Cars 2

[2.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I feel obligated to see all Pixar movies, but I knew I wouldn't like this one very much. So I didn't go to the theatre to watch it, and it sat in the Netflix queue awhile.

As you probably know, it's set in a world where cars (and other machines) have taken the place of humans. You can't think about this too hard, otherwise you'll come to the obvious conclusion: that this is a result of a successful (but non-radioactive, non-destructive) Terminator scenario, where all the people have been killed off, and their mechanized artifically-intelligent killers just continue on. And (for some reason) doing pretty much what the humans used to do, taking over the buildings and roads the humans used to use, fitting into the roles humans used to fill. And never mentioning how it all came to happen.

And we're supposed to sympathize with these murderous things? And buy the action figures?

The plot, such as it is: a nefarious conspiracy is in motion to deny the mechanized world access to environmentally-friendly fuel. In opposition is the Aston-Martiny "Finn McMissile", an experienced British spy (voiced by good old Michael Caine) and still-wet-behind-the-fenders agent Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). The gang from the original movie, Lightning McQueen, Mater the tow-truck, etc. get looped into the plot when races using the nice fuel are scheduled. But the bad guys look to blow the cars up to make the fuel look bad.

In short, the plot is beyond dumb. The script is also not particularly inspired, with mindless action taking the place of the usual Pixar wit and imagination. It is Pixar, however, so the animation is great and the globe-hopping locations are impressively pictured.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Didja see Slumdog Millionaire? How about Downton Abbey? Do you know how to find BBC America on your cable box? Then this movie is aimed right between your eyeballs, binky.

An ensemble cast of Brits heads off to India to "outsource their retirement". There's widow Evelyn (Judi Dench); retired judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson); Douglas and Jean, a married couple in difficult financial straits (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton, making a remarkable recovery from that nasty zombie attack a few years back); gold-digger Madge (Celia Imrie); roving-eyed Norman (Ronald Pickup); and Muriel (Maggie! Smith!) a retired housekeeper who needs a hip replacement faster than she can get it in Britain.

And they all come together in the titular hotel, which turns out to be more ramshackle than advertised, operated by "Sonny" (Dev Patel), with problems of his own: a forbidden romance, a domineering mom, financial ruin, a borderline delusional personality.

A lot of stories to tell, but they are told well, and you couldn't find a better bunch of actors to tell them. There's a mix of comedy and drama, the latter mostly of the melo- variety. If you've watched more than three movies of this type, there's not a lot you won't see coming, long before it actually comes up on the screen.

Just one last thing: Dame Judi has a dazzling smile, when the script calls on her to let it out. I've seen her in a lot of movies, but I can't recall seeing it before.

The Phony Campaign

2012-10-21 Update

[phony baloney]

A solid phony increase for both major-party candidates this week, probably due to their second debate. But President Obama maintains, even slightly widens, his phony lead:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 6,870,000 +630,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 2,870,000 +520,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 659,000 +55,000

  • Roger L. Simon summed up his debate observations in the headline: "Phony Town Halls and Candy Crowley's Ego"

    The U.S. population clock is currently showing 314,583,682 residents as of October 2012 and yet we are about to hold a "town hall" debate for our presidential candidates.

    How quaint. (The first town hall meeting was held in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1633.)

    How completely and utterly phony.

    Roger notes that gathering together a bunch of allegedly "uncommitted" citizens to ask questions is suboptimal. And Candy Crowley was obviously unwilling to restrict herself to the role of "moderator", instead wishing to insert herself into the fray.

    Roger wishes for Lincoln-Douglas style debates. Couldn't be worse.

  • A whole lotta people cried "phony" over a visit by Paul Ryan to a Mahoning County's [Ohio] St. Vincent de Paul Society soup kitchen last Saturday. Ryan arrived after the crowds had left, but washed some dishes that had been (specifically) left behind for him to wash.

    [Juanita Sherba, St. Vincent's Saturday coordinator for the dining hall, says] The event "was a photo op," she said. "It was the phoniest piece of baloney I've ever been associated with. In hindsight, I would have never let him in the door."

    But (in actuality) Ms. Sherba did let him in the door.

  • As noted by nearly everyone. Barack Obama, 2004:

    Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

    Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.

    And in 2012...

    A new commercial from the Obama campaign targeting Ohio slams Mitt Romney for not having supported the auto bailout and declared the Republican Presidential nominee as "not one of us," as the president looks to shore up support in the crucial battleground state.

  • For a chuckle, visit Phony, but clever.

  • But speaking of tax policy: in the second debate, guess who said, responding to a "20-year-old college student" …

    We've got to reduce our deficit, but we've got to do it in a balanced way. Asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts so that we can invest in education like yours.

    Yup. In case there was any doubt, he still thinks you're stupid.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:59 PM EST