Tag Archives: Helen Mirren

Not Too Old for This Shit

 

by George Wolf

 

RED was not a great movie, but a clever script and an extremely likable cast made it a helluva fun ride and a mildly surprising hit.

So, for RED 2, then..more of the same?

You bet, and it works just as well.

This time around, ex-CIA badass Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is determined to stay Retired Extremely Dangerous, living the domestic life with his sweetie Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) in the suburbs. Sarah, though, kinda liked her introduction to the spy game, so when their old buddy Marvin (John Malkovich) shows up with an invitation, she pushes Frank to accept.

And with that, we’re off to the races. Sure, they’re ridiculous races, but that hardly matters with old friends (Helen Mirren) and new friends (Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Hopkins) as cool as these.

Screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber return from part one, again providing plenty of snappy dialogue for their veteran actors, while director Dean Parisot (the underrated Galaxy Quest) has no trouble staging globe trotting action sequences or blowing things up.

Parisot is also smart enough to know that with a cast such as this, sometimes you just stay out of the way.

Malkovich and Parker are deliciously droll and often hilarious, and Mirren, well really, don’t we all want to grow up to be Helen Mirren?

Even Willis seems rejuvenated, after sleepwalking through the latest G.I. Joe and Die Hard installments. This is a tough guy character with a softer shade, and he seems to relish it.

It’s at least twenty minutes too long, and the novelty of aging asskickers may not survive future installments, but right here, right now, RED  2 pegs the fun meter early and often.

 

Verdict-3-0-Stars

 

Revenge of the Monster Nerds

Monsters University

by Hope Madden

Any mediocre Pixar release feels like a stunning disappointment, which may not be fair. No one bats 1000, and for every Cars 2 the animated giants release three Toy Storys. It’s an excellent swap, and to be fair, Monsters University is not quite Cars 2. Though similarities exist.

First of all, it’s a sequel to one of the studio’s lesser films. While 2001’s Monsters Inc. was imaginative, clever fun, it just doesn’t measure up to, say, Up. It wasn’t a work of groundbreaking, mind blowing, heart wrenching, hilarious genius. It was better than whatever other animators were doing that year, though.

But the competition’s only gotten stiffer in the last dozen years, and Pixar will need another unique and wondrous tale to really stand out. Or, they could just rehash the old Eighties staple Revenge of the Nerds for the 10-and-under set.

You may remember Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman), two BFFs working the scare floor at Monster’s Inc., where children’s screams are harnessed for the energy to fuel Monstropolis. (Now, see, that’s clever.) Well, as it turns out, back in college the two buddies were actually rivals.

Both were scare majors, but while Sully lazily relied on his natural talents, Mike had to work hard. They didn’t get along, and wound up expelled with only one chance to get back into college: take a rag-tag group of losers and beat the other frats and sororities at a scaring competition. (Less clever.)

Wildly predictable plotting leads to a handful of moderately funny gags, but the film does boast a few genuine strengths.

For instance, Helen Mirren plays the terrifying dean. Helen Mirren is never a bad decision. Other solid voice talent abounds, including Charlie Day, who steals scenes as Mike and Sully’s wrong-headed frat brother.

In true Pixar fashion, the film is also a visual achievement to behold, the monsters offering endless tactile and color opportunities for animators, who appreciated the challenge.

Directed by Columbus College of Art & Design grad Dan Scanlon, making his debut as an animated feature helmsman (he’s previously directed a documentary and a short), the film charms and entertains in a forgettable way. It’s the best solution so far this summer for wee ones, but this isn’t that Pixar gem that will stay with them until they have kids of their own.

Hell, they’ll probably forget it by the time Despicable Me 2 opens.

 

 

Verdict-2-5-Stars