard Jenkins). Robert and Nancy get married and move in together, forcing Brennan and Dale to live with each other as step brothers; their childish dislike for each other is immediate.

Dale warns Brennan not to touch his drum set, but Brennan does so anyway. As tensions escalate, Brennan rubs his testicles (described by Ferrell in the DVD audio commentary as “$25,000 of prosthetic balls”) over Dale’s drums. This ignites a huge fight, in which Dale and Brennan use weapons such as headphones, bicycles, and bare hands to attack each other. In response, their parents declare that their sons must find jobs and see therapists or else be forced out of the house. Brennan’s successful, conceited biological younger brother Derek (Adam Scott) comes to visit with his oddly perfect family (who nearly cause a car accident as they sing an a cappella rendition of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” on the drive over). Dale retreats to his tree house where he and Brennan read pornography. Derek drops by to mock them, and incites Dale to punch Derek in the face. Brennan is awed by the fact that Dale was able to stand up to Derek. Brennan’s sister-in-law, Alice (Kathryn Hahn), meanwhile, finds Dale’s courage arousing, and becomes infatuated with him. Brennan and Dale become best friends.

Dale and Brennan go on to run a successful company that sells karaoke machines, and Brennan enters into a relationship with his therapist Denise (Andrea Savage). Robert and Nancy reunite and move back into their old home, with a new tree house made from the destroyed boat just for Dale and Brennan.

The Proposal

  • Directors: Anne Fletcher
  • Producers: Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Kristin Burr
  • Writers: Pete Chiarelli
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Malin Akerman, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T Nelson, Aasif Mandvi, Betty White

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the executive editor-in-chief of a book publishing company, Colden Books. All of her workers, including her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), hate her, and she fires a senior editor, Bob Spaulding (Aasif Mandvi) because he is unable to get a man named Frank to interview Oprah. After learning she is being deported to Canada,she forces Andrew to marry her, as his future is tied to hers. When the government investigates, Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) informs them that they will undergo rigorous testing to prove that the marriage is not fraudulent. Andrew grudgingly accepts, under the condition that he is promoted to the position of editor and his manuscript be published. He also forces Margaret to propose nicely to him on her knees in the streets of New York, and to allow him to tell his parents they are getting married.

The two are forced to spend the weekend with his parents in Sitka, Alaska in order to sell the lie, where they will be attending the 90th birthday party of Andrew’s Gammy (Betty White). Margaret is very unreceptive of Alaska, and is furthermore shocked to learn that Andrew’s family owns most of the business in Sitka. They attend a surprise party for them, where Andrew catches up with his ex-girlfriend, Gertrude “Gert” (Malin Akerman). After he is humiliated by his father, Joe Paxton (Craig T. Nelson), Andrew announces that he and Margaret are getting married. They are forced to kiss, and do so passionately, showing the first signs of respect for one another. Andrew’s parents then show them their room, and Gammy gives them a special blanket (called baby-maker, which they avoid). Andrew and Margaret sleep separately.

During the wedding ceremony, Margaret decides she cannot do this to Andrew and confesses the business arrangement in front of everyone- including Mr Gilbertson, who tells her she has twenty four hours to get back to Canada, and thus goes back to New York to pack her things. Upon doing so, however, Andrew shows up at the office and confesses his love for her in front of the entire office staff, proposing marriage all over again. They go to Mr. Gilbertson once more to get engaged “for real”.

Back to the Future Part III

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Bob Gale, Neil Cantone
  • Writers: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Western
  • Actors: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F Wilson, Lea Thompson

After lightning strikes the clock tower and sends the Back to the Future Marty back to 1985, Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), who is stranded in 1955, takes “Doc” Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) home. He explains to the Doc of that era that Doc’s future self and the DeLorean time machine were accidentally sent back to the year 1885. Marty learns from a letter written by Doc in 1885, that the DeLorean is hidden in an old mineshaft. The letter instructs Marty to find the car, return to 1985, and then destroy it in order to prevent further disruption of the space-time continuum.

With the help of the Doc of 1955, Marty retrieves the DeLorean. In the process, he discovers a tombstone which leads him to learn that Doc was killed in 1885 by Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen, just seven days after having written the letter. Ignoring Doc’s urging to return to 1985, Marty decides that he must save Doc, who had no idea he would be killed days later. Marty takes the DeLorean back to 1885, and arrives in the middle of a skirmish between a group of Native Americans and the United States cavalry, resulting in the DeLorean’s fuel line being ruptured. After hiding the car, Marty treks towards town, encountering his great-great-grandparents who had recently arrived in America from Ireland. To mask his identity, he takes up the name “Clint Eastwood”. After arriving in Hill Valley and nearly avoiding a skirmish with Buford, Marty reunites with Doc, who agrees to leave when he learns of his upcoming fate. Doc sees Marty’s photograph of his tombstone and concludes from the inscription that he was to have fallen in love with a woman named “Clara”. Learning that the new schoolmarm he has promised to pick up is named Clara Clayton, Doc decides to leave without meeting her.

As planned in the parallel year 1985, Marty coasts safely across the ravine bridge, now called “Eastwood Ridge”, but he immediately encounters a modern-day diesel locomotive bearing down on him. Marty escapes, but the DeLorean is smashed to pieces. Marty picks Jennifer up at her house where he left her in Part II, and having learned his lesson back in 1885, refuses to take part in a drag race with Needles, who calls him ‘chicken’. This causes him to avoid the automobile accident which resulted in the ruined future depicted in the previous film, as evidenced by the erasure of the fax Jennifer obtained from the future. Marty takes Jennifer to the site of the destroyed DeLorean, where he accepts that it is what Doc wanted. At that moment, however, a time machine built out of a locomotive appears. The door opens to reveal Doc, Clara and their two sons, who are named Jules and Verne (before appearing in Back to the Future: The Animated Series) after the author Jules Verne. As Doc prepares to leave again, Marty asks if they plan to go to the future. Doc replies that they’ve already been there, and the train – which has been futuristically upgraded – lifts off from the ground and flies off into time.

Parenthood

  • Directors: Ron Howard
  • Producers: Brian Grazer
  • Writers: Story, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Ron Howard, Screenplay, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Steve Martin, Tom Hulce, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest

The story revolves around Gil Buckman (Steve Martin), a neurotic sales executive trying to balance the pressures of raising a family in the suburbs of St. Louis and succeeding in his career. Among Gil’s issues is a family of relatives who all face their own obstacles related to family and raising children such as Gil’s wife, Karen (Mary Steenburgen), his gruff and distant father, Frank (Jason Robards) and an assortment of other colorful relatives in a movie that raises the question: How easy is it to raise a family when you’re also trying to have your own life?

Gil never overworks himself, because he wants to be an active father, rather than a distant one like his own father was. His relationship with his father remains tense. His parenting skills are put under more pressure when he finds out that his wife is pregnant with their fourth child whom he is unsure of, and that his eldest son, Kevin, may have emotional problems [recognizably, in retrospect, a mild form of social anxiety disorder or possibly Asperger’s Syndrome] and may need to be placed in special classes or a private school if his issues don’t get better. Given Kevin’s issues, and some more minor issues with his other two children, Gil begins to blame himself and deeply question his abilities as a father. In addition, the financial burdens of another child and office politics at work may mean becoming the workaholic he despised his own father for being. When his father comes to Gil for advice on how to deal with Larry (Gil’s wayward brother) and says he is asking Gil’s advice because Gil is a good father, Gil has some closure about his feelings toward his father. Although this was a first step for Gil to realize that kids don’t come with an instruction manual, it is grandma and his wife that finally get him to relax and enjoy what life brings rather than over analyze it.

The film ends on a sentimental note with a new generation of Buckman children being born and the personal growth of the parents. For example, Frank lovingly hugs and cuddles his grandson Cool demonstrating that he changed his distant ways. The message of the film is seemingly that despite a family’s hectic problems, there is nothing better than being part of it and everyone has insecurities about their parenting skills.

Elf

  • Directors: Jon Favreau
  • Producers: Jon Berg, Todd Komarnicki, Shauna Robertson
  • Writers: Buddy Hobbs, David Berenbaum
  • Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Will Ferrell, Artie Lange, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Daniel Tay, with Edward Asner, and Bob Newhart

Elf begins with narration by Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), explaining the only three jobs available to an elf: making shoes for a cobbler; baking cookies inside of trees; and working in Santa’s workshop. He also explains Buddy’s presence at the North Pole — as an infant in an orphanage, he crawled into Santa Claus’s sack of toys one Christmas Eve and was accidentally taken to the North Pole. Santa (Edward Asner) decides to allow the child, called “Buddy” after a label on his diaper, to be raised by Papa Elf, who has no children of his own.

As Buddy (Will Ferrell) grows, his height and poor toymaking skills raise awkward questions that his adoptive father continually waves away. Papa Elf also shows Buddy the jet engine he created in the 1960s to assist Santa’s sleigh, which had run on the power of the Christmas spirit, until people began to doubt Santa’s existence. After a string of accidents in which Buddy’s non-elfness becomes obvious, Papa Elf finally breaks the news that he was adopted: his birth parents fell in love with each other when they were high school students in the 1970s, and nine months later, Buddy was born, in 1973. His late mother, Susan Wells, placed him for adoption at the orphanage. Buddy’s now 46-year-old father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan), was never aware of Buddy’s existence, and has since become a children’s book publishing executive with offices in the Empire State Building; Walter is presently married to Emily (Mary Steenburgen), and has a 10-year-old son, Michael (Daniel Tay). However Santa informs Buddy that Hobbs is unfortunately on the Naughty List for being a heartless grouch, but has confidence that Buddy will be able to change his Scrooge-like father into a kind and caring human being.

After Christmas, Walter starts a new publishing company, with their first book, “Elf”, written by Buddy Hobbs, becoming an award winning children’s novel. Buddy and Jovie get married and have a daughter named Susie (which is seen, stitched on her hat).