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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CSBS – American Dragon Jake Long Episode 5: Act 4: Scene 15 Review

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Plot: After wrestling it away from the Huntsman and Huntsgirl, Jake is tasked with protecting a scarab beetle that has the power to bring the dead back to life.

Meanwhile, he tries to get the attention of Rose, but finds that she’s preoccupied with an upcoming play about Antony and Cleopatra. In order to get closer to Rose, Jake decides to try out for the role of Antony.

Back with Huntsman and Huntsgirl, doubts begin to form in Huntsgirl’s mind about pursuing the beetle any further, believing the dragons probably already sent it back to Egypt. Huntsman refuses to give up the mission, stating it is their destiny to hunt down all dragons and kill them. Not only that, but the beetle is vital to their clan’s future.

He brings Huntsgirl down to the mysterious catacombs where he reveals the tombs of the past fallen Huntsclan members. He plans on using the beetle to bring them all back to life, creating a new army of Huntsclan warriors and wiping out dragons for good.

The next day, Jake lands himself the part of Antony, and he and Rose decide to practice their lines at his grandpa’s shop that night. She suggests practicing the kissing scene since it’s so vital to the play, but Jake, having never kissed a girl before, starts panicking and awkwardly babbling his way through the conversation. His state of panic leads him to accidentally releasing the beetle.

Jake tries to play it cool at school and gets another rehearsal date with Rose, this time at her house, even though she was reluctant to let Jake come over.

That night, Jake is amazed to discover that Rose lives in a massive castle-like mansion with her uncle. They’re about to rehearse the kiss when Rose suddenly freaks out. Her uncle has arrived home. She quickly hides Jake under the table before discretely throwing him out, citing that her uncle is very strict and doesn’t allow visitors. However, Jake lost the beetle again during the chaos after it had sneaked into his backpack.

Jake decides to bring Rose to Trixie’s house to rehearse. They prepare for the kiss scene again, but they both notice the scarab beetle fly out the window. Not wanting to alert the other of their secret identities, they make up a few excuses to quickly rush out and fight over the beetle. After the fight is over, the Huntsman arrives and takes the beetle for himself, revealing his plan to Jake.

Back at home, Fu Dog explains that the Huntsman is probably planning on using the beetle for a spell that brings dead people back to life. Under the light of the full moon, the Huntsman can indeed bring his ancestors back to life – and the moon just happens to be full tonight, the night of the play.

Later, with the help of Spud, Jake learns the location of the tomb of the Huntsclan. He, Grandpa and Fu head there to stop the resurrection, but they’re too late. Several Huntsclan members have been revived, but Fu Dog manages to grab the beetle to prevent any more from coming back.

Jake grabs the spell book and burns it, causing the revived Huntsclan members to die once more. The struggle continues between the Huntsman, Huntsgirl and the dragons, with Huntsgirl accidentally getting her leg injured in the process. Huntsman takes Huntsgirl and leaves, and Jake has just enough time to make it back to the play for Act 4 Scene 15, the big kiss, which is a good thing because without Jake and Rose, the play has been a disaster. Spud and Trixie have had to take the reigns, and it’s becoming an embarrassing display.

Jake makes it in time, but is shocked to see Spud taking over the role of Cleopatra. Rose couldn’t make it back in time, and Trixie was being so obnoxious that they yanked her. He’s forced to kiss Spud, much to his disgust.

The following day, Jake meets back up with Rose who apologizes for missing the play, citing that she got a sprained ankle at a family event. Jake is slightly suspicious as the injury seems very similar to the one Huntsgirl got, but brushes it off and finally asks Rose out on a real date.

She agrees, much to Jake’s delight.

Breakdown:

– Huntsman has a robot in his fireplace specifically designed to take off his glove to reveal his dragon birthmark? Talk about disposable income.

– What is with the trope of auditions having a string of complete idiots? I’ve been to plenty of auditions for school stuff before. They’re never entertaining. It’s just people reading the same lines over and over and being varying degrees of bad to okay.

– It’s kinda funny that Jake tries to be this smooth ladies man ‘mack-daddy’ but the instant Rose mentions practicing the kissing scene, he becomes a complete doof. Quite a realistic portrayal of a 14-year-old boy.

– I appreciate that Fu Dog is supportive about Jake being nervous about his first kiss.

– Jake: “Seriously, my church isn’t this big!” I never knew Jake was religious. That seems….a little…strange considering the various mythos that are real in this series. How does that work?

– Nice Darth Vader reference when Huntsman puts his helmet on.

– Of course the spell can only be done on the night of a full moon, of course the full moon’s that night and OF COURSE the full moon is on the night of the play.

– Why is Jake acting like, as long as he comes in before Act 4 Scene 15 (the kiss) that he’ll still be able to do it? Bringing in an entirely new actor in the middle, or moreso end, of the play for no reason is pretty stupid even for a junior high play. Not to mention, it’s a little insulting to the understudy to bail until you decide to show up then take the best scene in the play all for yourself.

– Why would they not have an understudy for Cleopatra? Why did the woman running this play not notice until Spud was out there doing both roles?

– I love how the cover of the Huntsman’s ancient spell book is literally just a picture of a skull and the word ‘Spells’

– Why would getting the beetle out of the moonlight not stop the Huntzombies but destroying the spell book does?

– They don’t actually have the balls to show the Jake/Spud kiss, but they do let you hear the audience gasping in response. I think they’ll probably skip the episode where the parents’ groups whine about the gayness.

– Macy Gray was in this episode!?! The hell?! She played the woman who was running the play and Trixie’s grandma. Two extremely small bit parts. Wow. Talk about a wasted cameo.

————————————–

This episode was fairly good but really, really cliché. Like, appallingly cliché. The school play kiss, the nearly missing the play, the nervousness because the school play kiss is a first kiss, the trying to keep a double life a secret while trying to do two really important things on both sides, the school play falling to pieces because the leads are missing etc. It’s all really old hat.

The aspect of bringing the Huntsclan back to life was interesting, but the payoff was really weak. The ones that did get brought back were no more powerful than any other brainless lackey, and they all had the same character design. They were also beaten in a predictable and easy manner. Not to mention that it was ridiculously easy to find the Huntsclan’s tomb. Spud found it through a few minutes of searching on the Internet…..SPUD found it.

I like that Jake and Rose’s relationship isn’t one of those annoying super-slow burns and that the development is realistic. It’s also nice that they’re allowing us to see Rose’s double life as Huntsgirl. It puts the audience in a unique position of connecting with her as well as Jake while knowing, and dreading, that their happy little romance will likely come crashing down once he finds out the truth.

Many similar shows would have the audience in the dark just as much as Jake is, and the big reveal would come later. This arrangement is much better.

………………….Seriously, Macy Gray was in this episode!


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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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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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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Pelswick

Plot: Based on a series of newspaper cartoons by John Callahan, Pelswick follows the life of Pelswick Eggert – a paraplegic boy who wants nothing more than to live a normal life.

Breakdown: I usually don’t do Episode One-Derland entries for shows I am actually familiar with, but it has just been so, so, SO long since I watched Pelswick that I felt the need to do one here.

I watched Pelswick when it first aired on Nickelodeon, and I remember enjoying it quite a bit. It wasn’t my favorite show or anything, but I thought it was a pretty good series. It was really cool that it gave the spotlight to a paraplegic main character when you typically can’t even find many side characters in shows that are in a wheelchair or just generally have disabilities, especially back when this first aired.

The writing was also good with a style that reminded me a lot of Doug what with all the fantasies and cutaways, but actually….ya know….funny and interesting. (No hate on Doug, but it can be quite the bore sometimes.)

Now, Pelswick’s not making me bust a gut in laughter or anything, but it did have its charms and made me smile a few times as I revisited it. It also had some fairly clever writing and commentary.

This episode tackles the subject of Pelswick being barred from the eighth grade camping trip due to his special needs. Someone fought back in his stead, even getting a lawyer involved, and because of this push, instead of allowing Pelswick on the trip, they just canceled it altogether. The eighth grade camping trip is a big deal to a lot of people, so the situation gets heated quickly. It turns into a huge spectacle as many people start protesting against Pelswick to get the camping trip back while there were also many others supporting the rights of handicapped individuals and fighting to let him go on the camping trip.

Throughout the story, we get the reactions of various people that range from understandable to silly to silly but understandable on the grounds of parody. Many of Pelswick’s classmates are pissed off that the trip is canceled, which is understandable since it was such a big deal.

Some people are getting so pissed about it, however, that they’re purely protesting Pelswick as if he was the one who made this decision when it was technically against him. And when I say ‘protest’ I mean they have signs with his face on it but crossed out in red and offer anti-Pelswick hot dogs at the picket lines.

You also have the younger kids in town, including Pelswick’s younger sister, Kate. They’re angry that they won’t be able to destroy the bedrooms of their older siblings while they’re on the camping trip, which is silly, but yeah totally something they’d do.

There was also a group of kids who were perfectly depicting the hypocrites you tend to see in these situations. They were going off about Pelswick being selfish for doing this while they were being selfish during their whole conversation. Not only is the narrative of ‘What a selfish thing to do. Why isn’t he thinking of what we want?’ inherently selfish, but they’re furthering the point by having them literally take the seats out from under two other kids so they could sit.

Then, on the opposite side, you have the ones supporting Pelswick, many of whom are fellow disabled individuals who are fighting for their rights, which is, of course, entirely understandable. But they also go a bit into silly territory by having pro-Pelswick hamburgers and a giant Pelswick balloon.

Likewise, while this situation does suck, the school had a relatively reasonable explanation for doing this. Their insurance didn’t cover individuals with special needs outside of the city limits. With the push against the decision to keep the camping trip but bar Pelswick, they felt they had no other choice but to cancel the trip entirely.

And even if we do go down the route of them getting better insurance coverage, the steps needed to achieve that would’ve taken too long as the trip was that weekend. It’s not just a matter of improving their insurance – it’s a matter of whether they have the money to do that, and if they don’t, allocating funds from one place or another to meet that demand. I think everyone knows how much red tape and bullshit there is in budget discussions, especially when it comes to schools.

For nearly the entire time, Pelswick believes his father/his connections to the state senator is the one who did all of this. He’s an ultra-’PC’ person to the point of parody. He’s definitely a good person, but he doesn’t realize that there is a limit when it comes to not trying to step on anyone’s toes. He actually says the line “Nobody’s wrong. They’re just differently right.”

He also does and says some things that come off like he’s one of those people who pats himself on the back for being, for lack of a better term, “woke” but he may actually be a rare occurrence when he doesn’t realize he’s doing it.

Here is one of his first lines of dialogue. “I’m showing your siblings the folly of gender-based stereotypes by cleaning and cooking dinner while nurturing Bobby and reading Kate a story about tolerance and equality.” If he were just doing this, it wouldn’t be anything worth noting, but the fact that he pointed this out so specifically is what makes it come off like he’s trying to pat himself on the back.

I actually think his dad might be a play on the critics of John Callahan’s cartoons. He was always criticized for being “politically incorrect” (Though Callahan would prefer the term “Survivor humor” – himself being paralyzed from the shoulders down and a survivor of a harrowing childhood) and he didn’t much care for those people at all. In fact, he was quoted as saying he really only cared about the responses he got from individuals with disabilities, which were overwhelmingly positive. When it came to everyone else, he liked pushing their buttons and seeing how far he could go with his dark and biting humor. His cartoons even sometimes caused people to boycott and protest the publications he was working with, and even created some issues with sponsors.

In this circumstance, if what I believe of this character is true, then the point of Pelswick’s dad is obviously poking fun at people who are uptight about not offending anybody and walk on eggshells around those who are different while still acknowledging that these people mean well.

Anyway, back on point, his father goes to the senator to get her to do something about this, so Pelswick thinks the lawyer, who is the one who kicked up the fuss, was hired by either his dad or the senator. Turns out, it’s neither. He was hired by his crush, Julie.

Julie is a character who prides herself on her strong sense of justice. When she learned that Pelswick was being barred from the camping trip, she took it upon herself to start all of this for him because she felt bad at the idea of him being all alone while everyone else was off camping. However, it got out of hand and she couldn’t stop it.

Pelswick is ecstatic to hear that she cared about him so much that she’d do this for him, but it also kinda goes against Pelswick’s whole point. Pelswick was annoyed because, during this whole situation, no one would listen to him about what he wanted. They just kept pushing their own narratives and agendas while pushing him to the side, even though his face is plastered all of the town because of it.

Julie never bothered talking to Pelswick about this. In fact, once the trip is canceled, we don’t see Julie again until the reveal that she was behind it all. She just felt bad for him, so she took action without even mentioning it to him once.

But what’s even worse is that she had to have known Pelswick was becoming the town punching bag throughout this whole thing, but she didn’t talk to him or even try to clear the air about who was the one who started all of this until Pelswick came out and asked at the rally. Even Pelswick points this out.

Pelswick: “You cared enough about me to make me totally miserable?”

This is said in a dreamy voice, by the way. He’s flattered that she did this.

So, in summary, the girl who prides herself on her strong sense of justice just let the guy she was trying to defend be attacked for a few days all because she was seemingly too chicken to own up to what she did. ‘Kay.

By the way, in regards to their dynamic, Pelswick doesn’t make off being entirely angelic either. He actually has a ‘Nice guy’ moment, verbatim. When some bullies get done picking on Pelswick, Julie talks about what terrible people they are but then ends on saying she’s oddly attracted to them.

Pelswick: “It’s….the curse of the nice guys! The beautiful girls are always attracted to jerks and lunkheads.” Then he has a fantasy sequence where he imagines himself 20 years in the future. He’s rich and crying into thousand dollar bills as he imagines what could’ve been with Julie while he’s also driving by Julie who is now married to his bully and has a miserable life working at some dilapidated gas station in the middle of nowhere.

Don’t worry, Pelswick, I’m sure you’ll find that special subreddit someday.

The resolution to this episode is a little confusing. The vice principal says his hands are tied in this because of the insurance reasons I mentioned before. Inspired by the advice given to him earlier by his guardian angel, whom I’ll address in a minute, Pelswick asks if they can hold the camping trip in the VP’s new giant backyard at his new house.

Now, first of all, I think the writers are greatly misinformed on how much a public school vice principal would make. Certainly not enough to buy this big house with a massive backyard and a pool with a giant tower of a diving board.

Secondly, I don’t think it was ever brought up before this point that the vice principal has a new house with a huge backyard, so this solution kinda comes out of nowhere.

He does let the kids camp in his yard, everyone has a grand old time, and Pelswick even gets to touch Julie’s hand.

The end.

Skipping back to the guardian angel thing, Pelswick has a guardian angel named Mr. Jimmy. Whether or not he’s real is questionable, but he appears in every episode and offers Pelswick advice, usually in a rather confusing and random manner. When I rewatched this, I remembered that the Disney Channel Original Movie, Miracle in Lane 2, basically had this exact same thing. In that movie, the main character was also paralyzed from the waist down, and he had frequent conversations with ‘God’ who took the form of a fictional famous race car driver. I looked up what year Miracle in Lane 2 was made in, and it premiered the exact same year as Pelswick, 2000, though Pelswick premiered in October whereas Miracle in Lane 2 premiered in May.

COINCIDENCE?!

*Dramatic music*

Yeah, probably. I mean, Mr. Jimmy and ‘God’ don’t act anything alike, and most of the interactions with ‘God’ are in a more serious tone when Justin needs help. Plus the race car driver motif thing

By the way, watch Miracle in Lane 2. It’s an awesome movie, and one of the few times Disney Channel really got serious and kinda dark. The early 00s were the butterzone for that. So Weird, In a Heartbeat, a few other more serious DCOMs….I miss those days.

As a first episode, this one works pretty well. It introduces us to Pelswick and explores his personality and desires fairly well. We get introduced to his friends, his family, his crush and even his bullies all in one go. I can’t really say I loved any of the characters, but I liked Pelswick and Ace most of all, and even Goon had his moments. As far as I remember, they never explain how Pelswick became paralyzed, but according to the Wiki, the series creators imply it was due to a car accident, which mirrors John Callahan’s situation.

The only other thing I really want to talk about is the art. I nearly didn’t even really bring up the art because, despite having my criticisms of it, I felt awkward discussing it. I had read up on John Callahan while I was writing this review and realized it was based on his cartoon art, which he had created after he gained some mobility in his arms. He was able to hold a pencil between his hands and draw.

As a result, I didn’t want to criticize the art, but then I realized I’d be missing the point of quite literally everything I’m discussing here. I’d be keeping quiet about something because the person behind it was quadriplegic, and John Callahan seemed very dedicated to ensuring that people with disabilities weren’t pitied or treated differently. Granted, this isn’t directly his art, but it is heavily based on his art.

So, here goes.

The art is very, very weird. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Klasky/Csupo shows, but more off-model. Many people are given huge bulky bodies with thin heads, short little t-rex arms and massive noses. Their eyes are always both seen from the side, like one must be dislodged from their head. I can’t even begin to make sense of Pelswick’s dad’s head, who also has eyes that seem like they’re just installed in his glasses.

It’s very stylized – you can quickly tell this is a style meant to be in newspaper cartoons – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s very weird. Weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad, I wasn’t cringing while watching it or anything, but I did find myself baffled as to the design choices many times. The animation is also simple, but it works.

Verdict:

Continue Yes

Pelswick is definitely a unique show that I’m sad was mostly lost to time, especially considering that it puts a spotlight on the lives and struggles of individuals with disabilities – that’s rare enough as it is, but for a cartoon aimed at children it’s nearly unheard of. It has a pretty good sense of humor, good writing and mostly likable characters. If you have the means, give it a look.

Final Notes: Because it was airing on networks for kids, Pelswick notably needed to have more of a positive/optimistic spin that was quite a bit different from the crass and darker humor Callahan used in his cartoons.

Right when Pelswick was airing, another cartoon based on Callahan’s work, called Quads!, was being aired in Canada – produced by the same team and company (Nelvana included, surprisingly). According to what I’ve read, it was a much more adult-oriented show that better reflected Callahan’s style of humor. It never got a US release. Interestingly, though, both shows ended in 2002 and both shows had two seasons/26 episodes.

Truth be told, I don’t really have a lot of interest in seeking out this show. I’ve mentioned before that crass humor really isn’t my cup of tea, even if it’s well-written, and just reading the character bios on the Wiki page for Quads! leads me to believe that it wouldn’t be any more fitting for me. I’m not criticizing his style of humor – especially considering Callahan only created and produced the shows, he didn’t write for them. Even from what I’ve seen of his newspaper cartoons (a few of which I found to be pretty funny) I can tell this that particular type of humor is not for me. It’s not something I seek out, nor do I tend to be entertained by it usually when I stumble upon it. I respect it fully, but it’s not my style.

Sadly John Callahan died at age 59 in 2010 from complications related to his quadriplegia as well as respiratory issues. He had such an impact on the world of cartoons and people with disabilities that a biographical movie, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (the title being a reference to one of his most popular cartoons) was made in 2018 starring Joaquin Phoenix. The movie was mapped out in the late ‘80s, but had a lot of difficulties finding a studio that would take on the project, and many delays and broken deals plagued it over the years.

Callahan was even quoted as saying “We’re all gonna be dead by the time this film is made.” And, sadly, Callahan did die eight years before the movie was finally released. To make matters worse, Robin Williams was initially pegged to star in it, but he had also passed away before the movie found a studio (and was too old to play the part by that time either way.) Callahan had also said he wanted Phillip Seymour Hoffman to play the part if Williams ever wasn’t an option anymore, but he, too, passed away before everything was set in stone.

Still, it looks like Joaquin Phoenix really immersed himself in the role and did a good job. I’d like to see the movie if I ever got the chance. Not only does Callahan seem like he was a funny and genuine guy, but he also has a very interesting backstory that I’d love to see explored on film.


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Pixar’s Lamp | The Incredibles (2004) Review

Plot: In the golden age, superheroes were loved, admired and cherished by the masses. However, one lawsuit started a snowball effect that changed everything. Supers were suddenly vilified, and they had to go into hiding with government protection to avoid all of the backlash. Now living as normal, average citizens, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, also known as Bob and Helen Parr, try to raise their children, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack in a superpower-free world.

Bob is not content with his normal life and wants nothing more than to return to his good ol’ days of heroism. A mysterious message puts all the cogs in motion to grant his wish, but he forgot that with heroics comes danger – and danger means more when your family’s in the crossfire.

Breakdown: The year is 2004.

Marvel cinematic universe? Doesn’t exist.

DC actively trying? FEH!

This is an era where superhero movies are little more than a joke. People looked forward to them about as much as they looked forward to video game adaptations. They’d try and try again to make them work, and while they may be a box office success sometimes, they’d usually wane heavily in the critic department.

Pixar saw this as an opportunity. The Incredibles is not based on an existing comic book. It’s entire universe is built from the ground up on the silver screen. In addition, it’s animated – not live-action as a majority of superhero movies were at the time. In hindsight, this seems like a big gamble. Especially since the director, Brad Bird, was coming fresh off of his first venture into directing, which ended up being a box office disappointment.

But some people need to be reminded to keep the faith. After all, that box office disappointment….was The Iron Giant. The box office does not always reflect quality.

Let’s not keep beating around the bush. The Incredibles is……incredible. Yeah, I made that joke. Fight me.

From start to finish, the movie is filled with great humor, fantastic action, memorable characters and pokes at the superhero genre as a whole. This is a very realistic family in a, well, I can’t really say ‘unique scenario’ because the concept has been done before (In fact, when this first came out, this movie reminded me quite a bit of the short-lived, basically forgotten Nickelodeon series, The X’s.), but it is a very interesting and fun scenario.

Back in ‘the good ol’ days,’ superheroes were always hailed, respected and beloved, but you know that some jackass somewhere would ruin it by suing them. Granted, superheroes do make big messes and wrack up massive bills in damages, even the MCU addresses this, but I think whatever damage the enemy would do is almost always greater. And at least we’re lead to assume that the heroes aren’t piling up huge body counts during these battles….most of the time.

The heroes go into hiding, and there seems to be two sides to this coin. You have people like Bob (Mr. Incredible) and Dash who want to embrace their powers and be heroes. Because they’re not allowed to do so, Bob becomes very depressed and withdrawn, doing heroics in secret whenever he can with his buddy, Frozone, and Dash acts out.

Helen (Elastigirl) and Violet, on the other hand, want to be normal. They still use their powers sometimes in private, but they want to fit in – Helen wants to protect the family, and Violet wants to be a regular teenager.

In the end, they all find a middleground. Bob gets to be a hero more often, but he also comes to understand the importance of his family. Dash learns to tone it down, but he’s also now allowed to participate in school sports as long as he doesn’t play unfairly. Violet gets more self-confidence and embraces her powers. And Helen learns to not be ashamed of her life as a superhero while also encouraging that type of attitude in her kids.

It’s great that they chose to go down this route instead of having it black and white ‘this side is right, and you’re wrong.’

Helen and Bob have a great dynamic, and even Violet and Dash were really good together. I like how they eventually used their powers together. That hamster-ball idea was so cool.

Another thing to commend this movie on is, most of the time, they don’t pull any punches with the darker aspects. Helen even outright tells her children, basically telling the audience directly, that these bad guys aren’t like the ones you’d see on Saturday morning cartoon shows. They won’t show restraint on children. They will kill them without hesitation. That’s pretty heavy for an animated superhero movie in a world where kid deaths are typically taboo.

In addition to that, people attempt suicide, there’s hints of adultery and alcohol, some sexual-ish content and lots and lots of death.

Even though I said they don’t cause a lot of civilian deaths, there are a ton of bad-guy minion deaths – a good deal of which are caused by Bob and Dash. They don’t ‘directly’ cause these deaths. For instance, nearly all of the deaths caused by Dash are collisions caused by those pursuing him because he managed to out-maneuver them, but still…lots of bodies.

The ones they seem directly responsible for they kinda skirt around. For instance, Bob throws a huge tram car at two guys from a mile away, and they specifically show them moving and groaning to assure the audience that Bob didn’t straight-up murder those guys.

Outside of that, we also have numerous depictions of heroes dying in that ‘NO CAPES!’ montage, including one of two instances where someone dies by getting sucked into a jet turbine. Yugh. And we have the harrowing fact that Syndrome essentially committed hero genocide, which I don’t think is given quite enough weight, but holy crap. Bob even finds the skeletal remains of one of the killed heroes and hides under his body to trick Syndrome into believing he’s dead. Wow.

Speaking of Syndrome, he’s a very effective and memorable villain. He’s very intimidating and is a serious threat. Lest we forget the hero genocide. His backstory is a little hokey, but not too bad. It’s understandable for someone who grew up in a world of supers and was basically a super fanboy to become jaded when given a massive tongue lashing by his favorite superhero. And he obviously did have value and talent, but Bob never wanted to give him a chance. He pulls off being both funny and threatening at the same time, which is very impressive. In any other movie, he’d be a complete joke, but he can be downright scary. It’s also a bit refreshing for the master plan to not be ‘take over the world’ again. Though, considering his normal job, maybe he already does, in a way. Hm.

His plan is fairly brilliant. Design a robot that is essentially perfect by having it learn and make changes to its design based on battles it endures with hundreds of various heroes. Kill the heroes, let the robot loose on the city, stop the robot and take the credit, making him the only and, by default, best hero in the world.

I will admit that the method of defeating the robot is a bit obvious, though. With all the weaknesses that have been exposed on this thing, Syndrome never thought to program it to not destroy itself? Especially when that’s exactly how Bob defeated it the first time? It has some sense of self-preservation, hence why it targeted the remote, but it’s still too stupid to not hit itself.

Some final things that I felt were a little negative in this movie:

I find Dash to be annoying 70% of the time.

While I really liked him, Frozone was mostly a superfluous character who barely did anything. I really wanted him to be given more to do.

I worry that, should they continue the series beyond the second movie, Jack-Jack will be too powerful. His main power seems to be shapeshifting, but from what I’ve heard he has many more powers that are revealed in the sequel (sadly haven’t gotten around to watching it quite yet, but very soon!)

His power is apparently that he’s a ‘jack of all trades,’ hence the name, but it’s also been suggested that, since Jack-Jack’s a baby, his power isn’t solidified and he has ‘unlimited potential,’ which is culminating in this mass array of powers. However, if that were true, that seems like it would be a normal part of a super’s life cycle. Dash and Violet would’ve had to have gone through the same thing as babies, which I doubt they did.

I dunno.

That’s about it on the negative side, though, and that’s not a significant mark on an otherwise exceptional movie. The Incredibles stands as one of my favorite movies and a testament to Pixar’s amazing talents as filmmakers. Even today in our saturated superhero movie market, I was very excited to rewatch this movie, and I’m jazzed to finally see the sequel.

Recommended Audience: It’s surprisingly dark when you get down to it, but a good chunk of the darkness is in the details. Still, there are some blatant darker aspects like the hero genocide, the suicide attempt and the implied infidelity. 10+


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AVAHS Finale – A Very Merry Pooh Year (+ Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too) Review

winnie-the-pooh-a-very-merry-pooh-year-dv

Plot: As Pooh and the rest of the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood prepare for Christmas, Roo’s question about whether Santa will arrive prompts the others to tell the story of a Christmas they shared before Kanga and Roo arrived.

Then everything falls to pieces when Rabbit decides he’s had enough of his crazy friends and decides to move away. As New Year’s approaches, the others resolve to change themselves so Rabbit won’t leave.

Breakdown: Happy New Year, everyone! May your 2021 be hopeful, positive, healthy and happy, and nothing like its bastard sibling, 2020.

Anyhoo, or anyPOOH! Hahahahahaha….please don’t click away. To herald in the new year, I thought we’d discuss one of the few animated New Year’s specials (and it is, trust me. It’ll get there.) A Very Merry Pooh Year.

As I mentioned in my review of Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie, A Very Merry Pooh Year utilized the same lazy story stuffing technique they did, which is to only make half of a new movie and fill up the other half of the runtime with a decade-old holiday special from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Meaning that little tagline of “A Brand New Full-Length Adventure” can go suck a Times Square ball.

However, this time, DisneyToon was not involved. Instead, the animation was done by Wang Film Productions and Sunwoo Animation (Under Walt Disney Television Animation).

Now, while this practice is lazy and downright deceptive to the consumer, the main reason it was such a pall on Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie was because the story they came up with was damn near identical to the episode they shoehorned into it, so including that feature just highlighted how ridiculously lazy and near self-plagiarizing the new movie was.

Does A Very Merry Pooh Year have the same problem?

The special that is being featured in this ‘movie’ is Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too. Christopher Robin helps Pooh and the other animals of the Hundred Acre-Wood write a letter to Santa. They throw it into the wind, as it’s blowing north, and wait for it to arrive at the North Pole. Later, they realize that Pooh never asked for anything, so he and Piglet decide to get the letter back and fix it before letting it reach the North Pole, which doesn’t make any sense.

First of all, Pooh wants honey. Christopher Robin knows this, Pooh mentioned it about seven times when the others were making their wishes, there’s no way Christopher Robin didn’t write down that Pooh wanted a pot of honey for Christmas.

Second, why do they need to get the letter back? Why couldn’t they just send a new letter specifically for Pooh?

The amended letter with Pooh’s wishes as well as Rabbit, Tigger and Eeyore’s new better, more extravagant wishes, because everyone started going overboard, gets sent off in the wind, but the letter returns because the wind changed directions. Later, Pooh and Piglet find the letter and panic because there’s no time to get a new letter to Santa. In an effort to make Christmas happen, Pooh dresses up like Santa, Piglet dresses as a reindeer and they make the gifts their friends asked for. However, the gifts are incredibly shoddy and everyone’s upset about them.

They eventually find out what Pooh and Piglet have been doing, and they figure out what Pooh did wrong – he waited until the weathervane indicated S for Santa when he should have waited for N for North, so it could get to the North Pole…..Which is not what happened. The weathervane was pointed west….I think. It’s hard to tell with their setup. And Pooh just said the letter would know which way to go.

They want to send the letter again, but the winds have died down. The only way to get the letter to the North Pole now is if one of them hand delivers it. Pooh immediately volunteers.

Piglet: “You? But the North Pole is so very far. What if you can’t get back in time for Christmas?”

Pooh: “It will be worth having no Christmas, Piglet, if I can bring Christmas to all of you.”

Gotta be honest, that was one of the sweetest and most pure Christmas sentiments I’ve ever heard in a Christmas special. I literally went “Awwwwwww” out loud when he said that. What a sweetheart.

Pooh heads out in the now really windy snowstorm and quickly loses the letter, so he….goes home?

….Uh….Pooh? You remember what everyone wanted….Just…tell him? Santa doesn’t need the requests to be written out. How do you think mall Santas work?

Meanwhile, back at home, Piglet laments–…………Is that a fire…..they forgot to animate?

There are no flames. It’s like they’re just glowing logs……What happened here?…What is this?

Uh anyway, Piglet laments the fact that Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Pooh Bear around, even if they’ll eventually get good presents. Tigger, Rabbit and Eeyore are still excited, but they quickly agree with Piglet that it’s just not the same without Pooh Bear.

Just then, Pooh returns, delivering the bad news that he couldn’t get the letter to Santa, but they don’t care – they’re just glad Pooh Bear is back to spend Christmas with them.

Suddenly, Christopher Robin arrives on the new sled he wanted, and he’s bearing gifts that were left from ‘Santa.’ A flyswatter for Rabbit to get rid of the bugs who keep eating his carrots, a snowshoe for Tigger’s tail so he can bounce in the snow, an umbrella for Eeyore to keep snow from plopping down on him from the trees (though….he’s still homeless. His second and better gift suggestion was a new house – he lost his after the letter was sent…..The umbrella was actually meant to keep the snow off of his house……) a……thing for Piglet (He didn’t know what he wanted, so he just said anything’s fine, but that’s….I don’t even know what that is.

He’s happy with it, so I guess that’s all that matters, but I’m so confused) and, of course, a pot of honey for Pooh.

However, Pooh doesn’t think he deserves the honey since he messed up Christmas so much. Christopher Robin tries to convince him that that’s not true, and Pooh starts to agree as he stands on the honey pot and says that it makes him just the right height to give Christopher Robin a big hug. Awwwwwwwwww!

The end.

Despite some logic issues, this special is incredibly wholesome, sweet and has a great message. The holidays really don’t mean as much when the people you love aren’t there. I know that’s more of a bittersweet moral in this year of all years, but we live in an era where we can practically have anyone we want with us without actually being there in person. Is it the same? No. But even just talking to them over the phone or communicating through video chat creates a connection that is invaluable, especially in rough times.

On its own, it’s a great Christmas special that I think anyone would enjoy.

Now, onto the actual movie portion of which there’s, again, about a 35 minutes of new material.

Kanga and Roo join the others for the holidays this year, and they decide to regale Roo about the events of a previous Christmas, which is where the old Christmas special comes in.

When we cut back to the movie, Pooh sets out all of the gifts for….Christmas…..that…..everyone else made/got each other……which…..I don’t understand. This is just like the opposite situation of the Family Guy Christmas specials. Whereas they started out with everyone giving each other gifts and then in later seasons said Santa brought them all, Winnie the Pooh is saying that Santa delivered them before, but now they give each other gifts….Huh? And Roo even starts the special by asking if Santa will come, they tell him a story about Santa getting the gifts to them even when they thought he couldn’t, but now he didn’t get anything from Santa and got a gift from Tigger, which he acknowledges…..What is happening?

…………….Also, Tigger calls Rabbit ‘Rah rah’ a couple times and I got really giddy for some reason. That’s just an adorable nickname. Was that something he normally called him? I don’t remember.

Sadly, Pooh loses Piglet’s gift. He searches for days, until New Year’s Eve (See? We got there.) However, he’s searched for so long, he’s forgotten what he’s looking for.

Christopher Robin arrives with a box full of decorations for a New Year’s party. He gives the box to Pooh so he can make the party, and Christopher Robin just….disappears for some reason. Not gonna help, dude? Just proclaim you’re going to have a party and hand off the planning to someone else? Nice.

As Pooh, Piglet and Rabbit convene, Tigger drops by.

Tigger: “Wanna hear the good news? Snow does not keep Tiggers from bouncin’. Not one bitty bit!”

…………………….

……………….

…………….

……….

……..

…..

A snowshoe for Tigger’s tail so he can bounce in the snow.

so he can bounce in the snow.

bounce in the snow.

It was directly stated and shown several times in the special that THEY INCLUDED IN THIS MOVIE that Tigger can’t bounce in the snow, that’s why he needed the snowshoe, is what I’m getting at here.

After nearly destroying Rabbit’s house and his prized carrot, Rabbit snaps and declares that he’s moving away so he won’t have to put up with them anymore. He’s tired of Pooh’s obsession with honey, Piglet’s paranoia, Eeyore’s gloominess and Tigger’s bouncing. Having learned of New Year’s resolutions from Christopher Robin, Pooh decides that they should try to fix these aspects of themselves in order to get Rabbit to stay. They all agree to make their New Year’s resolutions to never eat honey, never be scared, always be cheerful and never bounce again.

Tigger ties his tail to a rock to prevent him from bouncing, which, considering he’s literally tying his tail up, actually looks really painful. Piglet asks Tigger how it seems like he’s never afraid. Tigger says he was always too busy bouncing to be afraid. Piglet starts bouncing all over the place, and he finds that it works. He’s not scared as long as he keeps bouncing.

Cool.

But then…..

Tigger, using Tigger logic, thinks that, if bouncing keeps away fear and he can no longer bounce, then he must be damned to becoming an anxiety-ridden mess who is afraid of literally everything, which quickly ends up happening because self-fulfilling prophecies. This is bad enough, but the buildup to this change is actually legit creepy. The screen starts going black all around him, even casting a shadow on Tigger’s edges, there are some creepy noises included, and we even zoom in on Tigger’s eyes so much that it affected the image quality.

I think we can ascertain what will happen with Pooh and Eeyore from here, but even that’s presented oddly.

We see Pooh rummaging around a tree to try and check on some honey without eating it, and then Eeyore walks by standing on his hind legs, in a red shirt, humming to himself and gobbling down honey. I love Eeyore….it is very uncomfortable to see him acting like this. Please stop.

He doesn’t even explain how and why he started doing this. He doesn’t say he knew Pooh was happy all the time so he decided to start mimicking him. He just suddenly appears while acting this way. From what he says, it’s just like he randomly ate some honey and started getting a funny feeling, which…I guess changed his personality instantly. And can I ask what the shirt and the walking on hind legs thing is about? He’s just now getting that there was a connection between him being happier and him eating honey, meaning he wasn’t at all trying to emulate Pooh Bear. He just decided to start doing those things…….Or….is the implication that you start becoming a Pooh clone when eat some honey? You can just be happy and eat honey. You don’t need to become a new Pooh.

Oh also Pooh’s got depression now.

Then we get this frightening-ass image.

Eeyore: “Why…I think I’m glad. SeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?”

Hehe, frightening-ass image…

Hehe….he’s a donkey.

Hehe, seriously, someone stop this waking nightmare. I cannot take much more of this. It’s like they’re intentionally making him ridiculously creepy.

They all arrive at Rabbit’s place to show him how much they’ve changed, but since they’ve literally just changed into each other, including the same speech patterns and mannerisms, it’s just as bad if not worse than before, so Rabbit immediately storms out.

One thing leads to another, and Rabbit ends up caught in a tree with a beehive. Piglet becomes frightened for him, making him break his resolution. Tigger unties his tail so he can bounce up to save Rabbit and his carrot, making him break his resolution. The beehive falls into Pooh’s hands, which prompts him to eat the honey inside, breaking his resolution. Everyone else breaking their resolutions and being upset at it makes Eeyore so upset he forgets to be happy. This is going to sound terrible, but thank god for that.

Realizing they failed, they leave Rabbit to move out of the Hundred Acre Wood.

Christopher Robin arrives for the party, but everyone is saddened at the loss of their friend. Rabbit, however, says he can’t think of leaving friends so loyal as them, especially when they cared so much about him that they tried to change themselves to make him happy. He loves his friends just the way they are.

Piglet: “Oh Rabbit! I was afraid I’d never get to be scared again!”……..Okay, back up.

The moral of all of this is to be yourself and to appreciate your friends for being themselves because they help you be who you really are, which is fine and dandy.

However, in regards to the New Year’s resolution stuff…..what kind of message are they trying to convey there? Because it really comes off like resolutions are bad, at least in regards to ones where you try to stop doing something. Like, yeah, these traits help the characters all be who they are, but being overly afraid is bad, and it probably negatively affects Piglet’s quality of life. What sane person says “I was afraid I’d never get to be scared again!”? I get that the wording is a joke, but that’s still a concerning thing to say.

Keep in mind, the only ones who experienced positive outcomes from taking on the traits of their friends were Piglet and Eeyore. Piglet became brave and had a lot of fun bouncing, and Eeyore became happier…..and creepy. Tigger, however, became a nervous wreck, and Pooh lost all enjoyment in everything. When their resolutions broke, Pooh was happy he got to eat honey, and Tigger was happy he was bouncing again, but Piglet can’t have been happy that he was afraid, and Eeyore wasn’t….happy….he was….sad? Maybe they were at least relieved that they didn’t have to pretend to be something they weren’t, but these factors still present issues.

A better lesson would be to not have such extreme New Year’s resolutions. Unless you really have serious, harmful problems, your New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be to completely overhaul your personality. Just try to improve yourself a little.

Tigger’s resolution could have been to bounce as much as he wanted but to try and control himself indoors or be more aware of his surroundings while bouncing.

Pooh could try to learn more self-control around food, especially honey.

Rabbit could learn to unwind and not be so uptight.

And Piglet and Eeyore could seek therapy.

They all head to Rabbit’s house and count down to the new year. Pooh suddenly remembers where he hid Piglet’s gift and rushes home to get it. It’s a lovely little music box that plays the New Year’s…anthem song…..what’s that song called? It plays so often on New Year’s but I never know what it’s called.

*Google*

Auld Lang Syne!? Chalk that up as something I never would have guessed ever. They even sing the proper lyrics at the end. I feel like I’ve been living in a void my whole life.

Pooh makes his own lyrics to the song and sings them to Piglet, and it’s really cute and sweet. Everyone sings as the movie zooms out and concludes.

—————————————

This movie didn’t have the problem that Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie had in that it wasn’t basically the same story as the included special, but I still have to ding it a little because, really, what a weird New Year’s special. It honestly makes it look like New Year’s resolutions aren’t a good thing. Granted, most people don’t fulfill their New Year’s resolutions, but they’re typically never a bad thing to set. Even when Pooh’s initially learning about resolutions by Christopher Robin, it gives off a vibe that it’s about changing yourself and that changing yourself isn’t something you should do.

But changing yourself, if your current behaviors cause problems or negative repercussions, whether for others, yourself or both, can be quite good. At least take some self-reflection into consideration. You don’t have to throw away your personality and construct an entirely new persona or adopt someone else’s, you just have to improve as a person.

It’s a little bit difficult to say that the message is bad, though, because, yes, being yourself and loving yourself and being your best self around your friends is great. That’s the way it should be. But you should always strive to be better. I dunno. I guess it’s up to your own interpretation on how good the actual message is in contrast to the bad light they put the resolution message in.

Overall, though, while it is still lazy and deceptive to include a completely separate special in this movie and claim it’s entirely a “brand-new full-length movie,” this is a mostly fun, sweet, heartwarming and festive holiday movie. Plus, it is nice to have a Christmas and New Year’s special rolled into one to cap off the year. The songs are very short, and none of them are very memorable, but they’re fine for what they are. There are some logic issues peppered throughout, but it’s Winnie the Pooh – I can mostly overlook them. The best section is definitely Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too, but the New Year’s section is still perfectly enjoyable…..barring creepy Pooh!Eeyore. That is going to haunt me for a long time.

And with that we close out A Very Animated Holiday Special for 2020. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to fill the entire 31 days, but I hope you all enjoyed what I came out with this year. I certainly had a lot of fun with it. Found some awesome entries, some weirdos and some ech, but it was all around fun. Now it’s back to our regularly scheduled shenanigans.

Happy New Year!


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AVAHS – Family Guy: Road to the North Pole Review

Plot: Stewie and Brian head off to the North Pole so Stewie can kill Santa for not allowing him to see him at the mall. When they finally reach the North Pole and meet Santa, they find that it’s not the land of magic and wonder it once was – it’s a toxic, bloody and demented factory all caused by the ever-increasing greed of people around the world.

Breakdown: Wow. I’ve managed to go up until this very moment without ever reviewing any episode of Family Guy. It’s hard to ever want to review Family Guy because it’s so inconsistent in its quality. Some episodes are abhorrent, some are alright and some are pretty good. As a whole, though, if you don’t like Family Guy or lost your taste for the ever-devolving humor, it’s hard to want to sit through it for review purposes.

I don’t watch Family Guy anymore because, from all I know and have seen of its most recent years, it’s been a steady downward spiral, but a handful of years ago I used to watch it fairly regularly and enjoyed it just fine. They definitely have gone overboard with the cutaways, they have a lot of difficulty knowing when to stop a joke (this episode is no exception) and sometimes they’re just overly dark and terrible for no reason.

I think most people will agree that the show is at its strongest when it’s focusing on one of Brian and Stewie’s adventures, and giving them an “hour” long (read: 42 minute long) Christmas special seems right up their alley.

I vaguely remember watching this special once and the only reason I remembered that I watched it was because of a scene where they have David Boreanaz (in live-action) playing the aurora borealis (Or Aurora Boreanaz because that’s the joke.) and it reminded me that Bones once had an episode where Booth hallucinated Stewie (fully animated and integrated into the live-action) throughout the runtime, and Stewie was pestering him about getting Brennan pregnant the more ‘direct’ way because she had asked Booth to donate his sperm for her to have a kid, and he was having an inner conflict about it, and his hallucinations were caused by a brain tumor………Weird-ass fuckin’ episode. Love ya, Bones, but that broke the weird meter.

Anyway, the special itself is pretty alright. Most of the jokes land just fine and some even had me smiling. Obviously, though, this being Family Guy, they have to add a pretty dark and gloomy slant to this special.

You can REALLY tell the contrast between seasons here. In the first Christmas special they ever did, the worst that happened was Lois went on a stress-induced rampage and needed to be tranquilized. Here, so many terrible things happen. The elves are inbred, practically brain-dead and suicidal, the reindeer are mutated and have a hunger for elf flesh, they cut the arm off of a living elf because he was so brain damaged that he just didn’t notice and they needed his arm to coax the reindeer to fly, and Santa is so overworked in a toxic waste environment he was forced to create that he’s dying and longs for death. And lest we forget the very long sequence in which Brian and Stewie perform a home invasion, nearly (or actually?) beat a couple to death in front of their young daughter…..

Then there are contradictions in the writing. Some of which I can overlook like Santa saying they might not think he looks too bad but he’s actually 28….when he just got done explaining that, back in the day, people just wanted dollies and wooden choo-choo trains – pretty sure that era was more than 28 years ago.

Also, the first Family Guy Christmas special shows that everyone buys presents on Christmas, so why is everyone left gift-less without Santa now?

But then there are some instances where the confusion makes the entire joke not work. The aforementioned home invasion is topped off by Brian and Stewie learning that they’re not even in the right house for what they were delivering….but….the sleigh is just outside, and these people are obviously good and celebrate Christmas….so….just go back out and get the right presents. Why is that the tipping point of that overly long and brutal scene?

But that out of the way, this is actually a pretty decent Christmas special, especially in regards to the songs and the message.

If there’s one area Family Guy usually shines in even today, it’s musical numbers, and this is no exception. While there are only two songs in this special, they’re very catchy, kinda funny and memorable songs.

As for the message, it’s a less cheesy but tried-and-true ‘stop being so greedy’ message. It doesn’t go so far as to basically tell you you’re bad for wanting anything on Christmas, like many Christmas specials seem to imply, but moreso just chill out and roll back with the expectations and demands. Just ask for one thing. Don’t pile it on. And….yeah, that message works just fine with me.

As much as I prattle on about the true meaning of Christmas and making of it what you want it to be, like I am some sort of Christmas special protagonist, there’s no getting around the fact that presents are a big part of Christmas. Gift giving and receiving is common in many holidays and traditions, and that’s Santa’s whole shtick. There’s no shame in it. It’s just when we go overboard with it that it becomes a problem. So dialing the greed back a bit and being happy with what you get is a more suitable message in my opinion.

Throughout the special, there are live-action interludes and narration by Ron MacFarlane, Seth MacFarlane’s father, and he does a fine job making those traditional old narration interludes funny. They’re not terribly funny, but they get the job done, and his voice is actually rather nice for general narration.

Overall, if you currently hate or never liked Family Guy or Seth MacFarlane (though he hasn’t written for the show in years), this special won’t sway you into enjoying it, but it is a solid Christmas special as long as you can stomach some crass humor and gore.


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AVAHS – My Gym Partner’s a Monkey: Have Yourself a Joyful Little Animas Review

Plot: Animas has come, but Adam can’t participate because he’s a human, and the holiday is all about following your animal instincts.

Breakdown: Like Brandy and Mr. Whiskers, My Gym Partner’s a Monkey is a show I was aware of and gave a chance when it aired, but I just couldn’t get into. My reasoning for this one was that it was just…..stupid. The concept is silly, which is obviously fine for a goofy cartoon. Adam is a human who gets sent to an animal school simply because his last name is Lyon and they misspelled it when they signed him up for school. The aforementioned monkey gym partner is Jake who is basically what you’d expect a sentient monkey to be. Hijinks ensue, and that’s about it. But what they do with it just tends to be stupid silly.

This episode is no exception. Aminas is obviously a play on Christmas, but it’s made stupid. Animas is all about following your animal instincts. As long as you’re an animal, you can understand what to do. But Adam is a human so he doesn’t get what you’re supposed to do, which is stuff like wearing periwinkle (and getting hit in the head with a coconut three times if you don’t) and being able to read something that isn’t written down.

This mostly just results in him feeling left out and frustrated. However, when it comes time to decorate the Animas rock, he accidentally ruins the holiday for everyone. All of the animals need to find the rock using their instincts and decorate it, otherwise Animas will be canceled for some reason. Since Adam doesn’t have the instincts to find it, Animas is ruined.

Adam decides to go back to human school since he doesn’t belong in animal school, but he’s still bummed about losing his friends back in the animal school. After sucking down a glob of wasabi from an Asian stereotype, who I can’t decide if they’re even offensive because it’s like they’re trying really hard to go overboard with the stereotype so as to make it overtly obvious so that’s the joke but the show’s not funny enough to pull it off so it’s just confusing and uncomfortable, Adam’s sinuses clear (he had been suffering from bad allergies) and he’s able to smell the Animas rock, which reeks because everyone ‘decorates’ it by pissing on it. Adam does the same and Animas is saved.

Everyone learned the true meaning of Animas, which is….I have no goddamn clue. Mr. Gills, who is a teacher and goldfish, drives home the message that the meaning of Animas is to be with your friends no matter if you ruin their holiday or not (which is kinda dumb in context because it’s hard to want to be around people who keep acting like you wrecked their favorite time of year. It’d be different if they were accepting of Adam’s inability to use animal instincts and just have him celebrate like everyone else, but they didn’t. They just kept telling him to do something he couldn’t do and acting like he was a weirdo for not knowing anything about Animas.)

Adam also said it’s about following your instincts, no matter if you’re human or animal, which….I dunno, is that meant to be a ‘follow your heart’ kinda deal?

Is there even a message in this special? It doesn’t need one, but it kinda needs something because the humor and story don’t hold it up very well. There’s a subplot with Coach Gills going through a bunch of Christmas special parodies so she can rediscover the true meaning of Animas because she’s a grinch. Despite a couple of humorous moments here, they also don’t do much with the parodies.

Finally, Adam has a couple of moments where he does like….poetry (?) as he tries to express how much his inability to belong at the animal school bums him out. It’s okay, but it’s also just not funny.

In the end, I really can’t recommend this as a Christmas special because….well…it’s not one, and I can’t recommend it as a neat episode of an old series because, well, I don’t find it to be one. It’s passable at best and gross/unfunny at worst. I don’t even like the theme song at all. That’s not unique to this special, but I just remembered how much I don’t like the theme song and couldn’t find anywhere else to put that not so here ya go.


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AVAHS – Brandy and Mr. Whiskers: On Whiskers, On Lola, On Cheryl and Meryl Review

AVAHS - BAMW

Plot: Brandy schemes to have Santa take her back to Florida on Christmas.

Breakdown: Brandy and Mr. Whiskers was one of those shows I was definitely aware of and gave a chance, but I ultimately just found it to be another ‘coma show.’ I know I’ve watched it, but dammit all if the space left behind by the that show isn’t just immediately overwritten by my brain hard drive.

It’s just not funny or interesting is all. A spoiled rich girl ends up in the jungle and befriends a bunch of oddballs while she desperately seeks the comfort of her own luxurious home. Brandy’s obnoxious, Whiskers is obnoxious, and the side characters range from obnoxious to just okay.

I think one of the main issues I had with the show as a whole is that the main duo just don’t have much in regards to comedic chemistry. It’s obviously the overly energetic jokester with the irritable straight man/girl but they just don’t click in my opinion. Then again, nothing really clicks for me with this show.

The Christmas special is equally blah. Brandy tries to bring Christmas to the jungle in order to lure Santa there so she can hitch a ride home, but she’s on the naughty list. She accidentally causes Santa’s sleigh to crash because Whiskers is an idiot, and, surprise, she and Whiskers have to take over his job and she kinda-ish learns the true meaning of Christmas as a result.

I say ‘kinda-ish’ because, while she does have a nice moment once, she clearly wants to manipulate Santa into believing she’s made a big Christmas revelation so she’ll be put on the nice list and get a ride back home.

The stupid thing is that she had a perfect opportunity to head home and she didn’t take it all because she thought the manipulation method would work. Sure, when she got to her house she left because she legitimately wanted to help deliver the rest of the presents, but when they were all done she could have gone back home and told Whiskers and the others to return the sleigh to Santa instead of just hoping he believed her ‘learned the true meaning of Christmas’ spiel and would take her home. But nope. She did and he didn’t and the status quo of the series was restored.

Also, why does Santa looks so horrible in this show? It looks like his beard is an Ed, Edd and Eddy sized Jawbreaker stuck in his chin.

Also, also, I kinda don’t want to go here, but why do the toucans remind me so much of the crows from Dumbo? They are very obviously black women stereotypes in the bodies of black birds. Am I crazy? Tell me I’m crazy. I can’t not see it. Obviously, it’s not as overt of a problem as the crows were, but I made the connection the instant they spoke….

If you were a fan of Brandy and Mr. Whiskers, maybe you’ll get some enjoyment out of this special, but otherwise you’re not missing much.


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