Happy Feet 2

Posted on November 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I loved the original Happy Feet, but five years later only liked this sequel.  It’s still a lot of fun to see dancing, singing penguins, but the meandering storyline never catches hold.

In the original, a small Emperor penguin named Mumbles (Elijah Wood) could not sing like the others but loved to dance and ultimately found a way to be true to himself and be a part of the community.  Toward the end, the movie took a darker turn by acknowledging the impact of climate change on the Antarctic’s pristine world.  This movie seems to have adopted the same template with a few random variations.  Once again, there is a mash-up of music from a variety of genres (now a more familiar idea in this post “Glee”-era) and a small penguin who does not fit in, but this movie begins with the environmental crisis as the penguins see something — and a color — that is new to their black and white world.  The ice is beginning to melt and underneath is green grass.

Wood returns as Mumbles, with rock star Pink replacing the late Brittany Murphy as his spouse, Gloria.  Their son  son Erik (Ava Acres) is a misfit like his father.  He cannot sing or dance and after a humiliating failure in front of the whole penguin tribe, he runs away from home, followed by two of his friends, Atticus and Boadicia (charmingly voiced by Benjamin Flores Jr. and Meibh Campbell).  As Mumbles did in the first film, they meet up with some Adelies penguins led by the wild, sweater-wearing Lovelace (Robin Williams), who has a new friend, Sven (voice superstar Hank Azaria), a penguin with the ability to fly — and a secret about his identity.  Mumbles goes after the penguin chicks, but on the way home, they find that the ice has broken apart so that their community is cut off.  They cannot get back and their friends and family cannot get food.  They will need the help of the Andelies and some other friends to rescue the Emperor penguins and find a new home.  Meanwhile, though the penguins have no idea, a couple of microscopic krill named Will and Bill (voices of Brad Pitt and Matt Damon) are on an adventure of their own, trying to move beyond the hive mind of their species to evolve into something more independent.

The music choices are delightful but too often just frustrating snippets.  The relationship between Mumbles and Erik never comes to life.  The segments about Will and Bill are far more engaging (the movie I’d really like to see is the Pitt/Damon recording studio riffs), but they are not integrated enough to the rest of the storyline until a Cindy Lou Who moment at the end.  It’s nice to make a movie about how everything is connected but in this movie, it does not really hold together.

(more…)

Related Tags:

 

3D Animation Comedy Musical Series/Sequel Talking animals
ir.gif

The Smurfs

Posted on July 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

After a promising beginning with the tart but sweet romantic comedy “Never Been Kissed,” director Raja Gosnell has been mired in the quagmire of movie junk food, “family” movies like “Scooby-Doo” and “Yours, Mine and Ours.”  They are the cinematic equivalent of high sugar, high fat processed food: loud, crude, special-effects-driven, cheesy, and vacuous.  His updates miss both the charm and the point of the originals.  While the animated “My Little Pony” is not only back on television but it is suddenly hip, this latest version of the Smurfs combines an enchanted world of magical animated characters with live-action New York City and manages to get the worst of both worlds.  It tries to appeal to kids with pratfalls, potty humor, and the substitution of “Smurf” for every possible noun, verb, and adjective.  It tries to appeal to adults with pointless cameos by Tim Gunn and Joan Rivers.  Gunn looks around with the disappointed expression he usually reserves for those Project Runway contestants who are an hour from deadline without an idea and Rivers delivers her one line as if she is hoping her face will look as lively as the expressions of the animated characters.  It doesn’t.

The Smurfs were created by Belgian comic artist Peyo (Pierre Culliford), who came up with the idea after he and a friend joked around by substituting nonsense syllables for the words in a conversation.  He created a community of magical blue creatures “three apples high” called Smurfs who have adventures, fight off the evil wizard Gargamel, and say things like “Oh my Smurf!” “Smurf-zactly!” and, heaven help us, “Smurf happens.”  The film-makers are so proud of that last piece of wit they used it for the URL of the movie’s website.

Children enjoy the Smurfs because they are tiny, magical, sometimes mischievous but sweet, and able to defeat their foe, a human-sized wizard named Gargamel.  Kids like being able to predict what each Smurf will do, not too challenging because each one’s name, Seven Dwarf-style reflecting his sole characteristic.  (The only female Smurf is called Smurfette, because being female is all you need to know about her.)  Children learn what it means to be “Greedy,” “Grouchy,” “Vain,” or “Clumsy,” from the characters with those names.  And listening to the way the word “Smurf” is used in the dialog is a good introduction to the way language works.

This film takes six of the Smurfs out of their animated community, with its quaint mushroom houses and soft pastel colors.  Grouchy (George Lopez), Brainy (“SNL’s” Fred Armisen), Clumsy (Anton Yelchin), the inexplicably Scottish Gutsy (Alan Cummings), Smurfette (the endearingly candy-sparkle voice of pop star Katy Perry), and elder statesman Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) are chased by Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his cat Azrael, who want their magical blue essence.   They are all sucked through a portal that lands them in live action Central Park.

 

Before they can find a way to get back home, they encounter a harried marketing executive (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife (“Glee’s” Jayma Mays), toy store F.A.O. Schwartz, an apartment, an office, a prison yard, and many, many unfunny attempts at comedy about the words “blue” and “Smurf.”  Also, in a plot twist apparently lifted from every single episode of the last two seasons of “Bewitched,” the Smurfs mess up their new friend’s advertising campaign for his imperious boss (“Modern Family” bombshell Sofia Vergara) but of course somehow it turns out for the best.

 

The kids in the audience enjoyed the pratfalls, laughing uproariously when Gargamel got hit by a bus, and happily squealing at the gross-out humor from a disgusting hairball, a smelly port-a-potty, and a chamber pot in the middle of an elegant restaurant.  They liked seeing Harris get down with the Smurfs for a rousing round of “Rock Band.” It is good to see Smurfette get a chance to show her fighting spirit, though not so good to see her stuck with a plot line about wanting new dresses, and downright disappointing to see her have to stand on a heating vent in one of them for a Marilyn Monroe joke.  This must be why Gutsy is Scottish – so his kilt can billow up when he stands on the vent, too.

The movie wants us to feel affection for the Smurfs and make fun of them, too.   It is is raw and mean-spirited, with too many of the “Smurf” word substitutions more naughty than nice (“Who Smurfed?” “Where the Smurf are we?”).  That’s Smurfed up.

 

(more…)

Related Tags:

 

3D Animation Based on a television show Comic book/Comic Strip/Graphic Novel Fantasy For the Whole Family

Love and Other Drugs

Posted on February 28, 2011 at 8:00 am

A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material
Profanity: Extremely strong and crude language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking (including drinking to deal with stress, drunkenness), drugs, marijuana
Violence/ Scariness: Tense confrontations, illness, brief violence
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: November 24, 2010
Date Released to DVD: March 1, 2011
Amazon.com ASIN: B004L3AR0K

“Love and Other Drugs” is the cure for the common movie, a smart, sexy, touching romance and a thoughtful exploration of a remarkable time that illuminates some of our most vital contemporary concerns.
“Ask your doctor about…” ads began appearing in magazines in the 1990’s. Before that, medication was a highly technical product requiring extensive medical expertise. But then pharmaceutical companies were allowed to advertise directly to consumers. This not coincidentally coincided with a flood of new drugs to make you not just get better but feel better, as in experience less anxiety and have a brighter outlook. Who wouldn’t want to ask their doctor about that?
And all of this not coincidentally coincided with the go-go years of pharmaceutical sales jobs. As the movie points out, this was the only entry level position in the world where you could begin by making six figures. It was like the California Gold Rush; an all’s fair era of claim-jumping and anything goes marketing tactics that included pens and opera tickets, lavish “medical conferences” at exotic beach and golf course resorts, generous “consulting fees” for doctors, beauty queen sale reps, and goodies for the medical staff. Anything to entice the people with the prescription pads to order up lots of Brand X instead of Brand Y.
Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is his family’s embarrassing failure. Co-writer/director Edward Zwick (“thirtysomething,” “Now and Again,” “Glory”) brings in 70’s stars the late Jill Clayburgh and George Segal as his parents, a nice touch. His father and sister are doctors. His brother is a dot.com millionaire. He was fired from selling electronic equipment (a boombox playing “Two Princes” nails the era in a nanosecond) for having sex with his manager’s girlfriend. So he takes a job in drug sales at Pfizer, goes through training, and gets a job selling mood elevators in the Ohio River valley. He has a lot of competition from the Prozac guys, and then comes Viagra. Maggie (Anne Hathaway) is a free-spirited artist with early onset Parkinson’s who takes buses of elderly people to Canada to get affordable prescription drugs. She sizes him up immediately as someone who is constantly looking for meaningless sex “for an hour or two of relief from the pain of being you” because she feels the same way.
Meaningless sex works out fine for a while, but then of course it gets complicated as Maggie has to cope with Parkinson’s and Jamie learns more about the consequences of the drug marketing. We see less and less of their bodies and their sexual encounters as we see more about what is going on with them emotionally.
Both the relationship at the heart of the story and the environment around them are absorbing and insightful. Almost as an aside, we see the benefits of this category of drugs as a homeless man who dumpster dives for the rival Prozac Jamie throws away literally cleans up his act and applies for a job. In a very moving scene Maggie happens on a Parkinson’s support group. She is overjoyed with the connection she feels to the other patients (played by real people coping with Parkinson’s) while Jamie is daunted by a glimpse of the future from a caregiver.
On one level, it works as a story about the real leap of faith each of us goes through in entering into a long-term relationship — faith not just in the other person but in our own capacity for “in sickness and in health,” the terror of not being known, the greater terror of being known and being rejected. The health care issues are presented in an even-handed but very personal way, not just through Maggie’s experience but through the doctor character superbly played by the immeasurably gifted Hank Azaria. He shows us a man who has his own lapses but is terribly frustrated with a system that squeezes him on every side, compromising treatment. Gylenhaal and Hathaway (getting along much better then they did as unhappy spouses in “Brokeback Mountain”) give performances of wit, courage, grace, and generosity. RX prn.

(more…)

Related Tags:

 

Date movie Drama DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Inspired by a true story

Trailer: ‘Love and Other Drugs’

Posted on October 22, 2010 at 8:16 am

Enjoy this peek at one of the best films of the year, a sexy, touching, whip-smart romance with Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Hank Azaria, and Oliver Platt, written and directed by Edward Zwick (“Glory,” “thirtysomething,” “Legends of the Fall”), opening next month.

Related Tags:

 

Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Run Fatboy Run

Posted on September 23, 2008 at 8:00 am

run%20fat%20boy%20run.jpgDavid Schwimmer, who spent nine years deftly playing Ross on Friends seems to be trying to make a sitcom episode out of this overlong over-conventional under-funny romantic comedy. To put it in its own terms, it might make it as a 100-yard-dash, but does not have the stamina for a marathon.

(more…)

Related Tags:

 

Not specified
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 1995-2024, 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