Funny with good acting
In all story telling, the audience must engage in what we call a willing suspension of disbelief. In this case we must somehow believe that the hard working, ambitious and truly lovely Lori (Mila Kunis) has remained for four years in a relationship with John (Mark Wahlberg), a slacker/stoner in his mid-30s who would rather hang out with his best friend Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) than give his attention to his girlfriend. IRL (in real life) this relationship would not last from Friday until Monday. Oh, and the best friend is a Teddy Bear magically brought to life, somewhat more believable than the stoner/striver romance.
But this R rated comedy is funny. Fans of TV’s “The Family Guy” will be in familiar territory here. Wahlberg plays a big-hearted, dimwitted loser, just like Peter Griffith in the TV show. Mila Kunis is the much smarter love interest that somehow can tolerate her slower partner, just like Lois Griffith in the TV show. Even the talking Teddy Bear has a TV counterpart in Brian, the Griffith family’s talking dog.
This $50 million live action cartoon is all MacFarlane. He produced the movie, he wrote the movie and he directed the movie. He even does the voice of Ted, the talking Teddy Bear. Fans of Seth MacFarlane and “The Family Guy” will enjoy the humor and familiar set-ups in the movie.
This is R rated for language and adult situations, as fans will expect. Oddly, the only nudity is in a non-sexual scene where the stoner and the best friend explain why Garfield, the cartoon cat, has eyes that resemble the female breast. But there is enough other stuff to justify the R rating.
Giovanni Ribisi has an important role as a crazy kidnapper who wants Ted for his own son. He somehow does not make the connection between the living bear (who points out to the nut job that he is an American citizen, not a toy) and his intrinsic humanity; a theme developed in better movies such as “2001 A Space Odyssey” and “I Robot.”
Ribisi, seen lately in “The Rum Diaries” and long ago as the medic in “Saving Private Ryan,” is an old pro with more than 80 movie and TV roles to his credit. His crazy is both creepy enough and quirky enough to give him the honors for best actor in this movie.
Jessica Barth plays Tami-Lynn, the Teddy Bear’s trailer trash girlfriend (echoing “Family Guy” again, Brian the talking dog has a girlfriend with a similar lower class background). The spectacularly beautiful Barth is a new pro with several minor roles to her credit. She also has several voice roles on “Family Guy,” so she and Seth MacFarlane have worked together in the past.
There is a subplot that revolves around the 1980 camp favorite, “Flash Gordon.” Star Sam J. Jones appears as himself in “Ted” — Wahlberg, the stoner fan, and his ursine pal invite him to a house party. There is some very nice writing and acting when the fans get whacked on cocaine with their screen hero.
This one hour and 46 minute adult comedy has plenty of laughs, clever writing and good acting. If much of it is familiar, well fans of “Family Guy” will like it and people who liked the “Hangover” movies will also like this three saw blade comedy.
Next week we have the amazing Emma Stone in some movie about a guy with the power of a spider.
Fun for all ages
With “Brave,” Pixar introduces its first Disney princess, and she has made her mark… on the bull’s eye.
“Brave” is set in early Scotland. It is about the young princess Merida, who is an archer and loves riding her horse outside the castle. Her mother is opposed to her wild behavior and is trying to turn her into a lady.
Merida puts up with it until her parents arrange a tournament for the sons of local clan leaders to try to win her hand. In an attempt to avoid the wedding, Merida seeks out a witch to give her a spell to change her mother. What she doesn’t know is that her actions may end in ways that she didn’t expect.
Merida is an example of Disney’s new princesses. She isn’t the same type of princess as early Disney movies featuring Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
She is one girl who won’t be waiting around for a prince. Instead she is more independent and strong spirited. This new princess is easier to relate to and more up to date. This modernizes the feeling of the movie.
The movie fully embraced the culture of early Scots legends. There was no skimping on the animation, all the characters looked right, and the background scenery was spectacular. The animators really outdid themselves. The scenery looked real; the water looked like water; and the plant life was equally lifelike. The characters each had their own individual and unique characteristics. What really helped to make the movie great though, were the accents. Every character sounded like they should, and the accents were one of the winning features making “Brave” the good movie that it is.
Like several Pixar films before it, “Brave” has an animated short appearing before the film. It is very cute and has a fun premise behind it. The animation style used is the same as the rest of the movie. The short adds to the overall experience of the movie, even though they have no similarities in plotlines. It really helps to get the viewer in the mood for the full-length feature.
Pixar’s new movie of the summer made a large splash. I’ve never seen a fuller theater for an animated film. The storyline was good, the characters were fun, and above all, it was an exceptional movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Brave.” This is a great new family movie that will go on the same shelves as Disney classics such as “Beauty and the Beast,” and next to Pixar’s great movies such as “Toy Story.” “Brave” is the new animated flick of the summer that is fun for all ages.