Tag Archives: Kayvan Novak

Paddington (2014)

Paddington-Movie-Poster

I wish I had connected with “Paddington” more than I did. This CGI-animated family adventure has beautifully lifelike special effects, and the jokes commonly hit the mark, at least to some extent, but the film, plot and character-wise, leaves much to be desired. Of course, it’s an entertaining feature to pass the time, and kids and adults should be amused by this diversion, but it fails as a truly great family feature.

When Paddington Bear (voiced by Ben Wishaw)’s home in the rainforest gets demolished and his Uncle Pastuzo (voice of Michael Gambon) unexpectedly dies, the bear’s Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) sends him as a stowaway on a boat bound for London, where she encourages him to get in touch with the intrepid explorer who befriended the bears an indeterminate amount of time before, Montgomery Clift (Tim Downie.)

The continued lifespan of Clift seems highly unlikely, but while waiting at the station Paddington is taken home by the eccentric rown family- loving mother Mary (Sally Hawkins,) uptight dad Henry (Hugh Bonneville,) and bored kids Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and Judy (Madeleine Harris.)

The irate Henry has trouble warming up to this big-hearted bear with a knack for trouble, and while the family unit gradually succumbs to Paddington’s cuteness, Cruella De Ville-esque baddie Millicent (Nicole Kidman) prowls the scene, set on stuffing Paddington and putting him on display in a museum!

“Paddington” is quite the potpourri of happenin’ British talent, including Julie Walters as a live-in relative of the Brown’s and Peter Capaldi as the kind of meddling neighbor everyone’s had at one point or another, who becomes stupidly enamored with Kidman’s venomous femme fatale. The CGI is amazing, and brings vim, vigor, and personality to the bears that the script falls a little short on.

Now for the weaknesses- I didn’t really care about any of the characters, not even Paddington, who despite being cute and fuzzy, and a brilliant visual creation, was not really all that compelling. The plot of very typical and the big showdown was mundane as they come. The kids were annoying and rude, particularly the girl.

On the other hand, she was obviously going through a scary time called puberty, so her dark moods and constant embarrassment at the antics of her family were realistic, they just weren’t very fun to watch. The boy wasn’t as bad but was very disrespectful to his father, stating at one point that “Dad’s always been boring and annoying.”

I didn’t perceive a development of genuine respect between the kids and their father. Dad gets treated like a trained monkey throughout, rewarded with hugs and conditional love when he does right, and being totally disregarded when he acts like a grouch. Should the monkey rise to the occasion and let the bear stay, give him a banana. The characters and relationships were rather stereotypical, although the actors did what they could with the clichéd material.

However, the jokes were often effective, and I laughed readily at various points of the movie. Paddington wrecking the bathroom,  Mr. Curry’s hopeless crush on the villainess, Henry Brown going into the information bank in very deep disguise… these scenes were amusing (if somewhat sitcomish and, in the cast of Capaldi’s infatuation, ripped directly from “Enchanted.”)

I felt conflicted while watching “Paddington” because while I was entertained overall by the motion picture, I kept thinking that the British actors featured had been in much better movies that won’t get nearly the attention that this did. Make no mistake, I think this is a good family movie that adults should get enjoyment out of. But it is not worthy of the rave reviews it has been getting. It just doesn’t have the innovation and genuineness of something like “Frozen” or “Up.” In other wards, a good kids movie, but not an outstanding film.

Paddington-bear-movie-revie

https://www.youtube.com/embed/X-d-V9jXYDE“> 

Cuban Fury (2014)

cubanfury

I’ve never been a big fan of Nick Frost. I think he’s mildly amusing at best, painfully average at worst, but the premise of “Cuban Fury” seemed cute and charming enough, so I watched it one night, despite the fact that the movie got very average critical reception. Screw the critics! What do they know? Well, in the case of “Cuban Fury,” they hit it right on the head. The movie is, as promised, cliched, unexciting, and featuring rather flat characters who are more caricature than person.

That’s what bothers me. At the very least, shouldn’t caricatures be over-the-top and engagingly outrageous? Instead they are dull and lifeless. I like Chris O’Dowd, but his antagonist, Drew, spends so much time being ridiculously chauvinistic and nasty that he fails to be much of anything else. No redeeming features, no vulnerable moments, just pure ugly, misogynistic assholery. It makes you wonder why Bruce (Nick Frost) gives Drew the time of day, when Drew’s entire purpose in life is to steal Bruce’s love interest and make Bruce feel like a fat, unlovable loser.

Here’s the plot (it’s a dancing underdog story, but “Billy Elliot” it’s not)- As an adolescent, Bruce Garrett was one of the most promising Salsa dancers, but he was attacked and insulted by some boys on the night of a defining performance and, just like that, ceased to be a dancer. Years later, Bruce is a washed up office drone, shy and unsure of himself, when he meets the beautiful (and salsa-dancing!) Julia (Rashida Jones) and decides to take up the dance again to impress her.

Alas, here comes co-worker and resident dickhead Drew to serves as a foil to good-guy Bruce, simply because the movie apparently needs an antagonist. That said, he’s not a very good one. Drew’s main function is to say outrageously sexist and conceited things in Chris O’Dowd’s lovely Irish accent. There’s no real human dimension to the character, though on the other hand, he’s not really evil either. He’s pretty much just there, which might be enough for the undiscriminating viewer, but made me go “What the fuck? Really?”

On the other hand Nick Frost, who I’ve always found underwhelming, proves to be doubly underwhelming in a lame comedy (instead of say, the hilarious “Shaun of the Dead.”) “Cuban Fury” just doesn’t have that many laughs to its name. Equally infuriating is that they put the amazing actress Olivia Colman (“Tyrannosaur,” “Broadchurch”) in the film as a second thought as Bruce Garrett’s fucking advice-spouting bartender sister. Olivia deserves a main role, and if not that, at least a juicy slice of the screen time. Here she is given a dull role where she exists only to advise Bruce on how best to get the girl.

Rashida Jones is very cute and everything, but I don’t find her particularly compelling. That’s not to say she’s a bad actress, but she doesn’t have a whole lot of screen presence. And what’s with the scene where Bruce says something to Drew like “I may not be as good-looking as you, but at least I have heart?” Thank you, “Cuban Fury,” for stating the message behind the movie with absolutely no subtlety or nuance whatsoever.

The movie also stars Ian McShane and Kayvan Novak, who try their best to bring a little life into the flat proceedings. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, with a not-so-winsome underdog and a big dancing contest that *GASP* could change everything for our hero. I guess the way I’m going on I sound like I hate this movie. I don’t. It’s utterly mediocre, which doesn’t warrant hatred; it warrants apathy, and apathy is the road I shall take. I don’t care about this uninspiring, unimpessive, unoriginal movie. And ultimately, neither should you.

Cuban Fury Screenshot