The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Posted on September 21, 2017 at 7:15 pm

B
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extended fantasy/cartoon peril and violence, mayhem but no one seriously injured or killed
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: September 22, 2017
Date Released to DVD: December 18, 2017

Copyright 20th Century Fox 2017
It’s colorful and entertaining, but it does not come close to its hilariously meta predecessors, “The LEGO Movie” and “LEGO Batman.” It does not draw from as rich a cultural vein as the first two and we have become accustomed to the once-astonishingly meticulous and mischievous use of the LEGO bricks and people. Some children may be upset about the theme of parental abandonment and a father who is a bad guy, even though it is portrayed with gentle humor. But it is often quite cute and it has a couple of very funny ideas.

The movie begins with live action, when a boy (Kaan Guldur) who carries a LEGO figure in his pocket ducks into a curios and antiques store to avoid some bullies and meets Mr. Liu (Jackie Chan) and the store cat. Liu takes the battered little figure and turns him into a ninja as he begins to tell the boy a story.

At the center of the now-animated story is Lloyd (Dave Franco), on his 16th birthday. He lives with his mother, Koko (Olivia Munn) and faces bullies at school (“Have you been to high school?” he asks his mother. “It’s judgey.”) And he faces widespread derision pretty much everywhere because his father, who abandoned him as a baby, happens to be the power-mad villain Garmadon (Justin Theroux). A butt-dialed call from Garmadon, who has no interest in Lloyd and remembers him only dimly as having no hair or teeth (“That was when I was a baby!”) leaves Lloyd feeling wounded. Garmadon may be an evil genius with four arms who throws minions who displease him away via volcano, but he is still Lloyd’s dad, and Lloyd just wishes they could hang out and do guy stuff like tossing a ball.

It turns out that while the cool kids at school think they are unpopular nerds and dorks (like Clark Kent), Lloyd and his friends are secretly (like Power Rangers) super ninjas, with extremely cool “mecs” (transportation and fighting machines shaped like dragons, spiders, and robots). Their teacher, Master Wu (Chan) explains that they also have and elemental (like “Avatar”) powers over earth, water, ice, and lightning. Lloyd just has “green” power, whatever that is.

Meanwhile, after the ninjas thwart his invasion, Garmadon orders his generals to meet him by the fireplace (“The room with the lava or where people get fired?” Turns out to be both). They are quickly dispatched, and he gets back to work. But Garmadon’s next invasion is halted by an unexpected force: the (very funny and unexpected) “ultimate weapon.” Now the ninjas will have to beat or join forces with Garmadon to get the “ultimate ultimate weapon” and save the city.

As with the other films, there are knowing meta-isms, as when Master Wu explains that he won’t die unless it is to teach the ninjas a lesson. Franco and Theroux, along with Kumail Nanjiani as one of the other ninjas and Olivia Munn as Koko, are excellent voice talent. And there are some clever callbacks on Lloyd’s wish that his father would teach him to catch and throw. But it is too long and lacks the imagination and verve of the first two. I hope that’s not too judgey.

Parents should know that this film has a lot of cartoon-style peril and action (no one injured or killed but a lot of mayhem and destruction), issues of parental abandonment and villainy, and some bullying.

Family discussion: When have you shown courage, hard work, and patience? When did you see something in a new way? Why did Lloyd forgive his father?

If you like this, try: “The LEGO Movie” and “LEGO Batman”

Related Tags:

 

DVD/Blu-Ray Movies -- format

Justin Theroux: Who Is Jennifer Aniston’s Fiance?

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Jennifer Aniston is engaged!  I am a big fan of her fiancé, Justin Theroux.  Theroux is a talented actor who has appeared in the mystifying art-house melodrama, Mulholland Drive (as an arrogant director), in the underrated indie romantic comedy The Baxter (as the too-good-to-be-true-but-he-is romantic rival for the affections of the lead character’s girlfriend), and in serious historical drama (as John Hancock in the HBO series, John Adams), and an animated movie for kids (he provided the voice of Megamind‘s father).

He comes from a family of writers (his uncle is the distinguished travel writer, Paul Theroux), and he co-wrote the outrageous Ben Stiller film, Tropic Thunder and he wrote the screenplay for Iron Man 2.  I didn’t like the film he and Aniston made together, Wanderlust, but I liked both of their performances.  Here’s hoping for a happy ever after for them both, on and off the screen.

Related Tags:

 

Actors Writers

Wanderlust

Posted on February 24, 2012 at 8:07 am

It is painful to watch Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, who were superb together in “The Object of My Affection,” try to make the most from the fourth-rate Judd Apatow gross-out comedy “Wanderlust.”  It wastes a situation filled with comic potential as we have seen in films like “Lost in America,” forgoing sharp satire for lazy jokes even Beavis and Butthead would find beneath them.  Unless you think that seeing a bunch of saggy naked old people running or a doorless bathroom is hilarious, stay away.

Rudd plays George, a Wall Street guy married to Linda (Aniston), a film-maker who hopes to sell her new documentary about penguins to HBO.  They have just spent all their money buying a “mini-loft,” a microscopic studio apartment with a Murphy bed.  Linda Lavin makes a welcome appearance as their realtor, her impeccably dry delivery making even a raunchy line sound crisp.  George’s firm collapses and Aniston’s film is rejected for being too depressing (they can’t come up with a better joke than a film about penguin testicular cancer? and HBO saying they might be interested if it had vampires?), they have to leave New York for Atlanta, where George’s brother has promised him a job.  The movie’s best scene is the sharply edited driving montage, as George and Linda alternate being sad and angry with the inevitable road trip sing-along to the Doobie Brothers.

George’s brother Rick (co-screenwriter Ken Marino) is a loudmouth vulgarian who lives in a hideously sterile McMansion with his substance-addled wife Marisa (Michaela Watkins, who was a hilarious Hoda Kotb on “SNL”).  It isn’t enough that Rick is crass and obnoxious.  He has to be in the port-a-potty business.  George and Linda can’t stand it, and decide to return to the place where they spent the night on the drive down, an “intentional community” run by a charismatic leader named Seth (Justin Theroux).  Everything seems idyllic, filled with peace, harmony, and sharing.  Linda is very happy, even after the “tea” they give her in the Truth Circle causes her to hallucinate that she can fly.  But George starts to feel vulnerable and jealous, especially when the sharing extends to having sex with other partners.

The film-makers did much better with Rudd’s “Role Models,” which had a central sweetness and benefited from a storyline that had the adults more immature than the children and a rousing KISS-inspired RPG finale.  This movie’s jokes are as tired and saggy as its aging nudists.  It is painful to see talented performers Watkins, Lauren Ambrose (radiantly beautiful as an ur-mother-to-be), Alan Alda (as the community’s founder), and Kathryn Hahn (who was wonderful with Rudd in “How Will I Know”) trying so hard to make the dismal script funny.  Idiotic low points include a childbirth scene, Rudd’s attempts to psych himself up for his first non-marital sexual encounter, a topless protest against casino developers (calm down, boys, Aniston is pixilated), and plot developments that make no sense whatsoever.  It would be fatal to the movie that even the slackest attempts at characterization are jettisoned to flail at some inconsistent comic possibility if the movie wasn’t already DOA.

(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