Shane Acker's 9 looks great, but once you've got a feel for it's post-apocalyptic landscape, it doesn't have much else to offer you besides a bombardment of action sequences the likes of which wouldn't feel out of place in your more run-of-the-mill summer fare. Tim Burton is listed as an exec-producer here, but there's none of the sense of play one finds in Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride (plus, the CGI is far less amusing than the stop-motion animation of those films). I suppose too much lightness would be out of place here, and there's something sort of admirable about its bleakness, its studious avoidance of whimsy, but there's ultimately nothing to connect to and the film finally dissolves into a strange and overly optimistic ending despite itself. I found the experience mononotous after twenty minutes and spent the time looking forward to the long-delayed The Road next month, providing us all a dose of pure despair that will at least likely be far more compelling to watch.
Following up his alcoholic clown film and his film about the woman who gave a dog a blowjob, Bobcat Goldthwait delivers a film called World's Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams. And if that title and star conjures a vision of some unwatchable treacly mess of a family-film, you can take comfort in the fact that it's, in actuality, about a failed poet who exploits his son's accidental death by auto-erotic asphyxiation to further his own career.
Williams' son is a despicable person, a perverted bully hated by everyone (and at least strongly disliked, if not hated, by his own father). So when he turns up dead, Williams' disguises it as a standard suicide, fakes some deep and introspective diary entries, and ends up turning his son into a misunderstood hero among the school. On the heels of Michael Jackson's death, the film plays as an interesting take on the culture's need to mythologize the dead, smoothing over unpleasant and obvious truths and allowing us to feel better about ourselves in the process. Edgy stuff, but its shifting tones and too-nice ending keep it from being as strong as it could have been. Plus, we all know that Heathers is (and is likely to remain) the gold-standard of teenage suicide films (can anything top that film's deathbed prayers for each character: "Why'd you havta kill such hot snatch?" "I loved my dead gay son."--now that's dark humor at its finest, friends!).