Posts Tagged ‘Ice Cube’

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Animated movies typically do nothing for me.

The cold cockles of my heart are not warmed by song and dance. If anything, the whole charade annoys the shit out of me. Maybe it would be different if I had children. But my hatred grows whenever I see a movie that’s supposedly made for children yet advertised as if it is also for adults.

The Book of Life masquerades as adult entertainment, but this is really a children’s movie at heart. All the pee and poop jokes make it easy to tell. Somehow, it still manages to not be so horrible.

As a story, The Book of Life is unremarkable. Situated as a story within a story, the opening introduces the audience to a ragtag group of misbehaved children arriving at a museum for a school field trip. However, the tour guide (Mary Beth voiced by Christina Applegate) leads the children through a special entrance and to a hidden room that houses the Book of Life—a tome containing every story in the world.

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Mary Beth tells the children about a struggle between the forces of good and evil. In this story, La Muerte (voiced by Kate del Castillo) rules over the Land of the Remembered while Xibalba (voiced by Ron Perlman) rules over the Land of the Forgotten. It doesn’t take a genius to find out which side is good and evil.

Like all great Mexican children’s stories, it’s all about gambling. In this particular piece of folklore, the focus centers around a bet between La Muerte and Xibalba over which young boy—Manolo or Joaquin—will win the heart of our young beauty, Maria (voiced by Zoe Saldana). If Joaquin (voiced by Channing Tatum) marries Maria, then Xibalba will reign supreme in the Land of the Remembered while La Muerte is banished to the Land of the Forgotten. If Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) marries Maria, then La Muerte will rule over both realms and Xibalba must never interfere in human affairs again.

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Not exactly the most interesting stakes, but let’s forgive that fault from a children’s movie.

It’s all about managing expectations, which can get carried away when you learn about Guillermo del Toro’s involvement. The Book of Life is written and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez, but you can certainly see Guillermo del Toro’s influence as a producer. While the story plays out in rather standard fashion, there are enough entertaining wrinkles that can capture the imagination of adults.

In particular, The Book of Life surprised me by not succumbing to the temptation of the song and dance routine. The story isn’t interrupted every few minutes by a light-hearted melody. Instead, there are only a handful of songs that sporadically break up the plot points and there’s mostly a reason for the song.

When Manolo breaks into a cover of “Creep” by Radiohead, I immediately bought into this movie at that exact instance. It was a perfect rendition of a widely recognized song that’s used to propel the story—elevating the sequence above more than the typical pointless song and dance dribble.

There’s nothing here that will escalate to Frozen’s “Let It Go” tune, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as The Book Life is an infinitely better movie than Frozen. Walking a fine line between schmaltzy and serious, The Book of Life brings vibrant Day of the Dead visuals to life that everyone should enjoy.

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With the correct concoction to satisfy both children and adults, The Book of Life is the rare type of movie for everyone. Don’t expect this movie to be on the same level as the all-time classic Pan’s Labyrinth because it’s not a direct product of Guillermo del Toro. Blended with equal portions of elements from Nightmare Before Christmas and Romeo and Juliet, The Book of Life is a quality film with substantially better presentation and execution than most animated movies—including The Lego Movie earlier this year.

Now a generation of children will grow up with Ice Cube telling them to write their own story.

Churros

4 out of 5 stars

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Can we all agree that Ice Cube is a national treasure?

It might not even be long before Kevin Hart reaches that status too. Right now, he’s threatening for that title. After already being embraced by the black community at large as Katt Williams’ replacement as the black comedian, Kevin Hart is beginning to become beloved by white people as well.

I don’t understand it.

I don’t love Kevin Hart. But I don’t hate Kevin Hart either. I just think his widespread success is more than what is deserved considering his comedy and persona. That sounds awful, but I don’t intend for that to sound damning or disrespectful. I certainly appreciate Kevin Hart more than Aziz Ansari—at least Kevin Hart’s stand-up has made me laugh. There are certainly better stand-up comedians, but Kevin Hart’s potential crossover success will come as a result of movies like Ride Along.

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Without question, Kevin Hart possesses an undeniable energy and aura of likability. Although he hasn’t approached an Eddie Murphy level, but I think Kevin Hart could arguably be in the same ballpark with a well-written, more serious role in a comedy that could put him over the top. Ride Along has a recycled buddy cop story featuring Ice Cube as a deadly serious, do it all himself type of detective—with Cube playing the straight man to Kevin Hart’s crazy, out-of-control wannabe cop.

And Kevin Hart carries the movie.

If we all agree to forget or at least forgive the first 15 minutes, then Ride Along is actually a pretty good movie. Once Ice Cube and Kevin Hart finally share the screen, their chemistry is readily apparent and they sell the lame potential brother-in-law angle (Kevin Hart is black hammering Ice Cube’s sister). I expected this movie to be truly terrible, but Ride Along delivers some decent laughs and a handful of literally laugh out loud moments—a considerable achievement for any comedy.

Ride Along doesn’t aspire to any lofty standard, but it’s a solid comedy if taken tongue-in-cheek.

Outside of the shared screen time and camaraderie between Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, there’s not much else there as the story and supporting cast aren’t great comic relief. John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen aren’t called on to do much aside from fulfilling flat, one-dimensional roles as fellow cops. Despite a poorly written, comically bad villain role, Laurence Fishburne does reasonably well with what is provided.

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The downfall of Ride Along is absolutely the story as you’ll have difficulty remembering anything about it a month or so down the line. But the writing isn’t all bad since you’ll undoubtedly crack up on occasion, and that comedic success is due to both the writers’ set-ups and actors’ timing/execution. With such a bland story, it’s not surprising to find out that (at least) 4 different writers had a hand in the script.

Ultimately, Ride Along is about 10 minutes too long despite a relatively short 99-minute runtime.

Most importantly, Ride Along delivers what it promises…the laughs. Maybe it’s not deserving of being No. 1 at the box office, but this movie is more worthwhile than most shitty comedies being made—especially when you consider that Tyler Perry still has a dedicated fan base regardless of the garbage he produces.

While I hope Ride Along doesn’t inspire a sequel (which could be inevitable considering its commercial success), this movie could be a springboard to launch Kevin Hart into superstardom. If nothing else, Ice Cube has officially transformed from AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted to being fully embraced by White America.

Ice Cube

3 out of 5 stars

NWA

Posted: July 16, 2013 in Art
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NWA

I’m not a role model or a Dr. Seuss. Yo, I’m a gangsta. — Eazy-E