August 8th, 2010


A Despicable Day


Once again I find myself way behind in posting to LJ -- particularly movie and play reviews for this summer. Really, they're coming.

But today was a lovely day. A front moved through so the last several days have been free of the oppressive humidity and so the breezy temps in the mid 80s were quite pleasant. And I told Mrs. Dr. Phil that if she wanted to go see Despicable Me this weekend, I'd have no objections. So she checked schedules and she chose a 3D showing at Celebration North, instead of a 2D at Holland 7. No problem.

Despicable Me (3D) [PG]
Celebration North, Theatre #4, 3:35pm, 2×$10.50

Even before I saw the movie today, I knew one thing: I want minions. (grin)

Not sure I'm evil enough to have minions, given their ambiguous status -- are the minions property? Created? Born? Independent contractors? Aliens? We have no idea. But they're fun. They're not so much as evil as... different. (grin)

As for the movie, the whole opening with the Great Pyramid was pretty much known to us, since most of it showed up in the initial trailer we'd seen months ago. Once we get past the Keith Olbermann MSNBC Countdown-like TV news segment, the story really takes off. And it's a fun romp. Our chief villain is a man named Gru. As the story develops, a young upstart villain named Vector becomes his nemesis. The thing is, Vector thinks he is a genius and is so overconfident he's an idiot. And Gru? He has villain tendencies, but we're not really seeing top drawer villain crimes from him -- at least not successful ones. This leads him to getting trouble in arranging for a loan to fund his next Evil Project from the Bank of Evil (formerly Lehmann Brothers). Eventually this leads him to acquiring three orphan girls -- Margo, Edith and Agnes -- for their cookie selling skills. It's complicated.

The girls are a hoot. The orphanage they come from is run by a woman who makes Dolores Umbridge look kind. We know even before it happens that the girls will melt mean old Mister Gru's heart, because he's not really all that mean and old. Plus we've seen the trailers.

Of course this is an animated movie and there's plenty of things and cartoon physics which don't make sense and aren't supposed to. Gru's "car", for example. No one seems to notice it or its repellant behavior. I kind of think that in real life one would notice Gru and his guns out in public. Indeed, both Gru and Vector have an armada of weird guns -- freeze guns, squid guns, piranha guns, etc.

Besides the yellow bodied with blue jean bib overall clad minions, which inexplicably come with either one or two large eye(s) covered in large lensed goggle(s), there's quite a cast of strange creatures. There is Gru's "dog", which is all teeth and viciousness. Sometimes. There is Dr. Nefario, with the rubber gloves and the hardness of hearing, who design's Gru's weapons. Sometimes. And there's Mom -- Gru's mom. OMG, the voice is Julie Andrews!

Recently we've been treated to a number of animated movies which have turned out to be fun for both adults and children. Not a huge attendance for this Saturday afternoon matinee, which is reasonable since the movie has been open a couple of weeks. And not a huge number of young kids, though those there along with some teens sitting behind us, seemed very appreciative.

Certainly I have no interest in hating this film because of the massive possibilities for marketing opportunities -- which apparently they are taking advantage of. In particular, it turns out the little puppet book about the sleepy kittens is available. I think a whole lot of little kids will be made happy by that one marketing tie-in alone. Maybe a hit toy for Christmas will be 6-inch models of the Moon. (grin)

Overall, Mrs. Dr. Phil and I loved this moved. It is very funny and beautifully done. The 3D is mainly effective -- the roller coaster scene is full of motion and quite well done. DO stay for the End Credits -- definitely an entertaining example of a Dr. Phil Special of the First Kind -- especially if you sprang for the 3D glasses. (grin)

Highly Recommended

Trailers: 2010 is trying SO hard to be The Year Of The 3D Movie. Sigh. And seeing that we're at an animated 3D movie, it is interesting that there are so many more animated 3D movies coming. Interesting may not mean "good" for various values of interesting. There's the dueling post-Krypton-esque Megamind supervillain vs. over-the-top Superman-ish hero movie. Probably see this, especially with Tina Fey as the damsel not-so-in-distress. The last airbending happy wings apprentice quest war owl movie. And Alpha and Omega, the upper-and-lower caste wolf love story movie. Oh, and there was one (mostly) live action movie which naturally is a sequel, Nanny McPhee Returns. I've seen part of the first movie and it's hard to believe that's Emma Thompson.

Dr. Phil

Meet Jim Wright

Last Thursday At An Undisclosed Location...

Jim Wright is a retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer, now living in Alaska, where he turns wood into sawdust and shavings, leaving very pretty leftovers. He also runs a most excellent blog at Stonekettle Station. If you've never read any of Jim's musings or rants, might I suggest you start with some of his posts on cats -- after all, the Internet was invented for showing pictures of cats and telling stories about cats -- such as his hilarious 2009 post There Ain't No Such Things As A Free Cat and one of the funniest things I've ever read, his 2008 Manly Bloggin' Thursday, before you tackle some of his wickedly biting political commentary such as the recent Reverse Engineering The Tea Party.

Jim actually grew up in West Michigan and his folks are still nearby in Middleville MI, but events conspired such that we couldn't do the whole same-place / same-time face-to-face real world meet last year. So we both worked hard to try to figure out something this summer. Despite coming down to the Lower 48 and spending days working on his parents' house, which up to his armpits in very un-Alaska-like temperature and humidity (he claimed that all he needed to hear was howler monkeys and he'd feel like he was back in Panama -- sorry, all we could offer was very loud cicadas) AND coming down with some sort of summer cold he blamed on the poor ventilation on the long flights to get here, we did come up with a plan.

So I left the office a bit early and drove up US-131, managing to pick the correct lanes to make good time and slip off the S-Curve and pick up Mrs. Dr. Phil at the downtown GVSU campus before hopping on I-196 and heading down towards 44th Street/Rivertown Parkway.

... For A Meat Up With Joe Chicago's Pizza

Dr. Phil and Jim Wright with their dueling Bluetooth Borg ear implants.

We met on neutral hallowed ground, a la Highlander, i.e. Joe Chicago's Pizza near Rivertown Crossings Mall at 6pm for some serious Chicago stuffed pizza. He was carrying an armload of technology -- an HP netbook, a Nikon D5000 SLR, a Blackberry, the inevitable Bluetooth earpiece and the remote key for the Dodge Charger the rental car company had "upgraded" him to. We ordered two mediums, so both parties could take leftovers home in a convenient box. Good planning is essential for these sorts of things. (grin) Pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, garlic on the left. Sausage, roasted red peppers, spinach, black olives and mushrooms on the right. Or something like that:

Jim Wright and Mrs. Dr. Phil and Serious Pizzas.

We didn't quite close the place down, remember it takes 35-45 minutes just to bake a Chicago stuffed pizza (yum grin), but it was almost 9pm when we left, after covering war stories, science fiction, writing, West Michigan and Alaska politics, etc. And now that we've met in person, I might work my way through my telephone phobia and give him a call sometime when (a) he gets back to Alaska and (b) I send him some more stories to get his professional opinion on. (double-word-score-grin)

All that's left is figuring out how to get him to Greensboro NC to meet my parents, who are huge fans of his Stonekettle Station bloggerings.

Oh, and Jim? Those howler monkeys may be closer than we thought. Yesterday I found a half eaten banana at the end of our driveway, probably dropped by some monkey driving past...

Dr. Phil