Rio 2 (2014)

People, Not Situations Getting back into thinking about how narratives get put together, I am reminded of how many radically different strategies there are in approaching a film. If you talk to the (old) Pixar guys, what you’ll hear is a focus on story, a cinematic notion of story, above all else. The story comes… Continue reading Rio 2 (2014)

Paddington (2014)

Birds Years ago, when I saw Billy Elliot, my attention was drawn away from where it was intended. I saw instead a tragic film about a little girl whose mother was more interested in a talented outsider. That mother was played by the redoubtable Julie Walters; her presence compared to the weakness of the others… Continue reading Paddington (2014)

The Fifth Wave (2016)

Water Films made for kids, by kids. It seems safe enough: use a best seller from the YA bookshelf. Have some reasonable action scenes. Hire a known kid actor. Insert a romance and a twist, and take the money. It should not be fair for me to comment on this as if I were the… Continue reading The Fifth Wave (2016)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)

Painful I suppose the science behind this content is solid, for this and the sequels. Many of our films — primarily romantic comedies — deliberately give us a surrogate with whom to identify. And then they set the situation to be similar to those we’d experience, but simplified and exaggerated so that we can both… Continue reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)

Captain Underpants (2018-20)

Underawares I actually steer my kids to this area rather than ordinary fare. It has silliness and poor production values. While the stories are vacuous, they are refreshingly free of messages and morals. But the value to me is the incredible fun they have with shifted nesting, what I sometimes call ‘folding’. If you don’t… Continue reading Captain Underpants (2018-20)

Overboard (2018)

Organic Endearment This is formulaic in the basics: two people repel each other, fall in love, have a complicating development, profess love in some public, dramatic way and are reconciled. Such things usually depend on the appeal of the characters and the supporting comedy. But I think this has something else going for it. It… Continue reading Overboard (2018)

Christopher Robin (2018)

Stuck in the Box The story is conventional Disney, and in the trend of expanding the reach of established properties, with as little actual drama as possible. Three things are notable to me. This was shot on video, with a deliberate nod to cheap TeeVee productions from decades ago. Every visual choice was designed to… Continue reading Christopher Robin (2018)