Sunday, November 7, 2010

RftP: Megamind, Unstoppable, Due Date

Gonna be a busy weekend in which I manage to steal a glance at something from next week.

Starting off, Megamind proceeds to tread much of the same ground as Despicable Me and, to be blunt, not do it as well. Replacing the cute little kids with a Lois Lane analogue and Jason Segel with Jonah Hill, the movie blows its load in the first act before proceeding to plod though an hour or so of love story and dated jokes (of all the video games you could reference - say... Pokemon or Mario - that kids and adults would currently identify with you instead dig out OG Donkey Kong?). It gives one more little burst of fun at the start of the last act then collapses under the weight of a pile of deus ex machina.

In fact, if there's no Heavy Metal song playing, you may as well break out a crossword puzzle while Will Ferrell verbally mugs for the camera in rather tired fashion and Tina Fey wonders why they bothered to cast a "comedic" actor for her role because those are the only times the animators get into the film too. Probably one of the quietest movie theatres I've been in this year and I caught an afternoon show full of kids. Maybe that's a good thing, but I doubt it. Also, yet another case of: "If you've seen the trailers, you've seen this film."

You have to have skipped Despicable Me or really be tied up into the conceit here to have fun with this. It's probably a "catch it on TV movie".

Speaking of fun, opening next week but I caught a sneak showing this Saturday at AMC, Unstoppable brings us Tony Scott in his element: fun and well paced action flicks with some decent character work. In fact, there's a word you could use a lot in a review for this: fun. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine carry the load and are clearly having fun playing off each other as the older train driver and comparative rookie conductor who find themselves and their train sharing a track with a runaway locomotive in this very loose adaption of the tale of Ohio's infamous Crazy 8888 train incident that amps up the drama, shifts locations for obvious storytelling purposes, and renames everything. Some of that is likely so no one can get sued but also it's also readily apparent no one wants to stop the fun train here and they're right not to.

This film isn't going to win any Oscars but anyone who sits down and says it's not a good little popcorn flick is wrongheaded and anti-fun. There's just enough swearing that I'd probably have to clear it through his dad first but my 11 year old train nut nephew would probably leave this grinning ear to ear.

Hell, even I had a stupid little one growing throughout.

Finally, Due Date is the latest in what's becoming a long line of "insane situation" comedies. Staring Robert Downey Jr. as the expectant father with anger issues and Zach Galifianakis as... well... the same role he plays in every comedy lately, it applies it's particular brand of insanity to the odd-couple road trip movie and comes out pretty well as long as you don't think about it too much.

That said, there's some solid laughs here and probably the best new comedy out this weekend, live action or otherwise.

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