Tuesday, March 8, 2011

“MOVIE REVIEW: 'Rango' — what do you expect when pirates make a kids movie?​ (video) - New Haven Register” plus 1 more

“MOVIE REVIEW: 'Rango' — what do you expect when pirates make a kids movie?​ (video) - New Haven Register” plus 1 more


MOVIE REVIEW: 'Rango' — what do you expect when pirates make a kids movie?​ (video) - New Haven Register

Posted:

Associated Press photo: Johnny Depp plays the leading lizard in "Rango."

Whose idea was it to turn those latter-day Caribbean pirates Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy and (director) Gore Verbinski loose on a cartoon, ostensibly for kids?

Because "Rango" requires some explanation. It is funny, inventive and downright daft. But who is it for, what is it and most pointedly — what is the point?

Many's the movie fan who would pay to watch/hear Depp riff on "ACTING" in a twisted opening monologue. He carries an umbrella-drink umbrella and wields a sword usually reserved for spearing the lime in your gin and tonic.

"Acting is RE-acting," he bellows. "The audience thirsts for adventure. The hero cannot exist in a vacuum."

Well, it's a terrarium actually. Not a vacuum. And the Depp delivering this monologue on the stage is a lizard en route to his owner's new home. Terrarium and lizard tumble out of the car and into the desert, where the reptile gets some instant life lessons/stay-alive lessons from assorted desert creatures — a squished armadillo among them.

The mariachi chorus of owls croons about his future "untimely death."

Our intrepid lizard stumbles into Dirt, a desert hamlet inhabited by tortoises, owls, crows, moles, other lizards and the like. The town is dry — no water. Some skullduggery is afoot. So when the lizard takes the name "Rango" and starts passin' himself off as the rootin'est, tootin'est varmint ever to roam the Old (New) West, they name him sheriff. Rango and the good gophers and gopher tortoises of Dirt both get more than they bargain for.

Rango gets into shootouts. How these tiny critters got tiny firearms is anybody's guess. (Oh, right. Arizona.)

Some of them drink and some smoke. Continued...

Rango runs afoul of the mayor, voiced by Ned Beatty, the villain of "Toy Story 3." Rango flirts with Miss Bean (Isla Fisher) and wonders, wonders, wonders about the missing water.

Depp fills the soundtrack with chatter that sounds so off-the-cuff it's as if they put him in front of a mic and animated a 3-D movie around his mutterings. Some of that must be true, as the film's soundtrack was performed like a play by a cast almost fully assembled in the studio at the same time.

John Logan ("The Last Samurai," "The Aviator") is the credited writer. He's right at home with the occasional "Son of a ..." and sneaking in a Hunter S. Thompson joke (Depp played the druggie journalist in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas") or a Man With No Name cameo.

But what animated children's movie that you can think of has a character shout, "Go to Hell!" at a villainous snake? It doesn't matter that the snake (voiced by Nighy) answers, "Where you do think I came from?" Fitfully amusing or not, the whole demented enterprise of "Rango" comes into question when you're that tone-deaf about what's appropriate for children.

Associated Press photo: Johnny Depp plays the leading lizard in "Rango."

Whose idea was it to turn those latter-day Caribbean pirates Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy and (director) Gore Verbinski loose on a cartoon, ostensibly for kids?

Because "Rango" requires some explanation. It is funny, inventive and downright daft. But who is it for, what is it and most pointedly — what is the point?

Many's the movie fan who would pay to watch/hear Depp riff on "ACTING" in a twisted opening monologue. He carries an umbrella-drink umbrella and wields a sword usually reserved for spearing the lime in your gin and tonic.

"Acting is RE-acting," he bellows. "The audience thirsts for adventure. The hero cannot exist in a vacuum."

Well, it's a terrarium actually. Not a vacuum. And the Depp delivering this monologue on the stage is a lizard en route to his owner's new home. Terrarium and lizard tumble out of the car and into the desert, where the reptile gets some instant life lessons/stay-alive lessons from assorted desert creatures — a squished armadillo among them.

The mariachi chorus of owls croons about his future "untimely death."

Our intrepid lizard stumbles into Dirt, a desert hamlet inhabited by tortoises, owls, crows, moles, other lizards and the like. The town is dry — no water. Some skullduggery is afoot. So when the lizard takes the name "Rango" and starts passin' himself off as the rootin'est, tootin'est varmint ever to roam the Old (New) West, they name him sheriff. Rango and the good gophers and gopher tortoises of Dirt both get more than they bargain for.

Rango gets into shootouts. How these tiny critters got tiny firearms is anybody's guess. (Oh, right. Arizona.)

Some of them drink and some smoke.

Rango runs afoul of the mayor, voiced by Ned Beatty, the villain of "Toy Story 3." Rango flirts with Miss Bean (Isla Fisher) and wonders, wonders, wonders about the missing water.

Depp fills the soundtrack with chatter that sounds so off-the-cuff it's as if they put him in front of a mic and animated a 3-D movie around his mutterings. Some of that must be true, as the film's soundtrack was performed like a play by a cast almost fully assembled in the studio at the same time.

John Logan ("The Last Samurai," "The Aviator") is the credited writer. He's right at home with the occasional "Son of a ..." and sneaking in a Hunter S. Thompson joke (Depp played the druggie journalist in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas") or a Man With No Name cameo.

But what animated children's movie that you can think of has a character shout, "Go to Hell!" at a villainous snake? It doesn't matter that the snake (voiced by Nighy) answers, "Where you do think I came from?" Fitfully amusing or not, the whole demented enterprise of "Rango" comes into question when you're that tone-deaf about what's appropriate for children.

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Summers seems willing to friend Facebook movie - Boston Globe

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Lawrence Summers was secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, top White House economic adviser in the Obama administration, and the colorful and controversial president of Harvard University. But yesterday, when Summers delivered a speech about economic policy to local business executives, the question on everyone's mind was: What did he think of the movie?

The movie, of course, is "The Social Network,'' the critically acclaimed film about the founding of Facebook, in which Summers is portrayed as an impatient and unsympathetic administrator who dismisses complaints from two wealthy twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, that a fellow student, Mark Zuckerberg, has pilfered their idea for a social networking site.

Asked about the short but memorable scene yesterday, Summers said it was "fairly accurate.''

"I've been told that the Winklevii say that the movie is wrong,'' Summers said, using what has become a popular shorthand for the preppy pair. "Making adjustments for cinematic license . . . I would say the movie was fairly accurate.''

Summers told the executives at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce luncheon that he was first introduced to Facebook around 2004 or 2005, while preparing a speech to welcome Harvard freshmen to campus.

"A young guy who worked for me wrote me a line . . . something about friending people on Facebook, and I said, 'What the hell is this?' '' Summers recalled. "And he said, 'Larry, just say this, and they'll think you're cool and they'll laugh.' And I said, 'Are you sure?' And he said, 'Yes.' And I said, 'Well, you're going to lose your job if I say this and they don't laugh.' And he said, 'Well, it's not that much of a privilege to work for you anyway, so you say it.' So I said it and they all broke up. . . . And that was my introduction to Facebook.''

The film depicts Summers as completely unhelpful to the Winklevoss twins when they bring him their grievance against Zuckerberg.

"Yes, everyone at Harvard is inventing something,'' the Summers character says to the twins in the movie. "Harvard undergraduates believe that inventing a job is better than finding a job, so I'll suggest again that the two of you come up with a new new project.''

Even so, Summers said that the twins now claim, "Larry Summers wasn't nearly as nice to us as is portrayed in the movie.''

Smiling as he described his real-life reputation, and his portrayal in the film, Summers went on, "I've read somewhere, on occasion, that people think I can be arrogant. And, uh, I can't imagine why. And if that is so, I probably was on that occasion.''

Summers noted only one substantive objection to the film. His character, played by Hollywood producer Douglas Urbanski, asked his assistant in the movie to "punch me in the face,'' apparently to wake him up or assure him of the reality of the meeting with the Winklevosses.

That, Summers said, never happened. "I surely did not tell anyone to punch me in the face,'' he said.

To bolster his recollection, Summers introduced Colleen Richards Powell, who used to work for him on student affairs issues at Harvard. He described her as a "movie celebrity,'' because the movie depicts her as his assistant, who witnesses him brushing off the Winklevosses.

Powell stood up at the luncheon and vouched that in reality, Summers had actually been nicer to the twins, who went on to sue Zuckerberg.

"I can honestly say he was not that arrogant,'' Powell said of Summers. "He didn't give them what they wanted, which was to legally penalize Mark Zuckerberg . . . He was not mean to them.''

Summers, who is now back in Cambridge teaching at Harvard, was grateful for the backup. "You didn't have to say that,'' he said.

"The Social Network,'' which won Oscars for writing, editing, and music, was not the only movie in which Summers was a character last year. Summers also was featured — often unflatteringly — in an Oscar-winning documentary, "Inside Job,'' a critical examination of the global financial crisis.

Tracy Jan can be reached at tjan@globe.com.

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

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