Thursday, January 7, 2010



Me: I had originally wanted to see 9 in the theatres because of its stylistic animation style and its connection to Nightmare Before Christmas. However, I didn't have the chance. I thought Molly would have liked it, but I never got the chance to take her to see it. So we rented it the other day and got to sit down and watch it.

And, yes, it is a very pretty, stylistic movie. Parts of it are almost steampunk in appearance, but a little different. It was based off of a computer animated short film called "9" that the filmmaker premiered at Sundance. Tim Burton really liked it and got behind it to produce a full length feature film. I didn't see the short, but I imagine that it was much better than the feature length film, simply because the movie was very stylized, but failed to produce a good story in the full form.

Anyhow, the stitch-punk homunculi are each very interesting and visually appealing and blend in beautifully with the post-Apocalyptic war torn world that they live in. The world that they live in is the ruins of a sort of Art Deco Nazi-era world. They are the only "living" things left after the war, in which machines turned against men. It could have sort of been an interesting enough movie, but it ultimately made no sense. The Scientist created a device to kill the machine, but it was the same thing that reactivated it to begin with. There sort of triumph at the end was really just cleaning up the mess that 9 started in the opening of the film. Considering the cost of the victory, I'm not sure if it was a good thing or not.

But basically, the movie moves out of science and delves into soul, but in a completely odd and unfitting way. It just didn't make sense at all. Visually, the movie was brilliant, but it was really lacking as far as story is concerned.

Molly: (As usual, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. Her review will be given in Q&A form, primarily due to her age. And this is a real transcript of our conversation. She's sitting next to me at my pooter right now. I'll format it afterward.)

Chuckie: What did you think of 9?
Molly: Um. Let me look at the box. Takes the DVD box and studies the cover for a few moments. Um. Nice.

Chuckie: You thought the movie was nice?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: When we were watching the movie, you said that some parts were scary. What was scary about it?
Molly: There were some monsters in it. Scary monsters. They were fighting and trying to eat them. Where's my glitter glob? Starts looking for a glitter paint project she was working on earlier.
Chuckie: It's drying, Sweetie. So, what was the movie about?
Molly: Um, they fight. And, Daddy, we need to say how many stars and suns and moons, right Daddy?
Chuckie: We'll get to that, Pixie. What was your favorite part?
Molly: Um, the bad eye one.
Chuckie: What bad eye one?
Molly: The little guy with one eye. The people. Not the monster with one eye. He was bad.

Chuckie: Do you think that it is too scary for some people?
Molly: No.

Chuckie: Was it a good movie?
Molly: Yes. Everything was good about it.

Chuckie: How would you rate the movie?
Molly: Huh? How things are? Um. One.
Chuckie: One what?
Molly: One star.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of Arctica.
Chuckie: Arctica?
Molly: Matter-of-factly. Yeah. Arctica.
Chuckie: What's Arctica?
Molly: It's a place, Daddy. Where my friends are. It's a house.
Chuckie: So, it gets one star out of a possible Arctica?
Molly: Correcting me, as apparently the star itself is out of Arctica, not out of a possible Arctica. No, Daddy! The star is out of Arctica. My friends live there.

Chuckie: Uh, okay. Do you think people should go and see this movie?
Molly: Everybody. But not little babies because they would cry about it.

Chuckie: Why would they cry?
Molly: Because it's too scary for little babies.
Chuckie: Was it too scary for you?
Molly: No, I'm just big enough. You need to be three to watch it.

Chuckie: Is there anything else you want to say about the movie?
Molly: Um, yes. Um, people play choo-choo-chugga-chugga-choo-choo-wee-wee.

Chuckie: What does that have to do with the movie?
Molly: 'Cause they threw rocks at the monster and had skeleton heads. That was so funny, Daddy. I want a skeleton head too, Daddy.

So there you go. I thought it was a very stylistic movie that was visually very pretty, but ultimately didn't have a real sense of story to pull it together to make it anything more than pretty pictures. The message of spirituality seemed a little odd and didn't really fit as it just didn't make much sense. Molly didn't seem to care too much for it and wandered away for a couple of minutes to entertain herself elsewhere during the movie. But then again, there are more distractions here at home than at a theatre.

I give it two out of five stars.
Molly gives it one star out of Arctica.

I think if you are looking for a good story, pass on it. But if you just want to see some pretty stitch-punk and Art Deco ruins, take a look. And Molly does not recommend that babies should see this movie.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Princess and the Frog

The Princess and the Frog

Me: I went to Disney's The Princess and the Frog with only moderate expectations. After seeing The Chipmunks Squeakquel, I knew that the movie could only be better than that was. However, Disney who once made really good movies for kids that were also entertaining for adults (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), has really been on a glut of actually producing something entertaining in recent years. Little Mermaid was great, and not just because it made me think dirty thoughts about a half-fish. Beauty and the Beast was really a great movie, but they kind of peaked there. And, yes, I do know that the forgettable Rescuers Down Under was in between those two movies. Anyhow, after Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin came out and it was okay. It was followed by the Lion King, which many will say is a masterpiece. However, many people also have terrible taste. I'll admit to it being somewhat entertaining, but I will argue down its merits as an actual movie to anyone.

After that, we got Pocahontas which really just distorted history so much and turned the 13 year old real life Pocahontas into a sex symbol. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was even worse with its revision of Victor Hugo's book. Besides the talking gargoyles, it had a happy ending! Anyhow, from there we got Hercules which was fun, but crap and that led into Mulan, which was actually a good movie. There was some completely unnecessary cross-dressing at the end of the movie, but it was still fun and actually kind of poignant. Tarzan stunk, but the Emperor's New Groove was actually very funny. It made no fucking sense, but it was funny.

Atlantis was abysmal, but Lilo and Stitch was surprising really good and touching. I didn't even bother seeing Treasure Planet or Brother Bear. Chicken Little was Disney's failed attempt to show that they didn't need Pixar to make a good computer animated movie (spoiler alert: They do). Meet the Robinsons was just a jumbled mess, but Bolt was surprisingly good.

So anyhow, Disney movies are hit or drek. I wasn't sure where this one would fit in. It was a beautiful movie. It was nice to see them going back to classic animation as opposed to computer assisted scenes. The illustration of the character was just beautiful. The story itself is kind of a twist of the simplistic frog and the princess story, but at least they didn't expand on that story like the Leather Goddesses of Phobos did.

Ultimately, the movie was pretty, but shallow. There was a lot that they could have gone into to make it interesting, but just left it superficial. One thing that I noticed was that they did not change the style of animating alligators since the original Rescuers movie. Still, I was very glad to see Disney go back to hand animation after Eisner's terrible decision to abandon it. The music was alright, and took on a jazz style, but there was nothing stand out or really catchy. All-in-all, it was mediocre, but if you are a fan of animation, then at least they gave you something very pretty to look at.

Molly: (I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. Her review will be given in Q&A form, primarily due to her age. And this is a real transcript of our conversation. She's sitting next to me at my pooter right now. I'll format it afterward.)

Chuckie: What did you think of the Princess and the Frog?
Molly: They kissed.
Chuckie: But what did you think of it?
Molly: Beautiful. Trying to get my attention as I type her response. I said "beautiful", Daddy!

Chuckie: I heard you, sweetie. I'm typing it now. What was the movie about?
Molly: Um, see my hat, Daddy? We're talking about my hat right now, Daddy.
Chuckie: Okay, Molly. I like your Dora hat. But let's talk about the movie, okay?
Molly: Okay, Daddy.

Chuckie: So what was the movie about?
Molly: It was so funny. Turned a Prince and a Princess into a frog.

Chuckie: What was your favorite part?
Molly: Um, they turned into a frog and kissed.

Chuckie: Who did you like in the movie?
Molly: The Princess.

Chuckie: Was it a good movie?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: How would you rate the movie?
Molly: Ummmmmmmmm... Her "um" drags on for at least ten seconds. Beautiful.

Chuckie: How many stars would you give it?
Molly: One.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Um, fifty-one a hundred. Quickly adding on as I am typing her answer. And Daddy, want to know how many moons?
Chuckie: Sure, Molly.
Molly: Two moons, Daddy.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Um, fifty-one a hundred eighty-nine.
Chuckie: Uh, is that good?
Molly: Yeah, Daddy. In a proud cheery voice. Because it got five suns too. Yay! Happily holding up five fingers in my face.

Chuckie: Do you think people should go and see this movie?
Molly: Yep. Everyone, Daddy.
Chuckie: Who do you think would like the movie, Pixie?
Molly: Craig.

Molly: Coming back over to me a couple minutes later as I am formatting this. Daddy, I want to tell you one more thing about the movie. I love it, Daddy.

So there you go. I thought that the movie was mediocre, but pretty and a nice change to see hand-drawn animation once again on the big screen. The movie is watchable, but forgettable and fits more along the valleys of the Disney animation peaks and valleys, but not terribly low. Molly, on the other hand, loved it even if she seemed squirmy and often disinterested in the theatre.

I give it two and a half out of five stars.
Molly only rated it one out of a possible fifty-one a hundred stars and only two out of a possible fifty-one a hundred eighty-nine moons, but did give a very enthusiastic five suns, so I suppose that works out to be a good recommendation.

But if there is one thing that we both agree on with this movie is that Craig should see it.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel

Me: Well, the movie delivered what I had expected. Going into this movie, I was really expecting some kind of experience akin to anal rape and in that respect, the movie did not fail to deliver. I really like David Cross, but find his role in movies like these to be depressing. Add that to a bunch of images trying to show off a bunch of 8 inch tall pubescent female chipmunks trying to be sex symbols while covering songs like Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" is oddly disturbing and makes me wonder if we are marketing to create a new generation of furries.

Still, part of the tribulations of being a parent is that you pay for all of the good things you get out of it, so I went and took Molly and her cousin to see the movie in the theatre because they really wanted to see it. We took Molly's cousin because she wanted to see it as well, and I was nice enough that I realized that there was no reason to make my brother suffer and see the movie as well when I could just bite the bullet for the two of us.

The movie was dreadful, but the experience wasn't. This was the first movie that Molly really got into the action and story on the screen. She was rocking out and bopping along to all of the songs, but she got into the story and action as well. There was one scene where the Chipmunks and Chipettes were on a remote control helicopter that was out of control, spinning around like mad and threatening a firey wreak of a crash that would have made me laugh, but made every kid in the audience burst out in confusion and tears. Anyhow, Jeanette, who was on the helicopter, shouts out, "Grab my ankles!" as she makes this slow-motioned Die-Hard style dive for the remote control, snatching it just before it falls as the other Chipmunks grab her just before she falls to her doom. It was seriously an over-the-top action moment usually placed in drek like Independence Day, but it was in the Chipmunks movie. Anyhow, as she catches the remote and as the Chipmunks catch her, saving them all from childhood dream smashing wreckage, Molly jumped up off of her seat and started to wildly applaud.

So the movie was terrible, but Molly was fun to watch during it. All in all, that made it not just tolerable, but fun.

Molly: (I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. Her review will be given in Q&A form, primarily due to her age. And this is a real transcript of our conversation. She's anxious to do this and is waiting by my laptop. I'll format it afterward.)

Chuckie: Molly, what did you think of the Chipmunks Squeakquel movie?
Molly: Funny.

Chuckie: What was funny about it?
Molly: Um. "All the singelay" (This is how she has translated and pronounced the Chipette's singing version of "All the Single Ladies"). Here's a spongie to wash you, Daddy. (rubs a toy sponge on my arm while singing "Spongie, spongie, spongie.")

Chuckie: Okay sweetie, that’s enough. What was your favorite part of the movie?
Molly: Um, "All the singelay".

Chuckie: So you liked the music in the movie?
Molly: Yeah. I want to tell you something, Daddy.
Chuckie: Sure.
Molly: About the boy chipmunks.
Chuckie: Okay
Molly: The boys sing with the girls.

Chuckie: So, was it a good movie?
Molly: Yeah. Its kind of spongy.
Chuckie: No, the movie, not the sponge. Was it a good movie?
Molly: Yeah, cause it was very funny. I'm cutting pizza with a knife, Daddy. (Pretends to cut, then hands the sponge to me as my slice of pizza.)
Chuckie: Thank you, Pixie. What else do you have to say about the movie?
Molly: Um, nothing else.

Chuckie: Okay, so how many stars would you give the movie?
Molly: Um. Five, Daddy. How about moons?
Chuckie: Okay, how many moons would you give it?
Molly: Um, five.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Five.
Chuckie: So the the movie gets five stars and five moons out of a possible five stars and five moons?
Molly: And five suns.

Chuckie: Would you suggest that other people should see the movie?
Molly: Yeah. All of them should. Its good.

So there you have it. Our opinions differ a bit on the movie, but if you have a kid who is really into this, I would suggest sitting through and watching them instead of the screen, because what is happening in the seat next to you is far more interesting than the crap on the screen.

Chuckie's Rating: 1/2 Star Out of 5
Molly's Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars, 5 Out of 5 Moons, 5 Out of 5 Suns

Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are.

Me: I really wanted to like this movie as a grown-up movie. I never read the book when I was a kid, but got it and read it a bunch of times for Molly. It is only something like eleven sentences in the book, though the illustrations are very metaphoric and storytelling beyond the few sentences. Visually, the movie was great, even if the monsters ultimately looked like Sweet 'Ums from the Muppet Show with CGI face for expression. The book actually shows part of childhood. Max in the book, mimics his mother by telling the monsters that they had to go to be without supper after he was told the same thing.This is something that children go through as they act out punishments given to them to their toys, siblings, etc to understand them better by playing out the authority role. Max in the movie does not quite do this, so there is no working out the situation like there was in the book. Instead, each of the monsters represents a part of his personality (Carol is his wild side, Judith his jealousy, Alexander is his feelings that no one notices or listens to him) and some represent situations he is going through (KW is his sister who is outgrowing him and hanging out with friends that he cannot understand).

So the story is about that time when much of the world is outgrowing the child as friends and siblings get different interests, leaving the child feeling abandoned. This is furthered as he cannot fully grasp the ideas behind the science that he learns in school about things such as the Sun eventually dying. Instead of acting out the roles in the book, the movie has Max able to witness parallel actions from the monsters. Carol overreacts to getting hurt from play and it pushes KW (Max's sister) away as it further illustrates the distance between their age and maturity. Carol's reaction is to go and destroy things (as Max did to his sister's room).

The problem that I have is that things are not really resolved. I don't need Hollywood endings that tie up everything in a nice, neat bow, but Max left the island with little seeming resolved in him or the monsters. In the end, Carol finds a heart with the letter "C" in it made from sticks in the ruins of the stuff he destroyed earlier. This is, I suppose, Max trying to play the role of his sister and trying to reach out and show that there is still love there, like he wants his sister to do.

But where the movie falls flattest for me is when Max returns home, there is no resolution with his sister. His mother is there and their ending is fine. But for a movie that dealt so much with the feelings of the sister outgrowing him and resolving so much about the sister, nothing was given upon Max's return. That was just... odd.

I wanted to like the movie a lot more and it almost hit some of the marks, but ultimately it fell flat for me. The direction of the movie was really excellent though, but ultimately it did not put enough fulfillment of the ideas and stories in it to satisfy me.

Molly: (I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. Her review will be given in Q&A form, primarily due to her age. And this is a real transcript of our conversation. She's anxious to do this and is waiting by my computer. I'll format it afterward.)

Chuckie: Molly, what did you think of the Where The Wild Things Are movie?
Molly: Um. Let the wild rumpus start!

Chuckie: Well, did you like the movie?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Let the rumpus start! That part. Daddy, I found Utini's necklace.

Chuckie: Okay, we'll put that on later.
Molly: Daddy, I really need to go potty.
Chuckie: Okay, go. Come back when you are done. Don't forget to flush.

Molly returns.

Chuckie: Pixie, did you think that Wild Things was a good movie?
Molly: Yeah. It was funny.

Chuckie: What was funny?
Molly: Quoting in a "monster voice". "I'm going to eat you!" That was funny.

Chuckie: What else do you have to say about the movie?
Molly: Um. I liked the movie. Max is my friend.

Chuckie: How many stars would you give the movie?
Molly: One.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Um. One, two, three, four, five. Runs out of fingers.

Chuckie: Do you think people should see the movie?
Molly: Mm-hm. I want to.

So there you have it. Despite recommending that people see the movie, Molly gives it one out of five stars. She's a harsher critic than I thought, but still generous at the box office.

This was fun. I look forward to reviewing more things with Molly.

Oh, the above contained spoilers. You probably shouldn't have read it if you wanted to avoid them.