Saturday, March 2, 2013

Short Takes on 3 Recent Releases

Paranorman (2012) - Norman Babcock is a boy with a problem: he can see & talk to dead people (including his late grandmother) but no one believes him. He's ostracized by his classmates, and even his family thinks he's odd. But when a vengeful witch's curse raises the dead and they begin to wreak havoc on the town, it's up to Norman and a motley crew of heroes to save the day. This spooky, entertaining animated film features the voices of Kodi-Smit McPhee, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann and Casey Affleck. The stop motion animation & character design is first-rate, and the movie has a wonderful, eerie look. The screenplay by Chris Butler features a positive message about tolerance & acceptance of those who are different. While it may be a bit scary for very young viewers, Paranorman is a worthwhile rental for family movie night. Directed by Butler and Sam Fell, the film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and for digital download.

Ted (2012) - Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) directed & co-wrote this comedy about John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and his talking stuffed bear. As a child, John wished Ted would come to life and his wish was magically granted. Ever since, they've have been best friends. John & Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) drink, party & hang out with John's girlfriend Lori, played by Mila Kunis. She's worried John won't be able to move forward with their relationship. So John has to make a choice between his boy's nights out with Ted & making a real commitment to Lori. That's essentially the story of this R-rated buddy film. Some of the humor is over the top, and it's a bit inconsistent in tone. However, if you like MacFarlane's work on Family Guy, or are a fan of raunchy comedies like The Hangover, you'll enjoy Ted. And you'll get an extra kick out of it if you're a fan of the 1980 film version of Flash Gordon starring Sam Jones. You'll have to view the movie to see what I mean. The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and for digital download. The Blu-ray and DVD versions also feature an unrated cut of the movie.

Trouble With The Curve (2012) - Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood), an aging scout for the Atlanta Braves, may be on his way to forced retirement. He's given an assignment to check out a hot young prospect in North Carolina, but he's also dealing with some health issues. His friend & colleague Pete (John Goodman) asks Gus's estranged daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to accompany him on the trip, as he's worried about Gus's well-being. Gus & Mickey try to sort out their complicated, chilly relationship. She also enters a tentative romance with another scout (Justin Timberlake), who her father helped when he was a player. This is a predictable, but enjoyable drama. There's nothing new or earth-shaking here; but if you're a fan of the stars, it's a satisfying family story with some effective moments. Eastwood, Adams & Timberlake work well together, and there's a good supporting cast, including Goodman, Matthew Lillard and Robert Patrick. Interestingly, this is Eastwood's first acting role in a film he hasn't also directed since In The Line Of Fire (1993). The film was written by Randy Brown and directed by Robert Lorenz. It's now available on Blu-ray, DVD and for digital download.

Here are links to the trailers for Paranorman, Trouble With The Curve and Ted

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