Sunday, January 24, 2010

Land of the Lost

I am not going to waste much energy on this film. As many of you know, "Land of the Lost" was a beloved (if corny) Sid & Marty Krofft TV show in the 1970s. I watched it religiously. So when I heard that they were making a film version of it, I was skeptical. But then I heard that the Kroffts were returning to produce it. So I got excited. But then I heard that it would star Will Ferrell and I got skeptical again. All that said, nothing could have prepared me for this film.

Knowing that it was a Will Ferrell vehicle, I expected a disgusting site gag (there is), crude jokes (there are), and a few inappropriate gestures (Boy! are there). But there is far more than I expected. The language is atrocious! And unnecessarily so. It's almost as if they saw the PG-13 marker as a challenge. And don't even get me started on the boob cup. Yes. You read that right. Boob cup.

Now I have nothing against Will Ferrell. I enjoy his raunchy humor in films like "Anchorman" and "Old School" and he was delightful in the family friendly "Elf". But why he felt compelled to take a classic show for children, which he professed to love, and make it something inappropriate for the very age-group that is was originally created for, I do not know. I wanted this to be something that I could share with my kids, instead it is something that wasted two hours of my time and has to be hidden from the kids.

Other than the boob cup, there is no nudity so this may be appropriate for older children. Just know that the profanity is varied and constant. They may very well enjoy it. But for my taste, I found it a lame attempt to piggy-back on a former success without putting any real heart into the new story. I would be lying if I said I never laughed but they were few and VERY far between.

So I give this DVD a "Skip It".

Overall: rope

Age Appropriateness:Photobucket

Adult Enjoyment: rope

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Aliens in the Attic

This live action family film takes place in a scenic Michigan town, in a ridiculously large and beautiful rental house. An extended family descends on the home for a week vacation. The first family consists of a father, a mother, a teen daughter dating an inappropriately older boyfriend, a teen boy who is purposely failing his classes, and a young daughter. They are shortly followed by an uncle, his older bully son, and his two younger twin sons. And of course, there is a Nana in the mix. Finally, the previously mentioned boyfriend crashes the party. There are the standard parent-child angsts relating to grades, divorce, boyfriends, and way too much screen time. The number of electronic devices carried on the four boys alone would put Radio Shack to shame.

Now the title pretty well sets the stage. The kids interrupt an invasion by four knee-high aliens. The chief weapon of the aliens is a dart like instrument that when shot in the back of the neck allows the person to be controlled as if in a video game. The trick is that it doesn't work on children so it is up to the kids (and the one soft-hearted alien they recruit to their side) to save the world. Through various creative means,the rag-tag group fight off the attacks. Weapons are made from household products and when the tech-savvy kids get a hold of one of the game style controllers for the humans, they are more than capable of holding their own against the invaders.

I did not necessarily expect to enjoy this film. My son has wanted to see it for months and tonight was family night so I conceded. But I found it amusing. The children are amiable and the adult cast is peppered with well-known faces (Kevin Nealon, Andy Richter, Tim Meadows, Doris Roberts). While the story is predictable, it is well executed and sweet.

My six year old loved it and it mostly kept the attention of my almost three year old. The "danger" elements as my son calls them were very kid-friendly and not frightening. He laughed quite a bit, especially at the game style antics of the adults under alien control.

The film is PG and it is for mild and slightly crude violence (there are a couple of crotch hits). The language, however, is not an issue at all. There is no cussing -- the genial crud and heck were the worst of it. I must say that was a nice surprise.

I would rate this DVD a "Settle In".

Overall: rope rope rope Photobucket
Age Appropriateness: rope rope rope rope Photobucket

Child Attention Span:rope rope rope rope

Adult Enjoyment:rope rope rope

Sunday, January 3, 2010


If one needed proof that Pixar was the best at what they do -- "Up" would be an excellent place to start. It is one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen. Pixar simply does 3-D animation better than anyone. But as advanced as they are technologically, that is only a small part of the film's brilliance. Pixar just does it right. They tell real stories with real heart. The characters are fully fleshed out and voiced beautifully. The audience cares about the characters and Pixar does not simply depend on celebrity voices to keep the audience interested.

"Up" is the heartwarming story of a widower, Carl (voiced magnificently by Ed Asner), who after losing his wife watches his neighborhood swallowed up by high-rise development. He is pressured by the developers to sell but he is resolute. The home means everything to him and in a touching and heart-breaking intro to the story, we know why. A lifetime of love and loss had blossomed there and he won't let go. In a moment of anger, however, he acts out violently, a mistake that changes everything. He will be sent to a retirement home and thus lose his precious home.

So he takes action and embarks on an adventure long-since promised and abandoned. He attaches thousands of helium balloons to his house and flies off toward South America. Unfortunately, (or fortunately as the story shows) he is not alone. Russell (Jordan Nagai), an over-eager scout has accidentally gone along for the ride in his misguided attempt to earn a badge for helping the elderly. They fly up, up and away, and then down, down, down -- frustratingly short of the waterfalls he fought so hard to reach. As they try to carry the home to his destination, they embark on an adventure involving talking dogs, a former hero, and a seemingly extinct bird. More than that, however, they learn about and from each other.

The message of this film is uplifting without ever being sappy. I cried all three times I saw the film (once in the theater and twice on DVD). Life's adventures don't just take place in the wild or someplace "out there". They take place everyday as we live our lives -- building a home, a family, working a job. The message is that life itself is the adventure and it is beautiful.

Now that I've told you how much I love I loved the film, you might be wondering about the kiddos. My son adored it at the theater and at home -- hardly moved. My daughter did okay at the theater (and she was just over 2!) and loves it on DVD. So I rank it high on that front.

It is rated PG due to "Some peril and action" but neither of my children expressed any fear at all.

So I would give this DVD a "Stay up" (no pun intended!) -- in other words, watch it if you don't have kids or a "Settle In" -- stay and watch it if you do.

Overall: rope rope rope rope rope

Age Appropriateness: rope rope rope rope rope

Child Attention Span: rope rope rope rope rope 3

Adult Enjoyment: rope rope rope rope rope

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakquel

I saw the first Alvin and the Chipmunks film (2007) and while it was nothing thrilling, it was cute and not insanely annoying to the adults attending. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of the second film. The plot set-up is heavily contrived to allow Zachary Levi (better known for and much better in the TV show "Chuck") to take over the heavy lifting for Jason Lee. A series of accidents happen hospitalizing both Lee's character "Dave" and the aunt he had put in charge during his hospitalization. This leaves the chipmunks in the charge of Levi's ultra slacker, Toby.

For reasons almost as equally contrived, and not at all explained, the chipmunks are going to school -- high school. This allows for high jinks with the snobby jock kids, a uber-Chipmunk fan of a principal, and Alvin to be split in his loyalties between his brothers and his new "friends" on the football team. Yes, you read correctly, Alvin plays for the high school football team.

The other story line involves Ian (David Cross), the former record producer of Alvin and the Chipmunks who has become the L.A. version of homeless -- living in luxury model apartments and doing business on the roof of his old office building. He has found his way "back" as he has discovered the female equivalent of Alvin and his brothers -- the Chipettes. The sisters are exact copies of each of the Chipmunks Alvin, Simon, and Theodore (body types, glasses, and all) wearing skirts. And of course, they sing. If you weren't already tired of Beyonce telling us that we should have put a ring on it, wait until you hear it voiced an octave higher on helium.

Now my six year old son loved it. He said to me emphatically that the film was "crazy, funny!" and he "loved it!". So if you have a six to eight year old boy, this may be the film for him. Besides the Jerry Lewis style pratfalls, there is the requisite collection of swirlies, wedgies, butt and fart jokes. Like I said, perfect for young boys.

My daughter was bored. The story did not hold her and she wandered the aisle almost non-stop, I must admit that this did not add to my enjoyment of the film.

It is rated PG and the word "sucks" was used.

Overall, I would give this a "Stay In" or in other words, wait for the DVD.


Overall: rope rope rope 3

Age Appropriateness: rope rope rope rope 3

Child Attention Span:rope rope rope

(Under 3): rope 3

Adult Enjoyment:rope rope 3