Rating: 13/20 (Dylan: 12/20)
Plot: Gargamel and his crew of marines have found their way on Pandora, a planet that needed its name changed during the Avatar script's rewrite. They want to use their clunky robots and and hibernation tubes to harvest some fairy juice from the rhizoids of Pandora's foliage. Unfortunately, the blue bipeds, scantily-clad hippies, who inhabit the planet use that same fairy juice to get high, an activity that takes up the majority of their time. The Navajo of Pandora ain't giving up their fairy juice easily! Gargamel develops a plan involving the most expensive Halloween costumes in the history of the holiday, and a few marines, including one nondescript guy who is only on the mission because his twin brother died, dress up as Navajo in order to befriend the real Navajo and abscond with the fairy juice. "Shove it all down the front of your pants if you have to," Gargamel ordered. "Me and Chuck'll still smoke it!" When it seems that the Navajo has no interest in cooperation, the marines decide they're going to have to take over forcefully and even, if push comes to shove, knock down their giant tree and, just to show them who's boss, piss all over their fiberoptic weeping willow. But the Navajo, as feisty as Ewoks, have a few tricks up their blue sleeves, including holding a three-day music festival with Country Joe and the Fish, Sha Na Na, and Joan Baez. Brown acid is taken, hair is plugged into freaky-looking horse tails, and the Navajo reach a higher level of consciousness, unfortunately making us all a little bit dumber in the process. How's about an explosion? How's about one in 3D?
I enjoyed watching this for a couple reasons: 1) Dylan and I, along with a couple of our robot friends, found it fairly easy to make fun of with the predictable plot, the hamfisted political message, and especially the inane dialogue, and making fun of things is how my family feels better about themselves. 2) It was pretty. It's the type of movie that distracts me with thoughts about how much it costs to make something this big and sparkly and how many pairs of leather pants that would have bought me when I was a fourth grader. Because when I was a fourth grader, I wanted to be a movie like Avatar. I wanted be clad in leather pants and a Michael Jackson jacket and just be able to walk into my classroom, saunter up to the gal I happened to like that week, and point with both hands in an exaggerated way at my crotch. Maybe thrust a bit, possibly spin depending on my mood. The gal, I'd imagine, would have been understandably impressed, with or without the 3D glasses. And then I could have pointed in that cool way I always wanted to point (like a finger gun, thumb waggling) but couldn't because I didn't have the leather pants to do it. Would I have any substance? Possibly not, but that's not what fourth graders cared about anyway. Avatar is a movie that brazenly waggles its thumb in the air, thrusting its leathery hips willy-nilly, splashing hos with bucketfuls of colors that probably don't even really exist. It all looks pretty good, expensively good. My tiny screen (Dylan and I watched this on an Ipod touch that we propped up against a Sparky Anderson statue that we got at Great American Ballpark recently, by the way) was soaked in all these gorgeous colors, and I was impressed with the creativity that went into designing these lush surrealistic landscapes. Pandora's a lovely place to visit. I wasn't as impressed with the interaction between its characters/wildlife and the setting. Things in Pandora looked too shiny and plastic. But it's a quibble because I enjoyed nearly everything on the screen that wasn't terrible blue-screen acting or laughable dialogue. I thought the robot things that mimicked the movements of their drivers were really goofy. I'd like to have one though, just because I think it would be funny for people to see me and a robot in which I'm riding simultaneously point at their crotches with two hands. Unfortunately for the King of the World, cardboard cutout characters added to a story that feels derivative adds up to a pretty boring eight hours of movie if you take away all those pretty visuals. Which I'm sure is close to what all my love interests in fourth grade would have thought about me, too. "Yeah, he's got a pair of leather pants and can do a pretty mean centipede on the cardboard during recess, but I really can't stand the guy. And why's he point at his crotch so much?" To me, there's very little difference between this movie and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, a movie I watched while wearing a welder's mask.