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July 7, 2017

Mega Mind (2010)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:38 pm

imageI know.  I know… the movie is an old one. I also know that I have not spelled the name as the producers spelled it, but I prefer this version.

What an interesting movie. I will be honest. I generally do not like the brand of comedy favoured by Will Farrell but this is one movie of his that I enjoyed. The reason is that it adopts an interesting trick that has been later followed in many other movies like Despicable Me, to quote only one example: it does not take itself very seriously and just provides a fun ride for you to go along with.

 

Consider this: An alien planet is being destroyed and two babies are saved in two spaceships – the two babies are all that survived from that planet. (This is not a logical movie so don’t ask why they did not send a bigger ship with more people or any of the hundred questions that may occur to you. Remember? Just go along for the ride). You would expect them to be identical in features etc, right? Wrong! One of them looks like a strong hunk, and is the superhero (called Metro Man). He is played by our own Hollywood Hunk Brad Pitt (ie after the baby grows up). The other baby is not strong in body, is blue with a bloated head and is not even good looking but a man with phenomenal mental powers. Since the shallow world of ours hated him and mistreated him almost from childhood, he turned into a Supervillain Mega Mind (Will Farrell)

 

They both reside in the same city. (Metro City, which if, of course, in America – where else?). Metro Mind is of course, adored and the city even opens a museum for him. Mega Mind has had enough. He gatecrashes into the opening ceremony, with the help of his assistant – well, it is a fish in a bowl bolted onto a robot’s body. As an aside, the assistant is called Minion. The most interesting thing is that Despicable Me (the original of the sequence) was released in 2010 and so was this movie. So is the name Minion chosen in both a true coincidence?

 

However, on with our tale. He came to get his revenge and lures Metro Man into a sealed lab by kidnapping Metro Man’s girlfriend Roxanne Ritchie (played by Tina Fay). He tries to destroy the entire museum and so kill Metro Man who has been his enemy and envy all his life but the stupid laser takes too long to heat up.  Just when he feared that Metro Man had escaped, Metro Man finds that the copper plating of the entire building prevents him from getting out and he gets burnt down to his skeleton. Roxanne escapes in the melee.

 

Mega Mind is thrilled. No one can save his victims in Metro City anymore. He has a free hand. But he finds that he has lost the will to torment. There is no fun in tormenting without a worthy opponent like, say, the Metro Man. It is sooo boring to be in charge of everything with nothing going wrong, no surprises whatever.  He mourns Metro Man’s death and goes to the museum to pay his respects. There he meets Roxanne (she did not see Mega Mind when he kidnapped her earlier) and posing as a curator of the museum, strikes up a friendship with her. Roxanne is bitter about “this Mega Mind” who destroyed Metro Man and hopes that a new hero will rise to take Metro Man’s place because ‘heroes are created, not born’. That gives Mega Mind a terrific idea. He uses Metro Man’s DNA to create a serum that will turn anyone into a super hero!

 

Meanwhile, Mega Mind finds Roxanne refreshing and begins to hope that he can leave the life of crime if there is a chance of a life with her. She is funny, charming and most amazingly, seems not to hate him! But he still needs to create a superhero with the serum before retiring.

 

When he is ready with it and pondering whom to turn to a super hero worthy of opposing, the serum accidentally is ingested by Hal Stewart, the most annoying photographic assistant of Roxanne, who has a crush on her to boot but is completely ignored by her. Mega Mind, seeing him ingest a serum, decides that he is The One and trains him (disguised as Space Dad).

 

When Minion leaves because he cannot comprehend that super villains wanting to be good people, and when Roxanne discovers who he really is and rejects him, the universe comes crashing down on Mega Mind and he goes on an evil rampage, true to his Super Villain form. He expects Titan to come to the rescue of the town but when he does not, goes to Titan’s home to find out why! Titan is bored of being good and wants to be a supervillain and almost kills Mega Mind when he protests.

 

Mega Mind remembers that copper was, so to speak,  Metro Man’s Kryptanite, and surrounds Titan with copper but it seems to have no effect on him. There is a new supervillain rampaging Metro City and there is no help at all to be found. He persuades Roxanne to take him to her ex boyfriend’s pod to see if they can glean any other clues to contain Titan when they discover a big twist regarding Metro Man.

 

The movie slowly makes you love Mega Mind and at the end, you rejoice when he finally vanquishes Titan and saves the city. (A small twist at the end can be revealed, though – he gets his own museum now!)

 

A lovely movie, well crafted, well animated, very intelligent and tugs all the right spots in your heart.

 

8/10

–  –  Krishna

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October 22, 2016

Book: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:06 am

This book shows why Roddy Doyle can justifiably claim to be one of the best chroniclers of life in Dublin as it is. This is one of his best books. He is known for his Barrytown Trilogy and also for image.jpg, all of these good books, but I think this takes the cake.

 

The mix of humour and pathos is a combination that the author uses expertly, moving you to burst out laughing one minute and have your heart strings tugged the next. Let us look at the story.

Kevin and Patrick Clerk (the ‘Paddy’ of the title)  are friends – they are young boys – and Kevin  has a little brother called Sinbad (Francis, really). They have teachers who are partial to some boys. Liam, another boy in class soiled himself one day.

 

Kevin and Patrick pretend people are chasing them and leave Sinbad behind. They try to put lighter fluid in his mouth and try to burn it to simulate the fire breathers. This has the classic feel of a small town Irish boy group trying out various stuff and is really in line with Roddy’s other great books. You are horrified at the casual cruelty of boys to boys but do recognize it as a feature of the seventies life in small towns all over the world.

 

Nice intro into the school and all the mischief the kids get up to. How the teachers treat them, how they play with the peeling paint in the portacabins, all of it is very entertaining and rings true at the same time.

Just small touches like how he is careful cleaning the house and how he hides sandwiches under the desk until the pile  grows so big that the ink bottle wobbles, how his dad gets mean because Sinbad will not eat his vegetables, how the Jesus in the picture “with his heart showing” has his head tilted ‘a bit like a kitten’ are all hilarious and interesting. A true kid’s perspective of life is what you get.

 

And who knew you can make a school medical examination so interesting? And the mix of deep religiosity with the childhood natural instinct of mischief make for lovely combinations.

 

The kids speculate that a couple in the neighbourhood are childless because “she ate them”.  They have races through neighbour’s carefully tended flower gardens. The object is to escape before they are caught but also make so much noise that the slowest of the group does get caught!

 

Lovely little pieces like the above are strewn all over the book. It is simply a pleasure to read.

 

Paddy’s attempts to not eat lettuce (quoting an African who ate a leafy vegetable and got a severe stomachache that, upon being operated, turned out to be lizards in the stomach hatched out of the eggs in the lettuce are scenes that make you laugh out loud. Also the game where the Lord punishes each with a painful poker strike in the back when they given themselves vulgar names – titties, mickey and the worst of all, fuck – is interesting.

 

There are heart wrenching scenes where the da and ma are fighting and he is very puzzled.

 

Ending is very touching too. A great read, all in all.

 

8/10

 

  • – Krishna

December 27, 2015

Book: The Internet Is A Playground by David Thorne

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:36 pm

imageHilarious real emails start off the book, with the now famous “I drew a spider in lieu of the $233 and odd that I owe you because I judge this to be of that value” email chain. Then there is a hilarious interchange about creating a logo for a new business that the founder expects to be the next Twitter.

Then it deteriorates to one liners from David’s family – his son’s utterances at various points lovingly collected and presented, for example. Then comes a tedious piece about monkeys which is not very humorous, nor very creative. With very little effort and imagination, one can write hundreds of these, and the author has written, literally, what seems to be hundreds of pointless musings.

 

And then David decides to publish all this junk into a book. It still would not fill a decent sized book and so what does he do? Decide to write just one or two sentences per page so that you get it to fill in enough pages for a book. Problem solved.

 

And the wise-ass comments on interminably long emails tend to get boring after a while.

 

The piece about the missing cat is mildly amusing but the one about the head lice is simply stupid.

 

And what about the “Internet” part in the title? Most of it is email correspondence. Probably made up. Does David think that Internet is all email? If it is because the contents of the book started off as a blog, that is a pure excuse for this title anyway.

 

Why do they all look made up? Because the insolent and stupid replies to their questions elicit unexpectedly puzzled responses from people trying to just do their job (impose fines, or collect electricity bills). In real life, the notes would have been ignored with just a warning that if he does not pay the fine, the services will be terminated or he would be evicted or whatever. Not interminable questions on why he has disguised the dog as a bear by putting a blanket on it or what a portal could be.

 

And incredibly, at the end of it all, they agree to waive the fees or verify meter reading or whatever David wants, without even his asking. This definitely could happen, in a juvenile mind’s daydreaming world. Chalk up another point for why I think it is all made up.

 

The entire book is filled with such frivolous babble. It may have worked on a website – not for me there either –  but not as a book, unless you are already a dedicated fan of David’s website.

 

Also reminds me of the 12 year old goofs in exams which you can see collected on the Internet. From the minds of a twelve year old, some of these may be really funny – because of the context. From an adult writer? Judge for yourself. Here is a sample : “ So then suns are really clouds of light? Yes, and then they rain sunshine”.

 

And a bit of autobiography where we are treated to all the details of David’s first ever trip to the United States, which is another piece in the same, boring, mode as the rest of the book.

 

It does not deserve more than 2/10

– – Krishna

October 5, 2012

Movie: Fifty Fifty or 50/50 (2011)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:06 pm

A nice movie regarding an average Joe called Adam Learner (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who goes to a doctor to check his back out (he had back pain for a few days) and learns that he has cancer. His whole world goes upside down. His friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) tries to cheer him up. This movie follows his adventures.

The story is told with sensitivity and humour but without much melodrama or slushy sentimentality. Adam’s reactions are totally credible: when told of his cancer, he first blanks out all the words from the doctor after the word ‘cancer’. His incredulous reaction is “But I don’t even smoke!”. His mom’s reaction on hearing it is also totally credible.

The friend is a happy go lucky fellow who tries to cheer him up. “Don’t worry, many celebrities have had cancer” reels off names including Patrick Swayze. Adam stops him by asking “Isn’t he dead?”

Kyle gets a brilliant idea that this cancer is a chick magnet and they should “use it” to get girls.

At the same time Adam’s struggles to come to terms with the fact that his life may soon end is also told very well. He researches and finds out that the chances of survival after a cancer is fifty percent. (Hence the title of the movie) He also finds that if the cancer metastasizes, the chances drop to less than 10%. He rants to his psychologist Katie (Anna Kendrick)  as to ‘what is the use of all this? So that you can tell your family how you helped your third patient and feel good about yourself?”

He befriends two other old men who are undergoing cancer treatment and their first reaction is “But you are so young!”44

The story telling is intelligent and natural; the end is logical and near perfect (in terms of his disease not the romantic ending).

The story has enough humour and natural feel to it that it is endearing. The reactions of the friend and the mother, and how Adam discovers that they both care in their own way is very touching.

The father seems to be the only artificial character. If there is a grouse I have about the movie, it is that the father is shown as a complete idiot, not just a man who has Alzheimer’s disease. (Unless I am totally mistaken about how that presents itself)

It is not the seat of the pants thriller that you see in Hollywood but very enjoyable, touching, very sensitive and sympathetic portrayal of a young man coming to terms with discovering that he has a serious illness. But told without cloying or maudlin sentimental mush.

Well done, and deserves a 7/10

— Krishna

 

 

April 26, 2012

Book: Summer’s Lease by John Mortimer

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:04 am

This is a comedy by John Mortimer, a well known British author who has written a series of books involving Rumpole and most of whose books have been serialized on BBC Television.

This story is about Molly Pergeter, a housewife in London, who goes to Tuscany, Italy to rent a villa for a few weeks’ vacation. She plans to go there with her husband Hugh, and her daughters Samantha, Henrietta and little Jacqueline. Her father, Haverford Downs, who is an old man into ribaldry and lewdness a lot, manages to gatecrash into the party using emotional blackmail. He is a writer in the local paper, and his column `Jottings’ is about to be axed by the Editor, even if he is oblivious to the fact.

Hugh, an attorney, has a mild crush on a previous client, Marcia Tobias and sees her for lunch often. Caught by his father-in-law in a mildly compromising position with Ms Tobias, he is in no position to vigorously object to Haverford joining in the party. Thus winning a moral victory, the extended family starts off for the vacation.

The castle Molly rented is called `La Felicita’ and belongs to a Buck and Sandra Kettering, and all arrangements have been made by letter. When Molly visited the castle, she found only the caretaker, Mr Fix-It, one William Fosdyke.

The family arrives into a little mystery, with Molly finding clues of marital discord. She is puzzled by explicit instructions left by the Ketterings on what kind of family should rent the castle (`Must have three daughters’) and by the sudden and inexplicable issues with water that all buildings seem to have.

She goes snooping and makes contact with neighbours – a Nancy Leadbetter, who happens to be an ex-Flame of Haverford, the huge gang of teenage school kids which include Chrissie Kettering, the daughter of the Kettering couple, a priest who befriends Haverford, the weird Prince Tosti-Castelnouvo, the old and friendly couple (the Tapscotts), the Ketterings themselves, and a lot of others.

The humour is dry and wry. The book beings with Molly, prospecting the castle for possible rent, encountering a snake on the way to the castle. Unfortunately, that is the only interesting thing that seems to happen for much of the book, until nearly the end. The attempt at mystery and humour together fails to work: it does not do justice to be a mystery novel (not enough clues, no tempo or suspense) nor it is very humorous (funny attempts to make you smile, with Haverford taking a leak in the garden and setting off an alarm is not the kind of humour that works very well).

I would even rate Blott on the Landscape by Tom Sharpe (See Review earlier ; I was not very impressed with that either) as a far more humorous book than this. I hear that Haverford is a typical Mortimer character – risqué old men seem to be a staple of John Mortimer.

The book does pick up towards the last 15 pages but by then you are too tired to feel any elation.

Let us say a 2/10

— Krishna

April 23, 2012

Book: Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:49 am

This is a book that intends to be both a humour book as well as a science fiction book but it fails miserably on both counts in my opinion.

The story is about Prince Teppic, who is the son of the current King Teppicymon XXVII of Djelibeiby, a remote desert kingdom. He is off to graduate as an Assassin in a far away Academy, when the King kicks the bucket  and he has to assume the throne. Against his and the late King’s better judgment, they try to build the biggest Pyramid ever, not realizing that they were tearing the very fabric of time.  (‘Wait… what?’ you say? It gets weirder. Please standby)

The story involves the all knowing minister Dios, who is really the power behind the throne, his assistant Koomi, Ptaclusp who is the builder of Pyramids and his sons Ptaclusp IIa and Ptaclusp IIb (Yes, really).

The science fiction part fails because the country looks and feels very much like Egypt, except that it is populated fully by Englishmen, thinking and talking and behaving like the English (that they are), but worshipping animist Gods with all kinds of animal heads and body parts (like the ancient Egyptians but in a much more skewed way). The humour part fails only because exactly two or three ideas do the rounds for ever, being repeated ad nauseum… For instance, a camel called You Bastard (No, I am not kidding) is, like all camels really are (according to the author),  a genius in maths. So you get endless variations of it thinking of bivariant equations and stuff like that when it appears to be peacefully chewing the cud… You get the idea.  It is funny the first time, sure. But after the twenty fourth time, you want to scream ‘I want a different idea! Please write something else funny“. And the endless repetitions of how, due to the time variation, people get cloned and appear four in a row (don’t ask)  gets to be very irritating as well.

This is the start of a Trilogy called The Gods Trilogy, but I guess I will not be reading the other two, as I am not exactly waiting with bated breath to find out what happens next.

In defense of the author, it may be just that I don’t get his kind of humour.

Please save your time and give this one a miss, if your taste in humour is anything similar to mine.

Let us say a 1/10

— Krishna

April 17, 2012

Book: Blott on the Landscape by Tom Sharpe

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:12 pm

Tom Sharpe is a humour writer in England, aspiring to the mantle of PG Wodehouse and Canada’s Stephen Leacock.

This story is about Sir Giles and Lady Maude,who are landed gentry in a quiet part of England, living in a castle overlooking the Gorge. Sir Giles cannot stand his wife and dreams of the day he can go free. He has made some wise investment in the castle, the disposal of which would net him a tidy sum.

A Godsend is the proposal of the government to run a road through the Gorge, which would net a nice compensation for Sir Giles. So what is people have to be displaced? He is the MP and the next election is not for a while yet.

The only fly in the ointment is the blaster Lady Maude and her devoted gardener Blott (a German by origin but a naturalized British citizen now) who want to fight it to the fullest to save the old pile of rocks (the castle).

Sir Gile’s diabolical plan to seem to oppose the Gorge while doing all he can to promote it, the trap he lays for Government Official Dundridge to dissuade him from reaching any other decision, the love that Blott holds Lady Maude in, the lengths he would go to help her – all make for interesting reading.

But a PG Wodehouse comparison? Not by a long shot. There are some amusing anecdotes but this cannot hold a candle in the situations that the Jeeves inventor can cook up, nor the comic genius of the conversations. He is not a match for Stephen Leacock’s wry humour either (Remember the Barber’s chair?)

But not bad… Overall, an OK kind of humour, sometimes contrived, but keeps your interest, even if it not always provokes a smile, let alone a chuckle.

All in all a 5/10

— Krishna

March 21, 2012

Book: William The Good by Richmal Crompton

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:30 am

A completely different genre, an old author, (The books were written in the 1920-30 timeframe, so old that even “The War”  that they refer to is the First World War!

This is a humorous book about a boy called William. At one point, long ago, he was the most famous fictional boy created and these books (yes, there are tons of them and I have read many, but I will review only one here as they are all the same in style and tone – this review gives the flavour of what all those books are like) were very very popular.

William is the quintessential boy who is ‘bad‘ notwithstanding the title of the book here. He was dirty, always getting into mischief and scraps, and was about always looking for adventure. He was the de facto head of the Outlaws, a group of likeminded four boys that included Ginger, Henry and Douglas besides William himself.

Peppered in the story are Robert, William’s elder brother, and Ginger’s elder brother, who both were always falling in and out of love every other week with a pretty girl (yes, the same one all the time, so that they had to fight for her attention) much to the disgust of the Outlaws, who cannot see any point in, first, going after a girl and second, actually fighting for her attention!

There were enough escaped lions, convicts, mental asylum patients, recuperating actors and others to supply an endless source of adventure for the Outlaws.

The stories are simple, and if you are in the right frame of mind and understand the personalities of the characters, quite funny in their way. But do not expect a P.G Wodehouse style storytelling fun. No large scale coincidences here, and the plots are quite simple in comparison.
Each chapter is a separate incident, so the whole book (and all the other books) are really like a collection of short stories.

A moderately good read, if you like these sort of things, and do not mind a bit of old style story telling (No there are no thee or thou in them, the language is modern enough but the style is old fashioned).

I will give it a 5/10

— Krishna

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