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Feed Me This Critique of “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986)

Warning: contains spoilers***

One of the earliest movies to be rated PG-13, this story follows a young man, named Seymour, who is trying to please his boss with a plant business. One plant becomes incredibly popular and then gruesome.

I will stop there with the narration. Below are what I liked about this film and what I felt could’ve been better.

This post will only include information about the movie from 1986 and not the earlier movie from 1960 or the live musical.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on this film, starting with the strengths.

1: The Musical Numbers

The songs were great. In fact, they were done by the same people who did Disney-animated movies such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”. While the music doesn’t sound too similar, and obviously, the story is more mature, the structure of the film is similar to that of a Disney classic. Between the midpoint and the all-is-lost moment is a romantic number between Seymour and his love interest, Audrey.

2: The Twist Where the Plant Talks

Seymour called the plant an Audrey II to honor the lady he had strong feelings for. It started out as a normal plant. Then, when Seymour cut himself, he fed the blood to the plant. It would make smacking sounds when it was hungry. When it grew bigger, it surprisingly could talk. It would tell Seymour to keep feeding it. I loved when Seymour said to the plant at some point, “Don’t think you’re getting dessert.” Lol.

3: Seymour’s Character Development

While Seymour was nicer to Audrey than her abusive boyfriend, the dentist, was, he wasn’t without his flaws. Although the dentist had already died from the laughing gas, Seymour’s boss thought Seymour was killing the dentist. Seymour feared trouble with the cops, turned down journalists and people in the publicity business when they wanted to advertise his plant and offer him money, and even brought something to defeat the dentist before he perished from the laughing gas. Of course, Seymour is still a good guy who’s had a tough life. He was orphaned at a young age and his boss raised him, but not in a pleasing way.

Now onto the parts I felt could’ve been better.

1: Audrey’s Ideal Life Explained in the Number, “Somewhere that’s Green”

I first discovered this song in “Family Guy”, when Herbert imagines a life with Chris. The lyrics there and in “Little Shop of Horrors” are mostly the same. Audrey imagines a life with Seymour where he rakes and trims the grass and Audrey is a happy wife into cleaning and cooking. Some of her other dreams included TV dinners and a 9:15 bedtime. I know this story was written and is probably set in the late 50’s or early 60’s, when standards for women were different. But seeing this in 2019, I found those ideas too bizarre and unappealing. Most women probably wouldn’t dream of a life like Audrey does during that moment.

2: A Dentist that Scares and Hurts People Still Succeeds in his Job

I know this is a past decade, but why would anyone want to go to a scary dentist? He causes pain the wrong way and harms people physically at times. Why doesn’t anyone report him? Or at least not come back? He should’ve lost patients due to his bad practicing.

Last, but not least, onto an idea that I’m unsure about.

A Happy or Sad Ending

Originally, the film was going to end where Audrey dies, Seymour feeds her body to his plant, and then the plant eats Seymour after. That was in the director’s cut, which you can get on the DVD. However, the theatrical release showed a happy ending, where Seymour defeats the plant and he and Audrey get married, living happily ever after. While I’ve always preferred happier endings to stories, I find that the sad ending fits the tone and premise more. At the same time, I was more satisfied with the happily-ever-after ending. I guess both are equally fine.

I would rate this film 4 out of 5 stars.

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You Ain’t Never Read a Critique Like This…For Disney’s “Aladdin” Live-Action Remake (2019)

This year is a huge year for Disney, especially with live-action remakes. I went with some friends to see the live-action remake of “Aladdin”. I liked it.

From the trailer, I could easily see that it was going to differ a lot from the cartoon. Unlike my other movie critiques, this will not have spoilers that occur toward the end of the film. However, there will be some minor revelations. So, if you don’t want to know, I’d suggest you see the movie first. But if you do, or you already saw the film, proceed.

Anyway, let me start off with the strengths.

1: Giving Princess Jasmine a girl BFF

Unlike other Disney princesses, Jasmine has no female companions in the animated version of “Aladdin” (as well as doesn’t have the lead role). I noticed that in recent years and thought about how it would’ve been nice if she had a female companion, like a girl BFF. Coincidentally, it happened. Not long after I realized that Jasmine only had males in her life did I come across an article that announced that she would have a female friend in the 2019 reboot. Yay! More female presence—not counting the extras.

2: The song “Speechless”

This was added in the live-action reboot. It was given to Jasmine and as a single solo. It added character development and more backstory to Jasmine.

3: Will Smith’s portrayal of the genie

While no one will truly beat Robin Williams’ portrayal of the “Aladdin” cartoon in 1992, Will Smith still did a good job. He still executed jokes and humor successfully. I especially admired a realistic approach of the genie’s look and why (I won’t say—see the movie to find out).

Now here are the aspects that could’ve been better.

1: The characterization of Iago and the sultan

Okay, I get it. The creators didn’t want it to be a copy of the cartoon. They also had to make changes for new characters, like Jasmine’s friend, Dahlia. However, I was quite bummed with the sultan and Iago’s developments.

The sultan was dull, conservative, and had little screen time, compared to the cartoon. He was also not nearly as enthusiastic and positive. And he didn’t play with toys. Bummer! I understand that the younger characters need to make their own choices, but cartoon sultan is far better.

And Iago. Oh my God—he was so one-dimensional. He flew around to check on things for Jafar, would repeat phrases, and would state when someone was doing something wrong, such as lying or hiding something. Where was his personality? His complexity? I comprehend how the crew couldn’t re-cast the original cast to reprise their roles. But I still wish Iago was more developed. Like cartoon sultan, animated Iago is far superior.

2: The romance between Aladdin and Jasmine was weaker

In the cartoon version, Aladdin and Jasmine fell in love and stayed that way. However, in the live-action remake, Aladdin has trouble getting Jasmine to love or even trust him. Remember when Jasmine tried to free Aladdin from the guards and revealed her true identity for it in the animated version? That didn’t happen in the live-action remake. Also, while some musical numbers were a bit stronger than in the cartoon, the scene with the song, “A Whole New World” did not convey nearly enough emotion for the audience as in the cartoon.

That being said, I would rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars. While I liked certain versions of story adaptations equally as much (such as the cartoon and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” movies), this one was almost as good as the cartoon. My main issue was the characterization of Iago and the sultan. I know they aren’t major characters. But still—even if they were just a little different from the animated movie, I would have appreciated that.

Nevertheless, I would still recommend this movie.

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Imagine the Impossible… Review of “Mary Poppins Returns” (2018)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Many years have passed since Mary Poppins has left the Banks family. Michael and Jane are now adults. Michael is widowed and has three children: John, Annabel, and Georgie. Jane hangs out in the house too.

Michael is at risk of losing his house. While his kids are in the park, Mary Poppins flies down to them. She often denies anything magical, as usual. Nevertheless, she takes them on adventures, such as making the bath like an ocean, or going inside the children’s latest mother’s bowl to a musical hall performance.

Meanwhile, the bank is giving Michael a hard time about his home. His kids are just as worried. If not, more.

I saw this film in the theaters, and after seeing it a second time, I picked up some new elements. For instance, the format of this movie is very similar to that of the first “Mary Poppins” movie in 1964. The scenes are similar to those in the first installment, as well.

I was surprised how Jack was similar to Burt. Not just by his personality, but also having those other guys in the “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”, similar to the “Step in Time” number.

The music was amazing. It followed the same mood and tone, but more modernized. I still didn’t understand why the admiral had to fire the cannon every hour. What’s the purpose of that?

One scene that stood out to me was the balloon scene. Yes, it’s a movie, and it’s supposed to communicate a message about youth as well as be satisfying to audiences. But it was strange for me—the idea of holding a balloon in the sky and seeing it as a magical moment. In real life, if just one person held onto a balloon that took them up to the sky, he or she would scream, and so would everybody on the ground. It would be a scary, panicking disaster. The emergency departments would be there too.

Another moment that was silly, even if essential to the plot, was the scene where Jack and his buddies try to turn back time on the Big Ben. No one would fall for that in real life, not to mention that Jack and his pals would’ve been arrested too.

Nevertheless, this was a good movie. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

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Musical Movies: Why Were They Huge in the 20th Century?

Image from Pixabay

Although I was born at the end of the 20th century (1993), I still watched a lot of old movies growing up. I noticed that many of them were musicals.

There was “The Wizard of Oz”, “Singing in the Rain”, “The Sound of Music” and many, many more. Then there were the Disney classics, like “Cinderella” and “The Little Mermaid”. But Disney still makes their classics musicals, even if they [sadly] stopped doing 2D-animated movies after 2011.

While there are musical movies of this century, like “The Greatest Showman” and “Mamma Mia”, I am going to focus on those released in the 20th century.

Why were musicals so big? Was it because movies were new forms of entertainment in the early 1900’s. Well, those had no dialogue, except for words shown on the screen after the scenes.

But once dialogue could be heard and not explained through separate words on the screen, musical films were born.

Of course, not every movie was a musical. For example, could you imagine films like “Jaws” being a musical? Or “Friday the 13th”? I think horror and thriller movies would have looked strange with singing and dancing.

By the end of the 20th century, musical movies seemed less common. Maybe people were tired of them? Or they wanted to focus more on the stories than the singing and dancing? There are people who favor that more. Therefore, they prefer live plays over musicals. I’m the opposite, though. I find shows with singing and dancing more fun to watch as they look much harder to perform in. But that’s another topic.

Musical films seem a lot less common these days. Oh well. Just like time, trends change. I have not seen “The Greatest Showman”, but I have seen “Into the Woods”. Although I usually enjoy musicals, I will admit that “Into the Woods” wasn’t really my cup of tea.

This post may have seemed like a lot of questions asked. But it is just an observation of movies and their trends.

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The Words Will Speak… For “Grease” Analysis (1978 film)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

Over 40 years have passed since this movie has been released. It follows an Australian girl, Sandy, who is in love with a Brooklyn boy, Danny, and the love triangle Sandy goes through with Danny and another guy. Other characters, such as the girls who call themselves the pink ladies and the guys who call themselves the thunderbirds, play major roles as well.

The musical numbers are amazing. I love the songs, “You’re the One that I Want”, “Sandra Dee”, “Grease Lightning”, and “Summer Nights”. Recently, however, I noticed that some of the questions in “Summer Nights” are rude to ask in real life, such as “How much dough did he spend?” or “Did she put up a fight?” I guess trying to fit in, “That’s none of your business” into the lyrics would’ve been out of place and would’ve felt forced. Oh well. “Grease” isn’t a kid’s movie. So audiences will probably know the boundaries of what is okay in real life and what stays on the screen.

I liked the “Romeo & Juliet” reference right after the “Sandra Dee” number: “Wherefore art thou Sandy?”. Ha ha, Shakespeare never gets tiring.  The scenes where Danny is struggling with sports tryouts were great, as well. They made him feel real and likable.

I also didn’t expect a lot of cartoons within the movie, like what the characters watched. Sometimes, I admire the old-fashioned 2D cartoons from the mid-twentieth century more than the CG animation today, especially because 3D animation is pretty much the only kind for movies these days. This was one of those moments.

The fifties culture was very well emphasized. From the diner moments to the characters’ fashion, it really teaches you about that decade. What I didn’t appreciate, however, was when during the dance scene, all couples had to be boy and girl. I get it. This takes place in the 50’s and was filmed in the 70’s, both of when being gay, lesbian, transgender, or gender-neutral was beyond out-of-the-question. However, watching something like that in a time when homosexuality and chosen gender-identity are trying to be more acceptable (and have made progress during the past few years) can be a bit insensitive. I’m asexual and proud to call myself female both biologically and identity-wise. But I do have full empathy with homosexual people and those who see themselves as different genders than how they were identified at their births.

The ending where Danny and Sandy drive into the sky was quite interesting. Not too long ago, there was a conspiracy theory about Sandy being dead the whole duration of the movie. I don’t know if it’s true, though (I hope not). I do know that there’s a sequel to “Grease”, which I didn’t see.

I approached the movie not knowing the whole plot, even though I saw a live production of “Grease” at a local theater with camp when I was 13. But I don’t remember everything there.

I would rate “Grease” 4 out of 5 stars. Although something about the film didn’t engage me fully, I enjoyed the story and musical numbers as well as the characters.