The filmmakers behind Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph join forces for this entertaining animated action comedy, which has clearly been planned as a franchise-launcher. Energetic and funny, the movie is packed with wonderfully engaging characters and animated with clever visual inventiveness. But even though it's a lot of fun, it's difficult to escape the feeling that Disney is trying to sell us a whole new range of products.
The setting is a world populated only by animals, where predators and prey have learned to get along. The story centres on feisty rabbit Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), who grew up under pressure to work in the family carrot-farming business. But she wants to be a cop, even though no bunny has ever made the force. Top of her class at police academy, she's assigned to the Zootropolis Police Department, where Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) makes her a meter maid. But she's too ambitious to write parking tickets all day, and teams up with con-artist fox Nick (Jason Bateman) to look into the strange case of a missing otter, which might be linked to a series of unexplained events in which predators suddenly became aggressive and dangerous.
The writers and directors have a great time with the premise, peppering scenes with knowing references mainly to other movies but also to resonant aspects of society, such as the genius casting of sloths as government workers. And there are also much bigger themes rattling around the edges, from how other peoples' expectations constrain us to how politicians use fear to control the public. There's also a cleverly pointed undercurrent about prejudice and diversity. And at the centre, Goodwin and Bateman give solid vocal performances as natural enemies who find a way to trust each other. Of the supporting cast, Elba is the standout as a buffalo who is all bluster.
Continue reading: Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Review
Corbin Bleu and Bonnie Hunt - Corbin Bleu, Bonnie Hunt, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Carolyn Hennessy and Guest Los Angeles, California - Christmas Eve at the Los Angeles Mission. Thursday 24th December 2009
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With is a genial piece of work that is not much more than a sequence of barely-connected riffs. This should be perfectly fine for most people watching, as the majority of the riffs star good people who seem perfectly happy to hang out and improv some well-calibrated chaos with Garlin. He plays 39-year-old James, a Chicago comic who's still living with his mom and eking out an existence as an improv comic and occasional actor. With no girlfriend and having just lost out a part in a remake of Marty to Aaron Carter, James moons about the city in a lovelorn fashion and suffers through a series of low-level professional and romantic humiliations. These stages of plot exist not so much to illustrate James' dark night of the soul as to provide stages for the high-grade performers Garlin talked into coming out to play. Second City notables like Bonnie Hunt, Dan Castellaneta, and Tim Kazurinsky are given pride of place, and there are good turns from Richard Kind and Roger Bart -- though the cameo rotation gets excessive with one scene in particular that's obviously jammed in there just to give Amy Sedaris a reason to show up.
Continue reading: I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With Review
Not that long movies have never been successful, and not that The Green Mile is bad. You might even think a long movie is required here. Pulled from Stephen King's acclaimed series of six books by the same name, King returns to the kind of work he was doing in The Shawshank Redemption (based on a short story of his), the kind that seems to perform the best, away from splatter and gore, and into the minds of the strangest of characters.
Continue reading: The Green Mile Review
Almost every major sport has a companion film, the one movie fans routinely point to as the definitive representation of their beloved competitive activity. Basketball has Hoosiers. Baseball divides camps between The Natural and Bull Durham. Hockey (Slap Shot) and soccer (Victory) are covered, while football actually has too many to mention.
But prior to 2006, NASCAR was without a representative - and don't even think about suggesting Tony Scott's dreadful Days of Thunder. Racing legend Richard Petty put that crazed notion to rest when he recently told a crowd of entertainment journalists, "The only thing that Days of Thunder had to do with racing was that they had numbers on the side of the car."
Continue reading: Cars Review
Stolen Summer tells the poignant tale of two energetic 8-year old youngsters living in the hazy days of Chicago circa 1976 where disco music and polyester profoundly dominated the scene. Pint-sized rabble-rouser Catholic schoolboy Pete O'Malley (Adi Stein) is sternly lectured by his teacher and told that he must change his mischievous ways over the summertime. And so Pete is released from school with some serious thinking to do while he basks in the glory days of the upcoming summer. But Pete's overworked firefighter father (Aidan Quinn) and stay-at-home mother (Bonnie Hunt) are harried by all their responsibilities and just don't have the time to cater to all the personal and emotional needs of their brood. Thus, Pete has to find his own way to spiritual salvation.
Continue reading: Stolen Summer Review
The story begins some 26 years earlier, when young Alan (Robin Williams) and Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) unearth the game and start playing. On Alan's first move, he finds himself sucked into the game as a prisoner, only to be released when the game is continued in 1995 by Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Michael Pierce). Unfortunately, the ill effects of the game disappear only when it is finished, so the three track down Sarah, who, after years of therapy, has finally come to grips with the shock of seeing Alan vanish, and they continue where they left off.
Continue reading: Jumanji Review
Magical indeed -- the way it works is that all those monsters that hide in the closet and scare little kids only do so because they have to -- they use the screams as energy to power Monstropolis, which exists just on the other side of every kid's bedroom closet door in the world.
Continue reading: Monsters, Inc. Review
Taken out of context, the plot of "Return To Me" sounds like a really cheesy gimmick for a movie romance.
David Duchovny plays a man whose beautiful, adoring wife (Joley Richardson) dies in a car crash. Minnie Driver is a heart patient who gets the dead woman's ticker in a transplant. After a respectable amount of time has passed for the purposes of good taste, they meet by chance and fall in love.
Your eyes are rolling, right? But surprise, surprise -- the whole magical-innards angle is merely a jumping off point for a sincere and very funny love story that is easily the best romantic dramedy since "Jerry Maguire."
Continue reading: Return To Me Review
"The Green Mile" begins with a little deja vu. Like Tom Hanks' last mid-Century, Oscar-baiting drama, "Saving Private Ryan," it's bookended by a modern framework that finds an old man reluctantly reminiscing about a difficult year of his life, more than half a century ago.
Because of the familiar faces and the similar prestige posturing, this platitudinous structure invites a little eye-rolling as Dabbs Greer (Reverend Alden on "Little House On the Prairie"), playing the aged Hanks, begins to spin what becomes an engrossing three-hour yarn about a year of extraordinary horrors and miracles on death row in a Louisiana state penitentiary.
Hanks plays prison guard Paul Edgecomb, an unjaded joe in charge of death row who treats people on both sides of the bars with humanity and civility. Set in 1935, the central story opens with the arrival of a kindly colossus of a condemned killer named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan).
Continue reading: The Green Mile Review
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