So, I’m very hit or miss with comedies. And this one fell in the miss category. While I enjoyed the premise and the promise, the result didn’t do much for me, and I didn’t find many laughs here. Eddie Murphy’s early scenes in the film borderlined on annoying instead of comical. And I’m pretty sure I automatically am turned off when a cabal of rich scumbags so cavalierly and contemptuously screw with people perceived as below them (similar reasons to why I couldn’t get attached to Margin Call recently). So, I’ll keep getting my early eighties Dan Akroyd kick from Ghostbusters.
Prior to seeing this on the big screen at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, I don’t believe I ever saw this film in its entirety from start to finish. I’m glad I finally did. While the premise of the film is wholly ridiculous, the film is an utter delight. From a storytelling standpoint, I was pleased to see how Donner’s and Spielberg’s tendencies actually blended instead of clashed. And what better way to see a film than have three cast members afterward discussing the film, answering questions, and posing for pictures with audience members?
I went into the film with a good amount of hype and had promise of another good Kevin Spacey flick after watching American Beauty and The Usual Suspects in the same week. I came out slightly disappointed. I found the film too dry for my liking (perhaps I don’t like film noir? But I looooove The Usual Suspects. But is that more neo-noir?), and I was disappointed in the underutilization of Spacey. But overall, the terrific cast makes up for the slow-at-times story.
What a magnificent cinematic experience. I could expound on how outstanding Kevin Spacey is in this film. Or Annette Benning. Or the script. Or the cinematography. Or the rich symbolism. Or Thomas Newman’s score. But that’s all been done before. What I will say is will someone please pass me the fucking asparagus?
I was a bit worried at first when the film started as a retooled version of E.T. But in the end, this is an enchanting and delightful film with beautiful animation and an even more beautiful story. Bravo, Brad Bird.
(One thing I wondered while watching: did Hogarth’s “bad robot!” line in his innocent child voice spark the name and logo tag of J.J. Abrams’s production company like Roy Scheider’s “that’s some bad hat, Harry” line from Jaws did for Bryan Singer’s production company? UPDATE: @nagle pointed out Bad Robot was founded in 1998 whereas this film came out in 1999. So there’s my answer.)
It’s been at least a decade since I last saw this film—my favorite Disney film—and three things are still apparent to me: 1.) the “Circle of Life” opening sequence remains one of the top ten individual sequences in any animated film and perhaps any film period, 2.) Hans Zimmer’s score remains his best work, and 3.) the magic I found in this film as a kid is still very much alive.
Another intellectual workout from Shane Carruth. Whereas Primer is more technical, this film is more arty. And perhaps TOO arty for me with overabundant, abstract symbolism and a dense narrative. Like Primer, I was left wondering what I had just seen and was again left with this question: Did I really like this film, or do I think I like it because I WANT to like it? But in both cases, I can appreciate how these films make me think. And with an absence of thinking films these days, that’s a very good thing.
I have so many questions about this film. For instance: How many viewings does it take to even BEGIN understanding what was going on? Was the opening of the film purposefully dense and obfuscatory in order to create an aura of authority and make the film seem smarter than it is? If I don’t try to understand this film, am I giving up because it’s too hard? But is there actually sense to make from all this?
The number one question I have, though is this: Did I really like this film, or do I think I like it because I WANT to like it?