Reviews: 'Bears,' 'Trailer Park Boys' and 'The Face of Love'
Richard Crouse, Canada AM film critic
Published Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4:40PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 17, 2014 7:56AM EDT
BEARS: 4 STARS FOR THE BEARS, 2 FOR THE NARRATION
As anyone who watched Yogi Bear or Winnie the Pooh knows, a good chunk of a bear's life is spent searching for food. "Bears," a new Disneynature documentary, has an up-close-and-personal look at how real bears hunt for food in the wild, far away from Yogi's pic-a-nics and Winnie's honey pots.
Directed by "Planet Earth" wildlife legend Alastair Fothergill (with co-director Keith Scholey), "Bears" is the result of a year long shoot, following mother Sky and her cubs Scout and Amber as they fight the elements, wolves and a nasty outcast bear named Chinook in a quest for the "bear" necessities of life.
"Bears" integrates story with an educational point of view. Kids will learn about the bears' migration via beautifully shot film, stunning time-lapse photography. Unfortunately a strangely conceived voice-over from John C. Reilly adds a narrative that anthropomorphizes the animals, adding in an unneeded storyline that seeks to humanize these majestic creatures. Shots of the mother bear delicately eating a clam is elegant and primal, it isn't necessary to add silly narration to give human attributes to the bears.
It's meant to make the story more relatable, but feels a little trite -- for instance a scene of Sky and Amber ripping a writhing salmon apart is described as a mother and daughter's sushi date -- for a movie with such lush wildlife photography.
In short, let the pictures do the talking. Show me, don't tell me.
Beyond the distracting voice-over, "Bears" is a welcome addition to Disneynature’s wildlife canon. There is some intense "circle of life" stuff that may upset young animal lovers, but the bears emerge with their dignity and majesty intact and kids will learn something while being entertained.
TRAILER PARK BOYS DON’T LEGALIZE IT: 2 STARS
If Trailer Park Boy and drug dealer Ricky (Robb Wells) ever ran for federal office it's unlikely Stephen Harper would bother with an attack ad. Ricky and the PM probably don't agree on much, but they are simpatico on one thing—neither want marijuana legalized.
Their reasons, however, differ.
Harper's "Reefer Madness" stance is about perceived social responsibility while Ricky's "Just Say No to Decriminalization" came about because he blew all his money on a grow op and he wants a return on his investment.
His plan is to crash a hearing in Ottawa and make his case for keeping marijuana illegal, but first he has to get there.
"Don't Legalize It" picks up where the Trailer Park Boys TV show left off in 2008. The trio are out of jail, broke and looking to score. Ricky has his grow op, Julian (John Paul Tremblay) is selling uncontaminated bodily fluids to help people beat drug tests and Bubbles (Mike Smith) ekes out a living selling booze, cigarettes and fried chicken door to door.
When Bubbles inherits a house in Kingston, Ont., Ricky and Julian put aside their differences and go on a road trip with stops in Montreal -- so Julian can move his wares -- Ottawa and Bubble's ancestral home. Throwing a fly in the bong water are trailer park supervisor Lahey (John Dunsworth) and his lover Randy (Patrick Roach) who try and frame the boys for a crime they didn't commit.
The Trailer Park Boys are Canadian icons of a sort, but "Don't Legalize It" makes a case for the less is more. As beloved as they are, for my money the humor works best in small doses. In other words, why drink the whole case of beer and feel crappy, when one or two brews can give you a nice pleasant buzz?
As played by Smith, Bubbles, the kitten loving man child with coke bottle glasses, is the most consistently funny.
He's a fully rounded character, a simple man who has found family with Ricky and Julian. There's a sweetness to him that cannot be denied, even though he's an admitted alcoholic who has been to jail more times than he can count.
Ricky and Julian are equally defined, but aren't given anything interesting to do. They swear and drink, then swear and drink some more before getting into trouble.
Fans of the show my enjoy seeing everyone back together on the big screen, but the Trailer Park Boys concept is getting as well worn as one of Ricky's April Wine 8-track tapes.
THE FACE OF LOVE: 4 STARS
The old song says the look of love is in your eyes, but a new movie starring Anette Benning and Ed Harris suggests otherwise. In this movie, the look of love is in the genes.
Love makes you do strange things. Gareth (Ed Harris) was the love of Nikki's (Annette Bening) life. They led a charmed life, with a beautiful daughter (Jess Weixler) until, in a terrible twist of fate, Gareth was drowned while on vacation. The suddenness of his passing left Nikki with no closure until five years later when she catches a glimpse of Tom (Harris again), who is a real live dead ringer for her late husband.
She charms him and soon they are in love. Or are they? Nikki never tells Tom about his resemblance to Gareth raising the question: Is she in love with Tom or a memory?
"The Face of Love" is a grown up look at grief, love and aging.
There will be as many reactions to Nikki's actions as there are audience members. Is she a selfish conniver, a grief stricken widow or one brick short of a load? She sincerely says things like, "I've always loved you," which in context, is open to a variety of interpretations.
The movie allows for interpretation, and regardless of your take, AB's performance is so raw and vulnerable it's difficult to completely condemn her behavior.
Harris is an open book -- "I could take a bath in how you look at me," he coos -- and coming to grips with aging -- which he describes as "walking backwards into the sunset. Thinking about the good times… and the bad times." -- as he loses his heart to her. It's a nimble, warm and endearing performance and it's great to see Bening and Harris spark off one another.
"The Face of Love" also features good work from Robin Williams as a lovesick neighbor but the star of the show are Nikki's unresolved feelings that haunt every frame.