Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Netflix this: ‘Lady and the Tramp’

July 16, 2009

Picture this: Christmas 1986. My parents, in a festive mood, decide to take the entire family (all seven of us) to the movies. I, of course, am beyond enthusiastic, because any opportunity to see a movie in the theater must be seized. The movie? An American Tail, the (non-Disney) animated adventure of a family of mice emigrating from Russia to America. Was I terribly excited to see it? Not particularly. Hell, it could have been an hour and a half of talking heads and I would have wanted to see it. (Such was/is my obsession with movies; sometimes it doesn’t matter what I watch, just that I’m watching.)

We arrived at the mall, which was quite a drive away from our home. The mall, in my nine-year-old eyes, had the luxury of having two multiplexes within it, one at each end. To our dismay, An American Tail was sold out. We would have to turn around and go home. But that was a fate I could not accept. I was seeing a movie, dammit!

As a kid I would scour the movie listings in the newspaper everyday. If there ever was a movie emergency and we had to go to a movie right then and there, I would save the day and and know the show times. My years of preparation was about to pay off; I knew that Lady and the Tramp was playing at the other theater at the other end of the mall.

I successfully convinced my parents to take the family to that instead, even though we had to wait about an hour for the next show time. Did I remember the movie? No, not really. But that sweet satisfaction of getting what I wanted has lasted all these years.

Fast forward to Summer 2009. I rent Lady and the Tramp from Netflix because I can. And now, nearly 23 years after seeing it for the first time, I discover how wonderful this movie really is.

The theatrical poster from the 1986 re-release.  Courtesy IMPAwards.com

The theatrical poster from the 1986 re-release. Courtesy IMPAwards.com

What’s it about? Lady and the Tramp tells the rather simple story of a cocker spaniel named Lady (whaaaa?!), who possesses what every dog should: loving owners, a warm house, and a fancy collar with ID, which ensures that if she is lost of caught by the pound, she’ll be returned to her owners.

Lady goes through an identity crisis when her owners, “Jim, Dear” and “Darling,” have a baby and her quality time with the new parents diminishes.

Months later, “Jim Dear” and “Darling” go away on a vacation, leaving the baby with Aunt Sarah, an old, dog-hating woman who believes her Siamese cats are absolute angels, but really cause a lot of problems for Lady. (Thus reinforcing the universal truth: cats are evil.)

Aunt Sarah, under the false impression that Lady has injured her cats, puts a muzzle on the dog, which sends Lady into a panic. She escapes from Sarah, spends some time in the pound, and gets acquainted with Tramp, a Mutt from—you guessed it—the wrong side of the tracks, with whom she falls in love.

What’s good about it? The animation is absolutely beautiful. The animators captured the canine movements so expertly. There’s also so real emotion to this film; if you’ve ever had a dog, you might even get a little choked up.

What’s bad about it? Some parts might be too dark for really young viewers.

Perfect for: Disney fans, dog enthusiasts.

The holiday movie roundup, part 1

January 3, 2009

This post is what happens when you see too many movies in a really short time span and are so busy with other things (including my new blog, City of Champion) that you just can’t give each film the review it deserves.

SEVEN POUNDS

The trailer for this film is very cryptic–it doesn’t really tell you what the movie is about.  Usually that’s a good thing, because most movies are ruined because the trailer tells too much.  But in this case, Seven Pounds is a confusing film–it’s 90% first act, zero second act and 10% third act.  It’s frustrating because the audience is in the dark about what is going on the entire length of the film, until the end when everything is revealed.  The story is rather simple, but the execution is muddled and not enjoyable to watch.  The entire film is a downer, even the ending (which is supposed to make you feel good).

What’s good about it? Rosario Dawson’s performance as an artist waiting for a heart transplant is effective.

What’s bad about it? If your idea of a good movie is watching Will Smith cry and writhe in anguish, hoo-boy, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Perfect for: fans of depressing movies.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

Keanu Reeves stars as a dude who looks human but is clearly not.  Yeah, there’s a stretch.

This lame remake of the 1951 Sci-Fi classic (which I admittedly have not seen) has aliens landing in New York City (of course!), primed to destroy mankind in order to save the earth from pollution.  (The same kind of thing was done in last summer’s The Happening and it didn’t work so well there, either.)  Jennifer Connelly co-stars as a widowed scientist who helps Reeves escape from the evil military people who are trying their darndest to protect the country.

What’s good about it? It’s not boring.

What’s bad about it? The special effects are so-so.  Reeves is terrible (as usual), as is Jaden Smith (Will Smith’s son), who plays a bratty tween.  (Something tells me there’s not much acting in his performance.)

Perfect for: Keanu Reeves fans.

MARLEY & ME

Watching Marley & Me, I realized that there is an art to making a broad, crowd-pleasing film.  Director David Frankel (who directed 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada) has crafted a film that is nearly perfect in terms of pacing and accessibility.  Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston have genuine chemistry.  I’ve never said this before (and hopefully never again), but you’ll laugh, you’ll cry.

What’s good about it? See above paragraph.

What’s bad about it? If you hate crying in movies, stay away.

VALKYRIE

There was a lot of negative buzz surrounding Valkyrie (it originally was slated to come out this past summer, then it was pushed back to February 2009, the bumped up to Christmas 2008…oh, and it stars the poster boy for Hollywood eccentrics, Tom Cruise), but the good thing is that the movie itself is actually good.  Really good.

In this World War II-era thriller, Tom Cruise (in a winningly low-key performance) stars as Claus von Stauffenberg, a colonel in the German army who plots to kill Hitler and stage a military coup.  It’s a great edge-of-your-seat movie, expertly directed by Bryan Singer (who directed Superman Returns, X-Men and The Usual Suspects).

What’s good about it? SPOILER ALERT: The events of this true story take place in the summer of 1944, and Hitler didn’t die until 1945.  (It’s history, kids.  Look it up.)  But even with that knowledge, I could not stop asking, how does this end? A good indicator of a good film is when you know the ending and you still wonder what’s going to happen.

What’s bad about it? SPOILER ALERT: Hitler wins.

Perfect for: Anyone looking for a good thriller.  And anyone wondering if Tom Cruise is still worth seeing in a movie.