Igor

Posted on May 15, 2008 at 10:00 am

In the town of Malaria, anatomy is destiny. Boy babies get their assignments at birth. Those without hunchbacks become evil scientists. Those with hunchbacks become Igors and spend their days saying, “Yes, master,” when ordered to “Throw the switch!”

Malaria was once a happy farming community. But some sort of climate change resulted in constant thunderstorms and now the entire economy depends on evil inventions and the biggest event of the year is the annual evil science fair competition. But not all of the people in Malaria are right for their assigned roles. Dr. Glickenstein (voice of John Cleese) is not a very good evil scientist. His Igor (John Cusack) has the hunchback of an assistant but the heart of an inventor. And the most evil scientist of all, Dr. Schadenfreude (voice of Eddie Izzard) cannot invent anything at all and relies on tricks and spying to steal the inventions of others. Igor, with the help of two assistants he invented, the immortal cat-like Scamper (voice of Steve Buscemi) and a brain in a jar named Brain (voice of Sean Hayes), invents a bride-of-Frankensteinish monster (voice of Molly Shannon). But she, too, turns out not to fit into the role she has been assigned.

The tone of the movie is cheerily macabre, so parents should be cautious about allowing young or especially sensitive children to see it. But for those who are able to be in on the joke, the film has a number of delights, from the Louis Prima songs on the soundtrack to the tweaks and jibes at horror films, “Annie,” and James Lipton’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

Related Tags:

 

Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Iron Man

Posted on April 18, 2008 at 6:14 pm

With its first self-financed production, Marvel has produced one of the best superhero movies ever made, pure popcorn pleasure for its special effects, its story, its villain, and its hero. Director Jon Favreau, star Robert Downey Jr. and a first-class screenplay mix electrifying action, a compelling drama, and top-notch performances. Plus there are the best robot-type characters since R2D2, C3PO, and Hewey, Dewey, and Louie.

Downey plays international weapons dealer/super-brain/playboy Tony Stark as a rock star. He is an industrialist who appears on the cover of Rolling Stone and dates cover girls. He has an answer for every possible question or criticism about the company he runs: “The day weapons are no longer needed to keep the peace I’ll start building beams for baby hospitals.” But he does not have an answer for himself. His own conflicts would haunt him if he would slow down for a moment to think about them. That moment comes when he is captured by jihadists on a sales tour of American armed forces in the Mideast, using his own weapons. Told to recreate his company’s most powerful weapon for them instead he creates something for himself. The mastermind of cutting edge technology reaches back to the oldest of old school combat and creates for himself a high-tech suit of armor so that he can escape. It becomes the first stage in what will transform him into Iron Man. And the more he is protected by his Iron Man suit, the more he begins to open up to himself and others about who he really is and take responsibility for the world he has helped to create.

Downey superbly conveys Stark’s vulnerability and brilliance. He makes every line of dialogue feel improvised and natural, a great counter to the over-the-top special effects and fight scenes. In this middle of this great big movie he gives a subtle performance that is every bit as compelling as the most jam-packed action footage. He evolves as the suit does, trying out new things, coming alive for the first time as he is encased in metal.

The themes of the story has some powerful resonance about America’s role in the world without being heavy-handed. There’s no time for it — everything moves quickly as Stark continues to develop his suit and is attacked by bad guys and good guys and, well, there’s another category I am not going to give away. There is strong support from Terrence Howard as Stark’s military contact and friend, Gwenyth Paltrow, who gives some snap to her role as the indispensable aide de camp, and Jeff Bridges (with his head shaved!) as Stark’s closest business associate. The visuals are bracing and powerful and the action scenes are fanboy heaven. Watch for quick cameos from director Favreau, fan Ghostface Killah, and Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee. But don’t get distracted. Downey is the literal heart of this movie, and like the appliance that keeps Stark alive, he is a power source whose potential seems limitless.

Related Tags:

 

Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Speed Racer

Posted on March 14, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Andy and Larry Wachowski, the folks behind the Matrix trilogy, have taken the iconic but decidedly low-tech 1960’s Japanese cartoon character and put the pedal to the metal with dazzling effects and electrifying action. Do what Speed Racer does — put on your red socks and GO!

Even as a child, Speed Racer could only think of one thing, making cars go as fast as possible. Not surprising — he was surrounded by racing. The family business was race cars. His father (John Goodman) built them and his older brother drove them. When his brother is killed in a crash, Speed (Emile Hirsch) takes over. On and off the race track he battles the competition, even when they do not fight fairly. By his side are his parents, his little brother, his and his girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci, looking like a real-life version of an anime heroine with her enormous eyes).

The plot is pretty much the same as the cartoon series, meaning light-weight and a little incoherent. Basically, evil forces are trying to stop Speed from winning the race. The sections with the kid brother and his chimp are slow points for everyone over age 9 but it is all great fun, with a hero to believe in and visuals that are both reassuringly retro and stunningly innovative. Every wallpaper and fabric, each car, helmet, and racetrack is meticulously designed to evoke a mash-up between Speed’s Norman Rockwell-style, solidly heartland home and the souped-up super space age world outside. The Wachowskis re-invent the color wheel with reds and yellows that make fire engines and school buses seem pale.

The dialogue is pared down to essentials: “You think you can drive a car and change the world? It doesn’t work like that!” “Maybe not, but it’s the only thing I know how to do and I gotta do something.” The plot is no more significant (or confusing) than in the cartoon originals. All we need to know is that in the world of Speed Racer you can drive a car and change the world — if you drive it very, very fast.

Related Tags:

 

Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Michel Gondry “Swedes” his own trailer

Posted on February 22, 2008 at 1:00 pm

In Michel Gondry’s delightful new film, “Be Kind Rewind,” an entire video store filled with tapes is erased and Mos Def and Jack Black recreate the films themselves, dubbing the process of making their versions “sweding.” Here is the original trailer:

And here, writer-director Gondry “swedes” it:

And there’s more! Go to the movie’s website (watch out as Mikey and Jerry swede the Internet), watch their sweded movies, and swede yourself into some of your favorite movies. Or go here to submit your own sweded versions of movies!

Related Tags:

 

Shorts Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Trailer: Indiana Jones 4!

Posted on February 17, 2008 at 12:05 am

indiana%20jones.jpgOh, boy — check out the teaser trailer for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” I was a little worried, especially when the trailer wasted time reprising the first three movies, like we don’t already know them by heart, but then we get some glimpses of the new one and it looks like it’s shaping up to be up to the level of the best of the first three. Only three months to go!

Related Tags:

 

Trailers, Previews, and Clips
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2020, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik