It’s November, which means we’re close to Thanksgiving and this cougar’s favorite activity of all, chowing down. This month I’ve got two films for you, and one is a turkey.
Minions (2015) [PG]
I want to clarify right off the bat that I actually love the two Despicable Me movies. They’re cute and entertaining. And it’s not that Minions isn’t cute or entertaining! It is. It’s just . . . kinda boring.
Maybe I just had expectations that were too high to be reasonably met. Or maybe this movie really did just feel like it was one big merchandising grab.
The minions are, of course, cute and funny. Sandra Bullock is decent as maniacal boss Scarlett Overkill. I thought Jon Hamm was funny as Scarlett’s husband, Herb. The acting wasn’t the problem.
It’s plot – there isn’t one. Or at least not one that I cared about. The idea sounded good. Minions have been around for centuries looking for the most evil of bosses to work for which typically turns out badly. They get depressed and give up looking. Three minions decide to try to save their kind by going to look for the perfect boss.
It’s a good setup, but then it falls flat. Minions brought in tons of money, so I’m probably in the minority here, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care about anyone on the screen be they human or minion. And that’s a shame because I feel that is a strength of the Despicable Me series. You grow to love those characters. Here, I got annoyed with them. It all just felt a little forced.
I did like that the carpet in Herb Overkill’s lab was the same pattern as the carpet in the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. That was a cute, subtle touch.
It’s not bad. It’s not great. It’s just not my cup of tea, I guess.
6.5 paws out of 10
Dope (2015) [R]
Dope is the latest feature film by director Rick Famuyiwa. It follows the adventures of high schooler, Malcolm and his friends Diggy and Jib. I’ve seen this compared to Ferris Beuller’s Day Off in a few places, and I can certainly see some of the similarities.
I would argue that Dope is the better of the two. Matthew Broderick’s Ferris was a fun, confident and popular guy who was at ease with breaking the rules. Don’t we all want to skip school and go to a baseball game or a fancy restaurant from time to time?
But what makes Malcolm and his friends more engaging to me is that they are confident in their own skins. They are at ease with who they are even if those around them are not, and they are determined to become the people they want to be. Instead of running from responsibility and growing up, they are actively engaged in growing into the best versions of themselves they can be.
It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination. There are inconsistencies and head-scratching coincidences galore. But compared to the glut of recent films starring teens who just have to “find themselves and be true to who they are” (See Jem and the Holograms, The Duff and the Divergent series) Dope seems, well, pretty dope.
8 paws out of 10