Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs was one of my favorite books growing up. When I heard about the film adaptation I was more than a little worried that another piece of my childhood was about to get dragged through the studio muck, stripped of its soul, and stuffed with needless pop culture references. Then I noticed that it wasn't being produced by Dreamworks and my fears ebbed...a little. The trailer revealed my worst fears: the animation looked nothing like the illustrations, and the plot and characters from the book were completely replaced. How could this not suck?

Then along came Keith Phipps' review, which restored a glimmer of hope. I've now seen it, and what can I say - sometimes the studio gets it right.

The movie only vaguely resembles the book, taking the premise and abandoning pretty much everything else. But the new characters and plot are fantastic in their own right. CWACOM is an irreverent, subversive, action-packed celebration of geekery. It's as if the filmmakers made a movie for themselves, and if any kids happened to enjoy it that was fine too.

The story is basically about a geeky kid who grows up to be a nutty inventor (Bill Hader), tinkering away in his elaborate treehouse/laboratory. One day he invents a device that converts water into any food you want, one thing leads to another, and suddenly hot dogs are raining from the sky. Throw in a greedy mayor desperate for tourist dollars, and you have a formula for zany shenanigans. Along the way he teams up with a hyperactive police officer (Mr. T), an amateur weather girl (Anna Faris), and a talking monkey. Bruce Campbell, Neil Patrick Harris, James Caan, Benjamin Bratt, and Andy Samberg are also featured.

There are some very good messages thrown in for the kids about healthy eating, and being true to yourself. But none of it is heavy handed. Mr. T never explicitly tells kids to eat their greens, but the message is there. There are also some great scenes where the inventor encourages the weather girl to be herself after he catches her willfully acting dumb. He even gives her an anti-makeover, having her wear the glasses she usually hides, and putting her hair in a pony tail. I think it's a positive scene for young girls to see, and it's a nod to all the guys in the audience who appreciate geeky girls.

The story is fast paced, and the jokes come with frequency and often hit to some degree. It's one of the funniest movies I've seen all summer, and (dare I say) more entertaining overall than Up. I hope I haven't offended the animation gods by saying that. Both movies garner jokes from animals talking with electronic voice boxes, but CWACOM spreads it's humor out a bit more. There are more characters to enjoy, and the pathos isn't as overwhelming. It's simply more fun. (Again, I bow to Pixar, and all that she has given us. Always.)

I highly recommend this movie to anyone. I would say it's almost more fun for the adults than the kids. Also, I saw it in 3D, which definitely looks marvelous, but probably isn't necessary if you want to save a few bucks.

The Origin Of Stupidity

Mr. Cameron is at it again!

And here is perfectly reasonable response to Mr. Cameron:

[via The Huffington Post]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

District 9

I went in to District 9 with my expectations lowered as much as possible. I thought I would like it, but there was enough uneven feedback to keep me from getting my hopes up too high. It turned out to be one of my favorite movies of the year.

This was an interesting year for science fiction. On one end we had Moon, a heady suspense film about the meaning of individuality and humanity. And then there was Transformers 2, an amazing social experiment to see if large crowds of people would pay to have hot pokers jammed into their skulls for two hours (I'm assuming, since I'm one of the alarming few who didn't). District 9 rests comfortably in between, with a fortunate lean toward the Moon side of the spectrum. It's an action movie, but it's also got some subtle social commentary layered throughout.

I don't want to give too much away, because I believe going into it with less knowledge of the plot is better. But it is basically the story of a man who gets caught up in a predicament with aliens stranded in South Africa. The story was often surprising, and I was completely absorbed throughout the movie. I really have no complaints about it at all. There was a lot of very intense action, and the special effects were fantastic. Even compared to movies with much larger budgets.

This was easily one of the type five most entertaining movies of the year for me so far.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cursed Pirate Girl

One of the nice things about Dragon*Con (of which I have yet to post anything about here) is the opportunity to discover new things to obsess over. One of the nicer discoveries I made was the comic Cursed Pirate Girl, by Jeremy Bastian.

His artwork caught my eye as I was perusing the comics artist alley, and I ended up walking away with the first issue. It is an epic fantasy tale of a young privileged girl who befriends another girl who claims to be the daughter of a great pirate. The young pirate girl also has a terrible curse on her, as the title suggests.
The comic is gorgeously illustrated with intricate, detailed line work, that is remarkably drawn at the same scale it is printed at. It's a very old fashioned style that is perfectly suited to the story.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My August music downloads Part 2, in alphabetical:

1. No Question - Got Game?
2. The Octopus Project - Identification Parade
3. Pink Floyd - The Division Bell
4. The Protomen - The Protomen
5. Shearwater - Rook
6. Simian Mobile Disco - Attack Decay Sustain Release
7. Simian Mobile Disco - Temporary Pleasure
8. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant - Chicken Zombies
9. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant - Gear Blues
10. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant - Sabrina No Heaven
11. Tomoyasu Hotei - AMBIVALENT
12. various artists - Weezer - The 8-bit Album
13. Vieux Farka Toure - Fondo
14. The Weepies - Happiness
15. The Weepies - Hideaway
16. White Rabbits - It's Frightening
17. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
18. Yoshida Brothers - Yoshida Brothers II
19. The Young Republic - Recession Special EP
My August music downloads Part 1, in alphabetical:

1. Andrew Bird - Music Of Hair
2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
3. Bessie Smith - The Essential Bessie Smith
4. The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
5. Dengue Fever - Venus On Earth
6. The Fugs - First Album
7. The Fugs - The Fugs Second Album
8. The Fugs - Virgin Fugs
9. Gossip - Music for Men
10. How I Became The Bomb - Deadly Art
11. The Ink Spots - Greatest Hits
12. Jim Noir - Jim Noir
13. Joe Hisaishi - Gake no ue no Ponyo OST
14. Loudon Wainwright III - Attempted Mustache
15. Loudon Wainwright III - Recovery
16. Magnetic Fields - The Charm of the Highway Strip
17. Mew - No more stories...
18. Neil Young - Archives Vol. 1