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

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Good Will Hunting (1997)

An old review of mine that still rings true, hence my old style of writing a review.

It’s hard to believe that a decade (note: now it has been 15 years) has passed since the release of Good Will Hunting. When you look at the careers of the actors involved in the film, and what they’ve gone on to since the movie, well it certainly makes the film out to be quite an interesting time capsule. This is the movie that skyrocketed Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s names into Hollywood, as well as providing a vehicle to honour the slightly psychotic and mostly annoying career of Robin Williams with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Casey Affleck also got the rub from the movie, and Cole Hauser to a somewhat smaller extent. He’s almost verging on That Guy territory. Speaking of That Guy, I would suggest that no one’s career benefited more than Scott William Winters, since he’s been in numerous projects since Hunting, probably because most casting directors probably just smack their foreheads and exclaim “OH, you’re That Guy from Good Will Hunting!” But enough about the present, let’s talk about this old movie.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon co-wrote the movie – earning themselves a Best Original Screenplay Oscar – and it was directed by sort of maverick film director Gus Van Sant. You wouldn’t know that Van Sant was a director historically known for quirky or potentially controversial films by watching Good Will Hunting (or Hunting’s bastard step-child Finding Forrester which did nothing but spur on the creation of YTMND) since the subject matter is easily accessible for every audience. So easily accessible that this is another movie that the MPAA screwed over by giving an R-rating because of “strong language, including some sex-related dialogue”. Those fucking prudes. This is a movie about Southies from Boston and the movies have taught me that Southies all have filthy mouths and that is a normal and accepted thing and it feels real.

Okay, so for those of you that don’t know the story, Will Hunting (Damon) is an intellectually gifted youngster, flitting around from job to job, doing work that is far beneath him, carousing with his friends Chuckie (Ben Affleck), Morgan (Casey Affleck) and Billy (Hauser), and getting himself into legal trouble. Hunting was severely abused as a child and bounced from foster home to foster home and since then has built up an emotional wall when it comes to letting people get close to him. Soon Hunting’s life goes from shit to enormous potential, all thanks to solving a math problem written on a blackboard by an MIT Proffessor, Gerald Lambeau (Skarsgård) and beating the shit out of some guy in a neighborhood fight. Lambeau speaks with the judge in charge of Hunting’s case, and offers to take Hunting under his care as long as he gets therapy. Lambeau resorts to Sean Maguire (Williams) – an old school-time friend and Southie – to give Will Hunting the counselling he so badly needs before he destroys his own life.

I know that it doesn’t sound like anything better than a TV Movie of the Week, but the individual parts put so much into the movie that it rises above the level of your average tear-jerker piece of fluff film. Damon was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance, and it was a well-deserved nomination. Unfortunately he was up against his future Departed co-star Jack Nicholson, who won for his role in As Good As It Gets. As previously mentioned, Robin Williams picked up a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his wonderfully layered performance. All in all, the movie was nominated for nine Oscars, including a Best Picture nod and a Best Supporting Actress nom for Minnie Driver. There’s a lot to love about the movie, from the performances to the score to the realistic dialogue, it’s got it all.

Well, the only thing I think that Good Will Hunting is missing to push it up to perfect status is the style of directing. I’m not saying that Van Sant did a terrible job or anything, just that it seemed like he phoned it in a bit. He did coax career-making performances out of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, but their future work would show that they nearly always bring their A-games. I don’t want it to seem like I’m punishing Hunting for being an easily accessible film, but I expected a bit more of a challenging style from Van Sant. Still, Good Will Hunting is a tremendously enjoyable film that should be watched by everyone.

4 / 5

Tower Heist (2011)

This is like the derpy version of Ocean’s Eleven.  If Brett Ratner gets his crotch-smelling hand on anything, you know it’s going to be stupid.  He ruined the X-Men franchise so badly that they had to start over.  This movie was so bad it killed Heavy D [citation needed].  It wasn’t so bad that I am enraged or anything, but it’s just.. it’s sad, really.  It only made $146 million box office, but it looked so stupid and like the producers were trying to cram so many different actors that cater to specific demographics into one movie that it looked like it was going to be a mishmash of epic proportions.

There are so many absurd storyline contrivances and plot holes and general stupidity abounding throughout the movie, that someone should sit down and really pick it apart.  Someone smarter and more dedicated than me, though.  I don’t hate it that much, it’s just a waste of time.  There were two decent to good performances in the movie, and those were Eddie Murphy and Gabourey Sidibe’s time on screen.  Sidibe surprised me the most though, as I thought Precious was a horrible movie and didn’t really think she would ever amount to anything other than her one career-defining role.

Anyways, it was what I thought it was going to be: a waste of many talented actors, but hurrah for them continually getting work.

1 / 5