Review 27: The Fourth Kind (0/5)

The Fourth Kind

Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi

Starring Milla Jovovich, Charlotte Milchard, Elias Koteas, Will Patton, Hakeem Kae-Kazim

Released on November 6, 2009

Running time: 1h 38m

Rated PG-13

Genre: Horror, Sci-fi

In 2005, FBI homicide detectives visited the city of Nome, Alaska, to investigate the disappearance of 24 people that had gone missing between the 1960s and 2004. Locals believed that there might have been a serial killer involved. The missing people were mostly native Alaskans who had traveled to Nome. The FBI, determining that there was insufficient evidence to back the serial killer claim, told the press that “excessive alcohol consumption and a harsh winter climate” had caused the disappearances.

According to a 2004 article in the Los Angeles Times, Alaska has 3,323 people that are legally missing, higher than anywhere else in the USA. Considering that Alaska has almost 40 mountain ranges, roughly 3,000 rivers, about 5,000 glaciers, and well over 3 million lakes, and that Nome is a seaside community only accessible by air or water, it is no surprise that the number of missing people is as high as it is; there are many ways for people to get lost and never be found.

Wanna hear how Olatunde Osunsanmi decided to cash in on these tragic events?

One word: ALIENS.

Mr. Osunsanmi made his (one, and to this day, only) film, The Fourth Kind, around this theory.

For those of you who don’t know, a Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind, or CE4, is part of the extension to the J. Allen Hynek scale of close encounters.

  • CE1: A sighting of a UFO less than 500 feet away. The person who sees the UFO is able to see actual detail of it.
  • CE2: A UFO leaves evidence that it has been there. For example, electronic interference, crop circles, chemical traces.
  • CE3: Someone observes one or more Extraterrestrial Biological Entities (EBEs) with or without a UFO, or experiences some sort of intelligent communication
  • CE4: Someone is abducted by a UFO or its EBE occupants, or experiences hallucinations or dreams associated with UFO encounters
  • CE5: Direct, conscious, voluntary, proactive communication between EBEs and humans.
  • CE6: Death of a terrestrial life form as a result of a UFO sighting. This could possibly be an extension of a CE2.
  • CE7: Creation of a human/EBE hybrid by sexual reproduction or by scientific methods.

The film is named after a CE4.

Tinfoil hats at the ready! Here we go!

The film begins with an out-of-focus shot that reveals Milla Jovovich directly addressing the audience. She will be playing Dr. Abigail Tyler in an alleged dramatization of actual events, which will be backed up by archival footage from Abby’s experiences during the first ten days of October of 2000 and footage from Abby’s interview with Mr. Osunsanmi. All names of important characters will be changed to protect their identities. She warns us that the footage we are about to see is very disturbing. Considering that The Fourth Kind is a PG-13 horror film and that the MPAA rated The Conjuring R only because it was “too scary”, I doubt that the footage will be even close to disturbing. Jovovich leaves us with the line “What you believe is yours to decide.” Though I believe in aliens, I’m pretty sure that The Fourth Kind is gonna be a friggin hoax.

Milla Jovovich isn’t a bad actress. Hell, she would be a pretty good voice actress, seeing as she can act with her voice, but not her face or body. I have complained about the expression that Jovovich wears in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. Trust me when I say that I don’t think I should bring up that…thing. Oh, and Jovovich is easily put to shame by the actress in the archive Archive Abby.

Explained in a hypnotherapy session (ooh! A therapist in therapy!): in August of 2000, Abby’s husband Will is murdered one night as the two have – GUESS WHAT? – a pointless sex scene! Remember this – it will be important later.

This murder leaves Abby to take care of her children Ronnie and Ashley. Ronnie in particular acts like a total craphead.

Right off the bat, there is a problem. The archival footage is, 99% of the time, playing alongside the dramatization with our actors. This gets old quick, especially when we see up to four sets of footage playing at the same time. Another thing: the archive and movie footage are separated by a black bar which, for some reason, moves from side to side. What was the point of that?

Oh, and whenever Archive Abby says the name of someone important, the audio is blanked out and we see the subtitle read (NAME OMITTED). OOOOOOOOOOH!

I also immediately noticed that the mountainous community looks nothing like Nome. The reason for that is this: most of The Fourth Kind was shot in Bulgaria. Trust me when I say that the citizens of Nome would not be too happy when they learn what this movie being shot in their community is about.

I also immediately noticed that the camera shakes. Just enough to be noticeable. I know that The Fourth Kind had a low budget, but tripods are not expensive!

Another thing: I am not a hypnotherapist. But I am 100% sure that hypnotherapy is more complex than simple countdowns.

Abby is working on three patients that have strikingly similar stories to tell: every night, at 3:33 AM, they see a white owl staring at them through their windows. Apparently, these patients have been seeing this owl since childhood. Oh really?

Abby puts one patient named Tommy (Corey Johnson) into hypnosis. Strange, because he is addressed as Tommy in the archive footage, when the name Tommy was supposed to be an alias. Tommy recalls a particularly troubling memory: The owl acts as a herald of horrible things to come, as creatures enter his home. Abby is forced to terminate the session after Tommy becomes violently distressed. That night, Abby is called by Tommy’s wife, who tells her that Tommy is going crazy and is trying to kill them (Abby somehow wakes up before the phone rings. I could edit that in five minutes.). Abby goes to Tommy’s house to find the police already there. Despite Abby’s attempts to have Tommy put the gun down, Tommy, with the footage censored, kills his wife, his kids, and himself. The police, in this scene, say that they have no clear shot at Tommy, but after Tommy shoots his wife, the police have an entire second to shoot Tommy! Police officers are trained to make split-second decisions! They should be able to handle a situation like this! They could have easily shot Tommy and saved his kids!

Anyways, Abby suspects that Tommy might have been abducted by EBEs. She herself may have been abducted, as her assistant gives her a tape recording, which plays her scream and sounds of something attacking her, speaking in an electronically distorted unknown language. Abby does not remember events like this happening to her. Dr. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas), Abby’s colleague, is skeptical of these alien abduction claims. Abby contacts Dr. Awaloa Odusami (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), an ancient language specialist and a friend of her husband’s, who identifies the mysterious language as Sumerian. Dr. Odusami gives examples from the past – Sumerian carvings that depict rockets shaped like Apollo and humanoid figures in space suits and oxygen masks.

By the way, the EBE dialogue consists of:

“——–“ word or two “———“ word or two AD NAUSEAM. It gets old QUICK.

Abby decides to try hypnotherapy again, this time on another patient named Scott (Enzo Cilenti). Yes, because it worked SO WELL last time! While under, Scott relates his story. There was no owl, and “they” tried to attack him. AAAAAAH! THEM! THEM! THEM! If you got that reference, you get fifty bonus points. That night, Abby is called by Scott’s wife. Abby goes to Scott’s house, and after Scott begs Abby to get something horrible out of his head, Abby puts him under. It does…not go well. In the only creepy scene in the entire movie, Scott jerks upright and hovers above his bed. The archive video of the scene distorts, and a distorted voice speaks in Sumerian, telling Abby to end her study. Scott drops to the bed, and we learn that he was paralyzed. Sheriff August (Will Patton), because of this, puts Abby under house arrest.

The dash-cam footage of a deputy assigned to watch the Tyler house shows a large, circular black object over the house. The video distorts, but the audio is unharmed (BULLCRAP); the deputy describes people being pulled out of the house. The rest of the police arrive to find Abby sobbing and screaming that “they” took Ashley into the sky. Sheriff August doesn’t believe this, and has Ronnie removed from Abby’s custody. Ronnie goes willingly, not believing Abby either.

Abby has Abel and Odusami put her under hypnosis so she can make contact with the EBEs. Abby is revealed to have actually witnessed Ashley’s abduction. There is a hint that Ashley may have been the result of EBE artificial insemination. Ew. So why was this movie not called The Seventh Kind? The video distorts, and we hear Abby beg the EBEs to return Ashley. The EBEs reply through Abby, saying that Ashley will never be returned. The EBEs call themselves the savior, the father, and, ultimately, God. The video returns to normal as Abel and Odusami rush over to an unconscious Abby. They hear something off camera, the video distorts, and when it clears up, all three are gone.

In the interview with Abby and Mr. Osunsanmi, Abby recounts that she, Abel, and Odusami were all abducted, but have no memory of the incident. Well, what did you think was gonna happen?

Cut back to 2000. Abby wakes up in the hospital, paralyzed. Sheriff August and Abel reveal that Will actually committed suicide, and that Will’s “murder” was a delusion. It is hinted that Ronnie knew this all along.

So, everything we’ve seen is absolute crock. It is 98 minutes of the ranting and raving of a madwoman. This immediately compromises all of this film’s legitimacy.

The film returns to the interview, where Abby begs the audience to believe her story.

Epilogue. Abby moved to the East Coast, where her condition deteriorated so much so that she requires constant care. Abel, Odusami, and August move on, and refuse to contribute to this movie. Ronnie remains estranged from Abby, and Ashley has never been found.

We transition to Jovovich and Osunsanmi leaving the audience with “What you believe is yours to decide.”

Bullcrap. They already decided for us when they revealed the terrible plot twist.

While this is indeed a terrible excuse for a horror movie, this film has another major kicker to it as well.

There are other major flaws that completely compromise the integrity of this film.

It does not contain the “the characters and events in this film are fictitious” disclaimer, but is also does not blatantly say “based on a true story”.

On the DVD, a deleted scene is featured: the Tommy murder-suicide UNCENSORED. If this was legitimate footage, would Universal allow what could be considered a snuff film on one of its movies?

The population of Nome is half Native Alaskan. We see only one – Dr. Odusami.

Nome has no sheriff’s department. No town in Alaska does.

I bring this issue back up: Tommy’s name being supposed to be an alias.

No one in Nome remembers a murder-suicide in October of 2000. Things like this do not happen every day.

The footage says it has been filmed in 2000. The cameras may be that old, but the footage may not be.

Two websites (both are now defunct) were registered by the producers a month before this film was released. One features a fake Abigail Tyler bio and several fake articles on sleep studies. The other features a fake Nome Nugget newspaper article. The Nome Nugget is a real newspaper. Its alleged author, Nancy Maguire, is a real person who works for the Nugget. The Alaska Press Club sued Universal for $20,000. Universal, like douches, claims that the 20 grand was a contribution to the APC, and that they were never sued.

The actress who played Abby in the archive footage has been identified as Charlotte Milchard.

Finally: there is no one under the name of Abigail Tyler that has ever been licensed to practice psychiatry in the state of Alaska.

This is not so much lack of respect for history, but lack of respect for the dead. The citizens of Nome were not pleased when they learned that Olatunde Osunsanmi had cashed in on a terrible tragedy.

In the end, what you believe is yours to decide.

Spoiler: it’s a friggin hoax.

Final verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.

Review 26: The Cat in the Hat (0/5)

The Cat in the Hat

Directed by Bo Welch

Starring Mike Myers, Spencer Breslin, Dakota Fanning, Kelly Preston, Alec Baldwin, Sean Hayes

Released on November 21, 2003

Running time: 1h 22m

Rated PG

Genre: Kids & Family, Comedy (you wish)

Rated PG? Really? PG? How? The amount of adult content in The Cat in the Hat is so high for a kids’ film that I am truly amazed that it wasn’t PG-13.

Exhibit A:

CAT: When a mommy cat and a daddy cat love each other very much…

Exhibit B:

CAT: Hummina, hummina, hummina … WHO is THIS? (CAT pulls back off of picture frame as if unfolding a Playboy centerfold. CAT squees, aroused. CAT’s hat extends like a penis.)

CONRAD: That’s my mom.

CAT’s hat goes back to normal.

CAT: Awkward. (CAT puts the picture down.)

Exhibit C:

CAT: There was this cat I knew back home where I was bred / He never listened to a single thing his mother said / He never used his litter box and made a mess in the halls / That’s why they sent him to a vet who cut off both his b-oh…buh…boh…BOY!

Exhibit D:

CAT imitates a plumber or a car mechanic, letting his pants hang down far enough to show off his buttcrack.

Exhibit E.

CAT: Yes, without those tortured animals and druggie clowns that have hepatitis!

Exhibit F:

CAT holds up the end of his tail and the tip, which he has accidentally severed with a butcher knife.

CAT: SON of a BI-

(CUT to still of a house cat wearing a red-and-white-striped hat hanging from a line. The words “HANG IN THERE, BABY!” are superimposed over the still.)

Exhibit G:

LAURENCE sits down on his easy chair, watching what I assume is as close as The Cat in the Hat dares get to actual porn.

Exhibit H:

CAT turns to look at the garden hoe he is holding.

CAT: Dirty hoe!

Exhibit I:

BIG KID swings his Louisville Slugger bat and hits CAT in the groin. CAT groans.

CUT to SLOW-MO of CAT wearing a white dress and a red bonnet. CAT is on a swing. There is a unicorn in the midground behind CAT. It is snowing.

CUT back to CAT groaning. KIDS are dumbfounded.

Exhibit J:

CAT: Yeah, it’s better than the original name we had for it: Super Hydraulic Instantaneous Transport.

CONRAD: Oh, you mean –

CAT: (Cuts CONRAD off abruptly.) OOH! Quick to the S.L.O.W.! (Awkward guffaw.)

Exhibit K:

During the party in the kiosk, CAT runs into a scantily clad PARIS HILTON, who shakes her breasts at him. CAT is visibly aroused. CONRAD and SALLY drag him away.

Get my drift?

You know what? Let me rephrase that. The Cat in the Hat is too vulgar for anyone under thirteen, and is too idiotic and insulting for anyone over thirteen.

It is important to note that The Cat in the Hat was directed by Bo Welch, the production designer on a lot of Tim Burton movies and Barry Sonnenfeld productions. This shows itself throughout this movie, as Welch clearly knows how to design wacky, over-the-top sets, but he doesn’t know how to direct his actors.

We all know the story, but, of course, in live-action Dr. Seuss movies, we have to deal with weak, forced suburban commentary.

In the city of Anville (PUNPUNPUNPUNPUN), Joan Walden (Kelly Preston) a worker at Humberfloob Real Estate, is hosting that night’s annual company meet-and-greet party. She is warned by her boss (Sean Hayes) that

HUMBERFLOOB: If your house is as messy as last time, … YER FIRRRRRRRRRRRRE-DIH!

Oooooookay. Humberfloob is apparently a germophobe, as he FIRRRRRRRRE-ZUH a new employee simply because he thinks that the employee has dirty hands. Immediately after FIRRRRRRRRRRE-EEN-GUH the new employee, he lifts his jacket, exposing a hand sanitizer bottle that he carries around like John Wayne would carry a revolver. Humberfloob then proceeds to squirt a copious amount of hand sanitizer onto his hands. Even fundamentalist germaphobes know that you only need one or two squirts at the very most. Hell, I know that.

Humberfloob’s Real Estate’s slogan is “How can we make your dreams come true?” I got nothing.

Joan tries to be a good mom, but she has to deal with her two children. They are Conrad (Spencer Breslin), a nonconformist troublemaker, and Sally (Dakota Fanning), a control freak who is such a control freak that she is that close to being the female child version of Christian Grey, minus the BDSM. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you don’t need to expose yourselves to where I got that bit from. Conrad acts too young for his age – I think he is 12 or 13, but in one scene, he goes into the kitchen, dumps out a bunch of kitchen utensils, and throws them all over the kitchen. He then proceeds to make a set of makeshift body armor out of household objects, and luge down the staircase on a cookie sheet. Wow. On the other hand, Sally, who is too smart for her own good, acts like…well, a female Christian Grey. My earlier statement still stands.

SALLY: Today’s to-do list, number one: make to-do list.

Wow. Oh, by the way, Sally also carries a PalmPilot. Yes, indeedy, this is 2003.

We are then introduced to Laurence Quinn (Alec Baldwin), the eeeeeeeevil neighbor who is not only trying to marry Joan, but send Conrad off to military school. Good! Conrad could use someone to knock some sense into him! I mean, how bad can it get? What, will he be treated like Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket? Conrad could use someone like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman to kick his butt…unless Spencer Breslin grows up to be Vincent D’Onofrio. However, as much as I support Conrad being sent to military school, Laurence, or Larry, as he is addressed by Conrad, is literally a tiny, wrinkly, dry, scaly, disease-ridden, impotent little penis. And, even though he wants to send Conrad to military school, he cannot execute a backwards march or a proper salute. OH, COME ON! I learned to do those when I was in NJROTC in high school! You’re an adult, Laurence! Oh, and even though he hates Conrad with a passion, he acts like he genuinely loves him whenever Joan is around. Way to lie to your future fiancée, Laurence.

I like Alec Baldwin as an actor, though he’s less than satisfactory as a person. I’ve seen him do some surprisingly decent stuff. Hell, he even tried to put forth good performances as Mr. Conductor in Thomas and the Magic Railroad and Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle in Pearl Harbor, but was ultimately put down by poor direction, with the two aforementioned films being directed by Britt Alcroft and Michael Bay respectively. Baldwin’s performance in The Cat in the Hat, under the direction of Bo Welch, is…subpar, to say the least.

After making a huge mess and ruining his mom’s groceries, Conrad is grounded. Strangely, Conrad actually tries to pin it all on Sally. GROW UP, KID! He and Sally are to be babysitted by Mrs. Kwan (Amy Hill) while Joan is at work.

CONRAD: I wish I had a different mom.

Well, Conrad, Joan did push you out of her vagina, so, yes, she is your mother, and will always be your mother. Deal with it, kid.

JOAN: Well, sometimes I wish the same thing.

Why, you ungrateful whore!

Mrs. Kwan invites Conrad and Sally to watch TV with her, but she watches the

CONRAD and SALLY: Taiwanese Parliament.

MRS. KWAN: Go get ‘em, Gwai Jung! No more big government!

Mrs. Kwan embodies the forced juxtaposition of the Asian and Elderly stereotypes. She turns out to be the most racist stereotype since Master Little from The King and I, and will continue to be so until Mudflap and Skids from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

After Mrs. Kwan falls asleep, Conrad and Sally sit in their chairs, staring out the window until they are visited by … GUESS WHO?! … a terrifying abomination of hell! Okay, it’s just the famous Cat in the Hat (Mike Myers), but he is SCARY! There is one thing I must mention – the costume. Aside from the fact that it is scary as all hell, it is…comparable to Jim Carrey from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Jim Carrey’s face is emotive enough to go through all of the green and furry makeup. Carrey also has enough bodily and vocal energy to become one with his costume. On the other hand…we have Mike Myers. Not only does Myers have only two facial expressions (that’s two more than Megan Fox): pedophile grin and HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY smile (sorry, Phil Robertson), but he looks like he is restrained by his costume.

But now to the actual character of the Cat. He can’t rhyme. Yes, you read that right. The most famous Dr. Seuss character cannot rhyme. Wow. He is a cat, but he is somehow lactose intolerant. He constantly makes pop culture references. He makes jokes ranging from ones that a three-year-old might giggle at to disgusting ones about bodily functions to some surprisingly dirty jokes that only adults will understand. I should know, because I am one. His recurring laugh fails to make him a three-dimensional character. He is apparently from another dimension. He breaks the fourth wall without warning (In the worst case, he blatantly comes out and advertises Universal Studios). He looks nothing like a cat. He is scary. He is weird. He is constantly out of breath. He constantly talks down to Conrad and Sally. Half the time, he doesn’t even look them in the face. He spouts lazy rhymes once in a while. And he is an absolute douche!

The Cat makes Conrad and Sally sign a big as hell contract, encourages them to jump on the couch (because that’s…fun?), and even turns baking cupcakes into a reality TV show not unlike the Food Network. This makes me long for the glory days of Paula Deen. The Cat introduces the machine known as the Kupkake-inator, which can turn anything in the kitchen into cupcakes. Of course, as you’d expect, the machine goes haywire and explodes, splattering purple goop all over the walls. The Cat attempts to wipe it up with Joan’s new dress, much to the fury of Conrad and Sally.

The Cat then introduces us to Thing 1 and Thing 2. They are also terrifying. Okay, Dr. Seuss could get away with not drawing an upper lip on the Things. However, this looks horrifying when this is directly translated to real life. I can’t possibly describe how horrifying these two hellspawns are. *shudder*

During this time, we are, quite literally out of nowhere, introduced to the Fish (another scary demon of hell). Though he is the only character in this movie that approaches likeable, he is as forgettable as that itch you just scratched and forgot about moments later.

In the book, the story is quite straightforward. The Cat introduces us to the Things, the trio messes up the house, the Cat and the kids learn their lesson, they all clean up the house, and the Cat and the Things leave just before the kids’ mother arrives.

How does this movie screw that up?

Well, it introduces a very strange subplot involving this red crate. Apparently it is a trans-dimensional portal that the Cat and the Things come from. Wait, so the Cat comes from another dimension? The crate is always supposed to be kept locked, and if left open, will unleash “the mother of all messes”. So, basically, this red crate is the Deus ex Machina that will end the world. Wow.

Conrad picks the lock, the lock somehow gets attached to the dog’s collar, and the Things toss the dog out the window. Conrad, Sally, and the Cat have to get the dog back while simultaneously avoiding Laurence. Throughout this scene, I couldn’t help but notice with amazement that apparently the populace of Anville is completely fine with a six-foot-tall cat walking around on its hind legs in full view of the public.

The trio makes it back to the house to discover that the crate has morphed the house into…a Universal Studios theme park ride. Don’t believe me? The Cat literally comes out and says it, breaking the fourth wall again.

CONRAD: This is amazing! This is just like a ride at an amusement park!

CAT: You mean like at (Everything stops except for CAT.) Universal Studios! (Laughs.) Cha-ching! (Winks.)

(Everything resumes.)

Wow. Just…just wow. Talk about being a whore of a corporation.

The trio makes it to the crate and shuts it, but the house is destroyed. Conrad and Sally FINALLY kick the Cat out of the house and prepare to meet their fate at the hands of Joan.

Of course, the Cat comes back and fixes everything within a minute or two. He even breaks the fourth wall again by flat out saying that they put in an upbeat pop song for the soundtrack. He quickly leaves just before Joan arrives at the perfectly clean house. Joan is pleased, Joan dumps Laurence, the party goes swimmingly, and they all live happily ever after.

OR DO THEY?!

Well, now that Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’s wife, threatened lawsuit if any more live-action movies of her husband’s work were made, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back will not be made.

So, yes. They live happily ever after.

BUT I DON’T!

This movie is truly astounding with how bad it is. It truly has to be seen to be believed. This has not happened to me since The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure and Food Fight.

The story of The Cat in the Hat book was decent enough, but the movie’s story was botched by pointless subplots, injokes, advertisements, forced morals, adult jokes, and sexual innuendos. It is a hokey amalgamation of corporate pandering to focus groups, terrifying imagery, and the promotion of the sick side of humanity.

The adult humor makes it more childish. Modernizing the dialogue makes it a blatant, flagrant product of the times rather than a timeless classic.

Dr. Seuss’s books are not just typical kids’ books. They are classic stories that we are reading to this day. They shaped our childhoods by teaching us valuable life lessons through well-thought-out writing, wacky, clever, and child-friendly humor, stunning, imaginative, and surreal artwork, and endearing morals. They are, surprisingly, much more adult than they are given credit for. And in the years and decades to come, these books will continue to be read to children long after this movie quietly recedes into the darkest corners of human memory.

And the idea of this highly inappropriate train wreck possibly shaping someone’s childhood is sickening. Even The Last Airbender movie had the redeeming factor of at least being appropriate for kids.

Good stories and artwork don’t come from polls, statistics, and whatever minority is popular at the time. Dr. Seuss said what he wanted to say, not what focus groups wanted to hear. He wanted to show us the world through his eyes. He wanted to intimately and honestly show us his own personal paradigm and teach us how to truly contribute to is and make ourselves better people.

I don’t care that Dr. Seuss was a liberal Democrat who supported FDR’s New Deal and Japanese internment camps during World War II. I care that he truly loved children.

I feel warmth inside my heart having given this mini speech about Dr. Seuss.

God rest his soul.

Let us all stand for a moment of silence as I play “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

Final Verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.

Review 25: The King and I (1999 animated) (1/5)

The King and I (1999 animated version)

Directed by Richard Rich

Starring Miranda Richardson, Martin Vidnovic, Ian Richardson, Adam Wylie, Darrell Hammond, Allen D. Hong, Armi Arabe

Released on March 19, 1999

Running time: 1h 30m

Rated G

Genre: Musical, Fantasy, Kids & Family

(After I wrote this review, I made a deal with my mother that if I showed her this terrible remake, she would show me the original The King and I. My mother thought that the remake was terrible. I thought that the original was a mixed bag. I definitely liked it, but it was completely joyless compared to The Sound of Music, which is one of my favorite films. Well, it’s not my favorite, but it’s in the top twenty.)

As much as I appreciate the Living Scriptures movies for making Book of Mormon stories kid-friendly, I detest them for their incredibly low quality and inability to tell a good story or have any sort of decent acting. Of course, with each of the Living Scriptures movies, those of us who have read The Book of Mormon know that each of the stories is already written, so this wasn’t an issue with us Mormons. But for non-Mormons, the Living Scriptures are little more than inane babble.

Such is the case with The King and I, with both it and the Living Scriptures movies sharing the same director: fellow Mormon Richard Rich.

Dang it, Mr. Rich! I want to believe that Mormons are competent in the realm of cinema! The only good movie Richard Rich has on his resume is The Fox and the Hound, which was actually decent!

Unfortunately, it is apparent that Rich played his trump card too early, as he gave us The Black CauldronThe Swan Princess, and The Trumpet of the Swan.

While this is indeed an adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, it is an incredibly loose adaptation.

This becomes apparent right from the get-go.

Anna Leonowens (Miranda Richardson) is on a ship trip to Siam to teach Siamese king Mongkut’s children (from history, it was 82) (I think there’s only one scene in the entire movie in which she actually tries to teach) with her son Louis (Adam Wylie) and his monkey sidekick Moochie. And already I don’t care. En route, they encounter a dragon. A dragon! This dragon is a magical spell cast by our villain named Kralahome (Ian Richardson), an evil wizard who apparently is so evil that rats jump out of his shadow. Wow. Kralahome plans to use Anna to dethrone King Mongkut (we never learn the king’s name in this movie, but I’ll refer to history, and utilize the king’s name, Mongkut).

You know, Kralahome, if you want Anna for your plan, why are you trying to at the least scare her away, and at the most kill her? You didn’t think this through, did you?

Believe it or not, this dragon attack is actually our transition into the song “I Whistle a Happy Tune”. Uh, Anna? Are you sure that you should be singing when there’s a dragon attacking? And, even stranger, this whistling actually defeats the dragon once Anna gets everyone on board the ship to whistle. What the heck?

Anna and Louis arrive at Siam, and for the next hour, plot and character take a backseat to comic relief. This mostly involves Moochie (who apparently knows how to shoot spitwads) getting the better of Kralahome’s sidekick, Master Little (Darrell Hammond), who apparently wears polka-dotted underwear, loses teeth as a running gag, came up with the game of charades, and is the most racist interpretation of any ethnicity until Mudflap and Skids from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. And I hate that monkey. By the way, Moochie and Master Little never appeared in the R&H musical, as I’m sure you know.

Anna arrives at the king’s court and the story unfolds from there.

King Mongkut (Martin Vidnovic) and all other Siamese characters, except for Kralahome, undergo the expected writing cliché of speaking in very broken English. When we see American actors voicing these Siamese characters, the gimmick falls flat, and gets annoying really quick.

CHULALONGKORN: But royal palace is center of whole universe!

There is a running gag involving the royal family trying to look up Anna’s dress. It’s not an effective running gag! Jeez! But no, fans of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, I know why this happens – one or more of Mongkut’s children think that Anna is wearing a tent. And in the actual Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, the first time that this happened was actually a bit funny. But here, it’s just awkward.

In the R&H musical, the female servants around the palace were obviously Mongkut’s wives. In the 1999 animated version, it’s ambiguous. Despite that, it’s obvious that Mongkut is screwing them. One more thing: this king WISHES he was acting god Yul Brynner, the original Mongkut. In one scene, after Mongkut learns that a letter has been sent to Sir Edward or Edmund Ramsey labeling him as a barbarian, this happens.

ANNA: But it’s a lie!

MONGKUT: A FALSE lie!

Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department ™.

Mongkut is facepalmingly egotistical. In an attempt to prove that he’s not a barbaric barbarian, he asks Anna to guess what he will do to do so. Anna “guesses” that he will host a banquet and, afterward, a ball. And then Mongkut lightly scolds her for her not thinking of that. Wow.

Mongkut has (GUESS WHAT?!) his own sidekick! An admittedly awesome panther. Seriously. I want a panther like that! The panther, in one scene, high-fives and fistbumps Mongkut! That’s so cool! I know that that never happened in the R&H musical, but still!

Mongkut wants Anna to teach his children, but I feel that they would be just fine learning from their own father! They have better science than we do! Mongkut has not only invented a freaking hot air balloon, but he has written a goshawfully long history of the royal family! Jeez, that’s three of the four core subjects knocked out right there! Reading and writing, science, and history!

Mongkut, let it be known that I have nothing against Buddhism. But when did Buddhism involve worshipping Buddha as God? And why does that make Anna’s Christianity make her unworthy of Buddha’s help?

Anna is also a strange and interesting character. She’s a cardboard cutout who acts nice and charming simple for the sake of doing so. She even has to get another chick to dub her singing voice in “Hello, Young Lovers”, “Getting to Know You”, “Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?”, and “Shall We Dance?”. The fact that what happens during “Getting to Know You” does not involve getting to know anyone is one thing. But what happens during “Shall We Dance?” is quite another. This scene precedes the banquet. She tells Mongkut about the experience of attending a ball when some sort of hallucination, taking the form of a scary demon of hell some guy, dances with her as she sings “Shall We Dance?” Not only is Anna schizophrenic, but Mongkut is just standing there, watching her, acting like this is totally okay. Wow.

Now we come to our villain, Kralahome. What a crappy name. It sounds like you hiccup while trying to yodel. Though he is Siamese, he is played by a Brit. Wow. Throughout this movie, he passes himself off as an evil wizard, yet his spells are undone by STUPID things. The previously mentioned dragon is undone by whistling. In one scene when Mongkut prays to Buddha, Kralahome animates five statues to make them kill Mongkut, but the panther roars at them and they are defeated. Wow. Imagine if Kralahome sent King Ghidorah to destroy a big city and somebody sneezed, summoning Godzilla to fight him off. Kralahome briefly becomes comic relief when he is swatted twice on the butt by the panther’s tail.

KRALAHOME: I HATE PETS!

Well, eff you too!

Is Kralahome gay? Because in one scene, he nearly enters bad touch territory with Mongkut.

Once in one scene and twice in another scene, he magically changes clothes. Wow. And his eventual defeat is a freaking load.

KRALAHOME: I HATE happy endings!

WOW.

And now we come to the forced romance between Prince Chulalongkorn and the Burmese servant girl Tuptim…who I’m just now realizing was never addressed as Tuptim until the climax. Oh, and there’s ANOTHER sidekick – a young elephant which Tuptim names Tuskar. Tuskar not only allies himself with Moochie, but he serves as the film’s anti-poaching-for-ivory statement. Whenever Tuskar trumpets, it sounds like my dog’s squeaky toy. Wow. But enough about Tuskar. Chulalongkorn and Tuptim met out of nowhere, share very little chemistry, and spend two scenes together before making out, and share the song “I Have Dreamed”. “I have dreamed / That your arms are lovely…” And we’re expected to feel for them?

The animation is subpar, to say the least. Its animation is slightly better than Living Scriptures. What is with Chulalongkorn’s awkward gait? Is the palace floor really that smooth? How did the chain of the royal pendant go through Chulalongkorn’s collar? How did Kralahome magically change clothes three times? Why is one of the rivers orange? When Kralahome went up to the tower to take down Mongkut’s hot air balloon, he didn’t even lock the gate. He sort of just tapped the key against the lock.

In one scene in which Master Little shows Louis the armory, Master Little makes several attempts to kill Louis, all of which are thwarted by Moochie. I have two things to say about this scene. One: why did Master Little list his vowels while daggers were being thrown at him by a machine? Two: do they not teach gun – sorry, crossbow – safety in Siam? The NRA exists for a reason!

Uh…the acting and singing was good?

Overall, this would have been just a below average animated kids film. But this movie becomes much worse when compared to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. This adaptation, instead of sticking to its already historically debatable story, has superficial characters, a forced love story, and cuddly animals. And a complete lack of wit and intelligence.

The King and I is a failed and utterly pointless attempt to make a debatably kid-friendly story out of an already debatably kid-friendly story.

However, I cannot blame this 1999 bomb. I cannot blame Rodgers and Hammerstein. I cannot blame Anna and the King of Siam. I can indeed blame The English Governess in the Siamese Court. But, after reconsidering, I’m not so sure I can even blame that. While its historical accuracy is still questioned to this day, it might be true from an English governess’s point of view. Mongkut the King of Siam is almost certainly true from Siam’s point of view. They could both be true. They could both be false. I cannot side with either, but both sides can agree that the 1999 train wreck The King and I is terrible.

Richard Rich WISHES he was Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Final Verdict: 1 out of 5 stars.

Review 24: The Magic Roundabout (2/5)

The Magic Roundabout

Directed by Dave Borthwick, Jean Duval, Frank Passingham

Starring Robbie Williams, Tom Baker, Jim Broadbent, Lee Evans, Joanna Lumley, Bill Nighy, Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue, Sir Ian McKellen

Released on February 11, 2005

Running time: 1h 25m

Rated PG

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Kids & Family

I was originally going to watch the US version of this, known as Doogal, but I decided to take a look at its inspiration first. And…what can I say? It’s a small-scale, somewhat annoying, half-decently animated, harmless kid’s flick. It was originally French, but the UK translated the dialogue, redubbed it in English, and released it.

The Magic Roundabout begins with a bit of backstory told through a dream sequence. 10,000 years ago, the malevolent sorcerer Zeebad (really?) (Tom Baker), who was apparently the cause of the Ice Age, is planning to freeze the sun, therefore freezing the world, and making Earth his personal paradise. He is stopped by the good wizard Zebedee (Sir Ian McKellen), who imprisons Zeebad in a magical merry-go-round, referred to as a roundabout in The Magic Roundabout. I guess that “roundabout” is the British term for “merry-go-round”. Kind of like how in Britain, cookies are biscuits, elevators are lifts, and how soccer is football. I don’t mind this at all. Zeebad, the blue one, and Zebedee, the red one, apparently draw their ice and fire powers (respectively) from their mustaches, and they don’t have legs. They have big springs. Okay.

Transition to the present day. The incredibly hairy dog, Dougal (Robbie Williams) (not Doogal as in the US version), lives with his owner, a little girl named Florence (Kylie Minogue). Dougal has quite a taste for candy. Okay, I can understand Bugs Bunny and carrots, Winnie-the-Pooh and honey, but a dog and candy? Okay.

Dougal, when attempting to swipe a buttload of candy from a street peddler who looks like a scary demon of hell, accidentally sends the peddler’s cart careening into the roundabout as Florence and several other kids are riding it. The cart explodes somehow, which somehow releases Zeebad.

Zebedee arrives and tells Dougal, Dylan (Bill Nighy) (a Southern, guitar-playing rabbit who’s a former smoker and drunkard), Ermintrude (Joanna Lumley) (an opera-singing cow), and Brian (Jim Broadbent) (a bashful snail that is in love with Ermintrude {eww}) that there are three diamonds hidden across the world that Zeebad must not be allowed to find. These diamonds will give Zeebad the power to freeze the sun. Zebedee gives the group Train (Lee Evans) (a magic, talking train) to transport them to the diamonds’ locations. The race is on to find the diamonds and stop Zeebad.

Why are Zebedee and Zeebad springy thingies? Why does their magic come from their mustaches? Why and how do Dougal, Dylan, Ermintrude, Brian, and Train talk? Why is opera made fun of? Why do Ermintrude and Brian wear hats? How can Dylan play the guitar? Why does Zeebad have dual braids? Why does Zeebad’s fortress look like a bust of his face sticking its tongue out? Why does Zeebad’s fortress only show up for a few minutes, then is forgotten about? Why does Brian have teeth? How is Zeebad threatening? Why did this movie steal the line “Revenge is a dish best served cold”? Is this soldier really this dumb? How can Zebedee and Zeebad recreate Priori Incantatem from Harry Potter? Does Train seriously just say “d@mmit”? Why is Florence so courteous that she could try out for Jesus? Why are Brian and Ermintrude in love? Why are there so many cheap puns? Why was Dylan a former smoker and drunkard? Why is Dougal’s voice so whiny? Why does one particular scene castrate the glory of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”? Why is one of the Deus Ex Machinas singing? Why does one scene have to be all “Commando”? Why are there two death fakeouts? Why is the movie’s scale so small?

Okay so as I just pointed out, the story and characters are surprisingly weak. The story had been told so many times. The characters are cardboard cutouts. However the acting isn’t all that bad. Okay, Robbie Williams as Dougal and Tom Baker as Zeebad are pretty annoying, especially in Dougal’s case, but Jim Broadbent as Brian, Joanna Lumley as Ermintrude, Bill Nighy as Dylan, and Sir Ian McKellen as Zebedee do their best with what they have, especially Broadbent and McKellen. Of course, whenever I think Ian McKellen, I think of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. Who wouldn’t? Joanna Lumley actually has a surprisingly decent singing voice, easily trumping Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia! and Gerard Butler in The Phantom of the Opera. Bill Nighy wasn’t that bad, though his performance in The Magic Roundabout was reminiscent of Cary Elwes in Twister. Nighy and Elwes both played Southern people so that the audience couldn’t tell that they were British. Elwes did so MUCH better than Nighy, though Nighy is hands down the better actor. It’s like comparing Tim Curry from It to Douglas Rain in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Douglas Rain is clearly the better actor, but Tim Curry will be much more memorable. “YOU’LL FLOAT! YOU’LL ALL FLOAT!”

The soundtrack wasn’t that bad…until the transition into the first pop song.

Do NOT make fun of Opera Populaire. EVER.

Also, DO NOT disrespect the catchiness of “You Really Got Me Now”.

In one particular scene in which there is a “traveling on a map” shot, I was tempted to insert the Indiana Jones theme.

Of COURSE they were going to have to throw in a “Commando” sequence in which Dougal runs toward the third diamond as Zeebad continually blasts ice at him. Dougal runs in slow motion, and Zeebad always barely misses him. Wow.

There is one particular scene in The Magic Roundabout that I would like to address. It happens soon after Dougal, Dylan, Ermintrude, Brian, and Train set out on their quest to find the diamonds. They set up camp for the night, and as Ermintrude is setting up her tent, this happens. Ermintrude is offscreen, but the tent is shaking and moaning is heard. And then, blessedly, the camera pans to Ermintrude yanking on a rope to set up her tent.

Yikes. You might suggest to your parents to turn the movie off, but hey, if you’re reading this, you are your parents.

It’s a harmless kids flick, despite the one sexual innuendo and the two drug references. Just don’t expect anything spectacular.

But, then, of course, there’s Doogal.

I’m not looking forward to seeing the once-funny-now-opinionated Jon Stewart of The Daily Show voice Zeebad.

Final Verdict: 2 out of 5 stars.

Review 23: Delgo (.5/5)

Delgo

Directed by Marc F. Adler and Jason Maurer

Starring Freddie Prinze, Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anne Bancroft, Chris Kattan, Louis Gossett, Jr., Val Kilmer, Malcolm McDowell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Eric Idle, Kelly Ripa, Burt Reynolds

Released on December 12, 2008

Running time: 1h 34m

Rated PG

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Seeing Jennifer Love Hewitt star in this train wreck may not hurt much; seeing well-known actors like Val Kilmer, Anne Bancroft, and Eric Idle in this train wreck may hurt a lot, but seeing acting giants like Malcolm McDowell, Burt Reynolds, and Michael Clarke Duncan in this train wreck feels like sodomy, castration, crucifixion, and immolation.

What the hell is even up with the title? Delgo? What does that even mean? Oh, that’s the name of our protagonist. Well, that’s a terrible name for a protagonist. It sounds like an incredibly stupid movie that thinks that it’s way more important than it really is.

The backstory is as follows: in the alien world of Jhamora (Jhamora’s location in the universe is never mentioned)(Pandora?) the winged humanoid race known as the Nohrin have exhausted the resources of their…floating rock realm (How?). They ask to share the realm with the land-dwelling Lockni. The Lockni acquiesce, but the Nohrin overstay their welcome and demand more land. The Nohrin king Zahn’s (Louis Gossett, Jr.) sister Sedessa (Anne Bancroft)(I bet she’s not the villain. I mean, her very name says “sedition”.)(she sounds BORED), rather than peacefully negotiate with the Lockni, attacks and massacres a Lockni city, against King Zahn’s orders. In a plot to take control of the Nohrin, she murders the Nohrin queen. She is caught, her wings are chopped off, and she is exiled. But while in exile, she amasses a massive army in order to steal the Nohrin throne and wipe out the Lockni. And of course, she betrays her allies, swiping their forces from under their noses. She also secretly has a romantic relationship with the Nohrin General Raius (Malcolm McDowell)(NOOOO! You were Alex in Clockwork Orange! How can you have fallen so far? It wasn’t enough that I saw you desperately try to save Rob Zombie’s Halloween!) If they have sex, I’m outta here. Well, this prologue sounds like a much better movie than the movie itself.

And now we get to the main story eight and a half minutes in. We are introduced to the main story with a “15 years later…” Seriously? I just used that font in Microsoft Word 2010. Its literally done in Papyrus. Wow. How cheap can you get?

Our story focuses on Delgo (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), a teenager who clearly sounds like an adult in his thirties (He was! He was 32 when he voiced Delgo!). He has a friend named Filo (Chris Kattan)(He was 38 when he voiced Filo. That’s even worse!), who not only has a running gag throughout Delgo that involves his sucking at firing a slingshot, but he easily reaches Jar Jar Binks levels of annoyance.

Delgo meets Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was 30 and could at least give a D- performance), the Nohrin princess and develops a forced, rushed romance with her. Yes. Interspecies romance. Ew.

Delgo also deals with this weird stone levitation spirituality philosophy psychiatry psychology bullcrap, while putting up with Elder Marley (a very bored Michael Clarke Duncan). Strangely enough, this stoney crap actually has an impact on the plot. A minor impact, but an impact nonetheless.

After Delgo treats Kyla like crap on a “date”, Kyla is kidnapped by Raius and taken to Sedessa’s fortress. Delgo and Filo are blamed for it and arrested. In prison, they meet former general Bogardus (Val Kilmer) who lost all his weapons in two pointless gambling scenes. (Worst ripoff of poker ever) The three escape in a way that even MacGyver would find ridiculous.

They go to Sedessa’s fortress and surprisingly easily rescue Kyla as Sedessa’s soldiers mostly stand around doing nothing. There is one major flaw with this scene. Sedessa gives her big villainous speech during the middle of the second act rather than the middle of the beginning of the third act. Delgo, Filo, Kyla, and Bogardus head back to the Lockni city only to find that the war between Nohrin and Lockni has already started.

Wait, there’s a war going on? When was it a part of the plot that there was a war going on? Oh, sure, there were a couple of scenes (each lasting roughly a minute) that said that tensions were rising and that war was inevitable, but what in heaven’s name even happened to warrant war? Oh, and one of these scenes has a character voiced by Nika Futterman, who I just enjoyed hearing in Dead Space: Downfall. No comment.

When I finished watching Delgo, I realized that their Fathom Studios sequence actually had better animation than the movie itself. The actual animation in Delgo looks pretty good…for the early 90s. But this was released in 2008. The character models were ugly as sin. Hey, at least they had one more facial expression than Megan Fox. Was every character wearing spandex? I think I was almost convinced of the illusion of animation for a half second. Plants and animals were at least half decent. But everything apart from predesigned, low-res textures looks plastic or rubber. I just talked about this in The Nut Job: ground textures SUCK. They SUCK BALLS.

The story feels so ungodly rushed. We’ve seen it all before. The prejudice is only there to enforce the weak view that there is prejudice between the Lockni and Nohrin. Why is there such prejudice, anyway? When did Bogardus become one of the main characters? Hell, there’s a scene in which we’re supposed to feel sad for him. Seriously. When were him and Delgo ever friends? Stop with the Delgo and Kyla romance! They’ve known each other for an hour! Come on! Where is the conflict between Delgo and Sedessa? I mean, Sedessa killed his father, but there’s nothing else! These civilizations have invented spandex, but not guns? Why is Delgo’s weapon a freaking ball-peen hammer?

Not only is the soundtrack subpar, but it is synthesized. I have better music synthesization programs on my own computer. Hell, The Final Sacrifice had a better soundtrack! Geoff Zanelli, go screw yourself.

There is a character named Spig (Eric Idle), the announcer guy of Sedessa. He is accompanied by his big, rarely talking sidekick, I-don’t-know-his-name. Their purpose is to have Spig screw up his own usage of big words, and for the rarely speaking sidekick to continually make burp jokes. Are they funny? No. Not the first time or the tenth. And after the concept-art-filled credits are over, Spig shows up to tell the audience to get the eff out of the theater.

I gladly obliged.

Final verdict: .5 out of 5 stars

Review 22: The Nut Job (1/5)

The Nut Job

Directed by Peter Lepeniotis

Starring Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, Stephen Lang

Released on January 11, 2014

Running time: 1h 26m

Rated PG

Genre: Kids & Family, Comedy

From Dictionary.com:

Surly (adj.): Churlishly rude or bad-tempered, unfriendly or hostile, menacingly irritable.

Such is the name of our main character, Surly (Will Arnett), a … purple squirrel. Wait, what?

Our story involves a group of critters living in a park. They are led by Raccoon (Liam Neeson). They are collecting food for the winter (even though it’s clearly spring) and are severely lacking. They are constantly pestered by the purple squirrel (why?) Surly. And I find myself thinking, I want to know more about these guys. How have they survived previous years being this disorganized? How did they get to become this pseudo-democracy that is secretly communist? How did this raccoon come into power? How and why did Grayson (Brendan Fraser) get to almost Willie Scott levels of annoying with not just his annoyingness, but his cockiness and his out-of-nowhere homoerotic attraction to Surly?

Surly causes a major accident and gets himself banished from the park. He and his buddy find Maury’s Nut Shop (seriously? a store that just sells cashews and peanuts? wow.) at the same time as a four-person Sicilian mob led by Percy “King” Dimpleweed (Stephen Lang).

Seriously? Stephen King came up with a better mob boss name: Enrico Balazar from The Dark Tower.

Hell, I could come up with better mob boss names!

Vincente Marconi. Graziano Vecchiarelli. Luigi Ferrone. Oliviero Pezzano. Venanzio Calafiore. Malco Saracino. Jacquino Salzaratti.

There. I’ve now ousted Percy Dimpleweed as mob boss.

Oh, and another thing – why the hell does the finding of the nut store feature a recording of Gangnam Style? Oh, I know why! The same reason The Master of Disguise featured a ripoff of The Exorcist. Because it existed!

Andie (Katharine Heigl), a red squirrel and the obvious love interest, and Grayson (Dick?), a flamboyant, egotistical gray squirrel, under orders from Raccoon, go to find food, but are separated. Andie runs into Surly and the two make a deal to steal the nuts from the store and split them 50/50 between Surly and the Park Cult. Andie informs the Park Cult of the deal with Surly and the frigging clichéd plot unfolds.

Jeez…what the hell is up with our main character? He’s a douche! He treats his sidekick mute rat buddy, his might-have-been love interest, and his other compatriots like trash, he’s willing to let the entire Park Cult die simply because he wants food for the winter, he’s a coward, he’s an egomaniac, and seriously, a PURPLE SQUIRREL? What? Why? How?

I like Will Arnett (kind of). He’s played some very funny characters. But in The Nut Job, his comedic talent is wasted on the selfishness of Surly and his so-called redemption, which turns the plot of The Nut Job into nothing but the very tired, tedious horrible-piece-of-crap-to-hero cliché.

Films like Brother Bear and Open Season had less-than-awesome animation and characters, but it made up for that with great voicework, clever writing, and witty humor. Heck, I didn’t like Ratatouille that much, but the voicework was flawless, it was decently written, and I actually laughed several times. But The Nut Job fails in all three of those departments. At least the character animation is actually pretty good…for 2003. But this is 2015. Sure, big-budget animation studios have mastered fur textures, but can they at least make ground textures more high-res? But the humans in The Nut Job look dreadful and ugly, with big chins, dead eyes, and personalities to match. The writing is far from creative. I may have chuckled a few times, but I certainly was not laughing very hard.

I can only just forgive its short running time. Darkness Falls sinned a little more grievously in that area, coming to only an hour and fifteen minutes. While The Nut Job may come out to only an hour and twenty minutes (not including the end credits), I can forgive it because it’s a kids movie. Kids do not have that long of an attention span. That’s why The Last Airbender movie was only about an hour and forty minutes, rather than a three-and-a-half-hour motion picture epic. However, The Nut Job feels like it definitely ekes out its hour-and-twenty-five-minute cut, and then some. It felt at least two hours long. It feels very rushed, even though it felt like The Nut Job was taking forever to get to the next act. Some scenes cut off abruptly, while others stretch on for far too long.

The story, whenever it thinks it may be getting too stale and dry, punctuates itself with the occasional fart or burp joke, slapstick routine, or nut pun. Are they funny? Not the first time. Not the second. Not the fifth. Not the tenth. Not the hundredth. But be prepared, because The Nut Job operates these two jokes under this philosophy: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, until every kid’s little mind can’t take it anymore.

The entire story gave me the feeling of I’ve seen all of this before. This is a halfhearted retread of other, superior animated flicks that have told this same story so much better than this does.

There is one character in this movie that almost reaches Jar Jar Binks levels of annoyance. No, not Grayson. I already said he reached Willie Scott levels of annoyance. Though his out-of-nowhere homoerotic attraction to Surly is indeed something to be reckoned with. There is this pointless blond chick that shows up in the movie for, like, a minute or two. She’s bleach-blonde, she’s very…curvy, and her voice gives Audrey (the human Audrey) from Little Shop of Horrors a run for her money.

If you want to watch a decent heist flick, go and watch The War Wagon. The Killing. Ocean’s 11. The Italian Job. Reservoir Dogs. Hell, go and watch Man on a Ledge!

Throwing all these clichés at us don’t make them seem new. Doing so just makes them silly, stupid, and dated.

While not ungodly bad, The Nut Job is a painfully below average flick that may mildly entertain your children.

But for adults, I’m not so sure.

Final verdict: 1 out of 5 stars.

Review 21: Jaws franchise

Jaws

Directed by Steven Spielburg

Starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw

Released on June 20, 1975

Running time: 2h 5m

Rated PG

Genre: Thriller, Horror

Now, before you go absolutely insane, yes, I DO LIKE this movie. Just…not as much as everyone else does. I don’t know why. Jaws just doesn’t do it for me.

We all know the story. The slowest-moving (and somehow most-realistic-looking) shark (we learn in Jaws sequels it’s female) I’ve ever seen in any movie (except future Jaws sequels) begins its rampage around the lively island community of Amity. Most of the movie winds up being Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw versus the media, the public, greedy corporations, their own government, rogue shark-hunting organizations, and an annoying fakeout. Ultimately, the Dynamic Shark-Hunting Trio head out to sea to destroy the shark once and for all. Though Shaw is eaten, Scheider shoves an oxygen tank into its mouth, says “Smile, you son of a b!tch!” and shoots the oxygen tank, blowing the shark up and saving Amity.

You know, I could have sworn that the MythBusters proved that that wouldn’t work.

Aaaaaand then, in the sequel, the shark comes back right the eff out of nowhere AND ATTACKS AMITY AGAIN. HOLY CRAP! HOW DID THE SHARK DO THAT?! So Roy Scheider blows the dang shark up again, saving Amity again.

Aaaaaand then, in Jaws 3D, the shark comes back AGAIN, this time at SeaWorld. Some other guy with an allergy for Old Spice blows the dang shark up AGAIN, therefore allowing SeaWorld to continue to involuntarily and voluntarily mistreat orcas.

Aaaaaand then, in Jaws 4: The Revenge, the shark comes back AGAIN, and this time it wants revenge on Roy Scheider’s family. Apparently Roy died off-camera. Roy’s wife runs the shark through with a boat’s bowsprit (the front sticky-out thing) and this somehow causes the shark (which can now roar and replicates Jerry’s roar from Tom and Jerry) to explode. And a seriously drunk Michael Caine somehow survives the attack, but somehow manages to escape without a scratch and have his clothes still be dry.

Believe it or not, Jaws and Jaws 2 were plagiarized by the 1980 Italian film Great White, also known as The Last Shark. It featured a lackluster and laughable performance by Vic Morrow as he shamelessly ripped off Robert Shaw. The similarities were so noticeable that Universal Studios not only pulled Great White from American theaters, but also sued its production company. You can still find bootleg copies of Great White online.

Oh, I get it now! When the shark came back in Jaws 2, it created a time paradox! Richard Dreyfuss would later go to an alien world in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and would return and become a psychologist for What About Bob! Stan Lee would have a cameo in Princess Diaries 2! Ben Affleck would become Daredevil, who would become Batman! Howard the Duck would exist in a universe where he can actually be funny! The evil organization known as HYDRA would be juxtaposed with the Obama administration! Islam can be loved and appraised while Christianity can be denigrated and hated! Cats are now smarter than dogs! The Sharknado quadrilogy is successful beyond measure! Bruce Banner would receive plastic surgery twice! Sam Elliott will become General Thunderbolt Ross and, Nicholas “Ghost Rider” Cage’s mentor simultaneously, but his General Ross persona would be replaced with William Hurt!

Oh, Jaws 2. You have no idea what you caused.

Final verdicts:

Jaws: 3.5/5

2: 2.5/5

3: .5/5

4: The Revenge: .5/5