Is Pixar slipping?
I didn’t ever want to see Cars 2 (and from what I’ve been hearing, that was a good call) but when I saw the trailers for this, I was onboard. A Pixar film with a female lead set in Scotland? Granted, at first glance, it just looked like a Scottish Mulan but I was still interested. After the credits started rolling, I immediately couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with the movie (except for the songs which were laughable). A few days later, I realized I was disappointed at how average the movie was.
It wasn’t horrible. It’s one of those movies where you don’t laugh out loud very much but you will say to yourself, “That’s so funny.“
The structure was weird but that’s to be expected when you base a movie off a self-help book (which worked so well for my least favorite romantic movie of all-time). The only noteworthy performance is Anna Kendrick as Rosie who gets pregnant after a one night stand with an old high school crush, Marco (Chace Crawford). Elizabeth Banks was pretty good as well but she always is.
Honestly the movie was a bit of a mess the more I think about it. About 95% laughs came from Rebel Wilson as Janice, a dim-wited employee of Wendy’s (Banks) shop and The Dude Group, a secret society of fathers played by Chris Rock, Rob Huebel, Amir Talai and Thomas Lennon. Unfortunately, all of the funniest parts featuring them are in the trailers and commercials.
The Cabin in the Woods is a hard movie to review. It’s hard to praise this film without giving away it’s concept. It’s better not knowing anything about the twist. Don’t worry, this isn’t an M. Night Shyamalan twist. From the opening moments of the movie, you know you are in for something different.
On the surface, this is a basic “kids go into the woods” horror flick. One thing I do think it’s okay to know is that it isn’t. If you are going into this film hoping for a horror movie and just a horror movie, you might be disappointed. But if you are open to a humorous and slightly witty subversion of the genre, you are in for a treat.
The performances are okay (although Fran Kranz as the stoner Marty got annoying really quick) but the standouts were Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford (I can’t say anything about their roles). Their chemistry is the best thing about this movie. You’ll be rooting for them despite what that actually means in the context of what’s happening in this film.
The one question I kept asking myself after walking out of of the movie theater was, “Would I have enjoyed this film more if I hadn’t read the book?” As an adaptation, it was okay. It was like a Cliff Notes version of Suzanne Collins’ book. You got the basic idea but none of the nuance. The problem is the nuance is where a majority of the story lies.
Young Adult is one of those movies that I didn’t hate but didn’t love either. I thought the performances were good particularly Charlize Theron as reprehensible and (likely) mentally unstable Mavis Gary trying to reconnect with her married high school ex. Patton Oswalt as her former classmate and unlikely friend Matt Freehauf was also pretty good. Sometimes it’s hard for me to take Oswalt seriously because when he talks, I automatically think about his comedy sets but in this film, I got over it pretty quickly.
I appreciated that the movie never tried to make Mavis sympathetic. She was a horrible self-centered person at the beginning of the movie and (spoiler alert) she leaves her hometown pretty much the same way (with a few dents in her armor). The only problem is that doesn’t make for much of a movie. You want to credit director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody for making a movie that defies the movie convention that your main character has to change and grow but, after watching this, I now see why this convention exists.
Dialogue-wise, this was probably the least Cody-esque film she’s done. With a few exceptions, if you hadn’t told me she wrote this movie, I wouldn’t have known which is really the nicest thing I can say about a Diablo Cody script.
The best thing I can say about The Muppets is after it ended, I was genuinely happy. There are always movies that entertain me or intrigued me but there aren’t many that make me leave the theater with a smile on my face. That’s how this revival of the Muppets made me feel. Everyone involved (Writers Jason Segal & Nicholas Stoller, director James Bobin and music supervisor Bret McKenzie) got it right.
Having not read the book it’s based upon and having been familiar with the going-ons of baseball during the years covered, I still found Moneyball relatively enjoyable (note I said “still”).