Plot: DJ is obsessed with watching the house of his scary next-door neighbor, Mr. Nebbercracker. He goes insane with rage at everyone who dares set one foot on his yard or get anywhere near his house. When DJ accidentally ‘kills’ Mr. Nebbercracker, he believes his spirit went on to haunt his house, nabbing up anyone who gets near. DJ, his best friend, Chowder and a local girl named Jenny team up to stop the house, but the situation is far more complicated than they ever anticipated.
Breakdown: Making horror movies for kids is a tricky area. You can’t put in anything ‘too scary’ or else the parents will get up in arms. You can’t tone it down too much or else the movie will be boring, even for kids.
Gentle middlegrounds are hard to find, and this one hits the mark quite well.
I watch Monster House every year on Halloween, but it’s one of those movies that I mostly forget unless it’s the Halloween season. Sometimes, I even forget it until I randomly see it on TV for Halloween.
It was strange to me because I always enjoy this movie whenever I watch it, and it wasn’t until I watched it for the review that I realized why I probably let it slip my mind whenever it’s not Halloween – this movie has very irritating characters.
Granted, they are ‘realistic’ tweenagers, teenagers and adults, but there’s no one in this movie that’s even slightly likable until the last 15 minutes or so.
Let’s go down the line –
DJ is one of those kids who wants desperately to be treated as a mature adult, but still does a lot of immature things. He’s obsessed with Mr. Nebbercracker because of his harsh behavior and the creepy urban legend that he killed his wife and ate her. DJ is probably the least annoying, but that’s not saying much.
His parents, while only getting brief screentime, also don’t get a good light shed on them. They’re mostly harmless, but then we see that his father refuses to show DJ any affection, fighting his wife against telling him he loves him before he leaves on a trip or giving him a hug goodbye. Then we get a completely serious implication that his mother wouldn’t care if she accidentally killed him.
She believes she backed into DJ with the car and his father fully implies she wouldn’t care if it was.
Then we have Chowder, who is just obnoxious. He’s the typical comic relief immature best friend. Almost all of his scenes involve him being incredibly annoying in some way.
For good measure, we have Jenny or the obligatory love interest who is literally thrown into the story. She doesn’t even live in their neighborhood nor had the two boys met her before the story began. She’s an alright character, but not only is she clearly just meant to be a love interest for the boys (though obviously meant for DJ because since when does the sidekick get the girl?) she says stuff like ‘are you mentally challenged?…Because, if you are, I’m certified to teach you baseball!’ to them upon first meeting.
There’s Zee, who is the bitchy punk rocker babysitter who loves to torment DJ.
Then we have her boyfriend, Bones, who’s even more of a prick than she is. During his screentime, he does such charming things as getting drunk, ripping apart DJ’s stuffed bunny rabbit and getting pissy that Zee doesn’t want to fool around with him.
Following them, we have Skull, a local gamer who is about as typical as any depiction of a gamer since The Wizard. He’s obsessed with video games, is a complete jerk and is so into his games that he can play them without looking and talks smack to them.
After that, there’s the police. There’s the veteran cop who laughs at the kids claims of there being something wrong with the house, but eventually tries to arrest them for minor offenses toward a vacant house.
Then there’s his partner, a rookie cop who is one of those types who gets way too into it and is fully drunk on the power before he even gets his feet wet. It’s scary how he treats these kids, too. He’s gleefully happy to take them in, taunts them as if they’re adult criminals and will swing his gun around like it’s not even there.
The only characters left to address are Mr. Nebbercracker and his wife. Mr. Nebbercracker is meant to be a scary, mean old man, but in the last 20 minutes or so, you realize he wasn’t being this way to be a jerk. He was actually trying to protect everyone.
His wife was a bitch who only had a soft spot for him, but it’s understandable that she is so defensive given her backstory.
I won’t go any further to avoid spoilers, even though this movie is old enough to warrant them. I think the twist is a good chunk of the fun.
I will ask a couple of spoiler-y questions, though. Be warned until the list is over.
1 – Constance fell into the cement for the foundation……and…..Horace just built…over her? Why didn’t he dig her out? Why would he ever feel comfortable building a house on his wife’s remains?
2 – Considering how thin the cement was over Constance’s remains, I feel like that wouldn’t have even been enough to kill her. Certainly Horace should have been able to save her.
3 – The house was haunted by her spirit since her corpse was in the foundation, yet when the house actually uprooted itself and started traveling all over town, the spirit didn’t leave it. If it was detached from the foundation, I don’t really see why the house itself was still haunted.
4 – This is from earlier in the movie, but if you had a guy who was clearly not dead and was only suffering from a heart attack or something, why would you treat the guy like a corpse? They don’t give him medical attention or anything. The plop him on a gurney, don’t even put him in a body bag or cover him up, and let his arm dangle and drag the ground. Even if they thought he was dead, you don’t treat patients like that.
Outside of that, this is still a great horror movie for all ages. The scares are effective for kids and adults alike, and some of the visuals are wonderfully done.
The backstory was well-written, and I was legitimately happy for everyone in the end. I only wish they all, barring Nebbercracker for obvious reasons, could’ve been more likable from the start so I could really get emotionally invested.
The art and animation is where some people falter on this movie, and I can see why. It’s a strange amalgamation of motion capture and clay-like CGI animation. The heads are super big, the hair doesn’t move at all, and some of the movements are surreal when coupled with the animation. The movements of the arms and bodies will be fine, but then the heads will just seem strange.
The music was also nice. Even though nothing stood out as being fantastic, it was a very fitting soundtrack that melded well with the ambiance.
Monster House has been getting very positive reviews every since its release….but check out the reviews on Common Sense Media. Remember how I said horror movies for kids might get parents up in arms? These reviewers have their parental arms fully up.
They bitch about the littlest things like one character saying ‘I stole drugs for you!’ when the ‘drugs’ were bottles of cold medicine…meant to knock out a sentient house, or saying ‘kiss my butt’ or ‘moron.’ All of these reviews amount to a one-star rating.
One reviewer said this movie scared their two-year-old kid…..THEIR TWO-YEAR-OLD KID.
You let your two-friggin’-year-old kid watch a horror movie – I don’t give a crap if it’s meant for kids, it’s still a damn horror movie. And it’s rated PG, meaning it’s already meant for an older audience than friggin’ two-year-olds.
The icing on the cake – they complained about the fact that there was a creepy monster house that eats people………IT’S…..THE….ENTIRE….TITLE….OF….THE…..MOVIE.
MONSTER. HOUSE. It could not be clearer if they called it ‘Scary Goddamn Morphing Monster House That Eats People and Also a Movie Your Two-Year-Old Probably Shouldn’t Watch.’ I bet your two-year-old can read better than you.
It borderlines between PG and PG-13. I agree it probably could’ve garnered a PG-13 rating, but, honestly, PG also suits it just fine. Just talk to your kids about the questionable stuff, if necessary, and if they aren’t ready for horror movies, don’t let them watch it….hence the Parental Guidance suggested thing.
I believe people of all ages will get enjoyment out of this movie, especially around Halloween considering it’s both a great animated horror movie and it’s set around Halloween. I do applaud it for having realistic characters, but I just wish they had been more likable.
Also, just for the sake of the people on Common Sense Media, yes, people get gobbled up, but the ending assures us that they all lived. Dumbass Bones even got to keep his stupid kite.
Recommended Audience: I already basically went over this, but I’d say 10+
Plot: Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor enjoy their Halloween until their candy is suddenly switched with fruit and books thanks to the evil Switch Witch.
Breakdown: Ooh yay! Another Alvin and the Chipmunks Halloween special! I don’t remember there being more, but let’s……Oh….Oh it’s from the latest reboot…
Look, I have nothing against ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks besides, holy hell, that name is dumb. I’ve watched a couple episodes before and it’s something I like to call a ‘coma show’ as in, when I watch it I feel as though I’ve entered into a coma. The time is gone, I might feel like I’ve heard things during it, but I don’t remember anything.
We get such gems like this:
Theodore: “I got a rock.” A failed, but appreciated, Charlie Brown reference, that they decide to ruin by doing this.
Theodore: “Oh no, it’s a candy bar that fell out of its wrapper.” *bite* “Ow…No it’s a rock.”
Any idiot could see that’s a rock. It’s not even a brown rock. Why would you think that’s a candy bar? I know Theodore’s a little dim, but he’s not Patrick from Spongebob stupid.
Granted, it’s not like Alvin and the Chipmunks ever had groundbreaking stories or anything, but they typically had some fun, memorable moments and good songs. This reboot is about as ‘meh’ as it gets. Even the animation is boring. I feel like I’m watching something made by the people who made the CGI Barbie movies. Everything’s so plastic. Who would’ve thought I’d long for the days when the boys basically wore nightgowns all day.
You want to know how benign this special is? You remember how Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman had the boys worried they might have to shoot their brother with a silver bullet? Or how the Frankenstein monster nearly got killed by an angry mob? And how both movies had fairly action-y climaxes?
Here, the ‘monster’ is someone called the Switch Witch.
She is a witch who steals your candy and replaces it with fruit and books.
That’s it. That’s all. She doesn’t attack you, she doesn’t kill you, she doesn’t turn you into a frog or something – she just steals your candy and replaces it with fruit and books.
There is absolutely no reason the kids should be even the least bit afraid of this woman, especially considering they believe she already stole their candy by the end of the first act. All tension is drained before we even realize the conflict.
And, gee, the chipmunks thinking their neighbor is a supernatural being and trying to trap them. I wonder where I’ve heard that before. At least in that movie they were right, and Mr. Talbot turned out to be a legitimate threat. This whole plot is so blindingly transparent.
By the by, who gives out candy canes for Halloween? This looks less like Halloween candy and more like someone mixed Valentines and Christmas candy together.
And, dear god, the size of those candy bars. I know the chipmunks are small, but Dave was eating one earlier and he might as well have been eating a brick. Damn King Size – that was like Galactus size.
Oh, I’m gonna give you a second to notice what’s wrong with this shot of the kids setting up a trap for the Switch Witch.
Yup. They have a giant bowl filled with candy. They’re using this giant bowl of candy to lure out the Switch Witch…..so they can get their candy back………..They established earlier that none of them had a drop of candy, even Dave ate the leftovers from the Trick-Or-Treater bowl he had….but they have a bowl full of candy at the ready.
So….even this incredibly lame “conflict” isn’t the slightest bit a conflict because they do indeed have plenty of candy.
Wonderful writing, guys. Top notch, really.
This whole story seems like it’s leading up to a dose of karma to the chipmunks and chippettes, but they royally screw up the moral to the point where there is none anymore.
Why do they need a dose of karma, you may ask?
Well, they got a good deal of their haul by tricking the aforementioned neighbor, Ms. Crooner. She’s elderly and has memory problems so they just kept ringing the doorbell over and over and getting candy over and over because she didn’t remember them coming to the door. They kinda felt bad when they came home….well, the girls did a little, but even they literally said they didn’t feel bad enough about it to give up their candy. Then it’s just dropped…entirely.
Ms. Crooner dresses up in a cheap witch outfit and heads to a cabin in the woods. The kids follow her, because that’s always smart, supernatural being or otherwise, and she does a dumb ‘flashlight over the face to make it ‘scary’’ trick, has Dave hang upside down in a bat costume and then they immediately show them the massive load of candy they can now have.
Even when Ms. Crooner and Dave pull the prank on Alvin and the others, they don’t mention what they did to her. The kids don’t feel bad about it, the adults never point out that this prank was retaliation nor do they have the kids apologize – all Dave said was he was trying to make Halloween scarier for them like Alvin wanted.
In summary, they take advantage of an elderly woman’s memory problems, milk her of candy, don’t feel bad about it, at least not enough to give up the candy, don’t even think about apologizing, and what they get in return is a fun Halloween prank, a mountain of candy and a Halloween-themed cabin to spend the rest of the night in.
Good. Parenting. Dave.
All I’m getting from this episode is a vanilla Halloween story that already feels like it’s been done before, and much better (by its own franchise, even!), as well as a screwed up moral that basically says ‘take advantage of the elderly and you’ll have fun and lots of candy!’
Look, I know kids don’t want fruit and books on Halloween, but this special is also kinda saying ‘fruit and books are terrible. Suck down that candy!’ Even when Ms. Crooner tells the kids they’ll have even more fun by reading the books she left, in addition to eating the candy pile, the kids all basically just groan and roll their eyes.
They didn’t even set up the plot properly. Where did Theodore hear about this Switch Witch? In the Werewolf movie, Alvin was obsessed with supernatural creatures and his obsessions lead him into looking too much into Mr. Talbot, who, in all fairness, was a werewolf. Here, Theodore just knows about the Switch Witch from the start with no explanation as to where this story came from. If it came from Dave, they didn’t show it or imply it.
Also, apparently, there’s a new bully character in this show, at least that’s what I think they’re going for because he’s clearly made to be an idiot and calls them ‘losers.’ His name is Cheesy…..Kay. He’s very annoying, but he was only in one scene.
I would’ve easily written this off as a harmless and boring Halloween special, but that moral, if you can even call it that, was screwed up so badly I can’t give it such a pass. Not to mention that I don’t think 11 minute holiday specials work well from the starting gate. Their plot was way too thin to stretch further, but specials always feel a bit hollow when they’re basically half episodes.
The only shining spot of this special is the music number, which was good, but it only lasts about thirty seconds and the lyrics are strange. The song is playing during a scene where they’re setting up the trap for the witch, and the lyrics…..
Well, in context, it seems like they’re singing a romantic song to the Switch Witch….for some reason.
Out of context, this song couldn’t be more stalker-y if you tried.
Come out, come out, wherever you are
Why do you run from me?
I just want you next to me
You got me chasin’ you ’round and ’round, yeah
I don’t know what to do
I just want to be with you
It’s got me huffin’ and a puffin’, yeah
Come out, come out
Come out, come out, come out
Wherever you are (wherever you are)
Come out, come out
Come out, come out
This has gone too far.
What the hell is this even? I couldn’t hear half the lyrics because the music drowns them out (Poor sound editing in Alvin and Chipmunks? Mr. Bagdasarian, please have words with your staff), but then I found the rest on the Wiki and was instantly creeped out. At least the melody has a really nice beat, but wow those lyrics.
This episode is flat out not good. The ending ruins what otherwise would’ve been a boring but passable Halloween special. Even the ‘Alvinnn!’ yell at the end was forced. Watch one of the other Alvin and the Chipmunks Halloween movies I’ve reviewed instead. At least those provide more story, fun, music and even some slightly dark moments.
Plot: Kids always worry about monsters in their closet – and well they should be, because there are plenty of them in there. Behind the doors of every child’s closet is a portal to the world of monsters, and a company called Monsters Inc. is tasked with scaring children and collecting their screams as a form of energy to power their world. A small girl nicknamed Boo sneaks into the world of monsters causing panic within the city since monsters believe human children to be highly lethal to monsters. A monster named Sulley and his best friend Mike must return her to her room before she falls into dangerous hands.
Breakdown: Next up on the Pixar list is Monsters Inc. a beloved movie and a shining example of how creative and heartwarming Pixar can be.
I got Monsters Inc. for Christmas one year and I remember watching that movie over and over. It is a very original and creative concept to work with. Not only do they create a world of monsters behind the closet doors of every child, but they also need to scare children to collect their screams for energy. And if that’s not enough, there’s also the incredible irony that these scary monsters are terrified of humans to the point where merely touching an item in the human world can result in incredible panic of contamination.
I don’t know exactly why they believe that humans, children in particular, are so lethal to monsters. Perhaps it’s another matter of fear being born from ignorance.
This movie is dear to me, but I will admit it’s not as strong as Toy Story. It’s definitely their most heartwarming adventure so far, edging out Toy Story 2 just a tad in sadness and heartwarming moments.
It has plenty of funny moments, snappy dialogue and nice pacing. The story is also good, though the villains were a little too obvious. I like the twist of making laughter stronger than screams, the action sequence with the doors was awesome and beautifully done, the relationship with Boo and Sulley was cute and genuine, plus Boo is incredibly adorable and an actually realistic child, and it never felt like it dragged that much.
I love Pixar’s texture work in this movie, especially with Sulley, Randall and Boo’s costume. It’s hard to believe this is their first foray into working with fur. The art and animation are great, but I would’ve liked a tad more diversity with the background monsters. I particularly enjoyed the opening sequence’s animation because it was so creative and fun to watch. They got so much better with human characters. Compare Boo with how Molly looked in the first Toy Story…….eugh…..I still have nightmares.
The music’s a nice changeup from the norm, and it was very fitting and nice to listen to. The duet at the end with Sulley and Mike is great. I listen to it off and on to this day.
That being said, I do have some minor problems. While Sulley and Mike do bounce off each other nicely and seem to have a realistic relationship, I’m not in love with either character. Sulley’s a tad bit bland. Outside of being a gentle giant character, there’s not much else to him. Mike can be annoying on occasion, and there are times when Billy Crystal’s voice and shtick don’t sit well to me.
The relationship that Mike has with Celia really only makes for awkward moments while trying to keep Boo a secret, which, as a whole, is a negative to me because quite a bit of the movie is keeping Boo a secret, meaning there’s a good degree of awkwardness. Not terribly done, but awkwardness still irritates me.
Celia does one thing in the movie outside of being luvey duvey with Mike and that’s it, so she’s a textbook love interest character.
The way the doors work is a bit confusing as Boo is gone for a full day yet it seems like it’s possibly the same night she left when she’s returned. During the scene with all the doors, all the houses they enter are conveniently empty as well. These aren’t major issues, but they’re noticeable.
Bottomline: Some of Pixar’s finest work, but not without some minor issues. I really just have a problem with storylines that require hiding something from people. While it, thankfully, doesn’t amount to too much awkwardness, it’s still there and it still has a negative impact to me. If that doesn’t bother you or if you even think those situations are funny, feel free to bump the rating up a few decimal points.
Recommended Audience: There’s a couple instances of pee jokes, burping and, while he doesn’t have anything down there, there is a nut shot gag with Mike. Some minor scary situations, especially in regards to that damn machine. I mean, wow, strapping children into a chair and sucking the screams out of them? That’s something out of a horror movie. 6+
Plot: It’s a terrible day for toys when Andy’s mom announces a yard sale. In an effort to save a beloved old squeaky penguin named Wheezy from being sold, Woody finds himself getting stolen in the yard sale instead.
The thief is the owner of Al’s Toy Barn, an avid toy collector, and he finds himself among a collection of toys based on the show Woody’s Roundup. He’s treated like a hero to the other toys; Jessie the cowgirl, Bullseye the horse and the prospector, but he’s still desperate to get back to Andy. Buzz and the other toys from Andy’s room travel to find Woody and bring him home, but the other Woody’s Roundup toys are convincing him that it’s better to stay in a toy museum instead of going back home where Andy will eventually grow up and forget about him.
Breakdown: Pixar’s first sequel and Pixar’s first relative ‘meh’ movie supposedly. I’ve never heard anyone say this is a downright bad movie, but most people agree that it’s not really fantastic either. I think people just fell under the impression that Pixar could do no wrong and finding that a movie wasn’t up to their high standards left it with a bigger dent.
Does it really deserve any flak though?
In my opinion? No. I really like this movie. It’s the weakest of the trilogy in my opinion, but that doesn’t make it a bad, meh or even weak film.
The storyline isn’t a rehash of the first film like a lot of sequels, and it touches upon the topic of the toys’ owners growing up and leaving them behind. They won’t really take this plot line and shove your heart into a paper shredder like the third movie, but still. And it also reminded me that, not only does that suck, but toys can be immortal to a degree. They can definitely live throughout a few generations at least if they’re taken care of, so it’s not only sad to think that the toys might be thrown out or spend their time rotting somewhere, but they could also see owner after owner ‘outgrow’ their use and be abandoned.
There are new characters added, and the background of Woody is explored, though I don’t quite get stuff like this. I don’t really understand why Woody doesn’t realize that he’s this famous. If he is an original, that must mean he’s over 50 years old, yet he doesn’t seem to act like he’s had previous owners and has completely forgotten his origins. I have to wonder why some toys realize what they are immediately yet toys like Buzz, Woody and the Aliens are under some delusion about it once they awaken.
Jessie’s pretty grating when you first meet her, but she grows on you and she is the poster child for the topic of the movie as she had an owner who grew up and ended up abandoning her. I’m still left wondering why she remembers that considering, from all I can tell from this girl’s room, this happened around the 60s or 70s, yet Woody can’t seem to remember anything pre-Andy days.
Bullseye’s a cute little character that can be a good addition to the group, but it seems weird that a toy like that is introduced when it’s been established that Woody and the others get along fine with Buster.
The storyline with Buzz, Delusional Buzz and Zurg felt forced. The opener is enough to attest for that because it felt like it was too long. Some of the interactions with Delusional Buzz were funny, especially the first scene, but after that it just felt like it was shoehorned in and a bit annoying. It’s almost like they weren’t quite sure what to do with Buzz to give him enough screentime. Plus, there’s the irritating nagging in my head that there was a Buzz Lightyear cartoon including Zurg and maybe this could’ve just been a big plug for that.
They also rehashed a few too many jokes from the original movie, but it’s not constant.
I think that this movie is actually better now that I’ve seen Toy Story 3. It’s acts as a great mediator between 1 and 3.
The first movie is about being there for Andy, no matter who he may seem to give more attention to and knowing that Andy loves to play with all of his toys.
The second is about dealing with the fact that, despite this, there will be a time when Andy becomes too old to play with his toys, but until that time comes they’ll be there to play with him no matter what.
And the third is finally dealing with what happens when Andy grows up and stops playing with his toys as well as addressing the various futures of toys when their owners grow up.
While it is a bit OOC for Woody to ditch Andy to be in a museum, it’s understandable that he’d feel that way. After hearing Jessie’s story and being shelved, as well as seeing what could’ve been the fate of Wheezy, it’s perfectly reasonable that he’d be scared and, in a way, its a story of mortality. You either live a true and happy life that eventually ends or throw it away to chase immortality.
Also, it reminds me that in Toy Story 3 Jessie’s situation and feelings should be much worse considering she was already dumped once before.
I think Woody singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” on Woody’s Roundup was probably one of the best ways to handle Woody’s revelation that he needed to go back to Andy. It really was an incredibly touching scene…..Though I think the little boy on the show was a little on the creepy side.
The reprise at the end I could’ve done without, though, even if it is performed by Robert Goulet. Especially given that Wheezy skips some lines during it.
Bottomline: It’s a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Not as good as the original, no, and there are some annoying and seemingly pointless things in there, but most of the jokes are really funny, the plot’s interesting and like I said it’s a great bridge between movie 1 and 3. I can see how some people may be disappointed with it, but I’d still gladly rewatch it several times.
Recommended Audience: There is very very slight innuendo that I doubt any kid would get, but otherwise nothing objectionable. E for everyone!
Plot: The egg of an iguanodon is separated from its parents. It ends up traveling far away from any dinosaurs to an island where he’s found and cared by a family of lemurs who name him Aladar.
Despite being vastly different from anyone on the island, he lives a very happy life with his family for many years. One day, a horrible meteor shower wipes out their home and most of the animals that they knew.
While escaping the aftermath, Aladar and his family, his mother, grandfather, sister and uncle, run into a herd of many dinosaurs trying to make it back to their nesting grounds since they believe it may be a safe haven from this catastrophe.
Lead by Cron, a cruel iguanodon who believes in survival of the fittest, the herd tries to make it to their nesting grounds alive, but Aladar doesn’t agree with Cron’s methods and wishes to get everyone, the old, young, sick and injured there alive no matter what.
Breakdown: I remember seeing this a while back and not getting a huge impression about it. It’s not bad, there are many good points, but there’s nothing very fantastic about it. The visuals, especially during the meteor shower and Aladar’s egg traveling to the island are wonderful, but unlike what I first thought, the backgrounds are almost always actual footage of real locations with only the animals and the effects CGI. The visuals are still great, though, and the CGI meshes well with the environment.
The story’s somewhat predictable, though the meteor shower comes right out of nowhere. There’s still several parts that are heartwarming, tragic and impacting, especially when Eema, one of the elderly dinosaurs, starts to deteriorate.
The romance is predictable as well. Only female iguanodon tail meet only other iguanodon around that isn’t your brother or a dick (Cron being both)
The characters are where it loses me a bit. We have Zini who is Aladar’s lemur uncle. He’s obnoxious and that’s all there is to it. We’re supposed to feel bad for him because he can’t find a mate, but if you watched him for five minutes you’d know why he can’t find one. And of course he’s a total playboy by the end for no reason. His character does nothing in the slightest. His little sister, Suri, does way more than Zini does.
The lemurs on their own don’t do much anyway. They ride the backs of the dinosaurs and make comments about what’s happening around them. That’s about it. The mom does some stuff, as does Suri, but after the opening scene they’re just kinda there.
Then we have I guess his name is Url. He’s a ankylosaurus that acts like a dog for reasons beyond my understanding. I don’t know why some of these dinosaurs are smart and can speak but then we have dog-like dinosaurs like Url and carnosaurus who are nothing but hungry beasts incapable of rational thought.
Cron’s a pretty decent bad guy, but you can’t sympathize with him very much. I know that in dire circumstances sometimes you need to do harsh things in order to ensure that even some survive instead of none, but by the end it really seems like he didn’t give a crap about any of the herd and that if any of them didn’t make it they didn’t deserve to make it. In some circumstances he was nearly causing their death by his blowhard plans.
That’s supposed to make Aladar look like a real hero by contrast, which it does, but they clearly want you to have some sort of connection to him since he’s noted as being Neera’s (female iguanodon) brother.
Bottomline: This isn’t a fantastic movie, but it’s still a very enjoyable film with plenty of suspense, action, some romance, and likable characters especially in Eema and Baylene. The story is predictable, but it’s not horribly cliché. The art and animation along with the music are fantastic, with maybe the lemurs looking the worst. You may get annoyed by Zini, but he gets hardly any screentime so I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d still watch it if it was randomly airing on TV.
Recommended Audience: This is a Disney production, so it’s not too bad in the content department, but you do have sudden apocalyptic conditions, corpses, some dinosaurs die on screen, some dinosaur corpses are eaten by raptors and carnosaurs, non-graphically for the most part, and a good chunk of it takes place off camera, there’s some blood….eh 10+.
Plot: A colony of ants has been essentially been enslaved by a group of grasshoppers lead by the cruel…well, Hopper. They’re tasked year after year with gathering a food offering for the grasshoppers in addition to the amount of food that they need for themselves before the rainy season comes.
An ant named Flik who tends to cause trouble all the time with his gadgets and inventions accidentally knocks the annual food offering in the waters surrounding their home. As punishment for their lack of offering, Hopper demands a double offering after summer and fall have ended when the final leaf on the tree above the ant hill falls. Flik gets an idea to find help outside of the colony by bigger and tougher bugs and the colony’s princess and soon-to-be queen, Atta, agrees in order to keep him out of trouble while the rest of the ants gather food.
Flik eventually finds a circus troupe whom he believes are actually warrior bugs. Likewise, the troupe believes him to be a talent scout with his story of the grasshoppers being the story of the show and agree to help him. However, everything falls apart when the truth is revealed and the last few leaves begin to fall from the tree.
Breakdown: I’ve already reviewed Antz and explained the little ‘who ripped off who’ war with Dreamworks. I also noted how it’s somewhat unfair to compare these two movies in terms of being ‘rip-offs’, whichever one you may believe is the rip-off, because they are two fairly distinct movies with seemingly different target audiences, plot points, characters, art styles and side characters.
So since it wouldn’t be entirely fair to compare these two side by side, let’s do it anyway!
Let’s tackle the art and animation first, shall we? The art is set more towards being cartoon-y with huge eyes and blue colored ants. I mentioned in the Antz review that the blue thing bothered me because ants aren’t blue and at least Antz was more realistic with having brown ants.
I did find something called a blue ant, but it’s not blue (if anything it’s black with a metallic-like coating and red legs) and it’s more of a wasp than an ant. Then again, it seems like Antz was going more towards an older demographic that would probably want realism over cartoon style whereas A Bug’s Life is clearly aimed more for a younger audience. I can’t say either of them is really better in the art department. A Bug’s Life is definitely more visually appealing, but Antz was more of a stickler for details.
Animation-wise, though, there’s no denying that Pixar’s is a lot smoother.
In terms of characters, our main lead, Flik, is more relatable and likable than Z, end of story. Z, while meaning well, was a big whiner who was constantly complaining about how the conformity within the colony was stifling. While he had a point, that doesn’t mean I liked to hear his constant complaining.
Flik, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to help the colony do bigger and better things. He makes inventions and has ideas that sometimes end up screwing up and ruining everything, but he only wants to make things better and easier for the colony as a whole. He does mope for a bit, but it’s relatable moping of feeling like you’re a big screw up no matter how good your intentions are. In addition, he only does it a couple of times. He doesn’t spend half the movie doing it like Z. Dave Foley is also much easier to listen to than Woody Allen.
Princess Atta is much different than Bala. Bala wanted nothing more than to shed her royal duties and just relax every now and then with the commonfolk, which is pretty much a common princess plotline. Atta is the complete opposite as she wants nothing more than to do a good job as a princess and later on as a queen. She’s obsessed and a bit of a worry-wart about running everything and doing everything right. Therein lies her connection with Flik. Despite their drastically different stances in life, they both feel like they’re big screw ups.
Atta is definitely the more fleshed out and unique character, plus she actually evolves through the movie. Bala is pretty forgettable and has a cliché princess personality. She doesn’t change much throughout the movie.
The big conflict in A Bug’s Life is the fact that a group of grasshoppers, lead by the most originally named grasshopper ever, Hopper, have been terrorizing a colony of ants for a long time under the excuse that they protect them from harm, even though they live about a day away from them and would never be able to prevent trouble in time. Every year, the ants are forced to gather food for the grasshoppers in addition to themselves.
The major issue is that they live on a very small island that has a limited supply of food. When Flik accidentally knocks the food offering into the water, which they can’t retrieve because they can’t swim, Hopper and his gang get pissed and demand that they offer twice as much food before the final leaf on the one tree of their island falls.
So they have to not only collect the double offering, but they also have to collect food for themselves, which will be difficult, if not impossible, under the circumstances as they barely manage to make their singular offering in time.
The conflict in Antz really doesn’t come to light until later, but the major issues are that the ants are a bunch of mindless conformists who only do what they’re told and nothing else. One of the soldier ants creates a Nazi-esque plan behind the scenes to wipe out all of the worker ants so only the princess and the more deserving soldier ants will live.
Two very different stories, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I thought A Bug’s Life’s was more interesting and could hold a longer run time. That is one of my main issues with Antz. To me, it was good, but forgettable. There are problems with A Bug’s Life that are glaring and will be addressed in a minute, but at the end of the day, despite those problems, A Bug’s Life was just more entertaining and enjoyable to me whereas Antz I could really give or take.
Finally, the message of A Bug’s Life was a combination of strength in numbers, the ‘power of one’ to unite them all, and standing up to bullies, as well as maybe being proud of the fact that you’re different no matter how much you may screw up because of it.
Antz’s message was a little confusing. It seemed to be that conforming, especially to the point of basically being robots, and living for nothing but work was bad, but then you have the fact that the ants were mindless drones no matter what they were told. They did shake off their blind obedience when Z showed them the error of their ways, but then they showed that non-conformity lead to complete and utter laziness and uncaring for your community. Then when they started to question Z in the slightest, they revolted against him in an instant as well.
Perhaps the message is that conformity and living for work are wrong, but going too far in the other direction is just as wrong. Living a life in balance is a good lesson, but if that is the main message, they muddled it up horribly.
I should also mention that the little kids didn’t annoy me as much as I remember them doing. Those two little snots who tease Dot are still brats though.
Well, let’s stop with the comparison and get to what’s wrong with A Bug’s Life as a movie, in terms of story anyway. Three things, really.
First, this movie eventually gets to a point where it relies on the “main character lies to his friends and eventually gets found out” trope. Flik enlists the help of a circus troupe made of a (male) ladybug named Francis, a praying mantis named Manny, a black widow spider named Rosie, a dung beetle named Dim, a walking stick named Slim, a pair of pill bugs named Tuck and Roll, and a gypsy moth named….Gypsy. Besides the issue of ‘I hate this trope and it only makes for that incredibly awkward ‘reveal”, it also raises another issue. Flik never lied to begin with. At all. He told his story straight out to the troupe and even a second time to the pill bugs who don’t speak English and speak some kind of made-up language, but he wasn’t aware of that.
If anything, the troupe was at fault for making the totally unprompted assumption that he was a talent scout just really invested in this grasshopper story. They even fully believe it when they arrive at the colony and everyone’s cheering their heads off for the arrival of ‘the warriors’. It’s only until after a welcome dinner that the troupe figures it out and gets mad at Flik for lying to them even though he never ever did.
In addition to getting pissed and insulting him, the pill bugs slap him! FOR THEIR MISTAKE. Granted, once Flik finds out the truth, he eventually decides to actually lie to the colony about the troupe, which leads to the predictable awkward reveal, but the fact is that the troupe should have been the ones who looked like they were lying or at the very least made a grave error, not Flik.
Second, one other thing I will say in favor of Antz was the fact that they highlighted a big problem with A Bug’s Life. In Antz, the ants were divided up into workers and soldiers at birth and they remained widely segregated in their regular day to day lives.
In A Bug’s Life, there’s a noticeable lack of soldiers. They’re all workers. They have to be in order to be so firmly under Hopper’s thumb. That creates a problem and dare I say plot hole that could’ve just been patched up by saying that the soldiers all got overpowered by the grasshoppers or were killed or abandoned them or something. I’m not an entomologist, so I don’t know how likely it is that this species or specific colony of ants would just straight up have no soldiers, but it’s a noticeable issue to me.
Finally, the climax has a pretty big problem to it. All of the bugs, understandably, have a huge fear of birds. Hopper especially has a fear of birds since it’s implied that he got the big scar on his face and lost sight in his right eye because of a bird attack and is traumatized because of it. Flik, who is already in the trenches of his deception, decides to just screw the whole idea of the warriors in lieu of a new idea – making a mechanical bird made of sticks and leaves that will scare Hopper and the others away.
They complete the bird and are really optimistic about their chances. However, the colony finds out that the ‘warriors’ are really circus bugs and that Flik lied to them. Flik is then banished from the colony and goes off to join the circus troupe in shame while the colony panics because they spent all summer and fall mostly making the bird and hanging out with the warriors instead of gathering Hopper’s food because they no longer intended on paying him his tribute.
They scramble to gather food, which ends up not being nearly enough to offer to Hopper without leaving themselves to starve to death otherwise and completely lose hope.
The problem I have with this is…what the hell happened to the bird? Why is the bird thing no longer a feasible idea? I know it was Flik’s idea and he lied to them thus they might have lost some faith in the bird. Hell, Flik even loses faith in the bird as he’s riding with the troupe.
But you have to remember something – the idea of the bird was presented to the circus troupe, who thought it was a great idea. The idea was then presented to the queen, Princess Atta and the royal council, who also thought it was brilliant. The idea was then shown to the entire colony who also had so much faith in it that they were cheering at the presentation. Why did they suddenly lose faith in the bird idea?
It can be argued that the stuff with the ‘warriors’ was moot by the time the bird was done, and the reveal was actually at a celebration party for the completion of the bird! In fact, Flik was figuring out a way for the troupe to escape without being noticed at the party so they could leave before the grasshoppers came. The troupe stayed of their own accord because they liked the colony and had recently lost their jobs anyway.
The bird was completely unrelated, so there’s no reason why they couldn’t have stuck with that plan in the end despite Flik’s deception and banishment. Did they really think they had more of a chance of gathering a double offering in a matter of days? It’s not like they couldn’t have done it since Flik comes back and actually pilots the bird just fine with only a girl scout troupe to help him operate it.
Bottomline: Despite those plot issues, I have to stick by my stance and just say it’s a more enjoyable, memorable and funnier movie than Antz. I commend Antz for trying to be more realistic in their designs and I still enjoyed the movie just fine, but in the end the one who will always win out for me is A Bug’s Life. I’ve gained much more appreciation of Dreamworks productions in recent time, despite the fact I haven’t gotten to their later work, but I still remain as a loyal soldier in Pixar’s colony……Oh wait. Damn you, ant puns!
Recommended Audience: There’s some drawings of bug gore by the little kids (their teacher actually told them to draw one of the good guys as dead to make it more dramatic. The amount of flying that wouldn’t do in an actual school setting is amazing.) no swearing, no innuendos that I remember. Some minor violence, some grasshoppers get killed although not graphically. It’s fine for all ages.
Plot: Rudolph the plot you already know. I know that you’ve heard the song. And if you haven’t by now, I’m gonna break your knees with tongs. All of the other reviews have this same redundant joke. I can’t think of anything clever, so sit back and drink a coke!
Breakdown: Hey, 2001! You’re looking awful down in the dumps.
2001: “Well….yeah, it’s…been a rough year.”
That’s a shame. Hey! I know what you need! Some Christmas cheer!
2001: “That might help, actually.”
A day before Halloween!
You relax, and I’ll whip up a nice movie. Hey, do you remember Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
2001: “Yeah, of course! That’s a Christmas classic!”
Good! You sit tight and I’ll whip a sequel!
2001: “That grea—what?”
2001: “A sequel to a stop-motion Christmas special made in 1964?”
2001: “Wait, are you sure you’re not confusing this as a sequel of the 1998 movie?”
Nope. Same company – different continuity!
2001: “How does that even happen?”
Don’t worry. We’ll make it in some of the worst CGI we can create, rip off the character designs just to hook in nostalgia whores and fill it with B-list celebrities!
2001: “What the—that sounds terrible…..Wait. I know you! 1998 warned me about you!”
And you wanna know something else?
2001: “He said something about a poorly animated retelling of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and saying I’d have it worse.”
Rick Moranis, who himself proclaimed he was not retired but was ‘picky’ about what movies he’d be in, chose this as his first movie to perform in after his hiatus in 1997.
2001: “Is that good?”
Not really! 😀
2001: “That poor man.”
2001: “What—you made the movie already?”
I’m a demon from the future!
2001: “I actually believe you….”
2001: “Not partic–”
It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys!
We start off with the song because of course we are, but, interestingly, the elves are ‘singing’ it (A unlisted singer is actually singing it, but in the scene the elves are meant to be singing it)…right in front of the other reindeer…and Rudolph. Just seems a bit awkward to go ‘You know Dasher and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?’ as we pan over all of the reindeer.
Like, yeah, thanks for reminding us that we’re not as special as Rudolph. And why do you not question if everyone knows us but you question if they recall the most famous reindeer of all? Do you not know what famous means? At least one of us always gets forgotten when most people recite the song. You don’t see people going ‘Uh, is it Ralph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?’
What’s even weirder is that the animators remembered to put Comet in his signature coaching hat, but forgot to color or design Donner any differently than the other reindeer. I know I don’t like Rankin/Bass Donner, but he’s Rudolph’s dad, at least change his coloring a bit.
Then you include the guilt-trip part of the song ‘All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.’
And I don’t know about anyone else, but wouldn’t you feel awkward if you were Rudolph? I don’t like being sung to as it is, but if someone’s literally singing my praises, especially above others, I think I’d feel really embarrassed.
This rendition of the song, by the way, is one of the most boring renditions of it I’ve ever heard. Like a good chunk of the music in the movie, the melody sounds like it’s being done on an old Casio, and like they’re actively trying not to make it sound fun.
They light the Christmas tree, but it trips the breaker. Santa uses Rudolph’s nose to light the way to the basement so he can reset the breaker and start the lights back up. That scene literally had no other purpose whatsoever other than to remind us that Rudolph’s nose can be useful. No flashlights anywhere, Santa? Not even a lantern?
The movie, like the original, is being narrated to us by a snowman. But instead of Sam the Snowman, voiced by the late Burl Ives, we’ve got Scoop T. Snowman, voiced by Richard Dreyfuss. His design is nightmare inducing, and he spoils the movie at the very start by telling us that he’ll tell us the story of how Rudolph and his friends defeated the evil Toy Taker and saved Christmas.
But forget nightmare snowman – we’ve still got Bumble around! And boy howdy this CGI is not doing his character design any favors. Have you ever seen those production error versions of Sully from Monsters Inc.? They seem to have kidnapped that for this design. Seriously, guys, if you can’t do long fur, don’t try. It’s like he’s been stabbed with a million white wires.
At least his deafening screech is gone – replaced by what I can only so lovingly refer to as a complete moron voice. Lots of ‘Duhh’s and ‘Gaah’s and whatnot.
Yukon is also here, sticking his dirty pikaxe in the eggnog and licking it. Mmm sanitary.
Something you’ll notice about Rudolph almost immediately is that he no longer has proper adult antlers. He has very small antlers like a spike now. I have no clue why. This movie is supposed to be a direct sequel to the Rankin/Bass special, meaning he should still be an adult. If we want to apply real reindeer logic to this, reindeer do shed their antlers and regrow them, but male reindeer do this in winter or spring, meaning Rudolph’s head should either be bare (winter) or be fully back by now (spring).
Then again, if we’re applying real reindeer logic here, Clarice should also have antlers since most female reindeer have antlers. In fact, there’s a theory that Santa’s reindeer are actually females because female shed their antlers in summer and have them fully grown back by winter, which is when most males lose their antlers…….So I’m stalling. Sue me. The next scene has a song break, have some mercy.
The song break in question is a brief love song for Rudolph and Clarice called Beyond the Stars. It is probably one of the most generic love songs I’ve ever heard – loaded with every love song buzzword you can think of. And what better way to end the segment than cutting to another scene while the song is still going and said scene including a nightmare fuel kite with a face?
Rudolph is feeling sad because now he’s sick of the attention he’s been getting – mostly because now everyone’s focusing on his ‘heroics’ instead of letting him be a normal reindeer like he wanted in the first place. They even make him do tricks with his nose, like shining his light on the disco ball. Also, apparently now Rudolph’s nose can be focused beams of differing size. Earlier, it was like a flashlight and now it’s like a laser beam.
So now Rudolph’s back to calling himself a misfit and whining for a normal nose. Congratulations! You’ve now nullified the message of the previous movie! WHOO!
But don’t worry – over the course of a song break, We’re Perfectly Fine, Rudolph’s happy again. The song’s chorus melody is catchy, but the rest of it is just difficult to listen to. Rudolph and Hermey keep singing over each other and the melody gets too muddled.
Also, the ending is incredibly jarring. One second they’re on an iceberg nowhere near the toothmobile, the next millisecond after the last note of the song and we see them closeup having a conversation in the toothmobile.
Hermey and Rudolph were alerted by a kite that King Moonracer is in desperate need of a dentist, so they’re traveling to the island of misfit toys to treat him.
We get another song break, because it’s been all of a minute and half since the last one, explaining the island of misfit toys, which is pointless because we should already know that and the previous movie had a song about it. For anyone about to bring up the time gap between the release date of the first movie and this one, remember, the writers expect you to not ask who the burly mountaineer who licks his pikaxe and the yeti with no teeth are.
This song, The Island of Misfit Toys, is just terrible. It’s infuriatingly annoying, especially the chorus. If it went on for any longer, I was going to start chewing on my computer screen.
Also, there’s ANOTHER Jack in the box who’s not named Jack and ANOTHER train with square wheels. If I’m not going to bring up the continuity thing, I’ll just have to chalk this up to pure laziness.
We get a joke that actually works pretty well when we see one of the misfit toys is a depressed phone who keeps getting people calling only to have them hang up. Kite says ‘he’s a telephone with hangups’ I almost legit cracked a smile at that one.
Despite the song explaining what’s wrong with these toys, we then get a scene with the toys explaining what’s wrong with them. I will give this movie one thing, though. These misfit toys have far more significant problems than the toys from the last movie. A piggy bank with no coin slot, a kite that’s afraid of heights, a phone that keeps dropping calls, a boomerang that won’t come back, binoculars that can’t see well, a bouncy ball that doesn’t bounce (though I’m convinced they just didn’t want to go to the trouble of making a decent bouncing animation) and a plane that keeps nosediving. It’s way worse than a doll with no issues, a polka dotted elephant and a cowboy on an ostrich.
Oh my god, Moonracer, what did they do to your voice and character? You went from majestic and powerful to whiny little bitch boy. GoodTimes Entertainment, thou hast sinned a mighty sin!
Hermey doesn’t seem to have gotten any better at dentistry because he’s using the same dental practices he used on the doll in the last movie – IE, hit their teeth with something – that’ll help. Moonracer needs a root canal, and if you’re worried about your kids being scared of the dentist, just show them Hermey with a drill twice as big as he is, shaking around like crazy as an auto-mechanic’s air compressor drill sound effect plays.
Back at Santa’s workshop, knowing the Toy Taker is wreaking havoc, Santa locks up the toy warehouse good and tight and puts his toy soldiers on high alert. But before they even get done with a quarter of the scene, you realize they’re just going to come in that giant unnecessary glass ceiling they have. And they do……but not by breaking it. There’s a door on the damn glass ceiling that seems to open automatically when something’s close to it.
But enough of Santa’s toys getting stolen, let’s have Hermey have a flashback to something that makes no goddamn sense whatsoever. As Hermey chats up Rudolph about him and Clarice, he decides to share a tale of love from his past. He talks about graduating from the Elf Academy of Dental Arts.
…..Yup…..The ELF ACADEMY OF DENTAL ARTS…….Did they not see the last movie? Hermey was a misfit because he was an elf who wanted to be a dentist, and that seemed ridiculous to everyone because elves are damned to be toymakers and dentists aren’t a thing there. I get that his desires were accepted by the end of the movie, but it hasn’t even been a full year since the last movie. You’re telling me, in that time, not only was there an Elf Academy for the Dental Arts created, built and fully established, but that there was actually enough interest in the elf community to warrant such a thing? The graduating class is pretty sizable, too. Who’s even teaching there?
….And what the hell are ‘dental arts’? That sounds horrifying!
Anyway, Hermey was handed his diploma by the tooth fairy, which makes a lot of sense, actually, and he fainted. End of flashback, no not kidding. The scene literally lasts 25 seconds.
I would say the tooth fairy’s the only teacher, but it seems like that’s the first time he’s ever seen her.
Hermey and Rudolph are now caught in a terrible storm. They hit an iceberg, causing it to crumble, and supposedly sinking the truck/boat thing. The animation on the iceberg falling apart is not just terrible, horrible or disgusting. It’s terrihorgusting. I had to pause the video because I was so baffled by how horribly animated it was. They weren’t even trying.
They’re alright, however, because flying reindeer. This triumphant moment is accompanied by one of the most awkward synthesized trumpet ‘renditions’ of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to ever be conceived.
They land on Castaway Cove, which is guarded by gingerbread men dressed as toy soldiers……Okay.
The soldier brings the boys into a giant elegant castle filled with living gingerbreadmen (and women) to meet Queen Camilla – a flying hippo wearing a feather boa. I feel I should question this more, but we also have an island ruled by a flying lion, inhabited by factory reject toys.
She won’t listen to what they have to say and believes they’re there to steal her toys.
Queen Camilla: “Quiet, before I mount you over that mantle!” Ya know, between us not knowing what kind of toys she’s talking about and that line, I feel like I should be more concerned.
She wants them sent to the dungeons for 300 years.
Rudolph: “But he’s a dentist!”
Hermey: “And he’s a beloved holiday icon!”
Two jokes that work! Good job!
The guards try to wrangle the boys, and it’s taking them way too long to combat gingerbread cookies. I don’t want to be morbid, but Rudolph, have a snack.
They all stop when Rudolph’s nose starts shining, making them realize he’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer….Uh….you couldn’t tell from the fact that he’s a reindeer with a red freakin’ nose? Even if it’s not lit, it’s still a red nose.
Camilla says Castaway Cove is a place for broken, discarded toys to come for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. Basically just a slightly reworked version of the island of misfit toys. Actually, scratch that, this place is better than the island of misfit toys. These toys live in the lap of luxury. Last we saw, the toys on the island were little more than homeless. They’re almost always outside and we’ve only ever seen one house there besides the castle. Plus, one of the last scenes of the original movie had the toys huddling around a fire trying to stay warm during the storm.
This information is being given to us in a lounge act type song sung by Camilla, complete with an embarrassingly horrible reflection animation in the mirror. It’s not like the scene focuses on it, but the reflection starts late and stops early then freezes and the light source changes over it for no reason. It honestly would’ve been better if they just neglected to put the reflection in. It’s at such an angle that no one would really question why it wasn’t showing up anyway.
This song doesn’t make any sense. Camilla is very body image positive, saying that even broken toys and everything are beautiful, but immediately after she says they’re beautiful, she says she makes them beautiful again by fixing them up and basically giving them makeovers. The line literally goes ‘Everything is beautiful, so beautiful, I make them beautiful’ Which is it? Are they beautiful, or are you going to make them beautiful? Because those are two very conflicting statements.
The toys have nowhere to go once Camilla fixes them, so Rudolph suggests that he get Santa to find them homes like he does for the misfit toys on the island. Camilla agrees and offers to grant them their fondest desires as payment. Rudolph wants a nose job and Hermey wants a date with the tooth fairy. By the way, the nose job crack wasn’t my joke. Camilla literally says she can give him a nose job.
Rudolph happily accepts, but Hermey urges him to think about it since a nose job is permanent. He asks what Santa will do if there’s another foggy Christmas eve.
Camilla: “Santa can’t afford headlights, darling?” Hey, stop poking holes in things I’ve already poked holes in! Also, when the characters in the actual continuity bring this up, it really brings to light (no pun intended) that Rudolph was really in no way necessary to save Christmas.
Hermey asks what he’ll do if Clarice doesn’t like it and Rudolph immediately turns and tells Camilla he’ll have to think about it.
“What if Christmas is in danger again?”
“What if you lose your sex ticket?”
“OH GOD, I HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THIS!”
The gingerbreadmen fix up the toothmobile and Rudolph makes it home in time for his flying lesson with Clarice, which is another interesting aspect I like. Every adaptation makes it seem like the females either aren’t allowed to fly or can’t. It’s nice to know they can, but why don’t they get invited to the reindeer games?
Clarice isn’t good at it, which depresses her because she wanted to impress Rudolph. Surprisingly, she feels a bit down on herself since she’s so ordinary and he’s so famous. Rudolph admits that he loves her, and Clarice starts joyously running around yelling that he loves her. This is pretty adorable, especially when Rudolph shoves his head in a snowbanking out of embarrassment and Clarice starts flying around very well because she’s so happy. The Clarice part is especially nice because it’s a bit of a throwback to the original movie where Rudolph starts his impressive flight because Clarice said he was cute.
Comet comes to get them stating that the warehouse was robbed. As everyone discusses it, we learn the toy taker even took the toy soldiers guarding the place…..It never even occurred to me how doubly stupid it is to guard a toy warehouse with toy soldiers from someone named the TOY TAKER.
Hank the elf suddenly says he saw a giant flying football outside the night of the robbery, and Clarice says it must’ve been a blimp. I’m sorry, how does Hank the bookworm elf not know what a blimp is? It’s 196..5? Rudolph comes up with the grand idea to investigate the scene of the crime and catch the Toy Taker so they can get the toys back by Christmas.
As they’re investigating the warehouse, Hermey’s old boss shows up.
Boss: “YOU AGAIN!”
Hermey: “Actually, I’m a dentist now.”
Uhh….were your script pages stuck together? Because that line doesn’t follow properly.
His boss complains that Hermey left his crew one elf short…..again, have they not seen the original movie? His boss gave him the okay to go off and be a dentist at the end.
Hermey: “You’d better be nice. One of these days, you’ll need a dentist. And I’m the only one around.”
Boss: “I wouldn’t let you touch my chompers with a ten foot pole, you tooth maniac!”
What the? First of all, is Hermey threatening his boss here? Because nothing sounds quite as horrific as a dentist with a vendetta.
Second, the only dentist around? What about all those other elves who graduated from the Elf Academy for the Dental Arts? Where the hell did they all go?
Third, uh Boss man? You already have let him near your chompers. At the end of the last movie, remember? You even set up an appointment for more dental work.
Clarice finds a clue, which is stuffing for stuffed animals. Santa sniffs and licks it—okay, new rule. No more licking stuff in these movies. Thank you.
Santa says the stuffing is a type he hasn’t used in years. How he knows that by sniffing and licking it, I don’t know. Rudolph and his friends make a map of the Toy Taker’s hit locations and try to figure out his next destination. They realize he’s likely heading for either the island of misfit toys or Castaway Island and head out. Along the way, they recruit Yukon. They redo the gag of Yukon pulling the sled with the dogs on it, which is cute. This time it’s including Bumble, but bullshit he’s pulling Bumble.
Cut to the Toy Taker, who, by the way, looks like a giant Vivi. We learn of the Toy Taker’s intentions, which are to save toys from children. He says the happy times with a child are fleeting and that they’ll easily throw away toys when they’re bored of them. Old toys from the island of misfit toys, such as Charlie in a box, the doll and the elephant try to argue that their children love and need them, but the Toy Taker convinces them that, no matter how much they may love and enjoy the toys now, they’ll tire of them soon enough and throw them away. He also pointlessly picks up a duck toy for a few seconds without dialogue then puts it down. *shrug*
Charlie: “Wait a minute! I read about you in the papers! You’re a crook!”
Nooooo! What gave it away? The fact that he stole you? Keep up, Charlie.
The Toy Taker wins them over even more with a villain song. It has its moments, but like most of the songs in this movie, the melody is screwed up. You can’t catch the beat at all and it’s hard to follow.
Also, he rhymes ‘modus operandi’ with ‘Ghandi’ by pronouncing Ghandi’s name wrong.
Scoop: “Maybe, just maybe, they had a chance to catch the Toy Taker at his own game.” BEAT him at his own game. What you said makes no grammatical sense.
Castaway Island has already been hit, so Rudolph and the others meet with King Moonracer and devise a plan.
Sure enough, the Toy Taker’s next target is indeed the island of misfit toys. Rudolph, Clarice and Hermey dress up as toys to fool the Toy Taker and find out where he’s taking them. Hermey is dressed up as a molar……Hermey, we need to have a talk. You’re getting a little too obsessed with teeth. I know I made that serial killer joke in the original movie review, but I’m starting to believe there’s more merit to that claim than I thought. Please seek help. Is there an elf being chastised for wanting to be a psychiatrist, perhaps?
Also, Yukon’s dressed as a ballerina. No, I didn’t ever need to envision that either. But since I had to see it.
Bumble’s dressed as a bunny, and this movie continues to impress me with how they can continuously make this monster who used to legit give me nightmares even creepier. The Toy Taker can’t take Bumble with him because he’s too big. No, I didn’t ever want to envision Bumble having an emotional breakdown in a bunny suit either. But you must share my torment.
No worries, though, because Bumble follows them.
The toys are entranced by the song of the Toy Taker’s flute, and when they realize Rudolph and the others aren’t toys, they alert the Toy Taker, who drops them from the blimp. You were nearing sympathetic until the whole attempted murder thing.
Also, Clarice saves a knocked out Rudolph from falling, so she’s a legit flying reindeer now. Hooray!
They fly up and confront the Toy Taker, who escapes. Yukon tries to follow, but his cleats start destroying the blimp. Yukon falls from the blimp and–
Scoop: “Looks like our friend, Cornelius, is done for. Or is he?”
Looks like that was a pointless and intruding interlude. Or was it?
Bumble catches Yukon. Hey, have you ever wanted to see Bumble in a bunny outfit tickling Yukon while he wearing a ballerina outfit?
2001: “Who would even conceive such a–No!”
Neither have I! But I have now! And now so have you!
2001: “My soul is hurting.”
Rudolph and Clarice go to combat the Toy Taker….not knowing that Yukon was caught by Bumble, meaning they just left their friend to die. Nice. The Toy Taker, afraid of Rudolph’s light, jumps from the blimp. Spoiler alert – there’s no reason why the Toy Taker is afraid of Rudolph’s light. They just needed to make it useful. He lands insanely conveniently right outside of Yukon’s peppermint mine. Enter mine cart chase!
Meanwhile, Hermey’s trying to control the crashing blimp and is caught by Bumble. Can we please get some consistency on Bumble’s size? One minute, he’s about the size of a bear the next he’s big enough to catch a blimp.
Back with Rudolph and Clarice, we finally get a shot that seems interesting and fun with a first person view of them riding the mine cart like a roller coaster, but it’s 95% ruined by the ugly intrusion of the red light from Rudolph’s nose. No hate, man – the light is just not conducive to this shot.
Again, the Toy Taker tried to legit murder them by throwing lanterns at them, which promptly explode on the tracks below them. They don’t damage the tracks, however, because that would be too much work to animate.
The Toy Taker changes the track direction on them, but it’s pointless because the tracks then intersect back together a short while later….*shrug* Also, who knows their ‘chase on something on tracks’ tropes?
2001: “The tracks are unfinished?”
2001: “How did Yukon work like that?”
Dunno, and the creators won’t care enough to address it. They both make the jump, though, so it was entirely pointless.
The tracks are unfinished again, this time it crashes, but they’re flying reindeer, so it was, again, entirely pointless.
Rudolph saves the Toy Taker from falling and corners him.
Rudolph: “Surrender, Toy Taker!”
Toy Taker: “Surrender? I don’t know the meaning of the word!”
Clarice: “It means you give up!”
It’s called ‘sarcasm’, Clarice. Jesus Christ.
They let the Toy Taker get away insanely easily just because they hear their friends coming. Good job.
Don’t worry, they capture him less than a minute later. Hooray for pointlessness!
They uncloak him to reveal that he’s actually a teddy bear.
Toy Taker: “Pay no attention to the teddy bear behind the cloak. I am the Toy Taker! Fear me! RRRAAGGGGHHH! BLAHHH!!”
That was probably the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen put to film in years. Congrats, Toy Taker.
He’s an old teddy bear with stuffing falling out of him, connecting the stuffing from the warehouse to him…..which means, technically, Santa licked the fallen entrails of the Toy Taker…..Ughghhghghg.
The bear, named Mr. Cuddles, gives us his backstory in song. The song itself isn’t that bad, it’s the vocals that kill it. His voice cracks on every other word. I don’t know if teddy bears go through puberty, but he desperately needs to do so right now…..Oh by the way, Rick Moranis is the Toy Taker/Mr. Cuddles…..Sorry. Love him in practically anything else, but he really is terrible here.
Mr. Cuddles used to belong to a boy named Steven, who loved him and played with him all the time-You know what, just watch that scene from Toy Story 2 where Jessie explains her backstory. They’re nearly identical and the song is much better.
Also, you might want to pay attention to your timelines, GoodTimes. From everything we can gather, it’s supposed to be 1965 right now. And Mr. Cuddles is supposed to be old – at least a few decades or so. Yet his Steven is playing a video game that looks like it’s from the NES or Sega Genesis era.
Santa: “I happen to know that your boy’s been looking for you. I’ll gladly take you home to him.”
What the hell is this? Mr. Cuddles is very old, meaning Steven must be fairly old by now. At least in his twenties or thirties or something. I seriously doubt he’s looking everywhere for his teddy bear.
If he means so much to him anyway, why did he ignore him, let him get all tattered, throw him in a cardboard box and then throw him away?
This is the worst possible way to address this plot point – mostly because they’re not really addressing it. Let’s be unrealistically optimistic. Steven didn’t mean to throw Mr. Cuddles away and feels remorseful for letting him get all crappy. Even if he’s an adult now, Steven still wants his bear. That doesn’t mean that Mr. Cuddles’ worries are invalid.
One day, whether through being bored of him or after Steven dies, Mr. Cuddles will probably be back in a dump. Most toys do end up with the fate of their children outgrowing them and throwing them away – Even the ones he stole. Either that or they end up in cardboard box purgatory for decades.
What are you going to tell the toys in Cuddles’ hideout after they’ve been convinced by Cuddles’ speech?
“We’re returning you home!”
“That’s great, but what about our owners someday growing up and throwing us away?”
“Don’t worry. They’ll love and keep you forever!”
“That seems very unlikely. Also, we may be near immortal, but people age and die.”
“No they don’t!”
“What? Of course they d—”
“Shut up and get in the sleigh.”
Let’s go back to Toy Story 2 and even 3. They didn’t fix Jessie’s problems by trying to find her old owner because they knew she had outgrown her and didn’t care about her anymore. They knew the solution was finding her a new owner who was young and would actually play with her and care for her.
In Toy Story 3, they all faced this fate because Andy and Molly had both grown up and outgrew toys. They were eventually given to another child to keep the cycle going. Even very old toys can find love and adoration if you find them the right owner. Usually it’s another small child, but you can also find (not crazy) collectors and enthusiasts who enjoy the history and designs of these toys.
Also, you might be able to forgive his thievery, but he tried to kill Rudolph, Clarice, Hermey and Yukon at least twice. Put that bear in toy jail.
Camilla fixes Cuddles and asks if Rudolph’s made up his mind about the nose job. He remembers that having a light affixed to his body that doesn’t require batteries is kinda convenient, so he declines.
……Again, that doesn’t solve Rudolph’s actual problem. He didn’t really hate his nose – he hated that it was basically a novelty now that he was famous. He didn’t learn to deal with the annoying aspects of being famous or being treated like a side-show act. He just learned to accept his nose….which he already learned how to do in the first movie.
There’s a final song, it’s awful.
Wrap up: Bumble gets dentures, which defeats the purpose of ripping his teeth out in the first place, and Hermey gets some sweet tooth fairy tail.
2001: “I completely forgot about that.”
So did everyone else. God forbid she get some characterization outside of that one line from earlier. She’s now literally a prize for Hermey.
Santa arrives at the now adult Steven’s house. According to him, he never meant to throw Cuddles away. He was saving him to be a family heirloom……Bullshit. He was ignored and left to get all ratty for years, thrown in a closet, thrown in a box and then thrown away without anyone even looking in the box, but he was meant to be an heirloom? What kid or teenager is saving heirlooms at that age – especially a rather plain teddy bear? And if he was, why didn’t he fix him up? Leaving a ratty toy in the closet just makes their existing problems worse and harder to fix. And, again, that doesn’t really solve the problem at hand for any other toy.
I’m sorry if I’m sounding like a cynical butthole, but it’s the truth.
Bottomline: This movie was unnecessary, poorly written and was purely banking on the nostalgia factor of people who loved the old Rankin/Bass special. They also probably wanted to try and squeeze out some profit after the abysmal box office numbers for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie.
The plot is flimsy, but would have been something on the ‘suitable for a direct to video crap sequel you put in dentist offices and hair salons’ shelf if not for the terrible resolution that doesn’t solve any of the legitimate problems Cuddles brings up. They could have easily solved the issue in the manner I suggested, but they just decided to lazily say ‘oh, Steven never meant to throw you away and has been longing to see you for years!’
In the aspect of being a sequel, it’s baffling how many little details they remember about the last movie while completely ignoring major aspects of it.
Rudolph’s plot is basically a non-plot that is rehashing the problem he had from the last movie just in the opposite direction. Instead of hating his nose for all the negative attention it’s getting him, now he’s hating it for the positive attention. There’s no question if Rudolph will get a nose job at the end, and boy do I feel like an idiot saying the words ‘Rudolph will get a nose job’….If he got a nose job, not only would it completely destroy the message from the last movie, but then he’d no longer be the titular ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’. No one wants to sing ‘Rudolph the Reindeer. Had perfectly normal features. And he lived a normal life. That’s about it I guess.’
I have to call out the title too. Barely any of this movie takes place on or has to do with the island of misfit toys. I’d have to go back and clock it, but I think they spend more time at Castaway Cove. A more fitting title would be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Wrath of the Toy Taker or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the CGI that Nearly Ruined Christmas.
A few good things I’ll give this – I definitely enjoyed the interactions between Rudolph and Clarice and it had a few humorous moments. They didn’t destroy many characters from the original movie. They backtracked the character development of Hermey’s boss and completely destroyed Moonracer, but that’s about it. For the most part, they’re just not really as endearing anymore. Bumble’s nicer, but indefinitely creepier, and Hermey’s a little closer to being a serial killer. Oh and also they completely deleted Donner and Mrs. Donner. They bring back Hermey’s boss for a few minutes, but completely forget Rudolph’s parents?
The most I can give the plot is that it’s not a flat-out retelling of the original movie’s plot. It is an original story – it’s just not a good one.
I’d like to conclude this by giving a bit of a warning. Some people on IMDB have been saying that someone’s been falsely jacking up the rating on this movie and the 1998 Rudolph movie on review websites by making fake accounts and giving it damn near perfect scores.
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. This movie’s not an unholy abomination upon God, but it certainly doesn’t deserve a 5.5 on IMDB or even a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. I can believe some people find this movie to be an alright little kiddie movie to play to shut the younglings up, I can even believe some people like it because of the nostalgia, but I’ve legit seen people in reviews call this one of their favorite movies.
To each his own, really. I respect people’s opinions, but the only way I’d believe this is anyone’s favorite movie is if this is the only movie they’ve ever seen…..and even that’s a stretch.
Voice Acting: The voice actors are absolutely wasted on this project – and I can bet most of the budget went towards getting their names on the movie. No one was particularly bad. Jamie Lee Curtis as Camilla was particularly good because I could barely recognize her. Scott McNeil (Yes, famed anime voice actor, Scott McNeil) as Hermey, Yukon and Comet was also surprisingly good. His impressions were….impressive. Kathleen Barr, who voiced Rudolph in the other GoodTimes movie, does a fairly good impression of Rankin/Bass Rudolph as well. Rick Moranis…..Oh boy. I’m just going to assume you were directed to act like a prepubescent boy pretending to be a teddy bear.
Art and Animation:
This is some of the worst art and animation I’ve ever seen. It’s borderline Ratatoing or Food Fight levels of bad. The textures are nonexistent, there are animation errors and polygons everywhere, nobody moves in the least bit naturally, some of the models look so horrible that you really think they’re not finished such as Scoop, Bumble and Yukon, everyone is dead-eyed and creepy, especially the kite, gingerbreadmen and the reindeer themselves, there’s weird and ugly lighting, and nothing feels like it’s there.
When you’re being beat out by a mile in realistic animation, designs and feelings by a cheap 1960’s stop-motion movie that many people describe as having creepy animation, you have major problems. I’m not expecting CGI miracles in 2001, but if you’re going backwards in your graphics quality after nearly FORTY YEARS OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT maybe, just maybe, you might want consider other avenues of animation.
Music: Mediocre at best and terrible at worst. Each song seems like it suffers from the same problem – remnants of a catchy chorus that is ultimately ruined by something annoying followed by a terrible out of whack verse and bridge.
What do you think, 2001?
2001: “I think a bad year was just made exponentially worse.”
Sorry about that.
2001: “No you’re not.”
Hey, look at the bright side. You’re in the peak time for boy bands!
Plot: A sequel to Once Upon a Christmas, this is basically the same premise just with different shorts and super duper early 2000s CGI.
Breakdown: Before we go any further, I want to address something that will bug the crap out of me if I don’t say anything. When I was looking for poster art to use on Once Upon a Christmas, I saw posters for Twice and the thumbnails constantly confused me because they all looked like they said ‘Twice a Christmas’ I thought maybe I was finding a screwed up poster or something, but then I watched the opening of the movie and saw this.
For some stupid reason, they decided to make the word ‘upon’ really tiny and shove it in the line above everything else like it’s superscript. It’s like they had the template for the title card then realized the font wasn’t fitting in properly so they resized the words and forced it to fit.
Our first short is Belles on Ice, a Minnie and Daisy cartoon. You would never guess this is a Christmas short until the very end where they write ‘Peace on Earth’ in ribbon and wish each other a merry Christmas.
Daisy and Minnie are in a figure skating competition, separately, and Daisy accidentally skates out when the announcer starts playing up the next competitor, which turns out to be Minnie. When everyone starts loving Minnie’s performance, Daisy gets very angry and decides to literally steal the show by skating out and being a showboat.
Understandably, Minnie starts to up her game even more to skew focus back on her. They keep going back and forth with this until Minnie suddenly wipes out. Daisy, seeing her friend fall, apologizes. Minnie apologizes too, even though she shouldn’t have to, and the two make a grand finale together.
Realistically, there’s a bunch of issues with this short. First and foremost, it’s not Christmas-y. Like I already mentioned, outside of shoving two Christmas lines at the end, you’d never know this was a Christmas special.
Second, Minnie’s also made out to be in the wrong when she was just defending herself and trying to rightfully take back her performance.
Third, Daisy is incredibly petty and jealous here. She’s so intimidated by Minnie’s performance that she can’t even let her finish a full minute of it before she jumps out onto the ice and tries to steal her thunder.
If Daisy’s such an amazing skater to steal the show from Minnie, why didn’t she just wait until it was her own damn turn? The only reason I can think of is that she was pissed about being embarrassed for going out on the ice early, but Minnie didn’t do that – she was just assuming it was her turn based on how the announcer was building up the next performer. Surely they gave them a program that shows the order of participants so stuff like that doesn’t happen.
I didn’t like this segment very much. I liked the reactions of Donald and Mickey a bit and for some reason I was very entertained at the thought of Minnie’s background ice skaters being alligators, but Daisy’s being a bitch, we have two girls who are supposed to be friends being the petty vindictive stereotype that plagues so many girl friend characters and it has an ending that is unrealistic.
Daisy would be disqualified the instant she went out on the ice either for sabotage or trying to do her performance when it was someone else’s turn.
And I think they might both be disqualified at the end for having a duo performance when they didn’t enter as such.
The next short is a Huey, Dewey and Louie short called Christmas Impossible.
The boys, Donald and Daisy are spending the holiday at Scrooge’s mansion. The boys have learned jack from last year’s Christmas because they’re back to being rude selfish brats. Scrooge tells the boys that he’s been selfish his whole life and never got on Santa’s nice list. The boys ask why that even matters since being selfish made him rich, but he says that being rich never got him what he really wanted. He tells the boys to not follow his example and to clean up their acts to make it on Santa’s nice list. However, it’s so close to Christmas that the boys conclude there’s no way for them to make up for all the crap they’ve done over the past year to be considered nice before Santa heads out to make his deliveries.
They decide to mail themselves to the north pole and write their names on Santa’s list themselves. By the way, Max, you could’ve saved yourself a lot of trouble with your Santa faith in the last movie if you just mailed yourself to the north pole. Apparently, they live in a world where you can mail yourself to the north pole and back within the time frame of a night on Christmas eve.
They’re still jackasses while traversing the workshop. They’re trying to get the key to Santa’s office so they can put their names on the list, but they end up destroying all of the wrapping on the gifts in order to find it. They don’t seem to care until they realize that their actions are going to ruin Christmas for everyone. They decide to fix their mistake and help the elves get everything back to normal, including a very distracting fast-motion scene that is ridiculous in CGI.
They finally get into Santa’s office and are about to write their names on the list when they decide to write Scrooge’s name instead. Why they didn’t write their names too, I don’t know. They never came to the realization that they didn’t deserve to be on the nice list, and there was plenty of room on that paper.
The next morning, they see Scrooge’s gift and it’s bagpipes…..I get that the message is that Scrooge wanted to be on the nice list and you can’t buy your way onto it, but the way it’s written, it was like he asked for something that money couldn’t buy and he never got it because he was never good enough to be on the nice list. Pretty sure you can buy bagpipes pretty easily.
Huey, Dewey and Louie are surprised to find that they also have a bunch of gifts from Santa, meaning they got on the nice list. A note from Santa states that there’s always room on the nice list for kids who put others before themselves and thanks them for helping out at the workshop.
*sigh* First, the only reason they were even at the workshop to begin with was because they were putting themselves first. They wanted to fraudulently put themselves on a list they didn’t deserve to be on just to get toys.
Yes, they put Scrooge’s name on the list instead of their own, but that’s something else to ponder. If they had to write Scrooge’s name on the list, doesn’t that mean he didn’t deserve to be on the list either? Their hearts were in the right place when they did that, but they still technically tried to manipulate Santa for the sake of getting a naughty person a gift.
Second, they only helped clean up the mess they caused. It’s a good thing that they realized they should fix their mistake and help save Christmas, but they’re the reason it was ever in danger. It’s not like it was an accident either – they were purposely destroying everything to find the key to Santa’s office. It’s like thanking an arsonist for putting out their fire. And even after they did that, they were still planning on putting themselves on Santa’s list.
This short had its somewhat funny moments, but it’s a tad predictable and I can’t say I’m really understanding the full message here.
The next segment is a Goofy and Max short called Christmas Maximus, and I need a minute to understand the logistics of this one.
I assumed that this movie was taking place only a year or two after the first one yet Huey, Dewey and Louie are still basically the same age, but Max is now in college. You can’t apply the excuse of the movies being shorts and not existing in the same timeline because the first movie ended with all of the characters meeting up to sing Christmas carols. The only logic I can apply to this is that dogs and ducks age differently? But if we’re taking that excuse, why isn’t Goofy in the least bit older looking?
Anyhoo, Max is coming home for Christmas with his girlfriend, Mona. He asks Goofy to be cool so he won’t embarrass him around his girl, but Goofy, being Goofy, can’t stop himself. Mona finds most of his shenanigans to be charming, but Max keeps getting irritated.
We suddenly get an original song break. The song is called ‘Make Me Look Good’ and it’s told by Max’s perspective. It’s basically what you’d think it is from the title. Max worrying internally about Goofy embarrassing him and telling him to make him look good. It’s not a musical number sung by Max – it’s just a background song that we’re meant to believe is being sung by someone who kinda sounds like Max.
I don’t get why this short and this situation is where we get a song break, which, by the way, is the only original lyrical song break of the movie. It’s not a Christmas-y song, and it’s hardly a song that works out of context. The song’s not even all that good. I suppose it’s catchy, but it’s a bit cluttered.
What’s even worse about this song break is that it’s the only thing moving the plot forward. It’s like this short is the song with the only dialogue being an intro to it, a minor interlude and a short finale. That’s the main reason it’s so cluttered. It’s trying to jam everything that would be in the short as regular scenes into short verses in a song.
Goofy does embarrassing things a few times, it’s obvious Mona’s charmed by it, but Max still gets pissed. He has the tiniest of blowups at Goofy, walks away about ten feet before realizing he’s been an ass and that Mona’s having a great time, then he returns and has a nice holiday with his dad and Mona. The clincher of her being ‘the one’ revealing that Mona has the same two lone teeth that the Goof’s have. Okay.
I really think this short would’ve been a million times better if the song wasn’t there and they took the time to just run the segment like normal. It’s so rushed and awkward as a song. It’s a damn shame that this is so messy, because the Goofy short in the last movie was my favorite.
The next short is called Donald’s Gift.
Donald wants nothing more than to go home and enjoy a nice mug of hot cocoa by the fire after a long day of shopping and people annoying him with Christmas stuff. Daisy, Huey, Dewey and Louie arrive, inviting Donald out to go to the mall. He says he doesn’t want to, but Daisy forces him to go. The boys want to see some spectacular display at Mousy’s, and while they’re waiting, Donald decides to get a hot cocoa. He’s bombarded with everything suddenly turning into sounds that play ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, which leads him to accidentally destroying the Mousy display.
The boys and Daisy think he did it on purpose for some reason and leave him behind at the mall. Donald sulks around town for a while until he finds a bunch of carolers arguing over singing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ Donald, having learned the song inside and out by now, conducts for them. Their singing gathers a crowd, including Daisy and the boys who instantly forgive him and they all sing the finale of the song.
This short was….confusing and hard to sympathize with. I didn’t dislike it, but I believe I would’ve liked it more if Donald actually deserved any of this crap. Was he a little bitchy about going to the mall? Sure. But what we saw of his day included a charity Santa literally grabbing him and holding him, singing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ until he donated some money, a barbershop quartet, singing the same song, cutting his hair into a powdered wig design for some reason as he ran by, and nearly getting run over by a bus which promptly burned his groceries to cinders. I don’t know if I’m just old, but I am very understanding of Donald’s desire to want to avoid Christmas stuff for a while and just sit home and relax if all that stuff happened to me, and I’m a Christmas junkie.
Daisy and the boys pestering him was also a bit hypocritical. Daisy’s telling him not to be selfish, but isn’t it selfish to force someone to do something they don’t want to do just because YOU want them to do it?
Donald wasn’t even ruining their outing at all. He went…to get….a drink. Something he could easily carry around with him while they did their mall stuff. Somehow, that means he’s being a selfish ass or something and deserves to have a ‘The Raven’ style torture of the aforementioned song haunting him until he accidentally causes the display to break because there was a ‘speed everything up to a point where everything spins out of control and breaks’ button right in plain sight.
And, again, for some reason, Daisy and the boys believe he’s that much of a vindictive ass that he would do that on purpose.
The final and longest short of the movie is Mickey’s Dog-gone Christmas – A Pluto short! HOORAY! I’m also happy to report this is the best short of either movie.
Pluto is helping Mickey decorate for a big Christmas party he’s having, but Pluto accidentally breaks everything while trying to put up the star. Mickey yells at him for misbehaving, tells him he ruined Christmas and sends him out to his dog house while he goes out and buys more decorations.
Pluto is very guilty and depressed over what he did, and decides to ditch his collar and run away. He somehow ends up on a train to the north pole where he’s adopted by Donner, who is a much bigger sweetie than he is in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer….but also a lot stupider. He’s made a pseudo part of the reindeer team lead by Blitzen.
Pluto enjoys his time with the reindeer while Mickey fixes up the house. Once he’s gotten everything back to normal, he tries to make amends with Pluto and offers for him to put the star on top of the tree. He quickly realizes Pluto’s missing and drops everything to search all over town for him. He even goes to the mall Santa to wish for Pluto back.
Back at the north pole, Pluto is missing Mickey more and more, and it turns out that the mall Santa was the real Santa. He offers to take Pluto back home, and he happily agrees. He bids a fond farewell to Blitzen and Donner and reunites with Mickey, who proudly puts his collar back on and allows him to put the star on the tree.
The house is nearly demolished by a plow truck who has seemed to have it out for Mickey the whole short, but it’s revealed that Goofy was the one driving. He, Max, Scrooge, Donald, Daisy, the boys and Minnie have been driving all over town in the plow truck looking for Pluto. They enjoy the Christmas party and play us out with the same Christmas song mashup they had at the end of the first movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed this short. It’s almost hard for me to believe it’s a part of the same movie as the others. Each short has a different set of writers, so maybe Colin Goldman and Matthew O’Callaghan just had a bit more Christmas spark than the others….including someone named, not kidding, Carole Holliday. It has some great comedy, nice character interactions with everyone, especially Blitzen and Donner, whom I really wish come back in some way in another Christmas special, and heartwarming moments. Plus, it’s a Pluto short – who can resist that?
It’s also, a bit sadly, relatable. I can’t count how many times I’ve lost my temper because my dogs have ruined something I worked hard for. If my dogs could understand human language, I can bet there’d be at least a couple times they would’ve felt like running away. But no, they have to make you feel like garbage by giving you the sad eyes, cowering over to you and asking for pets. Of course I forgive you, you furry source of utter destruction.
I do have a few questions, though, like why let Goofy drive? And why buy a whole plow truck company just because you need to use one plow truck? Why is Mickey suddenly very comfortable financially again? Also, since everyone’s back together again, it proves that Max grew up by about a decade yet Huey, Dewey and Louie didn’t grow at all.
This is a great short that would be an awesome standalone for Christmas, but the movie as a whole….
Well, I really enjoyed how the bookends are done in a narrated pop-up book style. I thought that was very clever and a great way to retain some of the traditional-style artwork. It was also a better way of bookending each story than the three random presents holding title cards from the first movie. The CGI had its moments of downright terribleness (I’m looking at you fast-forward scene) but it actually stands up very well for a fully CGI movie from 2004.
Most of the shorts are very weak, though the last one is worth the trouble. I didn’t necessarily hate or even seriously dislike any of the segments. It wasn’t a chore to sit through them, but most of them had glaring logic issues or vaguely bad or unclear messages, and they just weren’t very funny or heartwarming most of the time.
I would’ve been content if the whole movie was just the Pluto short, to be honest.
Plot: Zeke Palmer has a magic electric drawing pad that allows him to alter reality and create things from thin air just by drawing them.
Breakdown: It’s like Chalkzone mixed with Fairly Odd Parents only not nearly as imaginative, funny, or with as much freedom.
I know, I’ve done similar bits before, but it’s true. This concept, on paper (….puns?), is a very good one that hasn’t been done to death but has been done, ala Chalkzone. But its execution here is just plain not good.
First and foremost, this is not an origin story episode. Which is….alright, because we can get the gist of the main plot from the theme song and the episode itself. Zeke has some sort of tablet (called ‘the pad’. How creative) that can create anything he draws. It seems like this ‘power’ is a secret, but I don’t really know. His best friend knows, and that’s all I got.
The origins of the pad are rushed through in the theme song and still make no sense. An electronic drawing pad was being assembled at a factory when the machine suddenly malfunctioned and caused lots of sparks and….magic? The machine threw it out, seeing it as defective, but it bounced out of the bin and out the window where Zeke caught it, somehow instantly knew its powers and how to use it and used to it get away from a dog that was chasing them…..Okie.
Next, Zeke is bland and forgettable with his only notable traits being that he’s lazy, selfish and inconsiderate. Because that’s what I want in my main character – unlikable traits.
To give you the low down, let’s go through Zeke’s actions throughout the course of the episode.
We spend well over two minutes hearing him bitch and moan and have a breakdown over having porridge for breakfast yet again. Apparently his insanely neurotic mother makes it every single day. However, this ‘joke’ has no real setup because we don’t go in knowing this and the joke runs for way too long and amounts to nothing.
After he has a minor porridge breakdown, he bitches and moans that they never have something good like pancakes for breakfast. Aw, poor baby. Your loving mother takes the time out to make you breakfast every morning and it’s not what you want. If you want pancakes, get off your ass and make them.
And he takes my advice…..by going to his room and drawing a huge pile of pancakes on the pad, which materialize before him. And by ‘huge pile’ I mean he stockpiles his room nearly to the ceiling with pancakes and he chows them all down….without syrup or butter. I know that would be messy, but without syrup or butter, you might as well be eating mattress foam.
He gets a huge gut because of this, and, continuity honored, his gut stays this way for the entirety of the episode. However, he completely fails a fitness test at school because of it. Why the hell would you draw a room full of pancakes to eat when you have a fitness test that day? Huge gut and cartoonish appetite aside, eating even a regular helping of pancakes before strenuous exercise would make me feel like garbage.
He got the worst grades on the test in school history, so he’s sent to a fitness camp to bulk up and pass. He exercises a little and gets so fed up with the whole thing that he draws a hot air balloon to escape, but drew it with a nearly empty fuel gauge and crashes…..Yeah, don’t ask me why he did that. He brings it up (“I had to draw it with a FULL fuel gauge?!”) but it still makes no sense (Why would you draw it with an empty gauge to begin with?….or a fuel gauge at all?). Anyway, he makes it home and obviously gets found out because his crazy camp counselor instantly finds he’s escaped, goes straight to his house, searches it and finds Zeke.
That was a pointless waste of time because of stupid, by the way. Of course they’d find out and call his parents. Of course they’d look for him. Of course the first place they’d look is his house. Maybe they wouldn’t practically break in and search without asking permission, but they wouldn’t just leave him be. And he knows this camp is necessary to get him a passing grade, so he should know escaping is pointless. If he were smart, he’d draw a way to make the camp or test easy as hell to pass. Hell, he has reality altering powers, just draw a test with an A grade on it.
Also, just to get this plot hole/annoyance out of the way, Zeke’s father, despite hearing that Zeke has to fitness camp to pass his test, for some reason thinks it’s ridiculous that Zeke would be a camper at a fitness camp and that him, being an artist, must be at an art camp. Even after telling him that and being found at the house, escaping from the fitness camp, Zeke exclaims later that his dad still thinks he’s at art camp…..Is his dad an idiot or is this very poorly written? I can’t tell.
Zeke recruits his best friend, Jay, in the middle of the night to help him pass his test. He claims he can’t just draw himself before he ate all those pancakes,because going back, deleting and erasing always goes horribly wrong. We just have to take his word for it, but uh…..just draw yourself in a fit way you’ve never been. That way it’s an alteration not a redo or a deletion. It’s not that hard.
Just a note, Jay does not help him at all. Not for lack of trying or because Jay’s a bad friend, but because he has no way of helping him. Zeke has the pad and Jay could easily give him advice over the phone, but he begs him to put aside his studying for an algebra exam to help him at the camp and he, reluctantly, goes. When Zeke’s pad gets taken away by the counselor, they both sneak into his office to get it, but it’s entirely unnecessary for Jay to be there. He doesn’t do anything because there’s nothing for him to do. He does point out that Zeke is running away faster than he is and asks if he’s been working out, but bite me Zeke’s Pad. There’s no way a day and half of moderate exercise with a huge gut hanging over his pants made him fit enough for there to be any noticeable improvement.
When he gets his pad back, he thinks of the perfect solution. He draws them at Art Camp, which alters reality….somehow, to making everything an art test and art challenges, which Zeke excels at.
The only repercussions of Zeke’s selfish and lazy actions is that Ike, his older jock brother who both gave him the initial fitness test and worked as a counselor at the fitness camp, is still rough on him, they have to draw Ike in his boxers (Jay’s still at the camp because of no reason whatsoever.) and Zeke’s mom makes him pancakes when he gets home as a gift for passing his test, which, wahmp wahmp, makes Zeke freak out….Also, he’s instantly thin again when he changes the camp to an art camp…..continuity makes sense, right!?
Nothing about this episode was funny. Not a damn thing made me even want to put effort into moving my lip muscles. I’m watching a lazy inconsiderate idiot get himself into trouble, easily get out of it and get what he wants all the while bothering his friends and scarily manipulating reality and those around him. Not to mention a total lack of a lesson being learned or comeuppance for his behavior. He could at least have done something nice for someone else with that pad (like, maybe something to help Jay with his algebra test), but he just uses it stupidly for stuff he wants and is too lazy to do himself.
There’s also a subplot with the rest of his forgettable family with his mother making them work out and eat healthy non-stop. It goes the way you think and ends the way you think.
The jokes they attempt have no thought put into them. Most of them are unfunny slapstick gags, burp jokes and a fart joke, the rest is just cartoon zaniness in how quickly and sporadically they move, which may as well be slapstick.
As an artist who would value this power like a gift from the gods, it bugs the hell out of me that this is such wasted potential. I would love another Chalkzone-esque show. It allows for such amazing creative freedom in plots, characters and powers. However, it is just not used well here. There are vague and undefined restrictions by default and they can’t use the power many times because the thing needs to be charged.
Not to mention the fact that there’s no artistic merit going into these drawings. We never see him actually ‘draw’ anything. We get some weird overdone transition, see the finished drawing for about a second and then cut to the thing appearing or reality changed. We don’t even see him draw anything for the hell of it or at all despite the fact that people keep saying he’s creative and loves to draw.
Even in the very end where he gets his altered test to draw Ike, we don’t get to see him draw or see his finished drawing. This is a show based around art-fueled powers….with no art.
Speaking of art, the CGI cel-shaded art for the show is really blah with no real style to it. The colors are bright and appealing, but that’s about it. These graphics look pretty dated for a show that was supposedly made in 2010, and the animation, while not having many errors, doesn’t have a good fluidity about it. Half the time it’s jarring shifts and the other it’s slow moving in a sliding fashion.
The music’s alright, but forgettable. I listened to the theme song three times just five minutes ago and I’ve already forgotten it.
Two-dimensional characters with the MC having no real good traits conveyed so far, poorly written story structure and dialogue, no good jokes and a complete waste of a fairly good plot and you leave me with no reason to want to continue.
Also, in spite of the fact that this show won two Elan awards for Best Animation TV Production and Art Direction, this show only lasted one season. Hm.
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 hisKICK-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+