Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliott have a look at the weekend’s big releases, “Deadpool” with Ryan Reynolds as The Merc with the Mouth, “Zoolander 2,” Ben Stiller’s fifteen years in the making sequel to his 2001 comedy cult hit and “How to Be Single,” Dakota Johnson’s sex and the city.
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien dissect the weekend’s big releases, “Deadpool” with Ryan Reynolds as The Merc with the Mouth, “Zoolander 2,” Ben Stiller’s fifteen years in the making sequel to his 2001 comedy cult hit and “How to Be Single,” Dakota Johnson’s sex and the city.
The opening narration of “How to be Single,” a new rom dram—romantic dramedy—starring “50 Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson, informs us that it isn’t about relationships, it’s about the times in between. And so it goes that the main character is basically single for most of the movie, but in reality the film is about relationships and nothing more.
On the eve of graduation Ivy Leaguer Alice (Johnson) has “the talk” with her long time boyfriend Josh (Nicolas Braun). She’d like to spend some time apart and find herself before they make a lifelong commitment. “I can’t wonder ‘what if,’” she says. “This is going to be great for both of us.” To learn what it means to be alone, she moves to New York, gets a job as a paralegal and kicks off the “Sex and the Sex” phase of her life with new workmate Robin (Rebel Wilson) as her guide.
“Where are you going?” asks Robin.
“Hone,” says Alice.
“I never want to hear you say that again,” snorts Robin. “You’re single.”
And so it begins.
At first, under the brazen Robin’s tutelage, Alice is an awkward flirt but soon embraces what her new friend calls a “sexual rumspringa” or rite of passage. She learns that drinks are a man’s “sexual currency” and just how long to wait before returning a text from a one night stand. From womanizing bartender Tom (Anders Holm) she discovers the trick to getting pick-ups out of the house the next day—turn off the water so thirsty “hungover chicks have to leave to survive.”
It’s a steep learning curve that sees her have flings with the above-mentioned bartender—“He’s sexual sorbet,” says Robin—and single father David (Damon Wayans Jr.) as several other characters swirl around her. Her workaholic sister Meg (Leslie Mann) begins a May-December relationship with Ken (Jake Lacy) while upstairs neighbour Lucy (Alison Brie) searches Manhattan looking for Mr. Right.
“How to be Single” is a messy retelling of Liz Tuccillo’s novel of the same name. It’s part slapstick comedy, part heart-tugger, part coming-of-age. The kitchen sink approach isn’t as bad as it sounds because director Christian Ditter has taken pains to cast the right people in the right roles. Wilson provides over-the-top comic relief—I don’t know if she has any range, but she’s very funny here—the guys represent various stereotypes—the playboy, the damaged single father, the puppy dog—and Mann makes the most of a role we’ve seen before, the workaholic who feels the ticking clock.
It’s a nice, appealing ensemble but it’s Johnson who brings the charm. She has a natural way about her, like Greta Gerwig gone slightly Hollywood, that allows complex emotions bleed through a seemingly simple performance. She makes Alice compelling, delivering funny lines—“I’ll be alone forever but at least my dead body will be food for the cats.”—and sad with equal skill.
“How to be Single” doesn’t add much, other than entertainment value, to the genre. Its basic premise is blurred as everyone ends up with someone—some romantically, some platonically, all hooked up—following the film’s sombre realization that being alone is OK as long as you aren’t… I don’t know, lonely? As a statement on modern relationships it’s muddled—”Why do we always tell our stories through relationships?” it asks, before doing just that.—but it does deliver enough laughs and romance to make it a pleasing enough Valentine’s Day diversion.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are a trimmed down version of The Ten Commandments for androids. Simple, direct and to the point, Asimov declared, “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.”
Asimov’s rules have inspired short stories, video games, music and cartoons. Roland Charles Wagner’s short story gave them an erotic spin in Three Laws of Robotic Sexuality, while the game Portal 2 sees all military androids sharing one copy of the laws of robotics.
And in the Mega Man series by Archie Comics, automatons are almost defeated by an anti-robotic terrorist group because they must abide by the three laws.
This weekend, Baymax, the lovable inflatable robot at the heart of Big Hero Six, abides by the laws. “Hello,” he says. “I am Baymax, your personal health-care companion.”
The roly-poly inflatable bot can almost instantly diagnose and treat a variety of diseases but even when he is transformed into a crime-fighting warrior, he still plays by the rules.
Asimov’s stories have been turned into films like I, Robot and Bicentennial Man, where the robots follow the dictums. But not all movies stay true to the rules.
In Alien, the Hyperdyne Systems 120-A/2 cyborg character Bishop (Ian Holm) says, “It is impossible for me to harm, or, by omission of action, allow to be harmed, a human being,” but later tries to kill Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) by choking her with a rolled up porno magazine.
The 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still has both good and evil robots. When alien android Klaatu’s message of friendship to earthlings is met with a bullet from a sniper, his eight-foot metal robotic assistant Gort lets loose with a disintegration death ray.
Finally, worse than Blade Runner’s killer android Roy (Rutger Hauer) or the robot gunslinger from Westworld, is Maximilian, the silent-but-deadly android from The Black Hole.
Not only does he wordlessly do the bidding of the evil Dr. Hans Reinhardt (Maximilian Schell), the blood-red bot later merges with his human creator to lord over the fire and brimstone of hell. Lawgiver Asimov surely would not approve.
For all intents and purposes “Big Hero 6” is an animated superhero movie aimed at kids too young to sit through the violent theatrics the Marvel universe offers up. The main difference, and the thing that makes the movie special, comes in the form of an empathetic blowup doll who could give the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man a run (or maybe just a waddle) for the title of Cuddliest Causer of Mass Destruction.
Set in San Fransokyo, the story focuses on fourteen-year-old robotics genius Hiro Hamada (voice of Ryan Potter). His brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) is also a whiz kid but has taken a different route. Hiro spends his time making robots to fight in illegal bot wars while Tadashi studies at the “nerd school” and has built the inflatable health care companion Baymax (Scott Adsit). Realizing his potential is being wasted Hiro puts his big brain to work to create microbots with a Borg-like collective consciousness that impresses the university’s Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell) so much he offers Hiro a scholarship. Before he can enroll, however, a tragedy claims the life of his brother. Compounding his heartbreak, Hiro discovers his technology has fallen into the wrong hands. Finding out who took the tech leads Hiro down a dark path of revenge, but with the help of Baymax and Tadashi’s friends Gogo (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and Fred (TJ Miller) the young genius can get some closure and discover his inner super powers.
There are set pieces in “Big Hero 6” that rival anything from the Marvel imaginations. Characters fly, breath fire and do battle with lasers. Buildings are leveled and there a giant time travel hovers in the air, threatening to transport everything in sight to another dimension. It’s big, impressive stuff, but the thing people will remember when they leave the theatre is Baymax, a rudimentary inflatable robot who walks like a baby penguin. His “nonthreatening huggable design” makes him look like a roly poly vinyl snowman with ovals for eyes. He’s nondescript, like a bloated crash test dummy, but he is the heart and soul of the movie.
Without him “Big Hero 6” would mostly be a series of slickly rendered—the animation is really lovely—action sequences, catchphrases and plot threads about revenge and life lessons. With him, however, the movie has real heart. The balloony Baymax doesn’t just rescue Hiro’s humanity; he gives the movie a large dose of it as well.