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The Croods (2013)
Beautiful on so many levels
Take a child to see this beautifully made, thoughtful, animated feature. I went by myself, but the theater was full of children, and their laughter at the myriad slapstick humor added so much to the experience. Which is better;staying safe or taking risks? This is the premise of "The Croods" as the Crood family and Guy, a newcomer, experience tectonic plate shifts and other violent geologic events together. Interspersed with these big changes, though, are Eden-like ecosystems where the colors are vibrant and inviting. Emma Stone, Nicholas Cage, and Ryan Reynolds are perfectly cast. I will be buying this movie when it comes to DVD.
Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Fear is the opposite of faith, and "Rise of the Guardians" is a perfect example of this. We get so caught up in the what-ifs of life that are scary. We spend so much energy choosing to be afraid. I appreciate how this movie shows the concept of belief in such a revealing way. "Rise of the Guardians" should have been nominated for an Academy Award. The good news though, is, it won many Annie awards as well as others.
The voice acting was emotionally diverse, the characters were multi-dimensional, and the animation was top notch.
Some images could be scary for very small children, but it is a wonderful springboard for discussion with older children (and adults for that matter).
Ella Enchanted (2004)
I was not enchanted with this movie
`Ella Enchanted' was a movie I had great hopes for as we entered the movie theater. `Princess Bride', `Shrek', and `Everafter' have special places in my heart and I hoped this could be another addition. Sadly, I was mistaken. The vast majority of this movie was taken from the recycling bins of the aforementioned movies. There was little that was fresh and new. My 13-year old daughter liked it well enough, but as an adult, I had trouble keeping my eyes open. Anne as Ella, did well enough with the role she was given. She is beautiful
.what lips! But I thought her talents were better shown in `Princess Diaries'. When I saw how many scriptwriters there were for this movie, I shouldn't have been surprised that this movie was so disappointing. Too many cooks spoil the broth, you know. The idea for `Ella' started off as a `horse', but ended up as a `camel'.
The Good Girl (2002)
Jennifer Aniston is way underrated
I have enjoyed Jennifer Aniston in other movies, and this confirms those impressions. Jennifer Aniston is WAY underrated. She is a physically beautiful young woman, and yet she breaks out of pretty chick roles to prove to us what a great actor she is. There is nothing contrived about the plot. She is bored with life, meets someone else bored with life, and what can I say....misery loves company. She realistically portrays a woman caught between passion for a young immature man and devotion to her marriage. Some light scenes hold it together, so it doesn't seem so depressing and hopeless. I hope to see more of Jennifer in more demanding roles. The director did a great job of casting.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)
Roger Rabbit, look out!
In the beginning there was animation. And there were real live action films. The twain did not meet until...movies like..."Song of the South", "Mary Poppins", and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?". Could the laws that rule humans live in tandem with the laws which govern "toon" behavior? The answer is "Yes!" and especially in this movie, "Looney Tunes: Back in Action". Brendan Frasier interacts so naturally with his "toon" cohorts that it doesn't surprise me when his being is occasionally ruled by "toon" rules. Mel Blanc is no longer with us, but the voices of our favorites are all there anyway, seemingly without skipping a beat. The plot is contrived, but certainly in step with the idea of "toon" and human coexisting. A must see for "toon" fans.
21 Grams (2003)
Oh, what a tangled web we weave
Imagine trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together, one of those 1000 piecers, without a picture to refer to. At first it is slow going and confusing. About half-way through the puzzle construction you start seeing a picture that is making sense. You can better predict what the puzzle will look like now. It is starting to make sense and your interest increases. This is the best way I can describe this unique movie "21 Grams". This movie is made up of puzzle pieces of basically three separate lives which eventually come together with a tragic conclusion. Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio del Toro rise to the characters and their emotional intricacies. There are certainly parts of great sorrow, but well worth the time.
American Splendor (2003)
This is a wonderful docudrama where truth is the star
"American Splendor" is one of those rare movies that comes along in the tide of romantic comedies and dramas that is reminiscent of the first cool day of fall after a summer spent in the air-conditioning. The reality that is portrayed in this movie mixing authentic Harvey Pekar with character Harvey Pekar and others is a nice change of pace. Being a fan of the newspaper comics, I appreciated the work that was done on the layout alluding to a cartoon-like style. Paul Giamatti portrayed Harvey believably down to his everpresent smirk. At first I thought I would become confused being presented with both authentic and portrayed Harvey Pekar, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a pleasure to see the life of a man and his wife portrayed in an honest yet fascinating way.
Home on the Range (2004)
Good for kids, boring for adults
My daughter watches the Disney channel, so "Home on the Range" was advertised heavily as we watched TV. By the time we saw the movie, much to my chagrin, I realized we had seen the best parts via TV. Some of the music was enjoyable and is probably Oscarworthy, but it is not enough to carry the movie. My daughter enjoyed it, she said, but I honestly had trouble staying awake. The weak writing made the animation look uninspired. Some of the animation lately, of award caliber, has combined good writing with phenomenal animation. "Home on the Range" has neither. If you want to take you child, he will probably enjoy it, but be prepared to have a drink laced with caffeine, if you want to stay awake.
A movie for all time
My family has passed around an old joke which reminds me of the movie, `Pleasantville'. One Easter a little girl asked her mother why a good hunk of the ham was cut off before it was put in the pan and into the oven. Her mother hesitated and thought a moment. She told her that her grandmother had always done it that way. The little girl asked her grandmother who was there for dinner why she always cut a big hunk of ham off before cooking it. The grandmother pursed her lips and thought for a moment. She called her mother who was 97 and in a nursing home. She asked the same question of her mother. Her mother replied, `Well. We never had a pan big enough to fit the whole ham onto, so we cut off a hunk so it would fit.'
This movie asks the question, `Do we do something a certain way without question just because others have always done it that way?' Is change always good? This fine ensemble cast have raised acting to a new level. They are true to their characters and evolve in a believable manner. Thrown into the mix are themes of racism, the fall of innocence, and risk-taking at its highest form. The monochromatic/chromatic characters are shown in a new and fresh approach. See it with somebody else and be prepared for good discussion afterwards.
The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002)
A great husband and father experiences confusion
I read some reviews and ratings of this movie that made me hesitate before deciding to watch it. I'm so glad I saw it. The depiction of family life in "Secret Lives of Dentists" was amazing. Campbell Scott and Hope Davis act very believably. The relationship between Dana and Dave, the two dentists, was portrayed in a realistic style with convincing emotion. He, the stalwart provider, and she, the passionate one, find they are drifting apart. Their reactions to this situation were appropriate. Their children and the situations they found themselves in as parents, were right on the mark. There are surprises and places in the movie where the audience can make its own conclusions. A very thought-provoking movie. I recommend this movie and encourage others to take the chance.