Entertainment Movies
Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'Rise of the Guardians' review: Naughty posing as nice

Zero stars (out of four)

“Hey kids, what would you think about a movie in which pizza and ice cream were voiced by your mom and Selena Gomez and had sleepovers and fought crime? Would you like that?”

That kind of foolish, focus-grouped approach theoretically inspired the 3-D animated “Rise of the Guardians,” in which tattooed and/or snarky versions of commercialized icons associated with religious holidays (Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny), inclusive children’s figures (the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman) and a character that barely figures into childhood at all (Jack Frost) combine to defend the world’s kids. Actually, they only protect kids who believe in them, so that wipes out a large, unrecognized-by-the-film percentage of the planet right there. These beings operate vaguely in service of hope and wonder and other generalized concepts but also in their own self-interest; much of their desire to make kids believe is so Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) and the others feel validated.

The group’s enemy is Pitch (Jude Law, effectively menacing), a bogeyman who haunts dreams with demon horses as if that’s the only thing kids have nightmares about. Some details worth mentioning: Santa (known as North and voiced by Alec Baldwin) is Eastern European, Jack Frost experiences a Jesus-like resurrection and the Man in the Moon is the one who recruits guardians to their posts.

There’s imagination-driven suspension of disbelief and there's total, shameless garbage. Those annoying birds in “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” were boring; the characters in “Rise of the Guardians” are flat-out offensive, corrupting the curiosities of young viewers into a toxic soup of bland earnestness and hectic action. The script by David Lindsay-Abaire, adapted from William Joyce’s “The Guardians of Childhood” and Joyce’s short film “Man in the Moon,” seems to have “forced, whimsical laugh” written on every page.

David, just because characters yell “Wahoo!” and cackle while flying through the air doesn’t mean a movie’s fun.

All kids lose teeth. Not all kids love freezing weather or recognize Santa. Without identifying what this fantasy ensemble means to children, “Rise” cares much more about its irritating characters than the youngsters they supposedly live to protect. Director Peter Ramsey, whose previous directing credit is the TV movie “Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space,” delivers a film as vapid and false as “The Polar Express,” “Hop” and the tale of Dwayne Johnson becoming the Tooth Fairy. Combined.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Lolla day 2: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 2: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    And just like that, there’s only one day left of Lolla. Here’s what stood out to us from day 2. Best: The Tallest Man on Earth: Maybe it was just a right-mood, right-set situation, but boy this was the perfect mid-day act to take a breather, sit in the sun, and just chill and listen to and enjoy....

  • 50 Cent at Parliament and Wyclef Jean at The Underground

    50 Cent at Parliament and Wyclef Jean at The Underground

    Shots in The Dark at Parliament Nightclub with 50 Cent and The Underground Nightclub with Wyclef Jean and Joey Fatone July 31st

  • Lolla day 1: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 1: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    One day down! Here’s the best and worst we saw at Lolla on Friday, plus a few superlatives from day 1. Best: Anyone who knows me knows I was bound to pick Paul McCartney as my favorite act of the day. The Beatle came out and gave it his all with more than two hours of hits, tributes and jokes about...

  • Lolla day 1: Let's just rename it Paul-apalooza

    Lolla day 1: Let's just rename it Paul-apalooza

    What can you really say about Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, pop music pioneer, worldwide cultural icon, and all-around great guy, that hasn't already been said? I mean, seriously. With the Beatles changing music for the better, becoming a pop culture institution and being "more popular...

  • Aldermen looking to stop stores from getting around plastic bag ban

    Aldermen looking to stop stores from getting around plastic bag ban

    Chicago's ban on plastic bags starts to take effect at many big stores Saturday, but an alderman who helped craft the law already is talking about changing it in order to thwart a few large retail chains that he says are trying to skirt the new rules.

  • State police: Man shot while riding in van on Eisenhower

    State police: Man shot while riding in van on Eisenhower

    A man was shot multiple times while traveling in a minivan on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway on Friday morning, authorities said.

Comments
Loading
88°