‘Your Highness’ Isn’t

Since I have been semi-working as a movie reviewer lately, naturally upon completion of any film my companions immediately ask what I thought.  This is exactly my reply when Your Highness ended.  “It was nothing like I thought, I can’t believe it was ever made, and I’m horrified that they left it open for a sequel.”

To say that the trailers are misleading is a devastating understatement.  I can imagine the stricken parents silly enough to bring their children and teens to this movie.  If they were expecting an unrealistic farce and romp through the forest – well, they sure got that in spades.  But it was far from innocent.

I would like to say – in my own defense – that I am not a prude.  I don’t object to watching porn but I at least like to know it is porn before it starts.  And I think that is what – pardon the phrase – rubbed me the wrong way here.  The trailer(s) gave the impression of an adventure movie – although with no basis in reality – one in which an inept person has to try to save the world.  However, in this case that inept person happens to be Pee-Wee Herman.

I would also like to point out that “Your Highness” is in the same vain as ‘Cheech and Chong’ and if you are not a “pot-head” the majority of the “humor” will be lost on you.  The few giggles I was able to get paled in comparison to the number of times I uttered, “Oh hell no.”

I felt a bit queasy when leaving.  Some might say it was the yellow grease I put on my popcorn.  But I say, “No, sir.”

I feel sorry not only for everyone involved in this film – but also their families – to have their name permanently marred by this abomination.  But I also feel bad for my scarred retinas that now require a healthy dose of Winnie The Pooh to recover.

I found it distressing to see someone of Natalie Portman’s caliber involved.  She is beautiful and an accomplished actress winning an Academy Award as well as having 23 other awards and 45 total nominations.  Why is she slumming it here?  And not to mention speaking of a beaver as anything other than a woodland creature.

The final item I would like to point out is this: A penis is not the most aesthetically pleasing item to begin with but then to have a giant half-mast Minotaur penis displayed prominently for the last twenty-plus minutes is also. . . um. . .

All I can say is, “Oh, for fuck’s sake.  Really?”

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Is Brand’s ‘Arthur’ Better than Moore’s?

The 2011 remake of ‘Arthur’ is rather complex.  You can look at it in two distinct ways.  You can compare it to the original film, but you can also let it stand on its own and look at its’ individual merits.

So let’s start with a comparison to the 1981 ‘Arthur’, starring Dudley Moore as the title character.  The story follows the drunk and debauched Arthur as he tries to find his own way in life.  One thing that stands out dramatically is Dudley Moore’s ability to play a drunk.  As a viewer, you really believe he may topple over at any moment and his jokes are terrible.  Russell Brand’s Arthur seems to be more in control, even when drunk.

The remake involves some sex reversals of the characters.  In the 1981 ‘Arthur’, it was his father who forced Arthur into a marriage agreement and the glorious character of Hobson (John Gielgud) was a male butler.

The tentative marriage to Susan is a business proposition at best.  The original Susan, (Jill Eikenberry in 1981), was actually in love with Arthur and appeared more simpering and devoted.  Jennifer Garner’s Susan is a dramatic contrast, being more aggressive, even heartless.

The main complaint I hear – and feel – is that no one is capable of replacing John Gielgud as Hobson.  I do think Helen Mirren did an amazing job considering the shoes she had to fill.  However, I also feel she missed the mark slightly.  There was an underlying but affectionate sarcasm to Gielgud’s Hobson.  While Mirren was able to keep the affection, she came off more snide than sarcastic.

If we divorce the films, the 2011 ‘Arthur’ stands alone, a brilliant movie.  The cast works well together and there is an obvious delineation between the good guys and the bad guys.  Brand’s manic energy adds to Arthur’s character, but you can see that the jokes are a mask set in place to protect himself from reality.  Hobson is the stern but affectionate mother Arthur never had.

I have a feeling a lot of people may not agree with me on this.  But I think it is important to let go of the past and one’s expectations from previous films.  Enjoy the movie for what it is, on its own merits; on it’s own ability to make you laugh and also to examine your life.

Except – let’s not forget the unique charm offered by the original ‘Arthur’.

But to quote Russell Brand’s ‘Arthur’, “Don’t let that undermine what I just said.”

Review of Disney/Pixar’s ‘UP’

Under normal circumstances, I do not like to write a review that contains spoilers.  But knowing what to expect might heighten your experience of this film.

In Pixar’s tenth animated feature film in association with Disney, ‘UP’ starts out showing us a movie theatre news reel – for we are in the 1930’s.  This is where we meet the young Carl Fredricksen.  The newsreel highlights explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer).  On his way home, with his imagination full of adventure, he hears another adventure bound voice coming from an abandoned and boarded up house.  Carl goes in to discover, Ellie, who is just as passionate about adventure and their idol Muntz as he is.

I understand that disappointment and death is part of life as well as a theme for Disney animation.  From the death of Bambi’s mom to the comic misadventures of Donald Duck, a Disney flick is likely to be an emotional rollercoaster. The problem I have is that we spend the first 15 minutes of the film in classic slit-your-wrists Disney fashion. It seems that ‘UP’ takes an overzealous attitude and hits the viewer with an emotional mallet.  We watch as Carl and Ellie age, learn they can’t have children, become infirm and then Ellie dies with Carl never having fulfilled his promise to take her on an adventure to South America.  Carl is now alone.  Hardly seems like a movie for young children.

During this montage, though, we learn how much Carl and Ellie loved each other as well as Carl’s penchant for balloons – being a balloon salesman.  Now retired and with Big Business after his house, Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) is forced to deal with the construction foreman voiced by John Ratzenberger, continuing his tradition of being the only actor to do a voice in every Pixar film.  Carl faces trouble after he assaults a construction worker for almost demolishing the mailbox Ellie had hand painted.  The law decides it is time for Carl to be placed in a retirement home.  But before they can collect him, he unleashes thousands of balloons fastened through the chimney and the house takes flight.  He is finally headed toward Paradise Falls in South America.

Good ol’ cartoon physics at work here.  Some masterful (or overly bored) person decided to do some calculations.  “If Carl’s house was approximately 1600 square feet, and the average house weights between 60-100 pounds per square foot, it weights 120,000 pounds.  If the average helium balloon can carry .009 pounds, it would take 12,658,392 balloons to lift his house off the ground.”  However, they do not go into how high off the ground the house would actually get – or adding the weights of the characters.

What Carl had not counted on, however, was a stowaway.  Russell, an overeager Wilderness Explorer desperate to get his last “Assisting The Elderly” badge in order to

Russell

advance to Senior rank, was on his porch when the house took flight.  Russell is Pixar’s first Asian-American character to be voiced by an Asian-American, newcomer Jordan Nagai.  Nagai got the part because he was a chatterbox like the character and wouldn’t shut up during auditions.  Even though Russell has amassed a large array of badges, he has never left the city and confesses he has never been able to camp outside.  It appears that the main reason he wants to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer is so that he may spend time with his absentee father after the “pinning” ceremony.  Again, we are assaulted with more negative emotional ties.

Dug the dog, Kevin the bird, Russell and Carl

So now with a crotchety old man and a young boy with a spirit that cannot be dampened, all we need is a talking dog to have a classic Disney Theme.  Fear not, we are indeed introduced to that talking dog (Dug) 40 minutes in.  Now, throw in a rare 13-foot tall flightless bird trying to get back to her babies without being captured or killed. . . that’s it, stop the car, I want to get out.

Despite all the negative aspects of life displayed, you do get to laugh.  Not often.  But it does happen.  I think the viewer can get more enjoyment out of ‘UP’ if they go into it knowing what to expect.  Sadly, I did not have this luxury.

So. . . . Cyrakitty says:

Can't bring myself to give it anything better than a C

Are you smarter than a Curator?

A fascinating and wonderful website (forwarded to me by my buddy Mac1949) – Are you smarter than a Curator? Every month they feature a different curator.  You answer five multiple choice questions and for each correct answer 10¢ will be donated to that zoo.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up.  Plus you get an “Are you smarter than a curator?” sticker.

This month, they are featuring Smithsonian – National Zoological Park and its Curator of Enrichment, Training and Beaver Valley, Heidi Hellmuth.

So let’s all be sure to visit this site each month and raise money for the animals!!

The fine print: “By taking the quiz, you’ll sign up to receive periodic updates from the Smithsonian. You can unsubscribe at any time. Limit: one free sticker per U.S. residential mailing address. A maximum of 50 cents per unique individual quiz taker will be donated. Correct answers submitted more than once by the same individual will not be counted.

Bipolar Disorder

Most people do not understand Bipolar Illness and even if they do, they can have no clear concept of what it is actually like unless they either have it or live with someone who does.

Bipolar Disorder is defined as follows: “also referred to as bipolar affective disorder or manic depression, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels,cognition, and mood with or without one or more depressive episodes.”  This is a complex definition and I hope to break it down a little for you.

According to the DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) – “Depression and bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) are both highly treatable medical illnesses. Unfortunately many people do not get the help they need because of misunderstanding the issues surrounding the illnesses or the fear associated with stigma.”  I also need to add that even if you go to the doctor with symptoms it is sometimes overlooked and a diagnosis is given as something other than Bipolar.  I was not diagnosed until I was 21.  And even then I don’t think I would have had it checked out if it wasn’t for taking a psychology class.  It was the first time I was ever able to see all my symptoms laid out in one place – with one likely cause.

The DBSA goes on to explain: “Bipolar disorder differs significantly from clinical depression, although the symptoms for the depressive phase of the illness are similar. People who have bipolar disorder talk about experiencing mood shifts. These swings can be severe, ranging from extreme energy to deep despair. These mood shifts disrupt normal life activities distinguish bipolar mood episodes from ordinary mood changes.  The shifts may be mild ranging from sadness to irritability or restlessness.”  I would like to add here that the shifts of mood can be very rapid.  Personally, I have experienced times when all was well and then as if turning on a dime I was in a rage.  Another aspect that people do not understand is that the “manic” phase(s) do not necessarily mean happy, laughing or the life of the party.  It can manifest itself as violence or rage.

Here is a small list of symptoms for both the manic and depressive phases.  If you know someone, or you yourself, experience these symptoms – please seek medical attention.  It can be controlled.  It may take time to find a treatment that will work for you, but it will be well worth it as you will see (and feel) the improvement.  I would also like to extend the offer to be available via comment or email should you wish to speak with me about my personal experiences living with Bipolar Disorder.

Symptoms of mania – the “highs” of bipolar disorder

  • Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  • Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
  • Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
  • Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue
  • Grandiose delusions, inflated sense of self-importance
  • Racing speech, racing thoughts, flight of ideas
  • Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
  • Reckless behavior
  • In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations

Symptoms of depression – the “lows” of bipolar disorder

  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
  • Pessimism, indifference
  • Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide