AVAHS – An All Dogs Christmas Carol Review

Plot: Charlie, Sasha and Itchy try to make a good Christmas for all the dogs and puppies in town. However, their holiday fun is ruined when Carface crashes the party. Using a mind-controlling dog whistle given to him by Annabelle’s evil witch cousin, Belladonna, Carface hypnotizes the dogs into giving him all of their bones. As he leaves, he also takes all of the presents, food and the money being raised for little Timmy’s life-saving operation. Belladonna’s true plan is much more sinister than just ruining a Christmas party. She wants to control all of the dogs in San Francisco to steal their master’s presents and ruin Christmas.

Charlie, Itchy and Sasha use a miracle tag granted to them by Annabelle to make Carface the hero they need to stop Belladonna by putting him through a familiar Dickens story.

Breakdown: It wouldn’t be AVAHS without at least one two animated version(s) of A Christmas Carol.

I have a bit of a strange relationship with the All Dogs Go To Heaven franchise. I did watch all of the movie entries numerous times when I was a kid, and I definitely remember today’s topic of focus as well. I liked it quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say I was ever a massive fan or anything.

Nowadays, I don’t have much interest in ever returning it, mostly because, as you might now, I have a bit of an issue with any feature involving animals being abused or dying, especially pets – particularly dogs.

Gonna get a bit personal here, so skip down to the part where you see a Spongebob time card to just get to the movie review.

When I was a kid, I hadn’t really processed death much. I had lost one cat, Mowgli, whom I was too young to really remember that well, and when I was about eight I lost my dog, Ginger, whom I do remember and loved. However, I don’t really remember being able to properly understand what was actually happening at the time. I don’t remember crying. I don’t remember being scared. Unless I blocked all of that out, I just don’t think I actually grasped the gravity of concept of death at that age.

I’ve never lived a day of my life without having at least one dog in the house. As of this writing, I am 31 years old and have lost six dogs over my life – the most recent one being the most devastating to me (no disrespect or any less love to my other dogs, of course) because I had her for 15 years, half my life, and I spent the last few years giving her near round-the-clock care, so I bonded with her a lot.

I had watched All Dogs Go To Heaven 1 and 2 before I ever lost my first dog, and I probably watched An All Dogs Christmas Carol before I lost my second dog. But as the years went on, I just didn’t want to return to the All Dogs Go To Heaven movies anymore even if they would probably be positive reinforcements on helping me deal with my grief, at least a little. After all, it’s literally saying ‘all dogs go to heaven.’ However, I don’t process emotions in a very healthy manner – neither good nor bad – but I’ll spare you from that mess and just say that certain topics, like animals dying, cut deep with me.

I know some people don’t value animals very much nor have they had pets and, as a result, have never had to deal with losing a pet, but animals are special to me and my pets have always been my very best friends. Seldom do times feel worse than when you lose a pet.

While the overall hot-button topic of dogs dying is most definitely the main problem with me here, I can’t help but also believe that a part of my issue in going back to All Dogs Go To Heaven is the fact that I’ve grown up around some ignoramuses who think it’s a good idea to tell a kid that, no, their dog probably isn’t in Heaven because only humans go to Heaven. That’s almost as bad as telling a kid that their very recently deceased grandfather probably isn’t in Heaven either because he wasn’t a Christian. 😐

But I digress, kinda, I guess.

Surely this movie will be fine, right? I mean, it’s a Christmas movie and it’s just another retelling of A Christmas Carol. What could they possibly do that would be depressing?

*presses play*

*presses pause*

…….There are….angel puppies……We’re starting the movie WITH DEAD PUPPIES?!

What the hell, movie?! I mean, granted, I’m not sure most kids would connect the implications, but holy hell.

Annabelle starts telling the angel puppies a story about how Charlie and Itchy saved Christmas from her evil witch cousin, Belladonna. Flashing back, we get a pretty decent Christmas song as Charlie, Itchy and Sasha do some Christmas decorating with the local puppies.

One of the puppies is our Tiny Tim for the movie, Timmy. He has a bum leg and they’re trying to raise enough money for an operation to help save his life.

Carface and Killer come in to collect the debts of everyone there, but they don’t have the bones to pay up, especially since Carface has added in a lot of interest. Using some strange whistle to hypnotize everyone, Carface and Killer steal every single bone they have, all of the food, all of the presents for the puppies and even the handful of cents Sasha and Charlie were able to raise for Timmy’s surgery.

Before I go any further, yes, Carface is our Scrooge. The guy who extorts, kidnaps, steals, manipulates and viciously assaults others as regularly as he probably craps over the course of a day. One of the only dogs to ever wind up in Hell. And, oh yeah, the guy who MURDERED CHARLIE is going to be given a redemption arc a la A Christmas Carol. I do not agree with this choice.

Scrooge was a cold-hearted ass, but even he wasn’t nearly as bad as Carface. Scrooge was flippant and didn’t care. He was blunt and angry, but he didn’t really actively do much that was bad to other people besides be a really strict boss. Carface is actively a pile of garbage. He is evil. Whereas Scrooge refused to give money to a charity for the poor, Carface stole from a charity for a dying disabled puppy. Whereas Scrooge didn’t have sympathy for the children, Carface kidnapped and nearly killed a little orphan girl (And, later, did the same thing with a little boy). Whereas Scrooge didn’t celebrate Christmas in the slightest, Carface stole Christmas presents and holiday food from a group of dogs and puppies who were trying to celebrate the holiday.

Hell, as much as Scrooge hated Christmas, in most iterations of the story, he begrudgingly allows Bob Cratchit the day off(ish). Carface would probably beat or kill him for asking.

The original movie is also a redemption story of a slimy person/dog eventually realizing the error of his ways and bettering himself, but Charlie’s worst crimes were mostly stealing, gambling and cheating – and he had to sacrifice his life and nearly damn himself to Hell for the sake of another person to redeem himself.

Carface? Well, let’s find out.

Charlie and Itchy confront Carface about the money. He reveals that he’s actually working for Belladonna, who gave him the magical dog whistle. They’re planning on using a giant version of the whistle to hypnotize every dog on the night of Christmas Eve so they’ll all steal their masters’ gifts and bring them to Carface.

They frame it like Belladonna is the big mastermind behind this whole plot, but she’s really not. Even Charlie points this out. He asks Belladonna what she gets out of this arrangement if Carface gets all of the gifts. Her response? She gets to ruin Christmas.

Yes. Carface gets hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts, and Belladonna gets to brag about ruining Christmas to….?

Also, literally the only reason we’re learning of this plot is because Charlie and Itchy have to know about it in order to stop it. It’s not even villain monologuing. Belladonna tells Killer to explain their evil plans to the boys for really no reason. They even show Charlie and Itchy a giant blueprint of the giant whistle for no other reason than to just give them an idea of what they need to look for. She could have kept the fact that there even was a second whistle a secret and let them believe the little whistle was what they were using so they could reveal the big whistle later, but nope. In fact, she melts the little whistle for no reason, despite the fact that Carface and Killer could still use it in the meantime to cause trouble.

Hey, why not use the little whistle on Charlie and Itchy so they’ll be hypnotized the whole time and not ruin your plans? No? Just gonna chase them away with fire imps so they can come back and save the day like this is a movie? Okay. Really not impressing as the main villain so far, Belladonna, not even as just a villain in this franchise.

Annabelle shows up and gives the duo a magical dog tag that, and I quote “won’t locate the whistle. It will, however, help you find a way to foil Belladonna’s plans.”

Yyeeaaahhhh………that’s dumb. That is a diamond of dumbness. With the amount of dumbness in that statement, if you managed to make a generator that ran on dumb, you could power the entire world until the day the sun burns out.

What the hell is this dog tag when its powers amount to ‘whatever you need it to do to stop Belladonna EXCEPT find the massive mind-controlling whistle, which, of course, would end this movie in a minute and a half.’?

I find it hard to believe that it’s so well-hidden anyway. The whistle is a giant object built from evil magic. Shouldn’t that thing be a beacon to the head angel dog, Annabelle? She actually has the nerve to say “There’s only so much I can do.” WHY?! Why is it you can give the boys an item that will surely give them the ability to defeat Belladonna, barring finding the whistle, but you can’t get your halo’d ass down here and actually help?

Gah, it’s Gaia and Planeteers all over again.

Believe it or not, Charlie’s first idea is to make Carface a good guy, which doesn’t make sense because they don’t even know if Carface knows where the whistle is. He was acting suspicious about knowing the location, but he could’ve just been screwing with them. (Hindsight alarm: I wrote this as I was watching the movie when I believed they wanted to turn him good to make him tell them where the whistle was so they could destroy it. Turns out, that’s not the intention. The intention is actually way stupider. Carry on.)

Actually, now that I think about it, why did Belladonna even involve Carface and Killer? Their only actual role throughout all of this is to get presents and lead the heroes into foiling her plot. She could’ve just blown the whistle in secret and gotten away with everything. Belladonna is a complete dumbass.

Itchy jokes that Carface is too much of a Scrooge to become a good guy, which also doesn’t make any sense because Scrooge DID become a good guy….

The mention of Scrooge gives Charlie an idea – they’ll use the tag’s magic to make Carface go through the motions of A Christmas Carol so they can turn him into a good guy so they can use him to stop Belladonna.

Yup. That’s the plan. Built entirely on the idea that every bad person has some sad backstory and that, with a little self-reflection, they’ll change their ways and become good, even if they’re a murderous scab.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to try this plan on Killer? He’s actually shown some semblance of goodness in the past when he helped save Anne-Marie in the first movie.

As Carface lies in bed watching TV, Charlie pops in on the screen to announce “It’s a Wonderful Carface” which is the wrong reference. I don’t know why they changed it because not only does it not fit, but it also would be better to say “A Carface Carol” or even “A Christmas Carface.”

Itchy takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and he takes Carface back to when he was a puppy. Surprisingly, they don’t make off like he was a good dog turned bad. Instead, he was a bit of a nightmare as a pup. He bullied his siblings and made trouble. However, he explains that, no matter how bad he was, his mom always loved him. That was the last holiday they spent together before he eventually was adopted by a nice family.

In his new house, Carface would be even more of a nightmare. He’d destroy everything – chew it up, tear it up, break it to pieces – as Carface put it, he could get away with murder in that house. He even destroyed the Christmas dinner and knocked over the Christmas tree. However, his owner, a boy named Bobby, would always stand up for him no matter what he did. As Carface explains in song, Bobby would always say Carface didn’t mean to do it, and he was always his buddy. Bobby, by the way, is a shitty owner. He completely ignored Carface as he did all of these things and never once thought to properly train him.

Speaking of training, Carface couldn’t help but pee on the rug after he had just gotten done demolishing the house, and apparently that one thing, that most puppies do, was the last straw – not the fact that he destroyed the place moments before. Carface expected Bobby to stick up for him, but he blamed the incident on Carface and his mother kicked him out of the house and into the cold winter night.

After that Carface decided to stop being a ‘good dog’ and became a bad dog, which is a weird thing to say because this entire story has proven that he’s been a little demon since day one. The gist is that Carface was always awful, but he had people there to enable him. The instant the enabling wasn’t there, he became even worse.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting the entire blame on Carface. Like I said, Bobby was a terrible owner. He never cared about what Carface was doing and never bothered to try and train him. Instead, he just made excuses and kept letting the bad behavior happen. He didn’t even properly house train Carface.

This kind of situation is all too familiar. Family adopts pet but because they either pawn off responsibility on their lazy-ass kid or they simply don’t realize that dogs, particularly puppies, need to be trained in order to not develop or exacerbate behavioral issues, and that requires, *gasp*, work, they instead blame the dog for not just being good and well-trained by default and abandon the poor thing without even making the effort to rehome it.

In that regard, Carface does get some sympathy points, but the fact that all of that was preceded by Carface just being a nightmare from day one really dulls that angle.

Compare that with Scrooge, where he was a good, but lonely, kid whose father hated him for reasons beyond his control. He loved his sister, Fan, but she ended up dying young while giving birth to her son, Fred. He had a good time under the tutelage of his boss, Mr. Fezziwig, but eventually lost his way in greed. He became obsessed with money, embittered and cold, which drove the people he loved, particularly his fiance, Belle, away and only made matters worse. He didn’t let go of the greed or the anger, even when plenty of people offered him a kind hand and a smile, friendship and understanding.

We can sympathize with Scrooge easily during this flashback period because we see that he was a good person who suffered from some terrible circumstances which certainly affected him, but ultimately he made the choice to become and stay a miserable old coot. This also gives us hope that Scrooge can change since he was, at one point, good.

This can’t be said of Carface. We can only barely sympathize with him here, and we’re left with little hope that he can actually change because he never was a good person in the past. His love of his mom or Bobby isn’t the same as Scrooge’s love of Fan. His sister loved him because Scrooge was a good person who was unjustly hated and treated like crap by his father. Scrooge loved her because she loved him and she was the only one who brought joy to his life. Carface’s mother loved him in spite of the fact that he was a troublemaker who treated his siblings badly, and Bobby just loved him because he was a little boy and Carface was a puppy – of course he’d love him. Carface loved the both of them because they loved him in spite of being a mini Tazmanian Devil.

Carface became an even worse dog after he was kicked out and loved every minute of it, but admits that he still sometimes yearned to be back with Bobby again.

Itchy returns to Charlie once the segment ends.

Itchy: “Carface is madder than ever. I mean, I didn’t know he had such a rough puppyhood.”

Charlie: “Well, a lot of us did, Itchy, but we didn’t all go turning nasty.” Mmm…I’m going to give the movie some props here for this line. They are acknowledging that his bad past isn’t an excuse to be evil, but they’re also ignoring that Carface was always a jerk, far before his owner betrayed him. He wasn’t always evil, but he clearly knew right from wrong and kept being bad while expecting people to just excuse him.

Also, he KILLED CHARLIE.

As Charlie and Itchy discuss how little time there is until Belladonna executes her plan, they see this and just ignore it.

GOLLY I WONDER WHERE THE GIANT WHISTLE IS. WHAT A BIG FUCKIN’ MYSTERY.

Sasha takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Present and shows Carface that Killer cares about him and is even preparing to give him a blow torch for Christmas. He secretly loves Christmas even though Carface hates it…..which just makes you wonder 1) why he’s agreeing to partake in a plot to ruin Christmas and 2) why he wasn’t the one Charlie and Itchy targeted for a redemption arc.

Killer even says during a song break that he regrets the bad things he’s done.

Carface realizes what a good guy Killer is………Didn’t you try to kill him too?

The aforementioned song break is a duet with Belladonna where she explains that she also loves Christmas….ruining it, anyway.

We then move to Timmy’s house. He’s owned by a fairly poor family. His owner is a young girl named Martha, who is kinda like Bobby in that she keeps ignoring this puppy doing clearly dangerous things. Timmy doesn’t have a collar, is sick and has a bum leg yet is allowed to roam the streets for hours on end. She also put a plate of cookies on the floor for some reason and allowed him to try to grab a stocking with a bone in it by stacking presents, balancing on top of them and grabbing it while she’s just sitting on the couch in the same room reading a magazine.

Carface likes Timmy because he reminds him of himself at that age, but he’s saddened when Sasha reminds him that he robbed Timmy of money he needed for an operation to help save his life.

Timmy falls from the stocking and lands on the plate that wasn’t under him before, but it was stupid for it to be on the floor anyway, so I’ll allow it. The plate breaks, and Martha’s mother rushes in.

Carface starts cringing because he believes Martha will rat out Timmy and he’ll be kicked out, but Martha actually takes the blame for what happened, much to Carface’s surprise. Timmy…’confesses’ that he was the one who actually broke the plate by carrying a plate piece over to Martha’s mother with his head down.

Martha’s Mother: “You mean….you broke the plate?”

*Timmy nods his head*

You mean….you’re intelligent enough to understand human speech, convey information and even respond to questions?

*Timmy nods his head*

Timmy is forgiven and praised for telling the truth and owning up to what he did. See, this kinda highlights that Carface wasn’t just a rowdy puppy that didn’t know any better – he did bad stuff on purpose. If Timmy knows right from wrong and knows when he should apologize, Carface should have as well. I imagine his brothers and sisters were held up to that same standard considering his mother seemed so loving, so there’s really no excuse.

Carface: “Someone should take care of him!”

Sasha: “Why?”

Carface: “Because….nobody ever did that for me!! *starts crying*” Oh shut up, you Charlie murderer. Plenty of people cared for you, but you took advantage of their kindness and never took responsibility for your actions.

Anyway,

Charlie takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Everyone’s celebrating Carface’s untimely demise, and, while sporting a super not outdated reference to The Mask, Charlie sings about Carface needing to clean up his act.

Killer: “Make up for all those mutts you whacked!” ?!?!?! So they’re acknowledging that Carface is a murderer – not just of Charlie but of who knows how many dogs? And they’re saying he still has time to turn his life around and make up for that? Are you people mental?

Oh by the way, this isn’t clever wordplay – like they meant he literally ‘whacked’ some dogs. As he’s singing this part, Killer is giving Carface a shave. When he says ‘you whacked’ he slices Carface’s head off (non-graphically). There’s no other way to interpret that.

Throughout the song, they tell Carface that, if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll end up in Hell (without saying Hell because they’ve neutered this franchise…..no pun intended) which makes sense, but also doesn’t.

Carface killed Charlie and a bunch of other dogs (as well as did a lot of other evil things) and still ended up in Heaven in the first movie because…well….*pokes original movie’s title* Also, he sold his soul, which made him wind up in Hell in the second movie. How did he come back after that (Is it explained in the series? That was one part of this franchise that I never saw), and isn’t his soul still bound for Hell after he dies because of the contract? If the contract is null and void, doesn’t that mean he goes to Heaven by default anyway because….well….*pokes original movie’s title harder* You can’t keep changing the rules on where dogs end up after they die – especially when the rule is in the frickin’ title.

Moving on, Charlie shows him Timmy’s ‘future’ which isn’t him being dead because, like I said, they neutered this franchise (even though they still showed us angel puppies in the start, so *shrug*) Instead, Timmy’s under the influence of the whistle and steals his owner’s present to bring to Carfa—….Wait, a minute, I just realized that this whole story has no urgency because, if Carface is changed, it doesn’t matter whether or not Belladonna blows the whistle. Even if the dogs steal the presents, Carface can just return them.

Charlie: “Well, the miracle tags worn off. Guess our job is done.” You guys are the worst heroes. You can still TRY TO FIND THE DAMN WHISTLE BEFORE MIDNIGHT. My god….

After that, Charlie just up and decides that it’s an emergency to find the whistle now that it’s mere minutes away from midnight.

Belladonna: “And nobody suspects that’s right here – on Alcatraz Island!” THIS is Alcatraz Island?

O…..kay.

Belladonna has–Wait a minute. Wait a dog damn minute. They’re on Alcatraz Island…….Alcatraz Island……ALCATRAZ ISLAND.

They’re going to blow the whistle from Alcatraz Island…..

How are the dogs supposed to bring the presents from San Francisco to ALCATRAZ ISLAND – a place notoriously difficult to swim to and from – while enduring incredibly cold water temperatures, especially in winter, with presents in their mouths, no less; presents that will be destroyed in the water.

Although, I guess Belladonna would get what she wants anyway. Killing everyone’s dogs on the night before Christmas would pretty handily ruin Christmas.

Belladonna has a spell set up to have lightning strike the whistle’s steam generator at midnight, causing the whistle to blow.

Carface is having second thoughts, but Belladonna is set in her plans.

Meanwhile, after about two minutes of searching, Charlie and the others return home.

Sasha: “Oh you tried, Charlie. You did everything heavenly possible.” Yeah, he sure did. He wasted nearly all of their given time and all of the magic of a miracle tag just to bring his worst enemy and MURDERER through an A Christmas Carol adaptation in the hopes that he’d have such a massive redemption arc that he’d do all of their work for them instead of doing, mmm, literally anything else.

Also, he had absolutely no plan in case Belladonna decided to go through with her plot without Carface. Like I said, he’s completely superfluous. I don’t even know why she’s commanding them to pull the levers. Can’t her little fire imps do that?

Carface does end up pulling the lever, allowing the whistle to function and hypnotizing all of the dogs of San Francisco, but he has a change of heart and flips the switch back.

Under threat of Belladonna, however, he flips the switch back once more and she melts it so he can’t flip it again.

Carface is determined to stop this, however, so he jumps on the line feeding electricity to the machine and grabs the whistle, somehow blowing it up.

Now you’d think this’d be a death fake out – have Carface sacrifice himself for Timmy and whatnot…Nope. In fact, before we see what happened to Carface, we see Killer pointing and mocking him for getting shocked this time instead of him. Carface is perfectly fine. He doesn’t even have any burn marks.

Belladonna is pissed. Carface takes the rap for what happened, yay he finally grew as a person, but Belladonna doesn’t care who takes the rap, she’s going to kill both Carface and Killer now.

………….

Annabelle: “HALT! You will not harm these two!”

Annabelle….who didn’t know where either the whistle or Belladonna were….suddenly knows where both Belladonna and the whistle are….Now that everything’s over.

Oh but not only that;

Belladonna: “Annabelle! Get out of my line of fire!”

Annabelle: “Try it and I’ll clip your wings!” This implies she’s more powerful than Belladonna and could easily defeat her.

Belladonna: “This dog belongs to me.”

Annabelle: “No, cousin. People belong to themselves so they can choose between good and evil. And it’s my duty to protect that!”

Annabelle: “Your ways are big and fiery. So I’ll stop you with something cool.”

*Annabelle makes it snow*

The light snowfall is enough to defeat her fire imps, which is sad, but Belladonna laughs it off and transforms into some half-dragon version of herself…..that of which is easily defeated by Annabelle literally snapping her fingers and burying Belladonna in snow.

Annabelle: “Hah! Nobody messes with Heaven!”

We cut back to Charlie, Sasha and Itchy with the puppies…….sleeping…………They’re sleeping…..Christmas was about to ruined in front of their very eyes….and they all decided to go to bed…..

Charlie: “It means our plan worked! We convinced Carface to save Christmas!” Well, it’s nice that you straight out admit that your plan was to get someone else to do your dirty work. You’ve learned from Annabelle quite well, Charlie….

Itchy: “Actually, Charlie, the final decision belonged to Carface.”

Annabelle: “Yes, and he chose correctly.”

Charlie: “See? I told you all along we could trust him.” He fucking murdered you.

Anyway, it’s snowing, yay, Christmas is saved, yay, and Carface even arrives to return the presents and everything else he stole. He also added a bunch of new presents and filled up Timmy’s donation can with coins. Thank god complicated life-saving operations cost about $13.87.

Uegh, Sasha even gives him a kiss on the cheek. He murdered your boyfriend.

Oh and Carface says he’s not going to stay all sweet and kind since he still has to run his business. I’m assuming, since this is based off of the TV series, that they made him say that in case it continued so Carface could still be a villain, status quo and whatnot, but it didn’t continue since they mark this as being the series finale, so….sorta implied he’ll ruined his character development for no reason.

Once everyone is all happy, Carface leaves to go visit his mom…..Wait, his mom is still alive, and he knows where she is? Why hasn’t he ever visited her until now? Also, if he had a loving mother to return to, why didn’t he just do that when Bobby betrayed him? This story has more holes than a porcupine’s shirt.

After Timmy does the trademark “God bless us, everyone.” we cut back to Annabelle one more time as she finishes telling the angel puppies the story.

The End.

——————————————-

This movie is really stupid. Like, really, really stupid. The kind of stupid where I can feel my brain fighting off the stupid like it’s a virus. The set up is stupid, the villain is stupid, her motivations are even stupider, the concept is stupid, the resolution is stupid, the heroes are stupid – everything is stupid. Granted, the original movie isn’t really a masterpiece of storytelling, but how did we devolve from that to this?

It was definitely the worst adaptation of A Christmas Carol I’ve ever seen, and Annabelle can shove a harp right up her a–

I still can’t wrap my head around the decision to make Carface a good guy. Maybe he’s been drained of so much villainy in the series that this makes more sense, but….HE KILLED CHARLIE! The main character, the guy we’re most meant to connect with, the hero of the franchise – he murdered him and slues of other dogs. He also did so much other evil shit, to the point where he was sometimes designed to look like a devil in the original movie. He sold his soul and went to Hell in the second movie.

But oh yeah, he’s just got a chip on his shoulders from something that is mostly his fault and needed to connect with someone to become good.

And with the implication that he won’t stay good in the end….what did this movie even accomplish?

I can’t even enjoy our heroes being heroic, because they weren’t. Annabelle pawned off a mission that she could have easily taken care of herself on Charlie, Itchy and Sasha, who, in turn, created an insanely convoluted plan to pawn off the task on Carface and then they just went to bed hoping the dude who murdered Charlie would have a change of heart and save the day.

The art and animation are also clearly miles away from what they once were, although I guess it could’ve been a lot worse. For the most part, it’s passable, but there are numerous instances of very stiff animation and even some shots where it looks like in-betweens are missing.

That being said, this is tolerable. In fact, the ride itself is pretty okay. Some of the dialogue is funny, and I absolutely loved those dogs who kept trying to wait for their cue to pick the Christmas song back up. The message is also very good. People choose to be good or evil – you can’t force them. Their pasts may be sad, but they’re not excuses to be evil. They make those choices. The best you can do is try to help them get back on a better path, but the rest is up to them.

That is very much a theme in A Christmas Carol. Fan dying and Belle leaving him was sad, but they weren’t excuses for him to become so jaded and hateful, and he was showing signs of wantant greed and a lack of caring before then. The ghosts may have shown Scrooge everything he needed to see, but he, ultimately, had to make the decision whether to stay greedy and cold and accept his future or become good and use what time he had left to share warmth and happiness.

I still don’t think Carface did nearly enough to earn his redemption, but they gotta keep that G rating…..Wait, the original movie was rated G, too?! What the literal hell?! Guess ten years makes quite the difference……Don Bluth reportedly owns the only PG cut of the movie.

Carface has just done way too many terrible things to believably be redeemed because he got a cartoony electric shock to stop an evil plot that he was part of in the first place. Like I said, Charlie sacrificed his life for his redemption, and he did way less than Carface.

I guess the lesson there is that no one is really beyond redemption, but that is an insanely loaded debate even for adults, let alone kids.

The music was also a positive note. Almost all of the song breaks were memorable and snappy. I most remembered listening to ‘Clean Up Your Act’ and Carface’s sad song during the Past segment. They’re not amazing songs, but they’re pretty good. I’d listen to them over again no problem.

The voice acting was alright. I think they were definitely starting to phone it in at this point, though. Steven Weber does a pretty good job as Charlie, Ernest Borgnine was fairly decent as Carface, Sheena Easton did a great job with Sasha, and Dom Deluise does well enough as Itchy.

The movie is, ultimately, harmless and would probably be a fun casual Christmas watch……barring the implications of the angel puppies. As a nostalgic rewatch, it’d probably be fine if you turn your brain off, but I despise making that suggestion, especially when it comes to children’s media. Just being a good ride is fine, but I shouldn’t have to actively not think about anything as I’m watching something. As someone who overthinks to the point of stress, it’s also a difficult endeavor for me. Children’s media should never get a pass for being dumb just because it’s for kids. That’s so ass backwards.


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AVAHS – A Christmas Carol (1971) Review

AVAHS - ACC1971

Plot: It’s A Christmas Carol….I told you guys before that people who haven’t seen anything based on A Christmas Carol don’t exist. Stop trying to trick me.

Breakdown: It wouldn’t be AVAHS without at least one animated version of A Christmas Carol. Today, we’re looking at the 1971 version produced by none other than Looney Tunes’ own Chuck Jones. The special has a very unique and engaging style in its art and animation that I really loved. The art is inspired by 19th century wood carving illustrations, and the animation is directed in such a way to really bring the viewer on a ride with Scrooge – kinda like Disney’s adaptation of the story only without the clear peddling of the 3D gimmick. The music is fitting, but I most like the sections where they completely omit sound. It could be due to budgetary constraints, but I like how there’s no big spectacle made when shifts and transitions occur. The silence helps keep me in the moment.

If I had any real gripe against it, I’d say that it’s a bit too light on the exploration of Scrooge’s past, and some of the acting doesn’t really have that much emotional oomph to it. It’s a pretty fast rendition of the story, and the ending feels a little abrupt.

Other than that, it’s a pretty loyal and creative adaptation. I especially like their rendition of the Ghost of Christmas Past. It has a surreal design and a haunting manner of speaking.

This short even won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 1972, but it caused some controversy because it aired on TV before being shown in theaters. As a result, the rules of the awards were changed to disqualify any feature that aired on TV before appearing in theaters.

If you feel like checking out another version of A Christmas Carol and enjoy some gritty classic art and animation, this is a pretty solid entry.


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AVAHS – Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: In a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Daffy Duck, owner of the Lucky Duck Superstore, treats his employees and everyone else like garbage. He’s especially unsympathetic around Christmas. All he loves is money, money and sometimes he has a soft spot in his heart for money. On the night of Christmas Eve, after destroying the Christmas dreams of all of his employees and forcing them to come into work at 5AM Christmas morning, he finds himself stuck in his store for the night. Three ghostly guests will take this opportunity to try and salvage his soul and his Christmas spirit.

Breakdown: It wouldn’t be Christmas without yet another retelling of A Christmas Carol – This time with the Looney Tunes!

In this universe, Daffy Duck takes the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but none of the characters, besides the ghosts, are named after the characters in the original tale, so he’s just Daffy. He’s filthy rich and the owner of a massive superstore called Lucky Duck. Daffy is basically a slave driver here, somehow worse than Scrooge if you ask me. He’s greedy, yes, but at least Scrooge let his employees take Christmas off, even if it pissed him off.

Daffy refuses to let Marvin have time off to go home to Mars for Christmas, he won’t give Porky enough money to buy a doll for his daughter, he won’t let Wile E. Coyote eat during work and he somehow wasn’t arrested for forcing Elmer to work 37 straight triple shifts, causing him to constantly collapse in exhaustion.

And as a topping on the Scrooge cake, he’s not only forcing all of his employees to work through Christmas, but he’s opening the store at 5AM and demands they all be there.

As you can guess, this prompts the appearance of the four ghosts – Sylvester, who takes the role of Jacob Marley, named Sylvester the Investor, who was a fellow CEO of another superstore who died because of a disgruntled exployee, Granny and Tweety – the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Yosemite Sam – The Ghost of Christmas Present, and Taz – The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

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I really thought they’d balk on the more tender moments of the story since it’s Looney Tunes and all, but they technically didn’t. I say ‘technically’ because they still load up the stories with typical Looney Tunes humor and cut out some stuff, but the tender moments were still quite sweet.

The backstory is changed quite a bit, and most of the segments are fairly short. In the Past segment, we see that Daffy was an orphan and, for some dumb reason, they always had mass adoptions on Christmas day, like people nabbing up kittens and puppies for Christmas gifts, and Daffy was never adopted. He never had a family, and he grew up to resent Christmas as a result. I’d think the mass Christmas adoption spree would be a better reason to hate Christmas, but I understand that it’s purely the fact that he was always alone that really soured his disposition over time.

In the Present segment, we see Elmer nearly freezing to death as he falls asleep in a snow storm, Marvin looking up to Mars with longing and Porky talking with his young daughter, Priscilla, who is basically sugar incarnate. Literally all she wants for Christmas is a Pretty Pudgy Piggy doll, but Porky can’t afford it.

In Yet to Come, we see Porky and Priscilla visiting Daffy’s grave. This segment is, morbidly, the best of them all because Daffy is so greedy he tried to leave his store to himself in his will, which was obviously impossible, so the store shut down, causing everyone to be laid off. We also have one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen with Priscilla leaving a plate of Christmas cookies at Daffy’s grave, stating she’ll visit him every year on Christmas because she knows how painful it is to be alone during the holidays (since her dad works on them due to Daffy) and Christmas is the one time of year when everyone’s family.

This isn’t even tainted by the not subtle implication that she believes Daffy’s in HELL. I actually burst out laughing at that.

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Daffy’s, of course, a changed duck after that, giving everyone exactly what they wanted for Christmas and much more. And everyone, including Daffy, had a very merry Christmas.

I fairly like this spin on A Christmas Carol. It’s predictable, sure, and I think they spend a little too long on the first half and not quite enough time with the ghosts, but that’s not too bad. What they rewrote was more appropriate for Looney Tunes while also being fairly sad and sweet.

Daffy’s backstory was probably the laziest, though. They have a messed up message as a result, too. One message keeps popping up in this movie and that’s that Daffy is such a terrible person because he never had a family. That’s obviously a very wrong and insulting message to any orphan in existence. They try to offset it by having the other message be that Christmas is the one time of year where everyone’s family, but that obviously wasn’t true when he was a little duck and I’m not sure having a family one day a year would save you from becoming an ass.

Friends are also brought up, which is very important as friends can be a surrogate family, but they mostly focus on Daffy’s lack of family.

His backstory is entirely different from Scrooge’s. Scrooge was a nice enough child, but had a very harsh and strict father who sent him off to boarding school. Scrooge’s one shining light in his life back then was his sister, Fan, who tragically died giving birth to her child, Fred. Several years later, he enjoyed Christmas while working for his kind and fun boss, Mr. Fezziwig, where he met and fell in love with a woman named Belle. A Christmas a few years later showed her leaving him because he was more preoccupied with his money than he was with her.

I’m obviously not expecting some intricately woven backstory by Looney Tunes, and you definitely don’t have to follow the source material to a T, but saying that Daffy is such a greedy grouch just because he was a lonely orphan is a little screwed up.

Bugs’ role here was also quite odd. You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned Bugs this whole time, and I’m sad to say that Bugs was entirely pointless here. He just kinda pops in and out of scenes during the non-ghost parts. He berates Daffy for being a grinch and performs his regular physical comedy shtick. That’s it. He didn’t even really have an actual role. He wasn’t affected at all by the events of the movie. He was locked in the store with Daffy, but that’s about it. I think there’s a major misstep somewhere in production if you can’t figure out what to do with Bugs Bunny.

They say he’s supposed to be a Fred-like character, but I don’t really see it to be honest.

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Some might complain about Priscilla being a rather washed Tiny Tim replacement. She’s not sick or handicapped and she doesn’t die in the bleak future – the only thing that hinges on Daffy turning good is whether she gets a pig doll or not. However, I found this change to be perfectly fine. I liked Priscilla a lot and she brought just as much sweetness to this movie as Tim did.

The art and animation are very good for a direct-to-dvd title, especially one over a decade old. There are some hiccups here and there, but the artwork is very well-detailed, the colors pop and the Looney Tunes move the way you expect them to move. There’s a lot of energy here, and I really like it.

One problem I do have is that everything feels so empty. You have this story taking place in a very successful and supposedly busy superstore and yet only Bugs and Penelope (The cat Pepe constantly harasses) are seen as actual customers. I kept wondering if the store was actually open until Bugs said he was shopping there. Where is everyone?

The music was also really good – again, better than you think you’d get for direct-to-DVD – but there were some times when the sound mixing was a bit off. Several times I thought a musical number was about to begin because the music seemed grand and was getting louder and louder over important parts, but there are no musical numbers to be had.

Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable Christmas movie. Not gut-busting hilarious but still fairly funny and heartwarming. Being another A Christmas Carol adaptation, it’s obviously very predictable, and what changes they make tend to hurt the story more than improve it, except maybe Priscilla, but it’s still pretty good.


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AVAHS – A Flintstones Christmas Carol

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Plot: Fred has gotten the lead part in the community theater production of A Christmas Carol, and he’s been obsessed with the role for months. Full of himself instead of the holiday spirit, Fred starts acting like a real Scrooge to those around him right before Christmas. As the play goes on, Fred finds himself in the character of Scrooge and starts to see the error of his ways.

Breakdown: Krystallina of Daiyamanga reminded me of this special last year, and I never got around to reviewing it for that year’s A Very Animated Holiday Special. It’s a good thing I got around to it this year, because what is Christmas without a good adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

This version of the story has a very interesting spin to it. See, most adaptations of A Christmas Carol that aren’t outright original versions usually just have the characters from a movie or TV series taking the place of the characters from the novel. The characters aren’t themselves, but their personalities remain to bring a different view to the original characters from the novel.

Either that, or they try to make their own version of A Christmas Carol by allocating certain characters as proxies of the characters from the novel with one being made the ‘Scrooge’ and actually experiencing the ghosts themselves.

In this version, we get the best of both worlds. Fred and the other citizens of Bedrock are putting on A Christmas Carol as a play, and in the main world of the show, a similar tale is going on with Fred. Ever since he was cast as Scrooge, Fred has been acting like a total diva; saying he’s the only real star of the play, believing he’ll hit the big time in show business with this role and completely ignoring his family and job for the sake of overly rehearsing his lines.

Both the main Flintstone world story and the actual A Christmas Carol story are well-written and directed. I absolutely love how they don’t leave the A Christmas Carol part as play structure all of the time. It’s much better to have it as a movie-like format most of the time to allow for more immersion in both stories. Granted, they still have leaks into the play as it goes on like Fred sometimes calling characters by their real names and cutting away to the director when they go off script, but that’s fine. We shouldn’t completely forget that they’re in a play while it’s happening.

Granted, we still have to deal with the eye-roll worthy rock puns (Cave-care (daycare), Bloomingshales, Cragit (Cratchit), Marbley (Marley) and so on and so forth) but since the bulk of the film is A Christmas Carol, they don’t leak in too much to bother terribly.

They also put an interesting twist in here. Since several of the actors are coming down with stomach flu known as the Bedrock Bug, Wilma is forced to take over some of the roles in the play such as The Ghost of Christmas Past, Belle and a charity worker. Because of this, we see how much Fred’s behavior has weighed on Wilma in her anger, disappointment and sadness.

It’s also good that, despite him changing over the course of the movie, the other characters aren’t instantly accepting of his changed ways. They really believe, to some degree, that he’s still just immersed in the Scrooge character and since he changed Fred probably feels like he should act like he changed too. He has to earn it in the end, and even gets some comeuppance in him getting the Bedrock Bug, but it’s still a happy ending for all.

The parts that were A Christmas Carol were pretty damn spot on in characters, story and even dialogue. Of course, some of the darker aspects were toned down to be more family friendly. For example, I feel like they had a fairly close view of the dead body in the Christmas Yet to Come segment, but they zoom in oddly on the body’s colorless toe for several seconds as dialogue goes on behind it. I just feel like that was changed at the last minute to kinda censor it. That may be the first ever censor job done by a corpse toe…..

In the end, this is a great adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Even if you’re not a big fan of The Flintstones, I still believe you’d find a lot of entertainment and Christmas spirit here. There are even some lines that are pretty funny to this day. Don’t be such a Scrooge, and go watch it. 😛

Recommended Audience: It’s The Flintstones…..well, of course there are mentions of death and one frightening corpse toe closeup. E for everyone!

AVAHS – Disney’s A Christmas Carol

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Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: You don’t know the plot to this story? How do you exist? No, no, no. I refuse to believe you’ve never seen anything A Christmas Carol related. Now go and watch either an adaptation of it or a parody and think about what you’ve done.

Breakdown: This is kinda weird for me to review. I mean, how do you review any adaptation of A Christmas Carol? There are just so many of them, and it’s pretty damn hard to mess it up.

It’s such a simple structure. Jackass character hates Christmas, is haunted by three spirits representing Christmas past, present and yet to come, main character learns the error of his ways and becomes nicer as well as learns to appreciate and celebrate Christmas more. The End.

So if I can’t really analyze the story here, what can I analyze?

Well, I suppose we can start with Scrooge. It’s been my experience that most Scrooges are rather intimidating. While not being entirely scary, they do have a somewhat powerful air about them. They speak well, they have very straight posture and their voices are typically somewhat deep.

Jim Carrey’s Scrooge is very frail and has a much higher pitched and weak voice than I’m used to. His accent’s also somewhat questionable, though his old man voice is pretty good. He’s hunched over, he’s somewhat skeletal, he shakes frequently and he comes off as more of a grumpy old fart than a frightening man with power and money.

Also, despite the ‘elderly’ effects I can very clearly see Jim Carrey playing the character. It’s kinda distracting. Tom Hanks played several characters in The Polar Express and even though his voice was very obvious in most of the roles, I couldn’t really see Hanks in any of the characters except maybe the Hobo. Though, to be honest, this isn’t the role where Jim Carrey is most obvious.

Which brings us to the ghosts. First up is the ghost of Christmas past. This version’s Christmas past is supposedly one of the closest any adaptation has gotten to the Charles Dickens description. In the novel, the ghost of Christmas past is a, for lack of a better term, ghostly apparition of androgynous gender cloaked in a white robe. On its head is a flickering flame, like a candle, and he carries around a cap that looks very much like a metal candle snuffer.

Here, Past is basically a candle. His body is a white melting candle that eventually looks like a white robe. His head is a flame and he carries around the snuffer.

This is the role where you can clearly see Jim Carrey because they did really nothing to Carrey’s face when they plastered it onto the flame.

Look at that damn thing. It’s like they were going to shoot the scene for Past and forgot the trackers. Instead of waiting until they got them, they just shot the scene without them, cropped out everything but Carrey’s face and photoshopped it onto the character.

Not only that, but this thing acts like a psycho. He constantly sways back and forth like an idiot to make his flame waft in the wind and when he stands still he gets this like tic where he quickly twitches his head to the side, causing a lighter-like spark.

This thing is just a mess. What’s worse is that they just had a character with flame-like hair a minute ago. Marley was designed with hair flowing in that manner. Why couldn’t they have a regular head with fire hair instead of this?

Jim Carrey’s voice for this is also just weird. He’s constantly whispering and it’s a lot creepier than it should be.

As for the various sections, I tend to break up these segments into reflection, understanding and change respectively.

Reflection: This movie does follow every step that the first segment has. First his Christmas alone at a boarding school, then his sister, Fanny, announcing that his father has grown kinder and will allow him home for Christmas, then a dance with his fiancee, Belle, at a party his first boss and father figure Fezzwig was holding then his break up with her a couple Christmases later.

This section is fine, really, but it also starts to highlight a big problem as to why people find this one of the weakest A Christmas Carol adaptations.

Personally, my favorite is A Muppet Christmas Carol. Why do I bring that up? Because Muppets….are puppets. They don’t really have a lot of elbow room for emotional facial expressions. Yes, there are numerous human characters in the movie and Scrooge himself is played by Michael Caine, but most of the characters are Muppets. They do a way better job of conveying emotion than this movie.

In The Polar Express, conveying emotion was a problem but because of the subject matter it wasn’t a huge problem. It was a movie meant to be a roller coaster ride that made you feel all Christmas-y inside, and it did achieve that. The emotional scenes were sparse and one worked pretty well mostly because of silence and directing, not facial expressions and voice acting.

Here, you’re supposed to be taken on a bit of an emotional roller coaster. You’re supposed to be happy at Scrooge’s happier moments and feel for him when his life starts tumbling down, even if it is at his own hands. The fact that motion capture has big issues conveying emotion and has the trademark dead eyes makes movies like this a problem. I really believe this is one of the main reasons motion capture never caught on outside of video games and inserted CGI in live action movies. Outside of making pretty roller coasters, it can’t hold emotional impact very well.

It’s purely motion capture; not emotion capture.

Young Scrooge, despite being closely modeled after Carrey, is just awful. He looks like the action figure version of his character come to life. When he and Belle, a character who is actually very beautifully modeled, interact, I feel like a doll is having a conversation with a human person. It’s weird. It’s awkward. And because of this the scene loses 90% of the intended emotion.

I will say that the scene directly following the breakup where Past shifts his face quickly into the faces of those from his past is very effectively creepy. There. Motion capture is great for horror movies. Get on that.

Understanding: The Ghost of Christmas Present is basically exactly as he’s described in the novel. I should point out that straying from the novel’s representations does not mark points off. All of the adaptations change the ghosts a little. It’s not what the design is changed to, it’s how good it looks and if it effectively conveys the feeling that it’s supposed to.

Present…is actually pretty well done in my opinion. Except his laughing gets on my nerves. I liked his segment….though it does further highlight the emotionless problem.

Here is one of the most memorable parts of the story with Tiny Tim. Several characters are tearing up when thinking about his plight…..and I feel…..kinda bad I guess.

I wouldn’t say I feel nothing, because the dialogue alone is kinda sad but the sad faces in motion capture….they just don’t do it for me. The tears look like glass, the facial expressions just seem weird; it just doesn’t work very well. The voice acting and dialogue are okay here, which is really all that saves it.

However, Jim Carrey just cannot get emotion though Scrooge. He begs for Tiny Tim’s life and I feel like he’s asking for another slice of pizza.

Change: I really like the introduction to Yet to Come here. It’s in a dark wide open area, seemingly in a clock tower, and Yet to Come emerges through Scrooge’s shadow while Scrooge monologues accompanied by silence. Like practically every version of the story, including the original Dickens’ novel, this version of Yet to Come is basically the grim reaper. In this version, however, Yet to Come is almost always in shadow form, which is kinda cool.

Just when it seems like this one will be the most impacting and serious segment of all…..they completely ruin it. But I won’t explain how until later. Let’s just skip over that for a moment. Like the other segments, this one also explores the same beats as the novel. And just as the other two segments, the emotion problem is still present though, again, worse, because this is filled with death and tragedy.

When they show us Cratchit’s face with his eyes beet red from crying, all I could think of was that it looked like there was a bad rash around his eyes.

As for the rest of the movie, story-wise, it emits the most emotion, that which being fun. Probably because Carrey seems to actually be having fun with the finale. Plus, there’s a little bit more emotion than usual in his remorse.

With all of the story elements out of the way, it brings us to another of the worst problems in this movie. I’ve been deliberately dancing around these parts of the movie to focus on the story elements, but this movie, like The Polar Express….aims to be a visual 3D roller coaster, and spends quite a bit of time milking the pretty visuals and 3D effects.

A Christmas Carol is not a visual roller coaster. Sure, it has fantastical elements, but you’d be hardpressed to find someone who’ll say ‘Oh A Christmas Carol? I loved that action movie!’

In the first segment, I can be forgiving. The roller coaster aspect of Reflection was merely flying through the trees, which kinda did happen in the novel.

The second segment amps it up 1000 fold, however. Basically, Present uses the embers from his torch to turn the floor of the room into a viewing screen that seems to travel from location to location, so it’s like you’re flying around on a helicopter with a glass bottom that can see through ceilings.

I will admit that this effect is pretty damn cool and I imagine it’s fantastic in 3D and IMAX….Too bad I’m watching this at home on my 30” TV screen. This scene, out of everything from The Polar Express through this movie seems like its the one that has the most effect outside of 3D and IMAX, but there’s no denying that it loses quite a bit of the impact without it.

While both of those segments had a point, the third is absolutely pointless and kinda stupid. In Change, Yet to Come chases around Scrooge through town on his shadowy carriage. Scrooge inexplicably shrinks down to mouse size in the middle of this chase scene and there’s more chasing but now in mini-form.

Scrooge arrives at the second location of the third segment in mini-form as he lay across the stolen cloth that Mrs. Dilber took from his room after his death. He eventually grows back to normal size, but there is 100% no point in shrinking him to begin with.

Bottomline: So, basically, this movie’s a bit of a mess. While it is touted as being one of the most loyal adaptations of Dickens’ novel, and it even takes quite a bit of dialogue from it, it loses the emotion due to the motion capture and a good deal of the voice acting and it gains a bunch of action 3D stuff that just adds nothing to the story and doesn’t translate well to home viewing.

Unlike The Polar Express where I feel it’s more of an experience than it is a story, this is by nature supposed to be more of a story than an experience. Yes, it does the story just fine and it is a visual treat, again if you ignore the human characters, but without the emotion and feeling of Christmas spirit behind it, it just feels hollow.

It’s not a terrible movie, I wouldn’t even say it’s bad, but there are just a lot of problems with it and unlike The Polar Express, I’m not going to give it a big pass just because it’s Christmas. Watch on the biggest screen you can manage and try to get 3D, but there are just so many much better adaptations and even parodies of A Christmas Carol out there. I won’t be able to let motion capture die just yet, but can it please stay out of Christmas movies for now?

Recommended Audience: They do say ‘ass’ once, and there’s mentions of death. Plus, the final segment gets a bit dark-ish a little. 7+