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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Film Reviews

    Freedomland
    Freedomland

    ‘Toaster’ a childhood classic

    It was a simpler time in 1988. Cable was a luxury, the Internet was still being thought up by Al Gore and animation was done without computers.

    “”The Brave Little Toaster”” premiered at Sundance that year, but was never distributed theatrically. When released on VHS, it became a home video classic, enticing children to fake a cold and stay home from school as often as they could.

    Finally given a DVD release in 2003, the film holds up rather well.

    Personified household appliances, led by a toaster, travel from their abandoned mountain cabin to the city to look for their former owner, who they call “”the master.””

    Along the way, they run into obstacles in the form of extreme weather and pompous, flashy new appliances, creating some good action sequences and some not-so-good songs.

    There’s an eclectic mix of core characters to follow with a grumpy vacuum, an inane lamp, a radio with endless references and

    8 out of 10

    The Brave Little Toaster
    Hyperion Pictures
    Rated G
    90 minutes

    the childish electric blanket. The radio (Jon Lovitz) is especially funny, whether quipping sarcastically or broadcasting fake news. Unfortunately, the blanket is excruciatingly annoying with his constant and creepy call for “”master.””

    Most of the voice work is done by Los Angeles comedy troupe the Groundlings, and it was a surprising treat to hear Phil Hartman lending his voice to a couple characters.

    The animation is below the Disney standard, and it looks like something has been lost in the transfer to DVD. But there’s still a lot of quality detailing on characters’ faces and the final scene in the junkyard looks great.

    A precursor to Pixar films, the film was actually written by “”Toy Story”” writer Joe Ranft and animated by “”Toy Story”” director John Lasseter.

    In fact, the movie is eerily similar to “”Toy Story,”” with the appliances freezing up when humans might discover them. There is even a scene with freakish appliances that have had their parts replaced that is almost identical to Sid’s room of misfit toys.

    The theme of being replaced by something that is newer and flashier that Woody has to deal with in “”Toy Story”” is also present here.

    While I enjoyed revisiting the movie and appreciate almost everything about it, “”The Brave Little Toaster”” is best for young children. There are a few nods to an adult audience, but most of the time the producers are concentrating on entertaining kids.

    And of course, like all good kids’ movies, it’s exactly 90 minutes.

    Moore and Jackson Get Lost in “”Freedomland””

    Just when you thought you had a bad day, “”Freedomland”” goes and one-ups you.
    A middle-class woman (Julianne Moore) ends up on the wrong side of the tracks in the middle of night when she gets lost on the way to pick up her reading glasses. In a dimly lit dead end, she’s ambushed by a man who drives off with her car. Upsetting as this is, it becomes even more complicated when she adds in the clincher: her 4-year-old is still asleep in the back seat of the car.

    The town of Dempsey is turned upside down. The kidnapping exacerbates the racial tension that already exists between the housing projects in Dempsey and the nearby suburbia of Ganon. Police barriers are put up, and the SWAT team is sent in to keep the residents of the urban projects cooped up until someone gives up the carjacker. Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) has the job of keeping the town from erupting into complete chaos and solving the case involving the carjacking and kidnapping of Brenda Martin’s son.

    The character of Brenda is key to whether

    5 out of 10

    Freedomland
    Sony Pictures Releasing
    Rated R
    113 min.

    the movie will work or not. The whole movie is built around the disappearance of her son, so in order for him to stay in the forefront of our minds, she has to build up a strong emotional case because we never actually get to see him.

    The problem is that Moore’s portrayal of Brenda is flawed. Instead of coming off as understandably upset about the kidnapping of her son, you start to second-guess her story almost immediately. Her over-the-top-portrayal makes her seem more like someone who’s mentally disturbed rather than a mother crying over the loss of her child.
    Had “”Freedomland”” just been a straight drama, it might have been able to craft a better story of the kidnapping. Instead, it tries to split its attention between the two storylines of the racial drama and Brenda’s missing son. The dramatic scenes surrounding racial tensions seem stretched thin in order to fill in points of the movie where there isn’t anything important happening. The racial inequality in the towns seems tried and clichǸ. After seeing what “”Crash”” could do with common racial inequalities, scenes in “”Freedomland”” of burning and rioting don’t even compare.

    The cinematography of these scenes is beautiful, though. With muted sound, the viewers are meant to focus on the chaos exploding all around. The color of the fire transposed against the surrounding darkness is a beautiful contrast. These scenes allow you to catch a glimpse of how much loving detail was lavished on the art. The potential of the movie is there; too bad these scenes are far and few.

    -Tessa Strasser

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