Pardon my analogy, but “Jurassic World” has been a monster hit at the box office. Despite its weaknesses, it ends up being as much fun as “King Kong” (1933 and 2005) and the recent “Godzilla” (2014).
To begin with, the special effects are sensational, and the dinosaurs provoke the same emotional reaction that was experienced in Steven Spielberg’s original “Jurassic Park” (1993). Once again, children visiting the now theme park are put in danger, and the film holds your interest despite the fact that you strongly suspect that they are going to avoid being treated as human appetizers.
As he proved in last year’s wonderful hit, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Chris Pratt holds his own as an iconoclastic employee of the theme park who has found a way to train four dreaded Velociraptors. Pratt is a rare actor who understands how to hold your attention, and he is genuinely funny even when his life is on the line.
Of course there is a villain, here played by Vincent D’Onofrio. He is a corporate security man full of arrogant suggestions that all go wrong, and you know that he is going to prove to be a tasty meal for one of the rampaging dinosaurs.
The film’s theme park reminds you of Disney World with live dinosaurs, and there are some harrowing moments when pterodactyls attack hysterical tourists. On the other hand, if you have ever had to endure the theme ride that constantly plays “It’s a Small World,” it is difficult to not fantasize about a dinosaur attacking one of the small boats just to break the monotony!
The film does have a fundamental weakness that you simply have to tolerate. Bryce Dallas Howard plays the female lead, a corporate shill dressed in a tight white outfit and 4-inch heels. While she tries to ignore the consequences of creating a voracious dinosaur through the use of experimental DNA, director Colin Trevorrow would have everyone believe that she is able to outrun dinosaurs through the jungle in her high heels.
Let me just say that rather than condemn this tawdry exploitation as an example of Hollywood sexism, I think it provides a breakthrough for all women participating in sports. After all, if you can outrun a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Manolo Blahnik shoes, isn’t it time that we tell professional female basketball and soccer players to discard tennis shoes?
My advice to all of you is to find a way to take a teenager if you are going to see “Jurassic World.” I took my 13-year-old granddaughter and my Saudi foreign exchange student, and they loved the film despite being forced to tell me to shut up when I made my observation about Howard’s magic shoes. To the extent that it matters, I’ve heard that phrase before.
As of June 23, there have been two great movies released this year. “Inside Out” joins “Mad Max: Fury Road” on that admirable list. Co-directed and written by Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen, it functions as a window into every 11-year-old girl’s life. It is a movie to be embraced by both men and women as it is inspiring from beginning to end. It is literally an adult animated-film by Pixar masquerading as a children’s movie.
As 11-year-old Riley is forced to endure the trauma of moving from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents, you see her world literally turned upside down. Faced with sleeping on the floor in a new home where furniture is yet to arrive, she misses old friends as she enters a school where everything seems foreign.
As Riley confronts her emotional reactions, the audience is transported to the control center inside of her brain where her individual emotions attempt to help her adjust. This is artistic genius at work, and you fluctuate from laughter to wiping tears from your cheeks.
While her emotions compete with each other, they are led by Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler. Although Joy is easy to see on a child’s face from the time they are born, other emotions start to play a role in the form of Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (the spectacularly nasty Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). A child feels all of these emotional reactions at times, and the strength of the film flows from the ability of Joy and Sadness to cooperate in helping a child to find the meaning of life.
This is an emotionally powerful film, centering on the heartbreaking reality that all memories begin to fade as time passes. You’d better have Kleenex handy when Riley’s childhood mystical friend, Bing Bong (Richard Kind), fades into the inevitable lost world. It’s as if you see Frodo forced to leave Earth and sail away with Gandolf into the unknown mist at the end of the fabulous “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (2001, 2002 and 2003).
It is here that the movie grabs your heart. From childhood through our adult years, we’ve all had wonderful experiences that have slowly disappeared. Beloved mothers and fathers have died along with a treasure trove of heartbreaking moments. As we all age, many friendships are reduced to pictures on bookshelves. Old lovers become mystical creatures while great legal experiences are reduced to funny moments to include in lectures at the yearly Bench Bar Conference. I hope you fight to remember, because I do.
Let me close with an easy prediction that this movie will win the Oscar in February for the Best Animated Film. In addition, make sure you get to the theater in time to see the short lead-in animated film “Lava.” Need I really say more when I predict that it will also challenge for an Oscar in the short film animated category?•
Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.