Saturday, February 18, 2017

I Saw This!! Life Animated

I Saw This (double exclamation point) is our feature wherein Graig or David attempt to write about a bunch of stuff they watched some time ago and meant to write about but just never got around to doing so. But we can't not write cuz that would be bad, very bad. Cats Living With Dogs bad.

Finding Dory, Andrew Stanton, Angus McLane (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) -- download

Seriously, they cross the ocean (Australia to California) to find her? That's impressive. But very little other of the movie stuck with me, most of it being that and Hank the octopus. But the basic premise is still there. Dory has flashbacks about her life with her family, her mom fish and dad fish, and in exploring those issues, ends up captured by well meaning humans as Nemo was before her. The chase leads to an aquarium in California. And Hank, the escape artist.

Jason Kottke pointed out something very interesting about this movie, that makes me like it much more than I did while watching. What, you say, you didn't like it? Settle down audience/inner voice, I liked it alright, but it didn't impress me like the first. But Jason points how almost every character is trying to overcome something adverse in their lives: Nemo with his little fin, Dory with her memory issues, Hank with his missing tentacle, etc. But with the support of friends and family, they can all overcome adversity. For a kids movie, that is a GREAT message all wrapped up in a funny, well animated package even if the story wasn't all that original or creative.

Secret Life of Pets, Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney (Despicable Me) -- download

For me, everything about this movie hinged on the bit from the ad where the poodle rocks out to black metal music, while a chihuahua bounces in the background. I didn't care if they made a good movie as long as I giggled at that full scene. In fact, the whole premise of this movie hinges on an opening sequence where we are introduced to each of the pets and what they do when the door is closed by their humans. Like in Toy Story they are more human then we would ever know.

Aaaand, unfortunately the movie is pretty pedestrian once you get past that premise. Good short idea, stretched thin enough for a movie. Its like that short by my favourite animators Aardman, called Creature Comforts, where they animated zoo animals speaking the parts of real humans being interviewed. The short is 5 minutes long, and perfect. I don't want to see anything beyond, despite them milking 2 TV series out of it.

But, as kids are really the demographic for this and as long as there is a steady stream of laughs, I supposed I got my money's worth. Should I forgive the movie for not having a grand plot and story? Part of me says "No" as I am that guy who defends a movie being exactly what it is, which is why John Wick is such a perfect movie. But part of me says we should strive for more, strive to be better, strive to be above just good enough.


And I better stop as this is becoming about me, and no longer the movie.

Kubo and the Two Strings, 2016, Travis Knight (animator for Boxtrolls, Paranorman) -- download

And here we go, a movie that DOES strive to be better, that strives to be both entertaining, incredibly well animated AND incredibly well storied. This was a wonderful wonderful fantasy movie for both kids and parents. Go rent it now; show those youngins something great.

This movie takes place in a fantasy Japan world. Kubo is a street performer, magical and skillful, who entertains the people of a small fishing village with his stories and animated origami figures. You got it, animation within animation. Instant gold star from me. The hero of Kubo's stories is Hanzo, the great samurai, who fights tons of legendary monsters. Hanzo also happens to be Kubo's missing father.

One night Kubo does not make it back to his home, and mother, in the cave, before sunset and the real story begins. His mother has been protecting him from her sisters all this time, and being out after dark has them finding Kubo and Sariatu, his mother. The battle is dire, and Kubo is left alone with ... monkey, his little carven toy come to life. And the quest to find Hanzo's magic armour & sword so he can defend himself against his aunts begins.

Animated. But really animated !  Despite my love for 3D computer animation, seeing this stop-motion animated movie done so lovingly and so full of imagination strains my admiration to the breaking point. And yet, they also give a story you can wrap yourself in, one of challenge and expectation and family love, and tragedy. The story and the voice acting don't skimp.

Sausage Party, Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon (Monsters vs Aliens) -- download

Can I be offended that one of the guys who directed a ton of Thomas the Tank Engine movies? Seriously dude? THIS movie?

Anywayz, if I can say anything in praise of this movie, its that it does successfully stretch the paper thin premise of animated talking food eventually being eaten, and how they react, into a full length movie. Not a particularly good full length movie, but there you have it.

Beyond the 'OMG we are being eaten' premise, the plot item of choice in this movie was food doing the nasty, and all the associated puns they could come up with regarding such. The only one that really made me chuckle was Salma Hayek playing a lesbian taco. Beyond that, everything else was as vulgar and crass as you would expect out of the mind of Seth Rogen.

Is there a story? Well Frank the hotdog and his girlfriend, Brenda the bun, go on a Hero's Quest to find out what Honey Mustard was talking about, when he claimed the afterlife (being purchased) was not all it was cracked up to be. Along the way they are stalked by the only non-foodstuff product, a psychopathic douche who is pissed they bent his nozzle. Why they didn't run into any other non-food item, I don't know. And I doubt the creators cared. Eventually they defend themselves against Douche and the human patrons of the store, and celebrate with an extended orgy scene. Not sure where they are supposed to go from there, but the movie posits they come to our world.

Not a good movie but if you like Rogen's sense of crass humour, you will probably love it. Just don't be that guy who lets his kids watch it, because all animated flicks are for kids.