Showing posts with label 2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2013. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Movie Review: "DESPICABLE ME 2" Will Make Kids Happy, Happy, Happy...

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 27 of 2024 (No. 1971) by Leroy Douresseaux

Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Running time:  98 minutes
MPAA – PG for rude humor and mild action
DIRECTORS:  Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
WRITERS:  Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul
PRODUCERS:  Janet Healy and Chris Meledandri
EDITOR:  Gregory Perler
COMPOSERS:  Heitor Pereira (score) and Pharrell Williams (songs)
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/FANTASY and ACTION/COMEDY/FAMILY

Starring:  (voice) Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher Russell Brand, Benjamin Bratt, Moises Arias, Ken Jeong, Steve Coogan, Pierre Coffin, and Chris Renaud

Despicable Me 2 is a 2013 computer-animated action-fantasy and comedy film directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.  The film is produced by Illumination Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures. It is a direct sequel to the 2010 film, Despicable Me.  Despicable Me 2 finds bad guy-tuned-dad guy, Gru, recruited by a secret organization to discover who stole a deadly chemical.

Despicable Me 2 finds Gru (Steve Carell), formerly the world’s number one super-villain, settled into his role as the adopted father of the three orphan girls:  Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).  All is not well at home, however.  Gru is trying to get his “jams and jellies” business to succeed, while one of his female neighbors tries to set him up on a blind date.  Also, Gru's longtime gadget man, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), quits so that he can take a job that will allow him to be a bad guy again.

But Gru's old life comes calling when the Anti-Villain League (AVL) demands that he help them discover who stole the dangerous transmutation serum, “PX-41.”  They appoint AVL agent, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), as his partner.  The two set up in a fake business, a bakery named “Bake My Day,” in Paradise Mall, a shopping mall near Gru's home.  As for the thief of the serum, Gru has a suspect in mind, a former super-villain who supposedly died in a volcano, but AVL doesn't believe him.  Meanwhile, someone is stealing some of Gru's little helpers, the Minions.

I really liked the original Despicable Me, but when Despicable Me 2 arrived back in 2013, I decided not to see it because... well, because the first was enough.  I'd gotten all the cuteness of  Margo, Edith, and Agnes that I needed, and I had gotten the best of Gru's character arc and transformation from villain to father.

However, I was shocked to find that I really liked the first full-length trailer for the upcoming Despicable 4 (2024).  So I decided to watch Despicable Me 2 for the first time, and I was right the first time.  The first film was really enough for me.  The girls are still cute, but there is less of them so that there can be more screen time for Gru's burgeoning relationship with Lucy Wilde.  I'm only kinda interested in that.  Gru's character arc in this film isn't as engaging as it was in the first film.  Clearly, the Minions needed more screen time than they got here, although they do play a pivotal part in the villain's wacky plot.  In fact, two years after the release of this film, the Minions got their own movie, 2015's Minions.

Despicable Me 2 isn't bad, but the film's storytellers play it safe rather than advance the elements that made the first film a surprise hit.  It earned two Oscar nominations, one for Pharrell Williams' song, “Happy,” which was practically ubiquitous from July 2013 to well into 2014.  I'm just not sure how invested I can be in this franchise, although the fourth film has sort of captured my interest.  It is really in the last twenty minutes of the film before the end credits that Despicable Me 2 really comes to life.  That's okay for me, but I'm sure family audiences will find it more than okay.

6 of 10
B
★★★ out of 4 stars

Tuesday, July 2, 2024


NOTES:
2014 Academy Awards, USA:  2 nominations: “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” (Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Christopher Meledandri) and “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song” (Pharrell Williams-music and lyrics for the song, “Happy”)

2013 BAFTA Children's Awards:  1 win: “BAFTA Kids Vote – Feature Film”

2014 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Animated Film” (Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin)

2013 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film”

2014 Black Reel Awards:  1 nomination: “Outstanding Song” (Pharrell Williams-Performer & Writer for the song “Happy”)


The text is copyright © 2024 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Review: Wahlberg and Berg Drive "Lone Survivor"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 8 (of 2017) by Leroy Douresseaux

Lone Survivor (2013)
Running time:  121 minutes (2 hours, 1 minute)
MPAA – R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language
DIRECTOR:  Peter Berg
WRITER:  Peter Berg (based on the book by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson)
PRODUCERS:  Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Randall Emmett, Akiva Goldsman, Vitaly Grigoriants, Norton Herrick, Stephen Levinson, Barry Spikings, and Mark Wahlberg
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Tobias Schliessler (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Colby Parker Jr.
COMPOSERS:  Explosions in the Sky and Steve Jablonsky
Academy Award nominee

WAR/ACTON/DRAMA/BIOPIC

Starring:  Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Yousuf Azami, Ali Suliman, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Jerry Ferrar, and Rohan Chand

Lone Survivor is a 2013 war film written and directed by Peter Berg.  The film is an adaptation of the 2007 nonfiction book, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, written  Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson.  The film is a dramatization of a failed 2005 mission to kill a Taliban leader in Afghanistan and also of Luttrell and his teammates fight to survive after the mission goes bad.

Lone Survivor opens in Afghanistan at the Bagram Air Base.  There is an Afghan Taliban leader named Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami), who is responsible for killing over twenty United States Marines, as well as villagers and refugees who were aiding American forces.  The Navy SEALs are ordered to capture or kill Shah, and as part of the mission, a four-man SEAL reconnaissance and surveillance team gets the task of tracking down Shah and killing him.

That SEAL team:  leader Michael P. “Murph” Murphy (Taylor Kitsch); snipers Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and Matthew "Axe" Axelson (Ben Foster); and communications specialist, Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), are inserted into a mountainous region near Shah's base of operations.  The team finds Shah, but the mission inadvertently goes awry.  The SEALs attempt to leave the area, but are forced to battle Taliban forces.  Injured, outnumbered, and at a tactical disadvantage, the SEALs begin a valiant struggle to survive.

Lone Survivor has visceral power, which it reveals in the way it brings the Navy SEALs mission to kill Shah to life.  Director Peter Berg and film editor Colby Parker Jr. bring the viewers deep into the action, so much so that I started to believe that the Taliban was also hunting me.

However, the film's first 34 minutes are largely about military jargon and also about forcing heavy-handed jingoism about the United States' military mission and presence in Afghanistan on the viewer.  Truthfully, Lone Survivor avoids any examination about the U.S. presence in that country.  The movie is strictly about  (1) the mission, (2) military courage, (3) the band-of-brothers ethos in the U.S. military, (4) how great the SEALs are, and (5) survival.  Lone Survivor is not so much a story as it is the depiction of a moment or perhaps, of a particularly memorable sequence of events in the history of the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan.

I think that writer/director Peter Berg attempts to dazzle his audience with muscular, physical film making and with a story of a grueling struggle to survive.  I think this makes the film light on characterization, but heavy on stereotypes and assumptions.  By the time the film presented friendly natives, it was hard for me to believe they were friendly because, except for a child character, everyone seemed like a dangerous brown person.

Still, I am impressed by Mark Wahlberg's performance.  Unable to show a deeper side of Marcus Luttrell, Wahlberg turns himself into a battered-and-bruised wounded warrior in order to make us like Luttrell.  It's like Wahlberg is channeling Mel Gibson in Braveheart (1995).  Peter Berg slyly sets us up for cathartic release when the cavalry shows up to rescue the lone survivor.  It's a cheat, but I guess you do what you have to in order to make a shallow script into a good movie.  And Lone Survivor, in its own way, is indeed a good movie.

7 of 10
B+

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


NOTES:
2014 Academy Awards, USA:  2 nominations:  “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” (Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, and David Brownlow) and “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Wylie Stateman)


The text is copyright © 2017 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: "Jodorowsky's Dune" Documents the Beautiful Madness of an Iconoclast

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 2 (of 2016) by Leroy Douresseaux

[A version of this review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)
Running time:  90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some violent and sexual images and drug references
DIRECTOR:  Frank Pavich
PRODUCERS:  Frank Pavich, Stephen Scarlata, Travis Stevens
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  David Cavallo
EDITORS:  Paul Docherty and Alex Ricciardi
COMPOSER:  Kurt Stenzel

DOCUMENTARY – History, Film, Art

Starring:  Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, Devin Faraci, Chris Foss, Jean-Paul Gibon, H.R. Giger, Gary Kurtz, Drew McWeeney, Diane O’Bannon, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Richard Stanley

Jodorowsky’s Dune is a 2013 American documentary film from director Frank Pavich.  This movie is the story of film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious plans to adapt the seminal science fiction novel, Dune, into a film during the mid-1970s.

Dune is an epic science fiction novel that was originally serialized in the American science fiction magazine, Analog, over a two year period, from 1963 to 1965.  Chilton Books published Dune as a hardcover in 1965.  It won the first Nebula Award for “Best Novel” in 1965, and it shared the Hugo Award for “Best Novel” in 1966 (with …And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny).

In 1971, film producer Arthur P. Jacobs optioned the film rights to Dune, but died before he could develop a film.  In 1974, a French consortium purchased Dune’s film rights from Jacobs’ production company.  Alejandro Jodorowsky was set to direct the film.

Jodorowsky was born in Chile in 1929.  At a young age, he began writing poetry and later also became involved in theater.  He moved to France in 1959, where he continued to work in theater and also made his first short film.  He moved to Mexico and continued his work in avant-garde theater, but he later gained tremendous fame and notoriety for his work in film, beginning with Fando y Lis.  His fame grew with the midnight movie cult classic, El Topo (1970), and with Holy Mountain (1973).

In 1974, Jodorowsky began writing the massive script that would be his adaptation of Dune.  He approached progressive rock (prog rock) groups like Pink Floyd and Magma to provide the film score.  He sought out Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, David Carradine, and Mick Jagger, among others, to act in the film.  Jodorowsky hired French comic book artist Jean Giraud a/k/a Moebius (1938 to 2012) to draw the film’s storyboards and to provide concept art and designs.  He hired British science fiction book cover artist, Chris Foss, to design space ships for the film, and Swiss surrealist, H.R. Giger (February 5, 1940 to May 12, 2014), to provide conceptual art and designs.

After producing a massive hardcover book containing the script, the storyboards, and conceptual art, Jodorowsky and the film’s producers went to Hollywood, but were unable to convince any studio or anyone, for that matter, to finance the film.  Jodorowsky’s project ultimately failed, but Jodorowsky’s Dune became a film legend.

Director Frank Pavich interviews Alejandro Jodorowsky and the people who were his collaborators on the stalled Dune project to tell the story that is Jodorowsky’s Dune.  The interview subjects include Jodorowsky’s son, Brontis, who was going to play Dune’s lead character, Paul Atreides.  Producers Michel Seydoux and Jean-Paul Gibon talk about the overall process of trying to create such a large-scaled film.

Film critics Devin Faraci and Drew McWeeney and film directors Nicolas Winding Refn and Richard Stanley talk about the project from a broader standpoint of art and of making movies in Hollywood.  They also comment on how this failure still managed to be potent and influential.  Artist Chris Foss and H.R. Giger talk about the sense of freedom that Jodorowsky gave them, and how he encouraged their imagination.

When a director makes a documentary about a person, that person must be a fascinating or compelling figure.  Alejandro Jodorowsky is both, and really, Jodorowsky’s Dune is as much about Jodorowsky as it is about his attempt to film Dune, if not more so.  Jodorowsky might be insane or be a madman, but he is an artist and a cinematic visionary.  Best of all, he wants to make the people who work with him reach for the genius inside themselves.  That is the kind of guy around which a director can build a great or, at least, exceptional feature film.

The other interview subjects, for the most part, are guys that I could listen to for hours as they talk about film, art, work, and life.  However, the absence of Frank Herbert, the author of Dune, is conspicuous.  Herbert died in 1986, and I can’t believe that there is no video or audio of him commenting on Jodorowsky’s attempt to make a film out of his epic novel.  Dan O’Bannon, whom Jodorowsky hired to produce the special effects for Dune, died in 2009, but this documentary features audio of him talking about working on Dune.  His widow, Diane O’Bannon, is featured in an on-camera interview in this film.

The lack of Frank Herbert in this film is a minor complaint.  Jodorowsky’s Dune is one of the best documentary films that I have ever scene.  It inspires me to be creative, and it makes me wish I could find a way to get Jodorowsky’s Dune produced.  I really want to see that movie.  Maybe, if it had been made, his Dune would have been an overblown epic, but just listening to Jodorowsky makes me believe that the film is a lost masterpiece, although it doesn’t exist.  Perhaps, the magic that director Frank Pavich performs in Jodorowsky’s Dune make me want to believe that this film project is still alive... somewhere.

9 of 10
A+

Monday, November 2, 2015


NOTES:
2013 Cannes Film Festival:  1 nomination: “Golden Camera” (Frank Pavich)

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Beck's "Morning Phase" is "Album of the Year" at 57th Grammys

[The nominations for the 58th Grammys were announced this morning, Monday, December 7, 2015.  It made me remember that I forgot to post the winners from the 57th Grammys.  What follows is a list of winners from select categories.]

The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards were held on "GRAMMY Sunday," February 8, 2015, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

2015 / 57th Grammy Award winners:

GENERAL FIELD

Album Of The Year:
Morning Phase — Beck

Record Of The Year:
"Stay With Me" (Darkchild Version) — Sam Smith

Song Of The Year:
"Stay With Me" (Darkchild Version) — James Napier, William Phillips & Sam Smith, songwriters (Sam Smith)

Best New Artist:
Sam Smith

POP FIELD

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
"Say Something" — A Great Big World With Christina Aguilera

DANCE/ELECTRONIC MUSIC FIELD

Best Dance Recording:
"Rather Be" — Clean Bandit Featuring Jess Glynne

ROCK FIELD

Best Rock Performance:
"Lazaretto"— Jack White

ALTERNATIVE FIELD

Best Alternative Music Album:
St. Vincent — St. Vincent

R&B FIELD

Best Urban Contemporary Album:
Girl — Pharrell Williams

RAP FIELD

Best Rap Performance:
"I" — Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap Album:
The Marshall Mathers LP2 — Eminem

COUNTRY FIELD

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
"Gentle On My Mind" — The Band Perry

Best Country Album:
Platinum — Miranda Lambert

JAZZ FIELD

Best Improvised Jazz Solo:
"Fingerprints" — Chick Corea, soloist

GOSPEL/CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC FIELD

Best Gospel Album:
Help — Erica Campbell

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album:
Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. — For King & Country

LATIN FIELD

Best Latin Pop Album:
Tangos — Rubén Blades

AMERICAN ROOTS FIELD

Best American Roots Performance:
"A Feather's Not A Bird" — Rosanne Cash

SPOKEN WORD FIELD

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling):
Diary Of A Mad Diva — Joan Rivers

COMEDY FIELD

Best Comedy Album:
Mandatory Fun — "Weird Al" Yankovic

Music for Visual Media

Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media
Frozen – various artists

Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Original Soundtrack – Alexandre Desplat, composer

Best Song Written for Visual Media
"Let It Go" (from Frozen) – Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez, songwriters (Idina Menzel)

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical: Max Martin.

This year's GRAMMY Awards process registered more than 20,000 submissions over a 12-month eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014). GRAMMY ballots for the final round of voting were mailed on December 17, 2014 to The Recording Academy's voting members. Ballots were due back to the accounting firm of Deloitte by January 16, 2015, when they were tabulated and the results kept secret until the 57th GRAMMY Awards telecast.

Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit www.grammy.com. For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @TheGRAMMYs on Twitter, like "The GRAMMYs" on Facebook, and join The GRAMMYs' social communities on Google+, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Review: "The Great Beauty" is" La grande bellezza"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 38 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

[A version of this review was first posted on Patreon.]

The Great Beauty (2013)
La grande bellezza – original title
Country: Italy/France
Running time:  141 minutes (2 hours, 21 minutes)
Not rated by the MPAA
DIRECTOR:  Paolo Sorrentino
WRITERS:  Paolo Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello; from a story by Paolo Sorrentino
PRODUCERS:  Francesca Cima and Nicola Giuliano
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Luca Bigazzi
EDITOR:  Cristiano Travagl
COMPOSER:  Lele Marchitelli
Academy Award winner

DRAMA

Starring:  Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso, Pamela Villoresi, Galatea Ranzi, Franco Graziosi, Giorgio Pasotti, Sonia Gessner, Luca Marinelli, Serena Grandi, Vernon Dobtcheff, Giovanna Vignola, Isabella Ferrari, and Giusi Merli

La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) is a 2013 drama from director Paolo Sorrentino.  The Great Beauty is an Italian and French co-production, and as a representative of Italy, it won the Oscar for “Best Foreign Language Film of the Year” for the year 2013.  The film was released to U.S. theaters in 2014.  The Great Beauty follows a writer through timeless and beautiful Rome as he takes stock of his life after he receives a shock from the past.

The Great Beauty focuses on Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a journalist and socialite living in Rome.  He has lived a lavish life in Rome since he moved to the city as a 26-year-old.  Once upon a time, Jep wrote an acclaimed and well-received novel, The Human Apparatus.  While people awaited a second novel, Jep lived a comfortable life of writing about about celebrities and of throwing parties for celebrities and socialites in his fancy luxury apartment.

After his 65th birthday, Jep receives some shocking news about an old girlfriend.  He walks through the side of Rome that is a timeless landscape of absurd beauty and exquisite antiquity.  He reflects on his life and the sense that he is unfulfilled, as he encounters various characters.

The Great Beauty is indeed a great beauty.  The audience follows Jep Gambardella through parts of Rome that are tourist destinations or are either museums or sections of palatial estates.  I could recommend The Great Beauty for the absurd beauty of the film's settings and locales, alone.

As for the film's narrative:  it would be too easy to say that the specter of death hangs over the film.  The theme of growing old permeates the film, and also most of the characters seem to be yearning for more of something in their lives, even if more of what they want is bad for them.  Their lives are emotionally and spiritually empty.  I think the idea is that Jep has drifted through the last four decades of his life without realizing that he needs to establish roots.

I think that The Great Beauty encourages people to realize that beauty comes in fits and flashes between long stretches of what is ugly and banal in life; don't chase the superficial prettiness could be a tag line for the movie.  Still, the parties depicted in this film look pretty good, and the apartments and houses are just lovely.  I enjoyed Jep Gambardella's journey, although it meanders at times, but once again, the beauty in The Great Beauty is just so... beautiful.  This visual splendor alone makes this a truly exceptional film.

9 of 10
A+

Friday, July 31, 2015


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

NOTES:
2014 Academy Awards, USA:  1 win: “Best Foreign Language Film of the Year” (Italy)

2014 Golden Globes, USA:  1 win: “Best Foreign Language Film” (Italy)

2014 BAFTA Awards:  1 win: “Best Film not in the English Language” (Paolo Sorrentino, Nicola Giuliano, and Francesca Cima)

2013 Cannes Film Festival:  1 nomination: “Palme d'Or: (Paolo Sorrentino)


Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: "Rapture-Palooza" is Charming, Off-Beat Fun

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 37 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Rapture-Palooza (2013)
Running time:  85 minutes (1 hour, 25 minutes)
MPAA – R for language including crude sexual references throughout, and for drug use
DIRECTOR:  Paul Middleditch
WRITER:  Chris Matheson
PRODUCERS:  David Householter, Jimmy Miller, and Ed Solomon
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Robert New (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Melissa Bretherton
COMPOSER:  Joachim Horsley

COMEDY/FANTASY

Starring:  Craig Robinson, Anna Kendrick, John Francis Daley, Rob Corddry, Ana Gasteyer, John Michael Higgins, Calum Worthy, Jesse Camacho, Thomas Lennon, Ken Jeong, Bjorn Yearwood, Paul Scheer, Darcy Michael, Mike O'Connell, Tyler Labine, and Andy Fiscella

Rapture-Palooza is a 2013 fantasy-comedy film from director Paul Middleditch and writer Chris Matheson.  The film focuses on a young woman and her boyfriend as they try to outwit the Antichrist who wants to impregnate the young woman.

Rapture-Palooza opens with the arrival of the Biblical Rapture, in which the pious, sanctified, and those deemed worthy by (the Christian) God are whisked off to Heaven, while everyone else is left behind.  This begins the Apocalypse, and soon humanity is vexed by falling meteorites, a plague of evil locusts (that yell “Suffer!”), talking crows (that use profanity), storms (that rain blood), and wraiths (who are addicted to smoking pot).

In Seattle, Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and her boyfriend, Ben (John Francis Daley), are survivors of this Apocalypse, trying to make the best of this bad situation.  They fend for themselves, and even come up with a small business idea – “Good Sandwiches,” a food cart for selling good sandwiches.  However, a politician named Earl Gundy (Craig Robinson) is revealed to be “The Beast” of the Apocalypse.  The Beast is looking for a bride, a nice girl who is a virgin and who will bare him many beastly children.

The Beast discovers Lindsey and demands that she have sex with him and become his bride or he will kill all her family and friends – the ones who were not “raptured.”  Repulsed by his offer, Lindsey and Ben concoct a plan to capture and imprison The Beast, but will their not-really-well-thought-out plan save Lindsey or make things worse for everyone else?

Rapture-Palooza is by no means a great movie or even an exceptional comedy.  However, it is one of the few films that take both a funny and even mocking view of the Rapture and the Apocalypse, and that counts for something.  The scenes depicting the Rapture are probably this film's most inspired moments.  The pace of the movie is slow, and the director relies on dialogue to make the film work.  Also, it must be said that cast and crew make the most of an obviously small budget.

The cast is good, especially the three leads.  Supporting actors like Ken Jeong, Rob Corddry, Thomas Lennon, Paul Scheer, Calum Worthy, and Ana Gasteyer, among others, have some good comic moments, especially the always-funny Corddry.  Fans of off-beat comedy should give Rapture-Palooza a try.  I have to say that I find it funny enough to watch again.

6 of 10
B

Friday, July 17, 2015


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review: "12 Years a Slave" is the Best of Its Year and Among the Best of All Years

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 13 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

12 Years a Slave (2013)
Running time:  134 minutes (2 hours, 14 minutes)
MPAA - R for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality
DIRECTOR:  Steve McQueen
WRITER:  John Ridley
PRODUCERS:  Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Anthony Katagas, Arnon Milchan, and Bill Pohlad
CINEMATOGRAPER:  Sean Bobbitt (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Joe Walke
COMPOSER:  Hans Zimmer
Academy Award winner

DRAMA/HISTORICAL/BIOPIC

Starring:  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard, Adepero Oduye, Garret Dillahunt, Scoot McNairy, Taran Killam, Chris Chalk, Michael Kenneth Williams, Liza J. Bennett, Devyn A. Tyler, Kelsey Scott, Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Zeigler, Dwight Henry, and John McConnell

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 historical drama and period film from director Steve McQueen.  The film is based on the 1853 memoir and slave narrative, Twelve Years a Slave.  At the 86th Oscars, 12 Years a Slave became the first film directed and produced by a black filmmaker (Steve McQueen) and also the first film to be written by an African-American (John Ridley) to win the Academy Award for “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (for the year 2013).  12 Years a Slave the movie is the story of a free black man from upstate New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in antebellum Louisiana.

12 Years a Slave introduces Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man.  In 1841, Solomon lives in New York with his wife, the former Anne Hampton (Kelsey Scott), and his children, Alonzo (Cameron Zeigler) and Margaret (Quvenzhané Wallis).  Solomon works as violinist, and that is what gets him the offer of a two-week job as a musician in Washington D.C.  What Solomon does not realize is that this job offer is a trap.  His erstwhile employers drug and abduct him, and later sell Solomon to a slave trader in New Orleans.

The slave trader gives Solomon a new name, “Platt.”  He is sold first, to sugar cane plantation owner, William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), and then, to cotton plantation owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).  It is on Epps' plantation that Solomon meets Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o), a young female slave.  Through her, Solomon learns the true depravity of slavery and falls into despair, believing that he may never see his family again.

12 Years a Slave is not only the best film of 2013, it may also be the best film of the 21st century.  Everything about it is magnificent.  Steve McQueen's directing is a work of art – truthfully.  McQueen stages and composes this film with a painter's attention to detail, dedication to story (both narrative and message), and an artist's quest for the sublime and for even the divine.

McQueen creates a sense of intimacy between his characters – master/slave, oppressor/oppressed, abuser/abused – so that the action and emotions between characters feels like the interactions between real people.  This is a masterstroke in film-making, with the film drama having the power and immediacy of stage drama.  Hans Zimmer's evocative and heartbreaking score has uncannily perfect timing and tone in emphasizing story, setting, and mood, and also in embellishing and strengthening McQueen's choices.

12 Years a Slave is buttressed by three incredible and dumbfounding performances that are also works of art.  Damn, you could take the performances given by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Lupita Nyong'o, individually, in pairs, or as a trio, and hang them on a museum wall.

Fassbender could become the most honored actor of the next quarter-century the way that Daniel Day-Lewis has been the most honored of the last quarter-century or so.  As Edwin Epps, Fassbender personifies both the banality of evil of slavery and also of the institution's naked lust for money (as in the need to recoup costs and to make even more money).  Fassbender received an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor in 2014, but lost to Jared Leto as the cartoonish stereotype, Rayon (in Dallas Buyers Club).  That's a shame and maybe even a tragedy.  For real, it should have been Fassbender's.

On the other side, as Patsey, Lupita Nyong'o becomes the face of the slaves, especially the face of black female slaves, surviving brutality and enduring degradation even while wishing for the sweet freedom that death might bring.  The depth, the poignancy, and the prowess of Nyong'o as an actor defy description, but at least she won her Oscar as best supporting actress for her supernaturally good acting.

Chiwetel Ejiofor lost the best actor Oscar to Matthew McConaughey who played Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.  McConaughey did deliver an exceptional performance, but the reason film award voters were so impressed with McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club was because they did not know that he had a Ron Woodroof in him.  Up to that point, McConaughey had spent much of his career playing shallow pussy-hounds, grown-ass men in a state of pathetic arrested development, and leading roles that required him to do little more than give good face.  Being a white man also gave McConaughey an advantage with Oscar voters.

On the other hand, it is easy to take Ejiofor for granted; he is always good.  In film, he has perhaps never been better than he is in 12 Years a Slave.  He carries this movie because it is his character's story, a personal and hellish travelogue into the darkest and cruelest countries of mankind's nature.  Ejiofor opens up his heart, his mind, his personality, his emotions – his very being – to the audience.  Through him, we experience the suffering and dehumanization of Solomon Northup.

I think this movie is, in large measure, about how people will make others suffer for their own material gain and how some humans degrade others for their own satisfaction and pleasure.  Few films have depicted that as well as 12 Years a Slave does.  Maybe, it is indeed too hard for some to watch, but 12 Years a Slave is a great film (one of the greatest of all time), and it is a necessary one – more necessary than some of us will admit.

10 of 10

Saturday, March 7, 2015


NOTES:
2014 Academy Awards, USA:  3 wins: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, and Anthony Katagas), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Lupita Nyong'o), and “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay” (John Ridley); 6 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Chiwetel Ejiofor), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Michael Fassbender), “Best Achievement in Costume Design” (Patricia Norris), “Best Achievement in Directing” (Steve McQueen), “Best Achievement in Film Editing” (Joe Walker), and “Best Achievement in Production Design” (Adam Stockhausen-production design and Alice Baker-set decoration)

2014 BAFTA Awards:  2 wins: “Best Film” (Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Steve McQueen) and “Best Leading Actor” (Chiwetel Ejiofor); 8 nominations: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (Hans Zimmer); “Best Adapted Screenplay” (John Ridley), “Best Supporting Actor” (Michael Fassbender), “Best Supporting Actress” (Lupita Nyong'o), “Best Cinematography” (Sean Bobbitt), “Best Editing” (Joe Walker), “Best Production Design” (Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker), and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Steve McQueen)

2014 Golden Globes, USA:  1 win: “Best Motion Picture – Drama;” 6 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Chiwetel Ejiofor), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Michael Fassbender), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Lupita Nyong'o), “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Steve McQueen), “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (John Ridley), and “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Hans Zimmer)

2014 Black Reel Awards 2014:  8 wins: “Outstanding Motion Picture” (Brad Pitt, Steve McQueen, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, and Arnon Milchan – Fox Searchlight Pictures), “Outstanding Actor, Motion Picture” (Chiwetel Ejiofor), “Outstanding Supporting Actress, Motion Picture” (Lupita Nyong'o), “Outstanding Director, Motion Picture” (Steve McQueen), “Outstanding Screenplay (Adapted or Original), Motion Picture” (John Ridley), “Outstanding Ensemble” (Francine Maisler (Casting Director), “Outstanding Score” (Hans Zimmer), and “Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female” (Lupita Nyong'o); 1 nomination: “Outstanding Song” (Alicia Keys: Performer & Writer for the song "Queen of the Field (Patsey's Song))

2014 Image Awards:  4 wins: “Outstanding Motion Picture,” “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Lupita Nyong'o), “Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture - (Theatrical or Television)” (John Ridley), and “Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture” (Steve McQueen); 2 nominations: “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Alfre Woodard)


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Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: "Snowpiercer" is Unique and Thrilling

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 11 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

Snowpiercer (2013)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:  South Korea
Running time:  126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence, language and drug content
DIRECTOR:  Bong Joon Ho
WRITERS: Joon-ho Bong and Kelly Masterson; from a screen story by Joon-ho Bong (based on the comic book,  Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette)
PRODUCERS:  Tae-sung Jeong, Wonjo Jeong, Miky Lee, Tae-hun Lee, Steven Nam, and Chan-wook Park
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Kyung-pyo Hong
EDITORS:  Steve M. Choe and Changju Kim
COMPOSER:  Marco Beltrami

SCI-FI/DRAMA/ACTION

Starring:  Chris Evans, Song Kang Ho, Tilda Swinton, Ko Asung, Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ewen Bremner, Vlad Ivanov, Marcanthonee Jon Reis, Emma Levie, Allison Pill, and Ed Harris

Snowpiercer is a 2013 South Korean science fiction film from director Bong Joon Ho.  The film is based on a series of French graphic novels that began in 1982 with the first book, Le Transperceneige (Snowpiercer).  Snowpiercer the movie takes place on a class strife-ridden train that is the only home of the last humans alive on Earth.

At the beginning of Snowpiercer, we learn that humans made an attempt to halt global warming by spraying the chemical, CW-7, into the atmosphere.  That backfired, and the result was the start of an ice age so severe that almost all life on Earth was destroyed.

The only human survivors are now living in Snowpiercer, a massive train that travels on a globe-spanning train track.  However, a rigid class system pervades Snowpiercer with the elites living in the front of the train; people useful to the elites occupying in the middle; and the utterly poor and destitute inhabiting the tail of the train.

In the year 2031, the tail inhabitants prepare to launch another rebellion against the elites.  Although past rebellions have failed, this new rebellion may have finally found the one man who can lead the poor people to the very front door of Wilford (Ed Harris), the creator of the train.  This new leader's name is Curtis Everett (Chris Evans), and he has a plan to get past Snowpiercer's security system and its armed guards.  In order for his plan to work, however, Curt must rely on Nam Kung Min Soo (Song Kang Ho), a drug addict who doesn't speak a word of English, and also on his kooky daughter, Yona (Ko Asung).

Snowpiercer is one of the best films of 2014.  Everything about it is high-quality, especially its beautiful cinematography and its production design, which is both imaginative and inventive.  Considering the narrow spaces with which production designer Ondrej Nekvasil had to work, he managed to recreate a diverse cross section of modern humanity's interior living environments in a way that is almost too impressive for words.

The ensemble cast is also excellent, with Tilda Swinton delivering a splendid performance as Mason.  This is a character that is so odd that anyone other than a highly-talented and skilled actor would fumble.  My favorite performance, however, is that of Chris Evans as Curtis Everett.

Evans began his rise as a movie star by showing his ability to be funny or to deliver light comic flourishes whenever a film in which he appeared desperately needed some genuine humor.  He was often the saving grace of 20th Century Fox's 2005-2007 Fantastic Four film franchise.  Evans then showed that he could be an action movie star in Marvel Studio's Captain America films by bring dramatic heft and gravitas to both Captain America films and to Marvel's The Avengers, in which he also appeared as Captain America.

In Snowpiercer, Evans puts a lock on leading man status.  He looks like a leader, and, in this performance, he carries and embodies this film's social commentary in Curtis Everett's physicality and his emotions, and especially in his spirit.  Evans leaves no doubt that he is not only the real deal as a movie star, but also as an actor.

Co-writer and director Bong Joon Ho (or Joon-ho Bong) gives Snowpiercer visual scope, creating a big picture in a setting that is both intimate and claustrophobic.  Bong shows that science fiction can be more than just imaginative and speculative about the future.  It can and should speak to the modern condition; the genre wants to be more than just escapism.  I still wish that Snowpiercer had spent more time with more of its amazing cast of characters.  That does not keep me from declaring that this is a unique science fiction film because its themes and ideas are both non-fiction and important.

8 of 10
A

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


NOTES:
2015 Black Reel Awards:  1 nomination: “Outstanding Supporting Actress, Motion Picture” (Octavia Spencer)


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Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: "The Wind Rises" and Lifts Miyazaki's Ode to Artists

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 9 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Wind Rises (2013)
Kaze tachinu – original Japanese title
Running time:  126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some disturbing images and smoking
DIRECTOR:  Hayao Miyazaki
WRITER:  Hayao Miyazaki (based upon the manga by Hayao Miyazaki); English screenplay adaptation by Mike Jones
PRODUCERS:  Toshio Suzuki and Geoffrey Wexler (English version)
COMPOSER:  Joe Hisaishi
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/BIOPIC/DRAMA

Starring:  (English voices) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Werner Herzog, Jennifer Grey, William H. Macy, Elijah Wood, and Ronan Farrow; (Japanese voices) Hideaki Anno, Jirô Horikoshi, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto, Masahiko Nishimura, Mansai Nomura, Jun Kunimura, Mirai Shida, Shinobu Ôtake, Morio Kazama, and Keiko Takeshita

The Wind Rises is a 2013 Japanese animated film (anime) biopic and drama from director Hayao Miyazaki.  The film's original title is Kaze tachinu, and it is adapted from Miyazaki's manga (comics), Kaze tachinu, which was published in Model Graphix magazine from 2009 to 2010.  The manga in turn is loosely based on the novel, The Wind Has Risen (1936-37), by author Tatsuo Hori.

The Wind Rises is a fictionalized account of the life of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982).  Hirokoshi was a designer of fighter aircraft for Japan, in particular the Mitsubishi A6M Zero (or simple, the Zero), which was used by the Empire of Japan during World War II.

Walt Disney Studios released the film in English back in February 2014 through its Touchstone Pictures division.  Frank Marshall acted as the English version's executive producer.  The Wind Rises was the final film directed by Miyazaki before his retirement in September 2013.

The Wind Rises opens in Japan in 1916.  Young Jiro Horikoshi longs to become a pilot, but cannot because of his poor eyesight.  Jiro even dreams of meeting famous Italian aircraft designer, Giovanni Battista Caproni (Stanley Tucci), a figure that will often haunt Jiro's dreams over the years.  Seven years later, two important things happen.  Jiro begins studying aeronautical engineering, and he also meets a girl, Nahoko Satomi.

After he graduates, adult Jiro (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) starts working for an aircraft manufacturer (Mitsubishi).  Jiro begins a quest to built a fighter aircraft for Japan that will match the best that any other country has to offer, especially that of Japan's ally, Germany.  Jiro reunites with the adult Nahoko (Emily Blunt) and begins a romance with her.  However, Nahoko's illness and his professional setbacks threaten Jiro's dreams.

The Wind Rises was somewhat controversial in Japan because of Jiro Horikoshi's aircraft inventions and how they were used by imperial Japan during the second World War.  However, The Wind Rises is not a biographical drama in the conventional sense, which is why I call it a “biopic.”  It is a movie with both biographical elements and fictional attachments.  For instance, the Jiro-Nahoko Satomi romance is fictional, and Nahoko is a character from Tatsuo Hori's novel, The Wind Has Risen.

The Wind Rises not only takes a look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II, but it is mainly inspired by his quest to create fighter aircraft for Japan that would match the best aircraft created in Europe and the United States.

The Wind Rises is an impressionistic spectacle.  Miyazaki deliberately deviates from fact in order to examine the artistic process, revealing Jiro Horikoshi as an artist in full bloom.  The “wind” in this film is a metaphor for the imagination that soars.  The wind is also a vehicle by which the artist travels to meet the man who inspired him,  Giovanni Caproni, in the realm of daydream and imagination – first as a pupil and then, as an equal.  In this film, Miyazaki does not make “wind” ethereal; rather, it is beauty that is fragile and even corruptible.

The Wind Rises is a bittersweet goodbye from Miyazaki to his admirers and fans.  This retirement had to happen eventually, but our sadness need no be overwhelming.  The wind still rises, and the beauty of Hayao Miyazaki's art will live on.

8 of 10
A

Friday, January 2, 2014


NOTES:
2014 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” (Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki)

2014 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Foreign Language Film” (Japan)

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: "You're Next" is Shocking and Shockingly Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

You're Next (2011)
Running time:  95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
EDITOR/DIRECTOR:  Adam Wingard    
WRITERS:  Simon Barrett
PRODUCERS:  Simon Barrett, Keith Calder, Kim Sherman, and Jessica Wu
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Andrew D. Palermo (D.o.P.)
COMPOSERS:  Mads Heldtberg, Jasper Justice Lee, and Kyle McKinnon

HORROR/THRILLER/CRIME

Starring:  Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Sarah Myers, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton, L.C. Holt, Simon Barrett, and Lane Hughes

You're Next is a 2011 crime thriller and horror film from director Adam Wingard.  The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, but did not receive a wide theatrical release until 2013.  You're Next focuses on a family reunion that comes under assault by a gang of masked intruders that attacks family members until someone starts fighting back.

You're Next takes place in a secluded wooded area that might be located in Missouri.  At a large, rustic estate on 5 Edelweiss Drive, Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Rob Moran) gather their four children (three sons and a daughter) for a wedding anniversary party.  Shy Erin (Sharni Vinson) accompanies her boyfriend, Crispian (AJ Bowen), to the reunion.  Also, present are Crispian's brothers, Drake (Joe Swanberg), with his wife, Kelly (Sarah Myers); and Felix (Nicholas Tucci) with his girlfriend, Zee (Wendy Glenn).  Also present is Crispian's sister, Aimee (Amy Seimetz), and her boyfriend, Tariq (Ti West).

That evening, everyone gathers around a large table for a meal.  During a family argument, mainly caused by Crispian and Drake, one of the guests is shockingly murdered.  Soon, the family (whose last name may be “Davison,” although it is not used in the film) is under attack by a unknown number of mysterious killers.  As family and friends die or are gravely wounded, we discover that one of the victims has a secret talent for fighting back and for surviving.

You're Next is like an action movie version of the 2008 film, The Strangers, but even better.  Cast and crew come together and deliver a fan-freaking-tastic film that looks bigger than its paltry budget of one million dollars.  There are thrillers that cost 50 to 100 times more than this “little” film that do not deliver the heart-stopping scares and riveting, hair-trigger drama that You're Next does.  I don't like You're Next.  I frickin' love You're Next.  Encore!  Encore!

I won't spoil it, but the actor that plays the character that fights back delivers a star-making performance.  Director Adam Wingard impresses with his editing work on this film more than he does with his directing, which is also quite good.  Wingard's work here suggests the Coen Bros., with a touch of David Fincher.  Some might describe Simon Barrett's screenplay as implausible, but my cynical worldview considers this Hitchcockian fable damn near a documentary.

If you want thrills, chills, and scares, do yourself a favor and see one of the best horror movies of the decade, You're Next.

9 of 10
A+

Friday, January 2, 2015


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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Review: "A Madea Christmas" a Funny and Odd Christmas Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 56 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (2013)
Running time:  100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual references, crude humor and language
DIRECTOR:  Tyler Perry
WRITER:  Tyler Perry (based on the stage play, A Madea Christmas, written by Tyler Perry)
PRODUCERS:  Ozzie Areu, Tyler Perry, and Matt Moore
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Alexander Gruszynski (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Maysie Hoy
COMPOSER:  Christopher Young

CHRISTMAS/COMEDY/DRAMA

Starring:  Tyler Perry, Larry the Cable Guy, Anna Maria Horsford, Tika Sumpter, Eric Lively, JR Lemon, Kathy Najimy, Chad Michael Murray, Alicia Witt, Noah Urrea, and Lucy Whelchel

A Madea Christmas is a 2013 comedy, drama, and Christmas movie from writer-director Tyler Perry.  The film is based on Perry's musical play, A Madea Christmas, which was first performed in 2011.  A Madea Christmas the movie finds Madea in rural Alabama after being coaxed into helping a relative pay her daughter a surprise visit for Christmas.

As A Madea Christmas begins, Mabel “Madea” Simmons (Tyler Perry) is working at Tifton's department store for some extra Christmas cash, thanks to her niece, Eileen Murphy (Anna Maria Horsford), who works at the store.  Eileen is sad that her daughter, Lacey (Tika Sumpter), is living in the small town of Bucktussle, Alabama, and she wants to visit her.  Eileen coaxes Madea into accompanying her for a surprise Christmas visit.

What Eileen does not realize is that her daughter is now Lacey Williams and is married to her college sweetheart, Conner Williams (Eric Lively).  Lacey is not ready to tell her mother that she is married to a White man, but may be forced to when Eileen and Madea arrive.  Also arriving at Lacey and Conner's doorstep are Conner's parents, Kim and Buddy Williams (Kathy Najimy and Larry the Cable Guy).

A Madea Christmas is an odd entry in Tyler Perry's Madea film series.  First, the film deals, in a fluffy way, with racism, and is also set in a town and area that is largely white.  With its mushy sentiment, soft-focused racial harmony, and easy pace,  A Madea Christmas seems like an original holiday movie for either the Lifetime or Hallmark cable networks.

I found this film enjoyable and comfy, and although Madea does dispense her usual unique brand of wisdom, the film is not as preachy as previous Madea films.  A Madea Christmas' dominant theme seems to be that parents should accept that their children will live the lives the children choose and not the ones the parents want.  There is also a subplot about a sensitive and talented boy, Bailey McCoy (Noah Urrea), whose father, Tanner McCoy (Chad Michael Murray), is a racist and a bully (but not really in an especially offensive way).  This subplot encapsulates how A Madea Christmas goes out of its way not to offend or scare white audiences.

I don't think that A Madea Christmas will be a Christmas classic, but it is definitely a different kind of Christmas movie.  I found it to be quiet funny at times, and I plan on seeing it again.

6 of 10
B

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


NOTES:
2014 Razzie Awards:  1 win: “Worst Actress” (Tyler Perry); 4 nominations: “Worst Picture,” “Worst Supporting Actor” (Larry the Cable Guy), “Worst Screen Combo” (Tyler Perry, Larry the Cable Guy, Tyler Perry & EITHER Larry the Cable Guy OR That Worn-Out Wig & Dress), and “Worst Screenplay” (Tyler Perry)



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" is a Sensation

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 55 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Running time: 161 minutes (2 hours, 41 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson
WRITERS: Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro (from the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien)
PRODUCERS: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Carolynne Cunningham, and Zane Weiner
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Lesnie (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Jabez Olssen
COMPOSER: Howard Shore
Academy Award nominee

FANTASY/ACTION/ADVENTURE with elements of drama

Starring:  Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, and Benedict Cumberbatch (also voice)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a 2013 fantasy film from director Peter Jackson.  The film is the second of three movies which are based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (better known by its abbreviated title, The Hobbit).  Set sixty years before The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is the story of a curious Hobbit who joins a band of Dwarves on a mission to reclaim their homeland from a powerful dragon.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug finds Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) still in The Company of Dwarves, led by would-be dwarf king, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage).  These 13 dwarves are on a quest to reclaim their homeland, Erebor, from the dragon, Smaug (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch).  Their goal is the Lonely Mountain, where Smaug slumbers.

Along the way, Bilbo and the Dwarves are pursued by Azog the Defiler and a party of Orcs.  They also encounter the Wood-elves and their arrogant king, Thranduil (Lee Pace), and are eventually pursued by two elves, Legolas Greenleaf (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), who are proficient at killing Orcs.  Meanwhile, the wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan), investigates the growing evil at the ruins of Dol Guldur.

I gave the first Hobbit film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey a grade of “9” out of 10 on my rating scale, although I had complaints about the movie.  My biggest complaint was that it was too long, with the first hour meandering like a drunken narrative looking for a bottle of plot.

I have no complaints about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  I love it.  I have seen it once, and watched most of it several more times on different HBO channels.  Like the prior films based on the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien,  The Desolation of Smaug is a glowing spectacle.  It is not trapped by the “middle chapter” narrative difficulties that afflict the middle films of some movie trilogies, like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.  [By the way, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was the middle film in a trilogy and did not at all suffer from middle chapter problems.]

Perhaps, for me, The Desolation of Smaug is personal.  I feel for the characters, and I am a champion for their causes, examining the stakes and decisions from every angle.  Director Peter Jackson is in love with The Hobbit, and it shows in this wonderful film.  I cannot pick out particular thing that stands out as great, although I love Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of Smaug.  It is as if all elements come together to make a great film.

Over the years, I have read The Hobbit many times, and I am happy that these Hobbit movies, especially this one, are connecting with me in ways I never expected.  If you are already a fan of the previous Peter Jackson Tolkien films, you will be a fan of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  Or like me, you will fall in love with it.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
2014 Academy Awards, USA:  3 nominations: “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” (Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, and Tony Johnson), “Best Achievement in Visual Effects” (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, and Eric Reynolds), and “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Brent Burge and Chris Ward)

2014 BAFTA Awards:  2 nominations: “Best Make Up/Hair” (Peter King, Richard Taylor, and Rick Findlater) “Best Special Visual Effects” (Eric Reynolds, David Clayton, Joe Letteri, and Eric Saindon)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

57th Grammy Nominations Announced; Beyonce Among Nominations Leaders

Beyoncé, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams Lead GRAMMY® Nominations with Six Each

Beck, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams Vie for Album of the Year at the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards® Feb. 8, 2015, Live on CBS

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nominations for the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards® were announced tonight by The Recording Academy® and reflected an eclectic mix of the best and brightest in music over the past year, as determined by The Academy's voting members. The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held on "GRAMMY Sunday," Feb. 8, 2015, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

    “This year's nominees are a reflection of the music community's diversity and range of talent, and a testament to The Academy's voting process”

This year, Beyoncé, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams top nominations, garnering six each. Iggy Azalea, Beck, Eric Church, Tom Coyne, Drake, Gordon Goodwin, Jay Z, Miranda Lambert, Sia, Usher, and Jack White earn four nominations each. Additionally, Azalea, Bastille, Brandy Clark, Haim, and Sam Smith vie for the Best New Artist award.

"This year's nominees are a reflection of the music community's diversity and range of talent, and a testament to The Academy's voting process," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "The Recording Academy is pleased to celebrate this talented crop of artists, nominated to receive music's greatest honor for their contributions to their respective genres. The tone for Music's Biggest Night® has undoubtedly been set, and we look forward to producing one of the most exciting telecasts in GRAMMY® history."

Nominations were revealed on a rolling basis throughout the day, starting with four categories on "CBS This Morning," followed by a series of video announcements posted by a variety of artists and celebrities on Twitter. The day culminated with the unveiling of Album Of The Year nominations on the one-hour entertainment special, "A Very GRAMMY Christmas," which featured performances of holiday classics and current pop songs.

Following is a sampling of nominations across 83 categories from the GRAMMY Awards' 30 Fields. For a complete nominations list, please visit www.grammy.com. For updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.

GENERAL FIELD

Album Of The Year:
Morning Phase — Beck
Beyoncé — Beyoncé
X — Ed Sheeran
In The Lonely Hour — Sam Smith
Girl — Pharrell Williams

Record Of The Year:
"Fancy" — Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX
"Chandelier" — Sia
"Stay With Me" (Darkchild Version) — Sam Smith
"Shake It Off" — Taylor Swift
"All About That Bass" — Meghan Trainor

Song Of The Year:
"All About That Bass" — Kevin Kadish & Meghan Trainor, songwriters (Meghan Trainor)
"Chandelier" — Sia Furler & Jesse Shatkin, songwriters (Sia)
"Shake It Off" — Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
"Stay With Me" (Darkchild Version) — James Napier, William Phillips & Sam Smith, songwriters (Sam Smith)
"Take Me To Church" — Andrew Hozier-Byrne, songwriter (Hozier)

Best New Artist:
Iggy Azalea
Bastille
Brandy Clark
Haim
Sam Smith

POP FIELD

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
"Fancy" — Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX
"A Sky Full Of Stars" — Coldplay
"Say Something" — A Great Big World With Christina Aguilera
"Bang Bang" — Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
"Dark Horse" — Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J

DANCE/ELECTRONIC MUSIC FIELD

Best Dance Recording:
"Never Say Never" — Basement Jaxx
"Rather Be" — Clean Bandit Featuring Jess Glynne
"F For You" — Disclosure Featuring Mary J. Blige
"I Got U" — Duke Dumont Featuring Jax Jones
"Faded" — Zhu

ROCK FIELD

Best Rock Performance:
"Gimme Something Good" — Ryan Adams
"Do I Wanna Know?" — Arctic Monkeys
"Blue Moon" — Beck
"Fever"— The Black Keys
"Lazaretto"— Jack White

ALTERNATIVE FIELD

Best Alternative Music Album:
This Is All Yours — Alt-J
Reflektor — Arcade Fire
Melophobia — Cage The Elephant
St. Vincent — St. Vincent
Lazaretto — Jack White

R&B FIELD

Best Urban Contemporary Album:
Sail Out — Jhené Aiko
Beyoncé — Beyoncé
X — Chris Brown
Mali Is… — Mali Music
Girl — Pharrell Williams

RAP FIELD

Best Rap Performance:
"3005" — Childish Gambino
"0 To 100/The Catch Up" — Drake
"Rap God" — Eminem
"I" — Kendrick Lamar
"All I Need Is You" — Lecrae

Best Rap Album:
The New Classic — Iggy Azalea
Because The Internet — Childish Gambino
Nobody's Smiling — Common
The Marshall Mathers LP2 — Eminem
Oxymoron — Schoolboy Q
Blacc Hollywood — Wiz Khalifa

COUNTRY FIELD

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
"Gentle On My Mind" — The Band Perry
"Somethin' Bad" — Miranda Lambert With Carrie Underwood
"Day Drinking" — Little Big Town
"Meanwhile Back At Mama's" — Tim McGraw Featuring Faith Hill
"Raise 'Em Up" — Keith Urban Featuring Eric Church

Best Country Album:
Riser — Dierks Bentley
The Outsiders — Eric Church
12 Stories — Brandy Clark
Platinum — Miranda Lambert
The Way I'm Livin' — Lee Ann Womack

JAZZ FIELD

Best Improvised Jazz Solo:
"The Eye Of The Hurricane" — Kenny Barron, soloist
"Fingerprints" — Chick Corea, soloist
"You & The Night & The Music" — Fred Hersch, soloist
"Recorda Me" — Joe Lovano, soloist
"Sleeping Giant" — Brad Mehldau, soloist

GOSPEL/CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC FIELD

Best Gospel Album:
Help — Erica Campbell
Amazing (Live) — Ricky Dillard & New G
Withholding Nothing (Live) — William McDowell
Forever Yours — Smokie Norful
Vintage Worship — Anita Wilson

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album:
If We're Honest — Francesca Battistelli
Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. — For King & Country
Hurricane — Natalie Grant
Welcome To The New — MercyMe
Royal Tailor — Royal Tailor

LATIN FIELD

Best Latin Pop Album:
Tangos — Rubén Blades
Elypse — Camila
Raíz — Lila Downs, Niña Pastori And Soledad
Loco De Amor — Juanes
Gracias Por Estar Aquí — Marco Antonio Solís

AMERICAN ROOTS FIELD

Best American Roots Performance:
"Statesboro Blues" — Gregg Allman & Taj Mahal
"A Feather's Not A Bird" — Rosanne Cash
"And When I Die" — Billy Childs Featuring Alison Krauss & Jerry Douglas
"The Old Me Better" — Keb' Mo' Featuring The California Feet Warmers
"Destination" — Nickel Creek

SPOKEN WORD FIELD

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling):
Actors Anonymous — James Franco
A Call To Action — Jimmy Carter
Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America — John Waters
Diary Of A Mad Diva — Joan Rivers
A Fighting Chance — Elizabeth Warren
We Will Survive: True Stories Of Encouragement, Inspiration, And The Power Of Song — Gloria Gaynor

COMEDY FIELD

Best Comedy Album:
Mandatory Fun — "Weird Al" Yankovic
Obsessed — Jim Gaffigan
Oh My God — Louis C.K.
Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time — Patton Oswalt
We Are Miracles — Sarah Silverman

This year's Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical nominations go to Paul Epworth, John Hill, Jay Joyce, Greg Kurstin, and Max Martin.

This year's GRAMMY Awards process registered more than 20,000 submissions over a 12-month eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014). GRAMMY ballots for the final round of voting will be mailed on Dec. 17, 2014 to The Recording Academy's voting members. Ballots are due back to the accounting firm of Deloitte by Jan. 16, 2015, when they will be tabulated and the results kept secret until the 57th GRAMMY Awards telecast.

The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich is executive producer, and Louis J. Horvitz is director.

"A Very GRAMMY Christmas," hosted by two-time GRAMMY winner LL COOL J featured the announcement of Album Of The Year nominees as well as performances by Ariana Grande with Big Sean, Maroon 5, Tim McGraw, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams.

Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit www.grammy.com. For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @TheGRAMMYs on Twitter, like "The GRAMMYs" on Facebook, and join The GRAMMYs' social communities on Google+, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Jennifer Lawrence Burns in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 51 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Running time: 146 minutes (2 hours, 26 minutes)
Rating: MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language
DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence
WRITERS: Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn (based upon the novel by Suzanne Collins)
PRODUCERS: Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jo Willems
EDITOR: Alan Edward Bell
COMPOSER: James Newton Howard
Golden Globe nominee

SCI-FI/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seyour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Paul Malcomson, Lynn Cohen, Jena Malone, and Toby Jones

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a 2013 dystopian science fiction film directed by Francis Lawrence, and it is also a direct sequel to the 2012 film, The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire is based upon Suzanne Collins’ 2009 novel, Catching Fire, the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy.  In Catching Fire the movie, Katniss Everdeen becomes a target of the Capitol after her victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion.

The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, and what was once North America is now the nation of Panem.  Panem is composed of 12 districts and The Capitol, which rules over the districts. Every year, The Capitol takes one boy and one girl (called “tributes”) from each of the 12 districts to become contestants in The Hunger Games.  Part entertainment and part intimidation of the 12 districts, these games are broadcast throughout Panem, and the 24 participants must fight to the death until only one of them remains alive – the victor.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens a few months after the first film.  Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) were the winners of the 74th Hunger Games.  Now, the young victors have returned to their home, the impoverished District 12, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is waiting for Katniss.  Snow is upset that the outcome of the most recent Games has sparked rebellion in the districts of Panem, with Katniss' actions in the Games being the inspiration for rebellion in the districts.

Katniss (“The Girl on Fire”) and Peeta (“The Baker's Boy”) are going on a victory tour through the districts.  During this tour, Snow wants Katniss to sell the untrue idea that her actions in the Games were out of genuine love for Peeta and were not an act of defiance against the Capitol.  This scheme doesn't exactly work out.  So Snow calls for the 75th Hunger Games to be special.  These Games will be a “Quarter Quell,” and the tributes will be selected from previous victors.  Katniss and Peeta suddenly find themselves in the Games again, and this time, the target on Katniss' back comes from players inside and outside of the Games.

Catching Fire is the middle book in Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games trilogy, although the third book, Mockingjay, is being adapted as two film.  However, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire doesn't suffer the fate of some middle films in a trilogy.  Sometimes, the middle film can come across as filler material, or it can be packed with too many characters that are not important or too many subplots that won't be resolved until the third film.  An example of that is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which was a collection of pointless action scenes that didn't really serve much of a purpose beyond titillating young males and selling lots of tickets.

Catching Fire the movie is intense and gripping, almost every scene is important, not just to what came before or what will come after, but also to the story being told now.  When I reviewed the first film two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote that I could say without reservation that The Hunger Games captures the sense of the life and death struggle of Katniss and her competitors.  I can say the same for Catching Fire.  Like its predecessor, this movie is driven by character drama and by intimate man vs. man confrontations/encounters that freely range from sudden romance and friendship to cold-bloodied murder and assorted calculated cruelties.

I will say that I think this film offers more characters than the story can present in full-measure, not revealing how rich and how important they are.  However, almost every character does enough to be interesting or intriguing, and there are many excellent performances.  Donald Sutherland is even better and more menacing as President Snow than he was in the first film.  Woody Harrelson manages to further develop Haymitch Abernathy, surprisingly showing that there is much more to the character than one might think.  Josh Hutcherson makes Peeta Mellark the dashing young hero and co-lead that he could not be in the first film, even if that was the intention.  And I'm always happy to see Jeffrey Wright, although I wish his character, Beetee Latier, had more meat on the bone i.e. substance.

Still, as was true in The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence is everything to Catching Fire. Whatever problems this film may have, Lawrence’s skill-set as an actor delivers a performance that glosses over narrative and cinematic glitches.  She is a true movie star, and her radiant presence bleeds across the screen, leaving me awash in the essence of Katniss.  Pardon my lack of articulation, but Jennifer is the real deal.

In the first film, we watched a young woman, Katniss, who was a poor nobody, struggle to survive and ultimately to triumph, becoming a star and a legend.  Catching Fire depicts Katniss' struggle to accept her fate.  The adventure is calling the hero, and she has to be dragged towards her destiny.  This kind of story is an archetype, and when told correctly, it can be mesmerizing.  So, as she did before, Jennifer Lawrence makes The Hunger Games: Catching Fire more than it ought to be.

8 of 10
A

Thursday, November 20, 2014


NOTES:
2014 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, and Will Champion for the song “Atlas”)

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: "Planes" Flies Pretty High

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 49 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Planes (2013)
Running time:  91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
Rating: MPAA – PG for some mild action and rude humor
DIRECTOR:  Klay Hall
WRITERS:  Jeffrey M. Howard; from a story by John Lasseter, Klay Hall, and Jeffrey M. Howard
PRODUCER:  Traci Balthazor-Lynn
EDITOR:  Jeremy Milton
COMPOSER:  Mark Mancina

ANIMATION/ADVENTURE/COMEDY/FAMILY/SPORTS

Starring:  Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad, Gabriel Iglesias, Danny Mann, Colin Cowherd, Oliver Kalkofe, Klay Hall, John Ratzenberger, and Brent Musburger

Planes is a 2013 computer-animated fantasy adventure film and sports comedy that was produced by DisneyToon Studios.  It was originally intended to be released straight-to-video, but was instead released to movie theaters as a 3D film in August 2013.  Planes is a spinoff of Pixar's Cars film franchise and is co-written and executive-produced by John Lasseter, the director of Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011).  Planes focuses on a cropduster plane who dreams of competing in a world-famous aerial race.

Planes opens in the small town of Propwash Junction and introduces Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook).  This young airplane is a cropduster, but he dreams of being an air racer and even has a racing alter-ego he calls “Strut Jetstream.”  Dusty's pal, a fuel truck named Chug (Brad Garrett), encourages Dusty's dream of flying in the airplane race, the Wings Around the Globe Rally.

However, Dusty was built to be a cropduster, not an air racer, but he is determined.  After barely qualifying for the rally, Dusty seeks the help of an elderly and reclusive Navy war plane named Skipper (Stacy Keach), who reluctantly agrees to help him.  Still, the odds are against Dusty, and so are some of his competitors.  Does he have what it takes to win?  Does Dusty truly understand the motto “Volo pro veritas” (“I fly for truth.”)?

I was kind of interested in seeing Planes when it first played in movie theaters, but I changed my mind.  However, I was able to get a Blu-ray copy for review of its sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue, which was released to theaters in July 2014.  So I decided to see the original film, and I have to be honest, dear reader:  I really like Planes.

Planes is a formulaic animated film aimed at the family audience; meaning children watch it and the parents who take them to the movie suffer through it.  However, Planes is a well-executed and entertaining formulaic animated family film.

The characters are a mixture of familiar little-guy heroic types, ethnic stereotypes, and assorted comic caricatures.  But they're mostly all lovable, and stand-up comedian and actor, Dane Cook, who can be, at best, an acquired taste, is quite good as the voice of Dusty Crophopper.   Carlos Alazraqui is a treat as El Chupacabra, a friendly competitor of Dusty's in the Wings Around the World Rally, and Sinbad makes the most of his character, Roper, the forklift who is also a rally official.

Planes is a well-written version of the little engine that could (in this case, an airplane), and the writers are constantly putting believable obstacles in his way that the audience will want to see him overcome.  Some, like me, will find their hearts lifting as Dusty soars over those obstacles, and also over his primary antagonist and rival, Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith), who is the kind of jerk I want to see get his comeuppance.  I enjoyed Planes enough, surprisingly so, that I'm ready for the sequel.

6 of 10
B

Sunday, November 2, 2014


The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.