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Movie Reviews

The Emperor's New Groove Animated

This movie is like a perfect little eclair. It's fun. It's fluffy. And since its short, it's low calorie too. 

Plot nutshell The self centered Incan Emperor Kusco gets turned into a llama by a former employee. Hijinks ensue. Kusco becomes a better llama.

The movie is part moral lesson, part travel story, part (well mostly) fluff.

Kusco (David Spade) manages to pull off being a likable jerk, which plays well against his genuinely nice moral guide/travel buddy Pacha (John Goodman). 

Yzma (a throaty Eartha Kitt) is an amusing (if not terribly terrifying) villaness. And her henchman Kronk (Patrick Warburton) is absolutely hilarious.

Actually, when it comes right down to it, the voice casting is perfect.

And get this, it's a Disney movie with a complete nuclear family. (Yeah, yeah, Mulan did it first, whatever) Mom (Wendie Malick) and Dad aka Pacha are good parents to their fairly realistic kids.

The animation is crisp and manages to capture the feel of Incan art and the Andes mountains.

There are a number of quotable lines ("Beware the Groove" springs to mind.) and the sight gags are funny without being cruel.

Unbreakable Fantasy, Maybe, Dark Reality Definitely

M. Night Shayamalan strikes another mood perfect note.

Plot Nutshell Hmmm...problematic since I don't want to spoil anything. Hmmm...a man survives an extraordinary accident. Why? Mix comic books, heroes, villains, and the real world. Oh, just go see the movie.

Unlike The Sixth Sense, whose surprise ending hit you at the end of the movie, the core concept of Unbreakable creeps up on you. Until, by the end of the movie, you just sit there and say, "Of course." That is if your not bouncing up and down in glee because this is such a good movie.

Now I will warn you, this is not an action picture. There are no explosive, car chasing, running, jumping, leaping, fist flying sorts of stuff. This is a quiet film. Atmosphere. Ambiance. Long quiet camera angles. Think Hitchcock.

And Bruce Willis works as the perfect quiet core of the movie. David Dunn, an ordinary man who is asked to accept some extraordinary ideas. Samuel L. Jackson is great as Elijah Price, an unusual sort of prophet.

Billy Elliot Musical

Ok, I'm prejudiced. I love musicals because they express emotions through a medium that I love, dance and song. Billy Elliot is a great example of the right way to do a modern musical.

Plot nutshell Billy is a bright 12 year old in a small English mining town who wants to learn ballet rather than boxing. His family, in the middle of a long term strike, thinks only girly-boys do ballet. However, Billy is determined to be true to his internal vision.

The movie is heart warming. Jamie Bell, as Billy, is outstanding. By turns charming and obnoxious. You know, a kid. His family and friend are realistically portrayed and there are no black or white options.

And then we have the dance numbers. They merge perfectly with the plot. They make total sense and they're wonderfully choreographed. There is an early dance number where Billy, fresh from his dance lesson, cavorts down the street in an obvious homage to the Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. The scene is full of boyish exuberant energy. Later in the picture, Billy expresses his anger in a series of tap/slam dance moves which perfectly express his sense of frustration and rage. The kid can dance.

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