Posts Tagged ‘cartoon’


Wallace & Gromit – A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008/ Aardman Animations/ Dir. Nick Park)

I really hate doing this. I hate having to be the one to do this to a franchise I like so much, but there is nothing for it. I am not a hipster, I do not watch things “ironically” and not just because that’s not what ironic means. I don’t seek out things because I know they will be horrible, even though I will occasionally seek out things that I know won’t be very good. I don’t watch old Hercules movies so I can laugh at their lame production value or sneer at the lousy translations, but because I genuinely enjoy them. Even something like Hercules and the Captive Women, I decided to watch and review it with the hopes that it would be charming and fun. However, that movie wasn’t fun and this movie isn’t fun. That’s what I hate about this, I hate having to tell you that this is just really, really terrible.

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The Tale of Despereaux (2008/ Universal/ Rob Stevenhagen & Sam Fell)

Let’s get the first things out of the way first. I cannot recommend this movie, because it’s not a good movie. That’s just for starters, but we can get that out of the way right now. The reason we’re talking about it though, and the reason I’m reviewing it, is that it could have been a good movie. There is a good movie hiding in this film, however the movie keeps getting in its own way and prevents it from being good. The book it’s based on was a Newberry Award winner (which should make you worry right there) and the movie wants to be worthy of that to the extent that it keeps trying way too hard to be worthy and can’t manage to be good. It’s a shame because on the technical side, the movie is very good in many places. The style and visual flair of the movie is wonderful, but the movie itself is so pretentious and overly serious that you can’t really enjoy watching it. Instead of a point by point review, let’s talk about a few of the problems…

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Dumbo (1941/RKO Pictures/Dir. Ben Sharpsteen)

In 1941, Walt Disney was in South America, doing a good will tour and collecting materials for the movie Saludos Amigos, which would come out the next year. While he was away, he left the studio to make a small quick-buck movie, that would hopefully help restore the studio’s fortunes after the finacial disappointments of Pinocchio and Fantasia. The result was the fairly short and sweet movie about an elephant with big ears. Dumbo is the sort of story anybody who wasn’t part of the popular kid’s crowd can enjoy. In fact, instead of looking at Dumbo in the traditional manner, I’m going to examine it as a metaphor for a person’s freshman year in college.

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Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales (1979 Warner Bros. / DePatie-Freleng Enterprises Dir. Friz Freleng & Chuck Jones)

Ah sweet, sweet freedom. I don’t have to do anymore commercials if I don’t want to! Shall we talk about harmless but enjoyable cartoon entertainment for a moment? Let’s talk about what is really the last gasps of the Looney Tunes, the time of the mid-80s when all the guys who had worked on cartoons their whole lives were dying off and studios were shutting down animated production left and right. During those days, just before the nostalgia wave that hit in the 90s, it was hard to produce new Looney Tunes. This was one of the compromises. Partially made by Friz Freleng’s company and partly made by the powerhouse that was Chuck Jones, this holiday special is one of the last times that the old team would produce and entirely new show instead of just making bumpers for compilation movies. Even if it were bad, which it isn’t, it would still have Chuck and Friz and Mel working on it. Actually though, I find it sort of charming, if not anyone’s best work.

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A Garfield Christmas Special (1987 Dir. Phil Roman)

Some of you may remember back in November I ran a review for the Garfield Thanksgiving Special. In that review, I called it the most hateful thing ever connected to Thanksgiving. I meant it then and I mean it now. It was evil, hateful, lacking in any kind of morality and not funny. It told us that deceit and lies were great things that should be rewarded. Well now it’s December, and now we’re looking at a Christmas Special. Will it be as bad? Who can say? I’m pretty sure that it will be though, I mean it is Garfield after all. I’m guessing it will be self-serving, cynical, and will try ham-fisted emotional manipulation. There will probably be some songs that make you want to pour Clorox right into your ear to try and cleanse your brain of their memory. Let’s see if I’m right!

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 MGM Television Dir. Chuck Jones)

Well, here we are. One of the biggies. I mean, after Charlie Brown, this is THE cartoon classic for my generation, isn’t it? The story of the meanest guy in the Christmas special stable. How does one get their hate on for The Grinch? Oh sure, there is a logical inconsistency at the end, but it’s a small one. Sure the Whos down in Whoville make one rethink the idea of ethnic cleansing, but how do you hate The Grinch? He’s like the best character for people who are, at best, ambivalent about Christmas. Can I hate The Grinch? I doubt it. Can I hate this special? Only time will tell my darlings…

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Okay, just an update on what’s going on. I appear to have been kidnapped. I seem to be in a small cell with a computer and limited access. So far I’ve been beaten a few times, mainly because I balked when told that I’ll be doing holiday reviews again. This worries me slightly, because I’m kind of getting the idea that these won’t be good specials. Every time I ask what I’ll be reviewing, they just sort of laugh. What I really balked at (I like the word balked) is that I’m supposed to review commercials as well. So, yeah, sort of worried. Let’s see what they’ve assigned me to watch today…

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Rugrats: “The Turkey Who Came to Dinner” (First Broadcast 21 November 1997 Nickelodeon Dir. Rick Bugental & Jim Duffy)

Hey! Rugrats, who doesn’t like Rugrats? Okay, don’t answer that one. Some people really don’t like this cartoon, which I can sort of understand I suppose. I like it though, and as such, I’m going to review the Thanksgiving episode. Over packed November schedule be damned! Let’s do one more thing so December will seem like slim pickings by comparison! This is an episode from ’97, so it’s back from before the show jumped the shark by including new babies. Before that though, I actually liked Rugrats. You must remember, when the show was new, so was the idea of winking at the adults with jokes that would go over the kid’s heads. Everyone does it now, but this was one of the first places I can remember it happening. So, yeah, I liked the show. Let’s se how this Thanksgiving special stacks up.

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