Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Something funny happened to me after watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. As I drove home, every song I heard on the radio reminded me of the first time I heard it, and I started to compare how it was to hear them for the first time to hearing them now. That's when it hit me that that was what the movie was about, the way your mind goes backward the more time moves forward.

Isn't it funny how in hindsight, you were so much older in the past? Think of the major events that have happened in your life. The you that was then knew exactly how to handle them, and whether rightly or wrongly, the old you got you through. I think the reason so many of the important things in life happen in youth, like romantic love, developing passions and dreams, discovering loss, is because it is only when you are young that you are old enough to deal with them.

Benjamin Button starts his life very old, and dies a baby. But throughout the movie, he is really no different from the normal people around him. He is just a physical manifestation of how they really feel inside. In his early years, when he is a shriveled up little guy, he is treated like the rest of the old folks he lives with. They spend their days trapped inside the old folks' home, looking out windows in between their napping and feeding times, exchanging fanciful stories. Just like children do. Then Daisy comes to visit, the granddaughter of one of the boarders. She is only a few years younger than Benjamin, and they instantly see in each other kindred spirits. Only a truly young person such as Daisy could spot the child behind the wrinkles that cover Benjamin. The two become fast friends, but quickly discover the limits their age has on what they are allowed to do. Their friendship is considered vile by the grandmother, and they are not allowed to be together anymore.

The next time the two meet Daisy is in her early teens and Benjamin is still elderly, though much more mobile. This is when Benjamin leaves the home as most people do in their teens. Daisy demands he write to her from every place he visits, and Benjamin does. So while Daisy moves to New York and becomes a ballerina, Benjamin becomes a sailor and travels the world, though much like when one travels in youth he never really sees much of the world, just "sees the ports". Benjamin looks like an older man, and is both respected and ignored as such. He does manage to have an affair with a lonely married woman who never quite lived up to her dreams (she wanted to be the first woman to swim across the english channel, but quit when she was close to finishing, after 32 hours in the water). He also goes to war, and experiences the loss of friends that are taken too soon, before their time. Benjamin learns, at this point in his life, what it is like to fail in life, and spend year after year just treading water. Despite his actual age, Benjamin experiences middle age in all its loss and failings.

The next few times Daisy and Benjamin meet up are disasterous. Benjamin takes a luminous 23 year old Daisy out to dinner, where she breathlessly talks the whole night about the art of dancing. Benjamin, looking frumpy and defeated next to the fiery Daisy, is tongue tied during the dinner, and even more so afterwards, when Daisy dances seductively in the moonlight for him. He rejects her bold advances, and although it appears it is because he has some romantic view of her he does not wish to shatter, it is probably more likely that in her prime she is too much for him to handle. Later, when he goes to surprise her with flowers after a performance in New York, she shrugs him off, well into her new sophisticated life. She has found her life's passion, something Benjamin has yet to discover for himself. He looks and acts much like a failed old man, and when he mumbles "I thought I'd come to sweep you off your feet or something like that" both he and Daisy are aware of how ludicrous the statement is in light of who they are at that point in their lives.

It is only when Daisy suffers an accident and can no longer dance that she can slow down enough for Benjamin to catch up with her. In their early 40's, they are equals, meeting at that fleeting moment when their lives are on the same path. The two embark in an idylic love affair, during which Benjamin ponders sadly: "I was thinking how nothing lasts, and what a shame that is". To this Daisy wisely replies "some things last". The two have a child, and because Benjamin knows he cannot raise his daughter as the child he is destined to become, he leaves.

This is when Benjamin embarks on his own life's passion. He travels the world again, but this time as a young man, with all the whimsy and intelligence of youth. He finally catches up to the life experiences Daisy had when she was a young adult. It is only after this journey that Benjamin is able to come back home to see Daisy one last time. He is a teenager now, and Daisy an older woman. The two meet for one last night together, and the contrast between Daisy's sagging body and Benjamin's youthful glow is a striking parallel to Daisy's moonlit dance so many years before.

Benjamin ends his days in the same old folks' home he spent his early years trapped in. He becomes a wayward child who no longer remembers who he was or where he came from. Slowly, he shrinks into a baby, forgetting how to walk and speak, and dies He dies an infant in Daisy's withered arms.

The story is told as a flashback. Daisy, dying in a hospital during hurricane Katrina, asks her daughter Caroline to read from a diary. The diary is Benjamin Button's, and it is during this reading that Caroline learns this was her father. Caroline comes across as a woman who seems lost, worried she has somehow disappointed her mother. She is clueless as to how to live her life, literally caught in the eye of a hurricane. The diary ends with postcards Benjamin sent Caroline during his last trips around the world. It seems Daisy's dying wish is that her daughter learn from their love story that it is never too late for her to start over again, and that no matter how inconsequential she believes her life is, she gave meaning to someone's life, therefore she will always matter.

What a beautiful film. Every minor character adds to the the story line and theme. There is the old man in the home who was struck by lightning seven times for no apparent reason other than to live to tell it, the "plain as paper" married woman who finally accomplishes her dream of swimming across the english channel as an elderly woman after years of living her life just treading water, the preacher who heals the sick through prayer and faith who then falls dead on the pulpit, the artist whose only art are the tattoos he makes on his own body... they all have passions and dreams that while on the surface might seem inconsequential together make up the fabric of Benjamin's life. They became memories, people and events that became permanent images in the fabric of time. As Daisy said to Benjamin, "some things last". It is only through memories that time can move backwards.

If I got one thing out of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it was that life is precious, and it is good that we are born old enough to create the memories we will live off of.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dogfight

I just finished watching Dogfight, this old movie from the early 90's with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. That was one of my favorite movies back when I was in high school. I used to rent it a lot back then, and watch it late into the night. But I've never seen it on DVD anywhere and it was by chance that I found it on Netflix, so it's been something like fifteen years since I've seen the thing.

I had liked it, originally, because River was in it and I was in love with him. But then I sort of fell in love with the movie itself. It's a very quiet little movie, and it has all these sweet awkward moments. This was also the movie where I first heard my favorite Bob Dylan song Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. That song became an obsession for a while, all on its own (and, like in the movie, my favorite time to play it over and over was at dawn).

But anyway, what was a shocker for me was that seeing it again after all this time brought back this huge tide of emotion. I could only describe it as being lovesick. Kinda like when you find a really old picture of an ex-boyfriend, or old friends that you will never see again.

I was a real romantic sort of kid back then, and I tended to idealize certain people. So it's not weird to say that River Phoenix was one of my very first loves. And I don't mean in that geeky screaming and crying for a celebrity sort of way. I never saw him as a famous person, really. It was more like I grew up with him, you know? I mean, the first time I saw him was in Stand By Me, and we were the same age, so I didn't see him as someone to have a crush on because that would be admitting I liked boys, and I wasn't ready for that (I did, however, have a crush on Kiefer Sutrherland, because he was older and sexy, so it was safe to like him).

Anyway, I'm not sure when my little crush on River started in earnest, but I do know I would try to watch all his movies, because I loved his acting. River always came off as so honest. No matter what character he was playing, he always seemed to be himself. There was this sense of feeling embarrassed by his performance, because it was like this was a guy that was actually going through whatever emotions or situations the movie called for, and sometimes it was almost like you were invading his privacy by watching. The only thing I can compare it to is watching those old Joy Division videos and thinking "Geez, this dude really means all this bleak shit he's singing about, and it's tearing him apart".

Eventually I did read up on River, and the whole love affair took off. I'd never heard of anyone who was so natural and into animal rights (this was before I got burnt out on that shit in college, obviously). I had this black and white picture of him on my wall right next to a picture of The Pixies and a little picture of Plaza Navona in Italy. So every night for years, those were the things I fell asleep staring at. In the picture he had shoulder length hair falling on his face, and he looked like some sad beautiful angel.

He died when I just started college. I heard about it at the mall, while looking at some earrings in Dillards. This guy I'd gone to the mall with mentioned nonchalantly that he had died of an overdose the day before, and wasn't that just the funniest thing, considering that he was a Vegan and whatever? He was about to laugh, but then he saw the look on my face and asked me what my fucking problem was, it was just another dumb actor that died. Then he did laugh, but this time it was directed at me, because my eyes got all watery. I remember feeling weird because I had had a crush on the guy and this was some sort of date, but even though I didn't want him to think I was ridiculous for getting all upset for the death "of another dumb actor" I couldn't help it.

That day after getting home I went to my room and looked at the picture of River on the wall and wondered what the hell to do. Idolize him as another dead celebrity? At the time, his death was kind of controversial, because people saw him as a hypocrite for always talking about living a pure life then dying of a drug overdose like a dirty junkie. But I didn't want to tear his picture down, and I didn't think he let me down or anything. In the end, I was just really sad. He was such a tremendous talent, and he was MINE, meaning someone of my generation, that was supposed to stand for me and people my age as an artist. I guess that's why a lot of people felt let down, but that was so unfair. All I could focus on was that he was gone, and I would never see him grow up with me and see what he would do with characters that would go through the same situations I would go through, years and years later.

That was such a long time ago. It's years and years later, and he is so much younger than I am now, and he'll always be. Not fair. It was so weird to remember what it was like to watch that movie, back when he was alive and I was younger than he was, and I could look up to him, because I did.

Well, anyway. I recommend Dogfight. It's still a sweet, quiet and awkward little movie, and it's amazing the way River could play a character so full of hurt. When he comes back from the war in the last scene, he has this look on his face that is so broken. You can tell that in the four years he was off in Vietnam he's seen and lived a lifetime's worth, and now he's just so tired. Wow. How could he do that? He was something like 19 years old. It was almost like he knew he didn't have that long.

But maybe I'm just being corny, I don't know. All I know is I loved River, and seeing him again after all this time made me miss all the movies I could have seen with him. Funny, I did end up seeing The Pixies live, and I did end up going to Italy and sitting at the Plaza Navona. But I never got to see River Phoenix again. He'll always be just that black and white picture of a young guy with shoulder length hair and a sad look on his face. Another dead, beautiful angel.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Juno

This is one of the movies that from the second it starts, you know exactly what kind of story this is. Juno is walking along in a cartoon world, drinking a gallon of Sunny Delight, to the beat of the goofy sweet All I Want is You by Barry Louis Polisar. With just that little intro the tone of the movie is set, and I found it never missed its own little beat.

The best part of Juno, without a doubt, is its voice. I’m now an official Diablo Cody fan. The dialogue is practically a character in itself! Every line made sense without being too darling or indy cool. I especially liked Juno’s friend, for some reason. There are so many teenaged girls that look and act just like that.

Juno and the teens around her come off as real teenagers. Not one of them looked like a stylist spent three and a half hours on their hair and make-up, ya know? Also, although Juno and her friends were not exactly the most popular people in school, they also weren’t the outcasts another kind of movie would have made them into. Why must teen movies always be so extreme? I don’t remember any one cool person in high school, or any one dork everyone picked on. That just doesn’t happen. Even Juno’s pregnancy was handled realistically. I loved the scenes where she’s walking down the hall with her big belly, and all the kids sort of part down the middle, looking kind of freaked out, but that’s about it.

If I had one problem with the entire story, it was with Vanessa. Why was she so undeveloped, especially when everyone else came off as real? Is Jennifer Garner a really bad actress or what? The only thing I can think was that Diablo wrote this character through the eyes of a confused little girl who saw Vanessa as an idealized female, the kind of person she felt safe giving her child to. I could understand that, I guess. I loved the way Juno would stare at her. It was almost like a crush, really. I wonder why other movies never really play on this theme. Girls idolize older girls the way boys idolize older boys, but you hardly ever see that in film.

Besides that, I really did like the inclusion of Mark and Vanessa. It was nice to see what Juno and her friends could turn into. Mark was such a great character, my favorite of the whole film. He was the first I’ve scene that truly felt like someone of my generation brought to life on-screen, for good or bad. Ours was a generation with very real talent that sort of imploded on itself too soon, so that we all felt a little taken advantage of by commercialization. I mean, remember the models on the runway back in the 90’s, in $800 dollar flannel? Ugh. Mark showed all that frustration with every word he said, every movement he made. He just looked so tired. You could feel how desperately he wanted to befriend Juno and prove he was cool, if only because he sorta got stuck acting like a teenager. Vanessa, meanwhile, was stuck trying to be an adult (did ya catch her standing there in her faded Alice in Chains shirt? Didn’t you think the name of the band was somehow appropriate?)

And then there’s Juno. I love this girl. I love the fact that she’s small. Like, she’s not some ambitious Holden Caulfield character. Hell, she’s not even quite Thora Birch in Ghost World. She’s just this smart kid that likes to listen and play music and has a confused crush on her best friend. It is only the fact that she’s in a grown up predicament that makes her have to think and do grown up things. I love it when Mark and Juno start to really connect, and you’re led to believe they have all this stuff in common. But then he tells her he’s not ready to be a father, and instantly the connection is broken. She pulls away from him with this horrified look on her face and yells “Yes you are! You’re… OLD!!!”

Ellen Page has this amazing face. She was the one good thing about Hard Candy. There’s something about her expression that looks hurt but hopeful at the same time. Her exchange with Vanessa at the mall, and later with her dad, just break your heart.

Michael Cera is good too. Something about the way he’s lit in this movie makes him look like some sort of angel in jogging shorts. But like I said, every actor is really good in this (except for Jennifer Garner, the jury’s still out on her). So when this happens, I can only think that it’s because this is one hell of a good script.

It is unfortunate that practically the whole movie is given away in the previews. Why the hell do they do that? But it’s still worth it to go see it. You walk out happy and with this insane need to buy the soundtrack. Buy it, it’s amazing too.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson is always an interesting director and Daniel Day-Lewis is always an interesting actor, so it came as no shock that this was one hell of an interesting movie. What came as a surprise, however, is how layered and subtle it all was. Even now, I still find it hard to say what exactly the film was about, because all these ideas still come whenever I think about it.

Basically, I think the movie is summed up in the title. I haven’t read Oil! by Upton Sinclair, but from what I gather the movie was only loosely based on the story, so I don’t feel so bad if I totally miss the target when I say the movie is about blood ties, as in family, religion, and, well, violence.

The character of Plainview (played by Daniel Day Lewis) is incredibly multi-layered. He is anything but a “Plainview”. Here is a man who in the beginning of the film adopts a child (H.W., played by Dillon Freasier) orphaned by the death of his father at an accident in one of his derricks. There is a touching moment during the first half hour of the film when he stares at the child as he sits in a little crate all alone and crying. They both seem so alone in the world, and when the child finally grows comfortable with Plainview and starts caressing his face, one is led to believe they have established a father and son bond grown from circumstance and loneliness. This idea is further cemented when years pass and the two work together as a sales team, pitching oil the way old-school door to door salesmen pitched encyclopedias.

But the fact remains that they are not “blood”. Neither, as it turns out, is Plainview’s long lost half-brother, who shows up in the second half of the film just as Plainview is growing prosperous. God, who also makes a play for Plainview (in the form of Paul/Eli Sunday) also comes up empty handed. Plainview does end up getting baptized, but only to further his ambitions.

Speaking of Paul/Eli Sunday (played by the wonderful Paul Dano), here is a character who is almost Plainview’s opposite. Here is a character who has “blood” (a loving family, belief in God) yet he forsakes both his biological father (this is one ugly scene) and, in the end, God himself.

Or is it that “blood” has forsaken Sunday and Plainview? Sunday, so confident in his life goals of building a prosperous church, fails to see how his ambition tears apart everything he already had. Meanwhile, Plainview’s lack of “blood” makes him doubt those who loved him, including a “brother” who was a loyal friend, a community who believed in him, and the “son” that grew to love him.

It’s interesting that the one pure and good character in the entire film is Mary, Sunday’s youngest sister and later H.W.’s wife. She is the only female character in the entire film, and she is also the one the oil derrick is named after. It’s almost as if by naming the derrick after her, Plainview seems to inherently understand that it is not what he does that is bad, it’s the way he goes about his life that is his downfall.

The movie is a beautiful thing to see. It looks great, and the soundtrack works so well that you don’t even realize that the first part of the film has no dialogue. Sound is a character in the film. There is the amazing soundtrack (by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood), first of all. Then there is Plainview’s speaking voice, a thing that needs to be heard to be believed. Day-Lewis got the tone by listening to recordings from the late 19th century, and also from watching Huston’s the The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Finally, there is the moment when H.W. loses his hearing in an explosion. All sound is gone, and it is as if only then can you finally see what is going on with the characters.

Wow, what a film. Anderson keeps growing as a director, quite a feat considering he started out so strong in the first place. But you can see a definite maturity from film to film. From Boogie Nights to Magnolia, to Punch Drunk Love to this (I don’t count Hard Eight because supposedly it was re-edited against his wishes), there is a definite loss of innocence that is just heartbreaking. I look forward to more of his films.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm Not There

I knew it was a bad omen when, on buying the tickets to I'm Not There, we were given this little pamphlet for the movie, where it sort of explained what we were about to see. Weird, to get Cliff's Notes for a movie that's supposed to be a video version of Cliff's Notes to Bob Dylan's songs, which (if you believe the hype) are supposed to be Cliff's Notes to Bob Dylan himself.

What?

Yeah, exactly.

If you're one of those geeks that has every single Bob album, has seen every documentary on him and read every book about him, you might get some fleeting sense of satisfaction during the 800 hours this movie seems to last. Maybe.

If, like me, you're a fan that has the pivotal albums and some minor works, and is somewhat familiar with his legend, then this'll happen… You'll spend one minute of this movie smirking slightly at the stuff you do get (ha ha, the chick feels she can't breathe, you're an idiot babe, it's a wonder that you still know how to breathe… oh, and ha ha, there's a tarantula walking around the screen, that's the title of his book, Tarantula, etc, etc.). The other 799 hours and 59 minutes you'll spend guessing you might have had some fleeting sense of satisfaction if you'd been one of those geeks that has every single Bob album, has seen every doc on him and read every book about him. Maybe.

If you're new to Bob, then you'll probably never want to hear of Bob Dylan again.

Shame.

In a nutshell, this movie is a bad never-ending version of The Beatles' Free As A Bird video.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the Free As A Bird video, with its clever use of reference. I got a lot of it, and what I didn't get didn't matter anyway, because the visuals and the song were great. And I LOVE Bob Dylan. The man is THE modern day poet, right up there with all the historical greats. He's fun, too. For all the heaviness in his writing, the man comes across as a mystery, someone who's never quite there.

But if you're gonna go out of your way to make a movie about Bob Dylan, shouldn't he be there?

Actually, the idea behind this mess was actually pretty fresh and interesting. I mean, I absolutely hate movie versions of bios. Stuff like Ray and Walk the Line should have been on Lifetime, right? So with Dylan, who is such a legendary contradiction, it made total sense to not go the traditional Behind the Music route, and break his character down into his different personas. And I loved the addition of his fake roots, the Woody Guthrie character that the folkie Bob invented for himself when people asked him about his past.

But this mess never made it past its interesting concept.

First of all, it's unbearably glib. Somewhere between masturbating to Dylan memorabilia, Todd Haynes forgot this was supposed to be a movie, not some sort of Jeopardy- The Bob Dylan Edition. Somewhere in the not so distant future I see Mr. Haynes pausing this DVD every 2 seconds as he waits for his friends to answer, in question format, how the images correspond to some obscure liner note. He's no doubt practicing his best Alex Trebek impression as I write. Ugh.

There was nothing exactly wrong with the actors playing the parts or anything. They all (with the exception of Richard Gere, who was so pointless I chose his screen time to go to the bathroom) were OK, especially Ben Whishaw and Cate Blanchett, who at least got to say some of Bob's legendary good lines. But really, they were all caricatures, at best. At worst, they were BORING. There was nothing for them to do but be little puzzle pieces to a big picture that never came together.

What's weird was that of all the little parts, it was the story line between Heath Ledger and that actress that played Jane Eyre that was at all interesting. Could it be because that was the only part that was actually fiction? Although supposedly the Blood on the Tracks album was all about Bob's bitterness concerning his divorce, Bob himself has never confirmed this. In his typical fashion, he has always both denied and agreed with this theory. So here Haynes actually had to speculate and write a damned script. Too bad he didn't think to do the same for the rest of this mess.

But anyways. Because I spent 24 bucks and what seemed like 800 hours of my life, I feel the need to salvage some of this waste. So I will say that I liked the part where Cate's version of Bob shoots into the folkie crowd with a machine gun (oh… if only!). I thought Julianne Moore did a spot-on impersonation of that glib bitch Joan Baez. I liked the colors Todd used to film Christian Bale's version playing to the Christian crowd at the Christian center (it has the look of an old VHS video... ever notice how old video turns every color into cafeteria food shades?) And I liked it when Lyndon Johnson said "the sun is not yellow, it's chicken!" Oh, yeah, and I thought Cate Blanchett playing Bob was pretty hot (but that has nothing to do with the merits of this movie as much as with my little perversions, like the way Tim Curry only turns me on when he's wearing fishnets and a leather jacket… but anyway, I digress).

Bottom line, this movie SUCKS.

Please don't watch it. If you love Bob, listen to his music and watch his docs. He managed to make a fictional legend of himself without any help from this crap.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Unhappy Feat

Oh Boy, where do I start?


Honestly, Happy Feet is like 4 different movies all put together, none of which is very good.

Ok, so there was the animated version of Moulin Rouge (1), the cutesy Disney-ish little outcast baby animal flick (2), the save the environment cautionary "let's appeal to the hippies" deal (3), and the creepy Twilight Zone part that just threw everything off completely (4). Add in the long, LONG video-game tie ins where the penguins just slide and slide and slide and you have a complete mess.

All I want to know is WHERE THE HELL WAS THE EDITOR?!!!

And not to be a total dick, but I thought the penguin was too fat to pull off any fancy footwork. Yeah yeah, I know, what a hater, but it's TRUE. The way the cartoon was drawn, that whole tap dancing thing just had no visual or audio flair. You know, watching this thing reminded me of that damned documentary "March of the Penguins". I remember sitting in the theatre bitterly realizing I had just spent good money to see a big screen version of TV static. Here, where the thing is ANIMATED, they still couldn't make a bunch of penguins standing in a blizzard any more interesting.

What happened here?

Oh yeah, and what was the point of the narration? Was this supposed to be the cartoon version of Morgan Freeman sitting around on his fat ass again? I mean, the story didn't even bother to tie in the whole Lovelace-becomes-a-real-preacher-by-telling-the-legend-of-Happy-Feet thing.

Ahhggg!!!

This was awful. Just Godawful.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Meet the Robinsons

Well, I vowed to review all movies I see in the theatre, so (sigh) I'll have to own up to having gone to see this one. In my defense, it was only because I took a little kid with me, and HE picked it, honest.

Speaking of kids, wow, what a great audience! No bullshit with them. When they like something that's going on onscreen, they LIKE it. They laugh their little asses off, and then one of them will scream out "Hey, I LIKED that!!!" Pretty badass.

Oh, but when they don't... first, there's this dangerous squirming sound, like ants getting ready for an attack. Then one or two of the bolder tykes will escape into the aisle murmuring "ahhh..." as he/she runs off to the exit. Once that happens, someone starts to cry. Man, they don't make movie critics like kids, seriously.

Well, with this movie, it didn't get to that point, but it got dangerously close. There was a lot of running around in the aisles, and some sniffles, but we all got through the movie able to more or less listen to the dialogue.

Actually, I'll admit it wasn't that bad. I mean, it had a heart, something I didn't expect, considering the previews. Deep down in that mess, there was a story there somewhere.

That was kind of the problem, though. I mean, the movie LOOKS like it was made for little, LITTLE kids, and those were the types in the theatre. We're talking kindergarten little, and those folks can't handle anything too intricate, I don't think (the squirming all took place over the more convoluted aspects of the story.) The movie only worked for them when it was all frenetic and kid funny, as in characters making silly faces and that sort of thing. There was a lot of that in there, and that carried over well for the younger ones in the crowd.

But what about us not so young ones? Well, like I said, the movie had heart. I'm a sucker for orphans, first of all, and the beginning of the film had a sort of Roald Dahl-esque feel to it that I thought was promising. I loved the idea of this genius orphan that was just ahead of his time and misunderstood, and I was totally into the addition of his bitter little roommate. How clever is that?!!! I thought that character in particular hit a nerve that should be explored a bit further in kid films, because I think there are a lot of Jan Brady-type kids out there that can sort of bond with a character that is not only overshadowed by an older and more talented child, but is actually hurt by that child in some way. It was cool that in the end of the film, Lewis realizes how his actions unintentionally hurt poor little Goob, and then went out of his way to help him out.

I wish then, that the film had been made a bit more linear so that that storyline could be clearer. The introduction of Lewis's child from the future was really confusing and messy. I mean, what? When he first appeared, I thought he was just some annoying asshole out to destroy Lewis's science project or something. It didn't help, either, that he was the sort of character that I absolutely despise in modern kid movies. You know, the type that's specifically put there for the older, "cooler" kids' benefit, complete with annoying looking clothes and hairstyle, spewing stale "cowabunga man!" type crap. HATE that.

To be fair, Lewis's kid from the future wasn't exactly like that, but his appearance and the way he was introduced didn't quite work. I'm sure there could have been a way for the older Goob to sabotage Lewis 's project, and then for Lewis to somehow figure things out and then follow Goob into the future (he was a genius after all, wasn't he?). Then, in the future, he could have made a cool friend (his son) and go about discovering his wonderfully strange family (the Robinsons were quite fun I must admit).

The movie had a solid theme: "keep moving forward". It went very nicely with the idea of Lewis getting over the fact that he was abandoned by his mother (in a sense, him not approaching his mother was a way of letting HER keep moving forward too) and with Goob getting over messing up that baseball game, and his bullied childhood (yeah, I loved the way that subject was very carefully touched upon, too).

You know, looking over what I've written so far, I think I actually liked Meet the Robinsons more than I thought. OK, maybe I did. But I think I fell in love with the POSSIBILITIES of it more than the actual movie.

Cuz like I said, the audience squirmed a lot. There were some really annoying "let's put this scene in so we could sell the video game/ride/dolls. Ugh. And though I'm not the type to ever suggest a movie should be dumbed down for a kid, I did think the plot was pretty convoluted, and having all the future characters revealed only at the very end did a disservice to the little ones. I think they would have understood the villain better if they knew it was Goob from the get-go. Same goes for the Lewis-meets-his future-son thing. Sure, time travel is pretty heavy stuff anyway, but why make it even harder for them to get it? And I mean, they've all heard of that stuff, and may have even seen Back to the Future. I just think the story would have worked better if the characters were clear from the very beginning, although the element of surprise actually did work for the minor characters, like Lewis's future wife and parents. That was actually very nice, sort of Wizard of Oz in that, when he goes back to the past, you see all these familiar faces and you're like, "Oh, YEAH, cool!"

Well like I said, the movie wasn't bad, but definitely works better as a could have been than what actually was. And by the way, I asked my nephew what he thought of the film, and his review was "I really liked the dog!" There you go.