Cinema Dispatch: 2022 May Catch Up

So how’s everyone else enjoying their Spring? Lots of sunshine and pretty flowers? Well for me it’s been nonstop rain, a tornado warning, and a broken toilet that cost a bunch of money to fix, so things have been just a tiny bit hectic over here. That’s certainly a reason why my movie reviews have been a little late recently, but thanks to streaming services and studios becoming less confident about their theatrical releases, it’s now easier than ever to catch up on stuff in a timely fashion! To wit, I have three movie reviews for your enjoyment and to hopefully distract from the fact that I haven’t seen the new Top Gun movie yet!

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Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is owned by Walt Disney Pictures

Directed by Akiva Schaffer

The former stars of the nineties animated show Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers have gone through a lot since its cancellation all those years ago with Chip (John Mulaney) selling out and going corporate while Dale (Andy Samberg) trying to make it work all these years later; banking on the nostalgia adults have for his glory days and selling signed photos at conventions to keep himself afloat. To make matters worse, they ended the show on pretty bad terms so they’ve hardly spoken to each other since then, but fate brings them back together as one of the cast members of that show Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) is in deep with the cartoon mafia and gets kidnapped right after calling both of them for help. With their friend’s life in the balance, Chip & Dale must put aside their differences and work together to scourge the LA Underworld (or at least the nostalgic cartoon version of it) to save their friend and perhaps even come back together after being apart for so long.

I’m either gonna be too harsh on this movie because I’m a giant sourpuss or I’m gonna be too nice to this for fear of looking like a giant sourpuss. It occupies a very strange place for me as I do genuinely enjoy a lot about this movie, but I still can’t quite get behind it for reasons that… well probably make me look like a giant sourpuss. Before we get into that, let me just say that I got a decent amount of laughs in this and I was genuinely tickled by a lot of the imagination on display. There are some deep-cut references that certainly appealed to me, and concepts like the putty captain and the puppet chef were well-realized and fun to watch on screen. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that the inclusion of Ugly Sonic has me convinced that he should get his own spin-off series because they were just that funny! It’s almost like the nineties kids finally got the Roger Rabbit sequel we always wanted to see as the movie’s use of nostalgia, however cynical it may be, is at least cleverly realized with some very funny premises throughout. I love the idea of turning the objects of nostalgia that are the lifeblood of the convention scene and making them the literal guests trying to make a few bucks at rickety card tables with tri-fold boards of merch. It’s clear that the creative behind this are of my particular generation, both with the nostalgia for all this nineties crap and the subsequent decades of nostalgia baiting entertainment, so it gets more than a few points for some level of authenticity even if the movie leans far too heavily on it which I guess brings us to what’s wrong with the movie. The thing is that you can only rely on sight gags and nostalgia for so long before the movie has to start standing on its story and this is where the movie just doesn’t work for me. I didn’t find Chip or Dale particularly endearing as characters, nor did I find the plot all that interesting with the mystery being pretty threadbare. Now I could avoid being a giant sourpuss here and chalk this up to being a kid’s movie where a swift pace and lighthearted tone can carry an otherwise simplistic storyline, but I feel the age and density of so many of the references means that it’s aiming a bit higher than it wants to admit. Do kids even know who the Rescue Rangers are? Heck, are kids gonna get any of the Disney Afternoon jokes in here; let alone the references to more adult-oriented stuff like South Park or the general concept of bootleg movies? It’s a movie that clearly wants to have its cake and eat it; setting its targets squarely on a Millennial audience while hiding behind the Gen Z for its immature and simplistic storytelling. Perhaps it splits the difference evenly enough that both groups will get at least something out of this and I can’t deny the moments I enjoyed throughout, so it gets a little bit of a pass from me but this trick isn’t gonna work indefinitely. Millennials will get sick of 90s-stalgia just as everyone got sick of 80s-stalgia about a decade ago, and what is that gonna leave us with? 2000s-stalgia? I mean it’d be nice if I got my Megas XLR reboot, but still…

3 out of 5
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Cinema Dispatch: Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by David Gordon Green

It looks like the only thing that could stop Michael Myers was a global Pandemic as this was supposed to come out last Halloween, but I guess any October is a good time to release a new installment of this series.  The 2018 film was a breath of fresh air in a franchise that went off the rails in several different ways, but the ending left me rather cold as it was clearly there to make room for a sequel instead of giving us a definitive end to the story.  Now that sequel is here so it’s time to find out if it was worth undercutting the dramatic conclusion to the last film to get one more story out of this new continuity.  Is this the proper conclusion we were hoping to get in the last movie, or should they have ended the series then and there?  Lets’ find out!!

Continuing where the last movie left off, Laurie Strode along with her daughter and granddaughter Karen and Allyson (Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak) are speeding away from her burning house with Michael Myers (James Judy Courtney and Nick Castle) trapped inside; a plan that seemed dubious when we saw it three years ago and now we can see exactly why as Michael manages to survive the fire and kills a bunch of firefighters in the process.  Over the course of the evening, it becomes clear to the whole town of Haddonfield that Michael Myers is still on the loose and wreaking havoc wherever he goes, so it’s up to the people of that town including a fully grown Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) to lead the charge and put an end to this murder once and for all!  While all this is going on, Laurie is in the hospital recovering from Michael’s attack and Karen is doing what she can to keep her family together despite Allyson being in the throes of grief and seeking revenge wherever she can find it.  Can this town put an end to this shadow that has been hanging over them since that fateful night in 1978?  What will it take to put Michael down once and for all, and is it something that can be done without losing more lives and perhaps even the soul of this town?  Seriously, Laurie.  You couldn’t put two in the head for good measure before lighting the house on fire?  Heck, you could have at least thrown a bit of gasoline on him!

If we don’t learn that Michael is actually a Highlander, I’m gonna start questioning the seriousness of this series!
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Cinema Dispatch: Christopher Robin

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Christopher Robin and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Marc Forster

Disney’s recent attempts to cannibalize its previous properties into live action features have been decidedly mixed, and more so with me than with other critics it seems.  Maleficent was one of the best movies that came out that year, but with The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast following it up… well let’s just say that this latest outing isn’t coming out with the highest of expectations from me.  Still, there’s a lot of talent involved and like Maleficent it’s not a simple remake of another film; rather it’s a reimagining of the material to fit with modern sensibilities and current societal issues.  That may sound pretentious, but kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and if Disney wants to make something that’s at least SOMEWHAT challenging for its core demographics, I’m sure not gonna stop them from trying!  Does this story about a grown Christopher Robin manage to get us to the heart of what made Winnie the Pooh such a timeless classic, or is this movie just as cynical and jaded as the man they’re telling the story of?  Let’s find out!!

Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is a young boy who spends many afternoons playing the Hundred Acre woods with his friends Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Owl (Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Sara Sheen, and Toby Jones) and of course, Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings as well).  However, these idyllic summer days must ultimately come to an end as life has a way of pushing you away from childish things and he heads off to live his life; going to boarding school, dealing with loss, fighting in World War 2, and eventually marrying the love of his life Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and having a child they name Madeline (Bronte Carmichael).  All this time however, The Hundred Acre Woods has managed to go on with him; albeit a bit more gloomy from time to time with Pooh still waiting to see if his best friend will ever come back.  Well he might have to wait a bit longer as Christopher has to deal with problems at work and with his sniveling boss (Mark Gatiss) who’s forcing him to make ridiculous cuts which could include the jobs of a lot of people if he doesn’t find places to make them elsewhere.  Things come to a head as he’s forced to work over the weekend that he had already scheduled to spend with his family in his childhood home and after even more stress and heartache he finds himself in a small park outside his house… where a familiar bear managed to somehow wander into.  Will Winnie the Pooh manage to help Christopher Robin find a modicum of peace in his life?  Can Christopher learn what’s REALLY important in life before he loses everything?  Just how much honey does Pooh need to eat!?  He doesn’t even have a digestive system!!

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“I can read your mind.”     “You can!?”     “Yes.  You’re thinking of giving me more honey.”

Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Christopher Robin”