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.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Julio Iglesias, Mike Tyson and Blades of Glory

We bought tickets to "Blades of Glory" with plenty of time to kill, so Daniel and I headed on down to Amoeba Records to buy some tunes. As usual, I marched straight to the Easy Listening LP's, hoping against hope to find the elusive "Hey!" album by Julio Iglesias. And this time, it was there!

I've been looking for that LP for YEARS. Finally, it is mine, to be framed and displayed in some prominent place in my home.

Why on earth would I do that, you ask? Because the cover is PRICELESS. If you haven't seen it, I'll describe:
Picture a full-on headshot of the marvelous Julio in all his sunburned glory, complete with Neil Diamond-ish hair and perfect white blocky teeth peeking from a come-hither smile. Then, right next to his mouth, is the word "Hey!" as if he's sittin right next to you at the Electic Q in Juarez.


It's wonderful, trust me. As a true cheese connoisseur, I know of what I speak.
So anyway, as we headed back to the theatre, Julio safely wrapped up in a bag under my arm, I figured the day couldn't get any better than this.

Oh, but I was wrong!

Seated just in front of us and to the right was none other than Mike Tyson, tattoo faced and all!

As the lights dimmed and the film began, I took the movie in with a different perspective. I couldn't help but think that I was watching it with Mike.

I mean, to all of us, this was a comedy. To him, it must have been a sort of inspiration. Was he thinking, in that little brain of his, such thoughts as "maybe I should get in the ring with a girl!"

I dunno. But the Chaz character became a symbol of Mike Tyson for me. You know, this kid from the wrong side of the tracks that makes it against all odds, then eventually loses it due to bad behavior in the ring (or... uh, RINK).

On that end, although the movie was pure joy, I thought it could have explored this angle a little more. Like..
1. I would have liked more of a father-son bond between the coach and Chaz. It was obvious they connected. It would have been sweet to see some man hugs between those two. He'd never had a coach, and the coach had never been appreciated. Both had dreams of glory... they were a perfect match. The love was THERE.

2. Same for Jimmy and his rich dad. Some of their backstory, including the other Drago-like athletes he had adopted would have worked. I'd love to have seen their little family reunion. It would have been a good opportunity to make fun of those trendy Mia Farrow-Angelina Jolie bullshit "families" (I mean, COME ON, do you REALLY believe they'll all get along when they get older, and they'll spend their days sitting around all U.N.-style, holding hands and singing Kumbaya or whatever?). It would have been fun to see them all together.

3. WHERE THE HELL WAS TONYA HARDING?!!! I kinda thought that when Chaz was explaining all his tattoos, he would point to the biggest one and say something about how that represented his true love, "the one that got away", and there would be some flashback to the torrid love affair he'd had with Tonya, and how they split up because she didn't skate fair or something. Then, in the end when the blond chick throws her pearls on the rink, Tonya could appear and kick her ass, then go flying into Chaz's arms. Somehow, I got the sense the writer's had thought of this, but for whatever reason they were unable to find her or something.

Oh well. The movie was pretty good, on the whole. Coulda been better, though.

I wonder what Mike thought?

Good ole Mike Tyson. Whenever I see "Blades of Glory" on its endless future TNT re-runs, I'll always think of him...
And Julio Iglesias.