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A third new paint job for ‘Cars 3’

June 14th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Fasten your seatbelts and start your engines for a wild (and often ear-splitting) ride in “Cars 3,” the latest installment of the family-friendly animated franchise.

Six years after the initial sequel and 11 since the series began with “Cars,” the anthropomorphic autos are back with a vengeance. Director Brian Fee ramps up the racing action (and the roar of the engines) while introducing a fleet of new characters sure to please young viewers, not to mention toy manufacturers.

This is a scene from the movie "Cars 3." The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage.  (CNS /Disney)

This is a scene from the movie “Cars 3.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage. (CNS /Disney)

Happily, there’s much more than the dizzying blur of NASCAR-like action. Screenwriters Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson and Mike Rich inject a nice amount of heart and pathos into the comedic plot, and add winning messages about second chances and the value of mentoring.

The years have been kind to ace racer Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson). He’s still at the top of his game. But just over his shoulder is a new generation of faster vehicles, like the brash rookie Jackson Storm (voice of Armie Hammer).

“Enjoy your retirement,” Jackson tells Lightning as he whizzes past.

In a flash, Lightning is sidelined by an accident. Disillusioned and depressed, he retreats to his adopted home of Radiator Springs. There he draws on the support of his loyal tow-truck sidekick, Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy), and comely Porsche sweetheart, Sally (voice of Bonnie Hunt).

Sally knows Lightning must look to the future. “Don’t fear failure,” she insists. “Take a chance. Try something new.”

A spiffy fresh paint job by Ramone (voice of Cheech Marin) helps. “It’s so beautiful,” Ramone says of his own work, “it’s like the Sistine Chapel!”

With his spirits buoyed, Lightning heads to the training center run by his sponsor, Rust-Eze, and its new owner, the “businesscar” Sterling (voice of Nathan Fillion). His eager young coach, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), is thrilled with her new, if elderly, charge.

“You’re my senior project!” she gushes.

As the bond between veteran racer and rookie wannabe grows, Lightning recalls the wisdom of his dearly departed mentor, Doc Hudson (voice of Paul Newman). On a whim, he takes Cruz on a road trip to find Doc’s original trainer, a grizzled ’51 Ford named Smokey (voice of Chris Cooper), to recapture some of the old magic.

“You’ll never be the racer you once were,” Smokey intones. “You can’t turn back the clock, kid, but you can wind it up again.”

“Cars 3” is full of surprises, and there’s a nice twist in store well before the finish line.

Preceding “Cars 3” is a short film entitled “Lou.” It’s a charming fable about a playground bully who learns the error of his ways thanks to some enchanted objects in his school’s lost-and-found box.

The film contains a brief, highly stylized crash scene. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G.

 

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Weekend movie: ‘Finding Dory’ a treat for all ages

June 16th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Fans of the 2003 animated adventure “Finding Nemo” have reason to rejoice: The long wait for a sequel is over, and the follow-up, “Finding Dory,” once again turns vast expanses of salt water into tasty taffy. The result is a dandy treat for moviegoers of almost all ages. Read more »

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‘The Good Dinosaur’ provides wholesome, hilarious fun

November 25th, 2015 Posted in Movies Tags: , , ,

By

Catholic News Service

“The Good Dinosaur,” the latest 3-D comedy-adventure from the animation wizards at Pixar, can be thought of as a warm and fuzzy cousin to the “Jurassic” films.

Animated characters appear in the movie "The Good Dinosaur." The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/Disney)

Animated characters appear in the movie “The Good Dinosaur.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/Disney)

Having conquered the mysterious world of the tween mind in “Inside Out,” Pixar now turns back the clock 65 million years to explore the (purely imaginary) interaction between dinosaurs and man.

“The Flintstones” this is not. But despite a few intense action scenes, “The Good Dinosaur” is wholesome and often hilarious entertainment for the entire family.

Director and co-writer Peter Sohn gleefully reworks history by proposing that the asteroid which may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs never happened. Instead, they evolved in an anthropomorphic fashion, talking and acting just like humans.

In this topsy-turvy world, plant-eating dinosaurs farm the land, while carnivores, such as the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, are cattle ranchers. The real threat is not from fellow dinos or primitive man, but nature itself.

And so we meet an adorable Apatosaurus named Arlo (voice of Raymond Ochoa) and his extended family of farmers: Poppa Henry (voice of Jeffrey Wright), Momma Ida (voice of Frances McDormand) and Arlo’s rambunctious siblings, Buck (voice of Marcus Scribner) and Libby (voice of Maleah Padilla).

Henry inspires his progeny to make their mark through courage and strength. “Earn it by doing something big in life,” he intones.

That’s easier said than done for Arlo. Sensitive and fearful, he struggles to keep up and win his father’s respect.

Tragedy strikes (shades of “The Lion King”), and Arlo is separated from his family, alone in a strange world. His only companion is a feral Neanderthal boy (voice of Jack Bright), who walks on all fours and howls at the moon.

Arlo fittingly christens his new friend Spot.

And so, this dino “boy” and his “dog” wander the landscape, searching for the way home. Along their path they encounter an array of eccentric characters, including a grizzled T-rex cowboy named Butch (voice of Sam Elliott), who dispenses wisdom around the campfire.

“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t alive,” he says.

There’s a delight in watching “The Good Dinosaur” seamlessly transition from family tale to buddy movie to rip-roaring Western, and then back again. All these genre variations share spectacular backgrounds rendered in photo-realistic fashion.

The real world is scary at times, and the film has its share of intense moments which could give pause to the youngest. No worries for their elders, though: Plucky Arlo inspires as he finds his inner dino and rises to his challenges.

“The Good Dinosaur” is preceded by “Sanjay’s Super Team,” a short animated film that is startling in its embrace of organized religion. Director Sanjay Patel draws on childhood memories growing up in India in this dialogue-free tale of a boy who comes to respect his father’s devotion to Hinduism.

Jewish and Christian viewers with small ones in tow will appreciate the cartoon’s affirmation of faith via a child’s vivid imagination. But they may want to combat any potential confusion by giving an age-appropriate primer on the difference between human speculation about the divine, which may or may not have genuine wisdom underlying it, and the revealed truth about God and humanity.

The film contains a few scenes of peril. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG, parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2’

April 17th, 2015 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

The stout bromides of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” only serve to make its thin plot and deliberate artlessness more glaring.

Kevin James stars in a scene from the movie "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2." Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/Sony)

Kevin James stars in a scene from the movie “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.” Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/Sony)

Kevin James, who co-wrote the screenplay with Nick Bakay, returns as the earnest, perpetually suspicious, hypoglycemic security guard first seen in the 2009 original. As before, Blart is a presented as a comically awkward figure, one who’s far more graceful on a Segway than on his own feet.

As the sequel opens, Blart is newly divorced from his second wife and quite sad. He receives a sudden jolt of happiness, however, when he’s invited to a security officers’ conference in Las Vegas. He sets off at once for the fabled oasis, his teenage daughter, Maya (Raini Rodriguez), in tow.

Once there, both of them get mixed up in a criminal scheme: Gang leader Vincent (Neal McDonough) is plotting to steal valuable artworks from Sin City’s casinos.

Under the direction of Andy Fickman, the humor in the ensuing scenes is supposed to derive from sight gags and from Blart’s frequent intonation of such inspirational mantras as “Integrity is a bewitching gumbo.”

But none of this comes off; the movie is leaden and bereft of laughs. Blart’s fellow watchmen appear only as cruel caricatures of the socially inept.

Blart’s supposedly stirring words as he delivers the convention’s keynote speech are as unobjectionable as most of the content surrounding them. Yet they land on the ear as mawkish cliches.

“If you believe the purpose of life is to help yourself, then your life has no purpose,” he intones. “Help someone today!”

The film contains frequent slapstick violence and mishaps. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested.

 

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Wolf saves ‘Penguins of Madagascar’

December 2nd, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

The holiday season turns out to be the time for the “Penguins of Madagascar” to come to the fore and into their own.

Agent Classified, the leader of the North Wind, is featured in a scene from the movie "Penguins of Madagascar."  The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/DreamWorks Animation)

Agent Classified, the leader of the North Wind, is featured in a scene from the movie “Penguins of Madagascar.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/DreamWorks Animation)

These supporting characters from previous movies in the franchise that began with 2005’s “Madagascar” take center stage in a spirited animated adventure calculated to please kids and leave parents’ minds at ease.

Comic possibilities drive the freewheeling plot of directors Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith’s family-friendly lark, with enjoyable silly results. But solid values are also present from the start.

Thus the film’s opening scene finds a trio of friends — take-charge Skipper (voice of Tom McGrath), analytical Kowalski (voiced by Chris Miller) and blundering Rico (voice of Conrad Vernon) — bucking the conformity and indifference of their peers to save an endangered egg.

The object of their concern, which can be read as at least implicitly pro-life, soon emerges from his shell in the endearing form of Private (voice of Christopher Knights), an eager-to-please fledgling whom the pals immediately adopt as their younger brother.

Having designating themselves a do-it-yourself family, the now-complete quartet familiar from earlier outings also decides they have what it takes to be avian spies. As it turns out, they’ll need all the undercover skills they can muster since they’re being targeted by a villainous octopus named Dave (voice of John Malkovich), whose alter ego, assumed at will, is a mad scientist known as Dr. Octavius Brine.

Dave thirsts for revenge on the penguins because their irresistible cuteness in human eyes has enabled them to replace him, time and again, as the most popular resident of this zoo or that aquarium. To wreak his revenge, Dave has developed a serum that will turn the whole species into disfigured mutants whose freakish appearance will repel the very people who used to cherish them.

Dave’s nefarious activities have drawn the attention of The North Wind, a team of self-appointed secret agents who come to the rescue of animals in need. Led by a wolf known only, due to a punning miscommunication, as Classified (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), they intervene to save the penguins. But ego and pointless rivalry soon have the two groups working at cross purposes.

Even as it trots around the globe, and indulges, now and then, in genre-typical potty humor, “Penguins of Madagascar” instills lessons about the negative effects of harboring a grudge and yearning to return evil for evil. The script, penned by Michael Colton, John Aboud and Brandon Sawyer, also emphasizes the positive results of loyalty, teamwork and cooperation.

The film contains a handful of mild scatological jokes and insults. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG.

 

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