Film Review: ENTANGLEMENT (Canada 2017)

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Entanglement Poster
Trailer

While recovering from a suicide attempt, Ben Layton accidentally falls in love with a girl who was very nearly, almost his sister – and then things start to get weird.

Director:

Jason James

 

ENTANGLEMENT plays on the subject of Quantum Entanglement, which is the reason the film subject, Ben Layten’s (Thomas Middleditch) has fallen apart –  mentally.

Quantum entanglement (as in Physics) is described as the physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently of the others, even when the particles are separated by a large distance.  The pair in this case is Ben and his almost adopted sister, Hanna Weathers (Jess Weixler).  Ben’s parents were ready to adopt Hanna as a baby.  Hanna arrived the very same day Ben’s mother discovered she was pregnant with ben and therefore unable to adopt.  Ben concluded that his life would have been different and therefore meeting her now would have resulted in a correction in the path of his life.

As far as theories go, this is both an interesting and credible one.  Feeling that this is the key to his happiness, Ben sets out to find her only to learn that it is the woman he met earlier named Hanna Weathers. Through constant visitations with her,  Ben falls in love with her and learns that life and love is far more complicated than he thought.

It is difficult to root for a loser like Ben.  Ben is not only a recent divorcee, but leads a miserable, jobless life.   He has made a few unsuccessful suicide attempts, though a good thing coming from this is his befriending of his sarcastic, yet helpful neighbour Tabby Song (Diana Bang).  Writer/director Jason James pulls a few surprises in his plot.  To see Ben slowly emerging victorious from the doldrums, though is uplifting for the audience.

The problem with ENTANGLEMENT is that the film is just not serious or funny enough (Ben trying to electrocute himself in the bath but forgetting to plug it in; slitting his wrists but then having to answer the door bell) in the material’s treatment.  Ben’s unsuccessful suicide attempts cold have been funnier or insightful.  The decision to make Hanna totally a character that conforms to Ben’s wishes and then have Ben snap out of his problems is a bitt of a cop-out.

ENTANGLEMENT does contain a few good scenes like the confrontation segments where Ben’s mother angrily tells Ben that he has no right to turn out the way he did.  The confrontation segment between Ben and Tabby seems to go along too similar lines.

From the cast of relative unknown actors, Marilyn Norry does best as Ben’s conflicted mother.  Thomas Middleditch, the lead isn’t bad either, his look and stature resembling the nature of his character.

Running only at 82 minutes, Jason James’ debut feature is not without its charms. ENTANGLEMENT could have turned out as the best feel-good movie of the year if done right.  Life could be seen as a whole lot of surprises and good events instead of the negatives.  James’ film instead plods along towards a boring finish.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMMWSu3AjJo

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Film Review: CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE (USA 2017) ***1/2

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captain underpantsTwo overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold, hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.

Director: David Soren
Writers: Nicholas Stoller (screenplay), Dav Pilkey (based on the epic novels by)
Stars: Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
once saw a skit of Superman and Batman at an unemployment office. Superman tells Batman that they will never get a job. Why Batman asks? Because no one would hire anyone who wears underpants over their clothes – was the answer. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS the animated movie takes the joke to another level. The hero only wears underpants!
This last collaboration between Dreamworks and 20th Century Fox (before Dreamworks moves with Universal) is fortunately a huge animated comic success. As the title of the film implies, the story involves lots of goofy absurdity and toilet jokes (there is even a symphony of body fluid noises performed on the school stage in the middle of the film), but who cares as CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS is a very funny movie, almost matching the best of the SHREK films. The comic song “I Love Saturdays” at the film’s stet sets up the mood of the film.

The film is based on the children’s novel series of the same name created in 1997 by Dav Pilkey, who sold the rights to Dreamworks in 2011. The plot follows two imaginative elementary school prankster students, George Beard and Harold Hutchins (Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) who hypnotize using a hypnotic ring from a cereal box, their mean-spirited principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms), into thinking he is Captain Underpants, a hero in comic books George and Harold write together. Mr. Krupp runs all over the place trying to what he thinks he is doing, saving the world. But the story includes a villain, Professor Poopypants (Nikc Kroll) (looking like the child catcher in CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG), the new science teacher who wants to rid the wold of laughter. His assistant is one of George and Harold’s fellow students, a swatter and a rotter called Melvin (Jordan Peele) with an uncanny resemblance to minions in DESPICABLE ME. Yes, as in all animated films, the world needs to be saved – but always for a good cause – as the return of laughter in this story.

There is plenty of laughter in this film, thanks to the goofy antics of the animators, the smart script by Brit Nicholas Stoller and the comedic timing of director David Soren. Writer Stoller directed the very funny NEIGHBOURS, NEIGHBOURS II and FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL and Toronto-own Stoller had proven his animation mettle in TURBO (the animated on snails). Kevin Hart is funny voicing George but the surprise comes from Ed Helms who voices both the principal and Captain Underpants.

The animation is 3D computer animated, with the heads of the characters rounded, similar to THE PEANUTS MOVIE. The characters have a 3D rather than a two dimensional look.

Despite all the toilet humour, the film contains a decent message of genuinely doing good in the world.

There is a fine line between stupidity and goofiness. Animated films often have to tread this fine line between success and failure. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS succeeds in this respect while another cent animated feature THE LEGO BATMAN failed because it was too manic and incomprehensible. It should be a worthwhile wait for CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE SECOND EPIC MOVIE

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDm_2m-Hg6c
 

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