Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Me: Molly has been telling me about how she's been wanting to watch "that movie with the chocolate river" again. She's seen Willy Wonka once before about 5 or 6 months ago and apparently remembered it. So we went to the video store after I picked her up from school and I let her pick out a couple of movies and she grabbed "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (the 1971 classic, not the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory travesty).

Hopefully you've seen it before, because it really is a classic. I've always liked the movie and I liked it as an adult before I had my daughter. Now that I have a kid, it's fun to watch with her. Molly was really very into the movie when we watched it. It starts a little slow and drags a bit before the arrival at the factory, but she was still insistent on sitting there intently and watching it and asking me a lot of questions. She was really disappointed when the fifth ticket showed up in Paraguay and Charlie didn't get it. However, she was really excited once it was discovered to be a fake and Charlie found the last ticket.

Anyhow, the movie is an adaptation of the book by Roald Dahl (who also wrote the Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was made into a movie that I loved). Roald Dahl actually wrote the screenplay for the 1971 movie as well, but ultimately was disappointed by some revisions that were put into his work, notably the emphasis on Willy Wonka over Charlie and Charlie's flawed morality by stealing the Fizzy-lifting drink. I kind of have to agree a bit with the second bit, as Charlie stealing the drink did create a little moral ambiguity that was difficult for Molly to understand as she told me at the end of the movie "but he stoled drink so he was a bad kid too". As far as the emphasis on Willy Wonka, I have to say that I think that this is genius work by Gene Wilder and he is amazingly fun to watch. The whole reason for the original title change to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory instead of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the result of product tie-ins, since the Willy Wonka name could be branded.

There was also a bit of controversy in the original Dahl book, as the Oompa-Loompa were originally pygmies from Africa who worked for cacao beans and are experimented on with the candy testing, but it was later changed in a revised reissue to a more fantastical race from Loompaland in response to criticism of being racist. The movie's change to orange-skinned green-haired peoples from Loompaland actually predates the author's revisions in his books. I suppose it while staving off charges of racism by this change, it still doesn't exactly better the colonialism nature exhibited by Wonka.

But cheap foreign labor issues aside, the movie really is a lot of fun. The flaws of the children are blunt and obvious and morality lessons to be learned are recited to us in song by the Oompa-Loompas. The bad children, however, have character flaws of what seems to be differing problematic levels.

Augustus Gloop is gluttonous. It seems rather basic enough of a "sin" for this character, even though he's out of the story quickly and doesn't survive past the first room so we've never explored the possible psychological issues that Augustus might suffer from, such as a shattered childhood where he turned to compulsive overeating as a means to cope with his feelings. Instead, he is just that German kid who wears shorts in October when everyone else has on coats and scarves. Really, are Nazi uniforms and lederhosen the only two types of clothing that Hollywood wardrobes can provide for German characters? But anyway, I can see how gluttony is an issue, more so in today's world than in 1971. This is a message that is appropriate enough to tell to children.

Violet Beauregarde is obsessed with gum chewing. This seems to be a rather specific problem and not really a "global" children's issue that needs to be dealt with. In fact, her flaw can be seen akin to Augustus's gluttony in a way. Or, perhaps more appropriately, as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder since she is obsessed with chewing the same piece of gum. If that is the case, then a "life-lesson" at the Wonka factory probably isn't really the best approach and instead the Oompa-Loompa should be looking for rhymes for "tricyclic antidepressants", "serotonin" and "cognitive-behavioral therapy". Instead, the Oompa-Loompas sing about the perils of obsessive gum-chewing and include the lyric; "Gum chewing's fine when it's once in a while; it stops you from smoking and brightens your smile." It stops you from smoking?!? This line being in a song for children's morality is rather odd, unless, we assume that Violet used to be a heavy chain smoker and this is how she's given it up. If that is the case, then I say the Oompa-Loompas should be more accepting of the lesser of two evils. Either way, if Violet is suffering from severe OCD or if she is struggling with nicotine addiction, I have to say that her "sin" is rather minor and unfitting in context of the other kids.

Veruca Salt is, appropriately, most people's favorite of the kids. Her last name is "Salt" to emphasize that there is nothing sweet about her. She's greedy, selfish and quite spoiled. These are, of course, terrible traits for a child to have. However, as the Oompa-Loompas point out in song, it is the full blame of the mothers and the fathers for a child to be like this. So, is it alright for the children to snooze during this part of the movie since the message is for their parents? I mean, the Loompa song pretty much absolves the child for any responsibility in their condition and puts the full blame on the parents. Does that mean that Veruca Salt is potentially incinerated in a garbage chute for crimes of her parents? According to the Oompa-Loompas, that is the case. Now, any of the issues of the children can be traced back to their parents and their upbringing (except poor Violet's brain chemistry and her OCD, unless we want to blame the parents on a genetic level), but this is the only issue that the Oompa-Loompas specifically call out the parents on. So we must assume that this one is fully the fault of the parents and poor Veruca has been incinerated merely because of the lack of discipline in her upbringing. Though if it is an consolation, her father also gets incinerated.

Mike Teavee is television obsessed and apparently by his dress and attitude we can assume that in 1971 all that was on teevee was Westerns. However, looking at the prime time TV schedule for the 1971-72 season you see that this was not the case. Gunsmoke was on Monday nights at 8 on NBC, but other than that, there were no Westerns. That's fine, however, because I really think the character would have suffered if he was a Mannix-obsessed boy or obsessively watched The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Still, I suppose that this is a relevant message for today's kids.

Charlie Bucket is a poor kid who is supposed to be honest, but he steals Fizzy-Lifting Drink with his Grandpa and is almost decapitated by a metal fan blade. But he makes good at the end of the movie by returning the everlasting Gobstopper to Willy Wonka and showing his trustworthiness. Then, the weirdest thing happens. Wonka produces Slugworth and reveals that he is working for him and that the whole thing was a morality test. Now, I have always assumed that this means that Slugworth is really a subsidiary of Wonka's and by creating this illusion of competition, Wonka is really just subverting antitrust laws. Is that how Wonka's chocolate became such a powerhouse in the world? Has he used a dummy competitor to enter the market with him to give the illusion of competition while just using the dual market influences to take out his competitors with predatory pricing practices? I mean, it makes sense, considering the cheap slave labor that runs the Wonka factories, he could lower the prices enough and have the dummy Slugworth company match his lower prices. This would give the illusion of fair competition, while at the same time excluding newcomers into the markets and ultimately Wonka's cheap labor could offset any losses incurred by the dummy Slugworth company. This is probably why Wonka never considers letting an Oompa-Loompa take over his business and instead searches out for a kid. If he let the Oompa-Loompas learn the dubious morality of the market model that Wonka is using, he'd have to fear for his life with a song that started with "Oompa-Loompa doompadee Derman Dantitrust Dact".

Anyhow, despite the anti-fair competition message, the movie is quite excellent and Gene Wilder is perfect in it. I loved this movie as a kid and I loved it as an adult. Now I love it as a father watching it with my kid.

Molly: (As always, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at a computer and I'm typing up what we are saying as we speak, then going back afterward to format it. Her review will be in a Q&A form, due to her age. She's sitting next to me at my computer as we do this.)

Chuckie: What did you think about the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?
Molly: Daddy, it wasn't in a movie feater.
Chuckie: I know, Sweetie. But we can still review it, right?
Molly: Yeah. I was just saying it wasn't in a movie feater.
Chuckie: So, what did you think of the movie?
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about the movie, Pixie?
Molly: I liked the part about the boy going down into the chocolate.
Chuckie: Augustus Gloop?
Molly: Yeah. In the chocolate.

Chuckie: What happened in the movie?
Molly: (She does not immediately answer, but decides to get another chair. She gets up and goes to Jessica's computer desk and gets her roller chair and pushes it over next to me and climbs up onto it, all the while chanting "Oompa-oompa, oompa-oompa" again and again.)
Chuckie: You set up now?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: Okay, so what happened in the movie?
Molly: They had to find golden tickets and someone tricked them.

Chuckie: How did they trick them?
Molly: Um, because there were no more left when he said that he got one, but he lied. He didn't really have one. There were five tickets and there were none left, but there really was one left.

Chuckie: Let's talk about the kids. Tell me about Augustus Gloop.
Molly: Him was bad because he ate the chocolate from the river and went in a tube.

Chuckie: Tell me about Violet Beauregarde.
Molly: That's Molly Simon.
Chuckie: What do you mean.
Molly: My hair's like her hair. See? (She holds out a handful of strands of her hair to show me.) Her hair matches mine. It's brown like her hair.
Chuckie: Do you act like her?
Molly: She's me when I growed up. Then I'll act like her.
Chuckie: Well, what happened to Violet.
Molly: Her turned into a blueberry. I called her a grape once, Daddy.

Chuckie: Tell me about Veruca Salt.
Molly: Her was an egg.
Chuckie: What do you mean?
Molly: Her wanted everything, even the eggs.
Chuckie: And what happened to her?
Molly: She wanted to be an egg and she went into the garbage.

Chuckie: Tell me about Mike Teavee.
Molly: I want to talk about Charlie Brown.

Chuckie: Do you mean Charlie Bucket?
Molly: No, him name was Charlie Brown.

Chuckie: Okay, let's talk about him.
Molly: Um, him drink the drink. (She makes a fist and mimes drinking a drink from it.) And then he flew, flew, flew! And they almost got to the fan. And then they had to burp. Ew, Daddy, gross. You're eating your shirt. (She is looking at me and I do have the collar of my tee shirt in my mouth and am chewing on it while I type. It's a nasty habit I have.)
Chuckie: Sorry, Sweetie. (I drop it out of my mouth.)
Molly: Daddy, if you eat your shirts all the time that's how you won't get bigger muscles. You need to eat healthy food instead to get muscles or else you can't fight Shelby Marx.

Chuckie: What did you think about the songs in the movie?
Molly: Um, I liked the part where they went "oompa oompa". That one.

Chuckie: What were the Oompa Loompas' songs about?
Molly: Fixing the kids.

Chuckie: Were there any parts of the movie that you didn't like?
Molly: Yep.
Chuckie: What parts?
Molly: The one that tricked them.
Chuckie: You mean the fake golden ticket?
Molly: Yeah. Him was really bad. Him was more bad than the kids.

Chuckie: Was the movie scary at all?
Molly: Nah.

Chuckie: Not even when the boat when in the tunnel?
Molly: No. I'd watch it a couple times and I'd be fine.

Chuckie: So what happened to Charlie at the end of the movie?
Molly: You mean Charlie Brown?

Chuckie: Sure.
Molly: Him gived the candy back to the man and that meant he won.

Chuckie: What did he win?
Molly: He got to go in a big rocket ship.

Chuckie: Do you think that this is a good movie for kids your age?
Molly: You can say that again!
Chuckie: Did you learn --
Molly: (interrupting) Daddy, I said you can say that again.
Chuckie: I heard you.
Molly: So say it.
Chuckie: Okay. Do you think that this is a good movie for kids your age?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: Did you learn any lessons from the movie?
Molly: Uh-huh. You're supposed to be a good kid.

Chuckie: So, the movie taught you to be good?
Molly: Daddy, it's not a teacher, it doesn't talk like that.

Chuckie: How would you rate this movie?
Molly: Can we please give out stars and give out moons and give out suns?

Chuckie: Of course, Pixie. You can rate it however you want.
Molly: Six-eleven stars.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of sixty-hundred. Sixty hundred moons out of sixty-sixty hundred moons.

Chuckie: And suns?
Molly: Yeah, it can have suns.

Chuckie: How many?
Molly: Sixty-hundred twelve and sixty.

Chuckie: Do you think that people would like this movie?
Molly: Uh-huh. Craig and Lindsey should watch it. And Mike said he saw it. And Edison would like it. And Mason. And Grandmom and Pop Pop and Conner and Emily and Grammy and Pappy and Sarah would like it.

Chuckie: No, I mean people that you don't know.
Molly: Like the girl with the two doggies?

Chuckie: Who do you mean?
Molly: The one with the two doggies that are brown/

Chuckie: I'm not sure who you are talking about, Pixie.
Molly: The one with the two doggies and she said something one time and you said "Hi" to her.

Chuckie: Sweetie, I don't know who you mean.
Molly: (She starts to "draw" a "map" on her leg with her finger.) The one with the bricks whose house is here and our house is here.

Chuckie: You mean the neighbor across the street?
Molly: Yeah. Her would like it.

Chuckie: Is there anything else you want to tell people about the movie?
Molly: Well, I was laughing at some parts, so I think it's a funny movie.

Chuckie: What were you laughing at?
Molly: (She makes a fake burping sound, then laughs at herself.)

Chuckie: You liked the burpring?
Molly: (She nods.) Daddy, when you shake your head like this it means yes. And when you shake your head like this is means no. And when you say yes, it means yes and when you say no, it means no. (She points at her cup that has smiling jack-o-lanterns on it.) And, Daddy, these pumpkins liked the movie. They're laughing because of the burps.

So that's our review. I think that it is a classic and Gene Wilder at his best. Parts of the movie may be a little intense or creepy, but Molly was surprisingly fine with the dark elements in the movie. But then again, that's Molly. Your mileage with your kids may vary. It's a great children's movie that is still quite charming once you are an adult. And for a movie that we were watching on DVD instead of the theater, Molly was quite entranced throughout.

I give it four out of five stars. It is a great children's movie that is also fun for adults. It holds up well despite the time, even if the Oompa-Loompa songs are a bit dated and the explanation of how television images are transmitted is out of date. Just ignore the Wonka's anti-trust antics and you'll have a fine time.
Molly gives it sixty-eleven stars out of sixty-hundred, sixty hundred moons out of sixty-sixty hundred moons and sixty-hundred twelve and sixty suns. She also thinks that our neighbor across the street would like it and it is also documentary as apparently she is intent on growing up to be Violet Beauregarde.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3.

Me: So we were able to slip away to catch an early afternoon show of Toy Story 3 yesterday. I thought that since it was opening day, it would be smart to catch a 3:50 pm show. We'd be able to sneak in before most other people got off of work and brought their families to see a later showing. The theater was a bit less crowded, but what I forgot was that this plan doesn't necessarily work well during the summer. Since there is no school now, we didn't exactly have an exclusive showing. Instead of having a theater full of kids and their parents, we got a theater half full of kids without their parents around to contain them somewhat. Still, before I sound like a cranky old man, it wasn't really that bad. I'm just pointing it out in case anyone else was considering this plan.

We also saw the movie in 3-D, but it was completely unnecessary. The 3-D effects did not enhance anything in the move at all. Sure, it looked fine, but my choices were to either spend the extra money (and pad the movie profit figures appropriately) or wait 2 hours until the 2-D showing. We sucked it up and watched a movie that had no business being in 3-D.

Anyway, Toy Story 3 picks up with Andy grown up and about to go off to college. His toys have been slimmed down over the years and those that do remain are left unplayed with in his toy chest. This cut down on the cast and characters a bit, which is fine since it was getting a little large with supporting roles. But these were the toys that Andy was most attached to and held onto the longest. Somehow the generic Potato Heads and a piggy bank made it through the cuts, but most surprisingly the slinky dog toy has apparently survived ten or more years of not getting irrevocably twisted and bent. I never played nearly as much with my Slinkys as Andy played with his slinky-dog toy and mine never lasted more than a month before they were just a twisted tangle of metal once shaped as coils.

But anyway, they survive and as Andy is ready to move onto college, he has to decide what to do with his toys. Take them with him to college and never get laid? Put them in the attic where they will sit until his mother passes away and he eventually has to clean out the house? Or should he toss them in the trash as a symbolic rite of passage into adulthood before moving onto college?

I don't think the movie was quite as blunt with these options, but it was still what Andy had to decide.

Ultimately, the toys end up being mistakenly donated to a local daycare. The daycare is run by a manipulative teddy bear who wants new toys to be put in the toddler room where the toddlers mistreat and break toys. He fears that if the toddlers did not have a fresh supply of toys, then they will start to take toys from their preschooler room and they will risk being ripped apart, painted and eaten.

Now, here's where I have a little problem with the movie. My daughter goes to preschool and so I have a little insight on how they are run (at least how her preschool is run). Our preschool does not let anyone play with toys that are weapons or any toys whose primary role is to fight. Kids cannot even bring in fighting toys for show and tell (Molly, for example, cannot bring in her Powerpuff Girls plush dolls and kids cannot bring in GI Joe action figures or a Spiderman toy). It may just be our little hippie preschool, but there is no way that they would be letting in a Buzz Lightyear toy. Secondly, they let the Potato Head toys into the toddler room. You know, the toys with all of the removable parts that are choking hazards? And lastly, kids are hammering with the toys, painting with the toys and doing all kinds of inappropriate things with them. But the thing is, these are toddlers. The toddler room is grossly unsupervised for having toddlers in it.

So, basically, if your kid goes to Sunnyside Daycare, you might as well be leaving them at home alone with some oily rags and a packet of matches to play with and have the same sense of security and well-being for your kid, but at least save a few bucks in the process.

As the toys try to escape, they first have to contend with one of those friggin' creepy-ass Monkey Shines toy monkeys with the bulging eyes and cymbals. That monkey is a little intense and creepy for a kid's movie. But the our toy protagonists get past him and are about to escape when the are ultimately caught by the bitter, evil and manipulative Lotso Love Bear and end up in the trash (with Lotso as well). The toys end up at a very efficient city dump as they immediately find themselves on a large conveyor belt dragging them towards a garbage shredder that they narrowly escape (in another scene that is rather intense for kids) and then find themselves moving into the incinerator. At this point, the toys give up and hold hands, ready to accept their fate and get burned because it really seems hopeless.

Yeah, of course they are saved, but the scenes are intense enough and the toys are so desperately resigned to their fate that I wouldn't have been too terribly surprised if they did all get burned up and the movie ended.

Anyhow, by the end the toys end up back with Andy who then decides to give his toys to a little girl who knows how to play with her toys right and treats them right. Woody, who Andy had decided to take to college with him (thus being the only Woody of Andy's that would get played with at college once the girls there saw that he still kept toys), makes the decision to leave Andy and join his fellow toys at the house of the new kid. Andy reluctantly lets Woody go and teaches the girl how to play with his toys and thus gets to play with them one last time before he leaves them in her hands and goes on to college.

The end. Well, except for some dumb, silly stuff that happens during the credits. After a few weeks they'll replace the dumb, silly stuff with dumb, silly outtakes to try to get people to go back out to the theaters to see it again.

So, what did I think about the movie? Well, as I mentioned earlier, it was too intense for young kids. Really, Molly was less frightened at "How to Train Your Dragon" than at this movie. And that one had dragons trying to kill people in it.

My main problem with the story, however, is that it really too much of it seems like a rehash of Toy Story 2. In that one, Woody was ready to give up on Andy and live an appreciated life in new hands, coaxed and later forced by the manipulatively evil Stinky Pete, but not before a Buzz Lightyear mistakenly thought he was a real space ranger to rehash some jokes from the first movie. In this one, however, it is everyone BUT Woody who is ready to give up on Andy and live an appreciated life in new hands, coaxed and later forced by the manipulatively evil Lotsa Love Bear, but not before Buzz Lightyear mistakenly thought he was a real space ranger to rehash some jokes from the first two movies.

But beyond that, I suppose my biggest problem is the ending. I mean, I did not like it one bit. I just don't get it. Andy gave his toys away to a new girl and Woody, whom Andy was originally going to take with him, decided to manipulate the situation so that he would stay with the toys instead of Andy. So, does that mean that the point of the movie is that Woody chose his friends (Buzz, Jessie, et al) over his family (Andy)? Really? Was that the message? I mean, Andy wanted to keep Woody, but Woody intervened and manipulated Andy to give him to the new kid. I just don't get it.

Part of the problem might be that I already had envisioned what I thought the ending would be when they were mentioning the attic early in the movie. Here's the much better ending as I envisioned it:

The toys make it back to Andy and he packs them up and puts them up in the attic, except Woody. He takes Woody with him to college and he spends his time sitting up next to his computer monitor.

Cut to the toys up in the attic: With a resigned sigh, Buzz opens the box they are in and helps the toys out of the box into their new home. The attic is dark and a little lonely, but with heavy hearts, the toys are resigned to make the best of it. Some heavy-handed Randy Newman music plays something that is supposed to be emotionally stirring, but you cannot get past the singer's prejudices against midgets to get the full effect. There is a small montage while the music plays of the toys in the attic passing the time. They play cards and perhaps read a couple old books up in the attic while Randy Newman weepily croons about having a friend in him or something.

The darkness of the attic is brightened a bit and the surprised toys quickly dart back to their box. Someone in the shadowed darkness takes the box and drags it down out of the attic.

Point of view shot from inside the box: It is dark and the toys all lay still as they look up at the box lid. It opens, casting a bright light onto them. Randy Newman's Elmer Fudd voice fades from singing and you just have the instrumentals as a figure in the light comes into view. It is Andy... But he has a beard now and wisps of grey at his temples. He smiles at the toys and picks up one of them and smiles, turning to a kid who looks like a young Andy and he hands him to the boy, saying something like, "This is Buzz Lightyear. This used to be one of my favorite toys when I was a kid." The kid, obvious now that it is Andy's son, excitedly takes Buzz Lightyear and starts to play with him. The other toys are pulled out and similarly given to Andy's son. Andy's son is excited and plays with them for a bit until he says, "Buzz Lightyear, I want you to meet a friend of mine..." He pulls out a very well-worn Woody and holds him up to Buzz and says, "Buzz Lightyear, this is Woody. He's my best friend and the best sheriff ever!" Grown-up Andy then starts to play with the toys with his son and the gang is reunited once more and Andy now can play with his toys again, but this time as a father playing with his son. And at some point during this, Andy's son takes Buzz Lightyear and looks at his feet where his dad has written "ANDY" on it years ago. He takes a pen and carefully adds "Jr." after it. The Randy Newman music cues louder and you hear him reassuring us that we've got a friend in you or something like that as we fade out to a montage scene of grown-up Andy playing with his toys and Andy Jr.

Then we pull back slowly on the scene while Randy Newman sings and we see that they're on a moon colony, you know, to denote that this is the future and shit. And then some giant meteorite spins past and comes out towards the screen and a defensive grid laser drone comes out and blows it up, sending chunks of it flying out over the audience in fiery bits just to give one friggin' 3-D effect that was worth paying the extra money for. Fade to black and more Elmer Fudd singing.

The End.

You see, in my version, we find that we should remain loyal to our family and friends. It's a happier ending and everyone gets to be played with by Andy again as he is a good father and plays with his son and toys. But we didn't get that. We instead got a pseudo-friends over family choice instead that is just kind of unsettling. And my version also uses the friggin' 3-D effects for something other than just padding your movie profit numbers.

Molly: (As always, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at a computer and I'm typing up what we are saying as we speak, then going back afterward to format it. Her review will be in a Q&A form, due to her age. She's sitting next to me at my computer as we do this.)

Chuckie: What did you think about the movie, Toy Story 3?
Molly: Um I like the part about... um... about the cowgirl.

Chuckie: You mean Jessie?
Molly: Uh-huh.

Chuckie: What did you like about her?
Molly: Um, I want to talk about Buzz Lightningyear.
Chuckie: Okay, Pixie.
Molly: I like that him trapped the girl and the dogs and the other ones.

Chuckie: So, did you like the movie?
Molly: Year, I liked that Buzz Lightningyear was out and the doggie whistled and Jessie was so mad and the cowboy had to go.

Chuckie: So what happened in the movie?
Molly: Um, Woody saved the bad guy.
Chuckie: What did the bad guy do?
Molly: Then he didn't push the button because him didn't want to and him a bad guy and that's what bad guys do.

Chuckie: What did you think about the 3-D effects with the glasses?
Molly: Why are we talking about that, Daddy? We should be talking about the movie, not the glasses. I'm not reviewing the glasses, you silly goof.
Chuckie: But didn't the glasses make the movie seem like it was coming out of the screen?
Molly: Well, not to me.
Chuckie: Why not?
Molly: Because it didn't do that in the movie. It stayed in the screen in the movie and only came out in the commercials. (This is primarily because Molly wore her glasses during the 3-D movie previews (and was, at the time, wowed by them as she first exclaimed, "Wow! Is this stuff real?" when she saw the first thing popping out of the screen in a good effect. But she took her glasses off part way through the actual movie.)
Chuckie: Do you think that's because you took your glasses off after the commercials?
Molly: No, it's because my glasses were too foggy and you unfogged them and but then I was looking at the movie it couldn't come out. (She is right that there was minimal real use of the 3-D effects other than just depth that made it look like you were watching it through a ViewMaster.)

Chuckie: You seemed scared at parts of the movie. Was it too scary for you?
Molly: Um, I just wanted you to cover my eyes when I thought that they were going to get breaked and caught on fire. But when they didn't, you didn't have to cover my eyes, so I wasn't scared.

Chuckie: Well, you seemed a little scared to me.
Molly: (Adamantly.) Nuh-uh. I wasn't, I wasn't scared, Daddy. It's not like there were ghosts in the movie feater or anything. THAT would be scary, Daddy.

Chuckie: Fair enough. But you did seem scared at the monkey in the movie.
Molly: (Gets serious.) Yeah. Him was too loud and his eyes came out of his head. I didn't like the monkey.

Chuckie: So, what was your favorite part of the movie?
Molly: Um, the dog was sad and Jessie was sad too.
Chuckie: Why were they sad?
Molly: They were sad because the cowboy couldn't come back. Daddy, I want to talk about Buzz again. The bad guy trained him to dance with Jessie the cowgirl. (She starts singing "Jessie the Cowgirl" again and again.)

Chuckie: Okay, Sweetie. Enough singing for now.
Molly: Okay. She didn't mind the dancing though. She liked Buzz Lightningyear and wanted him to be her boyfriend.

Chuckie: You really are obsessed with boyfriends, aren't you? It's going to be really tough once you're like thirteen or fourteen, isn't it?
Molly: Yup.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate this movie?
Molly: I want to do the stars, moons and suns now. I want to give it sixty hundred stars.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of sixty-sixty.

Chuckie: How about instead of stars, moons and suns, you just tell me if it's a good movie, okay, Pixie?
Molly: Yeah. It is.
Chuckie: What made it a good movie?
Molly: Um, because I liked it. Now can I do the suns and moons?

Chuckie: Sure.
Molly: Um, I'll give it fifty moons.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of fifty. And suns, Daddy?

Chuckie: Sure. How many suns?
Molly: Twenty-twelve.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Zero.

Chuckie: Sweetie, you know you can't divide by zero, right?
Molly: Huh? Why not?

Chuckie: Um, you don't get a real number. It's meaningless and undefined.
Molly: (Puts on a pout and folds her arms across her chest.) I NEVER get to do zero.

Chuckie: Fine, you can keep the zero, but it's just not a meaningful mathematic real number, okay?
Molly: (Brightens.)Thanks, Daddy.
Chuckie: You're welcome.

Chuckie: Do you think people will like this movie, Pixie?
Molly: Yeah. Edison, Mason and Grandmom and Pop Pop and Grammy and Pappy and Mike.

Chuckie: Well, I mean what kind of demographic; what kind of people would like it?
Molly: Um, my daddy and my mommy.

Chuckie: Is there anything else that you want to tell people about Toy Story 3?
Molly: Um, I think everyone would like it if everyone would watch it.

Chuckie: Did it make you want to treat your toys better?
Molly: Why? You mean not put paint on them?
Chuckie: Yeah, and just be nicer to them.
Molly: Yeah, I'll be nice to them so they can stay nice and healthy.

So, that's our review. I thought it was too much a rehash of jokes from the first couple of movies and too much of a rehash of plot ideas from the second movie. The 3-D effects are well done, but pointless in the movie. I would suggest just seeing the 2-D version of the movie unless you are really into 3-D for the sake of 3-D or giving the box office and extra $2-$3 per ticket. Ultimately the movie is passable, but surprisingly intense for a young kid. Molly's seen some intense movies, but I think watching living toys almost being incinerated is a little disjointed in theme. I would also suggest that if you wanted to see a better movie with a more appropriate message, that you just close your eyes once the toys make it back home to Andy and imagine my ending* instead. It's much, much better.

I give the movie two out of five stars. It is entertaining enough in some respects, but intentionally, deliberately and obviously tries too hard at points to pull on heartstrings to get the audience misty-eyed. But the movie is hampered by the message of the ending as well as the intensity of some of the scenes and the weak use of 3-D.
Molly gives it sixty-hundred stars out of sixty-sixty, fifty out of fifty moons and twenty-twelve out of zero suns, even though that's not a real mathematically defined number. She also thinks that Jessie is the best part of the movie and has decided to be nicer to her toys so they can stay nice and healthy.

*Meaning the ending that I suggested with the toys in the attic. Not the ending I also suggested with the toys getting incinerated in the city landfill.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Glee: Season One

Glee: Season One.

Me: Okay, so at Molly's request from our last review, we're going to review the last season of Glee, thus ensuring that everyone knows that it is okay for someone as butch as myself to watch Glee. Anyhow, Glee was broken into two awkward halves of its freshman season. At first, Fox ordered only 13 episodes and it was well plotted out and they wrote out the story arc for going to sectionals. Fox took a bit of a risk on Glee, considering how other musical shows such as Cop Rock failed abysmally. However, after the positive hype and good ratings, they ordered more episodes to finish out the season. This is also why the latter half of the season was probably a bit more disjointed and roaming in the writing. The first half of the season really had them focused on sectionals and it was always a hard goal looming over them in the background even when the episodes weren't directly pertaining to sectionals.

The last half of this season, however, hardly mentioned regionals and seemed to be wandering around blindly with their storylines. It wasn't nearly as focused in overall arc as the first half of the season. Now, I'm not necessarily bashing the show for that, since the latter half of the season was a late order, so there was probably some rushing in it. Something similar happened to Heroes in its freshman season. Partway through the first season, they realized it was popular and ordered more episodes and we ended up with a rather succinct (if not plagiarized from X-Men) storyline whose last half of the season was so full of wandering filler where nothing got accomplished other than friggin' Hiro sitting in a diner for eight weeks pining over a waitress who would eventually die and become a high school guidance councilor on Glee.

The first half of Glee's season was really something tremendous. The storylines were tight and arced to a well planned and fitting ending at sectionals. The second half wasn't bad, but definitely lacked a lot of what the first half had.

The second half of the season also suffered a bit from some of its own popularity. The last half of this season had so many songs crammed into the episodes for really no reason other than to turn around and sell them on iTunes so that uberfans (and macho butch tough guys who have three year old daughters who love Glee) will rush out and download them all. As a friend of mine noted correctly, the second half of the season also moved more from a Glee club, where almost all of the singing was in rehearsals or on stage, to a musical, where they would just burst out into a pop song to express their feelings rather than be "really" singing it. I don't have a huge problem with this, since I do really enjoy musical theater (in a butch, manly way), but it is a departure from their original format and a bit of a sign of lazy writing in the second half of the season. There were "musical theater" moments from the first half of the season ("Bust Your Windows"), but they were fewer and farther between.

Some of my main issues with Glee comes from simple lack of planning and lazy writing. Too many times they ditched their initial idea for something else later in the season. For example, it turns out that everyone in the Chastity Club was fucking like monkeys as they later developed the other characters in it. That's fine, but once they realized that they made the other cheerleaders sluts, then they had to quietly dissolve the chastity club. Just poor planning on that one.

Quinn (unintentionally) reveals to her parents that she is pregnant and she gets kicked out of her house. That made for a nice, tense dramatic scene. So Quinn moved in with Finn to resolve it. But when Finn found out that it wasn't his baby, she moved in with Puck. It was barely mentioned, just kind of an afterthought. Were they together or not? How did Puck's mother take to him being a father? How did his mother take to the idea that his son knocked up a non-Jew? We never found out because Quinn moving in with Puck was a second-half season afterthought that they wrote themselves into. Then Quinn moved in with Mercedes. No real plot reason, just because they realized that Puck really shouldn't be going around fucking everyone with his baby momma back at home. Again, lazy writing. And finally, Quinn's mother shows up to invite her back to live with her again in what should be a touching moment. But it wasn't. It was a lazy writing way to wrap this up for next season. Plus, it just made Quinn's mom such an awful character. Her husband threw Quinn out of the house and did she protest then? No. She took it and accepted it. It wasn't until her husband cheated on her that she stood up to him and threw him out. That's just fucking selfish. It wasn't until she was affected that she stood up to him and brought her daughter back. If I were Quinn I would not be so forgiving of such a selfishly motivated act.

Also, when Finn lost his virginity to Santana, I was disappointed that they forgot one of the central bits of his character from the early season: his issues with premature ejaculation and the fact that he could only stop from finishing early by thinking about running over the mailman. I didn't think it was necessary plot-wise to have it in his scene with Santana, but it just illustrates some of the lazy writing and forgetfulness of the early season.

Also, one of the best storytelling devices they used in the first half of the season was the voice-over thoughts for the characters. This was all but forgotten in the second half of the season.

Now, with those problems listed, I still have to say, I watched and enjoyed every episode. The first half of the season definitely is stronger in plot and writing, but I still thought the last half of the season was fun and worth watching.

While the second half of the season missed story and consistency, it did give us some of the best personal moments in the show:

Artie's dream of dancing and the realization that he will not be able to fulfill it.

Kurt trying to be something he is not to win the attention of his dad and ultimately breaking down into a powerful version of "Rose's Turn" that is a more worthy successor of Ethel Merman's voice than any of the Broadway stars who has sung it since. Hands down, to me, this is the best song that was song this season on Glee.

Kurt's dad angrily yelling at Finn for his use of the word "fag" and standing up and defending his son even when his son was willing to just take it.

I just wish these moments were not singular moments, but rather a part of something over-arcing and planned better like the moments in the first half of the season.

What I find kind of interesting as well is that Kurt wasn't ever a planned character. Originally the actor came in and auditioned for Artie. They didn't give it to him, but liked the actor so much that they wrote the part of Kurt in to give him a role. The bit about him wanting to sing the female part in "Defying Gravity" that was an early season plot point was actually based on a real-life story that the actor had.

Anyhow, Glee is a really good show. One of the few I've gone out of my way to watch. The music is really surprisingly well done as well. The last half of the season was definitely weaker and I'm hoping that it was because it was a late order for them and that next season they will be able to plan for and write an entire season out and keep plots and story arcs consistent throughout. I also hope that their fame and the ability to draw in songs from a large catalogue do not hurt them in the future like it did in the second half of this season. They need to focus on story and the basics and not worry about cramming as many Madonna songs as possible in a 44 minute time frame just so that each one is another song they can sell on an album later. If they do that and remember their more humble roots, the second season of Glee will have me throughout.

Molly: (As usual, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at a computer and I'm typing up what we are saying as we speak, then going back afterward to format it. Her review will be in a Q&A form, due to her age. She's sitting next to me at my computer as we do this.)

Chuckie: What did you think of this season of Glee?
Molly: I liked it a lot.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Everything.

Chuckie: What were your favorite things in Glee?
Molly: You mean my favorite parts?
Chuckie: Yeah.
Molly: The one where he broke the trophy.

Chuckie: You mean when Mr. Schuster broke Sue Sylvester's trophy?
Molly: Uh-huh. And she's going to keep making them and he can't break them all.

Chuckie: So, let's talk about the characters in Glee, okay?
Molly: Okay.

Chuckie: Who was your favorite character?
Molly: The girl one.

Chuckie: Which girl?
Molly: The one that was singing.
Chuckie: That doesn't really narrow it down, Pixie.
Molly: I know.

Chuckie: Let's try it this way. What did you think about Rachel?
Molly: Yeah! That one! Um, her couldn't sing.

Chuckie: Why not?
Molly: Because of her voice. (Opens her mouth and points inside of it.)
Chuckie: So, what happened to her?
Molly: She went to the doctor and got all better.

Chuckie: Who else do you like in the show?
Molly: I forget what him name is. The one that singed "Don't stand, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me."

Chuckie: That's the teacher, Mr. Schuster. What did you like about him?
Molly: I liked that he singed it.

Chuckie: What other people did you like in the show?
Molly: Um, the wheelchair one.

Chuckie: What did you like about him?
Molly: He singed "Rolling on the River" (She means the song "Proud Mary".) I liked that song.

Chuckie: What else did you like about him?
Molly: Um, that him dreamed that he can dance.
Chuckie: Can he dance for real?
Molly: No, him can't. Because him legs are broken. Um, and I like the other boy who was mad at his Dad and he sings like a girl.

Chuckie: You mean Kurt?
Molly: Yeah. I like him.

Chuckie: What do you like about him?
Molly: Um, I liked that him singed to him Dad. Um, and I don't know what team he was on. I think he was on the red team and they were playing the blue team.
Chuckie: What team are you talking about?
Molly: (Matter-of-factly.) The blue team.
Chuckie: No, no, I mean what sport were they playing?
Molly: Football. Daddy, didn't you know that? I want to talk about someone else.
Chuckie: Okay, who?
Molly: You choose, Daddy.

Chuckie: Okay, what did you think about Quinn?
Molly: Her belly hurted.

Chuckie: Why did her belly hurt?
Molly: Maybe because it was coming out hard.

Chuckie: What was?
Molly: The baby.

Chuckie: Anything else you want to say about Quinn?
Molly: Nope.

Chuckie: What did you think about Finn?
Molly: Oh, yeah, I wanted to talk about that one. Rachel liked him and he singed "Jesse's Now" (She means "Jesse's Girl", but she insists that it is "Jesse's Now".)

Chuckie: What did you think about the two cheerleaders?
Molly: You mean the yellow one and the black one. (For those unfamiliar with the show, she's referring to their hair colors and not actually making some kind of awkward childhood race labeling.)
Chuckie: Yeah.
Molly: I liked them. They did cheers.

Chuckie: What did you think about Puck?
Molly: I liked that him singed and he touched the yellow girl.
Chuckie: (Cautiously.) Touched her how?
Molly: With him hand.
Chuckie: (More cautiously.) Uh, where?
Molly: On her hair.

Chuckie: Okay, what did you think about Mercedes?
Molly: I like that her singed with her hat on. (She laughs.)

Chuckie: What did you think about Tina?
Molly: Who's that?
Chuckie: (Goes online to show her a picture of Tina from Glee.) That's her.
Molly: Oh.
Chuckie: Do you remember her?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: What did she do on the show?
Molly: Um, just sit around.
Chuckie: Yeah, that's about right.

Chuckie: Do you remember Mike and Matt?
Molly: Uh-uh.
Chuckie: (Goes online and gets a picture of both of them and shows them to Molly.) Remember them?
Molly: No. How do you know all their names?

Chuckie: What do you think about Sue Sylvester?
Molly: Um, her was bad to Mr. Shue.
Chuckie: What did she do that was bad?
Molly: Called him a name.
Chuckie: What was the name?
Molly: Um her made fun of him hair.
Chuckie: Yes, she did.
Molly: That wasn't nice, Daddy.
Chuckie: No, it wasn't.
Molly: Calling people names and making fun of them hair isn't nice, Daddy. She should have a time out.

Chuckie: What did you think about Jesse?
Molly: Him throw eggs at her.
Chuckie: Yeah, that was him.
Molly: Why? Why was him mean to her now?
Chuckie: It was just a plot device.
Molly: Why?
Chuckie: Lazy writing.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: I know you like to listen to the Glee songs whenever we drive anywhere in my car, Sweetie. What were your favorite songs from Glee?
Molly: (She starts by telling me her version of the title, but it quickly turns into singing.)
Don't stand, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me.
Young girl, you're outta your mind
Your love for me is way outta line
Better run girl, much too young girl
Your just a baby in disguise
Get outta here before change your mind.

Chuckie: Very nice, Pixie. Any other songs?
Molly: Jesse's One. (She looks over at our cat, Dr. Theopolis, who has her paws wrapped around the leg of one of the chairs and it "kicking it" with her hind legs.) I guess Dr. Opoly is going to be Shelby Marx, Daddy, because she's wrestling the chair now. (This is a reference to the iCarly episode where she fights Shelby Marx. Since seeing that episode, in Molly's world, any exercise or reference to fighting she assumes is to ultimately confront Shelby Marx.)

Chuckie: Anything else, Pixie?
Molly: Yeah. That boy singed to his dad (Rose's Turn) and him singed Defying Grabity (She means Defying Gravity from Wicked.). But him sounded like a girl when he singed it.

Chuckie: So how would you rate this season of Glee?
Molly: Good. Daddy, now can we give out the stars and the moons and the suns?

Chuckie: Sure. How many stars?
Molly: It gets sixteen stars.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of twenty-sixty-teen. Now the moons?

Chuckie: Sure, how many moons?
Molly: Um, sixty-twelve.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: A lot, Daddy.

Chuckie: And how many suns?
Molly: All eight.
Chuckie: All eight?
Molly: Yup.

Chuckie: Do you think people would like to watch Glee?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: Who do you think would like Glee the best?
Molly: Um, Lady Gaga, because they did her song, but she wasn't there.

Chuckie: Is there anything else that you want to tell people about Glee?
Molly: Um, I think Craig would like the Lady Gaga song.
Chuckie: Really? What in the world would make you think that?
Molly: Because I think he'd get married like that.

Chuckie: What do you mean?
Molly: I think he'd get married and the song will play. He's going to marry Lindsey.

Chuckie: And you're okay with that?
Molly: Yup. I'm okay with my boyfriends doing that. Daddy, you want to know who my last boyfriend is?

Chuckie: Who?
Molly: Brice. But I didn't tell him that he's my boyfriend yet because it's a secret and he's not allowed to know. But Vyvon knows and I told him and he said, "I don't want to be your boyfriend!" and him said that he didn't want to kiss me. What's wrong with that little boy?

So, that's our review covering both halves of this season of Glee. The writing was really tight and arced into a good story in the first half, but the writing of the second half felt rushed with a bit of self-hubris and too much effort to cram songs into each episode. I like the music, but would rather there be story as well. Glee's sophomore season will ultimately determine the direction of the show. Knowing ahead of time how many episodes it will have will give them a chance to plan everything out. Hopefully it will be much more like the first half of this season rather than the second half. Not that I wouldn't watch even if it was more like the end of this season; the music is that much fun and some of the character moments are great. But I just hope that they realize where the strengths of the show really are, and that isn't in putting no less than 8 Madonna songs in a single episode.

I give the season four out of five stars. Five out of five for the first half of the season, averaged with three out of five for the latter half. The show is still great fun to watch even when the writing is less than consistent.
Molly gives it sixteen out of twenty-sixty-teen stars, sixty-twelve out of a lot of moons and all eight suns. She's definitely been a fan of both the music and show all this season and has watched it religiously and with great anticipation. She also thinks that it's okay if Craig gets married to Lindsey, but apparently their wedding song should be a Lady Gaga song.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Shrek 4: The Final Chapter

Shrek 4

Me: So the question really is: Just how interesting is the life of an ogre? The Shrek series of movies have all kind of picked up where the last one has left off with little time in between. That's fine, I suppose. It cuts down on non-canon fanfic opportunities, though I'm not sure if Shrek really had to worry too much about that. However, it has made me wonder about something. The first Shrek movie ended and it was all kinds of popular and it got a ride/attraction at Universal Studios Orlando. The Shrek 4-D experience ride picks up right where the original Shrek ended and involves the ghost of that short king from the movie whose name I don't recall who was voiced by that actor who used to be decent, but whose name I forgot ever since he dropped off my radar from being on 3rd Rock. Anyhow, that was all fine and dandy. But then a sequel came out. And the Shrek 2 movie starts immediately at the end of the first Shrek, but does not reference the events that take place in the Shrek 4-D experience attraction. So, does that mean that the Universal Studios Shrek ride did or didn't happen? Is that storyline canon in the Shrek universe? That has always plagued me since we went to Orlando and went on that ride.

For the record, I did ask two of the attendants at the Shrek ride/gift shop and neither could tell me if it is canon. Neither really understood what canon meant. My fixation on stuff like this is also why my wife doesn't always think I'm the best vacation partner.

Still, with that question unanswered, I suppose it hasn't caused too much difficulty with the consistency and integrity of the Shrek universe. I mean, I'm happily pretending the third movie never happened.

But I digress. Shrek 4 picks up with Shrek and Fiona living a humble marital life with their three kids. Shrek misses the old days of being a feared ogre and being a loner and is going through a sort of ogre version of a mid-life crisis. Enter Rumpelstiltskin who is given some flashback backstory of how he almost became king and was thwarted by Shrek rescuing Fiona in the first movie (which is now accepted as canon). Anyhow, he offers Shrek a chance to be a feared ogre again for one day. In exchange, he gets one day from Shrek. Shrek quickly takes the deal, since that is what men do and our penises never let us realize how much we had until we lost it. However, the day Rumpelstiltskin takes from Shrek is the day he was born, so Shrek was never born and Fiona was never rescued and therefore Rumpelstiltskin was able to make the deal and become king.

Shrek just has the one day he received to be a feared ogre to break the contract and turn things back to how they were. He has to do this with true love's kiss, so he must woo Fiona all over again and win her heart before the sun rises.

The basic issue that I had with this movie is that it emphasizes one of the issues that I have with time travel. You see, I love time travel and am fascinated by time travel stories and I'm kind of obsessed by it.

One of the things that I have asked of every serious relationship girlfriend that I have had (including my wife) early in our relationship, is to not tell me if they have met me before when they were younger. You see, if let's say, at some point in my life I am able to travel in time and decide to go back in time to fool around with an 18 year old version of my wife, she would have those memories of when she was 18 and would have probably brought them up to me at some point when I met her in her 20's. This would lead me to believe that since she has no memories of me from earlier, that I won't ever get my time machine and that kind of bums me out. However, if I make her promise to never tell me if I did meet her at an earlier age, then her lack of pointing it out to me is fully rational and it lends to the possibility that I still make obtain a time machine in my future to mess around with my wife. So, with that promise for her not to tell me coming up early in our relationship, I still have some hope that I will eventually one day gain access to time travel.

But then, you think, why haven't I gone back in time to meet myself and give myself lotto numbers or earlier access to a time machine? Well, the answer is simple: I have made a promise to myself not to do that. Because since I have not yet met myself, I would have to assume that I will not ever gain access to a time machine. However, since I know that I have pledged to myself not to meet myself in the past, it is fully rational that I may one day get a time machine and not go back and meet myself, so there is still hope that I will get one someday.

So my hopes of gaining access to a time machine have been in the back of my head as I've plodded along in life for a long while, since I've covered every contingency to explain why I haven't visited myself or been told by someone that they've seen a creepy older future version of myself stalking them in their wilder teenage years. This has been fine and dandy.

Then I became a father. And, believe me, I am not begrudging that at all. However, it changed my time travel fantasies. You see, before being a father, I'm sure I could plop around back in time and fool around with a young version of my wife and come back to my present and still know enough about my wife to woo and win her over. Sure, making sure our paths crossed might be tricky, but I know enough about her that I am certain that I could find her and win her over again (if need be from messing up the timeline) and we would be our happy little family again.

But now, as a father, that is different. I wouldn't want to go back into time before my daughter was born for fear of changing the exact circumstances of her conception and birth. It was all fine and dandy when it was just me and my wife; I'm sure I could win her back and get what I had again if the timeline changed. However, seeing that Molly is born as Molly is much more tricky. So, now, my time travel fantasies are more limited in scope. And I don't begrudge my daughter or think of it as a bad thing. It's just that she's more important to my than fulfilling my time travel fantasies.

That was one thing that they neglected to tell you at birthing class: your time travel dreams will forever be changed.

So, um, where was I?

Uh, Shrek 4. Shrek's deal with Rumpelstiltskin changed the timeline and he's most concerned with making Fiona happy instead of lamenting the fact that his kids now do not exist. That's just this weird parental negligence that he seems to have. I mean, perhaps not everyone has already thought out the consequences of time travel in regards to their children ahead of time, but after he took the deal and figured out what was going on, he should have at least been a little upset at that fact.

But then again, this was a kid's movie and Molly didn't seem to have a real issue with the issues that the movie compounded onto me. So perhaps I should judge it like a kid's movie and ignore the time travel existential parental issues that were barely realized within the movie, even if they are specific struggles that I have dealt with and overcome in my own philosophy about using time travel to bang my teenaged wife.

So, in that regards, Puss-in-Boots was cute, as was Cookie. It was definitely better than the third movie, but not as good as the first two. Hopefully, they've really realized that the Shrek well has been tapped dry and this will be the last movie (although they are supposedly planning a Puss-in-Boots spin-off).

Molly: (As usual, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at a computer and I'm typing up what we are saying as we speak, then going back afterward to format it. Her review will be in a Q&A form, due to her age. She's sitting next to me at my computer as we do this.)

Chuckie: What did you think of the movie, Shrek 4?
Molly: Huh? Why did you say Shrek 4?
Chuckie: Because it was the fourth movie, Pixie.
Molly: Just call it "Shrek".

Chuckie: Okay. We'll just call it Shrek. What did you think of the movie, Shrek?
Molly: I liked the girl. And the kitty cat. I like kitties! Meow! Meow!

Chuckie: What did you like about the girl?
Molly: That her liked Shrek.

Chuckie: What did you like about the kitty?
Molly: Um, the girl liked the kitty cat. And the girl said, "Who's a pretty kitty?" And the kitty cat said, "Me." (She laughs.) That's so funny, Daddy. That part cracked me up.

Chuckie: Did you like the movie?
Molly: Yes.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Because... um... with the... um... the babysits. Daddy, there's two girls and one boy of the babies?
Chuckie: No, Pixie, there were two boys and one girl ogre baby.
Molly: Oh. Well, did one of the boys or the girl like the squeaky thing?
Chuckie: The girl.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: What was the movie about?
Molly: The babies woke Shrek up with the squeaky toy.

Chuckie: After they woke up Shrek, what happened?
Molly: Him was mad. Then Shrek was trying to save the girl. He went to look for her in the castle and her wasn't there.

Chuckie: Then what?
Molly: I don't know. Maybe he got out of the castle and kissed the girl. (She giggles.) Kiss. Kiss. I want to kiss my boyfriends.

Chuckie: Who are your boyfriends?
Molly: Vyvon, Brice, Garrot and Craig. How many is that, Daddy?

Chuckie: That's four.
Molly: Why not five?

Chuckie: Daddy doesn't judge.
Molly: Okay. Then five.

Chuckie: Was the movie too scary for you?
Molly: No. Not scary for me.

Chuckie: Was the movie funny?
Molly: Um, just the parts that made me laugh. The other parts not so much. (She starts to sing "Rose's Turn" from the Broadway musical Gypsy. She knows it from Kurt singing it on "Glee". She omits a few lines, but otherwise gets the tune right.)
All that work and what did it getcha.
Thanks a lot and out with the garbage.
They take bows and you're batting zero.
I had a dream, Dad.
It wasn't for me, Dad.
And where would you be, Rachel Berrie?

Chuckie: Beautiful singing, Pixie. Why did you sing it?
Molly: Because I like it, Daddy. Daddy, is Glee on tonight?
Chuckie: No, Pixie. It's on Tuesday night.
Molly: Okay. Are we going to review Glee?
Chuckie: Maybe once the season is finished we can if you want to.
Molly: Okay.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate the movie?
Molly: You mean give the things?

Chuckie: Sure.
Molly: Um, all of the stars. And Daddy, you have to say "Out of what?".

Chuckie: Okay. Out of what?
Molly: Out of six.

Chuckie: So it gets all of the stars out of six?
Molly: Uh-huh.

Chuckie: Is that all?
Molly: No. All of the moons.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: (Sternly) Daddy, there's only one moon.

Chuckie: Okay, okay. Good point, Sweetie.
Molly: And now the suns. It gets all of them, Daddy.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of twenty-sixty.

Chuckie: Do you think people would like this movie, Sweetie?
Molly: Yes, I think a lot of people would like it.

Chuckie: Who do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Everyone. (She starts singing "Rose's Turn" again.)

Chuckie: Is there anything else that you want to tell people about Shrek?
Molly: Um, I think someone would really like it. Someone really special.
Chuckie: Who?
Molly: (Holds her arms out wide and smiles brightly.) Me!

So, that's our review. For a Shrek movie is was watchable and much better than the third one. However, it shows that the well has run dry since they basically are just using plot from the first movie again (and even ending on "I'm a Believer" again). For Shrek universe canon, it introduced a previously unseen flashback scene and also did not sort out whether or not the Universal Studios attraction is an official part of the story or not. As a deep discussion and reference to the existential difficulties that come with being a parent and time travel paradox and alternate timelines, the movie fell flat. But Puss-in-Boots was kind of funny.

I give it three out of five stars as a family movie that has some funny bits, fewer pop culture references than the other movies and only a smattering of poop jokes. However, it gets zero out of five stars as an existential metaphysical primer.
Molly gives all of the stars (out of six) and all of the moons (out of the one moon) and all of the suns (out of twenty-sixty). Apparently everyone would love the movie, especially if you are really special (though not so humble) like her.