Jun 13, 2009

A Boy And His Blog

Warning: You may find this blog boring. If you choose, you may skip to the section labeled "My point."

With modern video game consoles and their wide array of online content (i.e. Wii's Virtual Console or Xbox 360's Live Arcade), I have noticed a resurgence of classic gaming...and I love it! Be it re-release or remake, keep 'em coming. Top prize goes to Mega Man 9, which is a completely brand new game in glorious 8-Bit, made to be an original Nintendo game. Of course, they didn't distribute cartridges, so it's only available as a download. But I'm not complaining about that. Quite the opposite. I love my Nintendo more than a limb or any family member. So to get "classic style" games in the midst of big, graphically lavish, 20 minutes to load, explodie modern games, is a dream come true. Maybe I'm getting old? "Back in my day, we only needed two buttons, sonny!"

As much as I adore the Nintendo Entertainment System, I can't deny there were some terrible games that came out for it. And there were fan favorites that just never seemed very interesting. If you were to fill a room full of nerds and have them make a list of the best NES games, everyone's list would be somewhat similar. They would all have Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid and then seven of their favorite titles (that are probably just as universally adored). One such game that could likely rank on these hypothetical lists is a game I could never get into, no matter how hard I tried. A Boy And His Blob. I know, I know, you're thinking, "Get to the goddam point, please."

A Boy And His Blob is about a boy...and his blob...Blobert, actually, who when fed jellybeans can transform into a useful object that corresponds with the respective treat. Licorice jellybeans turn Blobert into a ladder and tangerine turns him into a trampoline. You use these abilities to progress through the levels collecting treasure (and more jellybellys). You and Blobert must face the evil emperor to save Earth and Blobolonia. Sounds...okay? It was actually pretty boring. I don't know if I ever figured out how to get out of the first stretch of sewer, literally, at the beginning of the game. Again...what's your freaking point?!

My point: Although I'm not a fan of the original, I'm really excited for the Wii sequel to A Boy And His Blob! It has its own style yet retains the flavor of the original. It looks immersive, adorable, and fun.

I think a majority of my excitement may be rooted in my love for these classic style games, and it makes me forget that I never liked the original...this may be no exception. But I'll give it a whirl based on principal. 2D games are still hanging on in the 3D age(Braid and Mega Man 9 sales reflect this), but they're few and far between. More than anything I just want more games like this and fewer first-person-shooters. Thanks for indulging me.

Jun 7, 2009

And Away...WE...Go!

Away We Go follows Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph), an unmarried couple who are preparing to have a child together. They live in the middle of nowhere in a house that looks like a sneeze could blow it over. They can work from home (or via telephone) so the only real tie to their current residence is that it's close to Burt's parents. With Verona's parents deceased, they want to be close to Grandma and Grandpa. But when Burt's folks announce they'll be moving overseas, the couple decide to take up stakes and go searching for "home". They plot a course hitting up major cites that have one acquaintance or another that could be their friends if the choose to start their new lives there. As you'd expect, misadventure and hijinks ensue.

Away We Go
is certainly a charming little film. Its characters feel like real people in real life situations. Granted, they're strange, uncomfortable situations with odd-ball (and often loose) acquaintances, but never anything outlandish. Or least it wouldn't feel that way if the film treated them a little more seriously. With the exception of the leads, Burt and Verona, every character feels heavy handed. I don't blame the characters in the script so much the actor's use of the characters. It's like they read the script thinking they would be alongside Maya in a series of SNL sketches. That sort of over-the-top caricature acting works if that's what the source material is requiring. Take Christopher Guest movies, for instance. But I don't feel that's what Away We Go was trying to be. It' a sweet, poignant film about love, family, and the meaning of home. Oh, and being scared silly of bringing a life into the world. How can you care for a life when you don't even know how to live your own? As their journey progresses and they encounter bad parent after bad parent, you start to realize they're going to be wonderful parents. This hits you during an impromptu puppet show the two give for Burt's neice as they are tucking her into bed. Maybe love is family and family is home?

Overall, I enjoyed this film. It was hard for me to warm up to it, and again, I wish it took itself a bit more seriously, but the good bits outweigh the bad. Don't force jokes to try and make things funny. Let the humor of the situation reveal itself. You may want to strangle almost everyone Burt and Verona meet along the way(Maggie Gyllenhaall's character LN! Ugh!), but that makes you love the couple all the more. Life can be scary and nobody has all of the answers. People are different and there is no definitive right or wrong way to live your life or to raise a child. In this case it took a cross country trip and a lot of soul searching to come to a conclusion they knew all along. As The Beatles say, "All You Need Is Love".