Cars

February 1, 2018

A Disney dot Pixar Film

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Race car Lightning McQueen (get it?) has to get to California to win the big race, but gets stuck in a tiny town in the Southwest, and of course it’s full of eccentric characters and he falls in love and learns about life.

Music Mike knows this guy who could get us into Disneyland for free, so of course we were all over that. We went in the middle of the week in January, so as to avoid crowds, and since neither of us had ever been to California Adventure, we decided to do that (we had to choose one place or the other.) A chunk of CA is about the Cars movie, and more is getting changed over; it’s a HUGE deal with little kids, especially little boys, as I know from working on a children’s desk in a library since forever.

The thing is, I had never seen the Cars movie (nor, of course, any of the sequels or the million videos or cartoons or books or any of the other spinoffs.) So when we walked through Radiator Springs downtown, and there was Luigi’s tire shop with the tower of tires, and the traffic-cone motel, and Fran’s V-8 Diner, and the awesome spinning ride that was a bunch of tractors with Tow Mater’s voiceovers, and the big car race ride, and the neon at night, I didn’t get ANY of it.

But the neon was great, and the big ride (and some of the little ones) was really fun.

So when I got home from that trip, I checked the Cars movie out of the library and watched it. I told Music Mike, and mentioned to Mr. Otter, that I thought Mr. Otter and I had watched it way back when…but it’s not in my reviews, and neither of us really remembered it, so obviously we didn’t.

And (getting back to the review) I have to say, it was really fun. The animation was good; not as spectacular as today’s movies, but damn good. The story was pretty predictable, but told with wit and charm. And it didn’t hurt that most of the story takes place in my favorite place ever, the Southwest.

The voice actors were good, although I didn’t recognize any of them (including Serious Honeys Paul Newman and Michael Keaton). There were plenty of in-jokes and asides for the grownups to be entertained, and it never got boring.

And I sat through the credits and laughed hysterically…they’re almost the best part of the movie.

A fun time. Didn’t make me want to go out and see the sequels, but I sure enjoyed it…and now I appreciate what I saw at Disneyland even more.


Hit The Deck

February 23, 2016

hit the deck

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Sailors on the town. Girls. Hijinks ensue.

This is billed as another charming ‘sailors on the town’ musical like On The Town and Anchors Aweigh…beware false advertising!

Yes, it’s a musical. Yes, it’s about sailors on leave. No, it is neither charming nor fun.

Firstly, it was made in the mid 1950s, and the heavy metal boots of the fifties have stomped all the fun out of it. There are cute situations, and some romantic mixups, but they are not charming or fun.

The costumes, sets and colors are all marked with that inimitable 50s style that puts red dresses against chartreuse walls (I am not joking) and everything in contrasting “We paid for technicolor and we’re going to use it!” color schemes. The dresses are frothy and full of skirt, and the romantic situations are all farce.

And Tony Martin, Lounge Lizard Extraordinaire, is the lead…now, Ann Miller is in this, and she’s good. Debbie Reynolds is always worth watching, and Russ Tamblyn (whom I had only seen in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) is adorable. But (except for the funhouse dance sequence, which was great) this is a lot of nothing blown up into a silly two hours of mistaken identity and dodging the MPs.

Not so much of a much. Worth it for those actors and that one scene, but really, don’t waste your time.


Ant-Man

December 26, 2015

image

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Yet another superhero origin movie. Guess why he’s called Ant-Man? Yup, he can get really really tiny.

I had an afternoon to kill and, as I usually do, a free movie pass, so I decided to go see this in the theater. And I was not sorry I did.

The previews had looked smart and funny, but we all know that movie trailers are psychologically tailored to be as attractive as possible to the widest possible audience whether or not they will actually enjoy the film…I’ve been burned fairly often by awesome trailers that make me go to awful movies (yes, you have too, True Fan, I know it to be true.)

So I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was fast-moving, funny, and full of good action sequences. The main character (Ant-Man) is mouthy and sarcastic (reminiscent of The Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy) and the plot, aside from the obvious problems the Physics Police will have with size and mass, is good.

An enjoyable romp, the Otter recommends it for just plain fun.


Hector and the Search for Happiness

October 29, 2015

image

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From the novel of the same name by Francois Lelord

Plot? Hector searches for happiness, what do you think?

We chez Rees really like Simon Pegg’s action movies. We loved Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and Paul. He was awesome as Scotty in the new Star Trek reboot (at least the first one; I was less happy with everything in the second one…)

But I do not really enjoy him in regular, everyday-life kinds of movies. I really hated How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (except for one scene, which was excellent) and I was not happy with this movie; in both cases, he was perfectly good as an actor, but every British actor does the whole ‘I’m so repressed by this stiff-upper-lip culture that I can’t unwind and be happy’ thing, and frankly, I’m pretty tired of it. I guess if you’re British it continues to be amusing, but as an American who has no problem being happy, spontaneous, cheerful, having fun, doing pretty much what I want, and all that other stuff…I really don’t need to see any more movies on this theme. Okay?

Other than my rant, it was a perfectly good movie and amusing in many ways. Just…been there, done that.


Interstellar

December 22, 2014

interstellar

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In an apocalyptic future where global warming has destroyed the environment and plagues have killed off almost all food crops, ex-astronaut Matthew McConaughey must join NASA’s last mission to try and save mankind.

There are things in this review that might be considered to be SPOILERS.

Just sayin’.

When I was 9 years old, my good friend Banjosirena invited me to come with her and her dad to see 2001: a Space Odyssey at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood (over an hour’s drive) when it was new. It was an amazing experience, and I have loved that movie ever since.

And this is a worthy successor, in many ways:

  • It’s big and beautiful. The special effects, like its predecessor, are really good, and mostly really believeable.
  • There is a lot of made-up science-ish stuff. Because the premise of the movie, again like its predecessor, requires that there be a super-race for humans to evolve into, to make the ending work out and save the day. The fact that they are/will be us keeps the power to control our own destinies from being taken out of our hands. And of course it’s all storytelling, since we are not yet sure that we will become superpowered multidimensional beings. Although it would be nice.
  • The main character spends quite a bit of time blue-screening. McConaughey did it very well.
  • The space flights are state-of-the-art looking, which is nice.
  • The tech will look incredibly dated in twenty years…I read somewhere (and had never thought about it) that when you watch 2001 now, what they do NOT have anywhere in their computer-controlled world…is keyboards. Because back then, nobody realized how ubiquitous they would be as an interface. I can’t wait to look back on this in twenty years and realize where we have gone that these filmmakers didn’t envision…
  • There are great computers. HAL-9000, of course, is the famous one from 2001; in Interstellar, it’s the four-part mobile computers, notably TARS, that are the stars; they were great. I don’t know if they are feasible, but they were an interesting idea for the conjunction of robots and computers.

The plots are not really similar; 2001 is man vs crazy computer, whereas Interstellar is man vs the disaster man has made of the planet and the desperate search for a way to keep the species alive.

There is a section with Matt Damon as one of the scientists who was sent ahead through the wormhole and found a planet, who wants to be rescued at any cost; Mr. Otter thought this was bad writing,  but I do not agree. Not only did it add some much-needed action to the story, and cause the event that precipitated McConaughey’s desperate entry into the black hole, which ends up saving everyone, but it was really believeable; I could totally see someone doing this, rather than nobly dying alone on a distant planet.

So yes, even though, as Spider Jerusalem says, most of the science is crap or made up, this is, as he went on to add, a really good movie anyway. I saw it twice in a week, and enjoyed it very much both times. Even though I am no longer 10 years old.


Love Me Tonight

June 13, 2014

loveme2night

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A French princess falls in love with a tailor, with much singing and dancing happening along the way.

Mr. Otter and I were visiting GATADD, and talk (as it often does) turned toward movies. For some reason that neither I nor Mr. Otter can remember, we started talking about this one, and Mr. Otter said he had always wanted to know the words that the soldiers sing during the “Isn’t It Romantic?” montage. I went looking on the interwebs, and by golly, a lot of other people want to know that too, but nobody had figured it out…we even played that clip on youtube, but the sound is not good, and it’s a choral number and it is almost impossible to figure out more than a few words.

Then Mr. Otter and GATADD found out that I had never seen this movie…and they were shocked! Horrified! Couldn’t believe it! but no, I had not.

So a week later, Mr. Otter came home with a used copy that he had bought, and we watched it.

And…well. Jeannette (Serious Honey) is wonderful. I’m not a big fan of Maurice Chevalier, even in his younger days (this movie was made in 1932). Just doesn’t do a thing for me.

The plot is silly- he’s a tailor who ends up at a chateau and is pretending to be an aristocrat (because someone mistakes him for one and to get closer to Jeannette) and then at the end he has to confess, but of course she still loves him.

It was okay. Silly, some good songs, beautiful costumes, much eyebrow raising from Mr. Chevalier. Not one of the best musicals ever (sorry, Mr. Otter and GATADD) but it was okay, glad I saw it.

Still couldn’t make out those lyrics, though.


Frozen

June 5, 2014

frozen

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Two sisters who love each other as children are driven apart by the older girl’s fear of her magical powers.

If you have been living under a rock, you might never have heard of this movie, but otherwise you have been exposed to it everywhere- the songs, the book spinoffs, the toys, the advertising, the whole Disney machine at work.

I’m kind of indifferent to modern Disney movies- the formula is a little too formulaic for me, and I remember old Disney, where they were more telling stories than trying to hit target audiences. So I didn’t go see this in the theaters when it was playing.

But Maid-of-Awesome loves Disney, she grew up in a household where that was practically all she was allowed to watch (as opposed to me, who except for Fantasia didn’t see any of the Disney canon until I was grown.) She loves Disney movies, goes to see them in the theaters and likes many of them enough to buy them.

One night I was free and she and her husband, Soccer Sam, invited me over to join them and Allison-the-Baker-Allison-the-Baker* to see this. I was happy to, especially since she and Allison-the-Baker-Allison-the-Baker had, of course, been baking.

The movie was good. The plot, while pure Disney, was not stupid or overdone, and the danger/denoument was very good. I liked the love interest, and his reindeer buddy, and the whole ‘sisterly love’ thing was great.

But the snowman. Dear God, the snowman. Imagine a mix of Jim Carrey and Billy Crystal and the more annoying parts of Wallace Shawn, and you will pretty much have this snowman. There are many kinds of sidekicks, and there is at least one in every Disney movie, but the ‘annoying mouthy’ version is the worst, and this guy was the one I most hate out of that bunch. And he was in HALF THE DAMN MOVIE, I couldn’t get away from him. He’s even on the front of the DVD. I really really hated the snowman, and wish they had restrained themselves enough to just give the reindeer more lines.

Other than that? it was fun. I mean, baked treats, good friends, Max the dog lap-hopping, and a pretty good movie…what is there not to love about an evening like that?

*tune