Some flicks I've seen recently:
The whole family was underwhelmed by the fat cat whose day in the orbit of fad planet is long gone. Believe it or not, Garfield was subversive and fun when it first hit the comics. In a way, it was a precursor to the later great ones like "Bloom County" (now thankfully resurrected as "Opus"), "Calvin and Hobbes" and "The Far Side" in that it got away with jokes that the established comics were too timid or too vanilla to attempt. Then Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield, handed over the reins to a team of people who produced it for him, and so "Blondie" (another team effort as the original creators are dead) is often more cutting edge. The creators of the other three comics listed don't attempt to hide their disdain at such a move (before one sheds the mortal coil, at least). As for the movie, I had hoped that either it would be so bad or so completely messed up by Hollywood hacks (ala the two Schumacher Batman films) that it would be fun train-wreck-wise. Beyond hope was that they had captured the spirit of the first few years of Garfield and would be kind of daring and iconoclastic. Well, they did neither. This is a safe, down the middle of the road kind of movie. As a matter of fact, it's perfect for really young kids, say 3 to 5, as the plot is simple enough for them to follow, and there's absolutely nothing worse than the application of a shock collar to Odie in one scene (which would have been played for laughs and not meanness in the original comics). Garfield, actually, is a lot like a toddler in that he never wants to leave his cul-de-sac out of fear of the big bad world. He exists to eat, sleep with his teddybear, and hang out with John. Little ones will relate to Garfield immensely.
The only fun moment in the movie for us didn't occur in the movie. At one point the main human characters have a brief, chaste kiss. Some young one spontaneously and whole-heartedly bleated, "Ewwww!" into the quiet of the theatre (it's a quiet movie, too, btw). We all laughed and laughed.
Ok, I think the critical hype is a bit over the top, but this is a darn good movie. Just don't walk in expecting the first Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or The Matrix, though it is better than the X-men flicks, and is even slightly better than the first Spiderman movie. Personally, I thought Daredevil did as good of a job of illuminating the personal angst of the super hero himself, but so many folks are allergic to Ben Affleck that that fact scotched the flick for some, and the very graphic violence harmed it in the kiddie market. (Super hero flicks have just gotta be a soft PG-13, Mr./Ms. movie exec.; that's the primary audience, even if a few of us nominal adults wouldn't miss one.)
I admit this is one of the first super hero flicks since Superman to honestly move me, and consider I saw Superman when I was a teen and more susceptible to such a moment in that kind of a movie. (You've seen this moment in the previews so I don't consider this a spoiler:) When a crowd of people lift Spidey over their heads as though he were crowd-surfing a mosh pit and move him along to safety, it's touching. And there are many other nice humans moments I won't spoil.
Though I have been a big fan of Kirsten Dunst since Interview with a Vampire, she's looking kind of stoned these days. And I mean really wasted. Typically, they can hide an actor's impairment - think of Carrie Fisher in The Empire Strikes Back. The reason Han Solo says, "I know," to Princess Lea's confession of love is that she'd flubbed the line so many times, he had spent the entire day being lowered into the dry ice smoke of the freezing unit and was tired of it. Everyone - except Carrie who was off doing another line - agreed the ad-lib was better, so they kept it. When you watch that movie, can you tell how ripped Carrie is throughout? No. Therefore, I was shocked when it looked like Kirsten was going to space out, giggle, and then ask Toby if he was gonna eat that. (<--- Standard stoner joke, don't worry if ya don't get it.) Watch the tabloids for Kirsten's first rehab trip. Maybe she can hang with Mary-Kate!
Along Came Polly
Caught this one on DVD. It was merely OK. We laughed at a few scenes, but then most of those were in the previews. It is now time for Ben Stiller to do a bad indie movie to get back some cred or he's gonna be more typecast than the cast of Star Trek. And, still, 50 First Dates was way funnier and was more of a well-rounded movie than Polly. See it instead.
Johnny Depp can't manage to save this one, though I am impressed at his ability to play a relatively normal guy. You know that it must be a stretch for him. So, as a fan of both Depp and King (though I loathe the character actor John Turturro), I'm disappointed that this wasn't better. It's not even slightly scary. The most horrific moment is supposed to be when he finds his dog skewered on the front porch (and if you think that's a spoiler after you're introduced early on to his sweet, blind dog, then this must be the first movie you've ever seen, and I apologize). And I know there's a demographic that thinks violence to animals is the worst possible thing anyone can do, but when the deaths of actual people are dealt with almost comically, I just have to wonder about priorities. That said, any given episode of The Twighlight Zone handled this kind of material with much more finesse. Skip this one, unless it's being broadcast on TV for free, you're trapped on your couch out of lethargy, the remote's too far away, and sleeping just isn't an option.