Mid-Term Animated Double Bill

Mid-term is of course a time for parents and children to enjoy quality time together without school or homework in the background. But after, oh, five minutes or so, enjoyment turns to all-out warfare leaving a full week to negotiate without bloodshed. Thank God then for the cinema, which gives a precious respite for an hour or two when parents and children don't have to speak to each other. Hence the full crowds at the following screenings.


The Lego Batman Movie (Chris McKay, 2017) is great fun, happily poking fun at all the previous Batman incarnations, primarily by portraying Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) as a narcissistic man-child with commitment issues. He can't even commit to The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) as his primary nemesis, prompting the villain to embark on a typically chaotic plan to make Batman care. All of which is an excuse to barrel from colourful set-piece to colourful set-piece, scattering jokes in all directions like Batarangs, most of which hit their target. Along for the ride are Lego versions of various DC characters, including Robin, Batgirl and my favourite Lego Bane - give him his own film now! However, it's actually all a bit too frenetic for its own good with nearly too much going on to keep track of. Plus it's content to be simply a Batman parody, rather than revel in the Lego-inspired existentialism of the first film, so it doesn't quite land a knockout KAPOW! blow, even if it gets good mileage out of the Batman riff. Is it as awesome as The Lego Movie? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no no, BATMAN!!


Surely the person who deserves most credit for Sing (Garth Jennings, 2017) is whoever secured the rights to the 65+ songs which feature in full or in part throughout the movie. Many of which actually benefit immensely from being sung by animated animals; dirge like Sam Smith's Stay With Me becomes much more palatable when being sung by an anthropomorphized gorilla. All the animals are singing because ambitious koala Buster Moone (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) has launched an X-Factor-style singing competition in an effort to restore his crumbling old theatre to past glories. A contest which could give Johnny the sensitive gorilla (Taron Egerton), Rosalita the housewife pig (Reese Witherspoon), Mike the arrogant mouse (Seth McFarlane), Ash the moody porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) and Meena the shy elephant (Tori Kelly) among others the chance to show their talent. Things naturally don't go to plan, but the lead characters all get satisfying story-arcs and the animation is great. And, unlike the X-Factor, it doesn't outstay its welcome on its way to a rousing finale. It's all good fun, even if The Muppets did exactly the same thing to more anarchic effect back in 2011. Undemanding stuff, but it'll be a curmudgeonly Simon Cowell-type indeed who isn't humming happily as they leave the cinema.

So there we go, a couple of worthwhile films to keep the peace at mid-term. Unless of course you don't ration out the cinema treats properly, in which case even the most high-tech Dolby surround sound system won't drown out the plaintive cries of 'It's not fair....he got more than me!'
God give me strength.


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