Reviews for Normal People

Hi. I review things.

Review: Frozen Meets Most Expectations — November 29, 2013

Review: Frozen Meets Most Expectations

Yeah, that title may not sound like the highest praise. Rest assured, I really did like this film. Just not as much as Wreck-It Ralph, its predecessor. Or Get A Horse!, its literal predecessor. But, since this article is about the movie and not Get A Horse!, I’ll save that for the end.

I’d talk about the directors, but there’s not much to say about them. Jennifer Lee’s only other major credit is writer for Wreck-It Ralph, and while Chris Buck is a little more prolific, his only directing credits are Surf’s Up and Tarzan. Maybe I can talk about the writers… Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Let’s talk about the original story.

Frozen, you see, is based on “The Snow Queen,” or “Snedronningen,” which I will be calling it from now on because it’s AWESOME. Snedronningen is a confusing mess of a story about god-knows-what written by Hans Christian Andersen, a man who specialized in that sort of thing. Andersen also wrote “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Little Mermaid,” which also had Disney movies loosely, and I use the term loosely, based on them. So, what does this movie have to do with Snedronningen? Pretty much nothing.

How did that turn out? Pretty good, honestly. It’s a fairly straightforward princess movie, with a few twists and turns, albeit obvious ones. Most of the music is good, although not memorable. And overall, it’s just a fun movie. I like how the two female main characters rarely talk about love, and the main character’s instantly falling in love is ridiculed throughout the movie, and almost leads to her downfall. Both male leads are pretty likable, although I’ll admit to liking the one who turned out to be the bad guy more than the one who saved the day. And the side characters? Well, I’ll get to those in a minute. Overall, I admire Buck and Lee for making their own, very original story, realizing a character was called the Snow Queen, and giving Hans Christian Andersen a writing credit. Also, the animation was great throughout.

Now let’s talk about the things I didn’t like. First of all, the side characters.  It’s not that I didn’t like them, they just felt unnecessary. Except the trolls, they furthered the story. Also, I didn’t like them. Anyway, the Josh Gad snowman was actually less annoying than I expected him to be. Which is a plus. Unfortunately, that plus is counteracted by the fact that the reindeer was annoying. How do you make a character that can’t talk annoying? You’ll have to see the movie to find out. I had a couple questions, sure. FOR EXAMPLE: If Olaf didn’t know what fire was, how did he know how to make it? How come Elsa can control her powers sometimes? Why couldn’t she just talk to Anna? What did the Duke of Weselton ever do to them? The trolls never say the act of true love has to be a kiss. In fact, in the end the act of true love is a hug. So why wasn’t it enough that Kristoff and Anna were risking both of their lives to be together? How was Elsa able to not leave her room the whole time? Didn’t she need to… do princess stuff? Run the country and whatnot? After her parents died, she was in charge of the whole country, wasn’t she? Was Anna in charge of the whole country? If so, why was she so lonely? All these questions and more will NOT be answered in a movie that is LESS THAN 90 MINUTES LONG.

On a final note, I notice that the love triangle between Kristoff, Hans, and Anna is not unlike that of Peeta, Gale, and Katniss. Anna and Katniss are both strong independent women who go on an epic journey to save their sisters (although Anna is a little more lifelike badum-tss). Kristoff and Gale are more like Anna/Katniss and have known them for longer (although in Kristoff’s case, it was only a little longer) and both have brown hair. Hans and Peeta are both your average, everyday weirdo who just met Anna/Katniss and with whom they have nothing in common. And they have blonde hair. Also, in the third act, Kristoff/Gale is no longer the love interest and instead turns into somewhat of an antagonist, leaving Anna/Katniss no choice but to be with Hans/Peeta. Uncanny.

Now let’s talk about Get A Horse!. Get A Horse! was phenomenal. It started out with a classic Mickey Mouse short, possibly a real unfinished one, but possibly just an old-fashioned animation with spliced-together clips of Walt Disney (Yes, all of Mickey’s lines are done by Walt Disney and all the voices are from their original voice actors. If you don’t think that’s the tightest shit, then get out of my face.). However, about a minute in, the bad guy accidentally throws Mickey so hard that he shoots through the screen into the real world (or more accurately, a moviegoer’s nachos). The rest of the short takes place between the two worlds, with classic Disney jokes and classic Disney physics (the bad guy squeezes the tear until it goes away). I hear this short is up for an Oscar. I dearly hope it wins. Mad props to director Lauren MacMullan for bringing this short to life.

So overall, I give this movie a B+. While not as good as its predecessor, Wreck-It Ralph, it is a fun little movie and a welcome addition to the Disney princess franchise. And I give Get A Horse! an A. It was hilarious, innovative, and once again, the tightest shit. I MAY have a Thor 2 review out on Sunday, or maybe the next Sunday. Until then…

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QUICK LITTLE NOTE — November 28, 2013
Thanksgiving Site News — November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Site News

Well, since it’s Thanksgiving, I decided to tell you all the exciting articles I intend to put up by the end of the year:

TOMORROW: Frozen review

SUNDAY: Thor 2 late entry

THE NEXT SUNDAY: Delivery Man late entry

THE SUNDAY AFTER THAT: The Hobbit review

THE SUNDAY AFTER THAT: Anchorman 2 review

THROUGHOUT THE WEEK: Year-end lists like the top 5 best movies of the year, the top 5 worst movies of the year, the top 5 most forgettable movies of the year, the top 5 best albums of the year, and that’s all.

There may be a couple Break It Downs or Stank-Ass Rankings, but I doubt it. See you in 2014 for even more reviews. Until then…

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Review: The Hunger Deans: CatCHANG Fire — November 22, 2013

Review: The Hunger Deans: CatCHANG Fire

For those of you who don’t get the title reference, Dean and Chang are two characters on Community that often make puns involving their names. In one such pun, Dean held an elaborate competition called the Hunger Deans. Also, please watch Community. It’s one of the best shows on TV.

Now, let’s get to the review by talking about the first movie’s director, Gary Ross. Before Hunger Games, Ross had only directed two movies, Seabiscuit and Pleasantville. Now, both of those movies were pretty good, albeit forgettable, but neither of them was Ross’ most notable pre-Hunger Games achievement. You see, back in the 80s, ross was the writer and producer for a comedy classic that launched the career of one of the finest actors around. That movie: Big.

Now, was that enough of a reason for him to direct The Hunger Games? No, but what do I know? Maybe he sent in a short film that really wowed Suzanne Collins. Maybe he was actually the perfect choice to be director.

Oh wait, I saw the movie. And if I recall correctly, Ross wasn’t very good at his job. The acting was terrible, the camera was too shaky, it left out several important parts of the book, and it was hard to watch. I know that the movie was meant to be grim, like the book was, but there’s a difference between “grim” and “unwatchable.” Case in point, Catching Fire. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Collins must not have liked Ross either, because she fired him and replaced him with a new director: Francis Lawrence. Lawrence’s past experience was mostly comprised of music videos, for artists like OK Go and Green Day. In fact, he’s only really directed three movies in his career: I Am Legend, Constantine, and Water for Elephants. OK, those are pretty bad. But he did a good job with this one.

So, it looks like the time has come to discuss Catching Fire. Let’s go over what I like first. It’s very engaging. I kept my attention the whole time, which is a tough thing to do considering I was pretty tired at the time. The CG, acting, and directing were all much better than the first one. It followed the book very well. It made me laugh. It made me cry. In fact, I’ve cried at three movies: Toy Story 3, Catching Fire, and another that I don’t remember. However, the emotional scene in this movie was pretty much ruined when Jennifer Lawrence made an unintentional derp face after the doors closed. It’s the District 11 scene, in case you want to look for it yourself.

What didn’t I like about the movie? Not much, honestly. It was, like I said before, pretty grim, which I don’t usually like in a movie, but it pulled it off okay. While the CG and acting were better, the still weren’t great. They were OK. The cliffhanger was thought-provoking and true to the book, but I’d rather not read the third book and I want to know what happened to Lenny Kravitz. Oh well. There were a couple of other things that I didn’t like about the movie, but none that I can put my finger on right now.

So overall, I give this movie an A-. It surpasses Cloudy 2 as my fifth-favorite movie of the year, and I recommend you watch it whenever you can. I should have a Frozen review out next week, followed by Late Entries on Thor 2 and Delivery Man. Until then…

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THANX — November 17, 2013

THANX

Hey, guys. Today, I hit a big milestone. I officially have 134 pageviews on this blog. I just want to thank all the people who helped me reach this milestone. All my fans in USA, Australia, the UK, Poland, and many other countries in every continent on Earth except for Africa, South America, Antarctica, and Westeros. Thank you all so much for putting up with my shenanigans for so long and I’ll have more slightly humorous content in the future. I’ll make articles like this when I hit other milestones, like 250, 500, and of course, 383. Thank you and as always…

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Late Entry: Free Birds is SO BAD —

Late Entry: Free Birds is SO BAD

Remember how I gave Planes an F and said it was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen? Well, I was being too hard on it. I mean, it’s just a kids’ movie, and it’s not like I was expecting anything from it. Overall, Planes was harmless. And that’s why I’m bumping its grade up from an F to a D. This, of course, means it will be moved down to #5 on my “Worst of the Year” list. Besides, the year in kids’ movies has overall been pretty good, I mean, it can’t get any worse than this, right?

Oh wait, it totally got worse. Free Birds is taking that #1 spot now, and it’s bumping Planes off the list. It’s everything that’s wrong with kids’ movies these days. It’s derivative, unfunny, weirdly sexual, and has an all-star cast for no reason other than to say they have an all-star cast. It takes every annoying cliche and theme from every kids’ movie ever made and puts it all together into one horrifying package.

But let me step back and introduce you to one particular part of the movie that gets on my nerves: director and actor Jimmy Hayward. Jimmy Hayward has been the bane of my existence for a few years now, even more so than Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, who I also loathe. (Note: I like Tom Hardy, but I HATE Bane.) You see, back in the ’90s, Hayward was a major animator on the cult classic cartoon ReBoot. After that, he was one of the major animators for the first five Pixar movies (Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.). But then, for whatever reason, he decided he wanted to direct. Of course, you can’t just start off right away directing a big time movie, so he became an assistant director on a little movie called Robots. Now, for those of you who don’t know, I HATE Robots. For those of you who do know, please ignore the previous sentence. However, I have to concede that Robots made money. And so, Hayward was finally given the opportunity to direct, and he came out with Horton Hears a Who, the only Dr. Seuss movie to date that is not terrible. So, Hayward got the misguided notion that he was good at directing, and not just good at having Jim Carrey and Steve Carell in his movie. So, he decided to make a live action movie. A superhero movie, as a matter of fact. Guess which movie he made?

Jonah Hex. Jonah FUCKING Hex. I don’t even need to tell you how godawful this movie is. After that atrocity, Hayward decided to stick to animation, and that’s how Free Birds was born. Oh, but guess what? He doesn’t just direct. He also voices not one, not two, but SIX supporting characters in the movie, one of which is a Bill Clinton impression, because EVERY KID IN THE UNIVERSE KNOWS WHAT BILL CLINTON SOUNDS LIKE. He even managed to slip a Lewinsky joke in there. Oh, you might not notice. You might see it and think, “Oh, that’s pretty funny.” But then you’ll be thinking about it later and you’ll be like, “WAS THAT A LEWINSKY JOKE?!” You know, FOR KIDS!

But you want to know what the worst part is? This movie had potential. If it was historically accurate, and they got rid of all the homoerotic undertones (YOU HEARD ME) and product placement, I probably would’ve liked this movie. But they didn’t do any of that. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO EASY TO MAKE THIS MOVIE GOOD AND THEY RUINED IT. In fact, the first ten minutes of this movie were good. Like, REALLY good. They weren’t just funny, they were witty. But what was the turning point? What was the first sign of decline in this movie?

The Chuck E. Cheese logo. When the Chuck E. Cheese logo popped up, everything went downhill. Even in the first ten minutes, something felt off, but when the blatant product placement came into play, everything became clear to me. This movie was trying to be a DreamWorks movie trying to be a Disney movie. And that’s when I started noticing the little things. I was listening to Reggie, the main turkey, and I thought to myself, “Is that Owen Wilson?” Then Woody Harrelson came into play, and then I noticed the president sounded like Bill Clinton, and then I noticed the Lewinsky joke, and then I noticed George Takei, and then everything came crashing down. You know those red things that turkeys have under their beaks. In this movie, they represent balls. SERIOUSLY.

I think more than a third of the jokes in this movie were sexual references, and half of those were homosexual. YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS! Oh, and that product placement just gets worse the more the movie goes on. It’s so blatantly not trying that the movie it most reminds me of is The Cat in the Hat. YUP. This movie is so bad, the best movie to compare it to is CAT IN THE HAT. Even the awesome might of Amy Poehler and George Takei can’t save this wretched garbage. At one point in the movie, a Native American says, “Man, those are some (looks at camera) ANGRY BIRDS.” YUP. We’re not even trying anymore, are we?

And guess what saves the day in the end? CHUCK E. CHEESE’S PIZZA. I just want you to consider how messed up this is. A BIRD FROM THE FUTURE BRINGS ENGLISH COLONISTS AND NATIVE AMERICANS PIZZA. THEIR FIRST INSTINCT IS TO EAT IT. THEY REALLY LIKE IT, AND FROM THEN ON PEOPLE EAT PIZZA INSTEAD OF TURKEY ON THANKSGIVING. I should remind you that pizza wasn’t even invented yet when this happened. How did the colonists and natives figure out how to make it? I don’t even think they had the tools to make it. They probably didn’t even call it pizza. Also, one of the subplots is that Woody Harrelson was visited by a Great Turkey in his childhood that turned out to actually be Reggie. First of all, the Great Turkey is just a rip-off of the Great Pumpkin, and second of all, when Reggie goes back in time to do the whole great turkey thing, the scene is different from the flashback earlier in the movie. Surely this would have changed SOMETHING along the line. And since that one conversation leads to the entire movie, it would probably change something IN THE STORY. Don’t you think the colonists would’ve said something about a MAGIC TIME TURKEY GOD that brought them a dish they couldn’t figure out how to replicate? Maybe they would’ve written about it or something.

Okay, I’m ranting. The point is this movie is godawful. It’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It truly deserves the F I wrongfully gave Planes. If I could give it a G, I would. In fact, see it. You’ll probably have a lot of fun with how terrible it is. I’ll have a Hunger Games review out Thursday night (my first, but hopefully not last, advance screening), and then a Frozen review out the next Wednesday. After that, I have a plan laid out, but I’m not telling you because you have more important things to do than worry about what movies I’m seeing next month. Until then…

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IMPORTANT NOTE — November 11, 2013

IMPORTANT NOTE

I was unable to see Thor today. Next week, I’ll have a Free Birds review out. I could try to see Thor in the middle of the week, but it seems like a stretch. Maybe I’ll see it on December 1st. Anyway, after Free Birds, I’ll be reviewing Catching Fire, Frozen, Thor, Delivery Man, Desolation of Smaug, Anchorman 2 (!!!), and then get working on my end-of-the-year lists.

Review: Last Vegas is a Better, Funnier Grown Ups — November 3, 2013

Review: Last Vegas is a Better, Funnier Grown Ups

You win this round, Turteltaub. You win this round.

Let me back up for a second and introduce you to Jon Turteltaub, one of the least significant directors out there. He’s been in the business since 1989, but the only two movies he’s made with any sort of impact are Cool Runnings and National Treasure. In fact, those movies didn’t make much of an impact, either. Sure, they were memorable, but neither of them was especially good or especially bad. They were both just OK.

But his latest project, Last Vegas, is something different. It stars four Hollywood legends: Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline. It’s a full-blown comedy, which isn’t the sort of thing Turteltaub usually does. And it was written by the guys behind… the Cars franchise. So right off the bat, it doesn’t sound very good. But that just made it all the more surprising when the trailers came out and it looked very good. And then I saw it and it was very good. Shocker.

Of course, there were a few parts that didn’t make sense, like the Sophie subplot, but I can excuse that because it was a comedy. A lot of the time, the jokes didn’t work, but most of the time, they did. Of course, I was in a theater packed to the gills with old people, so I basically had my own laugh track. But there’s the thing. It wasn’t an old person movie. Sure, it was about old people, but it definitely wasn’t for them. A lot of the time, the joke is that it’s something old people wouldn’t get, so when old people see it, you’d think they would feel left out.

To me, this movie felt like if the beginning of The World’s End was an entire movie. Is that a bad thing? No. But I’d say I prefer The World’s End in its original form. And that brings us to the title. You see, last week I mentioned that some things in our society are definitely good or definitely bad. A good example of something that’s definitely bad is Grown Ups, which was clearly an excuse for Sandler and his friends to take a paid vacation. But the idea of Grown Ups had potential. The idea of people having to grow up and wanting to be a kid again one last time is an interesting one. The things that Grown Ups lacked was a cohesive plot. Or likable characters. Or anything resembling a tolerable movie.

Last Vegas did have these things. Also, the characters being in their 70s instead of their 40s adds a certain realism to the idea. And that’s saying something, because Grown Ups was about as realistic as you can get, what with it being made up as they went along. So yes, my main analysis of Last Vegas is that it’s a more mature, relatable, funny, and just all-around more tolerable version of Grown Ups. That’s not really saying much, but still.

So overall, I give Last Vegas a B. Not great, but good. I’ll be reviewing Thor 2 next week. Thinking of reviewing MMLP2 pretty soon. We’ll have to wait and see. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY. Until next time…

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