Uno: The Movie

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Written by Nelson Cumming

After Rooster Teeth created Laser Team, a film that took years to get off the ground, their subsidiary company Achievement Hunter, created a movie with a stripped-down minimalist approach. There were no concerted efforts of pre-production or the filming this feature. So much so, that the movie wasn’t considered a movie until filming was nearly completed.

Yes, Rooster Teeth’s follow-up feature length film Uno: The Movie has many unique characteristics that I have never seen in the last 11 months I have been reviewing movies.

First of all, Uno: The Movie is the first movie I have seen this year where the main plot involves a game of Uno. Secondly, Uno: The Movie is the first movie I have seen where I couldn’t see any of the character either animated or in real time.

The story centers around five gamers Geoff, Ryan, Jeremy, Gavin and, later on, Jack. These five gamers battle their hearts out on the children’s card game that is Uno. However, with house rules such as drawing cards until you have the right colour or number, draw two stacking and hand swapping, it takes the gamers an eternity to complete a single round. Who will win, if there is a winner at all?

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Drawing 8 cards is just the beginning of the hurdles the gamers have to face

 

Uno: The Movie relies on knowing the characters entirely through the sounds of their voices. I have not seen this since Scarlett Johanson in the movie Her. While the product placement in Uno: The Movie is grotesquely extreme, I cannot deny that the movie worked for its bold experimentation in film that you don’t see in the mainstream, mass-produced movies.

What makes this movie watchable is the simplicity of the plot, the characters, and their motivations. All of the key characters want to win a game of Uno but all of the characters are likeable and relatable. So unlike some bad movies, I can understand what is going on and they don’t make the story overly complicated.

The main problem in this movie is the repetitive gags. I can only laugh so much at guys being unfortunate enough to draw eight cards. When I no longer laugh at the misery of players getting 18 cards there is a problem. Uno the movie is 164 minutes in length which is 2 minutes less than Transformers: Age of Extinction but only half as boring and five times better.

 

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I can only see all players getting 10 or more cards in their hands so much. I want the game to end after awhile

 

I see Uno: The Movie as an allegory to life itself. When you have a goal and it is tough and pointless to reach, you dig in deep and achieve your pointless goals and, hopefully, you catch someone filming it. Knowing that the unreasonable struggle to obtain something meaningless makes it much sweeter.  ***

Norm of the North: As Bad As It Looks

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Norm of the North is that movie you find at a Go-Lo or The Reject Shop that only the most desperate parent will buy just to distract the kids for two hours. It will actually sedate them. I honestly believe a nine-year-old will be able to tell the movie is terrible. It is so ineptly made and struggles to tell a single joke properly.

The Pitch

Could you possibly imagine any enthusiasm from a board meeting when the ideas man suggested this:

“We are going to have Rob Schneider play Norm: A twerking polar bear”

That idea was worth 18 million dollars.

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How the hell did Norm of the North bypass the Gruen Transfer?

I may even consider Norm of the North some twisted form of ironic meta humor. The reason being that I am currently studying for a marketing degree and this movie dabbles on about marketing jargon. The movie talks about approval ratings, statistics, re-postings, legalities and investors. Didn’t everyone involved in this realize this is a kids film?

If you account for the marketing budget (which is normally about the same as the production budget), It’s possible that the film didn’t break even. Part of the marketing campaign was advertising a trailer on Youtube. The trailer has a worse likes percentage than Ghostbusters.

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Left: Chris Stuckmann’s reaction to Norm of the North. Right: My reaction to watching Norm of the North

Why is this received so negatively you may ask, well a lot what is wrong with Norm of the North is slapped onto the animation. It is lazily done. The character movements are not naturally smooth and the textures are very basic without much detail to them. It’s like watching a kids TV computer animation. It’s very cheap B-grade looking.

There is also an over reliance of showing popular music and animals and people dancing to it. It served as pure filler that didn’t add anything to the story. It was like the movie was saying “Hey kiddies we know the business-speak can be terribly boring so we are going to entertain you now with more nothing!”

Perhaps another problem is the gags. The gags don’t have much humour in them at all. It goes down to pee and fart jokes that weren’t funny. The filmmakers obviously didn’t think so as they repeated the same unfunny jokes over and over again.

The one and only positive thing about Norm of the North is that it’s material is inherently harmless. Kids won’t be scarred for life and soccer moms won’t complain to classifications board about the movies PG rating. But a lot of adults will see just how aimless the execution is.

At one point, Norm of the North makes a dated Titanic reference and I wrote in my notes “A Titanic reference? That’s because Norm of the North is a sinking ship”. I have not seen a film where the animation was so poor and ineptly made. Watch the trailer and tell me if you have ever seen animation so poorly done on a feature length film that was releases in theaters. I really want to know.  -**