Saw a lot of films this weekend, so I'm gonna run through them quickly:
Surf's Up!: This animated movie about surfing penguins looked kind of dumb at first blush. I got flashbacks of the hideous "Shark Tale," as I saw what appeared to be another weak knock-off of an animated blockbuster film. But the more I watched the trailer, the more it grew on me, so I spent the dollar to rent the film, and watched it with my little sister. Turns out, the movie was surprisingly funny--not a brilliant cartoon movie, but enjoyable. The "frame" of the film is a surfing documentary, where many of the characters have on-camera interviews with the filmmaker throughout the story. This tended to keep things fresh by shaking up the pace. The character's themselves were endearing (if often one-note), and the running gags involving the minor characters paid off. (How many times can one baby penguin almost drown?) Ultimately, the "very special message" of doing things because you love them and not just because you want to win is an okay one. The voice actors were pretty good, though I only recognized three of them (Shia LeBouf, a.k.a. this year's Morgan Freeman; Jeff Bridges, channelling a flippered version of The Dude; and Jon Heder, who pulled the same breathy sage-cluelessness from his character in "Feels like Heaven" instead of his more famous role). So, harmless, fun, made me laugh. Dave approves.
Meet the Robinsons: Another kids movie watched with the sister. Wasn't as jazzed to see this one at first, but it grew on me. Lots of funny one-off gags, and the ending was a little predictable, but not completely (thanks to the reveal of the bad guy's true identity). Good animation. The story was okay. It has nothing on "The Incredibles" to be sure, but it's harmless. Won't kill you to watch it, but there's no need to purchase the 37-disc Collector's Edition either. Give it a go for a buck or two. Dave approves.
The Invisible: A high school senior about to graduate is brutally attacked and left for dead, thanks to a series of unfortunate misunderstandings. He "wakes up" to find that he's sort of a ghost, and after haunting the people responsible for a while (and venting some angst at his distant mother), he realizes that SPOILER (he's not actually dead) END SPOILER and decides to help the police find his body. There's blatant symbolism throughout about poor, misunderstood teenagers not being "seen" by the people around them, but even that anvil-clanging Very Special Episode message doesn't take this fascinating and suspensful film off the tracks. The ending is interesting and well-carried-out. Not a scary movie, but certainly one that will keep you interested. Dave approves.
Urban Legends: Is stupid and a waste of time. Seriously. Don't bother. Quick tip for "Six Degrees..." players: It features Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), Joshua Jackson (Pacey from "Dawson's Creek" OR Charlie from "Mighty Ducks," take your pick), Jared Leto, Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger!), and Tara Reid. And some other dumb people. Dave disapproves.
The final two films, "Dan in Real Life" and "Bella," I think I'll save for slightly-longer reviews later. But here's the spoiler: I HIGHLY recommend both, so check them out.