Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s two big releases, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” with Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza and the animated kid’s flick “The Secret Life of Pets,” starring the voices of Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Steve Coogan and Ellie Kemper.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to talk about the big releases in theatres, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” with Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza and the animated kid’s flick “The Secret Life of Pets,” starring the voices of Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Steve Coogan and Ellie Kemper.
If you believe a new animated movie from Minions main man Chris Renaud (with co-director Yarrow Cheney), drinking from the toilet, chewing up furniture and napping are not the only things pets do when their owners are gone.
Max (voice of Louis C.K.), a brown-and-white Jack Russell Terrier has a great life with his human Katie (Ellie Kemper). They live together in a nice New York apartment and pass the time taking walks and playing. At first there’s only one problem, “Pretty much every day she leaves.”
While Katie is at work Max misses her but fills the endless hours hanging out with the other pets in his complex. There’s Buddy the dachshund (Hannibal Buress) who uses a Mixmaster as a back scratch, an obese tabby named Chloe (Lake Bell) who regularly empties the fridge and a poodle who rocks out to death metal when her opera-loving roommate is out of the house.
When Katie brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a big slobbering beast of a dog and “brother” for Max, the Jack Russell’s life, errr, ahhh, goes to the dogs. The ensuing battle for alpha dog supremacy brings on canine confusion as it spills out of the apartment and onto the street. Max and Duke must now contend with dogcatchers and the human-hating Flushed Pets gang—Liberation Forever! Domestication Never!—while Gidget (Jenny Slate), a white Pomeranian with the hots for Max, launches a rescue mission.
Animal slapstick has done well this year. First “Zootopia” gave us a menagerie of messages and laughs and now “The Secret Life of Pets” strolls along. Funny and charming, it isn’t as rich in subtext as “Zootopia,” but what it lacks in meaningful moralizing it makes up for in silly fun. It’s as deep as a dog’s dish, but it is, one might say, doggone funny.
Renaud brings the kind of bizarro humour that made the Minions a hit—the facial expressions of the pets are often as funny as their dialogue and there is a surreal musical number with edible singing sausages—to “Secret Life.” That, with a healthy mix of slapstick keeps the pace up for the younger kids. Older folks should get a kick out of the stereotypes, how the movie plays into them—“I’m your friend,” purrs Chloe, “and as your friend I don’t care about you or your problems.”—and against them—ie Kevin Hart as Snowball, the adorable but vicious bunny.
To bulk up “The Secret Life of Pets” short running time a new short, “Mower Minions,” is tacked on the front. As the strange yellow jellybeans try and make money to buy a new blender the age-old question, Do minions have tiny tattooed bums?, is finally answered probably to the delight of the kids everywhere.
Bob Dylan sang “You gotta serve somebody,” and so it is with the Minions, the curious tribe of yellow jellybean-shaped troublemakers made famous in the “Despicable Me” movies.
They were born to be bad, to work under some of the greatest villains in history, but what are they to do when their old bosses, baddies like T-Rex, Dracula and Napoleon don’t require their services? If you are minions named Bob, Kevin and Stuart (co-director Pierre Coffin who supplied the voices for all 899 minions) you hitchhike to Orlando, Florida and attend the 1968 Villain-Con International looking for work.
The star of Villain-Con is the world’s first female supervillain Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock). “When I started out people said a woman could never rob a bank as well as a man,” she says. “Well times have changed!” Her current evil plan involves stealing Queen Elizabeth’s (Jennifer Saunders) crown and taking over the throne. Hiring the Minions, she arms them with groovy 1960s weapons like a Lava Lamp Gun and a Hypno Hat, they set off on the mission, but when the Minions are involved, even the best laid plans can turn to gibberish.
During the screening the old saying, “Less is more,” sprung to mind. Would “Stand by Me” work if it was only about Ray Brower (the dead body)? How about “Mola Ram and the Temple of Doom”? What can be interesting or fun in small doses doesn’t always work in center stage. Like an orchestra made up of nothing but triangle players, sometimes it’s best to leave an asset in the background.
There is no denying the Minions’ cute appeal and their zest for the surreal side of life is contagious but as characters they’re limited by speaking Minionese, a nonsense language (equal parts Italian, Spanish, French and baby talk) that pretty much rules out sophisticated verbal jokes or long scenes of dialogue. Instead they make noises and frequently sing to stretch the running time to feature length. Don’t even ask about character development. They’re yellow, out of control and loud and that’s all they’ll ever be. “Inside Out” this ain’t.
Not that any of this will matter to kids very much. They love the Minions and they love their Minion stuffed animals. They love the gibberish and the physical humour. So what if there’s not much for anyone over the age of ten? Haters gonna hate. Minions gonna Minionate.
Synopsis: After enjoying big Easter and Passover meals, the Reel Guys like to treat the family to a good movie. Because there are as many different kinds of family movies as there are colours on the most psychedelic Ukrainian Easter egg, this week the guys have a look at their favourites. From the big screen to rentals for the small screen they choose movies that will put an extra hop in your step this weekend.
Richard: Mark, if you’re planning to take the kids out to the movies this weekend, there are two recent family flicks that deserve to be seen on the big screen. The Lego Movie is possibly the weirdest, most psychedelic kid’s entertainment since H.R. Pufnstuf, but it is also one of the best films of the year so far, kid’s movie or not. Then there is Mr. Peabody & Sherman, a big animated film inspired by a time travelling segment from the TV show Rocky and His Friends. It’s the only kid’s movie with an Oedipal joke and the kind of children’s movie that I think parents and kids will enjoy, but probably for completely different reasons.
Mark: Richard, so far The Lego Movie is the most exciting movie of the year, family or otherwise, but it should be noted that it, too, has a strong Oedipal theme in it. As a father of a three-year-old, I’m never quite sure what family entertainment means; what’s appropriate for my little boy is different than what might entertain an eight-year-old. Pretty much anything animated works for all ages, but then it gets complicated. And gender plays a role in choosing the right flick, too. Young girls love The Wizard of Oz, but young boys, not so much. But you never know. My little one loves Frozen, just out on DVD, even though it might seem “girly” to some.
RC: People love Frozen. I’m not one of them, but there is no arguing with the success of that movie. I’m more on side with Despicable Me II, which I thought was great fun despite its predictable plot. The story of chrome-domed former bad guy Gru’s (Steve Carell) working with the Anti-Villain League could have written itself, but the inventive gags contained within are the reason the whole family will enjoy the movie. There are lots of fun characters, but it’s really all about the Minions — Gru’s yellow, jelly-bean-shaped helpers — who spice things up with their own special kind of anarchy. Speaking in gibberish, they’re fun and more than worth the rental.
MB: Despicable Me II is a treat but my little guy deemed it “too scawy”. But I look forward to a family viewing of E.T. — the greatest family movie ever. Young or old, boys or girls, who doesn’t love the tale of that lovable little alien? Also on my eventual DVD queue would be Gremlins and even Home Alone. Kids love movies with kid heroes.
RC: Speaking of kid heroes, the adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak children’s book Where the Wild Things Are isn’t a movie for kids as much as it is a movie about being a kid. Max is the hero, a lonely kid who goes to where the wild things are. It’s a slow moving, simple film about deep feelings. It’s not a slick, brightly coloured kid’s film with a connect-the-dots plot and an easily digested moral, but it is a magical movie.
MB: I never got the appeal of the movie or the book, but maybe I’ve been missing something. But here’s an idea: Sit down with the family and watch A Hard Day’s Night. Everyone loves The Beatles, and this is the pop group in full cheeky-cute mode. Their rock songs from 1964 sound a lot like kids music today, with their melodic hooks and innocent lyrics.
“Despicable Me 2” features some big names. Steve Carrel, Kristen Wiig and Russell Brand headline the cast but the real stars are the nameless Minions who do most of the heavy lifting in this funny children’s flick.
The follow up to the 2010 hit, “Despicable Me 2” sees chrome-domed former villain Gru (Steve Carell)—his days of trying to vaporize Mt. Fuji are behind him now—as a doting single father lured back into the life, but this time working for the Anti Villain League with partner and love interest Agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig). The pair are sent undercover to a mall where one of the merchants is storing a chemical that will turn your average everyday Minion into an unbeatable fighting machine.
The trick is to figure out who is the bad guy.
Could it be the mustachioed hairstylist at the Eagle Hair Club or the salsa-dancing owner of the Mexican Restaurant who bears an uncanny resemblance to El Macho, a super villain thought to have perished riding a shark strapped with dynamite into a volcano?
Despite the humdrum story “Despicable Me 2” is great fun. The predictable plot could have written itself, but the inventive gags contained within are the reason to take the whole family. The animation is excellent and returning directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud take pains to make the most of the visual gags.
A bug-eyed guard chicken, a Lipstick Taser toting agent and Gru’s vaguely menacing accent are worth a look and listen, but the movie belongs to the Minions.
The memorable Minions—Gru’s yellow, jellybean shaped helpers—are back, spicing up the movie with their own special kind of anarchy. Speaking in gibbertish, they’re fun, frivolous and worth the extra few bucks to enjoy in 3D (stay for some more fun during the final credits).
“Despicable Me 2” is silly good fun, the rare sequel that is zanier and more enjoyable than the original.