Thursday, August 25, 2011

5 fast film reviews: what to rent, buy, skip over in the DVD aisle

My sons have reached the age where going to the movies is a lot of fun. They behave beautifully in public, our schedule allows time to hit the occasional matinee, and because I don't have child care expenses (Mr. T can babysit!) I've got spare cash for tickets and popcorn. We've got a drive-in movie theater where admission is $6/adult and $2/kid and a local theater has $2 seats on weekday mornings. Team Testosterone took advantage. So, in case you didn't get to the movies this summer, here's what you did and didn't miss:

The Zookeeper: Confession: I have a thing for Kevin James. He reminds me of my favorite ex-boyfriend, so this review skews positively. The kids loved the animals and while some of the voices and jokes were annoying, the gorilla alone made the movie awesome (especially when the zookeeper takes the gorilla out for a night on the town and they hit the local Applebees). The story got more about the human romance factor and less about the animals towards the end, but it was genuinely sweet and had a good message about being true to yourself. Definitely rent-worthy.

Kung Fu Panda II: Will become legendary in its awesomeness. All the big stars came back, fresh villains (a nasty-ass peacock), plot threads picked up where the original left off, battle scenes galore. The cinematography was phenomenal in Po's memories of his childhood. This sequel grows all the characters and doesn't stoop to cliche. Unlike many kids' movie themes, this one got heavy at the end with an honest and brilliant message about forgiveness and mercy. Best part? The final scenes leaves the door open for another sequel! Buy it, you'll want to watch it over and over.

Mr. Popper's Penguins: Overall, a cute movie in the tradition of Disney family films involving wacky animals and misguided humans. I enjoyed the casting except for the title role. Jim Carrey irritates the hell out of me--if he'd play it straight (like in The Truman Show) and quit overperforming like a hyperactive fourth grader desperate for attention, I'd have liked this film more. Rent it, once is enough.

Smurfs: On a scale of Fred: The Movie and Finding Nemo, this ranks one step above Fred. Neil Patrick Harris was the only saving grace, mainly because he said all the things I was thinking, like "Doesn't that song get annoying?" I cannot defend my Secret Gay Boyfriend in this film. There is no defense for this movie. I didn't like smurfs when I was a child and the translation to the big screen left me feeling smurfed off. Skip it.

Cowboys & Aliens: As action concepts go, this was entertaining mainly because it involved cowboys in this mismatched battle for the Earth. That plus great casting (seriously, Daniel Craig as a cowboy is genius!), some innovative plot threads and the gritty feel of the film quality made this a better movie than I expected. Rent it if you're in the mood for action without superheroes.

Now it's your turn. Spill it, reader. What summer movie rocked your world this year?


  1. Harry Potter 7.2. Amazing end to an amazing series. I chuckled, I teared up, I believe I even squealed and threw my arms up in the air at one point when the tension got a bit high. :)

  2. I haven't been to the movies in ages. Therefore I cannot recommend any to you. Thanks for the tips though. We have just subscribed to Netflix and will follow your advice.

  3. Cars 2! Definitely rent-worthy (unless you have a major Cars fan in the house, in which case go ahead and buy it). Lots of action and all of the hidden Pixar humor we've come to expect. It's like Disney meets James Bond.

  4. The only movie I went to this summer was Smurfs. We saw it in 3D and that was our first time seeing a 3D movie so we thought that was cool.

  5. Uh, when was the last time I saw a movie??? I've no clue.

    How cool that you got out to so many this summer! Our movie theatre has $1 days in the summer for kids two days a week, but I didn't feel like the twins were quite ready yet. I think next summer we'll give it a shot.

  6. We don't see many movies in the theater. And Emma is not a big fan of movies (they're "too long"), so in the last few years, the only movie we've actually taken her to was the Frog Princess. That was a good movie, although we agreed the book was a bit better.

    This summer Emma and I read Inheart out loud to each other and then rented the movie. The book is kind of long-winded (maybe because it's translated from German?) and the movie was poorly done. She enjoyed seeing some of the characters come to life though.

    We tend to watch 1-hour shows through Netflix, rather than watch movies. Recently we're enjoying Chuck (a recommendation from Jen on the Edge) and a very witty Masterpiece adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, set in current times.

  7. Bridesmaids. Laughed way too much. I don't think you'd want your boys to go with you. Take a girlfriend.

  8. Had a vacation from my family this summer and watched:
    Crazy Stupid Love. Worth.Every.Penny. See it. Husbands might gripe, but I think they'll enjoy it, too.
    Midnight in Paris. Delightful. I can't stand Woody Allen, but Owen Wilson was a great substitute. He just didn't seem as whiny, even though he had WA's usual role. Good with a girlfriend or two.
    Friends With Benefits. Too light by half, and I still don't believe Justin Timberlake is straight. Still, it's a fun rental on a night when DH is out.
    Also saw Cowboys & Aliens with DH. We enjoyed it, but it was too self-conscious. And as much as I LOVE Daniel Craig, no self-respecting cowboy would post when his horse trotted. I'm just sayin'.

  9. We've only seen Poppers and Cowboys, and I have to say that I think your reviews are spot on. So . . . I'm going with your feedback 100% on the others. This was cool! Thanks for doing it.


  10. I love your reviews! And I'm jealous that you guys have a drive-in theater! I've never been to one.

    As for summer movies, I didn't see any. Not a one.

  11. We only watch movies when they get to free cable On-Demand, so we just saw Despicable Me...which I LOVED!!!! and How To Train Your Dragon.

    I am so happy to hear about KungFu Panda II because i really loved the first one.

  12. Just a thought - if you choke a Smurf, what color does it turn?

    As for Jim Carrey, I'm with you. the Truman Show was the only movie I could stand that starred him.

    Poor grammar aside, I don't get to many movies. Sigh.

  13. No longer doing the kid movie thing at all--I'm going to give a great-big MUST SEE to Sarah's Key--an indie movie based on the book starring Kristin Scott Thomas. Phenomenal.

  14. Movies... I vaguely remember this thing you call "moo-vee". That's where you go to a huge room and they turnout the lights and you get to watch that really big TV with the other people? Right?

    My last movie was Shakespeare in Love. Well, I did watch The Family Stone a few years ago, but it made me cry for three days.

    I can live without movies.

  15. But I do want to see Tangled. I wonder if that DVD vending machine at the grocery has it...

  16. awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks.

    My blog:
    DSL Vergleich klick hier

  17. We MISSED Kung Fu Panda 2!!! It was only out here for a few weeks, and when we decided to go, it was over :( We have the first dvd so we may buy part 2, since you recommend.

    We did see Cars 2, which older and cooler boys thought would not be good. We sat in the back and Max and his friends went to the front of the cinema. We settled in with our coffee and snacks and then we were blown away by how good it was! We REALLY enjoyed it, and I know your boys would too. Get it! We loved Cars 1 as well and have the dvd.

    HARRY POTTER! We're sorry it's over. I can't believe it!

    The Zookeeper got thumbs down here, sorry... And I've never been a Smurfs fan so we'll give that one a miss. I wonder if Cowboys vs Aliens is still out here? Maybe we'll go see it this week.


Spill it, reader.