AVAHS – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (GoodTimes Entertainment)

Box cover artwork may be ridiculously higher quality than actual art.

Plot: Rudolph the Red—We’ve been over this.

Breakdown: Hi 1998!

1998: “Err…hi.”

I was nine in 1998!

1998: “Congratulations.”

Hey 1998, I’m gonna do you a favor!

1998: “What?”

I’m gonna make Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer into a movie!

1998: “Uhhh, isn’t that already a thing?”

Yeah, but that was made in 1964. People who were kids in that year are old people now. We need to jazz things up a bit for the 90s. Say, did your precious 60s version have the northern lights depicted as fairies in silk robes?

1998: “…..Noooooooooo.”

Did it have an ice queen named Stormella?

1998: “Alright, that name’s just lazy.”

Did it have a polar bear named Leonard?

1998: “How is that relevant?”

Here, let’s talk about it in excruciatingly unnecessary detail.

1998: “I would, but I have to catch up on Pokemon. I might miss out on all of Ash’s character development.”

…..Trust me, sweetie, you won’t be missing anything for about a decade – and then they just reboot the franchise.

Welcome everyone to that other Rudolph movie that no one asked for and really no one ever wanted ever.

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And a fond welcome to GoodTimes Entertainment – the animated Asylum of the 90’s. Alright, maybe that’s a bit harsh. The production values on GoodTimes movies never seemed to get Asylum bad (Dangerously close once, but we’ll address that another time), but the same skeevy production practices were similar. Namely in that GoodTimes had a habit of releasing movies that were based on stories that anyone could easily base a movie off of BUT that already had a major motion picture made of it (usually by Disney) so it would trick consumers (IE grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles who don’t know any better) into buying it, believing it to be the blockbuster hits. For instance, some of GoodTimes more notable works were Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Thumbelina, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Sinbad and, well, *pokes title*

They not only had the same titles, but they also intentionally made their VHS covers to emulate the Disney movie covers. Their similarities were so stark that Disney filed a lawsuit against them and won. They now had to clearly print ‘GoodTimes Entertainment’ and their logo on the boxes to differentiate themselves more clearly, but the damage had been done.

GoodTimes was now largely known as a knockoff company, but that didn’t stop them from producing these kinds of movies since public domain is free game for anyone, no matter how massively successful some movies based on public domain works are.

In comes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie. A film with a mouthful of a title made by GoodTimes in conjunction with Golden Books Family Entertainment. Yup. Those Golden Books. The gold leaf spined books from your childhood that are still going strong today – including adaptations of two Star Wars movies. *shrug*

But let’s wait. Reserve judgment. I am a fair person. Let’s go over this movie and see how it stands up, objectively.

The northern lights, portrayed as the aforementioned fairies, visit Blitzen and his wife, Mitzi, as they welcome their son, Rudolph, into the world. I have to ask, does Rudolph have a canon father? Because in the 60s version, Donner was his father.

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We then get some of the most boring opening credits I’ve ever seen as we just watch snow fall on a faraway shot of some house while Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer plays.

And nothing gears you up for a movie more than hearing Richard Simmons is doing voice work for it.

Hey, who wants to hear the northern lights sing their introductions?!

1998: “Not me.”

I knew you did! This 15 second song break explains that the pink fairy is Aurora, the blue one is Sparkle, the yellow one is Twinkle and the pink one is Glitter. It never matters, so don’t bother remembering it.

I actually wouldn’t mind this as much if not for the fact that this did not, in any way, need to be a song break, and if the song didn’t end abruptly on a note that doesn’t sound the least bit like a finale note.

As Blitzen and Mitzi show Rudolph around Christmas Town and introduce him to snow, we get his ear-piercing, high-pitched shrill of a voice. You know when a kid is having a temper tantrum and they let out this scream from the pits of hell they keep locked in the back of their throat? Imagine that scream in a happy context and that’s Rudolph’s speaking voice. I was going to give this movie points for at least not having that terrible screeching noise that Rankin/Bass Rudolph had when his nose glowed, but if you’re just going to shift that sound to his speaking voice, why bother?

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Blitzen starts having concerns over Rudolph’s glowing nose when his other reindeer buddies show up, Comet, Cupid and Dasher. Cupid has a heart on his forehead, by the way. I would complain more, but I actually like that there are different markings and colors for each reindeer. It’s easier to tell them apart. Blitzen, for example, has lightning bolts under his eyes like Ash Ketchum.

Blitzen tries to hide Rudolph, and I feel like this movie is shaming Rankin/Bass Donner a bit by having Mitzi chastise Blitzen for seemingly being ashamed of his son.

Despite a crowd gathering, no one actually makes fun of Rudolph’s nose and Rudolph doesn’t seem bothered by it. When you think Blitzen is taking them home because he’s embarrassed by Rudolph, he actually says he’ll fight the next person who makes fun of his nose. But no one did. It’s only natural for people to at least want to look at a reindeer with a 30 watt nose.

I like that they’re making out Blitzen to be much more understanding and loving of Rudolph, worried that Rudolph will be mocked as he grows up and not being a shameful ass like Rankin/Bass Donner was. They even have a song break about how great they think Rudolph (nicknamed Rudy….not sure how I feel about that) is, which is where we finally get at least a bit of actual mocking towards Rudolph. They don’t particularly say anything worse than ‘put a lampshade on it’ but just having an entire town sing about your nose would be traumatizing to the poor kid.

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Emotional Scarring: The Musical

Two elves named Boone (voiced by Richard Simmons) and Doggle pick up Santa’s mail. They get all excited over a possible promotion to the factory floor….wait, not all elves are toy-making slaves? And being a toy-making slave in a factory is something you get PROMOTED to? Wow. Being an elf sucks.

They crash into Stormella’s (Voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) ice garden and flee the scene.

Blitzen and Mitzi bring Rudolph to the factory where we get another song break about the elves making toys for Christmas. It’s not terrible, but it’s about as memorable as that thing you forgot at the store earlier.

Stormella bursts in and starts icing the joint, furious that an elf destroyed her garden. In order to quell the attack, Santa (Voiced by John Goodman – Mrs. Claus is voiced by Debbie Reynolds, by the way. It’s not that important, but I really miss her) intervenes and asks the elf responsible to come forward. Boone and Doggle come forward, and Stormella demands to take them to her ice castle or else she’ll close off her ice bridge to the public.

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Movie about body acceptance – Makes the villain an overweight woman.

Santa says ‘pfft, who cares? I have flying reindeer.’ and Stormella leaves in a huff—oh sorry, that’s the scene that makes sense. Santa still vehemently refuses, despite that being the only way across the Grand Chasm. Stormella says if anyone crosses the bridge, she’ll bring the worst storm ever to the village, destroying everything and ruining Christmas for good.

Later, when she’s alone, she says she looks forward to someone trying to cross the bridge so she can start the storm and shut down Santa forever…..Uh….lady…if you want Santa gone so badly, why can’t you start the storm now? Who cares if there was a condition to starting the storm? If you’re so powerful and evil, start the storm anyway if that’s what you really want. Villains with integrity rarely ever win.

The northern lights give another micro-song, this time just to tell us that a year has passed. Thanks, you utterly useless wastes of 1950’s fashion.

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Mrs. Prancer starts…reindeer class? They explain that Santa picks his ‘flyers’ by holding a junior reindeer competition every year. Whomever ‘shines’ the best will be considered for a position on Santa’s team.

Rudolph proves to be loud and obnoxiously voiced even with a new voice actor for his older version. Like you’d expect, he’s made fun of for his nose. And, like in the other movie, it makes no sense to me that they’re saying he can’t be a flyer because his nose is red and glows. They are laughing WAY too much. It’s been a year since everyone’s found out about Rudolph’s nose – the ‘joke’ of its mere existence gets a bit old, guys.

Rudolph wants a normal nose, so he hides it in the snow and says he’ll stay like that forever. Yeah, no one will ever make fun of a reindeer with his face jammed in a snowbanking.

Santa: *looking at Rudolph’s glowing red nose* “You must be Rudolph!”

Rudolph: *completely seriously* “How’d you guess?”

Rudolph, please stop being stupid. At this rate, I’m going to have to make another Ash Ketchum reference and I’m only allowed three per review.

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Rudolph, don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong.

Santa gives Rudolph a nice scarf and tells him he likes his nose. +1 over Rankin/Bass Santa. Rudolph tells him about everyone mocking him.

Rudolph: “It hurts, your honor.” Your honor? The hell? He’s not a judge. That sounds so weird.

He believes he can’t be a flyer because of his nose, but Santa tells him everyone’s different and that he has a big heart. Song break time as Santa tells Rudolph that everyone’s important in Santa’s family, and Rudolph’s a part of that family. John Goodman’s singing this, so it’s alright, but the song is mediocre to say the least. Also, I’ll be addressing the animation later, but they very clearly show Santa talking/singing for about three seconds in the sleigh with no singing or talking actually happening.

This is nice and all, but that just begs the question, if Santa likes Rudolph in this version and everyone highly respects him (to the point where he’s called ‘your honor’) why can’t Santa just tell everyone to stop mocking Rudolph? They would most likely listen. I know Santa just met Rudolph, which is odd considering he’s a fawn of one of his flyers, but he must’ve heard about him and known everyone makes fun of him. And why are the elves, who have also been making fun of Rudolph, now singing along in this song of acceptance to him?

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Another pointless and, at this point, friggin’ annoying micro song break by the northern lights to alert us that it’s now Christmas Eve and Santa’s heading out. Thanks. As Rudolph tries to get a better view of them heading off, we get understanding of where a good chunk of the budget probably went – Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime.

As they fly away, Rudolph starts talking to himself, imagining being the new reindeer on Santa’s team and making an acceptance speech about it. Really not making him anymore likable. If he’s not being annoying or stupid, he’s being embarrassingly awkward. He thanks his crush, a doe we barely know named Zoey. Even though the rest of the voice acting hasn’t been spectacular, Zoey’s is about as awkward as Rudolph’s imaginary speech. She doesn’t sound like she’s in the scene at all – she just seems like she’s whizzing through her lines without paying attention.

She accepts Rudolph for who he is and doesn’t care about his nose. They’re about to kiss under the mistletoe when Arrow, one of their classmates and son of Cupid, shows up. (Get it? Cupid’s arrow?) It should be noted that there’s someone else in Rudolph’s class with a heart shaped mark on their forehead, but Arrow has no mark yet is actually Cupid’s kid. I guess he could be his brother, but I feel like there was a miscommunication in the art department.

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Arrow’s basically Ronno from Bambi, which is strange because his father’s namesake is the god of love. He makes fun of Rudolph and is trying to get in Zoey’s metaphoric pants. Here’s the thing, despite standing up for Rudolph and coaxing him into kissing her, Zoey says they’re only friends and even follows Arrow when he tells her to, even though there seems to be no reason for it. Give Faline some credit – when she went with Ronno, it was because he was obviously forcing her to go. Here, it just seems like Zoey really doesn’t want to be seen with Rudolph or is, for some reason, obligated to go with Arrow.

Rudolph gets all excited when Zoey looks back at him and yells out that she likes him, but again, dude, she just totally ditched you to walk home with Arrow. You might be able to argue that she left so Arrow would leave Rudolph alone, but leaving with him just gives him all the power in that situation. He got the last word, the last laugh and the girl.

The northern lights show up again to tell us yet another year has passed and Rudolph has been training the whole year for the junior reindeer games. Thanks for continuously breaking the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule of filmmaking in such a terrible and sloppy manner, you animated canker sores.

Zoey gives Rudolph her heart pendant for luck, and they all start the games, which begin with a race.

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Arrow’s purposely crashing people but Rudolph manages to keep up with him. Arrow pisses him off by telling him Zoey’s only nice to him because she feels sorry for him, prompting Rudolph to shine his nose and temporarily blind Arrow, sending him crashing. Rudolph wins, but is disqualified for illegal use of a glowing red nose (that’s actually a rule?) and is banned from the rest of the games.

And, of course, Arrow wins by default.

Oh boy! I get to rant! Whee!

First of all, this is one of those irritating as hell times where an antagonist is clearly cheating, tons of people witness it, yet no one cares. Rudolph and Doggle even point out that he’s cheating, but don’t say a thing as Arrow’s crowned winner. He’s purposely crashing people – you can tell without so much as a question. Did Rudolph technically win illegally too? Yeah. And he shouldn’t win the race like that, but disqualifying him and not Arrow is ridiculously stupid and unfair.

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Second, Santa and Mrs. Claus also agree that this isn’t fair yet Santa says the judge has the final say in this, not them. Uh, no. You’re Santa Goddamn Claus. You have the final say in everything. Even if you were just a spectator, if you feel something’s been done unfairly, you have a responsibility to speak up and ensure fairness in the competition.

Third, why the hell does Arrow win by default? If the first place winner is disqualified, the honor usually goes to the second place winner, who was Zoey. Arrow didn’t even cross the finish line from what we saw. It went number five, who was Rudolph, seven, who was Zoey, and four who was some other reindeer. Arrow was one and he never crossed.

Are you telling me he won because he was neck and neck with Rudolph before his nose glowed? That’s not how races work.

Zoey angrily tells off Arrow, saying he’s a cheater. So you know he cheated too…..TELL SOMEONE. There are several officials around you – say something!

Arrow doesn’t care, and Zoey says he doesn’t deserve to be a flyer because true flyers are brave, have character and true hearts, like Rudolph. To which Arrow responds.

Arrow: “Tch, but he has a red nose.”

Air tight logic, there.

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It occurs to me that one of the more common design elements of Santa himself is a big red nose. It doesn’t glow and it’s probably due to cold, but it’s true.

Zoey: “I don’t want to be your doefriend anymore.” Wait, what the hell? She really was dating Arrow this whole time?…..Two-timing whore! Why would she be with him anyway? For over a year! She doesn’t even seem to like him. What is with this girl?

Rudolph, hearing his father refer to his nose as an ‘accident’, runs away, even though his father was actually trying to defend him.

We get another song break, Show Me the Light, which is a duet between Rudolph and Zoey. It’s alright, but fairly short and pointless. He’s lead to a frozen lake that seems to be bathed in rainbow light. Just when you think the northern lights might actually be useful to the plot, he turns away from it. ‘Show me the light….so that I can walk away from it.’ The northern lights actually do show up and light up a cave….that is literally ten feet away from him. Good job.

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Taste the rainbow, idiot.

He tries to lie down for the night when he meets Slyly the fox – one of those characters who acts like a tough guy and picks fights, but is really an idiot a coward. To make things worse, he has a mobster accent.

One of the most pointless and annoying song breaks ever comes up next. It’s just Slyly trying to cheer up Rudolph by saying it could always be worse, and 95% of the song is just him and his creepy background singers saying ‘Remember, it could always be worse.’

Rudolph reveals his nose to Slyly and has a ball, completely unprompted, making fun of himself before he believes Slyly will. Whatever develops your characters.

Blitzen and Mitzi go to ask Santa to help them search for Rudolph. He thinks about it for a while when Zoey’s parents burst in asking Santa to help them find Zoey since she went off to find Rudolph. Santa immediately pops up and says he’ll send a search party out as soon as possible. Guess he didn’t like Rudolph as much as he let on.

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Zoey tries to cross Stormella’s bridge to find Rudolph. Zoey, sweetie, please use your brain. If the only way over this chasm is over this bridge and Stormella hasn’t opened a meteorological can of whup-ass on the village, then Rudolph probably went a different way.

Stormella catches her and relishes the fact that she can now set that terrible storm that she could’ve created at any time without conditions on the village.

Did I say ‘damsel in distress plot’? Mmm that’s some grade A trope right there.

Rudolph and Slyly are ousted from their cave by an avalanche that was caused by ‘the plot said so’ and they travel to another cave owned by Leonard the polar bear – another one of those characters who sounds like a complete dumbass because they have to preface nearly everything with ‘duuhhhhh’. They trick him out, they make friends – it really doesn’t matter.

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The northern lights finally make themselves useful as plot advancers and tell Rudolph that Zoey’s been kidnapped by Stormella. Rudolph’s the only one who can save her for some reason, because….his nose light….is full of love and….stuff?

Rudolph and Leonard cross the bridge and head towards the ice catacombs of the ice fortress without Slyly because he’s too scared. Gee, I wonder if this is the last we’ll see of him. I sure hope he shows up in a pinch moment to save the day out of nowhere because that would be unexpected. But what are the odds of that?

Stormella can’t see who’s crossing the bridge through her crystal ball thing because the light is blinding her view, and she just thinks the alarm is malfunctioning…..you’re telling me people could’ve easily crossed the bridge as long as they had a relatively strong light with them? You’re a horrible villain. And why is a polar bear wearing a snow hat?

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1998: “Huh?”

Sorry. It was bugging me.

Zoey starts a reprise of ‘Show Me the Light.’ The song actually has a point this time because they follow her voice to find her through the maze, which wouldn’t actually work in real life, right? Don’t echoes within areas like that make finding people through sound near impossible?

They’re lucky Stormella’s too stupid to have guards set up in the prison, but they get caught by Stormella anyway. How she knew they were in there, I have no clue. The point is, now Rudolph and Leonard are imprisoned too.

Stormella: “That doe crossed my forbidden bridge, and now I’m throwing the storm of the century.”

Zoey: “But…but it’s almost Christmas! A storm will ruin everything!”

Stormella: “Hit it, Ridley.”

*Ridley appears on a turnstile piano behind the wall and starts playing the next musical number.*

*Stormella uses her magic to put on a different gown, change her hair, make a microphone and put a spotlight on her*

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Stormella: “I get a certain thrill from every fallen snowflake.”

Nope, nope. Stop. Stop! Too many questions! Let me catch up!

*sigh* Alright.

First, how does ‘You’ll ruin everything’ instantly translate to a song cue?

Second, how long was Ridley waiting behind that wall? Did they rehearse this? Did she wake him up just to say ‘Hey, we have a musical number coming up’?

Third, why is there is a grand piano on a turnstile behind the wall of this dungeon? Does Stormella really like entertaining her prisoners?

Fourth, why are they taking the time out to sing a song right now if she’s so antsy to get her storm brewing? This is worse than monologuing.

Fifth, is there a ladder in her hair? That definitely looks like a ladder.

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Addressing the song as a whole, it’s terrible and only serves the purpose of explaining two things – she loves storms and hates Santa. For no reason. None whatsoever. She just hates him. The song is literally titled ‘I Hate Santa Claus’, but she gives absolutely no reason why. Character motivations sure are hard to write.

Zoey: “Rudolph, you mean everything to me.” That’s why I was banging that complete jackass behind your back for over a year. Love youuuu!

Stormella starts her storm, and guess who shows up? Plot conven—Slyly! He gets the key from a sleeping Storme—sleeping Stormella? Literally ten seconds ago she was making her huge Santa-ruining storm and now she’s sound asleep in her bed? Who is editing this? And why would she fall asleep now? Wouldn’t she stay awake to watch her plan unfold?

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They start to escape but Stormella wakes up and corners them. In an effort to save Zoey from her wrath, Rudolph shines his nose so bright that it temporarily blinds Stormella and knocks her off a cliff. As she hangs from the cliffside, she begs for help and Rudolph goes to save her. She’s a witch who can create storms, ice formations and evening wear with a flick of the wrist, but she can’t fly or use magic to help herself up?

Rudolph and everyone else, including Stormella’s wolves, pull her up. She’s very thankful and even lets them go, but Slyly says that since Rudolph saved her life, she owes Rudolph one wish – such are the rules of the north pole…..those rules would only apply to magical beings who can grant wishes….did they make this weird rule purely for Stormella and maybe Santa? That’s stupid.

He wishes for Stormella to be nice, and I’ll admit him responding to her resistances to his wish by just repeating ‘I want you to be nice’ over and over is a bit humorous. It works, but she can’t stop the storm.

They leave, but can’t navigate in the storm. Rudolph lights up his nose, but even though it lights the way, they still say they won’t make it home in the bad weather—wow, that kinda pokes a hole in the finale of the song, doesn’t it?

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Never the mind because Boone and Doggle, who have been miraculously following them despite having no clues (yeah, they found Rudolph’s stuff in the cave, but how’d they find the cave? And how’d it lead them to the fortress?)

The ever-annoying fairies pop up again for another micro-song interlude just to say it’s storming and Santa’s holding a meeting. Thank you. Please shut the hell up.

Santa cancels the trip because of the storm, and Rudolph and the others show up. Apparently, Boone and Doggle’s snowmobile doesn’t have headlights (seriously, it’s the late 90s now. There’s no excuse for lack of headlights on vehicles.) and despite the fact that they were navigating the storm perfectly fine without them, they use Rudolph’s nose light to guide their way back home.

Blah blah, guide my sleigh tonight.

Zoey gives Rudolph a kiss before he leaves, just to solidify that they’re a thing now….I still think she’s a two-timing whore.

Can I ask a question? From all we’ve seen of Rudolph so far, he can’t fly. Afterall, if he could, he wouldn’t worry about falling from the cliff on two separate occasions at the ice fortress. Does the medal give him the ability to fly or is this something we’re just ignoring?

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…..Something we’re just ignoring. Okay.

As Rudolph and the others make it through the storm, we get our last song, which is alright but….this is weird. I feel like the song is dated. The vocals, the music – it all sounds like a forgotten pop song from the Beetles era.

The next morning, everyone gets their gifts, including Stormella who didn’t deserve one. She’s been evil her whole life by choice and only became good by magic brain washing. Plus, she’s been nice all of 12 hours.

They return and the northern lights start singing the titular song. I don’t care what they’re singing – just make them go away. Also, it’s very weird that everyone knows the words to this completely new song. Did they rehearse this while they were away? Does this place have a popular theater department?

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The end.

Bottomline: This movie was bad, but not as horrible as it could’ve been. Comparing it to the Rankin/Bass movie, I like Donner/Blitzen and Santa better, but that’s about it. Taking RB out of the equation, Rudolph’s annoying, the love triangle shouldn’t have been a thing, Zoey’s a two-timing whore who is literally only there to be a damsel in distress love interest, Stormella’s such a pathetic villain she might as well not even be one, and there were way too many useless characters.

The northern lights had no purpose besides being a one-time plot device and providing us with pointless annoying as hell song interludes.

Slyly’s only purpose was freeing them from the dungeon, which was predictable and could’ve been done in a much more clever way without his help.

Leonard’s only purpose was…..he………Leonard didn’t do a damn thing, did he? He was legitimately entirely pointless. Wow.

Boone and Doggle were completely useless outside of causing the event that made Stormella close the bridge and make the storm condition, but I already explained how pointless that was. They came for Rudolph and the others in the end, but that could’ve easily been written as Rudolph and the others merely walking home. It would’ve been a nice use of his abilities before he went off with Santa. They didn’t even get a promotion in the end, and they barely talk at all in the second half. Santa just says they did a good job in one line and we hardly even see them again.

Arrow was completely dropped as a character after the reindeer games. He never appears again. He gets no comeuppance, he never gets ousted as a cheater, he never makes amends with Rudolph or anything – they just forget he existed.

The conflict was such a non-conflict that they had to force conditional conflicts on it in order to make it a conflict…..that makes sense, right? Not to mention that the plot was resolved in a completely lazy manner. They literally wished the problem away.

Plus, remember that thing I noted in the Rankin/Bass Rudolph review? About how it kinda fixed the problem with the moral that the song had by having everyone change their ways and apologize to Rudolph for how they acted before he saved Christmas instead of making it seem like he only gained respect and adoration because his nose finally proved useful to society?

This movie keeps that problem.

No one apologizes to Rudolph when he returns or says they were wrong for how they treated him. No one really shows respect for him until Santa asks Rudolph to light the way on his sleigh.

You could argue that they changed their minds about Rudolph before then by him defeating Stormella, but there are a few of problems with that.

First, he didn’t so much defeat Stormella as he just magically wished her evil away.

Second, the storm is still occurring either way, so ‘defeating’ her ultimately did little to nothing.

Third, Zoey stepped on the bridge and caused the storm to begin with. And why did she step on the bridge? Because she was looking for….

RUDOLPH! Meaning he, by proxy, sorta caused the problem in the first place.

There are definitely worse things to watch, and it’s not like the movie is really pushing bad messages, but it’s very lazily written, isn’t that Christmas-y and there are much better things you could be spending your time or money on.

Voice acting: Slyly and Leonard were annoyingly voiced, Rudolph’s child voice was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard, and Zoey always sounds like she’s just reading from a script and is never really acting. Blitzen sounds awkward numerous times, but other than that, everyone’s just mediocre. The best actors here are John Goodman, Debbie Reynolds and Whoppi Goldberg, who at least sound like they’re trying a little bit.

Art and Animation: Both the art and animation are pretty bad. Some of the background art and landscapes are alright, but otherwise it’s just a lot of very simple designs that barely stay consistent when moving. The animation is obviously very cheap. It juts, the cycles are very obvious, instances of cross eyes happen constantly, and there is even one occasion during Santa’s first run where you can actually see the frames overlap. It really just makes you wonder what the hell they did with the $10 million budget they had. Oh yeah, getting big name celebrities just to sell the movie.

Not like that helped because the movie only got $113k at the box office…..Wow.

Music: The background music is horrible. There are a lot of cartoony trumpet noises and doofy music when the scene doesn’t call for it. Plus, the sound effects are sometimes odd or just non-existent. The lyrical songs range from alright to terrible. Show me the Light is the best one, but that’s not saying much. The inclusion of Wonderful Christmastime brings a bit more Christmas feeling to the movie, but it feels really out of place when there are no other songs like that on the soundtrack. The rest are original songs meant for the movie, outside of the obvious.

So 1998, what do you think?

1998: “I think I just wasted an hour and 17 minutes of my life.”

What does time matter to a year?

1998: “Don’t get philosophical on me after that.”

The good news is, you didn’t get the worst of it!

1998: “What? Really?”

Yup! Farewell, 1998! I’m off to 2001!

1998: “I better warn 2001…..Wait, where’d she get a TARDIS?”

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AVAHS – Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The end.

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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.

 

AVAHS – Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

Plot: Our favorite Disney characters celebrate Christmas in three short specials.

Breakdown: Despite the fact that this used to play all the time on Disney Channel, I’ll admit, I never watched it. Why? I have no clue. But who am I to neglect giving it a looksee when it pops up on my watch list?

The first short is a Donald Duck short called Stuck on Christmas.

Huey, Dewey and Louie have a great Christmas, though they seem utterly unappreciative and selfish throughout the whole day. Not enough to ruin Christmas for everyone else, including Daisy, Gertie and Scrooge, but still enough to show that they’re more focused on the presents and food than the true meaning of Christmas.

They wish on a star for Christmas to last every day and lo and behold their wish comes true. Christmas, as in a Groundhog’s Day-esque recreation of that exact Christmas, continues over and over and over. They get their same gifts, they ride their same sleds and eat the same turkey dinner day after day. They enjoy it for a while, but quickly grow miserable of doing the same thing every day. Bored, the boys decide that the next Christmas will be spiced up a bit by abusing the knowledge they have of the exact events that will happen.

They freeze Chip and Dale, ruining their morning fun with their train, purposely knock Donald, who is carrying a tray of breakfast items, down with their gifted toys, protect themselves from Gertie’s kisses with wet suits, replace the Christmas turkey with a live one who runs through the house destroying everything, including the piano, preventing Scrooge from enjoying his Christmas carols, and the tree even falls over on Donald.

As the boys are about to sled off and avoid the rage of Donald, they stop in their tracks when they realize he’s not mad – he’s incredibly sad that their Christmas has been ruined. Donald’s card to them, which they just discard every time they grab their sleds, has been focused on, but not read, throughout each day so far. They finally read it on this Christmas, showing that Donald and Daisy wrote a heartfelt message to them about the true meaning of Christmas not being toys or even decorations, but about caring and touching each other’s hearts. They slink off to bed and promise to make the next Christmas the best one ever.

They stay true to this promise and indeed do everything in their power to make the next Christmas great for everyone. They even chop up their sleds and make it into Donald’s dreamboat/sled. Though this is a bit ruined at the very end when the sled doesn’t hold up on its first run and Donald ends up crashing.

I liked this short, but it’s insanely predictable. Not to mention, I don’t know which came first, but I’ve already seen a Christmas special about wishing for Christmas everyday – and, honestly, I think that special did it better. It was the Christmas special for Fairly Odd Parents. Timmy wishes for Christmas every day and his fairies, Cosmo and Wanda, have to grant it for him. The difference here is that everyone is cognizant of it being Christmas every day. They all get beyond sick of it, but can’t stop it for some reason. The rest of the plot really can’t be compared because it involves Santa and draining his power – I might give it a real review this month.

The only thing I didn’t really predict was that Huey, Dewey and Louie would actually aim to destroy Christmas for everyone. You could argue that they were just goofing around, but no. Donald makes a nice breakfast for all of them and they purposely knock him over to make him spill it all over himself. They open their gifts early over and over even though they know what they are and know Donald will keep getting mad at them for doing it. They disrespect Gertie with the wet suits, and completely destroy the house by letting a wild turkey loose. The only thing I can say they didn’t do was knock over the tree. That just kinda fell on its own and they didn’t care. I get that they had to reach a new low to reach the high point, but that segment really just made me think these three are some of the worst brats ever.

All in all, it had its entertaining spots, but it’s predictable and some moments kinda ruin the feel and even make me a little mad.

The second short is A Very Goofy Christmas.

This segment was a little awkward due to so much slapstick (I know that’s Goofy’s forte, but even for him it was forced here) and the awkwardness of seeing someone try desperately to prove that Santa exists when another character is presenting all of the logical evidence that such a thing is impossible. However, the ending more than makes up for it, and the premise is more original than you’d be lead to believe.

Max and Goofy are excited for Santa’s arrival, but Pete, being Pete, has to be an ass and laugh at both Goofy and Max for believing in Santa. He even straight up tells Max to his face that several aspects of him just make no sense. Max has a crisis of holiday faith and gets both depressed and frustrated that Santa doesn’t really exist. Max’s reaction in this situation is extremely realistic. He flip flops a bit between believing and not, and you can really see that he genuinely wants to believe, but everything he’s seeing and hearing is telling him otherwise.

Goofy’s belief in Santa never wavers, and he tries desperately to get Max to keep up the faith. Goofy is being such a sweetheart and wonderful father here. He cooks a huge dinner for his less fortunate neighbors and even dresses up like Santa for their kids. I was a bit unsure about this short until my heart melted when Goofy shoveled the words ‘Don’t forget Max’ in the snow.

The original aspect I was talking about was Goofy’s belief in Santa. Parents trying to keep their kids believing in Santa is nothing new, but the parents legitimately believing in Santa is an oddity. It’s especially impacting when Goofy’s faith finally falters and Max does his best to cheer him up.

Of course, Santa is real and brings Max the snowboard he wanted. When Max asks why Goofy didn’t get anything, he says he asks for the same thing every year and gets it every year – Max’s happiness. And then I got a mop because my heart exploded.

Pete even gets his comeuppance by learning Santa does exist and having Santa take all the snow from Goofy’s yard and plopping it into his (After he snowblowed his snow into their yard earlier). No gift for assholes who ruin Santa for children – and this is coming from someone who never believed in him.

Our final short is Gift of the Magi, a Mickey and Minnie short, and it’s the weakest of the bunch.

It’s insanely predictable from start to finish. They’re focusing on a trope that is so overused, I’ve already watched a Christmas special that parodied this trope for this year’s AVAHS. In Futurama’s Xmas Story, Zoidberg buys a pair of combs for Amy’s hair but she said she sold it to buy combs for Hermes. In turn, Hermes said he sold his hair to buy combs for Zoidberg, who reveals he bought both of their hair and now has a luxurious head of hair to comb.

Mickey has a nice gold harmonica that he loves and Minnie has a nice gold pocket watch that she loves. Minnie obviously intends on buying Mickey a case for his harmonica. Mickey intends on buying Minnie a nice gold chain for her watch. This is established within the first few minutes of the short. Gee. I sure wonder where this is headed.

By the way, am I not up to date on Disney characters or something? When did Mickey and Minnie get so destitute? They live in a crappy house, wear patched up clothes and they keep their money in a sack.

Also, Pete is again hateable by trying to force an expensive ten foot tree on a clearly poor family by making the parents feel like garbage if they don’t. At least he still gets comeuppance.

Mickey’s being a sweetheart, like Goofy. He plays a harmonica concert for a charity toy drive and nearly misses getting to the store before closing because of it.

Though, really, poor guy playing harmonica. Come on, tropes. Chill out.

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As a whole, this movie definitely has its ups and downs, but it’s a nice film to watch around the holidays. The Goofy special is definitely the best with Donald’s short coming in second and Mickey’s in last purely because at least Donald’s short had its funny moments and Goofy had its heartwarming moments.

This movie had a sequel aptly named Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas. I shall get to that before the season’s over.

AVAHS – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rankin/Bass)

Plot: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows. All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never—you’ve heard the song before. Don’t act like you haven’t.

Breakdown: I was on the fence about doing this review because, while I do watch this special every year like many people, it’s a time honored classic that’s just hard to review. So let’s look at this objectively and see what problems there are with this story.

Donner, one of Santa’s flying reindeer, is a new father to a fawn named Rudolph. However, he’s appalled when he discovers that his new son has a glowing red nose. And I mean absolutely appalled, like he’s the anti-christ or something. When introduced to Santa, he basically acts the same way. He even goes so far as to imply that Rudolph will never be a reindeer on his team because of his nose…..which I don’t understand at all. What does a glowing red nose have to do with pulling a sleigh? It may be a tad distracting, but no worse than a little red light on your dash from a GPS or a security system or something.

I will admit that the three-year-old-with-a-recorder sound effect that comes up when his nose glows is annoying, though.

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Too cute to stay angry about the noise.

As Rudolph gets a little older, Donner, still ashamed of his demon spawn, actually gets him a fake nose so he’ll be more socially acceptable. And, really, it only seems like Donner gives a crap about his son when his nose is covered up. This special made me really hate Donner. Dasher all the way, man!

The prosthetic nose seems to work as Rudolph is very accepted by the other reindeer. He manages to make a new friend in Fireball, who inexplicably has hair on his head (also, what a rip off to be named Rudolph when your friends have names like Fireball) and he catches the eye of a doe named Clarice.

They’re about to start reindeer training with Comet, but Rudolph chats up Clarice because he’s a baller.

After hitting it off with Clarice, he starts flying all over the place in gleeful excitement, which impresses Comet and Santa. But his fake nose falls off and everyone starts making fun of him. Comet tells them to stop it and continues on with the training, but he bans Rudolph from the training and says the familiar phrase of not letting Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Even Santa’s a jerk here because he chastises Donner for lying and then says it’s a shame Rudolph still has that nose because he did a great job flying. I still don’t get it. Also, if his nose was covered successfully before, just get him a better fake nose if the glowing is such an issue. This is like someone getting rejected from a IT job because they have an eleventh toe.

Luckily, Clarice is a nice doe who sounds eons too old for Rudolph. She cheers him up through a song so angelic that she pulls a Disney Princess and gets the woodland creatures to sing too. And like a good Disney Princess, she also falls in love with Rudolph in the time frame of four minutes.

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He’s about to walk her home when her father arrives and forces her to go back to their cave, banning her from associating herself with a red-nosed reindeer.

Meanwhile, we have the plot with Hermey the elf, who is not happy being a toy making elf and wants to be a dentist. However, all elves are damned from birth to live a life slaving in a toy factory. Also, dentists don’t exist, I guess, which is weird because they’re in a world where you’d assume they live on a diet of candy and cookies.

He gets fired from his job and meets up with Rudolph, accepting him for who he is because he’s a fellow misfit. After an ear-worm song break, the two go off on an adventure.

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After surviving the first night in the frozen tundra, they meet Yukon Cornelius, an eccentric mountaineer and prospector who travels by sled dog and hunts for silver and gold. He also likes to lick his pickaxe…..he can taste minerals or ore….I don’t….he licks his pickaxe is all you really need to know.

Throughout the movie, there’s been one thing we’ve been warned of in regards to a threat – The Abominable Snowmonster of the North, Bumble. A monster who scared the hell out of me as a kid and still kinda does. The design of the thing is offputting enough, but the first time you see him, all you see are his legs and feet, which are immensely larger than Donner and Rudolph. But really the thing that gets me about him is his voice. Or should I say his ear-piercing screech? You expect monsters to roar, but this thing has a shrill yell so loud I think this movie should be re-edited with warnings in place for headphone users.

Bumble is following Rudolph’s nose light, which results in them reaching a dead end in the ice. Yukon saves them by chipping off the part of the ice they’re on, which allows them to escape since Bumble can’t swim.

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Please make this go away.

And hey, let’s have some good ol’ fashioned 1960’s sexism!

Narrator: “You can bet that Donner felt pretty bad about how he had treated Rudolph, and he knew that the only thing left to do was to go out and look for his little buck. Mrs. Donner wanted to go along, naturally. But Donner said ‘NO! This is man’s work!’” No worries, though, because Mrs. Donner and Clarice go off on their own anyway because they don’t need no man.

Floating on the ice, Rudolph, Hermey and Yukon crash into the island of misfit toys, which is self-explanatory. I don’t really understand why some of these toys are outcasts, though. The first toy we meet is a Jack-in-the-box who no one wants because his name is Charlie…..Uh, dude, just change your name. It’s not like it’s written on you….just call yourself Jack. I get that it’s not about changing yourself to suit societal norms, but it’s a name – something that was given to you and something that is easily changeable…

Then we have matryoshka doll whose final doll is a wind-up mouse, which I guess makes sense.

A pink polka dotted stuffed elephant which makes a little sense, but since when do kids complain about not getting color accurate to real life version stuffed animals?

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A doll, which looks normal, a toy airplane, which looks normal, a teddy bear, which looks normal – just a lot of toys which look normal. There’s a toy train with square wheels, which must be the fault of a drunk elf because that’s ridiculous, and a toy gun that squirts jelly……….uhhh…..empty the jelly and fill yourself up with water….it’s not that hard….there’s water right there.

There’s also a bird that doesn’t fly and instead swims…..that’s called a penguin, just in case you’re wondering. A cowboy riding an ostrich, which, come on, that’s awesome. What kid wouldn’t want that?

We also have a boat that can’t stay afloat……alright, I concede on that one.

Rudolph asks if they can stay on the island since they’re misfits too and Charlie tells them to ask King Moonracer, who not only has a kickass name, but he’s also a damn winged lion with his own castle.

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I need a Moonracer doll right now.

They ask if they can stay on the island, but Moonracer refuses, stating that living beings, unlike toys, cannot hide themselves away on an island. Don’t worry, Yukon points out the irony that Hermey and Rudolph can’t even belong with other misfits. Moonracer asks them for a favor to help the misfits toys. Since they live in Christmas Town, Moonracer asks them if they’ll tell Santa about this island to help find good homes for the misfit toys. They agree and Moonracer gives them a place to sleep for the night.

Afraid that he’ll put his friends in danger with his nose calling Bumble, Rudolph leaves in the middle of the night and floats off on his own. He spends months on the run from Bumble, and no matter who he meets, he still gets treated like a freak. He grows into a full grown buck and decides to return to Christmas Town to face his problems head on. The other bucks are still jackasses, and when Rudolph returns home, he finds that his mother, father and Clarice have been gone searching for him the whole time he’s been gone.

Santa says he’ll never be able to fly without Donner, and with Christmas days away, it’s a real emergency……uh….Donner’s been gone for months and you’ve clearly been training other reindeer. Why not use one of them?

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Just then, a massive snow storm hits, which also threatens Christmas. Rudolph has to brave the storm to find his parents and Clarice, but luckily he knows exactly where to look – the cave of the abominable snowmonster. And luckily he knows exactly where that is. And luckily they do just so happen to be there. And luckily, despite being held hostage by Bumble for god knows how long, he has yet to kill them.

Rudolph and Bumble start an epic battle and Rudolph gets beaten to death with a stalactite. What’s that?…..He lives? No, no, that’s not a livable event……Really?….Whatever.

Luckily, Hermey and Yukon have been looking for Rudolph since he left and, luckily, they just happen to decide to go back to Christmas Town right when Rudolph went, and, luckily, they learned where Rudolph was going and got there quickly. Plot convenience is hella fun.

Yukon knocks Bumble out with a rock and Hermey pulls out all of his teeth (!!!), rendering him harmless. But I guess that’s not enough because Yukon also knocks him off a cliff, taking him with him.

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I feel like I’m watching a serial killer origin story.

Rudolph and the others return home where the worry over their safety has made the citizens of Christmas Town all realize what jerks they were. Santa and Donner apologize to Rudolph, Santa promises to find homes for all of the misfit toys and Hermey’s boss apologizes to him, telling him he can open a dentist office next week after Christmas is over…without proper schooling or a license. Let me remind everyone that earlier he was performing dental work on a doll by tapping her teeth with a hammer.

Yukon reveals that he not only survived, but so did Bumble, who is now inexplicably reformed and wants a job in Christmas town. How did Yukon survive? Because Bumbles bounce…..Hmm…..rant about physics or biology? Decisions, decisions.

Business as usual at Christmas Town until the song’s plot continues. There’s a terrible storm and Santa can’t navigate in such terrible conditions, so Christmas is canceled.

But then…..one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’ Then the FiddleTwix complained, because that’s not how it works. The weather conditions have been changed from fog to one of the worst blizzards in history. A dinky red light is not going to help you much. Not only is red probably the worst color to use for a navigation light, but it certainly won’t help combat the winds and snow. Even if it was fog, the light would just reflect off of it. That’s why you don’t use your high beams in fog…Why hasn’t Santa ever thought to add headlights to his sleigh anyway? It’s 1964. At least have a lantern or something. I’ll shut up now.

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And then all of the other reindeer mocked Rudolph for his pink harness and Rudolph flew them into a mountainside.

Donner: “I knew that nose would be useful someday. I knew it all along.” Shut up, Donner. No one likes you.

I guess that leads us to one of the more prominent issues with the message here. The movie actually fixes the message problem that the song has. In the song, you’re lead to believe that Rudolph only gained social acceptance because his shiny red nose was useful to Santa, meaning you’ll be treated as an outcast if whatever deformity or issue you have doesn’t contribute to society. Here, though, the other reindeer, Santa and Donner all feel remorse and accept Rudolph before this ever happens. While he does gain higher social status because of it, he doesn’t gain acceptance because, hey, we can actually use laser face over there to further our needs.

I’d still say Donner is adhering to this because while he seems accepting of Rudolph before, he really only seems proud of him after he saves Christmas……also, why is Donner being left behind? Rudolph’s at the front on his own. Donner should still be in the pack.

I think we should be more concerned about the message Mrs. Claus is giving. Her one role over this whole movie is obsessing over fattening Santa up because kids expect a fat Santa….even though….ya know….they shouldn’t be seeing him at all. She actually seems to force feed him from skinny to about 200 pounds heavier in the course of a day. Merry Christmas, kid! I got you a Santa dying from a heart attack under your tree! After Santa wakes from his coma, he’ll enjoy his gift of an eternity of body image issues!

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I would complain more about this, but I’m actually more distracted by the background. Why did they put up the alphabet with a bunch of random arrows?

Santa goes to the island of misfit toys and rescues them all. How Santa knows what kid would like what deformed toy, I don’t know. Also, the bird who couldn’t fly gets murdered because the elf sending off the packages pushes him out of the sleigh without giving him the umbrella. Did you not listen to the song, elf?!

What else is there to say about this special besides stop motion is creepy?……Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I love those old Rankin/Bass specials too, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still find stop-motion, especially old stop-motion, to be incredibly creepy. Not as bad as claymation, but still creepy.

It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s a heartwarmer for people of all ages. It has its oddities, and a terrifying snowmonster and logic problems up the wazoo, but it’s still fun, endearing, has some nice music both original and songs by Burl Ives, and it’s a staple for any household around Christmas. If, somehow, you’ve never seen it before, give it a watch. Maybe you can make it a Christmas tradition too.

Then all the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you’ll down in history!

AVAHS – A Muppet Family Christmas

Plot: The muppets spend Christmas at Fozzie’s mother’s house.

Breakdown: It’s December! Which mea–

Elephant: Muppets still aren’t technically animatio–

Still don’t care! It’s time for A Very Animated Holiday Special, where we watch and review as many holiday specials as we can get our hands on over the month of December! And I have a bit of a request for you all. If there’s an animated holiday special or movie you’d like me to review, feel free to ask and I will do my best to gift wrap it for you. I am particularly interested in any winter holiday specials that aren’t Christmas, because I’m kinda hard up for some variety. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, etc. Throw ‘em at me.

And now to today’s presentation – A Muppet Family Christmas! Made in 1987, this is a very simple special where the muppets all spend Christmas at Fozzie’s mother’s house. She was going to go on a tropical vacation for Christmas, and she was about to rent out her place for the holidays to some guy named Doc who wanted to spend Christmas alone with his dog, Sprocket.

Contrary to what you may think, it’s really not a plot point that these three have their holidays barged in on by the muppets. Doc is a bit perturbed at first, as is Fozzie’s mother, but they quickly just accept it and enjoy a happy holiday together.

Besides that, Miss Piggy is stuck in the city, trying to get to the house through a blizzard, which is something I’m completely uninterested in because I don’t like Miss Piggy.

And we have the ongoing trials and tribulations of the Swedish Chef doing everything in his power to murder a bird for dinner (he even targeted Big Bird. D:)

The other 35 minutes of this 47 minute long movie are mostly made up of the muppets singing practically every Christmas song known to man throughout the movie.

The movie is a bit bogged down by a load of Christmas carols, but it’s still pretty entertaining in its own right. There are several heartwarming and funny moments that put you in the Christmas mood. Even if I am confused as to why Doc seems so weirded out by the muppets at first when Sprocket is a muppet….Also, I’d like a tad more Gonzo and Rizzo, but that’s just my bias.

The entirety of the muppet gang is here for the holidays, not just Kermit and the gang. We also get joined by the Sesame Street crew and even the Fraggles. Including them all truly makes this feel like a big family Christmas gathering. I especially liked a joke where Doc was talking with Bert and Ernie and they kept saying the words he was saying started with specific letters. When he asked them what they were doing, they said that counted as small talk where they were from. I just thought that was a hilarious bit of pseudo-meta humor.

Jim Hensen makes a cameo at the very end if you want to finish off this lighthearted Christmas story with a bittersweet reminder that he is no longer with us. Thanks for giving us a little Christmas magic, Jim.

Dissecting the Disquels: Stitch! The Movie

* “Meet two other experiments, see previews of about ten others and watch the TV series and other sequels to get at least glimpses of the rest. Also, 625 is not their friend, I don’t know why he’s in the dune buggy or hanging out with Lilo and Stitch.”…What? Not a catchy tagline?

Rating: 7/10

Plot: Dr. Hamsterviel, former evil assistant of Jumba, is after the other 625 experiments that came before Stitch. In an effort to retrieve them, he enlists the help of Gantu, who kidnaps Jumba and obtains the pod for experiment 625. Lilo and Stitch have to protect Stitch’s cousins and rescue Jumba or else the universe will be threatened by the powers of the failed experiments.

Breakdown: We’re kinda nudging what might be considered a real Disquel here, but it fits the criteria well enough. It’s a sequel of what many would call a recent Disney classic. It was a direct-to-DVD movie. And, best of all, it’s obviously masquerading as a sequel when it’s really the pilot to a TV series.

However, unlike many other Disquels, I think this works quite well as both a sequel and a TV pilot.

Exploring what the other 625 experiments are like is a valid question left behind from the original movie. One can assume that a good chunk of them are just duds, but many of them have to have amazing powers and abilities as well as interesting character designs.

Finding and reforming each experiment by finding where they truly belong is actually a great idea for a long-running series, even if we don’t ever get to formerly meet all 625 experiments (Damn the Disney 65 episode rule), and this movie sets up this plot in such a way that doesn’t seem incredibly forced or like it’s a bunch of episodes stitched (puns!) together. It’s also interesting to note, though it’s not mentioned in the movie, that each experiment had a different purpose in addition to power set. While Stitch was designed purely for chaos and destruction, other experiments were designed with different purposes such as psychological warfare and elemental manipulation.

Even the art and animation don’t take a huge hit. It’s obviously nowhere near the original movie’s, but it’s still some of the best animation we’ve gotten for a Disquel. It’s somewhere between the original movie’s and the TV show’s quality. Some of the CGI is noticeable, but it’s alright.

The writing is still pretty good, though what the hell is up with David? Was he always such an apathetic asswad? ‘Gee, a little girl and her alien pet as well as her two alien babysitters are missing, the spaceship is missing, the door is broken down and there’s a big hole in the roof?….Eh I’m sure she’s fine. I’ll fall asleep watching TV while her older sister, my sorta girlfriend, searches over the island for her in a panic.’

There are still many jokes and funny scenes that work well and I was never rolling my eyes at anything. However, unlike in the original movie, there is a distinct lack of heartwarming scenes. Lilo and Stitch share one while imprisoned, but that’s about it.

The fact that Stitch can’t fit in with people also doesn’t mesh very well with the end of the first movie. I thought he was going out in public and being around people just fine, but here he is making almost as much of a mess as he was when he was evil. They didn’t need to make Stitch feel like an outsider to make the connections to his ‘cousins’ worthwhile. How about him wanting to give his cousins what he’s found? A true home, family and happiness.

At the end of the day, this is still one of the better Disquels and it actually spawned a TV series that was pretty good. I followed it somewhat closely when I was younger, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was interesting to see the various experiments and their varying powers and personalities. I may even do a Cartoon Step-by-Step for it.

It’s certainly not as grand as the first movie, and the tension is basically non-existent due to everything about Hamsterviel being a joke (and the whole ‘I’m a hamster not a gerbil/rat/whathaveyou’ schtick is already really old) and the fact that the only experiment he has in his possession is also an annoying joke.

Experiment 625, later named Reuben, is obviously the last experiment to be made before Stitch. He has all of the powers and abilities of Stitch, but the catch is that he’s incredibly lazy and never follows orders. His one schtick, that never was or is funny, is that he does nothing but make and eat tons of sandwiches, hence his name. That’s it. How funny. Bust a gut.

Still, it’s a fun movie that doesn’t lose the style or appeal of the original movie. It’s probably the shortest of the Disquels, clocking it at a flat hour including credits, but it has more quality than several Disquels combined.

As a final note, there’s no real memorable soundtrack this time around. The original Lilo and Stitch had several Elvis songs as well as numerous Hawaiian songs made specifically for the movie. However, here, all we have is one Elvis song and one custom Hawaiian song that isn’t even really all that Hawaiian. Plus, I think that song was made specifically for the TV series not necessarily the movie because that song, Aloha e Komo Mai, will later be the Lilo and Stitch The Series theme song.

Oh well, at least there’s no song about friendship or makeovers.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone!

Final Notes: I have a Stitch Doll from the Disney Store. It’s one of my favorite things that my dad ever got me.

Also, I’m aware of the Stitch anime and the Chinese cartoon. I haven’t seen either and I’m not entirely sure I will.

Pokemon Extravaganza! Movie 04: Pokemon 4Ever – Celebi Voice of the Forest (Dub) Review

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: A boy named Sam (who is totally not Professor Oak) is transported 40 years to the future (Ash and the gang’s present) by the legendary Celebi after outrunning a Pokemon hunter. While trying to find a way back to his time, Sam, Ash and the others have to deal with a new threat who wants to use Celebi for malicious means.

Breakdown: Okay, I’m going to address something that might be confusing to some people reading this—why I don’t bother talking about the American posters for the Pokemon movies. I’ve been making it a habit to analyze the Japanese ones simply because they, for some reason, tend to be bad with the first being downright deplorable. However, the American ones have always been fantastic, in my opinion. The first was simple, yet effective with Mew and Mewtwo facing off and the, at the time, entire roster of Pokemon behind them.

In movie 02, they actually made what is my favorite Pokemon poster with the Pokeball like a planet, Ash’s (? Is that even Ash? He actually looks more like Red…) silhouette with his Pokeball to the sky and surrounded by tons of Pokemon under the legends. That was just fantastic.

The third movie’s was somewhat ripping off the Japanese poster with Entei’s picture, but it was changed up plenty to actually mirror one of the best scenes from the movie.

All of the American posters have gotten rid of the clipart clutter and the pointless additions and have made great posters that I never felt the need to bring up….

Until now.

What is this? Celebi’s fine. The ripple effect is fine. The lake shot is fine. What is Ash standing on? He’s floating in mid-air or he’s simultaneously standing on an also-floating Suicune and Celebi.

Why is he making that pose? With his hat backwards, that means that’s his capture pose.

Why is IMM almost microscopic, and why is he standing on his spider robot like that?

Why are they showing the God-awful grass monster thing?

Let’s address that title, eh? Pokemon 4Ever? Gee, 4Kids, you must think you’re clever as all hell for not only replacing a part of a word with a number, but also recycling the same for=4 joke thing from your own goddamn name. Ending any title with ‘Forever’ just seems lame anyway.

Though I did praise the poster designers for getting rid of clutter, there’s one character who kinda needed to be in this poster…..Ya know, Sam. The guy who’s supposed to be the other main character? I mean, his spot on the Japanese poster is depressingly small, but at least he was there. He gets nada in America.

Here’s where we kinda start falling off of the nostalgia wagon a bit. I never watched Pokemon movie 04 in theaters simply because it never showed in any theaters close enough to me. And, according to Bulbagarden, that’s not surprising.

Miramax released the movie theatrically in an extremely limited manner, and those theaters that did have the movie never kept it for more than a couple weeks, if that. In addition, this was hindered even further by the fact that they did no advertising for it. In fact, the first time I even found out there was a fourth movie was because I saw a commercial for the DVD release.

Also, while looking at the wiki I found that this movie was a box office bomb (though I knew that much from Dogasu who justified it because of the extremely poor marketing and theatrical release strategy.) but was also critically hated and panned by fans as well. Ouch.

I soon went out and bought the DVD and I never got much into the movie. I like Celebi and Suicune and everything, but after loving movie 03 so much, it just seemed to be not very impressive. Especially with the blech-y CGI. Apparently, this is Dogasu’s favorite of the movies thusfar alongside movie 05 so maybe I’ll see it in a better light once I’m done rewatching it for this review.

By the way, am I the only one kinda pissed at how Raikou was sufficiently snubbed in these movies? Entei gets a whole movie to himself, Suicune gets a significant part here and what does Raikou get? A special three-part episode in Pokemon Chronicles – that series people watched just to see the usually forgotten side characters left behind (IE the BetterThanAsh squad) actually do stuff on their own without Ash. The main characters of the arc he was in, The Legend of Thunder, didn’t even include any known characters – it was three completely new characters made up for those specific episodes. Poor Raikou.

There’s a very significant change between the two versions that I was debating on bringing up here or in the sub review. I would usually bring it up in the sub review, but let’s just address this incredible moment of utmost stupidity that shows that 4Kids thinks so little of their audience that they are actually willing to lose their precious money, quite a lot of it in fact, to shove a plot point into the faces of the audience. But more on that later.

For more information sub dub comparison wise, see the link to Dogasu’s comparison here. http://dogasu.bulbagarden.net/comparisons/movies/mov04.html

And now let’s get on with the show!

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We start with narration from Brock for some reason (Brock killed the other narrator! CALL THE POLICE!) giving us the regular ‘World of Pokemon’ schtick as we see a bunch of Pokemon. I recall this part of the movie specifically because it is one of the extremely rare times you ever see Porygon. Yes, the Pokemon so banned that even its evo stages are sufficiently banned from being shown in the series. They might appear for a second or two, like Porygon does here, but they will never be given spotlight in the show ever again………Even though the whole episode 38 incident was Pikachu’s fault and thus HE should be banned. Ya know, I joke about Messiahchu because he’s so glorified, but if anything Porygon and its evos sacrificed itself for the sake of the show’s mascot. Everyone salute!

The Wiki makes a weird note about this shot – Porygon’s the only Pokemon to be shown behind a chain link fence. What’s that note supposed to imply? That they purposely put Porygon behind the fence to make a statement about the character? “Oh yeah, we let Porygon in this shot, but it’s behind a fence, guys! Don’t worry! You can’t get seizures through a fence! DON’T SUE US!”

After going through the motions of the World of Pokemon opener, we get Ash’s backstory…..Why? I’m all for sprucing up the old footage, but if you’re watching the fourth Pokemon movie, chances are you know Ash’s backstory by heart.

And let me get my nitpicky gloves on. Ahem, Ash wasn’t wearing his regular attire when he got Pikachu. He was wearing his pajamas because he woke up late. In fact, that’s actually somewhat important because he only got Pikachu instead of the Squirtle he wanted because he slept late and was only able to get a leftover Pokemon instead of the three main starters. Yet they actually remember that Pikachu’s Pokeball has a little lightning bolt on it.

I love how they completely omit the fact that Pikachu was a little turdmuffin when he first met Ash. Can’t tarnish Messiahchu’s rep.

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Our actual start is in the (Obviously CGI) forest (Because trees need to be CGI) with Celebi being chased by a Houndoom 40 years in the past. Celebi is then pursued by a Scyther and actually gets hit.

We cut to a boy traveling through the forest as he comes across a mysterious tunnel in the path. He is halted by a woman with green hair who tells him the story of the voice of the forest – a spirit who travels through time. She says that the time travel of the voice of the forest is noted by a peculiar sound and if you hear the sound you should stop in your tracks because if it sees you it could whisk you away through time. The boy, Sam, thanks her for her advice and says he’ll be careful. They part ways but not before she gives him a loaf of berry bread as a snack.

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Mmm, bread covered in gravel on top of leaves. Just like grandma used to make.

Cut back to Celebi’s chase scene where it’s being overpowered by the Houndoom and Scyther who are under the control of a Pokemon hunter. Celebi escapes once more and cries out loudly.

Back with Sam, who has stopped to sketch some things, he hears Celebi’s cries and sees the Pokemon of the forest running away in fright. The pursuit rushes in front of him. He runs towards the three just in time to see Scyther and Houndoom pinning Celebi down. He tries to yell at the Pokemon to leave Celebi alone, but Houndoom shoots a Flamethrower at him to make him leave. Angered by this, Celebi wraps the two up in vines and weakly floats to Sam’s arms.

The Pokemon hunter shows up and demands that he hand Celebi over explaining in unneeded detail what he is and what a Pokemon hunter does. Because of course he’d hand over Celebi after learning he basically enslaves Pokemon and auctions them off to the highest bidder. Sam runs off, but suddenly stumbles. Celebi activates its time travel abilities and whisks them away to the future!

We zoom out of the scene and it turns into a framed picture of the forest. We’re introduced to an older version of the Pokemon Hunter being harassed by some guy in a helmet who is actually the villain of our story…..the *sigh* Iron-Masked Marauder. I don’t really have that many qualms against this guy – he’s more memorable, interesting and threatening than Lawrence ever was, but why, 4Kids? Why the Iron-Masked Marauder? Were you going for a ‘pro-wrestler’ vibe? Because that’s what I’m getting.

He’s trying to get information on Celebi from the Pokemon hunter, but he won’t give it up. Hulk Hogan decides to persuade him by releasing one of the Pokemon the hunter captured, a Tyranitar, from its cage and using a dark ball on him.

A dark ball is a creation of Macho Man Randy Savage where not only does it automatically put any Pokemon you catch under your control (and maybe have a catching ability rivaling that of Master balls – also maybe ignoring that a Pokemon is already captured by someone else) but it also increases their strength to max level. Wow, that’s really OP. Glad they’re never seen or mentioned outside of this movie.

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He works for Team Rocket, and they have something like this? Why have they not utilized and mass produced them? They would take over the world in a fortnight. Oh right, Team Rocket actually do something in the anime. Hah.

The now evil Tyranitar is commanded to Hyper Beam the place to ruins, even possibly killing the other captive Pokemon, and in the midst of the destruction the hunter gives up the location of where he found Celebi 40 years ago. Boy, I sure do hope Celebi didn’t travel to this exact time because that would be a heap of trouble.

We get our title screen and I gotta say this is probably 4Kids weakest title screen attempt so far. The animations on the vines look cheap, like something you’d see on an e-card, and the actual title itself is presented like a title of a TV show episode not a movie. Also the 4EVER crap looks twice as dumb in huge bold 3D lettering.…

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Hey, Subtitle! Get out of Lugia’s turf!

Wait, title screen!? That means! YAY DUMBASH AND FRIENDS!

This time, Brock and Misty are separated from Ash as they wait at a ferry that will be taking them to their next destination; Don’ttellthemwherethey’regoingbecausethatwouldestablishwhenthismovietakesplace town.

The ferry is about to leave and Ash is going to miss it, so Brock sends out his Crobat to find him. Cut over to Ash who is about to have a Pokemon battle with an Australian trainer….named Dundee. Really bringing your A game in the name department today, huh 4Kids? His Wiki page seems to justify this because he has a Croconaw but no, screw that. Drastically changing a character for no reason on the flimsy basis that he has a crocodile Pokemon? Ya know what? Ash has a mouse Pokemon. Better name him Walt Disney!

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I really hate when they set up scenes that very obviously show them in battle stances yet their first dialogue is like they’re meeting that very second, never introduced themselves and didn’t even realize they were going to have a battle.

Dundee chooses his Croconaw and Ash chooses, who else, Pikachu, and we get our altered theme song for the movie, ‘Born to be a Winner’. I always liked Born to be a Winner, and this movie version is pretty good….though I honestly could’ve done without the out of place record scratches.

The battle is rather boring for a movie battle. However, Ash does take this opportunity to prove his dumbness again because, after throwing Croconaw through the air and having him crash into Dundee, leaving both of them on the ground, Ash decides to Thundershock as a final blow. Hitting when the Pokemon is down is low enough, but he actually ends up shocking Dundee too because the two were still getting up from the fall. Nice going, idiot.

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As Ash goes to check on Dundee, Crobat calls him over to catch the ferry. And that’s it for your movie opener battle, hope you enjoyed it. The rest is just Ash running to catch the ferry.

sarcastic yay

As Misty and Brock see Ash running to the ferry, they wave to him and hop on the boat, but Ash is held up by a transport vehicle pulling an insanely long line of trailers with boxes. When it leaves, the ferry has departed and Ash jumps from the second dock to get on the boat. I love this shot because he’s jumping in slow-mo and trying to reach Brock, but as he misses his hand and nearly falls into the water, the song goes ‘Born to be a winner, born to be the very best’. Yes, born to be a winner and the very best that one is.

After the song ends, they speak with the same deckhand who has the voice of Duke Devlin. As he learns that the group is really interested in Pokemon, he tells them that a lot of really unusual ones are near where he lives and he can take them there if they want. They agree and Pikachu spots a Suicune far off in the forest. He alerts Ash and the other to it and they’re able to spot it for a second before it runs off.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Dreaming of Dreamworks: The Prince of Egypt

Rating: 9/10

Plot: In a telling of the Exodus story, a pharaoh named Seti has ordered the slaughter of many Hebrew babies. However, one baby is saved from the killing when his mother places him in a basket and sends him down the river in hopes of his survival in a better place. In a weird twist of fate, the baby is recovered from the river by the queen and her son, Rameses. He is adopted by the royal family and raised as their son Moses. He remains ignorant of his past until he runs into his blood sister, Miriam and brother, Aaron. As the truth of his past and his adoptive father come to light, Moses leaves the kingdom behind and later finds that he is destined for much greater things.

Breakdown: I am forever saddened that it has taken me this long to watch this movie. Welcome to The Prince of Egypt, Dreamworks second movie and a rare non-CGI movie from them. Well, okay, it’s not non-CGI. There’s plenty of CGI, but for the most part it’s regular cel-shaded animation. What is CGI is really well-done and cleverly integrated with the other animation. I’m almost shocked this came from Dreamworks because they always stay pretty clear behind Pixar in animation and art quality, but they did wonders with this. It is a visual treat to say the least, and this was made in 1998! The character art, animation and backgrounds still stand up extremely well to this day. Another movie I’d gladly rewatch for the art alone.

As stated, the story is the biblical telling of Moses and follows him all the way from him being a baby to his freeing of the Hebrew slaves. And it does not really screw around and make it all kiddie either. This is a pretty heavy movie. Granted, they still do a butt joke or two, but most of the goofy scenes are gone by the end of the first act.

You can sympathize with all of the characters, even Rameses, and you feel the emotional struggle between the two of them to go from brothers to basically mortal enemies in only the course of a couple of years. In a way, neither of them can sympathize very much with each other. Moses was not the blood son of Seti nor was he the eldest son, so he never had a lot of weight on his shoulders like Rameses did, and Rameses was never a slave nor did he wish to see the slaves as people who were worth anything. Doing so, in his eyes, would tarnish the ancient traditions which he was born to uphold.

The time skip is a little jarring but mostly just because Seti, the Queen (I think she’s the queen anyway. Moses is raised as Seti’s son so….*shrug*) and Moses’ mother, Jochebed, all seemingly die in that time when it seems like only a few years or so went by between Moses leaving and him getting the message from God. It’s understandable that Seti died because he was so old, but I have no clue what claimed the lives of the Queen and Moses’ mother. We also learn nothing of Rameses’ son.

The movie obviously takes some liberties with the story both with its religious historical roots and its Egyptian historical roots. To its credit, the movie admits that straight out of the gate. But it doesn’t stray too far from the path and is a pretty loyal adaptation of the story. I should also mention that the movie doesn’t cover the entire book of Exodus, just up to leading the Hebrews out of Egypt and a short glimpse of the Ten Commandments.

The music is phenomenal. It’s commonly set up much like a Broadway musical…I assume anyway, I’ve never seen one. But the music is epic. I’d say the only weak-ish link in the music section is “You’re Playing with the Big Boys Now” which just seems out of place considering how epic and serious the other songs are.

The point of that song is to show Moses that, despite the fact that he has the Hebrew God on his side, they have the various gods of Egypt on theirs, and if he wants a fight, he’ll get one. However, the chorus of ‘You’re playing with the big boys now’ just makes me feel like it’s a cheesy bully line.

Bottomline: Whether you’re religious or not, this is still a fantastic movie with amazing visuals, fantastic music, memorable characters, an exciting story and more. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you check it out. I wish Dreamworks did more stuff like this. Instead we got a billion Shrek movies…Also, Rotten Tomatoes gave Antz a 95 but this a 79? *huff*

Recommended Audience: No sex or nudity, but there is a scene where a woman is being given as a gift to Rameses. Mentions of baby slaughter, to alligators no less. No visuals, really, but there is a mural of the scene. Various deaths, but nothing terribly graphic. Heavy overtones that might put off the youngins…..10+?

Pokemon Extravaganza: Movie 03 (Sub) Entei: Lord of the Unknown (Crystal) Tower

Rating: 8/10

Plot: A Pokemon researcher named Shurri has been looking for the elusive Pokemon Uknown for years. When he finally finds clues to their existence, he is suddenly taken by the Unown and trapped in another dimension. He leaves behind his beloved daughter Mii, who also summons the Unown through tiles that her father found during his research. In her grief of losing her father and her mother not being around for reasons never made clear, the Uknown decide to make her wishes a reality, giving her essentially her own reality to do whatever she pleases. It’s up to Satoshi and the others to free her from this false reality and stop the Unknown from causing more trouble.

Breakdown: See, that’s a much better movie poster. Entei looks BITCHIN’, Mii’s set in an awesome shot (doesn’t happen in the movie, but still looks good), Satoshi is admittedly placed awkwardly again, but nothing major, and the only character I don’t find a lot of point in having on the poster is Rin, but I don’t mind. I do kinda mind Chikorita being that big on the poster when Fushigidane’s so small, seeing as how they both had equal screen time I believe, but again, nothing major.

I don’t expect to be writing too much for this alternative review given that movie 03 seems to be 4Kids’ best dubbing effort to date. The Bulbagarden comparison really doesn’t note much in terms of changes barring some scene shifts that actually make sense and some of 4Kids’ lame dialogue insertions and changes. However, for completion’s sake, let’s see my take on how different the subbed version is.

Beginning to Title Screen

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The original makes no tiny implication that the Unknown/Unown took Mii/Molly’s mother and that’s why he’s so intent on finding them. He just says he’s been looking for them for a long time.

Name changes of Mii to Molly and Sully Snowden (or Shurri Snowdon. I don’t really know. Every Wiki I find lists it as the first one, but it’s conflicting with other sources) to Spencer Hale (which, if his name really is Sully Snowden, didn’t need to be changed. Though I do admit it sounds like Shurri. They can technically be interchangable but eh.) Along with his assistant, John, being changed to Schuyler…..Yes…his original name was John. One of the English-est English names ever to English in England, yet 4Kids still decided to replace that with Schuyler….wow.

Title screen to Halfway Mark

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More name change notes in Lisa actually being Rin.

The theme from the original is pretty good. Definitely gets you amped up for action.

Misty said that Greenfield was a place that she always wanted to go to when she was a little kid. Apparently, in the original, Kasumi says that it was voted as being the number one place that girls want to go to. Silly boys and their lack of appreciating landscapes.

Because of this, Takeshi says there must be tons of beautiful girls there to see the sites. Brock does say the same thing in the dub, but the only reason he assumes that there are beautiful girls there is because Lisa said everything’s beautiful in Greenfield, thus the girls must be too.

Am I the only one who thinks the crystal looks kinda pretty? I mean, the mentions of it being ugly aren’t in the original, but I think it’s kinda pretty, especially with the giant flower-like structure at the bottom.

There’s no mention of Mii’s mom in the news cast, so I have no clue where the original mentions any indication of her mom leaving.

Hanako sounds way happier to see Satoshi at first than Delia did.

We get a little more backstory on Hanako and Shurri as Satoshi actually recalls that he supposedly helped Hanako a lot with her homework and that he visited quite frequently after he moved away. If anything, this just makes their situation even more confusing because, again, these characters are never seen nor spoken of after this movie.

Rin’s a lot less abrasive than Lisa.

Oh…Takeshi kinda hits on Mii too. How nice.

Also, I guess I should note that Takeshi only says that Mii’s dream Pokemon are stronger than he thought. Not that they’re stronger than real ones.

Halfway Mark to End

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So Kasumi introduces herself as ‘the prettiest girl in the world’, which is pretty damn egotistical if you ask me.

And no, you still don’t get to see the continuation of Kasumi and Mii’s battle. Maybe it was too much to animate under water.

Satoshi says while he and Lizardon are fighting Entei that if things keep going this way, Mii will be alone forever. Ash only repeated that they have to get Molly out of there. The original actually makes the fact that Mii gasped in surprise and then was hugged by Hanako make more sense. While it can make sense in the dub, perhaps being surprised at how much these strangers care for her, it makes more sense in the original. I know this kinda seems like I’m reaching for things to note, but it does hold weight.

Likewise, Takeshi only points out that Mii’s a great trainer because Gomazou/Phanpy’s Rollout was great…..then again, if her dream Pokemon really are stronger than the originals or even just unrealistically strong either way, that’s nothing really to compliment her on. If anything, the fight between Mokoko/Flaaffy and Zubat was more impressive strategically.

I mention this because, in the dub, this is where 4Kids shoehorns in the whole ‘A big part of battling is knowing when to stop.’ line……And I have to note that the dub, while being cheesy and a frightening feeling of Deja Vu to the first movie, at least it makes more sense to praise her for that instead of the power of her fake Pokemon.

Okido actually tells Satoshi to go after the Unknown and stop them, not to run out of the mansion to avoid being trapped there forever. While the dub, again, is understandable, the original makes more sense because if they don’t stop the Unknown, who knows how much land they’ll encase in crystal.

Mii never once calls Entei, well, Entei when she’s cheering him on….And dammit, yes, the dub actually may make more sense again. Molly calling Entei by his Pokemon name indicates that she finally realized that this was indeed simply a world of illusion and Entei wasn’t really her father despite the fact that she still deeply cared for him. Then again, her still viewing Entei as a mirror of her father and continuing to call him ‘papa’ despite knowing the truth can also be a big moment too. Hm.

As expected, neither version explains what the hell the Unknown are about, why they were doing all of this etc. meaning this movie shares the same issue as the dub.

It’s funny how many movies take place at night and have the very ending take place in the morning.

End Credits

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The comparison stated that the scene switch, notably changing Shurri’s reappearance to directly after the Unknown disappear instead of at the beginning of the ending credits was made to ensure audiences that Molly didn’t end up alone in the end if they didn’t bother to watch the end credits. And I have to say….I like 4Kids’ placement better. There’s nothing particularly wrong with showing him coming back in the end credits, it’s perfectly fine, but it does make more sense in a way to have him show up as the final part of the montage where all of the illusions go away.

Oh and yes, we made it from start to finish without any mention as to where the hell Mii’s mom was. Not a damn one. She just pops up in the end credits. Okay, that’s not entirely true. When Shurri disappears, they say that Mii is all alone now, indicating that her mother must’ve left for good or disappeared too, but there’s nothing beyond that.

Give 4Kids credit, at least they gave slight hints for a reasoning behind her absence. This version gives us zilch. A Wiki page I found said only that she ‘left’, whatever that really means and where they got that information is beyond me. I assume it meant that Shurri was so obsessed with finding the Unknown for some reason that she left out of frustration, but there’s no indication that he’s obsessed at all, just that Unknown is the Pokemon he’s been researching for a while.

And if she did leave because of that, 1) Why not take Mii with her or at least visit her frequently? 2) That’s a pretty bitch move. 3) Why would she just happily come back in the end like nothing happened? 4) Why wouldn’t she come back for her once Shurri was gone? 5) Why did her butler and John act as if she was an orphan now?

If she like left on a trip or something, I guess that’s plausible, but then why would Mii be confused as to what her real mom looks like? Why would she be alone on many occasions? Seriously, if she were on a trip or something or even divorced from Shurri, she’d still likely takeover custody of Mii or immediately come back for her in the event that something happened to Shurri unless she’s just a major bitchwaffle.

I’ll just go ahead and say my take on it is either to flesh out the theory about her disappearing because of the Unknown (Also, I love how the English version of Unknown is just a misspelled version.) or they should’ve killed her off. I get it, they wanted Mii to have a really happy ending to her story, but it just seems so forced to throw her mother in there with no indication as to where she’s been this whole time. Even though the dub does subtly hint as to her story, it even seems forced there.

The point is, while I’m happy that they’re all together again, it just raises an untold amount of questions that will never be answered and seems pointless other than to give Mii two parents to make her as happy as possible, which, considering that Kasumi seems to have no parents, Takeshi basically lived without either parent and had to stand in as a dad for his family until both spontaneously came back, and Satoshi may as well have a single mom, seems a bit insulting to those without both parents.

As for the ending song, The Day a Rainbow was Born by Kumiko Mori, it’s very nice and beautifully sung.

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Now for my final verdict. As much as I like to dance the night away on 4Kids’ grave, I have to be fair and mature; I need to suck up my pride and say what needs to be said.

…..Yes, the 4Kids dub was probably as close to perfection as they’ve ever gotten in dubbing anything, at least until this point. Barring the average 4Kids-isms like being too obvious with certain bits of dialogue, changing basically all of Team Rocket’s dialogue and changing the music, they did a great job on the dubbed version. Only a line or two was lame, the music was fantastic and many of the changes had actual reasons behind them that were either understandable or actually beneficial.

In fact…..Oh God, this is gonna hurt……

I…..

……..Like……urgh…..th–…..the….

………..

………………….

………………………

I LIKED THE 4KIDS VERSION BETTER!!

Okay, it’s not a huge revelation considering how much I gushed about it and given how I actually praise 4Kids several times in this review, but god I just feel so dirty saying positive things about 4Kids’ productions. I feel like, maybe, 4Kids isn’t entirely responsible for the quality of the movies, though. It just seems like sometimes they’re pressured into not being assmuffins by either Warner Bros., Miramax or some other third party. Even if that’s true, it just shows that 4Kids CAN do dubs perfectly fine, they just choose not to because screw you.

The original still has better voices and better acting of course, but I fell in love with the dub a long time ago and I can’t deny that it just does some things better. This doesn’t make it a better version. If anything, I think it’s pretty evenly balanced between the two. I just prefer the dub better.

You happy, 4Kids? Enjoy your moment of victory for there will be seldom if any other occasions for such a thing.

I feel like I need a bath now.

Next up is movie 04, Pokemon 4Ever (oy) and its accompanying short, Pikachu’s Peekaboo. And I think this will be a fairly long one….

Recommended Audience: Same as the dub.

Rango Review

Rating: 8/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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