A Carpet Ride Into Familiar, Rushed, World

Aladdin Poster

            Disney cartoons in the 90s were the stuff of magic, and the foundation of my love for their movies. The animated adventures and their accompanying soundtracks were able to permanently embed themselves in my mind, heart and soul defining what Walt’s imagination established years ago.  Then came the live action versions and things started getting mixed up in the modern day of representation, realism, and trying to spin these tales in a way of being new/yet familiar.  There have been plenty of ups and downs, but they have found their place and tonight they try another milestone with big shoes, or in this case sandals/moccasins to fill.  Can it work?  That’s where I come in to give my insights as we check out:

 

Movie:  Aladdin (2019)

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)

Stars:

Will SmithMena MassoudNaomi Scott

 

LIKES:

Nostalgic

  • Core Story Present
  • Funny
  • Cute
  • Recreated World
  • Nice Visual Effects
  • Acting
  • Take On Genie
  • Some Of The Songs

 

  • DISLIKES:
  • Not Enough Exploration Of The World
  • Rushed At times
  • Missing Some Of The Character Charm
  • Jafar’s Take
  • The Anticlimactic Jafar Fight
  • The political Messages
  • Some of the Other Songs

People Who Likes These May Like This One:

Beauty and The Beast Live Action Remake

Prince Of Persia

Dumbo

Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

Disney Channel Original Movies

SUMMARY:

Let’s put it out there, Aladdin cartoons have set much up for quality in many ways, and yours truly is a big fan of it.  Yet this spin on it managed in a way to accomplish the goal of appeasing many audience members.  Guy Ritchie’s take on it holds the core story with the nostalgia nicely baked in making sure to hit the highlights of each moment with a new visual style.  The reimagined world holds nice visual effects and some beautiful attention to detail in the infusion of cultures bringing the beloved cartoon to life and making it semi realistic. Yet, when some people recreated these wonders, the magic of the film is lost to the darker tale and grittier atmosphere, sort of draining the enchantments the cartoon films held.  Fortunately, Ritchie and his crew succeeded in keeping the funny and cute moments in tact primarily in the form of clever one liners, Will Smith’s take on the genie, and relationship of Abu and Carpet, the former of which you want to adopt.  Yet the film also succeeds in bringing those relationships we love to life and somehow putting some new charms to it, to help them stand out.  Mena Massoud has the charm, naivety and wonder that Aladdin held to be the adventurous lad.  Naomi Scott’s voice and strong attitude pave a new Jasmine that will speak to the modern female audience, yet also enchant others. As for Will Smith, he makes the Genie his own character familiar yet also different to not attempt to copy the late William’s work.  His take was fun, almost like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meeting Disney and it worked beautifully for me, primarily in the chemistry between him and Massoud (very touching at times).  And as for the music, while not quite the same as the 90’s songs in terms of energy, some of the tracks have their new spin work out well that is a blend of old and new and having charisma, my favorite being a Whole New World and Friend Like Me. New Songs by Jasmine though might be my favorite though, a new addition that fits well, delivers the messages, and showcases the Scott’s wonderful voice.

Yet for all the good there are some things still lacking for me.  First the world that they made was not explored enough like the original version, reduced to feeling like a close set instead of the epic kingdom of Agrabah and the Arabian desert. In fact, the movie feels very rushed at times, with the opening ran very quickly, that in no time we are at the cave of wonders instead of the buildup I was expecting.  This pace sort of robs the charm of the world and characters, sometimes getting lost in the all the new political moves and new gimmicks in place of the story telling. For me this was especially true for the take on Jafar.  In terms of looks, it get realism, and ambitions it is there, but this Jafar did not quite have the devious nature of the traditional villain.  That suave, sophisticated and cunning air, was lost to grandiosity and whining rather than that meticulous planning of the wise wizard.  And when it came time to fight him, well the anticlimactic moments were lost again to new themes and takes, including the design of his genie form.  Much of these limitations came from shoving the political components into the mix that were both endearing and then forced/beaten over the head.  The Dream Big Princess movement is alive and while respectable did not feel like it should have been as large a focus. As for the other songs, many of the tracks did not have the same flow, energy, and agreement with the scene like the movie, the new take changing the pace and energy of the scene that did not fit as well with the scene.

Overall, Aladdin’s live remake is one of the better ones for me because it tried to accomplish blending nostalgia and yet being different to not compete with the classics.  I had fun with this film, loved the relationships and acting between groups, the dynamics with CGI and some of those songs that took me to a whole new world.  Yet, the movie just did not explore the Agrabah as much as I wanted, rushing through various moments to not be quite as complete or suspenseful of an adventures that the 90s version held.  It’s that lack of scenes, songs, and acting all working together that is probably the biggest miss for me, and while not awful, was not to the full extent it could have been.  Still, the film is worth a visit and appropriate for most little ones given much of the fear inducing scenes have been removed. Overall my scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 8

Movie Overall 7.0

 

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Too Focused On Audience and Music Leads to “Ugly” Limitations

UglyDolls Poster

            The animated world brings many masterpieces, acting as a medium to bring imagination to life and craft impossible things that live action has not quite caught up to.  Given the intended audiences, new worlds and characters are crafted in hopes of delivering fun adventure, potential catchy soundtracks, and of course lessons that can help refresh the morals tarnished by time if left unchecked. This weekend, the latest adventure attempts to take the stage in the form of a band of misfit creations with the potential to change the world.  Will it be another blockbuster hit to withstand the test of time, or is it just more merchandising in a desperate plea to stand up to Disney.  Robbie K here giving his thoughts0. on:

 

Director:

Kelly Asbury

Writers:

Alison Peck (screenplay by), Sun-min Kim (based on characters by)

Stars:

Kelly ClarksonNick JonasJanelle Monáe

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Creative Characters
  • Colorful Environment
  • Cute Atmosphere
  • Voice Cast
  • Messages
  • Music

 

SUMMARY:  As mentioned in the opening, the animated medium offers the ability to let imagination flourish and create some unique looking characters. Ugly Doll takes the concept of “mistakes” and turns them into oddly shaped combinations that hold much value for future action figures and dolls.  Moxy (Clarkson) and her crew are odd and not the most detailed, but their personalities are etched into the design which goes in time with the world crafted. This world may not be the most realistic or detail oriented, but it’s color, angles, and sort of Hodge podge approach lead to a mish-mash world of fun that would be beautiful as a theme park. Ugly Dolls manages to add personality into each of the two worlds, mirroring the approach to life each collective bunch represents.  Regardless of which place you prefer, the movie holds the cute factor that is intended for the key audience, creating the safe, family friendly environment that parents would like their young ones to see.

To help further bring the world to life, a talented voice cast has at least been recruited with singers, comedians, and sassy actresses to assist with bringing that last bit of spark to the characters needed. Clarkson, Jonas, and Monae are the ones who take point using their vocal talents to not only deliver the simplistic writing of the film and even more deliver the lines of the soundtrack this movie was focused on.  The variety of voice talents were marginally used well and balanced to make sure every character got some screen time.

Through whatever means though, the movie has two big selling points that are the selling points with this film.  The first are the morals about inner beauty, self-worth, and believing in yourself.  Cliché? Absolutely, but an important lesson for the young generation, and their chaperones to learn in hopes of establishing new grounds for self-confidence.  That emotional gimmick, touched my heart personally, but for many of the group it may not quite penetrate the cerebral cortex like they wanted.  Instead the morals will be lost to the toe tapping tunes that this movie is going to use.  Much like Frozen, the soundtrack is going to be more memorable than the movie, with a number of reprises used to expand the soundtrack ever so slightly.  Plenty of these songs have much emotion, but it’s going to be the bubble gum pop beat that gets your kids going, bump up sales, and potentially get overplayed

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Very Simplistic Plot
  • Other Characters Only Scratched
  • Rushed Story
  • Little Impasse
  • Unremarkable Moments
  • Too geared on kids
  • Too much focus on the music

SUMMARY:  When it comes to animated kids films there is a balance that I look for in my reviews so that they may bring more people into the film.  Ugly Dolls struggled with this for me.  It starts with the simplistic plot, essentially a linear plot that holds very few curves to mix things up.  It’s simple story is cute and endearing, but lacks some of the fundamental moments that Disney does so well.  Most of the characters do contribute in the form of comedy, but the character development is lacking for the others, leading to merely colorful outlines that will be perfect for action figures.  Perhaps this could have been accomplished if the plot did not seem so rushed, trying to get from start to finish in the rapid time limit they set. In doing this, the impasses for our dolls were not that impressive and easily bypassed, the threat level essentially nullified by the cute antics of our group.  The result is that the movie does not quite have the most memorable moments that will stay with us until the end of time.

Why is this the case?  I believe the two sources of weakness that took away from this movie are the kid focused atmosphere and the fixation on music.  Ugly Dolls is perfect for the early aged viewers in terms of lacking any really scary or haunting features. Yet, in removing the threats the plot became a little too boring as the adventure just devolved into sort of an elementary school education lesson.  Taking the adventure out of this movie therefore limits it for older members who will need to focus on the occasional adult joke and watching their young ones smiles.  In addition, the music was too much the theme of this film.  With all the singers casted, it’s not surprising they wanted to turn out a soundtrack, and sure enough the studio has put a lot of investment in the toe tapping music to boost sales.  Despite the catchy music, that focus took away much from the story as mentioned above, all in the name of cramming as many songs as possible to again boost their sales. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall Ugly Dolls is cute and I loved the themes, world building and energy built into its design and the presentation.  Yet, the movie fails to find the balance and sense of adventure that others have held from other studios with bigger budgets. More story planning was needed, and less focus on limited audiences would have been nice, with a little more maturity ingrained to help out.  Yet, the movie really needed to steer away from the focus on merchandising to leave an imprint and be known as one of the greats.  It is not horrible at all, but the limited audience scope is going to be the main hesitation to go to the theaters for this.  Instead, you might be better off buying the sound track and waiting for this to hit home. 

Scores:

Animated/Family/Adventure/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Wonder Park or Blunder Park?

Wonder Park Poster

 

Fan of Roller coaster Tycoon, or Simulation coasters?  Were you one of those people who had an imagination that could take you to anywhere you wanted to think of?  Have you wanted to go to a place of wonder where girls didn’t blow up to blueberries?  Well tonight’s movie attempts to bring all of this to you in a package that looks to people overwhelmingly cute.  Robbie K back with his thought on yet another movie to hit the silver screen in hopes of not getting lost to the reruns of the theater.  Let’s get started!

 

Movie: Wonder Park (2019)

 

Writers:

Josh Appelbaum (screenplay by), André Nemec(screenplay by)

Stars:

Sofia MaliJennifer GarnerKen Hudson Campbell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute

  • Voice Work
  • Special Effects
  • Animation
  • Energy
  • Jokes
  • Imagination
  • Message

 

Summary: Disney movies make it difficult to try to bring animated features out because of the not so big budget or army of animators/ideas.  Nickelodeon is able to still work some charming magic into this piece though, managing once more to bring the cute factor into their film and get the feelings going.  It’s got some surprising emotional work, with voice acting and story coming together to sell the feelings lying deep in the fun, cute charm that the trailers show. Much like the opening scene of Up, Wonder Park has some surprisingly deep messages that will hopefully motivate the young and refresh the older generations on the importance of imagination and wonder.

Sap fest aside though, the movie accomplishes the goal of still being fun, managing to inject the wonder of imagination in terms of visuals and adventures.  Nickelodeon’s team injects a lot of kid friendly energy into the mix, making an infectious, thrill seeking ride that is perfect for the intended audience.  The smooth animation, with high paced speed keeps in time with the nature of the animals and imaginative girl, while the design manages to bring in the magic that theme parks and kids movies have.  All the unlimited potential of a child’s imagination is unleashed in this film and it is certain to bring you back into the world of pure imagination.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Predictable
  • Too Simple
  • Lacking Intense Suspense
  • Short

 

Summary: As we have talked about, animation movies require a story to be very dynamic, fun, and have a sense of adventure that takes us out of our world.  While Wonder Park does semi-accomplish this, it doesn’t quite do it as well as some of the other bigger studios have done.  For one thing the movie is predictable, all the symbolism, mystery, and potential twists are easily discernible and lacking the finesse and mind-blowing moments that the sister studio is famous for. In addition, despite all the fun that Wonder Park did in helping you relive your childhood, it was a little too simplistic in the adventure department, not quite having the drive or dive that Pixar and DreamWorks is able to concoct.  This means for me that there was not too many suspenseful parts in the mix, most of the chases reduced to quick bouts of falling, or lost in another joke.  All the dark challenges and impasses are very diluted avenues, that act as symbolic psyche components of humans rather than true antagonists.  Yet the main thing that is semi disappointing, is how short the movie is. Clocking in at just around 80 minutes, this film certainly moves fast, but not so much in the good way as the content feels a little lacking to be honest.  Oh well, it got me out a little early, but the length may not be the most bang for your buck in terms of the expensive movie ticket price.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Wonder park is certainly an important illustration about the important components of life, including the importance of maintaining your imagination and wonder.  It makes great use of the kid friendly energy, yet has a few things for adults to latch onto, especially those touching, pull at your heart string moments. Yet despite all the fun I had in this movie, the film still feels like a Nickelodeon tv special that could have been left to the network.  It needed some more adventure, it needed more suspense for me, and more importantly it needed more of that magic they talked about.  Wonder Park certainly has the makings for a fun merchandising series, it just needs a little more finesse to finish the deal.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Hmmm kind of, but this one is probably waiting for streaming for most.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

A Kid’s Quest For Family, Friendly Fun

The Kid Who Would Be King Poster

 

Kid’s movies are a mixed bag of tricks depending on the studio behind it.  Without major studios, the films often take a stray to gimmicks that parents roll their eyes at, while kids squeal in delight.  Today, another studio tries to hit the box office big time before the big budget films take reign.  As such, I’m here to give thought once more on the latest film to hit the silver screen. Robbie K here reviewing;

 

Movie: The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)

 

Director:

Joe Cornish

Writer:

Joe Cornish

Stars:

Louis Ashbourne SerkisDenise GoughDean Chaumoo

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting

Merlin

Funny

Blending

Action

Balance

 

SUMMARY: Kids movies with a young cast sometimes lose balance, but this cast does a nice job reigning in the antics, but capturing the magic of being a kid.  The young band of modern nights have a direction of portraying bullying, helping to bring relevant issues to light and bringing the suffering to realistic levels.  And while these characters are rather well curtailed, it is the young Merlin accompanying them that impressed me the most.  This new take on Merlin brings comedy, nobility, teaching, and a new flair to the legendary figure that works well for the feel of this movie.  Utilizing the magic of Patrick Stewartfor the adult figurehead, the merlin role’s direction was quite fun to watch in his integration.

Yet, the true success of this film comes from the blending of the attributes that the trailers portrayed for so many commercials. The Kid Who Would Be King is funny a blend of kid humor with some wit that makes it fun for both young and old. Blending the modern and the archaic worlds together is an interesting spin that really worked for me.  Seeing the various medieval references transitioned to modern Britain was an entertaining craftmanship that should again appeal to many. The adventure crafted ran at a good pace and managed to make an age appropriate tale.  For the action scenes, this king’s adventure surprisingly does this well, finding again the balance to make exciting sequences against the CGI figures, but not crossing into super violent or dark skirmishes that can lead to parents complaining of inappropriate scenes.  If you’ve read this you know this, the movie has surprising balance to it, making a rather good go for a non-Disney film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Morgana’s under utilization

A few antics overdone

The Suspense of Reality

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

The movie may have creativity, balance, and decent acting, but it still struggles with surprises. This quest for Camelot has a predictable tale, foreshadowing the surprises far down the road and bringing with it lackluster twists they tried so hard to do.  While kids will be wowed and potentially fooled, older adults don’t have much to be shocked by, and can instead be gauging if the scene will scare their little ones.

Even sadder is the main villain’s semi-integration to the film.  While she had her say in things, I felt more could have been done to bring the witch to full glory and malice.  It could have been better inclusion into the battles, or more watching and development during her exile, but Morgana’s a villain could have used some more magic to become the central antagonist, as opposed to who took that center stage.

Instead the kid friendly elements of funny antics took center stage for much of the movie.  While I agree there is balance, this quest still succumbs to some antics being used too much for the older audiences.  The fun hand antics and running jokes are cute and well timed, but it’s a little overdone and susceptible to being the next focus of the meme revolution. Small dislike as it is, this slight limitation added some unnecessary length and turned away from some of the storytelling elements they were starting to pick up on.

Yet the biggest thing that was distracting for an older reviewer like me was the suspense of reality.  In fantasy, I get that rules don’t always apply, but this journey established realistic physics into the mix and started breaking its own rules. It’s mainly in the final moments of the movie, but this particular physics defying roles get a little cheesy for the older audience, though it can all be written off by use of magic allowing this to happen and kids won’t care.  Yet, while this is picky, it’s this component that sort of takes away from the suspense of the fight for me, but again I’m not the key audience.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

The Kid Who Would Be King is truly a fun film, that holds magic and wonder for those interested in the modernization of King Arthur’s tale.  The quest contains fun, action, and heart that can touch a lot of members in the audience in surprising ways.  Yet, it’s not the most original tale, doesn’t follow its own rules, can’t shake the predictability, and doesn’t quite have the full magic that Merlin wanted to conjure up.  Still, the film succeeded in being fun, is age appropriate across most fields, and contains enough movie magic to warrant a trip to the theater.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Family/Fantasy: 7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

Returning In A Style For Both Old and New. Mary Poppins For The Family Feature Win

Mary Poppins Returns Poster

 

Years ago, the nanny that changed everything charmed her way into the theaters, bringing song and dance to her teachings as he helped sculpt family lives.  It was a wonderful movie that shed so much joy and wonder to the families who gave it a try. Decades later, the mystical nanny has decided to return once more, in hopes of bringing the same magic to the mix. Will her resurgence bring the same joy and whimsy, or has her relevance blown over too many generations to warrant the same quality?  Welcome to Robbie’s movie reviews as I take on:

 

Movie: Marry Poppins Returns (2018)

 

 

Director:

Rob Marshall

Writers:

David Magee (screenplay by), David Magee (screen story by)

Stars:

Emily BluntLin-Manuel MirandaBen Whishaw

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting: While no one can replace the lovely Julie Andrews, it does not mean that Blunt has not done wonders with the character.  Still holding the same nostalgic quality, the new Mary Poppins has a little more edge, sass, and a wonderful balance of love that is quite endearing to see with her cast mates.  Lin-Manuel as well adds his own fun to the crew, bringing his theatrical qualities to the character of Bert. Nostalgic enough to have that same childish demeanor, but different to stand out, his musical skills were quite welcome to the mix. And as for the rest of the crew, they all do a bang-up job of adding to the film, and the young cast of the Banks kids are well directed to avoid being the annoying twerps these roles can be.

 

The Numbers:  Mary Poppins was all about bringing the energetic numbers that would forever ingrain themselves in the music hall of fame.  With her return, Mary once more brought the energy back to the screen, utilizing Miranda’s talents well to once more bring the showmanship of the theater.  This film is filled with the magical song and dance routines made famous in the first film and will have the young and young at heart dancing in their seats.  Each of these numbers accomplished the goal of being resident, and in true musical fashion was able to portray their inner feelings and lessons.  A wonderful ensemble of songs awaits the audience members, and holds great potential to become that new song to be repeated a thousand times.

 

The Story:  Thank the idea of nostalgia, or thank the director because the return of Mary Poppins brings with it a charming delight that holds both old and new motifs in its well-timed shots.  Lessons for all generations lie the nanny’s wisdom, utilizing a variety of worlds and settings to help the Banks family find their way in the harsh London streets  Much of the story contains nods to the original plot, while others hold something new and exciting in their powerful sequences. In addition, there is enough nod to other characters to establish the fate of the various characters, while also being original to stand on its own.  Regardless, there is so much delight and balance to the story to help rope many into the plot.

 

The Classic Animation:  Think back to the classic version and one might recall the dive into the 2-D cartoon land and the epic scenes and songs that came with it.  Over 50 years later, and Disney was not afraid to return to the cartoon theatrics again.  I thoroughly enjoyed the return to Disney’s origins, seeing the classic art style fill the screen and integrate with our live action friends.  Again, the memories of youth rush back in with it and bring perhaps my favorite number that held so much pep and vibrant enthusiasm.  A wonderful nod to the old, while making sure to balance the new style into the mix as well.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Of the Older Banks Children:  The trailers painted heavy integration of Michael and Jane as they fall under the care of the nanny to relearn things left behind.  While they have a decently strong integration into the mix, it’s not quite the same level I was expecting and as such wanted them to go on the journey a little more with their kids.  Again, nothing remotely weak, but perhaps a little more integration could have taken the element farther.

 

 

More Time In the Animation: The classic horse racing scene had plenty of time in the 2-D world, making sure to really give the audience the full fun of the scene.  This movie did a fantastic job in the short time they were there, but I was hoping for more time or at least another visit to an animated world where the two styles could meet.  Poppins may do a great job balancing a lot of components, but yours truly wanted another masterpiece in 2-D/live integration that could bring with it the same memory etching greatness it did.

 

The Meryl Streep Number: Is it cute?  Yes!  Does it serve a musical number with catchy lyrics and beats?  Yes.  Does Meryl Streep do a good job?  Yes. So why a dislike?  Well, this number as fun as it is, is very irrelevant to the story.  The dive into the workshop held some potential, but stuck out like the sore thumb at its inclusion into the whole plot, dropping it after the nearly 10 minutes of inclusion.  I just wished that they had continued the story, and perhaps brought another number in, again relevant tot eh story.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the second visit to Mary Poppins’ lessons still has plenty of charm, love, and energy that will bring so much joy to the audience.  Get ready to have your family film of the holidays, ready to bridge generation gaps, and help one learn old lessons in the new age.  With relevant, energetic song and dance numbers, a fantastic cast with great chemistry, and whimsy from a number of sources, this reviewer encourages hitting the the theater for this one. And while it is not the same as the first movie, it holds its own charm and wonder that was long overdue for the cinema. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Family/Fantasy: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5

Will This Movie Wreck Your Memories

Ralph Breaks the Internet Poster

 

Popular culture is here to say, but it is also ever changing, much in part to the internet.  Tonight’s movie decides to journey to the center of the internet looking into the world of cyberspace through the eyes of Disney.  Yes, tonight the sequel many never thought would come to bear given the current movements by Disney (Pixar sequels, live animation, and Marvel).  That’s right! Out of Walt Disney Animation Studios is Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, which based on the massive advertising, holds the potential to be another hilarious adventure.  Robbie K here to review:

 

Movie: Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Wrecks The Internet (2018)

 

Directors:

Phil JohnstonRich Moore

Writers:

Phil Johnston (screenplay by), Pamela Ribon (screenplay by)

Stars:

John C. ReillySarah SilvermanGal Gadot

 

 

LIKES:

Animation: No surprise, Disney knows how to design and animate in the world of children’s animation. Ralph’s newest adventure proves this once more as the cyberworld comes to life in rich textures and colors, as the wonderful world of Disney’s lens reveals a cleverly detailed world.  All ages should appreciate the mood and characterization of each popular app and part of the cyber world, that adds the characteristic this series is famous for. Characters move smoothly in all sequences, and it still holds the personality of a video game.

 

Comedy:  Ralph’s series is always known for the comedy and the dive into the internet immersed the group into new depths of comedy.  This film broadens its horizons in terms of laugh factors and allows more people to laugh at the antics at hand.  The same slapstick remains from the first film, while jabs at our popular culture, alongside quote worthy one-liners ring through the whole film.  Many avenues are not safe from the ridicule of the movie, that will hopefully have you laughing in good fun like I did.  Nevertheless, the film’s laugh fest is still reminiscent of the first film, but bringing a new twist to the mix.

 

Pace:  A Disney movie is often paced quite well and this film is no exception.  Ralph and company will be surfing at the speed of information exchange, having no problems with being deterred or hindered in its ability to bring the entertainment and story we so crave.  With this faster pace, comes an energy that Ralph is famous for, which will captivate the attention of all the intended audience members.

 

Cleverness:  The movie works so well with managing to have geekiness imbued into the film, showing off the whit of the famous studio as they pay tribute to the nerds and nerd alike.  Random cameos, details of buildings, and other popular culture references are well-established into the comedy and seldom forced upon you like some of the films they have made. Still, Disney’s shrewd creativity and imagination continue to shine forth in their ability to make animated films.

 

The Moral:  The movie wouldn’t be a Disney film if there wasn’t a tried and true trail to remain at the center of it all.  Ralph’s first lesson was about self-identity and discovering yourself.  This film expands the already deep characters to new levels as their relationship evolves into the next levels of growth.  As both start to fan out into the cyber world and establish new adventures, Ralph and Venelope will go through their own trials as well.  It’s sweet, it’s strong, and it jam packed with emotion that will have many getting sentimental, especially if it is relevant. Wreck It Ralph’s moral driven plot may not be original, but it certainly is jam packed with the usual Disney magic.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not The First Movie:  Sequels have to be themselves and soar with open wings to establish its only flow.  Still, the sequel lacked some of the creativity, uniqueness, target themes that it had established those years ago.  I missed the video game focused references, and cameos of dad jokes with parodies to those games.  In addition, it still lacked some other things I’ll be mentioning to result in a still good sequel, but maybe not quite as strong as the original to me.

 

The Other characters: it was brilliant to allow other characters and gimmicks to unfold for this film, but a few other characters could have certainly had more involvement given how much a part they were of the main character’s lives.  Why the original characters didn’t go on a journey more, I don’t know, but I missed them in this film very much.

 

New Characters Quite Not living To Full potential:  Shank and the new crew might have been beautiful and bold in the film, but they were not nearly as integrated into the film as the previous installment.  Disney has included them enough to give us future merchandising, but the cyber characters didn’t quite have the adventurous involvement the previous one had.  It would have been nice to pull them multiple times to help with facing the internet and I quite missed the sense of adventure the first film specialized in.

 

Comedy In Your Face Moments: There are times where Disney still feels the need to force an idea or comedy style on them.  Sometimes they work and other times are a little too intense for me to really appreciate it.  The Disney princess moment is one of those moments that I felt was a little in your face, pushing too hard to get the point across for the sake of a laugh towards a certain subset of audience members.  I get there is a place for a lot of comedy in this film, the goal of the producers, but perhaps working to integrate characters a little bit might have been the way to go instead of another princess service announcement.

 

The Villain:  Turbo was a great central antagonist that held many tricks in  his arsenal to remain relevant and immortal.  He was deadly enough to threaten people with darker tones, while still a force to brecken with.  However, this one was missing a lot, often much due to underutilization of characters and a gimmick that seemed nothing more than a plot device trying to justify the inclusion of another big bad character.  It’s age appropriate, but not quite the full incredible splendor that the first one did, and I missed that challenge to their never-ending quest for fun, adventure and the truth.

 

The Trailer Ruined Much: Hate when Disney over shows the trailers, making sure to show you so much of the movie without giving away the whole thing.  Ralph has had a lot ruined, not everything mind you, but many powerful laughs and jokes could have held more life to it if they had been introduced in the film, instead of the billions of minutes on television.  As such, some of the more popular jokes were stale to my viewing group.

 

The Verdict:

 

            The sequel had a lot to live up for me, but Ralph’s second film held plenty of the same magic that I fell in love with in the first film.  Still a dazzling delight to watch with fantastic animation and design combined with the usual comedic references we’ve come to expect with this series.  Still, the dive back into pop culture references still needed some software updates to maximize old and new characters, and design the film with the same standards the first held.  Still the film is worth a trip to theater for many reasons and an enjoyable one at that. 

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5-8.0

Instant Family Fun! An Instant Family Review

Instant Family Poster

 

Family, a blessing and curse at many times.  It is a source of conversation and entertainment that Hollywood loves to rub in our faces.  Hence, when you get movies that are about making fun of families in super ridiculous manners, one can’t help but lower expectations on the quality of these films.  So yours truly walked in with low expectations of tonight’s review, thinking I was in store for more silly slapstick tricks.  What lies in store for this film past the trailers?  Robbie K here hoping to fill you in on another detailed review as we explore:

 

Movie: Instant Family (2018)

 

Director:

Sean Anders

Writers:

Sean AndersJohn Morris

Stars:

Mark WahlbergRose ByrneIsabela Moner

 

 

LIkES:

 

Comedy:  The movie is indeed a comedic adventure into foster parenting, and while the likes of Daddy’s Home seemed to ring hard in the trailer for me, that wasn’t the case in this film.  Instant Family manages to achieve the fleeting goal of balancing styles of laughter including slapstick antics, banter, insult humor, and crossing boundaries with cursing.  Such a style allows for the gimmicks to remain fresh over the course of the movie and bring with it plenty of guffaws, chortles, and whatever sounds you make with humor.

 

The Story: Heartwarming is certainly the element of this tale, doing a fantastic job of the inspiration from the stories of foster families.  Instant Family crosses into the realms of this unique parenting setting, bringing all the issues and emotions that come with it.  It’s simplistic, linear tale allows for many things to be stuffed into the film, working hard to keep to its roots, but explored the small hairs that help absorb the dynamic material that the writers seeded it with.  As such, the story has enough components to make my next few likes further support the film.

 

Fun:  To be family friendly for some, means to tread down the “pure” path where only G-rated jokes and language can be instilled in the movie. While I can acknowledge this, it limits the audiences who can enjoy this to the fullest.  Fortunately, Instant Family saw this and managed to find that balance of styles to keep it relatively PG to PG-13, opening up to more audience members and keeping the film very fun to watch.  Yes, there is language, and a few more adult themes not made for sensitive ears.

 

Emotional:  Some of my friends have stated they teared up at just the trailer alone.  Well, the audience in my showing today was sobbing, sniffling, and tearing up at the feelings thrown into the mix.  And while preachy at times, Instant Family sells the lessons in full force, captivating you further into the film and really selling the love this family was trying to portray.  It brings so many wonderful feelings out into the light, which will be a wonderful compliment to the film.

 

Relatable:  Certainly we aren’t all in foster programs, but Instant Family brings with it enough issues about a variety of topics to find something relate to.  How to handle anger,  how to deal with out of control kids, teenage angst issues, love, confidence, and plenty of other pieces that maybe we could all stand to learn.  As such, the story had a greater effect on me, allowing me to sort of place myself in each character’s shoes and enjoy seeing how the characters grew during the trials they faced.  If you are like me, the relatability of a film can really bring an extra factor to the movie and I feel this film will affect the people in a positive way to further enhance the film.

 

Balance:  The key to the success of this movie is balance. Over all the likes mentioned in the previous categories, the underlying foundation is that the director and writers managed to find a way to make all these styles work together.  Outside of all the aforementioned categories, Instant Family also found a way to utilize the characters very well.  The kids limitations and character’s annoying habits are fine tuned to reach that equilibrium between annoying and too underdone.  Wahlberg’s talents weren’t overdone and Byrne managed to rain her normal maneuvers to new levels that again seemed very well tuned.  As such, Instant Family managed to surprise me with how they juggled so many plots, morals, and other components in such a short time.  That was the key to taking this movie to new levels and something other films need to study for future film making.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The PredictabilityA small dislike in the grand scheme of things, Instant Family does not deviate far from the formulaic presentation that Hallmark has made famous.  A few twists and turns could have provided some opportunity for even deeper growth, or perhaps a few more montages of the fun times to help dilute the predictability. Sure this may not be the key point they were shooting for, but as a reviewer, throwing some surprises in could have sailed this movie even further.

 

A Few Throw Away Characters: Another small detail, but Instant Family snuck in a few characters that brought some interesting avenues to explore. They were complete to some extent, but a few of these characters could have been left out, erased from sight due to the little contribution they provided.

 

The Kid InEquilibrium: The main kid who got the attention was the teenager Lizzy.  I’ll recognize and appreciate the context of teenage angst, but why did the other kids, whose flaws were magnified at the early part of the movie.  These components seemed to be swept under the rug, with little portrayal of dealing with these problems, often resorting to a comedic device to justify their inclusion.  Thus, the a restructuring of their involvement could have been the key to furthering the movie.

Over The Limit sometimes: The worst thing for me in this film, are the few times the comedy became more insulting than funny for me.  In this time of political correct statements, there are some dialogue moments and banter that sort of step on the appropriate way to phrase things.  These jokes often feel more like insults and as such, not appreciating these moments that went far.  Again, nothing like an R rated movie, but still something that took away from the film for me. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            I agree with the recent trailers, Instant Family is indeed the big surprise of this week.  It’s sweet, with a  passionate charm that and relevant plot to grab attentions and hold them in their place. These balances of so many plot points is what helped achieve this quality and certainly is worth studying/noting for your future film needs.  I’ll admit they crossed the line a bit, and didn’t quite maximize the potential they held. Still, with all the fun I had and the ability to show empathy to fictional characters I think is enough persuasion to call you into the hallowed halls of the theater. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0