Friday, June 14, 2013

Derp Blog Into Darkness #25: SHREK THE THIRD

In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) never even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.

There is a commonly held belief among movie geeks (currently somewhat antiquated) that Dreamworks is an irredeemable shit factory, whereas Pixar is a magical rainbow palace where gumdrop kisses fly out of puppy buttholes 24/7. In the year of our lord 2013, films like HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, the CARS franchise, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS and others should have helped put that belief to rest. In the year of our lord 2007, however, movies like SHREK THE THIRD and RATATOUILLE were pit against each other, and suddenly one can see the wisdom in such axioms.

SHREK THE THIRD continues the travails of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss as they temporarily take over kingly duties while Fiona’s father lays ill. They are comically inept at it, as they are ogres and farm animals. When the king dies after a protracted scene where exagerrated groans are mistaken for comedy*, it is up to Shrek to either take up the throne, or find the next guy in line – one Arthur at the distant Worcestershire academy. But that is not all that is rotten in the land of Far Far Away! Somewhere in a seedy nightclub, Prince Charming** has united all the villains who are public domain enough to be in this movie and has taken the king’s death and Shrek’s departure as an opportunity to storm the castle and take what he believes is rightfully his by force.

Since SHREK is first and foremost a comedy, I’ll cut it some slack on the plot front. The main quest and the villain’s plan are completely separate things that are never in any way organically connected. Fine, okay. This movie only happened because SHREK 2 made a jillion dollars and they needed something put in production quick for a release date that was probably set in stone about six hours after the second one came out. Plot probably wasn’t the biggest priority. How about jokes then? These can be divided roughly into two varieties. It’s not a 1:1 analogy, but most of the time, it works.

Is the joke executed in animation? COULD BE funny.

Ex. Shrek has to christen a boat but he tosses the bottle too hard and the hull is breeched and the sails inexplicably set fire; Shrek has a nightmare where he is buried in hilariously apathetic looking babies.

Is the joke one executed in writing and acting? Most likely, it is not funny.

Ex. Shrek acts like a sitcom dad straight out of King of Queens (70% of scenes); someone mugs (100% of scenes)

There is a viking captain on the boat that takes Shrek, Donkey and Puss to Worcestershire Academy. He has about 6 lines. They paid Seth Rogen to deliver these. I guess they just couldn’t cut those lines down to the minimum required amount of lines in a Dreamworks movie under which the SAG allows them to hire non-celebrities.

Look, here’s a thing: Fiona and the other princesses are taken captive by the villains and they bust out on their own accord and kick ass. This ultimately has little bearing on the outcome of the plot, but it’s nice to see the damsel in distress trope undercut, and it’s also nice to see Amy Poehler command woodland creatures by singing Immigrant Song. I mean, it’s not too important, but it’s a thing.

I assume that everyone who liked this movie has forgotten about it by now. Mike Myers has probably forgotten about it. It’s the one where you talked Scottish, Mike.

 

*oh god he is a frog and he CROAKS i just got it

**who in the current pop culture climate resembles nothing less than a perfect CGI recreation of Jaime Lannister. Ironically enough, good guy Artie looks just as Lannistery in his red and gold doublet and blonde wavy hair.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Derp Blog Into Darkness #24: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS

In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) never even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.

Imagine, ladies, if you will, that you are settling the Oregon frontier round about 1850. There’s about five to ten guys for every woman, and settlin’ the land is the imperative. You have a pretty demanding job at the local saloon or guest house or what have you, and you’d like to lower the workload a bit.

So if this motherfucker

comes down the mountain one day, looking for something YOUNG N FRESH TRIM NOT TOO SLIM to marry… why, you wouldn’t think twice about it, now would you? I mean… cooking and cleaning for one guy as opposed to a bunch at the guest house, that’s pretty much a no brainer!

Now, hold your horses, ladies! Turns out this guy wasn’t as trustworthy as he initially looked! For you see, he has six ginger brothers holed up on his farm, and they’re all good-for-nothin’ slobs and jackanapes! Your dreams of a substantially reduced workload… DASHED!

Stanley Donen’s (hey, two movies of his in a row) SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS does its best to do a lot of backpedaling and whitewashing for its outrageous ideas, but they’re still pretty outrageous. Later in the movie, Jane Powell’s (hey, two movies with her in a row) Milly tells Howard Keel’s Adam Pontipee (!) that she was in love with him the first moment she saw him, but for most of the first act, her attraction to him seems to be based on the fact that cooking and cleaning for ONLY ONE MAN??? is pretty much a dream come true for any frontierswoman.

Adam’s six brothers would all like a wife too, but they’re too scruffy and smelly to go a-courtin’. Milly teaches them all how to bag chicks – basic politeness and terms of endearment randomly spouted apparently were enough to get the Oregon trail slippery. Turn-offs: fisticuffs. This is hard stuff for the Pontipee brothers, and it takes a montage to get right. When they all go down in color-coded shirts for the annual barn-raisin’, the local bachelors make sure that they don’t woo ANY of the town’s available womenfolk by constantly trying to goad them into a fight. The brothers get smashed in the head by planks, hammers, 2x4s, get fingers stepped on, you name it. They all do pretty well at restraining themselves, until a bachelor punches Adam – then the shit is ON

The whole barn-raising sequence, from the square dance to the barn-destroying fistfight, is just absolutely wonderful cinema. The brothers, bachelors and bachelorettes – most of them dancers from the NY ballet – just absolutely kill it, tapping and jumping on parallel bars, swinging axes (!) around, jumping up and down scaffolding, doing somersaults… fantastic stuff. I mentioned in my post on ROYAL WEDDING how the musical was a precursor to the action movie for cinematic comfort food. Well, SEVEN BRIDES perfectly illustrates it by putting a dance sequence so close to a fantastically choreographed fight sequence. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jackie Chan was a big fan of this movie. John Woo is a self-avowed musical buff, actually.

But okay, let’s talk about my favorite thing in this entire fucking movie: THE SOBBIN’ WOMEN

“Sometimes, fellas, you just gots to take the pussy!”

Despondent because their fisticuffs has destroyed their chances with the gals they fancied, the boys are sulking in the barn. Adam says DON’T BE FAGGOTS cuz this here book says the old Romans kidnapped a bunch of women and they turned out to like it so why not do that huh???

GREAT IDEA

Next follows an amazing montage of the brothers literally fucking THROWING SACKS OVER THE HEADS OF WOMEN THEY LURED OUT OF THEIR HOUSES in perhaps the most beautiful precursor to that merry Michael Bay sociopathy I’ve ever seen. Also the lyrics to “Sobbin’ Women” basically boils down to “SOMETIMES… WHEN WEEMAN SAY NO NO… SHE MEAN YES YES”

This turns out to be 100% sound advice, as the girls fall madly in love with their appointed brothers over the course of one snowed-in winter. They say if you marry in Stockholm, you’re a bride all your life! We’re talking, of course, about Stockholm, Oregon.