For the last six years, we’ve been waiting patiently for the sophomore effort from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The husband-and-wife team responsible for 2006‘s Little Miss Sunshine, one of the finest films of the last decade, has finally returned with Ruby Sparks, an innovative romantic comedy that brings to life a fantasy most writers only dream about. It asks the question: What if those dreams came to life?
Seth MacFarlane is one strange person – and I’m not just saying that because of what Ted is about. I point it out because as a one-time fan of Family Guy, I now find the show more annoying than ever. To make matters worse, only American Dad shows any remaining sign of life (The Cleveland Show was never worth my time). So with the announcement of his first film (and him returning to essentially the Peter Griffin voice), I once again looked on skeptically thinking that he might not be able to pull it off. That was until I noticed Mark Wahlberg was cast as the star. My trepidation against the movie finally started subsiding.
Ted‘s plotline might be slight, but it’s how the film handles it that makes it such a memorable fantasy. In 1985, young John Bennett from Boston has no friends and is the odd kid out. For Christmas, he receives a teddy bear and soon wishes for the bear to be real. The next morning, the bear comes to life. Even his parents are in shock (“You’re like the baby Jesus,” his mother exclaims), and before he realizes it, Ted is a nationwide celebrity, even appearing on Johnny Carson. As the fame dies down, Ted does his best to try and live a normal life, even if it is with John (Wahlberg, now grown up), but how is it normal when he is doing drugs and countless other unspeakable things?
The last hope to save mankind has failed and there are exactly three weeks left before the world will be destroyed by an 70-mile wide asteroid named Matilda. Dodge Peterson (Steve Carell) just wants to keep living his normal life, but how can he when his wife Linda (a blink-or-miss cameo from Nancy Carell, Steve’s real-life wife) literally jumps ship as soon as the news comes in? He tries to act like everything is normal, but even that’s impossible, and an attempted suicide only ends up pairing him with a cute dog to accompany his final days.
I’m almost certain that everyone has something they’ve done that they’ve regretted and wanted to go back and change. A lost love, a horrible business decision, maybe even a decision that changed your life for the worst. Well, what if you had found a way to travel back in time to fix it? Safety Not Guaranteed expands on this notion and delivers a truly original spin to the idea of time travel.
In many ways, Moonrise Kingdom is the epitome of a Wes Anderson film, the quintessential work by a filmmaker who has taken the popular conception of the auteur theory to an extreme, forging a very individual and recognizable style that has only gotten more precise and well-defined with every film. You’d think that by this point, having successfully integrated his style into features, shorts, commercials, and even stop-motion animation, a straight-up comedy/drama would lapse into either retread tedium or self-parody. And for some people, Anderson has probably already reached this point long ago – his particular brand of twee quirk is tailor-made to annoy a certain portion of the population. But people who find Anderson’s whimsy up their alley will be delighted with this new offering, which manages to stay fresh and delightful while maintaining and even refining his distinctive style.
A New England island, roadless and only navigable from the mainland by helicopter or boat, is home to a small police force, a pair of lawyers and their progeny, a boy scout camp, and miles of wilderness. When twelve-year-old scout Sam Sankusky goes missing, a search is mounted, but the other boys approach it like a manhunt rather than a rescue – the awkward and forthright boy is not well-liked. Except by Suzy Bishop, the oldest daughter of the lawyers, who has arranged a meeting with Sam. The children carry out their idlewild, their young love blossoming as they hike and camp…until the adults finally catch up to them.