Dalton Ross on CGI kids’ movies: All the same, right?
The Glutton. As in ”glutton for punishment.” That’s me. (And perhaps, by extension, you, for reading this mess.) Every Wednesday I’ll be popping by with a column, and seeing as how this is the very first installment, that makes you a charter subscriber! In any event, welcome to the pop-culture carousel, ladies and gentlemen. Round and round it goes; where it stops, nobody knows. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m writing the damn thing, so I have a pretty good idea of what I’m gonna touch on, but the point is, this is a little space — cyberspace, if you will — where I’ll wax not-so-poetic about some things that either deserve waxing or should be waxed. Intros aren’t really my forté, so let’s just get to it, shall we?
Speaking of being a glutton for punishment: I took my 5-year-old son, Dale, to a birthday movie party this weekend. The movie in question was Ice Age: The Meltdown (or, the movie formerly known as Ice Age 2). Now, I actually kinda liked the first Ice Age, but I gotta tell you, this new one just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was because there was an extended discussion about woolly-mammoth sex (try explaining that to a kindergartner). Or maybe it was because it is the exact same movie as the first Ice Age, and practically every other CGI kids’ film ever made. It took me a few years (I’m a little slow), but I finally realized that all of these movies are identical. Seriously, they all involve a group of animals (or animal-looking toys or monsters) on a journey of some sort, either to rescue someone who has left or been captured (Finding Nemo, Shrek, Toy Story 1 & 2, Madagascar) or to return some damn baby to its rightful owner (Monsters Inc., Ice Age). Along the way, the characters encounter excessive flatulence and numerous pop-culture references, as well as a collection of insanely kooky sidekicks. Oh yeah, and the characters that annoy each other the most always end up becoming best friends.
I know, I know, these are kids movies — I shouldn’t expect so much. But for a while, these CGI entries were the most inventive things going. However, the playbook has just gotten played out. Underscoring this point: the first three previews I had to sit through before The Meltdown began. First up was some CGI entry called Over the Hedge, which involved a bunch of animals who, yes, decide to take a journey for some reason that I couldn’t understand because the preview was basically just a bunch of shouting and blaring music. Next up was another CGI-fest called The Wild, which centered around (once again) a bunch of animals, this time in a zoo (think Madagascar). At the heart of the story is a father lion and his son (now think Lion King). Then the son is taken away from the zoo in a big truck and the daddy must go on a journey to find and save him (now think Finding Nemo). Very original, that one. Up third was another CGI animal — this time, in a trailer for a Garfield sequel. Honestly, I have no clue what this new one is about because I was too flabbergasted at its mere existence. (Wasn’t the first Garfield basically considered, like, the Battlefield Earth of kids’ films, minus the dreadlocked aliens?) Look, I’m not expecting freakin’ Fellini here, but this is a pretty sad slate of films. There was a time when pretty much every CGI movie not titled Shark Tale was a must-see for all ages. That time has clearly passed. Creatively, at least. Then again, seeing how every single seat in my theater was occupied, and that Ice Age: The Meltdown made approximately a gazillion dollars in its opening weekend, maybe it’s just me. Wouldn’t be the first time.
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
If CTU agent Jack Bauer were writing this column, he wouldn’t be writing it like this. HE WOULD BE WRITING IT LIKE THIS!!!! That’s because Kiefer Sutherland yells every single one of his lines in 24. Look, I know the end of the world (or Los Angeles, at least) could be near, but do you really need to yell that much? Honestly, it used to annoy me a little bit. But now I think it’s positively hilarious. I can’t get enough. In fact, you can even make your own little drinking game out of it. (Provided you are 21 years or older, of course. The Glutton in no way, shape, or form condones underage drinking. Unless it involves Marissa acting like an idiot on The O.C.) The game is pretty simple: Drink every time Bauer yells at someone in person. Drink twice every time he yells at someone through a cell phone or walkie-talkie. And chug three monster swigs every time he yells any variation of ”WE HAVEN’T GOT TIME FOR THIS!” Trust me, you won’t make it five minutes.
We need to kick off our first List with something special, something dear to all our hearts, and something that will inspire debate and controversy, so I humbly give you:
The Top 5 Heavy-Metal Power Ballads of All Time
1. ”Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” by Poison
Perhaps the funniest video ever, where the band tries to make us feel sorry for them by showing how hard it is to be rock stars. Poor, poor Poison.
2. ”November Rain,” by Guns N’ Roses
Another fantastic video, with Slash playing a bunch of 18-minute guitar solos on top of a cliff. Axl gets married.
3. ”Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone),” by Cinderella
Tom Keifer had a killer raspy voice. And, staying with the music-video theme, I like the way he found a piano to play all the way out in middle of the desert.
4. ”18 & Life,” by Skid Row
Traditionalists may opt for ”I Remember You,” but how can you beat an ode to life imprisonment — something only about 1 percent of the general public can even remotely relate to?
5. ”I’ll Be There for You,” by Bon Jovi
Sure, ”Wanted Dead or Alive” rocks, but this song gets the nod solely for the fact that Jon Bon keeps rhyming you with you. Sample lyrics: ”I’ll be there for you/ These five words I swear to you/ When you breathe, I wanna be the air for you/ I’ll be there for you.” Genius.
This being the first column, there is no reader mail. But if you have any EW or pop-culture-related questions, or simply want to quibble with my choice of cheese-metal ballads, just drop a line to email@example.com, or use the e-mail form below. I’ll address a question or two here every week. Unless nobody writes me, in which case I’ll ask myself questions. Here’s a sample:
Question: Sorry, but why didn’t you just drop off your kid at the Ice Age movie party instead of sticking around and then bitching to all of us about how bad it was?