Sunday, August 15, 2010

Episode 21: "The Incredibles"

"The Incredibles" centers around a family of would-be superheroes who are required to keep a low profile due to some legal issues that force all "supers" to stay underground. The suburban life isn't working for Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), who takes on some freelance work for a mysterious businessman. Soon, however, he discovers his would-be benefactor is actually a super-villain known as Syndrome (Jason Lee), a guy he scorned in the past. Without warning the entire Incredible family is wrapped up in the fight.

Did I really need to summarize "The Incredibles"? I don't feel like I did because I'm pretty sure Lindsey was the only human who hadn't seen this movie. It's incredible! (Haha, see what I did there?) As always, Pixar brings the goodness in every facet of movie making. The story is ridiculously strong, the shots and cinematography (as it were) is outstanding, and the voice talent is perfect. In 2004 I remember thinking, "Craig T. Nelson? Really? We're going to hang the next Pixar movie on the talents of Coach?" And yet, every time I watch this movie, I am reminded of just how wrong I was. Nelson is the perfect choice for Mr. Incredible and the same goes for all the talent around him.

This movie might be my favorite of all the Pixar features but choosing a true "best" or "favorite" from their catalog is nearly impossible. In their own way each of them sets a standard for other filmmakers, regardless of whether they're making an animated of live-action film. We in the room debated the "best" and "worst" of the Pixar universe while almost unanimously conceding that the worst for Pixar could conceivably be the best for just about any other studio, director, writer, etc. My "worst" is "Ratatouille" which was nominated for a stinking Oscar. You're doing pretty good when your worst film has some Academy love. I think I love "The Incredibles" the most, however. It's weird to say about a movie that features a host of super human, mutant powers, but "The Incredibles" is extremely real to me in a way that maybe no other Pixar movie (with the exception of "Up") is. The family dynamics, the perceived boredom of suburban life, and even the actions of Syndrome are quite authentic for me. The whole superhero thing certainly doesn't hurt my opinion, though.

Grade: A+

Best Character: Dash
How's it possible to not love Dash? He's just a funny kid who happens to be the fastest human in the world.

Best Scene: Suit Show and Tell
There's a lot of excellent scenes in this movie but I crack up every time Edna shows Helen/Elastigirl the features of her family's new suits.

Best Line:
There aren't a lot of iconic lines as most of the dialogue is quick back-and-forth. My favorite little hidden gem though is the muttering of an off screen henchman watching on TV as Syndrome's robot attacks the city:
"Every time they scream, we take a shot." Genius.

This might be Samuel L. Jackson's last good movie,

"The Incredibles" through Lindsey's eyes:

I went through a period of life where I didn't make Disney movies a priority.  I know, I should be thrown into The Disney Vault for a crime like that.  If it wasn't for Brian, I wouldn't see every movie that comes into the theaters.  When "The Incredibles" debuted, I didn't care too much about spending my money in theaters. They just keep raising the prices! I can be cheap, OK?  So the movie released in theaters, then to DVD, and it just never came up.  I was past the age of babysitting, so rarely do you just stumble across a Disney movie playing in a young adult's apartment.  Thanks to Brian and The List, I am now up to speed with Pixar (with the exception of Cars and Monsters Inc).

Well, of course, I loved it.  I loved the characters, the plot, animation, everything.  Now as I've learned more about Pixar movies through Brian, I have discovered the voices.  I always wonder about the voices behind the character and try to recognize them.  Brian has shared his knowledge that many actors continue to play roles in several Pixar movies.  Who knew that John Ratzenberger had a career past "Cheers"?  So now as I watch these films, I ask a lot of questions about the voices which led me to my next debate.

I asked about each character in this movie, then along came Gilbert Huph.  I asked, "So who provides the voice for the boss?"  Brian replied, "Wallace Shawn.  He also plays Rex in Toy Story."  I said, "Wallace Shawn?!  The guy from The Cosby Show?!"  The whole crowd went silent, because they had no idea what I was talking about.  Everyone else referred to him as the guy from "The Princess Bride." I do not make any reference to "The Princess Bride;" it's not my show.  We then had a big conversation over Wallace Shawn.  If I'm going to look back at his works, I would start with "The Cosby Show", then move to "Clueless", and finally to "Clueless" the TV show.  Does anyone else in this world refer to him as "The Cosby Show" guy?  He was a memorable recurring character, c'mon!

Mr. Hall was way harsh,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Episode 20: Waiting for Guffman

There are a lot of Firsts in my days. My First pair of Umbros that were half teal and half purple. My First dance recital that was spent messing with my hair rather than dancing. My First dog Cocoa that shared her dog food when I was curious about the taste. My First trip to Disney World where I slept most of the trip on my uncle's shoulders. My First CD that I owned, New Kids on the Block's Merry Merry Christmas. My First adult apartment with painted yellow walls. My First viewing of Titanic in the theater that was quickly followed by 4 more views. My First man to fall in love with, Davy Jones. Finally, My First Mockumentary with "Waiting for Guffman."

Introduced in high school, "Waiting for Guffman" was my first mockumentary experience. The first time I viewed this movie, I thought it was boring, but I laughed to look cool. Then after the 2nd or 3rd time, I loved it. I was able to see the humor and appreciate this new movie genre. I love "Best in Show" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous" but I think this movie will always be my number one mock, because it was my first.

I can relate to this movie so well due to my life experiences. Half of my year is spent choreographing and preparing for a musical production. My love for dance quickly translated into musical theater at a young age. I can't sing or act, but I can dance and react to a scene. I have sat through many rehearsals judging those actors with their choreography. I have been a part of MANY entertaining productions, but not quite as as good as we all believed them to be. This movie is my life. The actors in this movie have all portrayed a personality that I've worked with. If you have any experience in theater, this is a must see.

A penny for your thoughts,

First off, on numerous occasions I have advised Lindsey not to share that bit about trying dog food. She refuses to listen. My next step is to mock her mercilessly in hopes that she'll tuck that bit of info into the back of her mind and never let it out again. She's ruined several business deals for me with this story. (That's not true on any level.)

Second, I, too, love the mockumentary. "The Office" is my favorite TV show of all time, not to mention the others that have followed the example like "Parks and Recreation" and "Modern Family." (In fact, "The Office" might be responsible for the saving of the American sitcom. More on that another time.) "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is without question my favorite movie from Lindsey's list so far. And then there's the entire Christopher Guest collection.

A brief primer for those out of the loop. "Waiting for Guffman" is a mockumentary based around the inhabitants of Blaine, Missouri and the play the local "thespians" put together to honor the town's history. The group is led by Corky St. Clair, a man who once went to New York and (possibly) spent some time off-off-off Broadway. As their production gets closer, word reaches Corky that a New York stage critic (Mr. Guffman) will be attending the performance. Hilarity ensues.

Here's my deal with the works of Guest. I almost never laugh or "lol" as the kids call it these days. I chuckle from time to time and I probably grin a little from time to time, but I don't just go nuts with the laughter. I absolutely appreciate what he does and recognize the genius. "Best in Show" in particular is INCREDIBLE in a way that you can't understand unless you've seen it. But I don't laugh. I feel like I'm always saying to myself, "that's really funny" but it's just not the kind of funny that elicits laughter. I think the "problem" (if you can call it that) is how real Guest's characters are. All of his movies are magnificent character studies, better than almost any actual documentary. Everyone else who does a mockumentary takes normal human characteristics and exaggerates them to play up the humor. Guest doesn't do that. The people of Blaine, Missouri are people that I know. Everyone knows a Corky St. Clair. None of Guest's characters do anything over the top or extra ridiculous, they just talk, think, and act exactly the way you know people like this really do. It's almost too surreal to laugh at because you're in awe of how authentic these weirdos are.

So despite the fact that there was very little LOLing and certainly no ROFLing from my side of the couch, I found "Waiting for Guffman" to be yet another excellent piece of work from a brilliant mind. Grade: A-

Favorite character: Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest)
As noted, all of these characters are A-MAZING but "Guffman" falls apart without an outstanding job by Guest in the lead role.

Favorite scene: The entire play
Seriously a genius 25 minutes. I think my eyes were wide and my mouth open throughout the entire thing. Perfect example of how well Guest understands his settings.

Favorite line:
Dr. Pearl (Eugene Levy): "People say, 'You must have been the class clown.' And I say, 'No I wasn't. But I sat next to the class clown and I studied him." (Completely straight delivery from a dentist who is clearly only funny on the unintentional level.)

Don't eat dog food, kids,