So I decided to take a trip back to my juvenile days and sneak into the movies yesterday...sort of. With nothing better to do, I paid to see Pineapple Express and made my way into Tropic Thunder and Star Wars: The Clone Wars afterwards. Three movies - $6.25. Awesome. I don't really feel like writing full reviews, but here's a little about each:
Pineapple Express - Judd Apatow has already made a career's worth of comedy hits with Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, Knocked Up and Superbad. I was, consequently, expecting quite a bit from his latest venture. It is funny, but Pineapple Express doesn't quite know what type of comedy it wants to be. At times it's grounded and realistic, and at others it's overtly wacky and over the top. It'll make you laugh but leave you puzzled in the end. The humor could have successfully gone in either direction; it's a shame, however, that it chose no direction.
3 of 5 stars
Tropic Thunder - The movie opens with a fake commercial and three fake trailers that leave the audience rolling. Ben Stiller's first production, Zoolander, has become a cult hit with my generation. With Tropic Thunder it seems like he's attempting to bring his brand of humor to the mainstream. I don't know if it will be a big hit, but it's pretty damn funny. Tropic Thunder suffers from some a fragmented story and doesn't utilize its cast to its full potential, Jack Black's role is largely unfunny and unnecessary, but who cares? Funny is funny, and in a movie like this, unlike Pineapple Express, you let some things slip.
3.5 of 5 stars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Though this was the worst of the three movies I saw this weekend, it has probably provoked the most thought on my part. As I understand it, most critics didn't realize that this was supposed to be a TV series. A 19% on Rotten Tomatoes has made this perfectly clear. Here's the lowdown: The Clone Wars was made with a TV budget and timeline, and was intended to be shown in half-hour installments on Cartoon Network. George Lucas and company then decided to recut the first few episodes into feature-length film and show the remaining episodes as planned.
This was a movie/series definitely made for kids. The humor is extremely unintelligent, and there's even less story than the prequel films. The animation is also bad by modern film standards. That being said, kids will love it. It's action packed, and there's nothing that's over their heads. It's pretty good for a TV series, but bad for a movie. I have a feeling that critics would have been much more receptive had The Clone Wars debuted completely on TV as planned.
On a different note, the designer and artist in me loved the look of this movie. Terrible animation aside, the character designs, taken from Genndy Tartakovsky's 2D animated series, are beautifully stylized. Sharp lines and exaggerated silhouettes give the characters and environments a unique, artistic touch. Also, and this detail will probably be lost in the translation to the small screen, The characters' textures are done in such a way that they look like they have been painted on and scratched into clay maquettes. This is a drastic turn from the hyper-realism we are used to seeing in the Pixar films, and one that I welcome.
2.5 of 5 stars
Best line of the weekend (with loads of irony attached) - James Franco - Pineapple Express - about to be forced into an underground jail cell:
"What's down there? Rancor?"