When you think about it, it’s a brilliant gambit. Release one of the best movies of the year in a package that combines a two Blu-Ray discs chock full of goodies one would normally get in a two disc DVD set with a single DVD that only has a few choice bonus features, and hope the consumer will jump for the new format once and for all. I have to admit, it’s got me seriously thinking about making the switch to Blu-Ray, and I’m one of those people still stubbornly holding on to their HD-DVD player and titles. I see the back of the package and see all those Blu-Ray exclusive bonus features, and I see Blu-Ray machines with built-in Netflix streaming priced under $200 and I’m tempted to pull the trigger even before Black Friday. But alas, this is a review of the DVD, since I haven’t pulled the trigger on Blu-Ray just yet.
Out of all the Pixar films, “Monsters, Inc.” has always struck me as the goofball uncle of the group. This picture is funny, gregarious, and makes the viewer feel welcome, but a film of substantial narrative weight? “Monsters” just doesn’t reach that special plateau, dramatically or comedically, even though it makes an admirable attempt. It’s an amiable picture with a colorful cast of neurotic characters, but the film always stood out more as an agreeable distraction when Pixar needed it the most, not something that represents their finest effort.
Magnified with the type of divine emotional majesty few animation spectacles could ever hope to reach, Disney/Pixar’s “Up” is a triumphant masterstroke for the studio and their Teflon reputation. Declining the red-carpet invitation to manufacture mawkish, feebly scripted pathos, “Up” instead aims for and achieves a splendid merger of heartache and soaring spirituality. For their 10th motion picture, the Pixar squad has hit pay dirt yet again, only with “Up,” the production team manages to weave together whimsy and poignancy in a visually dazzling, high-flying marvel of an adventure. Conceptually, it’s not a trailblazer, but the execution is perhaps Pixar’s most confident and irresistibly moving since their 1995 masterpiece, “Toy Story.”
It appears the trilogy is now complete. After creating starring vehicles for his characters Ali G (2002’s “Ali G Indahouse”) and Borat Sagdiyev (2006’s smash “Borat”), the time has come for Sacha Baron Cohen to allow Bruno an opportunity to carry his own picture. “Bruno” will likely be welcomed by an adoring audience fully equipped to endure the traditional blast of Cohen-approved smut and merciless social commentary, especially after “Borat” turned his obscure antics into box office gold. However, don’t hold sudden international success against Cohen’s superb modus operandi, who once again tears into a clueless world seeking to mock, celebrate, and disgust anyone who will welcome him.
Sandra Bullock has been making movies like “The Proposal” for quite some time now. The romantic comedy is her Jedi power, and while the majority of her output has been either strained or downright intolerable (“Two Weeks Notice,” “While You Were Sleeping”), Bullock deserves some credit for her refusal to give up on the genre. “The Proposal” is harmless fluff, but it’s a dull routine, somehow lassoing the jumping bean charisma of co-star Ryan Reynolds to help liven up a confused screenplay. Regardless of the changes in setting and leading men, this is still Bullock running off the same old battery, and the fatigue is becoming increasingly difficult to cover up.
I’m positive “Adventureland” had a breathtaking original screenplay. The finished product hints at the magnificence of a layered, nuanced piece of writing that captures the bewildered minimum-wage happenings a cluster of young people encounter on their way to the finality of adulthood; however, very little of that character shading and dramatic ambition survived the brutal journey to the screen. It’s fantastic to observe “Adventureland” reach out and seek a timeless youthful uprising feel, but the film’s eventual realization is a crushing disappointment.