Category: kids movies

Review: UP

Just got back from the film, and I figured I’d post my review up in time for the weekend. Now, I love me some Pixar. I’ve found them to be an extremely reliable source of family entertainment. Finding Nemo, Cars, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Toy Story–their list goes on and on. Sooner or later, they’ve got to fall flat on their faces, or at least not quite meet the standard they’ve set for themselves.

This time, they’ve exceeded that standard. By a wide margin.

In fact, I’d have to say that UP is likely their best movie yet. As I think back on it, there’s really not a single thing with the movie that I could quibble about. It’s tight: a lean, mean, funny machine. I loved every minute of it, from beginning to end. It hits all the right notes on a spectrum of emotions, from humor to drama to adventure–you name it. I don’t really want to get in to any of the specifics, because I think it was a stronger experience for me by not knowing too much about it before I went. All you need to know is that it’s about an old man who uses helium balloons to make his house fly. The fact that I can give that as the summary and still give the movie a strong recommendation says oodles right there.

Dads, this is one to see with your sons. Or grandfathers with their grandsons. Not saying that it won’t be enjoyed by the ladies, but I think it made an even bigger impact on me to be sitting there at the first showing, my son next to me, laughing along with me. The movie’s a strong four stars from me. I can’t recommend it enough.

As an added bonus, the film plays with a cartoon short in front of it, as has been Pixar’s tradition. This one’s called Partly Cloudy, and it’s every bit as good as any of the others you’ve already seen. Really, the fact that you can see entertainment this good for a matinee price ($3.50 for me here in Maine), is a jaw dropping good deal.

So fly, my pretties. Fly! Go watch this movie. Now.

That is all.

Squirrel!

Massive Update

Well, I’m not so sure how long this actual update will be, but I’ve got plenty to fill you all in on. Yesterday was officially the Most Effective Day Off Ever, as I got the following done: painted trim in one room, helped DKC paint the entryway, wrote (my current effort is a Groundhog Day murder mystery, watched the Bluray Pinocchio (review below), painted Lightning McQueen on TRC’s wall (my first foray into wall art–I’ll post pictures once it’s totally done), finished The Great Hunt, cleaned the garage, cleaned the interior of my car, and worked on editing a friend’s book. All in one day. And as a reward for all that hard work, I was down to 204.8 this morning. Very nice. Of course, I’m pretty darn tired now, but it’s all good. Every now and then I get into this strange hyper-efficiency mode, and I just have to keep working until it wears itself out. Maybe it’s sort of like all the efficiency I’m usually capable of (but don’t exercise) stores itself up until it just explodes out in an exhausting whirlwind. In any case, I should be good for the next month or two at least. 🙂 What did all of you do on your day off?

And now, a couple of movie reviews:

Pinocchio–What’s not to like about this film? (Especially when it’s in 7.1 audio.) TRC really enjoyed it–he wasn’t even as scared of the Monstro scene as he thought he’d be. I think this might be one of the best Disney “boy” movies, at least for small boys. It’s got conflicts in it that they relate to and understand. In any case, it had been a long time since I’d seen it, and I still loved it. Three and a half stars.

Across the Universe–Over 30 Beatles songs crammed into one movie. This film was almost everything I wished Mamma Mia had been. It’s not perfect, but it got a few things right: number one, the characters were actually appealing, or at least not actively revolting. Number two, they hired singers, not actors, so the vocals are really good. Number three, the plot has some semblance of sense to it. Yes, there’s a long psychedelic part in the second third, but that felt right at home with some of those Beatles songs. Plus, it has Bono singing “I am the Walrus,” which makes just about any film better. (Think about it. War and Peace? Boring. War and Peace with Bono singing “I am the Walrus”? Strangely intriguing.) Three stars. Could have been more if the plot made a tiny bit more sense, but hey–nobody’s perfect. Strongly recommended for Beatles fans or musical lovers.

The Return of the Me

Back today. My apologies for missing last Friday–I was off in Bangor discussing cataloging standards with like-minded librarians. And if that doesn’t sound like the most fascinating thing in the world, then . . . you’re probably not that into cataloging. 🙂

My Trip to Bangor was an eventful one, though. I actually went to a mall that felt pretty much like a mall ought to–there aren’t that many of them here in Maine. It’s not that I miss malls, but it does help one feel like one is in the Civilized World. I also dropped by LL Bean’s outlet while I was there, which was also exciting. Bangor’s about an hour and a half drive there, and so I had plenty of time to listen to my iPod, too–which is more fun than you’d think it would be. The weather was great, the traffic non-existent . . . it was a good day.

Which is good, since I went back to Bangor Sunday for a church meeting. Seriously–is anyone out there interested in becoming Mormon, just so I can boost our church numbers enough that we can make a big meeting house closer to home here? For those of you now “in the know,” Mormon churches (wards) are organized into clusters (stakes), and you have to periodically go to meetings at the stake-level. This is all fine and dandy when you live in Utah and your stake is a block away. When it’s an hour and a half away, it becomes a tad less cool. Not that I really mind–the truthfulness of a church’s doctrine doesn’t really have much to do with its geographical location, as far as I’m concerned–but I wouldn’t mind a bit of a reduction in commuting times, now and then.

In other news, I’m working on a Groundhog Day book more intensely now (as a bridge to get me from here to whenever the agent gets back to me on ParkerBoy–I’ve gotta do something to keep busy). Progress on that is going very well, although I kind of doubt it would ever be marketable. Just how many groundhog fanatics are there, anyway?

And because I haven’t updated ya’ll regularly, I wanted to make sure you were aware that I’m still watching teh moveeze. Just haven’t had the time to tell you which ones. I shall now rectify that situation:

The Love Bug–Watched this with the Fam on Saturday, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A possessed VW Beetle takes a liking to a failed race car driver, and crazy hijinks ensue. Of course, I’d seen it before, but I’d forgotten just how good it is. Any time you can sit and watch Buddy Hackett make a slew of funny expressions, you know you’re in for a treat. Maybe I’m just a sucker for nostalgia, but I’m giving this puppy a strong three stars.

The Counterfeiters–This was the film to win Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars last year. Austrian, and absolutely fantastic. Four stars. It’s based on the true story of a group of Jews in the Holocaust who were forced to try to counterfeit the Pound and the Dollar for the Germans. I’m not one for Holocaust movies, as a rule–too depressing. And this one didn’t exactly make me start whistling for joy, but it was very well done, and presented the Holocaust in a way that connected with me more than some other films had done in the past–even better than Schindler’s List for me, in some ways. I think it’s because it was so horrific that my mind shut off–it was just terrible enough that I could actually comprehend what the characters were going through. Does that make sense? I recommend this movie as strongly as possible, but do be aware that it’s fairly brutal at times. Definitely earned its R rating.

The Man with Two Brains–Watched this one in an effort to round out my Steve Martin oeuvre. A brain surgeon falls in love with a disembodied telepathic brain and has to find a body for the brain to inhabit before it’s too late. Disappointing, really. There were some good laughs here and there, but it wasn’t nearly the masterpiece of The Jerk. Oh well. Still probably two stars. Maybe one and a half, if I’m being honest.

Grindhouse–Tarantino and Rodriguez’s double feature (consisting of Planet Terror and Death Proof). Also a bit disappointing. In general, I’m a Tarantino fan, but he let me down a tad with Death Proof. A little bit too much “real” dialogue, and not quite enough real plot. Still worth seeing–three stars–but really only if you’re into grindhouse movies or Tarantino films. Which I’m betting the majority of my readers aren’t. Oh well.

That’s all I can think of for now that I’ve seen. And that’s all the time I have for today to blog. So until tomorrow, faithful readers, au revoir.

Oscars and Underdog

As some of you are no doubt aware, today the Oscar nominations were announced. Benjamin Button racked up 13 noms, Slumdog Millionaire got 10 and Dark Knight got 8 (though the only biggie was Ledger for supporting actor). I have to admit that I’m not entirely thrilled with the field this year. Too many repeat nominations for movies I’m just not that hyped about. I’ll see them all at some point, no doubt–but when you see the same movies nominated in all the categories . . . it gets kind of boring. Sigh.

Watched Underdog last night with TRC. He enjoyed it. I did not. One and a half stars, and it would have been a complete waste of time if I hadn’t been watching it with my son. I had to force myself to finish it. The acting was abysmal, the plot insipid, the main characters wholly unlikable . . . but the effect of a talking, flying dog wasn’t all too awful. Hence the extra half star. Don’t waste your time on this one, folks.

However, this was all counterbalanced by Lost coming back on the airwaves. The first hour was riveting. The second hour was really good. I love this show, and I can’t wait to be able to watch all six seasons back to back in one ginormous Lostathon. That’d be awesome.

When 1,000,000 People are Wrong

Here’s the thing. I like technology. I’m a fan. And for the most part, I think it’s peachy keen. But every now and then something happens that reminds me that some things, while good in moderation, can end up messing up with your life. Nothing big here: just Rottentomatoes.

You’ve probably heard of that site or used it. Basically, it compiles a slew of reviews for movies, then breaks them down into a liked it/didn’t like it evaluation. Take all that, add it up and take the average, and you have a percentage score that the site uses to then say whether a movie is good or not. If something gets a 95% positive score, then it must be good, because 95% of critics liked it. If something gets a 5% . . .

But the thing is, sometimes I disagree with critics. Sometimes every single critic out there might hate a movie, but I’d love it–because the movie’s perfect for me. But if I put too much weight in Rottentomatoes, then I end up missing that movie.

Case in point: Meet the Robinsons. It’s got a 66% fresh rating, which would make you think it would be okay. Maybe two and a half stars. But I watched it yesterday with TRC, and I loved it. Three and a half stars. I enjoyed it more than some of the Pixar movies. The jokes were fast and furious, all aimed at me. It reminded me of a computer animated Emperor’s New Groove. Then I went and looked at the reviews. Some people hated it, some people loved it. It’s like some people “got it,” and some didn’t.

In the end, I think you have to remember that the only critic’s review that counts for you is your own personal review. It doesn’t matter if everyone loved something–you can still hate it. And it doesn’t matter if everyone hates it and you love it. You don’t have to defend your likes and dislikes.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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