Category Archives: Family Films
Let’s face it, the only thing “mysterious” about this cutesy sequel to 2008’s $100M+ adventure to the center of the Earth is the near total failure to explain the absence of “Uncle Trevor” (Brendan Fraser) – short of a one-liner about too many people bailing out on young Sean Anderson, reprised by Josh Hutcherson (RV, Bridge to Terabithia). Okay, and how did Liz Anderson, young Sean’s mom, suddenly transform from blue-eyed blond-haired Jane Wheeler into brown-eyed brunette Kristin Davis of Sex and the City fame? And what happened to all that money young Sean and Uncle Trevor returned with from their first Journey? (Did Uncle Trev split with the dough?) Liz and her new honey, Hank (Dwayne Johnson, more Toothfairy than Walking Tall here), are living in a terribly small Ohio home for a couple with access to the giant diamonds Sean stuffed into his backpack a few years before.
Of course, none of that really mattered to the 7-year-old perched on an unnecessary booster seat next to me as she stuffed her face with popcorn and Welches’ Fruit Snacks. This PG fantasy about giant butterflies, bee rides and miniature sharks was right up her alley. And I must admit that I laughed right along with her at the ludicrous sight of Luis Guzman, (who plays the hapless helicopter-pilot/doting father, Gabato), trying to pick up a multi-ton hunk of gold he’d somehow managed to dig out of volcanic soil with his bare hands in less than an hour. Michael Caine in the role of Sean’s long-lost grandfather, Alexander, was good for the occasional laugh as well.
All in all, this sequel, though completely banal and predictable, is exactly what the elementary school set is looking for in a 3D adventure: some not-too-scary thrills and a whole lot of goo and poop jokes. Seven is about as young as I’d recommend, but if you need to get the kids out of the house and it’s too cold or wet outside for the park, this film is an acceptable alternative…IF you catch the matinee. Honestly, I’d rather have gone with the 3D re-release of Star Wars Episode I, Jar Jar and all, but the kid’s still talking about it so I guess my $17 wasn’t completely wasted.
Everyone knows that Disney’s Beauty & the Beast is a classic. It’s one of the last great films animated the old fashioned way, and even in 3D the amazing artwork shines through. In fact, I’ve got to say the beginning sequence is absolutely breathtaking on the giant digital screen, with almost an Avatar-like immersion experience. Goodness knows the 7 year-old princess parked next to me in the theater was completely drawn in from that first musical note, and the intermittent screams of fear and delight coming from her pint-sized peers in the room certainly indicates she was not alone in that experience.
The only negative I saw was a bit of jitter when the main characters were moving quickly, likely due to the automated layering methods failing to fully separate those characters from the background. These moments were few and far between, but if you’re the queasy type, I recommend you hit the john during Gaston’s big self-titled musical number. Otherwise, the translation to modern tech for this old classic was smooth and worth a matinee ticket. It should be even more fun when Finding Nemo hits the third dimension later this year.
One other downside is worth noting: not 30 seconds after Cinemark kindly and quite loudly reminded audience members that texting during the movie is an eviction-worthy offense , the bonehead in front of me whipped out her Droid and proceeded to answer every little beep it uttered. That is, until I tapped her on the shoulder and politely reminded her it cost me twenty bucks to sit there and read her bright pink, black and white conversations. Now if I can just figure out how to effectively deal with the wiggleworms who invariably kick the back of my seat during the best part of the film.