Ken Jeong

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Movie Review: Turbo

Published July 23, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the Voices of: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Samuel L. Jackson, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes.

Honestly, Ross & I were not expecting too much from this one, but Ethan was intrigued when we peeped previews before Despicable Me 2.  The premise didn’t really appeal to either of us.  Snail wants to be fast, snail becomes fast, snail competes at Indy 500.  It’s a unique concept, but centered around things I’m not very interested in.  However, it surprised me to some extent and ended up surpassing my expectations.  The story had an encouraging and uplifting message: Follow your dreams.  But the message was delivered with a noticeable lack of laughs and the final result was underwhelming.  The tale begins in a garage bordering a lush garden of red, ripe tomatoes.  Our main character “Turbo”, or as his snail kin call him, Theo, is watching car racing on a small television.  He has a race track set up and he is working on improving his lap time of 2 minutes, while playing out his ‘speedy’ fantasy.  His brother instructs him to get some rest for a big day of work that’s ahead of them.  The snails travel in force, but slowly, toward the garden where they harvest the fresh tomatoes and send the duds hurtling toward “Turbo”, who is having a difficult time dodging the fleshy, large orbs.  He vocally daydreams about racing as he completes his daily tasks and the other snails castigate him for what they believe to be a fruitless dream.  But can we blame them…he is a snail – one of the quintessential slow creatures of the Earth.

Snail ends up falling on drag racing car, gets dose of nitrous, becomes super fast.  Turbo was mildly better than I expected, but still very mediocre.  And as Maria pointed out, seriously lacking in the humor department.  Ethan seemed to like it which is the most important thing really.  I’ve made this point before, the bar has been set so high for animated films that when you see one that is not spectacular, it is a major disappointment.  That being said, even though Turbo was an average offering, I was okay with it because my expectations weren’t very high going in.  My favorite part of the movie was Turbo’s sidekick snails which included Samuel L., Snoop and Maya Rudolph (think Lightning McQueen’s pit crew).  Michael Pena as Tito, Turbo’s manager of sorts, was okay as well.  Just a mostly forgettable hour and a half, but not so bad you want to demand your money back.  If it’s a rainy day and you literally have nothing else to do with the kids, maybe point the car toward your local theater.  Maybe.  But you know, bowling can be fun too.

The bar is really up there, so it’s understandable when one of these kids movies doesn’t make the cut as one of the elite.  With so many classics in the rearview mirror, the more recent stuff starts to blend together.  The theme of this film echoed that of many other animated features, but without the clever writing and entertainment.  Perhaps if I were a die hard car racing fan I would have found the plot more enticing.  It felt like a convoluted concoction of Epic, Cars and Antz all mixed up into one picture.  Turbo was good for a few smiles and for entertaining Ethan throughout the afternoon.  He enjoyed himself and as Ross said, that’s what really matters.  If I were you, I’d skip the theatre on this one and wait for the DVD release.  You’ll save some cash and your precious time.

Actually, I have another ideaGo see Despicable Me 2 again, that movie is awesome!  Hey, if you love auto racing, Turbo is worth a watch.  Also, figuring out who the voices are is a fun game, I nailed Richard Jenkins in this one, a decent snipe.  And if you are into motorsports, keep a sharp ear to see if you can ferret out Mario Andretti and Dario Franchitti.  Or you could take Maria’s advice, wait for video.

Maria’s Rating:  2 Gummy Bears out 5.

Ross’ Rating:  2.5 Gummies.

Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Published July 11, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong.

Rated: PG.  Animated/Comedy.  Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes.

We’re back from our epic road trip, Florida to Maine and back.  We had a great time with stops including Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.  We saw family and friends, went to a wedding, ate lobsters and drove – a lot.  Through it all Ethan was magnificent!  I’m positive you couldn’t find a 9 year old anywhere who could’ve taken all the driving better.  Anyway, while we were gone, we took a day and went to see Despicable Me 2.  One of our best decisions for sure.  It was at least as good as the original, maybe even better!  Bad guy turned good guy dad, Gru (Carell) is being courted by the AVL, Anti-Villain League, to help capture a powerful new criminal who is threatening the World.  Gru jumps at the chance to get “back in the game.”  Along the way he gets a partner/love interest in Lucy (Wiig) and their chemistry is at the heart of the movie.  The three girls are adorable as usual, and the oldest Margo (Cosgrove) has an interest in a boy that gets Gru’s attention in a way that any father of a girl will surely understand.  The search for the super villain takes some interesting twists and turns, and the whacky Minions are always there to provide their wonderful brand of slapstick humor.  The movie never stops delivering from start to finish, and I for one, can’t wait to see it again!

As some of our regular readers may know, I am a child of the ’90’s Disney classics.  Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King…these are the movies I was raised on and they seriously set the bar for any of the more recent instant classics, such as the Toy Story films, Cars, Wall-E, UP, etc. etc. etc.  So, when Ross told me to give Despicable Me a shot, I had some high expectations.  He said it was one of his recent favorites and incredibly cute.  We were far apart at the time and I was home sick from work that day.  I immediately loved it.  Carell’s over the top villain voice, Brand’s undetected Dr. Nefario and those three little girls.  I could just eat little Agnes right up, she’s so freaking adorable!  “It’s so FLUFFY!!!”  I laughed out loud, I cried like a little bitch and it honestly made me feel better.  I guess it’s unsurprising that I just as easily took to the sequel.  Despicable Me 2 has the same unforced charm, clever cookiness and heart warming storyline that made me fall in love with the first one.  I don’t know if it was better, but it was very good.  The plot focused on thwarting an evil mastermind’s plan, but mainly it was about setting Gru up with a suitable mother for his lovely daughters.  This one is perfect for the kids and I can tell you that the two young viewers that accompanied us thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Hannah and Ethan are both 9 and they were thrilled with the finished product.  Except perhaps that one scene when the evil guy is testing his serum on bunnies…the girl loves bunnies.

Hannah is a hoot, it’s too bad we only get to see them a couple of times a year because Ethan and her get along so well.  And the girl really does love bunnies.  Despicable Me 2 is crushing at the box office.  It has singlehandedly pulverized the life out of Johnny Depp’s Lone Ranger, as I’ve heard they’ve already cancelled plans for a sequel.  It’s no surprise really, DM2 is that good, and its appeal is just as strong for adults as it is for the kids.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see it win best animated feature at the Oscars next year.  I know it’s early for a prediction like that, I’m sure there will be many more worthy efforts between now and March.  But, they better be damned good because Gru, the girls and the Minions have thrown it down baby!  I only have one complaint and it has nothing to do with the content.  It’s the frigging 3D.  I know we bring it up often, but I’m sorry, it’s a tremendous waste of money.  I’m positive I would’ve enjoyed the movie just as much in a conventional theater.  The best/only 3D effects were after the movie was over and the Minions had their now familiar vignettes during the credits.  Hey Hollywood, enough already! 

I hear ya there.  I’m tired of paying extra for two or three thrills.  If you’re going to make the movie 3-D, make it worth my while.  The Minions are entertaining at the very end, but I think we could splurge and put a few 3-D thrills into the meat of the movie.  Moving on, DM2 was a pleasure.  It was well worth the price and a day of our vacation.  The kids had a blast, Ross & I enjoyed ourselves and we may even go see it once more before it leaves theatres.  There’s something extremely unique about these movies.  And we all love watching a bad guy turn good, especially Ross.  It’s literally his favorite thing about a film.  An evil villain turned dad, AVL spy & loving husband.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Catch this one while you can and bring along the kids.

Ross’ Rating: 4.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.