Space Jam: A New Legacy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros
Directed by Malcolm D Lee
Nostalgia is a heck of a drug, isn’t it? The original Space Jam is certainly a fondly remembered time capsule and it has some highlights to it like its strong animation and some bizarre asides that gave it a bit of flavor despite being such an obvious marketing tool. It’s been over twenty years though and what worked for us back then may not capture the imagination of the “Youth” today, and frankly I couldn’t tell you if any of them have seen or even HEARD of that first movie unless it was shoved on them by their Millennial parents. It seems the question that this movie seeks to answer (along with how to make your budget back with a simultaneous streaming and theater release) is whether you can both reheat old nostalgia while giving something new for next generation to attach themselves to. Does this succeed in giving us the best of both worlds, or will spreading itself too thin leave nobody happy? Let’s find out!!
LeBron James may be a worldwide superstar and really good basketball player, but his parenting skills leave something to be desired as his son Dom (Cedric Joe) isn’t really into basketball despite his dad insisting that he go to Basketball Camp this summer. He’d much rather go to Video Game Camp which I think is what people started calling Computer Camp to trick youngsters into going, but he’s worried about telling his dad that he’d rather make games than play ball. While all this tension is in the air, Warner Bros has called LeBron James over so that their algorithm named Al-G-Rhythm (Don Cheadle) can pitch… some sort of multimedia deal? LeBron seems as confused as I am so he turns it down which OF COURSE makes good ol’ Al go full on Skynet and kidnap him and his son, and drag them both into cyberspace. Since Al-G-Rhythm is a WB program, I guess he’s aware of what a success the original Space Jam movie was and so challenges him to a basketball game while he mentors Dom and nourishes his desire to make video games. It’s up to LeBron to find the most suitable characters owned by WB to join his basketball team, or failing that the Looney Tunes characters led by Bugs Bunny (Jeff Bergman), and get his son back by winning a game of basketball! Can LeBron bring the Toons back together who’ve long been separated while also bridging the gap between him and his son? What is Al-G-Rhythm’s plans for Dom once he’s done making his game, and will it spell doom for his family? Wait, why do they call it Space Jam when no one in this is from Space? Shouldn’t it be Cyber Jam?
Ugly Dolls and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by Kelly Asbury
So are Ugly Dolls even a thing? I feel like it HAS to be a thing for this movie to even exist, but I’ve never heard of them and frankly the first thing that annoyed me about the trailers is how decidedly UN-ugly all the dolls were supposed to be. What, are big eyes fuzzy skin on a doll all of a sudden outside of societal norms? There’s no room in the world of the beautiful for dolls of non-humanoid proportions!? See, this is the kind of thinking that gave Sonic straight human teeth, the portions of an Olympic runner, and the eyes of a soulless monster! Say what you will about that Garbage Pail Kids movie, at least they knew what ugly meant! Okay, that’s PROBABLY not the best grounds to dismiss an entire movie on, but with only the occasional trailer and buzz leading up to its release, it certainly doesn’t seem like this is gonna be the sleeper hit of the year. Does it manage to defy expectations and be a really great movie despite how lacking the marketing has been, or are we doomed for yet another animated disaster in a year that already gave us Wonder Park? Let’s find out!!
In the happy town of Uglyville, everyone is happy and always partying which is easy to do when so many of them are inexplicably great singers and love to narrate their lives through song! One such resident is Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) who enjoys her simple life in this unassuming town of ugly dolls, but dreams of something more! She wants to be part of OUR world, by which I mean she wants to be a doll for a kid and… I guess she’s just waiting around for it to happen? Every morning she sings that THAT day will be THE day that she’ll get her own kid, but then just hangs out in Uglyville where no kids every come by. Eventually Moxy realizes that this is probably not the BEST strategy, so she convinces a few of the other residents of Uglyville, Ugly Dog, Wage, Lucky Bat, and Babo (Pitbull, Wanda Sykes, Wang Leehorn, and Gabriel Iglesias) to accompany her on a journey to outside of town. The only way out is also the only way in as there’s a giant tube in the side of a mountain that shoots out an ugly doll every once in a while to join the town, so she figures that they’ll climb up it and see where it goes. It turns out that it goes to a town called Perfection which is full of Barbie knockoffs that have to go through rigorous training before being allowed to go through the pearly gates which… I guess is where they’ll be packed into plastic boxes and sold on store shelves to hopefully wind up in a kid’s hands. The mechanics are a bit unclear, but the point is crystal! Moxy and her friends will face these challenges that all the other dolls have to go through in order to PROVE THEIR WORTH and pass through the gates themselves! However, the leader of Perfection named Lou (Nick Jonas) isn’t happy about these UGLY creatures fouling up his perfect little community and will do whatever it takes to stop them from achieving their dreams! Can Moxy and her friends find a way to not only pass the ridiculous tests set before them but perhaps make a positive change in Perfection in the process? Who is this doll named Mandy (Janelle Monáe) that keeps trying to help them, and what is her reason for doing so? Is it just me, or is this an overly complicated version of college frat comedy?
The Star and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Directed by Timothy Reckart
Man, Coco was such a good movie. Too good in fact! I need to find a way to bring myself down to Earth again if I want to be fair to any other movie coming out this year. Wait, is that what I think it is!? A POORLY ANIMATED RELIGIOUS FILM… WITH TYLER PERRY!? JACKPOT!! It seems that movie going audiences had the good sense to ignore this film to go see Coco instead which seems like an INCREDIBLY obvious move given how uninspired the trailers look, but let it never be said that I am not a fair critic and will try to give everything at least a CHANCE to try and impress me! Okay, I know better than to hope much from ANY religious film not made by Darren Aronofsky (and even THAT is a bit of a crapshoot), but compared to some of the OTHER films in that category, there’s no way it could be THAT bad… right? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the misadventures of one Bo the Donkey (Steven Yeun) who remained aimless and nameless for most of his life working in a mill and only getting brief glimpses of the outside world. His one dream though is to be part of the Royal Procession which… I guess is like a super lame parade or something? Anyway, he’s given a chance to escape with his wise cracking friend Dave the Dove (Keegan-Michael Key) and he winds up hiding out with a newly married couple; one of whom seems to have gotten to the whole pregnancy thing a little early. Yes, this hapless donkey winds up in the possession of Mary and Joseph (Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi) with the former giving him the name Bo and the latter being a total throwback to goofy nineties sitcom guys; as if the entire male cast of Friends was fused together into one not especially charming homunculus. While this is going on, a trio of camels (Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and Tracy Morgan) are carrying the Wise Men across the desert in search of the new king who’s due in just a few months and end up running into King Herod (Christopher Plummer) who doesn’t take too kindly to there being another king out there and sends his scariest brick shit house of a guard with two mix-matched attack dogs (Ving Rhames and Gabriel Iglesias) to go hunt down the happy couple and murder them to bloody chunky bits. Bo the Donkey gets wind of this and decides to help these two out before running off to join the Royal Procession and even meet a friendly sheep along the way named Ruth (Aidy Bryant) who left her flock to follow the titular star to… whatever’s at the end of it (spoiler alert: it’s Jesus). Will Bo the Donkey keep these two safe and deliver the savior unto us so that we all may be saved from the burning fires of Hell? Will King Herod realize that sending only ONE dude to stop the only person who could challenge his throne was a really half assed approach to this problem? Can animals be saved and accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior? I’m just curious what’s gonna happen to Bo once he dies considering how much he busted his ass (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) to help Jesus out in the first place!
Coco and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
I’m far from the only one to have Pixar fatigue, but it has been WAY too long since I’ve gotten excited for another animated film from them. Even the prospect of Incredibles 2 only fills me with a mix of ennui and meh, so what hope does this film have to bring me back around on the studio? Well it’s not a sequel for one which is a good sign and its premise, while not what I would call unique (*cough* Book of Life *cough* Grim Fandango *cough*), at least appears to be fleshed out (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) as all the trailers show an immense level of detail and craftsmanship in every frame as well as an amazingly diverse cast that looks to bring an underrepresented culture to the big screen. Hey, after the mostly positive reception and commercial success of Moana, it makes sense for Disney to stick with the formula; though hopefully we haven’t reached the point of diminishing returns just yet. Will this be the standout animated film of the year like we’re in the golden age of Pixar, or has ship already sailed for one of the biggest giants of the industry? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins by telling us the history of the Rivera family where Imelda Rivera (Alanna Ubach) was stuck raising little Coco as her husband walked out on them to live out their dream as a world famous musician. She didn’t let that get her down that she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and spent the rest of her life making shoes and teaching her family to make shoes; all the way to the present day where SHE may be dead and gone, but Coco is still around (Ana Ofelia Murguía) as the oldest living relative of the Rivera family and the great grandmother of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez). Now despite Imelda more or less banning music in the Rivera household which is a tradition that has carried to this day, little Miguel can’t help but want to be a musician like his hero Ernesto de la Cruz who was a famous musician long ago and is still fondly remembered in Mexico to this day. In fact… maybe there’s a connection between the guy who walked out on Imelda to become a famous musician, and this famous musician that Miguel is obsessed with right now!? Maybe he’s the long lost great great grandfather and the only one in his family that would understand his love of music!? Well Miguel is certainly convinced of this after finding some photographic evidence and decides to… rob Ernesto de la Cruz’s grave so he can use his guitar to win a talent competition? Okay… seems a bit extreme, but whatever! THE KID’S GOTTA PLAY!! Too bad that robbing a grave gets you a one way ticket to the afterlife as Miguel finds himself more or less a ghost to those in the living world and eventually finds himself in the city of the dead where all the people who died are now skeletons; including Imelda Rivera and the rest of his extended family! Will Miguel find a way to get back home before his brief vacation among the dead turns into a permanent residency? What will he be able to learn about himself and his family during his treat; including the elusive Ernesto de la Cruz who may be able to help Miguel live out his dreams as a musician? How the heck is a human supposed to survive in a city of the dead anyway!? It’s not like any of the residents have lungs, so do they even have oxygen there!?
Smurfs: The Lost Village and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation
Directed by Kelly Asbury
Considering how the LAST two Smurfs movies turned out, this really doesn’t have to do all that much to be a massive improvement, does it? To be fair, it DOES look like the new direction their going in is the right move for this franchise as it looks much more like the original series, and we’re also not going to the real world this time around which shows some signs that Sony realized where they screwed up and are trying to make it better. Plus, they also got Jack McBrayer which is you all need to get my ass into a theater! Does this manage to win back the fans it lost with the last two cynical features, or did they manage to screw it up again even with two perfect examples of how NOT to make a Smurfs movie to go by? Let’s find out!
The movie starts in Smurf village where all the little Smurfs are Smurfing about doing their Smurfy thing. All except for Smurfette (Demi Lovato) who may have golden locks to die for but isn’t sure what else a Smurfette is supposed to do. Oh sure, it’s easy for Police Smurf and Saxophone Smurf who’s occupations are spelled out for them like a Cutie Mark in My Little Pony, but what about her!? Is being the one and only female Smurf the ONLY thing she’s good at!? Well… maybe not as she soon discovers another Smurf while Smurf-boarding in the forest, but before she can ask any questions or even get a good look at them, they run off into the FORBIDDEN FOREST which I can only assume is the same one from Harry Potter. Smurfette wants to find this new Smurf as well as the village they came from (perhaps a LOST village of Smurfs!?) but Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) forbids her to go into the FORBIDDEN FOREST because… well, it’s FORBIDDEN! Despite his warnings not to go out there, she sneaks off into the middle of the night to go searching the FORBIDDEN FOREST and ends up having a few tag-alongs who were following her in the form of Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello), Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer) and Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi); all of whom are sure to bring their unique brand of Smurf Shenanigans to this adventure! Oh, and of course the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) gets wind of this lost village, so they have to contend with him stomping through the forest as well; hoping to find these new Smurfs and using them to become the world’s most powerful wizard by smooshing them in some sort of magic juicer! Can the Smurfs find The Lost Village and warn them of Gargamel before it’s too late? Will Smurfette finally find out what her true purpose is on this epic quest? Just who are these new Smurfs that they’re looking for, and are they even blue!? What if… WHAT IF THEY’RE SNORKS!?