Goof Troop

In my last entry, I talked about a pretty serious trio of movies. They were all good, but none of them could be accused of being a bundle of laughs. Let's switch it up today, and talk about a trio of movies meant to tickle the funny bone. How successful were they? Read on!

The first was the new Pixar movie, Finding Dory. Once I finally get around to seeing The Good Dinosaur, I'll have to put them into the Rank and File project, but for now, let's just consider it on its own. Aside from shifting its focus from Marlin to Dory, Finding Dory has pretty much the same rhythm as Finding Nemo. Character sets off on a personal quest and is pursued across the ocean by concerned friends/family, all of whom have adventures along the way. Though the new movie borrows heavily from the old, it doesn't mean it worked just as well. Ellen DeGeneres is as winning as ever as the unfortunate fish with short-term memory problems, but the side characters aren't as compelling, and there are too many scenes that take place far from the aquatic atmosphere we've all come to love. A scene on a crowded highway is particularly egregious in its out-of-placeness. That's not to say it was a bad movie; it was perfectly enjoyable, and Sigourney Weaver's cameo was particularly awesome. But sequels often don't measure up to their predecessors, and this one is no exception.

Wanna hear about a sequel that does measure up? It's called Pee-Wee's Big Holiday. OK, maybe "sequel" is a stretch, since the character of Pee-Wee in this movie doesn't seem to have any connection with the Pee-Wee of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Still, it's essentially the same structure. In this universe, Pee-Wee is a beloved member of a small town community, who has never ventured outside his own small corner of the world, and doesn't feel any particular need to. That all changes when charismatic actor Joe Manganiello stops by for a milkshake and invites Pee-Wee to his upcoming birthday party in New York. Pee-Wee sets off on a road trip, and encounters all kinds of odd sorts, from a farmer with nine love-starved daughters to a trio of leonine bank robbers who can't help but be charmed by him to an aviatrix who's better at small talk than at staying aloft. I couldn't stop giggling throughout this whole movie. Paul Reubens' sense of childlike humor is still a delight, and every actor in this movie is totally game to share in the silliness.

OK, that brings us to the final movie, about which more internet ink has been spilled than every other film of the year combined. I'll avoid retreading all of the hubbub about the new Ghostbusters and just concentrate on the movie itself. It's funny. Good night, everyone!

Fine, I suppose I owe you more than that. Reboots of classics are always a challenge, and this update doesn't come close to capturing the hilarity and chemistry that the 1984 movie does. It's got structural issues, and there are parts that drag. Rating it PG-13 was good for getting families in the door, but it also meant that actors like Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig couldn't cut loose as much as they usually do. That said, I laughed plenty, which is all I can really ask from a comedy, right? Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones all have a chance to show off their comedic chops, with Wiig somewhat unfortunately relegated to the straight-woman role. Flipping the gender dynamic by casting Chris Hemsworth as a dumb himbo receptionist was a real treat, and most of the cameos by original cast members were cute (Sigourney Weaver was still better in Finding Dory, though). Was this a genius piece of cinema destined to grace the Hall of Fame forever? No. Was it a dumpster fire that ruined anyone's childhood? No. Sorry to disappoint anyone in this culture of thinking everything is either the best or worst thing ever, but Ghostbusters is a perfectly capable, middle-of-the-road comedy. I'm guessing nobody's going to write a thinkpiece with that title, but it doesn't make it any less true.

Finding Dory: B
Pee-Wee's Big Holiday: A
Ghostbusters (2016): B


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