30 Movies in 30 Days: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Had I seen it before: Yes, but it was probably around 10 years ago and I hadn’t done my proper research by watching the first two movies shortly before watching this one. So this felt like the first watch.

What IMDb says: Captain Barbossa, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann must sail off the edge of the map, navigate treachery and betrayal, find Jack Sparrow, and make their final alliances for one last decisive battle.

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30 Movies in 30 Days: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Had I seen it before: Yes, but not in a while.

What IMDb says: Jack Sparrow races to recover the heart of Davy Jones to avoid enslaving his soul to Jones’ service, as other friends and foes seek the heart for their own agenda as well.

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30 Movies in 30 Days: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Had I seen it before: Yes. Multiple times. Occasionally with commentary.

What IMDb says: Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor’s daughter, from Jack’s former pirate allies, who are now undead.

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30 Movies in 30 Days: The Incredibles 2

Had I seen it before: No.

What IMDb says: Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.

Requirements fulfilled: No new requirements fulfilled

Why I picked it: I mean, I was gonna go see it either way. Why not make it part of the blogging festivities?

What I liked about it: I really enjoyed that The Incredibles 2 gave us a lot of time to just watch the Incredibles being a normal family, specifically watching Mr. Incredible try to be a stay-at-home-dad. We really don’t get any of this in the first movie, as Mr. Incredible has relatively little screen time with his children in the first place, and even less screen time that isn’t action sequences. Since the first movie was primarily about Mr. Incredible going on adventures while Elastagirl watched the kids, I thought flipping those roles was a smart move and helped the movie feel fresh.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of Daddy Day Care since I just watched it a couple days ago, and once again it was heartwarming to watch a father who initially felt bitter about not having a job grow closer to his children. Smart move releasing this one Father’s Day weekend. I see you, Pixar.

I think this plotline will also work wonders in terms of giving parents something to latch onto and make the film less of a “just for kids” movie. I could tell the parents in the theater were able to sympathize with the sleep deprivation and lack of AA batteries.

On a related note, I really liked their exploration of the Jack Jack character. While trying to avoid spoilers, I will say that Jack Jack was arguably one of the biggest question marks I had going into The Incredibles 2, one of the subjects I was most excited to learn more about. They found ways to expand this character that were humorous, entertaining, and drove the plotline forward.

There are also a lot of really fun, creative action sequences throughout the movie. It’s not until relatively late in the first movie that all the family members are reunited and actually able to fight as a team, so it was nice that the sequel gave us a little bit more of this. The movie picks up immediately after the end of the first one, thrusting us right into an action sequence that presents all sorts of different challenges and allows everyone to use their unique powers. Several new superheroes are introduced as well, and their powers also leant themselves to fun action.

What I didn’t like: I mentioned yesterday in my write up of the first movie that I thought they had an interesting character arc for their villain. So it kind of pains me to report that I really didn’t like the villain of The Incredibles 2. For one, I thought the route they took was rather predictable. Furthermore, the motivations here were hard for me to buy. There’s a moment where the villain looks at Elastagirl and says menacingly “and then superheroes will be illegal forever.”

The thing is…. superheroes were already illegal. While there is a scheme to make them legal, I can’t shake the feeling that keeping them illegal shouldn’t have required a counterscheme as elaborate as the one we got. There’s just something about aggressively maintaining the status quo that makes for stupid movie villains. Imagine if Thanos was like “Ok, so I think the population is fine where it’s at, just no one have more than two kids.” That’s not nearly as interesting, is it? I’m not 100% sure what our villain’s endgame is, what I THINK it is seems like the status quo, and the stakes are ambiguous. I am displeased by this.

I also feel like the movie wasn’t really about anything. Early on, it looked like it had the potential to make some really powerful message about how morality and legality should not be conflated and I was here for it. But the most we get of this is a heated discussion between Mr. Incredible and Elastagirl within the first ten minutes. It never pushes past that.

Inside Out is about learning to deal with sadness and how sadness shapes who we are. Finding Dory is about embracing people in spite of their flaws without trying to “fix” them. Coco is about remembering ancestors as well as the desire to be remembered ourselves. The Incredibles is about embracing unique talents to make the world a better place. The Incredibles 2 is about… um. I guess embracing unique talents to make the world a better place… 2? I just feel like the movie lacked the emotional core that other Pixar movies have largely because I can’t figure out what kind of statement it was trying to make about the real world.

Will I watch it again: Potentially? I would say The Incredibles 2 is still good, but definitely in more of a fun kids movie sorta way. That’s fine, because ultimately that’s what it’s intended to be, but I know that Pixar is capable of blowing my mind with their storytelling. They bring great concepts to the table and oftentimes execute those concepts impeccably. I am not exaggerating when I say that some of my all-time favorite movies ever are Pixar. When I know that Pixar* can captivate me, take me on an emotional journey that pushes me to the edge of my seat, makes me laugh and cry, and make some pertinent point about the universe? Well… I can’t help but be a bit disappointed by “good in a fun kids movie sorta way.” So, yes I’m a little bit bitter that this didn’t reach the levels of Finding Dory or Toy Story 3 and I might hold a grudge for a while and avoid it.

On the bright side though, it’s not Cars 2 either.

 

*Ok, Pete Docter.

30 Movies in 30 Days: The Incredibles

Had I seen it before: Yes! Another one of these one-of-my-favorites-as-a-kid-but-haven’t-really-watched-it-since movies.

What IMDb says: A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world.

Requirements fulfilled: 

– No new requirements fulfilled

Why I picked it: I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s a sequel to this movie in theaters right now. I’m hopefully seeing it tomorrow so it seemed natural to re-watch the first one.

What I liked about it: The Incredibles is the sort of concept that makes other writers say “UGH. Why didn’t I think of that?” A lot of movies are about families. A lot of movies are about superheroes. You would think a movie about a family of superheroes would’ve been made long before 2004, and maybe there is one that I’m unaware of or forgetting about. It’s just one of those ideas that seems so obvious while still also maintaining originality.

That’s the real strongpoint of The Incredibles. It masters the Paradox of Originality. What do I mean by that? I mean that everyone pretends they like original movies, but yet at the same time we all go into movies with certain expectations, and those expectations are always based on other movies. We want superhero movies to feel like our other favorite superhero movies, and I think The Incredibles does. Yet we also don’t want to feel like we’re wasting two hours on a movie we’ve already seen, and I would say The Incredibles is fresh enough that we avoid that fate as well. It’s original and unoriginal in all the best ways.

The Parr family/Incredibles are written in such a way that all are “the good guys” yet there’s also plenty of room for internal conflict between them. We have experienced, seasoned superheroes alongside novices; We have superheroes who love being superheroes alongside those that just wish they were normal; Other superhero ensemble movies have explored dynamics like this before but the fact that the Incredibles are a literal family adds a whole new dimension to that. There’s this sense of unconditional love, protectiveness, and loyalty that we don’t get between Tony Stark and Peter Parker.

I also didn’t appreciate this when I was younger, but the character arc of Syndrome is actually a lot more interesting than a lot of villains in these types of movies. One of my common complaints with superhero films, and arguably action films in general, is that the villains don’t have proper motivations. They’re evil, they like doing evil things, they want power. We’re just supposed to accept that at face value.

In The Incredibles our villain wanted to be a superhero, but was born without powers. In his quest to become a hero anyway, he’s decided to create a robot that only he can destroy. Like our protagonists, our antagonist has a clearly defined goal (wanting to be a hero), clearly defined obstacles (not having powers), and clearly defined plan to reach that goal in spite of those obstacles (engineering various technologies to fake superpowers, as well as creating conflicts to save the world from.) I’m honestly blanking on any villain in any superhero movie that I find as interesting as Syndrome.

What I didn’t like about it: I didn’t notice this when I was younger, but the Incredibles never actually get the go ahead to go on world-saving missions again but it’s heavily implied that they do. Maybe The Incredibles 2 will explore more of this. But for now I can’t help but think “ok, but what’s preventing them from just getting re-located by the government again and again if they’re going on all these missions.”

I also must say that the movie didn’t actually hold my attention this time around the way I remember it did when I was younger. Maybe I was just too hungry to focus, maybe I’ve seen it too many times, I don’t know. But there came a point around halfway through where I found my mind wandering and not terribly interested in what exactly was happening on screen.

Will I watch it again: Yes. Especially if I have kids.

30 Movies in 30 Days: Daddy Day Care

Had I seen it before: Yes. It’s one of my faves!!

What IMDb says: Two men get laid off and have to become stay-at-home dads when they can’t find jobs. This inspires them to open their own day-care center.

Requirements fulfilled: 

– No new requirements fulfillled

Why I picked it: I thought it’d be cute to do a Father’s Day themed movie. This is the first one I thought of.

Why I liked it: I couldn’t appreciate this when I was younger, but Daddy Day Care exemplifies both feminist and free market values.

It didn’t really sink in until now just how bad Charlie and Phil felt about being stay-at-home dads. They genuinely believed they were failures as fathers because they were no longer breadwinners. While yes, part of why they started Daddy Day Care was to help pay the bills, their whole character arc is about learning to value the relationships they have with their children over the money they could earn in other jobs. There’s something compelling about that and I genuinely cannot think of another movie that has a similar arc. The movie also points out how odd it is that we think it’s “weird” for men to even want childcare careers or find that type of work fulfilling.

I also love how this movie did a great job of characterizing the different children that go to Daddy Day Care. Most have a primary conflict or flaw all of which serves to present our protagonists with more obstacles and make the movie more interesting.

Why I didn’t like it: There’s a few changes I’d make if I could though most of them do fall under that umbrella of “nitpicking”.

There’s the on-the-nose dialog early on where one mom says “If someone opened a decent daycare program around here they’d make a killing!” to Charlie and Phil.

It’s also a little ridiculous to me that they made a point of saying how Charlie and his family were strapped for cash, hence needing to pull Ben out of Chapman Academy, yet it looks like Charlie spent at least a grand on various toys and knick knacks prior to opening the daycare center.

I also think they could’ve done a better job of showing how Daddy Day Care actually helped some of the different kids grow. For example Crispin is rude and violent towards the beginning of the movie but at the end of the movie he’s the most polite kid Charlie knows. We don’t really get any scene explaining when or why this transition happened, just that Daddy Day care deserves credit for it.

Will I watch it again: Probably. It’s a fun movie.