Quick Hit: Neither original nor terribly inspiring, it runs into the boring territory much more often than you would like for a family film.
One of the troubles with remakes is the fact that, most of the time (not always – look at the recent DFP review of The Departed) remakes cannot, by their very nature, be original. They are relying too much on the source material. This is becoming a problem that everyone is harping about, and I know I have too, so I won’t continue it here. I’m all for the live-action remakes of Disney classics – quite often they are a good bit of nostalgia for the generation that grew up with Disney constantly on. My problem with Pete’s Dragon lies further than its unoriginal turn of events and story. My problem is that they made it so boring.
Nothing happens in this movie that you wouldn’t expect to happen (aside from the kid being found by a dragon thing). Once we move into the meat of the movie, after the fun scene of Elliot and Pete living in the woods together, all originality goes out the window. I was so excited when I saw a cast that included Bryce Dallas Howard (who recently did another unoriginal, if better film in Jurassic World), Karl Urban, and Robert Redford. Bryce is known for playing characters that are a little different – Lady in the Water, The Village, etc. But here, she plays a watered down version of a typical character. Robert Redford falls into typical old man character, and Karl Urban falls into villainous southern hic guy. These actors' talents were all wasted in this film, which had a chance to be the rare thing: a remake that seems original and, dare I say it, magical.
I also wasn’t sold on the dragon. Why is it so dog-like? Just because the filmmakers are too lazy to think up other ways for an animal to behave. My fellow blogger Mr. Donahue brought up this recent trend in family films, and I really agree with him here. It’s getting a big overused.
The story was nothing exceptional either, but there is at least some emotion throughout. It’s that, and the scenery of the film that saves it from being a complete waste of time. The mill town is a typical small town (it actually looks a lot like the set from the original Thor), but the forest is very well done. As I stated in the beginning, the highlight of the film for me is the playful scene between Elliot and Pete. It speaks of a whimsy that the rest of the film fails to generate, despite the fact that the movie is about a kid and his pet dragon.
All these things come together to form a film that is pretty dull at times, and leaves you forgetting what happened almost immediately after watching. I’m only going to give Pete’s Dragon a “C-“ for being so terribly average.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Dory made me think that there is a third option that is somewhere in the middle of the two. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Dory (I’ll elaborate more, don’t you worry Fair Reader), but I didn’t LOVE Dory like I loved Finding Nemo. I found myself focusing less on the movie and more on my snacks, and that made me sad, because I think the film has a decent premise.
Basically, Dory remembers that she has a family, and takes off across the sea to California to find her family. Here, the story takes a big jump, as we immediately get to a current, that Shell happens to be in, in order to slingshot the characters there. This is disappointing, despite me understanding the reasoning behind why Pixar did this. We can’t have another travel movie like Nemo, but it feels like a narrative shortcut, much like I talked about in my shared Game of Thrones posts.
Once there, the characters are separated (otherwise how would we FIND Dory), and Dory begins to traverse small bits of her past with a grumpy octopus, Hank. He’s a good enough character, but his motivations are a bit unclear, despite the fact that his voice, performed by Ed O’Neill (of Modern Family and many others) is spot on. I get that he’s afraid of the ocean, but it doesn’t really play into why. In
There are some other character additions – sea lions, a near-sighted whale shark (played by Kaitlin Olson of It’s Always Sunny), and a beluga whale with supposed echolocation problems (played by Ty Burrell, also of Modern Family). Some of these characters are better than others (I think that Destiny, the whale shark, is the best of the bunch), and I think that the sea lions were positively cruel in the way they treated the sea lion that was obviously different. Kids don’t’ need reasons to poke fun at other kids – they already do it without being shown to do so in movies as well.
Overall, the story moves along pretty well, and I was impressed as always at the animation effects (Hank’s movement was amazing to watch – all those arms!). The movie is good, and it held my toddler’s attention. But if you are looking to be blown away the same way you were with Nemo, you may leave slightly disappointed.
I’m going to give Finding Dory a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
this part is really good, but this part isn’t, and what exactly is happening?”
Claudia (played by the wonderful Holly Hunter) is heading home for Thanksgiving. In the first 15 minutes of the movie, she gets fired, kisses her boss in response, and then is informed by her daughter that she is going to have sex for the first time. Then she flies home, sits next to an annoying woman, and forgets her parka on the plane (and she forgets her parka and her mom, who knows her daughter, has brought one for her, a wonderful oversized, puffy parka).
conservative sister and her husband, and the crazy off the wall aunt. It’s impossible to keep up with the film, and you feel yourself drowning as the plot continues to spin out of control.
Isn’t that what the holidays truly feel like sometimes? People fight, people say things they don’t mean, and the stress of the preparations really wear on some people. I’m not saying all holidays go like this – you may go years without incident only to have a particularly dramatic one. That’s because most families end up inevitably varied (see Downey’s gay rambunctious character versus the conservative sister Joanne), and with the passage of time, we only know each other better. That makes it all the more convincing when the parents fight with each other – because you know they know where to hurt each other. But in the subtle scenes of camerawork (the scene of the parents dancing in the living room is my particular favorite), to the entire set-up of the home (which looks like it could have come straight from any of my relative’s houses), there is an undeniable belief in what is being presented.
same emotions. I would also like to highlight Durning playing the father - at times he seems so sad and defeated, but you can see his motivations clearly.
The holidays are dramatic, kids, and that’s part of what makes them wonderful.
So, if you find yourself taking a football game way too seriously, and end up getting hosed off by your father in the driveway while the neighbors stare at you – it might be worth a look at this Thanksgiving. I hope everyone enjoys their turkey and their hams and their sweet potatoes, their pumpkin pies and their casseroles. What I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving, besides my loving family and friends, is you, my dear readers. For without you, none of this would be possible. I hope you continue to read us, and I’ll be writing more soon.
Check out more on this movie at IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"