AVAHS – A Fairy Tale Christmas

Rating: 2.5/10

Plot: The King’s viceroy, Crofton, wishes to tax the villagers heavily and eventually take over as king, but the King won’t allow it. In an effort to get him out of the picture so he can take over, he gives the King’s daughter, Princess Angela, a potion to erase her memories and gives her over to his brother to raise her in the woods.

About a decade later, the King indeed finds himself lost without his daughter, and his Assistant is living the high life on all the tax money he’s collecting. Can Angela regain her memories and return to her rightful place as Princess?

Breakdown: I’d like to share IMDB’s plot synopsis of this movie. Ahem.

“When a young woman accidentally triggers to Christmas Day was begins to reflection on addiction to building the Christmas Tree from a North Pole in B.C.”

That should show how little information there is on this movie and how many people have actually seen it. God bless the random user who took the time to write a fairly proper synopsis in the Storyline section.

I’m surprised there’s actually a well-written and detailed review on that page too. Technically, there are three reviews but two of them are clearly trolling.

Wanna know something else? The IMDB page is literally the only site that has ‘information’ on this movie. The only other website with info is the page for the production studio behind the film, Waterfront Pictures.

Click that link, by the way, because its mission statement is such overly produced corporate gobbletygook it’s insane. I was getting a headache reading it.

I won’t lie. I’m not ashamed. I went into this fully with the mindset of having something to make fun of. I mean, come on. From the lazy title to the nonsensical yet still cliché plot to the bad art and animation to the characters that are so bland that the movie didn’t even bother giving them names half the time (I have the character list in front of me, and the only one I recognize is Angela, and even then I forgot her name halfway through.)

It was ripe for mocking…..and it disappointed even on that front. Don’t worry, I found a bunch of superfluous stuff to overanalyze that I’ll get to in a minute, but overall it’s just bland.

It has so little of a plot that the movie doesn’t even reach an hour – it’s 44 minutes including credits, and I feel like some parts are missing. For instance, a talking deer and talking bird mention that only the princess has a ‘true heart’ which allows her to understand their speech (just go with it.) It’s phrased like we saw a scene with them talking to Angela when she was a child earlier, but we didn’t.

Now for other things that make no sense but aren’t funny to talk about.

Why doesn’t Crofton just kill Angela? I get that this is a kids’ movie, but even in Snow White they try attempted murder when the princess is an obstacle. If Disney is being more hardcore than you, you have problems, bro.

Why does Crofton want so much taxes? He wouldn’t get all that money – The King would.

The King is really fine with all these taxes because he’s so preoccupied with finding Angela? I guess that makes a little sense, but the movie makes off like the King went on a journey to find Angela immediately after she went missing, yet later they act like he was just out for a day trip.

Crofton acts like he’ll be King if Angela’s out of the way. I dunno if he was just waiting for the 40-something King to keel over and he could take over his job considering he’s not married and Angela was his only heir. Again, I thought the King was off for years to find Angela, yet he returns with no fanfare and it’s like he never left.

How far away is Angela’s guardian’s house? They act like it’s many, many miles away, but the King gets there and back in hours and Crofton, who should be ruling the land in his stead, gets there in what seems like minutes because he somehow heard that his minions weren’t doing a good job keeping the King away from Angela’s village minutes after one failed attempt.

What is up with Angela, anyway? First off, let’s talk about the ‘true heart’ thing. What does that even mean? Does she automatically have one because she’s a princess or is it just who she is? Why does having a ‘true heart’ grant you the ability to talk to animals? Why is that the ONLY power it grants you? Why wouldn’t a true heart grant you the ability to…do…something that allows her to prove who she is to her father?

Second, why is everyone so surprised that Angela has a desire to help people? Several times, people are like ‘Why did you help me?’ and she’s like ‘I couldn’t not help you. Why, is that weird?’ Is everyone in this universe apathetic or a jerk?

Why can’t the King recognize Angela by looking at her? She has a pretty notable face, and her hair even stays the same over the years. He also somehow has a photo of her that he keeps with him.

He has Prince Charming syndrome when faced with an impostor. He gave Angela a bracelet the night that she was kidnapped – it was her late mother’s bracelet and only Angela should have it. Some bitchy impostor who looks nothing like Angela has the bracelet and he’s fully willing to believe she’s Angela when the real one’s right there.

Why are they pushing for an ‘every girl longs to be a princess, and life is sucky when you’re not one, but, yay, I am one!’ message?

Why didn’t the King use the song as a test of proving someone was Angela or not? He said only his wife, he and his daughter knew that song. The bracelet is an heirloom, sure, but 1) It could easily be lost or stolen. And it’s easy to expect your kidnapped daughter would have her bracelet stolen. 2) The bracelet is treated like it’s this unique piece of jewelry….Look at it.

It’s a simple beaded bracelet with no engravings. It has three charms on it – a star, a crescent moon and a heart. Three of the most overused symbols in history. Anyone could remake this bracelet. They probably have 300 at the village shop.

Why did they sequel bait this? Why? “She lived happily ever after….at least until…well, I’ll save that for next time.” No next time. Just now.

Did they really think this would take off enough to warrant a sequel? To be fair, the studio did come out with another animated Christmas movie, but it’s not a sequel to this one. It’s called, as creatively titled as this movie, A Very Fairy Christmas.

I might watch it if I can find it, but don’t hold your breath. Fairy stalkers are sure a creepy concept, though.

The music is actually quite tolerable for a movie of this nature. But, goddamn, they jam like 12 song breaks in a 44 minute long movie.

The art and animation bounces between ‘bad, but not horrifying’ to ‘they’re not even trying.’ They don’t do a single thing to make Angela a ‘beautiful perfect princess’ trope….which…yay? But I swear to god I had to pause the video and laugh for a good two minutes because Angela has the face of a meth addict.

The fact that the IMDB page mentions addiction makes this all the funnier.

The animation studio behind the movie, Cheshire Smile Animation Inc. doesn’t seem to have a wide library of work, but give them credit for lasting in this industry for 18 years.

Overall, this movie is a waste of time. I was never begging for it to be over or anything. It’s not horrible and the music’s actually alright. But you don’t come out of it with anything more than when you went in. I’m not even sure there’s a moral to this story…..Be nice?

Oh yeah, I haven’t really mentioned Christmas, have I? Angela gets her bracelet on Christmas Eve. The song she learns is kind Christmassy. There’s a scene midway in the movie where Angela pauses her quest to go home to stop at the miserable village. They can’t celebrate Christmas because they’re being taxed so much. Angela reminds them that Christmas isn’t about the presents, it’s about friends and family….and then she gives them all presents that she randomly has in her sled…

Christmas is…around in this movie, but it’s not at the forefront.

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Animating Halloween: Monster House Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: DJ is obsessed with watching the house of his scary next-door neighbor, Mr. Nebbercracker. He goes insane with rage at everyone who dares set one foot on his yard or get anywhere near his house. When DJ accidentally ‘kills’ Mr. Nebbercracker, he believes his spirit went on to haunt his house, nabbing up anyone who gets near. DJ, his best friend, Chowder and a local girl named Jenny team up to stop the house, but the situation is far more complicated than they ever anticipated.

Breakdown: Making horror movies for kids is a tricky area. You can’t put in anything ‘too scary’ or else the parents will get up in arms. You can’t tone it down too much or else the movie will be boring, even for kids.

Gentle middlegrounds are hard to find, and this one hits the mark quite well.

I watch Monster House every year on Halloween, but it’s one of those movies that I mostly forget unless it’s the Halloween season. Sometimes, I even forget it until I randomly see it on TV for Halloween.

It was strange to me because I always enjoy this movie whenever I watch it, and it wasn’t until I watched it for the review that I realized why I probably let it slip my mind whenever it’s not Halloween – this movie has very irritating characters.

Granted, they are ‘realistic’ tweenagers, teenagers and adults, but there’s no one in this movie that’s even slightly likable until the last 15 minutes or so.

Let’s go down the line –

DJ is one of those kids who wants desperately to be treated as a mature adult, but still does a lot of immature things. He’s obsessed with Mr. Nebbercracker because of his harsh behavior and the creepy urban legend that he killed his wife and ate her. DJ is probably the least annoying, but that’s not saying much.

His parents, while only getting brief screentime, also don’t get a good light shed on them. They’re mostly harmless, but then we see that his father refuses to show DJ any affection, fighting his wife against telling him he loves him before he leaves on a trip or giving him a hug goodbye. Then we get a completely serious implication that his mother wouldn’t care if she accidentally killed him.

She believes she backed into DJ with the car and his father fully implies she wouldn’t care if it was.

Then we have Chowder, who is just obnoxious. He’s the typical comic relief immature best friend. Almost all of his scenes involve him being incredibly annoying in some way.

For good measure, we have Jenny or the obligatory love interest who is literally thrown into the story. She doesn’t even live in their neighborhood nor had the two boys met her before the story began. She’s an alright character, but not only is she clearly just meant to be a love interest for the boys (though obviously meant for DJ because since when does the sidekick get the girl?) she says stuff like ‘are you mentally challenged?…Because, if you are, I’m certified to teach you baseball!’ to them upon first meeting.

There’s Zee, who is the bitchy punk rocker babysitter who loves to torment DJ.

Then we have her boyfriend, Bones, who’s even more of a prick than she is. During his screentime, he does such charming things as getting drunk, ripping apart DJ’s stuffed bunny rabbit and getting pissy that Zee doesn’t want to fool around with him.

Following them, we have Skull, a local gamer who is about as typical as any depiction of a gamer since The Wizard. He’s obsessed with video games, is a complete jerk and is so into his games that he can play them without looking and talks smack to them.

After that, there’s the police. There’s the veteran cop who laughs at the kids claims of there being something wrong with the house, but eventually tries to arrest them for minor offenses toward a vacant house.

Then there’s his partner, a rookie cop who is one of those types who gets way too into it and is fully drunk on the power before he even gets his feet wet. It’s scary how he treats these kids, too. He’s gleefully happy to take them in, taunts them as if they’re adult criminals and will swing his gun around like it’s not even there.

The only characters left to address are Mr. Nebbercracker and his wife. Mr. Nebbercracker is meant to be a scary, mean old man, but in the last 20 minutes or so, you realize he wasn’t being this way to be a jerk. He was actually trying to protect everyone.

His wife was a bitch who only had a soft spot for him, but it’s understandable that she is so defensive given her backstory.

I won’t go any further to avoid spoilers, even though this movie is old enough to warrant them. I think the twist is a good chunk of the fun.

I will ask a couple of spoiler-y questions, though. Be warned until the list is over.

1 – Constance fell into the cement for the foundation……and…..Horace just built…over her? Why didn’t he dig her out? Why would he ever feel comfortable building a house on his wife’s remains?

2 – Considering how thin the cement was over Constance’s remains, I feel like that wouldn’t have even been enough to kill her. Certainly Horace should have been able to save her.

3 – The house was haunted by her spirit since her corpse was in the foundation, yet when the house actually uprooted itself and started traveling all over town, the spirit didn’t leave it. If it was detached from the foundation, I don’t really see why the house itself was still haunted.

4 – This is from earlier in the movie, but if you had a guy who was clearly not dead and was only suffering from a heart attack or something, why would you treat the guy like a corpse? They don’t give him medical attention or anything. The plop him on a gurney, don’t even put him in a body bag or cover him up, and let his arm dangle and drag the ground. Even if they thought he was dead, you don’t treat patients like that.

Outside of that, this is still a great horror movie for all ages. The scares are effective for kids and adults alike, and some of the visuals are wonderfully done.

The backstory was well-written, and I was legitimately happy for everyone in the end. I only wish they all, barring Nebbercracker for obvious reasons, could’ve been more likable from the start so I could really get emotionally invested.

The art and animation is where some people falter on this movie, and I can see why. It’s a strange amalgamation of motion capture and clay-like CGI animation. The heads are super big, the hair doesn’t move at all, and some of the movements are surreal when coupled with the animation. The movements of the arms and bodies will be fine, but then the heads will just seem strange.

The music was also nice. Even though nothing stood out as being fantastic, it was a very fitting soundtrack that melded well with the ambiance.

Monster House has been getting very positive reviews every since its release….but check out the reviews on Common Sense Media. Remember how I said horror movies for kids might get parents up in arms? These reviewers have their parental arms fully up.

They bitch about the littlest things like one character saying ‘I stole drugs for you!’ when the ‘drugs’ were bottles of cold medicine…meant to knock out a sentient house, or saying ‘kiss my butt’ or ‘moron.’ All of these reviews amount to a one-star rating.

One reviewer said this movie scared their two-year-old kid…..THEIR TWO-YEAR-OLD KID.

You let your two-friggin’-year-old kid watch a horror movie – I don’t give a crap if it’s meant for kids, it’s still a damn horror movie. And it’s rated PG, meaning it’s already meant for an older audience than friggin’ two-year-olds.

The icing on the cake – they complained about the fact that there was a creepy monster house that eats people………IT’S…..THE….ENTIRE….TITLE….OF….THE…..MOVIE.

MONSTER. HOUSE. It could not be clearer if they called it ‘Scary Goddamn Morphing Monster House That Eats People and Also a Movie Your Two-Year-Old Probably Shouldn’t Watch.’ I bet your two-year-old can read better than you.

Anyhoo, it borderlines between PG and PG-13. I agree it probably could’ve garnered a PG-13 rating, but, honestly, PG also suits it just fine. Just talk to your kids about the questionable stuff, if necessary, and if they aren’t ready for horror movies, don’t let them watch it….hence the Parental Guidance suggested thing.

I believe people of all ages will get enjoyment out of this movie, especially around Halloween considering it’s both a great animated horror movie and it’s set around Halloween. I do applaud it for having realistic characters, but I just wish they had been more likable.

Also, just for the sake of the people on Common Sense Media, yes, people get gobbled up, but the ending assures us that they all lived. Dumbass Bones even got to keep his stupid kite.

Recommended Audience: I already basically went over this, but I’d say 10+

Animating Halloween: Spongebob Squarepants – Scaredy Pants

AHSSSP

Plot: Spongebob’s sick of everyone scaring him on Halloween, so he decides to be the one who does the scaring.

Breakdown:……I can’t believe it took me 20 years to figure out that Spongebob was wearing wooden shoes as The Flying Dutchman….because wooden shoes are a Dutch thing…..I am….so stupid.

Oh yeah the episode.

Who doesn’t love a heaping dose of classic Spongebob? This is no laugh out loud riot or anything but several moments had me smiling, and I think the twist at the end still stands up to this day. It’s just enough ‘graphic’ horror for both kids and adults to be a little creeped out, and it does take you off-guard when they reveal it.

I think I should also point out that, essentially, Patrick mutilated his friend for a Halloween prank. Spongebob asked for it, and he said it’d grow back, but still, that’s kinda messed up how his body can just be literally shaved away like that.

This episode is sat at an awkward point because you can tell they don’t quite have all the characters or tone down to their sweet spot yet, but it works well enough. I like remembering when Spongebob and Patrick would have harmless fun adventures instead of having Patrick be a horrible person like he is now.

Squidward was also pretty cool here. He just pulled a harmless prank on Spongebob and had a rare funny back and forth with Sandy. He isn’t being used as a punching bag or being overly grumpy.

This isn’t one of my favorite Spongebob episodes, but it’s a solid Halloween special, albeit short.

Animating Halloween: Unikitty – Scary Tales

AHUST

Plot: Unikitty and her friends tells scary stories on Halloween while trying to scare the seemingly unscareable Richard.

Breakdown: I’ll be frank – I barely know a thing about Unikitty besides it’s a show made by Lego and it’s based on the character from The Lego Movie.

No one’s ever really encouraged me to go and watch it. I haven’t heard really bad things about it, but I also haven’t heard anything all that great either.

That being said, this was a pretty enjoyable Halloween special. While the overarching storyline is cliché and the individual stories aren’t all that memorable, the little moments and jokes they had throughout the episode were usually pretty entertaining and funny.

I liked the handful of nods they gave to classic horror movies like Friday the Thirteenth and Scream. They also had two characters dress up like Pac-Man and a ghost, and I thought that was cool. Not sure how many kids today would get it, but still.

The show kinda goes at a breakneck speed for me, but it has fun with itself. I’d watch some more episodes if I caught it on TV.

Animating Halloween: ALVINNN!! and the Chipmunks – Switch Witch

AHAATCSW

Plot: Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor enjoy their Halloween until their candy is suddenly switched with fruit and books thanks to the evil Switch Witch.

Breakdown: Ooh yay! Another Alvin and the Chipmunks Halloween special! I don’t remember there being more, but let’s……Oh….Oh it’s from the latest reboot…

Look, I have nothing against ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks besides, holy hell, that name is dumb. I’ve watched a couple episodes before and it’s something I like to call a ‘coma show’ as in, when I watch it I feel as though I’ve entered into a coma. The time is gone, I might feel like I’ve heard things during it, but I don’t remember anything.

We get such gems like this:

Theodore: “I got a rock.” A failed, but appreciated, Charlie Brown reference, that they decide to ruin by doing this.

Theodore: “Oh no, it’s a candy bar that fell out of its wrapper.” *bite* “Ow…No it’s a rock.”

Any idiot could see that’s a rock. It’s not even a brown rock. Why would you think that’s a candy bar? I know Theodore’s a little dim, but he’s not Patrick from Spongebob stupid.

Granted, it’s not like Alvin and the Chipmunks ever had groundbreaking stories or anything, but they typically had some fun, memorable moments and good songs. This reboot is about as ‘meh’ as it gets. Even the animation is boring. I feel like I’m watching something made by the people who made the CGI Barbie movies. Everything’s so plastic. Who would’ve thought I’d long for the days when the boys basically wore nightgowns all day.

You want to know how benign this special is? You remember how Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman had the boys worried they might have to shoot their brother with a silver bullet? Or how the Frankenstein monster nearly got killed by an angry mob? And how both movies had fairly action-y climaxes?

Here, the ‘monster’ is someone called the Switch Witch.

She is a witch who steals your candy and replaces it with fruit and books.

That’s it. That’s all. She doesn’t attack you, she doesn’t kill you, she doesn’t turn you into a frog or something – she just steals your candy and replaces it with fruit and books.

There is absolutely no reason the kids should be even the least bit afraid of this woman, especially considering they believe she already stole their candy by the end of the first act. All tension is drained before we even realize the conflict.

And, gee, the chipmunks thinking their neighbor is a supernatural being and trying to trap them. I wonder where I’ve heard that before. At least in that movie they were right, and Mr. Talbot turned out to be a legitimate threat. This whole plot is so blindingly transparent.

By the by, who gives out candy canes for Halloween? This looks less like Halloween candy and more like someone mixed Valentines and Christmas candy together.

And, dear god, the size of those candy bars. I know the chipmunks are small, but Dave was eating one earlier and he might as well have been eating a brick. Damn King Size – that was like Galactus size.

AHAATCSW2

Oh, I’m gonna give you a second to notice what’s wrong with this shot of the kids setting up a trap for the Switch Witch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup. They have a giant bowl filled with candy. They’re using this giant bowl of candy to lure out the Switch Witch…..so they can get their candy back………..They established earlier that none of them had a drop of candy, even Dave ate the leftovers from the Trick-Or-Treater bowl he had….but they have a bowl full of candy at the ready.

So….even this incredibly lame “conflict” isn’t the slightest bit a conflict because they do indeed have plenty of candy.

Wonderful writing, guys. Top notch, really.

This whole story seems like it’s leading up to a dose of karma to the chipmunks and chippettes, but they royally screw up the moral to the point where there is none anymore.

Why do they need a dose of karma, you may ask?

Well, they got a good deal of their haul by tricking the aforementioned neighbor, Ms. Crooner. She’s elderly and has memory problems so they just kept ringing the doorbell over and over and getting candy over and over because she didn’t remember them coming to the door. They kinda felt bad when they came home….well, the girls did a little, but even they literally said they didn’t feel bad enough about it to give up their candy. Then it’s just dropped…entirely.

Ms. Crooner dresses up in a cheap witch outfit and heads to a cabin in the woods. The kids follow her, because that’s always smart, supernatural being or otherwise, and she does a dumb ‘flashlight over the face to make it ‘scary’’ trick, has Dave hang upside down in a bat costume and then they immediately show them the massive load of candy they can now have.

Even when Ms. Crooner and Dave pull the prank on Alvin and the others, they don’t mention what they did to her. The kids don’t feel bad about it, the adults never point out that this prank was retaliation nor do they have the kids apologize – all Dave said was he was trying to make Halloween scarier for them like Alvin wanted.

In summary, they take advantage of an elderly woman’s memory problems, milk her of candy, don’t feel bad about it, at least not enough to give up the candy, don’t even think about apologizing, and what they get in return is a fun Halloween prank, a mountain of candy and a Halloween-themed cabin to spend the rest of the night in.

Good. Parenting. Dave.

All I’m getting from this episode is a vanilla Halloween story that already feels like it’s been done before, and much better (by its own franchise, even!), as well as a screwed up moral that basically says ‘take advantage of the elderly and you’ll have fun and lots of candy!’

Look, I know kids don’t want fruit and books on Halloween, but this special is also kinda saying ‘fruit and books are terrible. Suck down that candy!’ Even when Ms. Crooner tells the kids they’ll have even more fun by reading the books she left, in addition to eating the candy pile, the kids all basically just groan and roll their eyes.

They didn’t even set up the plot properly. Where did Theodore hear about this Switch Witch? In the Werewolf movie, Alvin was obsessed with supernatural creatures and his obsessions lead him into looking too much into Mr. Talbot, who, in all fairness, was a werewolf. Here, Theodore just knows about the Switch Witch from the start with no explanation as to where this story came from. If it came from Dave, they didn’t show it or imply it.

Also, apparently, there’s a new bully character in this show, at least that’s what I think they’re going for because he’s clearly made to be an idiot and calls them ‘losers.’ His name is Cheesy…..Kay. He’s very annoying, but he was only in one scene.

I would’ve easily written this off as a harmless and boring Halloween special, but that moral, if you can even call it that, was screwed up so badly I can’t give it such a pass. Not to mention that I don’t think 11 minute holiday specials work well from the starting gate. Their plot was way too thin to stretch further, but specials always feel a bit hollow when they’re basically half episodes.

The only shining spot of this special is the music number, which was good, but it only lasts about thirty seconds and the lyrics are strange. The song is playing during a scene where they’re setting up the trap for the witch, and the lyrics…..

Well, in context, it seems like they’re singing a romantic song to the Switch Witch….for some reason.

Out of context, this song couldn’t be more stalker-y if you tried.

Alvin:

Come out, come out, wherever you are

The Chipmunks:

Why do you run from me?

I just want you next to me

You got me chasin’ you ’round and ’round, yeah

I don’t know what to do

I just want to be with you

It’s got me huffin’ and a puffin’, yeah

Come out, come out

Come out, come out, come out

Wherever you are (wherever you are)

Come out, come out

Come out, come out

This has gone too far.

What the hell is this even? I couldn’t hear half the lyrics because the music drowns them out (Poor sound editing in Alvin and Chipmunks? Mr. Bagdasarian, please have words with your staff), but then I found the rest on the Wiki and was instantly creeped out. At least the melody has a really nice beat, but wow those lyrics.

This episode is flat out not good. The ending ruins what otherwise would’ve been a boring but passable Halloween special. Even the ‘Alvinnn!’ yell at the end was forced. Watch one of the other Alvin and the Chipmunks Halloween movies I’ve reviewed instead. At least those provide more story, fun, music and even some slightly dark moments.

Pixar’s Lamp: Monsters Inc.

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Kids always worry about monsters in their closet – and well they should be, because there are plenty of them in there. Behind the doors of every child’s closet is a portal to the world of monsters, and a company called Monsters Inc. is tasked with scaring children and collecting their screams as a form of energy to power their world. A small girl nicknamed Boo sneaks into the world of monsters causing panic within the city since monsters believe human children to be highly lethal to monsters. A monster named Sulley and his best friend Mike must return her to her room before she falls into dangerous hands.

Breakdown: Next up on the Pixar list is Monsters Inc. a beloved movie and a shining example of how creative and heartwarming Pixar can be.

I got Monsters Inc. for Christmas one year and I remember watching that movie over and over. It is a very original and creative concept to work with. Not only do they create a world of monsters behind the closet doors of every child, but they also need to scare children to collect their screams for energy. And if that’s not enough, there’s also the incredible irony that these scary monsters are terrified of humans to the point where merely touching an item in the human world can result in incredible panic of contamination.

I don’t know exactly why they believe that humans, children in particular, are so lethal to monsters. Perhaps it’s another matter of fear being born from ignorance.

This movie is dear to me, but I will admit it’s not as strong as Toy Story. It’s definitely their most heartwarming adventure so far, edging out Toy Story 2 just a tad in sadness and heartwarming moments.

It has plenty of funny moments, snappy dialogue and nice pacing. The story is also good, though the villains were a little too obvious. I like the twist of making laughter stronger than screams, the action sequence with the doors was awesome and beautifully done, the relationship with Boo and Sulley was cute and genuine, plus Boo is incredibly adorable and an actually realistic child, and it never felt like it dragged that much.

I love Pixar’s texture work in this movie, especially with Sulley, Randall and Boo’s costume. It’s hard to believe this is their first foray into working with fur. The art and animation are great, but I would’ve liked a tad more diversity with the background monsters. I particularly enjoyed the opening sequence’s animation because it was so creative and fun to watch. They got so much better with human characters. Compare Boo with how Molly looked in the first Toy Story…….eugh…..I still have nightmares.

The music’s a nice changeup from the norm, and it was very fitting and nice to listen to. The duet at the end with Sulley and Mike is great. I listen to it off and on to this day.

That being said, I do have some minor problems. While Sulley and Mike do bounce off each other nicely and seem to have a realistic relationship, I’m not in love with either character. Sulley’s a tad bit bland. Outside of being a gentle giant character, there’s not much else to him. Mike can be annoying on occasion, and there are times when Billy Crystal’s voice and shtick don’t sit well to me.

The relationship that Mike has with Celia really only makes for awkward moments while trying to keep Boo a secret, which, as a whole, is a negative to me because quite a bit of the movie is keeping Boo a secret, meaning there’s a good degree of awkwardness. Not terribly done, but awkwardness still irritates me.

Celia does one thing in the movie outside of being luvey duvey with Mike and that’s it, so she’s a textbook love interest character.

The way the doors work is a bit confusing as Boo is gone for a full day yet it seems like it’s possibly the same night she left when she’s returned. During the scene with all the doors, all the houses they enter are conveniently empty as well. These aren’t major issues, but they’re noticeable.

Bottomline: Some of Pixar’s finest work, but not without some minor issues. I really just have a problem with storylines that require hiding something from people. While it, thankfully, doesn’t amount to too much awkwardness, it’s still there and it still has a negative impact to me. If that doesn’t bother you or if you even think those situations are funny, feel free to bump the rating up a few decimal points.

Recommended Audience: There’s a couple instances of pee jokes, burping and, while he doesn’t have anything down there, there is a nut shot gag with Mike. Some minor scary situations, especially in regards to that damn machine. I mean, wow, strapping children into a chair and sucking the screams out of them? That’s something out of a horror movie. 6+

CSBS – Rocket Power Episode 1

CSBS - RP EP1A

Plot: New Squid on the Block – In the beautiful California town of Ocean Shores lives Reggie, her brother Otto and their friend Twister. They all enjoy a wide array of extreme sports, but are unable to play street hockey since they don’t have a goalie. A meek and intelligent boy named Sam Dullard moves in across the street, and while Otto and Twister are quick to mock him for his nerdiness, Reggie welcomes him, and he even helps her with her long awaited magazine, The Zine. They try to include Sam in their hockey game, but he flails all over the place, scared to death of the puck and getting hit by the other boys. However, they realize Sam has a talent for blocking pucks and makes him their new goalie.

Down the Drain – Reggie is a housesitter for Mr. Stimpleton as he goes on vacation with Violet. She’s especially tasked with the very specific care of his high-tech pool. However, Otto and Twister have better ideas for the pool.

Breakdown: It’s always nice to go back to a show where you practically have a running teleprompter in your head scrolling down the script as you watch an episode. That was how I felt while returning to Rocket Power. I never realized how much I memorized this show. It’s not that hard to believe since I did love Rocket Power and it was on Nickelodeon all the time, especially in summer, but it’s just not one of those shows I think about too often.

Sadly, I kinda understand why.

Addressing the first half of the first episode, we’re introduced to Sam, known more ‘affectionately’ as the Squid of the group. Sam is a perfectly nice young man, and that’s exactly his problem according to Otto and Twister. They rag on him throughout the whole episode, especially Twister, though he warms up to him when Sam inherits the Squid moniker that he initially had.

Squid is not really given a full definition, but from what you can gather from the show, it’s either a new kid or, according to the Wiki, “Squid comes from the term “squirrelly” and was given to new riders who exhibited an unpredictable and unsteady riding style on account of them being new to the sport.” Given that Twister was the last Squid and he seems perfectly fine in his athletic skills, I’d say this is a mixture of that along with just being someone that the whole group rags on.

Outside of one fairly funny scene with the kids’ crotchety neighbor, Mr. Stimpleton, the episode is….not all that entertaining. They don’t make many jokes, what they do have for comedy isn’t funny, and there isn’t that much in regards to extreme sports either. They focus more on the street hockey match, which is short and not much happens in it anyway. Sam shines for a bit in practice, whacking away any and all pucks that come his way, and then he gets the puck out of Merv’s mailbox through his engineering skills.

On second look, this episode might be setting the foundation for the audience. Most kids, even in the 90s and early 00s, weren’t nearly as much into extreme sports and stuff like Otto, Reggie and Twister. Whether it was due to safety issues, overbearing parents, lack of access to places to practice these things or lack of funds to get the equipment, most kids would be into skateboarding a bit, maybe street hockey, rollerblading, but some of the later stuff they do is beyond the reach of most kids.

Plus, there’s the same issue Sam has in that a lot of kids just don’t think they belong in that world. That doesn’t change the fact that it looks awesome and seems incredibly fun, however. Introducing Sam off the bat allows the audience to connect better with one of the characters and helps them believe that they could have talent in some of these sports – they just haven’t found it. I know this show inspired me to buy a skateboard….that I was never able to ride without wiping out and hurting myself. I did get okay at rollerblading, though, and it spurred me into being a fan of hockey so I have that.

It’s a decent starter episode, but the entertainment value both in comedy and sports is fairly low. I also have a few nitpicks. 1) Sam was scared to death of the puck earlier, yet a rogue flying puck he knocks away with his bare hand without even flinching or thinking about it? Then he’s perfectly fine facing a full-on barrage of pucks flying at him at practice? Uh huh. 2) They didn’t bring any extra pucks? 3) Merv wasn’t angry that Sam was screwing with so much stuff in his house to get the puck out of his mailbox?

CSBS - RP EP1B

The second half of the episode, Down the Drain, has Reggie being left in charge of Mr. Stimpleton’s house while he and Violet (Mrs. Stimpleton) are away on vacation. Why he trusted a kid, even Reggie, to housesit when he seems to vehemently hate children is beyond me, but we need a plot. Otto, Reggie, Twister and Sam are allowed to use his super cool high-tech pool while he’s away, but he has a strict list of rules for the place that they obviously don’t obey.

They enjoy the pool for a while, but keep making fun of Sam for being reluctant to enter the ‘cold’ pool, even though Stimpleton said right before he left that he keeps the water at a nice warm 68 degrees. Sam threatens to drain the pool if they keep it up, and Otto and Twister love the idea. Reggie, not so much. They want to drain the pool so they can make a skateboard pool out of it. I don’t know why they’d bother seeing as how they live a sneeze away from a full skate park, complete with a huge skateboard pool, but whatever.

Sam: “What could possibly go wrong?”

Oh, bless your heart.

Obviously, things go wrong. Twister leaves the drain hose next to a drain, but the water pressure from the draining process forces itself into the Rocket’s basement, flooding the place and ruining all of their stuff. Which, when you think about it in hindsight, must be especially horrible because Otto and Reggie’s mom has long since passed away and I can only imagine how much of her memorabilia is down there.

This episode also introduces us to Raymundo, Otto and Reggie’s father. He comes home early to use Stimpleton’s pool because he kinda has to per sitcom plot rules. It also briefly debuts Tito – Raymundo’s best friend and somewhat mentor to the kids.

They manage to keep the basement trouble and the pool drain a secret from their dad, but Stimpleton suddenly returns. He yells at Raymundo and they both yell for Reggie, but the kids all manage to escape.

This episode was more entertaining than the first part, even though, again, Stimpleton’s house is somehow all controlled remotely – even his electric toothbrushes…?? In the first part, this made a little sense because Mr. Stimpleton had troubles with wiring and seemingly does automate his house. However, Sam was using a big remote in that part. Here, he’s somehow controlling everything from the pool CPU. Why the hell would you want it that way?

Also, this huge hunk of metal he has to control such minor things as his pool was either super ridiculous even back then or technology has advanced a hell of a lot more than I remember.

This episode also debuts one thing I always hated about Rocket Power, and still do – the weird word emphasis cards. Every now and then, when someone says a word that may or may not be particularly emphasized, a colorful title card with various animations and fonts will pop up to put even more emphasis on it. I always thought that was an incredibly lame aspect of the show, yet they kept it the entire series run.

Down the Drain was more entertaining and funnier than New Squid on the Block, but it’s still not incredibly entertaining. It’s predictable, lots of things don’t have to happen but are forced to happen because plot, but Raymundo and Tito are my favorite characters, and it’s a strong enough story I guess.

Ratings:

Part 1 – 5/10

Part 2 – 6.5/10

Aardman’s Clay: Wallace and Gromit – Curse of the Were-Rabbit Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: Wallace and his dog, Gromit, live in a town where vegetables are everything. They live to grow, care for, eat, and display their veggies, all building up to an annual vegetable competition. Wallace and Gromit run an anti-pest (though mostly bunny) company that humanely captures pests and protects the vegetables of the town.

One night, Wallace gets the idea to stop the bunny plague once and for all by using a mind-altering device to eliminate obsessive thoughts about veggies from their minds. It seems to work, but, in the process, they created a monster….a veggie destroying were-rabbit.

Breakdown: Okay, so yes, the plot does sound very silly, but it’s supposed to.

This was my first ever venture into the Wallace and Gromit series. I’ve heard about it several times in the past, but never actually watched the movie, TV series or played the game….Even though I have the game (from a Humble Bundle).

Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a very entertaining and fun movie that, while not making me bust a gut, did have me smiling and laughing out loud numerous times. It has a very unique style and sense of humor that I thoroughly enjoyed, even if some things about the movie irked me.

For example, I think Gromit deserved a bit more of a hurrah for all the stuff he did over the course of the movie, which is damn near everything. While Wallace is certainly useful as an inventor and bunny catcher, there’s no denying that Gromit does a hell of a lot more in this movie. In addition to being the only one who is effective against the were-rabbit, he also basically waits on Wallace hand and foot with Wallace only barely giving Gromit his props here and there. Not to mention it was Wallace’s invention that started the were-rabbit fiasco in the first place.

Also, I get that he had good intentions, but if the rabbits stopped being a problem, wouldn’t they be out of a job?

The overall unraveling of events were fairly predictable. I knew from the instant they used that machine what the ‘plot twist’ would be.

Ending spoilers. Finally, they give no explanation as to why Wallace turns back at the end. He saves Gromit from falling to his death, turns back into a human and the curse just seems to go away. He didn’t get shot with the golden carrot, so I just have no clue how or why Wallace was cured of this problem…..because he ‘died’ and was seemingly revived by the smell of cheese?….If so, that is really dumb.

End of spoilers.

All in all, I really enjoyed this movie and I look forward to playing the game seeing as how I’ve had it on Steam for like three years and never got around to playing it. *cough*

Recommended Audience: There is quite a bit if innuendo, though some of it might be my filthy mind playing tricks on me. Like that scene where Totty is showing Wallace her giant carrot. Dear God, the things she says can easily be turned into dirty talk. Other than that, though, really nothing to bother with. 6+

CSBS – American Dragon Jake Long Episode 3 Review

CSBS ADJL EP3

Plot: Spud tries year after year to win the talent show to honor his grandfather, who was a magician. Jake and Trixie agree to finally help him win the trophy this year, but there’s a problem. The trophy is actually an ancient chalice which seals the powerful and malicious Djinn who cannot be resealed in the chalice since the incantation to do so was lost many years ago. If the chalice gets enough liquid in it to overflow, the Djinn will be released.

Grandpa orders Jake to enter the talent show so he can win the trophy and they can keep it safely hidden forever. However, this means betraying Spud. Both Trixie and Spud are angry with him for entering the show, but Jake deals with it since he has a duty as the American Dragon.

Meanwhile, Rockwood tries to win the chalice for himself by recruiting Brad, whom he believes is a prodigy piano player after learning he’s been taking lessons for 12 years.

Jake enters as a ventriloquist with Fu as his ‘puppet’, but after some complications arise in the form of Brad’s sabotage, leading to the chalice overflowing. The Djinn is released and starts wreaking havoc in the auditorium, but everyone just believes it’s Spud’s magic show. Jake tries to combat the Djinn, but, surprisingly, Spud’s grandfather’s magic words were the resealing incantation the whole time.

Spud’s show is a hit, Jake withdraws from the competition and Spud wins the show. Later, Spud gives the chalice to Jake since he was kind enough to withdraw.

Jake apologizes to Grandpa for dropping out, but he says that it’s alright since he chose the path of a true friend and got the chalice anyway. Jake and Fu then realize they lost the chalice on the subway, and it ends up in the butt cheeks of a woman on the train.

———————————-

I was going to do my usual beat by beat breakdown of the episode, but, honestly, this episode is so boring I didn’t even bother.

First, it’s Spud-centric, so it’s already starting off weak. Spud can be a sweetheart, but he’s also not funny and he’s boring to me as a character.

Second, this whole plot is incredibly forced. I get that half of these things are supposed to be jokes, but the person who first had the chalice really felt like meeting the person buying it in a trophy factory? The chalice just happens to be perfectly trophy shaped? It just happens to wind up in Jake’s school and just happens to be the first prize in the talent show that Spud just so happens to want nothing more than to win? And Spud is really the descendant of the only person in the world who knew the incantation to reseal the Djinn? Even Spud giving him the trophy is forced because he wanted that trophy badly and Jake never explained why he needed to enter.

Third, this episode is even a waste of opportunity for the typical talent show plot jokes. When most shows like this have plots in talent shows, they usually at least have the redeeming factor of showing funny segments showing the other contestants and their funny talents. Here, they try to do that, but ultimately fail. We have a kid who does pig calls, a girl who folds origami swans really fast (which is more cool than funny) and a kid who plays the triangle.

They couldn’t even make it funny when Brad sabotages their acts. He lets a pig loose for the pig caller, which you’d think would probably help his act since he’s a pig caller. Bringing a pig out makes it seem like it’s an awesome call. He puts glue on the origami paper, which doesn’t make sense to me because they’re stacked. Wouldn’t they all get stuck together? Also, just give her a new stack of paper. And he bends the last kid’s triangle into a mangled mess. They probably have one in the band room to use, but he’s out.

Also, Trixie, at the very least, should’ve been questioning how Spud suddenly knew how to effortlessly put on this amazing Djinn vs. Dragon battle when he can barely pull off the lamest of tricks mere minutes prior. She kinda questions it at first, but quickly accepts it.

Don’t even talk to me about the ending joke.

The episode as a whole is fine, nothing offended or enraged me, but it’s so by the book, forced and boring. Fu got some good moments, but nothing great.

Rating: 4/10

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Looped

Plot: Luc and Theo, caught in a time loop to keep living the same Monday over and over, take advantage of their knowledge of the day to avoid dodgeballs in gym class. The consequences are disastrous somehow.

Breakdown: This series confused me before I even got around to actually watching it. This is the description –

“The series revolves around the life and adventures of Luc and Theo, two 12-year-old best friends who get stuck in a time loop where every day is Monday, and as the Monday is always the same, they know everything that will happen before it happens. They use it as an opportunity to do whatever they want to, most primarily at school, what usually gets them in trouble. Theo has a crush on Gwyn, a recurring character on the series, what is shown in various episodes. They first got stuck in the loop because Luc hopped his skateboard and crashed into Theo’s garage-lab in the first episode, and Theo’s scientific experiments got mashed.”

That sounds far more hellish than it does funny. While you can make some comedy out of that for the first handful of days, like nearly any version of this plot, eventually it gets to the point where reliving the exact same day every single becomes more of a nightmare than something to have fun with. Even in the Stuck on Christmas segment of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas they realized this.

Not to mention, as an audience, wouldn’t this be horrible to sit through the exact same dialogue every single episode? Even repeating itself over and over in a single episode is bound to be annoying.

I just realized that this show probably saves oodles of money on animation by reusing footage….

As a series, this could work, theoretically, because it sounds like they get into a bunch of ‘wacky shenanigans’, but considering the day just resets after everything’s said and done, there are really no consequences for their actions….except….ya know….being caught in a hellish time loop, which I doubt they’ll recognize as hellish or explore any of the deeper and personal resonances this could have on them as people, like they do in Groundhog Day.

But enough presumptions. Let’s actually watch the show.

*one episode later*

Hm. I failed to realize another problem of this show. Time travel.

Looping is, essentially, time travel. While the day continuously resets, making the space/time continuum’s structure stay solid, time travel still negatively affects the plots of these stories.

Today’s episode is about Luc and Theo using their future knowledge of their bully’s dodgeball throws to dodge aforementioned balls. After a few days of looping and calculating, they become Matrix-level dodgeball dodgers. However, this already doesn’t make much sense. If they’re dodging the balls now, they’re changing what happens after even the first one is thrown. Thus their calculations should now be void because the bully, named Jesse, will be throwing balls differently than he did when they were being hit, either through aim, trajectory, velocity etc. they will be different because they changed the timeline.

This is especially apparent after they dodge the first wave of dodgeballs and they talk to Jesse about it. Jesse gets so angry that he furiously chucks another dodgeball at them and Luc easily avoids it, even though there’s no way he could’ve known where that one was going since they never encountered that one in the past before.

…..Oh and also, their coach gives a young boy who just got hit in the face with a dodgeball mouth to mouth when he obviously didn’t need it…..His name is Kyle and he’s known as being this perfect attractive Adonis kid…..Also the coach is devastated when Kyle is hit in the face with the ball, presumably because it marred his beautiful features…..Someone call the cops is what I’m trying to say.

Oh and also, as punishment for hitting Kyle with the dodgeball, some popular girls (two of whom might be his sisters?) tell Jesse to go to….the fart box….It’s a wooden box where they trap him and some fat kid lets out a huge fart into it (through a butt-shaped opening). It’s a kid version of a gas chamber. Lovely.

Later that same Monday day (that’s what they call it), Luc and Theo find that Jesse is so devastated at ‘ripping the wings off an angel’ that he won’t eat, bully people or anything. They then meet with an alternate dimension form of Jesse who is a knight, demanding retribution of his sullen reputation after the dodgeball game. According to Theo, who, by the way, is the science guy, this Jesse is a glitch in the loop, created to fill in the void of a bully left behind from the original Jesse no longer being one.

That makes so much no sense I can’t even nonsense. Filling the void of something lost in a timeline by creating a new substitute for that role sounds logical, but I think being without a certain something in a timeline makes much less damage to a timeline than creating two of the same person and having them coexist in the same timeline.

There’s not even anything to suggest that Jesse gave up bullying for good. I’m sure after Kyle’s face healed he’d be at it again.

They get their asses handed to them by Sir Jesse (why he’s a knight is never explained) who defeats them in a joust and wedgies them on the goalpost of the football field.

The next Monday day, they prep for another confrontation with Sir Jesse…Wait, what? Why wouldn’t you just save Kyle from the dodgeball so his perfect work of art face won’t get hurt, they still won’t get hit with dodgeballs and Jesse won’t give up bullying? They’d also be saving an innocent kid from getting his face bashed in with a rubber ball. Oh right, he totally deserves that hit because he’s attractive and everyone loves him and when they got hit with dodgeballs he sincerely said it looked ‘ouchies’ and they were jealous that he never gets hit with dodgeballs. Right right.

They don’t stop the completely inappropriate mouth to mouth either.

They come into school wearing knight armor, but are shocked to find a different Jesse taking the role of new bully now – he’s a greaser I think. The next Tomorrow Monday (it’s what they say) he’s a caveman, then a pirate, then a robot – What the hell is even happening? Why are they getting a different new glitch Jesse every day? And why is he always some time period stereotype?

At gym, Theo is freaking out about what new glitch Jesse they’ll face today, and he wants to stop the glitch entirely by just letting themselves get hit with the dodgeballs. Again, you could stop the glitch and Jesse’s downfall by just saving Kyle from getting hit. Coax him to move a foot in literally any direction. Catch the ball. It’s not difficult. I thought Theo was supposed to be a genius.

Luc refuses because apparently being zapped by a robot, slashed at with a pirate sword, bashed with a caveman club and jousted are so much better than just being hit with a few dodgeballs.

Moron.

Today’s Jesse is a supervillain, and Luc finally realizes that they need to set things right and let themselves get hit, but not before Supervillain Jesse uses his psychic powers to make Luc and Theo make out.

Ya know what? Forget calling the cops on the coach. Call the cops on the writers. First we have child molestation now sexual assault? What the hell?

Also, Supervillain Jesse flies with farts. Lovely.

The next Tomorrow Monday, Luc and Theo let themselves get hit and the status quo is restored. And nothing mattered ever.

Oh and the coach gives Luc mouth to mouth for some reason even though he never did in any of the other normal timelines.

Well, kids, we learned a valuable lesson today. Some kids are just meant to be bullies. If you try to stop them from being bullies, they’ll turn into supervillains and make you make out with your best friend until you accept your role as bully victim.

This was awful and unbelievably asinine. The premise is difficult to work with as is, but they don’t even start with an origin story. The theme song doesn’t explain the origins either, it just repeats that they’re in a time loop….Oh, haha, I get it. The song is kinda looped. Haha.

None of what they do in this episode makes any sense. The ‘moral’ if there even is one is terrible. Not to mention just returning everything back to normal at the end without learning anything worthwhile for the only two characters in this show who actually can learn and progress is infuriating. They could’ve easily just gotten better at dodgeball by playing it over and over and over and saved Kyle from getting hit. The end result would be a different day, they’d stop getting hit, they’d learn a new skill and they’d save an innocent person from getting hurt. But nope, it’s just ‘gotta let the bully be a bully’

In nearly every incarnation of the time loop plot, the characters who are cognizant of what’s happening usually learn something from their actions, but here everything’s pointless. And if you’re going to have a pointless episodic show where nothing matters, at least be funny about it. This show is nowhere near funny.

The fact that the alternate dimension Jesses come with such a flimsy explanation is also irritating. Their existence makes that version of reality worse when it’s meant to supposedly fix something that was screwed up because of it. Why don’t they just build on the Butterfly Effect logic like nearly any other show that uses this plot? Have something logical but bad happen because they changed something minor in the past. Don’t just make something up because pbbtt time and space things.

In the end, going in, you know none of this matters anyway, They’re in a time loop with no intentions of leaving it for some reason. By the end of the episode, nothing will have lasting consequences so it’s all moot. I just don’t think you build a lasting series on the time loop plot. A movie? Sure. An episode of a series? Yeah. A series? No.

You’d need a team of seriously good writers to pull that off, and this show just doesn’t have them. They have writers who make 80% of the jokes in their episode be filled with snot, slobber, farts, sexual assault or child molestation.

For those thinking that I’m reading too much into the child molestation thing, let me point out that even the animators knew this joke was wrong. They do this joke three times, and they never animate it. It’s never on screen. We just get a bunch of gross slobber noises and reaction shots.

As for the characters, barring Theo, who only gets tolerance points for being the only one with knowledge or sense, everyone else is terrible. Luc is an asshole idiot, Jesse is a bully idiot, Sarah and her popular cronies are jackasses and the coach is a child molester who roots for the bully to be a bully.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

Technically, I only reviewed the first half of episode one since this is one of those shows where two stories take up one episode, but I think I’ve seen enough.