THE FILM YAP » up We Never Shut Up About Movies Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:04:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Up! (1976) Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:11:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> up - interior

Russ Meyer’s 1976 sex comedy “Up!” is an absurd murder mystery with a signature top-heavy cast. Sporting a group of Meyer regulars (such as Kitten Natividad and Candy Samples) and first-timer Raven De La Croix, “Up!” bares it all and leaves nothing to the imagination.

If the Schlock Vault were to have a gaudy godfather, it would be a toss-up between Russ Meyer and Herschell Gordon Lewis, with Meyer ultimately edging out a victory based on the shear volume of his catalog. Meyer managed to incorporate a rather meager amount of gore in every picture but was best known for his predilection toward bountiful women wearing little more than a smile.

“Up!” succeeds in incorporating quite possibly the largest breasts-per-second ratio I’ve ever seen. Even given the Russ Meyer guide to filmmaking, “Up!” somehow exceeds its own level of excess. The breasts come early and often betwixt a sea of decrepit male counterparts who ravenously lust after the various female characters. There’s a loosely formed plot to be had here somewhere, but a lot of it is quite literally buried by a bevy of double D’s.

The movie is hosted by the Greek Chorus (Kitten Natividad), a muse of sorts who doubles as a nude narrator. Moreover, the Greek Chorus helps to hurry along the plot by explaining the various convoluted scenes of sexual exuberance. I suppose “Up!” best resembles a perverse whodunnit. The story tracks an off-camera killer and the bloodstained bosoms left in his/her wake.

One of the most curious supporting characters is a Hitler caricature by the name of Adolf Schwartz. Schwartz is a Nazi survivor with masochistic desires. His repulsive persona is conducive to a swift death. Many of the male characters in the movie possess similarly distasteful qualities and are dealt with thusly. Of course, “Up!” is still a sexploitative romp, so the buxom revenge doesn’t come without a price.

Rape, torture and murder are simply par for the course in “Up!” Characters are so thinly veiled that sex is synonymous with death. In both instances, they are forced upon the individual in nearly any given situation. Sex and murder also ensure a shift of power — something of which many of the female characters take full advantage.

Psychoanalytics aside, “Up!” is hellbent on being insanely absurd above all else. The degrading nature of the male characters is merely a catalyst for revenge. Instead of attempting to make sense of it all, it’s a lot easier to just give in and run the asylum with the rest of the patients.

Meyer fills a perverse niche that fits right in with everything the Schlock Vault represents. As depraved, degrading and shoddy chicken soup for the schlocky soul. “Up!” is like a live-action “Kama Sutra” set to an Allman Brothers soundtrack — a lesser-known gem in Meyer’s lengthy filmography.

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Heroes of the Zeroes: Up Sat, 13 Nov 2010 05:01:13 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

Rated G

Lifelong companionship can be a treehouse for two, a haven where everyday occurrence elevates into unforgettable memory — shared silly in-jokes, dozes turning into cuddling naps, meaningful words of encouragement.

We compile these blessings of time to combat its curse: It quickens as we slow, forcing us to clear shelf space for dreams and gird ourselves against the inevitable.

This is how 2009’s “Up’s” wordless opening montage left audiences speechless: As Carl and Ellie Frederickson age, viewers felt their love and wept for time’s crushing blow. Pixar’s most devastating prologue earned its saltwater. But it preceded a joyous story of floating test balloons on new friendships.

At 79, Carl has a bread-loaf face, bad hearing, beady eyes, eyebrows as thick as a push-broom and a dozen deadbolts on his domicile — designated for demolition by developers.

Russell is an ambitious scout seeking a badge to help Carl cross the street. But he’ll help Carl navigate something more dangerous than traffic — an Evel Knievel-sized chasm Carl has created between youthful idealism and septuagenarian rage.

Their inventive odyssey involves flying homes, flightless birds, talking dogs and the importance of promises made — buoyed by playful wit, beautiful color schemes and Michael Giacchino’s swooning score.

In some ways, adventure is about escaping death’s closure, but it’s also about clinging to life’s openness — letting one escapade’s end evolve into something new. Not only a tremendously affecting story about indomitable love, “Up” reminded us it’s never too late to embrace the possibilities we felt when we were small.

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Celebrity voice casting Wed, 03 Nov 2010 21:12:12 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

In this week’s show, Austin Lugar and Christopher Lloyd yap about the trend toward celebrity voice casting in animated films like “Megamind.”

Some studios find the right actors to fit the character, whether they’re famous or not, while others get hyped up about having a big star and try to mold the movie to fit them. Yeah, we’re talkin’ to you, “Shark Tale.”

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Pixar: The Good, The Bad and Cars, Part 2 Fri, 18 Jun 2010 04:01:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Sometimes you take on endeavors that turn out to be difficult. It might not be life altering, but tough nonetheless. For me it was writing this commentary where I rate the top Pixar flicks.

I would liken it to being asked to pick your favorite child. Each has its own aspects that make them special and to narrow it down to the best of the best is a tough task. But one I take on.

So sit back, get yourself a little popcorn and enjoy what I believe are the top Pixar flicks thus far.

5. UP (2009)
An animated film with an elderly character for the lead? Are you serious? That was my first thought when “Up” was receiving an incredible amount of buzz before its release. And to be honest, my kids loved it, but I wasn’t a huge fan on my first viewing.
It was my daughters who insisted we see it again and then the charm of this story hit me full force. Just as WALL-E had done the previous year, UP delivered a compelling story that was heavier than most non-animated pictures released in ’09.

4. Toy Story 2 (1999)
Ah, the return of Woody and Buzz. Our old mates for the first Pixar feature came back and brought some new friends along for the ride. Just as the original, Toy Story 2 showed that Pixar is the absolute best when it comes to the medium because of their focus on the story.
In my eyes, this is the Empire Strikes Back of the animated world. It’s a sequel that was equally as good as the original and surpassed it in some ways. I loved the addition of the new characters and another great screenplay by Andrew Stanton and crew.

3. WALL-E (2008)
What’s not to love about this kindly little robot? Nothing. Again it was Stanton who co-wrote the screenplay and was behind the lens for this tale of robot love. OK, maybe the movie was more than that, but you gotta love a little robotic loving.
Plus, Star Wars alum Ben Burtt produced many of the ‘voices’ in the movie and you can’t go wrong with a guy with four Oscars.

2. Finding Nemo (2003)
And you might have guessed it by now, it was Stanton who brought the tale of a tiny fish’s quest to get back to his home. Nemo was Pixar’s first of five Best Animated Oscar winners and is at the top of many people’s list as the best film to come from the studio.
What makes Nemo work is the formula Pixar has adopted for all their films (except Cars), which is surround an intriguing story with great characters, add some heart and let the magic take care of itself. For 15 years the formula has worked to perfection.

1. Toy Story (1995)
Nothing can beat the film that started it all. Having two small children, I’m an avid watcher of all things Pixar and this is by far my favorite movie simply because it’s the best. It had everything I was sure at the time, a computer generated feature film couldn’t have — a great story, great characters and a great look. Toy Story accomplished all those and so much more.
Toy Story and its sequel hold perfect ratings at (plug No.2) and with early reviews in for Toy Story 3, it looks like Pixar is going to pull off the trifecta.
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Woody and Buzz Lightyear, respectively, gave children and adults alike two iconic characters that will last for infinity and beyond.

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Pixar: The Good, The Bad and Cars, Part 1 Thu, 17 Jun 2010 06:20:28 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Sometimes you take on endeavors that turn out to be difficult. It might not be life altering, but tough nonetheless. For me it was writing this commentary where I rate the top Pixar flicks.

I would liken it to being asked to pick your favorite child. Each has its own aspects that make them special and to narrow it down to the best of the best is a tough task. But one I take on.

So sit back, get yourself a little popcorn and enjoy what I believe are the top Pixar flicks thus far.

10. Cars (2006)
To be a Pixar offering and only garner a fresh rating at (plug!) of only 75 percent, should tell you all you need to know about Cars. It might have an All-Star cast of actors lending their voices, but the story is boring and easily ranks as the worst film the company has put out.
This surprises me with John Lasseter being the director and co-screenwriter, but even the best have a horrible outing from time to time.

9. A Bug’s Life (1998)
While the movie is a charming little story about an inventive little ant named Flik and his journey to right the wrong his inventions have delivered on the colony, it just didn’t have the same magic Toy Story had.
I think the movie suffered from being too long, and as evident in the times my kid have watched it, it’s not good enough to hold a child’s interest or an adult for that matter.

8. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
This movie really benefited from the voice talent of John Goodman and Billy Crystal. The story revolves around Sulley (Goodman) and Mike (Crystal) and their adventures to return a little girl after she followed Sulley back to Monstropolis.
It shows Pixar’s strength when a film as good as Monster’s Inc. drops all the way to No. 8 on my list. In another cruel turn, the film lost out to Shrek for Best Animated Feature at the 2001 Oscars, a fact that should turn the stomach of any moviegoer.

7. Ratatouille (2007)
A little rat that wants to become a chef. That’s Ratatouille in a nutshell. I feel bad that it fell to No. 7 on my list because in fact, I really liked the film. It’s charming, smart and very different from what Pixar had done before.
The main difference for me was the fact the film had an art house feel to it. Meaning, it’s played not as an animated film, but as a very good film that just happened to have animated characters as its leads. Very smart and very creative.

6. The Incredibles (2004)
This story about a family of superheroes really blew me away when it first opened. I usually didn’t make my way to the theater to catch animated flicks, but I loved the premise and I’m a sucker for Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson – and not necessarily in that order.
I was another success for the company because as with all its films, it felt fresh and had all the elements for a great family movie.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

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Up Tue, 10 Nov 2009 05:22:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
Only Pixar, the animation studio behind “Finding Nemo” and “Wall·E,” could produce a movie about a cranky, lonely old man and make it both an artistic and commercial hit.

Carl Fredricksen (voice by Ed Asner), the protagonist of “Up,” has the world’s sourest attitude. His beloved wife Ellie passed away some years ago, and all he really cares about in the world is the ramshackle home they shared for decades — which is about to bulldozed for some high-rise construction.

So Carl hooks a million balloons to his house and floats it away. His goal is to navigate to Paradise Falls, the mysterious land where Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer) — the famous explorer who was his and Ellie’s childhood hero — disappeared long ago.

But it turns out that Carl has a stowaway: Russell (Jordan Nagai), a young Wilderness Explorer (think Cub Scout) obsessed with getting his last merit badge. Soon after landing in Paradise Falls, Carl and Russell are joined by Dug, a hyper dog with a gizmo collar that allows him to talk.

Director and co-writer Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.”) layers the goofy antics in with some genuinely touching melodramatic moments. Like many Pixar films, “Up” is best appreciated by grown-ups.

Extra features are pretty good for the DVD version, but really take off in the Blu-ray edition (a combo DVD/Blu-ray pack is available).

The DVD comes with a commentary track by Docter and co-director Bob Peterson, alternate scenarios for the death of Muntz, a documentary on the filmmakers’ journey to South America’s Tepuis mountains for inspiration, and “Partly Cloudy,” the short film that preceded “Up” in its theatrical release.

The Blu-ray has a host of features, including conceptual drawings of the major characters and canine companions, how the animators made Carl’s house fly, and even how they carefully designed the interior and exterior of his house. Plus, a digital copy of the film for uploading to a portable device.

Movie: 4.5 Yaps
Extras: 4.5 Yaps

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Coming to DVD Nov. 10 Sun, 08 Nov 2009 14:00:18 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Up2Up

The imaginations behind Pixar bring to life the story of Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) who finds himself remembering the dreams of his youth to explore the world. At an uncertain stage in his life, Carl decides to pursue his dream and he does it in the comfort of his own home, with the help of a lot of balloons and Russell an enthusiastic if wayward Junior Wilderness Explorer. What Carl and Russell find is an adventure they could have never expected.

Click here to listen to Chris & Joe’s podcast: ‘Pixar vs. Dreamwoks Animation.’

Rated PG


The battle of the sexes is a timeless tale. This time, it’s a tale of hopeless romantic and still single producer Abby (Katherine Heigl) and Mr. Thinks He Knows It All, Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler) a television personality who thinks he has all the answers to what men and women want. When the two are paired up together, they find that figuring out just what men and women really do want can be a bit more complicated than they might have thought.

Rated R

Accidental Husband

The Accidental Husband

In this film directed by Griffin Dunne (Practical Magic, Addicted to Love) Dr. Emma Lloyd (Uma Thurman) is a radio psychologist who doles out advice to the troubled and broken hearted – however no always for the better. When one of her sessions results in the break up of New York City firefighter Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his fiance, Sullivan decides to give Dr. Lloyd a little trouble of her own with a few key strokes and a new married life – something that complicates things with her own fiance, Richard (Colin Firth)

Rated PG-13

Also coming to DVD Nov. 10

Spread (Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche – Rated R)

The Echo (Jesse Bradford – Rated R)

American Virgin (Rob Schneider – Rated R)

Bald (Rated R)

The Gambler, the Girl and the Gunslinger (Dean Cain – NR)

Hurt (Rated R)

Summer’s Moon (Ashley Greene – Rated R)

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Up Wed, 27 May 2009 17:32:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> “Up” doesn’t soar to the same heights as “Finding Nemo” or “Wall·E,” but it’s another triumph from Pixar Animation — and another cartoon that will likely be appreciated more by adults than their offspring.

When I first saw previews for “Up,” it looked like a short film about a crotchety old man who takes his house to the skies via a cloud of helium balloons, with a tubby Boy Scout as stowaway.

A delightful concept, to be sure, but how could they sustain such a fanciful notion over more than 90 minutes?

The simple answer is, they don’t. Or rather, they don’t try to.

The oldster reaches his destination fairly early in the movie. It’s the adventures he has after he’s gotten where he thought he was going that constitute the story’s real heart.

Carl Fredricksen’s life has been something of a disappointment. In the enchanting opening sequence, he meets Ellie as boy and girl. They’re both fans of Charles Muntz, the famous explorer who disappeared into the South American veldt. They vow to follow in his footsteps, and build their house at the foot of Paradise Falls, a primordial enclave.

But life has its curveballs to throw, and after they are grown and married, Ellie and Carl keep getting distracted, and quotidian disasters like blown tires and fallen trees deplete their adventure fund. Carl, old and tired, finally lays Ellie to rest, crossing his heart to keep his promise and travel to Paradise Falls, alone.

Or at least so he thought. It turns out that Russell (Jordan Nagai), a young Wilderness Explorer looking for his final merit badge, has tagged along, and gets caught up in the adventure. Russell has faced his own setbacks, such as a mostly absent father, but he’s too full of boyish exuberance to be weighed down by it. They’re kindred souls, 70 years apart.

Now, you can’t really tie a million balloons to the base of a fireplace and float a house away, much less navigate it with clotheslines rigged with ropes. But it’s easy to swallow this bit of illogic, since the house acts as a metaphor for lost dreams.

“Up” was directed by Pete Docter, who also helmed the wonderful “Monsters, Inc.,” and was co-directed by Bob Peterson, who also shared script duties with Docter. Peterson also provides the engaging vocals of Dug, a dog who’s been outfitted with a high-tech collar that translates his hyper thoughts into spoken words.

Ed Asner gives a terrific vocal performance as Carl. It’s not easy to make a sour-pussed elderly man with a walker into a likable character, but Asner and the filmmakers do it. Perhaps it’s because we get to see the hopeful, somewhat meek Carl before he became a widower, and understand how that loss subtracts from his soul.

Children will enjoy the high-flying action and host of goofy animals, but I suspect that like “Wall·E,” “Up” is a film that will reverberate more deeply with those whose faces have some lines in them. Pixar has gone beyond making entertainment, and is using animation to create serious cinematic art. High hopes, indeed.

4.5 Yaps

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