One of the main motivations for breeding an animal is to make money. From my college studies I learned how much thought and detail goes into deciding which animal should be bred. Whether a farmer or racehorse breeder they each spot specific traits they want to be carried down to the offspring of their herd. I still remember a course I had where we were taught to look at a pig and figure out their most prominent traits for breeding purposes. Some of you who follow race horsing may already know a winning horse is worth more in retirement when they go out to stud. Aren’t you glad we are not animals? But I have to tell you I am just as fascinated by family traits as I was in animal science. The gene pool to me is this vast reservoir of a family’s history; it is a game of chance when a couple has a child. What traits will the child acquire from the parents? I am always curious when a business establishment is family owned and has been handed down from generation to generation. It makes me wonder whether each new generation has acquired the same set of skill sets to make the business a continued success. Even when I witness a child doing the same thing as one of their parents, like being a tennis player or painter, it amazes me how that talent filtered down to the younger generation. Though I have to tell you I know of a family that has a business that has been handed down and the latest generation involved with it dislikes being a part of it. They wanted to be something else but their family essentially forced them to follow in the footsteps of their parent. Gratefully that was not the case in this gorgeous animated adventure film. KUBO, voiced by Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold, San Andreas), never knew his father and could not understand why his mother insisted he be home before dark. She had a very good reason. With a mixture of claymation and CGI effects, this family film was magical and enchanting. The actors such as Charlize Theron (Young Adult, A Million Ways to Die in the West) as Monkey, Matthew McConaughey (Mud, Dallas Buyers Club) as Beetle and Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash, Harry Potter franchise) as Moon King were wonderful voicing their characters. I do not know if the story was actually from Japanese folklore, but the script was something special. The way it brought in the topic of ancestors was beautiful. I felt there was the right balance of humor, drama, danger and thrills to create a connection to any age group watching this film. Not sure why but there is something about the art of claymation that attracts me. Maybe it is because I know how much effort has to be made to make the characters move seamlessly; the figures are just more dimensional to me. I do not know what else I could tell you except after seeing this picture I had wished I was part of Kubo’s gene pool.
Each of us has been a victim at one time or another, though you may not have known it. Maybe it was the restaurant host who did not like the way you were dressed, so they told you there was over an hour wait to get a table. How about that taxi driver who drove past you as you were trying to flag them down, even though they did not have anyone in the car with them. Anytime during school when you were picked on, called hateful names or bullied; turned you into a victim. The big question is what do you do after you have been victimized. For me I internalized it for years; however, the pain found ways to filter through my mind in a constructive way. I grew to be extra sensitive towards new members entering my classes when it was quite obvious they were uncomfortable being in such an environment. Having been picked on for my lack of athletic ability back in high school, I became fiercely protective of each person in my classes; to the point where I had to ask someone to move to a different part of the aerobic studio because I could see they were becoming aggressively territorial towards a new member standing next to them. More and more I witness someone not liking someone else because they are different. GEORGE Takei (Star Trek franchise, Heroes-TV) started out being a minority withing a minority. Here was a man who helmed the Starship Enterprise, yet I had no idea as a young boy he lived in an internment camp for Japanese American citizens during World War II. From such a traumatic event this documentary was able to show how driven one man became in the pursuit of his dreams. I found this film to be a fascinating study of George. He was able to take his drive and determination into such varied areas of his life, almost reinventing himself time and time again. Always charming and witty, he has recently become an internet star with over 7 million followers on Facebook. If nothing else this movie was worth watching simply to hear George talk about William Shatner (Star Trek franchise, T.J. Hooker -TV) and then to see how William acted in interviews when George was brought up for discussion; it was hilarious. There were other parts of the movie that were funny and even when the topic turned serious, there was never a time where the viewer was made to feel uncomfortable. I completely enjoyed this film, watching the indomitable spirit of a man who would never allow himself to become a victim.
3 1/4 stars
Out of all the holidays during the year, I have always felt the safest during this one. Maybe this sounds odd to you but this holiday was more of an internal one of celebration for me. There was no need to put up any kind of decorations, it did not represent one particular religious group, there were no gift exchanges, it did not require going anywhere but your own or someone’s home; Thanksgiving was simply a time to sit down and share a meal with the family. I would get excited by the variety of side dishes that spread across the table like steaming volcanoes, waiting for us to chip away at them. For me, the most important part came after dinner. Once the dishes were removed and the tablecloth was swept of any crumbs, the desserts would conquer the dining room table. There was such a comfort that came over me as I would sit quietly at my place and eat all the sweet treats that I had placed on my spotless plate. It was during this time of the Thanksgiving meal where my plate remained the cleanest; I would not let one morsel slip out of my mouth. To tell you the truth it did not matter to me if there was turkey served or not since my main focus was on the sweet stuff. The same held true in this animated comedy; it would not make a difference to me if Jake and Reggie, voiced by Woody Harrelson (Now You See Me, Zombieland) and Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers, The Internship), succeeded in their mission. The two unlikely partners were going back in time to the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts to stop the tradition forming to serve turkey for the holiday meal. As far as animated movies go, this one was not very good. It did not have the colors, the dimension or detail of other films I have seen. The humor remained on an elementary level, lacking any kind of sophistication. It was a shame because I enjoyed the cast which also included Amy Poehler (Mean Girls, A.C.O.D.) as Jenny and George Takei (Star Trek franchise, Heroes-TV) as S.T.E.V.E.; the voice of the time machine. To be released during the upcoming holiday season, this movie needed to be fun and uplifting. Save your money for your holiday shopping instead of seeing this film in the theater. Only if you have young children should you consider spending your money on this dull movie. If you do see it, stay through the credits.
1 3/4 stars