Quick Hit Movie Reviews 2

So, once again, there didn’t seem to be too many new releases at the multiplex this week.  And so, once again, I watched a few more movies from my new poster.

I may give that Shia LaBeouf movie a shot next week if it’s still out.  I have zero interest in a Downton Abbey movie about the problems of the 1% from a show that only really had two plotlines repeated endlessly.

In the meantime, I watched a few older movies at home.  I didn’t  see as many as I saw last weekend, but then again, I had a three day weekend last weekend and other things to do this past weekend.  As such, I only got to three this time.  Still, I will again be using letter grades.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

I wasn’t really planning on going with The Amityville Horror anytime soon.  But I asked a co-worker to pick out something for me.  She picked out a couple she found shocking I hadn’t seen yet.  As for her selections, Amityville was the only one I could watch from a streaming service I already get without paying for a rental.

Anyway, this is the classic haunted house movie from the 70s that moviegoers apparently loved enough to buy a ton of tickets to.  Critics, on the other hand, didn’t care for it too much.  Me?  I found the movie kinda boring.  It’s old enough that I knew there was a low body count already.  As such, I didn’t feel much tension for the goings on with the Lutz family.  Heck, I even knew the family dog would survive, and while many movies are reluctant to kill off dogs, horror movies are something of an exception.

But that’s part of the problem.  When the most exciting moment in a horror movie is a five to ten minute sequence involving a dog rescue, there’s something wrong with the movie.  A priest who spends most of the movie outside the house has more problems than the family, and his plotline is never resolved.  The acting is sometimes way over the top, and while James Brolin’s hairy head is era appropriate, I couldn’t get past Margot Kidder wearing pigtails as a grown adult.  I just couldn’t get into this one.

That said, there were some good images of the house, and a lot of haunted house movie imagery came from this movie.  I’ll give it that much.  It just seemed like it could have gone either way in the “is the house haunted or not” way before finally saying, “Oh yeah, it is!”

Grade:  C

Tangled (2010)

Somewhere along the line, Disney stopped doing hand-drawn animation and went full CGI.  They’ve made some good movies that way.  They gave us Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph in that manner.  These movies aren’t quite like the old Disney classics.  Instead, they seem to be going for more complex storytelling than the old fairy tale approach used to do.  It fits in since these movies look more like Pixar movies that they aspire to Pixar’s reputation for emotional complexity.

But first, there was Tangled.

Tangled is the Rapunzel story, told in a very traditional Disney way only heavy on the slapstick.  Thief Flynn Rider finds the lost princess Rapunzel, a girl with a lot of magical hair.  She really wants to see some floating lanterns she doesn’t know the king and queen release every year to try and find their lost daughter.  And yes, Rapunzel is the lost princess.  The biggest obstacles are Flynn’s many enemies and Rapunzel’s “mother”.

OK, so, this was rather middle-of-the-road.  The songs were good if largely forgettable.  Flynn’s biggest enemy was a horse.  Said horse acted like a dog.  Could it talk?  No.  It was just a really smart horse.  That seemed really weird to me.  The plot was fairly simple all told.  If anything, Rapunzel has to be one of the least empowered Disney princesses in a long time.  Plus, as evil witches go, Mother Gothel didn’t seem to have much more than the power of passive-aggression.  It was fun, particularly the barbarian horde from the Snuggly Duckling, but nothing really groundbreaking.  That would come later with the aforementioned Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph.

Grade:  B

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

So, what is this movie?

That’s kind of a serious question.

With a hugely talented cast of actors who maybe hadn’t quite hit the big time yet, Wet Hot American Summer is, as best I can figure out, a piece of deadpan absurdity parodying summer camp movies.  The Stella portion of The State‘s cast seem to be the masterminds behind it, but this is the sort of movie where a burned out Vietnam vet played by Chris Meloni will make sweet, sweet love to a refrigerator to the cheers of most of the cast.  Many characters seem to have comically large, vaguely Jewish-sounding names.  A small haystack is treated like a real obstacle.  And a can of mixed vegetables may or may not talk.

Basically, if this is your sense of humor, this movie is probably hilarious.  It’s not quite mine.  I did enjoy it.  The cast gives it their all, and seeing actors like Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, and Elizabeth Banks playing it silly before their careers really took off is a bit of a treat by itself.  For a movie with a pathetically small budget, it actually turned out pretty well.  Again, not really my sense of humor, but I appreciated it for what it was.

Grade:  B-

Epilogue:  So, the co-worker who recommended The Amityville Horror told me she thought it was very scary when she saw it…at age 4.  And Tangled isn’t on my poster.  Or maybe it is.  There are so many movies on there, every so often I look at it and find another one I forgot to list among the ones I’ve seen.

As for Wet Hot American Summer, well, apparently they love it in the Newman household.  Or, at least, Jonathan does.  Someone else can ask Jenny.

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