June 2010 Reviews
By Shawn McKenzie 6/12/2010
Here are my reviews of the movies that were released in June of 2010. Check back later as the month progresses for more reviews.
Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt), an ex-convict and lowrider car enthusiast, couldn’t be prouder of his high school senior son Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez), because he gets good grades and has a scholarship to go to UCLA. Che used to be the baddest O.G. in the neighborhood, but he now works as a bus driver in the Mission district in San Francisco. He is an alcoholic, but he is sober now because of his son, his sponsor Dee (Kevin Michael Richardson), and the other guys in the neighborhood (they like to restore classic cars and put hydraulic lifts in them.) Other than battling with his new hippie neighbor Lena (Erika Alexander), he is happy. That all changes when he finds out that Jesse is gay, and he is in a relationship with a rich white boy named Jordan (Max Rosenak.) Jesse goes to live with his uncle Rene (Jesse Borrego) and aunt Ana (Talisa Soto) temporarily while Che can process this new development. His macho exterior defines him so much that he can intimidate thugs, like neighborhood troublemaker Smoke (Alex Hernandez)…so the thought that his son is gay is too much for him. Rival-turned-friend Lena helps him with the process. I got a chance to meet Bratt at a screening of the movie, and he said that the Latino and indigenous culture doesn’t like to think about one of them being gay, so he and his writer/director brother Peter thought it would be an interesting topic for a movie. Everyone in the cast did a great job. It seemed like Bratt took his experience from his character on A&E’s “The Cleaner” and applied it to defining the former alcoholic part of Che (though when I asked him about it, he hadn’t thought about the connection.) Except for a few of the main actors, most of the cast were from the actual Mission district (including Hernandez.) I’m hoping that this movie will get some more buzz, because I’d like to see it get some awards come Award Season time.
Several years have gone by since we last visited the toys of Andy (voice of John Morris) and his little sister Molly (voice of Beatrice Miller.) Andy is now 18 and he hasn’t played with his toys in several years…and keeps them in his bedroom toy chest now. He has graduated from high school and he is going to college. He decides to take his favorite toy, Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) the cowboy, to college, but the rest of his toys are going into the attic. They include Space Ranger toy Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen); Mr. Potato Head (voice of Don Rickles) and Mrs. Potato Head (voice of Estelle Harris); Slinky Dog (voice of Blake Clark, substituting for the late Jim Varney); Rex the Tyrannosaurus (voice of Wallace Shawn); Hamm the piggy bank (voice of John Ratzenberger); and Jessie the cowgirl (voice of Joan Cusack.) Molly’s Barbie (voice of Jodi Benson) goes into the attic as well. Andy puts all of his other toys into a trash bag and intends to put the bag into the attic, but he gets distracted. His mom (voice of Laurie Metcalf) mistakes the bag for trash and puts it onto the curb. They escape the bag, but they think that Andy doesn’t want them anymore, so they sneak into a donation box headed for the Sunnyside Daycare facility. Woody sneaks into they box as well to convince them not to give up on Andy, but they think that Sunnyside would mean that kids will actually play with them. They are welcomed by the bear toy Lots-o-Huggin-Bear, a.k.a. Lotso (voice of Ned Beatty), who tells them they’ll never be neglected and will be played with all the time. Woody can’t convince them to leave with him, so he leaves, but he ends up coming home with the daycare center’s manager’s (voice of Lori Alan) daughter Bonnie (voice of Emily Hahn.) She introduces him to her toys…Mr. Pricklepants (voice of Timothy Dalton), a stuffed Shakespearean porcupine who is always in character; a rag doll named Dolly (voice of Bonnie Hunt); a stuffed unicorn named Buttercup (voice of Jeff Garlin); Peas-in-a-Pod (voices of Charlie Bright, Amber Kroner, and Brianna Maiwand); a triceratops named Trixie (voice of Kristen Schaal) who comes from Rex’s toy line; and a sad-looking clown doll named Chuckles (voice of Bud Luckey.) Woody is happy, but he misses his friends. Meanwhile, Lotso turns out to be the warden of a toy prison. He and the current toys live in the “Butterfly Room,” but he realizes that there has to be toys in the “Caterpillar Room,” which is where the toddlers come and play with them and end up treating them badly and violently. He leads the new toys to believe that the Caterpillar Room is where they will want to be. Once they realize that is not the case, they are imprisoned there and guarded by a creepy non-talking baby doll named Big Baby, the handsome Ken doll (voice of Michael Keaton)…whom Barbie is attracted to at first…and a freaky cymbal-playing monkey who watches all of the feeds of the cameras placed in the daycare center. Woody needs to rescue his friends and get them back to Andy’s house before he leaves for college. This is the first Toy Story to be originally filmed in 3-D, and to be honest…I didn’t think that the 3-D added anything to the movie. It’s not that I didn’t like the movie…I actually thought that it was just as good as the first two movies (meaning that I thought it was an excellent film.) The reason why Pixar movies seem always to be good is the writing (not just the amazing computer graphics.) They appeal to kids and grown-ups. In this movie, you have the toys (which kids obviously like), but you also have references to movies like 1963’s The Great Escape and 1967’s Cool Hand Luke. Lotso reminded me so much of Strother Martin’s character in Cool Hand Luke that I’m surprised he didn’t say, “What we got here is...failure to communicate.” Do I recommend seeing the movie (with or without kids?) Most certainly yes…especially if you liked the first two movies. Should you see it in 3-D? It’s up to you…but realize that the expense of upgrading to 3-D isn’t going to make the movie that much more enjoyable (it will just be that much more expensive.) Also…there is a short before the movie called Day and Night where daylight and nighttime are rivals (the two characters are hand-drawn while their insides are computer-animated.) It was cute…but it isn’t one of my favorite Pixar shorts.
The 3D aspect:
SEE THIS MOVIE!
Catch this movie at the theater if you can...
Wait until it comes out on video...
Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...
Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!