Monday, July 25, 2016

Viewing for the Kids

We've seen a couple of movies over the last month or so at the behest of our two kids (who, at this point, are the sole drivers of what we see in the theater). It was a decidedly split decision.

On the good end was The Secret Life of Pets, which is not particularly original (mismatched buddy comedy, but with dogs) but was at least reasonably entertaining. It was better when focusing on the two dogs, their conflict, and the other pets who live in their building, which is a problem as the plot was really driven by a gang of "flushed" pets who live in the sewer and have an ultimate goal of getting ride of all humans. It's in those scenes where the film's pedigree shows, as I have to think the action was based on some ideas for the Minions that never quite made any of their films (there's also a Minions short before the movie, which did nothing for me). The voice work was OK, tending towards generic (or teetering at going over the top for Kevin Hart's evil bunny character). All in all, it was fine and will probably get a sequel it doesn't really need or deserve.

On the less than good end was Ice Age: Collision Course, which my older son has wanted to see ever since seeing the short that teased it before the Peanuts movie. I'll admit to not being particularly well-versed in the Ice Age series, so my reaction may be mostly borne from not having any existing relationship with the story or characters. But as a stand-alone exercise, this was an incredibly dull film. The basic plot: a meteor is threatening Earth, and to avoid extinction our band of heroes have to use magnetic fragments from a previous meteor strike (shot out of a volcano) to attract the new meteor off course.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

This is apparently the fault of the squirrel character, who is flying around in an acorn-powered spaceship (no, I don't get that either). That being said, I think my son was bored by the Earthbound parts of the movie - or was as confused as the rest of us by the jumping back and forth - as every time the film cut to the squirrel I could hear him say, "meanwhile, back in space." That was easily the most entertaining part of the movie experience.

We also saw plenty of previews, many of which were shared by both movies:

Monster Trucks, where a teenager's truck becomes home to an alien (which then apparently spawns a family in other trucks, or there were other aliens that now live in trucks?). There are conflicts with the government and other, snobbier, non alien-infested truck driving folks. OK then.

Nine Lives, in which Kevin Spacey is nearing the Robert De Niro line of surrender by playing a busy executive who, in buying a cat as a present for his daughter (Jennifer Garner) - or her son? - it turned into a cat by the mysterious pet shop owner (Christopher Walken). House of Cards doesn't pay enough?

Ghostbusters, a quirky independent film based on a French classic of the same name (OK, not really, but if you don't know about this remake why are you even here?).

Trolls, about a pair of trolls (MISMATCHED BUDDY/FUTURE ROMANTIC PAIRING ALERT!) who have to save the rest of trolldom. Looks cute if a little like Shrek without the big Fiona reveal.

Storks, about a stork who helps a human orphan deliver one last baby before the storks go into the flying package deliver in the hopes of beating Amazon's drone to that market. I am less enthused by this film having seen the preview for a second time.

Sing, where a theater owner puts together a singing competition in order to drum up business for his theater. Note: all of the characters are animals (animated, of course).

Moana, the upcoming Disney film that appropriates whatever Polynesian culture they missed when making Lilo & Stitch. It features a girl named Moana and a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) doing... something. Details are a little sketchy, I think because they wanted to rush a trailer out that notes Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing the songs.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, based on the book of the same name, about a home for kids with unusual abilities and those who would like to kill them. By look, kind of a Victorian X-Men.

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