A Seuss Strike Out pt 2: The Cat in the Hat

cat in hat

There are some movies that are just bad ideas from the start.   A live action Cat in the Hat was one of those movies.  Unlike the Lorax where we have a fairly strong narrative with a fable-like story, the lovely Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss is basically a story about having fun on a rainy day.  There’s just not enough heft there for a feature film.

But nevertheless they made the attempt in 2003 and what you got was one of the worst movies ever made.  I have yet to hear of anyone that likes this movie.

The story of Cat in the Hat is 2 kids Conrad and Sally bored on a rainy day.  Their Mother is gone and they have nothing to do when in walks a cat with a hat who is determined to show the kids some fun.

“It is fun to have fun but you have to know how”

This fun consists of balancing a lot of stuff on a ball while the kids fish complains he is making a mess.  When that doesn’t work he unleashes 2 creatures called Thing 1 and Thing 2 who fly a kite in the house and make a mess.  Eventually the Cat helps them clean up and everything is good.

That’s it.  That’s the story.

What does the movie do with said story?  They turn it into a ghastly looking, shoutfest, with double entendres, potty humor, and a general mean spirited nature.  Part of the problem is the film confuses chaos with fun.  Characters shouting and making messes is not in and of itself pleasant to watch or entertaining.  Or maybe it is for 1600 words but not for 82 minutes in a movie!

Mike Myers is the lead cat and it is one of the most ghastly makeup jobs and creatures ever put into a movie.  I’m sure someone could redo the film and turn it into a horror movie.  In the book the cat looks more lean and lengthy but here it is awful.

cat in hat7Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning are the kids and they mostly scream at the Cat for making a mess and getting them in trouble. Again, not fun to watch.

cat in hat2The fish is there but like most things in this movie looks very disturbing instead of cute.

cat in hat9Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrive and don’t just fly kites but end up taking kids on amusement park type ride and destroy the house.  It’s not funny or interesting just exhausting.

cat in hat10Then they add plotlines with the kids Mother played by Kelly Preston and her horrible boss played by Sean Hayes.

cat in hat6She also has a horrible boyfriend played by Alec Baldwin who of course hates the kids and wants to send Conrad to military school.   I guess they were trying to add some kind of villain into the mix but it isn’t funny or compelling or fun in any way.

cat in hat5The worst of all is their nanny Mrs Kwan is a narcoleptic who they mock throughout the movie.  Some of it I found to be kind of racist and it is all thoroughly mean.  She’s treated like a human doll to beat up on and I suppose if she was some awful person that would be one thing but she pretty much sleeps the whole movie.  It’s not funny to see a woman treated like that.

cat in hat4Then to top it off we get a rave party scene with Paris Hilton making an appearance.  You know who you always want in your children’s movie- Paris Hilton in a skimpy party number. What were they thinking?

cat in hat8The Cat in the Hat creators need to spend more time with kids to understand what fun is for a child because their attempt to create it falls flat every time.  Nothing is funny and nothing is fun.  When a kid plays they are random but not usually complete chaos.  They may combine their Star Wars and GI Joe characters together in an epic story dominating Barbies (random) but they aren’t just flailing about throwing their toys around the room and if they are they don’t do it for 82 minutes.

That’s what was so ingenious about the Lego Movie.  They captured the randomness of a kids mind better than any movie I’ve seen.  You had the pirate, Harry Potter and Abe Lincoln all together but there was a story and an inventiveness that worked.  It wasn’t just madness all the time.

I suppose the writers were trying to take Myers Shrek style of comedy that was so successful at that time and apply it to this movie.  The problem with that is at least with Shrek (not a big fan of those films) there was an actual story and more than one performer to bounce the humor off of.  The little asides and adults only jokes are obnoxious in Shrek but I’d watch all 4 of those movies on repeat rather than sit through Cat in the Hat again.

cat in hat3Everything doesn’t need to be a movie and Cat in the Hat should have been stopped at the idea stage.  Some of the sets look bright and colorful but in total it feels like an assault to the senses so even that isn’t pleasant.

Badly done Hollywood!!  Seuss deserves better than this atrocity.

Overall Grade- F

Why do you still watch cartoons?

This is very well said and very true. For some animation is too separated from reality. For me it is like any other medium it can produce all ranges of emotions and reactions. I mean think we have everything from Winnie the Pooh to Akira to Waltz with Bashir. But I think what excites me about animation is it is literally art on the screen and so even a silly comedy has a new layer that I love so much. So yes I’m 34 years old and still watch cartoons!

The Animation Curation

A lot of people ask me: why do you still watch cartoons?

suit serious 2 “Why are you still watching those kids’ shows?”

The first thing I wonder is: should I not be watching cartoons? Should I spend my free time doing something “serious?”

And you know, I have been thinking lately: why do I love animation so much? Earlier this week, I poured my heart, soul and life into my “Top Ten Studio Ghibli Movies” list. Everything I wrote about my love for those films magically appeared on the page, as if Totoro himself took a bag of scrambled words and gracefully placed them there. Sometime after I finished the list, I was home, completely engrossed in the humor and wonder of the shows Steven Universe and BoJack Horseman.

Have I always been this way, have I always seen animation as something more than merely entertainment? Yes, yes I have.  I like animation because…

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Pixar Review 26: Day and Night

Day_&_Night_posterI hope you guys enjoyed my review of Up, my favorite movie.  It was difficult to write but I did my best.  Now for a nice breath of fresh air let’s appreciate Pixar’s delightful animated short Day & Night.

In many ways this short feels like some of the early shorts because it is more special because of the methods they used than the short itself, although the short is charming.  It’s more like a Red’s Dream or Tin Toy where they were clearly stretching their artistic and technical capabilities and trying something new.

The new experiment was not just a hybrid of 2D and CG but telling stories with both mediums in the same shot.  It’s really quite brilliant.  2 years later we would get the  hybrid film Paperman but that’s more of a meshing of the 2 instead of them existing separately within the same story.  For people that are down and depressed about the loss of 2D animation (I know many of you readers are) you should take heart at things like Day and Night.  It’s sign that while we may not see the 2D film from Disney anytime soon a hybrid using both techniques is certainly possible and I think quite likely.

Anyway, Day and Night is directed by Teddy Newton and it stars 2 creatures, one is Day, one is night.  We know this because we can see the world in their bodies from their unique perspectives.

day and night2At first they are kind of fascinated by what’s going on in the others world.  Then they become envious and frustrated, even angry at the things they don’t have.

day and night 13They are also very boastful of the things they have especially Day.

day and night3 But they also learn they can work together and both enjoy experiences like when Night allows Day to enjoy a drive in movie.  The movie on screen is the cowboy scene the puppies are watching in 101 Dalmatians.

day and night4The sound design and mixing by Barney Jones and Tom Myers is first rate in Day and Night.  What’s really neat is the way the 2D and 3D worlds are connected.  For instance, when Night is punching Day each punch is coordinated perfectly with a logger chopping down a tree with an ax. Then when the tree is toppled Day falls to the ground along with the tree.

day and night14What’s so lovely is the creatures go from envy, to teamwork, to seeing life from the other’s perspective and that I think is the true message of Day and Night.  In fact, Dr Wayne Dyer appears as a voice from a radio tower ending with the thought:

“You know, to me, the most beautiful things in all the universe are the most mysterious.”

day and night12I like the message and it’s not as heavy-handed as you might think because it is split up into small bits.  And I like the idea of walking in another’s shoes before judging them.  It’s so important especially in this day and age.

And it looks so lovely.  One of my favorite sequences is them battling out Las Vegas which of course looks better at night!

day and night5I guess if I was to nitpick the oogling over the bikini clad women I Could do without, but it’s not a huge problem for me.

Michael Giacchino did a great job with the music and having just enough of it to be effective without getting in the way of the sound effects.

Is it my favorite Pixar short?  Probably not but I really do like Day and Night.  Definitely worth seeing and I hope we see even more hybrid and 2D elements in future Pixar shorts and films.

Overall Grade- B+

Hit Me with Your Best Shot: Safe

This week’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot is another film I had never heard of (hence great thing about being a part of the project!) called Safe.  It is directed by Todd Haynes and is definitely not for everyone.  In fact, I can say confidently that most of my normal readers will hate it.

safeYou see how it says “Best film of the decade” by the Village Voice on this poster? Well, let’s just say that Safe seems exactly like the kind of movie which would be the best film of the decade for the hipster Village Voice magazine.

That’s not to say I didn’t like it but it is such a weird movie.  It’s slow and puzzling and not a lot happens.  Most of my readers will find it extremely boring but I thought it was interesting.  Not one I will watch again but it was strange enough to be worth a watch.

The story centers around Julianne Moore’s Carol who is a homemaker that suddenly becomes ill without any seeming cause. It is later defined as ‘multiple chemical sensitivity’.  The movie never really explains if this is a quack diagnosis or a legitimate illness.  The doctors in the movie don’t seem to buy into it but she just keeps getting sicker.

They send her to a shrink convinced it is a psychiatric problem but he is of little help.  She tells him “aren’t you supposed to be the one asking all the questions”. But it may be a psychiatric condition because she does seem to be embracing chemicals like when she gets a perm and a manicure at the same time (any more chemical thing than that?). safe3

It’s hard because we don’t know enough about her before the illness to know whether it is psychiatric or not.  She’s a very strange character. I can’t think of any other way to describe it.

Safe is one of those art-house pictures where the suburbs are stifling and housewives do nothing but go to lunches and have babies.  They try to make her husband seem like a bad guy but I never really bought that.  He doesn’t ever get angry.  He comes and visits her later on and he does ask questions. She’s so quiet and mousey that I felt kind of sorry for him.  How is he supposed to know what is going on when she is so non-communicative?

safe4But regardless it is clear they don’t have much love as a couple and are more comfortable with their lifestyle than anything else (both of them). Then Carol gets sick and she keeps running into different chemicals whether at a baby shower or at the dry cleaners.  Eventually she ends up in the hospital where she see’s an ad for a treatment center.

It is billed as a clean spa but it turns out to be a cult led by Peter Dunning played by Peter Friedman.  He uses a lot of self help junk that in the end blames the ill for their illness and doesn’t really help them to get better.

safe7

In fact, Carol seems to be getting worse despite eventually moving into a completely sterile igloo.  This hastening is blamed on her in the counseling sessions.

safe9And yet is it her fault?

She’s still sick but oddly enough in her new home she is happy, cult and all.  So what is Carol sick from? And will she ever be safe?

We leave the movie with her smiling and happy.  The people in the cult have thrown her a Birthday party.  They seemingly love her.  What does that mean for her?  I have no idea! That’s what makes this movie weird.  The cult is a happy ending and seemingly preferable to suburban life. So weird but it oddly works.

safe8As someone who has dealt with my own share of mental illness I found Safe’s lack of answers both intriguing and frustrating.  I like to think there is the one thing I can do that will solve the problem and I will never have a panic attack again but that’s just not the case.  I’m not sure if that’s the message of the movie?  Maybe?  Who knows?

Best Shot-

Safe looks great throughout so it is hard to pick a best shot. Cinematographer Alex Nepomniaschy did an excellent job capturing the isolation of Carol in her 80’s suburban life.  I’m sure a lot of people will pick this shot but at the beginning we see Carol in a long panning shot drinking a tall glass of milk.  Behind her are painters with fumes, plastic that smells and she’s staring right at the camera which is unusual for  any movie.

Carol feels very small amongst all the whiteness on the curtains, painters, cupboards and even her milk.  This moment not only foreshadows the future allergens that will consume Carol but it also shows how unnatural she is in her own environment.  Look how stiff she sits in her chair, and who drinks milk in a room like that with people painting?  Why not go outside and drink? There’s just something so strange about it and in a way that captures this movie.  It’s a weird but intriguing film.

safe10

 

Family Movie Night 2- Wild Thornberrys Movie

This week’s Family Movie Night recommendation on Netflix is Wild Thornberrys Movie. It’s a hidden gem but a really lovely movie for the whole family.

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

thornberrys

Today wasn’t feeling great but really didn’t want to miss out on week 2 of my Family Movie Night series.  The goal behind this series is to provide a recommendation from off of Netflix stream that you can watch for FHE or a family movie night.  This week’s choice is The Wild Thornberry’s Movie.

If you haven’t seen the movie it is based on the Nickelodeon cartoon about a family that makes a nature television show in Africa.  The youngest daughter Eliza is given the ability to talk to animals but she must keep this power secret or she will lose it.

thornberrys2In this movie version Eliza is sent to England to keep her safe but she is worried about a cheetah cub she saw abducted.  She sneaks away and makes it back to Nairobi and starts on adventure to find her parents, save the animals and find the poachers. …

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Perils of Original Ideas

original2Often in the world of movie fandom you will hear complaints about Hollywood’s lack of originality.  That all we get are sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots.  I include myself in that number.  If it isn’t a direct remake it is an adaptation of a popular book or a close copy of a popular franchise.  It seems like it is pretty rare that something truly original comes along. Or so the argument typically starts out.

But wait, lately I’ve been wondering if that is actually the case?  This year we have seen original ideas in Tomorrowland, Chappie, Jupiter Ascending, Strange Magic, Pixels and of course Inside Out (as well as I’m sure others I am overlooking).  Last  year we had Snowpiercer, Grand Budapest Hotel, Locke, Song of the Sea and more.  Come to think of it last year was actually a pretty good year for original stories.

What’s the problem then?  Well, most of those movies didn’t do very well at the box office and had often be hunted down rather than the big name sequels, and reboots which are so prominently marketed.  Obviously something like Pixels, Tomorrowland and Inside Out get a lot of marketing but it does seem to me the tried and true franchises are more shoved in our face than the original ideas (Amazing Spiderman 2 great example of that kind of obnoxious marketing).

Franchises can also have original ideas.  Christopher Nolan has certainly proven that with his Dark Knight saga.

But I was thinking about particularly this year.  Aside from Inside Out we’ve seen original concept films tank at box office and with critics. I had fun with Jupiter Ascending but it isn’t a good movie. I just watched Chappie and it was terrible.  Tomorrowland was a disappointment.  We will see how Pixels does but I don’t anticipate great numbers   George Lucas’ Strange Magic came and went with few people seeing it, making only 12.5 mil at box office.

So what’s the problem?  Why aren’t audiences flocking to see these original ideas but showing up in droves to see Jurassic World? This year I think it is simply the original movies haven’t been that good.  If Tomorrowland had been great it would have gotten tons of buzz and people would have gone to see it.  Most were disappointed including myself and I’m certainly not going to give something a pass just because it is original.

The problem with Jupiter Ascending is it was trying to be a soap opera (or space opera) and was very campy and silly but it also has too much exposition and is full of dopey ‘so bad it’s good’ style dialogue.  The filmmakers didn’t even seem to have a handle on the type of movie it was premiering it at Sundance of all places.  That is not the right spot for a silly space opera.  So it got booed at Sundance and the bad word spread till it did very poorly.

A lot of these original concepts are also difficult to market because they don’t have the established characters or worlds we know.  Something like Mad Max Fury Road is in many ways an original movie but it had the benefits of a franchise that while many hadn’t seen the originals they recognized all the tropes and style of what a Mad Max film is.  Tomorrowland in particular was very tough to market.  Is it an AI movie?  Is it sci-fi?  Is it fantasy?  A comedy? A coming of age story?  An action movie?  It’s kind of all of it but none of it completely.

Chappie didn’t work because it has some of the most obnoxious characters I’ve seen on screen in a long time.  Pixels and Strange Magic had good ideas but the scripts were so lazy and characters so stupid.

Could it be that original concepts can be too caught up with their concept and forget to craft a compelling script?  With a franchise you already have a framework to help you write said script and an eye for what works with the audience.  In an original feature film you are throwing concepts out to see what sticks.  You don’t know how the audience will respond because it is original so the pass fail ratio is naturally going to be higher. That’s why Hollywood loves franchises.  They are safe and fairly predictable.

But then you have an Inside Out or The Artist- original concepts that people enjoy and tell their friends about.  I still want to take anyone and everyone to see Inside Out.  It inspired me so much with the original story and writing.  So brilliant.

Maybe Pixar does it right spacing out their sequels with original movies in between?  This gives a mixture of the predictable for both us and them and the new exciting risky concepts.

What do you think about original movies vs reboots, remakes and sequels?  Why do you think at least this year so many original conepts have not worked (at least at the box office)? What’s the key to making an original movie a success both in content and at box office?

Regardless of the reason I hope the studios take heart from success stories like Ex-Machina and Inside Out and continue carving out room for new ideas.  I hope they keep taking risks even if a lot of them don’t pay off critically or monetarily.  Let’s hope!

Rachel’s Top 50 Animation Countdown (10-1)

10. Fantasia- Like going to the greatest concert and art gallery of your life together.  It is a rich and textured experience that teaches me something new every time I see it.  I notice new details or am inspired with how the music tells the story I hadn’t seen before.  It goes everywhere from Greek myths, to Mickey Mouse, to dinosaurs, to the Devil himself.  That’s why I don’t get it when people say it is boring.  I really don’t.  I think some people just don’t like classical music but I do and I think Fantasia is a bold stunning achievement in animation. (I know I had Tangled higher in my ranking but only barely).

fantasia

9. Secret of Nimh- Has one of my favorite protagonists of any movie ever.  Mrs Brisby doesn’t want to be a hero.  She is scared, visibly shaking at times, but will do anything to save her son.  The story is deep and has just enough magic to make it unpredictable.  The animation is so lovely full of light when it needs to be and darkness when appropriate.  It will make you cry, you will walk away inspired and wanting to discuss with your friends the wonderful story you’ve been a part of.  Bravo Don Bluth! (Even if you did leave  Disney to do this movie in a w ay you shouldn’t have!)

artistic18. Song of the Sea- This was a film that I sat in the theater for about 10 minutes and wept.  Not just tears but all out cried.  It made me think of my cousin and her little boy who she left behind.  The journey Ben goes on to forgive his Mother (and his sister) is so moving.  Like Nimh there is just the right amount of magic and mysticism with his sister being selkie and the owls and everything else.  It tackles grief in such a loving beautiful way it is something I could watch as part of my Bible study (not a Christian film I’m just saying it tackles those weighty issues perfectly).  It also looks so beautiful and perhaps the lack of 2D animation made it especially stunning.  I wish I had been able to see it in 2014 because it would definitely have been my favorite animated film of the year.

song of the sea37. Prince of Egypt- Dreamworks you made the top 10. Congrats! :).  Prince of Egypt is Dreamworks masterpiece IMO.   Take out the scheming priests and their song and I think it is a perfect film.  I love the reverence and awe we feel at the burning of the bush and the parting of the red sea.  I love the music and all the voice performances.  I love how it focuses on the brothers and how painful it is for them to be at war with each other.  It’s another one that I could watch as part of my Bible study because it is from the Bible!  I don’t know why they don’t have it on blu-ray.  Get it together Dreamworks!

artistic26. Toy Story- This may surprise you guys but I recently rewatched it and was so completely charmed by the story.  In a way Woody is the CEO or President of the room when here comes this new shiny toy to challenge his leadership.  The voicework is perfect as we all know.  The jokes are funny.  The scenes at Sid’s house are touching and exciting.  Toy Story is about the perils of jealousy and how we can forgive others who have seemingly wronged us.  It also is about growing up and seeing things as  they truly are not as we wish them to be.  Both are Buzz and Woody’s journey and I relate to their experiences, which is pretty amazing when you think they are toys.   It has so many memorable lines and I guess when push comes to shove of the 3 Toy Story movies this is the one I’ve loved the longest.  I can’t think of anything I would change about it.

5. Cinderella- I love Cinderella.  You guys all know that and Disney’s Cinderella is such a special movie.  The songs are perfection especially lesser known songs like Sing Sweet Nightangale.  That sequence takes my breath away.  The animation throughout is lush and layered and beautiful.  Cinderella is a character who works so hard and so unlike other princeses who need to get rescued she brings her own rescue to her.  When she gets her dress ripped to shreds it is completely devastating and she almost loses her faith and that’s when the rescue comes.  So it is for many of us.  I love Lady Tremaine as a villain.  I love the mice and Lucifer.  Perhaps the scenes with the King and Duke go on a little long but it helps us get to know the Prince so that is good.  I just love it!

cinderella24. Little Mermaid-  If I was going on just nostalgia Little Mermaid would be #1.  What can I say that I haven’t already said about this movie.  I love Ariel and relate to her quest to find where she belongs.  I love the Ashman/Menken songs.  I think Ursula is a brilliant villain unlike any other with her drag queen looks and trucker voice.  I love all the bubbles and the ocean (you know I always love the ocean!).  I think Eric is a really cool Prince who we get to see interact and be quite tender to Ariel.  I just love it.

littlemermaid_lg

3. Spirited Away- Hands down the most original movie I’ve ever seen.  I remember the first time I watched it I sat dumbfounded, mouth agape.  I had no idea what was coming up next.  Was it going to be the boy who turns into a dragon or a giant baby or the weird lady who ruled the bathhouse?  Every scene is a surprise and delight.  Everything is challenging and interesting.  We get to see the young girl grow up, get a job, figure things out on her own and become strong through all of these spirits who are sometimes tough to figure out.  Are they evil or good?  Sometimes we don’t know.  The animation is breathtaking.  The story amazing.  It’s a masterpiece in every way possible.

artistic92. Beauty and the Beast- This is another movie that has a high sentimental value for me both because I loved it as a 10 year old girl and I went to see the Broadway show with my cousin Lisa on our trip 4 months before she passed away.  There are a few little plotholes but it doesn’t matter a bit.  As far as fairytales in animation it doesn’t get better than this. The animation is sweeping and beautiful.  Belle is such a likable character who reads and is independent.  The character of Gaston is interesting because he’s basically the town hero and he lets one person not liking him eat at him until he is a mad man.  All the side characters are a delight and the Ashman/Menken music is the best ever in all of Disney.

Disney BEAUTY & THE BEAST 3D

1. Up-  This actually wasn’t a hard decision for me to make.  Up is my favorite movie, animated or not.  The first 10 minutes of the life of Carl and Ellie is something I have seen countless times and it still makes me cry.  What’s amazing is we see Ellie for minutes and yet she is an active presence throughout the rest of that movie.  Carl talks to her, he feels her there.  That reminds me the people I love who have passed are an important part of my life even though they are gone.  If you’ve ever felt weighed down by grief and loss you will relate to what Carl is going through.  He feels so guilty for the life he gave Ellie.  He has this regret that I think many of us experience no matter how much time we have with those we love.  The movie is about how going on this great adventure helps him come to terms with that grief.  But then it is also very funny and sweet with Doug, Russell and Kevin.  Plus, a villain voiced by Christopher Plummer.  Sign me up! It’s beautifully animated and the music is perfect.  It’s a movie I could watch every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of.  When Carl reads that note from his wife at the end it is almost as emotional as the beginning.  Perfection.

up2My youtube review

Pixels Review

pixels10You like that poster?  Well, my friends in the new movie Pixels there is no Pacman the size of a city, no Golden Gate Bridge and no San Francisco.  No West Coast at all in fact.  The poster looks like an exciting concept but sadly that’s not the movie we got.  And in many ways that is emblematic of Pixels as a movie.  It’s not really satisfying on any level.

That said, if you like Adam Sandler and were one of the cinemagoers that contributed to the $247 million gross box office that was Grown Ups, you will love Pixels.  It isn’t as bad as That’s My Boy or Grown Ups, or Jack and Jill.  It’s watchable. If you like Adam Sandler’s schtick there were a few laughs.  Something I can’t say for those other films I mentioned.  At least Pixels does not have a vomit, urine or other bodily function joke.  Great job Adam Sandler!  (Have you got the idea I’m not a big Adam Sandler fan).

It’s a shame really because Pixels could have been the next Ghostbusters.  It’s directed by Chris Columbus and he gives it an 80s sensibility with the music and some of the early scenes feel authentic to movies of that era.  Just like with Ghostbusters the creatures special effects are pretty well done and you have this tag team of comedians fighting them off.

pixelsThe problem is the writing is so bad.  With Ghostbusters you had 4 eclectic guys who start up a business.  Are actual entrepreneurs which makes them unique and fun to watch.  Plus, the script is dry and funny and each of the 4 guys has his own personality and story arc. All the guys in Pixels are the same and have the same story to tell.  Basically the entire point of the Pixels script is to say to Adam Sandler “you haven’t done anything with your life but that’s ok.  Your lazy manchild skills are really what are going to save the world after all”.  How hilarious.

The first joke of the movie is that Kevin James is supposed to be President of the United States.  This should be the one gamer who did something with his life but he’s a buffoon.  You get no idea of how he could have possibly become president.  In fact, some of the gags at his expense come off as kind of mean. For example, it is a big joke that Kevin James can’t read very well.

Wouldn’t it be more funny to have an actor like Martin Sheen or Michael Douglas (who both can be very good in comedies) be the video gamer at heart but also be a serious President?  Wouldn’t that have way more potential for comedy?  Or put in someone like a Kiefer Sutherland who is super angry and vengeful towards the aliens.  That would have been funny.  Anything other than Kevin James acting like a buffoon as the leader of the free world.

pixels6Anyway, Adam Sandler is James’ old friend who was defeated in the 1982 World Arcade Game Championships.  This left him devastated (who knew coming in second was such a horrible thing at a WORLD championship).  Anyway, NASA at the championship sends off a time capsule with clips of the video games and other pop culture relics from 1982 in hopes of it reaching extra-terrestrial life.

pixels5The problem is that capsule is seen as a declaration of war and so the aliens come down as those video game creatures and attack America.  There are tons of plotholes throughout this whole scenario.  Like when Pacman and Centipede come down there are specific rules that are the same for the game and yet later on it is just a barrage of video game characters who evidently have no rules?  Also why would the aliens know about cheat codes?  And why would they design into their attack a way to defeat the game and destroy their complete existence? And wouldn’t it make more sense to have the aliens create their own characters? Why would you invade a race with the exact things that they are using in their ‘declaration of war’?  Because this movie is stupid that’s why…

All this would be fine if it was funny (Gozer in Ghostbusters isn’t exactly a great villain either) but aside from a few chuckles it just didn’t make me laugh.  Josh Gad who I normally love is especially annoying in this.  He literally screams every time he is on screen.  I wanted to yell- “channel your inner Olaf.  That was funny!”

pixels2Peter Dinklage is alright in it but he has a strange accent that wanders in and out.  His character is inconsistent and not very well written but he tries.  He gave me a few laughs.

The other thing with Ghostbusters is in that movie you had a lot of factors against the team.  In this you have a grumpy Brian Cox who is listed as “a military heavyweight” in the cast list and he doesn’t like these civilians butting in with his team.  Gad is even allowed to scream at the seals for an extended unfunny scene that added nothing to the story. It makes no sense for Cox to be hating on the team especially after they have defeated Centipede and Pacman. I guess he wanted the world destroyed?

Sean Bean appears for a gag Sandler loves of 2 men hugging in fear.  It’s 2015 is that still funny having 2 men awkwardly hugging?  The women are also completely wasted.  Michelle Monaghan is gorgeous and a  lieutenant colonel in the army but her main job is to invent things for Sandler and then direct them from a screening room.  She also gets dumped for a woman named Sinnamon (with an S as pointed out several times) and is seen drinking chardonnay with a sippy cup even though her son is at least 10. I’m nitpicking there but they totally underuse her.

Jane Krakowski who can be so funny is in 2 scenes of the movie and one of them she is decorating a cake with the her husband the President in the middle of a war and in another they are at a party also thrown in the middle of wartime.  Ashley Benson is literally a trophy given to one of the men for their victory (when I say literally I mean literally).

pixels3All of that said, the special effects do look kind of cool and I did chuckle a couple times.  I can’t say that about all Adam Sandler movies.  In fact, this is probably one of the best he’s done since the 90s…

pixels8Little kids might like it.  There’s a little mild language but that’s about it as far as offensive content.  But will kids get the appeal of the 80s arcade games? So I don’t know who this movie is made for?

Like I said, if you like Adam Sandler movies and think some of his comedies of the last 10 years have been funny than you will probably love this.  It’s just not my cup of tea but I can see its appeal to others.  Hopefully that gives you some idea of what to expect.

Overall Grade- D+ (for special effects and I feel like at least Adam Sandler tried so I won’t give him an F).

My youtube review on this one. I must say I think my thumbnail on this turned out really good! 🙂

Hit Me with Your Best Shot: VMA Noms

So last minute change Nathaniel over at Film Experience has decided to switch things up for our Hit Me with Your Best Shot movie club.  Instead of our normal watch a movie and pick a shot, the assignment is to watch each of the nominees for best cinematography at the MTV Video Music Awards and pick a shot from each of them.

I have to say going into this I am really only a fan of one of the songs.  Not that they are bad just not my taste (I’m not much into hip hop).  I’m also not that up on the current music scene so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

But here goes.

1. The first video is the song Never Catch Me by Flying Lotus featuring Kendrick Lamar

Even for hip hop fans I don’t really get the appeal of the music but the video is nicely done.

This video starts out with a community grieving the loss of a boy and girl at a funeral.  But the children wake up out of the caskets and proceed to dance.  I think this is supposed to mean the exuberance which is lost to violence.  I really liked these 2 kids dancing so that’s why I picked this shot.

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2. The next song is Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran- a bit of a slinky costume on the dancer on this one.  Just warning.

Not a whole lot to this video but a very pretty dance number and I like dance so that’s great.  This is actually the only song of this group I like and own.  I think Ed Sheeran has a nice tamber to his voice and the song has a very good hook.  They could have done I think a little bit more with the song, been a little more creative but it’s a nice number.

I thought this moment with the lighting and the splits of the dancer was beautiful (sorry I don’t know the technical terms).  They should get this dancer on Dancing with the Stars.  She’s great.

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3. Next is Taylor Swift Bad Blood featuring Kendrick Lamar.

I actually like Taylor Swift (I know it is for some reason cool in certain circles to hate on her) but for a pop songstress I enjoy her tunes.  This song I’m not crazy about probably because of the hip hop elements but the music video is pretty cool and certainly ambitious.

There was a lot of cool shots to pick from this video but I went with a shot of the 2 boxers because I think boxing is empowering and have enjoyed doing some of it myself.  I think it is a particularly awesome trend for women- get all that angst out!

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4. Next is FKA Twigs “Two Weeks”

This song I really didn’t care for and I wasn’t a big fan of the video either.  I don’t know who this singer is but I think you have to be a Beyonce or Mariah Carey to pull off this kind of diva Cleopatra kind of video.

But at the end we get an image of someone (the queen I guess?) under water and that was beautiful so that’s my shot.

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5. Lastly, we have alt-J “Left Hand Free”

I have heard this song and it is an okay even if I can’t understand a single word he says. It feels very derivative of other artists like Cat Stevens but most in this genre probably does.  The video sure looks like they are having fun!  I need to hang out with these folks.

As an open water swimmer I particularly enjoyed the scenes at the river.  I wish I could be at that river floating down that gorgeous water!!  (Well I kind of was last weekend at Bear Lake!).  But it looks really fun, so that’s what led to my shot.  I wonder where this mysterious river is with the rope swing we always see in movies and TV? Looks fun!

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