This morning I am doing laundry and what a gift it was to have a whole weekend that was devoted to play and not chores. I hardly ever see movies in the theater but this weekend I took life by the horn and saw two very different, very well done movies.
The first was Dreamworks Animation's Megamind. I walked into the theater -3D glasses in hand - with great anticipation and apprehension. The previews looked great, the buzz from industry insiders was promising, but I had been lead astray before. Does anyone else remember the Monster vs. Aliens disaster? What had promised to be a spoof on the great B monster movies turned out to be a slightly less than funny pile of jumbled potty jokes and goo.
Today I am happy to report that I think Dreamworks is slowly learning its lesson. Megamind managed to have a story that made cliche gags and fart jokes unnecessary. They still tend to fill holes in their script with sound track and I think the villain Megamind is destined to defeat could have been more developed, but this outing is the best I've seen* from Dreamworks since Kung Fu Panda. I don't think the studio has surpassed the bar it set for itself with the spoof on the 1970s kung fu films. Still, I think Katzenburg and company are giving the Mouse and Lamp and solid run for their money in the story department.
That said, I agree with a review I read earlier on the Huffington Post. What Dreamworks has done by elevating the story is great, but I hope they continue to improve their overall animation skills. All the characters in Megamind had large foreheads and a plastic look about them. So bravo to the animators for thinking story first, and even throwing in some fun 3D gags that made wearing those stupid glasses almost worth it, they still have a ways to go if they are going to catch up with Disney or even the styling we saw in the background art of Kung Fu Panda.
Overall I give the movie a 4 out of 5 stars. I would encourage anyone to see it in the theater, and spring for the 3D the cheese ball gags are worth it in this one.
*It should be noted that I have not seen How to Train Your Dragon ...yet.
The second movie Alex and I saw the weekend, thanks to the movie passes I've been holding onto since May, was Secretariat. I have to be honest - I had no desire to see this movie. They've been advertising it on the Disney Channel and Alex wanted to see it and let's face it there isn't much on right now. Other useless observations - 1) I was shocked at how packed the theater was. How many weeks has this been out? 2) The crowd that goes to the movies on Saturday night is a lot better dressed than the afternoon crowd. 3) I guess Disney knows what its doing after all.
Yeah, when I first heard that Dick Cook gave the green light to another horse movie after the success of Seabiscuit I thought he was slightly insane. How many dark horse horse movies can a nation be expected to embrace? I guess we know that they can embrace at least two. (Full disclosure - I haven't seen, and don't care if I ever see Seabiscuit.)
All that back story and my own personal grinchness aside, I was delighted with Secretariat. It had a great story that was heartwarming but not in a gooey, overly cheese ball way. The photography was beautiful and though I was not surprised by the ending, the script did a good job of getting us there. My only issue was with the casting of John Malkovich as a French Canadian. Maybe he tried to have an accent and he discovered that it sucked, but really I found him entirely too distracting. While everyone else seemed to become their characters, I could never get away from thinking ... There is John Malkovich... why is he speaking bad French? ... oh yeah, he's suppose to be French Canadian...
Malkovich aside I liked the movie. I would give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars and would encourage anyone to see it when its available on Netflix.