I have NEVER seen anything like this before. The story itself is entertaining and very reminiscent of the type of movie that Steven Spielberg would have made in the early 80's, but the 3D element makes it an EVENT! If you have a choice to see this in a regular theater or in 3D, do not hesitate to see it 3D! From the moment the title comes on screen, I knew I was going to see a level of realism in the 3D process that I had never experienced before. In fact, seeing "Monster House" in a regular theater might be akin to seeing all of "The Wizard of Oz" in black and white. It would severely diminish the potential impact of the film. "Monster House" was obviously envisioned as a 3D experience and the technical process envelopes you in the story and the world in which it takes place in a way that is so immediate and palpable.
Lest you think that only the technique is worthy of praise, let me mention that the script, the performances, the direction, the score are all of the fun, adventurous spirit of all the best movies I remember from my youth. It has the feel of "E.T.", "The Goonies", even a little bit of "Poltergeist", just a lot more kid-friendly. The movie isn't extraordinary, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. So a giddy 8 stars for the movie, but an enthused 10 stars for the experience. PLEASE, do yourself the favor of seeing this on a 3D screen!
I'm also happy to report that Mater the Tow Truck, who I thought might end up being the most loathed character since Jar-Jar, ended up being one of the funniest, most heartfelt characters in ANY Pixar film.
Every frame of this movie is wonderful to look at, containing all of the vibrant color and rich texture that we expect from Pixar. The voice work is uniformly excellent and, contrary to what I've read in some reviews, the story and script are just as engrossing and imaginative as their other films. Yes, the movie does have a lot of car puns, just like Monsters Inc had monster-ish puns (the "grossery", the "stalk/not stalk" crosswalk sign) and A Bug's Life had a lot of bug puns (the mosquito ordering the "bloody mary, o-positive", but these type of jokes are never the main type of humor. The biggest laughs come from the characters. They stem from knowing their personalities and their foibles. This has always been the key to Pixar's comic genius and "Cars" continues this great tradition.
Plus, the tractor tipping scene is one of the funniest things I've seen in a movie in a VERY long time.
Problem #1: Acting. Aside from a couple of the adults (I still think Clark Gregg has a lot of potential), the acting is sub-high school production. Every teenage actor in this movie looks like they're reading from a cue card. And unfortunately Camilla Belle's (the babysitter) acting talents can be described thusly: She can effectively look scared. Really scared. Really, really scared. For a very, very long time.
Problem #2: Script. "What?", you may ask, "There was a script?". Well, apparently, because there is a screen writing credit, but the ending result still makes me wonder. It's sort of like they took the first ten minutes of "Scream", drained it of humor and lengthened it to an hour-and-a-half. You can almost hear the conversation inside the screenwriter's head: "Well, she's a babysitter, so what do babysitters do? Um, study........and go through the bathroom of the house owners.....oh, and they raid the fridge! Hmmm, that's not really scary.....but it will be if we put it in the dark with scary music!" So, instead of genuine scares, we get the babysitter studying calculus...to scary music, trying on the moms jewelry...to scary music and searching the fridge for orange juice, but if we're to believe the soundtrack, it's somehow "scary" orange juice.
Problem #3: The ending. So, we finally, after a full hour, get to "THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!". The movie finally starts to move a little. Kids screaming, lights turning off and on, mass pandemonium. Unfortunately, the stranger is channeling Michael Myers and moves...very...slowly. However he's not as imposing as Michael Myers so I'm thinking, "the sick little girl could kick this guys butt". Granted, just the concept of a psychopath stalking you is not pleasant, but we've finally gotten to what's supposed to be the payoff and we still get the same bored feeling we've had through the whole movie, it's just faster.
Now for a small concession. I saw this movie sitting behind five 11-year-old girls. They screamed every time the cat jumped out. They held on to each other for dear life. As they left the theater they were shaking and making comments like "Oh my gosh, you guys! That movie was SOOOOO scary!!!". Apparently, it would seem that devotees of Raven-Symone finally have a horror movie to call their own. So if you're a girl between the ages of 11 and 13 and have never seen anything remotely scary in a movie, this little number may do the trick. To all others...let the tweens answer this call.
Which brings me to "Chicken Little". I did lament the decision by Disney executives to kill their traditional animation department. I felt that it was a knee-jerk decision based on numbers and not rational thought. The only thing that made me somewhat hopeful for "Chicken Little" was the pedigree of the people involved in making it. Needless to say, the advanced commercials for the movie did little to ignite any further desire to see it. Well, I'm happy to report that, despite reports to the contrary, the sky hasn't fallen at Disney. While "Chicken Little" is no where near the studios glory days, it's far superior to the dreck that most other animated studios put out (excluding Pixar, of course).
The plot begins simply. Chicken Little is paying the price for the whole "sky is falling" incident. Very few people, including his father, believed him before and he is taunted by all but his closest friends. Like many family films, animated and otherwise, the main point is a familiar one, a child's bond (or lack thereof) with a parent. However, the plot of Chicken Little takes an unexpected turn when the sky literally does fall. The commercials for the movie have made no secret of the fact that this involves alien life-forms, but the filmmakers did a good job of keeping the meat of the story (not to mention most of the best jokes) out of the advertising. I won't expound on the story, only to say that it's mainly an excuse for a cavalcade of jokes (some better than others) and a quite funny spoof of "War of the Worlds".
The movie is colorful in a way that somehow seems to allude many non-Pixar computer animated films and has a very game voice cast that is willing to give their all for a laugh. It has the same "everything, including the kitchen sink" feel that "The Emperor's New Groove" had and ends up being just as entertaining. Sure, overall it's just a frantic, pop-culture laden comedy, but the jokes are (mostly) very funny, so the worst that can be said is that the movie lives up to it's modest goals of entertainment.
It's not the best of Disney, but it's also far from the worst and it does make me curious what the next step for the Mouse House will be. If they could only get back the balance of humor, technique and heart that they once had, the critics might have to start eating some serious crow.
So basically, if you want a smart, funny (albiet a bit random) comedy that sort of plays as a cross between "Galaxy Quest" and "Monty Python", go and enjoy this terrific movie. Just don't forget your towel.
My favorite Woody Allen movies make me leave the theater a little bit lighter in spirit than I walked in. This one made me wish I could get my money back.
Anyway, "Fever Pitch" stands as a perfect date movie: one that both the guy and the girl will enjoy.
For five whole minutes I thought I was in the clear. The opening credits are clever, the kids are charming and the production values are top notch. Then the cat showed up. There are many problems from this point on, but the biggest one was the woeful miscasting of Mike Myers. Where "The Grinch" was saved by the inspired casting of Jim Carrey, "The Cat" was destroyed by Myers. He can be very funny when his energies are applied where they belong, comic sketches. Every movie he's made that was truly funny was really just a feature length comedy sketch, from "Wayne's World" to "Austin Powers". So he tries to do the same thing here, it's just that these comedy sketches are more like the stuff that they stick at the end of SNL, not funny, just painful. Not that the writers helped him out any. After the charming prologue the movie turns into an hour of repulsive bodily humor gags, poorly timed pratfalls and insultingly stunted attempts at hip humor. This movie was the most disheartening cinematic experience I have ever had. Period. So much talent and work went into something so vile. I know that the adult stars of this movie will be relatively unscathed by this mess, I just hope that the wonderful Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning will get more chances to show their charms in far better movies. If you are a parent, please avoid this like the plague. With movies like "Elf" and "Brother Bear" currently in theaters, you have far better choices.
It must be stated that if you are a cynic at heart, you will loathe this movie (not that you would be drawn to see it in the first place). However, if you're just looking for something beautiful and old-fashioned to take your family to, or just to relive a little bit of your own childhood, this is the movie to beat this Christmas season!
Homer Hickham is a son who has been told since the day he was born that he was going to grow up to work in the coal mines. That is what everyone before him has done and all of his contemporaries have resigned themselves to the fact that that is what they will do. However, Homer wants to build rockets and he seesa first prize at the national science fair as a ticket out of Coalwood and straight to college. Homer's father has worked in the mines his whole life and sees nothing practical or worthwhile in Homer's fascination with rockets, but, more importantly, he sees Homer's desire to leave as a huge insult. He thinks that Homer wants to get away from the town so that he doesn't have to follow in his father's footsteps.
The interaction between father and son is at once frustrating, hurtful, loving, insightful and bittersweet. There are always kind words that can't be spoken and harsh words that can't help but be shouted. This realism is at the core of this incredibly moving screenplay, which is only made palpable by the equally moving performances.
If you are looking for a great drama that is family appropriate, smartly written and inspiring, I highly recommend this little-known gem!
Ellen Degeneres is wonderful as Dory. Every line that she delivers in the entire film is absolutely perfect. Actually that can be said about all of the performances, but her character steals the show because she is, at the same time, the funniest and sweetest fish in the ocean.
This movie is perfect for adults, perfect for children, heck, perfect for teenagers. See it again and again because it is, without question, the movie of the summer and deserves every bit of praise it gets.
For the uninitiated, Christopher Guest and his regular cast of inspired loons set their sights on an obscure sub-culture and create on-the-mark mockumentaries. With "Waiting for Guffman" it was the world of community theater. With "Best of Show", the professional dog show circuit. And "A Mighty Wind" focuses on the folk music boom of the late sixties and early seventies.
The jokes are a little more gentle this time around, and that's appropriate given the subject matter. Regardless of how much you like or dislike folk music, it's hard to be too venomous to a group of people preaching peace. However, the jokes are sharp and insightful as are all of the performances.
One of the things that I've loved about the Christopher Guest movies is the multi-dimensional characterizations. It's one thing to laugh at someone, but it's another to really feel for the person at the same time and that's precisely what happens in this film. There are genuine moments of pathos that lead the audience to really cheer for these characters.
I won't go on, just to say that it's a delightful movie. In the canon of Christopher Guest films, I would put it just below "Guffman" and ahead of "Show". However, all three are treasures.