Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ted 2

Although I did enjoy some of the gross-out humor of the film Ted, overall I found it too stupid to be really enjoyable.

However, Writer/Producer/Director Seth MacFarlane’s Ted 2 is, in many respects, a bear of a different color.
Unfortunately, it does start out with enough gross-out language and humor to drive some of the audience out of the theater, but, then, it settles down to have a worthy story that, when it’s followed, is actually engaging.  (Ted wants to have a child to keep his marriage to his ditsy wife, joyfully played by Jessica Barth, from falling apart. But, he has to prove he’s a person in order to be able to adopt.)

But, there are constant segues and detours, some of which are cruel, that get in the way of the story’s flow.  It’s almost as if MacFarlane is afraid to show his softer and, to my way of thinking, more effective side.  It seems like he feels he has to constantly prove he’s a bad boy to have any credence with his followers.  Hopefully, he’ll grow out of that and do some really funny work.  If only…   Oh, well…

The film is at its best in bits played by Liam Neeson and football great Tom Brady, plus a night scene in the country where Amanda Seyfried (Ted’s lawyer) plays guitar and sings quite beautifully.

With its ups and downs, I give Ted 2 a 3+ out of 5.   

Infinitely Polar Bear

Mark Ruffalo, again, proves his ever-growing talent in Writer/Director Maya Forbes’ Infinitely Polar Bear.  In fact, he is so convincing in the role of a bi-polar manic depressive that, at times, it becomes uncomfortable to watch his actions, especially in relation to his two daughters, superbly played by Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide. 

Zoe Soldana is, also, excellent as the long-suffering wife and mother, who is trying to build a better life for her girls.

Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski captures Boston’s late ‘70s and Carl Sprague’s Production Design, beautifully,

This is a well-done film, but my question as to why anyone would make such a depressing story wasn’t answered until after viewing, when I discovered this was Forbes’ life-story with her real-life daughter Imogene playing her as an adolescent.

I feel that this was too personal to be a dramatic film and might have been better, in terms of audience relevance, if it were a documentary.

Hopefully, Forbes’ personal demons have been exorcised with this effort and she can get on to more expansive dramas.  She, surely, has the talent to do so.

I give Infinitely Polar Bear a 3+ out of 5.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Inside Out

The word to sum up Writer/Director Pete Docter’s Inside Out is BRILLIANT!
This is an animated film for adults and those who taut it as a way for parents to understand what’s going on inside the heads of their adolescent children are missing the point.  It’s actually a way for everyone to understand how the human psyche governs and deals with emotions and memories.

It’s a film to which children should bring their parents as opposed to the reverse.

When I saw it, the audience was overwhelmingly comprised of millennials in couples or same-sex groups.

Pixar’s animation is at its usual excellence and the script by Docter, who developed the story with Ronaldo Del Carmen, and wrote the screenplay with Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.

Inside Out is a must-see film that I’m willing to bet will get nominated by the Academy in the Best Film category.  I give it a 5 out of 5.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Every once in a great while, a true cinematic gem appears, seemingly out of the ether  In this case, the ether was the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Grand Prize for Drama and the Audience Award for U.S. Drama.

The film is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. 
It’s a coming-of-age dramedy about Greg (Thomas Mann), a creative high school senior with extremely low self-esteem, his street-wise buddy Earl (RJ Cyler) and Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate, who is suffering from leukemia. 

The film falls into the same genre as last year’s The Fault in Our Stars, but, here, there’s no star power other than Connie Britton and Molly Shannon, who play Greg’s and Rachel’s mothers, respectively. 

Yet, it has more humor and is more delicately   directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon from an absolutely lovely script by Jesse Andrews, who, also, wrote the book from which it was derived.   With this magic collaboration, the movie outdoes the book with some animated visuals that only film can offer.

The young cast is superb and the Cinematography of Chung-hoon Chung is perfection.

In short, there is no fault in in this film.   I give Me and Earl and the Dying Girl a 4+ out of 5.

Jurassic World

The real stars of Jurassic World are the dinosaurs and the Production Design of Ed Verreaux.

The film, also, succeeds from the fact it’s been 22 years since Steven Spielberg brought us this fantastic story and its incredible world with Jurassic Park and there are, now, a few new generations available for its audience.

However, unbeknownst to them, these new audiences are shortchanged by a formulaic script written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, as well as by Trevorrow’s pedestrian direction.

Chris Pratt and Dallas Bryce Howard do an admirable job with what they’re given, but it’s interesting to note that with two and a half times the budget as the original, there is not as much tension and the monsters aren’t as scary.  (No problem, here, for bringing youngsters.)

The best new gimmick is the ball-shaped vehicles for exploring the World.

If you enjoy “popcorn” movies, and it’s obvious from the box office results that millions do, you’ll, certainly, enjoy this one.

However, I can only give Jurassic World a 3+ out of 5.