Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Cary, NC – Based on the popular book of the same name, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a perfect playground for director Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands) to play in, as well as a great showcase for the amazing Eva Green (Casino Royale, Penny Dreadful).
Eva Green is the titular Miss Peregrine, a Marry Poppins-esque character who takes in children with, well, peculiarities. Some can float, some have mouths on the back of their heads, some can turn into animals, etc. It’s really the perfect setting for Burton, who hasn’t had this much fun on a bigger scale in a while. He balances the weird/scary with the whimsical perfectly here, creating an atmosphere just tense enough that it’s not overwhelming for younger viewers and still compelling enough that adults will be entertained as well.
Green Owns Every Second Onscreen
Burton gets a lot of help from Green though. It’s only their second film together, though it seems like it could be their tenth as the pair just seem to get each other. Green has an otherworldly quality as it is and she just happens to fit Burton’s aesthetic like a glove. She’s also incredibly talented, going from caring to frightening in the same scene with absolute ease. Green has been on the cusp of a huge breakout for over a decade now, and while I’m not sure this is the one that will finally do it, I highly recommend keeping an eye for her.
Jackson Is A Great Villain
Samuel L. Jackson plays Barron, the film’s villain. Jackson is an actor that few directors seem to get. Don’t get me wrong, he is always good in whatever he is in (always), but it feels like outside of Tarantino, Hollywood tends to forget that this guy can really act. Thankfully, Burton utilizes Jackson to great effect, allowing him to get really creepy and under your skin. It’s a great reminder of Jackson’s talent and I hope he gets the opportunity to flex his acting muscles more often.
Worth The Trip!
Overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fine return to form for director Tim Burton, as well as a great showcase for its two leading stars. Fair warning, the film is PG-13 and has quite a few scary moments, so it’s safe to say that this might not be best for younger viewers. But if your teenagers can handle it, it proves to be a great start for the Halloween season!
Cary, NC – In a time of big-scale blockbusters and challenging, experimental films, Wild Canaries is a throwback in terms of tone and story to create a fun comedy with a mystery that keeps the viewer hooked in and is playing this weekend at the Cary Theater.
Tried and True Framework
The plot of Wild Canaries is superbly simple: a couple, played by Sophia Takal and actor/director Lawrence Michael Levine, discover their elderly apartment neighbor dies and suspect her peculiar son, played by Kevin Corrigan (True Romance, The Departed).
Takal and Levine’s characters sneak around and spy with no real skill or grace to make for a fun comedy that has worked in so many other movies, only with differences in tone and setting. The comedy is also helped by the strength of the actors, with Corrigan bringing a long history of independent and mainstream acting experience with him and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Green Room) playing a large supporting role.
The two leads are also capable comedians, with the right amount of timing and delivery and all of those little thing that are hard to teach to make something funny. As actors, the two do not always work and it’s hard to believe them as a couple and get more invested in their future and outcomes. Which is a rough criticism because Takal and Levine are married in real life. But it is what it is.
Easy, Fun Tone
The reason Wild Canaries‘ story feels so familiar is because it has been done so many times. There are various iterations, such as the 1989 The Burbs but it has the most in common with Manhattan Murder Mystery. One could almost call this a remake of that film.
Not only are they incredibly similar story-wise but tonally Wild Canaries is very much in line with Woody Allen. It is all light-hearted fun with self-deprecation and the inherent strange nature of New York. And that same tone draws a lot from comedies of the 1920s and 30s, especially The Thin Man.
So Wild Canaries falls into a strong comedic tradition and it succeeds at being a relaxing comedy. Levine has long experience as a director so he is not just ripping off these old films and has created his own variant on the tone and has his own jokes.
It’s a Good Time
To be honest, Wild Canaries will not make any lists for the top comedies of the decade. But viewers who want to return to an older style of comedy will be pleased and anyone who enjoys fun will get a kick out of it too if they are open-minded. And while the mystery does not make-or-break the movie, it is also a nice treat to thread the story.
Wild Canaries is playing at the Cary Theater on Thursday, October 6 at 9 PM and Friday, October 7, 2016 at 7 PM.