The LEGO Batman Movie

A new review from The Movie Snob

The LEGO® Batman Movie  (C). I thought The LEGO Movie was kind of cute, but this sequel really didn’t do it for me.  The animation was kind of cool, but as usual in modern action movies everything moved so fast during the action sequences that I couldn’t even keep up with what was happening, much less appreciate the artistry.  The movie was crammed with references to all the previous incarnations of Batman, including the campy Adam West TV series, and I have to admit I did laugh out loud a few times at some of the off-the-wall references.  And it was kind of fun when the Joker managed to unleash a vast array of bad guys from The Phantom Zone, including Godzilla, King Kong, The Wicked Witch of the West, Voldemort, and even Sauron himself.  But the movie felt overly long, and the plot about Batman’s learning to work with others and to open himself up to a new family was pedestrian.  There was plenty of star power behind the voicework, though: Will Arnett (Blades of Glory) as Batman, Michael Cera (This Is the End) as Robin, Rosario Dawson (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) as Commissioner Gordon, Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I) as Alfred the Butler (rather than Voldemort, for some reason), Siri herself as the computer, and Zach Galifianakis (Birdman) as The Joker, just to name the main ones.

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The Lego Movie

The Movie Snob finally makes it back to the movies.

The Lego Movie  (B-).  This movie is getting high marks from the critics, but I just can’t go better than “pretty good.”  It’s an animated film about a world made of Legos—a world of bland conformity ruled by the Big Brother-like President Business (voice of Will Ferrell, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby).  But there is a prophecy that an ordinary Lego person will rise up and break Business’s stranglehold on Legoland, and it looks like The Chosen One may be an ordinary construction worker named Emmet (voice of Chris Pratt, her).  His potential chosenness is discovered by a nonconformist chick named Wyldstyle (voice of Elizabeth Banks, Definitely, Maybe), who recruits him to join some sort of rebellion against Business and his main henchman, Bad Cop (voice of Liam Neeson, The Phantom Menace).  The movie has plenty of pluses.  The animation can be very striking, some of the humor is pretty good, and it is fun to pick out all the famous vocal talent at work, including Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), Will Arnett (TV’s Arrested Development), Jonah Hill (This Is the End), Alison Brie (TV’s Community), and many more.  On the down side, as in many regular action movies, many of the action scenes moved so fast in places that I just gave up trying to figure out what was going on.  It started to feel a little long after a while, and I didn’t think the climactic ending was all that great.  Still, I give the film makers credit for trying something reasonably fresh and original.  Oh, and the theme song “Everything Is Awesome” really is kind of awesome.

Arrested Development – Season One

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Arrested Development – Season One (B+). I never watched this show during its run, and I kind of regret it now. It is a frequently amusing soap-opera spoof about the Bluth family, a wealthy California clan whose wealth comes from a home-construction company run by George Bluth, Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor, Paul). In the first episode, however, George is arrested for suspicion of illegal business dealings, leaving his one responsible child, Michael (Jason Bateman, Juno), to try to run the company while simultaneously managing his conniving mother Lucille and his three ne’er-do-well siblings George, Jr. (called G.O.B., pronounced Jobe), Lindsey, and Buster. As well as his son, George Michael (Michael Cera, This Is the End), his sister’s bizarre husband Tobias, and his slacker niece Maebe. The Buster character is not particularly funny, but the rest are a hoot, like the glassy-eyed Will Arnett (Blades of Glory) as inept magician G.O.B. Soap opera staples like forbidden crushes, blackmail, unexpected adoptions, and twins materializing out of thin air all play their parts. Also, there are lots of great guest stars, such as Jane Lynch (A Mighty Wind), Julia Louise-Dreyfus (TV’s Seinfeld), Judy Greer (American Dreamz), and, in a recurring role as the family’s terrible lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn, Henry Winkler (Night Shift).

I laughed out loud frequently as I worked my way through the first season, watching straight man Michael try to raise his son and save the company without letting his family drive him insane. Oh, and I got a kick out of the often-hilarious “scenes from next week,” which were never part of the next episode but often explained why stuff from the episode you just saw had no real consequences.

To me, this was one of the funniest exchanges all season, when several of the family members are meeting with their lawyer Barry about what will happen at George Sr.’s arraignment in court.

Barry: “You all just have to show up and pretend to be a happy, loving family.”

Lucille: “For how long?”

Barry: “Ten minutes.”

Lucille (with eyes narrowed): “See if you can get it down to five.”

2 views of Blades of Glory

From Nick at Nite

Blades of Glory. Funny, but not brilliant. When you combine the intentionally funny, Will Ferrell, with something that is unintentionally funny, male figure skating, hilarity is sure to ensue. It is a fine formula that has worked well in the past. Will Ferrell + News Anchor = Ron Burgundy. Will Ferrell + College = Old School. Will Ferrell + Funerals/Weddings = Wedding Crashers. Will Ferrell + Soccer = Kicking and Screaming. Will Ferrell + Christmas = Elf. All, funny and proof that if a formula is successful it should not be changed. This film is no exception. Will Ferrell, Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Will Arnett (TV’s Arrested Development), and Amy Poehler (Sisters) are all over the top as figure skaters in search of gold medals. They play prima donnas and self-important like they might be prima donnas and self-important in real life. I give it a “B+.” Check it out.

A second opinion from The Movie Snob.

Blades of Glory (B). Who says The Movie Snob doesn’t do mainstream? Without vouching for the entirety of Will Ferrell’s oeuvre, I concur in the judgment and opinion of my esteemed colleague. The humor is pretty lowbrow, but I still laughed a lot. I have to give a special mention to Jenna Fischer (Pam on TV’s The Office), who has a small but important role and is as cute as a button, in my humble opinion. Worth matinee price.