Here Comes The Boom successfully mashes three genres. Firstly its one of Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions and has its fair share of the cheap lowbrow gags then secondly it's a 'To Sir With Love' type of student-teacher film about a biology teacher who rises against the odds to back his students when the school music program is terminated... and then it's a fight movie. It could have been a dud but it manages the balance carefully and puts more emphasis on the later two qualities making it a sincere and well intended flick. Kevin James is great in the lead as he breaks away from his usual potty humour and offers a gentler, more compassionate performance. Henry Winkler plays a daggy music teacher who supports him along the way and while he overdoes it at times, he's still the Fonze and has some great moments. UFC and Mixed Martial Art fighting are global sensations but haven't been depicted on film all that much (Warrior & The Philly Kid) and so it gives Here Comes The Boom a fresh take on what could have been a typical and tiresome story. Oh and there's an arse-crack gag that had us in stitches and demanded a rewind! PMSL!
Having watched John Cusack's horrendous performance in The Raven recently I was reluctant going into The Factory. The allure for me was that it is a Dark Castle production. In the early 2000s they produced movies like House on Haunted Hill, Ghost Ship and 13 Ghosts and in recent years they've shifted into other areas with movies like Splice and Ninja Assassin... oh and Jennifer Carpenter being in this one added a measure of credibility. The credits just finished rolling and I came away from The Factory really impressed. This is a grouse little thriller that defies convention and offers a good premise with a taught timeline. John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter are two detectives working on a 10 year case of missing prostitutes. All victims have disappeared from the streets in the midst of winter and no bodies have been found. For several years the disappearances have stopped and just as the case is about to be closed, they start again. Cusack's daughter is mistaken for a hooker and abducted by the same guy her father is chasing. It plays out in a similar vein to Silence of the Lambs and its cold wintery setting provokes the mood of Seven. John Cusack is great in this which is a huge contrast to his overzealous performance in The Raven. I'm sure that the storyline can be picked apart but without looking for flaws, The Factory works on most levels. There are good twists and turns that few viewers will anticipate and it offers a wonderful final act that sets it apart from the average Hollywood thriller. I recommend this one, for sure!
In the mid 80s Tim Burton made a 30 minute live-action film for Disney called Frankenweenie. It was a kid-friendly homage to Frankenstein about a boy who resurrects his beloved pet dog. Shot in black & white starring Oliver Barret, Shelly Duvall and Daniel Stern, it was a smart, funny and nostalgic experiment. The story was obviously close to Burton's heart because now, almost 30 years later, he has returned with a feature length stop-motion animation remake. Expanding on the original story, Burton has added an assortment of new and delightful characters whom all reflect elements of Frank Whale's classic 1931 film, Frankenstein. Keeping with the homage he has shot his new Frankenweenie in black & white again which is a huge gamble for a feature length kids movie. We watched it with our kids and we all agree that Frankenweenie is easily one of the best family films of the past few years. Burton's flare for stop-motion is wonderful and as with A Nightmare Before Christmas, James & the Giant Peach and The Corpse Bride... Frankenweenie is a pure delight. The character creations are fantastic and the voice performances are excellent and every gag hits the mark. An appealing factor for me was that Burton doesn't shy away from dark subject matter... a lot of this movie is scary and grotesque and the younger viewers are treated with respect and the privilege of being able to see and process the images on screen. For every dark moment there is a sentimental or comical one to even the balance and the concepts of death and loss are dealt with maturely. This is super super fun and an almost perfect one ***spoiler alert*** and my only problem with it is the final moments. I'd have ended it differently and kept it faithful to the Frankenstein legacy. SEE THIS ONE!