Tag Archives: Jay Baruchel

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

With two feature films and countless Netflix series under their belts, the creative team behind the How to Train Your Dragon franchise is very comfortable. They are content to spend as much time as they need on their story, resulting in what may be the world’s first dragon-centric rom-com.

Toothless, the black dragon from the first two films, is back and gets his own story thread, as he meets a lovely white dragon and is instantly smitten. She’s not so sure about him at first, and his courtship attempts are more than a little awkward, but we all know he’s going to win her over eventually. The outcome of that romance is also obvious to his best human friend, Hiccup, the leader of the dragon-how-to-train-your-dragon-3-headerriding Vikings that live in the island village of Berk, and that’s where things get interesting.

In addition to figuring out how to deal with his dragon’s dating, Hiccup and his Vikings have their own problems. They’re being pursued by the drsgon hunter Grimmel and his massive fleet. Against some resistance, Hiccup decides that the Vikings’ best chance to survive is to find the hidden dragon world located beyond the edge of the world.

Hiccup and Toothless have both grown up a lot over the course of the trilogy, and they grapple with some fairly complex relationship-related issues in this third instalment. The result is an emotional third act as life pulls Hiccup and Toothless in very different directions and they have some hard choices to make.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World shows that we are still in the midst of a golden age for animation. The Hidden World is full of beautifully animated scenes, with particularly amazing lighting effects, but more importantly, it’s a story that my 40-something self could relate to, engage with, and be moved by. It’s a satisfying conclusion to a very enjoyable series.

 

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Knocked Up

A little later than most, we’ve been watching Dirty John on Netflix. It’s apparently based on a true story, about a woman who gets stuck in an abusive relationship with a pathological liar, thief, and drug addict – John, played by Eric Bana. To cleanse our palettes I suggested we find a movie featuring Eric Bana in a  nicer light but perusing his filmography on IMDB, we discovered that Bana’s good movies are fewer and further between than we’d imagined. Troy? King Arthur? Lone Survivor? No thanks. I had this foggy memory of a movie where the characters discuss Eric Bana, and how his role in Munich would get them all laid that night. So, logically, instead of watching Munich, we watched Knocked Up, which doesn’t have Eric Bana at all, but does have the above mentioned scene. It seemed easier to digest.

26JPMAUDE1-jumboIn it, a straight-laced TV producer, Alison (Katherine Heigl), gets drunk and has sex with an improbable mate, stoner Ben (Seth Rogen), and though that encounter is destined to be a one-night stand, she gets pregnant and it forces them together way beyond what’s reasonable for a couple of opposites.

Actually, I accidentally just referenced this movie the other day. Seth Rogen has another movie coming out, another romantic comedy (or as romantic as a guy like Rogen can tolerate) and in my mind, I thought it was Katherine Heigl again. It isn’t. It’s actually Charlize Theron. Sean suggested my mistake meant that somewhere in the world, Charlize was feeling vaguely insulted without knowing why. Sorry Charlize.

Anyway, Knocked Up is sort of funny. Actually, it’s definitely funny, thanks in no part to Katherine Heigl, but thanks in large part to its very talented extended cast – including early inclusions of Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig who both maximize small roles. And VF_OSCAR_2019_JB_190224_CARD_03_0324Harold Ramis as Rogen’s father, who is a delight for every single moment he’s on screen. Leslie Mann plays Alison’s sister, married with kids, who were played by her real-life kids with writer-director Judd Apatow, Maude and Iris Apatow. Which is crazy because the kids are teeny tiny in this movie, but in 2019, Maude Apatow just went to the Vanity Fair Oscars party with her parents, looking very grown up. And we saw her last year at SXSW at the premiere of her mother’s movie, Blockers. She’s a lady now. Katherine Heigl is washed up. And Oscar winner Charlize Theron is signed on for the next Seth Rogen movie. What a crazy world in which we live.

Anyway, this is a better movie than you’d think. It kind of has some smart and sad stuff to say about marriage – it’s weirdly wise for a movie that makes fart jokes, and more raw and explicit about the realities of birth than any drama has dared to be. It may not have Eric Bana in it, but it did restore our faith in humanity, so job done, DVD we found in our garage.

The Art of the Steal

Crunch and Nicky Calhoun are conman brothers, part of a merry little gang who steals art. Crunch (Kurt Russell) gets double-crossed by his own brother (Matt Dillon) when a heist goes wrong and winds up spending 7 years in a Romanian prison where he learns that trust, not cash, is the ultimate currency. When he gets out, he lives a semi-legit life with a new wife, a new sidekick (Jay Baruchel), and a second-rate motorcycle-daredevil career.

hero_artofthesteal-2014-1But then Nicky comes calling. One last heist, he says (is there really such a thing?). And since Crunch is so low on funds, they assemble the old gang and pursue a tricky art swap, even with Interpol (Terence Stamp) breathing down their necks.

I found this movie recently added to Netflix, but not very generously reviewed. I gave it a chance because: Kurt Russell. He’s kind of a badass. And Jay Baruchel, who I have enormous love for. And you know what? It’s not a bad movie. It’s not overly great either, it’s just an easy-watch heist movie that borrows a little to heavily from better movies. But the cast is extremely watchable, and the writing’s not bad, it’s just formulaic. So if you have no time to waste, skip it. But if you like the genre, I think you’ll get along just fine with the film.

Bonus for Canadians: much of the film is not just filmed in Canada but takes place ADMITTEDLY in Canada, and stars a whole bunch of Canadians, aside from Baruchel, including Katheryn Winnick, Niagara Falls, Kenneth Walsh, Chris Diamantopoulous, Quebec City, Jason Jones, Devon Bostick, Tim Hortons, and piles of fluffy home-grown snow.

A Canadian Duet, and no, I don’t mean Celine Dion and Ann Murray

I watched these two movies recently, and they’re only appearing in the same post because of their Canadian content.

Goon – I avoided this movie because it reminded me of Slap Shot, which came out before I was born and I’ve never seen but hate all the same because of my Mom’s ex-boyfriend. His name was Keith and he was a loser. He was a decade too young for her, two decades too immature, unemployed goonof course, lived with his parents, didn’t have friends but loved to hang out at the local hockey rink trying to get the kids to call him “Ogie”. No one ever did. He was probably borderline mentally challenged, now that I think about it. Anyway, he was a creep, and anything he touched, I’d be turned off of for years. So a lack of comedies about hockey didn’t strike me as a national tragedy, but it did to Jay Baruchel, so he and Evan Goldberg set about to adapting this book into a film treatment.  I have mad love for Baruchel but it still wasn’t until a fellow blogger suggested that this movie wasn’t awful that I finally gave it a chance. Sean William Scott stars as a guy who isn’t good at anything except taking 6-Goon-BaruchelPatHollihan1a-e1330461849638punches, and giving them. A scrap gets him noticed by a local hockey coach, who drafts him onto the team as an enforcer, and once he learns to skate, he joins Kim Coates’ (Tig, from Sons of Anarchy, if you’re bad with names like me) team in the minor hockey league where Liev Schreiber’s thug character has just been demoted from the NHL for remorselessly hitting one too many people. Baruchel also appears as a cable access TV personality and salty-tongued cheer leader, and Eugene Levy plays Scott’s disapproving father. The movie doesn’t exactly break new ground, but it’s a little smart and a little sweet, and it kind of works. A sequel is in the works, with Baruchel set to make his directorial debut.

Stories We Tell – This “documentary” is by Sarah Polley. Does her name mean anything outside of Canada? I grew up watching her as Ramona (we didn’t have proper cable, but my Aunt Joan would send me VHS cassettes in the mail, having taped the episodes diligently from TV. She also starred in Road to Avonlea, a Canadian classic though not exactly my style. And I was also lucky enough to catch her on the stage in Stratford, performing the lead role in Alice Through The Looking Glass. More recently she’s known for having directed Away From Her (which got her an Oscar nom for adapted screenplay) and Take This Waltz. Stories We Tell is her first full-length documentary, though I hesitate to call in that because she really experiments with the form, incorporating re-enactments meant to look like home video, and she cleverly pieces together narrative from several different sources, highlighting the discrepancies in our memories and perceptions. It basically investigates a family rumour that Sarah’s dad is not her biological father. Her mother, who could easily put this argument to rest, died when Sarah was 11. You’d have to see it for yourself, because I’m still not sure if she so carefully protects her family out of compassion or narcissism, but either way it’s compelling.

Sarah Polley apparently turned down the role of Penny Lane in Almost Famous, but you know who did appear in that movie? Jay Baruchel! There you go. Full ciricle. Have you seen either of these? Who is your favourite Canadian actor?

How To Train Your Dragon 2

 

Has it really been four years since the first one? No wonder I barely remember it.

I do remember being surprised how much I liked it though. The heroic score and spectacular animation of dragons in flight was impressive even when seen through my tiny portable dvd player. And the story-as best as I could remember about a Viking boy named Hiccup who is the only one who believes that dragons can be our friends- was touching stuff and completely changed the way I felt about dragons.

In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup has changed his village for the better. Now everyone has a dragon of their own and even have dragon races. Even though he is solely responsible for all these changes, Hiccup still can’t quite fit in and skips the dragon racing to go exploring with his own pet dragon, unsure of who he is because he never knew his mother.

Last time, Hiccup discovered that sometimes, we are afraid of things because we misunderstand them. This time, he will learn an even more grown up lesson- that sometimes we are afraid of things because they are scary. When Hiccup’s dad, the chief, learns the evil Drago is building a dragon army, Hiccup urges everyone to keep calm and let him find Drago and reason with him. “This is what I’m good at”, he says. He will soon learn that “Men who kill without reason cannot be reasoned with” and that Drago really does in fact plan on enslaving all the people and dragons he can get his hands on. What a maniac. Once he has accepted that some men are just bad and need to be fought, Hiccup will finally be able to become his father’s successor as chief, a job that only Hiccup doubts that he was born for.

My memory of How to Train Your Dragon is vague but I remember enjoying it more than I did the sequel. The animation is even more impressive this time around with two battle scenes that I absolutely loved but the story doesn’t add anything to the message of the first one. And Kristen Wiig, as talented as she is, should not be doing voice work.