Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: November 18, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in layers and layers of rain gear to brave the estrogen storm that comes with the showing of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I. After enduring that non-masterpiece, he dances down a few screening rooms to watch the new Happy Feet movie. Confounded by the gelatinous goop that masquerades as movies this weekend in American cinema, Kevin eventually curls up in a ball and softly weeps.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Click here to listen as Dame Elisabeth Rappe joins him in the Magical Studio in the Sky to talk about this week’s movies.

Studio: Summit Entertainment

Rated: PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke and Peter Facinelli

Directed by: Bill Condon

What it’s about: In the first part of the final book adaptation from Stephenie Meyer, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen get married and go on a honeymoon off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. There they have sex, Edward roughs Bella up, they go hiking and swimming, then play chess. After finding out she’s pregnant, Bella returns to Forks with Edward to await the arrival of the vampire-human hybrid baby while Jacob tries to keep the wolf pack from killing everyone because of the unlikely child.

What I liked: The first fifteen minutes of this movie have a certain sense of humor, and I think director Bill Condon wanted to have some fun with the franchise. Why else would he start the film with Taylor Lautner ripping his shirt off as soon as the picture starts to roll. So while hardly quality work, there’s a few laughs in the opening minutes, which quickly stop once the powers that be made him start taking things seriously.

Oh, and there’s a mildly interesting bit after the titles play at the end of the film. It hardly saves this mess from being godawful, but it reminds us that not everything Twilight is terrible.

What I didn’t: Everything else. This is by far the worst of the Twilight films, even below the shoddy first film. The scant 20 minutes of story given to us in this movie is stretched unmercifully over 108 minutes, layering longing glance over longing glance and filled with an almost criminal number of music montages.

All the problems with the Twilight franchise are magnified here, taking the unashamed joy it has for pedophilia to whole new disturbing level. Featuring morality from a trailer park, including Edward’s forgivable spousal abuse of Bella and the overbearing female ownership from Jacob, it caps off with a white trash confrontation between the vampires and the wolf pack. And none of it makes any sense.

But all of those sleazy messages that Stephenie Meyer disguises as romance aside, this movie commits the worst sin of all…it’s boring. Not much happens in it, and it stretches on and on with no character development or even semblance of a plot. There’s no excuse for giving this movie it’s own feature because it would have worked perfectly as a thirty-minute first act of a final film. But I suppose Summit has to make its cash now because Twilight is coming to an end, and the company’s not going to live off the box office receipts of Furry Vengeance and The Beaver.

Who is gonna like this movie: Twi-hards…and probably no one else.

Grade: D-

Studio: Warner Bros.

Rated: PG for some rude humor and mild peril

Starring: Elijah Wood, Pink, Elizabeth Daily, Sofía Vergara and Robin Williams

Directed by: George Miller

What it’s about: Mumble the emperor penguin is still as awkward as ever, but his son has bigger problems. Not wanting to dance and sing with the rest of the herd, the little penguin chick runs off with friends. When Mumble goes to find him, a glacier traps the rest of the herd. Mumble and his son must try to help the herd escape using song and dance…really.

What I liked: This movie has the same good elements that the first film had. Its animation is simply breath-taking. Like a Pixar movie, it’s fascinating to behold and remind yourself that most of what you see has been created inside a computer. Also similar to the previous film, Happy Feet Two has cute baby penguins and some toe-tapping production numbers. These song and dance moments may be woefully out of place and make no sense to the rest of the film whatsoever, but they’re crowd-pleasers.

What I didn’t: Also like the first Happy Feet, this movie cares more about the cute factor and shoe-horning pop music numbers into the soundtrack than telling a decent story. Like Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, this reeks of being an excuse to capitalize on the first film without actually assembling a decent story.

The plot of Happy Feet Two is all over the place, following penguins, elephant seals, and a couple of krill trying to branch off on their own. However, these seemingly unrelated stories never quite mesh together even when the film slams everyone into the same climax. There’s little or no cohesion to the plot, and the character motivation makes little sense. But the movie doesn’t care. Director George Miller seems to think that if you fling the virtual camera around fast enough and throw enough animals on the screen, the audience won’t notice.

And finally, any message of individuality is lost in this film as it pushes an agenda of complete conformity for all creatures, to the point that if someone doesn’t conform, it could mean the death of everything you know and love. Such a charming, heart-warming message for the holiday season.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids and people who are easily distracted.

Grade: D+

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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