Toy Story 4 (2019)

Director: Josh Cooley

Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack

Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom

100 mins. Rated G.

IMDb Top 250: #132 (as of 7/9/2019)

 

We didn’t need a Toy Story 4. That’s what I kept saying. We just didn’t need it. Toy Story 3 was a great ending to a solid trilogy and we didn’t need to muddy the waters with another installment almost destined to be terrible. We trusted Pixar not to ruin this one, and our trust in them was worth it.

It’s been two years since Andy gave his toys over to Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw, American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp) and departed for college, and the toys have been on a great many adventures since then. Andy’s favorite toy Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks, Cast Away, The Post) is struggling, though, as he has been seemingly forgotten by Bonnie when playtime occurs, but he remains vigilant in his duties to protect her, so when she becomes nervous at kindergarten orientation and makes a new toy, Forky (Tony Hale, Batman Ninja, TV’s Arrested Development), out of some trash and crafting supplies, Woody takes it upon himself to teach Forky how to be the best toy he can be. During this time, Bonnie and her family are on a vacation in the RV, and at one of the stops, Woody spots a lamp at an antique store that he believes may belong to Bo Peep (Annie Potts, Ghostbusters, TV’s Young Sheldon), a toy that one belonged to Andy’s sister, one that he cared for very deeply. Woody and Forky also come across the menacing Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks, Ginger & Rosa, TV’s Good Girls), a defective antique toy who wants Woody’s voice box for her own. Now, Woody must return Forky to Bonnie without getting caught by Gabby Gabby, and he is also forced to confront his own wants in the process.

Let’s cover the purpose of Toy Story 4, because if there was one criticism in just about any fan’s mind as they enter the theater, it’s the question of WHY? Why Toy Story 4? Well, I will say this. I think Toy Story 4 is the second-best film in the series behind the third film. That being said, I think Toy Story 4’s ending is so much better than the third film. It leaves up in a very satisfying place and works very well in questioning everything that came before. It’s a film that looks at the toys we have and asks a lot of questions.

This is very much Woody’s story, and he goes on it mostly without the help of the other toys, encountering lots of new characters in the process. While Toy Story 3 is the ending of the story in relation to Andy, Toy Story 4 takes a good hard look at Woody, a toy that has always been in service of his human, but he is confronted with the very real idea that he may not be Bonnie’s favorite toy. His character arc, especially in relation to Forky’s existential crisis of self, is very well-layered and something I’ve always wanted more out of.

The new characters are so wonderful as well. Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu, TV’s Friends from College) and Jordan Peele (Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, TV’s The Twilight Zone) appear together as Ducky and Bunny, two sentient toys made sown-together at the hands, and they are an absolute delight. Key and Peele use the classic comedic timing and chemistry that they’ve been known for to make this the funniest of the Toy Story movies. They had me in stitches, never once ruining the scene by trying to hard.

Then, there’s Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves, The Matrix, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), a Canadian daredevil toy with a motorcycle capable of performing incredible stunts, or at least, that’s what the commercials had said. I love all the character Reeves packed into such a limited screen time. He worked tirelessly on embodying his character with the director, and it shows in the work. His is a similar character to the one that Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen, El Camino Christmas, TV’s Home Improvement) was in the first film: a toy that is coming to terms with its limits. He is broken on the inside because he was never able to meet the expectations of his commercial.

The only real flaw I had with Toy Story 4 is that I believe that Gabby Gabby is probably the worst villain of the entire franchise. It sounds like I may be in the minority on this one, but I’m going to speak my reasons and let them stand. I never found Gabby Gabby as a villain to be very menacing. Yes, she’s a little creepy and her henchmen ventriloquist dummies are certainly frightening and strange enough, but I never really saw her as villainous in the way that I saw, say, Lotso from Toy Story 3. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like she was antagonistic but never villainous.

Toy Story 4 also feels, at times, like a big game of I Spy. The antique store, where a good portion of the film is set, is chock full of Easter Eggs and references to other Pixar films, to Toy Story films, and to other pop culturally iconic movies, most notably The Shining, which has always had a somewhat odd connection to the Toy Story franchise. Then, there’s voice cameos galore, many of which I didn’t catch until someone told me about them after the film ended. It’s just a celebration of so much magic that Disney and Pixar can craft.

Toy Story 4 is the perfect true finale to the franchise, one I hope they actually keep to, and I absolutely adored this movie. It’s the ending that feels most earned, not just throughout this installment, but through the entire series. It’s a powerful finale that will drive many to tears, this writer included. I really enjoyed it.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Director: Rob Letterman

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy

Screenplay: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, Nicole Perlman

104 mins. Rated PG for action/peril, some rude and suggestive humor, and thematic elements.

 

After decades of waiting, a live-action Pokemon movie exists, and it follows Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town as he…wait? It doesn’t? Then who’s it about? Detective Pikachu? Seriously? Okay, let’s start this one again.

Tim Goodman (Justice Smith, Paper Towns, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) works in the high-stakes world of insurance, and he has no interest in being a Pokemon trainer, but when Tim learns of his father’s death, he goes to Ryme City to settle things. When Tim arrives at his father’s apartment, he comes across a Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool, The Croods) sporting detective wear and claiming to belong to Harry, Tim’s father. The crazy thing is that he and the Pikachu completely understand each other as if they’re speaking the same language. Pikachu wants to solve the case of Harry’s possible murder, but he has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything. The two unlikely heroes join forces to find the culprits, and their search brings them to a conspiracy neither one ever expected.

I was really disappointed to hear that the first live-action Pokemon movie would be a Detective Pikachu movie, mostly because there was so much material to be mined in the Pokemon Universe, and choosing to focus on a game that was largely unreleased in North America until recently seemed like a really odd choice. Then, I heard Ryan Reynolds was voicing Pikachu and I got really concerned. It seemed to me like this whole franchise was coming together in a really bad way. Then, the poster looked okay. Then, the trailer looked silly, but it also looked like fun, so I became increasingly excited about the prospect of a Detective Pikachu movie, but there was still that lingering confusion as to the narrative purpose of a Detective Pikachu movie. It was only after seeing the film that I got it. There is a very important narrative purpose to this movie, and while I still would have like to see a straight-forward Pokemon adventure, Detective Pikachu is a great introductory course for Pokemon fans, and it has the potential to bring in a lot of new fans.

For the most part, Ryan Reynold’s voice work is pretty solid for him and the writing gives him a lot to play with. His chemistry as a CG-character actually melded pretty well with Justice Smith’s Tim. Their central relationship is the reason for watching the movie, as many of the secondary characters serve a purpose to that central relationship but little else.

Director Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Goosebumps) injected a lot of little references and visually appealing fan moments into the movie. I had some concern about the use of legendary characters like Mewtwo in this movie, and how they would be incorporated in an interesting way, and overall, it was mostly done with care. Again, the whole Mewtwo has a purpose in the film and a narrative reason to appear, albeit a thin one. What’s great is that, even with Mewtwo, his lore from the animated films and games appears to be intact and built into the character’s past. That’s one of reasons that I couldn’t look away from the screen during the movie. I have been a Pokemon fan since it hit stateside, and I was glued to the screen for every little CG critter to show up.

The biggest flaw of the film is that it caters to one demographic age range, which was a silly choice. This is a kid’s movie, and before you say DUH! I want to say that Pokemon, as a franchise is now multi-generational, much like the Toy Story movies. Kids who grew up with Pokemon when it started are not adults with their very own children, and if Detective Pikachu aimed their narrative at both kids and adults, it would have been more successful. I had a lot of fun watching, but the plotting was a little simplistic and I put it together rather easily. The final turn of the film surprised me a bit, and it was a good little hook to the narrative, but the overarching plotline was rather simplistic. Too much so.

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu now holds the distinction of being the best video game movie ever, at least from a critical viewpoint, and I truly enjoyed it. It’s the kind of movie that Pokemon fans will like and non-Pokemon fans can at least understand. It’s plot is a little too rudimentary, but the central comradery between Pikachu and Tim is strong enough to carry, and it has plenty of cute little monsters to keep the spectacle alive.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my theory involving Detective Pikachu’s connection to Home Alone, click here.

[Box Office Report] Secret Life of Pets and Dark Phoenix Win the Weekend in Underwhelming Openings

The new releases of this past weekend failed to make a large impression at the domestic box office. The Secret Life of Pets 2 opened to $47.1 million. To compare, the first film knocked it out of the park with a $104.3 million opening weekend, a record-breaker for original animated properties. So I didn’t expect the second film to hit that, but it is surprising how not-close it got, especially after opening on 4,561 locations, second highest theater count ever to Avengers: Endgame. I found the first film’s marketing to be much better on an underwhelming film experience. I expected the original film to be about the secret lives our pets have when we aren’t around, much as the titles suggests. Instead, it was a cheaper less-interesting version of Toy Story.

Fox’s last outing with this iteration of the X-Men, Dark Phoenix, opened to a disappointingly low $33 million, making it the lowest-opening of all the X-Men films and an absolute disaster set to perhaps even lose money, close to half the $65.7 million for X-Men: Apocalypse. News and rumors of the production nightmares as well as the reshoots and release date changes spelled potential doom for this film long ago, but I don’t think I expected it to fail on opening weekend. I had assumed that on its second weekend, we would see a higher drop-off, but this was a surprising turn of events. I checked out Dark Phoenix on Thursday night, and while I felt it was far from the worst in the franchise, it was still in the lower half of rankings, with a disappointingly soulless reinterpretation of the Dark Phoenix Saga.

Disney’s live-action Aladdin claimed third place this weekend with $24.5 million on its third weekend of release. The newest of Disney’s live-action interpretations of their famous properties, Aladdin stumbles in a few places but overall is a fun nostalgic ride that aims to try something new with the story, and I really enjoyed it. Globally, it sits at $604 million, which is currently the fourth highest-grossing film of the year behind Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and China Film Group’s The Wandering Earth.

Fourth place this weekend is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the third film in the MonsterVerse behind Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island, with $24.5 million. King of the Monsters has struggled in its release even though I felt like it was a major step up from the 2014 Godzilla, including all that kaiju which I love so much. The film has issues with its human characters but I liked them more than the blander humans of the 2014 film. It’s doing just fine globally, but its domestic run has been a rough one.

Rocketman nabbed fifth place this weekend, the musical biopic of Elton John claiming $14 million. I caught the film yesterday, and I absolutely adored it, and I hope it holds onto the Top Five for a bit longer.

Late Night opened in limited release with $249 thousand in four theaters. I quite enjoyed Late Night, and it should see some recognition for Emma Thompson’s incredible performance as an aging late-night talk-show host.

Next weekend should be an interesting one as Men in Black International drops alongside the newest Shaft sequel and Jim Jarmusch’s zombie film The Dead Don’t Die. Late Night will also open in wide-release.

So what did you see this weekend? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Director: Brad Bird

Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huckleberry Milner, Samuel L. Jackson

Screenplay: Brad Bird

118 mins. Rated PG for action sequences and some brief mild language.

 

Incredibles 2 was about to become a thing of legend, an anticipated film that seemed to never come. I didn’t believe it myself until the first teaser, but here we are. So then the real question comes, was the wait worth it. Thankfully, yes, it really is.

The sequel picks up right where the first film left off, with The Underminer’s attack on the city. This event triggers more government scrutiny on masked vigilantes, until Bob (Craig T. Nelson, Book Club, TV’s Coach) and Helen (Holly Hunter, The Piano, TV’s Here and Now) are offered to be sponsored by Winston Deaver and the company he runs with his sister, Evelyn. Elastigirl is the first step of the plan to ease the public’s view of heroes because she tends to cause less property damage, leaving Bob behind to take care of the kids. As Elastigirl hunts down the villainous and mysterious Screenslaver, a criminal who uses television screens to hypnotize his victims, Bob struggles to teach Dash (Huckleberry Milner) about New Math, help Violet (Sarah Vowell, A.C.O.D., Please Give) get through boy troubles, and figure out just what the deal is with Jack-Jack.

The first thing to note with Incredibles 2 is how well-structured the film is, especially for picking up right when the first film ended. That’s not an easy feat if it isn’t thoughtfully planned out ahead of time, and it doesn’t sound like the cliffhanger from the first film was planned to be actually resolved, but writer/director Brad Bird (Ratatouille, Tomorrowland) took the story laid out and enhanced the quality of the first film in the process, making a two-film arc that works really well together. These films are two sides of the same coin, and they are both all the better for it. Bird stated numerous times that he wouldn’t make a sequel until he had the right story for it, and Pixar gave him the time to do just that.

An important element of a sequel gestating for 14 years is the need to grow with the audience. The Harry Potter franchise understand the need to grow with its audience, as did Pixar favorite Toy Story, but Incredibles 2 takes it a step further. The violence and adult content associated with the sequel is interesting and risky and proves that Pixar is not a company that makes children’s movies, but instead a company that makes animated films for everyone to enjoy. Incredibles 2 employs the first usage of a gun in a Pixar film as well as heightened language. Again, not issues from this reviewer, but I am proud that Bird is unafraid to grow with his audience and use what it necessary to make the film he wants to make.

The voice work is exemplary here, especially Holly Hunter’s work. She gets a lot more to do here with the lead character swap of the sequel. This is not an easy feat for sequels as well, especially when thinking about Pixar’s previous failure in character-swapping Cars 2. It was disastrous there and it works quite well here, mostly because Helen was a well-written, well-defined character in the first film, whereas Mater was comic relief and never that well-rounded to begin with.

It’s nice to see the reversal and how it affects Bob. He is someone that doesn’t think about anything but saving lives and defeating evil, so forcing him to stay in the shadows is an interesting character arc. I didn’t like how his story roped in Edna Mode, but I can live with it. I was able to relate to him more as a character due to the difficulty he has to face in day-to-day minutiae.

The Screenslaver is an interesting villain this time around. It’s nearly impossible to top Syndrome with the uniqueness of the villain this time around, but I did enjoy the hunt. The big problem from a story perspective is how simple it is to figure out the identity of the Screenslaver. I was putting it together rather easily, and the clues are there. Maybe I was the only one, but I felt it was a clear direction.

I suppose there should be some discussion on the controversy here. Yes, Incredibles 2 has some sequences involving flashing images that may be harmful to people with epilepsy. It was definitely straining to my eyes, and I don’t usually have trouble with that, but I left the theater with a headache. Is it a problem? Yeah, kind of. This was a poor decision and I’m surprised no one thought about the effect it would have on the big screen. I think, at home, it won’t be an issue,but this was a major mistake. There were other ways to make these sequences work on film. Still, I’d rather watch this sequence than discuss the other controversy the film has: public outcry over the lack of “The” in the title (seriously, this was also a thing).

Incredibles 2 is an all-around wonder of a film, and though it isn’t as strong as the first film (but really, that’s a tough ladder to climb), it is still quite an exceptional experience. Barring some pacing issues in the second half of the film, Incredibles 2 is a well-structured and emotionally resonant sequel that moves its core group of characters forward in new and exciting ways. This is definitely one to see.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 9 – Toy Story of Terror (2013)

 

Director: Angus MacLane

Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Carl Weathers, Stephen Tobolowsky, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schaal

Screenplay: Angus MacLane

22 mins. Rated TV-G.

 

I wanted to take time tonight to talk about the Halloween Special. It’s a classic element to any franchise, big screen or small. So in 2013, Disney and Pixar released Toy Story of Terror, and today, we’re going to talk about it.

The toys are on a road trip with Bonnie and her mother when they stop to spend a night at an eerie motel just off the road. When Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles, Zookeeper, The Wool Cap) suddenly goes missing, its up to Woody (Tom Hanks, The DaVinci Code, The Circle), Buzz (Tim Allen, Crazy on the Outside, TV’s Home Improvement), Jessie (Joan Cusack, Working Girl, Snatched) and their new friend Combat Carl (Carl Weathers, Predator, American Warships) to find Potato Head and escape while they still can!

Toy Story of Terror tends to follow a very similar story to all the other Toy Story films. Someone is missing or kidnapped, and the other toys go get them. There isn’t a lot to this and you have to wonder how this keeps happening, but Toy Story of Terror introduces a few fun new characters to keep things lively enough. I really like seeing some of the newer toys from the third installment who didn’t get much time to shine get further developed here, and I really enjoyed Combat Carl.

The flaws? As I said before, it isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. The hotel manager Ron (Stephen Tobolowsky, Memento, TV’s Californication) comes off perhaps a little too creepy as well, especially with how he plays into the story. A little too predictable as well.

Overall, this is only 22 minutes, so if you get roped into it by your little one, Toy Story of Terror isn’t a half-bad way to waste a half-hour. It was fun and nicely paced.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 11 [Happy 25th Birthday!] – Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

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Director: John R. Cherry III

Cast: Jim Varney, Eartha Kitt, Austin Nagler

Screenplay: Coke Sams, Charles Gale

91 mins. Rated PG.

 

Today was an interesting piece of nostalgia. I haven’t seen Ernest Scared Stupid since I watched my recorded-from-ABC VHS tape that I owned as a kid. But, in honor of its 25th anniversary, I had to hunt down a copy. Not too tough, it’s in any 5-buck bin this time of year.

The town of Briarville has a terrible secret. A long time ago, they banished a demonic troll named Trantor to slumber beneath a giant oak tree, only to be awoken by a descendent of the townspeople. Now, 200 years later, a descendent, Ernest (Jim Varney, Toy Story, The Beverly Hillbillies) has let the creature out, and Trantor is turning the children of Briarville into wooden dolls in order to use their energy to awaken his children. Now, it’s up to Ernest, his young friend Kenny (Austin Nagler), and the strange Old Lady Hackmore (Eartha Kitt, The Emperor’s New Groove, Holes) to discover how to defeat the troll and save the children before it’s too late.

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Wow, this was such a trip. No matter my thoughts on the movie, this experience was worth it. So what did I think? Personally, I thought the film was pretty fun upon revisiting. Sure it’s a little scary for children, and a little too childish for adults, but that’s what makes a good family film for Halloween.

Trantor was created by the Chiodo brothers, who also famously created Killer Klowns from Outer Space (you can easily see some of their reused props in the trolls). The creature and its interactions with Ernest became so popular that many believe it birthed the Troll Face meme used so often now.

Jim Varney had perfected his role as Ernest, a bumbling but lovable idiot with a special place for imaginative characters. He is like the idiot version of Doc Brown to Kenny’s Marty McFly.

New addition Old Lady Hackmore furthers the caliber of the film thanks to Eartha Kitt, who has fun in her wackiness and the interactions with Ernest, but it is the rare moments of heart that she displays that elevate the film above other Ernest outings.

From a technical look, Ernest Scared Stupid can’t really hold a candle to better films. The cinematography isn’t visually gripping. The best edited sequence is probably the titles. The visual effects have aged but are saved by the creature effects. The sets are cheap and the costumes cheaper.

But the movie is still fun to watch, so that’s a plus.

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Ernest Scared Stupid holds up well for those of us that enjoyed it as children, and it may still bring in new fans for the next generation. As for those of you that didn’t see it as a kid, this may not win you over (don’t worry, I’m the same way with The Goonies). Check it out if you get the chance.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

June 2015 Preview

 

Alright, welcome to June 2015, everyone! I hope you enjoyed May, I certainly did. Let’s not waste any time here. Just keep in mind that these Previews are based on my highly intelligent abilities as a predictor of films. Our tastes may differ slightly, but I’m really open to helping you find the best films to see this month, so let’s jump in…

 

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Entourage

Entourage picks up where the eighth season of the hit HBO series left off, following Vincent Chase and his friends, E, Drama, and Turtle, as they continue to take Hollywood by storm. This was a series for a select group of people and those people will enjoy the film. If you haven’t seen Entourage, it isn’t the type of series to alienate viewers, so you may still enjoy yourself, but if you hated the television series, I don’t expect this film to sway you.

 

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Insidious: Chapter 3

Insidious is a franchise very close to me. I happen to find both films to be very enjoyable. The first one had me on the edge of my seat, and the second served to peel back layers of the various entities that exist in the mystical plane called The Further. I hope they find a way to utilize the prequel format to deliver something interesting, but this film is somewhat up in the air.

 

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Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy is based on the true account of Brian Wilson, played in the film by Paul Dano and John Cusack, after his time with the Beach Boys, as Wilson attempts to record Pet Sounds, the “greatest album” of all time. It also chronicles the older Brian Wilson as he loses his grip on reality due to a strange relationship with therapist Dr. Eugene Landy, played by Paul Giamatti. Love & Mercy seems like a solid win, I like the work from both Cusack and Dano, and I think this is a story that hasn’t been tapped. I’m solidly curious about the property.

 

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Spy

I feel pretty good about Spy, but not originally. While I liked director Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, I felt that The Heat was generally disappointing. Really quite disappointing. Not nearly as bad as Tammy, but Melissa McCarthy is reaching the end of her talent. Spy has the distinction of having a perfectly cast group of supporting actors like Jason Statham and Jude Law. I think the elements of a proper spy film satire are in place here, so I’m leaning in the right direction.

 

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Jurassic World

So here it is, after years of development and several incarnations of a story shuffling around, we arrive at Jurassic World, the fourth film in the Jurassic Park series. This is another example of “up-in-the-air” film, I’m not entirely convinced yet. It seems to have all the right pieces in place, but time has been against it. 22 years after the original film’s events, a new park has opened, but in order to increase attendance, the owners have been experimenting with genetic testing on the dinosaurs.

 

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Inside Out

Inside Out is the newest Pixar film that takes place within the mind of a child named Riley. It tells the story of Riley’s emotions, specifically Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Not a ton is known outside of this, but it’s Pixar, so it will make a lot of money. I like the idea of Pixar reaching for an area they haven’t gone, but it sounds an awful lot like the same plot as Toy Story, just saying.

 

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Ted 2

I think it is terrific that Ted 2 isn’t Ted. I mean, it has Ted in it. It contains a lot of the same jokes I am sure, but Ted 2 at least has a different plot. Look back at Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and The Hangover Part II. Same freaking movie but less great. Ted 2 has a chance here. After Ted marries Tami-Lynn, he wants to have a child, but he needs to prove to the courts that he is human. Some solid potential here, even if I will miss Mila Kunis, but it is nice to have performers like Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman gracing this comedy sequel.

 

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Max

Max isn’t Mad Max. Max is a dog. A military dog traumatized by the loss of its handler. I’m not even sure how a movie like this could happen. Seriously. Just don’t.

 

 

Alright, that’s June 2015 for you. See you in July!

 

Best Bets: Entourage, Love & Mercy, Spy, Inside Out, Ted 2

On the Bubble: Insidious: Chapter 3, Jurassic World

Likely Misses: Max

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Fourth Day… The Santa Clause (1994)

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Director: John Pasquin

Cast: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Eric Lloyd, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, Peter Boyle

Screenplay: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick

97 mins. Rated PG for a few crude moments.

 

Killing Santa is kind of morbid. Very few can get through an event like that and still be likable. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen, TV’s Home Improvement, Toy Story 3) tries his best to overcome that nasty hurdle. That is, until he discovers The Santa Clause, a decree that if Santa is killed, one must take up the red coat and beard and continue the job. While this news excites Scott’s son Charlie (Eric Lloyd, Batman & Robin, Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2), it certainly frightens Scott as well as his ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson, Air Force One, Antiviral) and her new husband Neil (Judge Reinhold, Beverly Hills Cop, Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts), who both believe that Scott is losing his grip on reality in order to make his son believe in Santa. As Scott continues his transformation into St. Nick in time for the next Christmas Eve, he must come to grips with this new reality and try to salvage his life as Scott Calvin with his life as Kris Kringle.

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The Santa Clause is very much a nice piece of cheese. I end up watching it every year around this time because it’s just a lot of fun. Tim Allen has a lot of fun with this role, keeping it all light-hearted even though the film itself could come off rather morbid. The supporting characters in Crewson and Reinhold ride the line of asshole vs. caring human nicely. Eric Lloyd doesn’t provide much, but his career proves that enough.

The screenplay is rather fun, though the film has definitely aged. It looks aged, but it still is a treat to watch. This Disney film is quite imaginative while also being slightly more grounded than it needed to be. Most of all, The Santa Clause is a movie about responsibility. It’s about taking up your baggage and understanding that the person you need to be may not be the person you wanted to be.

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Worth a couple laughs indeed.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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