In some ways this movie is the cinematic equivalent of artificial insemination using a dead man’s swimmers. A.I. had been on Stanley Kubrick’s back, front, and middle burners at various times since the early seventies. For a while, it looked like it wouldn’t see the light of day until development hell froze over and, when Kubrick kicked it after completing Eyes Wide Shut, it seemed inevitable that A.I. would forever remain as Kubrick’s great “lost” project.
When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions.
One might call this the Spinal Tap adaptation of Shakespeare’sgreatest play, because everything about it most definitely goes to eleven. The first film of the unabridged text of Hamlet and the last film shot in seventy millimeter as of today, Kenneth Branagh’s brazenly, foolishly ambitious project will be the shortest four hours you ever spent in front of one movie. A broad cast of both veteran Shakespearean actors and many who you would not expect in this kind of film wring both drama and raw emotion out of words often calcified under the dreary mantle of “literature.”
Mixing comedy with elaborate special effects is a tricky balancing act. Humor requires at least the illusion of spontaneity while the effects have to be planned out to the last second. Sometimes it works just right and you get a movie like Ghostbusters, while other times you end up with a mess like Spielberg’s 1941. Night at the Museum falls somewhere between. It manages to amuse without possessing anything resembling originality.
This film probably would have been better off waiting until this year to see the light of day. Not only is this film more appropriate to a time when the list of people not running for President is almost shorter than the list of people running, but it would have given writer and director Barry Levinson an extra year to decide exactly what film he wanted to make and actually get it right.
The Aristocrats is literally a one-joke movie, but unlike a lot of lame comedies out there, this time it’s intentional. What we have here is a 90-minute dissection of what is allegedly the world’s filthiest joke. What’s most interesting about The Joke is that it’s not really funny. At least, the punchline is a total anti-climax compared to what has gone before.
There was indeed a disc jockey named Adrian Cronauer who worked for Armed Forces Radio in Saigon during the early years of the Vietnam War. Aside from that fact, this film pretty much deviates from reality from that point forward. If it happens in Good Morning, Vietnam, you be be pretty sure that it didn’t happen to the real Cronauer. This is really the story of what would have happened if you had somehow plunked Robin Williams back in 1965 Vietnam and set him to work for the military radio network.
That’s not to say it’s a bad movie. In fact, it’s the best movie on the pure comic side of William’s filmography, specifically because the role of this DJ perfectly matches the comedian’s unbridled improvisational humor.
Films like this one, in which an unconventional teacher inspires his students to be something more than what’s expected of them, are common enough to constitute a minor genre on their own. In addition to Dead Poets Society, we’ve seen Mr. Holland’s Opus, Dangerous Minds and Stand and Deliver. Those are just the ones that I could name off the top of my head.
Long on visual flair and short on originality, Robots is the latest entry in the competition between Fox and Dreamworks to see who can finish a distant second behind Pixar in the field of computer animated features. That’s not to say that this isn’t worth 89 minutes of your time. Not only do the visual puns and pop culture reference fly past with cheerful abandon, the look of the film is as close to gloriously photo-realistic as an CG animated movie has come. The world of Robot City is a lushly imagined creation that looks like Minority Report as directed by Rube Goldberg.