Will Ferrel is one of those guys who is either hit or miss with me. I absolutely love Anchorman and think the last time SNL was funny was when he was on the cast list. Talladega Nights is one of my go-to quote-films, as I often threaten to “come at someone like a spidermonkey.” But then again, did any of you see Land of the Lost? That was just a cinematic bowel movement. Even worse is the fact that it also had Danny McBride and the cute girl from Pushing Daisies so I was much more disappointed than I expected.
With The Other Guys, Ferrel seems to get his footing back and I think alot of it has to do with the fact that he plays way against his established type here. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, he still plays a baffoon, but he’s not the overly confident baffoon he plays in films like Anchorman or Talladega Nights where he lords his false sense of superiority over everyone. He is not an alpha male at all. He’s subdued and odd but he’s not a complete imbecile. Playing the straight man to Mark Wahlberg, who essentially plays his character from The Departed with a bit of uneducated regression, we get a different film than we would have gotten if Ferrel has basically played Ron Burgandy with a badge.
The film works not because of the narrative, which is the case with most cop comedies. Did anyone watch Naked Gun for the story? No, it was for the chuckles. The Other Guys brings some heavy laughs and 98% of it comes from the actors in the film going at it straight faced and with no sense of irony. Duane Johnson and Sam Jackson put in some hilarious moments as the absent minded supercops of the NYPD who rack up millions in dollars worth of property damage chasing perps down over an ounce of marijuana. Rob Riggle and one of the other Wayans brothers play great ball-busting asshole cops and Michael Keaton is downright hilarious as the “angry police captain” character who’s just a few degrees off the accepted stereotype. Seriously, he delivers some of the best gags in the film and it saddens me that we don’t get to see him get much work nowadays. I need to watch Beetlejuice again.
Long story short, if you’re looking for a funny flick to pass the time (and it’ll pass some time, it’s only serious fault is that it’s just a wee bit too long) you really should give this a shot. You’ve seen Inception like 80 times already, it’s time to see something else. I’m serious now.
Man, I feel so old when I think about how much has happened in the time between the release of the original Toy Story and the arrival of the third film in theaters. I mean, I’m a young guy. I’m not even twenty-five yet. But the fact that it’s been fifteen years since the first film hit theaters weighs heavy on me. Mainly because I can’t remember much about that portion of my childhood. I was transitioning into middle school a year down the line and priorities seemed to shift. I do remember that Toy Story was an inspiring movie for me. It was so new and I hadn’t ever seen anything like it. 3D prior to that point had been mostly hideous. Looking back on it now, it’s amazing how far we’ve come in the quality of animation. It’s the same sort of gulf that there was between the 3D at the time and what Pixar brought us with Toy Story the first time around.
Toy Story 3 feels like something just as new and fresh as the original was fifteen years ago. Not because of the story or the characters, but because the first time around Pixar was clearly aiming the film at the hearts of the young. It worked. I still count the first film as one of my childhood favorites. This time around, they’re aiming at the same demographic but fifteen years older. This film is made, undoubtedly, for the kids who are no longer kids. The themes of growing up and transitioning into a world where we have to leave our childhood behind is one that everybody who saw the original has now gone through. Just as we could relate back in 1995 to the wonder of getting that cool new toy, in 2010 we can relate to wondering if we can bring ourselves to part with them.
The majority of the film takes place at the Sunnyside Daycare center, where the toys are donated in the wake of Andy leaving for college. And they soon come to realise that it’s not enough to just be played with, there has to be a connection. A special bond between the toy and the child. I know I had a favorite toy when I was a kid. I can easily relate to what’s put up on the screen here. I’m not so sure that younger kids will entirely embrace the message because the nature of kids toys have changed. Electronic gaming is skewing younger and younger and the imaginative world-building on display in the film’s intro where the toys interact in an elaborate scenario dreampt up in the mind of an innocent child might not be as widespread as it was when I was younger. I don’t know for sure, as I have yet to take the plunge of breeding my own offspring yet.
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of my friends get married and have kids. I’m all too familiar with the message Pixar is sending with this one. I think it connects with me emotionally because of it. The kids will like the film because it’s got amazingly crafted action scenes and it plays out, like all of Pixar’s films, as a legitimitely good film in addition to being an animated feature. It’s how they manage to get films like Up! nominated for best picture awards. They know how to make a good film. The daycare being treated like a prison, and the detail taken to play with well established “escape film” tropes serves to make the film enjoyable in what can almost be seen as a reversal of the second film. Only, with the third film, the action and the pacing is done, in my opinion at least, with much more skill and finesse.
A good deal of chatter has gone on as to whether the film is necessary. Sequels by nature are a bit of a beast. They’re really only there for financial gain in the eyes of most. Here, at least we get a little bit of emotional closure for those of us who grew up with this as a childhood gem. And in that closure, we get a sort of passing of the torch to a new generation who, should Pixar choose to make another film down the line, can look back to this film with the same reverence that I do for the original.
Pixar doesn’t do bad movies, folks. Unless you count Cars, but let’s not mince words here. Just go with it.
Yesterday while working in the shop, a discussion formulated about this blog and my attitudes toward certain writers or characters. The conversation inevitably led to the question, if I were writing for DC or Marvel, what character would I most like to write and who says I could do any better than the people writing that title at this very moment.
The real truth is that while I absolutely adore the characters of DC and Marvel, I don’t have any true aspiration outside of perhaps a childhood fantasy wish fulfillment scenario to write those characters. I don’t think I’m particularly well suited to writing in that particular field. Not because I dislike serialization or don’t think that I have stories that fit the characters, because I do, but moreso because I would rather self-publish a book entirely of my own design in the mold of fellow Houston writer/artist Terry Moore, or have an original creation published through Image or some other publisher.
I am in fact working on the script for such a series, though I don’t know how I plan to publish it. Either through the same company that I used to print my first novel or to shop it around to publishers like Image. I suppose I need to get an artist on board first, as that would be a major part of getting the thing published in the first place.
But back to that original question, if tomorrow I got a call from the people at Marvel or DC and they said they wanted me to pitch them a story for a character of my choosing, who would I choose to write? Everyone here should know how much I absolutely love Batman. I mean, the first film I can remember seeing was the 1989 Batman movie with Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton. I’m currently wearing my “lucky” bat-symbol boxers as I type this. But I don’t think that I would be able to take the reins of Batman either in his main book or even in an ancilliary mini-series due to the fact that there’s too much hovering over my head in terms of expectations, and I fear that immediately following my run some big name writer would erase my work with the stroke of a pen and all my writing would have been for naught. And were I to do a mini-series it would likely be regarded as insignificant and passed over.
The same goes for characters like Captain America or Spider-Man over at Marvel. I’d be so intimidated by the legacy of those characters that putting my name on the book would render me into a quivering neurological mess.
So who would I like to write?
Over at DC, there’s only one choice:
That’s right damnit, Power Girl.
Why? Because I love fun characters, and PG is one of the most fun DC has to offer. I feel like she has been written extremely well by some really talented people, especially the current creative team, whom I will be sad to see depart with this week’s issue # 12. That having been said, there is plenty of room for expansion on the character. I think that there are many writers who are two quick to see what’s been done with her and reduce the book to a one note joke or they don’t know what to do with the character at all.
I would like to take hold of Power Girl and expand on the great work that Jimmy and Justin have done, and bring her to prominence in a way that makes it hard for her to be ingnored in the grander scheme of the DCU. Essentially do for her what Marvel has done for Ms. Marvel lately. Her book may not have been a mega-seller but it did raise her level of recognition and ingrain her into the rest of the shared universe, making her a central character. PG may be a member of the JSA but she’s not popping up in other books simply because she’s such a public figure in the whole of the DC universe.
In the grand scheme of things I suppose most of the characters I would most enjoy to write would be the ones who have been written well in the past but aren’t really very prominent when you look at the progression of the shared universe as a whole. Over at Marvel I’d love to write She-Hulk, Wonder Man, and I’d really like to try my hand at The Runaways even though I know that the internet would condemn my writing before a page ever hit the stands.
Will any of this ever come to fruition? Probably not. I think my teeth gnashing towards Geoff Johns has essentially black-listed me there at DC, and I’ve been fairly vocal about my displeasure with Marvel from time to time. I’ll have to publish my own horse-crap from here until the end of time.
Such is life.