Thursday, March 24, 2005

Spongebob, Sports, and Romance

We rented three movies over the weekend, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, Friday Night Lights, and Wimbledon. Here are my reviews:

-I enjoy Spongebob Squarepants. My sister is the one who made me appreciate the show. It's good old-fashioned subversive kids' humor that hasn't been seen since the likes of old-school, non-Adult Party Ren & Stimpy. Since I like the show, I was hoping I'd like the movie version and fortunately, I did.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie is just as lovably goofy, silly, and subversive as the TV show, if not moreso. When a movie opens with a group of pirates (live-action ones) performing the theme song in a musical number and rushing to see the film in a movie theater, you know it's going to be fun. There were so many sequences I enjoyed. I loved Spongebob and Patrick's ice cream bender. Seeing Spongebob hung over was one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. Also, I loved the way the film had little references for adults. Squidward makes a reference to public radio in one scene. Really, how many kids know public radio exists? The highlight of the film, though, is the sequence with David Hasselhoff. That has to be seen to be believed. I mean, David launches Spongebob and Patrick into the ocean with his...well, you'll have to see for yourself.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie is silly, goofy, weird, odd, and just a little bit longer than it needs to be. I wish that we could've seen more of the hilarious supporting characters. Characters such as Sandy Squirrel and Ms. Puff were reduced to only a couple of lines. However, the movie is still a delight. It's not for everyone, but if you have an open mind, you can enjoy yourself for 90 minutes.

-Friday Night Lights is a movie that is better than it should be. Based on a true story, it focuses on a West Texas high school football team as they strive to win the state championship without losing a game. Most of the movie contains football scenes that are well done and exciting. However, they do focus on a few of the players, as well as the coach of the team, played by Billy Bob Thornton. The young actors in this film, including Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, and Lee Thompson Young (of Jett Jackson fame) all do very well in this film. However, the biggest surprise was the performance of country star Tim McGraw in (what I think is) his feature film debut. He plays the alcoholic, abusive father of one of the players. He's virtually unrecognizable in this film and puts in a very strong performance.

The most interesting aspect of this film is the way it shows how important high school football is in Texas. Varsity Blues may have come out first, but Friday Night Lights shows, in great detail, how the coach and players have to deal with immense pressure from the townspeople. When the team loses a game, the coach comes home to find many for sale signs on his lawn. The local radio stations scrutinize his every decision. In one early scene, a couple has the team's quarterback pose for a picture with their baby.

Friday Night Lights is a surprisingly good sports movie. It's engaging and interesting, even though more time could have been spent showing the players' lives. Unlike other sports films like Coach Carter, Friday Night Lights is more somber and melancholy than hopeful or uplifting. If you're a football fan, it's definitely worth renting.

-Wimbledon is a combination of sports film and romance. It stars Paul Bettany as a tennis star who's on his way out. He has a low ranking but ends up getting into the Wimbledon as a wildcard. He meets a hot young female tennis player, played by Kirsten Dunst, and starts to fall for her. At the same time, his playing improves and he moves closer and closer to the finals.

You can tell they had guys in mind when they made this movie. This movie is one of the few romantic movies where a guy is the lead character which puts it in the company of films such as High Fidelity. Also, it has sports sequences...a clear indicator of a "guy film." It's also not too long (it's ~97 minutes long).

Ulimately, Wimbledon is one of those films that is just okay. There are fun parts here and there. Paul and Kirsten have good chemistry. Also, the tennis sequences are exciting. However, it doesn't have the real punch of a good sports movie or the emotional highs and lows of a good romantic comedy. I think sports and romance can coexist in a movie (The upcoming Fever Pitch looks like it could be good) but they don't work that well together in this one. This is not a bad movie, but it also isn't one that I really want to see again.

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