March 2011

March 4, 2011 at 3:18 am (Movie Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I had already seen the 1969 adaptation of True Grit with John Wayne (thanks, dad), but I had not read the book by Charles Portis. Westerns are not really my favorite genre; I can take them or leave them as the mood strikes. Overall, I would say that the new True Grit, from  the Coen Brothers, was a successful film. It kept me engaged with the characters, there were some good action sequences, and the acting from Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld was spectacular – except everyone kept telling this kid she was ugly and that wasn’t believable because even frumped down she was not ugly. They should have either gotten an uglier kid or taken that out. Every time someone said that, it jarred my out of the story with a giant “Really??” thought bubble floating over my head.

The story is about Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl who sets out to take revenge on the man who murdered her father. She is very practical and, knowing this is not something she can do on her own, she hires US Marshall, Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn, to do the job – but insists on accompanying him to see that it is done. And so the journey begins. Without giving anything away, the ending felt a little anticlimactic. I have heard from a reliable source that it was more true to the book than the 1969 film. If so, that doesn’t really make me eager to read it. However, the movie was well done and if you like westerns, then I would say give it a go.

Rating: Good to watch, not to own.

So Gnomeo & Juliet is pretty much what you would expect it to be: a child-friendly adaptation of Romeo and Juliet with garden gnomes. What was that? You never expected Shakespeare with garden gnomes? Well, then you’re in for a treat. The bright crayola colors are a little bit overwhelming at first, but once you get past that it’s pretty good. This film is rated G so it should be all-ages safe, but there is rough competition and in the end and all-out battle between red- and blue-hatted gnomes. Parents you know your kids best.

There is enough cute, funny, and silly – love that flamingo – for the kids and the filmmakers were clearly also thinking about parents. Aside from the storyline, there are Shakespearean references in the dialogue and background; look out for the signs and logos, like Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Movers. Is that only funny to lit nerds? Well, if so there are a bunch of movie references, too, from Bambi to Forrest Gump to American Beauty (wait what? yeah.). There is also a little bit of humorous faux-product placement that made me giggle. The voices actors are all top-notch. Elton John produced and much of the music is his. It worked. If you like Shakespeare and don’t mind departure adaptations – or if you don’t care a thing about Shakespeare, but in general like the CGI cartoons – then I can strongly recommend this to you.

Rating: TBD. I think I want to see it a couple more times before I decide if I want to own it.

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