(In theaters in theaters and available on Google Play)
Again, we find ourselves before the paradox of Pixar. Each film the studio releases, and is not at the height of the masterpieces that launched in the early 2000’s is seen as a failure of artistic by the simple fact of not being a modern classic as Finding Nemo, The Incredible, Rataouille, WALL-E or Up; a comparison hardened by the consistency that the animation studio itself, Disney and rivals such as DreamWorks has had in the last decade.
All this despite the fact that it still works “below” recent Pixar and Monsters University or Cars 3 they are still films of extremely high quality, and even the Pixar modern every so often scores a new classic as Intense-Mind, Coconut or Toy Story 4.
And that’s not to say that the creators of Toy Story there are average films in his repertoire – A great dinosaur it was a failed experiment, Cars 2 it was the first trip all of the study, Brave not filled with expectations and Looking for Dory it was an annex superfluous to a story that didn’t need an epilogue -but the aura of infallibility that had more than 10 years ago has deteriorated a bit.
Hence the reaction to United states, the movie that Pixar opened this decade, has had a welcome more warm, something that not helped by the fact that, frankly, the first impression that the film caused in trailers and other promotional materials, was a story something generic, a mixture of fantasy and reality that has already been seen too many times.
It seemed like a film that could have been made by any of the rivals from Pixar, in other words. And while that does not cease to be true, to a certain extent, having seen the film, “States” still is full of enough humor, visual spectacle and emotional impact.
The world of United states is one inhabited by elves, centaurs, minotaurs, dragons, and other creatures of fantasy, a world in which the magic was abundant, but the difficulty of dominate it gave rise to the population end up relying on the technology, and as a result of that this world evolved quite similar to ours. The dragons were domesticated, the unicorns fight between scavengers such as cats, the legendary taverns of adventurers became family restaurants, and the magic became a lost art.
Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) just turned 16 years old, lives with her brother Barley (Chris Pratt) and her mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and never knew his father, who died before he was born.
Chronically shy and fearful, Ian suddenly finds himself faced with the possibility of fulfilling the dream of speaking with his father when he discovers that this left him and his brother a stick of a magician and the instructions of a spell is able to bring it back to life for 24 hours. However, the spell goes wrong and only revives his father from the waist down, so that Ian and Barley embark on an odyssey to find what is needed to complete the spell before the time runs out and his father would fade away forever.
From that point the movie becomes a witty parody of the conventions of the genre of fantasy, as a game particularly irreverent Dungeons & Dragons not dissimilar to the way in which Ralph the Demolisher did reverence and mocked at the same time of video games.
The dynamic between the introverted Ian and the bold Barley is nothing new in this type of films, but the way that both characters help each other grow and the way in which both are evolving in the understanding of their relationship is genuinely touching, the work of Chris Pratt in particular is excellent, easily his best performance outside of the movies Guardians of the Galaxy and The Great Adventure Lego.
The comedy in the film comes mainly from the contrast between the mundane and the fantastic, as the playful interventions of a band of fairies motorcyclists, but the biggest and best laughs come from the father of Ian and Barley, to whom the brothers are trying awkwardly to camouflage as a normal person with results predictably poor but extremely fun.
This, obviously, accompanies the visual splendor that one expects from Pixar, and some of the action sequences very well done.
United states certainly can be considered a lower entrance in the catalogue of Pixar, but that still means that it is a film of great quality, entertaining and exciting.
Directed by Dan Scanlon
Written by Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley and Keith Bunin
Produced by Kori Rae
Edition by Catherine Apple
Direction of photography by Sharon Calahan and Adam Habib
Soundtrack composed by Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna
Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Lena Waithe, Ali Wong, Grey Griffin, Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama, John Ratzenberg, Kyle Bornheimer