Home is the latest animated feature from Dreamworks. It is available in 3D, but it is totally unnecessary to see it that, unless you specifically want to. The animation style does not depend on it for telling the story.

The race of Boov are about to settle on a new planet. They are on the run, and have chosen their newest home. Their typical method of colonizing involves collecting all the native sentient species on whatever planet they choose, displace them to some less desirable location on said planet, and move in to whatever homes that species had. This time, they’ve chosen Earth, and they vacuum everyone up and deposit them in the Australian Outback, in organized communities.

The film focuses on the exuberant Boov, named Oh (Jim Parsons), who clearly doesn’t fit in. Most Boov are self-centered, and Oh is most certainly not. Oh was given his name due to when he greets other Boov, they roll their eyes and grumble, “Oh…” After finding his new home, he sends out an evite for a house-warming party, but mistakenly does a “send all”, which could reach the mortal enemy of the Boov, aka The Gorg. The Gorg keep chasing The Boov, destroying worlds along the way. The Boov’s leader, Captain Smek (Steve Martin, yes, that one), puts out a worldwide alert, and the Boov-hunt for Oh begins.

Meanwhile, a human girl, Tippy (Rihanna) was overlooked when the human culling began, thanks to her cat, named Pig. She was separated from her mother and is trying to figure out how to get to her, wherever she is. Oh and Tippy bump into each other at a convenience store, and an unlikely alliance is formed when Oh promises to reunite Tippy and “my mom”.

The Boov are a cowardly race, and avoid confrontation wherever possible. The trust that forms between Oh and Tippy is what drives this movie forward. It is a fish-out-of-water story, as Oh tries to understand Tip’s drive to be reunited. Some of the better jokes are spoiled in the trailer, but definitely not all of them. This film is clearly for children, but there’s enough of a story to keep parents and guardians happy, as well as adults who see the film non-ironically (like yours truly). Tip is trying to explain humanity to Oh, and it’s done with a childlike quality. There are plenty of jokes based on the Boov not understanding simple human culture and fortunately, it’s not too blatantly pandering. The behavior of the Boov is very fitting for Steve Martin, who plays his role almost as if he were Navin from The Jerk, a more or less benevolent fool, but this time, he’s in charge.

I found Home entertaining, and amusing. The title, however, really doesn’t work, for me. If given the opportunity, I’d change it, but I have no idea of what to change it to, though.



Chappie is the latest film from South African Director Neil Blomkamp, who’s given us the films District 9 and Elysium, District 9 was a film about Racism, whereas Elysium was about the 1%-ers living the literal high life in a space station. The social commentary of Chappie is not so obvious. This film is about a hard sci-fi concept as it might apply to the real world.

In the near future, crime is rampant in Detroit Johannesburg, South Africa. The OCP Tetravaal Corporation has experimented with robotic police officers to keep the peace. The parallels to the movie Robocop are there, however, Chappie adds elements from Short Circuit into the mix. Current it-actor Dev Patel plays Deon, inventor of the robotic police force, who’s research has continued into the area of Artificial Intelligence. Tetravaal’s CEO Michelle (Sigourney Weaver) orders him to stop the project and just focus on their highly effective Robotic Officers instead. Determined, he steals a unit scheduled to be destroyed, and intends to load his new software into it, since it was too damaged to repair and return to active service.

Meanwhile, a small group of mid-level criminals owes a lot of money to the local gang kingpin, Hippo, and they need it fast. They figure that if they can hack the robots, they can steal what they need. Ninja and Yo-landi (played by rap-trance stars Ninja and Yo-Landi of the group Die Antwoord [The Answer]), kidnap Deon to force him to provide a way for them to hack the robots. They captured him as he was making off with the aforementioned broken robot, and Deon convinces them he’ll do what he can to help, so he installs his AI program into the robot, which is dubbed Chappie. While very much paralleling the early life of Johnny 5 and his growth, Chappie’s development seems more realistic, as Yo-Landi treats Chappie like a child, and Ninja introduces him to the reality of their existence.

Meanwhile, Deon’s rival at the company, Vincent (Hugh Jackman), wants to see the robots fail, as he has been developing a similar protection device, ED-209 MOOSE, but MOOSE would be directly controlled by humans, similar to how the military controls drones now. His funding’s been cut several times, and, well, that’s where the fun begins.

There are some odd choices made in how this film plays out. For one, I found South Africans’ dialect hard to follow, sometimes. Blomkamp must’ve agreed, because he inserted Subtitles for Hippo’s words, but no one else’s. Maybe the theater’s sound system wasn’t the greatest, because I had to strain to hear some of the dialogue properly. There were some other shortcuts taken in order to streamline the movie, but they were more technical, and would never have happened if Tetravaal was a real company and had better physical security. IMO, Chappie’s learning ability progressed too rapidly, too. Those concerns were bypassed to allow the story to flow better, and rightfully so.

This was an enjoyable movie. The story never really dragged, and the third act pulled it all together. It was an interesting take on the concept of AI, and how such an intelligence would accept a not-so-legal lifestyle. There is physical violence in the film, and several gun battles. I found it odd that there were several parents had brought their preteen children to the theater, however, the trailers for the film do not really describe the kind of story it is.

I suspect it will disappear from theaters soon, because the number of theaters showing it on a full schedule were fewer than I’d expect.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service is an action movie about a secret British organization, so hidden that no government is aware of its existence. Funded by the English aristocracy, they affect change in the world and choose to remain discreet about it. The Kingsmen all have code names based on the names of the Knights of the Round Table. Manners, etiquette, and honor are the behaviors that all of them must follow.

The movie starts with a kidnapping. Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped and is held for a meeting. Before that can happen, one of the Kingsmen starts to rescue him, but is foiled. The organization has to find a replacement for their fallen comrade.

Kingsman primarily focuses on Eggsy, a twenty-something that has had a rough and tumble existence. Unbeknownst to him, his father was a Kingsman who was killed in the line of duty. Galahad (Colin Firth) has kept an eye on him, and when Eggsy gets into trouble with the police, Galahad offers him the opportunity to enter the trials to become a Kingsman. The training is difficult and brutal. Only one Kingsman will be chosen from all the candidates.

Meanwhile, celebrities and heads of state are disappearing, and no one knows why, or who’s doing it. Galahad investigates, and the path leads to an enigmatic tech billionaire, Valentine (Samuel L Jackson), who has made it his life’s goal to solve the problem of Global Warming. He has a plan, but the details of it are unclear.

This is, essentially, a spy film, complete with all the requisite action movie tropes. However, it’s done with a certain style and flair that harkens back to the old Avengers TV series, with John Steed, Emma Peel, et al. The Kingsman organization emulates what I expect The Avengers’ organization was. If you’ve never seen that show, you should, and you’ll understand.

Kingsman was unfolding as you’d expect, and it was a typical movie of the genre. They even make several references to James Bond movies, and how they play out. At the very least, they weren’t trying to claim to be original in any way, shape, or form. However, that changed, once Galahad visits a church much like the Westboro Baptist. What he says, and what happens in that scene was as pretty entertaining, if not better, than almost anything Quentin Tarantino has ever done. It has a quite a ‘bit of the old ultraviolence’ that is Q’s trademark, but it was extremely well choreographed, and amusing in its own way.

That said, the rest of the film plays out in a more traditional manner that one would expect from such movies. That scene I’ve mentioned does elevate this from out of the pack of many such parodies and ripoffs, enough to make me recommend it. The very end of the movie is a bit more crude than I’d have expected, given what the Kingsmen supposedly stand for. However, in the movie itself, there’s a discussion about the old guard not being to embrace future generations and their ways, so in that respect, I guess I can almost forgive it. Almost. This is not necessarily a movie you need to see in a theater. You can wait to stream it later, if there’s nothing else on screens that you wish to see.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Of course, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the sequel to the original film. The gist of the first was a collection of pensioners in England who chose to move to Jaipur, India, on the promise of a nice relaxing set of golden years. Instead, their accommodations are far from perfect, so they struggle to make the best of an awful situation. The hotel’s condition is essentially their own. Do they accept their fate, or do they overcome it? The first movie ended on a positive note.

The Second Best… picks up a few months after the first. Sonny (Dev Patel) and Muriel (Maggie Smith) have managed to get the hotel into decent shape, and are looking to expand into providing more such facilities. They travel to San Diego to meet with an American corporation who funds retirement communities, to form a partnership.

Sonny and Sunaina became engaged, and the wedding is near. An old boyfriend of Sunaina appears, and interferes with Sonny’s plans to expand the business. New Guests arrive at the hotel, including Guy(Richard Gere), who Sonny guesses is an inspector for the company they are trying to do business with. The other guests are thriving, but failing in some ways to get their lives in order. It’s difficult to address these events without giving away too much.

This is a fine movie. The dialogue is really well written, and these actors give the words the appropriate gravitas. There’s one exchange between Muriel and Evelyn (Judi Densch) that really sunk home, and I doubt any other actresses could’ve done that scene as well. While this movie is a bit schmaltzy, and some of the revelations are telegraphed, I still recommend this film.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a new series from Netflix, created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock both of SNL and 30 Rock fame.

In case you hadn’t heard, the basic premise of the show involves 4 women who have been staying in a bomb shelter in Indiana, left there by their enigmatic doomsday cult leader Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. After 15 years of living a sheltered life (literally), they are rescued and set free. The media jumps all over them, and they have a press tour in NYC. They are about to return home, when Kimmy, (Ellie Kemper) decides she wants a normal life, and chooses to stay in The Big Apple. She rents a room from landlady Lillian (Carol Kane) in an apartment she shares with Titus Andromedon (Titus Burgess), a flamboyant, struggling Broadway actor. Kimmy gets a job with a 1%er Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) as a nanny for her two children, a younger boy and an eye-rolling tween stepdaughter. Kimmy doesn’t want anyone to know her past, but it does leak out.

All of Kimmy’s references are from the 90s and earlier. No one says any of the catch phrases she uses any more. Titus has big dreams of making it on Broadway, but makes do as a costumed performer in Times Square. Lillian is clearly off her rocker and Jacqueline is the lonely housewife who’s always trying to do something to get her husband’s attention.

The show is almost done in the style of 30 Rock, but hits different notes. The show is built on absurdist humor of supposed everyday life in NYC. Ellie Kemper is almost recreating her role Erin from The Office, and Jane Krakowski is playing her role pretty much approximating how Jenna on 30 Rock would be if she had become a trophy wife instead of actress. You’d think that was a rehash, but it works. The episodes run 24 minutes or so, and are fairly sitcom-y, but it’s the humor that gets generated from the throwaway material that really makes the show funny. Try to take notice of random signs and quick comments, and you’ll see what I mean. They also poke fun at things like Internet Fame and plastic surgery.

There are several celebrities appearing on the show, most of which are for only one episode or two. I do not want to spoil them, but they are well worth waiting for. Two such appearances were parodies of real people, which made me think of the real people, enough so that I had to google them and see how they are, now.

The first season of 12 episodes is available now, exclusively on NetFlix. If you enjoyed 30 Rock, you will definitely enjoy this show. I do recommend it.