Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Hot Times & the Movies
I would love to show you pictures of all the fun summer times Magoo and I are having, like playing frisbee in the park or searching for bugs in the woods, but I can't. Because we haven't done any of those things. Because it's been SO FREAKIN' HOT!
We are currently in Day 4 of what promises to be a good long 7 day heat wave. This is following a previous 4-day heat wave with 2 days of cool in between.
When we don't hit the local pool, we hit the theaters.
So instead of whining about the heat and humidity, I think I'll share some mini reviews of recent movies.
THE HEAT with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. This is a female buddy cop movie. It's pretty funny, but I didn't think it was quite as tight as Bridesmaids. The external plot revolves around a odd couple pairing of a know-it-all, uptight FBI agent (Bullock) and a semi-crazy, no-holds-barred Boston cop, McCarthy, going after a mysterious drug kingpin. The internal plot is about both women sacrificing personal connections in order to excel in law enforcement careers. So basically they are both excellent cops and lonely women. My gripe with this film would be the lonely women part. This is never an issue with guy cop movies, is it? Maybe they have some too. I could probably do a whole post just comparing guy buddy movies, but I won't. I guess I just feel that the internal struggles of the characters were slogging the movie down. Still, it's funny enough.
WORLD WAR Z is a semi-zombie movie where Brad Pitt (an ex-United Nations super spy soldier guy - I wasn't 100% clear on what his previous job had been) saves his family from the zombie-virus rapidly spreading throughout the world only to get pulled back into government work to try to find patient zero, and a cure. Hard-core zombie people would say that these are not zombies. Sure. Whatever. They're not really called "zombies," but they are zombie-ish. Basically, if a crazy zombie-ish person bites you, your have a seizure for 12 seconds then you, too, are zombie-ish. So this virus-thing moves pretty fast.
I liked it. I thought it was well plotted and things were explained pretty clearly without going into too much detail. Lots of tension. Good character motivations. It lacked a certain sparkle that makes a movie fantastic, but still, I thought it was pretty good. PS: My 10-yr old son was fine with it. No fears. Magoo says, "Awesome!"
MUD: I saw this about a month ago and I'm throwing it into the mix b/c it was SO SO GOOD. It looks like it's a fugitive story in the Arkansas delta, and it is, but it's really a story about love. See, 14-yr-old Ellis (I think he's fourteen) is a romantic at heart. He has a crush on an older girl (I think she's 16.) At the beginning of the movie, Ellis still believes in a fairytale kind of true love. But he and his friend Neckbone meet a man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) who's hiding out on a small island, and they agree to help him fix up a broken-down boat so he can sail away with his true love (Reese Witherspoon) once she arrives. That's the external plot. But through the course of the movie, Ellis notices how his parents marriage is falling apart, how his crush will seem to like him if they are alone, but won't talk to him around other teens, and how Reese Witherspoon's character may love Mud, but perhaps not enough. Ellis's idea of love as a candy filled heart is shattered, but he learns to see it as the complicated emotion that it is. MUD is a work of art, in my opinion.
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY: This is basically an origin story of how monsters Sully and Mike met in college and went from being rivals to best friends. It's very cute and if you're a parent and have been to college, there's probably a lot of humor in it for you that you're kids aren't going to get. (It was funny to me that there's a storyline about an older student returning to college in this kids film, but since he's a monster the child viewers don't care. Okedoke.) If you and/or your kids liked Monsters Inc, you'll like this too. Magoo says, "It was cool."
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: If you've always wanted to like Shakespeare but you haven't been able to get into it, this may be the movie for you. Set in the present, in director Joss Whedon's house, Much Ado is the story of fun, frolicky love. You have Beatrice and Benedict who are totally into each other but to stubborn to admit it. You have Claudio who's in love with Hero, but too shy to do anything about it, so he has a friend woo her for him. And then you have Don John an slimey dude under house arrest who stirs up as much trouble as he can to amuse himself. This awesome thing about this movie is this: when an actor is good (which is most of the cast) even though they are speaking in Shakespeare-ese you understand everything. There are a couple actors in the mix who's lines come out so flat it seems they don't even know they're in the movie. Nathan Fillion's bumbling cop is FABULOUS! This movie might not be for everyone, but I really like it. I also love that this movie got made at all. No explosions, zombies, vampires or robots in the whole thing.
PACIFIC RIM: Pacific Rim is a sci-fi thriller set in the not-too-distant future where a portal that allows giant alien monsters to invade our world has opened in the Pacific Ocean. The good news is, the aliens usually come in one at a time and we have built super giant robots (controlled by two pilots in the helmet) to fight them. The bad news - well, any city where they fight gets completely totaled - and the aliens don't ever really stop coming. Oh, sure, you may get a week between invasions, but the big suckers keep coming and coming. Pacific Rim is a great movie if you enjoy watching special effect robots fight special effect aliens. It's kinda like a modern, expensive Godzilla movie and it wasn't really my cup o' tea. That said, the artistic details and production value were fabulous.
Magoo would probably give it an A. He loved it.
Stay cool, everybody!