Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bad Teacher, I Mean Car

It's a sad weekend in movie-land, as the most prolific release belongs to a wrong-headed sequel from a venerable, and dependable filmmaking institution.  I speak, of course, of Cars 2, from the world of Pixar Animation Studios (this year celebrating their 25th anniversary of unmatched excellence), and coming from a studio that has scorched such creative and successful heights, (even one that's made two sequels before; and has another one coming soon: Monster's, Inc.), cinematic history may show that for the first time in the company's tenure that they've sold out.  The original Cars opened in the summer of 2006 to respectable reviews and big money, however for the first time, it felt like a creative burn-out; the film with it's retro vibe and Owen Wilson-vocals was genial enough, but coming from such a creative powerhouse, one whose brand has always managed to incorporate groundbreaking and extraordinary visuals with rich, humane character studies, there was a whimper, a strange slightness with a sunny backdrop.  And for whatever reason-- laziness, greed (Cars merchandise was apparently a hot seller), otherworldly possession (my current hypothesis involves blackmail and dirty pictures), the one stain on an otherwise glorious tapestry is returning.  Sadly, this results in the worst reviewed full length feature on the Pixar resume.  In fact, according to the Tomato-meter (of which should always be judged with a grain of salt), the only films to score less 90% in critical approval are the two in the Cars franchise.  Perhaps it was inevitable, as every empire must fall, but it's still a bit sad, and in a summer (or year) in desperate and dire need of that old Pixar magic, the cinema pauses.

For a palette cleanser, the poster of next summer's Pixar film has been unveiled.  Brave, an action adventure featuring Pixar's first leading lady, a Scottish princess named Merida, to be voiced by Emma Thompson.  I wish it well.
Also opening this week:
  • Bad Teacher, or the latest R-rated raunch-a-thon (this one perhaps the least believable in concept, featuring Cameron Diaz plays an educator.
  • Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, or final suck it to NBC (in limited release.)

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