Thursday, June 25, 2015


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: Inside Out...Convoluted

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After repressing several urges to walk out during the screening of Inside Out, I stayed until the conclusion. Alas, this is an overrated film directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen that is confusing. It is also childish and, yet, too complex for children. For adults, it is a drag. Yes, it is a clever thought, but it is not executed with a matching expertise. We all know we have a range of emotions and they are at war each other daily. But the animation of these emotions is subpar for Pixar. Up created by Pixar had a spectacular story line and the animation of the characters was stellar. The animation of the parents of Inside Out's Riley, our star, is up to snuff, but the emotions of Joy, (Amy Poehler) Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) are not clever to look at. They are not up to Pixar's ability to create inventive animated characters.
The story line is that these emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind. The play on words as in "head" "quarters" is as silly as is this film. Throughout the day these emotions speak to Riley and interact. Riley is at a crisis in her young life as her father has uprooted her from her Midwest life to live in San Francisco where he has a new job. As Riley struggles to adjust to her new life, chaos ensues in Headquarters. Alas chaos ensues in the plot which becomes chaotic without much reason. Chaos is not plot as my former mentor Norman Mailer would preach, but Pixar seems to have created a movie that should be called Chaos, instead of Inside Out. Oh, it is charming how Riley faces the new activities at school, the trials of moving into a home before the furniture arrives, and trying to fit in with her new classmates. But the story line was not enough for me. And as I struggled inside my being with should I or shouldn't I leave the theatre, I identified with the turmoil Riley was experiencing in her head, her headquarters. And while Sadness ends up being the emotional star of this movie, I did experience this emotion because I stayed until the end of this film and sadly left the theatre.


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: Ted 2 Works

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Ignore the early moments of Ted 2 which are like a randy horse coming out of the confinements of an opening gate. Once set free Ted 2 lumbers unmercifully from one ribald gag to another. Some are riotously funny. Other gags miss, but just when you think, "This isn't working," Seth MacFarlane lands a whopper and you are back in the game of laughing and having a good time.
Humor is like that. Jokes are risks. And MacFarlane has some of the biggest balls in the comedy industry as proven by his risk taking. His writing falls on its face then bounces back with a gigantic grin. Several times I actually laughed out loud after thinking, "This film sucks."
MacFarlane holds no prisoners. No one is sacred. Even F. Scott Fitzgerald's name offers one of the funniest exchanges in Ted 2.
The plot is predictable and I am happy to say this film is not about plot. It is merely a vehicle for MacFarlane's curious, outrageous and lovable mind. As well as fellow writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. The film opens with Ted marrying Tami Lynn (Jessica Barth). They are riotously happy then in the next scene they are at each other's throats. Ted comes to the conclusion that if Tami Lynn and he had a baby, their domestic strife would evaporate. A sperm donor is sought. This evokes some of the funnier moments as Tom Brady has a small scene that lights up the screen. My, is he beyond handsome and a good actor who proved this by lying about inflatgate.
John (Mark Wahlberg), Ted's best friend, becomes the sperm donor and wrecks a lab in a good scene which ends with John being covered with sperm. (You have to see it.) The sperm idea does not work as Tami Lynn is unable to carry a baby. Hence Ted and Tami Lynn visit adoption agencies. This fails as well as the fact thatTed must prove to the government that he is human not property.
Ted and Tami and John seek a lawyer to sue for Ted's right to be recognized as being human. Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) is hired as a pro bono lawyer. She loses her noble attempt, but as a paste up script would do, Patrick Meighan (Morgan Freeman) prances in during the final moments as a noble hot shot lawyer to save Ted's Day. The end is a bummer in laugh town, but if you go to a comedy with the desire to laugh, by the end of Ted 2, you are tired of judging laughs and just "Go with it." Judging the quality of laughs is not what Ted 2 is about. Laughing is.

Friday, June 12, 2015


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a Must See

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Me, Earl and the Dying Girl is a funny film about dying. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directed this gem, which won best film at Sundance Film Festival and should do well. But, alas, the title is a downer, not the film. Norman Mailer taught me that a title should tell the audience what the book or movie is about. And yet, this title, I fear, will keep an audience away when this is one of the most enjoyable films I have seen this year. It is totally creative with a plot that is unpredictable and quirky. That's the word for this film. Quirk.
The actors are mostly unknown, save Molly Shannon, who adds a tremendous amount of quirk appeal. There is also Connie Britton, but she plays it straight as oddball teenage Greg's nagging Mom. Greg is played effortlessly by Thomas Mann, who has such an enormous appeal that his performance wraps your heart around his finger. Yet, it is Molly Shannon who almost steals the film playing the dying girl's mother, Denise, who needs her cocktail in her hand to face her daughter's terminal diagnosis. She does this with great acting chops and ease, yet keeps any overtly distasteful behavior on the back burner.
Greg is a loser in high school, and to light some gumption under his jeans, his mom tells him to make one visit to Rachel (Olivia Cook) to cheer her up. One visit he begrudgingly agrees to. This one visit turns into a deep friendship, and the addition of Greg's co-worker, Earl (R.J. Cyler), who becomes smitten with Rachel as well. Greg tells Rachel when he pays his first visit to her that he does not want to be there and would rather be somewhere else, but he promised his mother that he would visit her because she has terminal cancer.
This honesty makes Rachel smile, and slowly, these two teenagers begin their quirk. Their conversations are genuine, fresh, witty and not about death, but instead about laughing in the face of it. The writing by Jesse Andrews from Andrew's novel is stellar. Greg tells Rachel he is a filmmaker and has done some fourteen films. She begs him to show her one, then two, and thus, she becomes his fan of what are truly awful films.
They are parodies of the most famous films of all time, but are so silly that not even a grimace will appear on your lips. I assure you. Rachel has now found a chum who feels more odd about his identity than she does with her chemo head and its baldness. Earl confronts Greg that the co-worker line he feeds people about their relationship is just a cover up for his fear of intimacy. After all, they have been friends since childhood. Earl tells Greg that Greg is afraid to call him a friend as Greg feels Earl might abandon him and never show up on his doorstep again. These are poor working-class folk who hold each other up through cancer, through poverty, through whatever.
Holding each other up is what this film is about. Earl gives Greg the idea to make a film about Rachel for Rachel and this quirky film is the backbone of the quirky movie. Greg has a difficult time making it as he is getting closer and closer to having real feelings for Rachel, and knows she is dying. But the film must go on, and in the end, a delightful movie is made to pay tribute to Rachel who is her stoic, quirky self throughout this splendid tour de force. Telling you about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl does not do it justice. You have to see it.


Carole Mallory Headshot

Jurassic World... Frightening Fun

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Chris Pratt will make you want to hug him instead of your neighbor during the many guaranteed-to-grab moments in Jurassic World. IMAX has never looked so good and been so powerful. Twenty-two years in the creation, Costa Rica's Isla Nublar now has a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, the pet project of John Hammond for his monster pets. Because attendance has been on the decline, scientists have created a new creature to be fawned over, but early on in Jurassic World things begin to smell rotten in Isla Nublar.
A new prehistoric terror is created in the Aviary and much bedlam pursues as flying beasts light up the Costa Rican skies and devour. It seems usually larger people are the targets of terror or undesirable souls, and thus the plot can be predictable, but Jurassic World keeps a lid on predictability and still gets you to jump due to unexpected "yikes" moments.
One of the more terrifying moments is when a gigantic living fish is fed to a gargantuan-sized shark in Jurassic World's pool surrounded by paid visitors who watch the death of the fish at the jaws of the shark with applause, amusement and vulgar glee. "Too much," I said to my friend as I watch the horror of the delight in the patrons of the park as the fish was killed. Later I realized this was the point of the entire film. Steven Spielberg, who directed the first two Jurassic Parks,, co-produced this dinosaur of a film along with Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley. Together they have generated caring feelings for the mammals, animals, reptiles et al, Hence Jurassic World is more than a monster movie.
Bryce Dallas Howard is the darling zoo keeper to the dinos, and stunning at that. Her transformation from fastidious bureauocrat to warrior out-to-save-the-park is spot on. Pity her eye makeup had to come along for the journey. In the final scenes her natural beauty radiates, but throughout a large part of the film, she manages to have perfect makeup while running for her life and trying to protect Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) from the danger that turns them on. The most disturbing scene of Ms. Howards is of no fault of her own. The director Colin Trevorrow who does a masterful job except for one slight flaw -- his choice of posing the beauteous Ms. Howard as though she were a poster girl modeling for a calendar amidst the monstrous dinosaurs much like Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. This pose imposed upon Ms. Howard makes a really frightening part of this film downright silly.
The children in danger about whom we are to really care are Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, and while they perform their acting chores adequately, a cuddly let's-really-protect-these- cherubs-from-being-eaten-by-the-big-bad-dinos quality is lacking in their personas.
Iffran Kahn, best remembered for his stellar performance in Life of Pi, plays Masrani who is nobly running Jurassic World against Hoskins portrayed by Vincent D'Onofrio with the necessary evil though his big bad wolf character could have been a bit more menacing. When Masrani is flying in a helicopter to hunt for the creepy dino on the loose unfortunately, his expressive eyes are hidden behind dark sun glasses so intimacy with Mr. Kahn's wide array of emotions is limited
A delightful scene between two employees Lauren Lapkus and Jake Johnson who feel close yet must separate due to the impending doom of this bizarre play land for prehistoric pets is charming and well written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. Their wit comes at an appropriate moment and adds a youthful and hip feel to the dialogue which until this moment is let's-move-the-plot-along-rapidly-so-the-dinos-can-show-off kind of writing.
But it is Chris Pratt who along with the special effects combine to pull this film together into one big fun fest if a good scare will do ya. And Chris Pratt is oh-so-handsome and with the kind of good looks that make you just yearn for him to be the one to rescue you from an island infested with prehistoric creatures who haven't eaten for centuries.
In the mid-seventies I had the privilege of being invited to see Imax at a planetarium in San Diego by a friend, Dean Tavoularis, who was Francis Ford Coppola's production designer. Coppola was inspecting the technology as he wanted to film Apocalypse Now in IMAX, but he concluded it was too expensive to install cameras in movie theatres. Bravo to technology which has advanced to allow us the awesome experience of seeing not a war between men but a war between man and mammals et al which is the heart of this story. Warning! Jurassic World could turn you into a vegetarian.