academy awards nomination 2013

Ted (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Ted (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Song (“Everybody Needs a Best Friend,” Seth MacFarlane, Walter Murphy).
Watched August 8, 2014.

Guys, I am going to be completely honest.  I was dreading this movie.  It is one of the last films on my list to watch from the 85th Academy Awards.  Let’s just say that Seth MacFarlane and I do not see eye to eye on what constitutes “humor.”  By the end of the film, I wasn’t hating my life, although I felt like I had just wasted a little of it.  Let’s stop dwelling, though, and jump into the review.

The film starts brilliantly like an old classic Christmas film, complete with snow and a deep voiced narrator, although he tends to swear.  The neighborhood kids all hate John Bennett, even the bullied Jewish kid.  Everything changes when John receives a giant teddy bear on Christmas morning.  That night, he wishes that his bear was alive and that they would be best friends forever.  When morning dawns, he discovers a walking, talking bear named Ted who wants nothing more than to be BFFs.  Once John’s parents get over their shock a little, Ted becomes a national sensation, appearing all over the news and becoming famous.  But, as the film explains, just like everything that becomes famous, Ted is eventually old news, and just like that, Seth MacFarlane and his team made the situation–an alive teddy bear being an accepted member of society–believable.

We come back into their lives several years later.  John (Mark Wahlberg) is 35, has a fruitless job at a rental car agency, smokes weed whenever he can, and has been dating his ridiculously gorgeous girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) for four years without a proposal in sight.  Ted (Seth MacFarlane) lives with them and frequently brings home hookers or has outrageous parties.  Lori is losing her patience, and it seems like Ted is at the root of their relationship woes.  After all, will a guy ever grow up if his best friend is a teddy bear?

Perhaps it is because Ted is a toy, but his humor is the most inappropriate and outrageous  out of anyone in the film.  This cruel irony supposedly makes it even more fun but again, it isn’t my cup of tea and actually makes me dislike the film more.  The characters were all right.  Watching a grown man child learn to adult (yes, it is a verb) isn’t usually this painful, but John takes an outrageously long time to figure it out.  Lori gives him a lot of leash after dating him for four years, but perhaps that’s because her other prospect is her sleazy, arrogant boss.

One thing is for sure, though–anyone who makes a walking, talking teddy bear a believable character in an every-man type of film deserves some credit.  I have had friends rave about this film.  Some people think it is the funniest thing they have ever seen.  I will say that it is outrageous, and yet its level of believability is astounding.  The acting is so-so, the humor oddly timed and inappropriate at best, and its story line is, for the most part, predictable.  I don’t even remember the song it was nominated for.  The believability is the one and only reason I gave this film two stars instead of one.

In reality, this film doesn’t truly stand up to semi-recent classics such as Knocked Up and 21 Jump Street.  It is crass, uncultured, unartistic, and really just a waste of my time.  However, if you like MacFarlane and Family Guy, Ted might be something you need to add to your watch list.

Asad (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Asad (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film (Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura).
Watched April 2, 2014.

  

I watched Asad right around the time that I watched Captain Phillips.  Both portray the current climate of Somalia and its violence both on the water in piracy and also on land between its own people.

 

Asad is a short film that takes a different approach than the afore mentioned feature.  Asad is a young boy nearing manhood and anxious to go out on the boats and pirate with the other boys in his community.  He knows the ocean and its currents better than anyone.  Instead, the local fisherman who believes in living a different life is convinced that Asad will one day catch the best catch they have ever seen.

 

Although the film is quite short, it conveys Asad’s conflict, home life, and over all environment extremely well.  I got the measure of his character almost immediately.  In fact, it is very skillful how quickly we understand each character.  Granted, the writers did put in several easy to catch stereotypes that might define the soul of a person, such as Asad’s friend with a limp is all talk but has little courage when it comes down to it.  My favorite moment of the film was between Asad and his mother, where she struggles against the pressures of a society she has known her whole life and tries to raise her son in a war torn environment.

 

The film tries to instill a hope, but it is bleak.  Asad will grow up to be a pirate, a thug with a gun, or a fisherman.  His future is already set.

 

The filmmaking is decent, the acting is sub-par, and the story is one note.  After watching Captain Phillips, I was looking forward to a more in depth look at Somali life, but Asad left a little to be desired.  Although it shows the harder side of life, the film becomes preoccupied with a mediocre plot that stalls the pace and progression of the film.

 

All in all, I wouldn’t consider the film a waste of my time, but I would not suggest it for the a-typical audience.

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Short (David Silverman).
Watched February 13, 2014.

  

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” is a very cute animated short that is right up my alley.  I have been a fan of The Simpsons since I was a kid (much to the chagrin of my mother) but have not watched it in a few years.  Watching this short was very nostalgic and wonderful.

 

The short is without dialogue.  Marge brings Maggie to a very Simpsons-like daycare where she goes through airport style security and has a brain scan that labels her as average.  She joins the “nothing special” kids in a dank corner, with the kid who eats paste, and the baby who loves squishing butterflies with a wooden mallet.  Maggie discovers a caterpillar friend and soon realizes that it will shortly turn into a butterfly.  She must save her little friend from the evil baby!

 

The animation is a step up from your average Simpsons.  It was released in theaters in 3D, but even in 2D it captures shadows and colors that are not normally a part of the Simpsons world.  The story is cute and well executed.  It is a very short short, but it takes no time at all to feel a connection with Maggie and a dislike of the evil mallet carrying baby.

 

This short is so cute and, well, short that I find no hesitation in recommending you see it.  It is readily available online and if you like The Simpsons, I see no reason why this animation should evade your attention.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

The Pirates!  Band of Misfits (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Peter Lord).
Watched March 14, 2013.

 

The Pirates! Band of Misfits is like a bad Saturday cartoon, only with much better animation.

 

I couldn’t sit still through the film and kept my eye on the clock, which is worse than watching water boil because the film was an hour and a half long.  When your favourite part of the film is the end credits, there is something significantly wrong with the story.

 

The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Jackman) has been trying for years to win the Pirate of the Year award, and has lost every time.  It’s not hard to see why when his competitors fly in on waves of booty with excessive Pirate pizzaz.  Although his crew of misfits–albinos and “surprisingly curvaceous” pirates among them–stand behind him wholeheartedly, their luck never seems to come, until they ironically discover Charles Darwin out at sea.  He excitedly points out that their parrot is actually an “extinct” Dodo bird and talks them into going to London to win an award for scientific discovery.  Although Queen Victoria is a well known pirate hater, The Pirate Captain can’t see reason and thus makes the trip to London, crew in tow.  All is well and good, with good laughs and all, until around this portion of the film, where everything seems to get confused and I got lost among the plot points that began sprouting out of nowhere.

 

The plot kept going and going–circling back in on itself and exploring areas that had already been revealed and discussed.  The bad guy keeps resurfacing, the good guy somehow always fails miserably until the opportune moment, and you’re never quite sure how many movies you are watching–be it one or seven.  By the end of this film, I wanted to rip my eyeballs out… or run around the block a couple times to get my impatience out.  While the claymation was great, the redeeming qualities were few and the film as a whole was absolutely terrible.  Despite all of this, I ended up watching almost the entire end credit sequence because it tied all of the plot lines together in minute shorts that were more funny than the rest of the movie put together.

 

There were hilarious supporting characters voiced by even more amazing actors.  The Aardmans have such an incredible reputation for producing some amazing claymation stop-animation films with hilarious stories and wonderful charters, but unfortunately I found much to be desired in this film and am not surprised that the film fell short of an Academy win.

 

Personally, I would not recommend this film.  However, your kids might like it, and I have read several reviews in which adults quite enjoyed the film as well.  Perhaps my patience with meandering stories has been frayed lately, but I doubt I will ever watch The Pirates! Band of Misfits again.