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  • 2006-07-26
The World's Fastest Indian
Garfield 2: A Tail of Two Kitties

The World's Fastest Indian
"The World's Fastest Indian" tells the true story of Burt Munro, an elderly New Zealan-der who sought to break the motorcycle land-speed record in the 1960s. The film follows Burt (Anthony Hopkins) as he sets off with his 1920s Indian motorcycle on a journey to Bonneville, Utah to participate in Speed Week, an annual competition where land-speed records are set. Burt sees his golden years filled with high octane rather than high blood pressure. His philosophy: "You live more in five minutes on a bike like this going flat out than some people live in a lifetime." Burt is Sisyphus with a cycle, meeting one obstacle after another. Inevitably, he meets and charms lots of good Samaritans who marvel at his grit and help get him a little closer to his goal of getting to Bonneville and breaking the record. This is a languid film which revolves entirely around Anthony Hopkins' performance and is layered with hauntingly beautiful landscapes of the American West.Hopkins' portrayal of Burt as a good-natured but tenacious old man fighting both a lack of resources and his own health is memorable and nuanced. While the against-all-odds element of the film is too sweet and syrupy at times, Hopkins' performance manages to take you along for an enjoyable ride. 
( Sherwin Das )

"The World's Fastest Indian" is based on the true story of Burt Munro, a New Zealander who spent years working on a 1920s Indian motorcycle before setting a land-speed world record with it in 1967. Anthony Hopkins gives a strong performance as the scatter-brained, speed-obsessed old man which helps keep the film from being overly sentimental. His rugged charm belies an equally rugged determination to travel all the way round the world to ride his bike in Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. The film is unashamedly upbeat and all the more enjoyable for it. Imagine a far livelier and more linear version of David Lynch's "The Straight Story" and you get the picture. 
The parts of the film charting Munro's journey across America to get to the flats are rather far-fetched: every person he runs into is a Samaritan in disguise. He bumps into a real Indian who helps him out with an herbal remedy for his prostate problems. He banters with a kindly transvestite. He even has a little on-the-road romance. But there is something undeniably inspiring about the sight of an old man determined to go as fast as he can despite the very real risk of death. Good for you Burt. 
( Tim Ochser )

Garfield 2: A Tail of Two Kitties
In "A Tail of Two Kitties," Garfield the Cat finds himself in merry old England mistakenly trading places with his doppelganger, a pampered royal kitty named Prince who has just inherited a castle estate. Prince and the castle animals, however, stand in the way of the villainous Lord Dargis who has selfish designs on the castle. Take great comfort, dear moviegoer, in knowing that if you somehow missed the first Garfield movie, the sequel stands on its own. The best thing about this movie: it is short and there are previews beforehand. You might find yourself wondering whether thespians such as Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt were under-acting so as not to upstage the barnyard animals or the animated cats. The few funny moments reveal the clash of culture hijinks when the crude American housecat and the English aristo-cat discover themselves in each others' worlds. Kids will probably like the numerous walking and talking castle animals. Parents will consider whether reading more children's books to their kids might have been a better idea than watching dogs repeatedly biting men's crotches and animated cats belching and farting. I myself would have titled this film "The Prince and the Pooper."
( Sherwin Das )

The first Garfield movie was excruciatingly bad, to put it kindly. "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties" is no better. I don't really know what more I can say about it. Um, it takes place in England. Um, people talk in funny accents and live in castles which don't exactly give an accurate depiction of that over-populated little island. Um, Bill Murray clearly has no shame at taking part in this sort of vile trash just to get his mitts on a hefty paycheck. Um, likewise everyone else involved in the film. Um, kids might like it. Boy, I'm really struggling here. How many more words do I have to write? Ninety-one? Really? Whew, this is exhausting. Um, cats might like it too. Um, Garfield is supposed to make people "feel good", in the fugacious Hollywood sense of the word. 
Um, Garfield left me feeling utterly depressed and deflated. I have seen three-legged, flea-infested, scar-streaked street cats with more charm than Garfield. Um, can't 20th Century Fox find another means of cashing in on children? Couldn't they, for example, make a blockbuster about a lovely little hedgehog that gets lost in the fog? Just five more words? Phew
 ( Tim Ochser )
 

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