Corpse Bride Review

This post was previously published on my column at ldsblogs.com.  I would love if you all checked out that column and maybe added a comment or two.

Welcome as we get a little spooky here on Family Movie Night!  It is October after all! So in honor of the season we are going to talk about Tim Burton’s 2005 film The Corpse Bride.

During this time of year many parents ask themselves a question about how dark is too dark for their children to see.  I know when I was a child there are 2 films that really scared me and they were both Disney films.  The first was Disney’s Return to Oz- an ugly, mean spirited film where Dorothy gets strapped down and give electro-shock therapy (and that’s before she even gets to Oz!).   There is also a queen that has a hallway with heads that she scalps from people and wears when she wants a new look.  Ah the nightmares.

The other movie that terrified me was as odd as it might sound- The Rescuers.  It is an extremely downbeat, sad film from Walt Disney with a little girl who is kidnapped by a horror of a lady and forced to go down in a dark cave all by herself.  There is very little hope for Penny and at one point she is told nobody will ever want to adopt her.  Geesh Disney!

So those were two films that scared me but there are many kids who like both those films.  So how do you know as a parent?  It’s really tough.   My advice would be you simply have to look at the kid in question and see how sensitive they are.  Also what kind of scares does it have?  Is it a ghost story or does it take on more weighty themes?  What’s the overall tone of the film?  Many of my favorite scary movies like today’s choice actually have a very sweet innocent tone but they are set in a scary world.

267130-corpse-brideIn the end it is a touch call for a parent but I think you know in your gut what your kid is ready for and can handle.  Go with that.

That said, let’s talk about Corpse Bride.  This is a really fun ghost story told with stop motion animation and in a mostly black and white Victorian world.   Our main character is Victor who is being forced by his parents to marry a woman named Victoria, who is also being forced into the arranged marriage.

However, the two betrothed meet and find they like each other and don’t mind getting married. Unfortunately, Victor gets nervous and goes into the forest to practice his vows.  In so doing he puts a ring on what he thinks is a twig but in actuality it is a woman in spiritual limbo named Emily, or in other words- the Corpse Bride.

With a ring on her finger Emily thinks her and Victor are married and swoops him off to the Spirit World where we get a terrific song called Remains of the Day. I love how in the Spirit World the colors are more vibrant, even fluorescent in hue.  It feels like a different world than the Victorian one we’ve seen so far.

Victor of course still loves Victoria and he doesn’t know how to get himself out of the situation.  Emily also is a sweet soul who has the best of intentions but also gets her feelings hurt quite easily.  They are pretty well developed characters for this type of film.

Corpse-Bride-1The story is somewhat predictable but the visuals are so lovely creating a scary yet fun mood.  The cinematography by Pete Kozachik moves through the city feels effortless and smooth.  He even came up with a new way to use digital still cameras when filming stop motion.  There also aren’t any dead zones where I am bored or wondering what is going to happen.  I think that is the good thing about stop motion animation- it is so laborious to do there are rarely any wasted scenes.

My favorite part of the movie is the great Danny Elfman music.  He is particularly good at packing exposition into the songs while still making them catchy and easy to sing along too.  As I said, I particularly like Remains of the Day but Tears to Shed, According to Plan and The Wedding Song are all beautiful.  I also think Victor’s Piano Solo is one of the best instrumental solos I’ve ever heard in a movie.

To see the rest of Rachel's reviews, click here.
To see the rest of Rachel’s reviews, click here.

Overall it is a satisfying ghost story with a nice heart to it, beautiful visuals, and great music.  I would be curious to know how your kids react to it and if it is too scary for them.  Please put it in the comments what they think and if you have any suggestions for picks I could use in upcoming weeks I would love to hear.  Let’s get some comments going!

Movie 47: Meet the Robinsons

posterThe last few nights of movie viewing have been rough going…I try to be kind and positive on my reviews but I would be lying if I didn’t say how much I disliked Brother Bear, Chicken Little and Home on the Range.  Treasure Planet was fine but kind of dry.  The reviews don’t have any meaning if they are all vanilla and you never either love or hate something.

But it’s tough when there is a stretch of bad reviews.  Start to feel like a jerk!  I want to like them! Really I do.

Fortunately we get a break from the dreck with Disney’s strange but entertaining 47th animated classic Meet the Robinsons.  This is not a masterpiece but as pop entertainment it is creative and bizarre and I liked it.

Meet The Robinsons Disney Robinson Family

The Production-

There isn’t a ton to say on production but that Pixar was officially purchased by Disney during the making of the movie, which is why John Lasseter became a producer on the film.

In fact, he saw an early screening and didn’t think the villain was scary enough so he changed it and evidently 60% was changed and retooled.  It has the feel of a movie that is a bit overwrought and maybe retooled a bit too much but it still works.

It is also of note because it was the first Disney movie to be released in digital 3D that is so common now.

The movie has a bit of a Simpsons feel with broad humor and bright colors and even has Danny Elfman as the composer of the score (who wrote the Simpsons theme).  It’s not as good as the Simpsons or as funny but I would bet it is a creative influence.

The soundtrack has songs by Jamie Cullum, Rob Thomas, They Might be Giants and others and it is very good.  Probably Disney’s best pop song soundtrack. (At least it is a step up from The Spice Girls in Chicken Little…)

The voicecast is universally strong and huge (shows how many characters are in the story).  Steve Anderson voices 3 parts including the Bowler Hat Guy, Ethan Sandler 5 including Doris.  Tom Kenny, Tom Selleck, Laurie Metcalf, Angela Bassett, Harland Williams all provide voices.

The Story-

This movie is impossible to describe without being a huge spoiler for those who haven’t seen it.

Basically it’s kind of Back to the Future meets The Incredibles meets strangeness.

A little kid named Lewis is an orphan who likes to invent things (kind of like Doc Brown as an orphan kid).  He even keeps his roommate up all hours of the night with his inventions.

meet-the-robinsons-1His inventions prevent him from being adopted, so he decides he wants to get to know his mother using a memory scanner he has invented.  He then meets a strange boy named Wilbur

wilburWilbur is looking for a man with a bowler hat who has stolen a time machine.  This sends Lewis on quite the  journey!  The Bowler Hat man is a very good and creepily drawn villain. You will never guess who the Bowler Hat man really is.  Or at least I didn’t.  It’s very clever!

bowler hat guy

Lewis and Wilbur meet the Robinson family and I don’t want to give the surprises away but there is a dinosaur and several other inventions.  It’s a nutty movie.

 

Meet-the-Robinsons-Family-Tree-meet-the-robinsons-28991696-842-464At times it gets a little cluttered and convoluted but basically it’s about how Lewis gets to understand his mother, his own potential and the importance of family.

Movie Review/Conclusion-

I don’t want to oversell Meet the Robinsons because it has big problems.  It throws a lot at the screen and at a certain point it becomes exhausting, but I’d rather have that than a lazy predictable entry like Brother Bear.  Just my personal preference I suppose. meet-the-robinsons-original-2

I’m not sure every plot point works out and the writing could be sharper, creating more compelling characters but what we get isn’t bad.  In fact, I think it is pretty good.

It’s certainly bright and colorful and the story definitely surprised me.  The villain is very well done and like I said caught me off guard.  The big reveals work and overall I was charmed by it.

It might be a little hard for kids to keep track of everything and I wish there were a few more laughs but I think enough is there to entertain kids and it’s maybe even more suited to teens.

We do also get some really nice messages about family, being yourself, and getting adequate amounts of sleep each night…!

It’s certainly a huge step up from Chicken Little.  That’s for sure.  It’s no Pixar.  I mean Pixar came out with Rataouille in 2007 and who can compete with that?… (was a weird year for animation because the Bee movie also came out which is a strange mixed bag like Meet the Robinsons).

So looking for some odd and colorful entertainment?  Give Meet the Robinsons a shot.

Overall Grade- C