The Boss Baby (2017)

We here in Los Angeles get it very young that some stuff hits and you see it on McDonald’s cups and happy meals and other stuff just doesn’t. It usually doesn’t stand to reason whether it’s amazing or not. I don’t quite understand why but The Boss Baby just aint hittin’ yet. That’s a shame …

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We here in Los Angeles get it very young that some stuff hits and you see it on McDonald’s cups and happy meals and other stuff just doesn’t. It usually doesn’t stand to reason whether it’s amazing or not. I don’t quite understand why but The Boss Baby just aint hittin’ yet. That’s a shame because I found it quite hilarious and very well made.

The Boss Baby

The Boss Baby

“A suit-wearing briefcase-carrying baby pairs up with his seven-year old brother to stop the dastardly plot of the CEO of Puppy Co.” -IMDB

Cast

Alec Baldwin Boss Baby (voice)
Steve Buscemi Francis Francis (voice)
Jimmy Kimmel Dad (voice)
Lisa Kudrow Mom (voice)

Directed by

Tom McGrath

Written by

Michael McCullers, Marla Frazee

Other Info

Animation, Comedy, Family
PG
Fri 31 Mar 2017 UTC
97min
IMDB Rating: 6.3

Director is most popular as Skipper of Madagascar movies & the TV show, Penguins Of Madagascar & was a voice actor for Shrek 3 as Gary, Monsters vs Aliens as Wilson, Megamind as Lord Scott, & a bit part in Puss In Boots as a bar thief as well as being a director, layout & storyboard artist for numerous other animated movies. You can’t say he doesn’t know the niche! I’ve read reviews by big name critics that are saying this movie is terrible. Hmmm. Did they see the same movie? There are a host of great voices in this. I found Alec Baldwin most hilarious due to the fact that he is Trump on SNL.

The story is that babies are brought to us in one of two ways (neither is the scientific way). This is probably intended to help parents with that age old question kids ask: “Where DO babies come from.” At any rate, The Boss Baby has talent for the deal so he spends time in a family in lieu of an actual baby who comes later. That’s the best non-spoiler summary I can give! The story is not really important here, it’s the gags and the imagery. This film is highly colorful and engaging to watch.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I think this movie is funny and a cute way to spend the afternoon for an animation lover and/or child or niece/nephew. Sure, it won’t be like an epic film experience but you’ll laugh like I did. It has many zany and ridiculous scenes. My favorite was when the big baby would run and his diaper sagged. LOL. The sounds he makes are so funny. That should be a screensaver. I would download it! It isn’t an amazing story but it beats Life of Pets’ plot hands down. Maybe not as good as Zootopia but hey, it’s great animation. Do you need an epic story? Someone tell McDonald’s they missed their window with this one.

4/5

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Frankenweenie (2012)

5/5 A boy’s love for his dog becomes a circular journey of learning to let go.

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Frankenweenie
“Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.” -IMDB

Cast

Winona Ryder Elsa Van Helsing (voice)
Catherine O’Hara Mrs. Frankenstein/Weird Girl/Gym Teacher (voice)
Martin Short Mr. Frankenstein/Mr. Burgemeister/Nassor (voice)
Martin Landau Mr. Rzykruski (voice)

Directed by

Tim Burton

Written by

Leonard Ripps, Tim Burton

Other Info

Animation, Comedy, Family, Horror, Sci-Fi
PG
Fri 05 Oct 2012 UTC
87min
IMDB Rating: 7.0

You’d think death and grieving were topics best left for grown up movies like Ordinary People et. al., but these topics work surprisingly well in Tim Burton’s animated movie Frankenweenie. It is a highly enjoyable ride for families to the “other side” and back again. As Victor’s science teacher tells him, science experiments must have “heart” as well and brain. A boy’s love for his dog becomes a circular journey of learning to let go. Where does the merry-go-round end? I wont tell you that here but know it is a wildly fun, inspiring ride for viewers of all ages.

As one would expect in a Disney/Burton film, there is an all star cast of voices. Catherine O’Hara, known for her role as the mom in Home Alone plays three characters: Mrs. Frankenstien, Weird Girl, and Gym Teacher. Her voice was the most striking at first for me. When I first heard her doing a character I thought, “Wait a minute I KNOW that voice!” Then you start thinking about where it’s from. Martin Short also does a noteworthy job at the voices of Mr. Frankenstein, Mr. Burgemeister, and Nassor. Incidentally, Mr. Burgemeister is an homage to the Rankin Bass character from Santa Claus in Comin’ to Town and is a delight to watch. He is included likely because this movie was made in “stop action” format with “puppets” as they are called in the credits the same way Santa Claus is Coming to Town was. It is also the same format Burton utilized for The Nightmare Before Christmas. In a time when digital computers seem to be the format for all animation, it is exciting to see this style used to tell a story effectively on screen. There are many other household names in the movie playing a lot of entertaining characters.

Victor is a grade school boy who has a great dog named Sparky. We see them at play and get to know Sparky’s extra-large personality and warmth as a dog in the early part of the movie. This is shown well through his relationship with Victor but also through his relationship “through the fence” with a poodle and other kids. Sparky is clearly an exceptional and loving dog. I wanted to take him home myself.

As you probably have already gleaned from the trailers, Sparky dies and Victor just won’t “let him go” so-to-speak. This is where Victor tries bringing Sparky back to life in his attic just like the Frankenstein movies. By the way, Victor’s last name is also Frankenstein in Frankenweenie. The nods are not subtle in this movie but that’s ok because everything works to make a wonderful and fun family film about death and loss. It also becomes a wild ride reminiscent of Godzilla and Gremlins. Without spoiling all the fun in between, we learn that bringing things back from the dead can have monstrous consequences. There is a somewhat puzzling (for me) ending but ultimately it all works out to be one of the best family films (for all ages) I have seen an a long time. I think I can safely call it an instant classic.

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The Beaver

The executive tells his wife he’s been back to the psychiatrist and the use of a beaver hand puppet is a form of therapy. When the “therapy” seems unending, there begins the movie’s conflict.

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Article first published as Movie Review: The Beaver on Blogcritics.
The Beaver is directed by Jodie Foster who is well known as an actor and now fairly well-known as a director for Little Man Tate and Home for the Holidays. This is her most gritty production to date, taking on the issue of mental illness. Jodie Foster also plays an important role in the movie, that of Meredith Black, the main character’s wife. The Beaver stars Mel Gibson as the protagonist Walter Black. There are also key roles played by Anton Yelchin (Star Trek’s “Chekov”) as Porter Black, the main character’s son and Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone and the upcoming Hunger Games) as Norah, the friend of Porter Black. Seldom does a movie bring such an important yet taboo subject into the light with such clarity. Mental illness now has an illustration to show us our humanity and better understand the mentally ill people around us.

This is a story of a family man and executive well into his 50’s who appears to be depressed. In reaction to his depression, he buys a crate of alcohol seemingly to drink himself into oblivion. In the parking lot dumpster, he notices a haggard old hand puppet in the shape of a beaver. He is drawn to its charm and takes it home with him. Through much of the movie he communicates only through the puppet and puts his wife and those around them through a frustrating series of challenges. The executive tells his wife he’s been back to the psychiatrist and the use of a beaver hand puppet is a form of therapy. When the “therapy” seems unending, there begins the movie’s conflict. Walter is sick, and his wife knows it. Unfortunately, his sickness is generating great ideas at work that earn him a spot on the Today Show with Lauer, among another places. Mentally ill people often make creative contributions to our world, that’s what this movie appears to be telling us.

There is a father/son dynamic going on here as well. Walter and his son Porter are at odds. Walter has been guilty of the same thing most middle aged executives are: being absent in the home. Porter accepts payment to write people’s essays in High School and has a very dysfunctional crush on Norah that winds both of them up in jail for the night for vandalism. One can’t help but wonder if Walter’s condition contributed to his son’s issues. There is a climax and a slowing and at the end a horrific self mutilation leaves Walter “better.”

I really like this movie because it shows that mental illness is not just an embarrassment we should hide in our family trees. I am deeply interested in people which is probably why I like movies so much. The extent to which they portray the human condition is usually the extent to which I like them. If you know someone who has a mental illness or if you yourself struggle with on, this movie is a must see. This is not Braveheart and it’s not Nell. Instead, it is something in the middle and it addresses mental illness quite accurately, in my opinion.  Only through understanding the unknown can we embrace it and make peace with it in our world, Mental illness is largely an unknown in our society. It is good to see Mel Gibson stepping away from the action hero role to shine light on something many families and individuals deal with.

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Life (2017)

Director Daniel Espinosa has given us a great space action horror flick. There’s a good lesson here too that we’ve seen before in movies like Jurassic Park: Don’t mess with nature.

Life
“A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.” -IMDB

Cast

Jake Gyllenhaal David Jordan
Rebecca Ferguson Miranda North
Ryan Reynolds Rory Adams
Hiroyuki Sanada Sho Murakami

Directed by

Daniel Espinosa

Written by

Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

Other Info

Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
R
Fri 24 Mar 2017 UTC
103min
IMDB Rating: 7.1

It starts like any other space team film. You might even expect the label predictable. still, if you want a Big Mac, there’s nothing better to satisfy your hunger. People who liked Alien and Gravity will like this film. Scene for scene it’s a lot of the same stuff. Creature is brought aboard, impossible to kill. Yeah. There is an ending eerily similar to Gravity but I will spare you the twist.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a great ride. While parts seeem highly borrowed, I chose to enjoy it and let it rock me. I would have liked to have seen something more scientifically illuminating as the trailer and title alluded to. Still it’s a great thriller with horror elements that fans of these genres will enjoy. A lot of work clearly went into this. Too bad it’s a rehashed plot. Most people will enjoy it.

3/5

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Gentlemen Broncos (2009)

Movies give us a specific point of view. For this reason, it is possible to NOT GET IT in the same way you might not get someone different at work or in your life’s travels. In my years reviewing movies here on my blog (as well as my entire lifetime watching movies) I have suffered from “jumping to conclusions” about movies. I did that with Nacho Libre. Jack Black didn’t seem funny the first time, but my perspective changed. My gate opened up and after a month or so, that film was my second favorite of all time. Gentlemen Broncos was directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). It is as camp as camp gets. All (I am) saying is give “camp” a chance.

Gentlemen Broncos

Gentlemen Broncos

“A teenager attends a fantasy writers’ convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist.” -IMDB

Cast

Michael Angarano Benjamin
Jemaine Clement Chevalier
Mike White Dusty
John Baker Don Carlos

Directed by

Jared Hess

Written by

Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess

Other Info

Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi
PG-13
Thu 27 May 2010 UTC
90min
IMDB Rating: 6.2

Sam Rockwell plays Bronco, an interstellar futuristic hero from the imagination of a teenage writer. He is made out to reference the futuristic movies of the 1960’s, usually starring Charleton Heston. He is actually one layer below the reality one, being in a book. Michael Angarano is our true protagonist. Reminiscent of the children’s comedy Big Fat Liar, his manuscript is stolen by a more established sci fi writer and used for his next book. The best parts of this movie are the flashback sequences into the book. Everyone is searching for yeast, it is the lifeblood of a dying species. Does that sound ridiculous? There’s much more. Some of the real life sequences are slow and unnecessary. I don’t know why the director did so many of them. He could have stuck more to the manuscript story and only gone back occasionally to real life. I think tht would have improved the movie. The director seems like he is filling up dead space with snake diarrhea shopping with mother scenes. The manuscripts are where it’s at.

Envision stags with explosive rockets mounted on them. It’s camp effects again (see what I was saying about camp?). This movie will not resonate with a large audience because it is just too loosely joined. I probably will not recommend my friends and family to watch it but for those who have “seen it all” I offer this as a refreshing laugh with truly stupid intentions. If you laugh at this movie or even walk out, you are doing exactly what the director had hoped you would. I like movies like that, just not every day. Check out the clip below of Gentlemen Broncos.

3/5

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