Thursday, January 04, 2007

You Know How It Is...

You go awhile without posting (although 6 weeks may be a record for me -- I hope so) and then each time you think about maybe getting back in the saddle, you feel the need to write some huge long thing to explain about why you've been gone or what the hell you've been doing all that time or whatever. And that thought is just exhausting, so you end up posting nothing at all.

Well, I'm doing an end run around that and making my first post since mid-November something brief and completely random:

We saw two movies over Christmas break: Eragon and Charlotte's Web. Eragon was tolerable -- I suspect it was more exciting for a kid who a) has read the book and b) is too young to recognize the fact the story is about 3 parts Star Wars, 3 parts Lord of the Rings, and 1 part Harry Potter.

Charlotte's Web was enjoyable. I'm not a huge fan of the animated version so I thought doing a live-action version was a decent idea, though I didn't expect it to be as good as Babe -- and it wasn't, but it was very sweet. Two questions, though:

1) Dakota Fanning is a perfectly competent actress, but why does every single pre-teenage girl part go to her? What is so special? She's not bad, and I don't have a problem with the fact that she's not particularly pretty either, but I don't see what's so appealing about her that she gets all the parts.

2) Why does all the voice work in Hollywood have to be done by well-known actors these days? Charlotte's Web had 10 "names you know"-level actors voicing farm animals, including Robert Redford and Oprah Winfrey. Of those, the only voices I recognized were Julia Roberts as Charlotte (and I might not have been able to place her voice if I hadn't known she was doing the part), Steve Buscemi as Templeton the rat (actually very good voice casting) and Thomas Haden Church (from Wings and Sideways) as one of two crows. Even Oprah's voice wasn't recognizable, and I was listening for her because I'd read she did one of the voices. So what in the world is the point of hiring all these stars to do voices when you don't recognize them? Aren't there plenty of talented voice actors out there who could do a better job?

I blame Disney, of course. They had to go and hire Robin Williams to be the genie in Aladdin. And it's not always a waste -- most of the Pixar movies have made good use of their big name stars, as have the Shrek movies, and I even came to appreciate Scarlett Johanssen's work as Princess Mindy in the Spongebob movie. But Robert Redford as a horse in Charlotte's Web and Rachel Weisz as the dragon in Eragon is just going too far if you ask me.

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