Now, the previews for this movie have made it look like a very cute, happy kid-friendly movie full of music, dancing, hijinks and maybe even some romance thrown in. If this is the movie you want to see and you want just go relax and see a feel good family movie, I have a recommendation: Leave after the first 30 minutes. Watch the first 30 minutes, then pack up your belongings, put on your coat and run. Now, if you don't want to sit and watch the clock, I'll give you an idea of which scene should be your last.
Our friend the penguin, Mumble, sets out on a journey, he has to prove himself. Personally, I say leave before the journey. Unless you want to stay for the looks of horror on the faces of small children near you as the screen goes black in the middle of an ice and snow storm. If you do, then stay for the journey, but be prepared to run quickly when Mumbles and his friends escape the wales. From there, run run as fast as you can.
Reasons you might want to stay.
1) You like being hit over the head that the state of the environment and world is rapidly declining and we really, really need to start worrying about the fish in the ecosystem and well, stop research in habitats and, of course, stop eating meat.
2) YOu like being beaten over the head with the fact that all christians who worship the great "guin" are narrow minded fools who will bring about the desctruction of the nation and ban all pagan hippity hoppers.
3) You like being beaten over the head with the stereotype that "hippity hop" music is the work of the devil....
The second half or 3/4s of the movie is very clearly written with A POINT and you are the captive audience and therefore you will listen to THE POINT.
And what is THE POINT?
Well, the point that I got is that pagans are cool, hippity hop dancers who are misunderstood and shunned by society. But in the end, the world will be saved by a cute, fuzzy misfit pagan with smooth moves. he'll bring the world to his side by dancing his way into their hearts. And once he saves the world, the stuffy christians will be proved wrong and will all become pagan hippity hop dancers.
Now, if you don't believe, watch the movie for yourself.
If you do, I'll give you a list of things you should look for:
1) the dead egg. And the very glaring fact that mumble is NOT AN EMPEROR PENGUIN. He's not. at all... And NO ONE NOTICES.
2) The stereotyped Southern Christian parents, particularly the father who tells his son to give up his wrong thoughts and ways because that sinfulness is why there aren't any more fish...
3) the fact that all the penguins blame the lack of fish on the anger of the great "guin" who gives and takes away, and has clearly taken away because one of the penguins has turned to evil thoughts. (This is actually one of the best scenes because the head penguin tells Mumble that it's his "pagan hippity hop dancing" that has brought the end of the fish supply.)
4) the not-so-subtle pollution commentary.
5) The continued over the top christianity commentary.
6) The entire hour about the ecosystem. With focus on the comments they let into the movie "why should we stop fishing. it's just a penguin..."
Now all of that being said. The movie did give me a great phrase....
made me want to be....
A PAGAN HIPPITY HOP DANCER!!
On a serious note though, it could've been a great movie. They just needed to tone down the commentary and stick to the kiddie movie plot with subtle references.
This has convinced me that i hate penguin movies. And that barring Mr. Flibble's role in Red Dwarf, I will stay far far away from anything with a penguin movie in the future...
Now, off to practice my dance moves.
I want to know if the people who created this movie decided to do so after the success of Seabiscuit in theaters or after the success of Million Dollar Baby
. I haven't actually seen the latter and am making the comparison simply because it is yet another boxing movie. Of the former, I have seen the movie and read the book and can, and will, comment on the similarities shortly. First, I should address the movie before me on its own. Would only be fair after all.
So. Cinderella Man. First off, I hate boxing. It disturbs me to watch people just beat the crap out of each other, even kill each other, for no good reason. They end up with broken ribs and bones and jaws and all sorts of scars. And why? I'm sure there is a reason, I just don't know it. And I don't like watching it. Too much blood and bashing with no real reason.
The movie itself was pretty well done. A bit long. There were a few plot holes. After all, at one point, one of the kids was sick and running a high fever. Russell Crowe and Renee Z's (her name is far too long to spell out) characters couldn't afford to keep the heat or electricity on so Renee decided to send her kids off to her dad's. Russell Crowe comes home, is furious, goes out and humbles himself to borrow money. He brings the kids home with him. Miraculously, the sick kid is well. So... to cure pneumonia or a flu one only needs heat and electricity? Hmmm... Good to know.
I had two other annoyances with the movie.
The first was a recurring thing in the plot. Everytime Russell Crowe went to fight, his vision would get blurry. Sometimes this would lead to flashbacks. Sometimes, it would just seem like he was close to losing consciousness. But he never did. Since he didn't lose consciousness during the fights, I assumed it implied some underlying problem --- presumably acquired from years of being a professional boxer --- that would be explained at the climax. I'm still waiting to know what it meant.
The other major annoyance was the camera work. The videographers --- or whoever is actually in charge of the camera work --- decided to be very creative during the fights. They liked to give close up views of faces being punched, or sides, or stomachs, and even more they liked to give perscpective shots of punching and being punched. They liked to give the samples from both fighters, not just the main character's. This led to me constantly being confused about whether it was a good thing there was a harsh hit or not. After all, I'm supposed to be rooting for Russell Crowe and he took a lot of hits. So, when they kept changing the cameras, I could never tell if he was being hit or hitting successfully.
Aside from those flaws, the story was nice enough. I just couldn't help comparing it to Seabiscuit. This movie was pitched as a story about a man who gave people struggling during the depression courage and hope because of his courage in the face of adversity. When they made Seabiscuit a couple of years ago. They told it as the story of a horse who gave a nation suffering through the depression hope because of his overwhelming courage. Both were scrappy, unlikely fighters who were always at a disadvantage yet somehow always (or at least almost always) found a way to overcome. And just like in Seabiscuit, at the end, during the climactic fight, (just like the climactic race) they kept showing people watching the fight and/or listening to it on radios trying to will their underdog to victory so that they might have hope that they too can triumph. And in both cases, the underdog won. (Though I was convinced Russell Crowe was also going to die. AFter all, that would explain the constantly blurred vision.)
Overall, it wasn't bad. Worth seeing if you're at all interested in the subject matter (boxing, depressions, etc) or like the cast. For the most part it was well done. Its just that, it wasn't for me. I don't necessarily feel that I wasted the 2 hours I spent watching it. Two hours was a bit long for my attention span. And given the choice, I'd much rather rewatch Seabiscuit. But, not bad.
This movie was surprisingly good. I'd heard since it came out in theatres over the summer that it was worth watching, but I remained wary. After all, for some reason, people think the new War of the Worlds
is worth watching. Therefore, people's opinions are suspect. It didn't help my hesitation to watch the movie when I discovered it was a full 2 hours long. I don't have the longest attention span in the world, and lately I've been very moody and had a tendency to change my mind every couple of seconds, particularly about what I want to watch. But, I finally made myself sit down and watch this today with the condition that I could (and would) do some work while watching. And, no work actually got done because, wow. Just, wow. I laughed, I cried, I had to think. It was intense, but had humour worked in and not an overwhelming humour, it flowed.
Its a large cast with a lot of very different people. Some of whom tend to play only certain type of roles or not successfully play roles at all. But, because of the style of the movie, that didn't happen. I got into the roles of the characters themselves in the overall plot. There were so many people that it seems there should be one primary lead character who everyone else interacts with, after all, thats how most movies are. But this movie was more like life. Everyone had a role to play, some more important than others. Some characters got more screen time than others, but all seemed to want you to root for them. To me, it was like watching a sliver of life. It all centered around one event that opened and closed the movie, but not everyone was involved. In some ways you could say it was like six degrees of separation. Everyone was somehow connected to the event, but mostly only through other people. And each connection was its own story.
To me, the most powerful story was from the only character who seemed really and truly good. He was a latino locksmith. And everyone assumed things about him, but the next time you saw him he was home with his five-year old daughter, soothing her fears and giving her confidence for her life. He gave her an impenetrable cloak. And in a testament to her love and faith in her father, she truly believed in it. Leading to a scene that made me cry. And I do not cry at movies. (It wasn't much of a cry, but still, there were tears and from me, that is something.) But that little girl makes me think --- so much innocence and faith in a child. Where does that all go? (But that is beside the point of this review and just something to think about.)
I guess in a way the other characters all demonstrate that loss of faith. Though really, they demonstrate just.. life. And the racism that exists in life, even in those who are convinced that they are unlike everyone else and aren't racist. But it doesn't beat you over the head with it, it does it artfully. You feel their pain, or can if you let yourself.
The movie opened with a line spoken by the most central character of the film and to me, that line summarizes this movie:
"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In LA, nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."
All in all, I would say go see it. I'm not sure I'll ever watch it again because it might ruin the first impression. But the images and feelings of this movie will haunt me for a while.