Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about to talk about the much anticipated “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark,” the latest adventures of the Gomez, Morticia and Company in the animated “The Addams Family 2” and the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “The Guilty.”
The weird and wonderful Addams Family, Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron), Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz), Pugsley (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) and their chrome domed Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), are just like any other family. Sure, they live in a house of horrors and are “mysterious and spooky and all together ooky,” but underneath it all, they are a regular, loving family.
The latest instalment in their lengthy documentation of family life, the animated “The Addams Family 2,” now playing in theatres and premium VOD, sees Gomez and Morticia, like so many parents, concerned that their kids are growing up too fast.
The action begins at Wednesday’s high school science fair. When she only earns a participation award for her project—transferring octopus intelligence into her Uncle Fester—she becomes more withdrawn than usual. To bring the family back together, Gomez and Morticia plan a family road trip to—where else?—Death Valley.
Along the way complications arise, including Cyrus Strange (Wallace Shawn, son of editor William Shawn who ran the Addams Family cartoons for decades in the pages of the New Yorker), an evil scientist who convinces Wednesday she is not really part of the Addams Family.
“The Addams Family 2” has top flight voice work from Isaac, Theron and especially Moretz, who nails the detached but spirited tone of her death-obsessed character. Her empowerment—”I’m not a freak,” she says, “I’m a force of nature.”—will also likely strike a chord with anyone who has felt like an outsider.
What the film doesn’t nail, however, is that Addams Family X-factor, the sense of gleeful dread. This is mainstream family animation, padded with songs and dance numbers, that smooths out the offbeat, macabre heart and soul of the source material. It’s goofy, not ooky, with none of the eccentric charm of the 1960s TV show.
Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon bring a light touch to the story, where none was needed.
The new “Madagascar” movie spin off is brought to you by the letter P. P is for penguin and puns.
“The Penguins of Madagascar” is the punniest movie of the year. It never met a pun it didn’t like and these penguins give The Marx Brothers a run for their money in the word play department. Based on spin off characters from the “Madagascar” series, these shifty, flightless birds soar in a movie that is more entertaining than the films that introduced us to them.
Skipper (voice of Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) are penguins on a mission. Dr. Octavius Brine, (voice of John Malkovich) is an octopodian evil genius on a mission to get revenge on a certain quartet of birds for a perceived slight. To save themselves, and perhaps all of penguin-kind, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private reluctantly team with an animal undercover organization known as The North Wind. Led by the suave wolf Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch) they aim to aid the penguins, but will the high tech spies be more of a hindrance than help?
“The Penguins of Madagascar” has a lot in common with other big screen animated entertainment for children. It is paced at the speed of light, has several frenetic action scenes and seems tailor made to inspire a run on cute stuffed toys at Movies ‘R’ Us. The thing that sets it apart from its animated cousins is the spirit of anarchy in its casting, story choices and even the barrage of puns.
How many kid’s movies feature a cameo by the sublimely surreal director Werner Herzog? Can you name another children’s flick where a character says, “You didn’t have a family and we’re all going to die,” to a newborn? Then there are the puns. They come fast and furious, usually in the form of an off hand comment. The movie’s best running gag involves working movie star names into Dr. Brine’s instructions to his minions. “Nicholas! Cage those penguins!” It’s silly and by the time he gets to Elijah Wood, Drew Barrymore and Kevin Bacon, also hilarious.
“The Penguins of Madagascar” is good, zany fun. No lessons will be learned, no morals taught, nothing gained but a good time at the movies.