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I expected more from it.
Just got home from seeing HOME in 3D. After reading a lot of the reviews here, I was expecting it to be much better than it was. It started slowly, and the characters and plot never really engaged my partner and me. I guess the best way to describe it is "cute".
Oh was well-voiced by Jim Parsons, but the character got on my nerves after a while, like a persistently bratty child. The others in the cast were ciphers, nothing more. Even Steve Martin was wasted in his role.
The animation was colorful and the 3D effects were unobtrusive, but there was nothing eye-popping about the 3D or the plot. In short, I was very disappointed. Several reviews reference Disney and Pixar as comparisons. I will too. Compared to most of those studios' releases, this film lacked soul and failed to touch my heart.
I doubt that I'll be adding this film to my collection when it's released on video.
An immediate classic!
This is, without doubt, one of the funniest and most heartwarming films that I expect to see in my life. A true "Family" film, it should appeal to children of all ages as well as to adults who are still children at heart.
The cast is perfection, and the director has been truly inspired. The extra touches in both sight and sound that he brings to the film are brilliant - but I shan't specify what they are, for fear of spoiling the surprises.
The film walks a fine line being cute at times, but it never becomes cloying or overly sweet. Paddington lives. I quickly forgot that he was a CGI and simply accepted him as another part of the cast.
Even if you have no children to take with you, you should see this film.
Into the Woods (2014)
The best Sondheim film adaptation EVER!
When I think "Sondheim musical" I do not include "West Side Story" or "Gypsy" even though he had a hand in them. But when one thinks of those films, it's the choreography (in the former) and the music (in the latter) that come to mind. No, the true "Sondheim musical" genre begins with "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and continues (with a detour for "Do I Hear a Waltz?") to the present day.
Precious few of Sondheim's shows have made the transition to film. Aside from the previously-mentioned "Forum" we have "A Little Night Music" and "Sweeney Todd," all of which have major flaws. I don't include filmed stage productions such as "Passion" and "Sweeney Todd" as these are sui generis. Alas, "Anyone Can Whistle," "Company," "Follies," Merrily We Roll Along," "Pacific Overtures," and "Assassins" have never been given full film treatments.
When I heard that Disney was producing the film "Into the Woods" I was very apprehensive, fearing that the studio would sanitize it beyond all recognition. Thankfully, that is not the case. Disney and Rob Marshall have gathered a creditable cast of genuine singing actors. Yes, a few minor changes to the stage show have been made and a couple of songs have been changed or omitted, but considering Hollywood's track record with adaptations of Broadway musicals, the film is very faithful to the source material.
Emily Blunt is rapidly becoming my favorite current film actress. Here she is the heart and soul of the story, along with the, to me, hitherto unnoticed James Corden. Meryl Streep is her usual sterling self as the witch. Bernadette Peters set a high standard on stage, but Streep makes the role her own. Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen are marvelous in their "Agony" duet, each out-posturing the other in macho bravado. Tracey Ullman was a very pleasant surprise as the mother of Jack, ably played by Daniel Huttlestone. Lilla Crawford is fine, although she's a bit too young to put across the sexual awakening that Little Red Riding Hood experiences after encountering the Big Bad Wolf (an all-too-briefly seen Johnny Depp). Perhaps that may have been part of the Disney-fication of the show.
It's truly gratifying to have seen such a magnificent treatment of what may be becoming Sondheim's most popular musical. I loved it!
The Night Is Young (1935)
I love Evelyn Laye
I had never heard of this film until I saw it recently on Turner Classic Movies as part or a Ramon Novarro salute. What a charming story! It's quite similar to THE STUDENT PRINCE, but with different songs. "The Night Is Young" and "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" are the two standouts in the musical score, and they are delivered charmingly - several times - by Novarro and his leading lady, the beautiful Evelyn Laye.
Before viewing this film, I had just seen Jeannette MacDonald opposite Novarro in THE CAT AND THE FIDDLE. Next to the more famous American soprano, Miss Laye is a breath of fresh air - much less affected and more spontaneous in her acting, with an equally beautifully soprano voice. Perhaps because she is British, her enunciation is far superior to MacDonald's, and the voice is far less shrill in its upper register. Her chemistry with Novarro is wonderfully natural.
I don't mean to slight Ramon Novarro. He is, by turns, romantic, playful, wistful, and noble as the situation requires. He has a pleasant singing voice, and he acquits himself quite well in this bittersweet operetta.
When one adds in some of the excellent MGM supporting players - Una Merkel, Edward Everett Horton, Henry Stephenson, and Herman Bing - and a relatively thankless role for an as yet still supporting Rosalind Russell, it's a winning formula for passing close to an hour and a half.
The story is pure fluff, but what delightful fluff! I would really love to find this on DVD to add to my collection.
Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
Great adaptation of hit Broadway musical - with one major flaw
I love movie musicals - especially when they're done by the Freed unit at MGM. With ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, MGM stayed a lot closer to the source Broadway musical than they usually did. Due to Irving Berlin's sagacious business acumen, there are no major song excisions or substitutions by lesser song writers (Roger Edens, anyone?).
As most people know, the role of Annie Oakley was originally assigned to Judy Garland, but when she called out sick, she was unceremoniously fired. Replacing her is Betty Hutton on loan from Paramount Studios. Unfortunately, Hutton mugs and poses and emotes with a frantic, manic energy that I find exhausting to watch. Her Annie Oakley would have fit right in to her film "The Perils of Pauline" portrayal of Pearl White.
The rest of the cast is exemplary, with Howard Keel as a handsome, virile Frank Butler. But Betty's shenanigans make her scenes almost painful to watch. The only reason I rate the film as highly as I do is that it's a reasonably faithful rendition of a classic Broadway musical.
A Majority of One (1961)
What a wonderful film!
For the first time I have seen the film A MAJORITY OF ONE. I also have been reading some of the reviews here on IMDb. So many of them harp on the fact that Alec Guinness was cast as the Japanese businessman who falls in love with Rosalind Russell's lonely Jewish widow. For that matter, some take exception to the casting of the Catholic Miss Russell as Mrs. Jacoby.
It's called acting, people! Mr. Guinness and Miss Russell certainly convinced me that they were these people - an elderly lonely Jewish widow and an equally elderly lonely Japanese widower who meet and, although from very different cultures, find a common ground.
This was a beautifully performed and profoundly moving story. I don't know how I've managed to never see it before. It left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I will certainly be adding this film to my collection.
Finian's Rainbow (1968)
Definitely worth a second - or even a third - look!
I remember seeing this film when it was first released. I absolutely hated it - too slow-moving, and the male romantic lead was a cipher. Even the songs were manipulated to the point that I could barely stand to listen to them. Tommy Steele was far too frenetic as Og, the leprechaun. Its saving graces were Fred Astaire, Petula Clark (although she seemed too old in the role of Sharon), and Keenan Wynn. I've avoided it like the plague ever since.
Tonight, thanks to Turner Classic Movies, I finally watched it again. And you know what? It's a lot better than I remembered. I don't know what has caused the turnabout in my opinion, except perhaps the lack of quality of most of the musical films that have come along since FINIAN'S RAINBOW in 1968. It still has a few longueurs, but generally it's very enjoyable. Even Tommy Steele isn't too bad. Don Francks is still dramatically stiff, but he's better than I remembered, and he sings well. And oh, those songs! It's a shame that "Necessity" was cut, but otherwise, what a string of melody - How are Things in Glocca Morra, Old Devil Moon, When I'm not Near the Girl I Love, and more.
Thank you, TCM, for giving me a second chance with this film!
Joyful Noise (2012)
An old-fashioned "feel-good" movie - and there's nothing wrong with that!
I went with friends to see JOYFUL NOISE, the film starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. What can I say about it?
Formulaic? For the most part.
Manipulative? Definitely! One particular segment had me sobbing in my seat.
But the music rocked. The film also had unexpected flashes of humor that were laugh-out-loud funny. Though it wasn't a masterpiece (for one thing, editing was sloppy in places), I enjoyed it and thought it was well worth seeing.
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Very overrated "classic"
I've tried. I've really tried. But the charms of this so-called "screwball comedy" still elude me after four viewings over the years. Don't get me wrong; I love both Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, but just not in this film. The humor, if one can call it that, is forced, and the physical comedy is painfully unfunny. Grant plays his role far too broadly, and Hepburn is at her most strident. Viewing it tonight on TCM, I actually fell asleep in the middle of the film!
Such feeble laughs as there are come from the supporting cast, including Charlie Ruggles, May Robson, and Barry Fitzgerald. But their efforts can't save the film. Sorry, but the movie-goers when it was originally released got it right. Don't waste your time with this one.
I have to laugh when I read comments complaining about how the film plays fast and loose with the plot of the book. (Helloooo... Wizard of Oz, anyone? Compare THAT classic film to the book, and you'll be appalled at the liberties that the screenwriters took!) What may work on paper doesn't always play well on the screen.
I admit that I haven't read the books. But I've seem all three films, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a great, wonderfully fun adventure fantasy film. The characters are consistent with the first two films, and the plot is - for a fantasy film - coherent and believable. I liked it much more than the second film, Prince Caspian, which I felt was the weakest in the series.
Be prepared for some very intense action that may scare the wee ones. The 3D effects are unobtrusive, giving a feeling of depth to the film, but with not a lot of "in your face" effects.
To sum up, a fun family film. You should see it.