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

AVAHS - TTNBB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AVAHS - TTNBB2

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

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

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

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

AVAHS - TTNBB3

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

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

AVAHS - TTNBB4

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

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

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

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

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

AVAHS - TTNBB5

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

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

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

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

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

AVAHS - TTNBB7

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

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

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


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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

Rating: 8/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of spoilers.

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

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

Aardman’s Clay: Chicken Run

lypspva

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Ginger is one of many chickens in Mrs. Tweedy’s chicken farm, and she’s also the one leading a mass effort to break out of the place. With their lives amounting to nothing but laying eggs and suffering from a swift blow by an ax when the eggs stop being produced, they are desperate to escape by any means necessary. However, every escape effort made by Ginger and the chickens has been met with failure.

When hope seems to be at its dimmest, their salvation falls from the sky. Literally. A rooster named Rocky flies into the farm and subsequently crashes. With a poster revealing Rocky as an amazing flying rooster, Ginger recruits him to teach them all how to fly and escape in exchange for hiding him from the circus that he belongs to. Rocky agrees, but seems to be hiding something. And with Mrs. Tweedy’s new chicken pot pie making machine arriving on their doorstep, they have no time for secrets or failures.

Breakdown: Once upon a time, Dreamworks had a sexy love affair with Aardman animations, also known as ‘oh yeah that claymation studio’. Like all good relationships, this one started out steamy and ended in a toilet…..but more on that another day. The main point of this is Chicken Run.

Chicken Run was Aardman’s first ever feature length film after many years of doing short films. Aardman is indeed ‘that claymation studio’ as they pretty much have the market cornered in keeping that style alive. You may know them from Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and even Arthur Christmas.

Aardman clearly seems to have more creative control on this project that Dreamworks did. Other than the logo in the beginning, I can’t really feel anything Dreamworks-y here. That will change down the line, but again we’ll talk about that later on.

Chicken Run, at its base, is kinda predictable but mostly in regards to what I feel is the weakest part of the film, Rocky.

It is painfully obvious from the getgo that Rocky is hiding something, and even more obvious that he’s hiding the fact that he can’t actually fly. Much of the running time is somewhat awkward as you subconsciously tick down that clock in your head that will eventually reach ‘when the shit hits the fan’. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I hate when shows and movies do this. I don’t want to feel awkward while watching a movie. I don’t want to sit there twiddling my thumbs waiting for the big devastating ‘secret’ to come out in the open. It’s not entertaining to me.

Luckily, the way they handled it with Rocky wasn’t too bad….but then you have Rocky himself. Rocky is a very…if you’ll forgive the pun, cocky guy. And he’s the lone handsome American in a group of English girls (and one old rooster…and one Scottish hen) so of course the girls all fawn over him except for Ginger who is way more concerned with getting out of there, which leads the two to bicker and have weird sexual chicken tension. They even do the bit where he calls her by cute and semi-psuedo-ish sexist nicknames like dollface while she constantly corrects him that her name is Ginger.

All that said, I watched this movie when it first came out and I remember not being all that impressed with it. However, on the rewatch, I got plenty of laughs and entertainment out of it. Barring the cliché plotline with the deceit and cliché character relationship between the two leads, it’s still a very solid movie.

While Rocky does seem like he’s going to be the one to end up saving the day in the end, and they even have an almost eye-rolling scene involving Rocky saving Ginger while they both yell each other’s name in slow motion, it’s still Ginger’s idea that comes out on top and Ginger as the final hero. Ginger is very likable in that she seems to be the only one around with real sense and determination. She is a true leader to her friends, and while she honestly could get away from the farm on her own, she refuses to do so even under threat of death because she won’t abandon her friends.

The setting of the chicken farm is pretty unique, even if it is masking for a prison break movie. Most of the characters, large and small, are pretty memorable and funny. Babs in particular is funny purely because, no matter what they’re doing, she won’t put down her damn knitting needles. Also, there are egg-obsessed rats who are contracted out to get supplies for the girls and oddly enough they seem to be based on Statler and Waldorf as they make snarky commentary over everything the chickens do to escape.

Mrs. and Mr. Tweedy are a bit too super-villainy for my taste, but they also get some great scenes and have a good dynamic. Mrs. Tweedy is a greedy evil bitch who is so emotionally detached from….everything, she even calls her husband ‘Mr. Tweedy.’ Speaking of Mr. Tweedy, he is the only one who realizes that the chickens are smart and organized, yet his wife continues to simply call him crazy. He’s the bumbling oaf, she’s the evil mastermind.

I also don’t really understand their plan. They don’t seem to be making enough money selling eggs, so they buy a really overly-complicated chicken pot pie making machine to turn their chickens into pies and get rich off of selling the pies. Okay….well, what happens when you run out chickens? You’d have to buy more chickens. And you have to have a constant supply of vegetables, pie crusts and gravy not to mention how much money it probably costs to run the machine. I’d bet by the time they processed their last chicken they probably would only barely cover the initial costs of the machine.

Then, spoiler alert for the ending, she sees that the chickens are indeed intelligent, organized and have built a giant mechanical bird to fly out of the farm (this is the second movie I’ve seen involving a bunch of oppressed animals building an operational mechanical bird…) yet she’s still obsessed with killing them instead of….I dunno, selling them to the circus that came by earlier. Or putting on her own show. I’d think an intelligent chicken who can build complicated aeronautics is more of a ticket seller than a chicken who is shot out of a cannon. End of spoilers.

I will admit that I’m not a fan of claymation/stop-motion. I respect the living hell out of claymation animators because it is just so painstaking, slow and frustrating to work in this style, but it just doesn’t typically work for me, outside of movies and shorts that are intentionally driven for creepiness and horror. Something about it is…., well, creepy to me. That said, this is a very well-made film. Aardman does some fantastic art and animation work that really draw you into their world with some incredible details. I think the teeth and constant open mouths on the chickens was a bit off-putting, but nothing that bad.

In regards to voice acting, everyone did a great job. They did a wonderful job making these characters real for me…..though, again, Rocky is kinda the exception. Rocky is voiced by Mel Gibson, and I can’t separate the two. Mel Gibson does not have range. He just doesn’t. And every voice acting role he takes is just Mel Gibson talking through whatever animated mouthpiece he’s given. He acts perfectly fine, but I just can’t not hear Mel Gibson.

Bottomline: Chicken Run is a great movie with some fantastic characters, wonderful comedic timing and slapstick, and a fun little prison break adventure. It’s not full-on comedy as some moments get pretty damn real, but it is still a movie that achieved in making me actually laugh out loud several times. The two tones work well together, and I found it to be a fantastic ride.

Recommended Audience: While there’s nothing graphic, there is a lot of talk of slaughtering chickens, and one chicken sees the business end of an ax during the movie. They obviously don’t show the scene full out, but you see the silhouette of the ax being raised and then the sound of it hitting the chopping block. There’s also a slight gore fake out at the end. Other than the downright depressing mood that this movie can bring about, there’s nothing else of note. 7+