Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
A slasher film from 2006, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was shelved for a number of years by its distributor, only being released in 2013. While there are a few elements that set Mandy Lane apart from most teenage slasher movies, the formula remains largely the same. Mandy Lane, who is beautiful and innocent, attends a party with her friends on an isolated ranch, and people start getting picked off one at a time. The characters are the very definition of stock, with the requisite stoner, handsome asshole, and token black guy all present as expected, and for the better part of the movie, the plot proceeds as expected. The final fifteen minutes or so introduce some neat ideas which I won’t spoil here, but the big reveals never felt very revelatory. At best they elicited a reaction of “Huh, interesting,” from me, and nothing more. If you’re a fan of the teen slasher formula and want something a bit new without straying too far from the familiar, this is the movie for you. It didn’t do much for me, though, and I can definitely see why no one was in a rush to get this movie released.
2.5 out of 5

The Quest (a.k.a. Frog Dreaming, a.k.a. The Go Kids)
Here’s an 80’s oddity that seems to have slipped out of memory for most people. Shortly after the success of E.T., the star Henry Thomas (who played Elliott) starred in an Australian movie production called Frog Dreaming in Australia, The Quest in North America, and The Go Kids in the UK. The story follows a young American boy who has inexplicably become a ward of the state in Australia, as he investigates reports of a strange bunyip-like creature living in the lagoon created by mining at a quarry. Most of the film follows him and his friends as they try to uncover the truth of what lives in the lagoon, but the film is a strange mish-mash of ideas, and the plot just kind of meanders along without any of the rise and fall that one expects from a good story. Watching The Quest, I got a real sense that the protagonist was supposed to be much older than Henry Thomas was, because the story focuses a lot on him romancing a local girl, and even features him driving a car (the kid can’t be more than like 12 in this movie). There’s a solid reveal as to the true nature of the lake monster at the end of the film, but there’s a surprising lack of tension or forward momentum here. The only reasons you should bother seeking out The Quest are as an 80’s nostalgia piece and the protagonist’s love interest’s little sister, who only serves to swear like a sailor and drive her mother to drink by freaking her out. If someone could make a compilation video of just that character’s best moments, I’d recommend watching it over the entire movie.
2 out of 5

Monsters University
While I enjoyed Monsters University more than I did Brave, Monsters U. is sadly sub-par by Pixar standards. A prequel to Monsters Inc. could work incredibly well, with animation technology having advanced by leaps and bounds since Monsters Inc.’s release. A prequel would also allow Pixar to explore the monster world further, but watching Monsters University, I was struck by how little they did with so much potential. Sure, the textures on the monsters are better, but the titular university is, well, dull. It looks just like any other university campus, and we barely see any of the classes except for Scaring 101. The entire setting felt lackluster to me, and one would hope that the plot would make up for those shortcomings, but no, the plot is a really pedestrian underdog movie that plays like Animal House meets Rudy. Aside from a few neat monster designs (such as that of the Dean of Monsters U. voiced by Helen Mirren), this movie offered me nothing that I hadn’t seen before. There are better movies about college, there are better movies about fraternities, and there’s already a much better movie about these monsters. Monsters University isn’t a bad movie, but when compared to the rest of Pixar’s filmography, this is much closer to the Cars end of the spectrum.
2.75 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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