Category Archives: mila kunis

Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful ~ Let’s see, what the rules again? Wait an hour after eating before swimming. Don’t get involved in a land war in Asia. You can’t put too much water in a nuclear reactor. Don’t pull on Superman’s cape. And never make sequels (or prequels) to beloved classic films.

I saw this movie weeks ago, weeks and weeks ago. I am still conflicted over whether I liked it or not. It was the second film I saw at the new Marlton 8 theater so the accommodations were fantastic, I couldn’t have been more comfortable had I been in my own home. But why did I have, still have such a problem with it?

Oz is a beautiful film. It takes full advantage of CGI and the 3D effects available to the cutting edge of that technology. Here, we have an Oz that both boggles the mind, but brings L. Frank Baum’s imagination to life. It is fantastic, and gorgeous. Props to director Sam Raimi for bringing the unimaginable to our eyes.

The casting, especially that of James Franco and Mila Kunis, while problematic, is fitting. Franco is smarmy, and perpetually playing (or maybe living) the part he played in “Freaks and Geeks.” He is a stoner, and even here, as the eventual wizard of Oz, if he took a second to take a toke, I don’t think anyone would bat an eye. This time, it works for the part, because his character is a slimy sort, not to say stoners are slimy, but Franco’s is. Bottom line, he’s believable.

Kunis, in my mind, has never grown from her role in “That ’70s Show.” Oh, she’s been good in stuff, and been quite believable, but like Keanu Reeves saying “Whoa,” she is always a second away from breaking character and waiting for the canned laughter after a sitcom punchline. I just can’t shake it. Here, she completely fits as pre- and post-Wicked Witch of the West, and is awesome in her passive-aggressive power hungry and clingy psycho ex-girlfriend role. Zach Braff, a traditionally sitcom actor on the other hand is equally awesome as the comedy relief flying monkey, a true highlight of the film.

Sounds like I liked the flick, doesn’t it? The problem comes with its prequel status. It tries so hard to emulate MGM’s classic The Wizard of Oz. All of the cues are there, except for the music of course. It begins in black and white and goes to color after the twister. There are numerous winks and nods to the original film. And every time it happens, I got a strong “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” vibe.

Remember the Rankin/Bass Christmas special “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”? Fred Astaire plays a mailman telling a group of children the secret origins of ol’ Kris Kringle. Every time he hits a prime power point of his origin, one of the kids says, “That’s why he comes on Christmas Eve” or “That’s where the flying reindeer came from.” That what happens in Oz, and every time we see the hints to the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the glowing head illusion, etc. it pulls us out of the story.

If it wasn’t for those little nudge-nudge-wink-wink moments, this would be a great flick, as great as the underrated sequel, Return to Oz of a few years back. And that’s why I’m so conflicted. I liked it, but then again, I didn’t. It’s still in theaters, so definitely give it a viewing for yourself, and see what you think.

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Ted

Ted ~ The Bride and I watch Seth McFarlane’s “Family Guy” every week, and enjoy it quite a bit. That said, about every two to three weeks we have a discussion about how maybe we’re not going to watch it any more. I’m a fan of ‘cringe humor,’ which McFarlane excels at, heck, I listen to Opie and Anthony every day, but The Bride isn’t, and doesn’t. Sometimes “Family Guy” just goes too far for her.

When I first heard of Ted, McFarlane’s jump to big screens, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but I knew The Bride wouldn’t be coming with me to see it. All that said, I laughed out loud at this movie. I don’t do that all that often. I did it at The Three Stooges, but before that? We’re talking maybe years.

The concept is one of a little boy with no friends who wishes his teddy bear was real, and lo and behold, the wish comes true. This is the tale of what happens when said boy, and bear, grow up. Mark Wahlberg makes a fine comedic turn as the boy, grown to drug and alcohol induced irresponsibility with his bear Ted, voiced by writer/director McFarlane. “Family Guy” alumnus Mila Kunis plays Wahlberg’s long suffering and patient girlfriend of four years. All involved are quite good.

Ted is funny, dirty, cringe worthy, and yes, believe it or not, even heartwarming. Speaking of laughing out loud, in a semi-full theater, it was only me and two women up front who were doing so. I felt a little dirty about it, but maybe everyone else was from the PTA or they just couldn’t get into the latest chick flick.

If you’re a “Family Guy” fan or if you liked movies like The Hangover or Bridesmaids, you will love Ted, recommended. And if you liked Airplane, or especially 1980’s Flash Gordon, this is must see. No ifs, ands or buts, must see.