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lego-batmanSo I had my choices of movies that opened this weekend to see. They were John Wick: Chapter 2(which I am waiting to see with a friend,) Fifty Shades Darker (be a cold day in hell for me to see that movie by myself,) and The LEGO Batman Movie.   Now the one similar thing between Fifty Shades Darker and The LEGO Batman Movie is that a single guy going to see either of these movies by himself is borderline creepy, albeit for different reasons.    So if you had in the aforementioned cold day in hell and the fact that I love Batman, The LEGO movie it would be.  I was hoping for another surprise like last year’s Zootopia.  Instead I got something that was closer to Minions with more steady laughs but no laugh out loud moments.

LEGO Batman, voiced by Will Arnet (Despicable Me,) is the King of Gotham constantly foiling the evil plans of the Joker, voiced by Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover.)  But one thing that Batman hasn’t been able to overcome is his fear of loss relating to his parents.  That is why he fights crime alone and lives alone with Alfred, voiced by Ralph Fiennes (Spectre.) His life takes a sudden change when he accidentally agrees to adopt orphan Dick Grayson, voiced by Michael Cera (Superbad,) when Batman was distracted by the new Gotham Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon, voiced by Rosario Dawson (Sin City.)  As Batman tries to hide his fear from his new friends The Joker is working on the ultimate plan to get revenge on Batman.

My basic problem with this film is twofold.  One, to me, the movie is aimed at children under the age of 12.  Two, while there are lots of little jokes, especially Batman lore related, nothing really makes me laugh out loud and it seems like there was no real story development because it is very basic.  Of course since I believe the target market is 11 and under, that works.

The story of the movie has the feel of an afterschool special movie made in the 70’s and 80’s.  The whole purpose of the story is to tell kids the importance of family and how you can’t do things alone and that it is ok to ask for help from anyone, including your enemy. This is all fine and good I suppose for the Millennial and Gen-Xer parents out there wanting to enforce that kind of crap…I’m sorry, feelings in their kids.  The problem I have is that in this day in age of Pixar films and non-Pixar Disney films and a few Dreamworks films that cater to both the child and the adult child, this film is aimed strictly for the kids and for me belongs on the Disney Channel and not at the movie theater.  But then again I don’t have kids so what do I know.

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The most telling thing for me and this film is that today I had a long day of work and barely five hours of sleep.  No matter how tired I am if I am into the movie I have no problems staying awake.  However, for this film, I dozed off for I would think 10 minutes at least because I have no idea how The Joker’s Gotham city bad guys got dumped by the Joker for all of the phantom zone villains but it did (This will make more sense when you see the film.)

I will say all of the Batman related jokes were giggle worthy but if you know nothing about Batman and its movies or the TV show then you might miss out on them and then the entire film won’t be funny at all.  The special effects were also amazing and on par with the LEGO Movie.

This will be an entertaining film for your kids but I can’t say for sure that you will like it.  This movie basically takes a great character from the LEGO Movie and tries to give that character its own film but the story is to basic and the lack of humor makes it basically a one trick pony for one and half hours.  But go see it because it won’t be the worst film you see this year.

Oh yes one more thing, there normally would be a whole paragraph on how annoyed I am that movie studios and their marketing departments are wasting the movies best material in the ridiculous amount of trailers released before the movie and why that it is bad.  But I am beginning to accept the fact that this will be happening all the time in the present and future so I should just get used to it.  So stupid.

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secretpetsI saw this movie with a co-worker who loves her dogs more than all but the few humans she is related to and I was talking about how I believe Pixar movies are more for adults then kids, except for Cars and Cars 2, and I sighted the movie Up. Most children should not have a clue what the movie is talking about in the first 15 minutes of Up.  After watching the trailers I kind of expected The Secret Life to be geared more towards adults.  Well I was wrong because while I enjoyed the movie it is very much geared to making the children laugh, which is a good thing after all.

Max the dog, voiced by Louis C.K., lives a great life with his owner Katie, voiced by Ellie Kemper (Bridesmades,) until she brings home a new and much larger dog Duke, voiced by Eric Stonestreet (Identity Thief,) who is determined to make Max’s life miserable.  When both of them and the rest of the area dogs are being walked by a unaware hipster dude, Max grabs Duke and takes off with him with the hopes of losing Max and keeping Katie all to herself.  However about the time the both of them are captured by animal control, Max’s neighbor Gidget, voiced by Jenny Slate (Zootopia,) notices both of them missing and rallies the neighborhood pets to go on the hunt and rescue Max and Duke from the clutches of the evil bunny Snowball, voiced by Kevin Hart (Ride Along 2.)

This biggest sin of this movie is actually doing what many other recent movies have done and which I have mentioned in at least two other reviews for 2016 and that is that some of the best scenes, or in this case, funniest scenes in the movie can be seen in any of the three trailers that have been made to promote the movie in the last year and a half.  I was fooled by the trailer because I was expecting to be laughing almost constantly and it turns out the entirety of the first trailer released a year ago is basically the first five minutes of the movie.  So when there were down times for I don’t know, humor aimed at 8 year olds, I was kind of, for a lack of a better term bored.  I think if I hadn’t seen the trailers before the movie I would have enjoyed the stuff more.  Don’t get me wrong, there is more comedy in the movie and some it you do have to know how animals are in order to get the jokes.  For example Chloe the cat, voiced by Lake Bell (No Escape,) is hilarious in that I believe if all cats talked she is the perfect example of what they would say.  I also like how there was a Guinea Pig wandering the air ducts of the apartment building looking for his owner as well as the squirrels tormenting the dogs.

This movie is made by the same people that brought us the fun Despicable Me movies but also the juvenile but entertaining Minion movie.  So the look of the movie is very good with the animation and over all style and feel of the film.  But this movie is a cross between Despicable Me and Minions in that it has some smart humor and a little character development but mostly relies on jokes that would make an 8 year old laugh.  If I was to compare this movie to a Pixar film I would say its better than Cars 2 and probably Cars but that’s about it.  Although in Cars I had one or two emotional moments in the film and in Pets it tried to have some but it just didn’t work.  The closest they came was when they had Duke talk about his previous owner who was an elderly gentleman and Duke talked about how he ran away to chase “either a butterfly or car, I can’t remember” by the time he caught it and ate it, where Max says, “So car then,” Duke had gotten lost and couldn’t remember how to get back home.  There is a whole montage of Duke growing up with the gentleman.  So Max helps Duke find his old house but when they get there it turns out the old man doesn’t live there anymore.  This causes Duke to freak out as the young family arrives with their tiny child and long story short, Duke is caught by Animal Control again.  This scene would have been a lot more powerful if we could have slowly discovered that the old man no longer lived there, how I don’t know, but instead we had annoying cat deliver the bad news to Duke.  It just seemed to hit us to fast.  Although the way the movie was going you knew the old guy wasn’t going to be there but it seemed like the writers were writing in such a way that since the audience knew the old guy wasn’t going to be there lets not build up any suspense.  I think they missed the mark here.

I have been doing lots of complaining, too much complaining, because it is entertaining and I will probably add it to my collection once it hits the local used store.  By the sounds of the movie theater the children in it laughed quite a lot and seemed to enjoy the film greatly, which is the point of kids films these days.  I just came in with high hopes and was a little disappointed. I have seen three animated movies so far this year, I am one of the few humans on the planet that didn’t like Finding Nemo so I haven’t seen Finding Dory because I remember hating Dory the first time, and while Zootopia is a much better film than The Secret Life of Pets, Pets is 1000 times better than Angry Birds.

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angry birdsI must be one of the 250 or so people in North America who has never played the Angry Birds cell phone app game.  Don’t really have a reason other than I don’t like to play games on my phone in case I don’t have my Wi-Fi on for whatever reason and I burn through my data usage on my phone for a silly game.  So I really have no idea what the game is about other than there are Angry Birds and based on the few TV commercials I saw back in the day the birds would fly through the air hitting something.  So it is with a blank slate I walked into the movie theater tonight after shot gunning my choice of new movies that were released today.  After seeing the film I too can say I am angry for wasting my time with the film.

Red, voiced by Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses,) is the one angry bird on an island full of happy go lucky joyful flightless birds.  After an incident involving a cake and another birds face, Red is forced into an anger management class where he meets Chuck, voiced by Josh Gad (Frozen,) and Bomb , voiced by Danny McBride (Pineapple Express,) and the teacher Matilda, voiced by Maya Rudolph (Sisters.)  At the same time this happens a strange ship shows up with two pigs who claim to be visiting.  Red doesn’t by it and sneaks on board the Pigs ship and discover that the ship is full of pigs.  Red runs back to tell the rest of the birds on Bird Island what is happening but they don’t believe the one Angry Bird on the island they believe the pigs.  While Red, Chuck, and Bomb go in search of the hero of the birds, The Mighty Eagle, voiced by Peter Dinklage (The Boss,) the pigs trick the rest of the birds and steal all the eggs and head to Pig Island.  The birds go to Red for help and he must find a way to save the bird eggs from being breakfast.

So it’ll be easy for me to talk about the things I like about the film, because it’ll be brief.  The title sequence in the film plays Black Sabbath.  In fact most of the music in the film is quite good because a lot of it is classic rock songs.  So that was cool.  Oh, also the one funny scene in the movie, Chuck and Bomb swimming in the pool that The Mighty Eagle pees in, you know the one they show in the trailer, that one is still funny even though I saw it in the trailer.  So there are two things that are good about the film.

So to start off with the things that aren’t good about this movie, we can begin with the fact that the only thing funny in the film is a scene that was already shown because of the freaking Trailer.  Now I do will give the caveat that in this theater there were, by the sounds of it, 50/50 split of adults and children under the age of 12.  Those kids under the age of 12 laughed their little butts off.  That’s because the entire humor from the movie comes from silly childish humor.  The Eagle peeing in the pool that the boys were drinking out of a moment early, a bird that sneezes magical snot, or the teacher that farts sparkly bombs.  Basically this was a movie full of dick and fart jokes but toned down for the kids.

The story is an issue just because the writer tried to create a backstory for Red.  This is a movie about a cell phone video game app, there is no back story necessary.  But instead of having an Angry Bird be angry just because, instead we briefly get a scene that show that Red, when he was a chick, being laughed at by the other chicks because he is shy and he has no mom and dad.  Because they didn’t include him, because inclusion is important in our new hellish progressive society, Red is an Angry Bird.  The story is just plain bad as well.  I would say it would be hard to create a compelling story based on a video game, or a game of any kind, but in the 1980’s there was a wonderful movie based on the board game Clue.  So it can be done.  This movie, however, is not an example of that.  Instead we get a story and a plot that is paint by numbers style that reflects its source material.

I will briefly add that while the voice actors did not really make their mark in the film, by no means were any of them bad. In fact the one good thing I will say about them is that because I don’t know who the character names are, I have no idea who Sean Penn voiced and I had no idea that Peter Dinklage was the Eagle, so that’s kind of cool.

To be honest I don’t know of any adult who would like this film.  This movie is a stark contrast from the Disney Pixar films that make the kids laugh but stimulate the adult mind.  Hell, the movie Zootopia isn’t a Pixar film and it’s so far ahead of Angry Birds in every way possible that it’s a crime to compare the two movies together. I will finish by saying that unless your kids are screaming to see this film I would skip it because it is a very forgettable film.  If they kids want to see a movie and you kind find it, take them to Zootopia.

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zootopiaIt’s amazing how Disney continues to produce high quality family films for what seems like decades. It seems lately all of them are at least decent and most are good.   Some are downright great with the proper amount of storytelling, humor, a good message or two, and lately, intelligent.  It is this intelligent writing that makes me believe that Disney movies are written for adults as much as the kids.  Zootopia is another winner from Disney studios that embraces all the values that make cartoon movies great for kids and adults.

Office Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk The Line,) is the first Rabbit police officer in the city of Zootopia.  Her first day on the job as a meter maid she runs into a sly fox named Nick, voiced by Jason Bateman (The Gift,) who tricks her into running a scam to make money.  On her second day after apprehending a thief, she is on the verge of losing her job when Chief Bogo, voiced by Idris Elba (Thor,) is forced by Assistant Mayor Bellwether, voiced by Jenny Slate (The Lorax,) to put Hopps on the case of the missing fourteen mammals.  Bogo gives Hopps 48 hours to find one of the missing fourteen or she loses her job and she enlists the help of Nick to try and solve the mystery.

The humor in this film is wonderful and intelligent.  The writers did a great job of taking everyday occurrences and make them funny.  The biggest example is the Zootopia Department of Motor Vehicle or DMV.  If you have ever been to the DMV you know its slow and takes hours, especially in large cities.  Well the writers put their spin on it by making the workers at the DMV sloths.  It is priceless entertainment.

The animation in the film is also wonderful which isn’t surprising now that we use computers for animation. But the work done on the Judy Hopps character was just perfect.  She looks like a cute little bunny that I would gleefully take home with me.  The same could be said for the Fox, the Timberwolves and even the otter.  There was great effort put into the look and the feel of the movie and it is appreciated.

As with most Disney films, I love the music in the film. The best song is Try Everything that is sung by Shakiria who has a small part in the film as a pop star Gazelle, who is of course, a gazelle.  The music is a staple for Disney films and this song, in my opinion, should be in the mix next Academy Award season.

Several messages rotate in and out of the film with the biggest of which being that you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things and break stereotypes. The writers do a great job of making Hopps be the victim of stereotyping by being a bunny forced to start her police career as a meter maid and then turn it around and have her be the main perpetrator in forcing a belief in Zootopia that all of the predatory animals couldn’t be trusted because what was happening may be in their nature.  It was nice to see the story embrace this and show how everyone can be stereotyped and everyone, even the good guys, make the mistake of stereotyping.

This is probably the best animated movie I have seen in sometime. For me it is possibly up in the same category as the first Despicable Me and a few of the 2nd tier Pixar films.  This is definitely a show for all ages and should be a blast for everyone.  If you would like to see my movie review cohorts Benn Farrell’s review click here.

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It’s a funny thing to say, but I wanted to like this movie. Now that may not sound like a funny thing to say, but it is for the simple fact that the statement implies that I don’t like the movie.  But I do like it.  I just wish I like it more.  But I do like it, and I laughed a lot, but I feel like it could have been better.

If you didn’t know, Minions is the prequel to the Despicable Me franchise.  The minions are the bumbling henchmen that assist Gru in his plans for world domination, or party planning for Gru’s adopted girls.  But where did they come from and how did they find Gru?  This is what Minions tries to tell us.  We are introduced to the minions at the dawn of time and their goal of finding the ultimate evil big boss to work for and serve.  We quickly see them work for and kill off some of history’s greatest villains, including Egyptian Pharaohs, Count Dracula, and Napoleon. Fast forward to the 1960’s where the minions have been boss less since accidently killing Napoleon and are wasting away.  So three brave minions, Kevin, Bob, and Stewart strike out to find the ultimate evil villain and save the minions from boredom.  Unfortunately the Minions pick Scarlet Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock (Gravity,) who asks the three minions to steal the Queen of England’s crown so she could become Queen.

In both Despicable Me, and Despicable Me 2, the minions are comic relief.  And the writers and creators of the movies did a masterful job on making them the comic relief.  There isn’t a scene that they are written to create laughter.  I would argue some of the best comical cartoons ever written.  But the comic relief needs a strong lead character to support like they have in Gru.  The biggest drawback to the movie Minions is that the Minions do not have a strong lead character.  They have the highly annoying Scarlet Overkill whose vocal performance is played extremely poorly by Bullock.

The scenes that work in this movie are the ones where the minions are on their own.  From the time they are wandering around the department store in New York to playing polo on top of small dogs in Buckingham Palace they are all that we expected them to see.  However, the minute they are put on the screen with Overkill the scenes just drag.  Part of it is due to the writing of the character but a lot of it was due to the poor job done by Sandra Bullock.  I can’t imagine a more uninterested vocal performance than the one she did.  In fact her 1 hour and28 minute performance was out done by 30 seconds Steve Carrell came in and did a young Gru.

So my hope is that since this movie made a ton of money is that we get to see the minions with a young Gru on some sort of adventure next.  I think that combination would be a fitting end to what has been an enjoyable set of movies and a wonderful comedic writing.  If you haven’t seen this movie, and if you have kids I don’t know how that’s possible, I recommend that you do.  The minions will keep you laughing past the slow parts and after all they are the stars of the show.

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This is the smartest, funniest movie written since last years Shrek 2.  It is very enjoyable movie especially for adults and the parents of children bringing them to the movie.  The kids will like it too but for different reasons, it is a family movie and I only have a few problems with but it should be included on your movie viewing list this summer.

There are many entertaining jokes that come at a fast pace and the kids won’t get them.  Some of the many are jokes pertaining to Hollywood movies and my favorite on is where Alex is lying in a bed of steaks with steaks raining down on him, an obvious play on the movie “American Beauty.”  They also go after Disney with a Lion king joke.  However, these are not the only jokes in the movie.  The banter in the movie is quick paced and that allows it to go against the grain of stereotypes.  The English speaking monkeys and the gang of psychotic Penguins are well written.  Especially the penguins, I was laughing at every second they were on the screen.  Mark Burton and Billy Frolick did a great job with the script for this movie, especially considering that this was the debut film for both men.  They are both teaming up again to write the script for the movie, “The incredible shrinking man.”

If I do have a complaint it is that I don’t know if any of the actors that gave their voices to the movie are cut out for voice work.  None of the five did a bad job, I just don’t think they achieved an individual voice for their character.  An example of what I mean is Mike Meyers is Shrek and Eddie Murphy is Donkey.  None of the actors in this movie achieved that status.  Of this cast, Chris Rock was the best and Schwimmer was the worst.

This movie was a pleasant surprise and quite enjoyable.  I highly recommend watching this movie at the movie theater, but bring some tissue because you will laugh yourself to tears.

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I have seen this movie twice and loved it both times, yet I can not express exactly why I like it so much. The movie is well written with a story that is real. This doesn’t make any sense because not only is this a cartoon movie, but it’s a cartoon movie about super heroes. However, I feel this is the best way to describe “The Incredibles,” real.

The story revolves around Mr. Incredible, Bob Parr, voiced by Craig T. Nelson (TV’s Coach) and his attempt at trying to live a normal life, because super heroes have been outlawed. He is married to Helen, Elastigirl, voiced by Holly Hunter (Thirteen) who is at home taking care of the kids Dash, Violet, and Jack Jack.

The government has put all superhero’s in hiding and gave them real jobs. The problem for Mr. Incredible is, he is more concerned about helping people than making money for his company. He then gets hired by a woman named Mirage, to help capture a robot her company has lost control of on an island. It turns out the robot was made to destroy Mr. Incredible by his child fanatic and now nemesis Buddy Pine, Syndrome, voiced by Jason Lee (Chasing Amy). Mr. Incredible finds out Syndrome has killed off almost all superheroes except for himself, his wife and their friend Frozone, Lucius Best, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction).

The story is great, because it deals with the real life scenario of how a person fits in today’s society when he or she is different. The struggle Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl have with each other and their environment is easily translated to the real world. There are also the underlining tones of what money does to people and the evil corporations of the world. However, nothing is so out of whack, making the comments unreal. This is amazing, considering we are talking about a cartoon movie.

The actors did a great job of interpreting characters’ emotions and providing the right comedic tone for the movie. I thought Jason Lee was perfect for the role of the nerdy villain. I also was turned on by Holly Hunter’s lisp given for Elastigirl.

Overall, I think this is one of the best movies of the year. The only thing I did not like was the animated short movie before the regular feature, called “Bound.” I thought it was a bad short, and I hope it doesn’t get nominated for an Academy Award®. However, it has nothing to do with the feature “The Incredibles,” so it’s more of a small annoyance. Go see it. The movie is everything it is cracked up to be.

Brian – the Naked Gun

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