Tag Archives: Sarah Silverman

I Can Has Sequel?

Ralph Breaks the Internet

by Christie Robb

Movies with an abundance of pop-culture references run the risk of dating themselves well before they’re released. Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) from 2012’s Wreck-It-Ralph stride directly into that potential minefield.

The film opens as playable racer Princess Vanellope von Schweetz has an existential crisis wondering if there is more to life than looping the same levels of her game, Sugar Rush, every day and drinking root beers with Ralph at Tappers every night. When her hero inadvertently breaks her game, the duo head off into the internet in search of the part they need to fix Sugar Rush and secure Vanellope’s monotonous future at the Litwack Family Fun Center & Arcade.

And, it’s…fine, I guess.

Flocks of blue Twitter birds soar over Google’s skyscraper and Amazon’s distribution center. Folks with signs pop up, baiting others to click on their content. There’s a search bar that’s kind of an actual bar, and there’s a whole Snapchat area off in the distance. But the film has none of the bonkers creativity of Sausage Fest’s imagined grocery store and more or less comes off as designed by an intercompany team of Silicon Valley marketing executives.

A fundamental misunderstanding about how eBay works results in Ralph and Vanellope needing to come up with $27,001 for the part they need. Now it’s a question of how they get rich quick on the Internet.

This leads to Vanellope’s discovery of Slaughter Race, a gritty, open world driving game a la Grand Theft Auto that becomes her happy place. And Ralph becomes needy, clingy, and self-destructive, refusing to let his best friend move on as he hustles for cash by making viral videos on a site called BuzzTube. This part drags as it trots out references to past time wasters like Chewbacca Mom, hot pepper challenges, and screaming goats.

Honestly, easily the best part of the movie is when Vanellope wanders over to the Disney website and hobnobs with the princesses while evading some Stormtroopers. It’s 10 minutes of Disney patting itself on the back for its ownership of a ludicrous amount of intellectual property. But it’s fun, creative, and silly in a way the rest of Ralph Breaks the Internet is not.

There’s a much better movie here that I hope is in the works.

What we get with Ralph is a pretty movie with some great voice acting that’s got enough detail in the background to make you smile. But it’s the kind of amusement you’ll probably forget about soon enough, like planking, Keyboard Cat, or Doge memes.

 

 

Shooting from the Lip

 

 A Million Ways to Die in the West

by George Wolf

 

Picture Seth MacFarlane cracking wise as he watches an old western, and you’re probably not far from the inspiration for A Million Ways to Die in the West.

So how well do MacFarlane’s modern comedy cow patties work when dropped into a pasture of Old West cliches?

Pretty dang well, pardner.

MacFarlane, who co-writes and directs, also stars as Albert, a timid sheep farmer who’s brokenhearted over losing Louise (Amanda Seyfried) to the dashing Foy, owner of the town mustache emporium (Neil Patrick Harris).

Things start looking up when Anna (Charlize Theron) rides into town, and as she and Albert get friendly, Anna conveniently forgets to mention she’s already married to Clinch (Liam Neeson), the most feared gunslinger in the land.

With MacFarlane, you pretty much know what’s coming:  cutaway gags to reinforce a line, toilet humor, and sex jokes (turned up a notch here by the always-demure Sarah Silverman as a town prostitute). But the film also has good fun with the historical setting, as Albert often reacts to his world like a wiseass who just arrived from the future.

Even so, MacFarlane is wise enough not to resort to outright mockery, always keeping the door cracked open just enough to let some homage shine through.

The chemistry between MacFarlane and Theron helps loads. You saw it when she helped him with a bit during his stint as Oscar host in 2012 and you see it here:  they really like each other, and she thinks he’s really funny. Together, they’re a charming pair.

The middle suffers a bit from comedy drought, but the laughs come faster as Albert nears his final showdown with the evil Clinch. Expect a cast more than ready to poke fun at themselves, some very clever songs, a few inspired cameos and two extra scenes after the credits start rolling.

A Million Ways to Die in the West is a big, broad idea that’s thrown on the screen with more frenzy than focus. But will you laugh?

Darn tootin’.

Verdict-3-0-Stars

 

 

For Your Queue: It’s like when you had Pac Man Fever, but without the rash

An animated feature with incredibly broad appeal releases to DVD this week, and if you missed Wreck-It Ralph in theaters, now’s a chance to make amends. This video game fantasy has its roots in a tale of misfit friendship that promises to keep every audience member engaged. Vocal talent John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer are perfect in this vivid adventure. Meanwhile, director Rich Moore throws enough color and action at the screen to fascinate the very young, and more than enough video game odes to appeal to the newest generation of parents (and any thirtysomething not yet in that category). This is sly, engaging storytelling at its best.

For a more serious take on video games, don’t miss The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters , director Seth Gordon’s 2007 documentary on the quest to hold the world record high score in Donkey Kong. Gordon (Identity Thief, Horrible Bosses) lets the characters and events speak for themselves and, as the best docs often do, the film unveils a world you may not have known existed. In many ways, The King of Kong is a perfect microcosm of American culture. The fact it’s also funny and truly fascinating makes it nearly impossible to resist.