Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: October 28, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on some 3D glasses to look at some puss… in boots, that is. He proceeds to rewrite fairy tale fiction to include more bodily function humor, an egg-shaped Zach Galifianakis and a hairy but still sexy Salma Hayek. Then, he heads to the reference department of his local library to discover who really wrote the complete works of William Shakespeare. When all signs point to Neil Miller as the real author, Kevin gives up, realizing he’s out of time. So he brings sexy back and heads out to kidnap Amanda Seyfried so he can occupy Hollywood and start a revolution together… or get arrested.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Click here to listen as Jim Napier from GeekTyrant comes to the Magical Studio in the Sky to talk about this week’s movies.

Studio: DreamWorks

Rated: PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Zach Galifianakis, Salma Hayek, Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris

Directed by: Chris Miller

What it’s about: Considering all the things that spun out of control with the Shrek movies, the one thing I always liked about the later films was the character of Puss in Boots. He was fun and sassy, and Antonio Banderas did a fine job voicing the character. It’s a character that’s worthy of his own movie, and that zest of the original appearance from Shrek 2 is preserved in this film.

Like Rango (only not as good, of course), Puss in Boots leaves the fairy tales behind for the most part and sets itself in the world of the spaghetti western. It’s more of a story of outlaws and bandits than it is about fairy tale eggs. It reminds me of Banderas’ turn as Zorro more than a decade ago, and this new perspective helps the film.

The animation is quality work, and the action sequence are fun. There’s enough humor in there for the adults as well as the children, and while it’s not perfect, it offers a decent trip to the movies for the family.

Oh, and it’s not just another Shrek movie. That’s probably the highest praise I can give it.

What I didn’t: For as much energy as this movie has, there are some part that really drag. Big chunks of the film are told in flashback, which makes for awkward pacing. Other parts are so telegraphed that it sucks the life out of what little meant-to-be-surprise moments. Let’s face it, there’s a reason this was released on October 28 and not in November or June.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids and some parents.

Grade: B

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Rated: PG-13 for violence, some sexuality and partial nudity, and brief strong language

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Alex Pettyfer, Cillian Murphy and Olivia Wilde

Directed by: Andrew Niccol

What it’s about: In a dark future, people are genetically engineered to not age past 25. However, a ticking clock on their arm counts down to their eventual death. Time is the new currency, and the rich have plenty of it while the poor can barely live day to day. One worker from the ghetto stumbles into high society and plans to tear down the barriers between the rich and the poor.

What I liked: There are some great elements in this movie, most notably the production design and cinematography. Like Andrew Niccol’s other work, In Time looks slick and has a great retro-future look. Sure, this is a bit of a knock-off of his own Gattaca design, but that’s forgivable in my book.

Of all the actors in the film, Justin Timberlake is the one who stands out. I’ve always liked him as an actor, and I’d really like to see him have a chance at something greater. He does the best with what he has here, but it’s uneven at best. These elements, along with the timely story which should touch a nerve with people who support the occupation movement, make it a decent enough movie to watch on late-night cable and not waste your time. (Sorry for all the “time” references in that last sentence, folks. No puns were intended, really.)

What I didn’t: There’s a scene in this film where Timberlake comes into a party of high society elite, and each person we see is young, beautiful and dressed to the nines. Then he passes by an extra sitting in a chair, an attractive African American woman. This woman caught my eye because when she smiled at the other extra she was talking to, she revealed a missing tooth. I don’t think this was intentional, just a happenstance look from someone in the background, but this is symbolic of this entire film.

The movie looks nice and is full of pretty people. It’s got a decent premise that has been done before but is quite relevant to things happening today in our political system. And just when you might be fooled that this film is quality work, it smiles at you, revealing an unsightly set of Bubba teeth.

The flaws in this movie are gauche, nasty and impossible to ignore. The dialogue is mostly cringe-worthy, and it’s delivered with about as much passion as a hooker hired from a discount escort service. The premise, while relevant, is really thin and never quite works out properly if you think too much about it. And all of these flaws are too obvious and numerous to really make it a decent film.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who enjoy mediocre, ham-fisted speculative fiction.

Grade: C

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: PG-13 for some violence and sexual content

Starring: Xavier Samuel, Rhys Ifans, Jamie Campbell Bower, Vanessa Redgrave and David Thewlis

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

What it’s about: Epic film director Roland Emmerich takes a break from blowing things up to contemplate the true identity of the writer behind the complete works of William Shakespeare. The story follows one of Shakespeare’s contemporary playwrights who witnesses as a British nobleman assigns his work to a bumbling stage actor to eventually become the most famous writer of all time.

What I liked: I’ve heard the theories that Shakespeare may not have penned his works, but I’ve never really studied this deeply. This alone makes the concept of a film like Anonymous interesting. There are some decent actors in the film, namely Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, the supposed man behind the words. Indeed, this movie is populated with some fine actors, so their performances are expected to be good.

Also, the movie offers a different look at Elizabethan times with some impressive set design and cinematography. But like the character of Edward d Vere, not everything can be fixed by just making it look proper.

What I didn’t: Because I’m not well versed in the history or the politics of this time, a lot of the nuance and details of this movie were lost on me. Considering the film ignores chronology like a bad Tarantino rip-off, delivering exposition in flashbacks within flashbacks, things get confusing fast. Plus, the casting of the different versions of characters in different times of their lives is terrible, with no one looking much like their counterparts.

Finally, it seems that Emmerich didn’t quite know what he was trying to do with this film. It’s obvious hook is the Shakespeare angle, but half-way through the movie, it diverges into a story about the queen and her lover. Sure, it all ties together but for a movie about Shakespeare and his works, these things take a fleeting back seat in the final acts.

In short, Anonymous is far from Shakespeare. It’s too bad Emmerich didn’t blow something up, or the film could have been improved.

Who is gonna like this movie: Elizabethan history nerds.

Grade: C-

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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