Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews for the Easily Distracted:

Title: Epic

What? No Fast and Furious 6? No Hangover Part III? I can attend one screening a week. When you have children, you'll understand.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two Rick Moranises out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Big-city girl gets shrunk to country mouse size and embroiled in a diminutive war to save some forest somewhere.

Tagline: "Discover a world beyond your imagination."

Better Tagline: "There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Teenage Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), is trying, for the sake of her recently deceased mother, to mend fences with her estranged dad, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), whose obsession with discovering the existence of a tiny arboreal civilization led to professional ridicule and divorce. Unable to connect, M.K. is preparing to leave when -- in the midst of trying to catch her dog, who's run into the woods -- she's inadvertently shrunken to tiny size and discovers everything her father said was true. More important, she appears to be the only one who can help the noble Leafmen rescue the forest from the evil Boggans and their leader Mandrake (Christoph Waltz).

See It/Rent It/Skip It: Skip it. I'm sure you can dig up a VHS copy of Ferngully instead.

"Critical" Analysis: I will now review this movie using the lyrics to the song "Epic" by Faith No More, which I think you'll find are eerily fitting.

Can you feel it, see it, hear it today?
If you can't, then it doesn't matter anyway

The whole point of the professor's obsession, as well as M.K.'s frustration, is that she can't see or hear it, "it" being the Leafmen civilization. So in that sense, it doesn't matter to her at all, leading to further estrangement.

You will never understand it 'cause it happens too fast
And it feels so good, it's like walking on glass

Professor Bomba does, in fact, assert that we're unable to detect the Leafmen because they move at speeds much higher than we can track. They, in turn, mock humans (whom they refer to as "Stompers") for their clumsiness and stupidity.

For her part, M.K. does discover a purpose that finally "feels good" to her. A commentary on the advantages of a pastoral/agrarian existence over an urban one (hence, "walking on glass"), perhaps. Or maybe just a reaction to meeting the rebellious Nod (Josh Hutcherson).

It's so cool, it's so hip, it's all right
It's so groovy, it's outta sight

And this unseen (or "outta sight") civilization is indeed pretty hep: Their queen, Tara (Beyoncé), is always urging her military commander, Ronin (Colin Farrell), to loosen up; there's a slug played by Aziz Ansari who's constantly trying to "get with" M.K. (roll that around in your head for a while); while the wise caterpillar who serves as forest archivist is played by Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. Can't get much groovier than that.

You can touch it, smell it, taste it so sweet
But it makes no difference 'cause it knocks you off your feet

The sudden immersion in the Leafman culture is a bit overwhelming, but M.K. eventually discovers she was meant for a Greater Purpose, because of course she was.

You want it all but you can't have it
It's in your face but you can't grab it

Here we have dual meaning: M.K.'s disappearance/departure causes the Professor to question his life's work and what it's cost him; alternately, Mandrake is finally making a push to seize what he believes is his by right: the forest in its entirety.

It's alive, afraid, a lie, a sin
It's magic, it's tragic, it's a loss, it's a win

So there's a fair amount of noise being made about how Epic is Blue Sky Studios' first feature with a female protagonist, which I'm sure is a totally progressive and organic maneuver and not at all a cynical response to Brave's box office totals.

It's dark, it's moist, it's a bitter pain
It's sad it happened and it's a shame

Well, I wouldn't go that far. Kids will certainly be dazzled by the visuals and the transformation of hummingbirds and sparrows into mighty steeds, and there are a couple memorable gags (Ansari and Chris O'Dowd stand out, and one of my daughters bellowed, "I HURT MY ELBOW" for hours), but aside from that it's nothing special. Christoph Waltz might be menacing in a Nazi uniform, but as a disembodied voice he doesn't really cut it, and youthful impetuousness aside, the third time Nod almost dooms his entire society because of Dumb Teenage Antics is two times too many.

What is it?

It's Epic, a perfectly reasonable excuse to sit in air conditioning for a couple hours, but otherwise unmemorable.

Epic is in theaters today. I honestly wish my kids were old enough to take to Fast and Furious 6.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar