WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 18

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 18th WWW:

1) Legally Blonde:
While I felt that I was clearly not the target audience for this classic tale of female empowerment, I can't exactly say it was a bad movie. Reese Witherspoon might start out playing the queen of the dumb sorority girls, but her character quickly proves how smart and capable she truly is when she follows her jerky ex-boyfriend to Harvard law school and, surprise, succeeds. That's an ironic “surprise” in the preceding sentence, since anyone familiar with the Hollywood formula can pretty much predict what's going to happen here. But Witherspoon proves likable as always, and wins over her audience even as her character wins over her professors, classmates, and even a courtroom, because under Article What Section Whatever of Habbeus Hollywoodus, even a Law Student might represent a client in a murder trial. Just go with it. There's a solid supporting cast here that includes Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Victor Garber, and Ali Larter. Guys might cringe at things like the sheer volume of pink clothing and a musical sequence in a beauty shop where Witherspoon teaches middle-aged women how to “bend and snap”, but there are some laughs in there as well. In the end, I almost gave it four out of five stars, until they did that cliché ‘80s thing where superimposed captions tell you what happens to all of the characters. In the ‘80s this works, especially if you find out what students go on to do later in life for example. But here, the captions tell you what happens MINUTES AFTER THE FINAL SCENE, and it comes across like they ran out of film or couldn't pay the actors any more, even though it was a case where it would have been better to show rather than tell us. So I subtracted a star, put the movie back in its mailing sleeve, and subsequently went to a Metallica concert.

2) The Shipping News:
This movie is at times outstanding, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Kevin Spacey plays a shy and awkward loser whose love for Cate Blanchett's character blinds him to her flaws, until tragedy strikes. When a previously-unknown Aunt played by Judy Dench shows up, Spacey and his daughter relocate to Newfoundland, where he learns hidden truths about his family and the hidden potential within himself. An ink setter often berated by his father for everything from not being a good swimmer to not being successful, he finds himself working as a reporter for a small newspaper. With some coaching from veteran writers and his own instincts, he soon gets to be pretty good, and some of the short, catchy headlines that pop up in his narration will bring a smile to your face. “Lumbering Idiot Stuns Crowd--for a Change” was one of my favorites. The theme of Man vs. Nature is just as strong as Man's Inhumanity to Man here, in a town where people seem to accept that storms and the ocean will claim more than a few lives each year. It's the last place one would expect to find hope, so it's all that much more satisfying when our protagonists do.

3) Monsters vs. Aliens:
Pixar might be the undisputed master of computer animation, but if anyone can dispute them it would be Dreamworks, and M.v.A. certainly is a shining example of how great they are too. As I expected, Seth Rogen got some of the best laughs, voicing B.O.B., a brainless mass of gelatinous blue goo with an eyeball and some intelligence. Reese Witherspoon shines here as a bride-to-be turned into a giant freak by a meteorite on her wedding day, who soon finds true friends in other government-contained monsters when they unite against an invading alien force led by Rainn Wilson. The premise is pretty basic: aliens invade so the government sics monsters on them. But it works, and it's all so pretty. People look more and more real in these things. Textures like hair and fur are insane. Water is fluid, as it should be. Eyes are shiny and seem to stare back at you. In one sequence, as the Golden Gate Bridge crumbles, it really looks like they destroyed the actual bridge, as cables snap and concrete dividers are tossed around. Animation has come a long way, and with little nuggets in this movie like the theme from Close Encounters and Axel F, there's more than a few treats in there for parents to enjoy too.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



Blogger Lorna said...

I didn't see the Monsters/aliens movie, but we bought the Wii game for our granddaughters and I was sorry not to have seen the movie first. However, with about 600 movies now on my must-see list, it might be a while.

11/23/2009 9:38 AM  

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