Friday, June 24, 2016

Frolics with Fred: The Circle of Carrots

Hello, everyone!

Well, isn't this an interesting turn of events...

I went with Mariah to the Plaza Inn last week for a nice breakfast (have you tried their carrot cake?), and to meet my brethren.  Yes, I call the characters my brethren.

Anyway, I went to say Hello to Rafiki and apparently....well..that is to say...Long story short, he snatched me up and christened me the new King of the Jungle!

I was presented to all the kingdom (room full of hungry people), and anointed, as per tradition. I must say, I was a little terrified, being up so high.  And Rafiki is a little...kooky? Then, I suddenly realized what was happening...I shall be King! (I hope Simba's ok with sharing.)

Here is (blurry) proof, for all you naysayers.  I'm lookin' at you, Scar!

That day gave me a great can be anything you want to be...or something you didn't even ask for!

So, while I'm looking for a mane made out of leaves....have a great weekend!

King Fred

Friday, June 17, 2016

Life's Like a Movie.....Finding Dory

Hello, All!

OK, so while I've been collecting interesting content for you all, the pacing has been a little funky.  Fred has a frolic for you this week (it's a doozy!), and I have a few Disney related reviews for you all.

BUT, since I took my favorite test audience to see Finding Dory today, I figured I'd get it out fast.

By the way, HERE is my test audience, in all their glory...

Naomi (12), Olivia (5), and Reuben (7).  Aren't they the cutest things?

So, we couldn't wait to see Finding Dory.  Lemme just push up my sleeves.  Wait, I don't have any sleeves.  How am I supposed to emotionally prepare for this without sleeves?!

We were, in all honesty, prepared for an emotional experience.  Truly, as excited as I was, there was also a little fear in there.  Not that I thought Pixar would ruin anything, know how they are.  They like to encourage feelings we can neither understand nor explain (Much like Lightning McQueen).  

If anyone hasn't heard the impetus for the sequel, director Andrew Stanton reportedly said after Dory's line in the original, wondering about her family, his paternal instinct activated and he felt compelled to help her find her family.  Every ounce of that real feeling went into this film, and it shows.

On a mere technological level, it's beautiful.  Utterly.  As in many Pixar sequels (Or, prequel) the team takes the opportunity to step up the visuals a notch.  That's saying something when so much of the original looks like an IMAX nature film.

Story-wise, it is Pixar's usual solid story.  I really can't see a problem with it.  It's tone was light (and HILARIOUS) enough to keep the heavy from getting too heavy, without undercutting it.  

Seeing it with the kids, everyone had a marvelous time.  The two little ones tend to be quiet anyway, but neither found anything emotionally disruptive.  Oh, how I long for the days of going along for the story's ride and not being effected by it.  (Well, who are we kidding, I was an 8 year old who cried during A League of Their Own, I've always been like this!)  They all LOVED the finale, which, yeah I won't give away, but was a stroke of GENIUS.

I feel like this review is a little disjointed, but remaining spoiler free and attempting to find criticism with this film is incredibly difficult.  Time will tell how it holds up to Finding Nemo, but I think it will do just fine.  Pixar has had a habit of letting the side kick become the protagonist of a sequel.  Here, it was a perfect concept.  The movie's emotional heart is, naturally, Dory herself.  It would have been easy to continue to make Dory's short term memory loss, her disability if you will, a continued hindrance to the story.  It's allowed to deepen her character, a film intended for the audience to understand her.  Hence, heartbreak. 

What I saw in theme was really a lesson of .....well, just keep swimming.  For one thing, Dory, though accidentally, didn't let her memory loss stop her.  She just kept trying. In all things.  I'll just leave it at that. Also, I could see the analogy of disability here.  You see Dory's parents try to help their daughter through her memory loss and it emotionally pays off so beautifully in theme. 

The only criticism I can think of is from Reuben.  No sharks.  He was unhappy there was no Bruce, but that was the only disappointment expressed. 

OH! One other note.  If the short that came with it, "Piper", doesn't get the Oscar for best Animated short, I'd be surprised.  It was a perfect compliment to the film, theme wise.

Now, just one last note, something that's irked me for some time, but was further brought to my attention at my..screening.  This isn't a "kid's movie".  Well, it's a family film.  Two different terms.  Do NOT think because you took your family to see a movie geared towards families and children, that your children shouldn't have to behave in a theater.  I might do a full blog on this later, but just because a movie is animated or made by Disney doesn't mean it's stupid or just for children.  That was never Walt's intention.  Don't devalue the intense artistic and technical artistry here because of its supposed content. 

That's about it.  GO.  Now. Bring 1 tissue.  I think you'll do ok with that much. 

Oh, and STAY through the credits! (Why aren't you already doing that?)

Have a great weekend.  Just keep swimming.....

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Life's Like a Movie...Alice Through the Looking Glass

Hello, Readers!

I just barely got home from seeing Alice Through the Looking Glass, so while it's fresh in my mind, let me give a review.

First off, I try not to read reviews, but the one I did read mentioned how the story was kind of thin, a lot of style and not a lot of substance.  I really take issue with this because I'm tired of movies being judged by only one measuring stick.  This review calls to mind the bad reviews for Muppets Most Wanted (same director, James Bobin), where at least one reviewer called the plot merely a device to string Muppet jokes and gags together.  The answer to that being, "Yes, and...?" Some movies are about other things than plot (as a screenwriter, that can be a difficult fact but here we are).'s Alice in Wonderland, the less sense it makes, the more true to the original material it is, so clam up, reviewers!!

The story, not to reveal any spoilers, focuses a little more on the real world than the original, as Alice is pulled back to Underland to help an ailing Mad Hatter, while at home, her family's future is in its own turmoil.  In order to help Hatter, she must go ask a favor of Time, played by Sasha Baron Conan, who was a tolerable addition to what I consider a cast of favorites.  I almost don't want to comment on Johnny Depp's performance, because he is always fantastic.  I will say his performance here does anchor the emotional underpinning of the story, properly motivating Alice's journey.

And, frankly, I've always liked Anne Hathaway as the White Queen because it seems like she's channeling Stevie Nicks.  Helena Bonham Carter's Red Queen was undercut slightly, but all for a good cause in the end.  One of those "bigger picture" issues.

It's hard to know what I really can say, in total.  Again, if you're going for a particular story being paramount to the whole, you might be in the wrong theater.  I admit, I wondered why a sequel was necessary in Disney's eyes.  What I can surmise is the need to rejoin these characters, and director James Bobin did a great job of letting you have that.  This particular Burton interpretation (and while he didn't direct, he did produce) is much more character based, in my opinion.  The sequel was made to reunite an audience with good characters.

On the basis of good characters, one place I think the movie really hits it out of the park is with Alice herself.  In the three years interim in the story, Alice has grown and changed in her own right, much to her mother's chagrin, as well as society's.  This interpretation of Alice as a strong woman of her own will in the 1870s really doesn't get enough credit for the necessity it is even in our modern world.  My goddaughter loves both versions of Disney's Alice, and I can't wait to take her to see this one just so she gets an added reminder that she really can do the impossible.

PLEASE, go see this movie and just enjoy yourself.

See you in Wonderland/Underland/Fantasyland!