Entries in Animated (29)

Friday
Feb242017

The Lego Batman Movie- review

 

“The Lego Batman Movie” (2017)

Directed by Chris McKay

Starring Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis

Running Time 104 Minutes, Rated PG

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

I went into this thinking of it more of the Lego movie brand rather than the Batman movie brand.  The first Lego movie being a runaway success delivering a wildly funny joke-a-minute fervor that made ‘everything awesome’.  One of the stand out characters was Will Arnett’s growling brosef’ Batman.  So if you were Warner Bros. and you owned that property, why wouldn’t you make a stand alone film with one of the most profitable movie characters ever?  You would and so would they, therefore, “The Lego Batman Movie”

As awesome as the original Lego movie?  Not nearly, a lot of that has to do with the novelty of a Lego movie not having the same cache but the 5(!!!!) writers throw just as many jokes out as the first one, and they are funny.  A whatever plot that deals with Zach Galifianakis’ passable Joker needing Arnett’s egocentric Batman to acknowledge that they are hetero lifemates almost 80 years in the making, while Batman needs to learn the lesson that he can’t do it all himself and should trust in Rosario Dawson’s Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, Ralph Fiennes dutiful British performance of Alfred Pennyworth, and Michael Cera’s exuberant performance as fellow orphan Dick Grayson/Robin.  

I didn’t champion the Lego Batman as much as I did the original Lego, the story just didn’t hold my interest as much this time around.  And while I appreciated all the deep pull Batman references that one could handle (Condiment King and Polka Dot Man) that couldn’t have played for most everyone else.  Regardless, “Robot Chicken” director Chris McKay lets you in on a good time with characters you love, including other WB villains such as Voldemort, and has you giggle a plenty in between.

Ephesians 4:16

 

Tuesday
Aug302016

Sausage Party- review

 

“Sausage Party” (2016)

Directed by Greg Tiernan,  Conrad Vernon

Starring Seth Rogen,  Kristen Wiig,  Jonah Hill

Running Time 89 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

It’s a good gag.  Take the sweet natured Pixar prototype of animals or inanimate objects that gives them human characteristics and an adventurous journey of rescue as well as self discovery, and then, turn that upside down with the most lewd, crude, and nasty jokes you can squeeze in per minute.  And there you have “Sausage Party”, a Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg joint (“This is the End”) told from the point of view of all the products sold in a grocery store with the crookedness of three-wheeled shopping cart.

“Sausage Party” opens in a brightly lit supermarket chain where everything that can be sold is alive and eagerly awaiting being chosen by the gods (grocery store customers) and taken to the “Great Beyond”.  It’s almost 4th of July, and Frank the hot dog (Seth Rogen) and Brenda the hot dog bun (Kristen Wiig) are in love and want to do more than just touch tips when they get to the “Great Beyond”.  Destiny awaits as they’re selected into someone’s shopping cart together, but among the other ‘chosen’ is a nihilistic honey mustard voiced by Danny McBride who does freaking out angry better than any other human or condiment alive that warns them that he’s seen what truly is beyond, and that it’s hell.

 

Eventually, the truth is discovered that they are all lambs to the slaughter, you’ll be haunted by baby carrots being eaten alive.  Rogen and Goldberg use the Pixar setup to basically say there is no god (don’t agree), but they do so in a manner that shows how man warps religion. A lavash voiced by David Krumholtz and a Jewish bagel voiced by Edward Norton doing an meh Woody Allen have been at odds for as long as they can remember.  It also, and I appreciate this, shows how you just can’t tell someone they’re stupid for what they believe.  Rogen/Goldberg always strive for the deep hard questions (usually religion- “Sausage Party”, “This is the End”, “Preacher”) and cram it with as many dick jokes as possible, and you know what, I love that.  

The film isn’t as deep as it always wants to be, but it is as deviant as they hoped for.  A food sex orgy at the end is extravagantly perverse, and you know what, I love that.

Romans 1:20

 

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

The Secret Life of Pets- review

 

“The Secret Life of Pets” (2016)

Directed by Yarrow Cheney, Chris Renaud

Starring Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart

Running Time 87 Minutes, Rated PG

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Good premise.  What do our domesticated pets do while we humans toil away at work?  Horrible execution. Secret Life Of Pets has wasted material that clutters its runtime with it’s characters running into a problem followed by a chase sequence, then repeat.

Max (Louis C.K. getting in on some of that animated voice over money) is a Terrier who resides in a swanky NYC highrise apartment with his best friend/owner Katie, voiced by Ellie Kempler.  Nothing could be better, and life is perfect until Katie brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a big slobbery mutt who is not Max’s cup of tea. After some squabbling during their park time, the two end up lost in the streets with no collar and on the run from pet control as well as from peticidal bunny (voiced by Kevin Hart who has long been getting his animated voice over money) who wants death to all humans and the pets who side with them.

 

Overlong, dullish, and weirdly too dark for the ages it’s being sold to, with way too much talk about death and just one of those animated films that obnoxiously has animals being able to drive city buses when needed,  “The Secret Life of Pets” is all chaos and doesn’t have the wit nor the charm that many of its competitors have.

Proverbs 11:13

 

Monday
Apr042016

Zootopia- review

 

“Zootopia” (2016)

Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba

Running Time 108 Minutes, Rated PG

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

I don’t have any kids at this moment, but when I do, “Zootopia” will be a must viewing for them.  Until then, I’ll just have to enjoy the latest animated Disney triumph.  “Zootopia” is by far the best animated family film that tackles racism, and in an un-cookie cutter way, and the many complexities that come along with such a prevalent subject.  I truly believe children can come out of this film with a better grasp on understanding why racism and stereotyping is wrong and hopefully so can some adults.  What’s also important is that this film is not black and white, and I’m not talking about the animation (which that isn’t either), it reminds us that while we try to remove the sliver of wrongdoing wood from someone else’s eye, let us not miss the plank in ours.  

Zootopia is a bustling metropolis that prides itself on socializing every type of animal and uniting the presence of animal prey and animal predator.  They’ve moved past their prehistoric instincts, a model for the racial utopia many of us so crave.  It’s this ideology that inspires a small town bunny named Judy Hopps (spunkily voiced Ginnifer Goodwin) to be the first bunny cop in Zootopia, which after much resistance from her family and peers her hard work prevails, and she becomes part of the force.  

 

Judy’s open heart is challenged when she comes across a scam artist named Nick Wilde (a swarmy Jason Bateman) that she stands up for at first but is taken advantage of soon after.  All her life, her family has warned her to be weary of foxes, and she makes such an effort to think for herself so she is all the more hurt when scammed by Nick but again, what’s so good about this film is that she isn’t the saint she thinks she is.  She still holds onto fox spray, not any other kind of animal spray, just fox spray because she hasn’t been able to drop all her prejudices that she thought she was better than.  The two have to work together on solving a case that is making predator animals revert back to their prey hunting ways (I told you this was some heavy stuff).

It’s also entertaining to boot.  This really is spectacular animation, capturing almost every animal from the Arc with such detailed locales.  The lessons are great, but there is a fun detective noir vibe you can't deny.  I will say that what separates “Zootopia” from being as entertaining as the likes of “Frozen” and “Lion King” is that the heart strings aren’t pulled quite as much when it comes to the main characters’ dynamic.  And even while the message is great, it’s not perfect.  I think the best intentions were there throughout, but just like Judy, Zootopia’s filmmakers were clouded in preconceptions.  We’re told how bad preconceptions and stereotypes are, but then we’re slapped with a joke about how bunnies reproduce like… well… bunnies, and how slow sloths are which are...well...preconceptions and stereotypes.  Also, for a film that champions diversity so highly, there is only one major character who is black, Idris Elba as Police Chief Bogo.  Octavia Spencer has a much smaller part as well, but besides that, the cast is predominantly very white...just saying.  

More importantly, I’m just saying that “Zootopia” is a film, a very good film, that does a very great good with it’s message.        

Acts 10:34-35

 

Thursday
Nov192015

Anomalisa- review

 

“Anomalisa” (2015)

Directed by Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman

Starring David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan

Running Time 90 Minutes Rated R.

4.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

  

You’re by yourself, and the sadder thoughts invade your mind.  Insecurities begin to take over as you grapple the very concept of life, and explore the issues that are impeding you from happiness.  You can’t reign in the scope of the quandary you know has been tackled by everyone at some point, and you surely can’t put your feelings into coherent words.  Well, Charlie Kaufman can, and time and time again those words have been put into mind f’ masterpieces creatively allowing us to be apart of a universal depression.  “Being John Malkovich”, “Adaptation”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “Synecdoche, NY”, and now Kaufman adds to that impressive list, “Anomalisa”.

Simplistic in concept yet Kaufman drains his usual weighted self-loathing complexity at every turn.  Done in marionette stop-animation, allowing to show more realistic non conformed body types (aka chubby), Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis) has arrived in Cincinnati for the night so that he can give his usual motivational speech from his customer self-help book titled, ‘How May I Help You Help Them’.  Michael is having an existential breakdown; rejecting himself but unable to be moved by anyone and everyone he comes across. Everyone else he comes by sounds the same to him, literally, as every other character in this film is voiced by actor Tom Noonan.  Whether it be a cabbie talking up Cincinnati's Zoo, or the bellboy hinting at a tip, or an ex girlfriend of Michael's that stops by his hotel for a drink, Michael can only hear that one voice and it’s driving him mad.   

 

That is until he meets Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh).  Frumpy with a scar on her face that has stunted her eye contact with others, Michael can hear her voice and from it he feels reborn.  He begs her to sing, and she gives in with some Cyndi Lauper that is both funny and touching at the same time.  Kaufman has crafted yet another heartbreaking look at the human psyche that is also achingly hilarious.

If you’re wondering what a phenomenal low-key introspective gem looks like than buy a ticket to “Anomalisa”.  

than buy a ticket to “This”.  

Luke 12:22

 

Monday
Aug102015

Minions- review

 

“Minions” (2015)

Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin

Starring  Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton

Running Time 91 Minutes, Rated PG

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Those little yellow buggers make me laugh.  Their garbly gook mumble jumble hits my funny bone, but so does my friend Scott and I wouldn’t give him the lead in a movie either.  “Despicable Me” created the hyperactive super silly henchmen called minions who supported proper lead, Steve Carell’s, lovable bad guy.  There, we were reintroduced to the weird little creatures that steal the scene, ala the yellow toy martians from “Toy Story”.  Kooky little guy creatures who spout goofiness is a comedic hook, and that works well in animation (it certainly has in the “Despicable Me” franchise),so much so, Universal Studios decided to get on that gravy train and give them their own film: Minions.  The finances may have been pulled off, but as far as watchability, the side character minions should just stay side characters and are better off in small potent doses.

 

The film opens with the Minions evolution where following whoever is the baddest of the bad is their top priority.  After their leaders meet their demise (T-Rex, Dracula, Napoleon...what no Hitler??), the minions are left on their own which we find out isn’t good for the clan, leaving them wandering around aimlessly.  Fellow Minions Bob, Dave, and Stuart take it upon themselves to find their fellow’s a new and great baddie.  Eventually they come across femme fatale Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) to whom they cling to quickly, only to eventually realize that not only does she not want their talents but in fact despises their existence and wants their demise.

The Minions cuteness starts to run dry well before they meet up with Mrs. Overkill, and the writers have a hard time keeping them busy enough to hold our attention.  Bullock really doesn’t add all that much, but Jon Hamm, whom I have titled “Comedy Whore” in our house actually does a pretty good job of letting it loose, however, it’s certainly not enough to pass the thin bare plot and characters whom are best in supporting roles.  I like my Minions popping in and out, not popping out and in.

P.S. trivia- Try to think about a film where the film’s main three leads aren’t even in the top three top billing. Hmmm????!!!!

P.S. trivia- Try to think about a film where the film’s main three “this’” aren’t even in the top three top billing. Hmmm????!!!!

1 Corinthians 14:27-28

 

Thursday
Jul232015

Inside Out- review

 

“Inside Out” (2015)

Directed by Pete Docter, Ronaldo del Carmen

Starring Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith

Running Time 94 Minutes, Rated PG

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Everyone and their mother is going gaga for Pixar’s latest “Inside Out”, where the animated kingdom’s latest tackles a female preteen’s inner struggles with self esteem and depression when her family makes the big move from snowy Minn-ee-so-tah to the hustle and bustle of the super metropolis of San Francisco (I’d be sad too). Writer/directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo del Carmen personify her major emotions by having the caricatures of Joy (the bubbling over Amy Poehler), Sadness (American “The Office” alum Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Anger (America’s sweetheart Lewis Black) take us through the rocky emotional landscape of a prepubescent girl.  While I’ll say I applaud the terrain sought after as most other animation studios would just make generic young emotional girl jokes, I must be honest and admit that this film did not blow me away.  

 

No doubt Docter and Ronaldo have concocted a strong and thoughtful script, but I was not moved anywhere close to the level that “Wall-E” or any of the Toy Story films hit.  Those films are masterpieces to me, but “Inside Out” never had me choke up once.  I kept waiting for the lump in the throat and I think characters such as Richard Kind’s make believe friend Bing Bong, there to represent a child’s transition from youth to maturity were designed to do just that, but to me it was just too over the top and corny.  I sound like I’m getting all Lewis Black on this film, I’m not, I do recommend it, I just wish I could’ve gotten so much more Amy Poehler on it.

I just wish I could’ve gotten so much more Amy Poehler on “this”..

Isaiah 41:10

 

Monday
Feb092015

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water- review

 

“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”(2015)

Directed by Paul Tibbitt

Starring Tom Kenny, Antonio Banderas, Bill Fagerbakke

Running Time 93 Minutes, Rated PG

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

When “SpongeBob Squarepants” debuted in 1999 it pretty much escaped me.  Not because it’s material doesn’t pertain to me; I’ve caught an episode here and there and watched with consistent chuckles, but by then I was no longer watching Nickelodeon kiddy cartoons nor did I participate in the smoking of the pot (for which I understood to be a viewing necessity for the adult watching demographic).  In what I have seen, SpongeBob has always reminded me of a less edgy but just as gross-out humorous “Ren & Stimpy”, and I always wished it well since “Mr. Show with Bob & David” alum Tom Kenny was the voice of the titular character.  I never saw the first SpongeBob movie in 2004 (yes, this is it’s second foray into the big screen), but since I like to optimally see two movies a week and the movie hopping times lined up just so, I thought why the heck not.

 

For the most “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” is 90 minutes of laugh inducing wackiness that, while it doesn’t have the ability to make you actually care for any of the characters like the Toy Story franchise, you’ll still be happier coming out than when you came in.  

In the undersea town of Bikini Bottom a fast food burger joint run by the penny pinching Mr. Krabs loses the secret recipe to uber popular item: the Krabby Patty.  With no more Krabby Patties, civilization instantly (light switch instantly) breaks down and a Mad-Max apocalypse takes hold.  Ever happy fry cook, SpongeBob, and longtime foe, Plankton, join forces along with the other non secondary characters to go above water and on land to get their recipe from the grasps of the dastardly pirate: Burger Beard (the impressively going for it Antonio Banderas).

As neither a long time fan or a parent being dragged by their kids, I might be a patron out of water, but in this case, it worked.

but in this case, “this” worked.

Amos 9:6

 

Sunday
Oct052014

The Boxtrolls- review

 

“The Boxtrolls” (2014)

Directed by Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi

Starring Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost

Running Time 96 Minutes, Rated PG

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

What’s in the box, what’s in the box?!!!  Apparently not enough.

The relatively new Laika Studios, specializing in stop-motion animated fare, were two for two with the impressive and successful “Coraline” and “Paranorman” (which of the latter I thought was quite fantastic) but fail to do the same with the charmless third entry “The Boxtrolls”

In the early 1800’s English fictional city of Cheesebride, the town’s people are wrongly afraid of a group of underground trolls that all are dressed in boxes (wait, I just got the meaning of the films title) and love to go through the garbage to make use of your refuse. The boxtrolls are accused of stealing babies which leads to the hiring of an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) who uses the opportunity to lustfully earn himself into the privileged elite group of diplomats who focus more on their fancy cheese consuming known as the ‘whitehats’.

 

The child the boxtrolls were said to have killed, was not, and in fact was raised by the little creatures.  Given the name Egg (Isaac Hempstead Wright), the little boy believes himself to be one of them growing up even though the trolls speak mostly muttered gibberish (which makes for a far less amusing facsimile of  the “Despicable Me” yellow minions), but inexplicably somehow Egg can speak perfect english.  Eventually Egg meets an obnoxious little girl (Elle Fanning) whose ‘whitehat’ father (Jared Harris) terribly ignores her, and the two discover Snatcher’s secret plan and try to bring freedom and a good name to his boxtroll family.     

I was surprised at just how overall boring this film was giving the quirky nature of Laika’s previous efforts. Characters fail to ignite empathy while the storyline was dashed by moments of murkiness (a steampunk touch is unusual but out of nowhere) .  I wasn’t dazzled by the animation either, there’s a grunginess to the overall palette that I found off putting.  Humor is consistent enough, but I will say there are some pretty good touches here and there, a running gag of Snatcher’s two henchmen (played by Nick Frost and Richard Ayoade) philosophically debating what good and evil is quite amusing, but these moments are too far between.  And maybe I’m just being cynical, but I thought the end credits showcase of how hard it is to do stop-motion was a bit on the self congratulatory side.

James 1:9

 

Thursday
Feb132014

The Lego Movie- review

 

“The Lego Movie” (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell

Running Time 100 Minutes, Rated PG.

4.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Somebody forgot to tell directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller that the month of February aren’t for releasing really good movies.  I’m sure it was more Warner Bros. studio that was in charge of the release date, so somebody forgot to tell them as well.  We’re conformed to expect that through January and February studios use this time as a garbage dump for their disappointing projects.  “The Lego Movie” doesn’t conform, as it could have been content to be just a really long commercial for the longstanding kids toy of building blocks, and that’s not to say it isn’t a very long commercial, but  it proves to be so much more than that.  Dynamic animation, a story furiously averaging a laugh a minute, and with a great message to boot; “The Lego Movie” wildly soars for both the kiddies and the paying adults.    

A complete gas; I used up just about all my types of laughs.  From the ‘oh that was clever’ laugh, the ‘slapstick’ laugh, the meta laugh, to the ‘I just got that joke from 2 minutes ago that’s just registering now because so many awesome jokes are flying off the screen’ laugh.  

Chris Pratt perfectly voices the happy rah-rah Emmet, the quintessential normal guy, normal Lego figurine guy that is.  Emmet wakes up every morning and follows his detailed instruction manual (a gag that awesomely jabs the the Lego toy instructions) on how to fit in.  He works the normal guy job doing construction, loves the same drivel t.v. show (“Where’s My Pants?”) that everyone else watches, and enjoys the same pop song (“Everything is Awesome”) as everyone else does.

Emmet doesn’t realize it but his and everyone else’s normality is all part of an evil plan.  Corporate mogul slash president Lord Business (Will Ferrell) wants the metropolis of Bricksburg to fit his preconceived ideal that allows zero independent thought for anyone and has a weapon of mass destruction called the KRAGLE that he plans to unleash.  When Emmet accidentally comes across the “Piece of Resistance”, he’s unwittingly tapped as “The Special” that will fulfill the prophecy given by the Gandalf-esq leader Vitruvius (the funnier than ever Morgan Freeman) to save the world.

A great voice cast counts for a lot in these types of films, and this has one of the best to be put together.  Besides Pratt, Ferrell, and Freeman, you’ve Elizabeth Banks along for the ride as the Trinity-esq WildStyle, Will Arnett gravels his voice to a pulp to voice Batman, Liam Neeson proves legos can be bad as the good cop/even more bad cop, and Charlie Day made me cackle by just saying ‘spaceship’ over and over.  So many other cameos that include other Lord and Miller regulars as well as many other pleasant vocal surprises.

Lord and Miller will get laughs from you, but you’ll also come out of the auditorium maybe revisiting a good life lesson or even learning it.  “You must embrace what is special about you”, gets through as their story shows that its good to use life’s helpful instructions but not being ruled by them.  The “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “21 Jump Street” directors convincingly channel those plastic toys that I too played with as boy and show us how they can literally change the world for good with Lego’s ability to spark imagination.  Like I said, it wasn’t just a big commercial for Lego’s, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t give some thought to treating myself with them to play with.

but that doesn’t mean I didn’t give some thought to treating myself with “this” to play with.

1 Corinthians 12:20 

 

Saturday
Feb012014

The Nut Job- review

 

“The Nut Job” (2014)

Directed by Peter Lepeniotis

Starring Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson

Running Time 85 Minutes, Rated PG

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

So you already took your kids to see the superb “Frozen”, but the little buggers want to go to the movies again. What to do?  Take them to “Frozen” again, or heck, even “12 Years a Slave” would be better for the kiddies than taking them to the animated dud that is “The Nut Job”.  “The Nut Job” doesn’t have one good laugh, there’s no consideration for the adults cursed to sit through this; just a simple talking animals involved in a lame heist caper plot that will only elicit a child's reaction with it’s Tom and Jerry cartoon violence.

Based off the 2005 Pixar animated short “Surly Squirrel”, director Peter Lepeniotis’ strains to get anything but nut puns, fart jokes, and overall tepidness in the 85 minute feature length version.  Set in a confusing time period that’s half 1940’s noir and half present day, a renegade squirrel by the name of Surly (voiced by Will Arnett) puts the critter community who reside in a city park in peril when his selfish actions destroy the upcoming winter food supply.  Surly is banished by park leader Raccoon (paycheck picker-upper Liam Neeson) even though Andie (Katherine Heigl) with a really strong sense of due process of justice for a rodent doesn’t think that’s fair.  When Surly becomes privy to an abandoned nut store, he’ll do his best to pull of the caper of a lifetime and bring the park more nuts than they can shake their tails at.   

Surly is an extremely unlikable lead character to get behind, but not as unlikable as the dimly written park hero character Grayson (annoyingly voiced by Brendan Fraser).  Maya Rudolph’s talents are wasted as are the decent animators who shine as the film’s highest quality.  “The Nut Job” is dreary, dull, and dumb - it sets all the forward progress of recent top notch animated fare back five years.  If you’re confused why Korean pop star Psy is animated as himself and sings his one hit wonder ‘gangnam style’ over the end credits, you should be.  If you read the credits you’ll find out this a Canadian-Korean production (unlikely bedfellows) that for some reason needed to fit that song in.

I got a nut pun for you.  “The Nut Job”?  More like the Nut-so-good-movie Job.  Yeah, you get it.

Yeah, you get “this”.

Philippians 2:3

 

Saturday
Dec072013

Frozen- review

 

“Frozen” (2013)

DIrected by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee 

Starring Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel

Running Time 108 Minutes, Rated PG

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Winter Is Coming- along with catchy tunes.

In the spirit or perhaps the business prowess of Pixar, we get a animated short film appetizer before the main course.  “Get A Horse” is a Mickey and Minnie Mouse led short that’s voiced by Walt Disney himself (hand picked lines from Disney’s vault of early cartoons).  It’s a pretty cool short that mixes black and white with new school computer generated effects.  The short’s villain- a big meanie of a cat snarls to Mickey to “Make way for the future” with Mickey responding “Get a Horse” as to say that Disney might color between the lines with today but the tried and true wholesome storylines of the past are here to stay.

The latest Disney full length animated film has it’s horse, or shall I say horses.  The Disney go to staple of princesses in distress gets doubled as not one but two royal young ladies are at the center of “Frozen”.  

Loosely based off of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen with a script from Wreck It Ralph’s scribe Jennifer Lee, the princesses are sisters in the kingdom of Arendelle.  Elsa (voiced by Broadway vet Idina Menzel) has magical powers with the ability to create ice and snow with the touch of her hand.  As young children, Elsa accidentally strikes her younger sister Anna (voiced by the likable “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” star Kristen Bell) with said powers.  It takes a Troll King to save young Anna but in the doing so her memory of Elsa’s powers are erased.  With great ice powers comes great ice responsibilities, and so Elsa, who can’t control her X-Men like Storm powers, dons Rogue-like gloves to conceal her dangerous touch, which with Phoenix like emotion can rage out of control (if I need the testosterone stylings of something like X-Men to help me relate to estrogen Disney storylines than so be it).

Over song we see the sisters grow up with the lonely Anna not knowing why her big sister has kept her out of her life.  It’s not until Elsa’s coronation do the two briefly reunite.  Harmony isn’t for long as after only maybe an hour together and only one song sung Anna decides to get engaged to the young prince Hans (Santino Fontana), sending Anna and big sis Elsa into a fight that unleashes her not so secret powers in front of the kingdom’s people and mistakenly throws Annendale into a permanent winter.        

The rest of the film has Anna searching for her run away sister with the help of woodsman ice cutter Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his lifelong reindeer buddy, and a talking snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad who was in Broadway’s production of Book of Mormon) who serves as the obvious but effective comic relief.

The animation is gorgeous, and the snowy exteriors reach their pinnacle with the creation of Elsa’s mountain top ice castle.  The songs are mostly sing-along-able with Menzel’s booming voice highlighting the catalog with the woman empowering “Let it Go”.  There are surprises that come out of nowhere, sometimes that works and sometimes not so much.  

The kiddies, especially the young little princesses in the theaters will eat “Frozen” up on a chilled spoon, and its something the parents can feel good about them consuming.   

and its something the parents can feel good about “this” consuming.

 

Sunday
Jul072013

Despicable Me 2- review

 

“Despicable Me 2” (2013)

Directed by  Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud 

Starring Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt

Running TIme 98 Minutes, Rated PG

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

MItch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

2010’s Despicable Me introduced us to the supervillain Gru.  The bald headed, pointy nosed, somewhere European master spy who wanted nothing more than world domination but instead grew a heart of gold and became the proud father to three adopted cutie pie daughters.  The original was a smashing success, taking in over $500 million worldwide so to no surprise Gru, the original films screenwriters, and directors return for a slightly less heart tugging take but still just as silly fun ride in Despicable Me 2.

Also returning are Gru’s scene stealing Minions.  The gibberish spouting- twinkie shaped- overall wearing assistants in Gru’s mad scientist laboratory were clearly the favorite thing that kids took away from the first film. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud  must have listened because those fun wacky Minions are all over the sequel, and that’s not a bad thing.  Much like in the first film, the Minions comedy is very Tom and Jerry and The Three Stooges.  That physical slapstick threw me back a little as the little yellow guys smack each other around, but much like a football to a groin, I couldn’t help but giggle.  Besides the nyuk nyuk hijinks they’re part of smartly written odes to such favorites as Alien, Dr. No, and even a reference to The Love Boat.

I’m a fan of the look of the Despicable Me franchise.  Super bright colors fill the palette and support the happy good time you can’t help but have.  

This time around, Gru is recruited to help bring down a secretive super villain on the rise.  His adventures give way to romance when he’s paired up with a spunky secret agent voiced by Kristen Wiig.  Despicable Me is wealthy in it’s fun characters that we’ve gotten to know well through good writing but much like The Dark Knight, wait for it..., you’re waiting for the next time that The Joker or in this case The Minions are back onscreen.  They don’t always help the story, but they do always help you to laugh at Despicable Me 2 big time.

They don’t always help story but they do always help you to laugh at “this” big time.

John 12:26 

 

Monday
Mar252013

The Croods- Review

 

“The Croods” (2013)

Directed by Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders 

Starring Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone

Running Time 98 Minutes, Rated PG

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/moviewithmitch.com

The story may be somewhat simplistic, you could even call it crude, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a blast.  Fast paced rip roaring fun, The Croods is great animated fare that will please the family friendly.  

“The Croods” doesn’t have the political propaganda of the Happy Feet franchise, and that’s just fine by me.  Just some slapstick humor and action with a father/daughter dynamic at the heart that’s set to some amazingly gorgeous Avatar-esq background.  

The Croods are a Neanderthal family with their head of the cavehold, Grug (Nicolas Cage), doing his best fatherly duties to keep them alive, which is a full time job.  His motto: “Never not be afraid”, is there to keep his family always weary of anything new and alive.  His eldest daughter, the teenaged Eep (Emma Stone) is a curious one and wants to live her life and not just survive it.  Also part of the family is his thick son Thunk (Clark Duke), momma Ugga (Catherine Keener), Grug’s mother-in-law Gran (Cloris Leachman) that Grug wouldn’t mind if she passed away, and the hyper baby Sandy.  

When a Cro-Magnon drifter hipster named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his pet monkey, Belt, come along, he warns Eep of the impending doom of the end of the world and becomes her first crush. When the Earth literally opens up and swallows their cave, the Croods must rely on Guy and his advanced brain much to the dismay of Grug. Grug must learn that Eep isn’t his little cavegirl anymore all while trying to outlive the exotic dangers all around.

The Croods zips along with some furious Wile E. Coyote style antics and is benefited by great voice work all around, but especially from Ryan Reynolds, who should continue to do animated fare and the crackly voiced Catherine Keener, who just exudes motherly love.  Be careful, this might just sneak a tear or two out of you as Grug’s evolution as a father and family man does more emotionally than last year’s Oscar winning (boo!) Brave was able to accomplish.  

You’d have to be a caveman not to enjoy The Croods.

You’d have to be a caveman not to enjoy “this”.

Genesis 2:7

 

Sunday
Nov042012

Wreck-It Ralph- review

“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012)
Directed by Rich Moore
Starring John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman
Running Time 108 Minutes
3 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

For me, it’s Galaga.  I’d always go tilt with pinball machines, with Street Fighter I’m just randomly pushing buttons, I’m lucky to ever make it to level three of Donkey Kong, but as far as arcade games go, but I’m not too shabby at Galaga.  Arcades have been a dying breed for quite some time now, but to get my fix now, I go to Rusty Quarters (great name) in Uptown.  Also worth a roll of quarters is the nostalgic animated “Wreck-It Ralph”.

“Wreck-It Ralph”, a family film for the young kiddie gamers of today and their 30-40 year old parents who were the first generation of arcaders and household gaming systems.  The elders in attendance will giggle reminiscing at the multitude of childhood references that include Mario Bros., Contra supercodes, and even the adventures of putting mentos in a diet cola two liter. The kids will eat it up because they're easy to please (sorta like grown up audiences at Michael Bay movies).  Beyond getting to see the characters that made our thumbs calice as children onscreen, there isn’t nearly as much code as their could have been.  

Approximately 9 feet tall and coming in at 643 pounds, Ralph (voiced by the lovable John C. Reilly) has a bit of a temper and spends his time wrecking things.  In particular a penthouse tower that has to be fixed by Felix (30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer) with his magical hammer.  The film plays like Toy Story for videogames as this is merely Ralph and Felix’s day job who have been the main videogame characters at an arcade for 30 years now. When the arcade closes, all the characters have their own lives as they’re all able to travel and meet with characters from all the other games.  

The game Ralph is in isn’t called “Wreck-It Ralph” but rather “Fix-It Felix Jr.”.  See, Ralph is the villain, and he’s tired of it, yearning to be the hero and adored the way Felix is.  In a very funny grown up touch, Ralph goes to a “Bad-anon” group counseling meeting for villains where the zombies, Bowser, and Pac Man’s ghosts chant a mantra, “one game at a time.”

From there Ralph game hops in search of a medal to prove he too can be a hero.  Along the way, he breaks into a Halo-esq game that I think tries to comment on how violent games are today.  In that game we’re introduced to a hard boiled commander voiced by Jane Lynch that Felix eventually takes a liking too.  Momentum is grounded to a halt when Ralph breaks into Sugar Rush, a Mario Kart style game that introduces Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a glitch that’s not allowed to race.         

In the second act Wreck-It Ralph suffers from a very unfunny, punny screenplay from Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee that relies way too heavily on dootie humour instead of the clever ‘videogame character in real life problem world’ they so nicely set up.  Silverman’s rambunctious Vanellope is supposed to be adorable, but instead, just wore me out.  I’m no monster though, as the finale tugged my game controller chords.  

“this” tugged my game controller chords.

Romans 15:1-2

Monday
Oct082012

Frankenweenie- review

“Frankenweenie” (2012)
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short
Running Time 87 Minutes, Rated PG
3.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmich.com

It’s really nice to see something from Tim Burton that feels like vintage Tim Burton.  Burton has been in my doghouse for quite some time now; so smart move, on his part, by going back to his stop-motion strengths.  The patent weirdness is alive and well in “Frankenweenie” but so is the heart, something that’s been sorely missing since his last stop-motion flick, 2005’s “Corpse Bride”.  

Back in 1984 when Burton was working for Disney they let him direct a 29 minutes short by this same title. That “Frankenweenie” didn’t get to see the light of day as it had the same morbid infatuation with death that this 2012 version does, but Burton has a little more swag with Disney- I’m sure Alice in Wonderland making a billion dollars globally will do that.  I will say, that I very much loved his macabre touch, but this film might be too scary for children under 7 or 8.Also, if you haven’t had the death talk with your little ones previous to seeing the film, then you’ll, no doubt,  have it afterwords.

The young Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) has only one friend, his dog Sparky.  They spend all their time together making little home movies, that is until tragically Sparky is run over by a car.  Victor, not able to move on, uses what he learned from his science teacher (voiced by Martin Landau and looking like the great Vincent Price, who, of course, was in Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands”) and applies the power of lighting to reanimate Sparky.  

“Frankenweenie” is full of hilarious spoofs of all of horror from the obvious monster movies of the 30’s, Godzilla, to even more recently “Gremlins”.  Add Danny Elfman‘s wonderfully haunting score and the great choice to have it all in wonderful black and white, and you really notice all the little details.  

have “this” all in wonderful black and white, and you really notice all the little details.  

John 20:29

Monday
Aug202012

ParaNorman- review

“ParaNorman” (2012)
Directed by Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Starring  Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Running Time 93 Minutes, Rated PG.
3.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Norman is young boy who has his problems.  He’s constantly picked on by the kids at school, his popular sister thinks he’s nuisance, his father doesn’t understand him, and oh yeah, Norman can see and communicate with dead people.  Norman (voiced by Let Me In child actor Kodi Smit-McPhee) doesn’t mind his conversations with the passed away, it’s the living who treat him like a freak that has him being a loner.  That is until his New England town of Blithe Hollow is in grave danger of being wiped out by a 300 year-old Witch’s curse, and it’s up to Norman to save the day.

“ParaNorman” is being sold as John Hughes meets John Carpenter, an out cast coming of age comedy with the pulpy thrills and chills of classic fright fests before.  Don’t be fooled by the PG. rating, there are heavier themes than the usual Ice Age film and successful scares to keep your little ones up at night.  This should be expected of director Chris Butler who worked on both “The Corpse Bride”, which I liked very much, and the even darker “Coraline”, which I’ve heard is a sin that I haven’t seen yet.  

The Hughes archetypes are all there.  A tremendous acting collective besides Kodi Smit-McPhee consists of Jeff Garlin as frustrated father, Leslie Mann as her usual mother type, Anna Kendrick plays the superficial sister, Tucker Albrizzi plays the glass half full pudgy Neil who also gets teased and wants to be Normans friend, and Neil’s gym rat older brother Mitch is voiced by Casey Affleck.  Besides that you’ve got Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse getting to play against type as Alvin the bully and the awesome John Goodman as Norman’s creepy old uncle with similar paranormal talents.  

The thing that got me the most about “ParaNorman” were the details.  Animated in the time-extensive style of stop-motion, Butler and co-directer Sam Fell fill the screen with so much going on.  Little jokes of dead birds with soda can rings around their neck, the light that shines from behind Norman’s thin ears, the imperfect designs of the family station wagon, the amazing witch’s arrival effects, the great character dialogue such as Leslie Mann’s mom character venting “you promised me a meal that someone else microwaved”  tells so much.  

“ParaNorman” dips in clever energy once the curse takes effect, but brings it back up for the finale that has scares, laughs, and most of all heart.  Here’s a film that’s not exactly great but anything but normal.

Here’s a “this” that’s not exactly great but anything but normal.  

 

Monday
Jul162012

Ice Age: Continental Drift- review

“Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)
Directed by Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Starring Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo
Running Time 94 Minutes Rated PG
2 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

To enjoy the “Toy Story” franchise you have to be within the age range of 100 years and younger, to enjoy the “Ice Age” franchise you have to be 8 years or younger.  Repetitive storytelling that uses a basic life lesson or two- in the case of Continental Drift it’s knowing who your real friends are.  You can almost hear the cashing of checks when any of the actors lifelessly voice out a slew of generic dialogue.  

So all of you 8 and unders out there who read my reviews regularly, I want to tell you that you can do better than the mediocre efforts of “Ice Age: Continental Drift.  Wait, a second, my beautiful wife who also serves as my editor, cop show enthusiast, and my official stat checker tells me I don’t have any 8yrs and younger readers.  In that case this is one of those reviews that really has no merit. The Ice Age films make money ice over fist and will continue to get made until parents stop taking their 8yr old and unders to the movies, and that’s a lose-lose for everyone.  

This time around Scrat the frantic acorn hungry saber toothed squirrel, who is easily the best thing going in all four films, accidentally sets off the division of Pangaea to the seven continents we know so lovingly know.  As land starts to break apart the overbearing Mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), the hard-edged Saber-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary), and the intelligence-challenged sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) get separated from their family and pack.  Drifting away at sea, the three must battle a no good monkey pirate captain named Gut (Peter Dinklage) and the tides to get back home.

The voice actors really do disappoint. Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, and new arrival Wanda Sykes are already extremely grating to my ears, but give them 3rd rate corny dialogue, and I started to get a bit nauseous.  Nicki Minaj is added for no other reason but to give her an IMDB acting credit, as well as Jennifer Lopez because this is a 20th Century Fox movie, and she works for 20th Century Fox’s “American Idol”.

The silly but not so inspiring hi-jinx made the kids in theater laugh; so good for them.  Would I have been joyous if the little tikes would have come out of with grumblings of the recycled state of Hollywood fare and how their age demographic wasn’t being respected?  Heck yeah I would have, but, then again, my mother would have appreciated it just as much if I didn’t come out a little dumber every time I watched a “Beavis and Butthead” episode.

“This” didn’t come out a little dumber every time I watched a “Beavis and Butthead” episode.

 

Thursday
Jun282012

Brave- review

“Brave” (2012)
Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Running Time 93 Minutes, Rated PG
2.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

PIXAR isn’t pixar, it’s PIXAR, you know what I’m saying.  PIXAR has an amazing collection of work to their name, but they had their first real misstep with last year’s “Cars 2”.  Their latest contribution, “Brave” is definitely no “Cars 2” but it does keep the streak of films going that have you pronouncing PIXAR as pixar.  

In the Scottish Kingdom of DunBroch young and independent Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is Princess.  Her father Fergus (Billy Connolly) is king, but it’s her Queen mother, Elinor, (Emma Thompson) who rules over her life.  As feisty as her red curls are, Merida would rather practice her archery skills than act a lady.  

The set up for “Brave” is interesting with vivid characters.  Even more vivid is the beautiful CGI animation.  The Scottish countryside along with the detail they give Merida dances over the eye.  On top of that, the voice work is so much better than it should be.  Kelly Macdonald hits each syllable with a Scottish punch that I could listen to endlessly,  Emma Thompson hits that mom vibe perfectly, and Billy Connolly is the quintessential Scottish voice (besides Sean Connery of course) and “Brave” is all the better for having him.  

Merida is about to be forced by tradition to give her hand up in marriage to one of the clan’s first born princes. Props to “Brave” for giving this some real ‘girl power’ and not making this a film about the princess getting her prince.  It’s what the film becomes after that that derailed the viewing experience for me.  

“Brave” goes the route of a witch’s spell that results in talking animals.  It didn’t need any of that.  The mother daughter relationship was enough, but they forced Disney magic down the film’s throat. It choked because of it. I know that this is a kid’s film, but to me the outcome of the spell made everything go to ‘crazytown’ and for that it never recovered.  

The outcome of the spell made everything go to ‘crazytown’ and for that it “this” never recovered.

 

Monday
Mar052012

Dr. Suess' The Lorax- review

“Dr. Suess’ The Lorax” (2012)
Directed by Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Starring Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito
Running Time 86 Minutes, Rated PG.
2.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Universal Pictures has adapted the story of The Lorax from the one and only Dr. Suess.
A morality story about a boy named Ted living in a town where there are no trees.  Not even a spruce.
Voiced by Zac Efron, Ted seeks out the Once-ler, who in turn is voiced by the hilarious Ed Helms.
Who tells a story “once upon”, meant for imaginations to Twice-stir, but in the end sadly underwhelms.
With a political message, more than just a bit.
I wonder if the kids will get all that propaganda wit.

The story’s villain is a man who stands short but who’s company rules over all, and he doesn’t play fair.
What he tells the towns people the truth won’t support, oh what gaul!  This man’s name is O’Hare.
O’Hare is an animated Big Brother.
Watching over everyone with his smother.
Played by the intimidating comedian Rob Riggle.
Who’s voice has the ability to make your skin crawl and wiggle.  
This won’t stop Ted for he must succeed
He’ll win the adoration from the pretty Audrey.
She’s voiced by the popular singer Taylor Swift
Betty White also stars as a granny to give the story a lift.

I almost forgot to tell you one of the biggest facts.
Danny DeVito voices the films title character:  The Lorax
He speaks for the trees, a protector and such,
but the misguided Once-ler doesn’t listen to him much.

The film’s musical numbers for me did not impress.
Somehow Efron and Swift never once sang, Please address.
The animation on the other hand is way neat.
The luscious trees, cutesy animals, and all the bright colors are such a big treat.
There’s fun to be had and moments that work
In the end though, you’ve seen it all before.  I say to you, “irk”.
The characters do not excite, in fact they almost bore.
I don’t want to start a fight, but they could have done more.

These are my humble thoughts and I hope you do agree.
But if you’re tired of my lame “limp” rhyming, than you can leave.  Feel free.

But if you’re tired of my lame “limp” “this”, than you can leave.  Feel free.