Wednesday, November 16, 2005

You Said It Robert

I saw three movies today and about 3/4th of the way into the last one, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, (which happened to be the best of the batch) Robert Downey Jr. says to no one in particular "This is exhausting!" Since much of Kiss is meta the 4th wall is broken early and often. I was already acclimated to Robert addressing me directly. "Exhausting"? You said it, Robert! Robert Downey Jrs charisma and acting are so involving that he can sell practically anything. At least to me. I'm not even looking at price tags. I'm just buying.

So when he echoed my feelings I felt like he'd just sat through all three movies with me. He too was apparently annoyed by the awkward whimsy and episodic repetitiveness of Breakfast on Pluto. He groaned alongside me watching Chicken Little, a sloppy derivative and instantly dated movie. We wondered if the damage done to the animated genre by Robin Williams's genie in Alladin and both Shrek films can ever be undone? Does every CG animated movie (Pixar excepted of course) have to be so steeped in pop culture that its impossible to imagine the film provoking anything other than confused smiles in 10 years time --let alone existing? It's all 'wink wink nudge nudge.' And, if that weren't tiresome enough it also borrows from Shrek's obsession with wall to wall popsong scoring. Only it does so with an even duller sense of humor.

Speaking of 'wink wink nudge nudge'... that could be an alternate title for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But at least this latest offering from famous 90s screenwriter Shane Black has moments of genuine wit and invention rather than lazy pop-culture asides. The easy rapport and chemistry of its threesome (Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan) also go along way towards making this detective comedy feel like a fun ride rather than a straight-to-video throwaway or a chore to sit through.

Breakfast on Pluto
C-
Chicken Little D
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang B-

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Breakfast on Pluto suffered from some awfully questionable directorial decisions (its genre switching was poorly done, for starters), I nevertheless thought Murphy was fantastic, never slipping out of character, and being completely believable- sad and comic- in the most unlikely of situations.

If Chicken Little somehow manages to knock Corpse Bride out of the Animated Oscar category, I will puke.

Javier Aldabalde said...

what did you think of murphy??

NATHANIEL R said...

Murphy was very good (as per usual) --the movie around him though? ouch.

adam k. said...

I didn't think the Genie in Alladin was so bad... what was so bad about Genie?

Too bad about Breakfast on Pluto, though.

NATHANIEL R said...

Genie was part 1 in the Shrek takeover of animation -endless riffs on current celebs / pop culture / movies instead of actual wit or jokes. These things date movies.

Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid are still fresh as ever. These other movies are instantly. Oh, that's 1992. Oh, that's 2002, whatever. It automatically makes gives expiration dates.

Anonymous said...

Weird. I saw Aladdin for the first time just a few months back and thought it was great. Genie was hilarious.

But I agree on the whole Shrek thing. And then Shrek 2 took it to all new levels of suck. LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA? Wasn't that song, like,5 years ago? Surely it was out before even the original Shrek was released.

Ugh, I hate Shrek 2

-Glenn

adam k. said...

Ah. I see then about Genie. All I remembered about him was Robin Williams being manic. I thought that's what you had the problem with (andp perhaps you do). But now that I think of it, the whole of Alladin does seem very "1992".

I hate Shrek 2 and any other bland, unnecessary sequels that can't think of a better title than "such and such 2". In my book, that just smacks of "we just wanted another movie so we could cash in", you know? If there's not even enough of a story to give it it's own name. Like, "Saw 2" for instance. Nice. SO imaginative.

And yeah, the Shrek riff phenom is pretty heinous when put next to, say, The Incredibles. It's like night and day. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I see what you mean, but do you think Genie ruined the movie in its entirety? I guess I still like it because of sentimental value, but I have to make the arguement that there were really only a couple of scenes where the character exploited the popular culture of the time. Even then, he was just being main, as opposed to pop culture-y. I will always be in love with the "A Whole New World" sequence. I don't know, it's still a favorite for me, and a 1992 top ten-lister for me.

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