Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fun with Megamind

Seemed like the movie offerings had slumped into a lull this weekend on stormy Cape Cod. Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours had gone exclusive on me and wasn’t playing here, and action-weekend with Unstoppable and Skyline starts this coming Friday. But I convinced my daughter to see Megamind with me, we both deemed it a worthwhile entertainment, and I genuinely laughed out loud a number of times.

This energetically paced animated Deconstruction of the superhero genre certainly gets the casting right. Brad Pitt voices Metroman, the vainglorious Superman-like superhero of Metrocity who struts like a rock star in front of his hero-worshiping populace. Will Ferrell voices Megamind, the rival superhero who has devoted his life to the pursuit of bad and who feels big regrets when he finally defeats Metroman. In live-action films, I have to say I can't stand Will Ferrell, but here his repertoire of voices shows genuine talent. Tina Fey is perfect voicing the perky, sassy, coy newscaster, Roxanne Ritchi; and Jonah Hill basically voices a cartoon version of his character from Superbad. Here he plays the nerdy cameraman whose crush on Roxanne drives him psychotic when Megamind tries to turn him into a good-doing superhero, Tighten, to replace Metroman.

Lots of fun is had with the superhero genre as Megamind flips the hierarchy. Megamind, the big blue-headed mastermind of evil must save the day while Metroman goes reclusive to escape from his responsibilities, growing a beard and turning to music in another of the continuing and already tiresome parodies of Joaquin Phoenix’s break from his acting career.

But there are parodies that work quite humorously here – including one of Marlon Brando in his Jor-El role from Superman: The Movie, and a nifty allusion to Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan – though I guess it comes off as kind of ominous.

When the duel between the insane Tighten and the well-meaning Megamind, aided by his henchman Minion (voice by David Cross): an alien piranha in a fish bowl, turns the city into a battleground, the CGI-exploding-buildings are as realistic as the CGI-exploding-buildings in a live-action feature. Though I’m not a big fan of CGI renderings of animated characters, which lean toward caricature more than whimsy, something subtle but amazing is done with Megamind’s poor-waif eyes and his little blue mouth that stretches and constricts when he misses his nemesis Metroman or when he is rejected by the object of his desire, Roxanne. Voiced by an actor I can't stand, Megamind becomes a rather endearing, memorable character, a big part of what makes Megamind a worthy addition to the growing list of successful animated features released this year.


FilmDr said...

Nice review. You didn't find Roxanne a stereotypical maiden in distress? I can't stand Will Ferrell either. Superhero spoofs, superheroes straight up--the only superheroes I could stand recently were in Kick-Ass.

Hokahey said...

FilmDr - Yeah, I almost stayed away from this one because it's yet another movie about superheroes, but I enjoyed it. As for Roxanne, she is in control most of the time, even when she is kidnapped by Megamind. She isn't impressed with his torture devices, and she gets him in the eye with a spider. Like fighting Metroman, her being kidnapped is just another routine they go through, and it gives her a chance to get an inside look at Megamind's hideouts. Roxanne is a very gutsy, take-charge maiden in distress.

Jason Bellamy said...

OK, first of all, what the fuck is going on with the movies right now?! "Skyline," "Due Date," and "Unstoppable"?! All at once!? Of the three, if I had to see one, I would see "Unstoppable," just to find out how the movie tries to create a constant feeling of danger about a runaway train, because right now all I can think of is the line in "Darjeeling Limited" ... "How can a train be lost? It's on rails."

Thank goodness I've been slow to see the final too long, too American installment of the "Dragon Tattoo" series. I can see that this weekend, along with "127 Hours," which I think comes to town, too. Not that I have high hopes for it. But it's something.

I've had moments in recent weeks where I've fleetingly considered giving up movie writing entirely, in every shape and form, less because I've been working insane hours since February, on a schedule that will keep up until March 2011, other than breaks for the holidays, than because of the fact that the movies aren't even tempting me on the weekends. I know, I know ... there are so many great movies in my own DVD collection, or on Netflix, and, yep, I've been watching them. And I'd write about them if I felt I had the time. But that's not the point. The point is how fucking depressing it is that the movies have been so consistently shitty this year, to the point that I'm now looking back on something like "The Ghost Writer," which I thought was good but hardly great, and thinking, holy crap, that was a major cinema moment of this year! Good lord.

OK. Sorry. Just needed to rant for a moment. I might end up seeing "Megamind" because I like Ferrell (though rarely Dreamworks; there's the rub). But something is wrong when I'm looking at the listed movies and thinking, "Hmmm...maybe I'll see 'The Owls of Ga'Hoole,'" and no fucking joke I've considered that for three weeks straight, managing to resist only out of general exhaustion and the fear that if I like the movie it'll join "Despicable Me" and "How to Train Your Dragon" in my top 10. And I just can't have three animated kids movies in my top 10. I can't.

I'm fucking excited for "Harry Potter" at this point, and not just because the series is ending; I've convinced myself the movies might be good. WHAT IS GOING ON!?!

I guess that's what I had to say.

Hokahey said...

Great tirade - and I understand it! Jane had no wish to see Owls of Ga'Hoole. We laughed at the title and we were flabbergasted by the preview. As Jane would say, "What the?"

You are right, it's been a hard year, and it's not a promising November. Where's something like No Country for Old Men that filled one November a while back?

And you're on to something when it seems that the animated features seem to be more consistently successful than all the rest. How to Train Your Dragon is high up on my list as well - and as I say here, I found Megamind pleasingly entertaining.

As for this year at the movies, indies and smaller movies, with Winter's Bone at the top, have appeared here and there throughout the year to stave off complete despair, in my opinion. Though the fact that November is drawing to a close, with Harry Potter as the featured biggie, leaves me feeling a sense of panic. I look at my list of releases and I don't see much out there.

It's no wonder that most of the blogs I visit are featuring posts on old movies.