CSBS – Danny Phantom Episode 2

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Plot: Jack shows off his new invention, the Fenton Ghost Fisher, a device meant to capture ghosts, to Danny when he leaves the room briefly to go to the bathroom. Danny grabs the fisher and catches a dragon ghost. He combats the ghost for a while before knocking off the dragon’s amulet, which lands in his backpack. The dragon reverts to the form of an 18th century English girl who runs back into the Ghost Portal stating she wanted to go to the ball.

Danny, thinking the whole event is over, resumes his day. A school dance is coming up and Danny decides to ask out Paulina, the prettiest and most popular girl in school. However, he makes a fool of himself in his nervousness thanks to his ghost powers. Sam steps in to defend him, insulting Paulina in the process. As revenge and believing Sam to be his girlfriend, Paulina later accepts Danny’s invitation. She also mistakenly believes the amulet in Danny’s backpack is hers.

It’s up to Danny, Sam and Tucker to retrieve the amulet before Paulina also turns into the dragon and causes havoc at the dance.

Breakdown: This episode always annoyed me a tiny bit. While we’re amping up the stakes with the Dragon Ghost, the way that it works basically amounts to ‘bitches be crazy.’

We see the Dragon Ghost three times in this episode.

The first, the 18th century English girl reveals that she turned into the dragon because she was upset that she couldn’t go to the dance.

The second, Paulina triggers it by getting upset that they don’t have a trendy new and discontinued fleecy tee in her size.

The third is the most understandable with Sam turning into the dragon when Paulina reveals that she was only dating Danny to get revenge on Sam, believing them to be dating, and she plans on dumping him in the middle of the dance since Sam revealed that they’re not dating. While this is more admirable, it’s set up like Sam’s more upset that Paulina’s shallow (she keeps repeating ‘shallow girl!’ in dragon form) than she’s upset for Danny, who is soon to be heartbroken.

Not to mention that this makes no sense anyway. Why would Paulina think Danny’s dating Sam when he’s asking her out? I’d think if my boyfriend asked another girl out to a dance while we were dating, the relationship would be beyond over in a millisecond.

I do like the different reactions all three of them are having to this dance, though. Danny’s getting up the courage to ask his crush out to the dance, Tucker’s asking anyone with boobs and a pulse and consistently gets shot down. He somehow lands Valerie, who will become very prominent later, but Danny forces him (through possession) to dump her for Sam. She’s been badmouthing the dance the whole episode, and they only catch on right before the dance that she’s partially upset because no one’s asked her out. Danny possesses Tucker to claim Valerie canceled and to ask out Sam, and while Tucker initially protests, he changes his tune rather quickly when Sam comes out looking beautiful.

The sub-plot with Danny’s dad was insanely unnecessary, though, besides to show off Danny’s newly discovered possession capability. Lancer understands that Danny keeps dropping his pants because they, seemingly, don’t fit well (it’s really his ghost powers) and fixes the situation by giving him a belt, yet he still calls in Danny’s dad for a parent-teacher conference because this is somehow a fault of Danny’s that needs to be discussed with a parent.

Then he, of course, has to invite Possessed!Jack to be a chaperone to the dance purely to keep this plot going further and fabricate tension.

All in all, the episode’s pretty good, but there are a few major things about it that irk me. It just felt a little on the sexist side, is all.

Oh, and just because I feel I have to mention this because meme(?) this is the episode where they have that line exchange –

Sam: “Promise me you’ll keep your pants up.”

Danny: “I’ll do my best!”

I don’t know why this became a slight thing. I mean, it’s a funny-ish joke in context, but outside….is it just hurr hurr, this is kinda innuendo? I don’t really get it.

Rating: 7.5/10 Still staying at a good pace with the action and some of the story, but the mechanics of the amulet, at least the way it’s portrayed here, are a bit annoying and Jack’s subplot was entirely pointless. Also, it seems weird that they kinda poked at TuckerxSam here, yet went nowhere with it.

Rango Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: A pet lizard finds himself lost in the desert after his tank flies off of the back of his owner’s car. He arrives at a town called Dirt where water is scarce to say the least. He plays himself up as a hero of the west to the local townsfolk, and after (accidentally) saving them from a hawk. Because of his feats, he’s given the title of Sheriff by the mayor. Taking the name of Rango, he enjoys his newfound respect and admiration but when the situation gets dire in Dirt, he’ll have to pay up or shut up.

Breakdown: I was never a fan of westerns, unless you count space westerns. And despite being interested in this movie when it was first released, mostly because Nickelodeon promoted it quite a bit (They produced it, but it’s hard as hell to find their name on it) I never got around to watching it until now. Too bad too because this is a pretty damn good movie.

Admittedly, the story is completely overdone. Some guy pretends to be something he’s not only to eventually get ousted and then gather up the courage to return and set things right. Been there done that. And yes, the awkwardness of the continuous lying does irk me quite a bit.

However, I really love the writing of the dialogue, the timing of the jokes, the characters and the style. I can’t really compare this to any other animated movie that I can think of. It’s pretty unique in its own right, at least barring the story.

One of the ways this movie stands out is its art and animation. Rango was produced by ILM (Lucasfilms) and it is absolutely gorgeous…..I think I drooled a little.

Excuse me, I really should say it’s butt ugly, but it’s meant to be gritty and kinda ugly. It’s a western with a bunch of desert animals like rats and lizards. Even the love interest, Beans, that’s her actual name, is pretty blech-looking. But my god, the details. They are fantastic. From the littlest drops of water and the hairs and scales on the animals to the town of Dirt and the vast desert. It is all just deliciously…..Ugligorgeous. What’s even more incredible is how they integrated the human world into their own world. The cars and lights look fantastic, we’ve got a huge cityscape, and even stuff like the items in Rango’s tank are beautifully detailed.

Then we see one human character briefly, The Man With No Name; IE A Clint Eastwood ‘Spirit of the West’ character who guides Rango back on his path. And not only is he also incredibly well-detailed, but his part is probably the least cliched because he doesn’t do that lame ‘just believe in yourself blah blah’ speech. He gives a realistic speech that a Clint Eastwood character would probably give. Sadly, however, they did not get Clint Eastwood to play this part, but he was well-performed by Timothy Olyphant.

They also didn’t dumb down most of the scenes for the sake of the children. Characters get shot, they die, they swear (to a degree), they describe several gory situations and the dialogue is perfectly suited for older audiences as well as young ones. Which is weird because somehow this movie managed to grab a PG rating.

In regards to characters, they’re all kinda stereotypes, but they’re done in a fairly unique and memorable manner. Johnny Depp (hey, you broke away from Disney and Tim Burton for five seconds! Congrats!) plays our titular character, Rango. Interestingly, his real name, the one he would’ve been given by his owner, is never mentioned, which kinda makes him a legit ‘man with no name’. He named himself through the traditional means of reading it off of something he saw.

He’s a bit of a delusional chameleon who longs to be a big popular hero, but he’s lived all of his life in a tank with no one to interact with except a wind-up goldfish and a barbie doll torso. It’s actually a little sad to think that his owner might be devastated over losing his pet, but Rango never mentions it or seems to care.

Rango’s one of the most uncomfortable characters to watch because he’s lying through most of the movie, and he plays up his lies as much as possible in order to fully create a heroic sheriff persona, but he really is a good guy who wants to help the people of Dirt.

Beans isn’t all that interesting. She’s a typical ‘no non-sense’ female lead whose only schtick is her defense mechanism. Beans is a desert iguana and she has a defense mechanism that essentially causes her to freeze up and be completely unaware of her surroundings. Problem is, this ability sometimes springs up without warning or trigger. She’ll just be talking and then boom. Then she just transforms into a doting girlfriend at the end, and it’s actually a little annoying.

Priscilla, the cactus mouse, steals several scenes with her odd habit of being incredibly and painfully blunt about situations and going on small tangents about frightening or gory situations.

Then there’s the mayor who is about as transparent as humanly possible. It’s obvious that he’s behind the water shortage in the town yet it takes Rango to finally figure it out and call him out on it. He’s not much of a villain, but there is someone who actually earns the villain title; Rattlesnake Jake.

As you can guess, Rattlesnake Jake is a rattlesnake. A huge rattlesnake….with piercing almost glowing orange, yellow and red eyes, huge fangs…..and that’s about it…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh there is his KICK-ASS MACHINE GUN TAIL. Oh my god, I never knew I needed a movie with a rattlesnake with a machine gun for a tail in my life, but that part of me has been fulfilled now. He is a big, badass, looming bastard of a snake. Though the reason I really like him isn’t just how badass he is, it’s that he actually has some sense of honor. By the end, he’s basically an anti-hero.

The fact that everything looks more or less real along with stuff like guns and animal threats such as hawks really makes the movie much more intense.

And might I commend the movie for having the best end credits sequence I’ve seen in ages? The art, the direction, the style, the music; they were all awesome for that segment.

Bottomline: Even if you don’t like westerns, I’d say definitely give this movie a shot. It’s cleverly written, has a great realistic feel to it, is gorgeously detailed, has some fantastic music, intense action sequences and while it’s not the most unique story in the world, you never once feel bored while watching it. I had a lot of fun with this movie, and I’d gladly watch it several more times.

Recommended Audience: Mild swearing (hell, damn, maybe an ‘ass’ I can’t remember), guns, smoking, some people get shot but I don’t think anyone dies from a gunshot wound, a bird dies from being crushed, an armadillo ‘dies’ from being run over by a car (and ew they closeup on his squished body, even though, oddly, there’s no guts or gore, it’s like someone flatted a balloon filled with flour) ‘scary situations’ maybe. 10+

Cartoons Step-by-Step: Rugrats Episode 1

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Plot: It’s Tommy’s first birthday, and his parents have pulled all the stops to make it great. Didi has plenty of entertainment and food setup while Stu is inventing a gift. However, Tommy’s much more interested in trying some of his dog, Spike’s, dog food, believing that it will turn him into a dog.

Breakdown: I don’t think I need to reiterate how much Rugrats means to me. It was a huge part of my childhood, and spawned my love of all things Nickelodeon (back in the good ol’ days when the execs weren’t braindead dimwits…Er were slightly less braindead I suppose.) I was obsessed with Rugrats for well over a decade, and I cherish the show to this day.

That being said, this pilot was always boring as hell to me.

To me, this first episode seems a lot more like it’s made for parents than it is children. One of the great things about Rugrats is, due to the premise, it is very easy for children and parents/adults alike to enjoy it, but this episode does seem focused more on the parents.

It takes a quarter of the episode before any of the babies even speak, and rarely is there a joke to be had until the climax.

Instead we have to watch the human paradox that is Didi have a fit over this birthday party. I swear, she will obsess over everything related to parenthood because her ultimate goal in life is to be a good mother (“like the ones on TV” ~Didi) but even this early on she is completely oblivious to what Tommy wants, needs or is doing most of the time.

Instead, she’d rather bow down to the glory of the almighty Dr. Lipschitz books, to the point where her catchphrase is ‘Dr. Lipschitz says…’, causing her to actually be a less effective mother. (I can’t find info on this, but is Lipschitz’ name a joke? Like everything he says is bull shit?) Not to say she is one without him. Didi let Tommy slide off of her lap and wander into the kitchen (which is closed off by it’s own door by the way, for anyone who might argue that she can still watch him), which was about his fifth time attempting to get in there without anyone noticing, and she is always losing track of where the kids are, which has become one of the most well-known tropes of this series. (Even though all of the parents are negligent in their own right).

At least I can say Tommy was always picked up and brought somewhere else shortly after these attempts, before the climax of course. But let’s address that later.

Stu is up to his goofball inventor tricks, but he’s mostly babbling about his Hover-rama, a flying remote control spaceship thing, that he made for Tommy. Though he never gets it working purely because he forgot the batteries. Maybe that’s supposed to be funny because he’s brought up how impressive his gift is because it takes like four different kinds of batteries about five times at this point, but he seriously ends up crying because he forgot the batteries for the remote. He barely looks for any, either. He checks his pockets, gets a sullen look, then sits down and cries.

There are three shining lights in the adult section, though. Betty is usually always funny in the early seasons. In the later seasons, she becomes more of a bitch and an idiot. She’s in direct contrast to Didi. While she is fairly negligent of her children’s activities in her own right, she definitely knows more about children than Didi does. Even small observations like the fact that the party hats Didi puts on them will be quickly discarded are made a little funny because of the stark contrast. When you think about it, both Didi and Betty are realistic parents, it’s just that Betty is more relatable and funny.

Next, Grandpa Lou also brings some grounding reality to the household with some of his comments, along with Grandpa Boris and Grandma Minka.

Finally, the puppet show is the funniest part of the episode. Stu and his brother, Drew, father of Tommy’s famously horrible cousin, Angelica, put on a puppet show after Didi messes up the scheduling for the puppeteers. Their bickering is pretty funny and just gets increasingly entertaining.

At the climax, all of the kids go into the kitchen while the adults are focused on the bicker-fest of Stu and Drew, who never break out from behind the stage and fight as puppets the whole time. Spike has eaten all of his food, so Tommy and Angelica try to reach a can of it on the top of the shelves by them both standing on the counter balanced on a bunch of bowls and colanders while Tommy balances on Angelica’s shoulders. See why many people grew to be outraged at the Rugrats’ parents over time? If they bothered to pay a modicum of attention to their kids, they’d realize that Angelica and Tommy were in a situation where they could easily both smash their heads in on the tile.

They can’t reach it, so Chuckie, resident scaredy cat and Tommy’s best friend, decides to use the Hover-rama to knock it down. Chuckie has batteries in his pocket for some reason, and he’s able to instantly put the batteries in correctly, meaning he has better battery skills than most adults I know. Chuckie, amazingly, pilots the Hover-rama perfectly from the living room into the kitchen, despite not being able to see it, and, with the skill of a surgeon, is able to position and maneuver the Hover-rama to the shelf right by the dog food and starts nudging it over.

Phil and Lil, Betty and her husband, Howard’s, twins, known for being more gross than most of the kids, ruin it by grabbing the remote and start trying to do the job better than Chuckie, which turns out like you’d expect. They accidentally grab Tommy with the Hover-rama and fly him all over the kitchen, knocking Angelica into a bag of flour, knocking the stack of bowls and stuff that they were standing on over, spraying the room with water from the hand nozzle from the sink, knocking over a stack of plates and all without any of the adults ever hearing a thing.

They even fly Tommy into the living room, where the parents are, and they still don’t notice a thing until the Hover-rama is crashed into the cake.

Chuckie was really funny when he was flying the Hover-rama, though. Not only does he have the skills, he also knows some pilot lingo.

In the end, Didi simultaneously shows us the insanity of a regular family and the insanity of trying to mediate one by pacifying everyone who is arguing by telling Drew and Stu they’re both wrong for what they did to each other as kids and telling both of her parents that they’re right on their opposing sides of what cake they should’ve had at the party (Boris was right, though. It should always be chocolate.)

And the babies did indeed get some dog food, which they promptly spat out. Which is weird, because they eat worms and bugs and stuff.

All in all, this episode is really boring, but it’s somewhat salvageable. The periods of no music don’t really help. I’m not saying every scene needs music, otherwise I’d have to apologize to 4Kids. But there are scenes that are just too quiet to keep your attention.

The funny moments are sporadic, but the ending is somewhat solid.

Rating: 5/10

Just for fun, let’s have two running tallies, because, trust me, this will be interesting to keep track of at each season’s end.

Parenting Fails

I didn’t count exactly, but let’s go with about eight times the kids sneaked away with no one noticing. (Let’s also include an ‘at blame’ counter, to see who comes out looking better as parents. In this case, though, while Didi and Stu technically have more, all of the parents are guilty. Stu, Didi, Drew, Betty, Howard, and even the grandparents, Boris, Minka, and Lou. Chas and Charlotte are innocent because they simply weren’t here.)

The entirety of the climax, which will count as three.

Stu thinking it’s not unsafe for babies to have a complicated flying machine as a toy, especially with tons of batteries. Also note that the battery compartment for the remote is not secured with a screw or anything. You push the door and it opens.

No one noticing that Chuckie had batteries.

No one noticing that Tommy has a real screwdriver (his later one is a toy).

Tally – 14

What the…They’re babies! (This category is for odd details that seemingly make no logical sense given these are babies, but this tally is mostly for fun considering some liberties have to be taken for humor.)

How did Tommy tape his screwdriver to the underside of his high chair?

How DID Chuckie know how to fly that thing so well? Especially considering that the controls look like crap.

How did Tommy and Angelica even get up on the counter like that?

Pixar’s Lamp: Toy Story

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Rating: 9.5/10

Plot: In a world where toys are alive, yet pretend to be inanimate around humans, a boy named Andy’s favorite toy, a cowboy named Woody, feels threatened by the presence of a new toy, a space ranger toy called Buzz Lightyear. Andy slowly starts playing with Buzz more than Woody, and in his jealousy Woody accidentally causes Buzz to fall out the window. When Woody ends up getting lost as well, he and Buzz have to work together to make it back home and back to Andy.

Breakdown: It’s Pixar’s turn with their first baby; Toy Story and I LOVE TOY STORYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!

*cough* Sorry.

It’s one of my favorite movies ever. I’ve become fairly good at removing my nostalgia goggles when it comes to things that I used to love when I was a kid, but Toy Story holds up extremely well as still being entertaining, fun, funny, heartwarming and exciting. Best of all, it’s a movie that parents and kids can enjoy together; not a movie that you turn on just to humor your kids.

The characters are all unique and lovable. They all implement various parts of their designs into their own specific brands of humor. Even the minor toys get their own little times to shine and be memorable. Woody and Buzz in particular have great chemistry both as enemies and friends. They bounce off of each other with plenty of entertaining banter and they are really a joy to watch.

The story is fairly unique and never becomes boring or cliché (Also I never knew Joss Whedon worked on this.) Jealousy’s not really a new thing, but they implement it in a way that doesn’t come off as tired.

Love or hate Randy Newman, I love his songs here. He was perfect to do the music for this movie.

Art and animation wise, the designs are unique and memorable. The animation is believable and really brings the toys to life in more ways than one. I will say that the animation, usually involving the human characters and Scud (whose eyes are just weird), is sometimes not quite as polished as what we’ve come to enjoy from Pixar movies today, but this is hardly noticeable and nothing major. Besides, they were just starting out here anyway.

……Oh wait, no. I can never forgive the nightmare fuel that is Molly. *shudder*

It even does product placement right. It puts a bunch of existing toy brands with allusions to real brands with toys made specifically for the movie and manages to market all of them. I still, to this day, wish I had gotten that creepy baby doll robot spider from Sid’s room. That kid may have been a serial killer in the making, but that toy was cool. (Seriously, his parents just let him buy rockets, play with matches, blow up his toys and get an ‘I ❤ explosives’ bumper sticker on the wall and don’t suspect a thing?) I did have a big Buzz Lightyear toy that I actually still have in my closet somewhere with his rocket (non-cardboard version).

This movie stands up really well and never ceases to be entertaining and heartwarming to me. It is a very fitting opening to Pixar’s prestigious career.

Recommended Audience: There’s toy violence when it comes to Sid as he really likes torturing and blowing up his toys through various means. The final scene with Sid would also be insanely frightening if shown without context in any other movie. But eh, come on. 5+

CSBS – Fillmore! Episode 2

CSBS Fillmore Episode 2

Plot: X-Middle School is undergoing the arduous test of the Satty-9, and it’s been tearing the students apart. Some protest the test’s existence, other freak out over the their performance and Ingrid, despite her certain high score, undergoes an internal struggle of the true importance of the Satty-9. So many students have skills, knowledge and creativity that simply cannot be measured in the multiple choice nightmare. When the completed tests are suddenly stolen by someone in the school mascot’s uniform, Ingrid finds herself contemplating whether it’s for the best.

Breakdown: I remember this being one of my favorite episodes when I was a kid, and I have a deeper respect for this episode now that I’ve gone through several CATs and the SATs. I never stressed much over the CATs but the SATs were a nightmare for me. Everyone crams and stresses over their grade, and a surprising amount feel like that one number score will be a defining characteristic stuck to their lives. It’s hard to have that moment of reflection where you say ‘Whatever happens, this doesn’t reflect my actual intelligence or worth as a person.’

I also appreciate that Ingrid was the one struggling with this, because typically genius characters don’t find tests to be such a big deal, no matter their weight. They seem relatively blind to the hardships and stresses of the non-geniused students around them. Ingrid sees and appreciates the various kinds of skills and talents that everyone has around her and feels bad that the test doesn’t care about intelligence or achievements in these realms, no matter how much these same students prepare for it.

Her moment of faltering was truly just one moment, but it was a pretty powerful one.

Fillmore: “The Satty-9 may be beat, but there’s a right way to fight it. Protests. Giant banners. Editorials. Hard jams with even harder rhymes. Going the other way’s a sucker move. We have a job. We don’t make the rules.”

Ingrid: “I only forgot that for a second.”

Fillmore: “But Ingrid….you forgot that.”

I’ll also give this episode props because I honestly didn’t catch on to who the perp was. Like so many instances, I figured it was a person who only ended up being the second-to-last suspect. And I will admit, it was pretty clever the way they set it up. We even get some pretty funny jokes and references. I honestly don’t remember Fillmore ever including a Pokemon reference, but there it was.

This episode was also a nice build on Fillmore and Ingrid’s friendship. Fillmore doesn’t chew Ingrid out for what she did. He understands her feelings and leads her to a place where she’ll learn the lesson on her own. Plus, that scooter and helmet are awesome. Damn, I wish I had a Razor scooter when I was a kid. Stupid kids getting hurt making my paranoid parents say no.

Rating: 9.5/10

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Huntik: Secrets and Seekers

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Break your spine today, Sophie?

Plot: In a University in Venice, Italy, a college student named Lok and his friend, Sophie, accidentally find Lok’s long-lost father’s journal and an amulet in one of his old artifacts. Before they even even begin to look into it, a group of people in black suits burst into his house and attack him with strange powers. They’re after the journal, but Lok travels all over Venice to ensure its safety.

Along the way, he gets imbued with similarly strange powers from the amulet he found, and he finds some sense of security with a man named Dante, who helps save him from the people in suits. He reveals that the suited people are from an evil group known only as The Organization. They utilize ancient powers and summon powerful titans from their amulets for nefarious purposes. Those who possess these powers are known as Seekers, and there is a benevolent group of seekers known as The Huntik Foundation, who aim to take down The Organization.

While Lok quickly wants nothing more to do with the situation, Dante reveals that he already is a part of it since the amulet synced with him, making him a Seeker. The Organization returns for another face-off, this time with more firepower. Will they be able to make it out in one piece?

Breakdown: This show has awesome music.

The instant I heard the opener, I was sold….but maybe I was a bit cheap because there’s not much going on in the originality department here.

Missing dad? Check.

Main Character suddenly dragged into a huge conflict with mysterious powers and monsters? Check.

Obvious love interest? Check.

Being so vague about your enemy that they’re literally bad guys in black with a non-descript name? Check.

Suddenly saved by mysterious guy with uber powers and luxurious hair? Check.

It’s not the most cliché thing in the world…..but it’s up there. Being fair, they put plenty of action in there to hold your attention, but nothing about the story really grabbed it.

Just to get these minor annoyances out of the way, here are some minor annoyances.

– Lok seriously didn’t know what an amulet was. Not what THE amulet was – what AN amulet was…..he’s a college student.

– Bad guys are after the journal, journal falls into water, stops Lok from going into water, make no effort to go into the completely calm canal water to retrieve journal. Don’t even stick around long enough to see him surface. Good job.

– Sophie was reaching for a precious and delicate artifact left behind from your father, is having no real issues reaching it or getting it down, yet you act like she’s about to be hit by invisible falling debris and tackle her, ensuring that the artifact breaks. Good job, Lok. Though, being fair, it’s rude as hell to get all grabby on what is clearly a delicate ancient statue.

– How did Lok’s dad get that stuff in that statue anyway?

– Sophie describes Lok as a nerd and he can even complete a full crossword puzzle in less than two minutes, but he’s super lazy in school, never bothered to open his textbooks out of their plastic wrapping and needs to copy Sophie’s notes.

– They were too lazy to animate him completing the crossword. It was an actual plotpoint, but they skipped it through black fades. They animated a completely pointless Indiana Jones dream sequence, but not him completing a crossword. They even have to have a little note on screen that says ‘Less than two minutes later’

That out of the way, the art and animation is Italian. That about sums it up.

Alright, I’m not being fair. Sorry Italy. But, really, can someone point me to some Italian animation that doesn’t look like it was given the budget of a bucket of nails? I feel like I’m unfairly building a bad view of it just because I keep coming across shows like these.

The art itself is alright. Passable enough. It’s the animation and lip-syncing that make me gnash my teeth. This series was produced by Rainbow s.r.l., the same people who brought us Winx Club. It’s done in that same style, but to the best of my knowledge, the quality is much worse. That might be the fault of their co-producer, Big Bocca Productions, but damned if I can find a single word of that company that isn’t ‘They helped produce Huntik.’

Huntik’s level and type of animation problems can only be summed up in one way – It’s exactly the same as those old religious cartoons from the 90s and early 00s. I can’t describe it any better than that. I was almost expecting this to be produced by a company that made some of those shows and specials, it was just that similar.

As for the lip-syncing, I have no clue how they produced this they way they did, but whatever system they used to work between America and Italy to fuse the animation with the voices did not work. Keep in mind, this show was not originally voiced in Italian. There is no language gap to jump, excusing the poor syncing. As a fan of anime, I would be more than glad to turn a blind eye to that (mostly).

I assume Big Bocca Productions is the American company who did the scripts and voice work. Rainbow did the animation and designs. Rainbow has the responsibility of matching their animations to the script and voice work, so I guess I have to mark off Rainbow for this.

The voice acting as a whole is just alright. We have some actual voice actors here such as Yuri Lowenthal, Marc Thompson and even Maddie Blaustein. They’re not putting their all into it, but they’re not really phoning it in. The sound mixing and editing is sometimes terrible, though. There will be instances of characters accidentally talking over each other and sometimes the music drowns out the voices.

Marc, however, is doing a terrible job as Cherit, the little talking bat-creature thing. Just imagine one of your parents putting on a high-pitched witch-like voice when they would read to you at bed time, and that’s basically what he’s doing.

Final verdict:

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Just barely eeked out ‘undecided’, mostly because A) music is still awesome, B) it intrigued me enough to at least plug on for now. Maybe it has more to offer to set it apart from the crowd. At the very least, I might get to see some laughably terrible stuff.

…….But seriously, he had no idea what an amulet was.

Exploring Disney’s Castle: Snow White (1937)

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Rating: 9/10

Plot: Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named Snow White. Her evil step mother, the evil queen, was incredibly jealous of her beauty to the point where she demanded that she be killed. Her assassin wasn’t able to kill her and instead prompted her to run away into the woods. While wandering in the forest, she stumbles upon a house obviously owned by seven dwarfs and because she’s a girl in a fairy tale she just busts in like she owns the place. The dwarfs return from their precious gem mine and find the girl, allowing her to stay there as long as she cooks and cleans for them. However, the queen has learned that she is still alive and decides to go kill Snow White on her own.

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I was prompted by some friends to go back and watch old Disney classics, and here I am. Please note, though, I am not going to watch every Disney movie ever. Animated ones, probably, but not live action. When it comes to the live action ones, I’m probably just going to pick and choose and not go in any particular order.

I’m glad I decided to do this. It’s a welcome break from constantly harping on shitty Disney sequels, though hopefully I’ll be done with that whole series soon enough. There’s just something about classic Disney that warms my heart. And it’s usually not even nostalgia either. There’s something legitimately enchanting about old Disney movies, especially the animated ones. It’s the style, the tone, the way the movies connect with its audiences – it’s just great.

Disney hasn’t completely gone off the deep end. While much of their latest stuff in terms of TV shows has been crap, I’ve been able to stomach a good portion of it. I even watch some of their stuff on and off.

They do well with their theatrically released movies. Hell, they dug themselves out a few hundred feet with the release of Frozen.

I believe many of their staff still have a good deal of heart. It’s the higher ups behind it all that tend to make their products the overly manufactured BS we tend to expect from Disney nowadays.

But what of our first feature for this venture? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? How well does it hold up in dear old Twix’s opinion?

Very well, actually. I have a great fondness of movies that, even if they do have issues that I could go off about, I like it so much that I don’t want to. This movie is very obviously one meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Sure Snow White’s 14 years old and pining for a boyfriend like she’s an old spinster. Sure one who clearly looks to be in his 20’s just happens upon her and falls in love instantly. Sure it seems odd that despite it being the dwarfs’ house and they’re just letting her live there that Snow White acts like a mother around the house and has the authority to give them orders. Sure it’s questionable that a 15 year old girl is living with seven small men. Sure it’s unsanitary as hell to have birds making decorative imprints in pies with their feet, but who cares? Just enjoy the show! And that’s what I did.

The animation is lovely. While rotoscoping was used for some scenes, it’s still one of the best examples of Disney animation in my opinion, and I am just a sucker for great animation. The faces on Snow White, the prince and the queen look off sometimes, but it’s nothing the normal non-nitpicker would point out.

The story is decent enough. All of the characters are likable. You even start to like Grumpy after a bit. The prince is just barely there. He has a love-at-first-sight thing going on with Snow White and shares one scene with her before leaving the movie and coming back at the end to wake her up with love’s first kiss. This was supposedly because he was the hardest character to animate, but I don’t see how he was more complicated to animate over the queen.

The songs stand up amazingly well, and so many of them I still hum randomly to this day.

I have my qualms with the ending, but it’s a Disney fairy tale movie from 1937. Nitpicking a ‘happily ever after’ ending just seems moot.

In regards to production, Snow White was a huge risk and accomplishment in animation history. It was the first ever feature length cel-shaded animated movie in history, and it came with a hefty price tag. So much so that many people around Walt Disney, including his wife, Lillian, and brother, Roy, tried numerous times to talk him out of the production. He went on with it anyway, mortgaging his house to fund the project.

 

In the end, it cost 1.4 million dollars or 25 million dollars today – more than five times the estimated budget of $250,000. His risk paid off. Snow White was a huge critical and financial success, and it even inspired the production of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. It has long since become one of Disney’s most treasured classics, and I can’t help but get caught up in it.

 

Recommended Audience: Nothing questionable, unless you think about things too hard. They even ‘censor’ Snow White’s ‘death’. E for everyone!

CSBS – Xiaolin Showdown Episode 2

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Plot: As the group is training, they start mocking Clay for bypassing an obstacle course just to grab the goal item off the platform and his ‘old man’ style of kung fu. Master Fung chastises the group for mocking Clay’s style since it’s an effective and smart approach to complex problems.

A Shen Gong Wu is detected, and this time it’s the Fist of Tebigong; a super powerful glove that delivers a mighty punch. They start selecting their own Shen Gong Wu to wield if they encounter Jack Spicer. Raymundo and Omi fight over the Eye of Dashi, each believing they have the rights to it (Raymundo had dibs on it, Omi actually won it in a Xiaolin Showdown) so they leave the selection to Fung, who gives it to Clay since he technically won the obstacle course challenge.

Fung also hands out the Mantis Flip Coin to Raymundo and the Two-Ton Tunic to Kimiko. Since they only have three Shen Gong Wu, Omi doesn’t get one. They arrive at the Shen Gong Wu’s location and find Jack. They have a battle with his robots, though Clay is taking his time preparing. In his delay, he and Dojo are knocked off a cliff and hang on a branch.

Meanwhile, Kimiko, Raymundo and Omi take care of the robots. Jack reveals he has a new ally; a mime. The group laughs at this, but soon come to realize that he’s no ordinary mime. He has magical powers that allow him to make anything he mimes become real. He mimes a box around Kimiko, Omi and Raymundo, trapping them and allowing Jack Spicer to go after the Fist of Tepigong.

Clay climbs back up and realizes that with his three comrades out of commission, it’s up to him to find and retrieve the Fist of Tepigong, though his friends have absolutely no faith in him whatsoever.

Clay comes face to face with the mime who pulls the old mirror gag on him. But Clay knows exactly how to take him out – by taking himself out. He punches himself in the face, causing the mime to do the same. Clay is tough enough to take the hit, but the mime is not.

Dojo manages to stumble upon the Fist of Tepigong and Clay tries to make off with it, but Jack uses his Third-Arm Sash to grab it from him.

Meanwhile, Omi, Raymundo and Kimiko try in vain over and over to get out of the box. In an effort to get the mime’s attention, Raymundo clacks the Mantis Flip Coin on the bars of the box, which makes them question why they never realized the box had bars before. Kimiko and Omi come to the conclusion that the bars appeared because Raymundo imagined there were bars. By that logic, Omi imagines the box has a door. The door appears, allowing them to escape, and they go off to help Clay.

Jack has Clay cornered, but Clay uses the Eye of Dashi to blow up some of Jack’s robots, making him lose grip of the Fist of Tepigong. Clay and Jack fight over it, causing a Xiaolin Showdown. The challenge? First to catch a nearby robin wins.

The challenge starts and Jack uses his heli-pack and Third-Arm Sash to chase the bird, but Clay is taking his time doing basically anything. After preparing, he rustles through a nearby sunflower patch and starts filling his hat with seeds. As his friends look on in exasperation, Jack crashes into a tree and the robin gently lands on Clays hand to eat some of the seed. Clay wins the Xiaolin Showdown and is granted the Fist of Tepigong and Jack’s Third-Arm Sash.

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This episode was alright, mostly because Clay’s my favorite character so far. He’s calm, cool, collected, kinda funny, uses my favorite element, and he’s the only one of the group who’s not really an asshole so far. However, I will say it was dreadfully predictable. You can tell the first scene is obviously setting up the big lesson of the episode (which is actually meant to be learned at that very moment, which is weird and redundant). Not only that, but it’s also nearly giving you a blueprint on how the Xiaolin Showdown at the end will turn out, especially when it’s revealed that the challenge is a race – first to get an animal no less (the goal in the obstacle course at the start was a stuffed dog)

The fact that the group is shaking their heads and groaning at Clay moving slowly during the race is both unwarranted and nonsensical. We never saw Clay physically moving slowly before this point. He bypassed the obstacle course to just grab the dog and then spent too much time warming up before the battle with the robots. Plus, they know that he won the obstacle course challenge because he found an easy solution to a complicated problem. They just escaped from the mime’s box with that lesson on their shoulders too, yet no one has a drop of faith in him.

Omi’s being even more obnoxious in this episode than he was in the last, and everyone’s being a bit of an ass to each other. There’s some playful ribbing in there, but they take a lot of shots at each other for no reason.

Some minor nitpicks – why do they instantly change into their Xiaolin outfits when a Xiaolin Showdown is called? And how did Kimiko have the time to dye and style her hair like that before they had to leave for the Shen Gong Wu?

Rating: 6/10

Next episode, our first Kimiko focused episode. Kimiko’s short temper is getting the better of her. When she obtains a Shen Gong Wu that requires full attention and calm to work properly, she struggles with it. With her temper make her lose her first Shen Gong Wu?

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Lloyd in Space

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Plot: Lloyd Nubulan has just turned 13, so he’s leaving behind childhood and embracing manhood. But what does it really mean to be a man?

Breakdown: Here’s a show I actually have some mileage in. Lloyd in Space was on ABC’s One Saturday Morning lineup, and I caught it several times when it was airing. I watched it enough to be nostalgic about it a little, but not enough to get excited when this popped up as Episode One-Derland fodder.

How well does it stand up?

Well, let’s just say, I can understand why this wasn’t a must-see show when I was a kid.

Let’s tackle the big picture before we get to the main episode material. Lloyd in Space is basically every typical day-in-the-life-of-a-typical-kid show….in space. That’s probably why they just decided to call it Lloyd in Space. They ‘space’ up the dialogue and the character designs are alien’d, but it’s seriously just any old slice-of-life kid show. The comedy’s mediocre at best, no character is very memorable and the best they have to offer is tons of destructive slapstick.

Getting into the main episode, we can break this up rather easily. Lloyd turns 13 and suddenly decides to be an insanely boring adult, which is totally not how any 13 year old has ever acted ever. When you turned 13, what did you want to do? What did that mean for you? How did you act?

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Most people would say they asked for a larger allowance or if they could do cool things like use their dad’s power tools, take the wheel of the car for a minute or stay up late, or you may even have asked for more responsibility like going places by yourself, walking to school alone or having a cell phone (though the latter is being commonly presented to five year olds now. Damn kids and their rap music.)

Did you ever consider foregoing cake and ice cream because you thought only kids ate that stuff, then say you’d rather have cheese and fruit as dessert? Did you forego sugary cereal for bran flakes? Did you rudely refuse toys as gifts and state that you’d rather have clothes? (okay, admittedly, that one might be believable for 13 year old girls) Did you ever backtalk your teacher saying you were above writing a book report and invited your teacher over to discuss the true meanings behind heavier reading material over a cappuccino?

If you said ‘no’ to all or most of those questions, you’re far more normal than Lloyd. I don’t know why any kid would purposely want to pursue the more boring developments of perceived adulthood over the more exciting ones. It’s like if you were imagining being a college student as a teen and you looked forward more to student loans, crushing stress and shitty jobs than college parties, drinking and being on your own.

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After Lloyd spends the first third of the episode being obnoxious, he gets taken down a peg when his teacher responds to his bullshit by telling him he can indeed avoid his book report, but has to write a 50MB essay on what it means to be a man instead.

He wracks his brain for a while, realizing he really doesn’t know what it means to be a man, so Station, the space station that Lloyd lives on, taking the form of a robotic neurotic eyeball that can emerge from numerous spots around the station, takes him to a poker game consisting of a bunch of robots – more specifically a robot phone, a robot vacuum and a robot toaster. And if you were worried that they didn’t make tons of puns about what objects they are, worry your pretty little head no more because that’s about 95% of what they do.

It’s in this poker game where Lloyd is taught his first valuable lesson – Adults lie (learned through bluffing….and them literally saying that adults lie.)

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He gets a birthday hologram call from his grandpa, and in an effort to help Lloyd determine what it means to be a man, he gets his second valuable lesson – Men fish. (learned through space-fishing)

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He accidentally blows up a power plant with a fish…..I’d explain exactly what happened there, but anything you imagine is probably more entertaining than the actual reason. Being taken back home in a squad car, the officer taking him home offers to let him drive for a bit since his dad did that for him when he was 13 as a rite of passage.

This is surprisingly normal, but they mess it up with the third valuable lesson – Adults are in control. The way to seem in control is to act like you’re in control (lesson learned through leaning back and acting like a cocky douche while driving)

He tries to be even more laid back by attempting to turn on the radio, and in a literal ‘don’t touch the red button!’ moment, he activates the boosters and crashes into the parking bay.

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Back at home, with his mother listing off his financial costs of the damages for the day, wracking up to tens of thousands of dollars for the smaller stuff and, while they don’t say it, probably billions for the power plant, she gives him the stern, harsh, turn away from the screen and grit your teeth punishment of……..

Grounded for a month.

Okay, I will admit, the crash is moreso on the cop’s shoulders so Lloyd shouldn’t get much flak for that, but grounded for a month after all of that destruction? I had harsher punishments for accidentally cussing.

Lloyd stews in his room over being grounded when his little sister, Francine’s, daycare calls asking for Lloyd’s mom who is actually the commander of the space station. He says she’s not there, but there’s an emergency. Francine’s going crazy in a temper tantrum for some reason, causing her to telekinetically float the other kids and everything in the daycare around and she even starts cracking the glass walls.

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Lloyd decides the best course of action, instead of calling his mom, is to go there and settle her down himself. The daycare is in another region of space, so Lloyd needs to break his grounding and commandeer a vehicle to get there.

The guy in the garage tells Lloyd that he can’t just give a vehicle to a kid, so Lloyd implements valuable lesson one – lying. He lies and says a poker chip is a special permission chip his mom gave him for emergencies. The guy actually believes him and is about to just give him a vehicle, but still says he’s too young to drive, so Lloyd convinces him to take him.

About to be pulled over by a cop and the garage guy ducking down because he can’t be caught outside of the station in a vehicle because reasons (DUI?….Possession?) Lloyd has to talk his way out of being pulled over. He implements valuable lesson three – acting like a douche. He acts like a douche and the cop finds nothing wrong with a clearly underage kid driving and leaves them alone. Lloyd, you could’ve explained the situation to him and maybe even gotten a more legit and faster ride. Oh, but wait, he’s trying to be an adult, and adults lie. Guess telling the truth is for kids and intelligent people.

He gets to the daycare center and finds out that the reason Francine is freaking out is because her favorite doll, Rosie, is stuck high up in a ‘tree’. Lloyd points out the obvious and asks why she doesn’t take it down with her powers, and she gets even angrier saying she’s trying but it won’t come unstuck. How it got up there and how it got so stuck is never explained.

Lloyd decides to implement his third and final valuable man lesson – Men fish.

He ties a yoyo to a ruler, wraps it around Rosie and yanks her down. He gives it back to Francine and she calms down….

No….Just no. You can’t have a kid using such powerful telekinetic abilities that she’s easily floating a room full of kids and many heavy objects around like crazy and cracking apart the building….be unable to free a little doll….when Lloyd can do it with a yoyo and ruler.

You remember that scene in Pokemon where a young Sabrina demolishes her house easily with her telekinetic abilities? Imagine that scene is immediately followed by her being unable to pick an apple from a tree with her abilities then Ash gets it down with a jump rope. Seems stupid, doesn’t it?

Back home, Lloyd’s mom apparently is forced to drop Lloyd’s grounding and any additional punishment for what he’s done now because he’s an infinite hero at the daycare….uh….who…cares? What authority do they have over her parenting? Even if they did have any authority in that regard, she’s a major space station commander. I think she outranks a daycare employee.

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Lloyd says he now knows what being a man is, and his mom points out the obvious before I do that apparently being a man means lying, stealing a car (acting like a douche) and fishing. Lloyd, and by that I mean the writers, subvert this by saying no, that’s what it means to be a man. In fact, that stuff got him grounded for a month.

Being a man is about doing the right thing, even though you may have to break rules to do it. It means putting someone else ahead of yourself. It means—nope. No. You can’t do that. You can’t disregard those things as illegitimate or detrimental lessons when you clearly made a point to ensure each and every lesson was integrated into your heroics. You even included audio flashbacks to each lesson before he did it.

Each of those lessons did initially get him grounded, but utilizing those lessons helped calm down Francine and saved the daycare. Those lessons are stupid, but this story was trying to reintegrate them for the sheer purpose of trying to convince us that they were important. Maybe the real lesson should be ‘you can take bad lessons and turn them into something that can benefit you in a crises.’ That’s also not a very good lesson, but at least I’m not ignoring that these lessons were used in the end.

Lloyd realizes that he finally understands what it means to be a man, so he goes off to write his essay. He also leaves his birthday cake and says he’ll eat it at breakfast, which Francine thinks is weird in a bad way for some reason. Again, no little kid would react to that statement that way. They’d probably say if their older sibling gets cake for breakfast, they want some for breakfast too, or that it’s unfair or they’re lucky. Etc.

As a first episode, it’s fine. It establishes the world effectively, the characters are introduced well enough and it does an okay job trying to start off the story. However, the characters aren’t very interesting, the writing never hits a joke that even makes me want to consider thinking about smiling, and it’s just very bland and mediocre at very best. Not to mention that Lloyd spends a good chunk of this episode being annoying, and the morals for this episode are so beyond confused and screwed up.

This whole thing is stupid anyway. Everyone knows you’re not really a man until you have a mustache.

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Final Verdict:

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This brought me back a ways to The Weekenders and Fillmore! And actually looking forward to waking up on Saturday mornings, but there’s just not much being offered here. I did realize that I memorized the theme song, though. So that’s something. Not much, considering the lyrics are mostly dialogue clips and the song itself is rather muted and not worth memorizing, but still.

Dissecting the Disquels: Kronk’s New Groove (The Emperor’s New Groove 2)

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Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Kronk has been living a happy life in the village since the end of the last movie. He has a good job as a cook, he’s the leader of a Squirrel Scout troupe and everyone around town loves him. However, he’s shaken when his father, Papi, announces that he’s coming for a visit. Kronk has always yearned for his father’s approval, but has never been able to get any recognition since his father finds everything he enjoys to be silly, and believes a successful life can never be achieved without a house on a hill, a wife and kids. Kronk explains to his boss that he had most of that stuff once, but lost it all. When he’s done with his stories, Papi arrives, and Kronk has to convince Chicha, Pacha’s wife, and their kids to pretend to be his wife and kids for one last chance at a thumbs up from Papi.

Breakdown: Some of you have been following Dissecting the Disquels since the start, and we’re nearing the end of the road (about four left after this, give or take). By now, you’ve probably caught on to the familiar formulas Disney tends to use when it comes to Disquels.

Almost all Disney sequels follow one of these structures.

1 – The child of the main character from the first movie having their own adventure, which is the first movie either redone or in reverse.

2 – A prequel or midquel no one asked for and answers questions no one had.

3 – Three stories stitched together, pretending to be a full movie when, in reality, it’s actually a pilot to a failed or aired TV series.

You should be able to tell by the plot synopsis which route this movie takes.

So take a stab at an answer. Which do you think it is?

If you answered 3, you’re right! Though, don’t feel bad if you answered 1 or 2 because even those are partially right.

While Kronk isn’t Kuzco’s kid, they do make off like this is a replica of the first movie in numerous ways. I’ll get more into details later, but the very start of the movie has Kronk in a bad situation narrating how his life was awesome and asks how he got in this situation, like Kuzco does in the start of the first movie. The first song of the movie is a choir/soul song singing Kronk’s praises like the first movie did with Kuzco (except it’s totally different because whereas Kuzco had a man singer, Kronk has a woman singer.) and the finale answers where the first scene came from and so on.

This is a sequel, not a midquel or prequel, but it does delve into Kronk’s backstory (gotta love the recurring trope of compelling backstory=daddy issues) and answers questions no one had like ‘What happened to Kronk after the first movie?’ ‘Did Yzma ever turn back into a human?’ ‘What happened to that restaurant Kuzco and Pacha stopped at during the last movie?’

As for the stuff about being a first movie replicant….

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You know how many Disquels seem like they’re pretending to be the first movie or have the wrapper of the first movie and bank on that being enough to hook in viewers? Those movies never seem like they care to try to be like the first movie and do the bare minimum to remind viewers that it is indeed still a movie in the franchise. This movie, however, is doing its damnedest to try to be the first movie in every way short of just taking a DVD of the first movie and printing the poster art for this movie on the front.

The weird thing is, the story isn’t very much reminiscent of the first movie. Kronk’s not really getting his groove back. He never lost it. He never gets turned into a llama or any other animal or anything. Plus, the fact that this movie is technically three stories in one means the focal goal really can’t be anything like that.

What I mean by this movie being a replicant is, holy hell, they love to throw every single joke they ever made from the first movie at your face. Outside of some jokes exclusive to Kuzco, and I’ll get to his role soon enough, they take every notable joke and scene from the first movie and recreate it.

For many of them, they recreate them and then run them into the ground. For example, Kronk’s shoulder devil and angel appear way too many times (they even give Tipo, Pacha’s son, his own pair so they can milk the living hell out of it), they repeat the animated ‘plan’ quickly narrated by the planner schtick a couple of times, they let the uncomfortable Yzma seeming like she’s sexually alluring someone go on for nearly an entire scene etc.

Most of the other references are just one-offs, but the insane repetition of jokes doesn’t end there. When they have an original joke, they also like to run that into the ground, even if the joke isn’t funny. For instance, during the second segment, they have Kronk mark his box of eggs with ‘Kronk’s eggs. Property of Kronk. Do not touch except for Kronk.’ then his love interest, Ms. Birdwell, has a box of raisins which have ‘Birdwell’s raisins. Property of Birdwell. Do not touch except for Birdwell.’ written on them. Then ‘Tipo’s itching powder. Property of Tipo. Do not touch except for Tipo.’

That wasn’t a funny joke the first time, yet they deemed it funny enough to repeat three times. They not only have it in writing, either. They need to have someone read each item out loud, subsequently wasting five seconds of your life on purpose each time.

That’s not to say everything in the comedy department’s a failure. I will admit, a couple jokes actually warranted a chuckle out of me, which is more than I can say for nearly any other Disquel. That was when they were actually making jokes that kept the spirit of the original movie’s comedy instead of just referencing it or directly ripping off its jokes.

They start getting a steady rhythm or ‘groove’, if you will, and then they screw it up by repeating a joke, making a first movie reference or repeating a first movie reference. Maybe this movie is more accurately titled than I thought, because I wanted Kronk’s New Groove to get its groove back quite often.

In a story perspective, we can break up the film fairly easily. We start with Kronk flailing around in a bunch of cheese as he narrates to us about how he got into that situation. We flashback to earlier that day and get the Kronk praise song I mentioned. Kronk has made a good life for himself as a cook at the restaurant Kuzco and Pacha visited in the first movie, and everyone loves him. However, he gets a llama-gram (which is not delivered by a llama so I guess this is just another first movie reference) that says his father, Papi, will be coming for a visit soon.

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Papi is under the belief that Kronk has a successful life as a businessman with a house on a hill, a nice wife and several kids – the requirements to be successful per Papi’s guidelines. Papi never approved of the way Kronk acted, such as speaking to squirrels and cooking. He basically forced Kronk to give those things up, telling him he’d never be successful unless he got serious.

Kronk explains to his boss that he once did have the house and family, but was unable to keep any of it.

This leads us to the story of the house. But first, an interlude by Kuzco. Since fans of the first movie are probably wondering when Kuzco will make an appearance at this point in the movie, they give Kuzco the responsibility of popping up once in a while as an interlude either before a segment or in the middle of it. They’re all not funny, none of them have a point and they only serve the purpose of giving David Spade a paycheck.

He shows up before the first segment, in the middle of the first segment, in the middle of the second segment and then finally shows up in the actual movie for a few minutes at the very end.

This first segment interlude has Kuzco merely telling us, over and over and over and over, because repetition is this movie’s bread and butter, that this is Kronk’s movie – not his. Because we’d never get that from the fact that this movie’s called KRONK’S New Groove. Most of the time, they even omit the ‘The Emperor’s New Groove 2’ part of the title. It’s officially just Kronk’s New Groove.

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I don’t know where they got that DVD art. I’ve never seen it outside of the movie.

And that’s all he does. Fun fun. Why is he one of the most prominent characters on the DVD covers and promotional art, again?

The actual first segment is about Kronk running into Yzma yet again. She’s returned to a human state, but maintains a cat tail. After an incredibly long scene of Yzma flirting with Kronk to seduce him into her plan (including, yes, the reference to her raising her dress and showing leg, which is actually nonsensical here because she’s trying to show him something she’s stepping on and her dress isn’t long enough to warrant needing to do that for that task.) we’re made privy to her scheme.

Yzma has a plan to sell a youth potion to the elderly people Kronk has befriended. She needs Kronk to sell it because he’s built a good rapport with them so it will be easy for them to trust his pitch. He reluctantly agrees because he needs the money to build a house on a hill to impress Papi.

We get a song break that….I’m not sure I like…..I like Eartha Kitt a lot. I loved her in Batman, I love her as a singer and as a person, and I hated it when she died. This is also her second to last film role before her death. However….she sounds really….odd here. For some reason, she sounds like she has a Russian accent half the time and her singing ability is just off-base. I’m not sure if she was sick and that was affecting her ability to talk or sing properly, but she just sounds weird in this movie.

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Long story short, the people nab up the youth potion and eventually become addicted to it, Kronk becomes rich and buys the senior center from the desperate-for-money old folks, which he destroys for the sake of building his house, and Yzma reveals that she’s just putting sewer sludge into a bottle and selling it.

Kuzco interrupts again just to tell the audience that Yzma’s a snake oil salesman and this whole thing’s a scam for some greater scheme…..Thanks Kuzco. I’m sure you educated the butternut squash that didn’t deduce that at this point.

Kronk sees that Rudy, the old man who threw off Kuzco’s groove in the first movie, is naked and begging for money to buy youth potion. He and his friends sold everything they had, including their clothes, in order to get more youth potion. Kronk spots him a bottle and he starts acting like Gollum from Lord of the Rings….Literally. That’s the reference they’re making. Kronk, with the help of his shoulder angel, realizes that Rudy doesn’t look any different, so the potion must be a sham.

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This is just stupid. Rudy needs to actually realize that he doesn’t look any different before he realizes that the potion’s a placebo. Tricking yourself into believing it’s making you feel better because you trust Kronk is one thing. Ignoring that the outside does not match the inside…..especially when naked……is another.

Yzma’s real scam was to get all of the elderly people on her side so she could win an election for emperor. They brought up that it’s odd that it’s suddenly an electoral position, but they don’t explain why Kuzco doesn’t seem to be running a campaign if it is (Kuzco voluntarily giving up an opportunity to partake in an activity that is literally nothing but speaking highly of him? Yeah, not happening) nor do they explain why the elderly vote is so vital to her campaign. Only elderly people are buying and using this potion – I can’t imagine elderly people were such a huge majority of the population back in Incan times.

Yzma get ousted as a fraud, the old people chase her through the city and they do that bit from the first movie where they pan out far away to see her on top of a huge overhang. They very nearly redo the ‘I win’ joke from the first movie, but Yzma again turns into a tiny cute animal, this time on purpose so they won’t attempt to hurt her. Little bunny Yzma rejoices in victory, but is carried away by a hawk and we’re left to assume she got ripped apart and eaten.

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The lesson of this segment, by the way, is that you’re only as old as you feel….which 1) is useless to the demographic this movie is aimed towards 2) doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway because a lot of these guys felt old to start with. They didn’t want to improve their looks so much as how they felt.

In order to make up for what he did, Kronk gives his super cool new house to the seniors and that’s how Kronk lost his house.

Next up, the story of how Kronk had and lost the love of his life. Kronk goes to a competition for Squirrel Scouts when he meets a woman named Ms. Birdwell. He falls in love according to schedule a la Disney Princess, but the romance is ended before it even starts when Kronk’s fun loving scouts cannon-ball the more refined campers of Birdwell’s troupe, getting them wet….yeah. That’s the huge conflict. The swimming children….got wet…so Birdwell’s furious. Oh and one of the girls got her dolly wet, so that makes her super furious. Must suck to live in a world where shit doesn’t dry.

Because of this, Kronk and Birdwell become incredibly determined to beat each other in the competition and run their kids ragged in training. They realize what idiots they’re being so they decide to make it up to their campers by making raisin bread. Which leads us to the ‘property of….’ yadda yadda ‘joke’.

Birdwell and Kronk fight some more, but when things get out of hand, they feel guilty and start making bread together, which leads to our second song…..a disco song, which is fine….but….uh….the background animation is just Kronk and Birdwell being luvey duvey with each other and uh….some of the animation is…..*cough* I might just be reading too much into some of it, but you can’t tell me there’s not something off about her saying ‘get out your oven mitts, because it’s about to get hot’ followed by this…

This KNGGIF1fixed

and especially this KNGGIF2FIXEDThere is no way I’m reading too much into that. Their movements, their position, the camera angle, Kronk’s facial expression. I was surprised that shot even got by the censors.

In addition to the Aladdin 3 effect of making a bunch of Disney movie references during this montage (Lady and the Tramp, Tarzan) third-party movie references (Titanic) and for some reason a Michael Jackson reference (hot on the heels of his second child molestation allegation. Smart, Disney) it also seems like this whole montage is one big reference because this is the second time I’ve seen a main character in an animated Disney sequel fall in love through a disco dance montage – The first being A Very Goofy Movie (should that be considered a Disquel? Hm.)

While I can dance along to the song just fine (and no one shall ever see me dance) I have to say, this montage goes on for too long. They just make various references, dance and gaze creepily into each other’s eyes.

Montage over, Kronk and Birdwell are ungodly luvey duvey now (as in, I was gagging at how luvey duvey they make these two in the proceeding scenes) and Kuzco butts in again. What does he have to say now?

Nothing. He cries because it’s so romantic then tells the audience to excuse him because he needs a moment.

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That’s it.

That’s all.

Kuzco has less to do in this movie than Slowking did in Pokemon the Movie 2000.

They make up with the campers and go on with their friendly competition. They end up tied in wins with the tiebreaker being the cheer off. However, there’s a snag.

Kronk told everyone to do whatever it takes to win the previous day, so Tipo decides to put itching powder in the grip chalk before the other team does their routine. He tells Kronk right as their routine starts and the team falls, with Birdwell falling into the mud. She finds Tipo’s itching powder bag, and Kronk takes the heat for it, since he feels guilty for putting Tipo in that situation.

Despite this being a clear misunderstanding (it’s not like he told Tipo to cheat, and I can bet she also said something similar to ‘do whatever it takes to win’ to her campers) Kronk doesn’t even really try to patch things up and Birdwell leaves in a fury.

And that’s how Kronk lost his woman.

The final story takes place in the present, though still flashbacked slightly, and Papi arrives. This segment is by far the worst and the most annoying to sit through.

I hate stories where the main setup is fueled by lies and deception that the audience is aware of. It makes everything incredibly predictable and awkward. However, they amped up the sitcom awkwardness to levels I never even imagined. Kronk asks Pacha is he can borrow his wife and kids and pretend he owns his house just for however long Papi stays. Before he can solidify agreement, Pacha runs off, thinking he’s got a better idea, and Papi arrives, leaving Chicha with the baton.

He’s short.

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It’s funny because they thought this intimidating guy would be tall, considering how huge Kronk is. Haha.

She agrees to help and everything goes alright for a while until Pacha comes out in drag, claiming he’s Kronk’s wife. Normally this would be the end of the road for the charade, but Kronk says he’s Chicha’s mother. Papi starts hitting on Pacha….Hah…..Wait, where’s Kronk’s mom? Is she dead? You create a backstory no one asked for and then forget a big aspect of it? I’m surprised they didn’t take the obvious joke of her being dead because this is a Disney movie.

Kronk also tries to hide the fact that he’s the cook at the restaurant. Rudy then comes in pretending he’s Kronk’s wife. Then some of Kronk’s Squirrel Scouts get together in a big coat to pretend they’re Kronk’s wife. Some other elderly people arrive in diapers to pretend they’re Kronk’s kids. Kronk’s two old secretaries from the first segment arrive claiming they’re his wives. Finally, Kuzco arrives in drag pretending to be Kronk’s wife. At least he acknowledges that he weaseled himself into the movie. Points off for bragging about it instead of it being a confession, though.

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….Is it weird that I think Kuzco looked better as a llama in drag?

Anyway, Kronk left some cheese in the pressure cooker, the result is what you’d expect, so we’re back to the beginning of the movie. He confesses to his father and then realizes that he is successful because he has a bunch of great friends.

His father’s not so quick to accept that because, by his definition, he still has nothing. His friends, however, reveal that he used to have a big house, but gave it up for his friends and he used to have a girlfriend, but gave her up to protect Tipo. And it’s during the predictable speech and group shot that you realize Kuzco has gone missing again. Do they need to pay David Spade for screentime even if he’s not talking?

They also give us this lovely shot of Chicha.

derp

Sweetie….you okay?

The expected happens again after the speech as Papi realizes that Kronk’s right and gives him the thumbs up he always yearned for.

Because we need every possible thread tied up neat in a bow, Tipo arrives. He sneaked out earlier after he started feeling guilty about Kronk’s situation since he was responsible for what happened with Birdwell. As a surprise, he brought Birdwell with him. By the way, did Pacha and Chicha get replaced with Didi and Stu Pickles? Tipo’s been gone for about an hour. Pay attention to your children!

They don’t say Tipo explained everything to Birdwell, but she has forgiven Kronk and they reunite. They imply that Papi and Kronk’s boss will get together and then they dance to a reprise of the first song, which, now that I’m hearing it, says ‘be true to your groove’. Which means this movie should moreso be called ‘Kronk’s Old Groove – Now with 50% more parental respect.’

We still have Yzma’s plot thread to take care of, so we see Yzma in a nest when the eggs next to her hatch into cute little birdies, who then turn into crazed monsters and we’re again left to assume she’s ripped apart and eaten. Roll the seven minutes of credits in the hour and 14 minute long movie.

The en….wait.

During the credits, there are a bunch of photos. Through these photos we see Kronk and Birdwell getting married, going on their honeymoon and buying a house on a hill as Papi gives them a thumbs up.

……..So….doesn’t that mean….the whole message of the movie is now moot? Now Kronk has 2/3 of everything Papi required for him to be seen as successful, and he’s probably on his way to getting the third if that bread kneading scene is any indication. I know they wanted to drive home the happy ending, but come on. Don’t unravel your entire plot. We can deduce that they get those things down the line.

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This movie received the predictable terrible to mixed reviews and, even over 10 years after its release, it still holds a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes…..which is completely unjustified in my opinion.

Anyone who left a rating on RT, go watch the Disquel garbage I’ve watched then go back and write a review. You fuckers gave Hunchback 2 a 30%, Cinderella 2 an 11%, Tarzan 2 a 33%, Tarzan and Jane a 17%, Belle’s Magical World a 17% – one of the few Disquels that actually seems like it’s trying to give a shit and, hell, is just actually trying….a 0%. Jeez, no wonder RT and IMDB seems like two entirely different worlds at times….

I agree with some of the reviewers that Kronk is funny in smaller does and just cannot hold a whole movie on his own. Nor can he probably hold a TV series, which is why this never took off.

However, The Emperor’s New Groove did get a TV series, though it was still based on Kuzco. It was called The Emperor’s New School, and it was about Kuzco needing to graduate school before he can officially take his place as emperor (just go with it). I’ve watched a few episodes of it and it was fine. Kuzco’s left best in smaller doses, too, though, especially when he’s hitting on the TV series love interest of Malina.

Oddly, while Kronk is also in that series, he’s back to being Yzma’s crony and Ms. Birdwell is no where to be found.

This movie was both better and worse than I thought it’d be. Usually the Disquels that employ structure 3 are basically unsalvageable, but this one’s entirely watchable and even a little funny. It’s not great, there are some spots that are actually terrible and the whole structure is a complete mess, but, like I mentioned before, when it gets in its groove, it’s one of the stronger Disquels.

They poke fun at themselves, they poke legitimate fun at Disney itself, and there are some good and funny moments here. It’s just a shame because it could’ve been a lot better. They obviously had a drive to do it, but the stories they ended up using were just either bland or cliché as cliches can possibly go without causing a rift in time and space.

It’s also one of those movies that reeks of production problems. I can’t find anywhere that states such a thing, but it seriously feels like the writers and director wanted one thing, a legit sequel, while the higher ups forced them to make it into a series of episodes for a failed pilot.

I would not be at all surprised given the first movie’s troubled production history, but let’s save that story for another time.

The art and animation is lower quality than the first movie, of course, but it’s on the high end for direct to DVD Disquels. Despite Derp!Chicha, there aren’t that many odd frames and the animation is fluid enough.

The music is also better than Disquels usually give us. I’m not a big fan of the feature presentation version of Feels Like A Million by Eartha Kitt, but the end credits version where it’s less filtered and is half lounge-y sounds much better. Let’s Groove by Earth, Wind and Fire is something I can listen to anytime. Be True to Your Groove by Sandy Barber is eh, and the orchestral music is fitting and nice, especially the very last end credits song. It can get a little too doinky, though.

The voice acting is great, barring Eartha Kitt’s odd voice work here and there. Nearly everyone reprises their roles, including John Goodman, but I almost wish David Spade had just said no to this because his role is entirely pointless from start to finish. I don’t care how much it’s not his story – Rudy, Pacha, Chicha, the kids, even Bucky the Squirrel had 1000x more to do in this movie than Kuzco did. It’s almost like they thought no one would buy it if they didn’t see Kuzco throughout the movie and on the artwork.

Give this movie a shot if you liked the style of the original movie. It really does make an effort at both trying to stay true to the original and being funny on its own, but be prepared for a lot of first movie references, beating the dead horses that are some of the original and referenced jokes and just dealing with the typical blahness that comes with Disquel-itis.

Recommended Audience: Surprisingly, there are several instances of sexual themes, and it can’t all be my dirty mind. Rudy gets naked once, but you obviously can’t actually see anything. Plus, some references no kid would ever get but that doesn’t matter much. 7+