Scooby-Doo

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a warehouse, the Mystery, Inc. gang illustrates a plan to catch the Luna Ghost who has kidnapped Daphne Blake (Sarah Michelle Gellar), flying around with her bound and gagged which goes astray but ends with Shaggy Rogers, (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby-Doo, (voiced by Neil Fanning) causing the Ghost to be caught. After solving the mystery, constant arguments among the members of Mystery Incorporated about Fred Jones (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) taking credit for Velma Dinkley’s (Linda Cardellini) ideas cause the gang to go their separate ways, much to the sadness of Shaggy and Scooby. Two years later, Shaggy and Scooby are approached to solve the mystery of the popular horror resort Spooky Island, reuniting with Fred, Daphne and Velma, although none of the latter are thrilled to see each other, except for Shaggy and Scooby, who still want Mystery Incorporated to re-unite. On the island, the gang meets Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson), the park’s owner, who explains his theory that visitors are being cursed. Shaggy falls in love with a girl named Mary Jane (Isla Fisher), while Scooby is mysteriously targeted by demonic creatures. Velma meets a man named N’Goo Tuana and his henchman, the famous luchador Zarkos, who explains that demons once ruled the island.

The gang visits the island’s abandoned ghost castle, where Daphne finds a pyramid-shaped artifact called the Daemon Ritus and Velma and Fred find a strange room with videos designed to address non-humans. When the gang returns to the hotel, they are attacked by the island demons, who kidnap numerous tourists including Fred, Velma and Mondavarious. The next day, Daphne is captured by Zarkos, while Shaggy and Scooby discover Fred, Velma and the tourists are now possessed by the demons. The two flee with Mary Jane, until Scooby realizes she is possessed as well. In the midst of an argument between Scooby and Shaggy, Scooby falls down a hole, followed by Shaggy, who dives in to save him. Shaggy comes across a vat containing the protoplasmic souls of everyone who was captured, including the rest of the gang, and releases the gangs’ souls to their bodies. Velma discovers that the demons are destroyed in sunlight just like vampires, while Daphne and Fred’s souls end up in the wrong bodies.

Shaggy steals the Daemon Ritus and reunites with the gang after their souls correct themselves. Coming across Voodoo Maestro, the gang learns that if the leader of the demons absorbs a pure soul through the Daemon Ritus, then the demons shall rule the world for the next 10,000 years. The pure soul belongs to Scooby, while the demons’ leader is Mondavarious. Shaggy convinces the gang to put their differences aside and finally work together to save Scooby. They form a plan but it fails and Scooby’s soul is extracted. Scooby is saved by Shaggy, wounding Mondavarious in the attempt. Fred and Velma discover he is actually a robot, controlled by none other than Scooby’s nephew, Scrappy-Doo (voiced by Scott Innes), who the gang abandoned years ago due to his egotism. Now vengeful, Scrappy transforms into a giant demon called Scrappy Rex (voiced by J. P. Manoux) to destroy the gang and rule the world using the tourists’ souls he absorbed.

Daphne fights Zarkos above the island’s caves, knocking him through the roof, which exposes the demons to sunlight and kills them. Shaggy confronts Scrappy and rips the Daemon Ritus from his chest, freeing the souls and reverting Scrappy to his original self. Shaggy finds the real Mondavarious trapped in a hole and frees him. Scrappy and his minions are arrested. Daphne and Fred kiss, Shaggy and Mary-Jane hug along with Scooby, and Velma hugs a man she met earlier then punched him while laughing. When Mystery Incorporated addresses the press, Velma thinks that Fred will take credit for her ideas again, however Fred lets Velma take the credit she deserves after feeling bad for her. Mystery Incorporated is then re-united after Scrappy-Doo and Zarkos are arrested.

At the end, Scooby and Shaggy are eating food at the Spooky Island hotel. They both eat hot peppers and scream as smoke comes out of the hotel

REVIEW:

Chances are you grew up watching some version of Scooby-Doo, unless you’re from the generations before he was created. As such, there is a great love for this giant, talking great dane, even from someone like me who despises dogs! So, it is any wonder that there was a live-action Scooby-Doo film? The question is, though, does this do Scooby justice?

What is this about?

In this live-action feature, Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, Fred and Velma journey to Spooky Island, where a magical force is awakened that could spell doom for the human race. But the Mystery Inc. gang remains skeptical that there are any ghosts at work.

What did I like?

Bring the cartoon to life. There have been a number of cartoons that have been brought to life on the big screen, but many critics have called them “too cartoony”. Am I the only one that sees the irony in that? This film manages to not be as cartoony, but still keep that fun tone of the cartoons. Let’s face it, you’re not going into this expecting some sort of epic dark flick. If you are, then you have some serious issues and need some help. The bright colors, food jokes, witty banter are all there from the beloved show. All that was missing was a cameo from the Harlem Globetrotters!

So that’s what happened! In this day and age, it is regrettably popular to make fun of and criticize the things we loved and grew up with. How else do you explain the popularity of Robot Chicken? I mean, seriously, Optimus Prime with prostate cancer?!? Anyway, when we’re not criticizing and having a laugh at the expense of nostalgia, we have the urge to wonder what happened after the proverbial cameras stopped rolling. In this case, we find out that Mystery, Inc. kept fighting crime for a little bit, but eventually they disbanded, going their separate ways and doing their own thing. Since the setting is a couple of years after that, then it is a nice touch to see what did happen, although I think that should have been more than 2 years.

Shaggy. For the most part, the cast brings these characters to life. I know that Freddie Prinze, Jr. is a huge fan of Scooby-Doo (and Sarah Michelle Gellar probably is…by marriage HA!), so his take on Fred is earnest. Linda Cardellini is dead on with Velma, but the shining star has to be Matthew Lillard as Shaggy. He not only has the tall, lanky look I’d expect from out favorite alleged stoner, he also has the voice. No, it isn’t quite Casey Kasem, but it’s a passable facsimile. Leave us not forget that Lillard also manages to bring the lovable side of Shaggy to the screen, his relationship with Scooby (and food), and gets a love interest in the uber cute Isla Fisher (who looks totally different as a blonde). Did I mention that this guy has done such a good job with the character that he is currently voicing him in the current cartoons!

What didn’t I like?

Sexualization of Velma. Velma’s sexual orientation has long been the topic of conversation, which may be the reason they decided to have her hook up with Shaggy in the new abomination of a cartoon they have now. However, in this film, they decide to capitalize on Linda Cardellini’s hotness, as well as the mind control part of the plot and took her out of her glasses and loose-fitting turtleneck (keeping the knee socks and making her dress a bit tighter) and replaced it with some low-cut V-neck shirt that show cleavage. That’s right, Velma shows cleavage. That just isn’t right! One more thing, in a deleted scene, Daphne comes looking for her and finds her in with no shirt on dancing on the table. If I recall, they kiss before the scene ends. Ugh…why? Why did they do this to Velma?!?

Fred’s tan. As I said earlier, Freddie Prinze, Jr. has been very vocal of his love for Scooby-Doo, and he does a good job with Fred. However, Prinze is Hispanic, and as such his skin is a bit…shall we say, tan? This should be no problem. Fred seems to be the kind who would go for a tan when he had the chance, so no biggie. However, with the blonde wig it doesn’t work. I guess I really shouldn’t complain, it’s not like they stuck the wig on him, and then gave him blue contacts a la Jessica Alba in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Prinze at least looks more natural, as much as one can. Should they have cast someone else? No, but the should have found a wig that matched better.

Scooby snacks, CG, and Scrappy-Doo. You know those cookies that come in a tin and seem to last forever because they don’t get stale? Well, that’s what Scooby Snacks are reduced to in this film. For something that is such a major part of the cartoon, they were nothing more than cookies here and not even used to help Shaggy and Scooby gain some confidence. WTF?!? The CG is dated, but I’m split on how I feel about it. On the one hand Scooby doesn’t look half bad. I prefer to see this than a real dog with a CG bottom lip moving as is the norm these days for some reason (see Marmaduke). On the other hand, there are the creatures who look cheap and recycled. Again, this CG is dated, but come on, guys! Finally, Scrappy-Doo makes an appearance. Now, if you’re familiar with Scrappy, then you know that fans are split as to whether they like him or not. I won’t spoil anything, but 50% of the audience will like what happens to him and the other 50% won’t. For me, I feel he should have been part of the gang or a family reunion, along with Scooby-Dum, but I guess 3 CG dogs, er 2 1/2, would have been too much to ask for, right?

When you get right down to it, Scooby-Doo is not a film that was made for any other reason than to entertain kids and give fanservice to the older generations that grew up on the cartoon. There is nothing serious about this film, though, the plot does seem a bit dark for this film, what with the taking of souls and whatnot. That being said, they keep things light and happy throughout, finding a way to at least attempt to appease everyone. Whether it works or not is a personal judgment call. For me, though, I think this is a good afternoon watch, so give it shot!

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 10/9

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags , , on October 9, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Keeping with the horror theme of this month, I have 3 trailer you may enjoy. Well, 2 that I picked and 1 that was recommended by YouTube.

First up, a little film that recently had a remake that was released earlier this year. Screw that! Nothing like the original! Have a look at the trailer for Carrie.

Next, something a little more family friendly. There is debate whether this is more of a Halloween or Christmas film. I think it works for both. What do you think of the trailer for The Nightmare Before Christmas?

Finally, horror isn’t exactly a genre that thrived in made-for-tv movies, especially on the “big 3″ networks, but every now and then there is something that deviates from the norm. I know many are scared of clowns, and this just made it worse. Check out the trailer for Stephen King’s It.

The Unholy Wife

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , on October 7, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins with Phyllis (Diana Dors) telling her story in flashbacks. It begins how she meets rich vintner Paul Hochen (Rod Steiger) from Napa Valley in a bar and marries him soon after.

Not long after the marriage, Phyllis begins having an affair with a local rodeo rider, San Sanford (Tom Tryon), seeing him every time her husband is away, which is frequently. One night, her elderly mother-in-law (Beulah Bondi) thinks a burglar is breaking into the house, so she calls the police. Phyllis sees this as an opportunity to kill her husband and blame the burglar for the crime. The plan backfires a day later when she instead kills her husband’s best friend. Not wanting to go to jail, she convinces her husband to confess to the killing and they concoct a story that would set him free after the trial.

Unfortunately for her husband, Phyllis lies at the trial and he is put away for murder. The “unholy” wife finally gets the punishment she deserves when her mother-in-law dies of poisoning and the blame goes to Phyllis, who is sent to prison—for a crime she had nothing to do with. Later, she faces her execution in the gas chamber. The film ends with Paul showing their son Michael (Gary Hunley) the vineyard that will someday be his.

REVIEW:

I bet the first question on your mind is where in the world did I get the inkling to watch an unknown flick such as The Unholy Wife, right? Well, the answer to that is simple. On Facebook, I am a member of a group called “Lost Pinups”. This weekend, someone posted a picture of Diana Dors and the poster for this film. Naturally, curiosity took hold and here we are. Have I found an underrated gem? Or is this just another film that puts an attractive blonde in the starring role, regardless of her talent (or lack thereof).

What is this about?

Wealthy vintner Paul Hochen meets blonde bombshell Phyllis in a bar…and marries her. In due course, Phyllis is bored by Paul, and finds an exciting new lover in rodeo rider San. To adjust matters, she forms a murderous scheme, which seems to be going wrong…or is it? Will irony intervene in time to thwart a seemingly perfect crime?

What did I like?

Similar, but different. Here in America, we had the blonde bombshells Marilyn Monroe and the goddess, Jayne Mansfield. Not to mention other visions of grace, elegance, beauty, and whether we want to admit it or not, lust, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Mamie van Doren, Raquel Welch, etc. Across the pond, I guess they didn’t feed those girls the same stuff, but one of the bombshells to come from over there was Diana Dors. Diana is blonde, curvy, and can easily be mistaken for Jayne sometime, but moreso as Marilyn in pictures. However, on-screen, at least in this film, she is far from the bubble headed bimbo-type characters those two ladies seemed to portray for most of their careers. A nice change of pace. I’ll have to check out more of her films to know for sure, though.

Noir. This is labeled as a film noir. For me, while I prefer my noir to be in black and white and involve cops and some saxophone music playing in the background, I can totally get behind that categorization. The mystery element, as well as the criminal intent and hint at sexualization, all of which define the genre, are quite present. Having said that, this story could easily have been told in the 30s or 40s with gangsters, but that’s just my personal preference.

Hey, kid! With everything that is going on in this flick, it wouldn’t be hard to forget that the Dors’ character and her husband have a kid. Luckily, he isn’t forgotten. Every now and then, he is brought into the conversation or onto the screen, as if to remind the audience that he does exist and he ramifications of their actions will affect more than just them, but him as well. Nice to see a film do that, as so many forget to do so.

What didn’t I like?

Strings attached. It seems there was a lot of focus on the score, especially early on in the film. Everytime a character would monologue, the strings would swell. The musician side of me wants to praise the composer, but the film buff in me has to take issue as this was highly unnecessary, or at the very least too much and inconsistent. Those same strings don’t do much in the later half of the film. It was almost as if they got paid for half a film and left after lunch!

Love triangle. So, Dors’ character is unhappy in her marriage and seeks companionship in this rodeo jock she has met. Common sense tells us that this should lead to a love triangle, right? The problem is that it never happens as the murder plot takes center stage, as well it should. However, I felt as if the two could/should have been mutually exclusive. As it is, the triangle almost doesn’t exist to anyone except Dors and the old lady who happens to hear them while she is in her stroke induced state of invalidity.

Accident? Speaking of the old woman, the whole reason Dors is in prison isn’t because she killed her husband. She’s there because she inadvertently poisoned the old bitty. I’m not sure if this funny, a cruel twist of fate, or something else, but it is interesting that the filmmakers chose that coupled with prior history as the reason she gets jailtime, and what appears to be the death sentence, if one can infer from the final scene. Seems a bit much for just an accidental killing…or was it?

As someone who has never seen a Diana Dors film, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with what she is able to do on-screen. No, she isn’t the greatest actress in the world, but I think she has more of a hold on the acting thing than the bombshells we had over here. The Unholy Wife, as I’ve read on various sites, was a departure for Dors. She was more the comedic actress. The rest of the cast is a bit outshined by her. Partially because I was focused on her and partially because they weren’t really given anything to do. Rod Steiger’s character was such a dullard that I was literally falling asleep every time he came on the screen. All that said, do I recommend this flick? Well, I don’t believe this is for everyone. I can see cinefiles, fans of Dors, and those that enjoy classic films enjoying it, but everyone else…not so much.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Class Act

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Genius high school student Duncan Pinderhughes (Christopher “Kid” Reid) is getting ready for graduation, but is somewhat disheartened to find out that, despite his perfect SAT score and 4.0 GPA, prestigious Hafford University (parody of Harvard University) will not admit him unless he can pass phys. ed. Ex-convict Michael “Blade” Brown (Christopher “Play” Martin) is released from jail, and told by his parole officer (Rick Ducommun) that the condition of his release is satisfactory graduation from high school. A mishap results in their pictures being swapped on their permanent school records. In effect, Blade is surprised to find out that he is being placed in gifted classes, while Duncan is shocked to be placed in minimal classes with substandard conditions and miscreants for classmates.

Blade realizes this and sees Duncan as his ticket permanently out of jail, since Duncan could pass his classes with ease. He transforms Duncan into a version of himself with dreadlocks, and does his best to teach Duncan how to act and talk like a gangsta. Having no grasp of hip hop culture, Duncan’s parents begin to worry about their son’s new “friend”; his father especially, beginning to suspect Duncan is gay.

Blade manages to smooth-talk his way through his advanced classes, even successfully executing a dissertation on sexual intercourse (one of his favorite subjects). Duncan ends up running into a high school thug named Wedge (Lamont Johnson), and gets in trouble, but also ends up discovering an uncanny ability to kick field goals, and joins the school’s football team. Both Blade and Duncan end up with girlfriends that the other would have, with Blade smooth-talking the intelligent but excitement-seeking Ellen (Karyn Parsons) and Duncan being pursued by the wild Damita (Alysia Rogers).

A drug dealer named Mink (Thomas Mikal Ford) was told by his employee Wedge that Blade Brown was stepping into his territory and a chase involving the guys and their girlfriends and one of Duncan’s new buddies ensues. The gang briefly lose Wedge and Mink and go to Damita’s work (a wax museum), but are discovered by Mink and Wedge. Once there, the girlfriends realize that their men are swapped, and both guys eventually end up dumped. Still, Duncan manages to knock out Wedge in the museum, while Blade handles Mink, but they all end up in jail.

After the mix-up is corrected, Blade, Duncan and company are all set free. In an anti-climax, Duncan and Blade both enter a Knowledge bowl in an effort to get Blade back with Ellen. They succeed when Blade answers a tiebreaker question to win the competition, recalling a choice tidbit Ellen once told him. Afterward, both couples end up together. In a final scene, Duncan’s dad finds out the hard way that Duncan is definitely not gay by catching him and Damita having sex in Duncan’s bedroom. However, after returning to his room with his wife, he expresses relief and noted that his son’s girlfriend is “stacked”.

Walking in each other’s shoes dramatically changed the lives of both Duncan and Blade. In the epilogue, the audience learns that Blade graduated from high school and attended Hafford (even wearing preppy attire), while Duncan attended Stanford on a football scholarship.

REVIEW:

One of the rap groups that I think is severely overlooked, while less “talented” acts of today, if that what you want to call running around on stage with your pants below your butt spouting nonsense about killing and raping, get nothing but praise is Kid ‘N Play. These guys not only were a fun act to watch, they made music that could be played on the radio. Also, they made a nice little film career for themselves. Aside from those House Party films, we have this entry on their resume, Class Act.

What is this about?

Duncan is a genius straight A student, Blade is juvenile delinquent. But because of a mix up with their school records, everyone thinks each is the other one. Now, Duncan kind of likes the attention from being thought of as a real bad dude, if only the school bully would stop trying to rough him up. And Blade definitely likes being thought of as important instead of as trouble, if only the teacher would stop hitting on him for a date.

What did I like?

No race card. I hesitate to talk about this, but it is something worth mentioning. This is obviously a film with a predominantly African-American cast, and yet there are no mentions of race at all. Surprising, because this is something that almost always happens, unless you’re on The Cosby Show. All the elements are there to make this a “race” movie, prison, smart kid in an inner city school, parole officer, white teachers/administrators, etc., but nothing. Good on them for not falling into that trap and just making a movie, regardless of the color of everyone’s skin.

The switch. Kid ‘N Play, at least in their movies, tend to have opposite personalities which sets up perfectly for an identity switch film. For the most part, this works, as we get the comedic situations of them walking in each other’s shoes. The juvenile delinquent switching with the prim and proper genius? Come on, how could that not work? Throw in the ladies they meet (who are gorgeous, and fit more in with their opposites’ personality) and I say that this turns out to be a worthy switch.

Wax on. In all the action films I’ve seen in my day, I don’t believe any have ever gone into a wax museum. Now, this isn’t an action film, but they are chased in there. It is something different to be in a house of wax, rather than some abandoned warehouse down by the river, a casino, or an abandoned construction site, for example. Kudos to the filmmakers for having an original vision, or at least picking a location that is barely used, if at all, in cinema.

What didn’t I like?

Oblivious parents. How is it that this mixup in the office went unnoticed for so long? Obviously, the school was incompetent, but what about the parents? Did they not realize that their kids were in classes they weren’t supposed to be in, especially Kid’s parents. I know that had this happened to me when I was in school, my mom and dad would have been up at that school before dawn the next day to make sure the error was corrected and to give the school officials a piece of their mind…and then some.

Must there be drugs? Drugs make an appearance in the plot. Well, not really drugs so much as a drug dealer. My question is, why? Not only are the drugs not mention for the entire film, until we get to the 3rd act, but it just seems as if they needed some kind of antagonist who was over the token “bully”. I think back to House Party and remember those 3 guys. They were just bullies. No drugs, guns, or anything, and they worked just fine. Something similar would have worked here, or perhaps some rival from Play’s time in jail, but a drug dealer? Come on now, be more original! I must say, though, that the drug dealer did mange to connect this film and Encino Man through a random cameo by Pauly Shore (if he’s not playing the same character, it is one with the exact same clothes, hair, and style of talking.)

Hair. One of the defining characteristics of Kid ‘N Play was kids hi-top fade. When I last saw him, it was on some random sitcom that he made a guest appearance on, he was sporting a regular hair style. Not a surprise really, since he is more of an actor than a rapper these days and hi top fades aren’t the style anymore. However, I seem to recall one time where he had braids, and I wonder if this film was the start of that. At any rate, Kid is identified by his hair, so I Play to a much lesser extent. Both of them went and changed their styles for this film. At least they worked the change into the plot, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

Class Act apparently has a rather huge fanbase. I was reading somewhere that this was not meant to be released on DVD, but there was such a huge outcry for it that the studios decided to go ahead and release it. Power to the people, eh? As high school comedies go, this is ok, but given the fact that Kid ‘N Play, as well as the rest of the cast, are way past high school (you can see the 5 o’clock shadow on Kid in some scenes), this might have worked better in college or in the “real world”. Still, I found this to be enjoyable. Do I recommend it? Yes, it is a decent little movie. The music, clothes, and slang will take you back to the 90s and the film itself will have you wondering why these guys stopped making movies when it is obvious they had an actual talent for it. Give it a shot, why don’t you?

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 10/2

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on October 2, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

Well, now that we’re in October, it has been suggested that I do a series of horror/Halloween related trailers this month. I see no problem with that, so let’s start with a little Halloween comedy first.

Remember in the early 90s when Jim Varney’s Ernest P. Worrell was everywhere we looked? It seemed like every month he had a new movie in theaters, not to mention that Saturday morning TV show. Well, here is the trailer for his Halloween offering, Ernest Scared Stupid.

Watch and enjoy!

The Boxtrolls

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the European town of Cheesebridge, rumors abound that subterranean trolls known as Boxtrolls kidnap and kill young children. Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) strikes a deal with Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris), offering to exterminate every Boxtroll in exchange for membership in the White Hats, a group of cheese lovers led by Lord Portley-Rind that serves as the town council.

The Boxtrolls prove to be peaceful creatures, wearing cardboard boxes, who emerge from underground at night to scavenge through the trash for items they can use in their inventions. A baby boy named Eggs lives among them, cared for by a Boxtroll named Fish (Dee Bradley Baker). As he grows up over a period of ten years, Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) learns that the population slowly decreases due to being captured by Snatcher.

Lord Portley-Rind’s neglected daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) grows frustrated at being ignored and throws his white hat out a window. Leaving the house to retrieve it, she sees Eggs rummaging through trash with two Boxtrolls. Snatcher and his men chase the trio and capture Fish. Devastated, Eggs puts together a disguise and sneaks back up to the surface to find him. Eggs emerges in the midst of an annual fair to commemorate the disappearance of the Trubshaw Baby eleven years earlier – presumably kidnapped and killed by Boxtrolls. Disgusted by the town’s inaccurate portrayal of the creatures, he follows Winnie away from the fair. She recognizes him as the boy she saw the previous night and directs him to Snatcher’s headquarters, an abandoned factory.

Sneaking into the factory, Eggs finds Fish locked in a cage and frees him. Meanwhile, Snatcher holds a cheese tasting with his men Mr. Gristle (Tracy Morgan), Mr. Trout (Nick Frost), and Mr. Pickles (Richard Ayoade) as preparation for becoming a White Hat, but proves ironically to be allergic to cheese, causing his entire body to swell. Eggs and Fish try to sneak out of the factory only to be caught by Mr. Gristle. Snatcher recognizes Eggs as the Trubshaw Baby and reveals that all the captured Boxtrolls are still alive and building a machine. Winnie overhears this exchange upon having followed Eggs to the factory. They and Fish escape from Snatcher and take shelter in the Boxtrolls’ underground cavern.

Winnie is surprised to learn the truth about the Boxtrolls, and convinces Eggs that he is not one of them. His father had given him to them as a baby in order to keep him safe from Snatcher. Winnie agrees to help Eggs tell Portley-Rind the truth. At a ball that night, Eggs narrowly avoids capture by a disguised Snatcher and inadvertently knocks a giant cheese wheel down the stairs so that it rolls into a river. Eggs announces himself to the crowd as the Trubshaw Baby, but no one believes him and Lord Portley-Rind throws him out in a fury over losing his beloved cheese.

Eggs returns to the cavern and tries to persuade the remaining Boxtrolls that they need to flee for their own safety. Snatcher digs into the cavern using his machine, captures the entire group, and takes them back to the factory. Eggs, imprisoned in a cage in the basement, awakens to find his real father Herbert Trubshaw (Simon Pegg) hanging upside down next to him when it turns out that he was held captive for years by Snatcher. He sees the Boxtrolls stacked in a crusher and begs them to run, but the crusher activates and flattens all the boxes.

Snatcher drives his machine to Lord Portley-Rind’s house, shows him the flattened boxes as proof of the Boxtrolls’ deaths, and demands Portley-Rind’s white hat once he kills the last one (actually Eggs dressed up as a Boxtroll). Winnie persuades Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles to redeem themselves by not killing Eggs. The Boxtrolls suddenly arrive with Trubshaw, having sneaked out of their boxes just before the crusher activated, and free Eggs. An infuriated Snatcher tries to take Portley Rind’s hat by force, but Eggs, his father, and the Boxtrolls disable the machine. Eggs and Snatcher are thrown clear, hitting the giant cheese wheel as it is pulled out of the river, and Snatcher swells into a grotesque giant and forces Lord Portley-Rind to give up his hat. Snatcher triumphantly enters the cheese tasting room, but unconcerned about his allergy, explodes after taking one bite.

The townspeople no longer see the Boxtrolls as monsters and come to live peacefully with them. Winnie tells the tale of Snatcher’s end to a crowd of people, while Eggs and Fish drive off in one of his father’s contraptions

REVIEW:

Is it me, or has this year been a little light on the family faire? What little there had been hasn’t exactly lit the box office on fire. Hopefully, The Boxtrolls will change that fact, or at least provide an alternative to the revenge flick that is The Equalizer and the horror-comedy Tusk (in the areas where it is still showing). Can this British kiddie flick charm enough adults to bring them back for more?

What is this about?

THE BOXTROLLS are a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of a city called Cheesebridge. The story is about a young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors who tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator, the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher. When Snatcher comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls. Eggs decides to venture above ground and “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnie. Together, they devise a daring plan to save The BoxTrolls family.

What did I like?

Stop motion surprised. This is stop motion animation. If you are an avid reader of this blog, then you know how much I turn into a drooling fanboy when it comes to stop motion, so no need to say that I liked the fact that it is stop motion and not CG. However, there is something about the animation that I have to mention. About midway through the credits scene, two of the henchmen start talking and one of them says something along the lines of, “what if someone was controlling us?” The camera pans back and you can see one of the sculptor animators working on him. I found that to be totally awesome and I don’t believe anyone has ever done this before, at least outside of Rey Herryhausen documentaries or stop motion classes.

Trolls. The Boxtrolls don’t speak in anything more than grunts and random sounds, and yet they have just as much life in them as the humans, perhaps more. I didn’t catch on at first, but they are named for the kind of box they are wearing. For instance, one of them wears a box marked “Fragile”, thus his name is Fragile. As far as the personality of each is concerned, they show heart and innocence that makes you care for them, even perhaps shuddering when something nearly happens to them near the film’s end. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that it is life threatening for them.

Henchmen conflict. “Good always triumphs over evil.” “We’re the good guys, right?” These are a couple of conflicting thoughts that the henchmen, well 2 of them, wonder about as the film goes on and they commit more and more heinous acts toward the Boxtrolls and nearly kill some humans! We’ve all wondered about how henchmen join up, I’m sure. Before the Star Wars prequels, I wondered were all the Strom Troopers came from. This is the first time, though, that I can recall henchmen actually questioning what they are doing, even if they have apparently been tricked into thinking Boxtrolls are evil. It makes for some interesting conversation between the two and gives them character, rather than brainless yes men.

What didn’t  I like?

Girl. The film is moving along at a nice pace, the audience is moving along at a nice pace and then BAM! We are introduced to an annoying little girl with a smart mouth and a penchant for death, apparently. For me, things would have been so much better without her, as she does nothing to make her forced entry into the goings on worthwhile. The best way I can describe her is when Arcee was brought in to the 80s Transformers cartoon. The only reason she existed was for the female fans. I believe this little girl exists for something similar, just so little girls can have a female presence on the screen.

Design. While I do love the animation of this film, I wasn’t too pleased with the design of the characters. These are some ugly human beings. The Boxtrolls actually look better. Now, when I say that, I am speaking from an attractiveness angle and not aesthetically. I know that British people are stereotypically known for having horrible teeth, but good grief! Also, the upper crust of this town sure didn’t look any different from those that lived in the slums. How is that?!? Think about Rango for a minute. The animals in there are horrible looking, yes, but remember that is a bit of a western and they have that dirty, dusty western look that many people had in westerns (unless they were a major character). The same kind of thought process should have been used with these people. It appears that this was set in the Victorian era, so make the people look like that, rather than sewer rats in nice clothes!

Importance of cheese. Cheese, oh wondrous cheese! I love cheese, be it by the slice, on a sandwich, toast, burger, or in block form, but I have nothing on the people in this town. Wow! They take cheese to a whole new level. Up until now, I thought the most cheese obsessed character was Monterey Jack from Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers, but he has nothing on out villain Archibald Sinister, who ironically has some kind of allergy to the stuff. What I find most appalling, though, is how cheese takes precedence over the hideous little girl, for the leader of the White Hat society, and apparent mayor of the town. Can we say problem?

When I first heard about The Boxtrolls, I thought it was going to be some light, fun flick, but this turned out to be far from the truth. This is a fairly dark film, but it has its cute moments. Recently, I rewatched Mary and Maxand it had the same tone, if you will. The voice cast is outstanding, though I couldn’t help but think of Moss from The IT Crowd everytime I heard Richard Ayoade’s voice. Both kids and adults will find something that appeals to them. In the theater I was in tonight, the little kids were cracking up through a lot of it, so there you go. Do I recommend this? Yes, very much so. It is most definitely worth a watch!

4 out of 5 stars

Barefoot in the Park

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Corie (Jane Fonda), a free spirited young woman, and Paul Bratter (Robert Redford), a more conservative, less free-spirited man, are a recently married couple, who move into a fifth floor apartment in Greenwich Village (one of the ongoing jokes is the fact that everyone has to climb so many stairs to get to the apartment). Corie decorates the small, leaky apartment, turning it into a picturesque little home for the two. One of the many odd people living in the apartment building, the quirky Victor Velasco (Charles Boyer), befriends Corie, often even flirting with her. He lives in the attic of the building, once even climbing through the Bratters’ apartment window to get to his. Victor helps Corie with the apartment, teaching her how to work the seemingly broken heating and plumbing.

Corie sets up a dinner date with herself, Paul, their new friend and neighbor Victor, and Corie’s mother, Ethel Banks (Mildred Natwick) in a scheme to get Corie’s mother to fall for Victor; Corie feels that her mother is lonely now that she lives alone and needs love. Victor takes them all to an Albanian restaurant on Staten Island where he knows the owner. There, the group drinks, and Corie and Victor get up to dance with the belly dancer, while Paul and Ethel watch in embarrassment and awe. Afterwards, Corie and Victor return to the apartment in high energy as Paul and Ethel drag themselves with fatigue. As Victor escorts Ethel outside, Corie and Paul begin an argument over their differences. Corie feels her adventurous spirit is not equal to Paul’s cautious demeanor. One of the examples she gives is that he would not go barefoot in the park with her one evening. His excuse was that it was freezing. Corie says she will kick Paul out and get a big dog to protect her from him. Paul says maybe it will finally allow her to have someone who will go barefoot in the park with her. They eventually go to sleep, Corie in their tiny bedroom and Paul sleeping on the couch under a hole in the skylight on a snowy February night.

The next day, Paul comes home with a fever, but Corie still insists she wants a divorce. The two spend an awkward time together in their apartment before Corie kicks Paul out. She then gets a call from her aunt, saying that Ethel did not come home. Scared, Corie begins to panic, but eventually finds out that her mother was at Victor’s apartment. Apparently, while Victor was escorting her to her home in New Jersey the night prior, Ethel slipped on some ice, and Victor took her back to his apartment where they spent the night. Strangely, Ethel was wearing nothing but her undergarments and Victor’s Japanese kimono. Fearing for what seemed obvious, it turned out that Victor had Ethel’s dress drycleaned.

Meanwhile, drunk, Paul skips work and sits in Washington Square Park. With her mother’s advice, Corie goes out searching for Paul and finds him, drunk and running shoeless and barefoot through the park. The once cautious Paul is now a fun loving drunk while cautious Corie chases after him in order to get him to sober up. Eventually, Paul says it’s his apartment too and he’s going back home. Corie follows. Back at the apartment, Paul, still fairly drunk, climbs onto the roof of the apartment. Scared he might fall, Corie begs him to come down while speaking to him through the hole in the glass ceiling. He says he will only come down if she repeats after him. He wants her to admit that her husband is a crazy drunk, when a few nights before she scolded him for being so cautious and practical even when he is drunk. Meanwhile, realizing where he is, Paul becomes scared after almost falling off the building. Corie tries to climb up onto the roof to help him down but Paul does not want her to leave him. Corie asks Paul to sing an Albanian folk song they had heard at the restaurant that Victor has taken them to. While he sings, Corie climbs up to the roof to help him down. A crowd of onlookers starts to gather in the street, watching along, including Corie’s mother, Ethel, and her new love, Victor. When Corie reaches Paul, they kiss and climb back down as the crowd cheers on.

REVIEW:

A few months back, I was researching something, I forgot what, and Barefoot in the Park was listed as one of the best film for what I was looking for. Since then, it has just been holding a place in my Netflix queue, until today (the last day it is going to be available, coincidentally). Does this flick live up to the praise that has been bestowed upon it? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

A pair of newlyweds — he, a stuffed-shirt lawyer, she, a free spirit — attempt to adapt to each other and life in a small Greenwich Village flat.

What did I like?

Couple’s chemistry. How many times have we seen a newlywed couple in film that has little to no chemistry together? Sometimes we come across a pair that even appear to despise and detest each other. Well, with the coupling of Robert Redford and (the still smoking hot) Jane Fonda, we get a couple that not only looks the part, but they really convey that sense of love that you would see in a pair of newlyweds if you were to meet them in person.

Boy-er, oh Boy-er. I don’t know much about Charles Boyer, except that Walt Disney talked him out of retirement to sing the French lyrics to the theme from my favorite Disney film, The Aristocats and then there is that episode of I Love Lucy where he plays himself playing an actor who looks like him. This is my first chance seeing the guy act, even if it is a bit more eccentric character than what he is known for. It isn’t very hard to see why women were swooning over this guy back in the day. He has the talent, sophistication, and looks that would be sure to drive the ladies crazy. Think of him as a French Denzel Washington, if you want a modern day comparison.

Comedy. Being that this is a romantic comedy, you can never be too sure which genre is going to be more prominent, the comedy or the romance (drama). Believe it or not, there isn’t much in the way of drama to be found, save for the denouement in the film’s final 15 minutes or so. I was pleasantly surprised. No, this isn’t a laugh out loud flick, but it does provide a few chuckles and never gets too serious, which is right up my alley. Surely, I’m not the only one tired of seeing dark and seriousness at every turn, right?

What didn’t I like?

Turn on a dime. I know that women are prone to mood swings, but Jane Fonda takes the cake! First off, the film starts with her not being secure with the marriage, even though it hadn’t even been an hour, yet! Later on, she suddenly turns into a bitch because of a difference of opinion between she and Redford. Slight differences are nothing to end a marriage over. Hell, if they’re that big of a deal, then why even get married in the first place, I ask you! I couldn’t take Fonda’s going from sweet and innocent lover girl to raging bitch, sorry.

Step by step. A running gag throughout the film is that the happy couple lives at the top of a 6 story building with no elevator, so everyone has to walk up the stairs, which leaves them out of breath and ready to collapse by the time they get up there. Two thing about this. First, if they are so out of shape that this wears them out, they probably wouldn’t even make it that far, but if they did, I seriously doubt they would be panting like they had just run the Boston Marathon. Second, it was a nice gag the first 2 or 3 times, but the joke go old quick, as they wore it out very quickly.

The play’s the thing. I’m not really sure if this is good or bad, but at times, the film feels as if it happening on stage. For those that don’t know, this is based on the play of the same name. Some of the stage direction, for lack of a better term, works while at other times it just seems as if they copied and pasted movements and sets as a way to save money, rather than produce a quality product.

So, after all that, I bet you’re still wondering why this is called Barefoot in the Park, right? Well, that is a simple answer. The phrase refers to the carefree lifestyle which Redford is not accustomed. Redford is a straight-laced, conservative type, but after he is a bit liquored up, he lets go and dances “barefoot in the park”. So, do I recommend this film? Yes and no. What I mean by that is that while it is a very well-made and film, I would not recommend it. In the end you, have to make the decision,

4 out of 5 stars

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