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Frame by Frame: A Family-Friendly Movie Blog

    Frame by Frame: A Family-Friendly Movie Blog

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    Movie Review: Happy Feet Two

    Posted: 30 Nov 2011 02:21 PM PST

    Happy Feet Two

     

    PG for some rude humor and mild peril.
    Genre: Animation, musical, performing arts, kids, family, sequel
    Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

    The eagerly anticipated sequel to the Oscar-winning movie Happy Feet - Happy Feet Two finds the tap-dancing penguin Mumble and his friends using their smooth moves to save the penguin nation. Mumble and Gloria have started a family of their own and their young son Erik is just finding his footing among his fellow emperor penguins when a dire new threat thrusts their future into jeopardy.

    Just when it’s looking as if all hope is lost,
    the penguin nation bands together to dance the darkness away.

    A Disappointing Sequel

    While they called it the “anticipated” sequel – it’s sad to say – but like so-often happens – the sequel doesn’t really stack up against the first one. While Happy Feet Two is full of peppy toe-tapping music, it falls short of what made the original Happy Feet great. That’s not to say the movie is a total loss but unlike the first movie in this series, Happy Feet Two entertains the young, but leaves most adults suffering through the hour and 45 minute running time.

    The first Happy Feet movie actually had a story line that held together throughout and didn’t waver from it’s intent. But such is not the case for this sequel. This time around it seems those involved were more concerned about making a dance splash and a political statement than anything else. There are some good lessons about not picking on people because they’re different or small, but that is over-shadowed by the blatant “lets all get along” message. With a phrase like the “penguin nation” it becomes obvious the political agenda is a “One World Order” one instead of entertainment.

    Too Many Characters Leads To Disjointed Story Line

    While Elijah Wood is back as the voice of the tap-dancing penguin Mumble, he seems somewhat bored with the role. The energy found in the first Happy Feet is non-existent and at times is seems as though Wood simply mailed in his performance. The newest penguin on the scene Erik – voiced by the young Ava Acres – is cute. But in an effort to go for an obvious “cuteness factor” the producers miss the mark as at times the shyness and acting inexperience of this young newcomer makes for a weak character performance for Erik. As for Mumble’s main squeeze Gloria, with the passing of Brittany Murphy in 2009 who voiced Gloria in the original movie, this time around the character just does not have the same level of passion. The artist Pink is pretty much “filling in” for the incredible performance Murphy put in back in 2006.

    Robin Williams is back reprising his role as Ramon and Lovelace and while he is always a joy to watch, once again at times it seems as though Williams is merely going through the motions. Last, but certainly not least, two new characters are added – Will the Krill voiced by Brad Pitt and Bill the Krill voiced by Matt Damon. While these two characters are cute and do have some funny lines, the edition of the Krill’s leads to the disjointedness of Happy Feet Two. At times it seems as though the creators of this sequel are intentionally setting us up for a spin-off movie with these two characters. All I can say is I hope that never happens. There is no way they could carry an entire movie.

    Beware of the Agenda

    We are calling Happy Feet Two family-friendly but parents beware – there is a political agenda under-current at work here. Buried underneath the bouncing music and cute dancing and singing penguins there’s a political statement about world peace. The strong message for kids is one of getting along and not picking on people because they’re different. However, there’s also the underlying message of pulling all the nations together to just get along. When it comes to a Hollywood agenda such as this force-fed to a younger audience, I just have to say “shame on Hollywood”. Lets remember movies are supposed to be entertaining.

    Overall Happy Feet Two is entertaining and with a PG rating it is family-friendly. But, as already mentioned, this sequel simply does not stack up in quality with the first Happy Feet movie. The kids love the movie, but adults will find it disjointed and hard to follow. A couple times I almost fell asleep. Is it worth taking the kids to the movie theater to see Happy Feet Two? If you want the big screen experience, 3D effects and great sound system – Yes. However, if all the bells and whistles don’t interest you then you can probably wait for it to come out on DVD.

    Enjoy the show!
    Dr. Rus


    Movie Review: The Muppets

    Posted: 30 Nov 2011 02:21 PM PST

    The Muppets

     

    PG for some mild humor.
    Genre: Sequel, comedy, kids/family, musical/performing arts.
    Running Time: 2 hours

    When an evil oil man discovers black gold beneath Muppet Theater, Kermit recruits a Muppet super-fan and his two best friends to help gather the gang for a telethon to save the venue from being razed and replaced with a giant oil pump.

    Pulling together the old Muppet gang starts out simple enough, but one person might be a hard sell. She’s still smitten with Kermit but is also nursing a broken heart after all these years. Another hurdle to getting Miss Piggy to join the telethon revolves around the fact that she’s working at a posh job for Vogue Paris.

    With the drilling deadline fast approaching, the gang races to put on the performance of a lifetime to save Muppet Theater from certain destruction.

    Traveling Back To Childhood Memories

    I have to admit I’ve been looking forward to The Muppets arriving back on the big screen. I loved the show as a kid, I loved the earlier movies and I really hoped this latest installment of bringing the Muppets to life on the big screen would live up to the hype. I’m happy to report it does indeed live up to the hype.

    This Muppet movie starts out in Smalltown, USA where we find the world’s biggest Muppet fan named Walter. He, along with his brother Gary – played by Jason Segel – and Gary’s girlfriend Mary – played by Amy Adams – head to Los Angeles on vacation. Walter wants to visit the old Muppet Theater and when he finds out it’s going to be torn down, they all decide to try and save it. As the adventure begins they of course need to pull together the team of Muppets who are now scattered all over the place. Miss Piggy has a posh job in Paris, Fozzie is working a gig at a Reno casino, Gonzo has become the owner of a successful plumbing company and Animal is dealing with anger management issues in a Santa Barbara clinic. But, after hard work and under the leadership of none other than Kermit himself, the Muppets are back together ready for a Telethon to raise $10 million and save their famous theater.

    The Muppet Show

    Image via Wikipedia

    When it was announced Disney planned to resurrect the Muppets for another movie many wondered why. After all, aren’t the Muppets old news? Will anyone really like the Muppets in an entertainment world filled with vampires, blood, corruption and 3D special effects? These are all very good questions and the genius of this movie revolves around the fact that those involved in the flick were not afraid to poke fun at the fact that it’s been years since we’ve heard that wonderful Muppet Show theme song.

    Jason Segel co-wrote the script for The Muppets and it’s obvious from the opening frame that he’s aiming to create a fun movie, while at the same time tapping into a piece of nostalgia. Not only is he working to create a fun flick, but there is also an entertainment statement here too.

    Is there still room for wholesome family-friendly fun humor?

    By the end of the movie the answer to that question is clear
    and a resounding yes. 

    Another aspect making The Muppets a fun movie revolves around the many cameo appearances sprinkled throughout. Be on the lookout for the likes of Zach Galifianakis, Billy Crystal, Jack Black, Alan Arkin, Jean-Claude Van Damme and more! You just never know who you might see on the big screen in this movie.

    While The Muppets is a great family-friendly fun movie it does come in a little on the long side. The music is great, the jokes are fun and the humor is laugh-out-loud in many places. However, clocking in at two hours makes for some slow parts along the way. For the most part the slower parts are transitional times in the movie. But, if some of them had been left on the editing room floor the movie would not have suffered at all.

    With that in mind, parents remember this movie is not for the really young. Not because there are bad parts in the movie, but simply because two hours is a long time for young children to sit through a movie. While they will be glued to the big screen during the upbeat musical dancing parts of the movie – their attention span will quickly fade during the slower parts of the movie. If you want your younger kids to see The Muppets it might be best to wait for the DVD to come out.

    Enjoy the show!

    Dr. Rus


    Movie Review: Arthur Christmas

    Posted: 30 Nov 2011 02:20 PM PST

    Arthur Christmas

     

    PG for some mild rude humor.
    Genre: Comedy, Kids, Family, Holiday, Animation
    Running Time: 97 minutes

    Just how does Santa deliver all those presents in just one night?

    That’s been an age old question asked by children throughout time. Through the years there have been many answers and much speculation as to how Santa pulls his yearly Christmas Eve trip off. This time around we discover that answer with a different 2011 twist to it. Santa’s exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation is hidden beneath the North Pole. All goes well until it’s discovered that one child has been left out!

    Santa’s son Arthur then finds himself on an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns.

    Simply A Fun Family-Friendly Christmas Movie

    The trailers make this movie look like a lot of fun. This is also an example of a movie that does not contain all the funny parts in the trailer. Actually, for the most part, the scenes in the trailer don’t even show up in the movie. This makes for an even better experience when watching Arthur Christmas. It’s almost like those involved in the making of the movie determined to make the trailers a stand alone entity in and of themselves.

    For it’s debut weekend Arthur Christmas grabbed the number three spot. Of course it was also overshadowed by the new Twilight movie and the return of The Muppets to the big screen as well. Due to that fact alone this movie could become somewhat of a sleeper hit on the big screen. It’s sad to say it might get lost in the mix as we move through the Christmas season and new movies – potential block buster movies – open pretty much every week from now until the New Year.

    But let me say this – Arthur Christmas is not a movie to be ignored. If you’re looking for spectacular color, lots of action, for the most part good clean fun, characters that actually develop and grow along the way and a few good lessons tossed in just for good measure, do not miss this movie. After screening Arthur Christmas we left the theater saying – “That’s how Christmas movies are supposed to be done”.

    Arthur Christmas is simply a fun family-friendly Christmas movie.

    Clocking in at slightly more than an hour and a half it’s also the perfect length for family viewing. There’s enough going on here to keep both kids and parents engaged and interested too. Unlike many animated movies, the writers of Arthur Christmas did not feel the need to stoop to potty humor in an effort to keep adults laughing. Instead this is a brilliant script with enough twists and turns to keep the adults interested, while at the same time not lose the children in the audience.

    From an acting standpoint, James McAvoy does a wonderful job of bringing the clumsy, but compassionate character of Arthur to life on the big screen. Then when you toss in names such as Hugh Laurie and Bill Nighy, this animated cast truly does come together and come to life right before your eyes.

    A New Twist On An Old Story

    Arthur Christmas basically brings a new twist to an old story. Every kid always asks “How does Santa make his trip so quickly”. Here we find that question answered with some modern day twists along the way. But, while using GPS, new high powered sleighs and yes an expansive computer system, in the end, we discover it’s really all about making Christmas special for everyone, no matter how big or how small.

    All in all we really enjoyed Arthur Christmas. It doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s enough here with intersecting story lines to keep everyone interested. Grandpa Santa brings alive wonderful memories of the old days while at the same time Santa helps bridge the gap between the new and the old, ultimately discovering what really makes the season special.

    Enjoy the show!

    Dr. Rus