22 Jump Street | Phil Lord & Christopher Miller | 2014 | ★★★½
Since it’s release, 21 Jump Street has become one of my favorite comedies. A film that should not have worked by any means, thanks to Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s manic energy, a clever, hilarious script, and great chemistry between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, it became one of the rare recent comedies that becomes funnier and more endearing on repeat viewings. With 22 Jump Street, they pretty much made the same movie, but in a different location. But unlike, say, The Hangover Part II, they manage to make something out what would generally be a shameless cash grab by playing around, not with the plot, but with the audience’s expectations. The result, is as energetic, and hilarious as the first time around, but adds a layer of self-awareness that only made the film stronger. Only time will tell if it will become a favorite like the previous installment, but it gave me of the best times I’ve had at the movies this year. And with this and The LEGO Movie, I wouldn’t mind if Lord and Miller ruled Hollywood for years to come.
With How to Train Your Dragon 2, Dean DeBlois, tries, and succeeds at expanding the universe these characters inhabit. The character are older, more experienced, the scope is larger, and we are introduced to many new kinds of dragons. With this, the film delivers an entertaining and thrilling visual experience that needs to be seen in the biggest screen possible, mainly for the breathtaking flight sequences. With that said, I have some problems with it that I couldn’t ignore. As mentioned earlier in the week at The Dissolve, they introduce an awesome female character who is very important and seems to have a big role in the events that will happen, but then, as soon as the climax is reached, she disappears completely. Also, they introduce this villain that is supposed to be as evil as they come, but they don’t spend a lot of time developing him. We just get a flashback, then we see him, and then out of nowhere the big fight comes and it all feels very pointless. Something else that feels pointless: the big emotional scene. It’s a scene that should have made the theater break down, but it just sort of happens and there simply wasn’t enough of an emotional connection to the character involved in it that I felt absolutely nothing. Even with these problems, it’s a film worth watching, and I’m looking forward to revisiting it.
The Pirate Fairy is yet another part in DisneyToons animation Tinkerbell series, and just like the previous chapters, it’s a solid little straight-to-video film. The thing about these films is that despite the fact that they are cash-grabs with limited budgets and inferior animation, they are also often entertaining and very wholesome for its target audience. This film in particular has a very important lesson for everyone and it is told in a very amusing matter. The focus of the story is Farina (Christina Hendrix), who is a “dust keeper” fairy in Pixie Hollow (this means she is one of the fairies that makes sure there is enough pixie dust going around). One day she beings questioning whether they are using the pixie dust to its full potential, and she is banned because of these thoughts. A year passes and she has become a pirate captain (with the crew of the future Captain Hook), and returns to steal all the pixie dust and it is up to Tink (Mae Whitman) and her friends, to save the day. This plot is advanced with some clever and sometimes funny gags, but what matters is the message of accepting when others want to know more about their world and take it upon themselves to do so. The Pirate Fairy is not up to the level of most animated films out there, but it’s something ideal to watch with any young girls you may have in your family.
Once I realized the point of Romancing the Stone (Kathleen Turner’s “Joan Wilder” living the kind of adventure she writes about and being her own hero), I could semi-forgive some of the biggest problems that I had with the film, such as Michael Douglas’s lazy, smarmy performance, because they fit within the that arc. But it had some bigger problems that were unforgivable. The main one is that Robert Zemeckis filmed it as if it was a serious adventure. However, the script is so silly that his approach just holds the material back. Alan Silverstri’s distracting, dated score doesn’t make things any better. It wasn’t a complete waste of time as I enjoyed it when things started to get real, and Zemeckis’s approach actually fit the material. In the end, it’s not the worst Indiana Jones rip-off, but it’s far from a good one.