Archive for July, 2012
Unfortunately for Pixar we have been spoiled by, well, Pixar. With movies like Up, Toy Story 3 (Or 1 for that matter) and Wall-E the bar for animated features wasn’t just raised but thrust upward into the midst of every other respected genre. Then in 2011 Pixar made the sequel to Cars, the aptly named Cars 2, and it wasn’t very good. People freaked. Did Pixar lose its touch? Are they out of ideas? What is wrong with this company? WHOA! Slow down turbo. They made one not brilliant movie. Chill out! Despite this, Pixar had to respond to the negative thoughts. They had two options. Blow our minds, which is quite difficult, or make an all around good, albeit safe, movie. Brave won’t blow your mind. It is an all around good movie though, but it just felt a bit “safe” to me.
The setting for this movie, which is beautiful, is in a pre dark ages Scotland. At least I think this is what they were going for, it never really said specifically. Either way, the story centers around Merida, the first born of a royal family, and daughter to Lord Fergus and Lady Elinor. Merida has grown up to be anything but a lady herself, much to the dismay of her mother. Instead she would rather shoot arrows and go on incredible adventures to daring places. Her and her mother never seem to see eye to eye. Once Merida is of age her father puts out an offer to three neighboring clans that their eldest sons may compete for her hand in marriage. Merida is outraged that she is being forced into this fate, defiles the competition by showing up her suitors, and ends up running off to the woods. There she meets up with a witch, and requests a spell that will change her mother, and thus change her fate. The witch complies but I mean come on, she’s a witch. Merida gets a spell, or more of a curse, that is more than she bargained for. The rest of the movie follows Merida and her mother as they try to undo the spell and grow in their relationship along the way. They enlist the help of Merida’s three little brothers. They are mischievous triplets and offer most of the comedic relief for the movie. They actually are quite entertaining. While Merida works with her mother Lord Fergus attempts to quell the other three clans, who are upset at what has happened. The interactions between Fergus and the other clan leaders are also quite humorous and entertaining.
Overall the story was solid, but like I said it just felt safe. Instead of a cool new concept I felt like I was watching just an old folk tale turned into a beautifully animated movie. Also the message of the movie seemed unclear to me. They were going for “you can always change your fate” which is a solid message. But it came across more as, “if your mom is being a b**** just curse her and all will work out in the end.” A couple of the people I saw it with said they got a bit emotional at times, which really surprised me (and I tear up during things like Undercover Boss), but they were quick to inform me that I just didn’t understand because it really was a mother/daughter story.
The movies biggest strengths came from the animation and the voice acting. Both were done superbly which is to be expected from Pixar. The attention to detail with regards the animation was flawless. The voice actors all did a good job adding true dimensions to their respectful characters. Overall it was good fun, but waiting to see it won’t do anyone any harm.
In all honesty, I went into this movie with low expectations. I saw the red band trailer and figured it was going to be a raunchy, over the top movie looking to shock for laughter. The trailer led to it, and I figured that Seth McFarlane finally had the freedom to do things he can’t get away with on TV. Don’t get me wrong, I think McFarlane is hilarious, but for some reason I figured even with the ridiculous MPAA breathing down his back he would try to push the envelope as much as possible. I couldn’t have been farther off. Was it a bit raunchy at times? Sure, but not more than any other R rated comedy that comes out. And on top of it, McFarlane managed to come up with one of the better written stories of the summer.
If you don’t already know, the movie is about John Bennet (Mark Wahlberg) and his best friend Ted. Ted just happens to be his talking Teddy Bear. When John was a kid he didn’t have many friends so he wished for his Teddy bear to be able to talk. The wish came true, and Ted was a national phenomenon. But like any other fad in our country Ted quickly became old news, and he and John grew up. They still live together though; I mean they are thunder buddies for life after all. The difference now is that Ted is no longer a cute, cuddly friend, but an adult, pot smoking, inappropriate bear. John is also dating Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) and she is a tad over the immaturity that John gets from hanging out with Ted. The main focus of the movie is John trying to maintain his friendship with Ted, while not losing Lori. Also there is this really creepy guy and his child who want to own Ted like a toy. When I say creepy I mean it, this guy played the creepy part really well…a bit too well. They play a major part in the second half of the movie, but I won’t say too much to spoil anything major. There was ridiculousness throughout with Ted being inappropriate, John’s fascination with Flash Gordon, cocaine use, and Joel McHale as Lori’s douchey boss. Despite the ridiculousness the story really came together. Surprisingly well. It even had some genuinely touching moments between many of the characters.
I thought that both Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis did a great job playing their parts. They were funny when needed and convincingly serious when needed. Joel McHale was good as a jerk, (you really wont like him) and as I said before Giovanni Ribisi was genuinely creepy as Donny. McFarlane is no stranger to voice acting so playing Ted was no issue for him. At times it sounded like his own voice (think Family Guy’s Brian) and at times a bit more like Peter Griffen. Either way, an inappropriate talking teddy bear is pretty funny. It also led to one of my favorite fight scenes in a long time.
Overall I thought the movie was solid. I’ve seen better movies, but I’ve also seen way worse. With not much coming out before July 20th (I heard there is supposed to be some big movie coming out that Friday?) I would say it’s worth heading to the theater for. If you want to save your money it is worth at least a rent.
Have fun with it.