Wednesday, October 5, 2005

I heart Wallace and Gromit and A. O. Scott

I can't wait to see the new Wallace and Gromit film (their first feature), so I was especially delighted to read A. O. Scott's glowing review of it. You can read it here, but as you know, the NYT requires you to sign up for a (free) online subscription. (Oh go ahead -- will it kill you?) At least the movie reviews never go into the pay-to-read archives.

Anyway, even if you never see the movie, Scott's review is a whimsical delight in itself. (Warning: it will make you want to see the movie, even if Wallace and Gromit films do irrevocably remind you of a certain duplicitous, middle class, provincial, English brother-in-law of mine.* But that warning pretty much only applies to my family members reading this.) Scott is becoming more and more my favorite movie critic. Since coming out from beneath Elvis Mitchell's formidable shadow, Scott has developed a voice of his own, often successfully adapting his style and structure to the movie he's reviewing. And like Roger Ebert before he got all mushy and starting liking everything, Scott judges movies according to their genres and the built-in set of expectations that come with that. Given that film is so deeply genre-driven (in a way that other art forms have transcended, imho), I think that's a an important element in any fair critic's assessment. But mainly I like him for the writing and still-present sense of joy he clearly has in being paid to go to the movies.

*The characters Wallace and Gromit, of course, are not duplicitous, but Wallace *is* a middle class, provincial Englishman like my brother-in-law, which is perhaps why my brother-in-law identified with the character. And Scott mentions how the movie is, in part, about the virtues and foibles of middle class, provincial Englishmen. But my brother-in-law's duplicity is all his own.

Go see the movie! It's a wonder and a delight! And if you can, see an early showing so you can see it with an audience full of kids cracking up. One little guy in front of us was at that age where he couldn't just laugh, he had to *say* "This is really funny!" It sounds annoying, but it's not. What's so funny about the kids, too, is that they'll laugh at the very grown-up jokes they don't get, just because the grown-ups are laughing. That just makes it all the funnier.

Oh, and the short before (the Madagascar Penguins in "A Christmas Caper") amused me, too. NYers will especially appreciate little details of its references and the implicit culture clash/melting pot of Xmas in NY.


New Kid on the Hallway said...

LDH loved Scott's review so much, just as a review (totally apart from our passion for Wallace and Gromit) that he was practically in tears reading it to me over the phone (he's the sensitive, my LDH). It was just lovely. I am SO excited to see the movie now! (Although I'd have seen it even if the reviews were crap.) I want a dog like Gromit, too.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

um, that should say "the sensitive type." I think I'm sleepy...

Dr. Virago said...

Yes, NK, it's past your bedtime! :)

I loved Scott's talking about how Gromit has a *soul* (vs. a character like Shrek) and how Gromit's expressive forehead alone makes you marvel at the magical possibilities of film.

I can't wait to see the film, but now I kind of want to see it with A.O. Scott! I hope you get to see it with LDH in whichever of your towns.