Shmee Finds A Smallfoot!

Smallfoot is only the fifth movie from the Warner Animation Group (WAG), which is known for the LEGO movies, but it has dipped its toe in to more traditional movies with Storks.  Which was oddly a Sony Animated film financed and distributed by Warner Brothers.  This strange relationship must have worked well because Smallfoot was created much the same way, with Sony doing the animating, and Warner doing everything else.  As with Storks, the end result is a fine family movie that will keep kids entertained and adults mostly engaged.

Smallfoot is about a group of yetis that live high in the mountains.  They have a complex society with a bunch of strange rules written on stones.  Those rules will get challenged when Migo (Channing Tatum) finds a smallfoot (James Corden), AKA a human, which the stones say doesn’t exist.

The plot is straightforward: This smallfoot challenges the status quo, and the elder wants none of that.  Also the message is basic:  Choose knowledge over ignorance, and embrace the outside world over isolation, but straightforward and basic are good for a family movie.  The kids will be able to keep up with what is going on.

The movie has a good collection of actors who can all sing and read lines well, but there aren’t any real standouts.  Just a bunch of professionals doing their jobs, and that is more than enough for this movie.

Smallfoot is not a classic, and it is not going to be a family favorite, but if it is on Netflix or your kids are dying to go to the theater and you haven’t seen it yet, you could do worse.  It will at least let you change it up so that your kids aren’t watching the same thing over and over.  It is nice to see Warner Brothers getting back in to animation.  They have been out of the game for far too long.  However, while Storks and Smallfoot were good, it would be nice to see them do something more ambitious with their next non-LEGO flick.

Lucky Tells Shmee A Super Tale!

Did you know Microsoft has an exclusive platformer?  And it is not Blinx or Voodoo Vince?  It is Super Lucky’s Tale, and it is a sequel to an Oculus Rift title, so I am sure there was a ton of demand for it.  Well all joking aside, it is a pretty decent game.  It is not a classic, but it scratches that Mario 64 itch.  You explore cute worlds, find coins and collect random things.

You play as the titular fox Lucky who gets trapped in a magical book with a lot of ‘evil’ cats, and you need to kick them out.  To do so you need to collect clovers and be able to play a platformer.  The more collectables you find per level, the more clovers you get.

As far as the game goes, it is a basic 3D platformer.  It is a little slower though, so think more Mario and less Sonic.  However, there are lot of different types of levels: standard exploration, endless runner, super monkey ball tilting levels, and other random puzzles.  Not to mention the boss levels, so there is plenty of variety.

Super Lucky’s Tale is not going to set the world on fire, but it is fun, and if you have younger kids, I am sure they will love it, or even if you are old like me, collecting things is a good time.  While I don’t think this game sold as well as Microsoft wanted, I hope they stick with it because they lack a solid platformer in their portfolio.  Super Lucky’s Tale was a good first try, and I think they should give it another one.

Shmee Takes A Ride On The Orient Express!

Murder on the Orient Express is a movie that thinks it is better than it is.  It thinks it is stylish and sophisticated, but in reality it is just a pretty façade with not a lot going on behind the scenes.  That is not to say the 2017 remake of the classic film based on the classic book is bad, it just doesn’t do anything interesting or new to justify its existence.  It just tells the story again in a very straightforward manner.

What is that story?  Well I am glad you asked, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is on the titular Orient Express when a man is murdered under strange circumstances.  Everyone has a motive, so everyone is a suspect.  It is a good thing that Poirot is the world’s greatest mustache detective.

There is not a lot else I can say without spoiling the movie, but that is one of the main problems:  Besides the book there has been a movie, two TV specials, an anime and even a manga that have told the story of a Murder on the Orient Express.  We all know the story, and if you don’t, you are not the target market for this film.  This new one doesn’t change up the story at all.  It is simple retelling.  A very good looking retelling.  Sure they keep remaking Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers over and over again, but action and heroism are universal, and you can show them in new ways.  A who-done-it that is faithful to the book stops being captivating because we know who-did-it, and how Poirot solves it.

Luckily the cast saves this film from being unwatchable.  They are all great.  Even Johnny Depp tones down his weirdo of the week impulses, and any time you can add Michelle Pfeiffer to your cast you should.  Though I am not entirely sure that Kenneth Branagh pulls off his French accent.  It sounds okay most of the time, but it can get a little iffy.  I am sure there are four Frenchmen that saw this film that are supper offended.

If you somehow have never seen or read Murder on the Orient Express, this is not a bad version, but if you have, there is no real good reason to.  The best one I can think of is to support Michelle Pfeiffer, and even then I am guessing they credit all the eyes this movie gets to Sir Kenneth Branagh.  The other reason is that it is full of beautiful people in great clothes in front of some okay green screens.  Which is a 100% valid.  I am just not sure that is enough for most people.

Shmee Will Remember Telltale!

After fourteen years and over thirty games Telltale Games will soon be no more.  I will miss them greatly.  I loved their take on the choose your own adventure graphic novel.  I know some people say what they made are not really games, but I loved seeing where my story would end up, and entertainment is entertainment.  Sadly, I was probably part of the problem.  Why?  Because I always waited until the games were cheap or free to get them, and I know I was not alone.

Telltale was able to create its own genre of game, but then it was never really able to capitalize on it.  It kept spending money licensing movies, comics and TV shows, and then selling their games for very little money.  You can see the problem with that pretty quick.  Add the fact that their engine was ageing and was very glitchy, so they needed to spend a lot of money on an overhaul no doubt only added to their financial problems.

Still, with The Wolf Among Us, Tales From the Borderlands, and the Batman games, they created some classics that will stick with me for a long time.  I am sure that others will come along and build on their formula.  You never know, another company may come in and buy out their name and try to keep things going, but for the time being I going to miss their creativity and storytelling.  Shmee will remember that.

Shmee Is Asked A Simple Favor!

If a drama mixed with a comedy is called a dramady, what do we call a thriller mixed with a comedy?  A thrilledy?  I am not sure, but that is what you get with Paul Feig’s latest film A Simple Favor.  Now the movie aficionados out there may be wondering, “Wouldn’t the jokes ruin the slow burn tension of a thriller, and wouldn’t the slow pacing of a thriller take the punch out of a comedy?”  The answer to those questions respectively is, kinda and thankfully no.

A Simple Favor is about a single stay at home suburban mother named Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) who has a poorly trafficked Vlog.  Her life gets way more interesting when she is asked to come over for a drink by the fabulous and exquisite Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) who runs PR for a large New York fashion company and is married to a famous author (Henry Golding).  Emily is everything Stephanie wishes she could be, but things go sideways when Emily asks Stephanie for a simple favor.

The movie has some problems if it is viewed as a pure thriller.  The pacing is off, the twists are too telegraphed, and the stakes never feel that high, but Kendrick and Lively are immensely watchable.  Their on screen chemistry is fantastic.  While the jokes are not coming out a mile a minute, they almost all land, and since they are not coming out rapid fire, you get to savor them a bit.  I was quite impressed with how well it all worked, and the level of talent on display.

Paul Feig knows how to direct a good comedy, and for A Simple Favor he got play with the tropes and toys that come with a thriller as well.  It was a fun mashup.  With lesser actors and a less deft director it could have been a snooze, but I was quite enthralled for most of the movie’s 117 minutes.  You don’t get many thriller-comedies, and almost no good ones, so A Simple Favor is a unique movie going experience.  For some it may not be worth a trip to the theater, but definitely check it out when it hits your streaming service or DVD kiosk of choice.