Positive Films & TV

Positive Films & TV

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Crazy Ones

The Crazy Ones, starring Robin Williams, is a new show out for this 2013 Fall season. It is about an advertising agency and the crazy shenanigans the people in it get up to to do what they do. In reality, it is a vehicle for Robin Williams to be, well ... Robin Williams. That means silly voices, random subject changes and dialog, miming, playing with toys, plans nobody else can follow, and wisdom that is present but cleverly hidden.

The show also co-stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy The Vampire Slayer fame) as his daughter, and partner with him in the advertising agency.  Her main role on the show seems to be of "straight man" and to be the voice of the reason against Robin Williams.

The Supporting cast includes: Andrew (Hamish Linklater), Zach (Jimmy Wolk) & Lauren (Amanda Setton). They are there mostly for Robin Williams to interact with, or to chime in with witty remarks, or to react to Williams' antics.  Lauren is in the background the most, has few lines, and (sadly) they are playing her off as the busty intern who is mostly there as a sex-symbol. Zach and Andrew work there as well, with Zach being the "charming" and confident one, and Andrew being the shy/hard-working one.

From what I have seen of the show so far, it has promise. It is certainly a LOT better than a lot of the other terrible shows on television right now. Give it a chance, you may like it. It is currently airing Thursdays on CBS at 9/8C. Check the show's website for up-to-date scheduling though :)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus is a 1993 (rated PG) movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah -- the "sexy" one), Bette Midler (Winifred -- the leader), and Kathy Najimy (Mary -- the dumb one, and an actor whom I have never heard of before or since). It seems 1993 was a good year for Halloween movies that don't depress me (I wrote about The Halloween Tree earlier, which also came out in the same year).

The basic premise of the movie is that 3 sisters in Salem Massachusetts who are witches were capturing children and eating their souls to stay young forever. (Nothing is shown in a horror/scary manner, and the entire thing is played off as magical/fantasy thing (which makes sense, since there is no such thing as actual witches)). The sisters lure the younger sister of Thackery Binx to her doom 300 years ago (so, roughly 1693, right during the Salem Witch trials), and Thackery raises the alarm and follows after her. He is too late to save her, and manages to get himself cursed to be turned into a black cat that is immortal (but can talk -- they really liked their talking animals in the 1990's).  The villagers finally get there, and not being able to find the 2 children, (rightly) assume the sisters are to blame, and hang them for witchcraft. Before they hang, Winifred casts a spell to resurrect them on All Hallows' Eve (Halloween) when a virgin lights their "black flame candle." Thackery (the immortal cat) then decides to guard their cottage on the off chance that their spell was real (why he didn't just destroy the candle -- or make it impossible to find, or burn down the cottage, who knows).

The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree is a 1993 made-for-TV movie based on a 1972 novel. I thought I would write about it since we are in the Halloween season, and finding non-horror, non-gross, non-scary, non-upsetting Halloween stuff is actually rather difficult.

The movie is basically about 4 friends on a magical quest to learn about the origins of Halloween, and common themes seen in the celebration of it. The origin of the mummy is explored by visiting ancient Egypt. The origin of the witch is explored by visiting ancient druids and seeing Celtic practices and traditions. The origin of the monster is explored by visiting Notre Dame as it is being built, and the concepts of gargoyles, demons and evil spirits. And, finally, the origin of the skeleton as a symbol is explored by visiting Mexico's Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

The movie is a fantasy romp which (in typical children's movies fashion) is done as if by magic, but at the end we are given the impression that it was all a dream, or just the kids imaginations as they listened to the teachings of Mr. Moundshroud (the antagonist/teacher in the story).

Parents should note, there IS a somewhat dark theme in the movie in that one of the friends of the 4 children is sick and the kids fear he may die (he doesn't). The subject of death and dying is a central theme in the movie, but it isn't focused on in a way that young children should really be upset. Older children may ask pointed questions, though.

On the whole, I like the movie and find it light enough to watch without being depressed (which is tough to do with a Halloween movie!). It comes off as something they might show in school during a slow day, more like an educational video with a bit of fantasy thrown in to try to make the educational aspect hidden.  If you are looking for a family-friendly cartoon to watch for Halloween, you could do worse than The Halloween Tree.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sean Saves The World

Sean Saves The World is a new show starring Sean Hayes, who played Jack in Will & Grace. Jack & Karen in Will & Grace were pretty much my only reasons why I WATCHED that show. The over-the-top histrionics of the "main" characters of Will & Grace, and their screaming dramas were a MAJOR downer for me. The writers knew that too, which was why Jack & Karen were promoted from background characters after the first season to supporting characters. By the 3rd season they were co-characters, and I would argue that by the 6th season, they had shifted to the main characters, with Will & Grace downgraded to supporting characters.  Jack & Karen were the funny and fun ones on the show.

So, I was delighted that Sean Hayes was returning to TV, AND that he was playing another gay character. After watching the premiere, I am happy to say that he is basically playing Jack again [YAY!]. The only difference is that he isn't as silly/flighty as before, and he is a MUCH better parent than before (taking it far more seriously). The girl who plays his daughter is adorable, and the woman who plays his mother is a GREAT comedic foil for him to fence with.

The show has started out being about his fourteen year old daughter moving in with him full time, after her mother abandoned her and walked out on the family (no explanation has been given for that, so far). She had been living with her mother full time, and only seeing her father on the weekends. So, Sean (his name is Sean on the show as well) is having to learn how to transition from being "fun weekend dad" to just Dad. His daughter is having to learn how to live with a new full time parent, and how to deal with being abandoned by her mother.  Sean's mother is stepping in to help with babysitting, and other family issues. She and her son don't seem to hate each other, but defnitely don't seem to be chummy either. They had a lot of funny lines to snap at each other.

Sean works in an office that is dedicated to online sales (it hasn't been fully explained if they actually sell the things, or if they are just a marketing company) that has been bought by a new owner who is a real creep (played by the same guy who played Victoria's German boyfriend (Klaus) Ted had to deal with on How I Met Your Mother). And there is comedy in those scenes too.

Overall, I was EXTREMELY pleased with the light and happy tone of the show (despite the parental abandonment), and the humor overall. I am THRILLED to have Jack/Sean back on the air, and I think the show has a lot of potential. Please watch it so the network goons don't cancel it! It is currently airing at 9PM Pacific (8 Central) on NBC on Thursdays. Check the show's website for up-to-date scheduling though :)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Star Wars: Episode IV (A New Hope)

Yes, I am going to talk about Stars Wars. Yes, the original. Yes, the one that came out in 1977 (May 25th, to be exact). No, not everyone on the planet has heard about it. As a matter of fact, there is a strong likelihood that kids turning 8 in 2013 have never heard of any of the movies. The last movie in theaters (Episode 3) was released in May of 2005, it hit home release in November of 2005. So, if a kid was born in 2005, they would be turning 8 in 2013 at some point, and in their lifetime, Star Wars has never been in theaters. Yes, I know there have been TV shows (notably the Clone Wars animated show), and yes I know a LOT of people have the films on VHS/Laser-Disc/DVD/Blu-Ray/etc. However, I have met plenty of people in their twenties and thirties (mostly women) who haven't ever seen the movies either.  Okay?  This article isn't FOR you, it's for THEM. This article is for anyone who missed Star Wars when it first came out (or was re-released, or re-re-released), or who missed (or stayed away from) the prequels (and I can't say I blame you, although I can tell you they did get better after Episode 1), or is too young to have seen any of it. All of the rest of you can either read this article for nostalgia's sake, or skip it -- and may the Force be with you :)

Okay, so, if you're still reading, I want to talk to you about Star Wars: Episode IV.  But really, instead of reading all this, I highly suggest you just go watch the film. It is an excellent film. But, if you need some convincing, please continue reading.  Episode 4 is also frequently just referred to as Star Wars without the subtitle or Episode number. That is because the episode numbers (and subtitles) didn't really matter until the sequels started to get made. George Lucas decided to start this series of movies in the middle, with Episode 4. Throughout this article, I will alternate between calling it: Star Wars, Episode 4, and the First Film.  Anyway, we get some history in the opening text crawl on the screen that lays the foundation for what's going on. Basically, the galaxy is in civil war, the rebels are striking against the Galactic Empire, and have stolen plans for a massive new super weapon the Empire has (the Death Star) which is capable of blowing up a planet. Princess Leia is being chased by the Empire and she has the plans on board her ship, and that's where the movie opens up. We then learn through conversations from the characters that the Jedi used to be the guardians of peace and justice, but they aren't around any more (we don't really know why, right now). We also learn that people are afraid of the Empire, and that they hate it.

So, with the stage set, I want to talk to you about the film, without giving the plot away.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pitch Perfect

I initially had no intention of seeing Pitch Perfect. I kept hearing people talking about it, but it didn't resonate with me. Fast forward just a few months short of a year after it hit theaters, and you know what changed my mind? We were at a Paramore concert and Haley Williams was sick, but went on stage anyway. She was talking to the crowd and telling them how close she was to passing out, etc. After she did her first song she said to the audience, "you know that scene in Pitch Perfect where the girl blows chunks all over the audience ... you guys have NO IDEA how close you just came to seeing it live" (or something to that effect) -- anyway, I said to myself, "if she (a singer you like) is talking about this movie ON STAGE, you need to go check this thing out!" So I did, and WOW, am I glad I did!

The movie is very similar to other strongly musically influenced movies such as Empire Records, The Fifth Element, and Hackers, where the music is like one of the characters it has so much of a role in the movie. Some people would compare it to Glee, but I disagree -- I don't think the humor is nearly as dark as it is in Glee (which is a series I don't like because it features that dark humor). Yes, there are some darker/sad moments, but overall the tone of the movie is light and fun (if slightly embarrassing/cringe-worthy at times).

I could TOTALLY do without the 2 gross-out scenes in the movie, though. Near the opening Aubrey throws up on stage, and they show it. And at about 4/5th of the way into the movie, Aubrey again throws up on screen, this time making a giant pool on the floor that one of the other characters ends up falling in. I didn't care for those two scenes at all (I really wish Bridesmaids hadn't opened the door to women doing gross-out scenes in movies, it was bad enough when the men were doing them =_=)

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph is currently my favorite movie. It unseated my previous favorite movie which reigned from 1995 until 2012. I will post about that movie as well here very soon. So, what makes Wreck-It Ralph my favorite? It is a lot of little things, really. For starters, the music and sound effects in the movie scratch that nostalgia itch fiercely! If you were a kid in the late 1970s or early to mid 1980s, you will immediately recognize the video game sounds they have mixed into the soundtrack for the movie. They took that theme and ran with it for the music as well. It is so well done, that I could just listen to the soundtrack and be happy.

Ok, but what else? What makes it my favorite? Well, aside from the strong nostalgia factor, there are also the characters. Wreck-It Ralph is a very interesting character in that he is the "bad guy" but he doesn't want to be the "bad guy." I love, LOVE that the movie starts with various video game villains/opponents sitting around in a "Bad-Anon" support group talking about how they are "bad guys" but that doesn't make them "bad ... guys." Genius! I also love the whole "Toy Story" what-they-are-doing-when-you-aren't-watching thing, applying it to video games was just an incredible idea, and one I would love to see play out in as many scenarios as they can dream up for sequels. In addition to Ralph, the misunderstood brute, there is Vanellope Von Schweetz -- another misunderstood character in a similar situation as Ralph in her own game. She is clever, has a sharp wit, is cute as bug's teeth, and is voiced by Sarah Silverman, whom I love!
Vanellope clearly becomes Ralph's adopted daughter during the course of their adventure, and he starts to put her needs and wants ahead of his, culminating in him making a major decision for her near the end of the movie which to this day when I watch it throws cold shivers down my spine. I LOVE that he adopts her and starts to look after her, it is a great message, and a fantastic development for his character (and for her character as she starts to come to terms with finally having someone in her life).