Epic – 2013

Director Chris Wedge
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Christoph Walz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler
Written by William Joyce based on his book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs

In the end, I really expected nothing from this film, so I did not leave disappointed.  Epic is the kind of film that lesser storytellers would have turned into a diatribe about going green, lessening your carbon footprint and such.  Most of us would know that type of film as Ferngully, according to my wife.  Thankfully, I never saw it.  I almost never saw this one, either, as I was fighting sleep from the get-go.  My girls fighting over popcorn and an Icee.  It made me wonder: is 10 and 7 too old to make one share a large drink?  And, oh yeah, there is a movie happening…

There is a wacky scientist father (Sudeikis) who believes he’s finally discovered proof that little men are riding birds in his forest.  He has a daughter (Seyfried), who recently lost her mother.  Her mother had left the father.  Apparently she did not believe in the little men riding the birds.  The daughter, M.K., is leaning towards her mother’s line of thought.

Of course this has to change, and through a sequence of events that seem more like plot contrivances than magic, she is made into one of the smaller people by a queen (Knowles) who is on her way out of the scene.  Now she has to babysit a soon to be budding flower until is opens, producing the replacement for the queen.  Along with the bud are a slug (Ansari) and a snail (O’Dowd).  They provide comic relief that truly is quite funny, especially in Ansari’s case.  Every time I experience Ansari, I feel like I need to see (or hear) him more.  And his cousin, Harris.

The little people seem to be mostly warriors.  There are those who make everything come to life, lead by Knowles’ Queen Tara, along with Ronin (Farrell) and Nod (Hutcherson).  The other guys, of course, are big fans of decay.  Each side seems intent to have only their side prevail, which of course flies in the face of what we know about the 4 seasons.  The two things work in convert with one another, in a symbiotic relationship.  This should matter most when my girls are taking biology, I would guess.  Nonetheless, the relationship brought to mind this song, which just would not leave for the longest time, as I heard the decay king (Walz) just kept prattling about his need to take over:

Around this time, El started moving strategically about the theater.  At first my heart leapt, because I did not want to risk the chance that she’d disturb anyone else.  The theater was only 1/3 full and there was no one in her immediate vicinity.  She played on the bars immediately in front of her chair.  There was no one in the row next to her, and she was not flailing about, so again I let her go.

Em, meanwhile, was immersed in what she was watching.  She curled up and watched as if nothing could tear her eyes from the screen.  As the band of rugged warriors and brave bugs advanced across the screen working their way towards the inevitable happy ending, she agonized with every challenge, and exhilarated with every triumph.   This movie, of course, had been made for her imagination.  My imagination, of course, was lost in the perfect cycle of growth and decay.

After this, El, still watching the movie, took a few dance steps in the direction of the screen.  She seemed just as enthralled as her sister.  She just had to be doing something with the other 90% of her brain, apparently.  So the movie appealed to her, kind of.

Is this a good movie for kids?  It depends on one’s perspective.  There is very little in the way of the idiotic preaching that destroyed The Lorax.  On the other hand, the message that is given, that you are either for life, or you are for decay, pushes an ignorant point of view.  Are they saving the idea that life and decay must work together for a potential second movie?  I am not sure.  It just seems silly to suggest to the young sponges out there that the green stuff is the only thing good seems a little short-sighted.  It is prettier though.

The vocal work is distinguished without being annoying.  The animation walks the border between Rio and Barbie’s Princess and the Popstar.  The stuff pertaining to nature is exquisite.  When it comes to M.K.’s scientist dad and Ronin, the work is rather bland.

If you want to kill an afternoon, but don’t want to turn your kids into Greener zombies, this one will do.  Don’t expect anything to last through their adolescence, however.  The girls were entertained, on their own terms, and neither of them felt the need to preach afterword.

(***1/2 out of *****)

Em’s review:

I liked the movie.  If I were to give it a rating, it would be ****1/2, or maybe a **** rating.  The thing I didn’t like about it was the Dad.  He was a little goofy looking.  I liked the slug and snail.  They were funny and gross at the same time.  I liked that at the end of the movie, when the snail was trying to be a leafman, the girl grabbed his bird.  Then he said “Hey!”

El’s review: Remember when the King (she means Ronin) says, “You’re with the slugs” and Nod said “Gross.”  Then the slugs said, “Who are you calling gross?”

CPE: So did you like the movie?  (El grins)  What would you give it?  5 Stars?

El: How did you know what I would give it.

CPE: Just a wild guess.

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