An award-winning animated student film has been turned into a full-length feature with intricately-designed visuals but a story-line that feels stuck together with chewing gum and Scotch tape. Tim Burton protege Shane Acker has proven a better student of the letter of his mentor’s work than the spirit. Burton’s films are macabre, even grotesque. His characters may be haunted (literally or metaphorically), tortured (ditto), or murderous (ditto again), but they are as rich and complex as his strikingly imaginative visuals. Acker permits his images to overwhelm the story and the result is a film that is too dark for children and too thin for anyone else.
9 is a little burlap rag doll (voice of Elijah Wood) come to life who finds eight other doll-creatures who appear to be the only sentient survivors of an apocalypse that has extinguished all living things on earth. They are being stalked by the same murderous machines that wiped out their human creators and the movie’s greatest strength is the design and operation of these contraptions. Indeed, it is impossible not to think that the film is more interested in them than it is in its ostensible heroes.
The story keeps getting in the way of our connecting to the earnest little figures whose quest is murky at first and then undermined by an unsatisfying conclusion. “9” only gets a 6.
Coming this spring is “Letters to God,” inspired by a true story, about a young boy with cancer whose daily letters to God change the life of the man entrusted with making sure they are delivered.
Thanks for all the great questions!
Question: Several years ago there was a movie about a man who got notes from an old desk a woman wrote who owned the desk in another time period They continued to communicate this way and fell in love.
Answer: That is “The Love Letter” with Campbell Scott.
Question: Could you tell me what movie the person screaming “Stellaaaa!!!!” is from? Thanks for any help.
Answer: That is Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Question: My 66-year-old dad has been talking about a movie he grew up watching! All he can remember is a mother and daughter that were too poor to buy a Christmas tree and on Christmas eve money started to fall from the ceiling. Apparently a squirrel knocked over a jar of stashed cash and they ended up having a great Christmas. He says he would love to see it again to bring back good memories. He thinks it was made in the 30’s or 40’s. could you please help me so I can give him a great gift this year.
Answer: I believe he is thinking of a movie called “A Christmas Wish” (sometimes also called “The Great Rupert”) with Jimmy Durante.
Question: My friend wants to find this movie and here’s what she remembers:
original is in black and white, musical about one woman who gets married 4 times. The first 2 husbands die (accidents) and leave her wealthy. She marries a non-rich guy – tap dancer clown. He gets famous and dies getting trampled. She goes to a psychiatrist and tells him her story, then ends up marrying him and having kids. There is one final death scare with this guy but he doesn’t die and they all lived happily ever after. What do you think – any ideas? She doesn’t remember any of the actor’s names although she did say they were famous..thanks in advance
Answer: That hilariously entertaining film is “What a Way to Go,” with Shirley MacLaine as a woman who marries poor men who become rich — including Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Gene Kelly, and Robert Mitchum. Enjoy!
Question: years ago I watched a movie, I believe it was on Lifetime. Tyne Daly was a controlling mother of sons. One of her sons married a young woman who would not be controlled. Tyne Daly had her killed. I thought the name of the movie was “The Good Mother.” However, when I look up that title – all I find the one with Diane Keaton. I definitely don’t want that one. Any idea? Thanks for your help.
Answer: The film you are thinking of is “The Perfect Mother” with Tyne Daly and Ione Skye.
Question: This movie was about a couple that was divorced or divorcing. They had a young daughter. In the first scene the father is in a toy store and buys a small toy horse for the daughter’s birthday. Near the end of the movie, the daughter nearly drowns in a lake or the ocean. They find the horse washing up on the beach.
Answer: That is “The Marrying Kind” with Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray.
Question: I am looking for a movie that I thought starred Charlton Heston, but all my research of his movies has not led me to an answer. The man (Charlton Heston??) was a major or colonel or something like that at a military school for boys. I can’t remember if he was the head of the academy or a teacher or what. He was very stern and hard-hearted as I recall, but his heart was melted by the cutest little blond headed boy. The man also had a love interest. I can’t remember who she was either, but she would get mad at him for the way he treated the boys at times. It reminds me of the modern day movie of Major Payne which is more of a comedy than the movie I’m talking about, but there are similarities. Can you name that movie for me? It’s driving me nuts. Thank you.
Answer: It is Charlton Heston! That is “The Private War of Major Benson.”
Question: This movie was about a powerful cop in the Spanish Gov’t. His wife or governess becomes a traitor and meets with the rebels in the mountains.
There is a good fairy or some other worldly power in a stump or ruin in the woods that she thinks can save her. Quite violent and not more than ten years old.
Answer: That movie is “Pan’s Labyrinth.”
Question: I think this was an animated movie about a young witch who ran away and her cat stopped talking to her and started talking to someone else. I remember when the witch flew into a train and slept there on the hay.
Answer: Sounds like “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”
Question: Hi, i remember seeing an old film when i was quite young, but can’t remember the name or the actors. All I can remember is that at the end an old man is in the attic with his grandchildren and he is telling them a story (but its about him and his wife) which is the film – in the film a young girl goes to a dance, and while she was dancing her long johns fall down around her ankles. I think her partner was either a doctor or a teacher. If anyone could help i would really appreciate it.
Answer: That darling film is “Margie” with Jeanne Crain, released in 1946.
Question: I am looking for a movie in which a mom and her daughters are staying in a department store because their house burned down. The time of the movie was around Christmas. Also, in the end, I believe they help catch a jewelry thief.
Answer: That movie is “The Greatest Store in the World” with Dervla Kirwan as Mum.
Question: can you name the film about native American Indians fighting the Japanese with the Americans. It has Nicolas Cage in it. Thanks.
Answer: That is “Windtalkers.”
Question: Can you tell me the name of this movie? There are four black guys who are like a crew. It’s the raspy-voiced actor from “Life” and “You Got Served” and in this movie he gets killed by a pimp named Twinkie who he finds out is his father.
Answer: You are thinking of “Blue Hill Avenue” and the actor is Michael Taliferro.
Question: This one has been driving me crazy for years. I remember an old animated film from my childhood (1980’s) about two toys, a father and son, whose hands are connected. I believe they start out in a toy store but end up going on an long adventure. They cannot move themselves very well. I think there was a group of evil rats which the father and son were trying to evade, and I believe there was a frog that helped them. I remember the frog tripping over the root of a tree at one point and I think he had a fascination with trinkets from the human world, perhaps a ring of some sort. And something about a train, or train tracks. I recall this cartoon being similar to the Secret of Nimh animation style and at about the same time period. Can you help? I have searched numerous animated film databases and I cannot find anything.
Answer: You may be thinking of “The Mouse and His Child.”
Question: I saw an old western when I was a kid (early 60’s) about a cowboy who had his gun hand smashed with a rifle butt. He went on to practice his quick draw with the other hand, left I believe, and became even faster and eventually track down his attackers. Any idea what the name of this movie is?
Answer: I believe you are thinking of “One-Eyed Jacks” with Marlon Brando. It was released in 1961.
Question: I remember a movie about a bunch of women in a concentration camp and they are picked to play in an orchestra. I believe they play Madame butterfly. It just went over how they were treated and their experiences in the camp. Can you please, please help me with the name of this movie?
Answer: That is “Paradise Road” with Glenn Close.
Question: I saw this movie many times in HBO when I was in US during 1998 to 1999 about a mother and her two sons. One of the son is a writer facing writer-block and so he shifts to his mother house for a couple of days. In the house he finds some good material written by her mother stored in one of the boxes. In the past he always felt that his mother loved his brother more than him and so this time he found the reason that after his birth his mom had to sacrifice here carrier of writing and that somehow resulted in her behavior towards her. It was a nice and soft movie about a mother and son.
Answer: Hi, Sanjay! That movie is “Mother” with Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds.
Question: I’m looking for the name of a black & white movie that I saw years ago. It’s about a man back from the war, scarred on his face and crippled I think. He moves to a house away from people and falls in love with a homely woman who works there. To each other they dont see scars the scar and he sees her as beautiful. Can you help me?
Answer: That is one of my favorites! “The Enchanted Cottage” with Robert Young and Dorothy Mcguire.