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Movie Review: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Published February 13, 2015 by mrsrag

sponge bobStarring the voices of:  Tom Kenney, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence, Mr. Lawrence and Antonio Banderas (in the flesh).

Rated- PG.  Animated.  Running Time- 1 hour 33 minutes.

SpongeBob (Kenney), Patrick (Fagerbakke), Mr. Krabs (Brown), Squidward (Bumpass), Sandy (Lawrence) and Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) have been holding court in Bikini Bottom since 1999 on Nikelodeon, and occasionally on the big screen. Ethan is 11 and has been watching them since he was 3, so I have seen more SpongeBob than I probably would have liked.  And while it’s no Regular Show or Phineas and Ferb, it definitely has its’ moments.  Something about SpongeBob’s eternal, annoying optimism, Patrick’s epic stupidity, Mr. Krabs constant chasing of the dollar and miserly cheapness, Sandy’s know-it-all, Texas-twangy cockiness, and Plankton’s relentless pursuit of the Krabby Patty formula, work in a way that keeps you chuckling year after year.  And the plot of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, with the interjection of Burger Beard (Banderas) actually brings some freshness to the franchise, though you may feel like you’re on a bit of an acid trip.  The Krabby Patty formula is stolen, but not by Plankton?  SpongeBob betrays his idol/employer Mr. Krabs?!  Patrick at odds with his porous, yellow best friend?  The gang ends up in the “real world”?!  The action is non-stop, the puns fly freely and the laughs are better than sporadic. If your kids need to go, take them, you’ll enjoy yourself.  One bit of advice though, we here at MRSRAG are big supporters of the legalization of cannabis, so smoke’em if you’ve got’em!  You’ll be glad you did.

I sure wish I had.  I was very optimistic about viewing this one in 3D.  Judging from the previews, I had a feeling that it was going to be well worth the few extra bucks.  And it most certainly was.  Some of my favorite parts were the trippy, time travelling sequences where I felt like I was plummeting through a psychedelic wormhole.  This is the first time I have felt like the 3D made the experience exponentially more enjoyable.  I love that the SpongeBob humor has always had a sarcastic, sharp and humble flair.  The show has always had a knack for poking fun at itself and the whole gang…mostly Patrick – but he doesn’t seem to mind.  Or he just doesn’t know any better.  Sponge Out of Water will keep kids and adults entertained.  I was giggling on the ride home about jokes from the film.  And there is something lovable about that annoying little sponge.

I love the voice cast of the SpongeBob series.  Bill Fagerbakke the voice of Patrick has made a career playing idiots.  You may remember him from the TV show Coach, but my favorite character of his was the simple-minded, well intentioned Tom Cullen from Steven King’s The Stand.  “M-O-O-N, that spells Tom!”  And how about Mr. Krabs?  Voiced by none other than Clancy Brown, you know, “the toughest screw at Shawshank Prison.”  Ironically another Steven King vehicle, but again my favorite role of his was The Kurgan from the 1986 movie Highlander.  Clancy went from, in my opinion, one of the top 3 best villains of all time to voicing a miserly, cartoon crab.  Then there is the voice of Plankton, simply known as Mr. Lawrence.  You know that guy has to be a character.  If you like SpongeBob to begin with you won’t be disappointed with Out of Water, and if you’re not familiar with the denizens of Bikini Bottom, you probably won’t be going anyway.  It’s a total win-win situation.   

Ross is constantly blowing my mind with his voice recognition.  This dude’s ears are unbelievable!  I’ve been overhearing these voices for years while Ethan watches episodes and truthfully, I had watched a handful on my own during college.  There’s one episode I fondly remember where SpongeBob and Patrick decide to start following ‘The Magic Conch’.  In this day and age of technology, you could probably find it on YouTube.  I suggest you do so ASAP.  The episode is genius.  And it was the catalyst for completely transforming my opinion of the show.  This franchise continues to surprise me and this latest offering does not fall short of its usual standards.  But it’s mostly just fun.  Which is what the show is really all about anyway.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part One

Published December 24, 2014 by mrsrag

mockingjayStarring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci.

Rated: PG-13.  Adventure/Science Fiction.  Running Time: 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Harry Potter, Twilight and now The Hunger Games.  I know you’ve heard this lament before from both of us, but it bears repeating.  Why must they take our favorite books and split up the last installments?  The only possible answer is money.  They KNOW we’ll pay and they take advantage of that to get two monster box offices out of one.  It’s a shame and a terribly exploitive practice.  These movies become incomplete weigh stations for the final payoff, yet they need to be seen.  A truly sorry state of affairs.  At any rate, when last we saw Katniss (Lawrence) in Catching Fire, she was being airlifted out of the games’ dome after taking it out with an arrow.  Shit was hitting the fan as the revolution had begun in Panem in earnest.  In THG:M-P1, she wakes up on the ship pissed off and confused.  Plutarch (the late Hoffman), Haymitch (Harrelson), Finnick (Claflin) and Gale (Hemsworth) are there among others, but no Peeta (Hutcherson). He got left behind during the rescue, and is apparently working propaganda for the Capitol.  Katniss meets a new character, President Coin (Moore), leader of the rebellion, who convinces her to be the inspirational face that the resistance lacks.  Originally reticent to the idea, Katniss signs on after she sees the ruins of her home District 12.  From District 13 they plan their strategy, and we watch and wait for Part 2. 

Here’s an idea:  just make one great movie modeled after the one great book.  They stretch it into two and the 1st installment consistently blows.  Infuriating & insanely boring.  Ross was actually sleeping at one point and I had to elbow him awake.  J.Law still delivers a convincing portrayal of Ms. Everdeen, but it’s starting to feel a bit stale.  Possibly because I’ve been disappointed with her transformation lately.  I miss that genuinely funny, salt of the Earth chick she was when she broke onto the scene.  She seems to have given into the stigma of Hollywood.  The only thing that breathes any kind of life into Mockingjay is the chemistry between Donald Sutherland’s President Snow and the new poster girl of revolution.  However, without the entertainment provided by the usual games, we have to settle for the raw brutality of war.  This coupled with the lack of resolution to our story make this one a snoozer.  But, like Ross said, they don’t care.  They churn out shit, but they’re still making big bucks.

I really hope Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t end up a diva like everyone else, but she does seem to be on that path of late.  She is only 24, and she’s been on the fame train for many years already, it must be difficult to keep perspective with all the money and people telling you how great you are constantly.  And she IS great by the way, so maybe she’ll turn out okay.  As for THG: Mockingjay- Part 1, Maria has it right, it’s a snoozer.  My eyes were droopy, and that NEVER happens to me.  From now on, if they insist on keeping up with the split finales, I’m waiting for video for the first installment.  That being said, I can’t wait for Part 2!

After all that bitching and moaning, I’m still looking forward to Part 2 as well.  Shit has really got to start hitting the fan now.  Although, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they are going to stay true to the books and still get a PG-13 rating.  Luckily, after THG: Mockingjay- Part 1, my hopes aren’t too high.  But it can’t be worse.  For starters, our story will finally come to a conclusion.  And all of our characters will find themselves immersed in a violent and turbulent end.  Hopefully, at some point soon J.Law will level out and find her roots again.  I’d like to see her involved in an independent project, like her break out role in Winter’s Bone.  Getting back to the basics would be good for her.

Ross’ Rating: 2.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3 Gummies.

 

 

 

Movie Review: Big Hero 6

Published November 18, 2014 by mrsrag

bh6

Starring the voices of: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Daman Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Alan Tudyk, Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.

From the Disney team that brought us the recent classics Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph, their most recent offering Big Hero 6, may not quite measure up to the high bar those films set; but it’s not far off.  Hiro Hamada (Potter) and his older brother Tadashi (Henney) are genius quality minds, growing up in the fictitious, hybrid city of San Fransokyo.  Tadashi spends his days at “Nerd”  University with a group of fellow geniuses, pushing the envelope on cutting edge robotics & technological inventions, designed to further mankind.  Hiro, who is 14, may be the smartest of them all, but he’d rather hustle money at underground robot fights than waste his time in school.  That all changes one day after he gets pinched by the cops and Tadashi has to bail him out.  He subsequently brings Hiro to Nerd U., and the younger boy realizes that this is where he truly belongs.  Shortly thereafter, we meet Baymax (Adsit), a Michelin Man looking creation of Tadashi’s, that is programmed to diagnose and treat human beings with pains or ailments.  Baymax is easily the most endearing mechanical creation since Wall-E.  It isn’t long before a text book Disney catastrophe strikes and the movie spirals off into a different direction. 

I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a fictional, hybrid city, but once I got over San Fransokyo, I saw there were many things to enjoy about Big Hero 6.  It was continuously entertaining with much of the story centering around the action that ensues when Hiro investigates the disappearance of his sought after invention: microbots.  Some clever, yet simple humor fuels the sometimes dark storyline.  And Baymax lightens up the scene with his benevolent nature, which off sets his larger than life, and sometimes spaces, appearance.  It was no surprise to me that this was the work of the Man of Action writer’s collective, which also spearheaded the Ben 10 series.  There are some obvious similarities surrounding the style, tone and execution between the Ben 10 series and the MOA’s first silver screen debut, Big Hero 6.  They filtered in some good lessons involving family and loyalty, which I always like to see.  And they even figured in a nice little twist.  But of course, Ross Gallo knew what was going on the whole time, as he so often does.

I am kind of tuned in lately.  We watched a movie on HBO the other night, Fierce People (not bad by the way), and I nailed the perp in that one quickly too.  Big Hero 6 does have a bit of a twist, but the heart of the movie is Hiro’s relationship with Baymax and his new found “super hero” friends.  His growth from selfish boy to responsible young man and most importantly, laying the foundation for what promises to be another multi-million dollar franchise.  I’m not knocking that at all, I can’t wait to see the next Lego Movie, but make no mistake, BH6 is only the first installment.  It is certainly worthy of the chance, as these Caucasians with Japanese names are a force to be reckoned with.  Add in their exotic yet still familiar Japerican hometown, the technology on display, and all the writers need to do is create a villain worthy of the 6.

I have no beef with franchises, but one thing I find incredibly irksome is the necessity to split every final installment into two parts, i.e. The Harry Potters, Twilight, and more recently The Hunger Games. It is a total money grab. I wish I could say that I am protesting such ludicrous Capitalism, but I will be going to see Mockingjay parts I & II. And don’t let Ross fool you, he hasn’t been tuned in lately – he’s ALWAYS tuned in. And he was right on point with Big Hero 6. This is a must see for those of you with boys, especially if they have gravitated towards Ben 10. This film has a nice mixture of sci-fi and action that will help keep your attention as well.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3 Gummies.

Movie Review: Gone Girl

Published October 6, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Sela Ward, Missi Pyle.

Rated: R.  Drama/Mystery/Thriller.  Running Time: 2 hours 29 minutes.

Wow, I forgot how truly twisted Amy Elliot Dunne is.  Ross and I had read the critically acclaimed bestseller by Gillian Flynn in late 2012 and we were both immediate fans.  Flynn’s writing was edgy, fresh and captivating.  It was one of those books you pick up and absolutely can’t put down.  Each chapter like a breadcrumb leading down a shocking path.  What I enjoyed most about this novel was the fact that Flynn proved that I could still be shocked as a reader.  When Ross told me that he had read about the production of the movie, I was deeply intrigued.  How were they going to pull this one off?  Readers are exceptionally protective of the stories they love and this was so widely adored.  If they screwed this up, they’d be crucified.  The theatre was jam packed, which was quite a treat when certain scenes unfolded on screen.  I was getting a kick out of hearing some of the reactions to things that I already knew were coming.  My final assessment: they pulled it off.  And quite well.  They pretty much followed the book to a tee, which is always a smart approach.  And as a reader I was surprisingly pleased.  The twisted tale translated well to the big screen and delivered some wicked humor along with thought provoking dilemmas.

Nick Dunne (Affleck) is unemployed and aimless.  He owns a failing bar that his wife bought him, and he wakes up on the morning of his fifth anniversary and heads straight for ‘The Bar’.  His sister Margo (Carrie Coon from HBO’s The Leftovers) is the bartender and they each have a mid-morning glass of  bourbon.  Nick returns home after receiving a call from his neighbor that his cat is wondering around.  He finds the front door open, the house in a bit of a shambles and no sign of Amy (Pike) his wife.  So begins the set-up of Gone Girl, the runaway, fantastic best seller brought to the big screen in record time.  We soon find out the marriage was a Grand Canyon away from happy, and that our husband and wife are severely fucked up in the head.  The search begins for “Amazing Amy” and the lead investigator, Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens from another HBO hit Deadwood) quickly focuses on Nick, because it’s always the husband isn’t it?  Maria and I are always careful not to tell too much of the plot, and out of respect for those of you that haven’t read the book, we certainly aren’t changing that practice here, but suffice it to say there are twists for the ages in Gone Girl.  Well cast, well acted and a very worthy adaptation of Flynn’s novel.

They don’t waste any time getting into the action and weaving a web of deception, lies and drama.  Gone Girl is a literal train wreck at full speed without a dull moment.  I really enjoyed the subtle social commentary on how the media reacts when a tragedy of this kind occurs.  Missi Pyle plays Ellen Abbot, a television personality who is no doubt tailored to be our very own Nancy Grace.  It’s a delight to watch her sensationalize the tragedy and then be flippant with her opinions.  Pike’s performance is incredibly impressive as well.  She fearlessly takes on her first starring role as the fierce and unapologetic Amy.  I’d like to imagine that all the ladies of Hollywood were vying for this one.  Pike was not an obvious choice, but she nailed it.  Great performances and a flawless execution make this a must see.  For people who have read and those who haven’t.

There are a few racy and squeamish moments that might not be for everyone, and at nearly 2 1/2 hours it was just a tad too long, but overall I would agree, go see it.  I mentioned to Maria as we were leaving, that the most sure fire way to ensure box office success is to adapt a mega best selling book(s) for the big screen.  She responded that that’s been going on for years, but I submit with Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Gone Girl and the upcoming 50 Shades of Grey (abysmally rotten yet successful, see our review in the archives of MRSRAG) among others, that it has never been more prevalent than today.  I’m not knocking the practice, just an observation.  Gone Girl really is a well acted film.  There aren’t a whole lot of characters to like here, as a matter of fact the bulk of them are vile, but it’s the great, refreshing, original story that drives this one to the finish.

Maria’s Rating:  4.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating:  3.75 Gummies.

Recent DVD Release: Noah

Published September 1, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring:  Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth.

Rated: PG-13.  Action/Adventure/Drama.  Running Time: 2 hours 18 minutes.

 

I was raised Catholic, but I am not a practicing religious person.  I haven’t read The Bible much, but I did “experience a childhood on the planet Earth” (just heard that line spoken in the movie Kings of Summer and couldn’t wait to use it), so I know the story of Noah and his Ark as I’m sure you do.  What I didn’t realize was that he had Transformer-like rock creatures (fallen angels) help him and his family get the thing built.  Was that in The Bible version?  Noah (Crowe) is one intense dude and fairly shitty father in this dark and humorless interpretation of the story.  I understand this is serious subject matter, flooding, end of the world stuff, but man this movie really blows.  After watching the humans at work here, you don’t blame God in the slightest for wanting to wipe the slate clean.  The problem is, Noah is no better than the people he is keeping from getting on the Ark.  He treats everyone horrible, especially his family, who are the only decent folks around, and eventually tries to kill some of them too.  Beyond the inexplicable rock monsters, they also have some kind of magic smoke that conveniently puts all the animals to sleep (cmon, was that in The Bible story too?), so any possible chance of cute or funny interaction with them is eliminated as well.  Noah the movie, hasn’t one redeeming quality, it’s too long, dark and miserable.  Russell’s last effort on a boat is awesome, one of my “can’t pass it without watching it” favorites; Master and Commander the Far Side of the World.  Paul Bettany as the Doc, the one armed kid, the Jonah dude who kills himself.  Great stuff!  Watch that one if you’ve never seen it, and NEVER see Noah, it SUCKS!  

We just saw a clip of Gladiator as we were passing through the channels today.  I loved that movie immediately!  And many others from Crowe’s resume.  But recently, he hasn’t been involved in anything noteworthy.  I saw a horrible few minutes of The Man with Iron Fists and now this Noah flop?  What is Russell doing!?  I figured this might be worth a try since he was teaming up with Jennifer Connelly, his costar from A Beautiful Mind, but I was wrong.  Honestly, I can’t tell you much about the film because I was literally struggling to stay awake.  I started falling asleep periodically once the ark actually set sail.  I always liked the story of Noah and I think they had the potential to do this movie right, but somewhere along the line they lost focus of the story.  The movie dragged on, took some distasteful turns and continuously missed the mark.  I didn’t feel anything…except tired.

If the putridness of the movie itself isn’t enough to depress the shit out of you, then watching the brilliant Anthony Hopkins “playing out the string” of his career with another useless old geezer part (see Oden of the Thor films), should kick the last few handfuls of dirt onto your grave.  He deserves a much better send off, and I for one hope he finds at least one more role worthy of his talent before he sails off into the sunset.  Emma Watson mewls her way through here as Ila, a girl they found, lone survivor of some sort of massacre, who grows up and bangs Shem (Booth) Noah’s son.  This family would need a team of shrinks to graduate to dysfunctional.  This movie would need to be reshot to have any entertainment value.  It has made it’s way into my elite group of “worst movies of all time”, joining the likes of Tess, The Paperboy, Killer Joe, Melancholia and Caddyshack 2.  A Heaven’s Gate for the new millennium.

Hopkins must have one last role worthy of his acting capability. And I hope Crowe finds some kind of redeeming project. Maybe he should try an Indie. It worked out well for McConaughey. But Noah is not leaving a good taste in my mouth. What I did see was incredibly bad and what I didn’t…well, ZZZ. Instead of counting sheep, I may just replay some of the scenes from this movie. The Lord is cleansing the world in this film, but you may just want to cleanse your queue – and spare yourself the torture.

Ross’ Rating: 0 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 1 Gummy.  (WOW RG…harsh, but accurate.)