Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: John August
Based on: the short film Frankenweenie (which you can watch here and which stars the kid from The Neverending Story)
Cast: Charlie Tahan, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder

Plot:
Victor (Charlie Tahan) loves science, making movies and his dog Sparky, but he isn’t really popular. He doesn’t care that much about that, though. His world is shattered when Sparky gets hit by a car. Inspired by his new science teacher Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), Victor tries to bring Sparky back to life – with science – and actually succeeds. But that is actually only the start of a whole new set of problems.

Frankenweenie really does have its moments, but I also have a couple of issues with it. On the whole, it doesn’t rise much above meh.

Frankenweenie

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Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Where the Wild Things Are is the newest movie by Spike Jonze based on the book by Maurice Sendak. The movie was written by Jonze and Dave Eggers and stars Max Records, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose and Mark Ruffalo.

Plot:
Max (Max Records) is a lonely child full with fantastic [in the original sense] ideas. One day, after getting into a fight with his mother (Catherine Keener), Max runs from the house in a frenzy. He stumbles upon a boat which takes him to a land inhabitated by huge monsters. After they threaten to eat him, Max becomes their king and befriends them, especially Carol (James Gandolfini). But all is not well there, either.

Where the Wild Things Are is perfect. The look, the feel, the script, the actors, the music… it’s absolutley wonderful. The only caveat: They shifted the target demographic from preschooler to anyone older than ten.
[If that wasn’t warning enough, there’s going to be some serious gushage in this post.]

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Away We Go (2009)

Away We Go is the newest movie by Sam Mendes, written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida starring John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey.

Plot:
Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are a happy couple, even if they have financial difficulties and rather crappy jobs. When they discover that Verona is pregnant and that Burt’s parents (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels) are moving away, they decide to start life anew and go on a (road) trip through the US, visiting friends and relatives to decide where that new life should happen.

Away We Go is another one of those movies where somebody somewhere decided that it is not fit for marketing. Oh, and what a bad choice again. It’s a wonderful, funny and heart-warming movie with a great soundtrack that I can only recommend. Over and over again.

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Penelope (2006)

Penelope, Penelope, why can’t more movies be like you?

Just so you know, I absolutely loved every frickin detail of this story. Starting with the plot, continuing with the characters, ending with set/production/costume design. Oh, and let’s not forget the beautiful message this movie sends, which actually makes sense.

Penelope is the daughter of a rich, aristocratic family. Unfortunately, she was cursed and is born with a pig nose. In an attempt to keep her safe until the nose is gone and the curse lifted, her parents lock her in at home and bring her one blue-blooded husband contender after the other, in the hopes that he’s Mr Right.

The setting is magical realism (tor has a great essay up on magical realism), the style reminded me of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium or Big Fish. And it really made me want more movies set in worlds like that. In literature, it’s pretty prevalent (think Gabriel García Márquez or Haruki Murakami among others), in movies, it’s not. Very sad.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Christina Ricci is a wonderful Penelope, sweet and naive, but also strong and powerful, filled with purpose and a sharp mind. Catherine O’Hara is the well-meaning mother of everybody’s nightmares. James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Simon Woods and Russell Brand (who is everywhere nowadays) complete a perfect and very funny cast.

As I said before, I loved the design of the whole thing – Penelope’s clothes, her room, the city… it all fits the general mood of the movie and is just extremely pretty. And magic.

What it boils down to is that it’s a wonderful fairy tale that reminds you that the world is kind of enchanted. When you look at it closely.

And it’s actually a movie that got 10 out of 10 points on my list.