Summer kiddie fest

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Summer has officially started for me. Yes, the weather is hot, it’s raining, there are typhoons every week, yadda yadda yadda. That’s not it. For me, THE sign of summer are the many animated features that hit the HK cinemas.

Yes, I am a closet cartoon queen. I love them, well most of them anyway. I can’t profess to having a real strong appetite for Tim Burton’s black and white masterpieces. I like my cartoon characters cure and chubby; not angular. And I love the minions.

Yup,summer opened for me with Despicable Me 2. OK, plotwise (what? Looking for a plot in a cartoon?!!) the first movie was much better. There’s nothing like a villain realising the errors of his way and turning over a new leaf, after all. But this has enough fun and laughs to keep me engaged – and it’s a nice, simple love story. Awwww Gru”s all grown up and has a love interest!

Gru, who’s now working on starting a little business in jams and jellies (I have a few FB friends who can help here), is recruited by the Anti-Villains League to find the serum for a deadly serum that turns animals/people into mindless killing machines and bring the dastardly villain to justice. He’s paired with the quirky Lucy, who’s more effective than she appears to be.

Gru’s gut feeling tells him it is El Macho, who was supposed to have been killed in a volcano explosion years ago. El Macho hires Dr Nefario who’s grown tired of the sickly sweet business of jellies, and kidnaps Gru’s minions to start his army of purple killing machines.

We all know how this will end of course; Gru always gets his man, but this time he also gets his woman! I’m particularly appreciative of how “normally” directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud treats the the gooey-fication of gru without making it manipulatively maudlin – or, in the words of Edith Gru, “let me be the first to say, ‘Ewwww’!”

But I think the best part of Despicable Me 2 is watching the silly minions and they just enjoy the the little things in life no matter how trivial ot stupid: gelato, smacking each other, rolling around in the grass. It’s what childhoods are made of and it’s what some of us could do with a lot more in this stressful world.

Is Despicable Me 2 the most brilliant animated feature ever? No. But it certainly made me happier and a little more stress-free when I left the cinema. For that, thank you, Illumination Entertainment. I’ll be waiting for Part 3!

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#addendum

I was going to post a review of Monsters University after I saw it but it was so disappointing that I can’t work up the energy. It was rather bleahhh actually, nothing much to the story, hardly any laughs and nary a heartstring was tugged.

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Not funny, JC!

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On a rapid decline... and do we really need to see the wife?

On a rapid decline…
and do we really need to see the wife?

JCWIFE

I’ve just had a tough time trying to get through Jackie Chan’s CZ12 on the plane today. It was a film that made me extremely sad.

In this day and age, it’s embarrassing that producers – (and I’m talking about you JC and you, Huayi Brothers – can think it is OK to give audiences such tacky, childish fare.

Yes, at this point, if my film buddies were to be reading this, they’d say the film made a ton of money at the Chinese box office. But surely pride and professionalism should still count for something?

You know, it was a great premise: Art dealers trying to control prices by cheating and crime (yeah, welcome to the real world) and, at its heart, the moral question of whether looted national artifacts should be returned to their countries.

Jackie plays the master thief with a conscience (but of course). He has his merry men (and woman) but don’t ask me who because they’re so two-dimensional that they should be folded into paper cranes and sent swimming down the river.

It could have been a good caper, but instead the director had to take little sojourns into 1980s Jackie Chan territory where bad puns were cute. Given that they’ve written in high-falutin’ gadgets and that Jackie has become the more hip-sounding “JC”, you just have to scream WHHHYYYY?

Why the silly hysterical gweipor? Why stupid pirates on a desert island, and why on earth is one of them made up like Captain Jack Sparrow? There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to it; just seems to be a feeble attempt to get cheap smirks (not even laughs).

I’m still traumatized  by the revelation that the coy offscreen “girlfriend” that JC was mooning after is actually real-life JC wife Lin Fong-chiao. Maybe the question I should be asking is why make the film at all?