I always knew those insects I squished had a home to go back to.
A young, rebellious teen, M.K. (Amanda Seyfried), thinks she has it all and doesn’t need to be bossed-around by anybody anymore. Well, her whole reality gets shrunk down to size, and I mean that in the most literal way possible. After getting some sort of spell thrown upon her, she is shrunk down to the size of a leaf, and finds herself embedded in this whole new world filled with mystical, magic creatures that have lives of their own. These “things” she aligns herself with are called Leafmen, and are currently in the middle of a war between what is good and what is bad, against the evil and despicable Boggans (Christoph Waltz).
Don’t know how I found myself in the theater watching this, but one thing lead to another, and I eventually found myself plopped-down in a seat, surrounded by a bunch of families, with screaming kids, and pissed-off mommies and daddies (mostly daddies). Then, of course, there was me, the 19-year-old who just sat there, hanging out, doing my movie-reviewing thing (sitting there with either my arms folded, or, pulling off the “thinking man” look), and surprisingly had a good time. Was I surprised? Ehh, not totally, but considering where animation has been going these days, I felt like it was a nice breath of fresh air to remind me that you don’t need to do something new, cool, or original to work. And hell, you sure as hell don’t have to be riding the coat-tails of Pixar with every damn move neither, but what you really have to do is just have a good time with yourself and others will eventually join in on the fun as well. Eventually.
I will say that, for the most part, the movie did take awhile of getting used to. There were parts of this story that seemed way, way too FernGully-ish, and certain parts that seemed like they were trying way, way too hard to be funny. For instance, the dad is always fumbling over his papers and books because of these “creatures” he’s looking for, the dog’s name is Ozzy, and he also happens to be three-legged, and there’s a bunch of talking-slugs that like to say witty, adult-like things. It all seemed like it was trying a bit too hard for me and I felt like if this was how the rest of the flick was going to be, I was going to have to leave early and find out what the hell else there is to do with the rest of my Saturday afternoon (i.e. get drunk).
Well, thankfully, things turned for the good and rather than finding myself just sitting there in pure misery, while every kid under the age of 7 laughed their asses off; the tides began to change and I found myself in the place of the 7-year olds, laughing my ass off. Okay, maybe I wasn’t laughing, and maybe it was more of a grin here and there, but once the story started moving and the girl get cut-down to size, then things began to get better and better.
Somehow, some way, the movie was hitting it’s funny-bone, the action got better and more entertaining, and everything continued to get more and more greener as time went by. It was going so well and I can’t say I regret seeing this movie, even if some daddies had to shelter their kids away from the young adult, laughing his rear-end off in the third row. Yeah, that was a bit of a down-side, but I still enjoyed myself with the movie and realized that animation can still work in today’s world, even if you aren’t breaking any new-ground. I mean, I wasn’t crying like I USED to do with Pixar movies, and I sure as hell wasn’t holding my stomach like I USED to do with Pixar movies, but I was sure as hell having a nice time, and nobody could bring me down from that cloud I oh so pleasantly floated on for awhile.
And then, things got a bit weird.
I don’t want to give too much away here in terms of what the ending is all about, because it’s pretty obvious and conventional for the most part, but in terms of what type of message this movie is trying to give off: I still am left scratching my head. You can see that this girl is young, prepped-up to be the princess of her house, and deserving of everything that she wants, so why the hell does she all of a sudden begin a sort of “relationship” with a guy that’s the size of her finger-nail? Sounds strange, I know, but it left me with a weird feeling that kids are going to be leaving this flick, thinking that you can find love anywhere, even if it is with tiny men, that battle-off insects in their spare-time. Okay, maybe kids won’t be going that far, but why end the movie like that? Just have her say her good-byes, say that she’ll be back, and that her and her dad will be careful not to squash them anytime soon. Why not do that and avoid being creepy? Pixar wouldn’t have done that….
But probably the strangest aspect of this whole movie is the voice-cast. Everybody here who has something to say, is a big-name in the media for one thing or another, but to assemble them altogether in a movie where they literally don’t have to stand next to each other to get good performances, still strikes me as a bit odd. For instance, one second you’ll have Christoph Waltz doing his thing as the baddie; then, the next second, you’ll have Pitbull voicing a frog that’s supposed to be the kingpin of the slums. I never though I’d see this guy and that guy in the same movie together, but hey, that’s the crazy thing about animation. You can get away with just about putting anybody you want, regardless of if they fit together or not, because it will still work. It’s not their faces you’re saying, it’s the voices you’re hearing.
That said, everybody is pretty damn serviceable in each of their own, respective roles. Amanda Seyfried fits the innocence and angst of what it’s like to be a young gal in your teens (not that I would know); Jason Sudeikis does some weird, nasally-voice as her father, but is still good at being goofy, but also endearing as well; Colin Farrell is pretty damn bad-ass as the leader of the little dudes that fight the good fight; Beyonce doesn’t have much to do as Queen Tara, and feels like the weakest-link out of everybody else here; Steven Tyler is playing up his whole, “pot-smoking” image as the slug that has all the answers and keeps records of everything that goes down in this forest; and last, but sure as hell not least, Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd are perfect fits as the two snails that continue to pop jokes, no matter what the occasion may be. They’re characters are only here to serve one purpose, and that’s to be the comic-relief for the kiddie’s to laugh at, but they actually had me giggling quite a lot. I don’t know if that’s because I actually like both comedians in general, or for what they did here. I think it’s more of the former, but at least I appreciated them nonetheless.
Consensus: The world of animation will continue to do what it’s been doing for all these years, but at least Epic still hits us with the reminder that you don’t have to change the name of the game or do something new with your story, as long as you have fun, are entertaining, and goofy for the whole family to enjoy.
7 / 10 = Rental!!