Posts Tagged ‘Danny McBride’

Your Highness – David Gordon Green’s Lowness

Posted 23 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Your Highness, USA, 2011

Directed by David Gordon Green

Your Highness is a 2011 fantasy comedy film directed by David Gordon Green.What happened to David Gordon Green? I remember seeing George Washington (2000) years ago on IFC and having my mind blown. Then I got to see All the Real Girls (2003) shortly after its release and I thought to myself, “This man is a genius.” After Undertow (2004) and Snow Angels (2007), I could safely say that he was one of my favorite directors. Admittedly, I didn’t care for Snow Angels at first, but it has grown on me over time.

Then we get Pineapple Express (2008), and while it doesn’t fit in with the rest of his filmography, it’s a solid film toting subtle homages to films Green loved growing up, and even he has said it’s a film he wanted to get out of his system. But Your Highness? This is a strange inclusion to an otherwise flawless canon. I feel like he’s lost himself, or fallen in with the wrong crowd.

I don’t know if this is supposed to be a farce, a spoof, a straight comedy, or what. It’s all played for laughs, which is a plus. No one takes any second of it seriously; perhaps if they had, it would have been funnier. I think the safest thing to call this film is a misguided effort from almost everyone involved. Danny McBride and David Gordon Green have been friends since college, which is common knowledge; Green has even helped produce and direct episodes of Eastbound and Down, McBride’s brilliant television series. Pineapple Express was born of their friendship, and a mutual adoration for that sort of film, which worked purely because of their dedication to the material and Green’s unique ability to put a satirical and sarcastic twist on even the most vile subject matter. He used to remind me of Atom Egoyan (Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter), and perhaps he might again, if he avoids further films like this. Read More

Kung Fu Panda 2 – More Black Than White

Posted 21 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Animation, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Kung Fu Panda 2, USA, 2011

Directed by Jennifer Yuh

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a 2011 3D American computer-animated action comedy film and the sequel to the 2008 film Kung Fu Panda. Perhaps the most important aspect of Kung Fu Panda 2 (and I never thought I would type this) is that the series is aging with its fans; so much so that I could expect Panda 3 to be the most adult of the series. They’ve already started exploring more personal themes than the last entry, which mostly took the themes of following your heart and believing in yourself and employed them. Here, the story deepens more than you might expect, dealing with themes of adoption, unrequited love, and acceptance of others. More importantly, the imagination of the film has grown tenfold.

Of course, there’s a bit of formula; you can’t escape the fact that it’s a kid’s movie, but it gets further away from the drama-killing formula that impeded the first film. When I sat down in the movie theater in 2008, I knew exactly what I was getting. It was going to be a film about a goofy “man-boy” (bear-cub?) panda who doesn’t quite belong, who gets a Jungian call to duty to learn kung fu and save his village. Here, that formula is side-stepped in favor of a generally engrossing and slightly depressing storyline. Po (voiced by Jack Black) finds out that he’s adopted and wants to find his biological parents, he’s in love with Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie), who may or may not share his feelings, and the entire country of China is under attack by a villain who has a cannon that shoots a blast so powerful it wipes out any trace of the kung fu that seems to be the nation’s bread-and-butter. So Po and his Furious Five – Tigress, Crane (voiced by David Cross), Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogen), Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan), and Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu) – go off to defeat it; but how do you use kung fu to stop something that stops kung fu? “By finding inner peace,” Po’s mentor, Master Shinfu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), tells him. That’s heavy. Read More