Monthly Archives: December 2012

I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski

I was hoping to have this up by Kerabotsmas, but as it turns out, finals are important.  So anyway, let’s get down to one of the most celebrated cult films of all time, The Big Lebowski.

"Eight-year-olds, Dude."

“Eight-year-olds, Dude.”

What is it about The Big Lebowski that has made it so popular?  Other than the fact that it’s just plain awesome, because that goes without saying.  Like every other Coen flick, Lebowski is a story of interesting characters caught up in strange circumstances and coincidences, providing a bizarre and comical slice of life sort of story.  In this case, we get a stoner caught up in a misunderstanding, which results in the defiling of his favorite rug that really tied the room together. On the journey to reclaim his lost treasure, he has an adventure beyond his life of bowling, driving around, and the occasional acid flashback.

All hail Our Lady Friend Maude.

All hail Our Lady Friend Maude.

It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it?  The problem is, as much as I’ll try, any description I can give can hold a candle to the actual thing.  Not that I think that there’s a ton of people who haven’t seen it yet, but it really is difficult to break this movie down without cheating and saying “just watch it.”  Apart from being hysterical piece of film, the one-liners are fantastic, the characters are interesting, and it brought white russians back…not that I think they went anywhere, but that’s beyond the point.

So many people were taken by this film that it spawned fan-films a plenty, documentaries, Lebowskifest, and even a religion.

Abide.

Abide.

Apart from the comedy aspect, I think the iconicity of The Dude is met by a great deal of heart – he’s just an average guy who enjoys the simple things.  He was wronged and all he wants is his rug back.  His friends might be absolutely crazy (okay, just Walter), but you still love them.

Amongst all of this bizarreness is a great deal of sincerity, and I think that’s what has helped The Big Lebowski become a timeless and celebrated cult classic.  In fact, I think The Stranger says it best…

The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners.  Shoosh.  I sure hope he makes the finals.

Rise of the Guardians

For thousands of years, the hopes, wonders and dreams of children have been protected by mythical beings known as the Guardians.  The Guardians are made up of a team of the most cherished childhood idols: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman.  Believed in and adored by children, faith in them preserves their strength against fear and darkness.  When this faith is threatened by the rise of an old foe, the Guardians are asked to bring in a new recruit, Jack Frost.  Arrogant and selfish, Jack seems like an unlikely addition to the team, but with the Guardians help he can find his calling and help defeat Pitch, the boogeyman.

It's like The Avengers, but for elementary students.

It’s like the Avengers, but for small children.

Though Guardians is based on a recent book series, one can see how making a movie like this for the holiday season can be problematic in today’s painfully politically correct society.  But at the same time, we are talking about what are essentially figureheads, and though not everyone celebrates Christmas or Easter, the core of  these celebrations stand true and applicable to anyone.  Okay, explaining Easter as a time of hope with the new beginnings and springtime bit was a bit of a stretch, but I think it worked out alright in the end.

Don't get on his naughty list.

Don’t get on his naughty list.

I also understand it’s difficult to picture figures such as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny as action heroes.  To be honest that threw me off as well, that was until I saw North, AKA Santa.  Santa is a Russian duel-wielding badass.  Never thought you’d see that phrase, huh?  Also he’s voiced by Alec Baldwin without being Alec Baldwin, which is awfully refreshing.  In fact, I was surprised by most of the characterizations in this film.  It was choices like this that made this film entertaining.  Was it cheesy and predictable?  Absolutely.  But was funny and it wasn’t annoying – I’d even venture to say that some moments were charming.

Sweet dreams are made of this.

Sweet dreams are made of this.

Rise of the Guardians is a visually gorgeous film with a lot of heart in the right place, but sadly falls flat and I’m not exactly sure where.  The voice acting was good, the character design was interesting – I think what lacked the most definition was the story, as if these characters weren’t used towards their fullest potential.  Like I said, it’s a fun little movie, but I’d say it’s worth a rent.

Final Grade: B

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit has probably been the most anticipated fantasy epic since…well probably Harry Potter.  And as such it has carried with it much controversy, from Jackson taking over, to breaking it into three parts, to the frame rate.  I’m not too surprised – I mean, after establishing a fan base it’s hard not to upset some people, especially when we’re dealing with a series of books.  So now was it really worth all the fuss?

Oh the shenanigans!

Oh the shenanigans!

Let’s see, where to begin.  An Unexpected Journey begins with Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a hobbit who has grown rather uninteresting in his maturity, until an old acquaintance, Gandalf the Grey, pops back into his life and offers him at a chance for the adventure of a lifetime.  Bilbo refuses the offer, until a hoard of dwarves show up at his hobbit hole and explain their quest.  It would seem that many years ago, the thriving dwarf kingdom of Erebor fell victim to the wrath Smaug, of a rogue dragon from the north, who destroyed the dwarves home and stole away their vast fortunes.  After being turned away from by neighboring elves, the remaining few have been fighting ruthlessly to reclaim the land that they’ve lost.  In order to breach the treacherous realm of The Lonely Mountain, their last hope, they need a burglar – someone quick and light on their feet – a hobbit would be the obvious choice.  Reluctantly, Bilbo joins them, discovering a new world beyond his little hobbit hole.

"I was once a Time Lord, now I let birds poop all over me." Shrooms, not even once.

“I was once a Time Lord, now I let birds poop all over me.” Shrooms. Not even once.

Admittedly, when I saw the first couple trailers I was taken aback by the action-comedy tone that the trailers appeared to portray.  Granted, the trailers did spoil some of the funnier moments, but I was glad to be wrong.  An Unexpected Journey is a pleasant mix of adventure and whimsy, ultimately producing a rather charming piece.  Truth be told, I am never not impressed with forced perspective either; not to mention that the makeup application on the dwarves is fantastic.

Watching The Hobbit is like watching a storybook beautifully play out in front of you.  I think it’s fair to say that this film takes on a more playful feel, but it’s a lovely precursor to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  It’s fairly frustrating that I’ll have to wait forever for the next one, but Unexpected Journey satisfies while leaving room for more.  Besides, patience is a virtue.

Final Grade: A