Sing 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Garth Jennings
Was anyone expecting the first Sing to be anything more than cloying and treacly? I mean it’s not like Illumination has a great track record for this kind of thing, especially with those toothless Seuss adaptations, but they somehow pulled it off with that movie which was sweet, sincere, and my favorite animated movie the year it came out! The moment that it was over though, I knew that a sequel was coming and that it was probably going to be a bad idea. The first one worked as its own story, so trying to fit another one on top of it seemed like typical sequel folly and an obvious attempt at a cash grab. Then again, it’s not like I was expecting anything out of the first one and it managed to surprise me, so why not the sequel as well? Can this movie capture the magic of the first film and give us the rare animated sequel that is just as satisfying as the first one, or should we just be glad that we got a good movie in the first place and write this one off as a mere victory lap from Illumination? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, the Moon Theater is back and better than ever! The all-star cast of Meena, Johnny, Rosita, and Gunter (Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, and Nick Kroll) are living their dreams and selling out shows every night; all of which should make Buster (Matthew McConaughey) who owns the theater very happy, right? I mean that’s kind of the dream that they were all striving for in the first one! Well… no. Apparently, they all want to go to the Sing universe equivalent of Las Vegas and perform shows there; presumably next to furry versions of Blue Man Group and Carrot Top. After a talent scout (Chelsea Peretti) brushes them off, Buster drags his cast as well as Ash (Scarlett Johansson) to the big city to prove that scout wrong and appeal to the biggest producer in the city; Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Carnavale). Through some high-level schmoozing and a white lie here and there, he agrees to give them a shot; albeit it with quite a few strings attached. They have three weeks to throw together a lavish Broadway-style show from scratch, they have to include Crystal’s daughter Porsha (Halsey) in some way, and they need to find rock legend Clay Calloway (Bono) so he can be a part of the show. That last one, in particular, is going to be difficult as no one has seen or heard from him in fifteen years, but if Buster says he can get him, then by Jove, he’s gonna get him! Can the crew pull off yet another amazing show, even with the added pressures of a bigger production and an overbearing executive? What new challenges will our heroes face on their latest venture, and is this perhaps the end of the road for them? I mean it’s not like Buster has a habit of getting in over his head, right? Surely he knows what he’s doing!
The Secret Life of Pets 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures and Illumination
Directed by Chris Renaud
I remember the first movie having one of the most aggressive ad campaigns I’d seen since I started reviewing movies, and yet this one was much more subdued. I only saw the trailer a few times leading up to its release, but while that certainly kept me from being ANNOYED by the movie it didn’t really do much to improve my expectations. The first one was a C grade knock off of Toy Story, and while it wasn’t ALL bad it didn’t leave much of an impression outside of Jenny Slate’s performance and a few seconds of Andrew WK music to liven things up. Can the sequel manage to improve where the last one came up short, or will this be a lazy cash grab on the success of the first one with similarly mediocre results? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, Max and Duke (Patton Oswalt and Eric Stonestreet) have been getting along with their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in their peaceful New York life. However, things change once Katie meets the man of her dreams Chuck (Peter Holmes), and cut to about five years later where Katie and Chuck have a kid named Liam (Henry Lynch) who Max is at first hesitant about but becomes quickly attached to. The added stress of watching over a child however is starting to give Max some unhealthy habits, but maybe an upcoming vacation in the country with Chuck’s family and their dog Rooster (Harrison Ford) will be just what Max needs to relax! While he’s off on his trip, Gidget (Jenny Slate) has been entrusted to watch his favorite toy which she loses almost immediately, and Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart) has become some sort of animal saving super hero who’s latest mission is to help a Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) save a tiger who’s being abused by a VERY evil looking circus run by a bunch of dudes with Russian accents and permanent sneers; one of whom is played by Nick Kroll. Will Max get over his nervous tendencies now that he’s around nature and the stern advice of Rooster? Can the other pets shore up their subplots before the running time exceeds ninety minutes? Is Illumination trying to sell us four episodes of an unaired TV series as a full length movie!?
The Grinch and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney
Is it already time for the holiday season? Can’t we postpone it for another three months or something? No, of course not. The only thing as certain in life as Death and Taxes is the ever expanding period of time known as THE HOLIDAY SEASON where good will and cheer are sold to us in gift baskets and wrapping paper. If you couldn’t tell already I’m not the biggest fan of the season’s greatest excesses even if I do take some joy in trying to find the perfect gifts for people and buying the shiny wrapping paper to put it in. Still, it’d be nice if we could contain it to the month of December, but no; were stuck with Holiday Music, Holiday Sales, and of course… Holiday Movies. With Illumination having already turned The Lorax into a rather detestable piece of confused anti-corporate nonsense, they’re back to the Dr. Seuss well to turn the man’s most beloved creation into yet another big screen adaptation just in time for theaters to start hanging up the tinsel. Will this be an improvement on the studio’s previous output, or are we in for yet more Illumination mediocrity? Let’s find out!!
You see, every Who down in Whoville likes Christmas a lot which is good for keeping the economy strong and red hot! But the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) who lives just north of Whoville does not seem pleased. Perhaps a trip to the store will put him at ease. With his dog Max in tow, he treks through the snow, to the city of Whoville to where all he can think is NO. No to the consumerism, no to the cheer, just get him to the grocery store to buy provisions and beer. Along the way he meets Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely), who seems nice enough, but has nothing to do in this rather thin plot. There’s a story I guess about her finding Santa, but really she’s on hand to be cute and her likeness used on promotional bottles of Fanta. Anyway, The Grinch takes a while to get properly pissed, but he eventually decides that something is amiss. This lousy holiday just makes him way too stressed, so perhaps he’ll steal Christmas and you know the rest! Will he find happiness in ruining this day for others, or is there a way for him to live peacefully with his Who brothers? Will Cindy Lou Who find the answers she needs, or will her tale be lost in the script weeds? The question of course on everyone’s mind is why should I see this when Netflix is only $13.95!? No wait, it’s $13.99. DANG IT!!
Sing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Garth Jennings
It seems that Illumination’s business model is to just hammer us over and over again with constant advertisements and marketing pushes for whatever movie that will soon (and not so soon) be hitting theaters. We see it with The Minions invading everything from ironic T-shirts to toilet brushes, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who got REAL sick of those Secret Life of Pets trailers about four months before the damn movie came out. At least with Sing, Illumination had a decent enough premise on its hand and the trailers only got better as time went on. Still, that’s the same strategy that Suicide Squad had, and while I didn’t HATE it, the trailers were clearly selling a film that the ACTUAL movie couldn’t live up to. Will that be the case here with Illuminations latest effort to take over the world with marketable CG characters, or is there something genuinely great here from a studio that’s only made fluff so far? Let’s find out!!
The movie is rather simple as it’s about a theater owning koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who gets desperate enough to rip off American Idol and naturally becomes the talk of the town once he holds open auditions. Our heroes are a gorilla with daddy issues named Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who’s right out of the Marge Simpson School of quiet desperation, a shy but talented elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly), and a too cool for school porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson) who’s relationship with her boyfriend is being strained by this competition. I guess I should also mention Mike the Mouse (Seth MacFarlane), but calling him a hero is a bit of a stretch as he’s the one who REALLY wants to win by any means necessary. Of course, noting goes quite as well as it should, what with Buster’s finances in total disarray and his talent dealing with their own problems at home that threaten to derail this singing competition as much as Buster’s inability to keep the lights on. Will this competition be exactly what Buster needs to save his theater and what everyone else needs to change their lives for the better? What kind of shenanigans does Mike have up his tiny sleeves that can cause big problems for everyone else? Is anyone else feeling a distinct lack of Billy Joel in this movie filled with so many oldies!?
The Secret Life of Pets and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney
Is it finally out!? OH THANK GOODNESS!! Whether or not this movie is actually good, at least we no longer have to see those same trailers over and over and OVER again. The marketing for this movie was absolutely insane and was in front of every damn movie I saw. They played this so much that now I don’t like Downtown by Macklemore anymore. THANKS A LOT ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT!! Still, it’s not always fair to judge a movie by how obnoxiously they market it, and I did see a little bit of potential here before that hope was snuffed by the sheer incessantness of the advertisements so maybe there’s light at the end of this tunnel! Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Max (Louis CK) who’s living a perfect life with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) who does her human stuff during the day but always comes back to find Max waiting for her. One day however, she up and ruins the perfect setup they have going by bringing a new dog home with her named Duke (Eric Stonestreet) which is a shakeup that Max is not happy about for a myriad of reasons; the least of which being that this dog is HUGE and is probably not gonna be too friendly to the much smaller Max considering how territorial dogs can be. Oh well! They’ll learn to get along eventually, right? Well I wouldn’t DREAM of spoiling this movie, but before anything like that can take place, they get into a huge fight in the dog park and are stuck in the middle of New York City without collars and are just unfortunate enough to keep running into either Animal Control Workers, or a bunch of Animal Revolutionaries led by the rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) who want the two of them dead for convoluted reasons. While all that is going on, a bunch of pets at their apartment building band together to find Max and Duke before it’s too late! The group is led up by a little Pomeranian named Gidget (Jenny Slate), and is made up of a cat named Chloe (Lake Bell), a few dogs in the building (Bobby Moynihan and Hannibal Buress), a small bird who I don’t recall having any lines but is apparently played by Tara Strong, a guinea pig named Norman (Chris Renaud) and a hawk named Tiberius who’s played by Albert Brooks as you would expect a vicious animal to be played by Albert Brooks. Will Max and Duke manage to find their way home without getting murdered by humans or other animals in the process? Will their friends manage to find those two or will they end up getting just as lost in the process? Why do I get the feeling I’ve seen this movie already?