There is no guarantee that if you liked the first Cars movie back in 2006 you will like director John Lasseter’s efforts at reviving the automotive buddy flick. Lasseter, who directed Toy Story and Toy Story 2, arguably two of the best animated features to date, is sadly off form, battling with weak material that simply hasn’t the legs even for its relatively brisk 100 minutes. To get the story going, Cars 2 puts the focus on Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy), the doofus sidekick of Lightning McQueen, the red road racer voiced by Owen Wilson. Lots of international locations and the co-opting of some big names, including Michael Caine and Eddie Izzard, don’t do enough to make this anything more than a second-rate sequel.
Deeply underwhelming comedy starring Uma Thurman as Eliza, a mother of three, who is coping with the conventional problems of family life in New York. The child actors provide an element of spontaneity, but the adults, which include Anthony Edwards as the husband, and various New York stereotypes just seem to be playing bits out of other Big Apple-based domestic dramas. Thurman works hard, but her role offers her little material other than a vast array of harassed and flaky attitudes. The film, written and directed by Katherine Dieckmann, was released in 2009, and looks like filler in a bad week for new films.
Happy, Happy (Sykt lykkelig)
Dark Nordic humor is promised but not quite delivered in this ambitious feature debut by director Anne Sewitsky, who titillates by describing the film as about “infidelity, moose meat, white and coal-black lies, blowjobs and cottage cheese.” A seemingly perfect couple move into a house next door to a frustrated teacher, her possibly gay husband and adopted Ethiopian son. Race, sexuality, education and middle-class prejudice all get a bit of a working out, but the director seems uncertain what she really wants to say. The happy ending is unearned, and is welcome only as a relief from an interminably long 88 minutes of frenzied effort to find a comic muse.
The Prize (El premio)
Atmospheric drama about a child with a big secret to keep, the nature of which she does not fully understand. Set during Argentina’s Dirty War in the 1970s. The child, Cecilla, played by Paula Galinelli Hertzog, finds herself in all kinds of bother when a first draft of a school essay about “Our Army” causes panic in her family, and a rewritten one wins a prize. The authoritarian nature of the regime and its effects on a child are well observed, but the pacing is too slow and the narrative too tenuous to draw the audience into the director’s private nightmare.