Ryan Reynolds

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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: The Croods

Published March 25, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the Voices of: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke.

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

The Croods are a family bent on survival, who often forget the importance of living.  Of course, they are in prehistoric times and face various danger every time they leave their cave.  But their overprotective father, Grug (Cage), has become excessively paranoid after witnessing the obliteration of all the neighbors.  He imposes his will on the others by sharing nightly fables outlining his rules.  Grugg’s rules consist of absolutely never trying anything new, waiting for the signal every morning before hunting as a pack and hunkering down in the cave before sunset.  These rules suit most of the family just fine, with the exception of Eep (Stone).  Eep despises the cave and hates the dark even worse.  One night, as her family sleeps, she breaks the cardinal rule and leaves the cave to further investigate some noise outside.  This event is the first in many that result in a transformation for Eep, her family and everyone’s way of life.  She also meets a male her age, appropriately named Guy (Reynolds), who introduces the family to all sorts of new things, including fire.  The entire family seems intrigued by the young man, with the exception of Grug, who feels a growing resentment toward this new leader and his innovative ideas.

We see A LOT of kids movies and most of them are very good.  The Croods is certainly no exception.  It started a little slow, but once Eep left the cave and met Guy things really opened up.  And, for the second movie in a row (Oz the G+P being the first), I felt the 3D effects enhanced the viewing experience.  The two films are a bit similar, in the rich and colorful landscapes and wildlife, and the 3D makes them burst through the screen.  A personal favorite in The Croods, is the huge flock of seemingly harmless red birds who descend upon their prey and strip them to the bone like piranhas in a matter of seconds.  Make no mistake, it’s a dangerous place where the Croods live, and they have to keep moving.  Along the way there are some wonderful lessons portrayed here.  Learning from your mistakes and admitting when you’re wrong.  Discovering how to trust and work with others.  Never giving up, and as a parent, knowing when to let go.  I’m not sure The Croods is going to crack the upper echelon of my animated favorites, but it was an enjoyable romp, well written, original and had me walking out of the theater with a smile on my face.

I agree, the 3D was a welcome enhancement once again.  As Ross just said, we see A LOT of kids movies, because we like to take Ethan with us.  I thought The Croods was the best one we’ve seen since Wreck-It Ralph, but I also don’t see it cracking my all time favorites.  Those spots are reserved for my early years of Disney movies and my coveted sing-a-longs.  The lessons were also a welcome addition and some important subjects were broached.  Like trying new things, opening your mind, staying positive and expressing your feelings.  It’s more important than ever that we try to share these lessons with young people and a lot of these movies prove to be effective segues.  Of course, you don’t always need a movie just to have a nice chat with your kids.

Absolutely, parents are the number one role models and teachers, as they should be.  But it is nice when Hollywood gives a helping hand too.  Also, voice acting is an underrated talent IMO, and this cast does a wonderful job.  Ryan Reynolds, Cloris Leachman, Catherine Keener,  Clark Duke (who sounds like a young Michael J. Fox BTW), Emma Stone and Nicolas Cage really “fit” their characters perfectly.   And in a positive side note, Maria, who is far removed from being a Nic Cage fan, didn’t have to “look at his stupid face.”  The Croods, a win-win-win movie.  Enjoy!

Maria’s Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummies.