ParaNorman (2012)

Nice throwback-style poster.

Nice throwback-style poster.

Directed by: Sam Fell and Chris Butler (haven’t seen any of their other movies, though I am interested in Fell’s Flushed Away)

Written by: Chris Butler wrote screenplay based upon Arianne Sutner and Stephen Stone’s story

Starring: the vocal talents of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman and others.

What it’s about: a young boy who can speak to the dead needs to save the townspeople from the spirit of a recently awakened witch

Movie Mash Up: The Sixth SenseThe GooniesScooby-Doo

What I liked: It is not often that I will actually hail the message of a film, but in this case the anti-bullying stance and accepting everyone for who they are is one that needs to be championed.  The film is absolutely gorgeous, and I hope to see more stop-motion animation movies in the future.  Now that 3D printers have been invented, it certainly streamlines the process.  The movie is dark, but fun.  The vocal cast is great throughout, and there are numerous little fun scenes throughout which showed off the sense of humour of the filmmakers.

What I disliked: Nothing in general, though I wasn’t really a fan of the big gay reveal at the end.  It really didn’t add anything to the character, and people trumpeting it as the “first openly gay character in a children’s animated movie”, well, there were absolutely no indications of him being gay until he said that he was.  It wasn’t a plot point, it was used as a cheap shock joke.  True, before that he was just another character in the movie, treated the same as everyone else which is in line with the film’s message.  I just felt it wasn’t necessary for the character or the movie at all.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is a fun movie for people of all ages, though I would avoid showing it to younger children.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Animated Feature Oscar Rankings: 1. Wreck-It Ralph 2. ParaNorman 3. Brave

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

All of a sudden, I’m so very conflicted.  Apparently well-know troll critic Armond White named this movie as his #1 of 2010… the very same accolade I awarded it (Oh, uh SPOILER ALERT I love this movie).  Now, in case YOU didn’t know, White is known for actually being um.. well there’s no way to say this without sounding like a snobby critic, but he’s known for liking shitty movies.  Or, I guess, movies that are viewed as shitty in the eyes of most critics.  White is pretty much the only reason that Toy Story 3 doesn’t have a 100% rating at RottenTomatoes.  So now .. I’m questioning everything.

Is it really that great of a movie?  Oh, you silly bastard, OF COURSE it is.  I will say that it is probably not the most accessible movie for everyone, and that it’s clearly going to be a cult favourite for years, and mainstream audiences will never appreciate it.  The box office gross for it proves that point.  For me, the most amazing part is that I’ve probably seen it around ten times now and I still see new things that I had never noticed before.

Not to mention how, well, sexy is a weird term to use to describe SPvtW, but there’s so much love put into many of the scenes, and the execution of it is just so perfect that I sit back in awe.  And yeah, I think it’s a sexy movie, not just because I have a thing for girls with awesomely coloured hair (right behind redheads on my list), but it’s such a perfect marriage of comic books and movies.  The one part where I feel a bit embarrassed about when I show the movie to people is the first fight scene.  To me it works, but it’s a bit jarring when Matthew Patel starts singing.

There are so many wonderfully epic performances that just fly under the radar, because these actors completely embody these characters.  Or Edgar Wright is just giving fantastic motivation, I don’t know, but I love this movie.  I love it so much that it is now officially in my Top Five of All Time.

5 / 5

Up in the Air (2009)

This George Clooney streak is one of the easiest streaks of movies to watch ever.  The dude has contributed so many quality movies to the world, that it is nearly unbelievable that at one point he was a character named Booker on “Roseanne”.  I don’t even know what he did on that show, but I remember him being on it, and honestly, if you look at his resume pre “ER”, well it’s downright depressing.  I’m not gonna lie, so is this movie, at least from certain perspectives.

Ryan Bingham (Clooney) travels across America as a hired gun.  All he does is go to companies and fire people, but y’know, in a classy George Clooney way.  When Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) comes up with new ideas about how to handle the process cost effectively, Bingham’s entire lifestyle philosophy choice is put into jeopardy.  Along the way, Bingham connects with a like-minded individual in Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), and finds himself actually contemplating accepting that lifestyle change.

This is a classy movie, starring classy actors, and directed by a director that isn’t content with making cookie-cutter movies.  Every movie that Jason Reitman has directed (this one, Juno, and Thank You For Smoking) has been a movie that isn’t an easily digestible piece of fast food garbage.  I say that with the most loving of tones.  To Reitman, these movies aren’t just jobs or licensing opportunities, they’re a chance to make a statement or impact on someone.

Movies like these occasionally stir up the snark and snob in me, making me pissed off that there are directors out there that are happy with essentially jerking off their audiences.  This is an excellent movie, and there are so many excellent performances within, from the stars to the blink and you’ll miss them appearances of J.K. Simmons and Zach Galifianakis.

5 / 5

50/50 (2011)

There are times when I’m smoking and I’m thinking to myself that inevitably, I’m most likely going to get cancer.  It doesn’t help that it affected my grandparents, either.  I then think to myself that since I’ve changed my life so much, that I’ve eliminated so many casual / not really friends from my life, that I won’t have much of a support team to help me get through that period.  I used to be okay with that, just existing and wandering through people’s lives, but watching 50/50 makes me want to expand it a bit.

Actually, now that I think about it, Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) didn’t really have a huge support team at all.  He had his best friend and co-worker, Kyle (Seth Rogen), but it seemed that Adam merely put up with Kyle’s obnoxious behavior rather than embrace him as a true friend.  Then there’s Adam’s somewhat distant artist girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), who seems more inconvenienced than caring about Adam’s cancer diagnosis.  Adam views his mother (Anjelica Huston) as a hysterical mess, and his father (Serge Houde) has Alzheimer’s and barely remembers Adam.  Then there’s the therapist Adam gets, Katherine McKay (Anna Kendrick), almost entirely brand new to the job and awkward as all get out.

Those are just the characters, and if it seems like I’m being dismissive when I say the movie feels like (500) Days of Cancer, I’m not.  It’s a very hipster-y feeling movie, something director Jonathan Levine has excelled at in the past (I loved The Wackness) and it fits comfortably here.  Rogen brings his trademark lovable fool act to the table, and bounces off well with the still underrated Gordon-Levitt.  Bryce Dallas Howard puts in another great “thankless character people love to hate” performance, and well Anna Kendrick, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a part where I didn’t enjoy her.

The only failing that the movie has – in my humble opinion – is that overall, while it is a hopeful story, it is dark and fairly depressing subject material that doesn’t really lend itself to re-watching over and over.  Solid movie though, recommended.

4 / 5