Archive for the ‘Owen Wilson’ Category

MOVIE: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

April 4, 2010

I’m going to start this review out by saying exactly the same thing I always say whenever I watch and then review an animated film:  “I don’t really like animated films all that much.  I mean, I like them okay, but I rarely seek them out specifically.”

Then, as usual, I will continue on by saying:  “The weird thing is, whenever I see one, I almost always LOVE IT.  Why am I so stupid?  Why don’t I seek these out?  When will I learn that I love them?  Will I learn this time?  Pfft, doubtful.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

I don’t know why I’m always so mean to myself about it.  Really?  “Stupid,” Meg?  That’s not very nice.  Just seeking.  Just learning.  Still learning.  Working on it.

And Fantastic Mr. Fox is an excellent lesson.  This movie is brilliant — strange, clever, engaging, and hilarious.  Perfectly so.  I can’t think of a single thing I did not love about it.  Not one.

Based on the Roald Dahl tale of the same name, it’s about a young fox named Ash (Jason Schwartzman) trying to earn the respect of his father, Mr. Fox (George Clooney), a newspaperman who is also “a wild animal” addicted to the thrill of stealing squab.  Ash is small and cerebral, and when his cousin, karate expert Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson) shows up and starts getting all the praise from Mr. Fox that Ash wanted for himself, he is spurred into taking greater and greater risks.  Pushing himself.  Trying to find the Ash he wants to be.  Or, at least, the Ash he thinks his father wants him to be.  (Don’t worry, parents, he learns the right lesson about that in the end.)

It’s a great, classic story, and it’s translated to the big screen wonderfully here by Wes Anderson’s weird, awesome brain.  The animation is stop-motion, which is a format I’m not terribly familiar with and found extremely impressive (I couldn’t figure out how they did some of it, in fact, like when the characters do flips and there isn’t a single break in the motion — amazing!) and the dialogue is absolutely sharp as a cussin’ tack.

If you, like me, are sort of hum-dee-hum-hum about animated films, do yourself an enormous favor tonight and go rent this one.  Watch it with your kids (though, warning, there are a few scary scenes in this), watch it with your spouse, watch it with your neighbor who you barely know but wish you could be friends with.

I envy you — you’re about to have a perfectly splendid evening.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Kids, Animation
Cast:  George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Eric Anderson, Owen Wilson


MOVIE: Cars (2006)

December 31, 2007

I was just down in (sunny! warm!) San Diego for a week over Christmas, visiting my sister, her husband, and their nearly-two year-old son Luke. Luke is big into cars at the moment, and his favorite cars are the ones from the Pixar movie Cars — not because he’s a huge fan of the film itself, but because he’s read about a bazillion Cars-themed books. After a week there, I too had read about a bazillion Cars-themed books (some of them four-plus times in a row — the kid is a serious fan, I’m telling you!), and I was lovin’ them myself. But, even more fun, a couple of days after Christmas, Luke, Grandma, Grandpa, and I got to watch the actual movie together — them for the second time, me for the first.

This is a truly wonderful film for both kids and adults, as all Pixar flicks tend to be. It’s about an up-and-coming race car named Lightning McQueen (Wilson) whose priorities are all mixed up. All he cares about is winning races, and he doesn’t care who he’s got to drive over to get to the finish line. After a three-way tie for the Piston Cup, McQueen and the other two winners must drive cross-country to get to a tie-breaker race. On the way there, McQueen and his driver (a semi-truck named Mack) fall asleep and somehow McQueen ends up shooting out the back of the truck as Mack speeds off unaware anything has happened. Lost, McQueen is racing around looking for the interstate when he speeds into the small town of Radiator Springs, tearing up the blacktop behind him.

He’s promptly arrested by Sheriff and sent to court the next day for damaging city property. The judge, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), sentences him to community service: McQueen can’t leave Radiator Springs until he’s fixed the entire road — and unless he works really fast, he’ll never make it to the big race in time.

At first, McQueen is furious; he can’t believe he’s stuck in this hick town with all these losers! But the more time he spends with the residents of Radiator Springs — including a rusty tow truck named Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the town attorney Sally (Bonnie Hunt), and Doc Hudson, who turns out to be an old race car himself — the more he comes to realize there’s a lot more to life than just winning races.

In other words: you gotta have friends.

It’s a great story — a classic, of course — and the movie is loaded with cute and clever characters, as well as lots of “inside jokes” for the grown-ups. Of course, it helps to watch this movie with an absolutely crazy-adorable nearly-two year-old (Luke had all his Cars cars laid out on a tray in front of him while we watched, and each time a scene changed, he’d dig out the cars that matched the characters on the screen and hold them up until it was time to change cars again. Oh man, cutest thing ever!). But even if you are a grown-up alone, there’s truly a lot to love. This is another great addition to the Pixar filmography — truly the best in the kid biz, if you ask me. Highly recommended!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Kids, Cartoon
Cast: (voices) Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger, Tony Shalhoub