The hero's nerdy sidekick prevents genre blindness by identifying the hero's journey as a magical spirit quest.
Roger (Jeff Daniels - ) and Anita ( Joely Richardson ) are thirty-somethings who live in London. They meet up because their pet dalmatian dogs have a liking for each other. Luckily this is not a simple Rom-Com, so the romance is dealt with in the First Act and the story is allowed to move on.
The dalmatians produce a litter of puppies. These come to the attention of Anita's boss Cruella deVill ( Glenn Close ) - a sadistic narcissist who is obsessed with fur coats. Naturally the good guys refuse to sell her the puppies. She deploys her minions, a well-cast group of British comedy actors - Tim McInnerny ( Dr Who ), Hugh Laurie ( Stuart Little ) and Mark Williams ( Red Dwarf ). There is also a new character, a scary fellow aptly named Mister Skinner (John Shrapnel - ).
The story is established through the eyes of the human characters. However, after the puppies get abducted the viewpoint switches to the dogs. This is true to the original book, but the portrayal is slightly off. The twilight barking, when dogs transmit messages over long distances, is shown. Of course, unlike in the books we do not hear the dogs talking, or even see subtitles of their words. Instead everything has to be gained from the context.
Not only are the dogs able to communicate with each other, but entirely different species as well. For example, despite being in rural England there are American animals like playful racoons and a stench-squirting skunk.
The animals manage to rescue the puppies. Naturally the human villains come after them. Luckily, the animals are able to coordinate a series of messy ambushes that lead to a lot of slapstick scenes. Amazing to think that the actors involved have established a serious award-winning pedigree for themselves.
Meanwhile, the humans' only real response is to call the police. Amazingly, the cops manage to take the time to investigate the dog-napping. On the word of the distraught dog-owners they get multiple squad-cars and conduct searches (presumably with the required legal warrants) and arrests.
Professor Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy - The Golden Child ) is an amiable, grossly obese scientist who works in an American University. He seems happy enough, teaching classes and working on a research project to discover a way to shut off the obesity genes. In other words, he is making a secret formula to make people skinny.
Sherman meets Jada Pinkett (Smith) , and assumes that he is too fat for her. Basically he thinks she is out of his league. After a particularly bad case of fat-shaming by a stand-up comedian (Dave Chapelle - Con Air), Sherman decides to test his formula on himself.
The formula works, and Sherman loses half his bodyweight almost instantly. Since nobody will recognise him in his new form, Sherman decides to call himself Buddy Love. Somehow, the slimmer version of Sherman turns out to be a completely different personality. As a result, he developes a terrible case of split-personality syndrome.
Captain Patrick Wilson ( Watchmen ) is estranged from his boyfriend Matthew Morrison (Glee).
The other crew members include:
The result is a poor story, but it gives excuse to some shockingly funny (or just shocking) jokes.
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller - Zoolander ) is a daydreamer trapped in a dead-end job. He wants to impress a female co-worker ( Kristen Wiig ) and follow in the footsteps of his idol, photo-journalist Sean Penn ( Gangster Squad ). This involves going on an epic trek to Iceland, where he fails to realise that a volcano is about to erupt.
Wiig is an established comedy performer in her own right. Unfortunately she does not get the chance to show this off, although she does get to sing a song.
The hero (Ryan Kwanten - True Blood ) gets dumped by his girlfriend. His flatmates Eric (Steve Zahn - ) and Hung (Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones ) try to cheer him up by taking him to a Live Action Roleplay (LARP) event. The rest of the team includes Danny Pudi ( Captain America: Winter Soldier ) and Summer Glau , while the Game Master is Jimmi Simpson ( Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ).
Our all-star cast go on a merry quest. Naturally, a demon gets accidentally summoned and predictably goes on a killing spree. However, this is well handled and the resulting film is an above-average effort.
The Headmaster (Michael Sheen - Good Omens (2019) ) is set up to be a bad guy, when he gives a Trump-style Make Slaughterhouse Great Again quote. His plan is to allow fracking in the forest, which will destroy the water table and polute the atmosphere. Luckily all it actually does is unleash a horde of carniverous beasties that start to devour the cast.
There are a couple of familiar faces. A school-teacher (Simon Pegg - Mission Impossible: Fallout ) is obsessed with getting back with his estranged girlfriend ( Margot Robbie ). Meanwhile, a hippy (Nick Frost - ) is camping out in the woods to protest the fracking. Since the movie was not written and directed by their co-conspirator Edgar Wright , Pegg and Frost are just supporting characters.
The protagonist and his room-mate (Asa Butterfield - The space Between us ) have to save the day. Yes, this boils down to a teenagers-versus-monsters story.
It turns out our hero is haunted by a dark past. This is basically a comedy about a seral killer. It has very dark subject matter, but manages to pull the comedy off quite well.
Doctor Frankenstein (Gene Wilder - ) is the grandson of the infamous Baron. He inherits that castle and its contents, as well as Igor (Marty Feldman - Yellowbeard ) - the grandson of the Baron's assistant.
Frankenstein eventually falls prey to his ancestor's madness. He decides to create the perfect man, and ends up with a Monster (Peter Boyle - Species 2 ). The real problem is that Igor used an abnormal brain. Well, that is always the problem. However, Frankenstein tries to cure the creature's monsterous tendencies.
The girlfriend from hell dies in an accident, and the boyfriend moves on with goth-chick Alexandria Daddario . Unfortunately there is a cursed idol nearby, like in Picture of Dorian Grey . This one raises the girlfriend from the dead, as a zombie.
Directed by Joe Dante , this follows his usual path of combining horror with comedy. While the comedy is funny, the horror aspect is played with seriousness and full-on gore.
The bickering pair head to the boy's family home. His father (Ray Wise - Twin Peaks ) runs the water treatment plant. It turns out that the company's environmentally unsafe procedures have contaminated the water with a brain-eating parasite.
This is an indie movie crowd-funded by kickstarter. The result is a pretty decent rom-zom-com, not the usual SyFy-type garbage.
The movie is a horror-comedy with some camera shots inspired by the works of Sam Raimi . The protagonists are trapped in a confined space, and the tension slowly ramps up as the bathroom gradually fills with more and more zombies.
There is also an after-credits sequence, although it does not really add much to the story.
Later, three sexy tweenage girls go to stay in a Cabin in the Woods . As always, it is right next to a lake. The good news is, it is not Crystal Lake or even Lake Placid . The bad news is, it is the lake that the beavers created with their dam.
This parodies a few different movies in the horror genre. However, it is not just a parody - it is more of a horror-comedy, like Gremlins . Rather than just endlessly mock genre films, it is both scary and funny in alternate turns. Perhaps this could be the Critters for the new century. Unfortunately, those movies had teenage boy protagonists so appealed to a more adventure-loving audience.
This effort clings to horror movie tropes that became cliches long ago. However, it adds a new twist. If you get bitten by a zombie, vampire or werewolf then you turn into the thing that bit you. But if you get bitten by a zombeaver, it turns out that you become a were-beaver.
In 1968, a trio of Minions visit the USA to find a super-villain they can be henchmen for. Due to an incredible series of coincidences they accidentally discover the Supervillains’ TV channel, and then get a lift with a group of amateur villains to the annual Super-villain convention. The best villain of the bunch is Ruby ( Sandra Bullock ), and the guys manage to impress her enough to get hired. But given their slapstick nature, things will not go according to plan.
The film also introduces a very young Groo, who becomes their master in the other films in the series.
Groo adopts the girls, purely as a temporary measure for the duration of the robbery. But the loveable little things eventually get to him. All the usual clichés come into play, and he must eventually choose between success in his career and success as a father.
The newly unemployed Groo gets invited to stay with his twin brother, which is a surprise because he always thought he was an only child. He takes his girlfriend and adopted children along for the trip.
Groo's brother wants to learn the family trade as a super-villain. Groo decides the best way to get him a rep is to steal from the other villain If this sounds familiar, that is because it was the plot of the original film.
The protagonist sets out to undermine his unwanted sibling, who has the brain of a grown man in the body of a tiny infant. The result is an incredible parody of Hollywood car chases, which illustrates (no pun intended) how animated films are far superior to live-action ones in terms of cinematography.
There is an overall plot to the story. Babies are about to be replaced with robot puppies. If this happens, the Boss Baby will be out of business and will be trapped in the family forever. The two unwilling siblings must learn to work together.
The sentient icons live in a dystopian society run by a villainous matriarch, the original smiley face. This makes her more like Ms Pacman than the actual Pacman, but dystopian matriarchies are a trope these days so we should overlook it.
The protagonist flees, and teams up with a couple of other characters - a love interest and a comedy relief. If the plot seems familiar, that is because this film is quite similar to The Lego Movie . The main difference is that Lego will still be used in ten years time while before we know it the smart-phone Emojis will become as extinct as command-line interface. At the end of the day, this is the kind of derivative and unoriginal story that was so expertly mocked in the R-rated comedy Sausage Party .
Hercules (Tate Donovan) is the son of Zeus, but he must prove himself before he inherits his godhood. He is trained by a satyr (Danny DeVito - Batman Returns ) and assisted by his animal sidekick, Pegasus the flying horse.
Hades (James Woods - Videodrome ) is plotting a takeover of Olympus.
It is a family-friendly film that works on a number of levels:
The story starts in Polynesian legend. A demi-god named Maui (Dwayne Johnson - GI Joe: Retaliation ) stole a magic mcguffin from the mother-goddess. Now Moana, the Polynesian Disney princess, must return it to its rightful place.
Moana is raised in a matriarchal society. She learns the ancient wisdom from her grandmother (Rachel House), the mentor she is due to replace as the tribe's next great leader. Moana's father (Temuera Morrison - Barb Wire ) brings home the bacon (or fish, in this case), but this is scut-work and he is afraid to go beyond the island's protective reef. The other men include a weakling who can barely endure the pain of getting a tribal tattoo, and for some reason it is positioned in the small of his back (like a ho-tag).
The island is best with ill luck, and the tribe's food supply begins to die off. The cowardly men of the tribe refuse to do antything, so Moana follows the call to adventure. Unlike most female protagonists these days she does not manage to figure it all out by herself, and she needs to train with a Yoda figure.
Moana teams up with Maui, a hilarous ego-maniac who steals the show and becomes a reluctant hero. They set off on a musical comedy adventure together, fighting piratical coconut people, a giant crab-monster and an enormous demon-king.
Rango is an anthropomorphosised lizard who gets lost in the Nevada desert. He ends up as sheriff in a town peopled by other talking animals. There is a big dispute over water access (like in Chinatown). The town Mayor (Ned Beatty - Deliverance) and a thieving gopher (Harry Dean Stanton - Alien ) are involved.
The happy foodstuffs go on a trek across the supermarket. All the usual cliches are parodied ceaselessly.
A young woman in New York City buys two mis-matched dogs as pets. They bicker and fight, and end up getting lost on the streets of New York. The dog catcher is after them, and they do not have their collars on. Eventually they end up in a sausage factory, which may have inspired the parody film Sausage Party .
Moon (Matthew McConaghey - Kubo and the Two Strings ) is a koala bear who runs a failing theatre. His scripted shows have failed, so his next business venture is a singing contest.
The story is quite predictable, with a believe in yourself moral in the end. What really sets it apart is the fact that animated films are far superior to live-action ones in terms of cinematography.
A young boy in suburban USA is lonely because he does not get enough of his parents' attention. The parents (including Jennifer Aniston ) are self-employed and work from home, unlike the vast majority of parents in the world, so he really does not have much to complain about. However, he writes a letter to the Storks and requests to have a baby brother delivered.
The protagonist (Andy Samberg - Brooklyn 99) must deliver the baby to its parents before the boss (Kelsey Grammer - Transformers 4 ) finds out and fires him.
The Storks have a token human, Tulip. She is portrayed as a heroine who can do no wrong, even though she is incompetent and everything she does ends in disaster. Disaster for everyone except her, that is. She never has to take responsibility for her failures. Tulip's policy is Diversity for the sake of diversity. The business already employs Pigeons as office drones and Penguins as nannies. However, she wants to take the flightless birds and put them on delivery duties (for which they are fundamentally unsuitable). That said, with the enormous back-log created at the end it might be necessary to lower standards and hire a few new staff outside of traditional recruiting zones.
A rabbit named Judy Hopper ( Ginnifer Goodwin ) wants to be a police officer. She is accepted into the Police Force, but ends up as a meter maid. After all, she is the first bunny on the force so they are reluctant to throw her in the deep end.
Judy manages to get a case. Citizens have been disappearing. The only thing they have in common is that they are predators.
Judy teams up with the only one she can find to help her. He is a fox with a knowledge of the city's underworld. It turns out that there is a lot of prejudice against predators, and that they form something of an underclass.