Archive for George Lopez

Meet the Blacks

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After obtaining a great deal of money, the patriarch (Mike Epps) of a black family decides they should move from Chicago to a posh neighborhood in Beverly Hills. However, they are soon terrorized by home intruders who want them out of the affluent community in this comedic spoof of the Purge films.

What people are saying:

“The movie as a whole is such an incompetent train wreck, you can’t look away, just to see how much worse it can get.” 1 star

“Totally surprised me that the movie was funny. The family left chicago for beverly hills, at first was really boring but then the movie picked up speed with every new character. The whole cast added charm with their wants, lacks, needs, fears and strengths.  ” 4 stars

“So bad it’s funny half the time, and just plain unenjoyable the other half, it’s a weak movie that only manages to make the Purge look worse than it already did. The horrendous editing, “cinematography” and stock noises make it appear as if the cast was also the crew.” 2 1/2 stars

“Lackluster and lacking. I guess it serves the purpose of what is meant to be, but it was even weak to be slapstick comedy. This is more for teens or those persons who aren’t really concerned with a script, point or direction.” 1 star

“Meet the Blacks is a painfully unfunny spoof of The Purge. Mike Epps tries in the lead role. But his character just isn’t likable or funny. The other actors are fine, just not funny. The biggest problem with this film is the script. The jokes don’t land. A lot of the humor is just racist. The film also fails at being a parody. The film doesn’t really spoof anything. It just takes place while the Purge happens. The story isn’t entertaining, but I could’ve forgiven that if the film landed any jokes. I literally fell asleep towards the end of the film. Overall, this pales in comparison to the Scary Movie franchise and even the A Haunted House movies. And those aren’t even good!” 1/2 star

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Rio 2

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Blu and Jewel enjoy life in Rio with their 3 kids, the oldest and music-loving Carla, book smart Bia, and the youngest and mischievous Tiago. Meanwhile, Blu’s former owner, Linda Gunderson and her ornithologist husband, Tulio are on an expedition in the Amazon and eventually discover a quick-flying spix’s macaw that loses one of its feathers. When word gets out about this through television, Jewel believes that they should go to the Amazon to help find the blue macaws. While the kids are ecstatic, Blu is uncertain, but is pressured into going along. Rafael, Nico and Pedro decide to come along. Luiz attempts to follow, but fails. Blu brings a fanny pack full of supplies, one of which he uses mostly is a GPS, much to Jewel’s displeasure.

Meanwhile, the leader of a group that is in a line of illegal logging named Big Boss, discovers Linda and Tulio’s expedition to find the macaws and orders his henchmen to hunt them down to avoid disruptions to their work. Also, Blu and Jewel’s old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo, has survived the plane crash from the first film, but is now unable to fly and is working as a fortune teller/con artist. When he sees Blu and his family flying overhead of him, he immediately decides to seek revenge on them. He enlists two minions to help him in his plans; a silent anteater named Charlie and a poison dart frog named Gabi, the latter of which is in love with Nigel. Blu and his family use a boat to get to the jungle (with Nigel’s first plan of revenge being inadvertently foiled by Charlie), and when they arrive, they find nothing in sight. However, they are eventually taken to a flock of blue macaws that are hiding in a secret paradise land. There, they meet Jewel’s stern long lost father, Eduardo, his older sister Mimi, and Jewel’s childhood friend, Roberto. Eduardo seems unimpressed with Blu’s domesticated human behavior.

While searching for the macaws, Linda and Tulio are eventually trapped by the loggers. Meanwhile, Blu does his best to fit in with the flock, as his family and friends are doing, although the flock (especially Eduardo) are against humans and all things human. Meanwhile, a disguised Nigel plans to kill Blu at the new Carnival show after landing in an audition hosted by Rafael, Nico, Pedro, and Carla. When Blu tries to pick a Brazilian nut for Jewel, he accidentally tries to get it in the territory of the Spix Macaw’s enemies, the Scarlet macaws, led by the hostile Felipe. Blu inadvertently causes war between the two tribes for food when he accidentally hits Felipe with a twig. The war turns out to be just like football (soccer), and Blu accidentally costs the flock the food when he sends the fruit ball into his own team’s goal.

Blu visits Tulio and Linda’s site, where he discovers that it has been majorly disturbed. After discovering the loggers are destroying the jungle, Blu sends Roberto (who followed Blu) to warn the flock as he saves Linda and Tulio. Blu persuades the macaws to defend their homes, and they easily outmatch the loggers with help from the Scarlet macaws and the other animals. Big Boss tries to blow up the trees as a back-up plan, but Blu steals the lit dynamite. Nigel goes after Blu, and reveals himself as they are falling down when he tugs on the dynamite. After the dynamite goes off, Blu and Nigel engage in a battle while tangled in vines. Gabi and Charlie try to help Nigel by shooting Blu with a dart that has Gabi’s poison on it, but it accidentally hits Nigel, who gives a Shakespearean death speech before seemingly dying. Gabi tries to commit suicide by drinking her own poison and the pair are seemingly dead. However, Bia reveals that Gabi isn’t poisonous at all (she was lied to by her parents that she was). Nigel tries to attack Blu one last time, but Gabi showers Nigel with affection against his will. Meanwhile, Big Boss is eaten alive by a boa constrictor.

With the flock now under Linda and Tulio’s protection, Blu and Jewel decide to live in the Amazon with their kids and friends, though still agreeing to visit Rio in the summer. Meanwhile, Nigel and Gabi are captured by Tulio and are both taken back to Rio, Luiz finally arrives in the Amazon after hitching a ride with Kipo, and Charlie joins the birds’ party.

REVIEW:

I was not the biggest fan of Rio, the first film featuring a rare blue macaw, but apparently more than a few people liked it. How else do you explain the existence of Rio 2? Here’s hoping this is better and not just some cruel April Fool’s joke someone is playing on me.

What is this about?

Blu, Jewel and their three youngsters visit the Amazon, where they find adventure, friends old and new, and even a little danger. The family finds the rain forest in peril, but first they must contend with their old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo.

What did I like?

Singing frog. Kristin Chenoweth had a recognizable voice, so casting her is really a no-brainer. When casting her, especially in a kids film such as this, it is almost automatic that she’s going to get the chance to belt out at least one number. Considering how we can’t see her vertically challenged cuteness, then we as the audience expect nothing less and I believe the filmmakers knew this, as well. Why else would that little pink frog have a song in a film that really isn’t a musical?

Colors. If there is one thing to be said about this film, it doesn’t skimp on the colors! They are brilliant, vibrant, and plentiful. Even in the darker parts of the film, we are blasted in the face with color, but not in a way to make us wish for less, just enough to keep respectful to the region. I can respect that and wish more films of this, or any, nature would take note and use the color palette as liberally.

What didn’t I like?

Bigger does not always mean better. I don’t care what franchise it is, when it comes time for the sequel, there is more money, which makes filmmaker go bigger. This does not equal better, though. Using the jungle setting of most of the film seemed like a good idea, especially with the 3D, but other than the birds, we really didn’t see any wildlife. This brings into question, why use the jungle at all. Wouldn’t have just been easier to keep everyone in Rio and bring in these new birds? I just didn’t get it.

Length. For a children’s film, I felt this was too long. Sure, the aforementioned bright colors will keep kids’ attention, but what about the adults and/or older siblings that are forced to watch with them? This story is not strong enough to justify the nearly 2 hour run time. A good 30 minutes needed to be cut, methinks.

Enough Eisenberg. I will never be a fan of Jesse Eisenberg. The guy is a no-talent hack who somehow has a career. His voice grates on me, and it is even worse in animated form. The stammering thing he does is not cute. In comparison, Jay Baruchel has a much more annoying voice, but at least he’s doesn’t annoy the living %!#%^@$& when he talks.

Final verdict on Rio 2? Well, it is definitely a sequel. I don’t really have much to say on this other than that. I mean, the first film was forgettable and this one follows suit. Other than some inspired voice casting with the likes of Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Bruno Mars, etc., this is just a mess of a film that only got the greenlight because kids can be sold just about anything these days. I do not recommend this!

2 out of 5 stars

The Smurfs 2

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Smurfette is having nightmares about betraying her fellow Smurfs and turning them over to Gargamel to be captured. Meanwhile, the Smurfs are preparing a surprise party for Smurfette’s birthday, but as Smurfette tries to find out what her fellow Smurfs are planning, none of them are saying a word. She takes this to mean that everyone forgot her birthday.

In France, Gargamel is now a celebrity, amazing people with his sorcery, but he sees that he is running low on the Smurf essence that gives him his magic powers. With his new creations, evil smurfs called Naughties Vexy and Hackus, Gargamel plans on opening a portal to the Smurf village by using the Eiffel tower as a conduit so that he can kidnap Smurfette and, through her, get Papa Smurf’s secret formula for creating Smurfs. However, as the portal he created is not big enough for him to go through, Gargamel takes Vexy and sends her through to the portal to grab Smurfette and bring her to Paris.

One of the Smurfs witnesses the abduction of Smurfette and informs Papa Smurf. Papa Smurf uses his magic to create crystals that would allow several of his Smurfs to travel directly to Patrick Winslow’s residence in New York City in order to get his help to rescue Smurfette. Papa originally intended for Brainy, Hefty, and Gutsy to use the crystals, but instead through an accident Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity use them. Papa and the three Smurfs arrive in the apartment right after the celebration of Blue’s fourth birthday where they meet both the Winslows’ young boy and Patrick’s stepfather Victor Doyle, a man who is a constant embarrassment to Patrick. The Smurfs soon discover where Gargamel is, and so they and the Winslows set off for Paris in order to find him.

After their arrival in Paris, Patrick and his wife Grace work together with Victor to distract Gargamel during one of his performances while the Smurfs sneak backstage in order to find Smurfette, only to discover what Gargamel is planning. At the same time, Smurfette escapes from the prison and Vexy and her partner Hackus chase after her. Upon her return to Gargamel’s hotel suite with the Naughties, Gargamel presents her with a tiny dragon wand as a feigned act of kindness, claiming that he was Smurfette’s father all along and that Papa Smurf had no interest in her.

Smurfette is still reluctant to give Gargamel the formula to turn a naughty into a smurf until she sees that the Naughties are dying due to a lack of Smurf essence. Faced without an alternative to save them, Smurfette quickly writes the formula down and Gargamel uses it to turn the Naughties into real Smurfs. Immediately after they become Smurfs, the evil wizard puts them into his Smurf-a-lator so he can carry out the rest of his plan.

Meanwhile, Patrick, Victor, and the Smurfs work together to rescue Smurfette. The Smurfs are soon captured and put into the Smurfalator, powering Gargamel’s “La Wanda” (a large-sized dragon wand). Patrick and Victor arrive just in time to destroy the Smurfalator, causing the naughty-to-smurf formula to be destroyed in blue pixie dust that in turn vanquishes the secret formula. Gargamel has gained enough power to use his new wand against the Smurfs and their allies. Vexy and Hackus team up with the Smurfs against their former master and use the new wand to blast him away. He then falls onto the Notre Dame Cathedral where he accidentally brings a stone vulture to life which then throws him to the top of the Eiffel Tower where fireworks then set off, sending him in the air. Vexy and Hackus, the two new Smurfs, bid farewell to the Winslows and return home with the rest of the Smurfs.

In two post-credit sequences, Gargamel and Azrael are pulled into the portal, sending them back to their castle, and they later have a fight.

REVIEW:

I was wondering this morning, why is it that Hollywood keep recycling the good stuff from the 80s, and in the form of subpar family “entertainment”? The Smurfs 2 is yet another in the long line of these films that need to stop, but will unfortunately continue to be churned out, much to the chagrin of people with common sense.

What is this about?

Evil magician Gargamel continues his quest to tap the power of the Smurfs, creating a pair of his own “Smurf-alikes” called the Naughties. But without the Smurf essence, the Naughties fizzle, so Gargamel nabs Smurfettte to cast a spell.

What did I like?

In memoriam. When someone who has been a part of a film passes away before the film is released, there is usually a sentence or two in the end credits, more often than not in tiny font near the end. With the death of Jonathan Winters, who voiced Papa Smurf (and Grandpa Smurf in the cartoon), before this film was released, the filmmakers made the wise decision to acknowledge his death with an in memoriam very early on in the credits.

Wizard world. In the cartoon, I always hated Gargamel and found Azrael to be somewhat annoying. In live-action form, though, these two create some truly funny moments, reminiscent of the comedians of yesteryear who could make audiences laugh with little to no effort. Who ever was writing the funny lines for them needs to be commended for actually coming up with some of the funniest stuff seen/heard on-screen in quite some time.

Plot. Say what you will about this film and the fact that you can’t really do much with the Smurfs, the writers actually did give us a decent plot. I seem to recall an episode where Smurfette questioned her origin, and I think they built upon that for this film, keeping the continuity from The Smurfs.

What didn’t I like?

More than one. Both this and, to a lesser extent, the previous film seem to focus mainly on one particular Smurf and spend a bit too much time with the humans. First, why have all the Smurfs if you’re only going to focus on a few of them. The rest might as well have just been random blue entities, rather than characters. Second, like the Transformers franchise, this flick uses human beings as a way to justify not using the CG that they paid so much for already (something I dread is going to happen with the new one, especially since they brought in Mark Wahlberg).

Humans. Continuing on the anti-human thought, I have a couple of thoughts. First, the Smurfs appear to Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, explain the situation, and suddenly, they drop everything and fly off to Paris. Something just didn’t sit well with me, for some reason. Second, the subplot with the stepdad seemed forced in there to give some reason to actually keep them around, other than helping the Smurfs, didn’t really do anything but give us bad puns and an unemotional connection.

Blue essence. As he said in an episode of Robot Chicken, “I’ve (Gargamel) never been sure what my motivation for wanting to get rid of the smurfs is.” [sic] In this film, he is given a purpose, which is to steal their blue essence, which powers his magic. As much as I liked that, I didn’t really feel that it worked in this film. For me, it just seemed to be a bit darker than the rest of the film, especially when his Naughties need it to eat.

It is interesting that on the day I’m watching The Smurfs 2, Cartoon Network decided to show the original film, which allowed me to set up some compare which was better. While neither film is something that should be seen, the sequel has its own issues. For me, it was nothing but a cash grab. No, it wasn’t as bad as the last couple of Alvin & the Chipmunks films, but it was still pretty bad. Do I recommend this? No, there isn’t anything worth watching. The flick tries. It tries real hard, but to no avail. It is best to not waste your time with this one.

2 out of 5 stars

Escape from Planet Earth

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film starts out with Scorch Supernova on a mission to rescue captured babies from a rival species. Scorch then returns back to Planet Baab where he is known as a famous hero, while at BASA his brother, Gary and Gary’s son Kip are. Soon, Gary and Scorch receive a message from Lena the head of BASA, that Scorch will be sent to the “Dark Planet” (Earth) due to an SOS call. Scorch decides to go on the mission to the Dark planet, but Gary strongly discourages him from going. After further arguing finally Gary says that he won’t be helping Scorch and quits BASA before Scorch can fire him. Gary then goes home to his wife Kira and Kip only to find out that Scorch has already gone on the mission to the Dark planet, while Kip is watching it on live TV in excitement.

Scorch arrives on Earth and lands in the desert and finds a 7-Eleven convenience store but mistakes an inflatable figure for a dying being. Scorch is then tranquilized and captured by Shanker Saunderson, the malevolent general of the US Army, and is taken to “Area 51” where aliens from other planets are held. After finding that this has happened, Kip wants to go rescue Scorch but Gary discourages him and he himself doesn’t want to go. Kip is furious and goes to his room. Gary goes to Kip’s room to apologize and admit he is sorry that Scorch has been captured. When Gary flips Kip’s blanket open, instead of seeing Kip, he sees his dog and sees that Kip’s window is open. Knowing that Kip is going to try and save Scorch, he rushes to BASA with Kira wearing his rocket boots. They arrive to find that Kip is about to take off in a ship.

Gary manages to cancel the launch sequence, but he re-activates the sequence so Gary himself can rescue Scorch. He soon arrives on the Dark Planet. As soon as he arrives his ship immediately activates a self-destruct sequence, but Gary manages to get out. He then arrives at the same store that Scorch arrived at earlier. Gary goes inside the store, but is spotted by two men inside named Hawk and Hammer. Both Gary and the two men get freaked out by each other and try to hide from each other. After the two men realize that Gary is not a hostile alien, they offer him a slushie. Gary takes the slushie but drinks it too fast and gets brain freeze. Afterwards, Shanker’s men break into the store and capture Gary.

Gary is then taken to Shanker’s office where he is quickly removed after Shanker receives an incoming call. It is then revealed that Lena is an ally of Shanker’s as she has sent him a powerful source known as blutonium and is in love with him as he puts on an Elvis Presley-like wig when contacting her. Gary is placed in a cell hall with other alien geniuses named Doc, Io, and Thurman, who tell Gary that various human technology has been invented by them for Shanker to rip off and sell to the world so he will release them. Gary reunites with his brother, but is again annoyed by his conceited behavior. After a food fight in the cafeteria, the aliens make their way to ‘the peace shield’. Lena, meanwhile, has captured Kira, who stayed at BASA to try to contact Gary in concern for his safety. Lena then reveals her plan to give a lifetime supply of blutonium to Shanker.

After Shanker reveals the blutonium, Gary unintentionally provokes Scorch into stealing it after stating it’s dangerous power and when being chased, Scorch destroys the blutonium, causing Shanker to freeze him. He orders Gary to fix the blutonium and reveals that he’s going to destroy all of the alien planets with a laser ray the captured aliens have built due to 3 imprisoned aliens accidentally killing his dad when he was 6. Gary fixes it with help from his new friends, but Shanker goes back on his promise to release him and instead freezes him like his brother. The other aliens discover Shanker’s true intentions when he tries to destroy Baab with the laser ray, it is revealed that Gary rigged the blutonium to malfunction and destroy the laser ray, thereby releasing the captured aliens. With Gary and Scorch released from their icy prisons, the brothers, Doc, Thurman, and Io escape Area 51 and eventually find Scorch’s ship in a trailer park.

Meanwhile, back on Baab, Kip frees his mother, who stops and subdues Lena after the latter took off with the blutonium shipment (and in the midst of the battle, learns Shanker was using her). Kip guides his father to safety via mission control, but Shanker (wearing Scorch’s robotic suit that he wears on his adventures) uses a tractor beam to stop the ship, but Gary and Scorch jump on him and manage to get the suit off the villain, causing the latter and the brothers to plummet to their dooms. After reconciling, the aliens that killed Shanker’s dad rescue them and take Shanker away. After returning to Baab, Scorch marries a reporter named Gabby Babblebrook

REVIEW:

For some reason, there is an obsession with making alien themed children’s films, of questionable quality. The latest entry into this category is Escape from Planet Earth. Is this more of the same stuff we’ve seen over and over again, or something new?

What is this about?

This all-ages animated comedy follows the adventures of astronaut Scorch Supernova, a hero of the blue aliens who has a vast appetite for adventure. Ignoring his brother’s warning, Scorch sets off on a deep-space rescue that proves to be a trap.

What did I like?

Fraser. I’ve always thought Brenadan Fraser had the perfect voice for over-the-top animated characters. Finally, someone listened and cast him as one, Scorch Supernova, the cocky astronaut hero of planet Baub. Even though this character has some character deficiencies, Fraser makes him such a lovable guy that you can’t help but like him.

Color. Blue is my favorite color, and there is plenty of it to be seen here, mostly because the people of planet Baub are blue. If you’re looking for lots of color, then this is something sure to strike your fancy, because there are lots and lots of color to be seen, even in the darker scenes. It can be a little much, but I liked it, so get over yourself.

That’s how that happened. When we meet the other aliens in Area 51, it is revealed that the captured aliens are responsible for much of the technological advancement such as social networking, iPhones, etc. This may be a bit of a conspiracy theory, but it made for some funny moments, especially when you take a few minutes and think about it (and the real-life secrecy of Area 51).

What didn’t I like?

Voice casting. I mentioned earlier how Brendan Fraser was perfectly cast as Scorch Supernova. On the flip side of the coin, I have to wonder about the rest of this cast. For instance, Rob Corddry was the nerdy brother. If you know anything about Corddy, this doesn’t make much sense. Surely there had to have been someone else that would have been a better fit. Also, Jessica Alba as the villainous co-conspirator didn’t work. For me, I don’t see her as a bad guy. Now Sarah Jessica Parker, she would’ve been better suited. Perhaps they should have switched roles.

Latino. I don’t want to come off sounding like some sort of racist, but how in the bloody blue hell are there so many Hispanics in outer space?!? I’m talking about, in particular, Sofia Vergara as a reporter and George Lopez as an alien scientist in Area 51. It just seems as if the filmmakers went out of their way to find them for the specific reason of bringing in the Hispanic crowd, rather than enhancing the story.

Dead horse. There is a running joke, especially early on where the henchmen in Area 51 call each other by names that together form director names, such as James, Cameron, etc. The first time they did it was funny, but it got old quick. On top of that, this is a kids movie. Are they really going to know who James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese (called ‘Marty’) are? I think not!

When all the dust clears, Escape from Planet Earth isn’t the worst animated film that you’ll see, but it isn’t the best, either. There isn’t anything here that will make you not want to watch it, but there’s nothing that you’ll be glad you watched it, either. I wish they would have done something more imaginative with this, but other than the brain freeze thing and the wacky, waving flailing, inflatable tube man, there isn’t much imagination to be seen here. With that said, I don’t really recommend this but, at the same time, tread lightly.

3 out of 5 stars

Marmaduke

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert):

Marmaduke is a Great Dane living in rural Kansas with a cat named Carlos. His owner, Phil (Lee Pace), works for Bark Organic dog food. Phil is very strict, from Marmaduke’s perspective.

One day, Carlos tells Marmaduke that he overheard Phil saying that they were being transferred to Orange County. They move from Kansas into their new house in California. Phil’s boss, Don Twombly (William H. Macy), has the goal of getting Bark Organic into every Petco store in the country. Phil and Don meet at the dog park to discuss Phil’s assignment – an ad campaign to win over Petco. There, Marmaduke meets a beautiful Rough Collie named Jezebel (Fergie), whose boyfriend is Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland), a controlling and violent Beauceron with two Miniature Pinscher minions named Thunder and Lightning (Damon Wayans, Jr. and Marlon Wayans). Bosco intimidates Marmaduke, who does not want to fight.

Marmaduke then meets Mazie (Emma Stone), who develops a crush on Marmaduke. He also meets Giuseppe (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a Chinese Crested dog who is afraid of everything, and Raisin (Steve Coogan), a highly intelligent but decidedly minute Dachshund. They get together at night and crash a pedigrees-only party thrown by Bosco, only to be scared away by Bosco. Marmaduke asks Mazie to help him get a girl, whom she presumes is herself but is actually Jezebel.

Marmaduke has Carlos pretend to be lost in the dog park, and the two stage a fight in front of all the other dogs in order to boost Marmaduke’s perceived toughness. Marmaduke then enters a dog surfing contest put together as a promotional stunt by Phil to sway Petco and beats Bosco, who is an established dog-surfing champion. They get into a fight, which appalls the Petco executives.

He then takes Jezebel on Mazie’s dream date, which the latter watches from afar. While the Winslow family are on Don’s boat, Marmaduke throws a party, with most residents of the dog park attending save Mazie, Giuseppe and Raisin. Bosco crashes the party and discovers it was Carlos at the dog park. He then exposes Marmaduke, who loses his pedigree friends. He is left with no friends and a destroyed house. When Phil discovers the house in a wreck, he locks Marmaduke outside for the night. Marmaduke runs away, and leaves Mazie a toy that she had given him earlier. Mazie goes to Marmaduke’s house, and Carlos tells her Marmaduke never returned. She then goes looking for him. Marmaduke in the meantime has met Chupadogra, a wise, elderly English Mastiff (Sam Elliott) who is feared throughout Orange County for presumably killing his owner. In reality, he ran away to lead the pack, but they abandoned him. He has spent the time alone in the woods with nothing but a blanket and his old water bowl, which reads “Buster”. Buster/Chupadogra tells Marmaduke to go home and return to his family while he still has one, and then distracts a dog catcher. Marmaduke leaves, but gets lost.

In the morning, the family discover him missing and begin searching for him. Mazie and the family find him at the same time on the streets, but Mazie falls into the subterranean rainwater conduit after the street below her collapses. Marmaduke jumps in after her and Phil tries to retrieve him, as well as the fire department. The fireman saves Mazie, but loses Marmaduke in the raging water. By this time, Phil has been fired for missing the meeting for the last chance with Petco. He then runs to the aqueduct that the conduits lead to and finds Marmaduke in the raging waters. He begs Marmaduke to let go of the branch he’s holding onto and let the waters carry him to Phil. He reluctantly does, and is saved. Several kids get that on video and put it on YouTube. Since it generates almost 700,000 hits, Phil is rehired. Phil then talks about moving back to Kansas, but the entire family wants to stay in California. Marmaduke later confronts the pedigrees, saying that differences shouldn’t matter, that they’re all dogs and should have an equal share of the park. Everyone agrees and turn on Bosco, who leaves, vowing revenge. Meanwhile, the YouTube video also wins the company the Petco deal. He and Don begin thinking of new commercials when they ask each other about if the dogs could talk to each other, or even dance.

The finale then shows Marmaduke, Jezebel, Mazie, Giuseppe, Raisin, and Buster, among others, dancing and singing “What I Like About You”, which turns out to be the commercial. In the end, Marmaduke and Mazie are dating, Marmaduke and Jezebel are friends and all is well.

REVIEW:

I hate dogs! They are evil creatures that should be burned in hell! That being said, my personal feelings aside, whoever it was that did this to Marmaduke should be, to quote Garfield, “drug out into the street and shot”. Marmaduke is perhaps the most God-awful attempt at bringing a comic strip to life.

Did anything work?

Lee Pace. I’m still burned that Pushing Daisies was so abruptly and unjustly cancelled, but he seems to be doing alright for himself. While he isn’t the star of the film, he actually makes it watchable.

They remembered this is not about the humans. In contrast to what I said about Pace, I found it refreshing that they remembered this is a movie about Marmaduke, not the family or some other random human (played by an overpaid actor, btw).

What didn’t work?

Talking animals. I’m not one of those people who hates the sheer thought of talking animals, but I do hate it when they do this weird CGI on live animals that animated only their bottom lip. It freaks me out and looks tacky and cheap. They did this crap in Underdog and it nearly ruined that film for me.

The cast. Not a bad ensemble, but together they don’t work, especially the animals. I found myself more than once wondering WTF?!?

Wasted talent. I’m speaking specifically of William H. Macy, Emma Stone, and Judy Greer. All of which have small roles in this picture, Stone’s is a little bigger than the others, but they are all just wastes, especially Greer, who does nothing but pop up as the token housewife a couple of times, said her lines, and then we don’t see her again until the last act. I’m sure they could have gotten any Joe (or Jane) Schmo off the street to do these roles.

Owen Wilson. For some reason, this guy gets on my nerves more and more. As Lightning McQueen, his voice works, but not as Marmaduke. I guess there is a bright spot, though. We weren’t forced to see his deformed nose!

The plot. Could they have picked a more overused, cliché story than this? Small town family moves to the big city and tries to fit in. There is even the love triangle complete with the bully who gets humiliated, gets payback, only to culminate in a happy ending. I’m not saying they needed to make this some kind of dark tale, but they could have done something different with those elements.

I’m actually offended that they wasted time, money, and “talent” on this piece of crap they dare to call Marmaduke. I’m sure the character’s creator was none to pleased with this, I know I wouldn’t be. This has to have been the most painful 87 minutes I’ve spent in my life. Don’t waste your time with this. Trust me, you’d be more entertained clipping your toe nails!

1 out of 5 stars

The Smurfs

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Smurfs get ready for the Blue Moon Festival. In his home, Papa Smurf sees a vision of the Smurfs in cages, Clumsy Smurf holding a dragon wand, and Gargamel being powerful. He refuses to allow Clumsy to pick Smurf Roots, but Clumsy disobeys Papa Smurf and does it anyway. However, Gargamel and Azrael see him and follow him into the village. The Smurfs all flee, and Clumsy runs into a forbidden cave. Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Grouchy, Brainy and Gutsy notice this and hurry after him. They find him at the edge of a cliff, and while trying to help him up, they are sucked into a gigantic vortex, leading to New York City. Patrick and Grace, a married and expectant couple and their Basset Hound Elway, befriend them and allow them to stay in their apartment.

Papa Smurf learns that he will be able to get them all home in a couple nights. But first, he must figure out the spell to do so. Patrick tells them that there is an old book store in the city, and they head there to get a spell book. After lots of searching, they find one of their own comic books, containing the spell. Gargamel hears where they are, so he sneaks into the book store and finds a dragon wand, which he then steals. He uses the dragon wand to abduct Papa Smurf. The Smurfs promise Papa Smurf that they won’t try to save him. However, Clumsy stayed behind with Grace and Elway, so he plans a rescue, along with Patrick, both having not made the same promise the other smurfs made to Papa Smurf. The other Smurfs agree to help. Meanwhile, Gargamel is going to remove the “Smurf essence” from Papa Smurf and charge it into the dragon wand, which would make him more powerful than anything else in the world.

Patrick and the Smurfs battle Gargamel while Smurfette fights Azrael and saves Papa Smurf. They, too, join the fight. Also, Brainy reads the spell and opens up the portal, allowing him to go home and round up his friends. Gargamel captures Papa Smurf again and throws him into the air, but Patrick catches him. Right before Gargamel can destroy them both, Gutsy knocks the dragon wand out of his hand. Clumsy tries to catch it, and Papa Smurf believes that he will fail, but, much to everyone’s surprise, he manages to catch it. Without his dragon wand, Gargamel is powerless, and Papa Smurf destroys the wand once and for all, and the Smurfs return home safe and sound. Patrick and Grace have a baby boy, whom they name Blue to honor the Smurfs, and the Smurfs rebuild their houses to look like what humans have

REVIEW:

Anyone that grew up in the 80s surely remember how popular the Smurfs were. I can remember waking up early Saturday mornings just to watch them. I think we all saw this coming, especially after the success of Alvin & the Chipmunks, but the question is…did they do them justice with this big screen feature?

I think the first think that should be noted here, is that, unlike most films of this nature, there are no kids, or young people for the Smurfs to play off of, with the exception of random kids down the street and then the toy store scene. For some reason, I think they would have worked better with a child present.

Then again, who says they needed to be brought into our world? Seriously?!? Why do we always have to bring these characters here. Is there something wrong with just making a film that keeps things the way they are in the source material? I see no reason why a film with Gargamel chasing them around the Smurf Village and forest wouldn’t have worked just as well. If they must add “star power”, then create some random villagers or something. Did these people not watch the cartoon?!?

That point aside, this film actually was pretty enjoyable. For the most part, the Smurfs were…well, the Smurfs. Something I did notice, though, was how this was marketed as a kids/family film, but there was some questionable content. It was almost as if this was aimed more for those of us that grew up with the Smurfs. They really need to make up their mind who they were marketing this towards.

Released in 3D…you know what that means, right? People shelled out extra money for some fake sunglasses to watch a film in a darkened room and supposedly be blown away by things flying at them from the screen. Truth be told, with the exception of the credits, I didn’t see anything that would have been worth paying the extra $$$ for.

This story left a bad taste in my mouth. Not because it was bad (or good), but rather because the whole fish out of water thing has been done so many times in films of this nature that it just seemed to be a recycled plot device, which it is, unfortunately. They didn’t do anything with the story to make it memorable.

The humans are just that. I swear this is the most unlikable character Neil Patrick Harris has ever played, but the problem is, he isn’t the villain…just the husband.

Jayma Mays is even more of total sweetie than she in on Glee, and those mannerisms work very well for her here as the pregnant wife. Not to mention the bond she forges with Smurfette is a true highlight of the film.

Even as a bitch, Sofia Vergara is nothing short of delectable, luscious, busty, Latina glory. I only wish she would have had a bigger role.

Hank Azaria didn’t sell me as Gargamel. Sure, they may have made him look the part (I think they could have done a better job with the costume), but something, I can’t put my finger on it, wasn’t quite right.

The voice casting for the smurfs worked for the most part. Jonathan Winters, who actually played Grandpa Smurf in the cartoon was almost perfect as Papa Smurf, what with his aged wisdom and sage advice.

Katy Perry as Smurfette. Who would’ve thought she’d be as perfect. Of course, I could have done without that “I kissed a smurf and I liked it” line.

Fred Amrisen as Brainy and Anton Yelchin as Clumsy also were the perfect pairing, but I do have issues with a couple of the smurfs.

First off, George Lopez as Grouchy. *SIGH* This just didn’t work. I don’t know why everyone is so high on putting George Lopez in every voice over role suddenly, but this is one he should not have done. Nothing against the guy, it just didn’t work.

Alan Cumming as Gutsy Smurf. My problem with this is that they basically created a smurf that does the same thing as Hefty, for the most part, so they could be more “marketable”. That being said, Cumming does a great Scottish brough.

I have to wonder why this was called The Smurfs when it seemed as if it was centered all on Clumsy. The others were just supporting characters. Even in the first scene, it is almost all about Clumsy. I wasn’t particularly a fan, sorry.

The CG of the smurfs wasn’t bad, actually. I think there may have been some height issues. I think the actual description of the smurfs is 2 apples high. At times, they looked the part, and then at times, they looked shorter. That could very well, have been my eyes playing tricks on me, though, so don’t quote.

Azrael, Gargamel’s cat, had the sounds from the cartoon and the personality for the most part, but if they are coming from a fantasy world, and little blue people, why can’t they have made a CG cat that looked more like Azrael, rather than use a real cat with CG facial expressions?

So, what is my final take on The Smurfs? Believe it or not, I really did enjoy this picture, even though I bemoaned it when it was initially announced, and even more so when the first trailer was released. Every now and then a film comes along that is a total surprise, just look at how good Yogi Bear was. That being said, it appears as if this is the first in a trilogy. My personal thoughts are that this is a mistake. A while ago I saw commercial for the third Alvin & the Chipmunks movie which looks really bad…can we say “cash grab”? Let’s hope the smurfs don’t fall into that trap. If they do, though, you can always look back at this film as some high quality family entertainment that is sure to bring back some nostalgic memories of Saturday morning cartoons.

4 out of 5 stars

Rio

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

n Brazil, several types of exotic birds get smuggled to different countries. A crate with a male blue macaw hatchling falls off the truck into the streets of Moose Lake, Minnesota. Linda Gunderson quickly finds the macaw, adopting him as her pet and naming him Blu. However, he is unable to fly, which makes him subject to ridicule by the Canadian Geese that frequent the outside of Linda’s bookstore.

One day, ornithologist Túlio Monteiro invites Blu and Linda to vacation in Rio de Janeiro, on the condition that Blu mate with a female macaw before his return to Moose Lake, as he is the last male of his species. Linda takes the offer and the three are flown to Rio, where Blu meets a Red-crested Cardinal named Pedro and his Yellow Canary friend Nico. Blu is taken to Túlio’s aviary, and falls in love with Jewel, a cynical, fiercely independent blue macaw longing to flee into the wilderness. Blu and Jewel are captured by a boy named Fernando and a psychopathic Sulphur-crested Cockatoo named Nigel, both of whom work for a group of smugglers led by Marcel. Nigel tells the macaws that he vowed to smuggle exotic birds because of his role being replaced on a television program. Blu and Jewel flee from him, ending up in a jungle.

Fernando meets Linda and Túlio, explaining that Marcel had forced him to capture birds before cooperating with the two to Blu. The macaws meet a Toco toucan named Rafael, who offers to take them to his bulldog friend Luiz to remove a chain connected to their legs. He also tries to teach Blu how to fly, before the three meet Pedro and Nico. Nigel hires a horde of thieving marmosets led by Mauro to capture Blu and Jewel. Pedro and Nico take Blu and Jewel to a bird’s Rio-style party, where they perform a duet, but are attacked by the marmosets. Their bird friends fight them, allowing the five to flee. Linda and Túlio are taken to the smugglers hideout. While there, Marcel explains that he will use the Rio Carnival to kidnap Blu and Jewel.

Meanwhile, Blu and the others meet Luiz. Luiz manages to release the chain holding Blu and Jewel using his drool. After a brief falling out, Blu and Jewel decide to go their separate ways. When Blu and Rafael learn from Pedro and Nico that Nigel captured Jewel, the four rush to the carnival to rescue Jewel, while Linda and Túlio organize a rescue attempt on the birds.

While Linda and Túlio pose as dancers, Marcel enacts his plan, using Nigel to capture the birds. On board Marcel’s Short SC.7 Skyvan, Blu and Jewel release the captive birds out of the plane, but Nigel fractures Jewel’s wing and then proceeds to finish Blu. Before he can do so, Blu uses a fire extinguisher to send Nigel into the propeller of the plane’s engine, and the smugglers flee. Unable to fly, Jewel slips out of the plane, falling towards the ocean. Blu jumps out of the plane to rescue Jewel, and finally discovers that he is able to fly. Later, Linda, Túlio and Fernando organize a sanctuary to protect the jungle from smugglers. Blu and Jewel raise three chicks together and celebrate with their bird friends, Nigel is ridiculed for his loss of feathers, and the smugglers are sent to jail.

REVIEW:

Remember those days when animation was hand drawn? Oh, how I miss those days! Rio is another of these compter animated films in which the characters all look nearly alike and the plot is more generic than peanut butter.

Is it me, or are of these films from Dreamworks all starting to seem like they want to be something bigger, but they just haven’t been able to measure up to Shrek, yet. I can think of two that were really good, but the rest, including the Shrek sequels (excluding 2), all fall into mediocrity. This one is no exception.

Sure, the plot is a nice one about a rare blue macaw that was kidnapped from Rio, somehow ended up in Minnesota where he was taken in by this socially awkward little girl who took care of him and then somehow they are asked to go back to Rio so that he can mate with the only other of his kind. Along the way, there are perils, hijinks, and a psycho cockatoo.

The problem I have with the plot is that it all seemed too…I dunno..formuulaic, for lack of a better word. The whole while I was watching this, nothing happened to make me sit up and say wow! Everything was something we’ve all seen before and you could tell what was going to happen next throughout the entire picture.

If there was a surprise, it was the random musical numbers. These would be fine, except for the fact that the songs were quite horrid! These are the kind of musical productions that make you wish those wannabes on American Idol actually got a shot. Yes, they were that bad!

Not to make it sound like this is a total downer for me, I will say that the animation of Carnival and the city itself was breathtaking. Now, it quite possibly be that the colors were distracting from some shortcomings, but hey,it worked.

Voice casting was fine for the most part. My only issue is with Jesse Eisenberg. This guy has no talent and is just annoying. I mean, the guy from How to Train Your Dragon, Jay Baruchel, is annoying, but his annoying voice is what works for him. Eisenberg is just a hack. He didn’t work for this character, in my opinion.

I’ll be honest, I was really expecting to like this film. It is a huge disappointment that it turned out to be this…whatever this was. There is a ton of wasted talent, forgettable, forced music, and a story that probably should have been tweaked a little more before they went into production. I recommend Rio for two groups of people…if you’re one of those that has kids that are fascinated by brilliant, fantastic colors or if you want to be blown away by the way they captured the essence of Rio in computer animated form. Everyone else would do better watching one of the far superior Dreamworks films,or even better watch a classic Disney hand drawn masterpiece!

3 out of 5 stars