Fantastic 4 Review

fantastic 4So with much trepidation I finally saw Fantastic 4.  It is of course the huge flop produced by Fox and I guess the question is- ‘is it as bad as people say it is’.  I guess it depends on what lens you are looking for and I think how invested you are in comic books and superhero movies.  I have little investment in either so in the end I thought it was mediocre with some of the worst special effects I’ve ever seen.

fantastic 4-2The script is also kind of lazy.  It is an origin story which is very predictable with the origin part coming very late in the movie. I’m surprised Simon Kinberg who wrote the terrific X-men Days of Future Past would allow for such a cliched story to get approved.  I understand there were problems on the set and the studio interfered but that wouldn’t effect the entire story and the extremely predictable writing.

I also can’t give director Josh Trank a pass either because the story from start to finish was cliched and silly.  It wasn’t just one scene that you could tell the studio messed with; although the last 20 minutes is definitely worse than the rest.  It’s surprising with Trank because he made Chronicle a superhero film on a small scale that I really love. The special effects in that film on a minimal budget are much better than anything here. I don’t know what he was thinking with the special effects. The editing was also really amateurish.

fantastic 4-8I also didn’t like Reg E Cathey as Dr Franklin Storm.  For being the father of 2 of the characters he seemed flat, unemotional and like he was delivering motivational speeches instead of being an authentic character.  I always felt like he was reciting lines and not feeling the emotions of a parent.

Toby-Kebbell-Doctor-Doom-Fantastic-Four-2015Toby Kebbell is also shockingly bad as Victor Von Doom (one of the worst names in superhero villains IMO).  He was so great in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes but it’s not really his fault here.  He is given little to do and the special effects are so bad.  People who were critical of Ultron in Avengers 2 need to take a look at Dr Doom because the characters aren’t that different but one is executed so much better.

fantastic 4-4I can’t overstate how bad I thought the special effects were.  Especially every time we see Mr Fantastic (Reed Richards played by Miles Teller)’s arms stretch I couldn’t believe it.  Also there were a lot of times when it was so obvious they were in front of green screens and it looked extremely fake. I guess The Thing (Ben Grimm by Jamie Bell) looked ok but he had this strange voice that was distracting.

Other than that I can’t think of a special effect that worked.  They were on a syfy Sharknado level.  (have you gotten the point that I hated the special effects…)

fantastic 4-5As far as things I liked I thought the 4 young leads were all good in their parts and I could see them being a good Fantastic 4 in another movie with better special effects and script.  They save a lot of scenes with their charisma and chemistry.  The music by Marco Beltrami and Phillip Glass was also a standout.

I thought they  could have gone somewhere interesting with using the Fantastic 4 to help the military which they do with the Thing.  On one hand he saves lives.  On the other he is an agent of war.  There was something there they could have worked with.  The sets all look nice and while the origin of the super powers takes way too long I thought it had ok moments. I was also surprised how bloody the ending was for a pg-13.  Normally blood=R

fantastic 4-3I would have been a lot angrier if it had been like Transformers: Age of Extinction and been almost 3 hours.  This was 100 minutes so it left me just shrugging.  And again I am not a huge superhero person.  If I was I am sure this would have engendered a Maleficent response from me because I love that character and world.  As it is I just kind of shrugged it off.  It’s a lame superhero movie.  Not the first and won’t be the last.  In fact, the genre is probably past due for a stinker.  Ha.

If you are curious to see if it is as bad as people say it is go see it.  I think you will be shocked by the bad special effects like I am but I have friends who liked it.  I’ve warmed up a lot to superhero movies in the last few years with movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers 1 and 2, Captain America 2 and Big Hero 6.  This is way, way, way, way, beneath that level but I had a few little things I liked.  Overall, I just thought it was super mediocre.

Overall Grade- D

Advertisements

ABC’s “The Muppets” is More Like the Original than You Think

Featured Image -- 7066

This is a great history of the Muppets and a review of the new show. I really liked the new show but can see why others don’t who see Muppets as Sesame Street kids fair. The truth is even the Sesame Street characters in Follow that Bird are pretty grown up. But I thought the jokes really worked and it made me laugh, which is how I judge a comedy.

Pure Imagination

The Muppets

Last week, ABC premiered a new show which was the highest-rated new comedy of the year.  Called The Muppets, it was a brand-new take on the classic characters created in the 1970’s by Jim Henson, who got his start in creating puppet-based sketches for adult television, broke into children’s entertainment with “Sesame Street,” and went on to create such grown up fantasies as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

The show was a pretty big success for launching a new series, had a huge amount of buzz going into it, and was promptly boycotted by certain family groups for being inappropriate, taking beloved children’s characters and turn them into adults with more grown up humor and a few bad words.  (To be clear, The Muppets isn’t meant for the same audience that watches Sesame Street.)

What’s intersting is this: Jim Henson never wanted The Muppets to be children’s characters…

View original post 1,068 more words

2015 Animation So Far Ranked

So 2015 hasn’t been the year in animation 2014 was (still in my Oscar reviews 2014 is one of my favorites).  The thing that made 2014 cool was even the silly comedies were solid.  But that’s a post for another day.  Let’s talk about the films of 2015 so far.  Song of the Sea (still best film I’ve seen in 2014) doesn’t count because it is technically a 2014 release.

Going bottom to top…

Strange Magic-

Not a good movie by any stretch but not as bad as any of last years bad animated films. It’s the script and the uncreative song choices that sink this magical fairytale

strange magic3

Home-

Terrible voice performances and characters that don’t really make sense with a tired plot spoil decent animation from a book I’m told is quite clever. Basically ends up being a lame road trip movie.  A real letdown.

home23

Maya the Bee-

For the smallest kids.  Good animation, a nice message but a lame villain and unoriginal story. Still I enjoyed it.

maya the bee7

Minions-

A big letdown.  All good parts were in trailer. The animation is fine and there are cute moments but it didn’t make me laugh which is a problem in a comedy. Also the adult humor I could do without

minions8

un Gallo con Muchos Huevos-

A pleasant surprise, pretty good animation for 5 mil budget, creative, some decent laughs. Some strange characters but I think a lot of that comes with my unfamiliarity with the series.  Didn’t like the PG-13 elements and the story is predictable but overall entertaining.

un gallo6

Hotel Transylvania 2-

Kind of forgettable but entertaining comedy for kids. The animation is pretty good and I did laugh a fair amount.  A nice message about accepting people for who they are, not who you hope they’d be.

hoteltrans2-4

The Prophet-

The 8 amazing shorts are great enough to overcome the thoroughly lame framing device.

prophet18

Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water-

Completely nuts but I kind of liked that.  If you’ve seen as many animated films as I have it is cool to see something weird and insane every now and then.   The ad campaign was so deceiving because  out of water segment is extremely brief.  A lot of laughs and I loved the 2D animation. It’s not for everyone but I liked it.

SpongeBob-SquarePants-Will-Get-A-New-Movie3

Shaun the Sheep-

Aardman is back with a lovely dialogue free offering about Shaun, a sheep, wanting a day off from the farm.  It is funny and sweet with great stop motion animation.  There were a few sections where the laughs are too spread out but over all a fun film for the entire family.   Wish Aardman could figure out their distribution problems so more people would see their films.

shaunthesheep4

Cheatin’-

An animated film for adults but not gratuitous about love, marriage, infidelity, honesty and heartbreak.  It also has little to no dialogue but the Bill Plympton visuals are so absorbing.  You feel like you know the couple and neither Jake or Ella is a villain but 2 people who failed to communicate their hearts.

cheatin18

When Marnie was There-

A movie about a young girl’s journey through depression and self-loathing through her friendship with a mysterious girl named Marnie.  It is beautiful, lush, vivid, and absorbing with an amazing soundtrack.  It’s really a story about a family saving a little girl even when they have seemingly abandoned her through death.  You have to accept a little magical realism for the story to work but I was willing to take that leap.

when marnie6

Inside Out-

What can I say that I haven’t already said about this film?  I’ve seen it 4 times in theaters and each time I am more in awe of the richness of the storytelling.  What a bold film from Pete Docter and Pixar that captures the emptiness of  depression and how important being sad can be.  The story arc that we get from Joy is astonishing for a character that should be one note and predictable.  Bing Bong is so original and heartfelt.  And yet it still is really funny in segments.  Just about a perfect movie IMO

inside out5

Hotel Transylvania 2 Review

hotel trans2Can we all pass around a petition or something that will tell Adam Sandler he should only make animated films?  But then again there was 8 Crazy Nights a while back so he is by no means a homerun in animated films either.  Still, his best films by far of the last decade have been the Hotel Transylvania movies.  That’s definitely damning by faint praise but it is nonetheless true.

It’s weird trying to write a review of Hotel Transylvania 2 because I had a good time watching it but I can’t think of a whole lot to say in its defense.  Does that ever happen to you?  You like something almost in spite of itself?

Well, Hotel Transylvania 2 picks up where the fun but forgettable first installment left off with Dracula’s (Sandler) daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) getting married to Johnny (Andy Samburg) and then having a little boy named Dennis or Denisovich as the Count likes to call him.

hoteltrans2-2The Count is a doting grandfather and loves Dennis but is constantly preoccupied on whether he is a vampire or not.  He is a ‘late fanger’ as they like to say and has till he is 5 to get his vampire fangs.  If he doesn’t then he, Mavis and Johnny will have to move back to California where Dennis can be safe.

hotel trans2-3Leaving Dennis with Count Mavis and Johnny go to California to check it out and meet his parents (Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally who should be cast in more voice work.  She’s great!).  Mavis is thrilled with all the nighttime 24 hour options in California.

Back at the hotel Count has his friends from the first film Frankenstein (Kevin James), Invisible Man (David Spade), Blobby, and Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key who evidently is in every comedy of 2015).  They decide to try and scare the fangs out of Dennis and take him on a vacation of their greatest haunts much to Mavis’ anger.

They also end up involving Count’s old school father Vlad (Mel Brooks who is underused in the film)

hotel trans2-5That’s basically the plot.  It’s a silly comedy but it did make me laugh.  I particularly liked a repeated joke  with the Phantom of the Opera singing. The tangents with in California and on the scare quest take away from the humor and the ending drags on and is too maudlin.  But overall it is a pleasant amiable film that is aimed at kids with little to none of the adults only humor I didn’t care for in Minions.   I also laughed a lot more than in Minions from start to finish.

The animation is also nicely done led by the great GEnndy Tartakovsky.  The colors are bright and the characters are surprising and fun.

The voice talent all works but the cast is so large that some of my favorites are woefully underused such as Mel Brooks and Fran Drescher (who I know some hate but I’ve loved her ever since The Nanny).  She has maybe 3 lines in the entire movie. Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Chris Parnell, Nick Offerman are hilarious actors and they are given very little to do.

FILM STILL - HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 - Frank (Kevin James and Jonathan (Andy Samberg) watch the birthday celebration of Dennis (Ashler Blinkoff, center) with Wanda (Molly Shannon), Dracula (Adam Sandler), Mavis (Selena Gomez), Mike (Nick Offerman) and Linda (Megan Mullally) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Picture Animation's HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2.

And yet the running time is 89 minutes!  I told a friend of mine ‘if Bambi can tell its story in 70 minutes Hotel Transylvania 2 doesn’t need 89).  They could definitely cut out the animated dance number at the end- a trend in animation carried over from the 2000s that I really hate

Hotel Transylvania 2 is a movie made for kids without a ton of grown-up appeal but I did laugh a fair amount.  More than I did in Minions and definitely more than Dreamworks’ Home. It has better animation, writing and story than either of those films.

So take that review for what it is worth.  I would wait and get it from the redbox or rent it.  Have some laughs and enjoy a moderately entertaining animated film. Nothing more, nothing less.

Overall Grade- C

Here’s my video review

The Intern Review

The Intern should have been a movie I loved.  As most of you know I love romantic comedies.  There aren’t very many made these days and I miss them.  The Intern isn’t really a romantic comedy but more of a friendship comedy but it has the lightness of the genre.  It is also a movie about work which is another favorite topic of mine in the movies.  (I think the movie may be getting more praise than it deserves because so few movies like this are made more than how great it actually is…)

Unfortunately, I ended up with really mixed feelings on this one. I explain why in my video review where I give a spoiler warning to give you time to stop watching if you want too.

There are things I liked in The Intern. Robert Deniro and Anne Hathaway are really charming in their roles.

Anne Hathaway’s Jules (a very romcomy name) felt to me like what Devil Wears Prada Andy might be doing at that phase of her life.  She has a daughter and her husband is a stay-at-home Dad.  She runs an internet startup company that is new and hip and overwhelming her life.

They decide to hire senior interns and Robert Deniro is bored with his life much like the guys in Walk in the Woods. So, he decides to apply and gets the job.  Showing up in a suit and tie and carrying a handkerchief for all girl crying moments (seriously) he charms his way into the hearts of the entire office.

internHe really charms the audience too.  He’s so likable and fun and it makes you wish you could hire a senior intern to help you and give you counsel whenever you need it…

However, that is also a weakness of the film.  He really becomes kind of a senior citizen superhero.  I’m all for having characters in movies that are good people but why not have one piece of advice he gives actually not apply to the new workplace?  Wouldn’t that have been an interesting dynamic for both characters to absorb and learn from?

intern19I really liked the scenes with him and the other young men in the office but I also thought they could be a bit patronizing.  Are young men really so stupid they need to be told to not show up for a new job in your pajamas?

intern8But they do work and I was charmed by them and I did laugh.  Where the movie really had problems for me was in the conflict and resolution in Jules’ personal life and with her marriage.  It is very spoilery but I go into it in a spoiler section in the video if you want to know.  Basically I didn’t buy the way it was all resolved.  I didn’t think it made sense for either character (both professionally and personally) and it was kind of a deal break for me on the film.

So I like things about it but I think it could have been much better.

Overall Grade- C

Did the Right Film Win? 2011 Animated Oscars

Hi guys!  Time for the next in my animated oscars series.  Today we are looking at 2011 which was an eclectic year for animation with no Pixar or Disney nominations.  I personally would have nominated Arthur Christmas and Winnie the Pooh but the 5 they went with are interesting in their own right.

This is a bit of a long one but I think you will enjoy it.

Basically I thought Puss in Boots may be my favorite film from the Shrek universe.  I like how they kept the parody elements down.  I also liked the 3D back when I first saw it and think the animation holds up very well.  The voice work by Antonio Banderas is good and I like the action which was a loving homage to Zorro and those kind of classic films.   On downside I didn’t love how they handled the Salma Hayek character.  She starts strong but isn’t treated with much respect and ends up having to be rescued and as an ordinary love interest.  I also think it can feel a little episodic and gets a little convoluted at moments.  But overall I enjoy Puss in Boots.

Kung fu Panda 2 I really enjoyed.  I know many readers don’t care for it, which is cool.  Always good to have a variety of opinions.  I think they toned down the humor and made a real kungfu movie with good fight scenes and battles.  I think they also majorly upgraded the villain with Shen voiced by Gary Oldman.  I like the adoption subplot and the development of the Furious Five is much better than in the first.  Overall, I think it is a good martial arts movie!

Then we have Cat in Paris which was a huge surprise for me.  I had never heard of it and I really liked.  I thought the animation was unique and beautiful.  I really liked the Mother character and felt she was well developed and interesting.  The story surprised me and didn’t go exactly as I thought it would.  The music is really strong and it’s both scary and funny.  Its a real hidden gem.

The fourth nominee is a foreign film called Chico and Rita.  This is a very adult animated film with a lot of nudity and I had to skip over sections.  That said, I liked the character of Rita and the music.  The animation I thought looked rotoscoped and generic; although, there are pretty moments.  I didn’t like the character of Chico and felt the movie was a little to easy on him.  He’s a real jerk and doesn’t deserve Rita.  The jazz music is really catchy and I can see why it was nominated even if it isn’t my cup of tea.

The final nominee is Rango.  If you have been a fan of the blog you might remember my review of Rango last year. I was pretty tough on it and I must admit I liked it a little bit more this time around.  The beginning has some interesting surrealist touches and towards the end the story picks up.  I appreciate they were trying to do something different but overall the pallet feels very beige to me so everything ends up looking bland and the same.  I also feel it takes way too long for the story to get going and don’t find Rango ambling around very funny.  Granted I haven’t seen many Westerns it is spoofing so that may be part of it.  I think the characters are underdeveloped and you go long stretches without characters which makes them even weaker.  Overall, I’m just not a fan of Rango but I see why others like it.

Of course, Rango won for the year and I think in this case the wrong film won.  There just isn’t enough story and the artistry is too bland for me to get behind Rango.  If I had to pick out of the 5 I would go with Cat in Paris.  I think it is visually inventive, the story surprised me and I really liked the characters.  Overall, it is a real delight.

What would you pick out of the 5 films?

Curious George Review

This post previously appeared in my Family Movie Night column over at Ldsblogs.com.  Would love if you checked out all my writings over there and would be so grateful for comments.  Thanks!

curious george4

In this Family Movie Night series there are going to be weeks that appeal to certain families more than others.  Last week was a film that will probably appeal to older children and teens; whereas, this week the choice is more for young children under the age of 5.  As a lover of animation I enjoy all of these films so you never know what your family will like.  I would like to think older kids can sit through a film geared at younger kids but there is always going to be that battle.

Making a film for toddlers is particularly difficult because of their short attention span.  For it to work it needs to be somewhat episodic in feel as opposed to a longer plot that might be hard for little ones to keep focused on.  It also needs to be gentle with a simple message they can absorb.   That’s what makes Winnie the Pooh so brilliant is it is short stories that are sweet and teach a valuable but simple lesson.

This week’s pick recognizes the challenges of making a film for toddlers and executes it very well.  It is the 2006 animated film Curious George.

curious-george-1

Based on the book series by HA and Margret Rey Curious George is kind of an origin story to our lovable monkey named George and his friend with the yellow hat named Ted (voiced by Will Farrell). Ted works in a museum owned by Mr Bloomsberry (voiced by Dick Van Dyke in his first animated film role). The museum is having a hard time entertaining kids some of which are brought by a teacher Ms Maggie (voiced by Drew Barrymore).

The museum isn’t making enough money to stay afloat and Mr Bloomsberry’s son Junior (voiced by David Cross) wants to build a giant parking structure.  This is a tired plot point we’ve seen in movies like Home on the Range but there is so much left to love in Curious George that I didn’t mind the plot.

Mr Bloomsberry is almost convinced to close the museum but Ted changes his mind by promising to find the relic called “The Lost Shrine of Zagawa”.  This is what sends Ted to the jungle and is what helps him meet George.

curious george51

Given this movie was made in 2006 it was actually pretty special to see it not only in 2D animation but for it to be so bright and colorful.  In the world of CG everywhere it is a joy to watch Curious George.  I hate to say it but such a film would never be made in 2D in 2015 and I think that is a real shame.  The backgrounds of both the city and jungle are lush, layered and colorful.  It just looks so beautiful!

They also made George so adorable.  He makes me smile every time he is on screen. I feel they managed to make him even cuter than in the books.   In what may seem like a strange comparison the charm of George reminds me a little bit of Wall-e.  Neither of them talk but they have personality, love another character clearly and are just so darn cute!

After Ted meets George he finds the statue but it is only 3 inches tall, which will not be the grand attraction Mr Bloomsberry is looking for.  Ted smudges this detail in the photo he sends and heads back to New York but George loves him and follows him on the boat.

The rest of the movie is basically George making mischief in one scene after another.  There perhaps could have been one less of these scenes but they are done with such a joyous spirit I didn’t mind them.  Like I said with Winnie the Pooh there is a gentleness and sweetness that even the villain Junior is really just looking to be loved by his Dad.

curious george3

To perfectly appeal to toddlers Curious George could have been a little shorter. It would have been better at just around the hour mark but I think most kids should be able to sit through the 86 minutes.

There’s a really nice message to the film about embracing adventure and being loyal to those who love you whether actually your family or not.  I also think it is nice to see a film where a little mischievousness and individuality is encouraged in young children not put down as disorderly or too manic.  (Although watch your walls after the kids view this movie!).

As far as the voice talent they all do a good job although I don’t think the celebrity voices are really necessary.  I think the people who are going to watch Curious George are going to do so celebrities or not.  Movies can save a lot of money by having voice actors do their job and I wish more films would use that amazing resource.

curious george15

The music is a huge standout in the film with original songs from Jack Johnson.  This I think was worth the money as his relaxed style goes well with the bright joyous nature of Curious George.  I love all of the songs and even bought the soundtrack when it came out year ago.

I’m a 34 year old adult with no kids and I really enjoy Curious George.  It’s so beautiful. I love the music and the sweetness of the characters.  It’s like a hug from a friend and I think a hidden gem many don’t know about.  If you like Curious George there are a number of sequels and a TV show from most of the team minus celebrity voices that are also very well done.

If you do watch it with or without your little one put in the comment section what they think about it. I would love to know how they react as it is a type of film especially with the 2D that is rarely made any more.  Enjoy and stay curious!

Did the Right Film Win? 2010 Animated Oscars

Hi guys!  The next year is up in my review of the animated Oscars.  We are at 2010 and this is the first year where I really think the academy got it wrong with the Tangled snub.

I think Tangled was the best animated film of 2010 for a lot of reasons.  First, it looks beautiful and I saw it in 3D and scenes like the lanterns was breathtaking.  I also love Rapunzel because she isn’t weak like an Aurora but she’s also not a cliched warrior woman.  She has pieces of both inside her.  I think Flynn is a great character and I LOVE Mother Gothel.  I also like the music unlike some people.

Anyway I think they got it wrong but that’s what they did.  Here are my thoughts on the 3 nominees.

The Illusionist is by the Sylvain Chomet who directed The Triplets of Belleville.  It is from a screenplay by the French actor, director, mime Jacques Tati.  It basically tells the story of a magician who is old fashioned and can’t get a good gig.

He meets a girl who is in awe at his tricks.  He buys her presents because her adulation feels so good.  The animation is beautiful but I didn’t respond to the film.  I never felt like I got into the heart of the magician.  It kept me at a distance which made the tragic story less compelling.

The next nominee is How to Train Your Dragon which is one of my favorite Dreamworks films.  I really like the character of Hiccup and find the story of his bonding with Toothless to be very engaging.  I have a few little complaints with the Jay Baruchel vocals, the treatment of the Astrid character and some of the design of the dragons but they are minor.  It also has a lovely message about having the courage to see things in a totally new way and from a new perspective.

I just wrote about Toy Story 3 so I won’t repeat myself too much.  It’s a beautifully animated, thrilling prison escape movie.  The villain is menacing and the ending is pitch perfect for the Andy part of the series.

In my opinion the right film won of those 3 nominees.  What would you pick?

Song of the South Review

Yep I’m going there.

After many requests, I finally watched on youtube the controversial film Song of the South and wanted to give you guys my thoughts.

zipadeedodaI’m sure many of you want to know first- is Song of the South racist?  My answer is a definitive yes.  Now is it the most racist thing I’ve ever seen?  No.  Particularly when it comes to Disney I feel like we often get two camps on racial sensitivity arguments.  Some on one side defend every last thing in a Disney film as being above board.  And then the other side nitpicks every detail and claims watching Disney will harm your children.  I often see the same type of division among feminist writers (with obvious exceptions like our friend to the blog Swanpride).   I personally think both extremes are nonsense.

Here’s how I see it.  When I was a kid I watched Gone with the Wind repeatedly.  I knew it was a good movie with many positive attributes (and the fact my Grandma loved it was in its favor).  But I was also not stupid.  I knew it was not an accurate depiction of slavery.  And I will say I never ‘loved’ the movie because the portrayal of the slaves made me uncomfortable even as a kid.  Still worth seeing but its not a film I would personally ever want to own.  I knew that as a kid and I know it now.

I think we need to have a similar confidence with material like Song of the South.  Kids aren’t stupid.  They know this is a movie and with a little careful parenting we can help them understand that the filmmakers meant well but there are some racially insensitive or racist moments.

That said, is the movie worth going to such a great deal to see?  Gone with the Wind is an important movie in the history of film for many reasons.  To me that is worth sitting through some uncomfortable moments.  However, I don’t think Song of the South is on that level.

In fact, I think if it wasn’t for the controversy and a great song Song of the South would be completely forgotten.  I found it to be thoroughly lame.

zipadeedoda2So what’s the story of Song of the South?  It is set in Reconstruction Era South and based on the Uncle Remus storybooks which were popular in the 20s.  Uncle Remus is a jolly old black man (a caricature for sure) played with a lot of warmth and light by James Baskett.  He won a special academy award for his performance and it is deserved.  He makes you smile even if you know such a man in real life would probably be more wounded behind all those stories.

song of south2So there is this little boy named Johnny who is Grandson of the plantation owner.  His father has left doing some fuzzily explained editing job for a newspaper.  The child actors in Song of the South are not very good. I found them cloying and annoying and not convincing at all.

Basically Johnny and a little girl named Ginny keep getting bullied by these two other kids on the plantation.  Uncle Remus cheers them up with stories about Brer Rabbit and his gang.  And when he first meets them he sings the iconic song Zip-a-dee-do-dah

There are three shorts with Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear.  I found all 3 to be forgettable and have a few cringe inducing moments.  None of them made me laugh or were that creative or different.

song of south6 song of south5It’s also very difficult to understand the Redneck English of the Brer characters from time to time.  Most of the shorts are Brer Rabbit about to get eaten by Brer Fox and Brer Bear and him getting out of it in the end.  But we have a tar baby which I understand was a part of the stories but feels extremely uncomfortable and another scene where Brer Rabbit is in a hangman’s noose, which given lynchings that were still happening in 1946 is tough to watch (and its not like we are free from such racially driven violence today by any means).

song of south4Basically the bullies keep picking on Johnny but the Mother blames Remus and says he must stop telling the stories (how about you actually raise your son lady?…).  This is so upsetting to Remus he is going to leave the plantation, which I found highly unlikely.  This kid has just been there a few days, so I doubt telling the stories to the white kids would be that upsetting to Remus. But various things happen and all is set right by the end of the movie.

song of the south5So again I do think Song of the South has racist or racially insensitive moments.  Is that a reason to not see the film?  You have to make up your mind for yourself on that.  I do think the hearts of the Disney team were in the right place.  They wanted to make a jolly film based on these folk stories.

It is not a hateful picture but racism can be unintentional and still be racism.  Again, I think kids are smart enough to know a film with animated bears and rabbits isn’t a historical depiction of the post-war South.  And the movie doesn’t teach them any bad lessons as far as their own behavior is concerned.

But like I said, I don’t think the movie is worth such an ordeal with your kids.  I don’t think it is damaging to them but I also think they won’t be that entertained by it so what’s the point?  To me it was entirely forgettable. Personally I think Disney should just release the film and it would be quickly forgotten.  By not releasing it they are making it into a bigger issue than it is and making the film seem more important than it is.

It has a nice song and an engaging performance but that’s about it.

And if you like it I don’t think you are racist or a bad person.  I can see things to like about it.  This is just strictly my opinion for myself and I don’t judge anyone else on what they can or cannot stomach and still enjoy.

Zip-a-dee-do-dah!