Wednesday, November 25, 2020

MLEEP Reviews: Free Birds | #HappyThanksgiving

FREE BIRDS
Written By Jimmy Hayward and Scott Mosier
Composed By Dominic Lewis
Produced By Scott Mosier
Edited By Chris Cartagena
Directed By Jimmy Hayward

'Free Birds' is actually the first animated feature to be created by Reel FX: before this, they mostly did spin-off works like shorts or theme park rides that are based on other big animated films and cartoons like the Looney Tunes, Ice Age, The Simpsons, Despicable Me and more...but now that they decided to play with the big boys with their own original property as we celebrate the day that can only be described as a turkey's worst nightmare, will it be a movie we will all be thankful for or should we go back in time to get this off the menu? Let's find out, this is 'Free Birds'!

FREE BIRDS: Pardoned by the president, a lucky turkey named Reggie gets to live a carefree lifestyle until fellow fowl Jake recruits him for a history-changing mission as they travel back in time to the year 1621 just before the first Thanksgiving...the plan: prevent all turkeys from ever becoming holiday dinners. Unfortunately, the two birds encounter colonist Myles Standish who is out to capture feathered friends for all the hungry Pilgrims.

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Now I know that right off the bat, the entire idea is ridiculous-I mean, we are talking about time-traveling turkeys trying to take out Thanksgiving...try saying that ten times fast! But believe it or not other than that, there's nothing much to it since there's no sense of an actual plot that's driving this movie other than the Thanksgiving mission which is a big problem because the film seems to confuse a plot with a goal: the goal is what gives the characters purpose to do something and the plot is everything they do to get to that goal. Of course they do things to stop Thanksgiving, but they're unrelated with the story...it's literally filled with random gags and a uselessly thrown in romance subplot between Reggie and Jenny, but the worst part would be the ending which can almost ruin the entire film: I don't want to spoil anything just in case, but let's just say that time-traveling turkeys aren't the stupidest thing in this movie. However, there are a few points I have to give them for: I'll admit that there are times when the humor caught me off-guard and it's actually funny...it's mostly dumb Looney Tunes slapstick and there are some pretty bad ones, but there are also some that did make me laugh plus the fact that it does help with the movie's ridiculous nature feeling like they know their concept is stupid so they'll play around that. Another thing I liked is the concept of how the turkeys live during the seventeenth century: it seems interesting how they would live underground as a native tribe. Other than that though, there are some things happening in the movie...but they don't seem to form a story.

I'm always interested to see some new talent and show me what they got with their animation...but unfortunately for Reel FX, it shows that it's a subpar animation studio: the only way I could describe it is that it's cheap and generic-like, the design doesn't leave anything new to the imagination. After watching it for a while, it feels like all the turkeys look the same but with a minor difference and the places they go to don't look that appealing to be in...it doesn't help either that the forests and the background animation looks poorly made with fake looking trees and a colorless atmosphere, it's even worse that even the characters mostly have a dull color scheme on them like brown and grey. The character animation is decent in itself, but it should have gone into a more cartoony route with it like 'Madagascar' to fit more with the silly premise. Honestly other than that, I couldn't think of anything else to say about the animation and that's the sad part of it: often animated films would have one element or one scene with their animation that really stands out and makes the movie memorable, but they haven't done anything special with it at all and just makes it pretty dull to look at the whole way through. It's weird considering that their other works are sometimes visually exciting, but that's not the case with this film.

It's a little weird describing the characters, they're actually pretty well written themselves but it wasn't executed as well: let's start off with Reggie, a lonely turkey who wants to find his place...it's interesting to see how he finds it by either being alone or to be with Jenny, but that only happens at a few points in the movie the rest of the time, it just feels like he's just there to help out on the mission...same thing can be said about Jake: he's a pretty well-developed character with an interesting backstory about his determination to stop Thanksgiving...but most of the time, he's just butting heads with Ranger to show who's got the biggest balls between the two just to fill the movie with slapstick humor. There's Jenny who's more of a love interest to Reggie, but she does show that she could be more than that by being a strong member of her tribe as the daughter of the chief...and then there's Myles Standish, the man who goes out hunting for turkeys for his hungry town bounty hunter-style: he's okay as a villain, not really intimidating but still has a threatening nature and you know there will be trouble when you see him on screen...not the best villain I've seen but decent enough to pass. As for the rest, they're completely irrelevant to the movie since the grand majority of them are just passed on as comedy reliefs giving out nothing to the plot nor give out anything memorable about them although I will say that some of them are pretty funny and the ones who do have a bit of a point to the plot only have a few minutes of screen time just to never be heard from again. I can't say that some of these characters are bad-in fact, they're actually pretty good...they're just not handled well.

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I may have enjoyed this movie back when it first came out...but looking back on it now after a few years, I should have known that this was a dumb movie just by its premise alone. I could honestly see where this film could have been a great comedy, but 'Free Birds' is just a poorly executed movie where even though it can give out some good laughs, it doesn't make up for its empty story, weak animation, bad use of good characters and a horrible ending. If I have to do a recommendation for this, I say just wait until you can rent it for Thanksgiving...not to actually watch it though, but just to put it on television while the whole family's around as background noise and to distract the kids at the same time. I can't believe I have to do this on such a special occasion and this film was actually so close from escaping it too, but 'Free Birds' unfortunately earns a rating of a 4 out of 10...it's honestly sad when Disney was the only animation studio that made something we were all thankful for that year.

MLEEP Reviews: Woody Woodpecker | #WoodyWoodpecker80

WOODY WOODPECKER
Written By William Robertson and Alex Zamm
Composed By Chris Haijan
Produced By Mike Elliott
Edited By Heath Ryan
Directed By Alex Zamm

Remember the nightmare fuel in 'Son Of The Mask', I know...which one, this one. Imagine that for an hour and a half...don't want to, I did AND YOU'RE GONNA SUFFER WITH ME! Based on the animated character who became a hit in the 40's, the Woody Woodpecker movie targets this American icon on its most American audience: Brazil. No joke, Brazil is where this film premiered and they didn't even bother with a big-screen release in America since it just went straight to DVD. I don't know what kind of sign that is...but judging by the ton of people that want me to review this, I'm assuming bad. I have no real like or dislike for Woody Woodpecker, he seemed perfectly serviceable for what his character was supposed to be...but from what I'm hearing in this film, there's a definite pecker that needs to be chopped in it especially with today being Woody Woodpecker's eightieth birthday. Let's see what's good enough for Brazil but apparently not us, this is 'Woody Woodpecker'!
WOODY WOODPECKER: Woody must protect his forest home from Lance Walters who starts building his dream mansion in the forest with his son Tommy, and fiancée Vanessa...and to make matters worse, he must avoid the clutches of two grizzly poachers.
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This film is a-a-a-awful, a-a-a-awful...I can see why this only got a DVD release in America and I apologize to Brazil for having to witness it on fifty-foot screens. This film is like a Nickelodeon movie of the month except somehow it actually makes me pray to see SpongeBob: it looks as bad as it sounds and it sounds as bad as it looks...it's unfunny, it's annoying, it's worth flying as far away from as humanly possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

MLEEP Reviews: The Good Dinosaur - 5 Years Of Daring Dinosaurs | #TheGoodDinosaur

THE GOOD DINOSAUR
Written By Meg LeFauve
Composed By Mychael and Jeff Danna
Produced By Denise Ream
Edited By Stephen Schaffer
Directed By Peter Sohn

Considering that 'The Good Dinosaur' is the second Pixar film to be released in the same year after 'Inside Out', it seriously is a tough act to follow and unfortunately it started off really badly where some could say that it was 'Brave' all over again. Originally thought up by Bob Peterson when seeing those audio-animatronic dinosaurs on the 1964 New York World's Fair, he had an idea of making a movie about dinosaurs...however in the middle of 2013, the people at Pixar decided to let Bob go from the project and try to fix many of the production problems including a massive redo on the cast and several delays. It wasn't until they gave the directing job to Pixar story man and the voice of Emile and Squishy himself Peter Sohn to sort everything out since he was involved with Bob since the very beginning...but now that the production troubles are over and it had a chance in theaters, was it able to stand as tall as 'Inside Out' did or will we be thankful that the meteor did crash into Earth? Let's find out, this is 'The Good Dinosaur'!
THE GOOD DINOSAUR: Luckily for young Arlo, his parents and his two siblings, the mighty dinosaurs were not wiped out sixty-five million years ago...but when a rainstorm washes poor Arlo downriver, he ends up bruised, battered and miles away from home. Good fortune shines on the frightened dino when he meets Spot-a Neanderthal boy who offers his help and friendship-and together, the unlikely duo embark on an epic adventure to reunite Arlo with his beloved family.
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I'll say it right now that my biggest fear for the movie was that it would have been more of a ripoff to 'The Land Before Time' considering that we're dealing with a young Apatosaurus' journey to find home: now it is true that there can be some parallels between the two, but there are some clear differences that separate them as well. Where 'The Land Before Time' is more about the journey to find the Great Valley, 'The Good Dinosaur' focuses more on the relationship between Arlo and Spot while they head back home...this is pretty much the driving force of the film and also its strongest aspect: when their friendship begins in the second act, that's when things start to really get going and it's what makes the film both engaging to see the two main characters pull through and very heartwarming to see the characters bond with one another.
However with all that said, that's the only place where the story really works since the other aspects of it are pretty subpar to Pixar standards: although it is executed very nicely with the main characters' friendship as the heart of the story, the plot itself is rather predictable and straightforward...it's a combination of the 'journey from point A to point B' and a coming-of-age story where Arlo has to learn to be brave, it really lacks some of the surprises of the circumstances between Arlo and Spot and we know each step of what will happen to them. One extra note I'd like to add is regarding the big concept it's trying to sell of 'what if the meteor didn't crash into Earth and the dinosaurs survived'...it definitely is an interesting idea, but the movie only glances over it: it had something especially in the beginning where they show the dinosaurs as farmers, but that's all they did with it...the story doesn't seem all that impressive, but it's the heart of it that makes it work.
When it comes to animated features about dinosaurs, most of them end up looking pretty similar...the animation here doesn't really bring us into new and creative horizons like how 'Inside Out' did, instead we get the usual dinosaur set up in a large field with forests as well as rivers and mountains: nothing too special and not that much colorful either, but the way that Pixar made it is still a true beauty to behold capable of capturing the grand scale of the land while also presenting some fine detail...add that with some very well done effects to see how nature is both beautiful like with the fireflies and threatening during the storm scenes.
But then, we have the characters where the character animation is done creatively with all the different dinosaurs and especially with how Spot would act like a dog but their designs are so out of place: I get what it wants to try out by giving it a cartoony Flintstone style simple look and the textures of the dinosaurs look really nice, but it just doesn't work for this kind of movie...maybe it would make sense if this is more humorous, but it's actually far from it. It has some funny moments, but I wouldn't put this in the category of a comedy...here's the thing: the story says it is an epic tale of a young dinosaur and a cave child finding their way home, the character design tells us that this is a film adaptation of 'Yoshi's Island'. The designs may not sit well for this movie, but the rest of the animation is very spot-on...no pun intended by the way
The movie does offer a colorful cast of character, but the biggest downside is that they don't really go into them as much since most of the time is actually taken to look into both Arlo and Spot: with the young dinosaur, he's mostly your typical runt of the litter that starts out weak and scared but eventually grows into a better person after his journey...but then with Spot, he's actually a lot more fascinating as a character since he acts out a lot like a loyal dog but there's actually so much more to him that makes him come out as someone believable. As I said before, the biggest highlight of the film is the two characters' relationship and that's what makes them so appealing even if one character is weaker than the other: it's not about reaching the goal itself, but seeing them achieve it together since we see how their friendship grew since the very beginning.
As for everyone else, we do see how they have personality and they seem very appealing but the one problem is how little time we spent on them from Arlo's caring family to the tough T-Rex's to the crazy hillbilly Velociraptors to the nasty Pterodactyls and especially the crazy Forrest Woodbush...they all have something unique about them and a strong sense of likability, but you see that's the problem: they're so likable that you feel like they didn't get as much screen time as they should. Granted a lot of it is spent on the good stuff, but it would have been nice if we spent more time with the others than just Arlo and Spot...the characters are great and often memorable, but we mostly watch just the main ones instead of the rest.
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'The Good Dinosaur' is definitely good, but it's not Pixar good: despite having a weak story, an out of place character design and spending little time on the supporting cast...it is still strong on its own with some beautiful animation, likeable characters and a tender feeling that makes it very heartwarming from beginning to end. It's a good recommendation if you want to check out something that's heartfelt, but don't expect this to be way up there in the ranks of other Pixar films...I guess the title fits the movie right: this dinosaur is not anything great or really spectacular, it's just good and for that helps earn 'The Good Dinosaur' a rating of an 8 out of 10.

Monday, November 23, 2020

MLEEP Reviews: Tangled - I See The Light For 10 Years | #Tangled10

Image result for tangled 2010
TANGLED
Written By Dan Fogelman
Composed By Alan Menken
Produced By Roy Conli
Edited By Tim Mertens
Directed By Nathan Greno and Byron Howard

I know technically 'Tangled' is a 3D-animated movie, but let’s be honest...it’s a 2D film in 3D’s clothing: the characters are designed like 2D-animation, the backgrounds look like something out of 2D-animation, the story is very reminiscent of the traditional Disney fairy tales, it’s basically a 2D-animated flick. So I’ll bend the rules a little bit and review this one as well and I also feel it a bit necessary to compare it to the last 2D animated film 'The Princess and the Frog': I know that’s probably not fair to the movie but at the same time, one film only did okay and one film did a lot better and this was the one that did a lot better. Seeing how they came out back-to-back, I guess it does make sense to see why one did better than the other...but how perfectly did they make this 'best day ever' after ten years? Let's find out, this is 'Tangled'!

TANGLED: Beautiful princess Rapunzel has been locked away in a tower since she was captured as a baby by an old hag with her magical long blonde hair having the power to provide eternal youth and the evil Mother Gothel using this power to keep her young. At the age of 18, Rapunzel becomes curious about the outside world...and when a prince uses her tower as a refuge, she asks him to help her escape.

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So let’s talk about the absolute best aspect of the film: the story...and it’s rare that I say that, but the story to this film is brilliant. This is the classic retelling of a fairy tale that Disney used to do best: it’s not exactly like the original, but the changes are not only incredibly creative but half the time they’re improvements...it transitions the story into film perfectly.  All throughout the film's introduction, I was shouting "brilliant, brilliant, brilliant...this is a fantastic setup!" There’s a reason for the hair to grow long, there’s a reason for Rapunzel to be in the tower, there’s a reason to incorporate music into this...it was just wonderful and on top of that, the setup for the rest of the story is actually pretty good too since it’s pretty much the adventure you’d think it be: there’s sword-fighting, horse riding, dancing, singing, romances, evildoers, all the stuff you’d expect from Disney. So just from that ingenious setup, you’d expect 'Tangled' to be maybe one of the Top 5 Disney films of all time...right? Well...there are some problems: one is the voice acting...and don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible. It’s not even that bad, I just can’t find myself getting that invested in these voices: as soon as I heard Rapunzel’s voice, I remember thinking to myself "oh, that’s a celebrity voice"...and wouldn’t you know it, it was. As soon as I heard Flynn Rider’s voice, I remember thinking "hey, that sounds like a guy trying to do a thief’s voice...but not actually a thief."

That’s my major problem with this movie: as brilliant as the setup is, everything feels like they’re trying to convey that traditional Disney film. Sometimes it works but other times much like 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame', it feels pretty forced like the musical segments...they just sort of come out of nowhere, they feel very rushed and I don’t feel like it really matches the movie. I mean granted I’m not a big fan of Randy Newman, but it matched in 'The Princess and the Frog'-it was New Orleans, it made sense to have that kind of music.  Here, this sort of pop guitar/Broadway/Billboard Hits sound...I don’t know, it seems a little out of place.  Honestly, those two things are my only problem, but they’re kind of a big problem. 'The Princess and the Frog', it was the story and everything else was fine...and with 'Tangled', the story’s great but everything else seems kind of done.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some real standout moments-in fact, I’ll tell you my two favorites: one is Maximus the horse, this is one of the great movie horses-he’s like the Javert from 'Les Miserables' of horses, it’s just a great character...I could watch this thing forever, he just cracks me up. The other is the animation on Rapunzel's royal parents: now that’s really interesting because they never have a line in this movie...but holy smokes, look at the reaction on their faces and look how torn apart they are-that is some of the best emotion I’ve ever seen in any animation and it’s all done without words. But still, that doesn’t make up for the two main characters...and as I said before, they’re not bad since they’re well-written and they look great but I honestly just think it’s the voice work. Even then, it’s not horrible...I’m just always aware I'm hearing somebody behind a microphone, I’m always hearing somebody acting, I’m always hearing somebody put on a performance and when you’re constantly hearing that, you can’t get as invested.

So why did 'Tangled' do a lot better as opposed to the last film about a princess with 'The Princess and the Frog'? Is it a race issue, could be...is it because there’s more guitar-playing pop songs that can appeal to the general public more than Ragtime-New Orleans sound, that’s possible too. But again, I think it comes back to my original theory: 3D-animation. I think the film did well because the advertising played up that there was gonna be more adult jokes even though there weren’t that many, the fact that the story to its credit was a lot more simpler than 'The Princess and the Frog'...and like I said, the fact that it’s 3D-animation makes adults think that it’s gonna be made for them too.

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So do I like 'Tangled'? Sure, it’s a good flick: while the voice acting is distracting, it doesn’t destroy the film since I’m with it enough...the backgrounds still look nice, there are a few genuine soft moments, the side characters are fun and like I said it’s a great story. I guess for me, I just like the updates to the Disney formula in 'The Princess and the Frog' more than I like the updates in 'Tangled'. Somewhere, there’s a brilliant Disney movie here: if we took the story of 'Tangled' and the animation and characters of 'The Princess and the Frog', we could get something as brilliant as 'Beauty and the Beast'...it’s in there, I know it and it turns out we just had to wait three years for that to happen with 'Frozen'. But still if you’re looking for a good adventure that also has that fairy tale edge to it, 'Tangled' is not a bad rent and is deserving of that 8.5 out of 10 rating...check it out and see what you can get wrapped up in.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

MLEEP Reviews: Toy Story - To Infinity And Beyond For 25 Years | #ToyStory25

Image result for toy story 1995
TOY STORY
Written By John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft
Composed By Randy Newman
Produced By Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold
Edited By Robert Gordon and Lee Unkrich
Directed By John Lasseter

With the release of 'Jurassic Park' as well as 'Terminator 2' and other big blockbusters, CG-animation was very much connected to...well, action. I mean, true it was used for other purposes like in 'Forrest Gump'...but for the most part, CG-animation meant new effects for new action scenes and doing stuff that we’d never thought could exist before making any sequence or any monster and pretty much anything we wanted to see come to life...and boy did it get old fast. The film industry really exploited the use of CG-animation: some uses of it were creative and inventive but mostly, it was just used as a dodge and a way to save money on much bigger effects. It was a way to say "hey, we don’t actually have to put Tom Cruise on a train...we don’t actually have to put a helicopter in a tunnel, we don’t actually have to have any of this stuff there, we’ll just CG it and the audience will never know the difference." Well...yeah, we did: even if a lot of people couldn’t explain why, we could tell when something was computer and when something was really there. Oh, we still saw the movies...but everywhere we turn, there was always CG and it was always for explosions or always for things flying by or always for action and we got tired of it really fast resulting in the filmmakers seeming to think "hey, if we have CG, we don’t need to try that hard on the stories either because anything we can want to make, it’s just there...so we don’t have to be clever and subtle or anything like that, we’ll just put what we want to show right in front of them"...and because of this, films in the mid-to-late 90's like 'Godzilla' suffered pretty heavily.

The reason I bring this up is because it’s all the more inspiring to think that the first computer-animated movie was not an action film: it didn’t have any explosions, it didn’t have any big creepy monsters...it was actually a kids’ film at a time when kids’ films were not doing very well-heck, even Disney wasn’t doing very well. So when 'Toy Story' first appeared with its bright colors and child-friendly images along with an innocent story about a little boy’s playthings and they’re competing for the most attention...yeah, we thought this was gonna crash and burn. But like any kind of great creative product, this film wasn’t changed by the industry...the industry was changed by this film. Now everybody wants to be like 'Toy Story' and everybody goes for the same formula: a CG-animated film with bright colors and a lot of creativity, dialogue that’s very modern almost like stuff you’d hear on 'The Simpsons', a simple story that actually manages to rope in some comedy and surprisingly even a little drama and focusing more on the writing than the actual effects themselves. This is everything that makes a great film and 'Toy Story' is a great film...but can these toys still soar to infinity and beyond after twenty five years? Let's find out, this is 'Toy Story'!

TOY STORY: Woody-a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy-sees his position as Andy's favorite toy jeopardized when his parents buy him a Buzz Lightyear action figure. Even worse, the arrogant Buzz thinks he's a real spaceman on a mission to return to his home planet. When Andy's family moves to a new house, Woody and Buzz must escape the clutches of maladjusted neighbor Sid Phillips and reunite with their boy.

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The strength in this movie is the writing-these are just great characters and on top of that, it’s a great setup: Buzz is not the villain, Woody's not the villain, it’s just a form of jealousy that we all know and that leads to great comedy. In my opinion, some of the best comedy out there is based on competition and seeing these two constantly try to be good people with their ethics but also get drawn into the childish turmoil of who’s more popular is great to watch...and it’s also really clever that it’s the spaceman that outdoes the cowboy showing how much fads come and go and that’s very much what happened too: as soon as astronauts went into space, cowboys were suddenly seeming very passé and space adventures were suddenly all the rage.

You can’t blame Andy for it, he’s just an everyday kid-in fact, the film for the most part really doesn’t have much of a villain...well, except maybe Sid-the next door neighbor that loves to blow up toys. Yeah...come on, you either knew this kid or even at points was this kid but again you can’t look at him as the villain because...let’s face it, he’s just having fun with toys. Every character even Sid is identifiable since the writers try hard to make sure that everybody has a motivation and a backstory that actually we can relate to and understand. The idea of toys coming to life is absolutely nothing new since we’ve seen it a million times, but it’s the new twist and spin that they can give to it that suddenly makes it wonderful.

The CG-animation, I actually think still holds up pretty well...eh, in some parts: it’s pretty clever that they made the movie about toys because the plastic textures actually work very well in CG animation.  Little details like that spoon, that spoon still looks like it’s really there to me...but then there’s stuff like the humans and Scud the dog, yeeeah they look pretty awkward. Give them credit, it was the first CG movie ever made but...yeeeah at times, the people look more plastic than the toys do and...yeeeah, Scud suddenly looks like a Dalmatian that swallowed Pac-Man and it doesn’t quite look right but again this is really nitpicky since the film still works unbelievably well.

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For a new medium like this to take such a different turn and such an old-fashioned turn but to still throw all their talent and all their great writing and all their character development into it makes 'Toy Story' an animated classic...one that films continue to copy even to this day. This was the game changer and you can see why: in my opinion, it’s a classic and well deserving of that 10 out of 10 rating...but 'Toy Story' would only be the first in the long line of big hits for both Disney and Pixar and the animated CG revolution has just begun.


MLEEP Reviews: Animaniacs - Bumbie's Mom | #Animaniacs

Season 1, Episode 8-C: Bumbie's Mom
Written By Sherri Stoner
Composed By Richard Stone
Produced By Rich Arons, Tom Ruegger, Steven Spielberg and Sherri Stoner
Edited By Al Breitenbach, Kelly Ann Foley and Theresa Gilroy-Nielsen
Directed By Jon McClenahan and Barry Caldwell

What can you say about Animaniacs, it was by far one of the greatest cartoon shows that was ever made for kids and the reason for that is a lot of the jokes were written just as much for adults as they were for kids since there were a lot of hidden innuendos in the show that were so sneaky that even the Hollywood censors didn't catch them...and while I could go on and on about how amazing the series was, I wanted to do something special in celebration of its highly anticipated return on Hulu this week by taking a look at what will forever be my favorite episode of the entire series which surprisingly isn't about the Warner Siblings but rather another iconic duo from the show taking on what is sure to be a rather relatable topic and that episode is none other than the first season episode 'Bumbie's Mom'!
Most of us have gone through the trauma of watching Bambi's mom bite the dust in the animated Disney classic, but we've all known that one kid who took it just a little too hard: in this case, it's Skippy who watches a similar film called "Bumbie" with a similar take on disposable parenthood. Slappy tries to convince him that it was just a movie, but Skippy is still so heartbroken so she decides to take him to see the real actress who played the part thus restoring his faith only to have it dashed yet again by another Disney classic.
The animation on Skippy's childhood constantly being assassinated might be some of the funniest on the show plus the running joke that Skippy is so destroyed that he can't even mouth the words of what happened to her. It's also kind of a touching episode since we know Slappy's a curmudgeon, but it's actually heartwarming when you see her go to such lengths to try and make Skippy feel better...even if it doesn't last very long. Funny, touching and with just the right amount of mean-spiritedness, 'Bumbie's Mom' knows how to bring on the tears. I'm True Blue and...GOODNIGHT, EVERYBODY!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

MLEEP Reviews: Wallace & Gromit - A Matter Of Loaf And Death | #WallaceAndGromit

WALLACE & GROMIT: A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH
Written By Nick Park and Bob Baker
Composed By Julian Nott
Produced By Steve Pegram
Edited By David McCormick
Directed By Nick Park

Wallace and Gromit, quite possibly two of the most recognizable British characters in the world to the point where even people who don't understand stop-motion animation know this iconic duo as soon as they are brought up in discussion...they're that famous. I used to watch the 'Wallace And Gromit' short films quite a lot as a kid-heck, I actually still own all three of the original shorts in a three-videocassette box set to this very day and I still have fond memories of Wallace and Gromit even as an adult who has practically been raised on them like many kids in the 90's and early to mid 2000's were...but as we celebrate National Homemade Bread Day, will our cracking crew find a way to go out with a bang for their final adventure? Let's find out, this is 'Wallace & Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death'!
WALLACE & GROMIT - A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH: Wallace and Gromit have opened a new bakery and business is booming, not least because a deadly Cereal Killer has murdered all the other bakers in town. Gromit is worried that they may be next but Wallace does not care as he has fallen in love.
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This has to be my favorite Wallace and Gromit short: it's fun, lively and colorful but not afraid to get a bit dark at times too. Everything about this short indicates a change of pace for the franchise making it feel excitingly fresh, it's interesting to note that this is the first Wallace and Gromit short film to have humans at the target victims-heck, we actually get to see an on-screen murder: sure it's nothing graphic, but it's still a startling change of direction for the franchise. You see, the BBC gave Aardman free rein when making this film so they had confidence to raise the stakes and it's also worth keeping in mind that most female characters in the Wallace and Gromit franchise have been kind and gentle love interests for Wallace yet Piella poses as a genuine threat for the poor naïve man.
I like that this tradition has been subverted, it takes us by surprise and keeps us nervous about what's ahead and the fact that Piella knows that Gromit knows what she's up to definitely adds a lot of tension especially because Gromit can't talk and he can't exactly go up to Wallace and say 'hey, she's crazy and trying to kill you'...it's really fun watching Piella and Gromit trying to outwit each other because Gromit has a disadvantage as a mute and he has to think twice as hard to be one step ahead. Piella herself is quite possibly my favorite Aardman villain to date: she's a joy to hate because she's so two-faced and slimy, we know she's up to no good but she puts on this obviously phony act to seem sweet to Wallace and the fact that she frames Gromit for biting her and brutally hits her own dog makes her worth hating even more...we become engaged in her arc as a villain because we want to see her comeuppance, we despise her so much that we want to see karma take care of her where she reminds me of Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter films who also tries to cover up her vindictive spite with a glamorous facade.
Now on the one hand, you could argue that it's fat phobic for Aardman to villainize someone over weight to this degree...but on the other hand, there's a human quality to a character's backstory...one that slyly criticizes the shallow expectations of the modeling industry and the pressures pushed upon models, I definitely feel as if that Piella is the most fleshed out and interesting villain in the entire Wallace & Gromit series. Another thing that feels refreshingly new about this short is the addition of a love interest for Gromit who has never had one before in this series, the short creates some adorable romantic tension between Gromit and Fluffles going as far as showing Gromit blush for the first time which is just too damn cute. I love the relationship between these two, their chemistry is showing entirely through beautiful silent character animation and you can read so much emotion between them without even saying a single word.
It's a lovely contrast from the darkly fabricated romance between Wallace and Piella since Fluffles also reminds me of Wendolene in terms of a kind character being abused and manipulated by the villain, it's very interesting seeing the film explore the same kind of character but with a dog who can't talk because we get to see it from a different perspective. She looks so disturbingly traumatized-I mean, this is a dog who has witnessed twelve murders and her owner isn't afraid to hit her...it's rather heartbreaking, but what's awesome is that Fluffles actually gets to be an empowered badass and stand up to her abusive owner in the finale in a homage to James Cameron's 'Aliens' no less: if anyone is going to face Piella in the climax, it's her longest surviving victim.
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To conclude I love 'A Matter Of Life And Death': it's colorful, lively, energetic, full of thrills, full of action, full of drama plus it can get pretty dark at times and I am proud to give it a rating of a 10 out of 10. Even though it had been ten years since the last Wallace and Gromit short, the team had just finished working on 'The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit'-the feature length Wallace & Gromit movie-so they definitely felt comfortable sliding back into the series. With the recent sad passing of Peter Sallis-the voice of Wallace, it's hard to see where this franchise is going to go from here: personally I don't want to see any more Wallace and Gromit shorts or features if Sallis isn't going to be voicing Wallace, I don't think anyone else can do Wallace justice besides him...he WAS Wallace.