A blog about movies and filmmaking.

A Summer Movie Conflict

In action, Animation, comedy on May 20, 2010 at 10:55 pm

I really feel weird writing about these two movies, together; which probably no one else in the world will do. But, I’m opposed to making separate posts for movies that I’ve just seen and could just as easily be written about in one post — for some reason. Anyway, with the semi-mediocre, openings and feelings of the first two major blockbusters of the Summer season past us (Yeah, I kind of liked both IRON MAN 2 and ROBIN HOOD, I feel I am in the minority, and they were definitely not as strong as they could have been.). We now get to the one that is pretty much guaranteed to make money  – and MACGRUBER.

SHREK 4 (I’m neither putting “The Final Chapter” nor “Forever After” since the studio couldn’t seem to decide and there’s already talk that negates both of those subtitles.) is the newest release from Dreamworks Animation, featuring the green ogre that has brought in over $2 Billion for it’s studio. The newest movie has all the regular cast members, and a couple of fun new additions. Having only seen the first two movies – I skipped the third and still feel justified in that decision – I felt that the new movie was right up there with them, if not better. Yes, it helps that the movie is mostly a sort of “rebooting” of the franchise – if only for a little while – because of Shrek making a deal with Rumplestiltskin (Walt Dohrn, who is fantastic), where he is essentially erased from having ever existed.

The movie starts off great, in that it establishes Shrek’s “common” life now, with being woken up by his kids, changing their diapers, play dates with Donkey’s mutated off-spring, and repeatedly being interrupted from his mud-bath. At his kids’ birthday party he’s constantly being asked to perform celebrity tasks; such as sign autographs and “say the line”-type orders from a particularly grotesque and deep-voiced child. Shrek freaks out and storms away, where he encounters the tiny, whatever Rumplestiltskin is supposed to be.

When he awakens from signing the deal with “R” (No, I’m not going to keep spelling that name out.), he finds that everyone is afraid of him again, there’s postings up with “WANTED: OGRE” written on them. Things are finally back to normal for the big, green goon. Until he realizes that not only does no one recognize him, but that there is now a war brewing between Far, Far Away (which “R” now possesses) and the ogres. Yes, there’s lots of ogres in this one. Ogres voiced by the likes of Jane Lynch (GLEE), Craig Robinson (THE OFFICE, numerous Judd Apatow-related movies), and Jon Hamm (MAD MEN). Shrek is also surprised  to learn the leader of the Ogre resistance is none-other than Fiona (played by Cameron Diaz).

Well, that’s enough of me telling the story. I have to say, while not a big fan of the SHREK movies – okay, I liked the first, thought the second was ok – I thought that this (supposed) final chapter was pretty great. It had elements of re-getting to know all of these characters, because of the alternate universe that we spend most of the time in. There’s some great moments – and the pop-culture references / anachronistic beats, were used to pretty good effect. There’s a certain character, who doesn’t actually speak, but is awesome in how he’s able to control others just with an instrument (hopefully that’s not giving too much away). So, yes, while the movie might use the trick of, as I mentioned, rebooting the franchise in a way; it works. It’s also a pretty great statement on “being happy with what you have.” No, it’s not that deep, but it works this theme pretty well. Plus, Antonio Banderas as “Puss in Boots” is fantastic in the alternate world, and the entire audience will “Aww” when he does the cute little kitten routine with the giant eyes.

The rest of the cast, I have to say is pretty awesome – for computer-generated characters. Two of my favorites, Pinocchio and The Gingerbread Man, have some fantastic moments – and a jaw dropping, “oh no, that didn’t just happen” moment with “Gingie”. The voice actors, also all do a great job. Jon Hamm was nearly indistinguishable as the Ogre, Brogan – I thought it was Clancy Brown. Even Mike Myers’ Scottish brogue, as Shrek, didn’t bother me this go-round.

So, I say go see it. It’s being released in 3-d, and it holds up my opinion that movies are only good in 3-d, when they have dragons in them. (Re: AVATAR and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, which I still haven’t seen.)

And now, MACGRUBER…

What’s there to say? This movie is hilarious, vulgar, wrong in so many ways, and an absolute must see. Will Forte’s character brought to the big-screen from his various skits on Saturday Night Live. MacGruber, is a character that succeeds where many of the SNL character-to-movie adaptations fail. It goes way beyond what we knew or could possibly have expected. If there’s anything to compare it to, it would be SOUTH PARK’s movie. Which took that series to new depths – both low and high, mostly at the same time. And always hilariously.

MacGruber is a former Navy Seal, Army Ranger AND Green Beret; has won 14 Purple Hearts and all kinds of other accolades, all without the seeming use of a gun. Though, I think the secret behind how he was awarded all those becomes evident as the movie goes on. (The hint is, he likes to dress other people up as himself.) Well, the movie begins with a stolen nuclear missile – stolen by the nefarious Val Kilmer…No, I’m not ruining the character’s name. He plans to do bad things with it, and the only man that can stop him, say it with me now…is, MacGruber.

Tasked with catching the bad guys, he puts together a team of the baddest, bad asses around – namely, just about every WWE wrestler that isn’t in THE EXPENDABLES – along with Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillippe. He manages to blow their cover, reveal to the bad guys just about every plan they have and he puts celery in his butt…There’s lots of overzealous cussing, ridiculously over-the-top sex scenes, and, well; some pretty nasty, gory deaths.

All put together this movie is pretty great. It pushes all the right buttons. The cast from Forte, to Kilmer and even Powers Boothe, who plays the Colonel; are all spectacular. They hit the funny moments perfectly – especially Phillippe, who we’ve never really seen in a movie like this. And have I ever mentioned that I’m totally in love with Kristen Wiig? Well, I am.

MACGRUBER is SUPER R-Rated, not in 3-d, and not family friendly. DEFINITELY go see it.

Oh, and you need to stay through the credits for both movies. Well, not all the way to the end for SHREK 4, probably, but definitely for MACGRUBER.

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