March 26, 2013

A Talking Cat!?! (2013)


“Mornin’, Sam.”
“Mornin’, Ralph.”
“Listen, Sam, we’ve done great with our line of Z-grade, homoerotic horror films, but I think we need to broaden our audience. Let’s make a family-friendly kids film.”
“Sure. What’d you have in mind?”
A Talking Cat!?!
“A talking cat? Where?!”
“No, no – let’s make a movie about a talking cat.”
“You had me at ‘let’s make a movie.’”
“By the way, A Talking Cat!?! is also the title.”
“We’re going to call a movie about a talking cat A Talking Cat!?!
“Yep. That’s two exclamation points and one question mark. To emphasize the wackiness.”
“How about two question marks and one exclamation point?”
“C’mon, Sam, that’d just look stupid.”
“Don’t you think we should try and call it something remotely clever or cute, like Cat Got Your Tongue or Kitten Caboodle? Y’know, so it looks like we put an ounce of thought behind it?”
“Nah. A Talking Cat!?! is direct, honest. Parents look for that in movies for their kids.”
“So what’s the plot?”
“I dunno. Something simple that’s been done a hundred times over. How about two families who need to be brought together for some happy-ending reason…but with a talking cat.”
“Works for me. What about the cast?”
“Get a handful of some marginally competent teen actors. It doesn’t matter if they can actually act…kids who watch this won’t care.”
“We also need some actors to keep the parents’ attention. Get some young actors from the ‘70s to play the adults. For the dad, let’s get the kid from Sigmund and the Sea Monster.”
“You mean Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.”
“No, I think it’s Monster.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s Monsters. Y’know, a quick Google search could settle this…”
“No time. Just make sure it’s correct on the box.”
“You got it.”
“For the female lead, get that girl-next-door cutie from Meatballs. The blonde.”
“Yeah, she was cute. Those eyes. That smile…”
“Focus, Sam.”
“Hey, speaking of Meatballs, you think Bill Murray would do a cameo?”
[blank stare]
“Right. Never mind.”
“Finally, we need someone to voice the cat. And that someone is Eric Roberts.”
“Eric Roberts?”
“Yeah. We can get him, cheap. He owes us for not talking about that thing…you know…”
“Oh yeah…that thing…”
“Mmm-hmm. But don’t have him talk like a fun-loving cat. Have him talk kinda like a smarmy robot. Kids love robots.”
“A smarmy…robot…”
“And make sure his voiceover sounds good. Whatever you do, don’t make it sound like he recorded his lines using a rolled-up paper megaphone while standing in a large bathroom.”
“Question: How will we make the cat’s mouth move without spending a fortune?”
“No sweat. My nephew’s a whiz with Microsoft Paint. I’ll buy him a six-pack of Red Bull, and he’ll make us an animated black hole for the cat’s mouth. In no way will it look like a pulsating black diamond with complete disregard to the actual words Roberts is saying.”
“Also, work the story so the cat can only talk to each human once. It’ll cut down on the cost of the effects.”
“Every penny counts, Sam.”
“Uh-huh. Well, what about a director? Who’s gonna helm this masterpiece?”
“Let’s get David to do it.”
“David DeCoteau, the guy who runs this place?”
“Yeah. He got his start with Roger Corman, so some of that has to rub off, right? At least we know he’ll bring it in under budget.”
“After directing stuff like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama and Test Tube Teens From the Year 2000, a flick about a talking cat should be no-brainer.”
“Exactly. Oh, and he might use the pseudonym Mary Crawford. It’s his…thing.”
“I wish I had a ‘thing.’ Should we scout locations?”
“Nah. Let’s just use the same mansion from our 1313 films.”
“That was easy. What about the music score?”
“Let’s get the guy who scores all the other films for Rapid Heart: Henry Mancini!”
“Henry Mancini’s dead. I think you mean Harry Manfredini.”
“Yeah, that guy. Did you know he scored all the Friday the 13th movies?”
“Yes. Yes he did.”
“For the trailer, here’s what I’m thinking…”

“Um, okay.”
“Make sure to use Comic Sans for the title cards. It screams ‘professional filmmaking.’”
“Plus, the kids will love it.”
“Exactly. And make sure you show the cat’s butthole in close-up at least once. Kids will think that’s hysterical and they’ll talk about it for days.”


“Sam! Look at the buzz for A Talking Cat!?! It’s a hit!”
“Uh, don’t know if those reviews qualify it as a hit: ‘I swear my 10-year-old could make this film on her video camera.’ ‘The cat's acting is all thanks to a laser pointer that is clearly visible.’ ‘This is awesomely bad.’ Ralph, did we really screen A Talking Cat!?! at the Wisconsin Transgender Film Extravaganza?”
“Who cares? The point is, people are talking about this film: on the world wide web, the blogosphere, even in those social mediums. You know what I’m thinking?”
“No. What?”
“Two words: Talking. Pony.”

“Oh God.”
“I smell franchiiiiiise!!!”
“I sure smell something.”


What did FilmBoy think?
Recently, FilmBoy’s been a bit of a connoisseur of bad movies. So it means a lot when he says of A Talking Cat!?!, “It makes Ratatoing look like a masterpiece.”

 Is it suitable for your kids?
Aside from its inherent existence, there’s nothing inappropriate with A Talking Cat!?! Two teen siblings exchange insults such as “shut it,” “I hate you,” “loser,” and “nerd,” but that’s about it.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
If she does, tell her some of these quotes from my FilmMother. She told FilmBoy, “Your brother’s the smartest one in this family: He’s not watching this.” Then at the end, she turned to me and said, “I don’t think I’m ever gonna forgive you for that one.” And she’s a cat person.

Oh my God...that's what our dailies look like!?!

A Talking Cat!?!
* Director: David DeCoteau (as Mary Crawford)
* Screenwriter: Andrew Helm
* Stars: Kristine DeBell, Johnny Whitaker, Eric Roberts, Alison Sieke
* MPAA Rating: N/A

Rent A Talking Cat!?! from Netflix >>

March 22, 2013

Win The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack!

YOU COULD WIN a copy of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, featuring a Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy of the film, plus many special features.

Synopsis: J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an amazing quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Sorcerers.

How to Enter:
  • Comment on this post by March 29, 2013. You must provide a way for me to contact you if you win. For example, your e-mail address must be available on the page/site that's linked to your name ("Bob said..."), or include your e-mail or Twitter handle in your comment.
  • I will then pick one comment at random and post the winner.
  • Prize is available to United States mailing addresses only. (No P.O. Boxes, please.)

Good luck!

After you enter, check out The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blog App below, featuring:

  • Are You 100% Hobbit? – Take the quiz to find out just how much of a Hobbit you are.
  • Creatures of Middle-Earth – Hobbits, Elves, and Dwarves are just a few of the magical creatures that call Middle-earth home. Check out vital stats and unique features about each one.
  • The Hobbit Handbook – This downloadable handbook includes everything you need to throw the best viewing party in Middle-earth right at home.

March 19, 2013

Interview with Rise of the Guardians director
Peter Ramsey

FOLLOWING THE RECENT home video release of DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians – in which Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost come together to battle Pitch, aka The Boogeyman – I spoke with the film’s director, Peter Ramsey.

Before joining DreamWorks Animation in 2004, Ramsey amassed an impressive resume as a storyboard artist and illustrator for live action films, including Minority Report, Cast Away, Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, Men in Black, and Backdraft. He was also second unit director on films such as Godzilla, Higher Learning, and Poetic Justice. Ramsey spoke about the impact of Guardians on adults as well as children, the importance of nailing Jack Frost’s character, how he got his start in animation, and what’s next for him and the Guardians.

Congratulations on the home video release of Rise of the Guardians.
Thank you very much.

The film does a tremendous job of stressing the importance of children to believe in the Guardians. Do you feel it gives adults a chance to relive that childhood feeling of believing as well?
If all the people who’ve spoken to me after tons and tons of screenings is any indication, then yeah, I think so. I can’t tell you how many people have come up and said, “You brought me back to my childhood,” “You made me feel like a kid again,” and variations on that idea. I knew going in to this project that dealing with and embracing these characters might have that effect, but I was kind of surprised by how much it actually did.

In a way, the film really focuses on one character’s rise to the level of Guardian: that of Jack Frost. Was his journey always the focus of the film, even in the early development stages?
It took a while from the time Bill [Joyce, author of the Guardians of Childhood books] first brought us the project to get to that point. When I came on, I felt pretty strongly that we needed one character to track through this incredible fantasy world. You need to have an emotionally relatable idea that you can hold on to in the midst of Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, and all that stuff. If you have one character you can experience it with, who can be the audience’s eyes…that’s really important. Pretty early on, we all felt we should do that through Jack.

Jack is introduced to many aspects of the Guardians’ world at the same time as the audience. Do you see him as a sort of surrogate for the viewer?
Oh, yeah. Very much so. In the beginning of the film, it’s pretty clear he’s not up to the level of these legendary figures. He’s just a normal kid who wants to go out and have fun. He doesn’t want a lot of responsibilities, yet he has questions about his place in the world. All of that makes him a pretty good audience surrogate.

The film also does a great job of establishing a truly challenging villain in Pitch. He really embodies the classic animated villain: He's scary, sinister, condescending, resentful, smart, and even a bit of a sociopath when trying to convince Jack to join him.
Yeah, exactly. In the way that the Guardians each have centers that are positive things, Pitch’s center is fear. We modeled that fear after what kids fear in the real world, how they react to it, and what fear does in terms of limiting or preventing you from living a full, rich life. Kids deal with fear every day of their lives. They know it’s real, they know it exists, and they look for ways to deal with it. To not take the “fear” part of the story as seriously as the “wonder and hope” part felt like a cop-out. A story like this is only as good as its villain. If [the Guardians] don’t have something real to push against, their stature is going to be diminished as well. So we dealt with the theme that while there’s fear in the world, there are also forces out there that are going to help you deal with it if you open up to them.

With Pitch and Jack Frost, they’re literally the black and white of the situation – the dark and light sides of the same personality.
Yes, that was another important point for me. We have Jack Frost, who has these powers and can do amazing things, but he doesn’t have a context or a real picture of who he is. He’s ultimately shown that he has a choice: You come into the world, you have things to offer, but it’s up to you which path you’re going to take. So we dramatized that between Jack and Pitch to demonstrate that, once upon a time, had Pitch done things differently, he could have accomplished what Jack does. We tried to keep the story clear yet entertaining, but there’s a lot of stuff working underneath in the same way that the old fairy tales do.

You started out working on live action films, then moved to animation with Shark Tale in 2004. What prompted that transition?
Actually, the film [where I started in animation] was Shrek the Third. I only worked a little bit on Shark Tale, maybe a week, while I worked on Shrek the Third for about a year. What happened was, in my live-action days, I worked with a producer named Aron Warner on a movie called Tank Girl. He went on to produce the Shrek films. Several years [after Tank Girl], he called me and asked if I’d be interested in animation. He said I should check out [DreamWorks], that they could use a guy with live-action experience. So I checked it out, I liked what I saw, and I starting learning the craft of animation. It was the beginning of the journey that got me in the director’s seat for Guardians.

Rise of the Guardians was your first time directing a feature film for a major animation studio. So, no pressure, right?
[laughs] Yeah, right [sarcastically].

Prior to directing, you worked on dozens of films as a storyboard artist and illustrator. How far were you able to immerse yourself in the storyboarding for Rise of the Guardians while still dedicating yourself to the responsibilities as director?
Not as much as I would have liked, but I had a pretty good dose of it early on when we first began digging into the story. It was a very small story team. I did some of the initial storyboarding just to get the ideas rolling and the feel of the film. For the first four or five months, it was just me and Hamish Grieve, who’s head of the story department [at DreamWorks Animation]. But later on, there were spots where I would come back in, board something myself, and take it to the layout team and the animators. I definitely jumped in wherever I could.

My family watched Rise of the Guardians together for the first time last week, We all enjoyed it immensely, then my nine-year-old son ran off with it and immediately watched it two more times.
Oh, wow. That’s great! That’s so cool.

So when I asked him if he’d like to ask you a question, he instantly blurted out, “Will there be a sequel?”
[laughs] We all want one. We’ll have to wait and see what the moon says.

In the meantime, what’s next for you?
I’m trying to figure that out. I’ve got a couple of projects I’m thinking about, but it’s all in the very early stages. We only finished Guardians at the end of October, then it was three straight months of press, publicity, and awards season. It’s only been within the past month that I’ve been able to actually stop working on it. I’m talking to a bunch of different people. Nothing firm or definite yet, but that’s kind of nice.

Thanks for taking time to speak with me today.
Thank you. I’m so happy your son enjoyed the film. Tell him from me.

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

What is your center?

That’s the question posed by the imaginative and inspiring Rise of the Guardians, where Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Rango’s Isla Fisher), and the Sandman try to recruit the reluctant, wayward Jack Frost (Chris Pine) to join them in the fight against Pitch Black (Jude Law), a malicious spirit determined to take over the world and destroy the innocent beliefs and dreams of children.

Granted, the idea of Santa Claus as a Russian émigré with tattooed forearms, or a six-foot Easter Bunny who wields boomerangs and an Aussie accent, is an acquired taste. But director Peter Ramsey soon puts those concerns to rest by giving us deep, fleshed-out characters to believe in without having to delve into their origins.

Our guide to this world is the apprehensive Jack Frost, as we follow his quest and internal struggle to determine if he has what it takes to become a Guardian – in other words, to stop making mischief and recognize his true calling.

What’s at stake here, as Pitch is quite aware, is that if kids don’t believe in the Guardians, they will cease to exist. With the help of a young boy named Jamie (Dakota Goyo) as their unwavering believer, our heroes attempt to prove that even the scariest of boogeymen is no match for the bravery and beliefs of children.

The film features enthralling, breathtaking animation in which Ramsey and his team take full advantage of the 3D without going overboard or making it seem like a retro-fit. The battles between the Guardians and Pitch’s army of nightmare creatures are truly amazing, including a show-stopping finale involving more characters than you can shake a freezing staff at.

With Rise of the Guardians, it’s another crowning achievement for DreamWorks Animation (How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda 2) as they pull even further ahead of Pixar and its recent lackluster offerings (Cars 2, Brave).

If you didn’t experience Rise of the Guardians in theaters, here’s your chance to see what an amazing film you missed. Your kids will believe. And so will you.


What did FilmBoy think?
He had high hopes going in to Rise of the Guardians. His verdict? “It was even better than I thought it would be.” In fact, after our whole family watched it, he ran off with the disc and immediately watched it two more times. Can you say “ringing endorsement?”

Is it suitable for your kids?
Rise of the Guardians is rated PG for “thematic elements and some mildly scary action.” The idea of Pitch turning kids’ dreams into nightmares may be scary for very young children. Pitch kidnaps Tooth’s fairies and later threatens to crush one of them in his hand. Santa wields two large swords when doling battle with Pitch’s army. One of the Guardians appears to be destroyed by Pitch. Jack’s actions inadvertently cancel Easter. Jack’s backstory (shown in flashback) involves him drowning after falling through the ice on a lake while rescuing his little sister. The Tooth Fairy (ironically and comically) knocks out one of Pitch’s teeth. There’s no inappropriate language, aside from the Easter Bunny’s occasional use of the Aussie adjective “bloody” and Pitch tells the Easter Bunny to “go suck an egg.”

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Yes. Rise of the Guardians is full of tremendous storytelling, amazing animation, and the theme of keeping children’s beliefs alive. Make it essential viewing for Family Movie Night.

Rise of the Guardians
* Director: Peter Ramsey
* Screenwriter: David Lindsay-Abaire
* Stars: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo
* MPAA Rating: PG

Rent Rise of the Guardians from Netflix >>

March 11, 2013

Win a DVD of the new horror film Dark Feed!

YOU COULD WIN a copy of Dark Feed, the new horror film from the writers of John Carpenter's The Ward, available on DVD, digital download, and video on demand March 19.

Synopsis: A film crew moves to an abandoned psychiatric hospital with a shadowy past to shoot a low-budget horror film. The late nights and lack of sleep begin to take a toll, and the longer this crew works, the more the leaky, wet building seems to be coming back to life, feeding off its new inhabitants. As the shoot wears on, members of the crew exhibit increasingly strange behavior, making those who are still sane realize they need to get out of this place before they too succumb to the building’s infectious hold. The only problem: The old hospital is not ready to let them go.

How to Enter:
  • Comment on this post by March 17, 2013. You must provide a way for me to contact you if you win. For example, your e-mail address must be available on the page/site that's linked to your name ("Bob said..."), or include your e-mail or Twitter handle in your comment.
  • I will then pick one comment at random and post the winner.
  • Prize is available to United States mailing addresses only. (No P.O. Boxes, please.)

Good luck!

Official trailer:

Congrats to the winner of the Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray/DVD Gift Pack!


The winner is...


Thanks to everyone who entered the contest!

March 4, 2013

Win a Blu-ray/DVD Gift Pack of Rise of the Guardians!

JUST IN TIME FOR EASTER BASKETS: You could win a copy of the Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray/DVD Gift Pack, featuring two hopping toy eggs inspired by the film!

Synopsis: In this adventure from DreamWorks Animation, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost come together to battle Pitch, a malicious spirit determined to take over the world and destroy the innocent beliefs and dreams of children. 

How to Enter:
  • Comment on this post by March 10, 2013. You must provide a way for me to contact you if you win. For example, your e-mail address must be available on the page/site that's linked to your name ("Bob said..."), or include your e-mail or Twitter handle in your comment.
  •  I will then pick one comment at random and post the winner.
  • Prize is available to United States mailing addresses only. (No P.O. Boxes, please.)
Good luck!


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