Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: April 29, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets in his car and hits the road with a can of NOS energy drink and his shaved head. Too bad his car is a 2006 Dodge minivan with collapsible seats and a back-seat DVD player for the kids to use. He didn’t stand a chance in the street racing against Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. After recovering from the cold, hard truth that The Rock stole his look for Fast Five, Kevin goes stag to Prom and suffers through the direct-to-DVD theatrical release of Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Kevin is joined in the Magical Studio in the Sky by Fozzie Bare from ThePodcastPodcast.com.

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Studio: Universal

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Tyrese Gibson

Directed by: Justin Lin

What it’s about: After busting Dom Toretto out of his prison transport bus and miraculously not killing everyone on board, Brian O’Connor and Mia Toretto head to Rio de Janeiro to start a new life. Of course, they go for one final score, which involves robbing the biggest gangster in Rio of $110 million. They assemble their team together, Oceans Eleven style and crash a lot of cars.

What I liked: I have always been a bit lukewarm to the entire Fast and Furious franchise. So when I say that Fast Five is the best of the sequels and possibly even better than the original, take it with a grain of salt. It’s not fantastic. But it is enjoyable.

Like the other films, the selling points are all the same. Fast cars. Big crashes. Loud engines. And plenty of waist-high shots of hot chicks in miniskirts. In fact, director Justin Lin, who helmed the last two films, really comes into his own with the action sequences. This is where the film shines, and it is book-ended by two of the most thrilling on-road scenes you’re likely to see this summer without the inclusion of giant robots.

The cast is also pretty good. I’ll forgive the wretched acting of Paul Walker since not only does Vin Diesel return, but The Rock also shows up as the antagonist with a similar bald head and plenty of glistening sweat. Fans of the series will also enjoy seeing some of the supporting cast from previous films return as the team assembled for the heist.

What I didn’t: Looking back at what I’ve written above, I can’t believe I spent that much time worrying about the plot or the characters. After all, no one watching this movie is going to care about that noise. Has anyone ever cared about the plot or characters in any of these films?

The story is quite terrible, making it only slightly less ludicrous than the other Rio-based film in the multiplex right now. The characters are dull, and sure the resurrection of Han in the film is nice to see, but it’s balanced by the dreadful acting of Tyrese Gibson. In fact, with the exception of Han, the rest of this beloved supporting cast was forgettable, like the other six members of Oceans Eleven you’ll be hard-pressed to name off the top of your head.

The film runs 130 minutes, which is about 20 minutes too long. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of plodding story and fluff that could have been trimmed from the middle. Fortunately for the film, the final action scene is so awesome that you’ll probably forget all its warts in the middle.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who liked any of the other four movies.

Grade: B

Studio: Disney

Rated: PG for mild language and a brief fight

Starring: Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, Danielle Campbell, Yin Chang and Kylie Bunbury

Directed by: Joe Nussbaum

What it’s about: A bunch of high school kids get ready for and go to prom. It’s about as simple as that.

What I liked: It’s not easy to say that I particularly liked much of Prom. And honestly, the best thing I could say about the film is that I didn’t really dislike it either. I had about as much interest in seeing Prom as my dog did. No hate. Just the fact that it wasn’t on my radar.

This is probably because I’m not a 13-year-old girl with dreamy eyes, hoping someone will eventually take me to the prom to spark my high school dreams. I’ve been to prom, back in the 80s, and I don’t have any desire to go back.

Ultimately, Prom is a harmless film that caters to an audience of kids that aren’t quite old enough to go to prom yet. It’s Disney trying to skew a little higher than Hannah Montana and The Wizards of Waverly Place, and I’m okay with that. The actors in the film do a decent job of playing nondescript high school students. But let’s be honest… there’s nothing really special about them.

What I didn’t: Nothing popped in this movie, except for Faith Ford’s herpes-looking mole on her lip. None of the characters were anything more than a cookie-cutter high school kid from practically every other film of this genre. There’s the bad boy, the prom king, the prom queen, the pretty girl who is mildly attracted to the dorky kid and the head of the prom committee who can’t find a date.

Prom actually commits a greater sin than most movies that are worse than it. It gives us nothing to care about and nothing to love. Plus, it holds prom up as a monumental high school event. And yeah, sure, prom is a big deal for kids, but it’s not the Royal Wedding or anything

Who is gonna like this movie: Girls who won’t be going to prom for another couple years.

Grade: C

Studio: The Weinstein Company

Rated: PG for some mild rude humor, language and action

Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Glenn Close, Joan Cusack, Bill Hader and Amy Poehler

Directed by: Mike Disa

What it’s about: All the characters from the original Hoodwinked are back, with half of them voiced by new actors. In this forced sequel, Red Riding Hood is taken out of her cooking ninja training to help save the kidnapped Hansel and Gretel. Yeah, you heard me right.

What I liked: There were scant laughable moments in this movie. It tries to go for the same irreverence that the first film had, and a couple times it succeeds with that. There are also some decent performances, namely by Bill Hader and Amy Poehler as Hansel and Gretel. And the running time is only 85 minutes, which still seems long.

What I didn’t: Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil is one of the most unnecessary sequels ever to be made. The original was cute, clever and knew its place. This sequel has a forced storyline with awkward and bizarre plot points that feel too random to be funny.

After a decade of Shrek movies, Ella Enchanted, Happily N’Ever After, Gnomeo and Juliet, Tangled and the original Hoodwinked, this whole twisted fairy tale nonsense has been ground into the dirt. There are no more original or funny jokes to be made. And making things all high-tech just felt out of place. I mean, cooking ninjas? That’s just not funny even for a four year old.

Hoodwinked. Part of the charm of the original film was that the filmmakers knew they couldn’t compete with Pixar and Dreamworks, so they embraced their flaws and just made a cute film. But the animation in this film seems even worse. Part of it is because the images rendered by off-the-shelf software (like rocks, trees, mountains and clouds) looks pretty cool but the proprietary character animation looks like something off the Nick Jr. line-up for preschool programming.

Sigh… they’re not even approaching the animation quality of the original Toy Story… and that movie’s more than 15 years old.

Who is gonna like this movie: People stuck in 2006 who haven’t seen any of the Shrek films… or Happily N’Ever After… or the first Hoodwinked.

Grade: D

Want to see Kevin wear a tiara and pick his favorite wedding movies in honor of the Royal Wedding? Check out his weekly movie segment on FOX…

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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