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Nothing Like Ice Age Orphan Works

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | October 27, 2009 |


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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - "In a world where woolly mammoths fraternize with weasels and speak with the voices of Ray Romano and Queen Latifah, it's not an entirely difficult stretch to accept that these creatures shared the Earth with dinosaurs. Hell, we should be probably semi-thankful to those at Blue Sky Studios for this history-altering diversion, which prevents the third installment of their Ice Age franchise from wallowing in such political undercurrents as did the previous sequel, The Meltdown. Still, for a movie involving those terrible lizards, not a hell of a lot happens, and, after several "action" scenes in which characters slide uncontrollably down snow-covered slopes and nearly lose their lives in disastrous joyrides that, inexplicably, don't continue at the edge of cliffs, I'm tempted to believe that the majority of the landscape of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is tilted at a forty-five degree angle. This, apparently, was the greatest example of imaginative peril that four screenwriters (Michael Berg, Peter Ackerman, Mike Reiss, Yoni Brenner) and an actual storywriter (Jason Carter Eaton) could dream up for their characters. Indeed, in the absence of a decent plot, director Carlos Saldanha chooses to periodically awaken his audience with those notoriously annoying yet oh-so-zany 3D effects involving beaks and tusks jutting out from the movie screen. Perhaps, in the future, the industry standard should involve a prerequisite, that is, an actual half-assed story requirement that must be satisfied before a film can even get a 3D greenlight." - Agent Bedhead

Nothing Like the Holidays - "What really makes the film work, however, is the exceptional cast, led by Molina and Freddy Rodriguez ("Six Feet Under," Grindhouse). I don't know how authentic Nothing Like the Holidays is, but the cast makes it feel authentic. It's a warm and inviting crew, and the kind of actors (Messing excepted) that it's nice to hang out with for a couple of hours, just sort of basking in their dysfunctional glow. It's not a great film by any stretch, but it's not a bad one, either. Not that it's saying a lot, but if the Christmas movies of the recent past are offered up as benchmarks, then Nothing Like the Holidays is probably the best since ... I dunno. I can't think of a decent Christmas (non-misanthropic) film since 1989. I guess that makes Nothing Like the Holidays a modern motherfucking classic." - Dustin Rowles

Orphan - "What makes Esther work as a horror character is that her actions make sense within the context of her own logic. She might be nuts, but she's still perfectly rational. The young actress Fuhrman does an excellent job of portraying a sociopathic youth, getting across why sociopathy is such a terrifying phenomenon. She leaps from utterly emotionless, to genuinely sweet and kind, to violently angry and back again with little more than changes in facial expression. She may be just a child, but she is terrifying precisely because she isn't creepy most of the time. You knew Damien from The Omen was fucked up from the first minute you laid eyes on him. Esther is so persuasively sweet and victimized for the first part of the film, that by half an hour into it I found myself wondering if the film was setting up a double twist in which Esther was not actually crazy at all. She nervously learns bits and pieces of sign language on the way home for the first time to talk to her new deaf sister. She is articulate and persuasive about why she likes to wear old fashioned clothes. She is terrorized by the other girls and boys at school, breaking down into horrifying screams. Fuhrman throughout seems like a much older actress than her 12 years. Without spoiling anything, the last half hour of the film sees her put on a phenomenally disturbing transformation." - Steven Lloyd Wilson

Whatever Works - "Nobody does malcontent like Larry David. Woody Allen manages to rediscover his comedic voice by retooling a script older than me and fountaining his bitterness through the Seinfeld scribe. Funny Woody Allen is infinitely better than mopey, introspective, overdramatic Woody Allen. Whatever Works is basically a brilliant philosophy couched in a rather trite parlour comedy. It feels almost like an adapted stage production, with extremely broad characterizations and convenient romantic wrap-ups. It's hard to believe that this kind of pseudo happily-ever-after love story comes from the man who brought us Annie Hall. While the rest of the cast glimmers, with scenery chewing glee as either Southern Baptist Cracker or the ever-popular Artsy New York Jew, it is truly Larry David's crotchety intellectual who makes this film worth watching. So much so that when the film takes its focus off the misanthrope and follows the other characters, interest quickly wanes. But whatever its flaws, it works, and hopefully means Allen's finally given up his blue period for a few laughs in the twilight of his career." - Brian Prisco

Intern Rusty is a Masters student at the University of Miami. You can learn more about her atRusty's Ventures. This sentence is the only original work in this article.



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