We went today, and I was expecting it to be entirely without redeeming qualities, but it wasn't as wretched as I expected. That was a pleasant surprise.
I'm not saying it was great, or even good, but it moved at a pretty brisk pace, which was merciful, considering. The real downfall of the movie is the blasted 3-D, which renders everything black-and-white, mostly. What is the point of going to a dream planet, and limiting your color palette to black-and-white? Stupid. I'll never understand Rodriguez.
That said, there was some stuff that was surprising, like Lava Girl's troubled self-examination. She couldn't reconcile her destructive nature (being made of lava, she destroys everything she touches) with her innate desire to be good, and her belief in her own goodness. She couldn't figure out how she fit into the world. I'm not going to give up the answer -- for one reason, it didn't make all that much sense -- but I enjoyed the fact that this kind of question was even posed.
I did feel as if I was being clonked on the head by dropping anvils, nearly throughout the picture. The moralizing wasn't just obvious, it was exceedingly clumsy. There was no lyricism at all in this picture, but there was a considerable amount of homage, if not downright plagiarism. The kids' acting was better than the adults'. Pretty much all of the secondary characters (everyone except Max, LG, and SB) had dual roles, and while George Lopez was OK in the dream world, he was completely abysmal in the real world. I don't know whether to blame the script, the directing, or the actor, but that particular character was terrible. It's really too bad, too, because it is a rather pivotal role, and if it had been handled well, it could've made a huge difference in the movie. Lopez just never put out a "teacher" vibe. He was much better as the villain!
I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone over the age of 10, say, but my 3 kiddoes did enjoy it, and it didn't make me want to rip my eyes out. Considering how poorly this movie has been reviewed, I think that's pretty high praise.
postscript: I realized this much later this evening -- tucked among all the previews for upcoming kids' movies was a trailer for the new Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. Yep, they threw all of us long-suffering moms a bone there: "Hey, look, a chick flick!" Since I had no idea they were doing a new version, I was very psyched by the preview. I love Keira (Pirates of the Caribbean is on as I type this, probably one of my favorite non-sci-fi action movies, ever), and she looked and sounded great in the preview.