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Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card for 05.29.09

FSR's Weekly Report Card

UP

Studio: Disney/Pixar

Rated: PG some peril and action.

Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, Delroy Lindo and Jordan Nagai

Directed by: Pete Docter

What it’s about: Late in life, right as he’s being kicked off his property by a development company, Carl Fredricksen takes one last shot at adventure. He ties thousands of helium balloons to his house and floats away to a jungle adventure. Along for the ride is overly eager Wilderness Explorer Russell, a kid just trying to get a merit badge for assisting the elderly. Together, they float away to the South American jungle where Carl meets his childhood hero and the two must save a rare, endangered bird.

What I liked: Come on, people. It’s Pixar. What’s not to like. Here’s a studio that has made ten straight brilliant films in a row. Can you name anyone or any company that has such a track record.

As one of the few Pixar movies that features humans in the lead roles, Up enters new territory by adding the human element to familiar faces. The film is tender and sweet, telling two separate stories of love and loss. It’s a movie that inspires all the cliches: following your dream, appreciating the here and now and the value of companionship.

Up is a beautifully animated film, and its 3D presentation isn’t overbearing but rather brings the audience deeper into the film. There’s no gimmick to the approach but rather a full realization of what all the Pixar movies have been, just being the first one projected in 3D.

The first ten minutes of this movie is inspired in its depiction of Carl Fredricksen’s life, and it’s constructed in a beautiful way, with very little dialogue but tons of heart.

These Pixar movies have gotten so good that I feel like a broken record praising them… even though they all deserve it.

What I didn’t: Not much. Even Ed Asner was awesome.

Who is gonna like this movie: Animation fans, Pixar junkies and anyone with a heart.

Grade: A+

DRAG ME TO HELL

Studio: Universal

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language.

Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao and David Paymer

Directed by: Sam Raimi

What it’s about: Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a loan officer who, in an attempt to prove her mettle for an upcoming promotion, denies an old Gypsy woman an extension on her mortgage. The old bird gets royally pissed off and curses Christine. Soon, she’s tormented for three days by a terrifying demon that comes back on the third day to take her immortal soul.

What I liked: I’ve always enjoyed Sam Raimi’s work. Maybe not his grab at going mainstream, which happened about ten years ago (long before his bout with Spider-Man). My favorite of his films continues to be The Evil Dead, so I appreciate his horror roots.

This film is being touted as his return to true horror (and no Spider-Man 3 jokes here, please), and that’s absolutely correct. However, you have to remember that Sam Raimi’s horror influences included The Three Stooges as much as it did the Universal monster movies of the 30s and 40s. Fans of the Evil Dead trilogy will get this.

Drag Me to Hell is an exercise in excess, loud to soft and calm to psychotic. It’s slapstick at its best, wrapped up with a horror ribbon. I laughed out loud throughout this movie and had an absolute blast. It’s the funniest film of 2009.

What I didn’t: The movie starts with a bang, but the opening scene threatens to take itself too seriously. Fortunately, this is remedied by the first confrontation between Christine and the old Gypsy woman. At times the film does tip-toe a little too close to outright parody, but it usually ducks out of that quickly enough.

If you’re squeamish, you’re gonna cringe. It’s not for someone who doesn’t like horror effects or doesn’t like to jump. And if you don’t know what you’re getting into with this film, you’re in for one hell of a surprise.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of Raimi’s Evil Dead style of filmmaking.

Grade: A-

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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