Category Archives: Family

Hook

 

Well I think this is the last of the Peter Pan stuff. That and I feel it’s fitting to end with Hook.

So I always feel obligated to preface posts with these kind of warnings. Hook is a movie from my childhood. I loved it and still do. Part of that is because it is a good movie and part of it is because Robin Williams is in it, and I love him. He’s the comic that got me into comedy, because he was in these kinds of movies. That and I have a wonderful dad who introduced me to stand-up. I also have a soft spot for this film because it was directed by Spielberg, who I’ve professed my undying love for many a time. So, you’ve been forewarned about how this review is most likely going to go. Also know that in the there are sort of spoilers below. Some people get really up tight about what you reveal. Personally it’s not like I’m telling you Dumbledore dies (sorry for anyone who isn’t aware of that.)

Hook is not really an adaptation of the Peter Pan stories. It’s basically a “what happens of the stories?” The movie starts out by introducing a grown up Peter Pan, now Peter Banning. He’s married to Moira whose the granddaughter of some chick named Wendy Darling. The coincidence’s to the J.M. Barrie story are noted and addressed by the characters. They joke that Granny Wendy is the real Wendy. The “truth” however is that Mr. Barrie knew the Darling children and simply recorded their wonderful tales. We learn that Peter is suffering through the harsh realities of growing up and having a family. He’s actually a lot like Mr. Darling in my mind. Anyways his two children (yes he has children) are kidnapped by Hook (or his cronies – this is never really explained). A note is left telling Peter to return to get his children. the catch is that Peter has no recollection of anything before he was 12, which means Neverland is just a story to him. For whatever reason though Wendy can still remember it all as does Tootles (one of the Lost Boys now old and in England). Anyways Tinkerbell (or Stinkerbell as I prefer) appears and helps Pan to Neverland. Stuff ensues as Peter has to learn to become the boy wonder he used to be to save his children from Hook. A happy ending of course.

Again, my knowledge of Peter Pan is a bit iffy. Haven’t read it in a while, but I’m fairly certain a  lot of liberties were taken with what they do bring up in here. I’m fine with that. I learned to not get my panties in a bunch over the translation from book to film. The Bourne series taught me that. What they did works to me.

I guess the casting needs addressed since it is quite an impressive cast. Dustin Hoffman plays Hook. If I had never seen this movie till now I would’ve wondered why Dustin Hoffman would be cast as Hook. I just don’t see it and even having seen the film multiple times, I still don’t see it. It just doesn’t seem like him, yet he does a brilliant job. It’s actually really hard for me to even think of Hook as Hoffman when watching it. Robin Williams plays Peter Pan (the adult version). I’m sort of torn on this. I love Robin. I think he’s a great actor and I think he did a good job in the movie. I can even see why he was cast. Robin Williams defiantly has that sort of man-child vibe to an extent (minus the excess body hair). Unfortunately I think Spielberg kept him on to tight of a leash. Part of what makes Williams great is his ability to just go out and do some insane shit and I feel like you don’t see that here and that really hurts the role. That and he does look a bit odd in tights. Julia Roberts is another one who seems to get some flack for her portrayal of Tinkerbell. I’ve never been able to see that. I have to admit, I had a crush on Roberts since at some point I saw this at that lovely age when hormones begin a brewing. That, unneeded fact aside, she was still good. Sure, she might not have been great, but considering what the role was I didn’t think it was bad. I mean, most of the time she would have been in a studio alone. When she “grows up/gets big” she does a great job.

You also have Bob Hoskins appear as an amazing Smee and I thought he was great. I still say “what about Smee!” sometimes. Maggie Smith is naturally great. Great lady who is always amazing and she does a nice job as Wendy. It would’ve been cool if she had more screen time. Charlie Korsmo plays Jack, one of Peter’s children and I thought he was good. His onscreen sister, Maggie, played by Amber Scott, was better. That may be partially because she was pretty darn cute. Unfortunately she is no longer acting (at least according to IMDB). Rufio, Rufio, Rufio! Everyone remembers Rufio. I think it’s the hair. Dante Basco will forever be remember as that kid. His acting wasn’t bad, but he was fortunate to have a character that for whatever reason just stood out and was fascinating. I would’ve liked to have seen a movie about Rufio and the Lost Boys. It can still happen since Basco looks pretty young and still plays teens sometimes.

So, what’s left? Visuals? Amazing. I mean it is Spielberg. I think he did a fantastic job with his version of Neverland.

The music though. Oh, I how I love the music. I’m listening to it right now and probably will keep listening to it for a while. Why is it amazing? Guess why? Who loves working with Spielberg? That’s right John Williams. If there’s a film composer people know it’s probably him, partly because of is work with Speilberg. He composes some great pieces, but I think his forte is creating themes. He does a fantastic job of finding the sound that fits the movie and sticks with you. A theme that you can listen to over and over and just the music brings the images from the film to mind.

The movie has flaws. It’s not perfect, but I chose to stay blissfully unaware of them. Nostalgia is allowing me to treasure this movie and I’m fine with it. That and even if I try to analyze it, I still don’t think it’s a crap film. Not Spielberg best, bust hey, even when the man isn’t scoring a huge hit it’s still better than a lot fo movies.

I’m resisting the urge to watch this movie again right now, but I advise anyone who hasn’t seen it to check it out. If you have and hated it, trying giving it another shot. Open your mind up a bit and try to enjoy it.

Peter Pan (2003)

I know another Peter Pan related post. I don’t intend on watching every film version (though I may, doubt it though.) Actually I’m about to watch Hook again. I’ve been trying to resist the urge, but can’t. Screw finals.

I’m a fan of Peter Pan. It’s always interested me. It has, however, been some time since I’ve seen any film/tele version. It’s also been a while since I’ve read Peter and Wendy (the only one I’ve read).

Peter Pan to me was a good adaptation. As far as I remember the overall gist of the story, this movie seemed to get the highlights that stick in my mind. It may be the best adaptation as far as the story goes or it may not. For me, it was good. It didn’t seem to bizarre in its interpretation and seemed to at least try to stay faithful to the source material.

This version of Peter Pan is interesting. For all intents and purposes it is very much a family/children’s film. It is however a slightly dark portrayal though and I don’t just mean visually. Things are quite intense at some points and I liked it. In fact I’d actually like to see a sort of gritty Peter Pan (Neverland I suppose attempted to take a step in that direction). The problem for me at least was the sort of, for lack of a better word, “wacky” slapstick humor that was thrown in here and there. At times it was pretty mild, other times not so much. For kids it was probably great. To me, it jut threw off the darker mood they were setting up. This was supposed to be a family film though, so I understand the humor being put. And it’s not that it was bad, it just didn’t mesh to me.

I have to say the visuals were one of my favorite aspects of the film and I can’t quite find the words to describe it. It sort of mixes an attempt at realism and fantasy. It’s kind of weird, but more cool than weird. I liked it a lot, especially since there was a really good balance. The whole space trip to Neverland however was a bit out off place to me, but that’s the only thing I can think of.

Jason Issacs doubles as Mr. Darling and Hook and does a great job at both. I really like Issas and he does a great job here as usually, especially at Hook. He does villains well. Lynn Redgrave and Olivia Williams both have nice parts and do well and I liked the dog. Jeremy Sumpter plays Peter and I really liked him. He has a sort of odd charm and was really good at being the little boy running around, while still being able to pull off the more serious emotional bits. Rachel Hurd-Wood was also really good as Wendy.

It’s really a great adaptation that I’m guessing most people will like if their fans of Pan. Even if you’re not, it’s still a good fantasy family film.

PS: At this point Hook is replacing BF3 in my 360 so I’ll probably have a post for it later.

The Muppets

Well I’m fresh out of viewing The Muppets so this is going to be a glowing review. I haven’t had to much time to try and say anything negative, though I don’t think I need to.

The Muppets is about how the Muppets have been forgotten. That over the years their popularity has decreased and that times have changed. That we wouldn’t appreciate them now even if they did put on a performance.

The movie is a love song to the Muppets. There’s a lot of blowing smoke up their own buts it you want to twist things to a negative view. The fact is that the Muppets were a huge phenomenon and while younger generations may not be familiar with them, there are still young people and older audiences that love them.

In a way the new movie is similar to the orignal Muppet Movie, but not really. Out of all of the films, that’s the best comparison. In fact they reference the orignal film frequently to compare themselves to it. The orignal movie was sort of about the Muppets meting for the first time and the new movie is the Muppets meeting each other for the first time in years. It really is a sequel of sorts to the orignal film.

The original Muppet Movie however was very much a road movie and was very lighthearted. This film is actually quite different when you look at it. There’s a lot more exploration of the characters, or at least some of the main ones. The movie explores their dynamic and to an extent looks at why the Muppets were so great. There are a number of moments that are just horribly unfunny, because they’re sad. They are very good emotionally charged scenes.

The music of course was really good. They don’t hold up to the orignal songs, but I think that has more to do with time. “Life is a Happy Song” is actually really good and catchy. I think the movie needs more than one viewing for them to become as memorable as some of the older ones, but they are still pretty solid. Actually Chris Cooper does a pretty good rap at one point. The only two full old songs to make appearances are the Muppet Show theme and of course Rainbow Connection. There are some references and extracted lyrics from older songs, but they aren’t performed.  There’s also a great cover of Nirvana.

The Muppets were all great. You have different puppeteers now that some of the originals have died or moved on, but honestly I thought they did a great job. The only issue I had was with the guy who does Staldorf’s (I think) voice. The voices for that duo were very iconic for me and the new voice just doesn’t match the original. As far as the new Muppet Walter goes, I thought he was ok. Nothing spectacular, but good for the movie. He actually isn’t really the main character. He’s more of a catalyst to get the movie going, which was nice.

Jason Segel, who incidentally is the reason this movie exists, did a good job as Walter’s brother. Amy Adams was really good as well. For the roles they were cast in they were pretty damned good. As was Rashida Jones as the TV exec. OF course the movie has to have a human villain which is where Chris Cooper comes in and he was great. Again he does a neat little rap at one point. Really the human cast was great.

The cameos. The Muppets are famous for their cameos. I’m almost disappointed in the cameos in this movie, but maybe that has something to do with my fondness for the cameos in the other films. At this point these may be spoilers for you. I’m going to list some of the cameos, mainly the ones I enjoyed, so you’ve been warned. Alan Arkin, Jack Black, Bill Cobbs, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, John Krasinski, Jim Parsons, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey RooneySarah Silverman, Ken Jeong, Kristen Schaal, and Emily Blunt. There are more, but those are the ones that I remember and stood out to me.

My biggest disappointment was the lack of Steve Martin. For some reason I just thought he’d make an appearance. He’s worked with the Muppets a number of times and I always loved his appearances. They did at least reference him a number of times by name or via a picture of him. I’m also glad that they paid tribute to Jim Henson frequently. His name is branded various places as is his picture. It was nice that they did that.

The Muppets is different. The tone has changed. Yes the movie is wacky, but they scaled it down in my opinion. Again it’s a love song to the Muppets. The scenario in the film is a plea for the Muppets to reunite and get attention again and really that’s what the movie itself is. It’s about putting the Muppets together again and trying to get an audience and hopefully inspire certain folks at Disney to make another Muppet and I can only dream of them doing the Muppet Show again.

It doesn’t top the Muppet Movie, but it’s damned close. Having not seen the other Muppet films recently I’d have to say this one has a good chance at being number two to the original film. And yes it has some flaws, but I’m willing to forgive them because it’s the Muppets. After all this time they made a movie and it was worth that wait. I can only hope that people will actually go see this, especially if you loved the Muppets growing up.

The Muppet Movie

Everyone loves the Muppets right? I mean I remember growing up watching the Muppets and that was from reruns of the Muppet Show or some of the movies that they put out. I’m pretty sure my continuous re-watching of our VHS of  The Muppet Movie killed the tape because it no longer works (actually that was a couple of years ago even). As I get older and continue to re-watch the Muppets I grow fonder of them with each viewing. There’s so much that was just over my head and the cameos/appearances that meant nothing to me. So obviously my views on the movie should already be clear and I’m very biased.

The Muppet Movie was released in 1979 and the Muppet Show ran from ’76 – ’81, so by this point the Muppet Show was actually nearing its end. The movie is highly meta and is a viewing of the Muppets on a film that is about how the Muppets less or according to Kermit, “It’s sort of approximately how it happened.” While not every Muppet is included, the big names all appear in the story and those that don’t show up either in the viewing theater or at the end of the “movie” where all of the Muppets sit and sign the end of the “The Magic Store.”

Which brings me to the first reason as to why this movie rocks. The music. “Rainbow Connection” is obviously a kick-ass and moving song. It’s probably one of the most memorable of the Muppet songs and the use of it in the opening of the film is fantastic. It’s beautiful. I’ve also always been a fan of the Electric Mayhem songs. I think Zoot is part of the reason I learned to play the saxophone. “Can You Picture That” and “Movin’ Right Along” are two great songs in here that are faster paced. Again the finale “The Magic Store” is brilliant as well. I actually welled up at the end of the song when the rainbow appears and they all start singing together.

The Muppets themselves are great and I wont even bother trying to critic their performances. I will say how incredible it is as to what Henson and co. did by showing the full body of some of the Muppets. For the opening in the swamp, Jim Henson was underwater performing Kermit and the bicycle scene is another one that’s remarkable to watch, among others.

The cameos/human appearances are for the adults I think. I’ve slowly learned to appreciate them more and more. I think the first person I recognized was Steve Martin. You also have some other greats such as Edgar Bergen, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, James Coburn, Dom DeLuise, Elliot Gould, Bob Hope (Fucking Bob Hope!), Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Richard Pryor, and Orson Welles. Charles During and Austin Penleton also play Doc Hopper and Max. That’s some serious star power, especially comedic star power. They are cameos though, but still. Just seeing a bunch of those guys is great.

The humor is great as well. There’s a lot of meta references and breaking the fourth wall. The Muppets in general have a very sort of wacky style of humor and it still holds up. It’s timeless and works across the age ranges.

The other great thing about The Muppet Movie is the diversity in the film. In a way it’s almost a mockumentary, but it is defiantly a comedy. It also consists of pretty much every other film genre out there. Action, Adventure, Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy. It crams every little thing in one movie and it works because they don’t linger on anything to long. They knew where to draw the line.

The Muppet Movie still stands as a great film. I can’t imagine that kinds wouldn’t still like it and as someone who wasn’t born till 1990, I loved it as a kid and still love it. It’s simply a great movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I have to say, for better or worse I’ve always enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Each one has their flaws and I enjoy some more than others, but overall I still like the series. I can’t say that any of them are crap.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the fourth installment in the series. Now that they’ve finished the trilogy, which really was about Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightly), they went on with Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who is the character that pretty much has stolen every movie. It’s who people are going to see anyways. On Stranger Tides picks up sort of where they left off as Jack goes searching for the Fountain of Youth. Really it’s not that different from the other films. The same outline is kind of there, but again I still stand by the fact that it works. I wouldn’t expect them to change things up too much at this point.

I liked the movie. It moved along better than the second film, though I feel that this movie lacked depth. There didn’t seem to be much heart in it. It was all about just reusing old stuff and sort of developing Barbosa and Jack a little more, though not enough and not well. For being the movie where Jack is legitimately the main character, they dropped the ball.

The acting was still solid. Johnny Depp still does a good job with the character as does Geoffrey Rush with Barbosa. Ian McShane does a good Blackbeard, though he could’ve been a bit more frightening and Penelope Cruz did a good job. Look for a brief scene with Dame Judy Dench early on.

This movie is aimed more towards a more mature audience in my mind. Things are a bit darker, more violent and gruesome. A bit more risqué in some areas as well. None of the films are really meant for young children, but this one seems to reinforce that. Again it’s the visual content, not any covert meanings. It’s not overdone though.

Still, the action sequences are still good as are the elaborate escape plans that Jack goes through. Similar humor, though not as solid as the first film. As mediocre as it was at times, it was a good movie. I mean I enjoyed myself and I’ll gladly watch it again. Really not much to say. I think most people are aware of what they’re getting into ahead of time.

Gnomeo & Juliet

I remember the ads for this when it was in theaters. I gave it a pass, but it looked like it could possibly be interesting, mostly due to who was listed as voice actors.

Gnomeo & Juliet is what you’d expect. It’s yet another depiction of the play, but different, but not really. You have Gnomes as the characters and some characters from the play are dropped or changed. There are a number of instances where they spoof the original play or vaguely follow the outline. Possible spoiler alert, but it shouldn’t be: The film has a bubbly happy ending. The movie is set up similarly to Toy Story in that you have red gnomes and blue gnomes, each in a neighboring yard. They have “owners” who you barley see, but when people do arrive they cease to “live” much like they do in Toy Story.

The film was made by Touchstone Pictures, which I believe is still owned by Disney, though the animation was done elsewhere. The animation isn’t bad. I’ve seen worse, or at least scene animation styles that I just didn’t care for. Part of the reason it looks crappy almost, is because they attempted to keep the gnomes some what realistic. They’re dirty and flawed and clearly aren’t meant to have a lot of emotion or animation to them. Unlike Toy Story, these characters are sort of designed to be a bit more wooden (or stone in this instance).

Which brings me to the heart of this movie. The movie is very self-referential and riddled with references to other movies and pretty much anything else. There are a number of references to Shakespeare and his plays. At one point Gnomeo has a chat with a  statue of Shakespeare about the plays tragic ending. There are also spoofs of movies or altered quotes ranging from Brokeback Mountain, Rebel Without a Cause, Forrest Gump, Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, Muppets, and god knows what else. I don’t think even the makes of the film have a full list of all the references in the movie. That and there are also nods to some Disney things as well. One of the people has a laptop and instead of an Apple on the back it has a Banana. Basically a wide range of nods to various things. In some respects it may have gone to far since I don’t think there’s a single scene with out some sort of reference. On the other hand, it depends on how nerdy you are as to whether you will get half of them, so in that aspect may it balances out. Personally, I wasn’t annoyed by it. I actually kind of like when these movies do that and make fun of themselves for doing that.

The story isn’t great, but I actually enjoyed it. There were funny bits and it was played out well enough. It also strayed away from being overtly melodramatic like some animated children’s films can be. That and the music was handled well. Not Elton John’s best work, but the songs were at worst, decent and they weren’t over used ad nauseum.

The voice acting was great. For people unaware’s fo some of the Brits in the film it may not be as exciting, but I loved figuring out who played each character. Jame McAvoy and Emily Blunt are ok with the leads, but they are probably the dullest of the voice actors. Ashley Jensen was great as was Matt Lucas and Michael Caine and Maggie Smith were good as the parents, though neither was given much time, which at least Caine should’ve been given more. Jason Statham plays a crazy bad-ass Tybalt and Ozzy Osbourne plays a deer (Fawn). Patrick Stewart is the statue of Shakespeare and he does a great job with it. I also really liked Stephen Merchant’s gnome, Paris. While they did give him glasses tehy didn’t make him tall, which would’ve have been a joke I’d thrown in. Still, for the little time he gets, it’s very much Stephen Merchant, which I wanted more of. Jim Cummings however plays the flamingo and it’s a very odd character. Again it’s an instance where one of the side characters was better and he actually had more backstory than the other characters. The voice was a bit odd, but it was still great.

For watching at home after waking up from a late night, it seemed really good. Maybe under other circumstances I’d be less kind, but I knew what I was getting into. Not the greatest animated film, but there are far worse ones and there are plenty of them as well. Worth checking out though and it’s short.

Winnie the Pooh

I wanted to go see this in theaters but never did for one reason or another. Why you might not be asking yourselves? Why would a twenty one year old you male want to go see Winnie the Pooh? Because I like animation and am fine with my nostalgia. I loved the old animated Winnie the Pooh, especially the TV series. It was great. I still have the opening/closing imprinted in my brain.

Winnie the Pooh looks great. That’s actually quite important. It is classic 2d animation and more importantly it looks old and by that I mean it looks a lot like the original Winnie the Pooh animations that I remember. It’s possibly a bit cleaner and the colors seem possibly slightly different, but it wasn’t like they went and changed anything to drastically.

The voices were pretty solid overall. Jim Cummings kept Pooh solid and his Tigger was pretty good most of the time. Christopher Robin was different, but not really in a bad way. Rabbit’s voice changed for the worse. I still can’t place it though. I always remember him being a bit whiney and grumpier old man sounding. Craig Ferguson as Owl was completely different as well, but it worked great. It was hard at first though getting the old pervy man from the Late Late show out of my mind when Owl first started talking though. Still, Craig is doing a good job with the voice work these days and hopefully he keeps getting those jobs. Hell, maybe Sid the Rabbit from his show will get a movie.

The voices aside, the characters were a bit different. Eeyore was more depressing, which I LOVED! He’s not supposed to be happy. In the books he’s incredibly suicidal at points. The rest of the characters seemed a bit to wacky overall, especially Rabbit. Similar to the criticism of the voice work, he just wasn’t at all like he used to be and that’s what made that character good. He brought balance to the group. The characters seemed to have been dumbed down a bit as well. They weren’t the brightest group fo animals, but they’ve seemed to have lost a few IQ points in this movie.

Disney movies are pretty well known for musical bits. Kids movies in general are. Unfortunately Disney seems to suck at producing good songs anymore. Maybe it’s because Tim Rice and Alan Menken aren’t doing them all. While I don’t want to beat this to death, this is another spot where Winnie the Pooh fails compared to previous versions. The old songs were memorable. I still remember them. The new songs lack that quality. That and they just weren’t all that good. Again, this isn’t unique to this movie. It seems to be a trend or maybe they are ok and I’m just very nostalgic about the old ones.

I feel that DreamWorks started the trend of adding more adult humor to family movies with Shrek and that trend seems to be continuing across the board. Winnie the Pooh didn’t Shrek adult humor. It was actually quite witty though. The jokes were clean even if kids would understand them, but they were actually intelligent. I was shocked by how good they were and I’d actually prefer this type of humor for older audiences in family movies than some half concealed joke about a thong. Overall the humor was really good and I’m still just amazed by it because it was mostly witty and used heavy wordplay emphasis.

The film was pretty meta to. I recall the old TV series or film occasionally being meta, but not a lot. For an hour long movie there are a number of interactions where the narrator (John Cleese!) talks to Pooh directly (he even shakes the book!). Pooh also frequently is seen walking out of the hundred acre woods and into the long paragraphs of the books. It’s not just a transition thing, but part of the film. Pooh and Eeyore talk while sitting on a paragraph and the letters frequently fall into the pictures where are characters live. It was kind of bizarre. I don’t know how well that would work for the kids. I’m not even sure I liked it because it seemed over used.

All in all the movie was great, but it defiantly is a new kind of Winnie the Pooh. My dislikes of the film were minor and basically all aimed at comparing it to what I grew up with. And yes it is an hour long, but it works. The length didn’t seem to be a hinderance although I don’t think they would’ve been stretching it to far to have gone on another half hour. Don’t know how kids will react, but as a senior in college, I still enjoyed it and assume parents wil be able to as well.

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