Here Be Monsters!

The Boxtrolls is just plain silly. Which is one of the reasons I didn’t even give the movie a chance. The Boxtrolls is the third movie from stop-motion company Laika. Unlike Coraline or ParaNorman though, The Boxtrolls isn’t a horror themed movie. It’s actually their first full-fledged comedy. Maybe that’s why it’s my least favorite movie of theirs. An orphan named Eggs lives among a group of trolls who dress in boxes. They’re named after whatever object is printed on their box (hence the name eggs). The Boxtrolls isn’t unwatchable or anything, I felt like it was a bit juvenile for the company known for their dark movies. Sure I was never crazy about that style, but a lot of people did respond to it. I mean the villain just wants to exterminate the boxtrolls so he can eat fancy cheese. Plus it doesn’t help that The Boxtrolls got nominated for Best Animated Feature and not The LEGO Movie. I’ll never forgive them for that. It makes me wish the Academy would stop nominating stop-motion movies just because they’re stop-motion. Kids will probably enjoy it, but The Boxtrolls is far from high quality entertainment.

Eggs and the boxtrolls

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Potty Humor

Flushed Away is a bit of a difficult movie for me to classify. It’s definitely as good as other Aardman movies, but I just don’t have a strong connection to it. Flushed Away was made by both Dreamworks Animation and Aardman Animation. With it being the first Aardman movie that doesn’t utilize stop-motion animation. Instead they use computer animation like most Dreamworks movies have. This might have been part of the reason why I didn’t see Flushed Away in theaters. Something I almost never did when it came to either animation company. Although the movie’s premise might also be to blame. Apart from the toilet themed title, Flushed Away is about a pampered house rat that gets flushed down the toilet by a boorish sewer rat. The house rat named Roddy, ends up in a London esque city called Ratropolis filled with danger and adventure. It’s there he meets a street smart boat captain named Rita and a villainous toad named The Toad. While Flushed Away is very funny and filled with a surprising amount of innuendos, It just felt a bit off. I understand that claymation takes time, but there’s a completely different energy here. Which makes Flushed Away a fun, if not average animated adventure.

Roddey gets shoved down the toilet

Just a Girl, Standing in Front of a Boy

Notting Hill takes place in the cosmopolitan marketplace of the same name. Where it follows a hapless Brit who runs a travel themed book store. Everything changes for him when famous actress Anna Scott walks into his shop. As you can imagine, there are a lot of challenges that come with dating someone famous. Especially if you’re just an ordinary guy. Being a romantic comedy, Notting Hill of course stars Hugh Grant. He’s appeared in many romantic movies, but this is one of his best. Anna Scott is played by the always charming Julia Roberts. It’s a role she was born to play. Julia Roberts movie star good looks, winning smile, and obvious experience make her perfect for the role. There’s also no denying how convincing their unconventional romance is. It makes me wish a famous actress would come strolling into my life, but a man can dream. The most famous quote in the movie (my review’s title) relates to how actors are people too. Something society tends to forget. Notting Hill is sweet, quite funny, and since many celebrities have married ordinary people, it could very well have happened in real life.

“I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy… asking him to love her”

If You Build it, He Will Come

Field of Dreams is all for the love of baseball. Happy Father’s Day everyone. It may seem odd that I’m reviewing a baseball movie today, but it actually has a lot more to do with father’s then I realized. Field of Dreams is about a farmer who hears a voice in his cornfield. The voice tells him, “If you build it, he will come.” Which inspires him to build… a baseball field? It’s a pretty unusual premise. I didn’t fully understand it at first, but it all started to make sense as it went on. Kevin Costner is right in his element. While James Earl Jones gives some much needed gravitas to his role. There are also a handful of real life deceased baseball players in the movie. Particularly Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson. They appear out of the cornfield in order to fulfill their dreams of playing one last game. Field of Dreams is a very well put together, but I’ve never been much of a sports guy. So I couldn’t really follow much of the baseball history. However, my dad is a big sports fan. It’s the reason I can at least consider myself a Cubs fan (and why I was thrilled when they won the World Series). Which brings things full circle to how I really connected to the movie. In the end, Field of Dreams is really about a father’s expectations and a son who couldn’t live up to them. Which is what makes Field of Dreams a great sports movie and a great Father’s Day movie.

“If you build it, he will come”

The Wonderful World of New York

Enchanted deserves way more recognition. Since it’s really the first Disney made movie that called out the cliches that Disney movies tended to have. Yes, before Frozen or Moana we had Enchanted, and it was amazing. When I first found out about Enchanted I didn’t know what to make of it. At first I thought it was a straightforward parody movie, but while Enchanted is playing on tropes, it doesn’t mean they don’t still respect them. Enchanted starts in the magical animated land of Andalasia. Giselle is a fair maiden who longs for true loves kiss. Just like most Disney princesses, Giselle is beautiful, talks to animals, has a wisecracking sidekick, and is of course rescued by a handsome prince. After Giselle is rescued, she and Prince Edward are to be married the very next day. Unfortunately for her, Giselle runs into the evil Queen Narissa (disguised as an old hag) who throws her into a well. A well that lends to a manhole cover in a real live action New York City. It’s there Giselle discovers a world where there are no happily ever afters…

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Giselle enters the real world

Enchanted perfectly displays the sharp contrast between the fairy tale world and the real world. As Giselle runs into many ordinary people that she just might be able to bring a little magic into their lives. With her help, we can live happily ever after. That’s what I love about Enchanted. They don’t sacrifice a love story just to be realistic. Amy Adams plays Giselle to perfection. She really has an act for playing whimsical characters. It’s a pity she was never made an official Disney princess. Although I think it has something to do with using Amy Adams likeness or the fact that most of the movie is live action. Either way Giselle is totally underrated. Also giving spot on performances are James Marsden as the dimwitted but charming prince and Susan Sarandon as the over-the-top villain. While actors like Patrick Dempsey play someone from the real world. Enchanted respects its tropes by using several nods to other Disney movies. Giselle is like a fusion of all the Disney princess that came before and Queen Narissa is more specifically a blend of the Evil Queen and Maleficent. Several Disney alumni make appearances as well. Like Mary Poppins Julie Andrews as the narrator, the voice of Ariel Jodi Benson, the voice of Belle Paige O’Hara, the singing voice of Pocahontas Judy Kuhn, and even the future voice of Elsa Idina Menzel. It’s also filled with many great songs. Three of which were nominated for Oscars (“Happy Working Song,” “That’s How You Know,” and “So Close”). For some reason it didn’t win a single one. All the more reason Enchanted deserves more recognition. Enchanted is a clever live action/ animation Disney film that handles its tropes perfectly.

Giselle (right) meets her prince (left)

Rhino Dung

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was at the time, the only sequel Jim Carrey ever did. Jim Carrey is notorious for never reprising movie characters he’s played. So even though a lot of his movies have sequels, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was for some reason, the only one he agreed to. Maybe he’s right not to do sequels, because comedy sequels are almost never good. Nevermind the fact that Ace Ventura: Pet Detective wasn’t exactly a critical darling. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls has its moments, but the jokes are a lot more hit or miss compared to the first movie. It takes place in the jungle instead of the city and Ace Ventura is now tasked with finding an albino bat. I think I just prefer an animal themed cop movie over a wild jungle adventure. At least in terms of story. Apart for Ace Ventura, no of the other characters return. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls puts most of its energy into physical comedy. Jim Carrey can make you laugh with no more than a frantic flailing of his limbs, but it’s not enough to keep the movie from being generic. That’s probably why I’ve seen the first movie way more than I’ve seen this one. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is nothing more than rhino dung.

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Ace Ventura and the animals

Preceded by: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Alrighty Then!

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is undoubtedly the movie that catapulted Jim Carrey into super stardom. Before this, people only knew Jim Carrey from In Living ColorAce Ventura: Pet Detective was just the kind of role that perfectly fit his unique brand of comedy. Ace Ventura is (as you might have guessed) a pet detective who works with the local police department. He’s tasked with locating a dolphin mascot for a football team that’s been captured. Since Ace Ventura knows everything there is to know about animals, he’s the guy for the job. What would normally be an average comedy becomes a hilarious comedy due to Jim Carrey’s over the top tom foolery. Ace Ventura has pointed hair, always wears a hawaiian shirt, and has a lot of personal quirks. Like talking slow and fast, extending his words, and talking out of his butt. He also has lots of catchphrases like, “alrighty then!,” “la-hoo-sa-her,” and “reaaally?” Needless to say Jim Carrey is a living cartoon here. Unlike his other movies that also came out in 1994, I actually didn’t see Ace Ventura: Pet Detective when I was younger. I still find it funny, but I’m sure I would have really loved it as a kid. Although I was surprised by a lot of what was in the movie. There’s a lot of football in the movie and the twist was unexpected. I won’t say what it is, but I will say that I still find it funny. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is doggone hilarious.

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Ace Ventura and his animals

Followed by: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

Bruce Gordon-Levitt

Looper is set in the future time of 2044, where people have telekinesis and time travel is used to off people from the future. These people are the titular loopers who must kill their target no matter what. While Looper does have an interesting sci-fi premise, it wasn’t what first drew me to the movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, the primary looper and Bruce Willis plays Old Joe, whom Young Joe has to kill or face repercussions. But Old Joe is seeking revenge and on a mission to kill a child who becomes a future criminal named the Rainmaker. It’s a time travel movie so expect to be confused from time to time. Like I said, that wasn’t what drew me to the movie. It was the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis were playing the same character even though they look nothing alike. Although this isn’t the first time an old and young actor didn’t match up well. It’s not a problem since both actors do a good job. Emily Blunt is also really good in her role. Looper was also written and directed by Rian Johnson. Who at the time, seemed to do no wrong as a sci-fi director. Looper is filled with action and it’s thought provoking at the same time.

Joe dines with himself

Kick Off the Sunday Shoes

Footloose (2011) has the unusual job of remaking a cult film that wasn’t all that great to begin with. Which seems like a bad decision since the original fit the cheesy 80’s mold perfectly. Something that can’t be easily replicated, especially for a movie set in the early 2010’s. When rap and break dancing is the norm. As strange as it is to say, I do think the remake does a lot better than the original. I won’t go so far as to say one is better than the other, since it’s pretty much the same ridiculous story. I just felt like a lot of their choices gave the story more reasons to empathize with the characters. Footloose (2011) actually opens with the car crash that set the no dance law in motion. Thus giving you more of a reason to sympathize with the reverend. The new actor playing Ren is no Kevin Bacon, but he is more of a well rounded character. He does things like fix up his yellow volkswagen and mourn for his mother who (in this version) has past away. Aside from that, the dialogue is about 60% the same. While the most iconic scenes are recreated (even the scenes that are difficult not to make cheesy). The 80’s may be an untouchable decade for the most part, but Footloose (2011) is worth watching if you give it a chance.

Everybody cuts footloose

Remake of: Footloose (1984)

Gotta Cut Loose

Footloose is the pinnacle of ridiculous 80’s movies. I’ve known about Footloose for years, but when I saw it for the first time it put me to sleep. Something that never happens to me. Not that there aren’t songs and dance numbers that made it worth watching. There’s just something about the movie that didn’t click with me, but I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the legend of Footloose. To quote Star-Lord, “A great hero named Kevin Bacon, teaches an entire city full of people with sticks up their butts that, dancing, well, is the greatest thing there is.” To put it plainly, a small town has banned dancing and rock music and new guy Ren McCormack tries to fix it. It’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it. Then I discovered that something like this has actually happened in a real life small town. It’s still ridiculous, but I can imagine how some people would ban something that reminds them of a tragedy, even though it doesn’t make sense. That being said, Footloose is still really cheesy and filled with moments like that warehouse dance number. Just 2 minutes of Kevin Bacon angry dancing like it’s a music video. The only thing that’s genuinely good about Footloose is its music and dancing. Star-Lord may think it’s the greatest movie in history, but to quote Spider-Man, “It never was.”

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Everybody cuts footloose