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

Kick-Ass (2010)

Note: I’m writing this before I go see The Dark Knight Rises, because I’m totally stoked for that movie and you read the review for it yesterday, probably, so you already knew that.

When Kick-Ass first exploded onto the scene, I knew next to nothing about it.  I had seen some footage that was released and was trying to figure out exactly what kind of a movie it was going to be.  It seemed almost like satire, over-the-top, balls out action.  Of course, that was just the scene of Nicolas Cage firing a gun at Chloë Grace Moretz’s chest after calling her “baby doll”, so you can see how I may have misread it.  I wasn’t even aware that it had only been released as a comic book series several months prior.  I wasn’t stoked about it or anything, though I generally wish success for comic book movies so I can have more of them.  Just no more Spider-Man or Fantastic Four movies, please.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn (responsible for the surprisingly excellent X-Men: First Class last year), Kick-Ass is another in the gritty vein of comic book movies.  However, the production/art design on it is more Batman Forever than The Dark Knight, and that works well for it because it celebrates its comic book nature.  In my Avengers review I said that it was probably the greatest comic book movie of all time, and I still stand by that.  However, I don’t classify Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies as “comic book” movies, and every time I re-watch Kick-Ass, it gets better and better in my mind, so watch out Avengers, I might have to revise my opinion!

The strength of Kick-Ass lies in the fact that it pulls no punches.  It is dark, it is violent, it is filled with foul-mouthed characters who do Bad Things, it is a comic book come to life, although admittedly a bit filthier than your standard Marvel and DC fare.  The origin story behind the hero Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) is fairly believable and not condescending to the audience at all.  There’s a lot more to this movie than just the action and bad words, as a genuine romance buds between Kick-Ass’ alter ego Dave and his schoolmate, Katie (the always gorgeous Lyndsy Fonseca) and that leads to Feelings.

That’s not even more than the surface of Kick-Ass, as there are several other stories being told as well.  Damon Macready (Cage) has a vendetta planned for crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong at his movie heaviest) and has raised his daughter, Mindy (Moretz) to be a highly skilled vigilante in her own right.  D’Amico’s son, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), wants to get into the family business despite his somewhat nerdish nature.  All of these storylines come together in amazing ways, and Cage gives one of the best performances of his career as an avenging husband hero type.  My words are failing me now, I just want to gush about how great this movie is.

It’s not a movie for kids, okay.  Do not sit down with your little ones to watch this little comic book movie, because you will be shocked and have to explain so much to them and unfairly resent the movie for that.  It’s not the fault of the movie that you didn’t do your homework!  Kick-Ass is an awesome and worthwhile movie watching experience.

5 / 5

Superbad (2007)

I could sit here like a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters and never come up with a review that accurately sums up exactly how much I love this movie.  Sure, it’s not in my Top 20 of All Time, but it’s in my Top 50.  Unless my list changes.  Five years hasn’t changed my opinion on it enough to warrant writing up a new review that says the same thing, so here’s my old one:

This is another in a long line of hard-to-write reviews. Not that it’s too difficult for me to type or anything, have no fear. It’s just one of those movies that I enjoyed so immensely that I want to sit down and just type 5 / 5 in a huge font and let the review sit like that. But then I second guess myself a bit, wonder if people will question my credibility as a reviewer if I’m giving Superbad a perfect score, stuff like that. But then I decided, fuck that noise, the movie was a laugh riot and the story was great and when it comes out on DVD I’m going to buy it the first day it’s available (note: I totally did) and that anyone that has such a high opinion of themselves that they’ll judge a movie based on what they’ve seen in commercials and refuse to watch it because… I’ve lost my train of thought.

Directed by a friend of Judd Apatow, Greg Mottola, and co-written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Superbad is about one day in the life of Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), two somewhat geeky high school students that trying to “get with” a couple of girls before they head off to college. Seth and Evan have been best friends since childhood, and the events that take place during this one day threaten to tear apart their friendship, all because of women. Oh, I guess booze, the police and bullies might also be factors, but mostly women.

A lot of people might be reluctant to plunk down their hard-earned money to go see Superbad just because it looks like a “dumb comedy”. Kind of like how I won’t be rushing out to see Hot Rod before it leaves theatres, or how I won’t go out of my way to see Blades of Glory or Talladega Nights. Superbad, however, has the Judd Apatow / Seth Rogen seal of awesomeness on it, and based on their impressive pedigree, I will always plunk down money to see one of their movies.

A lot of that blind devotion of mine goes to the casting of these movies, as well as the wonderfully colourful and realistic-feeling dialogue that soaks every scene. Michael Cera is pretty much an acting veteran by now, and the awkward deliveries he gives – while reminscent of his character on “Arrested Development” – are so dead-on to how many high school geeks act in real life that I fear he’ll always be asked to play this character. Because he’s so good at it! Match up that solid perfection with the chemistry the entire cast shares and you’ve got yourself one hilarious and entertaining movie. I don’t want to say too much here because I’m worried about spoiling all the awesome lines. I literally took 20 minutes to choose the quote for my cut because I was afraid of ruining an awesome laugh.

Usually when a movie is over – even if it’s a great one – I’ll be happy because it was an all-around decent package or whatever. When the credits started to roll on Superbad, I was saddened, and I stuck around for a bit just hoping that somehow there’d be more thrown into the mix. I haven’t seen a tonne of movies from this year so far, but aside from Hot Fuzz and Knocked Up, there hasn’t been a movie I truly loved that has hit theatres. Until now.

5 / 5

Role Models (2008)

I really can’t get enough of Paul Rudd.  It’s probably reaching disturbing proportions now, but come on.  Girls want to be with him and this dude would love to be him.  He’s one of the few actors that I would happily pay money to watch onscreen in pretty much anything.  I mean, I still haven’t watched Over Her Dead Body before because well, the inclusion of Eva Longoria doesn’t really make me interested in it at all.  Role Models is a reunion of sorts, with Rudd teaming up with many of his Wet Hot American Summer co-stars and getting director David Wain to helm the project.

Basically, Danny (Rudd) has a breakdown of sorts which leads to him impulsively proposing to his girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks), getting rejected and then implicating his co-worker Wheeler (Seann William Scott) in vehicular hilarity.  Since Beth is a lawyer, she strikes a deal with the judge to avoid Danny and Wheeler going to jail: 150 hours of community service with Sturdy Wings, a big brother and sister type charity.  Wheeler’s “Little” is Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed youngster obsessed with boobies (can anyone blame him?), while Danny gets Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a somewhat introverted teen highly involved in LARPing.

You can tell that all these actors got along well during the movie, and it helps that most of them are highly skilled in the improvisational form of comedy.  They riff off of one another so perfectly that you can’t really tell where the script begins and ends.  It’s not a perfect movie, but if you like humour that doesn’t censor itself for a PG13 rating, then you’ll enjoy this one.

4 / 5

Fright Night (2011)

After watching the entire run of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” multiple times over, I’ve got a concrete idea of what vampire mythology is all about.  Same thing with Back to the Future and time travel movies.  There are ideas that I will reject instantly because THEY AREN’T RIGHT like vampires sparkling in daylight and books for teenagers that are abstinence parables, because fuck that noise.  Vampires are soulless demons and there are many rules and such that apply to killing them and dealing with them.  THESE RULES ARE SET.

When I heard that there was yet another remake/reimagining/whatever bullshit you want to categorize it as, and it was based on a horror movie that I had never seen, I had no interest in seeing it at all.  Then I heard some pretty great things about Colin Farrell’s performance in it, and I kind of said “oh alright, I’ll check it out someday.”  Now I have, and immediately after watching the screenplay credit come up, I was delighted that it was written by “Buffy” vet, Marti Noxon.  As far as I’m concerned, that means it takes place in the same universe as “Buffy” and that is an awesome thing to have surprise you at the end of a movie.

I’m not going completely ga-ga for the movie though, since it was filmed for 3D and there are such stupid 3D set pieces put into the film that it definitely takes you out of the movie if you don’t watch it that way.  Great cast though, with Anton Yelchin still being able to somewhat believably play a nerdy high school kid, Toni Collette as his hot mom (I THINK SHE’S ATTRACTIVE SCREW YOU GUYS IF YOU DON’T), and perfect supporting cast members.  Lisa fucking Loeb has a brief appearance too!

Highly recommended, great fun, and another awesome Colin Farrell performance of scenery chewing to go along with Horrible Bosses earlier this year.  Dude is great.

3.5 / 5