Posts Tagged ‘Mark Mothersbaugh’


June 25, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Christopher Garner

The Mitchells vs the Machines is a Sony Animation production that was picked up by Netflix after its theatrical release was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It follows the dysfunctional Mitchell family (quirky parents Rick and Linda, and misfit children Katie and Aaron) on a road trip from their home in Michigan to California to take Katie to film school, where she’s sure she’ll finally get to be with “her people” for the first time in her life. The cross-country trip is Rick’s misguided attempt to fix his fracturing relationship with Katie. Their trip is interrupted by a robot apocalypse, however, and it then falls on the Mitchells to save the world. The film is the directorial debut of Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, who also wrote the screenplay, and is produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who are no strangers to screwball animations (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie). The main characters are voiced by Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and Rianda himself. The film has been a critical and commercial success (as far as commercial success can be measured on a streaming service). It is well-made and its family focus will resonate with most viewers. I found myself moved by it several times, despite its near-constant silliness. Read more…

THE WILLOUGHBYS – Mark Mothersbaugh

May 19, 2020 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The importance of family is the thematic driving force behind The Willoughbys, a new CGI animated comedy from director Kris Pearn, which premiered on Netflix in April 2020. The film is based on a popular book by author Lois Lowry and follows the adventures of the four Willoughby children – intelligent Tim, precociously talented Jane, and a pair of creepy twin boys both called Barnaby – who conspire to rid themselves of their neglectful and disinterested parents after they find an abandoned baby, but are ordered to get rid of it. After tricking their parents into going on an insanely dangerous European vacation, the Willoughby’s are shocked to find that a Nanny has been hired to look after them; Tim immediately distrusts the Nanny as being in league with his parents, and does everything to thwart her plans. However, there is more to Nanny than meets the eye, and before long a plan is in motion to find their now-missing parents and keep the family together. The film has an excellent voice cast, including Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, and Ricky Gervais, and has been quite well received by critics as a wholesome story that blends slapstick comedy hi-jinks with warm sentiment and heart. Read more…

THOR RAGNAROK – Mark Mothersbaugh

November 3, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Thor Ragnarok is, quite astonishingly, the seventeenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the fifth in Marvel’s Phase 3 series, and the third film focusing on the character Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. Chris Hemsworth returns to the title role, and in this installment finds himself having to escape from the clutches of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), the ruler of the planet Sakaar, who has enslaved Thor, forcing him to compete in a series of gladiatorial games. Meanwhile, the city of Asgard has been taken over by Hela the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett), Thor’s long-exiled sister, whose merciless rule is threatening to bring about the prophesized ‘ragnarok’ – the destruction of Asgard and the death of the Gods. The film co-stars Tom Hiddlestone, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins, and is directed by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi. Read more…

PEE-WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY – Mark Mothersbaugh

April 15, 2016 1 comment

peeweesbigholidayOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Looking back at it now, thirty years into the future, it’s astonishing when you realize just what an influential film Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure was. It launched the career of Paul Reubens, the comedian and writer behind the Pee-Wee Herman character, which led to a second Pee-Wee film, and a classic Saturday morning kids show. It launched the career of director Tim Burton – we all know what happened to him. It also launched the second career of composer Danny Elfman – we all know what happened to him, too. Reubens’s career stalled after a rather sordid run-in with the law in 1991, but gradually he has been working his way back, initially as a jobbing actor, and now, after a successful Broadway show, resurrecting the Pee-Wee character for a third ‘big-screen’ film, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, produced by Netflix, and directed by John Lee. The film sees Pee-Wee being encouraged by his friend, actor Joe Mangianello (playing himself), to go on his first ever vacation to New York; on the way, Pee-Wee manages to get himself involved in a number of ridiculous adventures, crossing paths with a trio of female bank robbers, a travelling disguise kit salesman, a farmer who wants him to marry one of his nine daughters, the owner of a flying car, and the members of an Amish community. Read more…

THE LEGO MOVIE – Mark Mothersbaugh

March 9, 2014 3 comments

legomovieOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Possibly the most unexpected box office smash of the last several years, The Lego Movie took cinemas by storm in the early months of 2014 with its combination of wild and wacky animation, knowingly self-referential pseudo-adult comedy, and some unexpected pathos towards the end which touches on themes of individuality and self-expression. The film is set in a fictionalized Lego universe, and follows the adventures of Emmett, an ordinary Lego mini figure who is mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary Master Builder, and is recruited by the sassy and spunky Wyldestyle and the blind wizard Vitrivius to help them in their quest to stop the evil tyrant Lord Business from destroying the universe. The film is directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – the directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – and features an astonishing voice cast that includes Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Channing Tatum, and even Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams as Lego versions of C-3PO and Lando Calrissian from Star Wars. It’s an anarchic, chaotic mess of a movie that works as pure entertainment in spite of itself by throwing as many rapid fire verbal jokes and visual gags at you as it possibly can, in the hope that if at least half of them stick they’ll have a decent ratio of laughs to groans. Read more…


September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When I first heard about Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs I assumed it was one of those beloved American pre-school children’s books of which I have never heard, like pretty much everything by Dr. Seuss or Where the Wild Things are, and it turns out I was right. Written by Judi Barrett, illustrated by her husband Ron Barrett, and first published in 1978, it tells the story of an young inventor named Flint Lockwood who builds a machine which converts rain water into food, making him and his town internationally famous… until, unexpectedly, the food that falls from the sky starts to grow to enormous size, and threatens to destroy everything. It’s basically an animated comedy that spoofs disaster movies like Armageddon, albeit replacing asteroids with cheeseburgers; it’s directed by Darcy MacIsaac and Christopher Miller, and has an all-star voice cast featuring the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Anna Faris, James Caan, Bruce Campbell, and even Mr. T! Read more…


June 30, 2000 Leave a comment

adventuresofrockyandbullwinkleOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Rocket T. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. The names hardly roll off the tongue, do they? Not quite the same ring as those other revered characters in the annals of cartoon history, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. But, despite everything, these two peculiar animated heroes are cult figures in the United States (although, much like The Grinch, they never caught on in the UK). I vaguely remember some kind of badly-animated cartoon series featuring this duo from somewhere in the foggy mists of my youth, but never really paid it much attention. The fact that a movie based on these two was ever made amazed me. The fact that it was directed by Des McAnuff, who previously made the deliciously dark comedy Cousin Bette, amazed me even more. And then when I found out that both Robert De Niro and Rene Russo were in it, I had to call for the smelling salts. Read more…