Watching the Blue Sky – Robots (2005) Review

Plot: Young Rodney is a robot who always aspired to be a famous inventor like his idol, Mr. Bigweld, who is viewed as one of the best bots in the world. When he moves out to the big city to show Mr. Bigweld his inventions and try to work for him, he finds that Mr. Bigweld is gone. In his place is a tyrannical robot named Ratchet who is using his business to force all robots into upgrading instead of repairing or replacing. Thousands of bots who can’t afford to upgrade are being labeled as “outmodes” and being sent to the scrapyard. Rodney has to find Mr. Bigweld and stop Ratchet before it’s too late.

Breakdown: Being honest, I wasn’t expecting too much going into this – and I say that as someone who sincerely loves robots. I haven’t heard a whole lot about this movie before now, and the only time I remember people talking about it was when people on Twitter started circulating that one joke about how “Making the baby is the fun part.”

However, I was pleasantly surprised. I very much enjoyed this movie all the way through. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but it’s very fun, cool, funny and even a little emotional.

The animation is pretty good. I think it’s pretty cool how each robot has a fairly unique manner of moving depending on how they’re designed. The art is also stylized quite well and is fun to look at. The characters all mostly stand out from each other, are colorful and have little quirks that either add to their comedic factor or make them more useful. I also appreciate how well the sound design worked with the robots for the most part.

I also think the way the robots “age” is interesting. They get various replacement parts each year and, I guess, undergo some mild rebuilding every year to show their aging process.

The music was a mixed bag. The orchestral score works pretty well. It was nothing too unique or memorable, but it did keep me engaged and felt very fitting to each scene. My issue comes with the pop music. Taking a note from Dreamworks, I suppose, Blue Sky included some pop songs along with some more fitting but also kinda distracting older pop songs. There was one song in the middle where I really don’t think it is a pop song, because it sounds like a song written for the movie, but that would be the only time the movie would have a legit musical number, despite no characters singing. It’s very weird.

The absolute worst moment of this soundtrack being distracting was when Fender, a bot voiced by Robin Williams, so he’s basically just Robin Williams as a robot, fights off a bunch of robots by suddenly breaking out into “Hit Me Baby One More Time”….The joke is that he’s wearing a female lower half so he….sang a girl song? Also, the song was seven years old by this point, so it’s not even relevant. Definitely the worst moment in the movie.

And, of course, there was a dance party at the end because animated movie in the 00s.

The story was very cliché, but was strong enough to hold my attention. Also, they did throw me for one loop. When they introduced Mr. Bigweld, I thought for sure he’d be the villain. Rodney hero-worshiped him, he was a fat rich guy who seemed like he loved everyone and everyone loved him, he had statues made of him and everything. But nope. Mr. Bigweld was a good guy just overtaken by an evil guy who was a pawn for an evil woman.

Big corporation bad turned big corporation good as long as the people running it are good. Which, yeah, in an ideal world. That’s nice to think about.

Speaking of big corporation bad, dear god, the body count of this movie. I can only imagine how many “outmodes” got sent to the scrapyard IE murdered because they couldn’t afford the upgrades. It’s actually kinda disturbing how many parallels you can make to our world if you imagine all the characters as people….

There are no subplots in the movie, it’s right on one track and we keep going until the end. If I had any real complaints about the story it’s that I really wish Rodney had spent more time struggling and living with the other downtrodden robots, because, as far as I see, he arrived in this city, realized the problems involving an incredibly huge and influential corporation and fixed the issue entirely in like three days.

I didn’t much care for the romantic…..anything in this movie. Fender getting a love interest, I’m cool with. However, Rodney has two love interests in this movie, Piper, who is Fender’s little sister, and Cappy, who is an employee of Bigweld Industries. He has more screen time with Piper, but it’s like she’s not considered an actual romantic interest because she’s too young, but Rodney is only supposed to be like 18 or 19 while Piper is like 16 or 17 at least.

Cappy, whose age I’d imagine is in her late 20s or so, considering she’s a high-ranked employee at Bigweld Industries, is definitely framed as the main love interest, but they barely spend any time together, and the time they do spend together is usually with a lot of other people. They don’t get any moments together, alone or otherwise, they just get a few knowing glances between them. Cappy doesn’t even have a personality. She’s just a nice lady who works at Bigweld and constantly gets sexually harassed by Ratchet because that trope has to stay alive I guess.

And, yes, even in robot world, we can’t escape women being sexually harassed.

Speaking of women, I get that this movie was made in 2005, but some of the humor around women was a little uncomfortable. Like when Rodney gets a new torso for his senior year, he has to use a hand-me-down from his cousin….who is a girl. So he has a pink torso with a boob curve to it.

Rodney finds a new lower half in a panic after losing his in the scrap yard, and it’s a woman’s. So he goes “This is so wrong!”

When they meet Ratchet’s eviler mom, Fender calls her a “sir” and she points out that she’s a woman, so Fender says “Ouch!” and one of the other robots has his lightbulb eyes burst. Some of the humor hasn’t aged well, is all.

I don’t think this movie is sexist, for the most part, as the women do get a decent degree of things to do, including fighting, but there’s the whole ‘Cappy has no personality’ thing, and the fact that nearly all of the women in this movie just act as love interests.

I also didn’t think Ratchet needed an even more evil mother running the scrapyard to basically be his puppeteer. Ratchet is evil enough on his own. Although, this did make for a few good jokes, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

The comedy was pretty good. I was laughing fairly consistently. Not busting a gut or anything, but quite a surprising amount of chuckles. They’re probably cheating a little bit because I’m a sucker for puns and there are just so many robot puns and visual gags in this movie.

The action was also alright. I think the first action scene where Rodney and Fender are being flung all around town on that transport ball went on just a little too long, though.

The emotional moments hit a little more than I expected them to. I wasn’t choking up, but it did manage to connect with me several times. I think it was a really good idea to start this movie with Rodney’s dad super excited about being a dad and watching Rodney grow up for a bit before getting into the main story. It didn’t drag, and it made me feel a lot more for him and his parents than if we just started with him as an adult.

The characters all work well enough. I like Rodney and his parents quite a bit, Piper can be kinda cool, Mr. Bigweld was pretty funny and cool, and Fender has his moments. Sometimes he can really be too much, though. Even Genie knew when to tone it down, but Fender just never stops. I also never once felt like he and Piper were siblings.

I want to really lay out why this relationship doesn’t work. Fender is voiced by Robin Williams. Piper is voiced by Amanda Bynes. When this movie came out, Amanda Bynes was 19. Robin Williams was 54….They just don’t sound, in any way, like siblings. They’re written like siblings, they act like siblings, kinda, but they don’t sound like it. He just sounds like her dad or uncle.

Overall, Robots was an enjoyable experience that I had quite a bit of fun with. You’re not going to get much in the way of anything deep or new with it, but I do think you’ll be pretty entertained by it most of the time. I’d gladly watch it again in the future.

Recommended Audience: There are a few iffy jokes in there, but they never go too far. There’s the “making the baby” joke and they make a penis joke when Rodney is finished because they forgot to attach it………….I know you’re probably wondering a lot about how sex and sexes/genders in robots works in this world…..well, me too. And I wish I wasn’t. I guess you can also say there’s some scary imagery what with the robots being destroyed and picked apart. There was one moment where they officially announced that replacement parts were being discontinued. The robots were panicking because they thought they’d wind up dying if they couldn’t pay for upgrades. A robot fell apart in front of them and the vultures just started grabbing any parts of him they could. It’s hilarious, but also really messed up when you remember these are sentient beings. I guess 7+.


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Sony Pictures Analyzamation – Open Season (2006) Review

Plot: Boog has been a domesticated bear for his entire life – ever since he was rescued by the forest ranger, Beth, as a cub. After meeting the deer, Elliot, who caused a lot of chaos and problems in Boog’s life, Beth realized that she finally had to bring Boog out into the wild and let him be free. Completely lost in the woods right before the start of Open Season, Boog and Elliot try to find their way back to town and Beth before the hunters or other animals get to them first.

Breakdown: Many years ago, I reviewed Open Season for my old blog on that old forum I’ve mentioned before. My review was….bad, like many of my old reviews. Most notably, it was a bit overly negative, again, like many of my old reviews. So, for the review series tackling all of Sony Pictures Animation’s movies, Sony Pictures Analyzamation – yes, that is a mouthful – I decided to rewatch and rewrite the review from scratch.

And I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to finally review this movie with a more level head.

One my biggest issues with the film on the first watch was Shaw and how ridiculous he was as a villain. If there was one critique that stood up from my previous review, it’s definitely that one.

Shaw is, indeed, a ridiculously awful villain. Technically he’s a fine villain because he’s VERY easily hateable. But he’s such a ridiculously over the top caricature of hunters that it’s almost too easy to hate him.

I’ll admit something, my dad is a hunter and I’ve been brought up my whole life to learn about responsible hunting practices and gun safety. While I can’t bring myself to kill an animal, I do respect responsible hunters (not trophy hunting. That can die.). I also completely understand and respect people who are against hunting. It’s one of those issues where I’m probably a hypocrite, but the point is a hunter being a villain in a movie where a deer and a bear are the protagonists is completely understandable. It’s also understandable for them to be made unlikable, but Shaw is one of the biggest most over-the-top ridiculous parodies I’ve ever seen. I say this after pausing to write these notes at a moment where Shaw had just got done whipping his rifle out in a crowd of people to try and shoot a deer and bear in the head at once with one bullet, and then, once he’s heading off in his car to chase them once they’re returned to the woods, he says this.

“A bear and a deer working together. How far does this conspiracy go? How many other animals are involved? God bless America! I hope the bald eagle hasn’t turned!”

No, I’m not kidding. He even tucks his gun into bed at night…. Shaw is an evil person, but he’s also a complete dumbass, spending a good chunk of the movie thinking the animals are taking over the world and enslaving humans….

Shaw’s not the only ridiculously overdone hunter either. Later in the movie, a giant group of hunters all go out at the start of open season being loud and rowdy on the way up there with one of them yakking about how they’re going to blow the animals’ heads off. All of these people seem to be one big hunting group, which isn’t typically allowed for a multitude of reasons.

Not to mention the fact that the only cop in the area, the sheriff, is entirely useless. He sees Shaw have a clearly illegally killed deer on the hood of his truck, splayed out, which is also against the law, and is just like ‘eh’. He sees Shaw try to shoot his gun into a crowd of people, Shaw leaves when he’s not looking and he’s just like ‘eh’ and never tries to pursue him.

But enough of that malarky. How is everything else? Well, considering how I slammed it in my first review, upon rewatching, it’s pretty okay. It’s not gonna win any awards with me, but I had a fine time watching it. Smiled a few times, kinda chuckled a bit, got a bit moved by the emotional moments and had some fun. It’s a very okay movie and decent enough first outing for Sony.

I do agree with some of the critics who said that it’s hard to get a lock on who the target audience is, however. Like, the humor is overall pretty juvenile, including an amount of toilet/poop humor, but some of the humor is somewhat adult and some of the imagery is actually pretty messed up for a kids movie.

For example, there’s a joke where Shaw warns a couple to watch out or their weiner dog will shank them, and the lady said ‘Oh no, we don’t have to worry about that. We got him fixed.’ I want to believe with all my heart and soul that I didn’t just hear a dog humping/bestiality joke in this movie. I want to believe so badly.

There’s a scene where Boog and Elliot are behind a curtain at a show Boog is doing. They get into a fight, and their shadows are meant to convey an extremely bloody and gory murder of Elliot. Boog ‘skins’ him, ‘disembowels’ him and splatters his ‘blood’ all over the curtain. And what’s even weirder is that Beth is also watching this from in front of the curtain and she won’t go behind the curtain to stop Boog from slaughtering this innocent deer. She just keeps yelling for Boog to stop while in front of the curtain.

Shaw’s cabin legitimately freaked me out. Many times when (kids) cartoons will show taxidermy, even if it’s in a scary manner, they won’t choose to design the taxidermy in the same general style as the other animals. Because showing the cutesy big-eyed goofy cartoons as a dead-eyed lifeless decorations is kinda scary to many kids. If they do maintain the style, they typically don’t try to make the scene scary. It will just be dark humor. However, in the scene in Shaw’s cabin, his walls are covered in heads that are all the exact same goofy cartoony style as the other alive animals we were watching earlier. And this scene, while having brief few frames of humor, was definitely meant to be shocking and scary. It was meant to show how ruthless and bloodthirsty Shaw really is. He’s not just a dopey hunter. He’s a violent, dangerous killer.

Then there’s all the obvious gun play and talk of violent acts on animals, it’s all very iffy.

While they didn’t spend a whole lot of time together, I think they did a good job at making Beth and Boog’s relationship feel very genuine. I felt like they were truly attached to each other and watching her have to say goodbye to him was pretty emotional.

I will, however, call her (and the sheriff) out for sending Boog off into the woods like that, though. Boog had spent his entire life in captivity, and he has to be several years old. He had his own ‘apartment’, he had a teddy bear, tons of treats, his own TV – for god’s sake, this bear is literally toilet trained. And yet they think it’s okay to send him off to live in the woods with no preparation whatsoever.

While many of the animal characters were just annoying as sin (except the porcupine, who was adorable, and Giselle, who is just a VERY typical and bland love interest) including Elliot, I don’t think they did a bad job redeeming them in the end. They ended up being pretty entertaining in their own rights. I just think it was all fairly rushed. Too many of them were flatout jerks for me to be all that glad for their happy endings. And is it really all that happy? Did the animals end hunting in that area forever?…..I mean….they did literally bomb the hunters out, so maybe they did.

The animation was okay. Bouncy and cartoony, and stands up alright after 15 years. I think the art style is very ugly, however. Nearly every animal and human is just butt-ugly. They have incredibly odd proportions, and few of them look appealing. I thought the beavers and porcupine were cute, but that’s about all. I will give them a good amount of credit for Boog’s fur, though. While it definitely doesn’t look like what you’d see on a realistic grizzly bear, it does look fluffy and soft, kinda like what you’d get on a toy bear. I would say maybe that’s on purpose because he’s a domestic bear, but I don’t think they’d think that far ahead.

The music was alright. Some of the songs were very fitting for the scenes, but the soundtrack is overall fairly forgettable.

In the end, Open Season is okay. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it a third time, but if you’re up for a predictable but reasonably entertaining movie, then have at it.

I am not, however, looking forward to the THREE DIRECT-TO-VIDEO SEQUELS at all. Hopefully they’ll be alright, but I am reading up on them and I’m not gonna hold my breath.


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AVAHS – Abominable Christmas (A Monster Christmas 2012) Review

Plot: Two young yetis go to a nearby town for Christmas in hopes of getting to see what a real human Christmas looks like. While they have their fun, their dad rushes around trying to return them to the safety of their mountain before Margaret, a crazy scientist intent on proving the existence of the abominable snowman, catches them.

Breakdown: During last year’s AVAHS, while I was trying to find information on A Monster Christmas, a 1994 seldom-known animated Christmas special, I stumbled upon information for another Christmas movie of the same name, also known as Abominable Christmas. The premise and odd cast threw me off, but I didn’t really have time to watch and review that last year, so I continued on my quest to find information on the 1994 special and mosied along.

This year, I decided to see what this movie was about. It did not look promising at all. Cheap animation, by-the-numbers plot and really nothing seemed that interesting to sink my teeth into, but, surprisingly, this special was pretty okay. It even made me smile a few times and kinda consider laughing.

It’s a little cheesy, but there’s a charm to it. Everyone is mostly likable, and they all get along quite well (except Margaret, because she’s the bad guy). The special’s also well paced. It never really felt like it was dragging its feet or rushing, even if the end was fairly abrupt to me.

I think this movie’s biggest problem is that nothing really feels impacting or big. The funny moments are never that funny. The heartwarming moments are never very emotional. The stakes don’t feel very high, even when the lives of two ‘children’ and their dad are at stake. The action never feels that exciting. Things happen, but they never feel like they’re happening, if that makes any sense. Let me put it this way – many good movies are a series of twists and turns and ups and downs, like a back road with a lot of steep hills. This movie is like a straight road with a poorly maintained rumble strip. You’re aware when you’re driving on the strip, but it never increases or decreases your blood pressure.

The characters, while being fairly well-established, also don’t do much to stand out or be memorable. Everyone fits a certain role – Abby is the adventurous little sister who is bound to get into trouble, Adam is her neurotic older brother who tries to keep her in line, and their dad is protective and kinda strict without being overly protective or mean. In the human side, you have Lily, who is a Christmas-loving kinda sad little kid who wants to celebrate Christmas with her family but her dad is a workaholic, and her brother, Matt, constantly, and I do mean constantly, has his nose in his computer.

There’s also the dog catcher who actually breaks the movie stereotype of dog catchers being these horrible evil people who take pleasure in the pain of dogs. He’s kinda nuts in that he’s too into his job, but he’s also very dedicated to doing his job properly and not harming any animals. In fact, he became a master of martial arts to protect the dogs in his care.

Many times in these movies where the main characters are dogs/animals and they get sent to the pound but the movie ends without getting the other animals out of the pound, you feel bad because you know they’ll still be tormented by the dog catcher, but in this movie I’m kinda okay with it. I think they’ll be fine and maybe find good homes. One of them actually does find a good home at the end, which was sweet.

Finally, we have our main antagonist, Margaret, who is probably the most bland character here. Her character is simply the crazy person who is trying to prove the existence of (x) and will do anything to get it. Except she’s so blah about it that she’ll willingly follow dog catcher protocol and bureaucracy and not actually do anything underhanded to get what she wants. The worst that she does is trick the dog catcher into thinking that the two yeti kids are actually unlicensed dogs so he’ll go to their house and take them away, which isn’t what would happen in real life. As far as I know, you’d just be fined, and even the fine isn’t that bad. It’s like $250-300 dollars per year if you never license them. Her big plan was to get the yeti kids caught that way and then wait three to five business days for her paperwork to go through to she could take the abominable snow children away. That is, unless, Lily’s dad’s paperwork goes through before hers so he can license and reclaim them.

She doesn’t even have a plan for stealing them once they’re in the pound. She just waits for the paperwork to go through.

Paperwork’s the real villain here….or wait, I guess it actually saved them, so it’s the hero?

In the final confrontation, Margaret confronts them with flea spray and then stands there doing nothing while Abby takes forever to tackle her and bury her in cans of dog food, which would probably kill her. I don’t know why kids shows keep acting like full unopened cans of food don’t weigh anything. Those things could definitely kill you or at least cause significant brain damage if one fell on your head from a high shelf.

Even when she had a perfect opportunity to take pictures of the abominable snow people, when they were imprisoned in the pound, Margaret just doesn’t take pictures of them. She tried earlier in the movie, but got nothing usable because they were moving. Here they are standing still in front of her with nowhere to go and she doesn’t even think to take out her cameraphone. She even asked the dog catcher if she could take pictures of them at the pound, he said yes, and she still doesn’t do it.

Margaret and the father yeti have a past, which I thought would be much more interesting than it ended up being. She used to be a respected scientist until she spotted the young father yeti in his more reckless years. She tried to convince her colleagues about what she saw, but no one believed her, and she went crazy trying to prove the existence of abominable snowmen ever since. In turn, he became much more cautious around humans.

Yep, no big consequences for what he did. No one died or got hurt or anything. He just got spotted by someone and no one believed her and that changed him forever.

Considering he’s a single father, I thought we’d learn that his mate was killed by Margaret or something. But nope. We never learn what happens to the yeti mama.

Speaking of single parenthood, it seems like no family in this movie has two parents. In addition to the yeti family having a single dad, Lily and Matt have a single father as well. Their mom, I guess, died (they use the term “gone” for both her and Matt’s mother and Abby and Adam’s mother) fairly recently considering how Lily looks about the same age as she is in the pictures with her mother. It’s such a passing mention, though. She says she used to decorate the tree with her mother and is sad about it, but after that her mother is never mentioned again. She doesn’t even seem distressed when Adam and Abby nearly break the framed picture of her mother, she just laughs about it.

Later, when the dad yeti is dressed up as Santa for a disguise, he speaks with a young boy who has a single mother who has been terribly sad since her husband “went away”. I thought for sure they’d have that woman and her son appear again and imply that she’d start dating Lily and Matt’s dad, but nope. She never appears again.

However, I did think the manner in which they handled that particular case was really good. Instead of promising the kid he’d get his mom a new husband or something cheesy like that, the yeti dad reasonably tells the boy that making his mother happy again will be complicated and take time, but the best thing he can do for his mother in the meantime is be there for her and give her lots of hugs, which was very sweet and definitely better than some hollow promise.

I’m not saying that any single parent Christmas scenario needs to be addressed by having the movie end with them hooking up with someone. In fact, I find it rather welcome that they don’t even attempt this with any of the single parents. I’m just saying that it’s weird that is pops up three different times, but none of these single parent situations have a bearing to the plot, and it’s hardly ever actually discussed. The most we get is that Lily is bummed about having to do Christmas stuff by herself because her dad is constantly working and her brother is too glued to his computer to even glance at her. However, it doesn’t take long before Lily’s dad’s workaholic nature is almost completely forgotten and he’s spending time with Lily. This minor conflict is another victim claimed by the rumble strip of a plot.

And Abby and Adam’s mother gets even less focus put on her.

The conflict with Abby learning to be more careful and the dad learning to be less strict is also not really resolved or much of a conflict. She’s like ‘Oh I’m sorry, you were right about humans.’ But I’m just like, ‘What? You just befriended a bunch of humans who are currently helping you escape the one bad and one kinda-ish bad-in-a-way humans you’ve met.’

Matt’s ‘arc’ if you want to call it that is literally just him not responding to anyone or anything the entire special until the very end where he finally speaks. It takes until this hour long feature is nearly seven minutes from the end before he finally speaks his first line. I point this out mostly because Drake “ruiner of childhoods and overall icky person” Bell gets second to top billing in the credits and he plays Matt.

Matt just acts like a deus ex machina. Turns out, he was paying attention to everything the entire time and even became somewhat internet famous for his blog posts about the abominable snowmen stuff, which is the most confusing thing about this movie. They’re trying desperately to keep the yetis a secret, but Matt’s been blogging about them and becoming internet famous because of everything his family is going through because of them….but he’s somehow not compromising their secret? He did say he was speaking mostly to the conspiracy theorist crowd, but still, he’s being treated like a hero when he’s pretty much doing exactly what Margaret was trying to do.

He knows and has everything he needs to free their dad and the yetis immediately when they’re captured by the dog catcher as well. And thus was the power of the internet.

Speaking of the odd cast, this cast is odd. This is a very “Did everyone need a quick paycheck?” cast. Ariel Winter (I see what you did there, casting department) plays Abby, Ray Liotta plays the yeti dad, Emilio Estevez plays Lily’s dad, Matthew Lillard plays the dog catcher, and Jane Lynch plays Margaret. Everyone does pretty okay in their roles, especially Ariel Winter, Matthew Lillard and Jane Lynch, but it’s such a weirdly star-studded cast for a movie that I’ve never even heard of before last year.

Well, enough of me tearing apart the minor issues. For what it’s worth, this is a pretty laid back and chill Christmas special. I can totally see myself watching it again just for the heck of it during the holidays. There are some legitimately clever, cute and funny moments in here, but, like I said, there’s just not a lot of stuff actually happening.

I wanted to make a step-by-step review of this movie, but once I got about 15 minutes in I knew I wouldn’t have much to work with. It just felt pointless. There’s not much to poke fun at and there’s nothing much to discuss. Even the animation, while being cheap, isn’t THAT bad. It’s pretty okay for a TV movie made in 2012. I feel like it’s the budget that held it back above all else, because I really feel like the animators were at least trying and were definitely competent….however, the human faces are kinda dead, and Lily’s eyes are WAY too big.

You know your eyes are way too big when an anime fan is calling them out.

If you want to just put on something Christmassy and kinda fun without really needing to pay attention to it, check this out.


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AVAHS – A Scooby-Doo! Christmas Review

Plot: Scooby and the gang wind up in Winter Hollow for Christmas only to find that the place has been terrorized for years by the Headless Snowman. Each Christmas, the townsfolk are driven out of their homes by the monster, causing most of them to despise Christmas. Can Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Velma and Daphne figure out who the Headless Snowman really is and melt him for good?

Breakdown: What’s New Scooby-Doo? was definitely one of the more popular branches of the Scooby-Doo franchise tree. I watched it quite a bit when it was on, especially enjoying its awesome theme song, but I never remembered it having a Christmas special.

A Scooby-Doo! Christmas is an enjoyable but overall fairly forgettable Christmas special. Story-wise, it doesn’t do anything to stand out from any other Scooby-Doo episode outside of mentions of Christmas, the very ending where they give gifts and stand around the Christmas tree, and a song or two.

A reviewer on IMDB said the mystery was way too easy, but I kinda disagree. I really thought it was the sheriff until they pointed out that the sheriff was acting suspicious, which is usually an indicator that they’re a red herring. I will agree with that reviewer in saying that the absolute ending was bunk, though.

Spoiler warning, even though this episode is literally turning 20 years old next year.

The culprit was a local professor, Higginson, whose great-grandfather was robbed by a man named Blackjack Brody who ended up dying in a snowman after being chased by an angry mob who were tired of being robbed by him. How did he end up in the snowman? I dunno, but it created a legend of a Headless Snowman. The professor’s great-grandfather being robbed of all his gold ruined Christmas forever….somehow. I guess that would make Christmasses difficult because they’d be rich otherwise, but he just ended up hating Christmas for some reason.

This isn’t even his dad he’s talking about. It’s his great-grandfather. Did they never recover enough financially for Christmasses to be fun anymore? Did their family just continue to be poor for all time? That can’t be true because the culprit is literally a professor. He has to have SOME money, I assume. Getting degrees ain’t cheap. He did get robbed on Christmas eve, but it’s not like anyone died. Is it really just a family perpetually mourning their lost ultra-wealth even when the man who robbed their ancestor is long since dead?

Using the Headless Snowman legend as a cover (by the way, the snowman’s not really headless. He can just take his head off and put it back on.), the professor created what is quite possibly one of the most implausible monster….I guess I’ll go with ‘robots’ to ever grace Scooby-Doo.

The Headless Snowman is legitimately made of snow from top to bottom. It has a cone-like…cockpit? in the center to allow the professor to manually control it. All of it. Every single part of it. It’s exactly like it’s living. The Headless Snowman can even detach his head and the head will still make noise and be perfectly animated. All of it is made of and connected by snow. I have no idea whatsoever how this thing works.

So the professor gets caught, his snowman melted, and he laments that he looked for his great-grandfather’s gold in the town every Christmas season by tormenting the townsfolk and….destroying shit. Because that’s definitely the most logical approach to that. Fred and Velma deduce that Brody hid the gold he stole in his home’s fireplace, masked as the bricks in his chimney.

Coincidentally enough, Brody’s old home was one of the homes the professor destroyed earlier that day, which left the chimney bricks in a pile of rubble. The professor accepts his jail-y fate, but, in a show of Christmas spirit, the town not only refuses to arrest him, but they also let him keep the damn gold.

Look, that’s real nice and everything, Merry Christmas and all, but this guy gets no sympathy from me. Did he even know his great-grandfather? This isn’t a matter of justice because the town actually tried to help his great-grandfather back then, and kinda succeeded considering Brody died as a result of trying to run from them. He just wants the gold for himself, making off like it’s in honor of his great-grandfather.

He tormented this whole town, destroying buildings and homes, traumatizing children and ruining the holidays of so many families for many years, AND he nearly got Shaggy and Scooby killed when they fell into a freezing cold pond because of him.

To his credit, he does share the gold with the town to help make amends, but I don’t think that’s enough. He still gets to keep however much he wants, and he still gets no jail time.

Bear in mind, most of what he did was completely pointless. There was no point in scaring the townsfolk, chasing people all over and destroying people’s homes. Why would he think the gold would be literally anywhere else but in Brody’s old house? Why would he not be able to find out which house was Brody’s house? They seemed to know exactly which house it was after they deduced that the gold bricks were used as regular bricks. Some professor you are.

Also, I refuse to believe that he can completely destroy a chimney with his bare…..snowman….sticks…and not reveal the gold when gently rubbing it reveals the gold.

End of spoilers

All in all, while the professor’s motives and ridiculous beyond reason plans were mind-boggling to say the least, this was a perfectly fine Christmas special. It’s also quite star-studded, featuring the voices of Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids) as the young Tommy, Kathy Kinney of The Drew Carey Show as the Sheriff, Peter Scolari as Professor Higginson, Jim Belushi as Asa, whom I didn’t even remember, and frickin’ Mark Hamill as Tommy’s dad. And we also can’t forget the amazing Casey Kasem as Shaggy, Mindy Cohn as Velma, Frank Welker as Fred and Gret DeLisle as Daphne.

If you’re in the mood for Scooby and Christmas, this is a decent enough special. I just wish it either had more of an overall focus on Christmas or a better resolution/motive.


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AVAHS – Yogi’s First Christmas Review

Plot: Yogi bear and Boo-Boo always miss Christmas because they’re hibernating all winter, but this year they awaken just in time to catch some Christmas fun.

Breakdown: You don’t hear a lot of people talk about ol’ Yogi Bear anymore. Last I heard anyone mention him was when that live action Yogi movie came out several years ago and uh….we don’t talk about that either.

Being fair, they did just release that new Jellystone! cartoon. I’ve heard okay things about that, but I haven’t really felt compelled to watch it yet.

I used to really love Yogi Bear. I had a Boo-Boo beanie baby, and, as a child, I spent a few weeks in a Jellystone Park camp and had quite a nice time.

That being said, I can’t remember ever watching this movie as a kid. It’s a nice enough Christmas movie with a lot of heart and some genuinely funny moments. I think its one weak spot, however, is its length. It just can’t justify having a nearly hour and forty minute runtime. It only barely (BEARLY hahaha) has a story, and in order to fill the runtime, they repeat the same shtick over and over.

The plot is that the ranger, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Doggie Daddy and Augie are enjoying their Christmas up at the Jellystone lodge, but because of the mysterious and frightening events that plagued the previous Christmas parties, this might be their last Christmas at the lodge. Mrs. Throckmorton, the owner, intends on selling the lodge after this year’s Christmas party, so everyone tries their best to butter her up to change her mind.

Yogi and Boo-Boo are suddenly woken up out of hibernation by the festivities and join the fun, celebrating their first ever Christmas since they usually miss every Christmas while they’re sleeping.

Accompanying Mrs. Throckmorton is her miserable little shit of a nephew, Shively, who despises Christmas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid, especially a spoiled rich kid, just hate Christmas in a classic cartoon. I mean, it’s common for little kids to be obsessed with presents on Christmas, but this kid flatout hates everything about Christmas and wants nothing to do with it, which just makes me wonder why he’s even on this Christmas trip with his aunt.

Shively is a horrible little gremlin to everyone. He’s so terrible that he even attempts murder on more than one occasion. When Doggie Daddy is in the ice fishing shanty, Shively tries to push it into a open spot of water so he’ll drown all because Doggie Daddy caught a bigger fish than he did. Later, he tries to kill Cindy and Boo-Boo by pushing their snowmachine onto a powerful geyser while they’re sleeping. He also unhooks Yogi’s skis from his feet right as he’s about to do a ski jump. The little kid’s a demon.

There’s a second antagonist named Herman the Hermit. He lives on Jellystone Park grounds, somehow (that can’t be legal, can it?) and he also hates Christmas because the ruckus caused by the Christmas party at the lodge bothers him. He’s been playing pranks on the partygoers every year, pretending to be monsters and other supernatural creatures, in an effort to Scooby-Doo them away.

You’d think he’d be the main antagonist, but he mostly takes a backseat to Shively and his bratty shenanigans. Although, they do end up teaming up in the end, they don’t really do much. They go to ridiculous lengths all to steal a box of decorations. There’s a helicopter crash involved.

Although I did find it funny when Shively fell into the frozen lake when Yogi saved Doggie Daddy from being pushed into the open water. Shively ran to his aunt to blame Yogi for it and get him in trouble, Yogi shows up, admits he did it, says he’s not sorry because Shively’s a brat, doesn’t give a reason for doing it and Mrs. Throckmorton is like “Well, thank you, Yogi. Yes, the little brat did deserve it. Maybe this will teach him a lesson.” I agree he needs to be taken down a peg, but that’s pretty cold (pun intended) to act like a little kid deserves to be plunged into a freezing cold lake.

Mrs. Throckmorton is intent on selling the lodge, but, through wacky circumstances, she’s continuously impressed by Yogi as he randomly and accidentally keeps saving her life. To the ranger and lodge manager’s annoyance, Yogi keeps getting promoted with better jobs in the lodge in an effort to kiss up to Mrs. Throckmorton so she won’t sell the lodge. Spoiler alert, she doesn’t sell the lodge. She donates it to an orphanage for use as a vacation spot for them, which is extremely nice, but, like, I’m pretty sure a better option would have been to sell the lodge and just give the money to the orphanage. Orphans need a lot of things, and I’m pretty certain a vacation home isn’t one of them.

Meanwhile, Cindy Bear is overall just being very horny for Yogi. The only reason she decides to wake up from her own hibernation and help out at the lodge is because Yogi needs her, and she spends an inordinate amount of time trying to get him to kiss her under the mistletoe. She gets TWO songs where she’s singing about Yogi kissing her. They’re good songs, but calm down, Cindy.

Speaking of songs, there are several, and they’re overall quite good, but none are terribly memorable. Sad to say, but I’ll probably forget most of these songs by the end of the week, and it’s Friday.

If you love Yogi and want some Christmasness with him, as well as some other classic Hanna-Barbera characters, this is a good movie to check out. While I stand by my criticism of the runtime (it could easily be 45 minutes) it has many moments that made me smile, and there were even some heartwarming moments in there. I enjoyed it for what it was, and I’m sure many others will too.


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AVAHS | Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979) Review

Plot: A powerful ancient being named Winterbolt returns to the North Pole after being sent into a deep sleep for hundreds of years. He yearns to take down Santa for taking over the North Pole in his absence, but Rudolph’s shining red nose is getting in his way.

Breakdown: Readers! Guess what?! It’s that time of year again! It’s time for A Very Animated Holiday Special! This year, we’re starting out AVAHS with yet another Rankin/Bass classic, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.

I only very vaguely remember watching this movie when I was a kid. It was barely a blip on my Christmas movie radar, which kinda makes sense because, again, even though the movie is centered on Christmas, the title leads you believe this is a film best enjoyed in July when most people don’t think to celebrate the whole ‘Christmas in July’ thing that I’m not even sure happens anywhere anymore and was barely a thing when it was a thing.

The movie starts out with teenage Rudolph (because Adult Rudolph just doesn’t exist anymore apparently) spending some time with Frosty and his two children, Chilly and Milly. Just to be clear, you have Frosty, Chilly, Frosty’s wife, Crystal, and then, randomly, Milly. Why is Milly the only one who isn’t given a snow/ice/cold themed name? Also, how did they make these kids? Did they just use snow or……….You know what, never mind.

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The kids ask their Uncle Rudolph if he’ll light up his nose for them, which he does, but then suddenly realizes the light is fading away.

After the opening song, we get some backstory about the North Pole.

Long before Santa made his way up there, the land was ruled by the fearsome tyrant, Winterbolt, who has a name that is way too cool (Pun not intended, but welcome). As you can guess, he’s a lot like Snow Miser. You might even say he’s exactly like Snow Miser….Or Jack Frost…..Or Stormella…..There are a lot of ice-controlling antagonists in Rudolph movies, is what I’m trying to say. Actually, being completely fair, but also calling them out a bit, Winterbolt looks exactly like an aged-down slightly Winter Warlock from Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.

He also has two ridiculously animated snow dragons, which I laughed at for several minutes. Look, I respect the hell out of stop motion animation, but the dragons seems to have just been ‘animated’ with strings and bouncing their heads up and down.

The Aurora Borealis, referred to as Lady Boreal, took corporeal human form when she got fed up with Winterbolt’s BS. Using her powerful magic, she forced Winterbolt into a deep slumber for however many years. In the meantime, the innocent animals were able to return to the land to live happily while Santa arrived with his wife and posse to establish his toy factory and become the Santa Claus we know and love.

Growing weak from all the years of using her magic to keep Winterbolt at rest, Lady Boreal starts to fade away from her human form, but she can rest easy knowing that Santa’s around to be a true leader to everyone at the North Pole.

As her grip on him weakens, Winterbolt awakens and catches up on the goings on at the North Pole via the genie that lives in his staff…..I know what I said. He’s appalled (or aPOLEd :D) to see Santa has taken over as leader or ‘king’ as he puts it, and is seemingly more powerful than him. He asks the genie what he can do about it.

The genie suggests that he use his snow dragons to make a powerful snow storm and wall of fog next Christmas Eve to get Santa hopelessly lost, making him unable to deliver the toys.

Winterbolt concocts his master plan – he’ll do as the genie instructs, but he’ll also go out and deliver twice as many toys on Christmas, causing the children of the world to love him so much that they become dependent on his deliveries and making him so powerful that he’ll

Lady Boreal hears his plot and, using the last of her power, gives some of her light to a newborn reindeer. That’s right – newborn baby Rudolph! Who…..has a red nose before Lady Boreal even gives him the power. So….he was born with a big red nose, but it only glowed because it was infused with Aurora Borealis magic….?

Here’s where they start losing me. They’re kinda retconning Rudolph’s origin here. Lady Boreal appears to Rudolph and gives him the light in his nose. Why it has to be in his clearly already gonna get him bullied red nose, I have no idea. Lady Boreal seems like a bit of a bitch here, if you ask me.

The power/light activates when he thinks good thoughts. The better his thoughts, the brighter the light shines. However, if he ever tries to use the power for evil purposes, the light will be extinguished forever. Lady Boreal also puts a neat snowflake and star design on the bottom of his hoof as a mark of the power or something….which I’m 99.9999% certain he doesn’t have in the original movie and 100% certain does not matter in any way, shape or form. It’s just kinda something he has now.

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Oh, by the way, none of this is being heard by Rudolph’s mom or dad because his mom is asleep because she’s exhausted from giving birth and Donner’s out with the guys doing…guy…reindeer….things…..games? So convenient. Or I guess I should say inconvenient. Hey Lady, maybe tell Santa or either of Rudolph’s parents that you’re giving him a magical power for the sake of saving Christmas in a year? So maybe they won’t ostracize him, his father won’t be ashamed of him and he won’t run away from home?

Lady Boreal: “Use your secret magic well.”

WHY IS IT SECRET?!

Jeez, this is Naruto all over again.

That’s another point – why isn’t she warning Santa of the storm? She’s just giving this flashlight power to a newborn reindeer who can’t even speak yet, nor will he probably be able to remember this conversation, and hoping for the best. She’s not even telling Rudolph about Winterbolt’s plan. Out of context, she’s just giving a random baby reindeer (who is still so adorable it hurts) the power to turn his nose into a laser pointer. You suck, Lady.

We get a brief retelling of Rudolph’s story that pretty much omits everything that’s not in the song. Makes out like Rudolph was just chillin’ in the stalls on Christmas Eve and Santa was like “Oh yeah, you have highbeams! Come with me, Rudolph!” and the movie based on these clips was probably like five minutes long.

Also, he’s still not adult Rudolph in that shot. They really didn’t want him to grow up.

Looping back around to the starting scene, Winterbolt is enraged that his plan failed because of Rudolph, so he decides to snuff out his light. However, Rudolph’s resolve is so powerful that it overcomes Winterbolt’s magic. Also, it seems like Rudolph is physically weakening as his light goes out, like he’s a Charizard or something. Will he die if his light goes out? He’s passing out because it’s flickering.

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Winterbolt’s genie tells him the only way to extinguish the light forever is if he gets Rudolph to use his powers for evil, even if it’s just once.

What powers, exactly? Rudolph has the power to create a mildly bright red light. How could that ever be used for evil?……I guess he could shine it into a cockpit and cause a Boeing to crash. Kinda dark there, Rankin/Bass.

Milton the Ice Cream Man pops by on his hot air balloon with bad news. He was going to marry his love, Lanie Loraine – a circus performer – right at her mother’s circus on the high wire, but a shady businessman named Sam Spangles came by during their wedding to buy out the circus. Lanie is so distraught that she can’t think about getting married, and if the circus gets sold, Sam will force her and her family to move all over the country, meaning she and Milton will likely never get married. They need to have a great performance on the Fourth of July to earn enough revenue to prevent Sam Spangles from buying them out on the sixth….however that works.

Okay, that’s sad, really, but, uh, this also doesn’t make any sense. Her being too sad or concerned to get married right now, I understand. But the idea that they’ll be torn asunder if her mother’s circus gets sold because they’ll be moving around a lot is just nonsensical.

First of all, do they not already move around a lot as a circus? Isn’t that just what circuses do?

Secondly, I really need to point out something extremely obvious right now….Milton is traveling to the North Pole from, what I’ve researched, his home somewhere in Florida…on a hot air balloon.

He’s doing this because he keeps his ice cream stock at the North Pole to keep it cold.

Because yes.

That.

Is the most logical solution to that issue. Do freezers not exist in the Rankin/Bassverse?

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Winterbolt uses magic snow to send psychic suggestions to Milton to get Rudolph to go to the circus to drum up customers. Crystal and the kids want to go, but Frosty points out the obvious that it will be the Fourth of July on the seacoast, meaning they’ll certainly be puddles if they go there. It sucks, but that’s the way of the snowpeople.

Crystal apologizes for making the suggestion, and apparently feels so bad about it that she feels the need to break out into song about how much she loves Frosty. It’s a fine song and sequence but a really weird way of segueing to it.

Rudolph comforts them and says they’re not misfits because they melt, but he does wish they could be unmeltable so they could come with him.

In comes Winterbolt, who is WAY bigger than I thought he’d be.

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He acts like an innocent frail old man and offers them a solution to their problem – four amulets that will make them virtually unmeltable, even in temperatures so high it’d melt steel. However, there’s a catch – each amulet has a design on it made out of F’s.

Frosty: “Yeah! F! F! F! F!” We get it, Frosty. You really want to pay your respects. Stop spamming.

The four F’s stand for when the Final Firework Fades on the Fourth, which is when the amulets’ power ceases to work and the snow family will melt unless they’re back in snowy lands by then.

As quickly as he arrived, Winterbolt vanishes, and the group all become excited about going to the circus.

……Uhm….I know this is for kids, I know, I do, but Frosty and the others are insanely naïve right now. Like, how convenient, a strange giant ice wizard offers us the perfect solution to our fatal problem out of nowhere and without asking anything in return. Boy, this couldn’t be any more legitimate if we met him on Craigslist!

At least Santa is slightly suspicious of this situation, but not enough to stop them from going. Also, goddamn, this movie is from 1979 and Mickey Rooney already sounds like he’s in his 80s. I get that he’s trying to sound old because this is Santa, but he sounds really weak like Santa’s on his death bed. He was only 52 or so at the time.

Frosty is excited to go, but sad that they’ll have to leave before they see the fireworks or else they won’t be able to reach the North Pole in time. Santa believes all children should see fireworks at least once in their lives, so he starts thinking. Winterbolt takes his cue and sends a psychic magic snow message to Santa suggesting that he grab his sleigh and head down to the circus on the Fourth of July to pick up Frosty and his family right before the final firework goes off. I guess he moves so fast that he could get them back almost immediately?

…..Can’t they just have fireworks at the North Pole? Is that too simple? Why do you need to tempt fate like that?

After another song break where Milton sings the same song Crystal sang, only he’s singing his to a poster of Lanie, they head to the circus.

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When they arrive;

Lanie: “He’s the greatest ice cream man in the world!”

He travels 3813 miles via a hot air balloon every time he needs to restock on his ice cream (7626 miles round trip) because he thought storing his ice cream on a polar ice cap was better than buying a freezer.

No, he’s not the greatest ice cream man in the world.

After a song break about Christmas by Lanie’s mother, Lily, voiced by the legendary Ethel Merman, Winterbolt continues on with his plan by awakening his snow dragons and asking the genie to bring him a reindeer who is the polar opposite to Rudolph – terrible in every way. The genie directs him to the cave of lost rejections. There, Winterbolt recruits the reindouche, Scratcher, who blames Rudolph for taking his future spot on the team of Santa’s reindeer despite 1) he very obviously wouldn’t have been, considering he admits that he did a bunch of bad stuff that would have prevented from being promoted, and 2) Rudolph didn’t even take a spot on the team. Santa originally had a team of eight reindeer, but he took the lead as the ninth.

Cut back to the circus for another song break by Lily, this time about how life in the circus has its ups and downs, but she doesn’t care as long as she has her….guy? Guide? It’s hard to understand, and neither lyric really makes any sense. It’s a fine song, I just don’t understand why it’s here.

After going over the plan, Winterbolt gives Scratcher some magical feed corn before he heads off to meet Sam Spangles.

Scratcher: “Hey….that’s means I’ll be able to fly like Donner and Blitzen!”

I’m sorry….what? Now Santa’s reindeer only fly because of literal magic corn?

….I–…..magic…corn.

It’s magic….corn.

I always thought Santa’s reindeer could just fly naturally….Unless you’re a girl, of course. Then you’re just a dumb normal reindeer…..with a bow in your hair….or no identity besides being Mrs. Donner….Actually, they do claim that Santa’s team of reindeer are all, realistically, female because they have their antlers in winter when males lose their antlers at that time, and the females keep them all year round. I mean, that’s obviously not canon in this continuity, but it’s interesting all the same.

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We pop in for a really sweet scene between Santa and Mrs. Claus as they pack for their trip. Not sure why they need to pack if they’re just heading down there to rescue some snowpeople, but okay. They head off on their sleigh, and…I need to ask something awkward. Mrs. Claus refers to Santa as ‘Papa’, Santa calls her ‘Mama’ and they just called the elves ‘Little Kringles’….Are….the elves….their children?

As Santa and Mrs. Claus depart, Winterbolt uses his snow dragons to implement his plan. He will create a storm of ice and fog even worse than the Christmas Eve where Rudolph saved the day. Santa and Mrs. Claus get caught up in the storm, and it’s so severe that a frickin’ ice tornado forms and sucks the sleigh into the vortex.

Santa: “If only Rudolph were here!”

Yeah, he could….uhm…..give us a pretty red light to look at while we’re still being sucked into the tornado because that’s literally his only power.

Also, do the reindeer no longer possess the ability to talk? All of them seem so dead-eyed and aren’t reacting at all to Santa’s directions. Not even Donner is saying anything. He did talk in the flashback, but that’s it.

Santa sings a sweet song to Mrs. Claus about how much he loves her in order to comfort her as they wait in the eye of the storm. Mrs. Claus suggests they try to hoof it (literally) on the ground instead of trying to fly through the storm, and Santa agrees.

Back in the circus, they’re holding a parade, accompanied by another song sung by Lily, which is pretty catchy and definitely parade-y. Crystal tells Frosty to smile because you’re supposed to smile when you’re in show business, but he clearly already is smiling….Anyhoo, the reason he’s invisibly not smiling is because he’s worried that Santa won’t arrive in time. However, his family assuages his fears, for the most part.

Meanwhile, Scratcher meets up with Rudolph and convinces him to get him a job with the circus by pretending he’s starving, putting Winterbolt’s plan into motion.

Winterbolt himself is moving out with his own brand-new ice sleigh complete with a team of giant flying snow snakes, which is too awesome to poke fun at even a little. They also give Winterbolt his own ‘evil’ version of Santa’s take off manta.

“To the top of the porch,

to the top of the wall!

Now slink away, slink away, slink away all!”

…….Yeah, I think we need to workshop that.

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The circus is underway, and Frosty and family take their positions to do their act.

Chilly: “Stick to the script, Daddy.”

Frosty: “If Santa doesn’t get here soon, we’ll be sticking to everything!”……What?

Scratcher tries to lure Rudolph over to a tent by pretending he needs his red nose to see in there and retrieve something, and Rudolph agrees, but like…could Rudolph not just tell him to go get a flashlight or something?

Rudolph has to go do his act, so he leaves Scratcher, promising to help him afterward.

Rudolph’s act is to burn off a shroud of fog…..I guess it’s to replicate what he did for Santa, but he didn’t burn off the fog….I don’t even think that’s a thing you can do (and why do the movies keep wanting to push the idea that Rudolph’s nose also gives off a lot of heat? If his nose really is the power of the Aurora Borealis, it shouldn’t be emitting any heat.) He was just a light that Santa used to see through the storm.

Once he’s done with that, Rudolph returns to Scratcher to help him find what he’s looking for. Scratcher tricks Rudolph into stealing a suitcase full of money, the funds collected from the day’s show, from Lily’s wagon. Rudolph’s very suspicious, but does the deed anyway.

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I really really needed to post this screencap. I feel better now. Thank you derp-face Rudolph.

After a pretty cool Christmas show back at the circus, complete with Rudolph’s nose making the star on top of the Christmas tree, everyone gets set for the fireworks. Frosty’s so concerned that Santa won’t arrive in time that he rushes to stop them from being set off, but it’s too late. Lily lit the main fuse, and the fireworks sequence can’t be stopped once that’s done. There are 100 fireworks in total, and, for some reason, they’re wired to go off one at a time like once every few seconds. Kinda sounds like a crappy fireworks show, but I get that it’s moreso designed to raise tension with Frosty and his family’s situation.

Speaking of their situation, there aren’t really any stakes here, right? In the original Frosty the Snowman movie, Frosty melted in a hot greenhouse, but he was revived because he was made of magic Christmas snow. All he needed was to return to the cold and put his hat back on. I don’t know what exactly is the magical life item for all of the other snowpeople (Crystal was shown to be brought to life by a kiss on the cheek by Frosty) but I assume that the situation is the same for all of them. Melting isn’t necessarily a death sentence for them, so why do they seem like they’re all heading for the pearly gates? Just wait for the final firework while sitting in a few tubs or buckets, make sure someone has all of your personal/magical effects and you’ll be fine, right? Or maybe just remove the 100th firework from the platform somehow?

Winterbolt shows up as the fireworks start winding down. They beg him to extend the power of the magical amulets a while longer so Frosty and the others won’t melt. Winterbolt agrees, but only if Rudolph’s nose remains extinguished. Rudolph is confused because he believes his nose isn’t currently extinguished, but when he tries to light it he realizes that Winterbolt is right – his light is gone.

The reason being – he stole the money from the circus. Since that’s an evil deed that he technically performed while using his nose light, it has been extinguished.

I’m calling foul on that. Sure, he did a bad thing, but he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He didn’t have evil intentions and was being manipulated. I really don’t think that should count. Also, he didn’t actually use his nose for evil. He just used it to see what he was being tricked into stealing.

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He says he’ll clear things up with Lily to seemingly make everything better and get his nose to light up, but Winterbolt won’t help Frosty and his family unless Rudolph takes the blame. I’m a little confused. Shouldn’t it just be bad enough that he did the deed not that he’s taking the blame for it? I was confused earlier too because he stole the money but his nose still lit up at the finale of the circus. Was the deed only bad when it got discovered?

Rudolph goes to take the blame for the theft, devastating Lily and making Rudolph incredibly guilty and sad. To make matters worse, Crystal now doesn’t want Chilly and Milly associating with their Uncle Rudolph anymore because he’s now a criminal.

Frosty feels awful, Rudolph feels awful, that snowflake star mark thing on Rudolph’s hoof is gone, I still don’t get what the point of that was, but to its credit, this was a genuinely sad scene.

Winterbolt and Scratcher fly off to take over the North Pole now that Rudolph’s nose is out. Meanwhile…I guess there’s another show the following night? And Rudolph humiliates himself by not being able to light his nose for the audience, who proceed to boo him off stage.

Rudolph’s existence is so sad. First he’s hated because of his glowing red nose, then he’s heralded as a hero because of his glowing red nose, now he’s back to being hated because he can’t make his red nose glow. It sucks so much that public opinion on Rudolph is so largely dependent on his nose. Like no one cares that he’s a hero or can frickin’ fly or even that he personally knows Santa – it’s all just the nose for all of these ungrateful bastards.

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Everyone else in the circus understandably hates Rudolph now, and Rudolph walks off to sing a sad song called ‘A Bed of Roses.’ It’s my favorite song of the lot, but I did have a giggle at Rudolph with red glitter all over his face. I mean, it’s very sad that he’s just trying to replicate the glow of his nose, but it looks like he snorted glitter.

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By the way, Rudolph was clearly very weak when his light was fading in the beginning of the movie. Now he loses it entirely and he’s completely fine.

Frosty is so guilty about what happened to Rudolph that he wonders if there’s something he could do to help Rudolph without putting his family in harm’s way. Winterbolt hears his plight, but doesn’t think Frosty has anything of benefit to take from him. His genie, however, informs him of Frosty’s trademark hat. Winterbolt believes that he could use Frosty’s hat, replicate the life-granting magic from within, and create his own army of living snowmen.

They animate this imagery in an interesting way. I’m pretty sure they only animated one snowman soldier, but they used mirrors to replicate the animated image to make it look like there were many.

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The main reason this is appealing to Winterbolt is because getting rid of Frosty means getting rid of the only other person who knows the truth about the theft.

Can I ask a question? Why can’t Rudolph just bring Frosty and co. To the North Pole via Milton’s hot air balloon and then tell everyone what happened? It’s not like Winterbolt put a curse on Rudolph to forever extinguish his light. He just agreed to never get it back to save Frosty, but if Frosty and his family are no longer in danger then he doesn’t need to keep his end of the bargain.

Winterbolt’s plan has so many holes in it that Spongebob’s jealous.

Couldn’t he have saved himself a lot of trouble and just frozen Rudolph in some sort of super unmeltable ice? He has access to that because that’s supposedly what Frosty and his family are with those amulets on.

Back with Rudolph, Lady Boreal, still in her light form, comforts Rudolph, telling him that she watches over him and he should be brave as he protects the helpless. If he is brave, his snowflake and star mark and his glowing red nose will return.

Wait…..so…Lady Boreal knows that Rudolph didn’t do anything wrong and only said he did because he was protecting Frosty….So why he did his light go away!?

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Big Ben, the whale with a clock on his tail from Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, suddenly pops up in the ocean near Rudolph and offers a shoulder (or fin) to cry on. After hearing his story, Ben rushes off to South America, much to Rudolph’s confusion.

Meanwhile, Winterbolt is making his deal with Frosty. He tells Frosty that, in exchange for his hat, he’ll turn Rudolph’s nose light back on, but he’s lying of course.

Frosty sings one last romantic song to Crystal, who doesn’t know he’s doing this and isn’t in the room.

Gotta say, while some of these sweet romantic musical numbers are nice, they’re getting to a point where the movie is oversaturated with them. Each pairing has like two romantic song breaks (Frosty and Crystal are on their third or fourth right now), and there’s no point in them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very sweet, but they pump the brakes on the entire movie and aren’t very interesting. At least this one is about saying goodbye to her (and their kids) but still.

I also find it funny that we have all of these romantic pairings getting focus, but Rudolph only gets a brief shot of a picture of Clarice cut into a heart with the words “Love you, Clarice.” on it.

As Crystal and the kids weep over Frosty’s….corpse? Rudolph chases after Winterbolt to get the hat back.

Insert Rudolph vs. Flying magical snow snake scene here and soak it in. It is marvelous.

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So is this.

Winterbolt: “You don’t frighten me! The hat is mine! Try and get it!”

*Rudolph easily headbutts Winterbolt in the stomach*

Winterbolt: “Oof!”

*drops hat*

That could not have been more hilarious if you tried.

Also, Rudolph in Frosty’s hat is too adorable for words.

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Rudolph’s act of bravery allows him to get his light and little hoof mark back. I don’t know how or why. If he really did perform an evil deed with his nose light and that’s why it went out, which, as indicated by the mark also going away, is indeed what happened, then, by Lady Boreal’s wording, it should have been gone forever. If it wasn’t and never should have been taken in the first place, what was the point of the past half hour?

Rudolph heads off to set things straight. He gets a real cop to return the money (How did he find that?) to Lily, explains that he was tricked, and they returns Frosty’s hat and life back to him. Everyone makes up, Sam Spangle gets sent to prison, and Frosty and Rudolph reprise the misfit song from the original movie.

However, Winterbolt’s not done. He wants his revenge on Rudolph and Frosty. Lily steps up to the plate and, I’m not kidding, throws her guns at Winterbolt’s ice staff and shatters it, causing his power to deplete, and then he turns into a tree.

Okay…so….first of all, Winterbolt’s magical ice staff can be broken if someone throws a couple revolvers at it?

Secondly, that was the source of all of his power? He wasn’t just powerful on his own?

Third, how is it that Lady Boreal never thought to break or steal his staff? Why put him in a deep sleep and deplete your own energy for how many hundreds/thousands of years instead of just taking a baseball bat to that staff? Do it while he’s sleeping!

Fourth, taking away his power kills him? If that’s true, why wouldn’t he take more measures to protect that staff? He has his own amazing ice powers and a magical genie that lives within the staff. There’s no reason this thing isn’t protected by a barrier or something.

Fifth, why a tree? I could understand him melting as he loses his power and dies, he’s an ice wizard and everything, but why does he turn into a tree? A dead one, I might add, so he is definitely dead. They even have one of his arm/branches snap afterward.

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Lily: “Wow! Hehe, what an exit!” You just took a life.

With Winterbolt out of the way, the storm clears, allowing Santa and Mrs. Claus to safely fly again and head to the circus.

But also the other obvious thing happens – Frosty and his family melt because the amulets worked off of Winterbolt’s magic and he’s dead now.

Good job, Lily.

When will your murder spree end?!

Rudolph: “Gee whiz….”

Old phrases really seem goofy sometimes. “Well, gosh, it sure is awful that two adults and two children just died horrifically and now we’re gazing upon their liquified remains. Golly gee.”

Seriously, it was bad enough to see Frosty as a lifeless snowman or to see his or Crystal’s puddles with their hat and hair on top, but it’s borderline morbid to see Chilly and Milly’s puddles with their hat and bow on top.

Rudolph: “When Frosty melts, nothing can help except a magic December wind to help him, and this is July!”

Hold up. When did the qualifier of ‘December’ wind get squeaked in there? I thought it was just any cold temperature on his magic snow body.

Big Ben arrives with a special guest, Jack Frost, who was hanging out in South America where winter goes during the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere. Jack Frost resurrects Frosty and his family with his frigid breath right as Santa arrives to pick them up. Jack Frost joins them in order to keep the snowpeople family cool during their trip.

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Rudolph has to stay behind to help with the shows until the circus is out of debt (I could swear this started out as a ‘one show to save us’ type deal, but okay) but Santa says he’ll be back soon because he gave some of his magic feed corn to Lily to allow her animals to fly, so she’ll be sure to drum up a lot of business quickly.

What happens when she runs out, though? How long do the effects of that stuff last?

We close out on the entire flying circus being lead by Rudolph flying around as Santa, Frosty and the others depart.

Milton and Lanie seem to be poised to be wed once more, and everyone lives happily ever….Well, we never learn what happened to Scratcher. He could be trapped in Winterbolt’s cave lair for all eternity…..Happily ever after! The end.

——————————

Well…..that was a mess. Nothing made me angry or anything, but I did get incredibly confused along the way. So much of the story just seemed completely pointless and like they were overcomplicating what should have been a very easy plan.

I don’t much care for the fact that they basically confirmed that the stakes in this movie were fake by having Frosty and his family melt in the end even after Winterbolt died just to go ‘Oh we can bring them back!’ Even if Jack Frost didn’t make a cameo, they could have just scooped up the water in the puddles and taken it back to the North Pole or South America/some other location experiencing winter at the time, if that was necessary.

The aspect of Rudolph’s nose light being extinguished also made no sense. It didn’t follow any of the rules Lady Boreal set for the power. It went away for no reason and came back when it should have been gone forever if it did get taken away.

It’s a shame because Winterbolt is a fairly good villain. He has strong presence, a decent, but possibly mostly recycled, design, and I love all of his snow creatures and his genie, but he’s just kinda dumb. He’s an all-powerful being who had a firm grip on the entire North Pole for hundreds or thousands of years. He was so powerful that an Aurora Borealis demi-god had to expend most of her power just keeping him asleep for however long.

Yet he had to jump through so many hoops simply to get a reindeer out of the way.

And he was felled because a circus owner threw guns at him.

Not to mention that this comes at the expense of kinda ruining Rudolph’s backstory. So now instead of him having this glowing red nose on complete random circumstance, he was given this light as a sort of destiny thing to defeat Winterbolt when he made his attack on Christmas. And she had to make it super secret for literally no reason, leaving Rudolph open to ridicule for years and putting Santa in danger. All she needed to do was tell Santa about the upcoming storm, explain that she put her power in a reindeer’s sinuses and that, as long as he stays there and happy, everything will be cool.

But no.

This movie feels like it has no direction. Half the time it’s Winterbolt and his already ridiculous plan, and the rest is filled with random love songs and stuff that is cool to look at usually but isn’t contributing much to the story.

If you just want a dose of Rudolph and Frosty for Christmas or…Summer, I guess, then this will do fine. There are numerous sweet, funny and heartwarming moments scattered throughout. But, as a whole, and even just compared to the other Rankin/Bass specials, this isn’t anything to write home about at best and is pretty frustratingly nonsensical at worst. I give a lot of leeway to Rankin/Bass specials in terms of logic, but this went pretty damn far.


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Thanksgiving Special: Pepper Ann – Thanksgiving Dad Review

Plot: On Halloween, Pepper Ann gets a call from her dad telling her and her sister to prepare for a surprise from him on Thanksgiving. She believes he’s going to visit for the holiday, something that makes her super excited since she doesn’t get to see much of him since the divorce. But is she getting her hopes up for no reason?

Breakdown: No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. No, this isn’t a sign of the end times. I got a Thanksgiving special out, ON TIME, and it kinda sorta doubles are more Animating Halloween stuff….a little….it is for the first minute and a half. I’m counting it.

Like I’ve mentioned several times while doing these Thanksgiving special reviews, it’s very, very difficult for them to stray from the norm. Basically any Thanksgiving trope you can think of is here. Parent rushing to get the dinner to be absolutely perfect, basically a warzone at the grocery store, not being able to find one specific item that you need for the dinner, crazy relatives who won’t stop fighting, the yearning for the kid to eat at the adult table, and finally, the one thing practically no Thanksgiving special is without – the dinner getting completely ruined but it ends up okay in the end.

However, this special does add something that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in any other Thanksgiving special – how kids with divorced parents deal with Thanksgiving.

Pepper Ann’s parents broke up some time before the series began, and their divorce is shown to impact several aspects of her life in the show. Thanksgiving is one of the key moments where family is supposed to be all together. However, that just doesn’t happen in many households with divorced parents. Either they have two Thanksgivings at separate times at both houses or they just stick with one and maybe get a visit or a call or something. I can’t speak from experience because I didn’t grow up with divorced parents, but that’s what I’ve gleamed from others.

It’s pretty cool to see a cartoon address this with not just one but two characters. You might remember that Pepper Ann’s best friend, Milo, also has divorced parents, but his parents divorced quite a while before Pepper Ann’s did so he has more experience in that area. Milo bounces from house to house on Thanksgiving – and he doesn’t spend any of it with his parents. He just wanders between his friends’ houses.

Milo is a bit jaded when it comes to family and Thanksgiving. He tries to keep Pepper Ann level-headed when it comes to her belief that her dad will visit for Thanksgiving. He doesn’t know that he won’t, nor does Pepper Ann know that he will, all he said was he had a surprise for Thanksgiving. Milo just knows from his own experiences that the parent who doesn’t get custody tends to drift away, and holidays like Thanksgiving end up getting lost more and more in the jumble as they build up a new life after the divorce. They just tend to forget and wind up sending money or gifts sometimes to make up for it.

Milo’s experiences are very sad, and I kinda wish that we had put a little more focus on his holiday bouncing around houses and not actually spending any time at home than we did with Pepper Ann. Both of their experiences are valid, of course, but, also of course, she ends up with a happy ending, for the most part, while Milo’s life with his broken up parents is still fairly sad. Like, does his mother and step-dad not care where he is right now? Does he not do anything for Thanksgiving with his family?

Pepper Ann was, sadly, mistaken. Her dad never did intend on visiting for Thanksgiving. His surprise was that he was piloting a blimp for a big Macy’s-style Thanksgiving day parade and got to wish her and Moose a happy Thanksgiving and give them a heartfelt message on TV. He also said he’d see them next week for visitation, which just begs the question….when is his visitation? Surely he had at least one visitation during the month between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pepper Ann acts like she rarely ever sees her dad anymore. How infrequent are these visits?

This special was pretty entertaining for what it was worth. It never really got that deep into drama, not like As Told by Ginger or Hey Arnold would do, but they hit enough notes for a show like Pepper Ann. Also, there were numerous jokes that were pretty funny, and I was also fairly amused by Pepper Ann’s constant fantasies of her father trying desperately to get to the dinner.

Thanksgiving Dad is good, but not great. I don’t think it’s on anyone’s must-watch lists for the holiday, I barely even remember watching it when I was a kid, but it has some unique and grounded aspects that are worth exploring, and it has good humor and heart. Check it out while you’re waiting for the turkey to cook. Or while you’re recovering from Thanksgiving dinner. Or, if you’re not in the US…..just….watch it whenever ya want. I’m not your mom.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Animating Halloween: Noctober | The Scooby-Doo Show: The Headless Horseman of Halloween Review

Plot: On the night of Halloween, Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, Velma, Fred, Daphne and Scooby’s cousin, Scooby-Dum, attend a costume party at the mansion of the descendant of Icabod Crane. In this universe, Icabod Crane was indeed real, and he supposedly was killed after a run-in with the legendary Headless Horseman. It’s nothing but a story, but the Headless Horseman makes an appearance at the party looking for a replacement head.

Breakdown: Well, it just wouldn’t be Halloween without some Scooby-Doo, would it? Plus, a send-up to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Count me in!

While this episode/special is enjoyable enough, made me smile several times, there’s not a whole lot to separate it from your typical Scooby-Doo episode outside of one element – Scooby-Dum.

So, uh…where did this character come from, and why does he exist? He’s literally just Scooby-Doo if he were a lot, well, dumber, and if he was a bit of a hick. That’s it. He’s likable and endearing, but his shtick is constantly just ‘he’s super dumb’ and also ‘haha, he’s named Scooby-Dum BECAUSE HE’S DUMB!’

The mystery was also kinda weak if you ask me. I mean, it’s almost never actually a supernatural being in Scooby-Doo, and if you go into this knowing that fact then the actual culprit will be very obvious about halfway into the episode.

…Although, I do wonder, if Icabod Crane was real in this universe, and he was supposedly killed by the Headless Horseman, but this one was fake…..does that mean…..Hmmmm.

The Headless Horseman of Halloween is a pretty decent Scooby-Doo Halloween special, so if you have the means and you love yourself some Scooby goodness check it out.


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Animating Halloween: Noctober | The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979) Review

Plot: The Flintstones and the Rubbles win a trip to Count Rockula’s castle for a romantic weekend away and a great costume party. Things take a spooky turn when they discover that the real Rockula, and his cohort, Frankenstone, are living in the castle, and they’re none too happy to find their home filled with people.

Breakdown: This is about as close to a Halloween special as The Flintstones ever got, and as a Halloween special, I think it works pretty well. There are plenty of really funny moments and even some tense moments when the group is being chased by Rockula and Frankenstone.

I will say that, for what is seemingly a Halloween special, it is very weird that Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm never show up. For a while, I wondered if either of them even existed, but Wilma very briefly mentions Pebbles near the end of the movie, so I guess at least she does. What was she doing while they were gone that whole time?

Anyway, while I can’t say I’ll be rushing out to revisit this special every Halloween season, it was an enjoyable special that got me laughing and smiling numerous times. If you’re a fan of The Flintstones or even just Hanna-Barbera, you’d get a kick out of it.


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Animating Halloween/Pixar’s Lamp | Coco (2017) Review

Plot: Miguel’s family has detested music for generations ever since his great-great grandfather abandoned his family to become a musician. Forced to follow his love of music and the famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz in secret, Miguel attempts to follow his dream of becoming a musician on Dia de Muertos by entering a music competition.

His grandma, having found out about his secret, destroys the guitar he built, leaving him with no means of participating in the competition. In an effort to secure a guitar in time, Miguel winds up getting trapped in the land of the dead when he tries to steal de la Cruz’s guitar from his tomb. Only the blessing of Miguel’s deceased family members can send him back home, but they’ll only do it under the condition that he never play music again. Miguel scrambles to find another way home without sacrificing his love of music before sunrise or else he’ll be trapped in the land of the dead forever.

Breakdown: Warning – While I did my best to avoid spoilers in this review, I couldn’t avoid talking about some of them so, spoiler warning.

I have scoured far and wide for animated Halloween specials and movies, but it never really occurred to me to look for any animated media about Dia de Muertos or the Day of the Dead until I decided to finally watch Coco. Let me be very clear – I’m aware that the Day of the Dead is not Halloween nor does Halloween’s roots really come from the Day of the Dead. They seem similar due to imagery such as graveyards and skulls and a few traditions such as dressing in costumes lining up, but they are not one in the same and come from very different backgrounds. Day of the Dead is also not celebrated on October 31st – although it does come immediately afterward on November 1st.

That being said, I still feel like this counts because….pbbttt….I want it to. Animating Halloween entries technically don’t have to be about Halloween, and it fits the general criteria so I’m counting it.

Onto more important matters, I need to get this out of my system, holy frickin’ rendering, this movie is GORGEOUS. Every frame of this movie is like it’s begging you to pause and stare at each image….which I did a few times. Pixar keeps outdoing itself at every turn. It’s beyond impressive. The details on the clothing and the faces, the hair, every little item and building, the textures, the animation, the absolutely heart-stopping coloring, the amazing stylization – I want to watch it all over again just to soak in more of those visuals. They’re so good.

This movie really aimed to celebrate Mexican culture, and while I can’t attest to any inaccuracies or the like since I am not Mexican or of Latin descent, I believe it achieved this goal in spades. It definitely serves as being a fantastic Dia de Muertos movie. It lends proper focus to the main themes and traditions of the holiday without beating you over the head with the message too much. I want to read up on it as much as I can because it looks like such a cool holiday that I wish we had in the States.

In regards to the story, it had its ups and downs. I think the premise is incredibly interesting and the story as a whole is well-executed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without flaws. One of the biggest problems being that 90% of the movie is very predictable.

I’m going to say something silly right now, but believe me I have my reasons…..This is pretty much The Little Mermaid for the first 45 minutes. I’m not saying it’s about mermaids – there are approximately zero mermaids in the movie – I mean the general story notes hit the same. Something is banned and hated from the MC’s family/world, but the MC really adores the banned thing. MC enjoys the banned thing in secret until their fangirl/boyness gets found out. Parental figure destroys their hidden shrine to the banned thing, including one particularly important thing. MC runs off because of how awful and unfair they’re being. They accidentally enter another world by doing something unethical/wrong and they need to fix their mistakes without sacrificing their love of banned thing. In the end, both worlds combine and everyone’s happy. Bonus – the heavy music themes.

Even taking my comparison to The Little Mermaid out of the equation, it’s still a pretty predictable story for 90% of its runtime. However, it’s very much saved by two things; 1) The overall ride of the visuals, music and characters make this story memorable and unique. Remember, clichés and predictability are only as bad as you make them due to lack of style and innovation. 2) I said 90% of the storyline because there is a huge plot twist near the end that I never saw coming. I was really thrown for a loop when that was revealed. I knew that de la Cruz would turn out to be a bad guy because movies always tend to drive home a ‘don’t meet your heroes’ message for whatever reason, and the guy was simply hero worshipped by too many people to not turn out to be an awful person, but I never expected the other half of that reveal. I was completely blindsided.

Another issue was that I thought the family’s hatred of music was overkill to say the least. I can understand Imelda (Great-great grandmother) hating music that much, but not the entire family – most of which never even met the great-great grandfather. He could have abandoned his family for any profession. If he ran off to become a famous chef, would they all hate and banish food?

It’s revealed near the end that Coco never stopped loving her father and kept all of the letters and ‘poems’ he sent to her before his death, so why didn’t she stop this cycle of hatred? I’m not putting the full blame on her, since her mother seemed like a very outspoken person who likely passed on her hatred to Coco’s children without Coco getting a word in edgewise, but it still seems like something she had some modicum of control over, especially after Imelda died.

Give Triton credit. At least his hatred of humans and the surface world has quite a bit of justification behind it. Humans were a huge threat to sea creatures, and they were responsible for killing his wife. Abandoning your family is a crappy thing to do no matter the reason, but music wasn’t responsible for him making that crappy decision. It just happened to be the dream he was pursuing. There’s nothing inherently bad about music. To have such a deep hatred of it that you harass people on the street for playing music, yell at family members for so much as humming or act like your son is a terrible person for wanting to be a musician is just crazy.

This was probably intentional, but the hypocritical aspect of Miguel’s family holding the concept of family so dear while also damning one of their family for something as silly as playing music is definitely not lost on me.

Of course, Miguel also had to learn the importance of family while both sides had to learn to balance family and passion, which was a sweet sentiment.

Being completely honest, in the end, Hector’s story was more interesting that Miguel’s journey, but I can’t go into that very much without spoiling a lot.

Miguel is a very nice and realistic boy, and, despite some hiccups, I never stopped rooting for him to both get back to the land of the living and retain his ability to practice music. Over the course of the story, it shifts from being simply about him pursuing his own dreams to also about bringing music back to his family.

The story as a whole is a great way to tackle the subject of death with children in a manner that is extremely respectful and not scary – at least in my opinion. No matter your beliefs on an afterlife, Coco isn’t afraid to talk about death, depict it and explore it in a manner that a child would understand fairly easily without too much to worry about in regards to frightening them.

There is one aspect of this lore that is scary and depressing even to adults – the concept of being forgotten. I think a lot of people have had that existential crisis where we think about what happens after we’re long gone and forgotten. Thinking about that in the scope of the physical world is enough of a heavy topic to weigh on any adult’s shoulders. Coco, however, introduces the concept of what I’ll call a double death.

When you die, you go to the land of the dead, which is basically our world only awesome because everyone’s a cool-ass skeleton and there’s a massive city with lots of neon lights, there are insanely cool spirit animals and everything’s incredible, but not in a heavenly perfect way.

Every Dia de Muertos, those in the land of the dead are allowed to pass over to the living world to visit their relatives and enjoy the festivities. You’re allowed to enter the physical world if your family has put up your photo in their ofrenda, which is a shrine where the photos of lost loved ones are displayed and offerings are placed during Dia de Muertos. Typically, as long as your photo is kept up every year, you’re not forgotten.

However, the depressing part comes for anyone who is forgotten. If your family or another loved one hasn’t put up your photo in an ofrenda, and no one in the living world who knew you when you were alive still remembers you, you disappear…forever. You doubly die. How depressing is it to have an afterlife where you can die again, this time permanently, and the death is caused by your memory fading from the physical realm?

Hector even says disappearing in this manner happens to everyone eventually, which does make sense but geez, what a depressing concept.

Music being a central theme in this movie means the music has to be top-notch here, and I’m happy to report that it is. Both the orchestral score and the lyrical songs are phenomenal. It’s a soundtrack I’d gladly purchase.

The voice acting was also very well done. The movie has an almost entirely Latin cast, which is very appreciated, and everyone did quite well in their roles. I liked that they had Miguel be a decent singer but very obviously still sound like he’s rough and inexperienced. His passion for music and his skills with guitar playing shine through during these moments and make his performance both incredibly real and impacting without being distracting.

I loved Coco from start to finish, even if I was mostly latched onto the visuals for the first chunk of the movie before the story really took off. It’s one of Pixar’s best movies, if you ask me. I didn’t tear up at any point, but I had a blast watching it, and it did get me a tiny bit emotional near the end.

Recommended Audience: As I mentioned, this movie basically needs to talk about death and the afterlife a whole lot, which may be a touchy subject for children, but I believe it covers this topic so well that it wouldn’t be too risky for young children. Still, be warned that the themes are here and more sensitive children might not be receptive to it even with the happy and optimistic tone. It should also be noted that murder is brought up once. I don’t think there is anything else questionable or offensive etc. in this movie, so 6+.

Final Notes: Can we keep up discussing how awful Blu-ray cover art usually is? Look at the awesome poster I used for this review and then compare that with the Blu-ray.

This entire movie is chalked up to ‘Boy with guitar.’ Get your crap together, Blu-ray.


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