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I Don’t Have a Skull. …Or Bones.
I finally found time to get back into the theaters … but we’ll get to that later. I told Facebook to pick what I would be reviewing next, and Facebook picked Frozen, based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, written and co-directed by Jennifer Lee, co-directed by Chris Buck, and including the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Ciarán Hinds, and Alan Tudyk.
Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are two princesses of Arendelle, but they have special magical powers. Elsa can create ice at will and Anna falls in love with anything with a penis. While playing as children, Elsa’s mutant power smashes Anna right in the face nearly killing her. She is saved by the troll king (Ciarán Hinds), who removes any memories she has of Elsa’s powers. Elsa isolates herself from Anna to keep from hurting her again, but Anna doesn’t understand why. Then their parents die because Up was such a popular movie that Disney learned that depressing kids was the way to win their hearts. When Elsa comes of age, the doors of the castle are opened up for Elsa’s coronation, which activates Anna’s mutant power when the first man says words to her. Elsa objects to their hour long engagement because you shouldn’t fall in love while waiting for your quality eyeglasses to be made and the ensuing argument reveals Elsa’s powers to the kingdom. Elsa retreats from the castle, but leaves behind an unseasonable winter to remember her by. Then Anna goes after her.
There were things that I appreciated about this movie and things I didn’t like, but overall I enjoyed the movie. They did some unexpected things with the story that I thought were interesting, but I’ll get to those later. One of the things I liked about the movie may not even have been true. I like it when Disney movies put in references to other Disney movies, like how this movie had Flynn and Rapunzel in one scene. I also heard someone speculate that the boat sinking in the beginning was the wreck from the Little Mermaid. I even noticed some of my own. Did you know that the reindeer was in the Lion King? And that the snowman was the same one from Aladdin? You gotta think about these things, people. But since this is a movie and I’m just nit-picky, I noticed a few things in the story that didn’t make sense. For instance, they talk in this movie multiple times about how it’s much better that Anna got hit in the head by Elsa’s ice powers than it would have been if she’d been hit in the heart. I kind of understand the metaphor you were going for, but just think of what you’re doing to the future doctors that are watching this! I would argue that it is at least equally as bad to have a frozen heart as it is a frozen brain. Also, what was the deal with that guy at Elsa’s coronation? Would it REALLY be that big of a deal for Elsa to grab that Diablo 3 mace and the Apple of Eden from Assassin’s Creed with her gloves on? Is it because, by the laws of Arendelle, that would make Elsa’s gloves Queen of the land? Another problem was just a continuity error. Elsa created her dress out of her ice powers, so why did her dress remain when she removed the ice from the land at the end of the movie? Technically speaking, she should’ve been naked. That’s just good science.
A lot of the problems I had with this movie were because of the message of female empowerment that saturated the movie. First of all, I’m a chauvinist, so I don’t like any lying ass movie that says women are strong. But also, it just wasn’t really consistent. Sure, they didn’t need the man to save her at the end of the movie because the act of true love was her saving her sister. That’s nice and novel for a Disney movie, but it’s not like Anna didn’t need a man through most of the movie. She saved Kristoff a few times, but she wouldn’t even have gotten close to the castle without him. And she did fall in love with him, so that’s not really that novel for a Disney movie. You might think it was because the original love interest turned out to be the bad guy, but that’s more of a “Men are dicks” message than about how women are strong. I’ll tell you a few things I DID learn about women from this movie: women LOVE chocolate and can’t control their emotions, even when it involves magical powers and leads to killing your sister … twice. So I liked the breaks in tradition like not having an evil queen and not solving every problem by making out with some dude, but I’m not going to pat them on the back too hard for it.
I think the biggest problem I had with this movie was the same I have with any musical: that it was one. I don’t mind music and singing in a movie, but not all of these songs needed to exist. I don’t get why the music at the beginning of the movie sounds like a rejected song from the Lion King. I also didn’t think I needed a song that was probably called “We Collect Ice for a Living.” Nor did I need to know that about that group of random people at all. Nor did that group of people need to be in the movie. Let’s just jump right into “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” That was a good and cute song that actually told a bit of story in a helpful way. And, of course, there’s “Let It Go.” This one is a tricky one because it doesn’t really need to exist either as it’s basically just Elsa saying she’s cool living in a castle made of ice – a story that I would’ve put together when I saw her living in it – but the song is so strong that I wouldn’t have the movie without it. The song between Sven and Kristoff was pointless, and the song with the trolls seemed to intentionally waste my time. It was all about the trolls thinking Anna and Kristoff were in love, then they said they weren’t, then the trolls basically said, “Oh, then we just wasted a lot of your time. Shall we try to save Anna’s life now?”
The cast was all great. Good singin’ pipes and good character performances as well. Kristen Bell played Anna really cute and funny, and made her very easy to engage with … which is something that Hans took advantage of. GET IT?!?! I would’ve been much different in Anna’s position. First of all, I’d have a vagina. That’s a big change. Then I would’ve hated Elsa. Not because she hit me in the face with ice and nearly killed me, but because she got mutant powers and I got jack shit! I would be so pissed at my sister if that happened! She doesn’t even read comic books!! And Anna picked a really shitty time to air out her emotional baggage with Elsa. Did you have to do it in the middle of her coronation in a crowded room full of strangers? Just imagine how much better that would’ve gone if you went to her room and hashed it out in private like a decent person. No one would’ve even witnessed it when she stabbed you in the heart with an icicle. Idina Menzel did great, but I kept wondering if Adele Tazlim wouldn’t have done better. Josh Gad did a great job with Olaf as well. He had his moments where it seemed like he was trying too hard, but most of the time he was funny and relentlessly adorable. There were two characters that I had real problems with in this movie. First was Hans. Not his motivation though, I completely agree with him on his “Bang either one of the sisters or kill them both. Either way, you’re King” philosophy. But why did you have to be the idiot that jumps the gun and lets the hero survive? Are you a Bond villain?! Anna was SO close to dying when you decided to go announce it to everyone. What if they had gone into the room as you might expect someone to do when the princess of your kingdom dies two doors down from the room you’re standing in? The very least they would’ve found out was that she wasn’t dead, and then the next part of that is that they find out you’re an asshole. Speaking of assholes: the King and Queen! “We’ll protect Elsa from the world! We’ll lock her in her room and give her no emotional issues and really teach her to value her life!” You might have at least tried to get someone to train her on how to control her powers. Those troll assholes seemed like they might’ve known a thing or two about magic.
Frozen was a fine Disney movie, but it didn’t blow me away. It broke from a few conventions of Disney movies, allowing for stronger female protagonists, but kept enough of them in to properly represent women as Cathy from the comic strips, being over emotional and loving chocolate. I felt that some of the songs were a waste of time, but “Let It Go” was my jams. I would say I probably recommend you watch this movie, but in the very least you should set “Let It Go” on a loop on YouTube. Frozen gets “Foot size doesn’t matter” out of “I love it! It’s so cute! It’s like a little baby unicorn!”
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It’s “Make Your Mommas Proud” Time!
The sad realization I’ve had about doing my reviews is that I occasionally don’t seem to find the time to see the movies I actually want to watch because I’m too preoccupied reviewing movies that have been requested or that I just want to watch to make fun of. Today’s movie is the former. I really wanted to see this movie for a number of reasons. It included the voices of many people I like, it is about something I revolve my life around, and it just looked good. But I never managed to get to the theaters to see it. When it came out on DVD later, I still didn’t get around to it. My roommate even purchased it and I still put it off until he finally had to slap me in the face a number of times with his BluRay until I agreed to watch it. And then I left it on my desk without watching it for a few times until I felt like my life was in danger if I didn’t get around to it. What I’m saying is that I’m terrified of my roommate. He’s mentally unstable and I need help. And since none of you are rushing to my aid because you’re bad people, I’ll instead review Wreck-It Ralph, the new movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, directed by Rich Moore, and starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Rachael Harris, Edie McClurg, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz, Dennis Haysbert, Maurice LaMarche, and John DiMaggio.
When Litwak’s Arcade closes, the video game characters come to life. …I KNEW IT!! One of the older games in the arcade is a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., which is a Rampage rip-off where a giant monkey or lizard creature is replaced by a bad guy named Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), who wrecks a building, and the gamer must take control of Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) to fix it. But 30 years of being the bad guy is taking its toll on Ralph, who just wants to be the good guy and get a shiny hero badge every once and a while. Ralph sets off into the other game worlds to earn a medal, going to the new first-person shooter called Hero’s Duty and jumping into the team of Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch), where he is able to earn a badge. He escapes in a pod, but accidentally takes a Cy-Bug creature with him, which causes him to crash in the saccharine sweet kart-racing game and lose his medal to a little, glitchy girl named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who wants it to join the race and become a playable character. But Ralph’s absence does not go unnoticed. Having no villain in the game is viewed as a malfunction by the owner of the arcade, and if Ralph doesn’t return, the plug will be pulled on the game. Felix teams up with his new love interest, Sergeant Calhoun, to find Ralph before it’s too late.
Disney must’ve realized that Pixar was showing them up recently because they really seem to be stepping their game up. I would put Wreck-It Ralph up against any Pixar movie as at least their equal, and that’s one hell of a compliment with some of the Pixar classics out there. I loved Wreck-It Ralph, and there’s really no reason I should even bother acting surprised about that. This movie was made for me, or at least born gamers like myself. …But mostly for me specifically. For a movie so full of hidden references as this one was, only the most dedicated of gamers will be able to get all of them, and I’m proud to say that I got them all. And, coincidentally, I am also single. They had the more obvious things like the Konami code in the game (Yes, I consider that to be something obvious; something everyone should know), but they also had smaller things you have to pay attention for, like graffiti saying “Aeris Lives” and a Leroy Jenkins reference. But then they also had things that pained my nerdiness, like making Zangief a bad guy. The only point where Zangief was a bad guy (to my recollection) was in the Street Fighter movie, and no one acknowledges that movie’s existence. You just think he’s a bad guy because he’s Russian. But it wasn’t all about the video game references for me. I thought the story was very sweet, had a simple but good message, and actually made me laugh out loud multiple times. Most of the things that made me laugh were (arguably) horrible puns, though some of them were genius. One character claims she has “Pixlexia”, they get trapped in “Nesquicksand”, and they had a Wizard of Oz/Oreos joke that I thought was great, even though I kind of saw it coming. But I can’t hold that against them. I AM a comedy genius, after all. Also, I always thought that what the guards were saying in Wizard of Oz anyway. But, just as important to the lasting effects of this movie as the comedy, this movie was very sweet. Mostly involving the fatherly relationship between Ralph and Vanellope. Also, the ending was sweet as all hell. I’ve noticed recently that some movies don’t end the way you want them to because they want to be unpredictable. This movie’s ending was perhaps predictable, but it was exactly the ending I wanted. I left with a warm feeling in my heart.
Not much to say about the atmosphere of the movie. It’s fantastic. It captures every look it goes for. And it’s interesting to see how they changed the atmosphere and design for each of the individual games. Keep an eye out for that.
The entire cast of this movie killed it. And most of them were people I loved going in. John C. Reilly did a great job, but I found myself mostly focusing on everyone else. Sarah Silverman killed it. She was relentlessly adorable, like a female, human Wall-E. I also love Jack McBrayer, but he was overshadowed by Jane Lynch, who was pretty funny with a pretty hilarious, tragic backstory. I thought it would’ve been much more progressive if her character was getting married to a lady instead, but perhaps Disney isn’t quite ready to take a stand on the gay marriage situation. They’re no Chick-fil-a. Also, he may not have a huge part in the move, but the Ace Man himself, Adam Carolla, is in this movie a little! That is so exciting to me. But he wasn’t complaining, and that’s how I like my Ace Man. I’ll stick to his podcast to get my Carolla fix.
Wreck-It Ralph was a movie that I should not have put off for as long as I did. I regret missing it while it was in theaters, but hopefully I can make it up to the movie by purchasing it on BluRay now. The story is sweet and funny enough for children and adults alike, and it’s chock full of things meant to please the nerdiest of gamers (me). All of the performances were great, but Sarah Silverman stole my heart in this movie. I think everyone should not only see this movie, but just go buy it right away. If you don’t like it, then you’re a bad person and I feel no remorse for causing you to spend money on things you don’t appreciate. Wreck-It Ralph gets “You’re a winner!” out of “And you’re adorable!”
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I am Merida, and I’ll be Shooting for My Own Hand
I have a very strong feeling that today’s movie was officially requested of me. I feel like my friend Christina Moscoscamosco did it. It may also have been my roommate Richurd. My interest was originally piqued in this movie because of Black Friday. Whilst working on Black Friday, this movie was playing in the break room. I only managed to catch about a half hour of it on my lunch before going back into the madness which is people for the most mediocre deals. Eventually, I borrowed it from my roommate with the intention of filling in the gaps I had from my brief viewing. It took up its perch in a pile of movies I had to watch and was promptly forgotten. At least until Richurd started pestering me to watch the damn thing already. And, since I’m terrified of his wrath, I present you my review of Brave, brought to you by the great people at Disney Pixar, written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, and Irene Mecchi, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and including the vocal talents of Kelly MacDonald, Peigi Barker, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Callum O’Neill, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Steven Cree, Sally Kinghorn, Steve Purcell, and John Ratzenberger.
In Scotland, the family of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) – Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and young Princess Merida (Peigi Barker) – are out on a picnic for Merida’s birthday. After giving Merida a gift of a bow, the family is attacked by a giant bear called Mor’du. Fergus fights off the bear at the cost of his foot. Later in life, now at age 17, Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is distraught to find that she is to be betrothed to one of the sons of the kings of the other three kingdoms. Merida and Elinor fight over it, ending with Merida slicing a tapestry Elinor had been working on with a sword and running away from the castle. Merida encounters a witch (Julie Walters) who has given up witchcraft for wood-carving. Merida pleads with the witch to give her a spell that will “change her mother and her fate,” having no care for the vagueness of the way she phrased that. The witch presents Merida with a cake to give to her mother. Blah blah blah, happily ever after.
I know the abrupt ending of that paragraph may have led you to believe I didn’t care for this movie. Not the case at all. This was a really good movie (as the greater majority of things that Pixar creates), but it was not without its problems. The story is probably the only thing I took issue with, but only because it’s so typical for Disney. It’s almost exactly the same story as every other Disney princess. Princess not getting along with her parents because of her responsibilities (Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas) and she’s a little tomboyish and a bit of a warrior (Mulan) and then her shit gets fucked up by a magician (Snow White, Aurora, Ariel) and it gets fixed when the beast gives its life for her (Belle). Also she hangs out with little people (Snow White) and she’s black (Tiana). Okay, I didn’t see the Princess and the Frog. But I wouldn’t call this movie derivative because I liked it. Let’s just call it “classic.” It has no real surprises, but I was happy with the slight modernization that Pixar added to it by not having the movie end when the Princess met the man of her dreams. Pretty much every Disney Princess movie ends with that, regardless of how free-spirited the character is supposed to be. After that, the only thing close to an issue I had with the movie was that the greater majority of the humor was slapstick, but that’s not even a complaint I’m that resolute with because it is a kid’s movie after all.
It’s a Pixar movie. Just saying that means that it looks fantastic. And this is one of the better looking ones too. They went cartoony with the characters, but they still looked good, and going too realistic with the characters runs you close to the danger of making them weird looking. I thought there was a chance that the bear Mor’du may have been a little too scary for children, and I base that mostly on the fact that it might have been too scary for me. They make those characters perform really well too. I really liked the body language that the momma bear has. That’s what gave me the most laughs in the movie. Also, the momma bear had a little shimmy to go with her shake when she was walking. Another thing worth mentioning is the music. It was kind of pop/Celtic musical stuff, but I really liked it. I wouldn’t be opposed to getting the soundtrack to this movie.
I never really know what to say about the performances in an animated movie. Most times the vocal cast does great jobs in these movies. They continued to do so here. And I love a Scottish accent. I wanted to fuck every accent in this movie. Especially Billy Connolly. I also thought the witch character was pretty amusing, and it amused me even more when I later found out that she was voice by Molly Weasley. I had a few issues with the Merida character though. Granted, there would not be much of a conflict and resolution in this movie without the enchanted cake, but how short-sighted was she to give it to her mom in the first place? Her wish was extremely vaguely worded in the first place. All you really asked was that the cake change your fate. Hell, I could do that for you without magic by putting a razor blade in the cake. That’d change your mom up but good! And you didn’t get much brighter when the witch gave you the solution to the spell. I figured that shit out right away. I am SO much smarter than you, Merida! Then later, when she gets trapped in the room and her father goes out to kill the bear, she tries to get out briefly and then gives up and starts crying. If you would just be a proper woman and get to sewing, that bear would turn back to human and your problem would be solved!
I managed to infuse a review of a Disney Pixar movie with cursing, mild racism, and sexism. I’m actually kind of proud of myself for that. Brave was a good movie, but they didn’t really bother to try anything that new in the story. If all Disney Princesses must have vaginas and share many common plot points, Merida will make a fine addition. But, even with that as the case, the movie is beautiful and the story is still charming. Perhaps most of the charm comes from those sweet, sweet Scottish accents, but I feel like the movie did a good job of it as well. This is a movie that you should definitely watch if you have kids, and probably should watch if you don’t. Brave gets “A princess should not have weapons at all in my opinion” out of “I think I could make you understand if you would just listen.”
Just a Cute Little Bundle … of Trouble!
My roommate and coworkers strike again. When this movie was re-released on DVD and BluRay, my coworker Ashley said that I needed to review this movie. I would normally have said “OH NO!”, but it was an official request, so I needed to. It’s not that I have anything against today’s movie, but I get nervous when watching movies that I really liked as a kid because watching it today tends to ruin my fond memories of these movies. But I had no choice, so I went to my roommate (who is the authority in this house on movies almost twice our age) and borrowed this movie. Today’s review is of the classic Disney movie Lady and the Tramp, written by Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright, and Don DaGradi, directed by Clyde Geronimi and Barbara Luddy, and including the voices of Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Bill Baucom, Stan Freberg, Verna Felton, Alan Reed Sr., George Givot, Dal McKennon, Lee Millar, and Peggy Lee.
As a Christmas present, “Jim Dear” (Lee Millar) gives a Cocker Spaniel puppy to his wife, “Darling” (Peggy Lee). Being a very imaginative person, Darling looks at the gender of the puppy and names it “Lady” (Barbara Luddy). At first, Jim Dear attempts to treat Lady like a dog, leaving it downstairs in the kitchen, but Lady’s persistence and whining gets her a spot on the bed. Soon, Lady is sleeping exclusively on the bed. Lady gets her first collar and license at 6 months old, and goes to show it to her friends, a Scottish Terrier named Jock (Bill Thompson) and a Bloodhound named Trusty (Bill Baucom). Later, Lady is perplexed that her humans are acting strangely. Jim Dear seems preoccupied and leaves in the middle of the night on strange requests from the missus, and Darling is unable to play with Lady anymore, being preoccupied knitting tiny boots. Turns out, Darling’s pregnant. Eventually, that baby pops out and Lady takes to being the baby’s protector. But, one day, Jim Dear and Darling must leave for a little while, leaving the baby and Lady in the hands of Aunt Sarah (Verna Felton). With her comes two shitty little Siamese cats that get Lady into trouble. Aunt Sarah takes Lady to get a muzzle, but Lady escapes and runs afoul of three vicious dogs, only to be saved by the street wise mutt Tramp (Larry Roberts). Tramp woos Lady with spaghetti, and later tries to talk her out of returning home, where she’ll be caged. Will these star crossed dogs end up together, or will a Disney movie not have a happy ending?
Thank goodness! This movie managed to hold up to my expectations. The story in the movie was pretty classic, but overall enjoyable. It’s fairly close to Romeo & Juliet, but with dogs and a happy ending. Other dogs don’t like Tramp because he’s (literally) from the wrong side of the tracks, and has apparently had a long and storied history of hookin’ up with lady dogs, but the love he and Lady have for each other – and his ability to kill really sinister looking rats – conquer all in the end. There were somethings that stuck out as weird in the story, though. The first thing was that this movie is completely disgusting. By my math, at 6 months, Lady is only the equivalent of three and a half years old, far too young to be canoodling with the Tramp. She’s just a baby! After that, I was really confused by the fact that Jim Dear was saying there was no way to know what the gender of the baby was before it was born, and then I remembered that this movie was made in the 50’s and set in 1910. It took me a while to realize that they actually wouldn’t have been able to tell back then. For another sign of the times, those Siamese cats were very racist stereotypes. They had the classic buck teeth that were always given to Asian people, had Asian eyes, and their L’s turned into R’s. It’s just amusing to watch movies from back in the day, when blatant racism was not just acceptable, but required. The greater majority of the dogs were stereotypical. There was a really Mexican Chihuahua, Jock the Scottish Terrier, a German Dachshund, and some Russian dog of some kind. They did have an English Bulldog, but it didn’t have an English accent or anything. This dog was, of course, my favorite. It won me over in the song about the Tramp when he was walking around singing “Bum bumbum Ruff!” Adorable. Also, that dirty bitch Aunt Sarah made me mad. First, she kicks Lady out when the baby actually likes Lady, then tries to muzzle her, then blames the Tramp for knocking over the baby … okay, that WAS his fault. Not cool, Tramp. But the baby was okay, so it’s all good. Just MILDLY brain damaged. Only bad enough to grow up to like the Insane Clown Posse. But the rest of that stuff was all that bitch Sarah. When Jim Dear and Darling left, did they not think to add, “Oh yeah, and please don’t be an abusive bitch to our dog. She’s nice with the baby,” or something? Also, dogs can’t whistle, movie! I need a little bit of verisimilitude in my movies about talking dogs!
The animation, though somewhat dated, still holds up. You can see that obvious animation thing that used to happen in most hand drawn movies where you can see a clear difference between the animation cells and the backgrounds. They do super detailed, intricate paintings for the backdrops, and then put more hastily animated cells on top, ones that are usually not shaded the same as the backgrounds. This is noticeable, but both types of animation are so pleasant that you don’t really care. Plus, it was how animation was done at the time, so you have to forgive it. The animation on the puppies alone was so gundamned cute that you become instantly endeared to the characters. Besides Lady, the adult dogs weren’t nearly as cute, but my God those puppies were adorable. From my experience of a full life around dogs of some sort, I feel like their animation completely captured the mannerisms of dogs and pulled them off brilliantly … except that dogs cannot whistle. Not at all. My English Bulldog, Jabba, has occasionally made whistling noises with his nose, but only when he’s not stomping around singing “Bum bumbum Ruff!”
I’m very happy that Ashley did not cause me to ruin a fond childhood memory. I have to work with this lady, and that would make it very awkward. But it’s not something we have to worry about now because Lady and the Tramp is still a good movie. There are some problems to be seen in the movie (most notably a couple occasions of racism), but it more than overcomes those with it’s charming story, adorable animation, and the overall warm feeling you leave the movie with. Definitely something you need to watch, and probably something you need to own. Lady and the Tramp gets “What a perfectly beautiful little Lady” out of “We are Siamese if you please.”
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It’s Only Powerline, Dad, The Biggest Rock Star on the Planet
Today’s review request sat my butt down in the Delgadoian and sent me back to my childhood. Oh wait, I mean DeLorean. How could I have made such a mistake? Either way, this movie is a cartoon from my childhood that I’ve always been super fond of. So much so that it lead me to purchase it the first time I saw it on DVD. But then I never watched it. There have been far too many things from my childhood that have been smashed by watching them in adulthood, and I didn’t want this to become one of those things. But when my friend Christian posted a video to Facebook of two of the songs from this movie, it lead to it becoming a review request. There’s a very real chance that Christian may have just shattered a beloved childhood memory of mine. We’ll see, I guess, in my review of A Goofy Movie, written by Chris Matheson, Jymn Magon, and Brian Pimental, directed by Kevin Lima, and starring the voices of Jason Marsden, Aaron Lohr, Bill Farmer, Kellie Martin, Jim Cummings, Rob Paulsen, Pauly Shore, Jenna von Oy, Frank Welker, Wallace Shawn, Pat Buttram, Joey Lawrence, and Julie Brown.
Max Goof (Jason Marsden speaking, Aaron Lohr singing) is trying to make it through high school. The combination of the clumsiness he’s inherited from his father, Goofy … Goof, I guess (Bill Farmer), and his own teen angst makes it kind of difficult. His mega-crush on schoolmate Roxanne (Kellie Martin) doesn’t help things. On the last day of school before summer Max, along with his friends Pete Junior, or PJ (Rob Paulsen), and Robert “Bobby” Zimmeruski (Pauly Shore), stage an elaborate concert, in tribute to everyone’s favorite “rock star” Powerline (Tevin Campbell), to interrupt an announcement by Principal Mazur (Wallace Shawn), with Max as Powerline. The concert has the desired effect of making Max instantly popular and making Roxanne talk to him, but he also gets in trouble for it. Worth it! Max now has a date with Roxanne to watch the Powerline concert. Unfortunately, the combination of the phone call from the principal and some bad advice from Goofy’s friend Pete (Jim Cummings) lead Goofy to think his son is in danger of going down a trouble-making path that will eventually lead him to the electric chair. Goofy’s response is to take Max (against his will) on a trip to Lake Destiny, Idaho, on a family fishing vacation the likes of which Goofy himself went on with his father. Max must tell Roxanne that he can’t go to his date with her because he’s been shanghaied and, not wanting to disappoint her, he fabricates a story about going across the country to dance onstage with Powerline. Roxanne is now really excited to have Max wave to her from the stage, and Max is now in really deep shit. Can he hijack his dad’s roadtrip in order to somehow get onstage and get the girl, and what will happen to his relationship with his dad if he does? We’ll find out!
I’m slightly embarrassed to say this, but I still really like this movie. I don’t doubt that my own reminiscences are kicking it up a notch or two in my brain, but I found this movie to be really charming with a good message and some pretty catchy songs. The premise of the movie is pretty ridiculous, but then again, it IS A Goofy Movie. The first thing that struck me about the story in this movie was that it was probably the reason I was always so excited for summer. I can recall at least three animated movies that I loved back then that started with everyone in school being so excited for summer, thus getting me very excited for summer too. Unfortunately for me, I never went on adventures in my summers. In fact, I barely went outside, but I was still excited for the IDEA of summer. After that, I got a little confused about why Max was thinking he was a loser after the song in the auditorium. You just impressed the entire school AND got in trouble for it. Neither of those things point you towards “loser” status in high school. You’d be the bad boy that is a pretty awesome dancer! But that got thrown back in my face when he actually WAS made popular AND got the girl as a result of his actions. I found it a little weird that this was clearly a kid’s movie but the biggest motivating fear that Goofy had was that his son would end up in the electric chair. I understand that is motivating and all, but isn’t that a little dark for a kid’s movie? The thing I didn’t understand even more was that Max ramped up his lies to Roxanne so much. It didn’t work to just say “I really want to go on this date with you, but my dad is forcing me to go fishing with him”, but you don’t need to take it to “He’s taking me on a trip … to LA … to dance on stage with his old buddy Powerline … and I’ll wave to you from stage … but only after Jesus comes out … and only if I can defeat Albert Einstein in a boxing match on stage … I’m going to shut up now.” For the remainder of the short movie, they fill it with ridiculous situations, over the top goofiness and slapstick while Max is being a buzzkill and we’re just feeling really bad for Goofy. Goofy was trying so hard to connect with his kid, who was in turn not having any of it. I felt bad for the guy. And it gets worse for Goofy when Max changes the trip on Goofy’s map in order to get him to LA, but I feel like Max was harshly judged for it. First of all, fate was CLEARLY telling Max to do it when the map pops out of the glove compartment on it’s own and the pencil rolls out and stops, pointing to LA. God clearly wanted him to change this thing! Secondly, Goofy gives him the map to navigate and tells him he can pick any stop on the way to Lake Destiny he wants, but then gets all butt hurt when Max takes them to LA. You told him he could pick ANY stop he wanted! He just chose LA. It’s still on the way! The movie ends with a nice little message about how your parents might not be your cup of tea, but they love you and just want to connect with you, so you should stop being a douche about it all the time. I definitely didn’t listen to this message when I was a kid, but I’m pretty sure I took another message that messed me up. I feel like I’ve avoided getting into any relationships because of this movie, because it is so hard to find out what a girl’s favorite artist is and get on stage with them at a concert just to impress them.
The characters mostly worked in this movie, but they were also just well known Disney characters for the most part. Max was the main star of the movie and was pretty easy to relate to when I was that age. We all know what it’s like to be embarrassed by our parents and think they’re the worst, but most of us grow up to at least realize that they were trying their best for us, even if it wasn’t what we wanted. I hope my mom doesn’t read this and come at me all gushy and huggy over this. I felt really bad for Goofy through the movie. His heart was in the right place. Pete, as he was supposed to be, was an asshole. Most of the bad situations Goofy ended up with Max in was because of bad advice from Pete, who was no great father to begin with. I feel like most kids nowadays could probably count themselves lucky that they don’t know who Pauly Shore is, but this movie reminded me. His character was pretty obviously just trying to capitalize on his inexplicable fame at the time because it was just Pauly Shore as a dog … thing … or whatever the hell Goofy and Max are. Speaking of which, Roxanne was pretty attractive for a … whatever they are. She had the classic hair in front of one eye and the little Marilyn Monroe beauty mark on her cheek. I don’t know, this is probably an attraction I should not be having. I didn’t get how Max was calling Powerline a “rock star” when he was OBVIOUSLY a “pop star”. Tevin Campbell supplied the singing voice for Powerline, but I really enjoyed the songs in this movie, particularly his songs “Stand Out” and “I2I”. And this movie is REALLY a musical, having two songs in a mere 10 minutes of movie, but the songs were all enjoyable to me. But the star of this movie for me is Frank Welker as Bigfoot. That Bigfoot character still makes me laugh today. He’s somewhat intimidating when he needs to be, but most of the time he’s kind of adorable. I still laughed when the headphones landed on his head and he started getting into “Staying Alive” by the BeeGees. The part that made me laugh was when Goofy and Max were having a serious conversation in the car and, through the back window, you could see Bigfoot dancing in the background.
Sure, this movie is goofy, clearly for kids, and really cheesy in parts, but it charmed me. I loved the animation, the songs, the characters, and even the cheesy message of the movie. I even laughed during this movie, and that is completely left of the ordinary for a kid’s movie. But it’s a fun, charming little movie to me. I grant that there is a very strong chance that people won’t like this movie if they didn’t see it when they were 12 as I did, but it’s worth taking a look at, especially if you have kids. I still enjoyed this movie. A Goofy Movie gets “It’s the Leaning Tower of Cheesa!” out of “It’s been handed down from Goof to Goof to Goof … and now, it’s yours, son.”
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That’s a Lot of Hair
I really wish I went into these reviews with any foresight. When my friend suggested I review the movie Tangled, I knew she wanted me to review the animated Disney movie. After I watched it, I went to the interwebs to get the information I needed to write my review and found out there was another movie by the name of Tangled starring Rachel Leigh Cook. I was pressed for time this day so I was unable to do what I wanted, but I instantly regretted not having watched the other one. Not for the quality, but for the comedy. Unfortunately, I had no time. So let’s see how this much less amusing (to me) review of the animated Tangled goes, written by Jacob Grimm, directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, and starring the voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kiel, Paul F. Tompkins, Tom Kenny, Fred Tatasciore, and the legendary Frank Welker.
A Queen becomes sick while preggers and her kingdom goes out to find a magic flower to keep her alive. It’s been kept secret by a greedy old broad that sings it a song to keep herself young. The soldiers find it and use it to save the Queen. The Queen has a baby with golden hair that will keep people young when the baby girl has the song recited to her. The old broad, Gothel (Donna Murphy), steals the baby and locks her up in a tower so she can be young forever. The downtrodden King and Queen send out lanterns on the baby’s birthday every year in hopes that the baby will see them. 18 years later, charismatic thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) steals the crown from the palace and is chased by guards to that very tower, where he is promptly clocked in the head with a frying pan wielded by the grown up Rapunzel (Mandy Moore). Gothel has forbidden Rapunzel to leave the tower, so Rapunzel hides Rider’s crown while he’s unconscious and uses it to bargain with him to lead her to see the lanterns she’s watched from her window if he wants it back. She originally wanted this as a gift for graduating out of jailbait status, but Gothel turned her down, so why not go to the cute guy with the same offer? At first, Rider is only trying to scare Rapunzel into chickening out of their deal, but eventually sparks of love show up. Gothel returns early to find Rapunzel gone and goes after her to convince her to return. And, since this is Disney, it ends in a really hopeless, depressing way.
In recent years, I have done all I can to argue with my friends in favor of classically animated Disney movies as opposed to computer animated Pixar movies. This has been pretty difficult as Pixar movies are so damned good and (at least recently) animated Disney has been either fairly lackluster or amazing movies with a 2 added to them being sent straight to DVD’s filled with suckitude. Watching Tangled, I found myself torn. Torn by the fact that this movie is a return to form for Disney, but at the cost of classic animation styles. A lot of the best Disney movies have been re-imaginings (or retellings) of classic stories, like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and now Rapunzel. And, from what I remember from the original story, this one makes a lot more sense. I guess, technically, the original story was just about kidnapping and some guy climbing hair, so that’s not that illogical, but it’s also not very interesting. The whole hair thing and staying young gives Gothel an actual reason to hold on to Rapunzel beyond something as simple as a grudge against her parents. And, as with the other Disney movies, they give their characters way more life and comedy than the original story allowed. Rapunzel was so cute and innocent, with a mastery of physical humor that made her character more than merely charming. Rider was fairly charming at first, but the true quality of the character was only revealed when he stopped with his facade. Gothel was not just evil, but grounded in ways that most Disney villains aren’t. Although women being overly obsessed with their appearances, even at the cost of the lives of others, actually is more common than I initially thought in Disney movies. I think that was the main motivation behind the Evil Queen in Snow White, but my memory is pretty foggy. All those parties in the 60’s have ruined my brain. The movie does kind of start with a big fuck you to the audience, but only if the audience is fairly gullible. It starts with narration by Flynn saying that he’s going to die within this story, which would be a very shocking and daring ending from a Disney movie, but no one should actually expect such a death will last. And, if Gothel wanted to keep that flower hidden so bad, why would she knock over the thing hiding it and not pay enough attention to notice it before the soldiers found the flower? Rookie move, Gothel. And the largest plot hole by far is that Rapunzel spends so much time alone in the tower baking but is still thin and attractive. Where do all those cookies go if not straight to her ass?
As a artist (of sorts) myself, I give a lot more credit to classic animation than to computer animation. Drawing a picture is difficult and time consuming, and drawing tons of pictures so that they will move when filmed is a million times that. Though I know it’s an exaggeration, I consider computer animation not much more difficult than what I am doing right now. It’s not true, I know, but my brain will not accept computer animation being more difficult, or even as difficult, as hand drawing. Because of this, Tangled bummed me out from the start. The fact that they did a great job with their animation made me feel much better, but my own biases kept me from enjoying it as much as I should have. That being said, the movie is beautifully animated, filled with colorful and gorgeous settings. They didn’t really go for realism with their characters (and who would want them to after Tron: Evolution), but they won with adorable, cartoony characters. First, can I say that animated babies are so much cuter than real babies? At least baby Rapunzel was. That’s right, parents! To hell with your babies! The animation style they use is amusing, with characters moving in an exaggerated, almost manga-esque style. When Rapunzel sees the lanterns from the lake, she doesn’t just realistically walk to the bow of the boat, she darts up there and climbs about the figurehead. It was adorable. Speaking of which, that little chameleon Pascal and the horse Maximus were both loaded with adorableness, although you have to wait for Rapunzel to meet Maximus and for him to start acting like a giant dog before you see his adorableness. As a little side note, I appreciate the ballsiness involved in not having Rapunzel tie up her hair until nearly the end of the movie. The easy way would have done that very early in the movie so they wouldn’t have to animate that hair all over the place, but they didn’t do that. Kudos for that.
I find that I really don’t have anything to say about the voice cast in this movie. It’s not that they did a bad job; quite to the contrary, in fact. They all did great. But, without them physically acting in the movie, I don’t really have much reaction to their performances. I give credit for their performances to the animators more than the voice actors. A voice actor can ruin it with bad acting, but I just didn’t feel overly impressed with the acting I couldn’t see. Except for Frank Welker, that is. You may not know that name, but you’ve heard him before. He usually doesn’t speak in the roles I’ve heard him do, but he’s legendary in the voice acting community for his ability to do any animal you need him to do AND give it personality. He did the “voice acting” for Pascal and Maximus. That guy’s amazing.
I assume you don’t suffer from the same biases as I do against computer animated movies. If that’s the case, you’ll probably adore this movie. With my present biases still intact – at least until extensive therapy fixes them – I still manged to really dig this movie, enough to purchase it immediately after viewing on BluRay. The story is classic Disney reinvigoration of an old fairy tale, the characters are charming and fantastically animated, and the voice actors do their thing. I just realized I made no mention of the fact that it’s a musical, and with good reason: because I didn’t hate it. The songs were nice and they fit nicely, so I didn’t hate it enough to pay it any mind. And since these reviews are all stream of consciousness, I’m not going to take that very sentence and move it up so that it seems I didn’t forget. I’m such a pro. I recommend Tangled, wholeheartedly. Tangled can have “I have made the decision to trust you” out of “Here comes the smolder”.
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