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Three Films

I’ve seen three movies in the past three weeks.  TOY STORY: THREE, KNIGHT AND DAY, and last night DESPICABLE ME.  Conclusion — the plotting, packing, and emotional content was far better in the two animated films then in the live action, the heart pounding excitement was more heart pounding, and the conclusion more satisfying.

I don’t know if it’s because it takes so long to render an animated film so there is plenty of time to work and polish the script, though on the live action side it often seems that they more they screw with a script the worse it gets, so I’m not sure that’s a good explanation.

Is it because this is perceived as being “for children” so they try to make it easily comprehensible which means the plot has to make sense, and proceed logically?

Perhaps it’s because the characters have explicable emotional reactions in animated films rather than relying upon the clever quip, or rim shot one liner as a substitute for actual emotion and conversation.

But to specifics.  I found the final junkyard sequence in TOY STORY to be one of the most exciting action sequences I’ve seen in years.  First, because I could see what was happening as opposed to the first Transformer movie where every action sequence looked like a jumble of car parts being shaken in a bottle.  Second because during the course of the film I actually cared about the characters, and I had an emotional stake in what happened.  I also found the prison break-out sequence to be a wonderful homage and send up of every great prison break movie, and I loved it.  But mostly, I loved these characters, and it didn’t matter that they were just toys.

DESPICABLE ME was not as good as TOY STORY, but it was a tender story of accepting adulthood, and putting away childish things ie the super villain gives up his toys.  And I did love the toys — they were wonderful Rube Goldberg devices.  And the script has given me a line that I now use on a regular basis to torture one of my cats.  “IT’S SO FLUFFY!!!!”  They also had the guts to do the occasional unexpected thing — I won’t say more because the film hasn’t been out long, and I don’t want to post a spoiler.

And finally we come to NIGHT AND DAY.  I went to see it because reviews had said the dialogue was snappy, and reminiscent of Tracy/Hepburn films, and I’m always interested in doing homework.  So to the good points.  Usually watching Cameron Diaz makes me want to rip out my eyes, she is an actress I really dislike, but they managed to make her tolerable for me.  Cruise was very charming, and despite being a really strange guy in real life, he is certainly a good actor.

No, it was the plotting of the script.  Or more to the point the lack of plotting of the script.  In this film each time our heroes found themselves in an Impossible To Escape situation one of the other would be knocked out, there would be a sequence of jumping out of airplanes,  or other confused images of escape, and then they would be safely settled on an island hideaway, or in a fancy hotel in Salzburg, etc.  By doing it three times I think the writers/director were trying to say, “look, isn’t this charming?”  But it just came across as lame, and it irritated the hell out of me.  All I could think was that they had written themselves into a corner and rather than go back and fix the problem they went with the “Once out of well, our hero…..” solution.

Upshot — the animation movies take more time with careful plotting.  Which makes for a better, more coherent film.

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