SING (Garth Jennings, Christophe Lourdelet, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sing:

1. When the Illumination logo showed up and the Minions started singing, I suddenly wished that they were part of the movie. What kind of animals (critters?) were they, anyway? At least it made me excited for their next outing. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be as bad as the last one.

2. I really liked the zippy opening montage introducing all the animals and their current dilemmas. Most of the characters here reminded me so much of Zootopia (like they existed in a parallel cinema universe). I wish their story arcs (young man going against his father’s dream for him, housewife wanting to fulfill her passion, teenage girl experiencing her first heartbreak, etc.) were more developed though, because they represented majority of us and our insecurities.

3. Buster Moon’s (Matthew McConaughey) love for theater at a young age reminded me of my early days watching Fernando Poe, Jr. (and the occasional Sharon Cuneta) films in Alabang Twin Cinema. My grandmother would always drag me to see Da King decimate an entire army of goons with just a .45 (without ever reloading bullets!).

Parents, it’s never too late to expose your kids to the arts.

4. Any American Idol fan would be able to relate to the entire audition process and competition rules (at one point, Buster dictated the songs that he wanted the contestants to perform; hello Simon Fuller controversy!). The selection of songs used here ranged from the classics (Hallelujah, also one of the most-performed songs on AI) to the current pop songs (Crazy in Love, Bad Romance, Firework, Stay With Me).

My favorite auditionees were the Asereje spiders and the Japanese little foxes girl group. They made me cheer from my seat out of nostalgia.

5. The movie occasionally made fun of one character with a disability, an elderly iguana with a glass eye. I laughed out really loud when the said eye fell out of its socket and bounced on the keyboard, resulting to an error on the actual cash prize for the competition. Would I go straight to hell for that?

6. Although the story was only fairly decent, most of the voice performances were really strong. Aside from McConaughey singing Call Me Maybe, it was a delight to hear Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth McFarlane and Taron Egerton belting their hearts out.

My favorite though was Tori Kelly as Meena, a shy elephant with stage fright. When she had her shining moment performing Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing, I was cheering along with the rest of the animal crowd.

7. The squid light show looked enchanting but weirdly enough also made me crave for Mesa’s Baby Squid Adobo in its own ink.

8. As a person with stage fright myself (I forgot a huge chunk of my speech during a Talumpatian in grade school and cried onstage), I would always remember what Buster said to Meena, “Don’t let fear stop you from doing the thing you love.” Noted and noted.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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KUNG FU PANDA 3 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni, 2016)

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My notes on Kung Fu Panda 3:

1. Do any of you still remember that scene in Maalaala Mo Kaya the Movie when Chin Chin Gutierrez came back from Japan to reclaim her son from sister Aiko Melendez, who took care of him while she fulfilled her role as the best pabayang ina? In that highly-charged confrontation, Aiko clutched at her blouse and wailed, “Iniluwal mo lang siya, Marissa! Ako ang bumuhay sa kanya!”, then cried even more when Ruffa Gutierrez stole her Manila Film Festival Best Actress Award via the Take It, Take It Scam. (Why do these Gutierrezes love taking things from her? Also, RIP Viveka Babajee.)

2. I was expecting that same level of emotions when Po’s long-lost father came back and took him away from good ‘ol Mr. Ping, so I was a bit disappointed that there was no telenovela acting involved here. I could just imagine how hard it would have been for a goose to balance his work in the noodle factory and raise a species not his own. And for the real father to just barge in their lives and take away their shared happiness, that was just unacceptable. Wait, why did I care so much? Besides, having two dads seem to be the new normal so I should stop complaining.

3. The animation was impressive to say the least. It had been one of the strongest points of this franchise (even in part 2, a movie I didn’t particularly like). The watercolor feel just went really well with the overall tone of the movie and delivered the promised cheeky fun (I was laughing as soon as I saw Po on the Dreamworks logo) and gorgeous kung fu sequences.

4. One character finally asked the question that had been bugging me after all my years of watching those Saturday afternoon Chinese movies on TV, “Do we have to strike a pose every time we land?”.

5. Dreamworks hit the jackpot with that panda village. It could be their own Minions. Seriously, they could create a spin-off for any of those distinct, lovable characters. Who wouldn’t want to see them in an adventure where they wouldn’t walk, but just roll? My favorite one would have to be that smirking panda in need of dental surgery.

6. I would always have a soft spot for characters that were fat or had asthma. When Po asked, “Do you have panda asthma, too? Does it run in the family?”, I just adored him even more.

7. Words of wisdom from Master Shifu: “If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now.” Whoaaaaahh! Skidoosh!!

Rating: ★★★★☆