Scarecrow’s Diploma   November 30th, 2010

I caught The Wizard of Oz while I was home on Thanksgiving. My parents’ Tivo picked it up and I watched part of it with my dad. It’s a fun classic to curl up with, but there’s one thing that always bugs me.

Being a nerd, I always catch this goof at the end, when the Wizard is giving out the gifts. After he gives Scarecrow his honorary diploma, Scarecrow spouts off the Pythagoearn Theroem, which is the sum of the squares of two shorter sides of a right triangle, equals the square of the hypotenuse. However, he flubs it and instead says isosceles triangle.

I wonder if that was intentional. Most-likely the screen writer was looking for something that sounded like what an egghead would say, and being a theater type instead of a math and sciene type, just made a mistake. It would be wonderful if it was an intentional gag though.

The whole joke at the end is that the Wizard’s gifts are pure chicanery and he’s giving the characters symbolic tokens to make them feel better, even though they went through the hero’s journey themselves. They are imperfect, but they still rose to the challenge. It would’ve been neat if the math flub was intentional to wink at the audience for that. That’s probably not the case, but geeking out on plot structure, it’s fun to think that it could be.

Paranormal Activity 2 was essentially the same movie as the first one, so it wasn’t as affective. They did a couple of things I liked, but with mixed results. 

This movie had better explanation and use of the cameras, especially with security camera footage showing more of the house. The father, while initially being skeptical and a jerk, was at least more likable than the boyfriend in the first film.

They did tie this movie in with the first one, which was a good idea. However in using that narrative the film felt more like a conventional horror movie than a documentary and because of that felt less scary. It was easier to get sucked in to the first film and imagine yourself in that scenario, so for that and seeing it the first time, the original was much more affective.

I didn’t not like the film, it was fairly entertaining, but nothing special. Some of the enjoyment of it was being amused at the group of teenagers freaking out watching it in the row behind us.

Megamind is quite a fun movie and a wonderful deconstruction of the superhero genre. It’s essentially a spoof on the Superman story, going into the roles of the hero and arch villain, but it references lot of comics and sci-fi movies along the way.

The more I see of Will Ferrel, the more I appreciate him. His movies used to be hit or miss for me, but he’s been knocking more balls out of the park in recent years. He has some familiar comedic trappings in the role of Megamind, such as the amusing mispronunciation of common words, but he also imbues the character with some genuine emotion and makes him sympathetic as well as entertaining. Brad Pitt also does a great job riffing on Superman.

I was happy to see David Cross voicing the sidekick character Minion, a talking angler fish. I loved the design of his mecha suit too, referencing science fiction films Robot Monster and Forbidden Planet.

The only weak character in the film was that played by Jonah Hill. He’s a likable guy and I enjoy his movies, but he essentially plays the same character in every film. They even made his character look like him. He was fun here, but they could’ve tried a little harder with him.

Otherwise though, the film was a lot of fun. It’s clever and inventive and just a fun ride.