I appear on “CTV News at 11:30” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend, including the Crave historical soap opera “The Gilded Age,” the final season of the Netflix series “The Crown” and Disney’s laytest animated film “Wish,” now playing in theatres.
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the epic “Napoleon,” the surreal “Dream Scenario” and two family friendly films, “Leo” and Disney’s “Wish.”
In “Wish,” a new musical-comedy featuring the voices of Chris Pine and Ariana DeBose, Disney celebrates 100 years of animated entertainment with a fairy tale featuring Easter Eggs referencing their classic films. There’s a deer named Bambi, snippets of the Pinocchio theme “When You Wish Upon a Star,” a magic mirror, and many other tributes.
Question is, does “Wish” live up to the tradition of the memorable films that came before it?
“Wish” takes place on the island kingdom of Rosas, a magical place where King Magnifico (Chris Pine) stores the wishes from people all over the world. “Imagine a place where wishes come true,” says Magnifico. “Where your heart’s desire can become a reality. What if I told you that place is within reach? All you have to do is give your wish… to me.”
At the age of 18 everyone in Rosas gives the King their deepest desire, which he then seals up in his castle’s observatory. “I grant the wishes I am sure are good for Rosas,” he says. Once a month he announces a winner and grants their dreams come true.
When 17-year-old Asha (Oscar winner Ariana DeBose) meets the king to apply for a job as his assistant, she hopes to convince him to grant her 100-year-old grandfather Sabino’s (Victor Garber) wish. When the king refuses, Asha uncovers a terrible secret. Magnifico not only deletes the memories of those who tell him their wants, he hoards the wishes to keep the citizens of Rosas compliant.
“King Magnifico has wishes in his castle,” Asha says. “He’ll never give them back. We have to free the wishes and return them to the people.”
To aid in her mission, Asha prays to the heavens and is visited by a cosmic force, a glowing, playful yellow star, named, appropriately enough, Star. “Joy, hope and possibilities, the most loving light,” says Asha. But the king sees the glowing star as a threat
As they join forces to stop Magnifico, the king manifest all his dark magic powers to stop them. “There is a traitor amongst us,” he bellows. “Find Asha.”
“Wish” has all the elements of classic Disney, but falls just short of memorable. The built-in nostalgia should appeal to fans as a centurial celebration, and aficionados will get a kick out of spotting the hidden tributes to the older movies, but the film is stuck in looking in the rearview mirror. It feels old fashioned, a celebration of what came before, from its look, to its storytelling. As pleasant as it is, there’s not much new happening here in its themes of the magic of dreams and power of good to defeat evil.
The mix of 2D and 3D animation evokes the look of Disney’s watercolor animation, but there is a dullness to the color palette that doesn’t jump off the screen. But, surreal talking mushrooms,
a carriage that sprouts legs and a sequence with Ziegfeld Follies style dancing chickens are fun, and inject some much-needed oomph to the artwork.
Character wise, its standard stuff, although Valentino (Alan Tudyk), a talking goat with a surprisingly deep voice earns laughs as he announces, “I cannot swim,” like Greek herald Stentor as he dives into the water. Best of all is the Star, a simple character with very expressive face, which is virtually guaranteed to move a bunch of plush toys as Christmas approaches.
Like the animation, the generic songs don’t perk up the ears, save for De Bose’s powerhouse vocals and Pine’s showstopping, villainous anthem.
As a celebration of 100 years of animation, “Wish” isn’t awful, just underwhelming. It feels like a blast from the past, with both eyes on the past, and none on the future.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD to watch this weekend including the Helen Reddy biopic “I Am Woman,” the raunchy revenge flick “Ravage” and the gritty gangster flick “The Tax Collector.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Stephanie Smythe have a look at the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Helen Reddy biopic “I Am Woman,” the gritty gangster flick “The Tax Collector” and the glossy rom com “The Broken Hearts Gallery.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Helen Reddy biopic “I Am Woman,” the gritty gangster flick “The Tax Collector,” the glossy rom com “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” the Shakespeare update of “Measure for Measure” and the violent revenge film “Ravage.”
Early on in “I Am Woman,” the Helen Reddy biopic now on digital and on demand, the Australian singer, played by Tilda Cobham-Hervey, passes a subway advertisement that sets the tone for the test of the movie. A housewife holds a bottle of ketchup and with a look of surprise says, “Even I can open it!” as Reddy makes her way to a meeting with a dismissive record industry twit.
Melbourne-born Reddy’s plainspoken anthems for a generation of women kicked open doors in a sexist industry and while she never says, “Even I can open it,” about a bottle of ketchup or anything else in the film, it’s clear from the start she has no doubt that she can.
Based on Reddy’s memoir “The Woman I Am,” the movie begins in 1966 when the Beatles ruled the charts and record labels were not interested in “girl singers.” Single-mom Reddy and her young daughter land in New York on the mistaken belief that a record deal was awaiting. It wasn’t but Reddy was, well, ready for success. A polished singer and performer, she just needed a break. That came in the form of Jeff Wald (Evan Peters), an ambitious music biz insider who becomes her manager and husband. When he puts down the coke spoon long enough to focus on Reddy’s career, he manages to land her a record contract. The resulting album, 1971’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and it’s number one hit “I Am Woman” established Reddy not only as a creative force but also as a figurehead of the era’s feminist movement.
“I Am Woman” follows the standard 1970s “Behind the Music” biopic formula. From struggling artist to chart topper, with all the sexism, drugs and rock n’ roll—OK, make that easy listening rock—you expect from a showbiz tale writ large. Add to that some on-the-nose soundtrack decisions—”You and Me Against the World” warbles in the background as Reddy and her music journalist pal Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald) are trying to make a dent in the music business and, the even heavier-handed “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” adorns a scene of marital discord—and you have the makings of corny musical melodrama.
What sets it apart from the pack is a charismatic performance from Cobham-Hervey and some nicely rendered musical numbers.
In a breakout performance Cobham-Hervey captures the spirit of Reddy, a talented everywoman who fought against workplace harassment and discrimination to achieve success. She’s charismatic but brings a certain kind of effortlessness to role, a hard to define quality on display in her first in-studio scene. She’s having a hard time performing to a room of disinterested hard rock producers until Wald suggests she pretend she’s on stage. As the nerves settle Cobham-Hervey brings Reddy to life, allowing the strong, invincible singer to emerge. (Chelsea Cullen provides Reddy’s singing voice.)
Equally effective is the montage that introduces the title song. Intercutting Reddy’s performance with news footage of Equal Rights Amendment rallies and women’s liberation protests, director Unjoo Moon creates a picture perfect portrait of the time, showing us, not telling us why the song was then, and remains, such a powerful statement.
“I Am Woman” is an entertaining, if conventional biography of a woman who was anything but conventional.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan have a look at the weekend’s big releases including “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” the indie drama “Mouthpiece” and the rockumentary “Echo in the Canyon.”