1. Pete’s Dragon (Disney, 3,702 Theaters, 102 Minutes, Rated PG for action, peril and brief language, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 87% Fresh [97 Reviews]): I don’t know how this one will pan out. Disney has had a lot of success turning its classic animated films into live-action movies. However, the original Pete’s Dragon wasn’t really a classic and wasn’t completely animated either. Will that matter?
A young boy is found living in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. When asked how he could survive out there on his own, he answers he wasn’t alone. He was with his friend Elliot. Who just happens to be a dragon.
This discovery paints a target on Elliot and there is a race against time to keep him safe from poachers who wish to do him harm.
2. Sausage Party (Sony/Columbia, 3,103 Theaters, 89 Minutes, Rated R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 83% Fresh [84 Reviews]): Okay, we have to set one thing straight. This film claims to be the first computer animated feature film. It isn’t. You might have seen this elsewhere, but it bears repeating: both 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and 2007’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters were animated by use of computers.
The film features anthropomorphic food living in a grocery store who think being bought and taken home by customers to be the next best thing to nirvana. The truth, however, is far more disturbing, as a hot dog named Frank (Seth Rogen) finds out. Frank takes it on himself to warn his other foodstuffs that all they have ever known is a lie.
I do think the premise is a good satire on Disney/Pixar’s habit of giving inanimate objects human characteristics, and the trailer generated some chuckles from me. But there’s something about the film that doesn’t grab me.
3. Florence Foster Jenkins (Paramount, 1,528 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 89% Fresh [109 Reviews]): The story of Florence Foster Jenkins is just fascinating. She was a socialite who used her money and connections to foster her dream of becoming an opera singer. Through determination and perseverance, she made it all the way to Carnegie Hall, a place where professional musicians often only aspire to perform at.
The only problem is that Jenkins couldn’t sing. She was awful. And the success that she enjoyed wasn’t from fans who loved her voice, or appreciated her talent, but rather from people who had a good laugh at how awful she was.
The film has a great cast and director, and is getting good reviews, but you get the feeling that Paramount is pretty much burying it. I mean, it is not playing in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the city of Jenkins’ birth, and somewhere it should have opened. That’s a dropped ball there.