Monday, June 27, 2011

Almost There; At the Movies {Cars 2}

Happy Monday, folks!  Over the weekend, our family piled into the truck and headed out to the movies.  We patronized one of our favorite small town theaters, where the matinees are still affordable, the seats are squeaky, but still springy, and everything - from the walls to the floors- is covered in crushed movie-theater-red velvet.  It was the perfect setting for Cars 2.

We went in having read some negative reviews about the movie.  I was hesitant when I heard that the character "Mater" was an even bigger part of the sequel.  Sophomoric humor is not my cup of tea.  If it was to be up-played in the sequel, then perhaps I would side with the critics and declare this the first inferior Pixar flick.  What I loved about the first movie was its scenery and the way it immersed you in that small town sense of camaraderie.  The music complimented the sweeping southwest panoramas, evoking both nostalgia and sense of adventure.  The critics were saying that Cars 2 left the small town behind for a spy-themed world tour.  I was doubtful they could do any better than dubious.  I was wrong.

What I think most reviews should have led with was: Michael Caine is in this movie.  Dreamy-voiced, amazingly talented, SIR Michael Caine.  Have you ever seen a bad Michael Caine performance?  'Nuff said.  {except: it had MICHAEL CAINE!}  Ahem.  Pixar did not disappoint, from the funny reunion of the Toy Story gang in the Pixar Short, Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation, to the Radiator Springs gang on their world tour.  True, the story focuses on Lightening McQueen and Mater from the original series{did I mention they added two British characters, one of which is voiced by none other than Michael Caine?}, and maybe it has to do with the fact that Mater's mannerisms reminded me of my goofy Chocolate Labrador, but I found the dubiousity(yes, I'm making up a word) to be handled well.  I even chuckled. 

The cities in which the gang travels to were amazingly animated (including "Towkyo")  I'm sure I missed many references to real life people in the racing world, but fans of that genre will probably pick out the subtle salutes.  The writing and ingenuity were enough to capture adults' attention as well as entertain kids.  There was more intense action violence than I remembered Disney or Pixar showing in previous films, perhaps on a Parr to The Incredibles.  But it's a spy movie.  Explosions and battered informants are at home here, as is Michael Caine.  {swoon!}

What really was neat, was towards the end of the movie we return to Radiator Springs there is a great pan shot down main street.  This is what Cars Land is going to be!  All the mock-ups and story boards over at Blue Sky Cellar are really fun to look through, but seeing that quick camera stroke through the scenery, giving us a glimpse of what we will be able to walk through come Summer 2012, made my heart skip a beat.  It was like I was almost there

Okay, ladies, you ready?

AKA: Michael Caine

Monday, June 13, 2011

Almost There; Hidden Mickeys

Have you ever found a Hidden Mickey?  Well proportioned and even abstract trios of circles seem to jump out at you from the obvious to the least suspecting of places.  In our household, contests ensue in the vein of the "slug bug" road trip game.  It is addicting.  Exclamations of, "Hidden Mickey!" can be heard near and far, as evidenced by the strange glances we receive from the un-Disney-fied in, say, the party goods store.   {True story: my son spotted this and I whipped out my cell phone to snap a shot.  Sure, it's geeky.  But it's fun!}

They're everywhere when you're thinking Disney...  find them and it's like you're almost there!  


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Almost There; Of Princely Character

photo by Annie Liebowitz

What makes a good prince?  Honor?  Wisdom?  Courage?  Passion?  He is, after all, one day destined to be King.  His behaviour as a young man has much to say about who he will become.  Mistakes are to be expected, but the manner of correction he receives and the training he submits to will ultimately shape his future.

 My daughter loves the movie Tangled.  I mean, is head-over-heels about it.  Don't believe me?  Click here to visit her blog.  We first saw the movie in theaters together.  Each of us came out with a different opinion of the movie as a whole.  She had stars in her eyes of a relatable princess and a dreamy guy who ultimately followed their dreams and lived happily ever after.  I, on the other hand, was a bit perturbed at the mother-figure = bad, thief-as-boyfriend = good theme.  Perspective is everything.  She saw the movie as a teenage dreamer.  I saw the movie as a retired teenager who had been there, done that.  Back then, in the "olden eighties" as my son so *ahem* lovingly puts it, I bought into the whole good-girl-falls-for-bad-boy fairy tale too.  But seeing the movie as a mom, my perspective was, "What do you mean she falls for this Flynn Rider guy?!?  Can't she see he's a thief, a liar, and just using her?!"  (the smolder did NOT work on me)  

I worry not only what we are teaching our girls about who they should "fall" for, but who we are telling our boys they should be.  Are we feeding our boys this character assignment of "If you want to get the girl, you will need to have a dark the bad boy"? 

Two of my all-time favorite fairy tales are Disney's Sleeping Beauty and Mulan.  I have always loved  Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty.  He had what I would call Princely Character.  He was a passionate prince who loved his princess, recognized evil for what it was, and fought that evil with all his might to save his girl.  That's Princely, indeed. 

Mulan's love interest was Shang, Captain in the army and son of the General.  He was a leader who took his role seriously.  He trained hard, followed orders, and didn't allow himself to get distracted from his goal.  He was the kind of man that Grandmothers hope for their grandchildren {Would you like to stay forever?} Again, Princely Character.

The other end of the spectrum is Princes without depth.  I love Cinderella, but let's face it, her prince was rather two-dimensional.  Handsome and polite, but I couldn't make out more than just a pretty face.  Likewise, Snow White's Prince Charming was just that.  Dedicated, sure {One song, I have but one song...} but a bit flat.  If you need someone for a tooth-paste commercial, he's your guy. 

Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid was more of a free-thinker, and did risk his life to try and save Ariel {Grim, I lost her once, I'm not going to loose her again}, but he did fail to recognise evil when it came in a beautiful, deceiving form.  Sometimes evil presents itself as loveliness, and a good prince should be able to discern true beauty from a counterfeit.

Can we encourage our young men to be of Princely Character?  To live with a sense of purpose, to be honorable, noble, courageous and good?  I hope so!  Perhaps there is a lesson in Tangled for our boys after all.  Flynn Rider ultimately found that Eugene Fitzherbert, the gentle & honest persona he once tried to shed, was the persona worth keeping.  While Eugene is still no Phillip or Shang, he's working on making better decisions.  I suppose one could say that he's almost there

All photos are, of course, Copyright Disney. Except as otherwise noted.
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