17 April 2007

Drive (Fox, 2007)

I read the promo and thought, "Huh. It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, but dramatic," and it turns out I wasn't far off. Take that movie (or Rat Race, the more recent rip off, thereof), add a dash of The Amazing Race and sprinkle liberally with the creepy mystery of Lost and you have Fox's latest serial drama: Drive.

Drive brings together a broad spectrum of people who are participating in an "illegal underground cross-country race" with a rumoured prize of $32 million, but not everyone is racing for the money.

I'll admit, I tuned in to see Nathan Fillion, who played Captain Mal Reynolds on the short-lived but well-loved series Firefly, and Dylan Baker, who is one of my favourite character actors. I also expected to see a complete trainwreck of a show, but I got sucked in, and fast. The fact that there is a huge ensemble cast helps, as does the frantic pace, and the many mysteries to unravel. There's a lot of grey in the characters and the writers are taking their time revealing some of the real reasons or motivators behind each character's participation in the race.

It's set to lead into 24 on Monday nights on Fox and I suspect I will continue to tune in. Like Lost, Desperate Housewives, Prison Break and other serial dramas with a mystery to solve and/or a destination to reach, I can't imagine it being done well past one season but time will tell.

EDIT: After less than 3 weeks on the air, FOX has cancelled this show.

10 April 2007

Meet The Robinsons (Disney, 2007)

At some point along the way, I got sucked into this mostly typical story of an orphan who makes good.

On the surface, there's not much going on in Meet The Robinsons, the story of Lewis, a kid who likes inventing things. After 12 years and 124 interviews at the orphanage, he still hasn't found a family. After a curious series of events, Lewis finds himself in the future with a kid named Wilbur Robinson who seems to be a bit of a conspiracy theorist. I'm not giving you more than three guesses as to who has to save the day but, as I say, at some point I got sucked in enough to get choked up when Lewis inevitably finds the people who adopt him.

While there's a lot of Disney crammed into this movie, there's also a whole lot of William Joyce, who wrote the book on which the film is based. Joyce is all too familiar to parents as the creator of Rolie Polie Olie and George Shrinks, among others. Film buffs might also recognize his name as a concept artist for Toy Story and a producer for Robots. Joyce regularly visits the "world of tomorrow" in his books -- the 1950s version of the future with round swoopy lines, zeppelin-inspired ships, and helpful robots, all in technicolour -- and all of these themes are found throughout The Robinsons.

There are some obvious flaws with the movie. Some of the sequences are too jumpy even for short-attention-span kids, and there might be a few scenes too scary for very young kids. Overall though, it is a family film -- aimed at kids but with a bucketful of tongue in cheek jokes for the parents -- and I was as entertained as my six-year-old. Fans of Joyce's book or his other work will no doubt enjoy Meet the Robinsons.

*** 1/2