It's hard to believe but the original 300 came out eight years ago! Seems just yesterday that the movie that made me both hate my body and question my sexuality ("300 is how gay it was on a scale of 1 to 10" - Sarah Silverman...still kills me) hit the theaters and became the highest grossing March movie release in history and proof that films released in winter can make hundreds of millions of dollars. It introduced us to a style of filmmaking that we'd never seen before and made us all wish we were of Spartan heritage (my wife actually is...I'm jealous). It really was an awesome movie in the way that geeks can enjoy something. Hoping to capture lightening in a bottle, Hollywood creates an unnecessary sequel and almost destroys all that the first one established.
If you're like me, you'll wonder how a movie where (SPOILER ALERT) everyone but one person dies at the end can have a sequel. Well, in what is the only creative aspect of the film, it is both a prequel and a sequel. I love movies that do this. Rise of an Empire shows us what happened before, after and even during the events in 300 but from the perspective of a character named Themistokles, yes the one (if you know your Greek history) from Marathon, played by Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom, Gangster Squad). He tries to stop the Persian invasion from taking over Greece and wages his war on the water.
This choice to have the narrative jump in time becomes one of the areas where the film falls apart. It's hard to keep track of when certain scenes are taking place since it skips around in flashbacks and flash-forwards. This, however, is the least of its problems. The real issue comes from random newcomer Noam Murro taking over the directing since 300's Zach Snyder is still way too big to be bogged down with a sequel as silly as this. Sadly for Murro, we have no idea what he's capable of since the studio clearly told him that Rise of an Empire will look and feel like Snyder's vision of 300 in every single way. What sucks about this is that no matter how much you loved the look of 300, Rise of an Empire feels tired and played out showing you scene after scene after scene of everything you've seen before.
This is a real shame because so many people worked on such an FX-heavy film that any frame can be paused and it looks like a painting. But when someone shows up to a sequel, they expect to see something new since they could've saved the ten bucks and watched 300 again if they just wanted the same thing. The violence, the sex, the scantily-clad men with 8% body fat are all rehashed in sequences that don't blow you away anymore but instead make you exhausted.
The real shame is that the incredibly sexy Eva Green (Dark Shadows, Casino Royale) gives a wonderful performance as the ridiculously sadistic villain. She's over-the-top in every way but it works in a film that's already set in a hyper-reality. It's also fun to see a woman given the chance to show that girls can play baddies just as well as boys but her character is so superficially written that her wings are clipped in what could've been a more entertaining element of the film. Positively speaking, the one thing Rise of an Empire did well was make you want to watch 300 again.
Granted, I have not been keeping up with star Liam Neeson's career as closely as, I guess, I should have. I remember regarding him as a very serious and accomplished actor for most of my life. Maybe it was the Oscar win for Schindler's List or the underrated and heartfelt Love Actually. I think I should stop doing that since all he seems to do now are action films that are either the same thing over and over again or really, really bad. Non-Stop isn't bad. It doesn't join the ranks of Battleship, The Next Three Days or Clash of the Titans, but it does belong with the incredibly forgettable films of his career where it seems like he's in a pickle and has to punch and shoot his way out of it.
Non-Stop is an action murder mystery that takes place on a plane. Does that seem like a gimmick? At first, absolutely, but the premise of a Federal Air Marshal trying to stop a clever killer on a plane as an elaborate hijacking is at least interesting. What's really fun is that it feels like the 1974 classic Murder on the Orient Express. There is a killer in a trapped vehicle and everyone is a suspect. Whether it was intentional or not, I really enjoyed and appreciated that aspect of it even if it gets a little silly at the end.
Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra is a name that you shouldn't recognize because he's made some pretty awful movies like House of Wax, Orphan and the other Liam Neeson shoot-em-up Unknown. He does a relatively noble job making something out of almost nothing with some interesting choices to move the story along. He also shows us some things we've never seen before but that's probably because they're too silly to have been thought up prior to this, such as an elaborate fight scene in an airplane bathroom. I would've enjoyed the film a lot more if it wasn't as slick and over-produced as he made it considering the simplicity to which the great Sidney Lumet made Murder on the Orient Express.
A team of co-stars was assembled for this that each have the capacity for stellar performances. Anson Mount (AMC's Hell on Wheels), Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy (Argo, 12 Years a Slave) and Michelle Dockery (PBS's Downton Abbey, Hanna) are all wasted in roles that are as cliche and one-dimensional as you can get. The worst case of this is Lupita Nyong'o, who's nominated and will probably win the Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, in a role that has perhaps five whole minutes of combined screen time. In a movie where everyone is a suspect, these types of characters need to be deep, complex, suspicious and challenging. Sadly, in Non-Stop they are none of those.
I'm not a movie snob and I recognize that movies like this have their purpose in the culture of cinema. They're fun and silly and meant to be enjoyed for the 90 minutes you're staring at it and then forgotten about. What makes this one feel different is the motivation of the killer is deeply political and an important message. Fine, but don't put something like that in a movie where a gun rises in slow motion off the ground as the plane loses altitude just long enough for our hero to grab it in mid-air and fire it. Moments like that get an unintentional laugh from the audience. Again though, that's fine in the right movie; but if it happens moments after a character says the most interesting and profound statement in the film, you've made a lapse in judgement.
Growing up was challening at times for me because my parents had a strict rule with not allowing me to see R-rated films growing up. I can't really think of a time this pissed me off more than when Robocop came out in 1987. I was only 7-years-old, as were most of my friends, but their parents let them see it despite its gore and bad language. What made my crew talking about it extra frustrating was that it had an extensive line of toys that came out supporting the film and everyone had them. Everyone. I did eventually get to see it when I was a teenager when friends of mine wanted to watch it for nostalgia. I didn't love it and thought it was cheesey and silly but in that I saw the appeal for other people. But a remake of Robocop that gets rid of the cheese and silliness is more ridiculous than a Robocop with it.
Brazilian director Jose Padilha is no slouch when it comes to action films. His Elite Squad films, which got very little attention in the states, are really well done action films. When I saw that he was being handed Robocop by Hollywood I was pretty excited. A gritty hardcore action film about a half robot-half human police officer seemed like something he'd be able to do wonders with. What I forgot was that Hollywood was involved and what they ended up doing was watering down his potential to a PG-13 level so this time around repsonsible parents like mine could bring their kids. What they ended up doing was making it an action movie where lots of people die but in ways that make you think you're watching an old Spaghetti Western; shot, yell, fall, no blood.
The other change they made was to pump in a message and humanity. Now, this is something that I typically love in cinema! When Christopher Nolan did both to the Batman series, particulary in The Dark Knight, I thought it was what officially made that the greatest superhero movie of all time. In Robocop it doesn't work though. You have Samuel L. Jackson playing a Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck type lunatic who uses his show as propaganda for a corporation trying to bend US law and public opinion to allow these cyborg cops on the street. You also have Gary Oldman playing the brilliant scientist who begrudgingly strips away Robocop's humanity and soul until he's nothing more than an organic robot. Both of these concepts seem brilliant and obvious but they end up making everything tedious and rather dull.
What was lost in the film was that it's called Robocop. That title is one of the silliest titles ever created. The reason why we accepted that as the title of the original was because you got what you paid for; a man-robot shooting bad guys in Detroit. What you end up seeing with this remake is attempted deepness that instead should have had a prentious title like The Loss of Self or At What Price. Instead of a badass hero running around blasting holes in everything, you get a lot of people standing around debating the merits of what is happening and then seeing the emotional toll it takes on the characters. I'll watch that movie but not when I'm expecting Robocop.
That's not to say there isn't action, of course there is; but it goes back to my original critique that it's watered down. In fact, it's so watered down that some moments feel like you're watching CSI or some other carboncopy network cop show. But what really helps the film are two great performances from star Joel Kinnaman (Safe House, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), who's a face and name you don't recognize but when you're wearing a mask over your face over half the movie, you're not gonna get an A-lister and Michael Keaton who's the CEO bad guy. What I loved about Keaton's performance is that he's likable and logical. He's calm through the entire movie and that makes him scarier because it's a far more realistic villain for the time.
Will this version of Robocop have the same impact on society that the original did? Not at all. He looks cooler and I'm sure kids will buy a toy or two but it's not the same. They tried to make the film for everyone and, just like with everything, when you try to make something appeal to everyone you end up making it appeal to no one. Despite its FX and performances and everywhere it succeeds, Robocop just comes across feeling...well...robotic.
Gavin's Giveaway this week is Advanced Screening passes to see Non-Stop! CLICK HERE to enter to win!
Traditionally, January and February are movie graveyards. It is the place where you can find the ditches dug by movie studios for where they dump their films that they expect to be dead bodies. The reason why is that half the country is snowed in, most of us are depressed with winter and typically no one goes out to the movies. No film released in February has ever broken the coveted $100 million mark in its release and when you look over the list of the most lucrative movies to come out this month, the list of movies that are actually good is staggeringly slim. Because The Lego Movie is released in 3D and is being highly recommended to see it in 3D coupled with the fact that it's one of the greatest children's movies ever made, I think we may have our first $100 million release.
You read that right, by the way. I think The Lego Movie is one of the greatest children's movies ever made and I know how bold of a statement that is. I stand by every word. I have never enjoyed any of the efforts Lego has made to break into TV and video games. I know they have their fan base and I know that some are very good. I just never saw the appeal. So when I saw the trailer for this film it was met with a massive eye roll. I even sat down at a screening of it with a relative chip on my shoulder because I was thinking of something better I'd rather do, but after only 5 minutes of watching it, I couldn't think of anything I'd rather do than go on that Lego journey.
The film has an all-star comedy cast that consists of Chris Pratt (NBC's Parks and Recreation, Her), Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect, The Hunger Games series), Will Arnett (Arrested Development, Blades of Glory), Nick Offerman (NBC's Parks and Recreation, Men Who Stare at Goats), Charlie Day (Pacific Rim, Horrible Bosses) oh yeah and Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell and Liam Neeson. It's a huge cast and even has lots of cameo voices like Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Shaquille O'Neal. All these people give great performances but that's not why you see it.
The Lego Movie is one of the most imaginative scripts to come out in years. From the opening scene you pick up on the message that only adults will get. There is a very apparent and bold statement about pop culture and the mainstream. It's almost an anarchist theme that doing what everyone else is doing and fitting in is bad. This is part of a much larger message that isn't revealed until the end in a series of scenes that is so powerful it made me cry. What?! Yeah. Didn't expect that from a movie based on a toy.
Importance aside, it's one of the funniest screenplays to come out in a while. It moves at the frenzied pace of a South Park episode and doesn't give you a chance to catch your breath from laughing out loud. And those laughs come from both adults and kids and writer/director team Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) made a noble and challenging effort to hit that bullseye. Both their other films have been excellent so there was no need to think that The Lego Movie wouldn't be on par but it was so much better than anything else they've done.
What impressed me the most was the nature of how the film was made. This was a stop-motion animated film made with the most elaborate Lego sets you've ever seen. The 3D enhances this more than you can imagine and the way it's executed is nothing short of creative brilliance. I would even go as far as to say that Miller and Lord need to be remembered for an Oscar next year for Best Animated Film. The enjoyment level and level for which all your emotions can be extracted reminds of other children's films like The Princess Bride or Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It's a movie that deserves to ranked among the finest made for children but specactular for all.
Gavin's Giveaway this week is THE LEGO MOVIE Run of Engagement Passes! CLICK HERE to enter to win!
There was a time in my life where a movie like The Monuments Men wouldn't have done much for me because I didn't understand it. The true story about a group of old and fat soldiers who were sent into Europe during World War II to protect and locate art stolen by the Nazis and destroyed by war seemed kinda meh. But I went to Italy a few years ago and stood in front of the Statue of David and it changed me. I looked at that statue for over an hour. I moved around it. I studied each curve and angle. The fact that it was created from one solid piece of rock not only blew my mind but made me feel humble. I wasn't someone who appreciated or understood the power of art until that moment and a movie like this is important for understanding why we still have it.
Not only does this movie star George Clooney but it was written and directed by him too. I know that sounds impressive but it's not really a good thing. See, there isn't a person alive that likes Clooney more than me...accept maybe himself; but his directing credits are pretty bland. Leatherheads, The Ides of March, Good Night and Good Luck? These movies didn't do much for me and the reason why is because of his directing. His films are very slow and sluggish and he doesn't seem to have a good sense of narrative or excitement when he's behind the camera. The Monuments Men is his best directoral effort but it still suffers from the same problem.
The cast, however, is one delivered from God. If you said to me, "Gavin, what is your dream cast for...well...any type of movie?" I would basically pick this one. Besides Clooney, you also have Matt Damon, Bill F**kin' Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban (Best in Show, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Jean Dujardin (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Artist). The saddest part about this cast is that they weren't given much of a script to work with and you can tell. That's not to say that their performances aren't great though. Murray has a scene that feels shoehorned into the movie but you don't mind because it breaks your heart and is one of the best in the whole film.
The movie isn't heavy-hearted though despite some scenes of melodrama and tragedy. Most of The Monuments Men is light and fun and feels like a mix of Ocean's 11 and Hogan's Heroes. That might be part of the problem as well since it never really finds its tone. However, the obligatory monologues about how important art is to culture and society and the gorgeous, romantic shots of 1940s Europe are enough to make you go. The sweet and important true story is enough to make it worth the price.
Gavin's Giveaway this week is Dallas Buyers Club on Blu-Ray & DVD! CLICK HERE to enter to win!
I like to consider myself a fairly weather-worn and seasoned movie fan. You can throw any kind of Jennifer Lopez, Nicholas Sparks or twinklie vampire movie at me and, no matter how much it burns, I'll sit with it and see it out to the bitter end. However, every once in a while there is a film that comes along that tests me so badly and catches me on the wrong night that I pull out my white rag, wave it high into the musty theater air and surrender the fight. Yes, I'm talking about walking out of a movie before it ends because it's so bad. My days without incident were probably in the high 300's until I saw That Awkward Moment and now I have to set it back to zero.
I left with probably fifteen minutes left in the movie but I can tell you what happened. I'll bet all the guys realized their frienship was super important and they loved each other and then Zach Efron's character makes it up to Imogen Poots' (28 Weeks Later, Fright Night) character by getting people to go to one of her author seminars and they live happily ever after. I'll bet you $1,000 I'm right and I swear to God I didn't see it. You know why I'm so sure? Because it's one of the most predictable, cliche, paint-by-number romantic comedies I've ever seen.
I won't even ding a rom-com that much for being completely unoriginal. 90% of them are unoriginal and the reason why is because the target demographic of 18-34-year-old women don't want it to be original because they want to see what they know they'll like...for some reason. What set That Awkward Moment apart from other mediocre comedies is that it tries so hard to be something that it's not by such a long shot that it gets embarrassing for everyone involed.
The movie stars Efron, Michael B. Jordan (Fruitville Station, Chronicle) and MIles Teller (21 & Over, Project X) as three early twenties, super successful professionals living in New York City that are the closest of best friends. There is such a lack of chemistry between these three, however, that it's believable that they met for the first time on set on the first day of shooting. You don't buy for a single second that these guys are friends and every exhausting second they're together feels contrived. To make matters worse, first-time writer/director Tom Gormican allows these three douchebags to riff and improv with each other like they're Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill except they're not even on the same planet as those guys. Swingers made it seem so easy to have a romantic comedy about guys in the dating world that was really funny but that was because it was filled with actors with real talent and skills in comedy.
As if all that wasn't bad enough, the icing on this crap cake is the decision to make it an R-rating and a fairly hard one at that. This makes me wonder who the studio thinks this movie is made for because there's absolutely nothing that an adult with an IQ over 80 would find funny and it's way too bawdy for any responsible parent to feel comfortable allowing their 13-year-old to see it. Maybe that was Gormican's attempt to be edgy but it's desperate and pathetic.
So with me pouring all this Haterade on it, why didn't this movie get an F? There are two qualities that kept it from that infamous group. The first is New York City which always makes for a gorgeous backdrop that forces itself to be a character in every movie it's feartured in. The other is two or three scenes that feature recognizable character actor Josh Pais (Adventureland, Teeth) who offers up the only laughs in the whole film. Actually, there is one more positive thing about That Awkward Moment; it's truth in advertising that with a title like that you know what you're gonna get...an awkward moment for when you realize you wasted your money.
Gavin's Giveaway this week is Bad Grandpa on Blu-Ray & DVD! CLICK HERE to enter to win!
Full disclosure, I'm a tad biased for this film. My good friend Dave is the cousin-in-law of a girl named Cindy Axelson. Cindy is the widow of Matt Axelson, who is one of the four soldiers this movie is based on. By me saying she's the widow isn't a spoiler considering the title is The LONE Survivor. I've met her a few times and she's a lovely woman who's insanely strong considering what she's been through. For her sake, I hoped, as I sat in the theater before the movie began, that this was going to be a good film. It's what is deserved considering what these guys went through. When the movie ended and everyone wiped tears from their eyes and clapped, I was thrilled to say that it was one of the greatest war films ever made.
There is no doubt that director Peter Berg has total admiration for the military. But when I saw that he was the one to take on this story I was very nervous. Sure, he's done great movies like The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights and my guilty pleasure Very Bad Things; but he's also had horrendous bombs like Battleship, Hancock and The Rundown. The former actor is kind of like a subdued Michael Bay with a slightly less raging ego. His films have style and skill but also teeter on silly and can easily wobble off kilter. The Lone Survivor was a passion project of his though and he also wrote the script based on the book by the lone survivor himself, Marcus Luttrell. That attachment drips from every frame because this is Berg's finest film.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Luttrell and gives one of the most intense performances of his rather limited yet still impressive career. He's joined by Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) and the every present but no one knows why Taylor Kitsch. Kitsch is a good actor but he seems to be box office poison. He starred in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Battleship and the epic failure John Carter. Each was worse than the last but I'm happy that Berg gave him another chance in this because he plays the calm and collected commander very well.
The true story is about a 2009 mission in Afghanistan where four Navy Seals were trapped by the Taliban and fought harder than anyone can imagine to stay alive. The survival story of Luttrell is so emotional that the jaded side of me believed it was mostly made up so Hollywood can push the perfect story on us but it's all true and it's even supported by photos of the actual people at the end of the film. I won't give anything away but it's easy to think this is pro-America propaganda that makes you despise all the people of Afghanistan but you'll see that that's not the case and that some of those people are more amazing and braver than most Americans. The story makes you cheer for humanity, not hate it. Because of that, you can sense that this is a war film that can be taken in by even those who are passionately anti-war.
The Lone Survivor is two-hours-long and goes by at the blink of an eye. Once the action starts, it doesn't stop for a single second which makes the intensity even more powerful. It's a situation that seems impossible to get through as a viewer which makes you unable to fathom how the actual soldiers felt. I know that Berg flew Cindy out for the premiere and she's seen the film. How she was able to watch it is something I'll never be able to comprehend but for the rest of us it should be essential viewing. If you support our involvement over there, it makes you respect the men and women who fight no matter what and understand why they do. If you don't support our involvement there, it has the exact same effect. A very impressive accomplishment and not something that many war films have pulled off.
Gavin's Giveaway this week is Elysium on DVD! CLICK HERE to enter to win!
Director Spike Jonze has his legion of fans and they are precious and passionate. He is the King of the Quirk having crafted films like Being John Malkovic, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are. Despite the fact that he's only done 4 films in his entire 14-year-old career, they are each so unique that when he releases a new one people rightfully take notice. It also doesn't hurt that he's responsible for some of the greatest music videos of all time for groups like The Beastie Boys, Weezer and Fatboy Slim. It's been my expierence that you either love something he's done or absolutely hate it and that's why Her is so perplexing because I don't feel either way about it.
The film follows Joaquin Phoenix back from his blackhole performance art he pulled off a few years ago as a man going through a divorce and falling in love...with his computer, voiced by Scarlette Johansson. No, this isn't Siri; the movie takes place in the future and this is an Operating System or O.S. that is far more advanced than anything we have today. It learns fast, it feels emotion and helps you with everything you need. I know this sounds weird but you accept it from the very first minutes of dialogue between the two. It's actually pretty amusing and funny.
What the film is really about though is love and the complications that come with it as you journey through a relationship. Phoenix is in the final stages of his marriage and the new stages with his OS at the same time. Jonze, who wrote Her as well, has a lot to say about the subject matter and almost all of it is profound. There are moments and monologues that bring you to tears because it hits you right in the feels and you think, "yeah, I remember feeling that way" or "that's the way I feel right now." It's poetic and beautiful...but it's mostly about his computer.
That's where I have a hard time sinking my teeth in because it's almost like Jonze wasn't satisfied with just making a movie explaining the thoughts he has on love and its complications. That's been done to death and I don't blame him for thinking outside the box as he almost always does. However, making it a weird story about a guy in love with his computer and how almost everyone around him accepts that as relatively normal is what makes Phoenix's character an arm's legnth away from the audience at all times. It's hard to fully emerse yourself in a character that seems so unrelatable at times.
Absolutely none of that is to the discredit of Phoenix or Johansson, for that matter. Both deliver spot-on performances that emote saddness and joy without ever using the physical tools that most actors have at their disposal. It's impressive in the way that actors who perform against CGI characters do but in Her it seems more genuine because it's not a monster, it's a cell phone-looking thing. Amy Adams and Rooney Mara (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) also give performances of note, although Adams' character seems shoe horned in for the sake of having a real person Phoenix can talk to so the story feel more legit.
LIke almost all of Jonze's movies, you have to sit with Her for a few days after seeing it. When the final seconds pass by you find yourself sitting in the theater thinking that you just watched something so deep that you have to love it but the more you think about it the more you think it's just like any other love story that you've seen a thousand times but here it's got a pinch of quirk added to it because...well....because why the hell not? If that sounds like it might be your cup of tea, then have at it and I hope you decide you like it after you're done thinking about it a few days after it ends. At the very least it'll make you want to talk to Siri more.
Last year, Silver Linings Playbook came out. It was a movie written and directed by David O. Russel (The Fighter, Three Kings) and it was nominated for tons of Oscars and ended up winning a few. I missed the early screening of it in theaters but when the nominations came out I got sent a copy on DVD to watch it at home. I understand that it really struck a chord in some people and they regard it as one of the best films in years but I just didn't get it. I couldn't understand why it was considered great let alone nominated for Oscars (except for Jennifer Lawerence...she was pretty amazing). His new movie is American Hustle and just like before, everyone is losing their minds over this but this time around, I get it.
Imagine if Goodfellas and The Sting were the same movie and it was a comedy. What your picturing in your head is American Hustle (which was originally titled American Bullsh*t actually). It stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradly Cooper and Jennifer Lawerence. It's pretty much an incredible movie although you have to be patient with it because it starts off entertaining but very sluggish. That level of tolerance though is paid off in spades when the plot starts rolling like a runaway train and you become intensely invested in these characters.
Every single person in this movie deserves an Oscar nomination and Bale and Lawerence deserve to win. It's amazing to me how Russel can wrench these performances out of actors that we already know are mega talented but yet he gets even more from them. Bale is a lovably derpy conman who gets caught in a scam with his girlfriend, played by Adams. The two are then forced to pull off more cons to catch bigger crooks by Cooper who plays a manic FBI agent. The story gets even more twisted when Bale's wife, played by Lawerence, gets involved; she's 80% of both the comic relief and heartbreak in the film.
Besides the late '70s details in every single inch of the film and the style of directing that Russel brings to the movie that keeps it moving, the real reason to see American Hustle is for the characters. Every single person in the movie is good and evil, villainous and heroic, and it makes the film richly complex. You have a pretty good idea of how the movie is going to end but the journey to get there is full scenes that make you laugh and make you cry but all of which is so entertaining to see how they build to this forseeable conclusion that it's one of the most enjoyable movies to come out this year.
If there's one thing that seems to be void in Hollywood now it's characters that are thick with layers. Most films follow a formula and unravel in predictable ways and American Hustle isn't that different but the characters are so unique in this that you can't hate, love or feel apathetic about any of them. I'm not sure if it's the success of the writing that makes them that way or the flawless performances but either way this is a movie that deserves the awards it's going to get showered with this year and one that I can't wait to see again and introduce to friends.