In 2007's "Knocked Up," Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd memorably head off to Las Vegas to watch Cirque du Soleil under the influence of some psychedelic mushrooms. They sit and watch with giggly wonder as the troupe's members leap around, cling to poles at lofty heights and bend their muscular forms into shapes seemingly exclusive to gummi creations. Of course, the drugs eventually go bad, and the show turns into a nightmarish slurry of creepy costumes, weird sets and an oversized man-baby.
I'm not just referencing this scene because it's almost impossible to think about "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away" without also remembering Rudd and Rogen giggling like schoolboys – a feat made even more impossible considering "Knocked Up's" sort-of sequel, "This Is 40," was released on the same day, a scheduling quirk that absolutely had to have been on purpose. It's because the troupe's 3-D cinematic sampler can now offer fans a mild taste of the duo's dazed amazement, no shrooms necessary.
There is technically a story in "Worlds Away." A young girl named Mia (Cirque performer Erika Linz) is checking out an old-school traveling circus in her small town when she catches the eye of the handsome Aerialist (Igor Zaripov, another Cirque member), the star acrobat. Unfortunately, she gets his attention at the wrong time – in the middle of his trapeze act – and the Aerialist ends up falling to his death.
Or so you'd think. Instead of going splat, the Aerialist goes through the sandy ground and winds up in a strange circus-themed alternate dimension. In her panic, Mia follows and tries to find him while segments from Cirque du Soleil's portfolio of real life shows distract her. She's very motivated to find her true love ... just as soon as this sweet wirework routine is all done. And this trampoline number. And this water dance. And so on.
So yeah, the frame story is pretty flimsy, but if "Worlds Apart" was held together by floss for the first half, the second half is tied together by overcooked spaghetti. The movie hits the midway point and pretty much abandons the lovers' tale, suddenly throwing in several Beatles sequences, an Elvis number and a chase scene between unknown mystical beings that takes place on a massive rotating Plinko board. The film would've been better off just selling itself as a 90-minute highlight reel instead of incorporating a story that's like a puzzle whose pieces are slowly melting into a pile of mush.
That being said, "Worlds Apart" is an impressive pile of mush (put that quote on the poster), and if viewed solely as a Now That's What I Call Music-like compilation of Cirque's greatest hits, the movie becomes easier to forgive. The acrobatics are often remarkable, with performers swinging through the air, clinging and jumping from whatever objects are available. The Elvis trampoline number is utterly useless, but it sure looks cool, with the actors bounding and flipping about with fascinating ease. Anything involving the vertical stage is also a marvel.
Helping Cirque du Soleil land its jump to the big screen is the fact that the 3-D is actually well used. There's a lot of depth, making the actors' stunts really leap off the screen and pleasantly adding to the sense of wonder. I suppose that's the benefit of having James Cameron, 3-D's number one cheerleader, as a producer.
Admittedly, there are a few missteps with the technology. Director Andrew Adamson, the man behind the first two "Shrek" and Narnia movies, shoots most of the soaring trapeze segments from the side, which doesn't really capture the stomach-knotting thrill of dangling over a dark abyss by one's toe. The sense of height just isn't there. However, "Worlds Away" still uses 3-D better than about 95% of 3-D releases this year.
Here's an easy test to see whether you will like "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away:" When you first saw that it was coming out, were you excited? Did you think "Wow, that's a thing I should see?" Or did your brain forget its existence before you even finished reading the title? If you answered yes to the first two questions, well, then merry Christmas.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published March 3, 2015
A funny thing - perhaps even a flipped-turned upside down thing - happened on the way to "Focus": The world fell out of love with Will Smith. The fairly small, R-rated con movie was never going to be the blockbuster to bring Smith firmly back up to sure thing box office status. What it does do, however, is quite nicely kill about two hours in sexy, sleek and breezily enjoyable fashion - a kind of Ocean's 6 or 7.
Published March 3, 2015
Rick Cleveland wishes America didn't want to watch "House of Cards." An interesting take - especially considering Cleveland wrote two episodes of the Netflix hit. However, for his latest work - the new play "Five Presidents," arriving at the Milwaukee Rep on March 10 - the tone lands a bit closer to Cleveland's other big political TV credit: "The West Wing."
Published March 1, 2015
It's been about 50 years since a bunch of bands made their way across the pond to America, sending the nation's teenagers into a tizzy - as well as their parents into a harrumph. Now, many of the figures from the era of the British Invasion - including Peter Asher, a renowned producer and the former half of the duo Peter & Gordon - are hitting the American road yet again for a 50th anniversary tour, coming to the Pabst Theater on Friday, March 6.
Published March 1, 2015
Rory Ferreira, aka Milo, has always been on the move. When he was a kid, he moved around a lot. Here, he moved up in the local rap scene, and with his name growing clout, he moved yet again - as many hopeful young artists do - to Los Angeles. And as many hopeful young artists do, he soon found the cold part of the industry. It became time to move again, back to the town he previously left: Milwaukee. So far, he's picking up right where he started.
Published Feb. 27, 2015
After a quarter of a century as Milwaukee music mainstays, Clamnation is coming to an end, bringing things to a grand close Friday night at the Nomad World Pub beginning at 9 p.m. There tends to be an assumption of the worst when band members go separate ways, but that's far from the case here.
Published Feb. 25, 2015
"The Lego Movie Sequel" made headlines yesterday announcing its newly appointed director: Rob Schrab, a veteran of TV shows like "The Mindy Project," "Children's Hospital" and, most notably, NBC's beloved cult hit "Community." He also wrote the indie hit comic book "Scud: The Disposable Assassin." Oh, and he's also from Wisconsin! Everything is local! Everything is cool when you're from Milwaukee!
Published Feb. 25, 2015
If you've kept an ear to the local music scene over the past year or two, the odds are good that you've heard about GGOOLLDD. The band hits the Company Brewing (the former Stonefly Brewery) stage on Saturday night as a part of Arte Para Todos. Before that, however, OnMilwaukee.com caught up with the group to learn more about Milwaukee's latest music obsession.
Published Feb. 24, 2015
In the war between honesty and artifice, "Still Alice" has a pretty phenomenal performance in the former's corner.
Published Feb. 22, 2015
In movies, time travel typically ends up in the hands of the decent or deserving. "Hot Tube Time Machine 2" proposes ... what if it didn't? What if, instead, it wound up in the depraved hands of a bunch of restrained man-child ids, who then proceeded to violate space, time and everyone and everything they ran into along the way? The answer? Some laughs, I guess. A good amount of silence too. Bags don't come much more mixed than this.
Published Feb. 20, 2015
After months of hoopla and think-piecing (and a bomb scare just for extra drama) the Oscars are finally set to go this Sunday. And I suppose that means it's time to get my picks in order.