Disguised As a Silly Kids Film, But Has A Secret Emotional Side

Spies in Disguise Poster

 

Another holiday season and that means another animated movie to get the kids to the theater for more fun and frolic.  Well in the mega money schemes of Disney, there are few willing to take the risk to put their work out and give it a try.  Blue Skies Studio is ready to answer that call and this week the latest animation is going to try and make its mark on the world of children’s entertainment.  Robbie K back with another review as he takes a look at the film:

 

Movie: Spies In Disguise (2019)

 

Directors:

Nick BrunoTroy Quane

Writers:

Brad Copeland (screenplay by), Lloyd Taylor (screenplay by)

Stars:

Rachel BrosnahanJarrett BrunoClaire Crosby

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Smooth Animation Style
  • A More Unique Concept
  • Funny
  • Fun
  • Good Pace
  • Heartfelt Moments
  • Music
  • Creativity With Gadgets
  • Action At The End

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A Bit Over silly At Times
  • Villain Needing A Little More Tweak
  • Some underutilized characters
  • The Commercial Syndrome

 

SUMMARY:

 

We know most animation films have got this formula down and spies in disguise has a fun design and animation that is exciting, fluid, and perfect for the feel of the movie.  The bird movements look rather accurate and when anthropomorphized, they achieve the blend between human and bird quite well. Past that style though, these spies are equipped to entertain the young and young at heart with some tricks of the trade that are timeless, yet also diverse.  It starts with the unique concept of transformation, that’s both formed into the story and a nice plot device as well as pigeon and man team up to conquer the criminal underworld.  The trailers do not disguise the fact that the film is both funny and fun, cramming jokes and adventure in many frames to bring that fun kids flick that we all have grown up with and all at an entertaining pace.  These jokes are part due to the voice acting and dialogue, but it also comes from the creative with helping to bring spy gadgets down to a PG rating, yet not be so kiddy that it feels like a Nick Jr. special.  This is especially true at the climactic moments where Walters inventions come out in his own style that somehow seem to work during the fast-paced conflicts that unfold and somehow be decently suspenseful.  Note that this is not just a comic infused super movie though.  Much like Disney, Spies in Disguise manages to merge with a more adult path, not only going dark at times, but managing to put character development into this film that pulls at heart strings and finds a new angle to hand the exciting moments.  It’s all these components that really helped make the movie super fun for this reviewer.

 

Yet, there were some things that went down a different path for this reviewer that I did not quite enjoy.  For one thing, the movie gets a bit silly for me, going into banter or running jokes that start to go stale like most new episodes of SpongeBob.  It’s forced comedy for a target audience of young ones and while it was to be expected, these moments get magnified when they suddenly veer away from the better storytelling moments. I supposed this is of course to help with the rewatchability and merchandising sales, but from a quality standpoint it took away from the movie.   In regards to the villain, it’s tough to say he is a limitation, but hear me out.  On one levels, the movie integrates the villain quite well, and puts a better back story that fits with the theme of the movie.  However, the villain also could have been ingrained a little more, for his ploys are more so menacing monologues and sneers rather than manipulation and fighting.  It’s a weird blend that holds great promise, but that promise sort of gets bogged down in the comedy medium this movie is big on.  In addition, there are some underutilized characters I thought would have a bigger hold on the film, primarily Reba’s head agent character who again holds the keys to an interesting aspect of the film that unfortunately is demoted to boring background character. The same goes for some other henchmen and baddies who after a fun opening are again reduced to background noise that is annoying and disappointing to say the least.  However, the biggest limitation is the commercial syndrome occurring again.  Spies In Disguise has given a lot of things away in the trailers, and if your young one has bombarded you with the commercials over and over again, then you are going to find that the movie is a bit stale.  While there are still some treasured moments not on the short trailers, many of the gags and fun scenes have already been done to death. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Spies in Disguise had a lot of delays and to be honest, the movie does not shatter too many things when it comes to originality or that unique energy Disney does.  This does not mean the film is bad though, and in fact it’s quite enjoyable.  Animation wise it’s clean, bringing a design that matches the fun nature of the film, with comedy and adventure around every bin.  And though much of the movie is a blur, the film succeeds to expand to other audience members and get some character development going, that fits in theme with the creative approach to the spy thriller.  It’s true the balance to silliness does veer off at times, and the villain needs some of that time to really get the full effect, but for the most part the movie’s biggest limitation is not having that Disney spark and giving too much away in the trailers.  Still, this film feels like a good theater run thanks to the fun adventure and special effects, especially if you have a little ones or a group to go with.  If not, then please check this out and enjoy the fun ride.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure:  7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

The Movie Storm Is Strong In Showmanship, But Brittle In Storytelling

          Frozen II Poster

 

Years ago, Disney unleashed a movie that stormed its way across the theaters and bringing with it a blizzard of merchandising in the form of Frozen. This empire would span across the years, allowing Anna and Elsa to find their way into many avenues, including the shorts that were mixed in reception.  While a little overrated in regards to avenues, the movie proved a soundtrack could flourish when putting just the right touches to it.  After reading the bridging book and seeing the trailers, the inevitable Frozen II looked to be promising for breaking away from the song and dance, love musical and push towards a more fantasy lore, a direction I so looked forward to it.  Robbie K is back to give you another look at the movies, and help guide your movie going preferences. So let’s get cracking at:

 

Movie:

 

Frozen II (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:

Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by)

Stars:

Kristen BellIdina MenzelJosh Gad

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting/Vocals
  • World Design
  • Pace Moves
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Touching At Times
  • Olaf’s comedy at times

 

DISLiKES:

  • Predictable (majorly)
  • Spirit design/usage
  • The Story Is Weaker
  • Under Utilized Characters… majorly
  • The Twist
  • The Lack Of Impasse
  • The Preachiness/Politics
  • The Overdone Humor
  • The Forced Singing… again

 

SUMMARY:

Animated movies rely on the art of voice work, and for a Disney animated film that often requires the ability to sing as well.  Fortunately, the cast is able to bring both in a variety of styles to bring the atmosphere of Frozen back in full form Menzel’s ability to blow us a way with bellows was mesmerizing and certainly my favorite of the songs in terms of style and storytelling, while Bell’s work leaned more towards the regular conversations and bringing emotional punches.  The chemistry between them is certainly decent, and the bonding of sisterhood comes out with every performance.  As for Gad, well he reprises his goofy side kick role with that childlike voice that works so well for the naïve collection of ice crystals, sticks, and coal.  Past the voice acting though, Frozen II is a beautiful display of animation pushing the boundaries, bringing more realistic edges, the contrasting colors to add spice, and fluid movements that continue to bring the magic of these movies.  It’s a stunning display of time commitment to details, bringing nature and Nordic culture to new levels and yet wishing you could make that light show come to life.

Moving past the vocals and animation though, the movie’s content continues to be awesome depending on who you are and what you are looking for.  For parents and guys like me, the pace moves better than the first in terms of getting the plot moving and keeping the adventure spirit alive.  Kids should like the fact of not diving too big into the details of fantasy, while adults can take a breath in not getting stuck in a drawn-out film that is boring.  In regards to an older audience, Frozen II continues to find moments to be touching, still kicking to its roots of promoting Princess power and sisterhood, and finding other avenues to pull at heart strings in a better way than the first film.  There were scenes that gave me goosebumps and that’s powerful in my book.  Finally, the silliness of the franchise is still ready to come out and entertain both groups, primarily in Olaf who has matured into new avenues of comedy that are charming, funny, and somehow innocent all at the same time.  A step up from the last film, the loveable snow man serves as comedic relief and supporting actor, a nice job as always.

 

Now comes the things I feel the movie took hits on in terms of quality. In regards to the design elements the movie does not have many flaws with only one maybe two things that could have used some updating.  Mainly, the spirit design was what got me, a potential to really unleash some Nordic creativity and make some truly wicked designs.  Two of these succeeded for me, one was cute and a nice change, and one, the wind spirit, failed to impress me.  I understand the elements they used it for, but it missed the mark in terms of creativity and ingenuity compared to its fellow spirits.

Plot wise however, the movie starts fizzling out and showing Disney’s vulnerabilities sometimes in their creations.  For one thing this is one of those films that is super predictable.  Within the first 10-15 minutes of the film, many of the story elements had been super foreshadowed and it did not get better from there as one predicted just about everything by midway.  Combine this with the pacing, and well you start seeing the weaker story that like first freeze is shaky in terms of supportParts of this are at fault for the poor character usage, as both old and new characters are tossed to the backburner in favor of the dynamic sister duo and their frozen side kick.  Fans of Sphen and Christoph, or looking for new characters to really be involved need to tone down the expectations now, for they have become diluted in this installment and are there to serve only small plot advancements or comedic sticks. The twist that comes at the end, well it was not much of a twist if you are paying attention, and instead one of those plot devices there to be inspiring to a key demographic, in that oh so preachy, political way that modern story telling loves to go.  If you were a fan of the first movie’s presentation, then you will love this one, but for those like me looking for balance, head in with a grain of salt to help stomach the very dramatic moments.  Something else for this reviewer is that impasses are also very brittle, with much of the conflict very shallow, one-sided and quickly resolved without much of a challenge.  If you remember the first one where things got pretty tense, where hunting, deceit and manipulation danced with our characters to cause deeper dives into the character psyche was very memorable.  This one tried to go a little more adventure like, but those moments blew over in minutes and seemed simplified which was disappointing for me.

I think the biggest contributor to the weaker story is the fact of Disney’s focus in jamming humor and singing where it is not needed, or in the amounts they do it in.  Olaf’s humor may be cute at all points, but the gags start to get old when they are force in there, which are obvious at times.  That pales in comparison to the songs though, which once more are trying to get the soundtracks selling like last time.  The second go round has some more emotional songs that are less gimmicky, fun, and dorky, but the problem for me is the volume they come in.  Once more i found many of the tracks to be sort of random moments to sing about emotions, and even worse the fact that the plot seems built around the songs again.  Frozen II also lost points for me at not utilizing the awesome musical pieces they used in the trailer and blowing me away with the symphony work, though they redeem with the covers at the end.

 

The Verdict:

 

            With a movie like this that has been too blown up, the expectations are high to be just as good as the original.  Frozen II casts a magic spell that was incredible in regards to animation, utilizing the elements well, and really bringing the elements of the first movie back for fun and trying to evolve on them.  It moves well, has humor that lightens up the mood, and yet very touching at others with its inspirational moments.  The movie certainly feels like a slightly beefed up version of the first  in terms of gimmicks of presentation of non-story elements, which in this day and age is often more important.  Yet, the story feels very deprived of the richness the book promised, not utilizing its characters well, getting a bit preachy at the end, and for me forcing songs in again rather than finding that balance.  When looking at this for recommendations… it works for a theater visit for many reasons and I really think fans of the first one will be spelled by the things its brings.  However, the sequel needs some tinkering for me to be the next best Disney film, and hope it’s not as overrated as the first one. 

Also stick around as there is a post credits scene following the covers at the end of the credits

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Joining the Family For Toned Down, Cute Fun

The Addams Family Poster

 

They’re Creepy And There Kooky, Mysterious and Spooky, They’re altogether Ookie, the Addams Family!  It’s a series that has had multiple face lifts, unafraid to push the weirdness into different decades and media to bring creator Charles Addams’ vision to life.  Despite the quirky band of ghouls and creatures making their mark on various generations, it has been left in the vault to collect the dust and cobwebs they love, mainly staking a claim on 31 night of Halloween on freeform.  Still, this legendary flick is ready to try a step into the modern audience and perhaps get some new blood in this undead franchise.  Will it work?  As always I’m happy to give my thoughts as we dive into reviewing:

 

 

 

Film:  The Addams Family (2019)

 

Directors:

Greg TiernanConrad Vernon

Writers:

Matt Lieberman (screenplay by), Charles Addams (based on characters created by)

 

Stars:

Oscar IsaacCharlize TheronChloë Grace Moretz

 

LIKES:

  • Animation/Design
  • Nostalgic
  • Cute
  • Chuckle Fest
  • Good Voice Acting
  • Morals Baked Right In
  • Kids Movie Dream

DISLIKES

  • A Little Contained
  • Semi Preachy
  • Missed Characters
  • Very Simplistic Story
  • Missing the Semi-Disturbed approach this series is famous for

 

Summary:

 

I always love animation movies to see the interpretation of art and imagination in the way they create their character.  This film manages to put the unique spin on the characters, while maintaining the same charm of the characters we have always known.  It’s a style that is very welcoming to the younger audience, while still pleasing older fans.  This cute approach holds a lot of punch and the toned-down jokes, slapstick humor, and simpler writing are key choices for the key demographic audience.  Yet, it does not dilute the nostalgia you will fell when watching.  While knowing the history makes it more enjoyable, it’s not needed, but older fans will love catching references to the classic antics as I did, all while chuckling at the newness of this film.  The new voice acting works for me, primarily Ms. Theron and Mr. Isaac being my favorites as they capture the ambience of their grandiose counterparts.  They deliver the usual vocal patterns of the group, and while not a perfect match, certainly bring the atmosphere of those characters from long ago and still maximize the laughs (the latter being Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester).  Nevertheless, the morals are baked right into this film to instill some important examples for the audience and base the story on, leading to yet another movie dream for adolescents around the room.

 

Yet, my fellow reviewers have valid points that may not be the best match for the audience members.  For one thing the movie is a little contained compared to the empire that Disney has builtIt’s missing the excitement and the detailed plots that Disney has made famous in their works with Pixar and Animation studios.  A little too cartoony, and preachy moral driven, the movie again falls towards the kid spectrum which is going to make it sheltered and potentially boring for some viewers.  One part of this limitation is because the story is so simplified, again diluted to the kids perspective to not be too traumatizing for today’s raising kid approach.  In addition, there are plenty of characters that they introduced and then did very little with from the rival cheerleader who has so much that needs to happen to her, to the loveable Cousin It who is a personal favorite.  Maybe a potential sequel will open that can of worms, but for this one, huge missed opportunities to bring out a few character developing potential and good fashioned fun.  Yet the main thing I think will disappoint people comes in the form of how the disturbing elements have been curtailed.  If you go back and watch the cartoons from the 90s or the movies on Freeform, you’ll know there is that darker side that gets people hooked on this family.  This version had that somewhat, but really toned things down for the animated realm, leading to the lackluster presentation of the themes.  Had this been added into the theme, you might have made a more engaging tale. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Addams Family 2019 version is a great display of the variability of interpretation and it works well for a family film for the modern audience.  A cute theme is the element of this movie, with nonthreatening animation/design to herald the fun chuckle fest that the dialogue and film are about.  It’s got appropriate voice acting, a nice sense of comedy that makes the world fun, nostalgia that is not overwhelming, and morals baked right in to get the message of acceptance out in the world.  Yet, the containment that they took steals away the intensity, edge, and energy that this series is famous for.  It’s meant to be quirky and slightly disturbing and that element missing, alongside some dropped story elements may not impress the classic fans like they are hoping.  While this movie probably would have been better released on nickelodeon or a fan service, it’s got enough elements for a family outing, but hold this one for the home viewing for your maximum buck. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Comedy/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

An Abominable Display Of Cuteness. Family’s Should Tackle This Everest

 

Abominable Poster

 

The world of animated movies continues to find new legends, avenues, and ideas to bring imagination to life.  To what those audiences are being targeted or want though is always the challenge, much of which limits the enjoyment to all audience members.  Robbie K is back to the trenches of movies to give you yet another movie review this time is all about the latest DreamWorks hit about another loveable creature that will melt many hearts and wallets.  So let’s get started as we determine if tonight’s film is lame or game!

 

Movie: Abominable (2019)

 

Directors:

Jill CultonTodd Wilderman (co-director)

Writer:

Jill Culton

Stars:

Chloe BennetAlbert TsaiTenzing Norgay Trainor

 

 

LIKES:

Decent Soundtrack

Colorful Visuals

Fun

Emotional

Cute

Characters, especially Everest

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

No Suspense

Many Scenes Already Shown

Everest’s Powers

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

As Frozen proved, a soundtrack can make a big difference between success and mega-success.  Everest may not have the most catch soundtrack, but the violin and alternative work is a beautiful serenade to the less appreciated instruments.  It mixes with the scenery, adds elements of fun, and in the case of the violin an emotional punch that sells the scene.  As the movie’s theme nods to, Everest is an appreciation and nod to the colorful world nature has to offer.  The animation is top notch in design and brings out the enchanting splendor that the world has to create, all while complementing the magnificence of Asian culture  and bringing energy/contrast to the other characters beginning emotional profiles.  Fortunately, the movie is also a colorful display of feelings to match the visuals and entertain the masses.  Fun and Cute are the primary colors of the emotional spectrum, with the small band of heroes finding ways to maximize on all the merchandising and the childish wonder we all forge as we grow older.  Kids will love it and so will their chaperones as they become connected to the world before them.  Yet all the cute antics still cannot stop the powerful punch of feelings that Everest has in the form of friends, family, and the bond of discovery that again lies in all of us if we find it.  I can’t say I really cried, but you can be certain there are plenty of moments waiting for one to get goosebumps or a smile over.  However, this reviewer has to agree that it’s the characters that make this movie.  Certainly the villains and henchmen have their place in the sun and are okay, but the main cast of four will play to the audience the most.  Yi is the model of modern female characters in her strong independence hiding deeper wounds.  Jin is the ladies’ man socialite representing superficial fun and karma at work, but also teaching lessons that ring home.  Peng is the superficial laughs that kids will like in the form of slapstick and quotable one-liners that was probably my favorite of the bunch. Finally Everest, a perfect combination of animalistic anthropomorphism meeting human emotions that all in all is an adorable display of fantastic character development. 

 

Despite how great and fun this movie can be though it does suffer a few things for this reviewer in regards to the potential it could have had.  Predictability thy name is this movie, for it is a straightforward tale that offers little in surprises.  The movie sort of sets the stage, dropping too many hints to really shock and amaze.  Certainly younger members may still react, but older fans are not going to be quite as engaged as other animated works.  Throw in that the movie has many scenes that have been revealed in the trailers, including jokes, and you may find knowing eighty percent of the story before it starts to run.  These are okay to be honest because of how much fun you are having, but in truth the thing that took a little away from me was the “action” and “suspense” moments of the movie.  Think of films like what Disney churns out, or even the How To Train Your Dragon series, where the producers land giant punches in your gut and manage to move all sorts of audience members.  Everest does not really do that, and all exciting chases, potential obstacles and dare I say edge of the movie is pretty much lacking.  No suspense, no real challenge, just cute wholesome fun that again is enjoyable, but not the elements of a finessed movie that other studios have managed to execute.  Finally, Everest’s powers are cool, the harmonizing with nature to transform simple things into true wonders of the world.  They are awesome and fun, and they are actually kept in check.  The real answer is why though as when you get to the end of the movie only a heroic character development being the answer to the limitations.  It makes for better storytelling, but in all honesty, Everest’s bottomless supply of magic did not make sense in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps a little more adjustment of this factor could have helped up the ante.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, Abominable shows off the fantastic imagination that studios still hold in this crazy world.  Everest and his friends will go on the spectacular journey that is stunning to look at, cute fun to have many laughing that manage to wrap up emotional moments in a warm friendly package.  The characters are the selling point of the feature, with the loveable yeti  being the all-star of the bunch.  Sadly, it’s a bit too G rated for me and in the cuteness, the potential for that higher level of storytelling is lost to predictable hug fest points.  With a pointless limitation and the lack of a true obstacle, these components may limit some older fans from coming.  Yet, if you want the family friendly movie of the month, get your little tykes and get them to the theater you won’t be sorry by how much fun they will have.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Was Not Angry With This Sequel

The Angry Birds Movie 2 Poster

 

Sequels to animated films are seldom as good as the first movie.  Many times the story was not needed, or the masterpiece is diluted for a gimmick that just doesn’t work.  Fortunately, there are some that have paved the way for the potential to add to the story, continuing the world we love, but at the same time making a movie stand on its own.  Tonight, Sony Pictures continues to try the luck with their surprise success of Angry Birds and see if they can get another round of bills to line the pockets.  And for reviewers like me, we are back in the trenches to see how it fairs and do our best to highlight the observations. So let’s get in there and review once more as I take o:

 

Movie: Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)

Director:

Thurop Van Orman

Writers:

Peter Ackerman (screenplay by), Eyal Podell

Stars:

Jason SudeikisJosh GadLeslie Jones

 

 

LIKES:

Voice Acting

Fun

Funny

Stories Intertwining

Good Morals

Cute

Good Use of Characters

Quick

 

DISLIKES:

Predictable

A Little too political at times

Not Quite As Unique

A Little Too simplified

Trailers Ruined Much

 

SUMMARY:

  Like the first film, the movie’s cast really shines taking the pun filled writing, simplistic dialogue, and joke filled lines and making it work.  Sudeikis as Red is still the sarcastic champion we loved, Josh Gad comes back in all his adorable energy and opera like singing, and Danny McBride is still the same loud, gruff voice that often fools people into thinking he is Seth Rogen. But the new gang to join adds their own spice to the feathery/leathery cast.  Jones has got her usual energetic motions, Sterling K brown is posh and yet funny, and Awkwafina is the same carefree slacker that somehow works in a variety of settings.  It’s an awesome blend of talent that manages to add some dynamic flow to bring the characters to life.  Past the acting, the story is along the same lines as the last one, a very fun, straightforward adventures with a few good moral lessons baked in to give it another layer.  Taking two stories to try the break up the linearity, the movie should move enough to keep everyone’s attentions, all while jamming in enough fun and laughter to have you rolling in the seats.  Yes, like the first installment the film is all about captivating on the cuteness and jokes to get its gimmicks out and enjoyment.  Yet, the smartest component for me, is that the movie manages to utilize most of its characters very well.  Red and the squad still get adequate screen time despite how many characters they introduced.  And the new characters still get used well, allowing for maximum merchandising.

  In regards to some areas of improvements for me, well it starts with the predictability of the film.  The movie suffers from the simplicity they strived for, not doing well with pushing the boundaries of unique or creativity.  Sure, the app to movie transition gets props, but unlike the Disney and DreamWorks group, they have not quite adapted well in the earth-shattering stories or worlds that the bigger studios dream up.  Instead, the movie tries to push a few political boundaries, which is a noble challenge, but got a little too extreme for this reviewer as the various movements we hear about get their own skin in this movie. It still fits well, but it just wasn’t necessary and I would have liked to see the energy transferred into the creativity mode instead.  Yet, the biggest area that I did not enjoy was how much the trailers ruined the film for me.  Many parts have been not only revealed, but smeared in your face with the multiple airings. While still funny, I think there could have been a lot of surprise and kick to it had it not been so advertised. As such, if you and your kids have seen most of the trailers, you have seen much of the movie as there is not quite as much runtime as I had expected.

 

 

The VERDICT:

            The movie is a decent follow up to a movie that was surprisingly deep and fun.  It still has the same colorful energy, fun atmosphere and voice acting that just capitalizes on the silliness to be had.  The story, while layered, still is simple for most to follow and the characters are utilized beautifully for all fans to enjoy and get the most out of the characters in this world.  Yet, Angry Birds Universe is still a shell of some of the worlds built in the animation land, and struggles to break the creative barrier and expand upon its world. It’s a little too simple in terms of movie overall, and thanks to the trailer ruining much, the film holds little in coming to the theater outside of seeing the predictable ending.  Still, it’s a fun adventure to behold this weekend with your little tykes and smile wide at their delight in the film.  Otherwise, hold out for the home release my friends. 

 

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

 

The Fun Adventurous Side Of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Poster

 

Animated films offer the opportunity for imagination to really come to life.  As they bring CGI and other animation tactics to the table, the stories that follow have a big job of trying to make a film that is entertaining to all ages without dipping down one end over the other.  While there are many animated studios out there ready to give it a shot, not every studio finds a way to achieve those goals, becoming a cash grab instead of a quality adventure.  This week, an early showing of the The Secret Life Of Pets 2 came to screen and I had my suspicions that this sequel might have been just that.  Robbie K back with another review, checking out Illumination Studios’ latest work.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris RenaudJonathan del Val (co-director)

Writer:

Brian Lynch

Stars:

Patton OswaltKevin HartHarrison Ford

 

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting
  • Animation
  • Comedy
  • Pacing
  • Adventurous Stories
  • Emotional Moments

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Short Run Time
  • Not Quite Original
  • More Impasses/Character Development
  • Under Utilized Characters

 

People who like these may like this movie:

 

Secret Life Of Pets 1

Sing

Ferdinand

Homeward Bound

A Dog’s Purpose

 

Summary:

Animated films often require good voice acting to bring the characters to life, and this series’ cast succeeds in bringing the plot to full life.  Hart and Haddish bring their chemistry back to life in the form of Snowball and Daisy, their wild, sarcastic sass coming out beautifully in animated form.  Oswalt’s addition managed to bring Max to the same level as last time, fun and familiar friendliness.  As for the others again they get the job done when utilized to make the same craziness that the first movie used long ago.  Animation wise, it is the same caricature like style that Illumination loves to use, with grandiose character flaws and elongated, angular faces that make up their characters.  As for the pets, they still have that anthropomorphized component that is so sweet to look at, each having some quality to represent the voice actors that play them.  While those components are nice, the thing I enjoyed more about this installment was the pacing of the movie.  Utilizing the adventurous story and splitting it into three separate segments helped keep things dynamic, moving, and fun,  and avoiding those slow parts the first movie had.  It’s this theme that kept me entertained and seeing each subplot having its own time to play out, all the while giving the characters their focused time. Eventually all of these moments tie together, bringing the surprisingly emotional side of the film the conclusion that fit well in the theme of fun and love of pets.   It definitely should strike chords with a few audience members, especially those with ties to pets.

Yet, the movie still suffers from some things that do bring some limitations for this reviewer.  For one thing, the movie is still predictable and pulled no surprises in terms of story presentation.  Illumination’s focus on kid friendly films seems to divert from the options that will shock and amaze, due to the potential of being too sad.  As such, the tale’s originality and magic don’t quite live up to the potential that Disney has made famous in their plethora of tales.  It’s cute don’t get me wrong, and does have some heart pulling moments, but these are only scratching the surface that bigger studios do better.  Also taking away from the tale is the short run time.  Around 80 minutes long, the movie has a lot to cram in the short time, leading to very quick dives into the fun portions of the movie.  However, this is also the undoing as the movie’s quick pace leaves little time for impasses, obstacles, and challenges to help give significant character development.  In addition, the movie could have focused a little more on some of the gimmicks they were promoting if given more time. While the characters are fun, they don’t have that full dynamic and emotional range that other animated characters hold.  Given that animals somehow are more emotional than humans, it would have been nice to see more of this come out, but again, this might have not fit in with the fun slapstick and writing that was built for the audience.  Fan favorites from last installment may also find it disappointing to find their characters left in the kennel, particularly those who liked Pops, Mel, the Dachshund, and the Falcon as they have little outside of comedy stunts. Perhaps more time and planning could have done a bit better in adjusting these characters to have the full punch in each story.

  It’s no Secret this movie will do well when it opens because of the intended audience.  It’s cute, funny for many ages, and has that colorful animation to keep attention on them. I myself enjoyed this one better than the original due to the pacing and adventurous side of things, but I still was hoping for a little more balance and originality than what they put in.  It is not the best animated in terms of pushing the limits of imagination, but it does its job and I’d say to come hit this up in theaters when you can.  Otherwise, check it out later when it comes to home entertainment.

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

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