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591 reviews in total 
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Hidden treasure, 23 August 2010

Beatfully executed parody of the Olympic games, with animated animals as the athletes, coaches, sports announcers and other characters. Imitation is the sincerest form of adulation, and this affectionate satire is as much a tribute as it is a satire to the Games.

All the signature elements that we've seen over the years of network coverage of the Olympics are sent up in sweet and playful fashion, and the animal versions of the wide array of both Summer and Winter events are applied ingeniously. Even those bio/interview spots they always do on athletes to show you the arrogant, the hopeful, the ones who "carry the dreams of a nation," and so on; it's all here.

It's put together to mirror the real thing so well, with some amusing and lovable characters. Gilda Radner's classic Bawbwa Wawa impression is utilized perfectly as a wacky sportscaster, and the voice talents doing Jim McKay and Howard Cosell had them down perfectly. Many of the athletes are colorful and cleverly written in spite of their brief screen appearances. Probably best is the recurring marathon story which eventually unfolds a sweet subplot with a cool and unexpected happy ending.

Copies are hard to find; but this rare treasure is worth the looking.

Wedding Daze (2004) (TV)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A kinder gentler Father of the Bride, 23 August 2010

Similar in spirit, theme, and approach to an old Robert Young TV movie from the '70's called All My Darling Daughters, where a loving Dad faces the bizarre circumstance of preparing for a triple wedding ceremony of his daughters. Vaguely similar to Father of the Bride, but the manic hysteria of the Dad is removed in this lower-key approach.

Everybody's rich, and this film spares you from the rich jerks cliché. Everybody in the movie is the kind of a person you might like to have as a friend, even the one oddball in the bunch. There's gentle and tender sentiment, with just enough pratfalls to keep the light hearted intent intact. Nothing is overdone for cheap laughs, except maybe the yoga scene. The closeness of the sisters to one another, and with the parents: very sweet and believable. And it was nice to see Karen Valentine acting again.

Overall, a sweet diversion that's very human and makes no pretenses.

Lake Placid 3 (2010) (TV)
11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
You get what you pay for (Hint: this was free), 23 August 2010

Brazenly ridiculous. It has little to do with the self-satirical original Lake Placid, other than the name. For whatever reason, somebody thought the bargain-basement LP2 warranted a sequel, or a remake, or whatever. So there's yet another generation of these hungry chomping monsters.

Except for Michael Ironside as the quintessential skeptic hick sheriff, and the guy from Eureka poking fun at his Eureka character, the acting is laughably amateurish. The teen actors fare worst; when the girls scream, the shrill noise they emit sounds like an old Talking Tina doll with a broken speech mechanism. The laughable teen soap opera plot doesn't help the paper-thin throw-away characters, either. The knife-wielding nut wasn't bad, considering the outlandish cliché she got stuck with. Don't get me started on that latchkey kid and his weird problems. Throw-away characters have "gator meal" stamped on their heads at all times.

Could the director explain why the gators always grab people's shoes, and drag them for 20 minutes before they decide whether to kill them or not? Do they like to nibble on shoes?

Go in with a "laugh at dumb it is" MST3K attitude, and there'll be a few moments that will not disappoint.

Frost Giant (2010) (TV)
13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Abominable Alien in Antarctica, 10 August 2010

The claustrophobic setting of the story is the best thing this movie has going for it. It's a typical unthinking killing machine monster flick, and seizes material from similarly themed older movies, but it's good enough to kick back with some microwave popcorn and watch.

It's in the Arctic or Antarctic somewhere and a group of scientific investigators at an outpost out there find themselves at the mercy of a weird being that looks like Jack Frost's evil twin. It feeds on energy, so it likes fire and labs and people and stuff. Characters get knocked off in the order painted on their foreheads, while the remaining ones try to figure out a way to get rid of the thing in time. Their only clue on how to do this: a century-old diary.

The acting and direction for a low budget movie are pretty decent, and the movie has its moments. Overall not bad, considering it was free.

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Cosmic meltdown, 10 August 2010

What are they shooting for here? Whatever it was, they missed. Fifth Element attempts to marry sci-fi adventure with slapstick comedy, but falls prey to a director and cast that can't wait to show you the funny stuff they can do.

An everyday man type guy (Bruce Willis) is our hero, called upon to save the Earth. It's yet another instance where the audience gets smothered by an avalanche of "other-movie references," which forgets to build its own story or identity. There is a plot, and the cast even seem to be trying to make the most of this thing, but all this is lost amidst the muddled confusion.

The comedy relief guy (Chris Rock, probably wishing he had a better agent) is intolerable, more grating than fingernails on chalkboard. This tired cliché stereotype swishing around is so awfully unfunny that it must have been the inspiration for the despised Jar Jar Binks a few years later. Mila Javovich is refreshingly better than any of her co-stars, but the script offers insufficient development of her pivotal character. The main bad guy seems to be trying to mix Bugs Bunny with Hannibal Lecter; the result is as bizarre as you might expect.

The ending is so hastily pasted together it's embarrassing. The film has moments but its desperate attempt to have you rolling in the aisles will only have you rolling your eyes in dismay.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Clever, innovative, touching, sweet; a triumph on every level, 5 August 2010

Marvelous on every level; Toy Story 3 exemplifies the true spirit of movie making. Just a joy to watch, and a pleasant gem to think and talk about afterword. The Toy Story franchise is arguably the best at maintaining its freshness. Same concept, story arc, and characters, but each chapter has its own personality and theme.

This film's sentiment reminded me of a piece of poetry I read as a child I've never forgotten; it spoke of the plight of some abandoned toys in a child's bedroom. With heart-wrenching warmth, it described each toy's faithful and longing vigil as they all awaited the return of the child who had once made their lives so joyful, but who had "one day, disappeared." Had the child died? In a way; the child was gone forever, having made that inevitable passage to adulthood. In the same way, Andy, no longer the little boy who once took Buzz and Woody on wild fantasy adventures, is moving on to his adult life (college).

There is a very healthy mixture of all the elements that have made the Toy Story characters so endearing. The topical humor is still top-notch caliber, but they also capture your heart this time with heart felt sentimentality. They show a deep caring for one another that is not only refreshing to see, but believably and sweetly presented. More than once, characters stick their necks out to help one another. Big Baby was a wonderful addition to the group; anybody who doesn't feel anything during Baby's cries of anguish needs to get a heart transplant.

It's a spectacular collaboration of vivid artwork, exquisite visuals, ingenious plot development, penetrating emotion, and excellent voice talent. Fine movies always have memorable moments, and this film has plenty: The back-stories are tenderly told. The toxic dump sequence is an astounding grand finale of emotion, action, and suspense. The scene featuring Andy and Bonnie is inspired. The final image is deeply moving. This film not only lives up to the lofty standards the franchise has already established for itself, it even exceeds them. The best art is that which paints an image of the human condition with truth and beauty. Toy Story is all that and more.

Recommended for anyone. This is the kind of movie that you stay in the theater after it's over for a few moments, hoping for more.

Giant Octopus views New York fireworks display, 27 July 2010

At least you get to see the star monster a little more often in this sequel than the first time out. Still not enough creature screen time though. The film instead spends a lot of time with the "nobody believes the hero when he says there's a monster" bit.

A big city gets it again: the creature visits New York to watch the July 4 fireworks extravaganza. He takes up residence in the river, and occasionally attacks. Acting isn't really bad; for example, the children on the bus really do seem frightened. The leads make the most of the script they're given. Some of the attacks are played silly and with indifference; it's not clear if you're supposed to care about characters or not. The set-up for the final attack takes way too long (with some dumb stuff hammered in), and then you see more of a fireworks display rather than monster action.

Routine creature feature; good enough if you have nothing else to do.

RocketMan (1997)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Makes you laugh: at how brazenly air-headed it is, 25 July 2010

Slapstick run amok is about the closest that human speech can come to describing this movie. As it careens in random directions, you scratch your head trying to figure out what's going on, and wondering if you missed something. It's worth a laugh, at least on the level of laughing at how amateurish and childish it is.

The Pee Wee Herman look-alike act-alike screaming with that exaggerated shrill voice at cover-the-ears intensity reaches the pain threshold at times. His acting is fine, but the director has him going over the top way too often. At anything. Every scene.

Here's the deal: a bumbling but gifted computer geek gets tapped to be on the first manned landing on Mars. Don't ask. With two other people and a chimp (no, really). The chimp mugs, and so does quasi-Pee-Wee. When he's not screeching that is. Pee Wee from the Mars lander gets the whole world to sing campfire songs: I'm surprised somebody didn't just shoot him down. More goofy stuff happens on the voyage, each joke dumber than the last.

The likable cast makes the most of the low-brow material. This one's only popcorn filler stuff, though.

2012: Supernova (2009) (V)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Self-destructs like a super nova does, 4 July 2010

A confused muddle of whatever is supposed to be going on. The outer planets of the solar system get hit by a super-nova's solar flare or something. We're next, but never fear: astronomer Dr. Kelvin (get it?) is on the job to save us all (apparently single handedly). Ehh? Never mind; let's move on. There's some stuff about arguing scientists, a mole conspirator, fallout, electro-magnetism, and archive Space Shuttle footage.

Nothing makes any sense at all in this plot, and whatever the writer had in mind never made it to the screen. All you'll see is Kelvin's wife and daughter dodging lightning, earthquakes, explosions, etc. out in the desert somewhere, with a car that always veers off the road and breaks down every five minutes or so. Lots of their Perils of Pauline problems, but you'll never see any of the global catastrophes that are supposed to be going on. What was up with driving a truck about ten feet in order to escape assassins? lol. Finally, there's an ending that is comically impossible in light of what you see immediately before.

The film suffers from a zero budget, and you will too if you watch this.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Weird, zany, and humorous fantasy adventure, 2 July 2010

This little oddball film from the mid 60's is hard to characterize. In the days just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, a nerdy, winsome misfit who is yet very amiable and loved by others, feels something just isn't right about his life. He interacts far more effectively with the little marine creatures inhabiting the aquarium in his house, than he does with his wife, friends, and co-workers.

Nobody but Don Knotts (doesn't that slightly knotted-up Knotts face slightly resemble a fishy to begin with? lol), could have pulled off a way-out live action/animation fantasy comedy like this. That high-pitched, nasally voice talent of his fits this role to a tee. Limpet sees (what he perceives to be) the carefree life of a fish, and wishes with all his might to be one of them. Presto, change-o, morpho! Welcome to the Atlantic a new bespectacled fish that has a unique ability that comes in handy for survival and in other ways you simply won't expect.

Odder still than all of that is the way the plucky little fish finds himself enmeshed in the naval battles of World War II. Although WW2 would seem like a stark place to set a fantasy comedy, this wacky little film manages to take all these elements and run with them for playful laughs. I'm not sure how I (or anybody else) would handle seeing a friend talking from the water as a fish, and the supporting cast are all perfect in the humorous "playing down" reactions they have to this bizarre situation.

Fun stuff.

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