CSBS – Rugrats S01 Ep4: Baby Commercial/Little Dude Review

CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 Screen2

Plot: 4A – Baby Commercial: Phil and Lil recall their experiences filming a diaper commercial.

4B – Little Dude: Tommy is brought to be a learning aid at Didi’s high school Home Ec. class.

Breakdown: 4A – Baby Commercial: CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 screen1This is the first episode to mostly center on Phil and Lil, and it’s largely poking fun at the entertainment industry while also having a lot of random slapstick that Rugrats really loved in the early days.

One thing I really remembered about this episode was the director guy, Jonathan’s, obsession with his diaper box pyramid. That detail is mostly unimportant, but the whole time I was rewatching the episode, I was waiting for when we got to the point where he’d yell “MY PYRAMID!” Like the Cabbage Merchant from Avatar the Last Airbender.

Other than that, we have adults either not understanding babies or not giving a single dime store fuck about them. Ya know, the hallmark of all Rugrats episodes.

Here, we have the director guy acting like a one and half year old would know how to take stage directions on his own, Betty handing off Lil to a random slob she doesn’t know, and the random slob instantly placing her on the floor and completely neglecting to watch her because he wants to continue stuffing his face with donuts and being incoherent.

He’s wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Best Boy’ and I never got that joke, nor do I get it now. Is there some joke in the industry that best boys are useless sacks of crap? If you don’t know what a best boy is, they’re basically, what Wiki describes as, the ‘foremans’ of their respective crews, either electric or grips. They’re not the heads of their crews, that would be the gaffer (for electric) and key grip, but they are responsible for a lot of scheduling, hiring and general management. Sounds like they have a pretty important job. Why is the parody of it being portrayed like this? Am I not getting something?

For all of you playing at home, Lil ends up in the goddamn rafters and nearly dies because of course she does.

Then the unsupervised Phil climbs on a camera and drives it around the set, nearly crashing the diaper pyramid down. However, another staple of Rugrats episodes is that all of this chaos usually results in a happy if not unrealistic ending. The advertising execs love the footage of the babies wreaking havoc, and they launch the commercial. Jonathan, having fired the kids and Betty before the execs gave their seal of approval, comes to their house to beg and plead for them to shoot more commercials for them. Betty vehemently refuses because she didn’t like how they were treated, which is probably our first parenting win in this series.

This episode was kinda drab, but it was fun enough to hold my attention.

4B – Little Dude:

CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 Screen4

This is one my absolute favorite early season episodes. It’s extremely cute and funny with many memorable moments, but the highlight is Ramone/Rocko.

Before we get started, does anyone remember that Didi was a high school Home Ec. teacher? It’s really, really easy to forget because they hardly ever talk about it or show her at school. I was a die-hard Rugrats fan for well over a decade and even I barely remembered that she was a teacher.

Anyhoo, Didi brings Tommy to school as a learning aid as she teaches her class how to change a diaper, which I can’t decide if that’s a parenting fail or not. Don’t they usually use baby dolls for this? Isn’t it kinda weird to use an actual baby with an actual poopy diaper? Isn’t it just flatout better to use a baby doll anyway because it’s not like everyone in the class can change Tommy. Not everyone would get a chance to do it themselves.

Like typical teenagers, they can’t bring themselves to change him because ew, but then the coolest guy ever walks in – Ramone also known as Rocko. Ramone looks like a typical ‘cool’ guy. He’s got the leather jacket, the slicked back hair, the sunglasses, the chains etc. But unlike your cliché leather-toting ‘cool’ guy, Ramone actually is incredibly cool. He walks in like a boss, has everyone step aside and changes Tommy flawlessly. Tommy then adorably steals and wears his sunglasses, which Ramone thinks is very cool. I agree, Tommy looks really cool with those glasses on.

Ramone explains that he has a baby brother at home so he’s used to changing diapers. Using his comb, he dubs him ‘Little Dude’ and Tommy instantly takes a shine to him.

Once class is dismissed, some girls convince Didi to let them hang out with Tommy while she’s on her lunch break and she agrees. The girls really like Tommy, but while they’re dealing with some jerk football player they accidentally leave him on the tailgate of a truck that pulls away without them noticing.

I am going to give the girls a break for ignoring Tommy for a bit, but I’m going to ding them for leaving him on the tailgate. He could’ve easily fallen off and gotten severely injured or killed either by wandering off the edge or by the force of the truck pulling away. To their credit, they do quickly realize he’s missing and run all over the place trying to find him, but still.

While wandering, Tommy finds Ramone and picks up the comb he dropped accidentally. He then tries to find Ramone to return it to him. Tommy’s forlorn face when Ramone leaves the room without realizing he’s there is so heartbreaking.

Then we have the epic cafeteria scene where the jerk football player from before and Ramone end up facing off and wiping food on each other after Tommy accidentally gets pudding on the football guy’s jersey. When a full-on food fight breaks out, because cafeteria scene in the 90s, the football jerk angrily picks up Tommy. Ramone instantly stops all of the chaos with a single sentence when he demands the jerk give Tommy to him. He puts Tommy in his leather jacket, leaves the room and instantly allows the food fight to resume as he leaves the doorway.

This guy is too amazing for words.

Tommy is eventually returned to the girls, one of whom instantly falls in mutual love with Ramone at first sight. Aw that’s sweet…Girl, seriously, nab him up. He’ll be an awesome dad. If he treats you anywhere near as well as he treated Tommy here, or even Didi, he was very nice to her too, he’ll be a perfect guy for you.

The girls return Tommy to Didi, who is none the wiser of what happened but is happy to hear the girls learned a lot from their experience with Tommy. Returning Ramone’s comb to him, Ramone lets Tommy keep his sunglasses, which are still super cool, and Ramone bids farewell to the Little Dude.

I left some stuff out for the sake of brevity and because I’d just be ruining jokes for you, but this is a really great episode with some adorable and hilarious moments and a really cool and likable character. I would’ve loved to see Ramone/Rocko return, but alas, he was a one-off.

Parenting Fails

4A – I won’t ding Betty too much for handing off Lil to the Best Boy because she needed to be somewhere to help Phil and she probably just assumed he would be competent enough to hold a baby for five minutes, but I will ding the Best Boy because he didn’t even try to hold her for longer than five seconds. He instantly plopped her on the filthy floor and ignored her. That’s bad enough, but then she ends up climbing into the rafters and nearly falling to her death all because he’s a lazy gluttonous slob. X5

Once Lil has everyone’s attention, literally no one watches Phil, which leaves him open for causing havoc on the ground. He gets ahold of one of the cameras and nearly crashes into the diaper pyramid. X3

4B – Not much here. I’ll ding the tailgate thing (x3), as I said, but considering Didi was trying to teach her students about child care, there were three girls watching him and she was only allowing it for a lunch break, even telling them to find her if he gets fussy, I won’t get on her case.

Tally: 11


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Aardman’s Clay: Shaun the Sheep Movie Review

Plot: Tired of the monotony of life on the farm, Shaun and his fellow sheep concoct a plan to have a nice day off with their farmer being none the wiser. When their little stunt ends up sending their farmer to the big city with a case of amnesia, Shaun, Bitzer the dog, and the other sheep head off to bring him back while doing everything they can to avoid the malicious animal control officer.

Breakdown: I’m extremely unfamiliar with Shaun the Sheep. I’ve never seen the TV series or the shorts and I’m only barely familiar with Wallace and Gromit, the show from which Shaun is based. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

First thing you’ll note about this movie is that it is entirely dialogue-free. The animals don’t talk and the human characters ‘speak’ in intelligible murmurs. From my understanding, this is the same way in the TV series, but that decision was made for practical purposes. They didn’t have to keep it silent in the movie because they had the budget for it, but they decided to keep it silent for the sake of not disappointing people who were used to the TV show’s format. I greatly applaud this decision, even though I don’t know of the show myself. I think this movie works perfectly well silently. Dialogue would have tainted its charm quite a bit, if you ask me.

The models and animation are all very well done. Some really high-quality stop-motion work by Aardman yet again. I really like that all of the sheep have actual wool (cotton, I guess) on them instead of molding the clay to look like wool. The hair and clothes also look real and move well within their environments. The expressions and movements are well animated without being too over the top, which is key in a movie that relies solely on visual gags and slapstick.

The soundtrack was also very nice. There were many really catchy and fitting tracks that I greatly enjoyed.

The story is probably the only semi-weak part of the movie. The general beats are very predictable, and I was predicting the smaller beats very easily too. However, that’s not really a problem with this type of movie. You don’t really need some overly complex, groundbreaking or hard-hitting narrative to make an enjoyable movie. The story is simple, but the characters, gags and even the emotional moments make up for it in spades.

I loved the relationships between all of the characters, especially between Bitzer/Shaun, Shaun/Timmy (the baby lamb) and the farmer and the animals. Even though Bitzer and Shaun are kinda at odds with each other, they do hold a mutual respect for one another and work well together. Shaun in his big brother role with Timmy was adorable. And the farmer being a father figure to all of the animals was really sweet. The first thing he did when he regained his memory was give Bitzer and Shaun kisses on the foreheads, and that just warmed my heart.

I will say the animal control officer, Trumper, is the one aspect that kinda fell flat with me. He started out as just a normal animal control officer who took pride in his job, and I was pretty cool with that. A lot of family movies with animal main characters tended to make the animal control officer this ridiculously evil guy who despised animals and had some huge vendetta against the main cast, so just seeing a normal guy doing his job was refreshing.

That didn’t last long.

He went from fairly normal to the typical crazed chase scene starter quite quickly. The first red flag was him kicking down a sign for the pound’s adopt-a-pet day, which is quite confusing. He hates these animals, but he doesn’t want them to get adopted? That would mean he hates them so much that he wants to see them all rot in this place and never find happy homes, which is quite disturbing.

Next, he just decides to walk down the corridor of the animal cages purely to mock them. He walks by Shaun and starts mockingly ‘baa’-ing at him. Then he visits the stray dog, Slip, who is just minding his business eating his food. Trumper starts mocking the way he eats and even starts sloppily munching on chips in front of him to mock him further. Like, dude, get a life.

After that, he continues to go off the rails until he’s a full-on lunatic bordering on supervillain. He’s gearing up in special animal-catching gadgets and doing everything he can to catch these sheep. You’d think he’d stop chasing them once they reach the farm, but no. He’s so intent on getting these sheep that, even back on the farm and holed up in a shed, the guy still won’t stop and even intends on KILLING THEM. He picks up the shed with a tractor and drives it to a quarry to dump it in and kill them all. He does get his comeuppance in the end, of course, but wow.

Overall, this was a very fun movie that had me smiling consistently and even laughing out loud on more than one occasion. There are plenty of funny visuals gags and physical comedy to give anyone a giggle. It also got to me a little with the emotional bits. When Shaun finds the farmer, but he shoos him away because he doesn’t remember him, I felt so bad for Shaun, Bitzer and the others. Especially considering that, for a while, they didn’t understand that he had amnesia. They just thought he straight-up hated them.

I’m really looking forward to checking out the sequel, Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon, later on, and maybe I’ll even see if I can check out the TV series.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Invincible

Plot: Growing up with the strongest superhero on earth, Omni-man, as a father, Mark always looked forward to the day he’d develop superpowers and follow his dad into the skies to fight crime. However, at age 17, he had yet to develop a single power. It seemed like Mark was destined for a life as a normal person, like his human mother, until he finally started displaying superhuman abilities. Under his father’s brutal yet caring tutelage, Mark finally suits up and gains his footing as the superhero Invincible.

Breakdown: As a big fan of superheroes and cartoons, I couldn’t ignore the hype train surrounding Invincible – especially after the finale aired and blew up Twitter with shocked and amazed reactions (I managed to avoid spoilers, though.) So, I grabbed a ticket for the aforementioned hype train, went down the tracks for a bit and….

Oh.

My.

God.

Holy.

Shit.

Okay, backing up, the first half-hour of the episode is rather by-the-books coming of age superhero story – even hitting the old beats of ‘gets beat up by bully before powers, badasses the bully post-powers’ and ‘really stupid-looking makeshift first costume.’ However, even if it is a tale as old as time, it was a really well-done version of this old song and dance. Tropes and cliches are fine if you can spin them well enough and make them memorable in your own style.

I love how they set such a grounded tone, how well-written and realistic the dialogue was and how brutal Omni-Man proved he could be, even though it’s obvious he was doing it out of love and concern. When he hit Mark for real, I audibly gasped because damn I felt that. But I didn’t hate him for doing that because, well, yeah, he’s going to have to learn how to take hits like that and to always keep his guard up if he wants to be a superhero. It comes with the job. Better he learn that with his dad than out in the field where he could legitimately get hurt.

Mark’s a bit on the bland side so far, but he’s not annoying or unlikable, which is a great thing because he so very easily could have gone that way. I was rooting for him in the end, especially when he finally donned his proper suit.

I was enjoying it all well and good, but I still had the lingering thought in my head….’Hey, when do we get to all that brutal stuff everyone was talking about?’

Then I got to the last ten minutes.

Wow.

That was one of the most shocking things I’ve seen in ages. It was like Ga Rei Zero’s first episode ending on steroids…and hulking out…..while going Super Saiyan. I really don’t want to say anything more to avoid spoilers, but I’m not kidding when I say my jaw was dropped for nearly all of the last ten minutes or so.

I was going to give this a strong ‘Yes’ before that point, but that ending just completely shattered the idea of thinking about saying ‘No.’ You can’t not continue after seeing that display.

Verdict:

Continue Yes

I enjoyed this first outing immensely and I can’t wait to see the rest of the first season, especially if the finale is as shocking as everyone was saying it was. Probably not a suitable choice for people who don’t have a stomach for gore, and maybe not for people just not interested in the superhero genre (even though, honestly, I think even those people would find something to enjoy) but otherwise, this looks like a really incredible show.


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CSBS – Rocket Power Episode 4: Happy Luau to You-Au/Rescue Rocket

Plot: Happy Luau to You-Au – Reggie’s planning to have an awesome birthday party at Madtown Skate Park, but her plans are ruined when Otto gets all of them temporarily suspended from the park.

Rescue Rocket – Sam and Twister are forced into joining a junior lifeguard program. Despite a rocky start, they eventually find themselves enjoying the experience, much to Otto’s dismay.

Breakdown: Happy Luau to You-Au – Sometimes, Otto can be really full of himself. And other times, he can actually be pretty sweet.

Trying out a new game he came up with for Reggie’s birthday party in which everyone holds hands and skates in a chain, the group gets suspended from Madtown for one week. Despite being clearly a bad idea (maybe a fine idea in a skating rink, but not in a skate pool) Otto had innocent intentions here, and it would’ve been fine, technically, but their people-chain ended up knocking down basically every other person at the park.

They really should have stopped the instant one person went down because of them, since that’s just what most normal people would do, but they didn’t for whatever reason. As a result, they got suspended from the park for one week, which is honestly pretty lenient if you ask me, but it’s made all the worse because Reggie was planning on having her first big birthday party at Madtown. Usually she has ‘lame’ parties at the Shore Shack, but she’s finally breaking free and having her party somewhere more exciting. Since she’s suspended, she can’t have her party there.

Reggie is devastated and very angry, especially at Otto, and for once Otto is genuinely sorry. He doesn’t argue, he doesn’t try to make excuses – he just accepts that he screwed up and feels very remorseful about it.

Reggie, on the other hand, is being a bit of a brat throughout the entire episode. Yeah, it’s understandable that she’s being a brat, but it’s also just slightly annoying.

In his guilt, Otto tells Mrs. Stimpleton about what happened. She takes it upon herself to throw Reggie a huge birthday bash – and if you know Mrs. Stimpleton, you already see why this is a big problem. She has a very kiddie and lame idea of what a teenager’s birthday party should be. She ends up hiring a really awful clown (who is even named Lame-O) and a terrible band that uses accordions.

When Reggie learns about this, she becomes even angrier and vows vengeance on the person who told Mrs. Stimpleton about her party – making Otto feel even worse. As if that weren’t bad enough, Mrs. Stimpleton is going to ridiculous lengths to get the word out on Reggie’s party. She’s put out a full-page ad in the paper and is driving around town with a huge loudspeaker announcing the party.

Otto, Twister, Sam, Raymundo and Tito set out to make things right.

Mrs. Stimpleton goads Reggie into coming to the party, and Reggie is shocked to find that the party is actually really cool. It’s being held at the Stimpleton’s pool, the band is using ‘cooler’ instruments, there’s good cake, the clown is basically being taken as a doofy street performer and everyone’s having a blast.

Reggie gets her awesome birthday party, Otto makes up for his mistake, he and Reggie make up and everything’s great……….This isn’t really a luau, so I dunno what the heck the title’s on about, but everything’s great otherwise.

This was just a really wholesome episode (Well, wholesome barring one scene where they’re clearly making that joke about a character ‘drinking’ their problems away at the bar, but in this case it’s Reggie eating fries and Tito cutting her off. He even asks if she’s driving home. Kinda surprising how many kids’ cartoons make this joke.) that, for once, didn’t center mostly on extreme sports. Otto’s being a sweetheart, and even his big mistake was just that – a mistake. It’s something a kid would totally do without realizing it’s a bad idea. Reggie’s being a little bit of a brat, but, again, it’s understandable, and she never goes too far with it.

I also really like that Otto didn’t slam Mrs. Stimpleton for what she was trying to do. He worked with her to turn her ideas into something Reggie would like instead of hurting her feelings and taking everything over himself. It was also really sweet how everyone came together in the end to help make things right for Reggie.

Overall, this is a really good and sweet story. I fully enjoyed it.

Breakdown: Rescue Rocket – Sometimes, Otto can be really sweet. And other times, he can be a dumbass.

Story B of today’s episode involves Sam and Twister being signed up for a junior lifeguard course by their parents. They’re both bummed about it at first, but Sam quickly takes to it, and even Twister eventually starts making a really solid effort to succeed in the course.

Otto and Reggie, however, are bummed because this course is eating up all of Twister and Sam’s time and energy, so they’re left to skate and play hockey by themselves.

Both Reggie and Otto express disdain towards the class, but Reggie soon starts showing interest and is even impressed by the feats they’re pulling off.

Otto, on the other hand, stays firm in his stance that lifeguards, and especially kids partaking in the junior lifeguard course, are all weenies and losers. He’s being totally in character here, both as a kid and just as Otto, plus I get his purpose in trying to show the audience, who may share his views, how cool and important lifeguards are, but he is being flatout annoying.

You’d think a guy who was practically born on a surfboard and was raised by an avid surfer right next to the ocean would have more respect for lifeguards, but he could not respect them less. Even after hearing Tito’s dramatic explanation (according to him anyway) about how, many years ago, lifeguards started out as wise people who respected the power of the ocean so much that they spread the word to people who worked and played in the waters and kept them safe from harm, Otto’s still not impressed. Reggie, however, is so impressed that she asks if she can join the junior lifeguards near the end.

Left on his own as the class winds down, Otto laments that everyone he knows is giving into the idea that the ‘lame’ lifeguards are interesting and cool.

As he mopes, Tito, who claims he’s collecting some seawater with a bucket on a rope for a secret recipe, suddenly falls from the pier and into the water. He’s tangled in the rope and can’t swim to safety.

Twister and Sam instantly grab their gear and establish a plan to save Tito. They work together to untangle Tito from the rope and tow him to safety.

…..And yeah, he was faking the whole time. It was Twister and Sam’s final test in the course, which is fine and cool and all, but….like….what about everyone else in the class?

Tito was actually a lifeguard back in Hawaii, a fact that makes Otto eat some crow when he realizes how he was accidentally insulting Tito when was slamming lifeguards. Otto has now gained a better appreciation for lifeguards and even compliments Twister and Sam for their skills in saving Tito.

I really liked this episode, too. While Otto was annoying, he was realistically annoying. Most kids think lifeguards are lame, and it’s understandable that Otto, hater of all rule enforcers, would be one of those kids. I just feel like, given how much of his life revolves around the ocean and extreme sports in the water, that he’d have a decent appreciation for lifeguards by now. Has he not ever witnessed anyone being rescued before?

I would say maybe he doesn’t have a grasp or mortality either, but….uh….his mom’s dead…..

Like many other times, this episode also shows the significant difference between Otto and Reggie, and that’s simply in the fact that Reggie is more mature and open-minded than he is (Uuuuuuusuallyyyyyyyy.) They both started out ragging on the junior lifeguards, but Otto did it more, worse, and Reggie warmed up to them much sooner.

This was a great episode for both Sam and Twister. It gave Sam some confidence, which I always love. Once he actually got invested in it, Twister also had some nice moments. It showed that he really can learn and do great things if you manage to keep his attention. Plus, I really like Twister and Sam’s friendship. They make a great team when Twister’s not being a jerk to Sam.

There were several funny moments in this episode, particularly when Sam and Twister were trying to save Lars and Sputz. Twister refuses to save his brother, and Sam actually stands up to Lars when he, predictably, starts mocking him. I loved when Sam said “Please grab the rescue can, MADAM, and I’ll tow you to safety.” Then Twister returned without Sputz because he couldn’t understand what Sputz was saying (He’s basically the Boomhauer of the show – speaking in mostly gibberish only a few select characters can understand.)

I love the overall message of this episode as well. As I mentioned, while connecting with Otto, it helps kids who think lifeguards are lame to gain a greater respect for them. It also encourages kids and teens to take safety courses and become lifeguards. That’s really great, especially for a show that puts so much focus on extreme sports in water. Any kid who wants to partake in these sports due to the influence of this show should take safety courses to ensure they stay as safe as possible and help other people. Admirable job, Rocket Power. You did good.


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Pixar’s Lamp | The Incredibles (2004) Review

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

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

Breakdown: The year is 2004.

Marvel cinematic universe? Doesn’t exist.

DC actively trying? FEH!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I dunno.

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

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


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AVAHS – Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales Review

Plot: Bugs and the Looney Tunes crew partake in some Christmas stories.

Breakdown: I’ve always adored Looney Tunes, so getting a Christmas special on my review list this year was a treat.

This is a pretty enjoyable Christmas special. They have three different Christmas tales – A Christmas Carol parody, a more purely snow-themed Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner sketch and Bugs telling his nephew, Clyde, about the story of The Night Before Christmas, which starts to meld into their own situation when a Santa’d Taz comes in.

The A Christmas Carol section was okay, but I felt like they completed it way too quickly. Scrooge is instantly made good just by Bugs pretending to be a ghost and scaring him into being nice, but it’s not that bad. The Bugs sketch is the best part, though, of course – because Bugs is the best and Taz is awesome.

Not much else to talk about, so if you can track it down and you love some Looney Tunes goodness, check it out this holiday season.


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AVAHS – The Tangerine Bear: Home in Time for Christmas! Review

Plot: A little teddy bear accidentally had his mouth sewn on upside down, giving him a frown instead of that signature teddy bear smile. As a result, no one wanted him. He bounced from the discount bin of a big department store to a little secondhand shop called Winkle’s on a street with little traffic. Over time, the little bear’s fur became bleached out from the sun, giving him such a bright orange coloring that he became known as the tangerine bear or Tangie for short. All Tangie wants is to be sold to a nice family for Christmas, but no one wants a tangerine bear with a frowning mouth.

Breakdown: This is another one of those Christmas movies I definitely remember watching as a kid and was glad to rediscover. The Tangerine Bear: Home in Time for Christmas! is an adorable and heartwarming tale of a sweet teddy bear who wants nothing more than to find a family until he realizes that he has already found a family right there in that store with the other things that are a little off like Jack, the Jack-in-the-Box whose bells don’t work and is afraid of going into his box, Bird the bird of a coo-coo clock who has a busted beak and is afraid of coming out of his house without ensuring the coast is clear so he won’t run into anything, and Mr. Winkle’s (originally) grumpy pet guard dog, Virgil.

It has a great message of recognizing that you’re special and can find love and family just the way you are, even if you’re different. Tangie is a sweetheart despite his perpetual frown, though he does frequently complain and get down in the dumps. He has every right to be, and I really wouldn’t bring it up if they didn’t make a point that he’s supposed to be a really happy little bear on the inside but you just can’t notice due to his upside down mouth.

Jack is a great guy and a great friend, and Bird fits right in as the straight man, though not to the point where he’s an annoyance or a grump. Virgil also isn’t unlikable before he gets an attitude change. He’s very serious about his job as a guard dog, which includes keeping the toys from wandering around and causing trouble. After Tangie and the others save his life, he becomes a very good boy and friend of the toys, and he’s about as sweet as Tangie.

The story is really cute, although the ending is questionable to say the least. On Christmas Eve some guy walks in and offers Mr. Winkle 200 bucks for Tangie and Jack claiming he collects rare and unique items like them…….Tangie is from a teddy bear line that was mass produced, but he had his mouth sewn on upside down and got his fur bleached out in the sun. How is that so rare and amazing it’s worth 200 bucks?

Jack’s situation makes even less sense because he’s just a broken run-of-the-mill Jack-in-the-Box with broken bells and an unwillingness to go back in his box.

Geez, rich people really are delusional.

But not as delusional and, quite frankly, sad as Mr. Winkle who refuses 200 and even 300 dollars for these toys because they’re his family.

Okay, I overthought the Mr. Winkle thing, so if this next part depresses any fans of this movie, I am so sorry.

This dude doesn’t have much money. He’s lucky he manages to make rent every month because no one ever really shops in his store. The only reason he starts making decent sales is because the toys decide to decorate and spruce themselves up. Mr. Winkle is really bad at his job. He leaves repair work on items undone for way, way, way longer than they should when he literally does nothing all day besides hang around his store and eat at the local diner, which is a bad habit because you shouldn’t eat out constantly if you’re struggling to pay rent (he lives in the apartment above the shop.)

He does sell items throughout the movie, but he’s offered $300, that he really needs, for items that he just leaves in the window….because they’re his family? (By the way, he leaves them there for so long that Tangie’s fur bleaches out because of it.) Okay, from a movie standpoint, this is really sweet because the toys also see Mr. Winkle as their family, and it’s great that he doesn’t care about their flaws and loves them as-is, but from an overthinking it standpoint, holy hell this guy is lonely as shit if all he has for family are his dog and broken toys in his store.

Not to mention the even more depressing aspect of this whole situation. Mr. Winkle is pretty darn old. He’s so old that decorations suddenly appear in his store window and he just shrugs it off as his failing memory. As Toy Story has forcibly taught us by ripping tears out of our eye holes, toys are basically immortal unless they’re trashed. Mr. Winkle probably doesn’t have many years ahead of him. What happens to the toys then? He seemingly doesn’t have any children or other family to inherit the toys, the store or, even more sadly, Virgil.

At the very least, the guy who tried to buy Tangie and Jack says he’ll be back with friends later to look at more items, hopefully ones Winkle’s actually willing to sell.

In the end, and ignoring all of the weird and sad parts about the ending, Tangie, Jack, Bird and Virgil all rejoice that they don’t have to separate and that they’ve found a loving home for Christmas.

The art and animation are alright, even if some character models for the people are terrible, but something is really wrong with whatever they did to the copy on TubiTV, unless it was just an animation issue from the start.

Nearly every frame has spots where the lines blur and it is horrendously distracting. I have no clue what happened here, but I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without noticing this problem.

The music was very sweet, gentle and Christmassy. Not the most memorable songs in the world, but still good. The voice acting was also good with the talents of the late Tom Bosley as Mr. Winkle, Howie Mandel as Jack and Johnathan Taylor Thomas as Tangie (huh, that’s two JTT sightings now.) This was made in 1999 so his voice was definitely puberty-ized by this point, but he still manages to make Tangie sound innocent and child-like.

Overall, as long as you don’t let your mind wander in the end and if you can ignore some really annoying blurring issues in the copy, this is a really great and sweet Christmas movie for the whole family. Like I said, it’s on TubiTV right now for free if you want to check it out this holiday season.


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AVAHS – Robot Chicken: Freshly Baked – The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freak Out Special Edition Review

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Plot: A begrudged Santa accidentally downs some pot cookies and has an existential crisis.

Breakdown: Holy shit, Robot Chicken’s still on the air? Wow.

I used to enjoy Robot Chicken quite a bit, even if some of their sketches go a little too far if you ask me. It was always one of the more consistently funny adult animation shows, and even though its actual status has yet to be confirmed (it’s been in renewal/cancellation limbo for over a year) I’m pretty glad to see it’s lasted the test of time. I’ve just been so out of the loop with Adult Swim’s western animation block that I haven’t kept up with the show in years.

As for this Christmas special, which is the ninth Christmas special the series has aired, it was pretty damn funny. Of course, there were some jokes that I thought went a bit far (let’s just say the elf song has a really dark suggestion for making their jobs easier.) but overall it was enjoyable and did have its own darker brand of Christmas spirit in there. I laughed out loud several times and had a good time.

If you’re looking for a more adult-oriented Christmas special for some holiday chuckles, this one is a good choice, and at 11 minutes, it’s a quick watch too.


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AVAHS – He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special Review

Plot: Adam and Adora are finally able to celebrate their birthday together for the first time. As festivities get set up, Adam and Man-At-Arms launch a SkySpy drone airplane to keep an eye on Skeletor. Orko accidentally hitches a ride on the plane and ends up on earth where he meets two children who teach him about Christmas. When Man-At-Arms teleports Orko back to Eternia, the kids get brought back with him and they teach everyone about the magic of Christmas.

Meanwhile, Skeletor, Hordak and Horde Prime aim to kidnap the kids to bring a stop the goodness and love of Christmas.

Breakdown: I never watched much He-Man when I was a kid. It came on right around when GI Joe did (a little before it, I think) but I only watched it here and there. I never really got into it.

I never watched a single episode of She-Ra because I don’t think they ever aired it on any channel I regularly watched. If they did, I just never noticed or watched.

Both are on my to-watch list of old shows that bring shame to my cartoon reviewer name for having not watched alongside Transformers and Thundercats.

Although, from what little I caught, I did immediately love Skeletor. There’s just something about that bonehead that I get endless joy from.

Speaking of joy, I do remember catching this Christmas special back in the day on Cartoon Network for whatever reason. And even though I didn’t think much of it back then, I got a strange amount of enjoyment from it this time around. Maybe I’m in great need of some cheesy-ass 80’s fun, maybe this is too goofy and nonsensical for me to care about nitpicking it to hell and back or maybe it’s legitimately good.

Who knows?

….No, seriously. Who knows? Because I’m getting so many mixed messages by the fans. Some are calling it one of the worst Christmas specials ever made, and as one reviewer put it, the second worst Christmas special behind the Star Wars Christmas Special (fucking ouch) and others just enjoy it as being some nostalgic cheesy fun. (Also, one reviewer on IMDB complained that the special, and I quote, “lacks the masculinity of the great show.” *snort*)

The Christmas parts are just as corny as you’d expect, and the action is pretty decent. However, the one thing I definitely remembered from watching this as a kid was Skeletor basically being forcibly taken over by the Christmas spirit, bonding with a robo-puppy and saving the kids from his boss. I got so giddy when that happened.

Is it objectively a mess? Yes. Was that song in the middle vomit-worthy? Oh yes. No doubt about that. Does that make it any less enjoyable? To me, no. I can see how some might be bothered enough to just switch it off, but I had legit fun with it. And this is coming from someone who nitpicks to a point of concern. Sometimes, things are just stupid enough to be so much fun that I don’t care, and bonus points come when it’s in a Christmas special. Maybe He-Man/She-Ra fans would argue, but eh.

……I did freak the hell out when I realized She-Ra’s horse could talk though. I dunno why I recoiled so much at that.


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AVAHS – Bump in the Night: Twas the Night Before Bumpy Review

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Plot: Bumpy aims to steal Santa’s bag of toys directly from the North Pole. Will he succeed in his plot or will he learn the true meaning of Christmas? …Or both?

Breakdown: Why?….Why did I waste all of my drug jokes on the Pac-Man Christmas special?

I really shouldn’t have watched this movie with a splitting headache.

This movie is so weird. That’s not to say the movie is bad or anything, in fact it’s pretty decent, but it’s really weird.

I’m not a fan of claymation. Nothing but the utmost respect to the animators, claymation/stop motion is one of the biggest bitches in animation and I take my hat off to anyone who chooses that as their style of choice, but I always found it to be very creepy. Even in beloved Christmas specials like Rudolph, the stop motion tends to come off as creepy much of the time.

It’s even worse here because the designs are meant to look weird and off-kilter since they’re monsters. They do achieve their goal of looking strange, but I never want to see a glob of goo try ‘tap dancing’ again. It was squicky and made me feel dirty somehow.

The claymation, done by Danger Productions, is pretty good, though. Everything is brought to life relatively well, even though you can tell that they definitely had budgetary constraints and had to edit their hearts out to refrain from using claymation wherever they could.

In addition to claymation, we also have a decent amount of paper cutout-ish traditional animation that’s done in that very 90’s-esque manner, if that makes any sense. Somehow, that tends to be even creepier than the claymation, and I was very happy that they didn’t use it that much.

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This story is about Bumpy, a little green monster, wanting to steal Santa’s bag of toys. He tries to do so every year when Santa visits their home, but fails, so he’s decided that, this year, he’ll visit the North Pole and steal the bag directly from his home. He recruits his friend, aforementioned glob of goo named Squish, to help him on his journey with the promise of giving him feet from Santa’s bag. Because Santa always has disembodied feet in his bag. Oh did I say Santa? I meant a serial killer. Squish wants feet so he can tap dance at the Christmas pageant.

On their journey, they meet a Latino worm who wants to conquer a bush. There was no way I could describe that without it sounding like a euphemism. His name is Juaquin and he’s voiced by Cheech Marin because this is a Latino character in the 90s – of course he’s voiced by Cheech Marin.

In exchange for the promise of bionic arms, Juaquin offers to dig them a tunnel to the North Pole, but he accidentally stops them in front of Stonehenge, where he is promptly crushed to death by a falling stone slab. Merry Christmas!

In comes a hummingbird named Doris who acts like an old lady. She wants a jet pack from Santa’s bag, so she agrees to point them in the right direction by telling them to follow the north star. Bumpy and Squish want to hitch a ride on her so they mold Squish into a cheeseburger, put him on a fishing line and use him to lure Doris into flying towards the north star……

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Anyhoo, when they reach the North Pole, we get to the really amusing stuff. No super cutesy Christmas cheer here. It’s an army of militant snowmen and elves acting as army generals to protect Santa’s bag of toys.

I did a double take here because the designs of the elves looked damn near identical to the design of Amanda in those claymation segments of The Amanda Show. They weren’t done by the same people (The Amanda’s Show’s claymation was done by Tom Megalis) but the resemblance was uncanny.

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In addition to the military part being funny in itself, the scene suddenly turns into an Indiana Jones parody when Bumpy reaches the bag. There’s also a funny joke with Santa’s sleigh stalling once he makes it outside.

Bumpy steals Santa’s sleigh, and Squish snags a ride right before he leaves. Then the elves try to shoot down the sleigh with ground-to-air candy cane missiles. In the commotion, the bag rips and sends presents down to each house. Doris gets her jet pack, and Juaquin reveals himself to be not dead and gets a pair of bionic arms.

They crash into the pageant, sending gifts flying to the other monsters/toys/dolls of their….town? I never really caught onto what this place is called. All of the presents are now claimed except one, which Bumpy tries to claim for himself, but is guilted into giving it to Squish because he promised him feet but didn’t deliver. In the box is a noisemaker meant to sound like tap-dancing, giving Squish the ability to tap dance even without feet.

Realizing that delivering all of the presents has made everyone happy, Bumpy learns the true meaning of Christmas is to give not receive.

A running subplot has been Molly, who is a kinda Frankenstein’d mishmash of a rag doll, trying to direct the holiday pageant in Squish’s stead. I guess it’s supposed to be funny because she’s meant to be a quiet and timid character that provides comfort, and now she’s basically chewing everyone’s heads off at every turn, but it’s mostly annoying. She does go back to her normal self in the end, but she spent most of the movie being a jerk. Everyone gives her a hug (which is what she wished for this Christmas) and forgives her for being a nightmare. Before that, though, she forces Bumpy to reprise his Christmas song from earlier, now changed lyrically to show that he’s learned his lesson over the course of his journey, so they can conclude the pageant.

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Speaking of music, that is probably the oddest aspect of this whole movie. Quite randomly, we’ll get song interludes that are really just classic Christmas carols with different lyrics. The lyrics are never really well-written, and they’re pretty sloppy. It’s like most of the songs were written in the car ride to the studio that day. Many of the songs don’t even rhyme, and it’s difficult to understand what they’re saying half the time.

These musical numbers are even lazier in their animation. 95% of it isn’t new animation. Instead, these scenes are made up of clips from earlier in the movie, sometimes just a scene prior, or they’re completely random clips from the TV show from which this movie originated, Bump in the Night. I’ve never seen the original show before and I didn’t know the movie did come from a series before watching it, so these clips really confused the hell out of me. Even now that I do know of the series, I’m still very confused because the clips have absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics.

Why did they even have these musical numbers in there if obviously didn’t care about them in the slightest? Just to pad time to a reasonable movie length?

The best song in the lot is a redone version of “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” made to be a military marching song for the snowmen in the North Pole. That one worked quite well. It rhymed, I could understand the lyrics, the song placement was good, and I got into the moment easily.

I will also give them props for having their own version of “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” because finding animated Hanukkah stuff is pretty rare.

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Overall, while it is a weird little movie, it did grow on me as it went on. It has a good sense of humor, it was a somewhat unique Christmas story, and it even had a good moral that you don’t typically see in Christmas movies for kids – You don’t need Santa to bring anything. You can exchange gifts with your family and friends and enjoy the act of giving while also receiving. Although, it is a bit of a double-edged sword in the message department because Bumpy stole Santa’s bag of toys and his sleigh (and hijacked his reindeer) but he didn’t really suffer any consequences for it besides losing all of his loot. He even got a present in the end from the closet monster.

The voice acting was very good with the talents of Jim Cummings as Bumpy and Destructo (the rule-enforcing robot who sounds like Duke Nukem for some reason) Rob Paulsen as Squish, and Gail Matthius as Molly.

Not sure I’ll ever visit the TV series, but I did have fun with the Christmas special, and if you’re in the market for some unique and off-color Christmas fun I suggest you seek it out too.


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