Animated fantasy adventures are standard movie fare for family audiences. Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox teamed up to produce the colorful “Rio” and very successful “Ice Age” films. Along with director Chris Wedge, they turn up the production values in the lush visual feast of “Epic.”
A hidden race of tiny people live in a beautiful enchanted forest. Brave leafmen ride on the backs of hummingbirds to patrol and protect their woodland. Their idyllic world is threatened by the invasion of nasty Boggans bent on destroying nature’s bounty. The bad guys ride on crows with rats and bats as their allies. Stunning animation brings both sides to life.
It’s a classic story of Good versus Evil that borrows from many other films. Aspects of “Alice in Wonderland” are obvious when magic shrinks a teenage girl down to the size of the leafmen. She enters the fray to defend the tiny ecosystem like a PG-rated “Avatar.” Comic talking animals as sidekicks to the heroes come straight from the “Shrek” series.
It may be derivative, but it’s a whole lot of exuberant family fun extolling the virtues of friendship, honor and responsibility.
Hungover, for real
Don’t believe the hype — or the hope — that “The Hangover Part III” is as entertaining as its predecessors. Please, I’ve had real hangovers that were more fun.
Reunited for more misadventures, the Wolfpack of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis end up tangled in a rambling plot. No more side-splitting delights in men behaving badly until the final credits begin to roll.
Until that point, it’s just men being predictably unlucky.
An ill-advised ride down OC’s 73 Freeway sets off a chain of events and my eternal embarrassment for the writers. The biggest joke is that we’d think it was even remotely funny.
Kidnappings, break-ins, chases, mistreated animals, hookers and Vegas penthouses all factor into this total waste of time. Even the ubiquitous Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who now carries most of the film, wears out his welcome.
I waited patiently for laughs that wouldn’t come. Cooper and Helms go through the motions of looking aghast at Galifianakis’ erratic, self-indulgent behavior. The adorable Melissa McCarthy brings a much-needed spark in her brief scenes, but too little too late.
This series has made careers and made millions with its gross-out humor, but now it’s like one of those “Saturday Night Live” skits that doesn’t know when to quit.
And please, no more naked Mr. Chow. Ever.
JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender’s office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.