Shrek the Third (2007)

Rated: PG
Grade: CBBC=C+
Budget: $160 million
Box Office: $321 million US, $470 million abroad

Directed by: Chris Miller, who helped on Shrek and Madagascar, and Raman Hui, who helped with animation on Shreks 1 and 2.
Starring: The voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Eric Idle, Larry King, and Justin Timberlake.

The king of Far Far Away is dying, and he wants Shrek to replace him, but Shrek wants none of it. Instead, he sets out to find the only remaining heir, a wimpy guy named Arthur who has a former science teacher named Merlin. Oh, yeah, and Shrek is struggling with becoming a father since Fiona is preggers.
Entertainment Value: C
I don’t get the Shrek franshise, but I guess other people like them, so there you have it. I thought number 2 was decent, but the same problems are common in all three: jokes for adults in a plot that is mostly lame and much less entertainment value than I would expect from this sort of voice talent. Pretty much standard fare from Dreamworks animation.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sexuality B, Violence B, Language B, Illegality NA
There are various mild sexual jokes including seeing a bunch of men rushing into a bar which was just renamed “Hooters” and a prince daydreaming about choosing the hottest princess. The violence is animated fantasy violence with witches dive bombing a town, swordplay and some stabbings, and “general mayhem” including pranks pulled on a kid at school. There is one scene where teens stumble out of a van apparently high on marijuana. PG is correct, and we stopped letting Spencer watch it after about 10 minutes I think.

Significant Content: B
Fear of duty, being who you really are, and issues related to power desired and also misused are the key themes here. Shrek is scared to be a father, and Arthur is scared to be king. But they both do what is necessary in the end. Prince Charming takes over Never Never and uses his new power to do evil things with it, showing the dangers of power. Arthur muses about using his new power to get even with the kids who mistreated him at school. There is also a scene where Shrek commiserates with Arthur about having poor fathers themselves and gives him advice about being himself and not worrying about what others think of him.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
I think I’ve spent as much time on this movie as I want to spend.

Discussion Questions
~Do you think Arthur would make a good king? How does he compare to the King Arthur of mythology. What do you think of Arthur using whining and crying to get Merlin to do what he wanted?
~Why should Arthur have to be king if Shrek didn’t have to be? Shrek obviously embraces his fear of being a parent, but he still doesn’t become king. Does this reflect poorly upon him in your eyes?
~When Arthur finds out he will be king, he immediately thinks of the ability he’ll have to punish those who mistreated him. What do you think of this? Compare this reaction to the way Joseph handled the betrayal by his brothers in the Bible.
~Fiona is arguably the only decent princess surrounded by a bunch of low-lifes in beautiful princess bodies. Are ugly people more virtuous than attractive ones? Are beautiful people always ogres inside?

Overall Grade: C+
I already saw Happily ‘n’ Ever After, and I didn’t need to see it again.

Ocean’s 13 (2007)

Rated: PG-13
Grade: ACCB=B
Budget: $85 million
Box Office: $117 million US, $193 million abroad

Directed by: Stephen Soderberg, who has directed a lot of stuff including the other Ocean's movies, Traffic, Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich, and Sex, Lies and Videotape.
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ellen Barkin, Andy Garcia, Elliot Gould, Al Pacino, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mack, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, and David Paymer.


When one of the gang, Reuben (Elliot Gould), decides to retire from crime and open a new casino with a notoriously deceptive partner who then betrays him, stealing everything from him and causing him to have a heart attack. In response, Danny and the boys cook up a highly complicated scheme to cause the new casino to fail by stealing half a billion dollars from it in one night. Hijinks ensue.

Entertainment Value: A

I was highly entertained start to finish. I laughed out loud several times, and I was fully satisfied by the experience of this only my third movie in a theater in three years. It’s all the same complex plot, fake swindle names, and cool guy atmosphere that made the first two Ocean’s movies work, but this one was better than both. You have to pay attention, and it helps if you know the first two, but it isn’t necessary. What made it so neat to me was that it had every level of comedy: jokes for everyone that no one will miss, jokes for those who know the movies that only they will get, and really clever jokes that only some people will get. Lots of inside and outside jokes mean that everyone’s happy. It’s nice to see that comedy can be something other than Will Ferrell and Tim Allen. Oh, yeah, and the fascinating thing about this one is it was made without Julia Roberts or Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Superficial Content: C

Drugs/Alcohol C , Sexuality C , Violence C, Language B, Illegality D
Ellen Barkin gets seduced using pheremones, and there are several sexy scenes involving her. There’s a riot at a factory, there are some death threats, and a man is poisoned in food and with horrible rash on his skin. Obviously, the whole movie is premised on illegality in the form of a complex theft. Just as obviously, gambling is everywhere in the movie, which really serves as a Las Vegas tribute. PG-13 is just right.

Significant Content: C

The key theme of the movie is loyalty and friendship. In fact, one of the key moments comes when there is a discussion about how the plan cannot possibly work now, but they can’t stop going through with it because it’s a matter of loyalty and revenge rather than a matter of profit. The worldview here is “God helps those who take care of themselves by being super-clever.”

Artistic/Thought Value: B

First of all, the key to this movie was not the great plot, excellent dialogue, or brilliant acting. It was the hotel. The hotel is magnificent. In fact, I watched all the credits just to be sure it wasn’t a real casino in some distant place like Kuala Lumpur or Dubai. It wasn’t, but it was a beauty of CGI genius. Soderbergh has such a distinctive style, and he continued it here, as expected. As with the other Ocean’s movies, the music and its use is excellent, and the thought value of the movie is that it makes you want to have discussions about good guys and bad guys and loyalty to friends.

Discussion Questions:
~“Use things to bless people, don’t use people to acquire things.” How does this phrase relate to this movie? Discuss the various characters in this movie, and evaluate how they get used means to an end or treated as ends in themselves. The treatment of Barkin and the hotel rater are particularly interesting. Would either of them have accepted what was going to be done to them had they known in advance? Afterward? How does this matter? How much does the ending change your view of how the gang treats innocent bystanders?
~“That’s the problem with revenge jobs. You can’t walk away from them when you know you should.” Discuss this statement. How does it relate to investing and money matters in general? ~Have you ever made a bad business or money decision because of emotion?
~Is there any real moral difference between Pacino defrauding Gould and the Ocean’s gang defrauding Pacino? Are all thieves the same?
~Is this movie trying to say anything about the vast discrepancies in standard of living between Las Vegas high rollers and Mexican factory workers? Consider that Soderbergh and Clooney also made Syriana together. How should we reconcile our average American vast wealth with the vast poverty of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world?
~Capitalism rewards ruthlessness, but what happens if the majority of the people in a society behave as Willie Bank does? Is there a way to solve this problem?
~Is it healthy for a person to enjoy watching movies where both the “good” guys and the “bad” guys are all criminals?
~Does anyone in this movie represent real virtue?
~Does a thief like Elliot Gould have any reason to complain about someone stealing all his stolen profits from him?
~Does the motive behind charitable giving matter to those who receive it?
~How would a team of guy criminals like this be different if one or more women were a part of it? ~How are guys different because of women and when women are around?
~Is revenge ever a legitimate motive? What about punishing the unjust who take advantage of others? What might Jesus say to the Ocean gang?
~This movie is saturated with Las Vegas nostalgia and references comparing the old way to the new way, particularly with regard to Sinatra. What do you make of these references? Is there some nobility in the old Vegas that the “new” Vegas has lost, or is this just romanticized nonsense?
Overall Grade: B

Very entertaining. Not so much on the message.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Rated: PG-13/Unrated DVD
Grade: ADBC=B+
Budget: $110 million
Box Office: $135 million US, $245 million abroad

Directed by: Len Wiseman, whose only noteworthy prior work was the two Kate Beckinsale Underworld movies. John McTiernan, who made one and three, fell off the map for a few years, and helped produce this one.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Timothy Oliphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Jonathan Sadowski, and Kevin Smith of all people.

The former overseer of America’s cyber-terrorism division warned the government we were vulnerable, and they fired him. Now he’s back, orchestrating a massive attack on communications, traffic, financial institutions, and energy in an effort to make off with lots and lots and lots and lots of money. John McClain, our hero, finds himself unluckily mired in the middle of it all by being the guy sent to collar a teenage hacker who unwittingly helped this all to happen.

Entertainment Value: A
You just can’t miss on a Die Hard movie, even when they change directors and revive Bruce Willis after a 12 year waiting period. Every Die Hard gets bigger and badder, and this one certainly fits that description. Other than a handful of truly implausible plot elements, this is just what fans of the first three movies would have wanted: the reluctant and bitter uber-tough-guy cop killing villains in all sorts of creative ways as fast as he can.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality B, Violence F, Language D, Illegality D
I must alert you that my ratings apply to the unrated DVD version, not the PG-13 version, which I’m sure was much tamer, especially in regards to language. The version I watched, however, was full of F-profanity and other cursing. I can’t imagine how the movie wouldn’t be an F for violence, even when PG-13-ized. Many car crashes, people being shot, beaten severely, and killed in innovative ways. I have no idea how kids-in-mind only gave it a 6 for violence. The illegality is both the cyber-attack as well as some of the things McClain does to save the day. I’m surprised this wasn’t rated R both because of the content and because that’s what the previous three had been rated…correctly.

Significant Content: B
There’s one real lesson here: heroes usually don’t seek to be such, they just happen to be the ones who stand up when there’s a need. Other messages have to do with U.S. vulnerability to cyber-terrorism, unwillingness of the government to do what’s necessary to protect against it, and the power of anger and pride to make people do awful things for revenge.
Artistic/Thought Value: C Despite the many questions below, this movie isn’t really much of a thinker…der. So as far as art value goes, it’s mostly just a shoot-em-up killing romp with some fairly forgivable realism problems.

Discussion Questions:
~This movie contains many stereotypes. Which ones can you identify? What do you think of female villain in the movie? Is it good for women to be portrayed this way and for them to be assaulted this way?
~Gabriel claims that it’s better for someone who loves the country to do this to it than someone who actually seeks to destroy it. Do you think it matters? Do you think this justifies what he has done? Is it possible someone might see him as a hero for trying to make a point that needs making?
~How realistic do you think the major plot elements in this movie are?
~Why do you think this movie was rated PG-13? Is this level of violence good when presented as a solution to a problem? Where do you draw the line between necessary violence and indulgent violence?
~What is a hero? Who is more of a hero here: McClain or Farrell? Does McClain’s incompetence as a husband and a father matter to you? How important are restraint and self-control for heroes? Is there any element of Jesus in any of these heroes?
~If everything that was attacked in this movie did collapse, what do you think would happen to this country?
~In what way would you describe this movie as a Western?
Overall Grade: B+
It’s pretty impressive to continually make such solid movies on the same theme, and I understand there’s two more still to come.

Talk to Me (2007)

Rated: R .Grade: BCCC=C
Full review not yet written. Please feel free to post your own thoughts.

Amazing Grace (2006)

Rated: PG
Grade: BBAB=B
Budget: $29 million
Box Office: $21 million US, $7 million abroad

Directed by: Michael Apted, who has a long movie pedigree including The World Is Not Enough, Enigma, Lipstick, Class Action, Gorky Park, Continental Divide, and Coal Miner’s Daughter as well as the upcoming Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell, Youssou N’Dour, and Ciaran Hinds.

This is the political biography of William Wilberforce, the man primarily responsible for the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain. He must persist in his fight through years and year of parliamentary setbacks, including being considered nearly a traitor during the war with America, until he finally wins the fight to see slavery done away with.

Entertainment Value: B
Of course the story is outstanding, and even more so because it is true. This is a movie about God, political machinations, human decency, and justice. I wouldn’t describe it as uplifting, however, only because in the end, there were really so many opponents who never really repented from what they were doing.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sexuality A, Violence D, Language A, Illegality A
There are two main things that will concern you here. One is the depiction of slaves in brutal conditions and the direct description of things really too awful to imagine were actually done to them. The other is the use of an opiate remedy which clearly has health effects upon Wilberforce.

Significant Content: A
How could a movie about the abolition of slavery by a man of God who was inspired in part by the greatest hymn ever written not be an A for significant content? It’s not just about the evils of slavery, but it’s about the duty of the rest of us who claim to love God to act as if we do. We must not hibernate in some safe enclave of Christianity but be about doing the work of God in the world. Persistence in the face of insurmountable odds when you have right on your side will eventually work. Honoring the duty of loyalty you have to your king while working to change the system from within. Resisting the impulse to revolution. Knowing how to achieve real victory rather than just to symbolically feel like you’ve done your part. Oh, yeah, and openly acknowledging God and the joy of knowing Him. That’s pretty good stuff.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
The story is told as a flashback retrospective, but for some reason I found the time-shifting difficult to follow because there didn’t seem to be clear markers differentiating the past from the present. Also, and call me peculiar on this score, but I found the various times in which the grammar used by the speakers was so clearly American 2007 rather than British 18th Century irritating. If you’re going to have them use British accents, at least allow them to conjugate their verbs properly and use the correct pronouns, I say. Nonetheless, it’s well filmed and of course a story well worth telling.

Discussion Questions:
~One of the themes here is the tension between revolutionary change and gradual change. When facing a monstrous social evil like slavery, how do you decide which way to proceed? Which is better: an imperfect order or a revolution in pursuit of a perfect order? Consider America, France, and Britain on both the issue of revolution and slavery cessation.
~“If we cease participating, it will only mean that someone else will make the money from doing it.” This sounds like a terrible moral argument, but is there any merit in the idea that politicians must look out for the economic interests of their country? How might Jesus’s admonition that you cannot server God and mammon apply?
~In the end, it took a very crafty end run around to accomplish ending the slave trade rather than a frontal and symbolically satisfying assault. Why might they have been reluctant to do it this way? Which matters more, being able to say you lost valiantly and foolishly or being able to say you really changed things for the people you’re trying to help? Can you think of any modern examples or issues to which this might apply?
~What does this movie show about the power of music to change people?
~“It’s not that I got hold of God, it’s that He got hold of me.” What do you think of this statement by Wilberforce?
~It is convenient to think of our enemies in social matters as evil, but this movie shows that they are often simply ignorant or deceived. Why is this an important distinction?
~What conclusion might you draw about the state of race relations in America today based on the reaction most viewers would have to the use of a racial slur in this movie?
~Given the changes in technology and also commerce, do you think the end of slavery was inevitable or not? How much of the victory in this movie seems to come from persistent hard work and how much from historical inevitability?
~A lot of the political dialogue in this movie depends on wit and personal jabs rather than on substance. Do you think this is fitting for Christians?
~Do you think it’s possible to remain holy as a Christian even in the realm of politics?
Overall Grade: B
Yep. That’s another Christian-made production that qualifies as good film. Not Academy Award material, but still solid.

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Rated: PG-13
Grade: BBAA=B+
Budget: $258 million
Box Office: $337 million US, $555 million abroad, $60 million DVD

Directed by: Sam Raimi, who has produced and acted in many films formerly directed Spider-Man 1 and 2, The Gift, For Love of the Game, A Simple Plan, and a bunch of zombie movies.

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rosemary Harris, JK Simmons, and James Cromwell.

Once again, the reluctant web-slinger finds himself caught between love and danger in both parts of his life. Threatened by a competitive photographer at work, torn over how best to handle the amnesia of his former friend and now sworn enemy, the Hobgoblin, and trying to solve the new threats from the Sandman and Venom, Peter Parker must also figure out how to convince his starlet sweetheart Mary Jane to marry him. Um…it’s like really got a lot going on.

Entertainment Value: B
Lots and lots and lots of great action sequences involving highly creative ways for Spidey to use his powers. Despite the characters being mostly caricatures of anything you’d find in real life, there’s still a lot of meaty development and nuance in them. Of all three of the Spider-Man’s, Spider-Men(?), this is the one most faithful to all the best elements of a great comic book, which Spidey always was.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality B, Violence C, Language B, Illegality C
Other than Topher Grace ogling women and a few scenes of Kirsten Dunst singing in an evening gown, the sex content is tame. Likewise, language is really not an issue. If anything is going to bother you about this movie, of course, it would be the violence as people try to really kill each other and some of the pretty terrifying images as people undergo strange transformations. There are various illegal activities such as bank robbery and destruction of property. As I said, it’s a comic book brought to life.

Significant Content: A
The movie is all about personal identity, and it hits this theme from several angles. The first is about the intersection of fame, work, and the need to do what you value with a love relationship between a super-hero and a not-quite singer. The second is about memory, as we see Harry lose his and return to thinking of Peter as a friend. The third is about the power of choices to determine who we are, and on this score, the movie is very optimistic. Finally, the tension between serving justice and serving revenge is quite vividly portrayed with Peter and the new outfit/alien being. Additional themes about media manipulation and jealousy are also clearly present.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
I haven’t been a big fan of the Spider-Man movies, mostly because I think that both Maguire and Dunst are terrible miscasts. However, what was previously just irritating character identity struggle has finally manifested as full-blown moral struggle, in a good way. I found the character developments in this movie to be extremely provocative and useful for discussion. Besides, the Sandman and Venom effects alone make the movie worth watching.

Discussion Questions:
~In what sense would you say that we are only as good, or bad, as our last choice? Do you think it’s true that we can always make better choices and reverse the trend of who we are? Can we also always take a good trend and ruin it? To what degree does our history of previous choices continue to influence our character? In particular, consider Sandman, Hobgoblin, and Peter in your thinking.
~In what ways would you say that this movie is redemptive? Who is redeemed? By what mechanism? Is it possible in real life to be redeemed merely by our own choices?
~The difference between justice and revenge often seems very blurry, but this is a theme all comic books wrestle with. Why is revenge so satisfying to us at the time? Why is it so unsatisfying to us later? If revenge is wrong to do, is it also wrong to enjoy watching others do it? How might you compare revenge and justice to lust and love? Compare the difference between how you react to what befalls Sandman and what befalls Venom.
~If you don’t remember the past, are you still the same person you used to be? How might amnesia and our memories actually define our identities? In what sense is a person who loses memory a different person? How might this shape your thinking about conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s?
~The Bible teaches us to learn to be content no matter what happens around us. What lessons about contentment does this movie teach?
~Sandman claims to be a good person who has some bad luck. What do you think? How much might luck factor into the major events/decisions of a person’s life?
~Have you ever been envious of someone else’s popularity, especially when you were feeling unappreciated? Why is it so hard to celebrate the success of others when we aren’t experiencing it? Is this selfishness or lack of love or something else?
~People often think they can do evil in one area of their lives and prevent that corruption from spilling over into other areas. What do you think? Consider Peter’s violence toward those he loves.
~Is Spider-Man a vigilante? Does it matter? What’s the difference between a hero and a vigilante?
~How important is forgiveness in real life? Is it as powerful as this movie makes it out to be, or more so?
~How important is kissing? Did you find the kiss a believable plot element? Did you think MJ overreacted to it? To what degree is kissing similar or different from adultery?
~In what ways would you say the symbiotic alien is like or unlike a drug? Did the suit change Peter or just accentuate what he was already doing to some degree?
~When we do something unethical to get ahead and are caught, why do we tend to blame the person who caught us rather than ourselves? Have you ever responded as Topher Grace did to being caught at something?

Overall Grade: B+
As an entertainment piece, it’s pretty good. As an art piece worthy of discussion, it’s outstanding. They finally did a really good one. Third time’s a charm?Full review not yet written. Please feel free to post your own thoughts.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007)

Rated: PG-13 . Grade: CDFD=D

Full review not yet written. Please feel free to post your own thoughts.

Ratatouille (2007)

Rated: G
Grade: BBBB=B
Budget: $150 million
Box Office: $206 million US, $406 million abroad, $79 million DVD

Directed by: Pixar, Brad Bird, who previously made The Incredibles and Iron Giant and Jake Pinkava, who previously did animation for Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, and Monsters Inc.

Starring: The voices of Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter O’Toole, Brad Garrett, Jeneane Garofalo, Will Arnett, and John Ratzenberger.

Remy has a problem. He loves fine food and has the palate and nose of a master chef. Unfortunately, he’s a rat. But when a sudden catastrophe forces him from a country cottage into the big city of Paris, he gets the opportunity of a life-time at the declining restaurant of his cooking hero Gusteau. Meanwhile, Gusteau’s secret son, Linguini has just been hired to clean in the restaurant by the dwarfish and malicious manager. Perhaps the two can work out an arrangement that will benefit them both.

Entertainment Value: B
Pixar doesn’t make bad movies, except for the Incredibles. They only make movies in degrees of good. This is another decent movie from them with an intriguing plot, fascinating characters, good voice work, great animation, and even some worthy themes.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sexuality A, Violence C, Language A, Illegality A
There is constant wine consumption, and Linguini behaves drunkenly at one point. There are several hair-raising chase scenes involving (usually) violence directed at rats such as throwing knives at them or shooting at them repeatedly with a shotgun. As far as language goes, unless something so bland as “rat-patootie” bothers you, you’ll find this movie to be, wait for it, squeaky. All that being said, however, there was one scene in particular that really bothered me. When Remy is running through the buildings, he passes a scene where a couple are having a vicious lover’s quarrel and she points a gun at him as if to shoot him before he can grab the gun and kiss her. It’s brevity doesn’t undermine it’s intensity, and it was totally out of place in a G movie.

Significant Content: B
Anyone can cook. It’s Gusteau’s phrase, and it represents a kind of culinary egalitarianism which is thoroughly incongruent with French society and especially the critic’s world of star ratings. But the real meaning, as we learn, is to not judge ability by a person’s background or appearance. If only people weren’t so anti-rodentic, we would realize that rats can be our best friends and great chefs to boot. There’s a pretty substantial commentary on the lack of substance in critics compared to those who really create. There’s a strong criticism of frozen/prepared foods compared to freshly made along with a sub-theme that enjoying life and food is good. Stealing is repeatedly discussed and condemned. And, ultimately, the movie is about loyalty and trust and not taking credit for things someone else has done.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
No one does computer generated animation better than Pixar. In this case, though many of the plot elements are, of course, impossible, it’s still quite good work. What I liked most about this movie, as with many Pixar movies, is that it gives you a rich, well-told story to discuss with the kids and the values issues raised by it.

Discussion Questions:
~Colette says that she has had to work extra hard to prove herself in the kitchen as a woman, but it is her nurturing tendency which leads her to help Linguini. Are women doing something unfeminine when they compete with men? Are they being more womanly when they help others?
~Which is more pleasing to God: those who create things such as food, or those who evaluate those things like critics? How do critics keep artists honest? Is it very Christian to be a critic of food or movies? Is Ego right that critics take too much joy in destroying what others have created?
~Why might someone think that frozen/prepared foods are bad compared to fresh cooking? Are those who love to cook and eat good food enjoying something extra in life that others are really missing? What brings you more pleasure, making things for others or having good things made for you to enjoy? How does this relate to Jesus’s teaching that it is more blessed to give than to receive?
~This movie talks a lot about stealing, both tangible goods and credit. Why is it important not to take credit for things we haven’t done ourselves? Why is it important to earn what we get rather than to take it?
~Do you think this is a realistic portrayal of rats? Why might it be a bad idea to glamorize such dirty creatures? Why might it be okay? What do you think about treating animals like people?
~Remy’s dad wanted him to be the poison detector for the rat colony, but Remy obviously had bigger plans. What do you think about Remy doing what his father didn’t want him to do?
~Is it stealing to Take someone else's garbage?
~Is the ability to produce art and appreciate beauty, such as in food, a key difference between humans and animals?
~How is this story also a historical story of the careers of Walt Disney, Disney Animation after Walt, and Pixar?
Overall Grade: B
Solid, worth watching, except for that one scene. And the expected Pixar short on the DVD about aliens was hilarious, as usual. I’m very excited to see them producing a DVD of all their short films soon.

Meet The Robinsons (2007)

Rated: G . Grade: DDCD=D

Directed by: Disney, Stephen J. Anderson, who previously did art for Emperor’s New Groove and Brother Bear.

Starring: The voices of Angela Bassett, Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Matthew Josten, Laurie Metcalf, and Stephen J. Anderson.

Summary: Lewis is an orphan who is losing hope of ever being adopted because he is strange and super-brilliant at inventing. At a science fair, he is confronted by a good guy from the future is here to protect him from a bad guy from the future, which, of course, is where they go and meet a very strange family indeed.

Entertainment Value: D Chaos. Pure chaos. That’s the one thing I can tell you about this film. It’s the visual equivalent of the Insane Clown Posse. The last ten minutes of the movie finally make some sense, but it’s uninterrupted confusion and mayhem until then. We almost quit watching at several points, and the only reason it’s not an F is because the ending finally tied things up together. But that still doesn’t justify the movie.

Superficial Content: D Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality A, Violence C, Language A, Illegality B. How can an AACAB movie get a D for superficial content? Because it’s rated G, and I am in total disgust at this rating. Remember, in kids movies, my standards really tighten up, and I will mark a movie down significantly just for being chaotic, which I already said this is. Many scary scenes, such as whirling death blades, Tyrannosaurus Rex attacking and trying to eat people, people turned into zombies by mind-controlling bowler-hats, one character telling a child to nurture his hate, a man married to a puppet, and the movie starts off with a mother abandoning an infant. This is not a movie for any young children. It should surely be PG and perhaps even PG-13.

Significant Content: C There are two decent lessons here. One is that everybody has a place where they will belong. The other is that we should view failure as a good thing from which we can learn, whereas success rarely teaches us anything. But lying, deception, and breaking promises are common tactics used in the movie, even if in the end honesty prevails. But, again, the movie is so frantic that one of it’s primary lessons is just to normalize mayhem.

Artistic/Thought Value: D There is no age for whom this film is good. For anyone under 12, it’s just too crazy. For anyone over 12, it’s a silly animated movie meant for younger kids.

Discussion Questions:
~Why is it important to only make promises you intend to keep and to keep all the promises you make?
~Is it always a good thing to forget the past and move on? When can it be better to forget the past? Is failure always good and success always pointless?
~What do you think of Lewis’s decision about his mother at the end of the movie?
~Have you ever felt like people had trouble loving you for whom you are instead of for whom they want you to be?
~How is the bowler hat like sin or the devil? Are there really bad people, or are bad people just good people under the wrong influences?
Overall Grade: D, but almost DNF many times.

License To Wed (2007)

Rated: PG-13 . Grade DCBD=C

Full review not yet written. Please feel free to post your own thoughts.

Reign Over Me (2007)

Rated: R . Grade: CCCB=C+

Full review not yet written. Please feel free to post your own thoughts.