Movie Valley
June Movie Reviews
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Starring the voices of: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, and Peter Sohn
Directed By: Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava
Run Time: 1 hr 51 minutes

Ratatouille is about a rat named Remy who likes to cook. By sheer luck, he stumbles upon Alfredo, a guy who works in a restaurant but who can't cook. They work as a team to produce culinary masterpieces.

Of course I would like this movie. It's from Pixar, makers of such wonderful films like The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc, and Toy Story. And it's about a cute rat with a big heart. A cute rat who likes to cook.

This movie is cute and charming and heart warming... and a bit scary. I watched this movie with Jeff, Dawn, and Joel and they had a good time laughing at me when I jumped or yelped. The things poor little Remy goes through just to cook a meal! And the food Remy prepares is wonderful. If you like food, well, if you love and appreciate food, you'll love the concoctions that Remy prepares. You'll also get swept up in his love for food as he describes how food should taste, how it makes you feel when things pair well together. The animation is spectacular. It's amazing how detailed everything appears.

And as well articulated as Remy's love of food is, the relationship he builds with Alfredo is endearing. Food is the key to this whole story. Remy begins a relationship with Alfredo based on food - he helps save Al's job by doctoring up the soup Al created. But food plays an intrical part forging their relationship. Al takes Remy home after he realizes Remy can continue to help him out in the kitchen. The next morning, Remy makes Al a wonderful breakfast, which was Remy's way of making a friend. Food brought them together and food would help them bond.

Such a good movie. So funny. So smart. So charming. So well done. Rats and food. What's not to love? :-)

As usual, there is a short before the movie starts. It's called Lifted and is absolutely hilarious. Make sure you get to the movie well before the published start time, just so you don't miss it.

Evan Almighty
Starring: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, and John Goodman
Directed By: Tom Shadyac
Run Time: 1 hr 30 minutes

Evan Almighty is a spin-off from the Jim Carrey movie Bruce Almighty. If you watched that movie, you may remember the news anchor Evan, played by Steve Carell. Bruce made him talk really fast during one of his broadcasts. That newscaster is now a politician, who won based on his platform to "Change the World." He uprooted his family from Buffalo and has moved them to Virginia, closer to his DC office. God instructs Evan to build an ark, ala Noah in the Bible. Evan's clock rings at 6:14 every morning, despite the fact that it's set for 7am. Tools and wood are delivered to Evan's house. Animals, two by two, begin follow, well, stalking Evan until he's forced to give in and build the ark. At first, his family is supportive as building the ark gives him more family time but as his appearance changes, so, too, does his family's support.

I've heard that a lot of critics think this movie is kinda bad. All of the truly funny bits were featured in the previews. The rest of the movie was a slight chuckle, no real gafaws. But the movie did have heart and a lot of soul. It did no harm. It was quite enjoyable fluff to loose yourself in for an hour and a half. I didn't realize this movie was going to be so heavily religious laden, but in the end, all was summed up quite nicely - and realistically (well, kind of). It was a bit reminiscent of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, a truly wonderful Jimmy Stewart movie.

This is yet another movie where poor Lauren Graham is reduced to wallpaper. She's simply there and her lovely comedic talents are wasted. Steve Carell was good as the self-absorbed, starting his road to sliminess politician (he wants to "change the world," but then goes and buys a Hummer and a huge house that was once in the middle of a forrest). Morgan Freeman was delightful as God. I'm not sure you can go wrong with Morgan Freeman, particularly when playing God.

I must say I loved Evan's tendencies to do little dances to celebrate moments and happiness in his life. And I really liked the moment where Evan was encouraged to "do the dance" by God, and he even joined in. You gotta like a movie where God encourages funky dances and you gotta like a movie where God does a funky dance.

I know I tend to be logical at times where logic is supposed to be suspended, but I have a word of advice for people: If the appearance of someone you love changes drastically over night - things that couldn't/shouldn't possibly change that fast (i.e. substantial weight gain, beard growth, hair color change, etc) - please believe them when they claim that a higher power is controlling these changes (case in point: The Santa Clause and now Evan Almighty).

This is a sweet movie. It does no harm. It won't change the world but it tries to do so with a gentle push. No Hummers. No clear-cutting forests to put up Mc-mansions. Take in stray dogs. Do funky little dances.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, and Julian McMahon
Directed By: Tim Story
Run Time: 1 hr 31 minutes

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a continuation of the comic book about four people who become super-heroes after being exposed to some funky atomic particles in space. One has the ability to stretch various body parts; another has the ability to turn invisible and create force fields, another harnesses the power of fire and can fly; and the fourth is a rock-like creature with superhuman strength. The four are called "The Fantastic Four" and fight super villains. In the first movie, they battled arch-rival Victor Von Doom (who incidentally was also exposed to the space phenomenon and gained the power to harness electricity). In this movie, a strange creature appears on earth creating vast craters. As it turns out, every planet he's visited dies eight days later. Coincidence? No, not in the comics.

I just recently watched the first movie and was okay with the fact that it took me two years to view it. It wasn't that good. Comic books brought to life on the big screen should either be really cool or campy. This was a bit campy, but I suspect it had more to do with trying to keep it under the PG rating than by design (read: it was an accident). I like Jessica Alba but the blonde hair was just plain horrible... and so was her character. She was supposed to be smart... but really couldn't pull it off. In the second movie, she was a little better but I just didn't see her as a scientist. In fact, I didn't really believe any of them as scientists.

But that I aside, I have to admit that the previews for this movie made it seem quite dumb. It looked plain bad. Coupled with the fact that I wasn't impressed with the first movie, I second-guessed my decision to see this movie. Until I was actually in the seat watching it.

For the most part, the unintentional camp is back. The personal story bit bothered me. I didn't care to know about the Fantastic Four outside of their uniforms. I just wanted them to fight super villains. The back story has Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic - the guy who can stretch) and Susan Storm (Invisible Woman - the gal who can, well, turn invisible) getting married. And in the process, the two struggle with their fame and plight to be "normal." Ugh. The more dynamic story line pits them in a struggle against the mysterious "silver surfer" who is incredible quick, has more than superhuman strength, and creates enormous craters and just plain wreaks havoc on the environment (turning a lake into solid ice; making Egypt snow, crumbling mountains, etc).

Getting to the struggle with the silver surfer was a struggle. Ugh, it was a struggle. But once there, the story was quick, interesting, and a bit emotional. There was a nice underlying theme of free will and doing the right thing. Very interesting. The battle between the good guys and the bad guys was quite interesting as the balance of evil switches. Those that were good become bad (I won't say who) and those who were bad become good (again, I won't say who) and those that are bad appear to be good (again) but never really do change.

I actually liked this movie. I didn't think I was going to, particularly because the trite personal saga bothered me greatly. I liked cute campy bits thrown in here and there. One wedding attendee was thrown out because the bouncer didn't believe he was Stan Lee. He really was (and is the creator of the Fantastic Four). Very funny. And the Thing (the big rock-like guy with tons of strength) dueled a bear in a growling war and made the bear scamper way. That was funny, too.

Again, to recap: good movie. Liked it. Didn't expect much from it but really enjoyed it. Didn't like the wedding side-story but once the action got started, it was good fun.

Surf's Up
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, and Jon Heder
Directed By: Ash Brannon & Chris Buck
Run Time: 1 hr 25 minutes

Surf's Up had a lot of critics complaining about it before they even saw the movie because it's another movie about penguins. Do they complain about dog movies? How about people movies? Seem to be a lot of movies featuring people these days... Every review has to mention that this is the third penguin movie in a couple of years and then back-peddles by saying "But it's pretty good." Yup. It is.

Surf's Up is, as I mentioned, about penguins, penguins who surf. The slant is that this is a documentary, following all those who enter the penguin surfing contest. A behind the scenes look at the surfers, where they came from and what motivates them. The primary focus is a penguin named Cody, whose idol is Big Z, a penguin who bit the dust during a surfing competition.

This movie is quite funny. It pokes fun at the fact that it is the third penguin movie, and even makes references to the other two. Those lines come very fast but are very funny. The characters are well developed, which is quite a novelty for cartoon characters. They've got soul and interesting backgrounds. You almost forget that it is a cartoon.

It's a sweet movie. Very cute. Incredibly funny. I loved the rivalry between Cody and his brother Glen. And Chicken Joe was charming and hysterical. Good movie. And even adults will like it because it is just that funny and sweet.

Knocked Up
Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, and Leslie Mann
Directed By: Judd Apatow
Run Time: 2 hrs 9 minutes

I went to see Knocked Up because it's been getting good reviews. I haven't read any of them. I just know people think it's funny. My first choice for movies was Shrek the Third. That's been getting lousy reviews. And since I was smack dab in the middle of a really bad day, I decided to go with a sure winner. I didn't need Shrek to make my day even worse.

Knocked Up is about a drunken encounter gone very wrong. When Alison decides to celebrate her promotion, she goes out to a Bar where she meets Ben. His charm gets him a few seconds to talk with Alison; alcohol gets him a whole lot further. When Alison sobers up, she realizes her mistake (Ben has no job, nor does he want one, and spends his time hanging out with his friends watching movies to clock the T&A factor, while smoking as much weed as possible) and the two go on their merry way. Eight weeks later, Alison discovers she's pregnant and then decides to get to know the father of her baby.

This is a really funny movie. Not side-splitting, "wait, I need to catch my breath" funny, but many chuckle funny. It's also a smart movie with lots of little quick zingers and references that those who actually pay attention will get. It's a cute and sweet movie. And the birth scene at the end should be required for anyone who is contemplating having a child. Ouch and bleh are my only two words for that.

Katherine Heigl was very charming and sweet. I liked her a lot. Seth Rogen was an endearing bumbling teddy bear with a potty mouth.

I went to IMDB to find out runtime and the lot when I stumbled onto something interesting. Well, a couple of interesting tidbits. First, Leslie Mann is married to the director Judd Apatow. She's been in a couple of his movies. And the two little girls who play Leslie's daughters in the movie actually are her daughters with Judd Apatow. And I thought the little one looked a lot like her mother! And one other interesting note: Ben's stoner friends: the characters have the first names of the actors playing them (so Jason is played by Jason Segel, Martin is played by Martin Starr, etc). Funny.