The Bock’s Office: Love is in the air and at the movies |

The Bock’s Office: Love is in the air and at the movies

Andy Bockelman

Couple Eva and Albert (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini) have an uncomfortable moment in "Enough Said." The movie is about a woman who unintentionally learns her new boyfriend's worst traits from his ex-wife.

Valentine's Day is here, and what would the middle of February be without a few selections at the local bijou to provide people with a good date night? Whether you and your significant other plan to step out on the town or snuggle up at home with a DVD, there are plenty of films to enjoy for whatever your liking, many of which have been released within the past year.

Teenage woes

"Beautiful Creatures" — Discontent with his life in a small, repressed Southern town, Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) finds the first good thing in his young existence in the form of the new girl in school, Lena (Alice Englert). Although she likes him, too, family issues get in their way, namely the fact that she comes from a clan of witches.

What's more, Lena may be fated to be the most powerful of them all, which would mean being unable to find love without destroying the object of her affection.

Anytime you're talking about deep feelings with the 18-and-younger crowd, you run the risk of things being overly dramatic and often just plain fake, and the screen version of the novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl hardly goes completely against the grain in this regard. What separates this from the likes of "Twilight" and other teen love stories is that it doesn’t try too hard to fight the sappy stuff as well as has a pair of stars who are delightfully unpolished, though that same quality may not appeal to everyone.

Remember, this week also marks the release of the remake of "Endless Love," the Brooke Shields movie that's remembered less for its story of obsession between two crazy kids and more for an unforgettably cheesy title song and the debut of Tom Cruise.

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The classics … kinda

"Austenland" — Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) has had little luck with men in her lifetime, preferring the examples set forth in the literary works of Jane Austen to the guys she has dated. When she opts to spend her life savings on an overseas vacation to a resort styled after the works of her favorite writer, her hope is that the experience will be money well spent if it means finding her soulmate.

The accommodations aren't exactly ideal for someone on her budget, but even as she starts to find romance, the trouble is determining whether or not it's even real.

The love affair between Austen and today's readers hits new heights with this bit of silliness, with Russell overcoming a role that's barely defined beyond the stereotypical Janeite, presented as a single woman older than 30 who can't get enough of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the BBC's adaptation of "Pride & Prejudice.” Better movies have been made about the subject matter — such as "Becoming Jane," "The Jane Austen Book Club" or the myriad renditions of the authoress's substantial library — but this still makes for a decent romantic comedy.

Speaking of love stories that have stood the test of time, be sure to keep in mind recent Shakespearean films "Romeo & Juliet" and "Much Ado About Nothing."

Romance the 2nd time around

"Enough Said” — Sparks fly when Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) meets a man named Albert (James Gandolfini) who, like her, also happens to be divorced. As they begin dating, she approaches it carefully, partly because of her past failed marriage and also because a new client, Marianne (Catherine Keener), has been talking her ear off about the benefits of being single.

As much as Eva likes Albert, her view of him changes once she realizes he is Marianne's ex and that the unflattering things she's been saying about her former husband aren't exactly untrue.

Another well-observed look at relationships from writer/director Nicole Holofcener benefits from having two leads who are able to bounce their often glib personalities off each other and bring out the humor of people of a "certain age" trying the whole dating thing again while coping with empty nest syndrome and ex-spouses who try to make life into a competition.

It also serves as one of the last times we'll see the late Gandolfini again. A fond arrivederci to you, Tony Soprano.

Love in unusual circumstances

"About Time" — When a young man named Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns from his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family possess the ability to travel back in time, his only thought is to use this skill to do what he's never been able to accomplish: find a girlfriend. When he meets the perfect woman (Rachel McAdams), his new-found talent allows him to woo her without any of the difficulties of other relationships, but even having an unlimited number of do-overs doesn't guarantee everything.

"Love Actually" director Richard Curtis — also responsible for writing countless British movies and TV shows — makes up his own rules and bends them just as often in his treatment of the space-time continuum, yet that part of the story almost is secondary in something that's a genuinely moving look at how love ultimately is a thing of destiny and something you've got to appreciate while you have it.

It also lets McAdams make up for the less-than-entertaining "The Time Traveler's Wife," which proved why romance and science fiction rarely intertwine. For that matter, throwing in the supernatural hasn't worked for most love stories, if you just look at parts of last year's "Safe Haven" or the entirety of "The Host."

Here's hoping the new "Winter's Tale" can overcome that curse.

Something for the kids

"The Lego Movie" — An average Lego minifigure (voice of Chris Pratt) has his world thrown into disarray when he learns he is the key to preventing the destruction of his mini universe at the hands of an evil tyrant (Will Ferrell).

Yes, there is some romance here, as the main character Emmet falls for a girl named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), but the real love in question in this feature is the feelings all kids of all ages have for their favorite toys — in this case, the Lego bricks that are so simple but have infinite possibilities. It may feel like an extended commercial at some points, but the nonstop action and surprisingly good script of the newest cartoon on the market make it one of the most pleasing flicks so far this year.

You may be tempted to send your children to this while taking in a more age-appropriate show, but an even better move would be to see it together, with the thoughtful climax something that will mean a lot for the multi-generational experience.

Still, good luck getting the infectious song "Everything Is Awesome!!!" out of your head on the drive home.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

The Bock’s Office suggested Valentine’s viewing

“Beautiful Creatures”


“Enough Said”

“About Time”

All the above movies are currently available on DVD and Blu-ray format.

If you go

“The Lego Movie,” rated PG

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 100 minutes

Starring the voices of: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks and Morgan Freeman

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig’s West Theatre.