Tag Archives: animation

Moana

Today while I was working from home, Mary turned on Moana. I saw half of it once, and the first act twice since then (all of these because I have three nieces/nephews under the age of five). This makes it kind of hard to review, and probably I shouldn’t, but it would feel good to do something on time for once, I guess.

Anyway, she turned it on as background noise to hanging out with her mom, since my TV shows are too loud or something. Result: as soon as the neighbor started lawn-mowing near the “all is lost” part of her hero’s journey (which probably has a name I could look up, but here we are), I missed some of it I guess. But kid movie, so I can’t pretend I don’t know what happened on a review scale.

So, right, Moana. A polynesian chieftain’s daughter learns that she has been chosen by the ocean to go save the world from a whole bunch of death and destruction caused by a trickster demigod named Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and she goes out on a boat to make things right. Also, there are songs.

It had some pretty silly long fight scenes to make it long enough I guess, and/or kids like that kind of thing, but as I alluded before, it’s a pretty tidy Campbellian archetypes story, with a climactic revelation that I can honestly say I didn’t see coming. And the songs were pretty good too. If you like that kind of thing, Disney usually does alright, right?

Finding Dory

MV5BNzg4MjM2NDQ4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzk3MTgyODE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Remember Finding Nemo? If my website hadn’t died while I was getting ready to start this review a couple of hours ago[1], I might have more to say about whether I remember it, but apparently that will not happen anytime soon[6]. But here’s what I remember of relevance: when that one fish whose name I had forgotten lost his kid Nemo, he found another fish whose name I had forgotten to help him out. Later, a sequel!

Thanks to the power of advertising, I now know that the second nameless fish is named Dory, and of course if there was going to be a sequel, they’d keep the name scheme intact, which also necessarily informs the plot. See, Dory, as you may or may not remember from the original[2], suffers from short term memory loss. Which means that once upon a time, she got lost, and she’s been lost ever since, even though she made new friends eventually like Nemo and what’s-his-name. I mean, it doesn’t mean that, but you can intuit it from her previous state of being completely alone in the ocean.

And then she figured out she got lost, and decided she wanted to get found, and there you have it: Finding Dory. That said, it’s a Pixar film, and therefore a kid movie[4]. That said, I actually felt like it was backward from the usual kid movie formula, in a way that maybe Pixar has always tried to achieve but with varying degrees of success. Because, this felt to me like a regular movie that has some jokes and gags thrown in to appease the kids in the audience, but mostly the eyerolling can be kept to a minimum.

I’m not sure this is even a justifiable take, but my reasoning is because of how delicately the concept of a mental disability was handled. On the one hand, yes, Dory causes a lot of her own problems, and it’s clear from both movies that when she’s on her own, she’s in a lot of trouble. She relies on the kindness of others to function in the world. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t improve the lives of those others in countless ways, and the film is careful to stay aware of both sides of Dory’s coin. There’s nothing especially trite here, nor anything especially dismissive.

….okay, both parts of that last sentence are untrue, because it is, after all, a kid movie. But the things that were trite were the inevitable result of a necessary happy ending[5], and the things that were dismissive were in service of the theme. You have to hold up the ugly mirror to see past it, to coin an implausible metaphor.

Anyway, it was pretty dang good. Also, the 5 minute short film with the sandpipers (a type of ocean bird that lives in tidal regions) was freaking revelatory. Not worth the price of admission, probably, but maybe you can find it somewhere on the internets or in the future even if the main event is not your cup of tea.

[1] Not unlike my Pixel C died randomly yesterday; lesson: I should stop touching technology apparently.
[2] I did not[3]; I only remembered that her personality was quirky in some way.
[3] Perhaps ironically? Probably not though.
[4] If you don’t believe me, try sitting through the endless crap parade that informs the previews.
[5] If you think that’s a spoiler, you don’t understand much about Pixar.
[6] Outcome, now that the site is back up: I don’t have a review of Finding Nemo. So, uh, nevermind?

Majo No Takkyûbin

MV5BOTc0ODM1Njk1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI5OTEyNw@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_The second outing of the weekend was to catch the one Miyazaki movie playing this month at the Alamo Drafthouse that I both had not seen and could fit in my schedule[1]. Hence, Kiki’s Delivery Service, about a 13 year old girl sent out on her own to make her way in the world for a year, in the traditions of her people. Who are witches, I should probably add.

Based on the vehicles and architecture, and other clues, I’m guessing that the never specified timeframe for the film is in the late 1950s or early ’60s, and I’m also assuming the locale is Japan. The latter is more strongly implied than the former, but neither is by any means definitive. For most of the movie, I assumed the point was mostly to showcase the gorgeous animation and soundtrack, via long, contemplative shots of Kiki flying across the countryside on her broom, or walking through her new city, and that the job (she delivers things for people, as you might expect) and relationships she was forming were mostly beside the point.

But then my mental jokes about making a 13 year old run off and earn her own living were translated seriously onto the screen, as she quickly lost her [Japanese phrase that means joie de vivre] in the humdrum grind of using her heritage and passion as a means of keeping herself fed and housed. From that turning point and throughout the final act, the story turned into more of a meditation on whether and how she could come back to herself and find her happiness, and now I think the movie is a love letter to post-war Japan, unsure of herself and finding her footing after a resounding defeat.

But maybe it’s just a feel-good movie about a witch and her sarcastic cat. That’s cool too.

[1] The only other one I’ve actually seen was the only other one that matched up schedule-wise, sadly. (Mononoke.)

Despicable Me

You know how people describe some kid movies as being funny for adults too? Just to give you an idea of how this played out in Despicable Me, the joke that stands out in my head involves supervillain Gru going to the Bank of Evil to take out a loan to finance his plot to steal the moon, and seeing the notice that the Bank of Evil was “formerly Lehman Bros.” So you see.[1] On the bright side, the kid part of the movie was reasonably okay. Gru, who I already mentioned is a supervillain, is in competition with the rest of the supervillain community to pull off the world’s greatest heist. Along the way, he adopts three girls for use in a cookie-selling scheme, and learns valuable lessons about the importance of placing family above work. And I mean, it really is that facile, but it was occasionally funny in ways that were not directed at adults and it was sweet as well, in the ways you’d expect a kid movie with orphans to be. I liked it well enough to regret neither the time nor money, though certainly not well enough to seek it out again. Whether my like can be correlated to the half of a 40 ounce margarita that I imbibed over the course of the flick can be left as an exercise to the reader.

[1] Dear adult readers of Shards of Delirium, please fill out this simple survey. Do you find the referenced joke a) funny or b) an eye-rollingly insulting and yet simultaneously ultra-apt demonstration of the phrase “funny for adults”? Please do not fill out the survey if you are a child reader of Shards of Delirium.[2]
[2] In the interest of equal time: dear child readers of Shards of Delirium, please fill out this simple survey. Do you love bunnies because they are a) fuzzy or b) fluffy?

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Rainy days plus dollar movies equals a pretty decent salvage of a date day, if you ask me. Although I guess I never saw the middle one, the original Ice Age was pretty good, so I was perfectly happy to accept the idea of checking out Ice Age 3 when it was presented to me. Dollar movies, for now, means no 3D, so I dunno about that part. But the movie itself was mixed. As a kid movie, it was perfectly fine, sometimes way to kiddy for me like you’d expect, other times with surprisingly naughty dialogue that had me laughing in shock as much as humor. But, y’know, adventure, heart-warmingness, dinosaurs, all the stuff you expect in a kid movie, even if it is served a bit lukewarm to not burn all those metaphorical kid tongues. I mean, it had Denis Leary, and even lukewarm Denis Leary will entertain me pretty well. I may even be a fan.

As an adult movie… I mean, you know it won’t work, right? So when they try, is that a good thing because they want to overcome their limitations, or is it a bad thing because they give you whatever brief moment of unfortunate hopefulness? I honestly can’t decide, either in this case or as a general purpose question for the genre. In this case, the adult theme they inserted was the way that friendships are able to suffer when some friends are married and starting families while other friends are still free-wheeling singles.[1] And I was a little bit interested in seeing where they went with the line of thought, especially since Denis Leary was the main representative of the free-wheeling class, and I thought it might spice up his otherwise kid-friendly performance at least a little. Instead of that actually happening, the sloth character was put into danger via an underground lost dinosaur world, and everyone ended up on a quest to save him, at the end of which they all just decided to stick together and be a big family unit instead of actually resolving any of the underlying fractures that initially raised the question. Which is fine in a kid movie, but I thought, if only for a few moments, that it might be more.

Oh, well. On the bright side, there was a canyon chase on pterodactyls, and a lot of lava. That shit is awesome even in 2D, no matter what else might be going on around it disguised as plot. So there’s that. That, and velociraptors.

[1] It occurs to me, belatedly, that not many free-wheeling singles are going to show up in the seat for this one, so the message might have been skewed more than a bit from the start. But okay.

Up (2009)

Yesterday, I learned that my occasional free AMC tickets even count for the 3D movies. That right there is pretty awesome, what with the extra charge they carry. Yay! I also learned that with a little bit of ingenuity and an unreasonable amount of helium, anyone can get a second chance. (Well, anyone who isn’t an obsessed bad guy that’s probably older than God.)

Up tells the story of a couple’s dreams of adventure at Paradise Falls in South America, and of a lonely old man’s quest to fulfill those dreams on his wife’s behalf after a protracted, ten minute long sucker punch delivered as the film’s prologue. Along for the ride are a floating house, a cub scout, a pack of talking dogs, a pretty hilarious giant bird, and the aforementioned bad guy. That’s pretty much all I want to say, because, well, it’s yours to watch now. I’m pretty sure this is the best Pixar movie, and yeah, you should really ought to go see it.

The Simpsons Movie

The Simpsons Movie is proving pretty difficult to review without either running far too long or far too short. I could take forever talking about why the show is funny and why the movie is, or I could promise that if there was a time when you liked the show, you’ll like the movie, and only spend about a sentence. Neither of these is very palatable, and yet I’m mostly left without recourse. Because, even if I felt up to trying, who can explain humor? But to be clear, it was quite funny, and the humor was more apolitical than the show has been lately.

Plotwise, it was a little boilerplate. Homer makes a mistake with far-reaching consequences, and must make amends with his family. It worked well here, but I’m a little tired of it nonetheless, since it’s been happening more than once per season on the actual show. Lisa has her eye on a boy and the environment, Bart is reconsidering his paternal-figure options, and Springfield is trapped under a giant, impenetrable dome. So, except for the dome, yeah, we’ve been here. But it was funny enough that I’m revisiting events in my head now as I type these words and giggling all over again, days later.

Also: Spider-Pig! (The superhero, not a spider/pig hybrid. Good God!)

The Incredibles

If this log is to be believed, it’s been 45 days since I last saw a movie in the theater, on DVD, or etc. It, largely, is to be believed. (I mean, not counting classic porn, which frankly I wouldn’t know how to go about revewing, were I so inclined.) But, I finally broke the drought by catching The Incredibles last weekend. So that’s something. I still definitely need to do more, though.

So, yeah, I liked it. Pretty common opinion, so far as I can tell. The thing is, I didn’t love it, which seems to be much less common. Pretty good superhero story. You can’t just have the hero go out and save the world anymore, there has to be depth, because we’re all so damn jaded. Most movies create depth by exploring the psyche of the hero as he (or she) goes out and saves the world. Pixar had the idea of creating depth by making the superheroes unpopular. They cause too much damage while apprehending supervillains, sprain the ankles of people they’ve just saved from certain death, that kind of thing, and so are driven out by a litigious society. They promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them… no, wait, that’s someone else.

Anyway, fifteen years later, the few superheroes that have kept in contact (including the family after which the movie is named) are going about their average lives, but still wishing they could use their powers to keep people safe. And then, opportunity rises in the form of a request to save a government facility from a robot that has broken its programming and gone on a rampage. How is a superhero to resist the chance to save people *and* rake in the dough?

Oh, and then something goes wrong, and, voila, instant plot.

So, yeah. Fun kid’s movie, but I wouldn’t really say it had a whole special section for adults, like is always claimed these days. If a kid’s movie is okay by you, though, this is certainly above the dross. There was a brilliant microsecond reference to World Domination: The Drinking Game[1], though. And a job for Jason Lee, who should pretty much always be working, if you ask me.

[1] Note: May not actually exist. But it ought to.