This Week In Cinema: April 24-30, 2011

It’s an odd week when a short about the history of rats is the best movie!

Decent week for movies, fueled by some great Pixar and some nice nostalgia,

Your Friend The Rat (2007, Jim Capobianco, United States Of America) ****

An amusing tale, Your Friend The Rat pokes fun at the very premise of Ratatouille. The idea of a rat as a hero is pretty darn preposterous given the way our society looks at them. This short has fun with that line of thinking, and it very funny to boot. The animation fits the narrative flow, it is stunning when Emile and Remy are on screen, otherwise it is rougher in a good way. The history buff in me really dug the way the short dealt with history and the comedy fan in me loved the bit over the end disclaimer. If only Ratatouille had been great like Your Friend The Rat ends up being.

The Land Before Time (1988, Don Bluth, Ireland/United States Of America) ***

Not the most intricate tale ever weaved, but definitely one of the coziest. The Land Before Time is cute, touching, and charming. It succeeds so brilliantly at those three aspects that it pretty much masks the lack of narrative and the threadbare nature of the entire film. Pish-posh to all of that though, because The Land Before Time has more than enough cute to power a jetliner. A jetliner that I was more than happy to take a trip on.

Management (2008, Stephen Belber, United States Of America) **

Steve Zahn tires so damn hard, but as the old saying goes you can’t get blood out of a stone. It’s not as if Zahn gives some sort of awards caliber performance or anything. But, man does he ever try every trick he knows as an actor to make something out of a ridiculous story, ordinary direction and bad writing. The rest of the actors aren’t bad, but they clearly have no idea what to do with a movie that has no idea what to do itself. Zahn has no idea either, but the effort he puts into making something out of such awfulness was the only treat to be found in Management and is worth mentioning. Seriously man, a Buddhist monk segment is the game changer, c’mon!

Rudy (1993, David Anspaugh, United States Of America) ***1/2

Is Rudy legitimately a great movie? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I am a sucker for every single second of it. Notre Dame has always been one of my favorite college football programs, that’s why I’ve loved Rudy from the first time I watched it. Sean Astin is very good, and that’s a must seeing as how he is the only character who gets any development at all, and even his development is very bare. The final moments of the film are emotionally triumphant in the way that so few sports movies pull off these days. What can I say, I loved the journey the movie took me on, Rudy remains a favorite of mine.

Slap Shot (1977, George Roy Hill, United States Of America) **

For reasons beyond my comprehension Slap Shot has attained cult status as the definitive hockey movie. The Hanson brothers are constantly quoted as the driving force of the film, but they are barely in the film and when they are on screen they don’t do anything. It all comes down to the lackluster direction of George Roy Hill for me. The more I delve into his work the less I like what I see, he’s such a messy director who thinks that throwing a lot of different ideas at the screen will equate with a good picture. That’s not the case and the mediocre quality of Mr. Hill’s films speak to his failings as a director. Slap Shot may have something to say about corporate culture in the 70s, but it says it so badly that any message is lost amidst the tepid jokes and muddling script. Slap Shot may be thought of as the definitive hockey movie, or definitive cult hockey movie maybe, but I’ll take The Mighty Ducks as my hockey movie every day of the week, thank you very much.


Your Friend The Rat takes home top honors this week, but The Land Before Time and Rudy were both pictures I greatly enjoyed. It’s odd for me to think of a Pixar short as being considerably better than the feature film it is spinning off from. But, Your Friend The Rat is legitimately that great. See you next week.


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