Friday, May 31, 2013

It could be the stench of death. Some people don't care for it.

Of all the injustices in the world, a few exist that are ripe for exploration in movies aimed at children.

Feeling alone and/or different.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one, usually a parent.
And to a lesser extent, having to discover love.

Certainly there are more, but these three seem to be at the core of every animated movie. Lately, it seems like there's another one we could add to the list, in pencil, perhaps: Protecting the environment.

Epic, the latest animated flick we brought the little guy to, combines all four of the previously mentioned mainstays into something decidedly average. Sure, it features an all-star cast! and looks absolutely stunning at times, but a week later, I dare you to remember any of it.

Allegedly combining key elements of Ferngully (never saw it) with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (totally saw it), Epic tells the story of a battle continually being waged in the forest. Exciting, right? Well, not really. It's your typical good versus evil tale, just on a very small scale. Literally. Turns out, all this has been happening right under our pointy noses, as the forces at war are only visible through a magnifying class. If you're imagining Rick Moranis suspended over his yard, well, you weren't the only one apparently. The writers may be right with you there.

Anyway, for whatever reason, the Boggins (the bad guys), led by the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz!) have decided that they want to rule the forest forever by, um, destroying it. Solid plan. Anyway, standing in the way, is Queen Foxxy Cleopatra Tara and her army of bird-riding warriors. After some possibly traumatic things go down, severely-bummed teenager M.K (Amanda Seyfried) gets transported to this tiny world and burdened with the responsibility of, you guessed it, saving it. She's a reluctant hero, at best. But when the equal parts cocky and handsome Nod (Josh Hutcherson) shows up? Well, shucks. Might as well, like, save this forest thingy.
Bottom line? This flick is harmless enough fun and rather easy on the eyes. Throw in some talking slugs and a bottomless bucket of butter-free popcorn, and you might just enjoy yourself a little bit. The wife and I were essentially indifferent, but the younger m.brown had a blast. He's actually still talking about it, which is some sort of record. Though I think McDonald's toys may have something to do with it.

What my young son has yet to enjoy, however, are his cousins the Yays and Boos. Fine, they're not his actual cousins, but he's three and they're two, so they've pretty much grown up together. You got any cousins like that?

  • I don't care if he's playing an second-rate bad guy in a third-rate animated movie, but man do I love me some Christoph Waltz. Dude's the best.
  • As I may have mentioned, the plant people and their costumes are all kinds of awesome. Truly impressive costume design, if you can call it that.
  • Ozzie, their dog. Sure, this pup's down an eye and a leg, but I thought he was pretty cool. His scenes in slow motion were crazy.
  • Speaking of crazy scenes, the battle scene where they attack the queen was so well done. I could've handled more of that and less of you name it.
  • The mouse! It looked so soft and just frickin' adorable. At first.
  • The deer! That thing was the epitome of majestic. Matty was thrown off though. Dad, is that deer a good guy or a bad guy?
  • You know how typically, in all these movies, there are at least one or two annoying sidekick character there just to make fart noises and sell toys and t-shirts? Well, surprise! Epic has them, too. But, what's really shocking, is they're hands down the best part of the movie. Whoever paired Chris O'Dowd and Aziz Ansari and made them wiseass talking slugs is a certified genius. Ansari's flat-faced bit almost made me piss myself. His schtick might be wearing thin, but I still absolutely love it.
  • And finally, for what may have been the first time in the history, I went and got the refill on the popcorn. Movie Jerk actually left the theater during. Wow.
  • Musicians as voice actors. Beyonce, I'm going to let you slide. But Pitbull and Steven Tyler? Sorry, guys. I'm actually taking points because of the way your animated characters were dressed. No frog should be wearing a gold chain. Ever. 
  • Jason Sudeikis is a very funny guy. Too bad his bumbling Dad character isn't. Though now I know what you'd get if Conan O'Brien and Professor Frink double-teamed Tilda Swinton.
  • Kids movie or not, a needed cell phone having no bars is always a Boo. It's a rule.
  • Star Wars rip offs. First? I guess the queen was a Jedi because her death seemed eerily familiar. And second, and more offensive, did I just sit through another pod race? Yipeeeee!
  • So, as much as I loathed the little misguided romantic angle, I actually wanted to fight someone toward the end. I mean, maybe we could flirt after the fate of the forest has been decided? Just a thought.
  • And finally, does anyone remember the first trailer for this one? It was so oddly serious. Even if I didn't end up loving the movie, at least it was smart enough to dodge that bullet.
Hopefully the streak of average comes to an end real soon. Matty is foaming at the mouth for some Monsters University. I'm sure it'll contain a few of those hallmarks as well.

Though if Mike and Sully mention recycling, I might just punch a tree.


  1. I've punched a tree just for having a shitty look on his face before.

    My kids don't even want to see this movie. So, yeah...

    1. Dude. You punched a tree in the face? Was it Treebeard or the Ticket Oak?

      Wait. Maybe it was The Giving Tree. Though...that didn't really have a face did it? Though it had arms. So there's that.

      My son has clearly inherited the 'let's just go to the movies and see what happens' gene from his father. And the 'who needs to retire let's just burn all our money' gene from both his parents.

  2. Haha... My kids don't share that same thing when it comes to movies. I have to basically force them to watch animated stuff that isn't on Disney Jr.

    The second point, they definitely inherited from their dad.

    1. That's actually commendable. My son is pretty much 14 already. He thinks Disney Jr. is for babies. Wait till his sister shows up. That'll show him.

      Kids. Wonderful little leeches.

  3. Christoph Waltz is in this movie?? I'll probably give it a go, as a DVD rental, someday. We're always looking for family friendly fare for my 9-year-old. You know, before we send her to bed and watch Tarantino movies and shit.

    1. Yeah, even though it's a rather limited role, Waltz' voice is certainly welcome. I swear I could listen to him all day. Easily.

      It'll probably be on DVD soon, and I suppose I would recommend it for a nine year old. Though, if that's the case...I likely would have loved it.

  4. Thanks for the warning. I have a three year old who is aching to see her first movie theater movie. Monsters U. is around the corner, so we will keep waiting!

    1. Oh yeah, the first one needs to be waaaaay better than this. Definitely hold off til Monsters U.

  5. Oh, and my oldest daughter talks VERY loudly throughout the handful of movies we've seen in the theater, like "OH NO HE D IN'T" or "DADDY, WHY DOES BRAVE HAVE A FUNNY VOICE?" Or just the fact that she completely analyzed Wreck-It-Ralph's lack of logic.

    1. I swear, my son gets louder the quieter the situation demands. He always says the most ridiculous things in the theater.

      I may publicly shush him, but inside I want to give him the biggest high five.