Sausage Party (2016)

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Sizzling with offensive gags aplenty, this animated creation from the minds of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jonah Hill has a fun colourful look taking a nice punt at the world of Disney characters, there’s a fair amount of laughs too but for me I felt this film was hardly memorable and insanely dumb.

Living in the supermarket Shopwell’s are a packet of sausages, one of these hot-dogs is Frank (Rogen) who only has eyes for bun Brenda (Kristen Wiig) as they hope to picked and taken to the Great Beyond; a magical place where human shoppers carry them off to. Soon Frank begins a quest to seek the truth and find out if people aren’t nice and really do eat them but he’s hunted down by a pumped up douche (Nick Kroll) that makes travelling the shop harder.

Story wise, there is a reasonable plot to follow, as easy to watch as you’d expect from the folk behind ‘This Is The End’ and ‘Bad Neighbours’. It begins interesting and a fun concept as we see the food living in joy but really blind to the fact that we human beings buy, cut, cook and devour them. The journey story isn’t new and annoyingly isn’t done in any exciting way, which is a trend this film goes on making me think the whole picture was a rather disengaging product.

Considering the amount of colour, music and visual madness, that’s an odd thing to be almost forgettable and faintly gripping. The whole villain arc of the juiced douche is increasingly vulgar and I even forgot he was an antagonist until he came back into a scene later in the movie. There are some fun scenes; like the food war-zone after a trolley crash, the last hurrah as the food tries fighting and the moment they travel into what could be a dimensional shift and sequel.

A food filled sex orgy is stupidly excessive, amusing at times just to see the amount of detail going into bagels fornicating with a lavash or a taco going down on a bun, but it’s this type of over the top behaviour that makes the film less than out there shocking but tiresomely juvenile. Sex jokes, food themed racism and bad language are heavily dolloped on the menu and only a small amount of the time did it make me chuckle, asking me the question to why everyone around me was cackling so hard.

Seth Rogen is an alright meaty front man but at the same time Frank feels very thin and I couldn’t care for any of the characters, I know it’s a silly mature film about talking food but any good film just bring into effect the art of sympathy, empathy, interest or all three. Kristen Wiig brings Brenda some suitable sass and grounded debate when she finds herself on a different ideal to Frank. Scott Underwood gives a fun voice as the sweetly camp Twinkie. Edward Norton nails a Woody Allen impression as his Jewish bagel whilst Salma Hayek adds her expected sensual tones to a made-up taco with a lesbian tendency.

Instead of skewing anything smart or political like it could or thinks it’s doing, this ‘party’ is less healthy than a tower of junk food, leaving a calorific dose of E numbers as it’s Excessively Exaggerates and leaves an Empty taste, with only a few good moments preventing it from being a brain-dead comedy.

5.5/10

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The Little Prince (2016)

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Thank goodness for Netflix, because otherwise I doubt I and many other people would have seen this glorious and gorgeous animation. Mixing computer animated scenes with the true art of stop-motion sequences, this French-Canadian movie is colourful, stirring and magical.

Single Mother (Rachel McAdams) is a busy worker and wants her daughter to follow suit by attending the prestigious Werth Academy. However The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) befriends the much talked about nutty man next door leading her down a more adventurous fun path. The Aviator (Jeff Bridges) has stories to tell and interests the girl with a tale about a Little Prince (Riley Osborne) who he met in the Sahara Desert.

In a way, the 3D graphics of the animated world featuring the girl and her older neighbour reminded me of the look ‘The Incredibles’ provided. The shape of people and their faces harking to that sort of visual. The way this grey and busy landscape is seen is brilliant, just the times we zoom out to see ant sized cars all leaving on the dot for work shows how professional and disengaged to a more fun life these adults are.

The special moments are in the papery looking but also wooden style design of the stop-motion characters. I’ve always said that the whole process of stop-motion animation is something admirable and rewarding and I stick by it ever more so due to this beautiful exploration of the medium. There’s a great charm in seeing The Little Prince stories come into the fold during this film and it gives the story an extra fancy touch.

Having never read the source material myself, I couldn’t comment on what the treatment of the novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is like. They me quite faithful or changed a lot but I enjoyed the story presented here a lot. His tale is moulded nicely and Irena Brignull and Bob Persichetti create a lovely screenplay that fits for all ages, centred around the idea of growing up and forgetting childhood. At times, this theme gets dealt an emotional hand and I felt a little tingly at the ideas being put across.

Only one portion of this movie kind of felt off and that’s annoyingly the third act as the Little Girl decides to take action and flies off in the hope of seeing the much talked about prince. It could be viewed as an act that loses people because it gets off track from the better grounded narrative scenes that come before, which is exactly how I see it. I guess you could say that at the time the girl falls, what comes after can be interpreted how you like which makes more sense but still doesn’t stop the last act being slightly iffy.

The music gives you chills, with a wonderful score from Hans Zimmer accompanying the on screen action with suitable bounce and heart. Camille provides lush vocals during the film, in a way that echoes of the enchanting yet haunting sounds from ‘Coraline’. Another positive is the light comedy that hits well, the sad notes of loss and looking to the stars for laughter provides a lovely notion and the pairing of the girl and aviator are fun to watch.

All I can really say is, it’s a massive shame this won’t be up for an Academy Best Animated Feature award due to it not being theatrically released. If it was it’d certainly give Disney and Pixar a severe run for their money because it’s stunning, emotional and special.

8.5/10

Lovelace (2013)

A skin flick star and her story of fame are the sizzling hot topic of this bio-pic and taken on by documentary directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, this film about Miss Lovelace is engaging and saucy to say the least but wonderfully more than that, it’s dramatic and provides insight. It may not be a films film, feeling at times like a TV doc, and the way some of it is handled is only surface deep but on the whole, ‘Lovelace’ deals well with opening our eyes on this woman’s life.

A 21 year old Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) becomes a go-go dancer with best friend Patsy (Juno Temple). On that night she meets Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) who opens her eyes and mouth to a whole new sexual world. Traynor pushes Linda to become a porn star sensation and as Linda Lovelace she appears in Deep Throat, making her a huge name even if she isn’t so keen on being the celebrity she’s made to be.

It is clear to see the documentary style Friedman and Epstein possess. They obviously know how to handle factual matters and though some things in this film may be slightly tweaked, the weighty matters of Lovelace’s private life are portrayed with in a dark manner. It feels like a show on the telly enlightening us about the life and times of Lovelace, just with that extra added spice of movie shine.

The screenplay itself, by Andy Bellin is sometimes comic and sometimes very worrying as we see what happens to Linda. The way the film takes a new life is great to see and stops it from being a dull affair. There’s a moment in the story that sees an older Linda take a lie detector test and then we zoom back into the past. This film delightfully shows two sides of a coin, one being the glamorous showbiz world of hers and then the second grimier side shows her behind the doors subjected to fear and abuse by the hands of her husband Chuck. This works well in mixing up the plot and jumping about in time also, without this I fear the film could have suffered much much more.

The music of the feature is great, taking us back to the era of the wild 70’s. It funnily sounds like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, with a couple of tracks being ones used in the later Marvel movie! Stephen Trask does his best to compliment the louder radio tunes of the 1970’s with his score but a lot of his music pales away, only bits survive in the memory as building tension in key moments of Linda’s dark married life.

I can sort of see why reviews were critical as the film doesn’t live up potential and it does sadly focus a lot more on the body of Linda instead of the character which is odd considering it’s trying to build a case of aligning audiences with her as a person. Asides from this I rather enjoyed this film for what it is, it’s fun and has the moments of light and shade and the acting from most of this cast is brilliant.

Amanda Seyfried uses her expressive wide eyes to give Linda as much sympathy as possible. She plays the very sweet and innocent figure lovingly, putting you on her side from the beginning even if the film threatens to lose that. Seyfried looks gorgeous and dazzles as the billboard adult icon, her rise to this more confident person is evident and she gives Linda a journey to watch unfold. Peter Sarsgaard is a domineering force in this film, his masculine presence being of great concern as he looms about in several scenes. He wades into scenes like a tidal wave of power and control and Sarsgaard along with Seyfried triumph as the best qualities of the movie. Sharon Stone is fantastic and to be honest I didn’t even realise it was her until the credits appeared. James Franco is playing Hugh Hefner and that tells you all about the man, in another one of his roles that sees him smirk and keep me feeling that he’s a creepy individual.

‘Lovelace’ didn’t hit the big time at the box office in the same way the the real Lovelace did in the X-rated ‘Deep Throat’, but it does it’s best with its two main stars to tell quite a startling story about the rise of an adult entertainer and the fearsome life she came home to. Not overly lasting but solid enough to feed information about who Linda really was.

6/10