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It’s Anything but Ooky, “The Addams Family” Review (2019)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Morticia and Gomez are getting married, but the civilians are crashing their wedding as an angry mob. They move to a house on the top of a hill and have a Frankenstein-like servant.

Thirteen years later and the Addams couple has two children. Pugsley is being forced to train for a sword-fighting event he doesn’t seem to value and is pretty unprepared for. Wednesday is her usual grim self who tries to kill or hurt Pugsley.

But one of the family members discovers a commercial where a woman named Margaux Needler offers a service to renovate people’s houses in any way they like. Unfortunately, when the Addams family leaves their home and go out in public, everybody is afraid of them. Wednesday, however, befriends Margaux’s daughter, Parker, and attends school with her. Stakes raise from there.

I was surprised how short this film was. As a fiction writer myself, I was able to point out all the major plot points, which kind of made the duration predictable. Due to past movie-watching experiences, I kind of predicted that Margaux would turn out to be the villain.

One thing I found a bit strange was that the setting was changed to modern times, like this decade, despite how this was originally created in the mid-twentieth century. I understand the creators probably wanted to make this more relatable to young audiences today. But since it’s animated, they wouldn’t have needed to struggle with finding outdated technology as much as if this were live-action. I could be wrong, though.

That being said, there are many moments that I admire, such as when Wednesday brought the dead frogs in science class back to life. There was also a reference to “It” by Stephen King. One moment I found a bit strange was when Uncle Fester compared a certain woman’s breath to a baby’s diaper. I sure hope he meant a clean one.

Anyway, in spite of not being too familiar with the original “Addams Family” show, I enjoyed this just enough. Some of it wasn’t super engaging. Nevertheless, it was still, overall, a good watch. I’d rate this 4 out of 5 stars.

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These are a Few of my Favorite “Bugs Bunny” Moments

As a child, I cared more for “Tom and Jerry” and used to laugh my brains out at that, which I can’t do anymore while viewing it. Anyway, I’m more into “Looney Toons” than “Tom and Jerry” now. That being said, I did watch some “Looney Toons” when I was a kid.

Anyway, here are my top favorite “Bugs Bunny” moments:

3: When Bugs is forced into an oven, but doesn’t suffer

Mac forces Bugs into an oven to roast him, but he comes out to gather more items such as water. Then he tries to fool Mac into thinking there’s a party to get him into the oven. Little does Bugs know that the party was real and he joins in with it.

2: The “Southern Bugs Bunny” scene

Mac calls Bugs a Yankee and lives like it’s still the mid-1800’s, when the civil war was happening. Bugs comes up in blackface (which I don’t like in general) and sings “Old Kentucky Home”. Shortly after, he sings “Yankee Doodle”. Despite the blackface moment, this clip was still great.

1: The “Hillbilly Hare” music video

It starts with a country singing scene on the TV in the cartoon. Bugs is even dressed in female attire while two bearded men are also dancing. Then Bugs unplugs the TV and plays his own song, where he tells the other guys to do silly, ridiculous things. And they listen, no matter how dumb or uncivil the instructions are. It was absolutely funny, but wouldn’t be humorous in real life. Nevertheless, this one is my favorite moment.

Do you have any favorite “Bugs Bunny” or “Looney Toons” moments?

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Let’s Get Down to Business…to Analyze “Mulan” (1998)

Warning: contains spoilers***

I was 11 when I first saw “Mulan”. I also wrote an essay about the use of femininity in the film when attending college.

Speaking of which—I didn’t find the attitude toward females in the movie to be offensive when I was 11. In fact, I saw it as historically accurate. I was well-aware of how girls and women weren’t allowed the same rights as boys and men. So, it came up as no surprise to me that Mulan couldn’t go to war as a female.

When her dad is called to the battle against the Huns, Mulan disguises herself as a male by cutting her hair and then putting it up, faking a manly voice, and having to behave like a male. It only lasted so long.

Coincidentally, there was a true story of a lady who pretended to be a man to fight. That was Joan of Arc. Anyway, I think Mulan identified herself as not-very feminine. She fails the bridal test at the beginning. But she befriends the other soldiers, all of whom are male.

Also, she is considered an official Disney Princess, even though she’s not a princess at all. She wasn’t born into royalty, nor does she marry a royal (unless Shang, whom Mulan marries in the sequel, has some mysterious connection to royalty that nobody is aware of). I heard that she was only added to the Disney Princess line because Disney wanted an Asian character (I guess Jasmine doesn’t count, even though Arabia is in Asia).

Nevertheless, I consider Mulan to be a good role model for girls. She is one of the few Disney females to be a warrior. I’ve always wondered how the film, “Mulan” would’ve been handled if it’d come out in the 1930’s. Would it have been banned for improper female character portrayal? I don’t think 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” would be released today, as is.

While Mulan is a memorable and likable character, her dragon mentor, Mushu, appeals to me too. He is voiced by Eddie Murphy, who also voiced Donkey in the “Shrek” movies. And what’s funny is that Mushu’s characterization is very similar to Donkey in “Shrek”. However, “Mulan” was released three years before the first “Shrek” film. But I saw the first two “Shrek” movies before watching “Mulan”.

Like other Disney films before “Mulan” beginning with “The Little Mermaid”, I would rate “Mulan” 5 out of 5 stars.

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I’m Here to Review “The Rescuers” (1977)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

People are gathering at the UN. So are the mice. They received a message from a little girl named Penny that she needs help. Miss. Bianca and the janitor go to assist her at the orphanage she lived at. There is also a cat named Rufus who tells the mice about a woman named Madame Medusa, who’s kidnapped Penny before. Madame Medusa is desperate for a particular diamond.

The mice continue to guide Penny. But Madame Medusa won’t surrender with her plans. She even uses her pet alligators to hunt for Penny when she runs away. Her assistant, Mr. Snoops, tends to be nervous with her and more relaxed with his attitude toward Penny. But when things worsen, everything changes.

There are elements in this movie that make it differ from other Disney films. For example, the mice and cat can talk to Penny. While talking animals are super-common in Disney movies, it’s rare that they talk to humans. Usually, they make their natural animal noises around people. Another instance is when Penny prays that things will improve. With the exception of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, religion rarely plays roles in Disney. In fact, the characters are often not allowed to say the word, God. None of the characters get the classic musical numbers, except for the work anthem at the beginning and the twist of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” the kids sing at the end when Penny is finally adopted.

Speaking of which, while it’s satisfying that she got parents, it was a little disappointing that it took a while. But I understand in some ways. The adoption process can take a while—sometimes, several years.

This film was decent, but not one of my favorites. I did notice the “may day” moment similar to the balcony scene in “Aladdin”. It could have been recycled. Disney does reuse moments and movements a lot. Anyway, the reason it was just okay was mainly the engaging element. It didn’t keep my attention too much compared to other films. So I would rate this movie, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Be Happy With this “Inside Out” Critique (2015)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

This film must have been so hard to produce. And that is what makes it so enjoyable. It probably involved a lot of studies behind the mind and emotions.

There were actually going to be more emotions than the five the film created for Riley. But that didn’t work out.

Enough said on the introduction. Let’s get down to the critique.

First, the strengths:

1: The mind and emotion constructions

The mind is an abstract place. The creators made everything so literal, and that must’ve been very difficult. There was the train of thought, the core memories, islands representing Riley’s different interests and life essentials, and, of course, the emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear.

The emotions matured as Riley aged over time. When Riley was a toddler, the emotions would react strongly to broccoli and no dessert if she didn’t finish her dinner (which had no protein, by the way. But that’s another topic).

By the time Riley was eleven, the emotions have matured even more. I appreciated how Joy could feel grief and pain as she was unable to make Riley happy throughout much of the film. She even cried in the “all is lost” moment. However, there is also a special feature of Riley without her internal emotions being shown. And I heard the viewer can understand why Riley can’t be happy.

2: Bing-Bong

Who doesn’t love Bing Bong? Or that cute little song Riley made up as a toddler? He was such an imaginative character as well as a fun one. I loved when he barged into Riley’s dream. But it was very sad when he died as Joy had to continue her way back to headquarters.

3: The “Triple Dent Gum” song

Why was that song so annoying to Riley and even the bus driver in the end credits? I found it amazing and funny. It was a great way to incorporate humor.

4: The boy’s emotions at the end

“Girl, girl, girl.” The emotions panic like crazy in his head. It was so hilarious. It is also realistic for boys if girls like them. Many have been nervous about impressing girls. The animals’ emotions were funny too.

Which brings me to the flaws…

1: Why do Riley’s parents have all male or female emotions while Riley has both?

This plot hole has been wondered so much by the general public. However, the creators revealed that it was just for humor. I guess that’ll work.

2: Why do the Andersons move?

When things go well, of course conflict has to happen. However, why did Mr. and Mrs. Anderson sell the house? Why did they move to a less-appealing building, both unattractive on the outside and the inside? Were they unable to afford the house in Minnesota? Did one of the parents get offered a new job in San Francisco?

It makes sense for Riley to be unhappy with the move. At the end, one of her parents says that they missed Minnesota (but they were the one who chose to leave). Is it supposed to remain a mystery?

3: Would a pizzeria really only serve broccoli pizza?

It’s believable for a pizzeria to only to plain cheese pizza. But just broccoli pizza, only for plot convenience? I can’t imagine so. Also, couldn’t Riley have just removed the broccoli from her pizza?

4: “Child runs away from home and parents comfort them after” cliché

I don’t know why the media keeps portraying this. It’s not really credible, let alone allowing an eleven-year-old to walk to school unsupervised in the 2010s (which would get you in trouble with CPS). Riley also stole her mom’s credit card to pay for a bus ticket back to Minnesota. Add that to running away, Riley would’ve gotten the beating of her life and been severely punished for months if this were believable. But the parents had to feel sorry just for plot convenience. Kids, don’t try this in real life. You will most definitely get the beating of your life as well as be grounded for several months—at least.

5: Toddler Riley has no nipples

Okay, this might be a bit much, although they show topless Toddler Riley. And she has no nipples. When I saw this in the movie theater, I found it strange and was thinking “Maggie Simpson has nipples”.

And that’s all. I would rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars. It must’ve been one of the hardest films for Pixar and Disney to create. I always found productions that look so challenging to make more enjoyable than those that look to easy to create.

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What Can I Say, Except, “You’re Welcome” for this Wonderful Review of “Moana” (2016)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

I saw this film a year after it was released in theaters. I watched it at my house. It was such a beautiful movie.

As a baby, Moana is interested in the story she is hearing in daycare about Maui stealing the heart of Te Fiti. All the other children are scared. Moana is somehow called to the ocean. But her overprotective father forbids her to go near it.

Years later, when Moana has reached her current age for the main part of the story, there is a shortage of fish by the reef. Moana suggests going beyond the reef. But her father gets angry and will still prohibit anyone going further than the reef. Moana’s mother reveals why her dad is so against going beyond the reef. Moana tries sailing, but it ends up not working out. Her grandma shows the story of her ancestors and how they used to go beyond the reef all the time. They stopped because there were too many dangerous monsters, especially Te Ka the lava demon. Unfortunately, not long after, Moana’s grandmother is dying. She tells Moana to sail out to the ocean, seek Maui, and return the heart of Te Fiti. Moana’s journey begins from there.

I really admired many parts of this movie, from the story to the characters, especially Moana. She is one of the few Disney princesses to have no love interest. The other two are Merida and Elsa (which is why fans were begging Disney to give Elsa a girlfriend in the “Frozen” sequel). Anyway, Moana was fierce, brave, and strong, which is what many expect for female characters today.

The music was also fantastic. Many songs sounded different from traditional Disney songs. Some sounded more like pop songs, such as “How Far I’ll Go” and “Shiny”. I particularly appreciated the rap section in “You’re Welcome” sung by Maui.

That being said, there were a couple flaws in this movie, such as some urine jokes and (sorry to disappoint some of you) the coconut pirate scene. I loved when Moana said that they were cute and then they went vicious. However, I couldn’t see how important it was to the story. I felt it was just a little filler to add conflict. And the story told in Moana’s daycare is really too mature for little kids. It was only used for plot convenience.

The ending was beautiful. After violence with Te Ka the lava monster, Moana figured out that she was really Te Fiti without the heart. The scene where Moana returns the heart and Te Fiti turns back into a beautiful Goddess and Island was heartwarming. It was also funny how Te Fiti looks a lot like Moana.

I would rate Moana 5 out of 5 stars. It is such a wonderful movie that I would recommend to all, especially with a strong, independent female lead.

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Pocahontas Plot Hole (1995) – All About the Flying Leaves

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

Many of us have seen Disney’s “Pocahontas”, whether we grew up with it, watched it in our early childhoods, or first saw it in recent years. I was 21 when I first saw it. Despite the mixed success and criticism on the movie’s portrayal of Native Americans, I really enjoyed the film. I would give it five stars.

However, no story, in any form, is without its flaws. Aside from the grossly insensitive lyrics in the song, “Savages”, sung when John Smith is about to be executed (but he is rescued, of course), there are a few parts of “Pocahontas” that bother me a bit. They are plot holes. Regardless of what I said about them, I don’t obsess over them. At least not too much.

There’s the first plot hole, of where are Nakoma’s (Pocahontas’s friend) parents or guardians. The second is how did Pocahontas sneak out to see Grandmother Willow after her father yelled at her for wandering off at a dangerous time. And the third, which this post focuses on, is where do those flying leaves come from.

I noticed they come at crucial points of the story. They also seem to arrive when characters change. Obviously, Pocahontas is not unknowingly or secretly an enchantress (that would make an interesting conspiracy theory, but would be shut down by everyone). But what is the point of the flying colored leaves? I’ve actually recently nicknamed them the deux ex machina leaves.

Having you also noticed this? When Powhatan is about to execute John Smith and Pocahontas not only saves her love interest, but also defends him, the leaves fly into Powhatan’s face. He closes his eyes and seems to absorb the wind. Then he suddenly changes and decides not to fight the English. He also lets John Smith go.  

I don’t believe the leaves forced Powhatan to change. Nor do I think they have a bunch of supernatural powers (they do have some, though, as they alter John’s shirt during the “Colors of the Wind” number). But it seems to be a mystery to where they come from and what powers they have besides changing colors as they fly as well as a few other skills.

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Merry Christmas, Mickey! And a Happy New Analysis of “Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse” (2001)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

It’s the first holiday post of the year, focusing on a straight-to-video holiday Disney special: “Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse”. I saw a couple clips of it in junior high at school. But then I watched the full film at a friend’s house last year and again recently.

Disney characters from different movies are at the House of Mouse, where Mickey and his pals have hosted a show. Mickey lets everyone go home until Goofy reveals that they are snowed in. Everybody tries to remain positive, except Donald. He remains grumpy. To keep the crowd occupied, Mickey plays some holiday videos of him and his friends.

The clips were great, although some concepts seemed outdated and wouldn’t pass for today. For example, in the “Nutcracker” clip, where Mini plays Maria (I don’t know why they didn’t call her Clara. Maybe for copyright reasons?), she acts as dependent on males to dance with. When the mouse king (played by Donald) captures her, the nutcracker (played by Mickey) fights and rescues her. It isn’t until the end that Maria puts in effort. She was pretty much a damsel-in-distress. When Mickey asks what everyone is thankful for, Cinderella says something that also reminds me of a damsel-in-distress. I can’t remember right now. But in 2001, wouldn’t that have been a bit insensitive?

Another element that I found odd was that the villains were there and out-of-character. Not a hundred percent, though. When Mickey shows clips of what he asked others for Christmas, Jafar asks for the lamp and Ursula asks for his voice.

However, during the moment Mickey gets everyone into the Christmas spirit, Jafar’s all-powerful snake staff turns into a candy cane and he gladly accepts it. Really, guys? If you were a sorcerer, and your powerful, magic-producing item turned into a powerless treat, would you really tolerate that? Probably not. In fact, if Jafar were true to his character, he would’ve used his snake staff to get back and Mickey and his friends, get furious and overly dangerous. Perhaps, he would’ve turned into a snake creature again and everybody would’ve erupted into panicking. But he had to behave because… you know… plot convenience. So why did Jafar and any other villains need to be there? During the song at the end, the villains took part as taking the good character’s sides. Pretty strange, huh?

But enough of the flaws. There are a ton of strengths and well-done moments. The song at the end that all the characters participated in was beautiful. The [good] characters’ attitudes were great and very much like them. I especially admired Kuzco’s appearance as a crying llama when Mickey asks what everybody wanted for Christmas. So funny. The Mad-Hatter was also hilarious when he was thankful for different hats. At the end, with the musical number, the mice bring back Cinderella’s old dress that the stepsisters have originally destroyed. Very satisfying.

Now onto the videos Mickey shows. The first one is where Huey, Dewey, and Louie are building a snowman while Donald is trying to skate. Donald struggles and ends up damaging his nephews’ snowman. The ice cracks and breaks different things, including very sturdy things, like a tree. I found that to be too silly. Yes, I know. It’s a cartoon. But what a silly concept for an ice crack to be that powerful.

There is also the clip where Mickey is getting a tree and decorating it for Christmas. Chip and Dale are in the tree. Pluto finds them and tries to hurt them. He ends up damaging the entire tree. Then Minnie, Donald, and Goofy come and sing “Deck the Halls”. Chip and Dale participate and Pluto howls. Mickey scolds Pluto for that. However, that’s normal for dogs to do when hearing high voices. But the clip’s ending had to be satisfying. Also, why didn’t Mickey recognize Chip and Dale? Why was he also accepting of them in his tree? Hmmm…

The decorating processes in that clip and the next one were too perfect. No errors whatsoever. Oh well. As long as we don’t try it in real life and expect the same outcomes.

After Jiminy Cricket cheers Mickey up, Mickey finally gets Donald to have a more positive attitude. Then he plays the “Christmas Carol” clip (based off Charles Dickenson’s play). Many people probably know the story. For those who don’t, here’s plot. Scrooge is grumpy, unthankful for Christmas, and is obsessed with making money. Four ghosts then visit him. The latter three show him his past, present, and future. Scrooge changes into a better person with a positive attitude for Christmas.

Not ironically, Scrooge McDuck plays the main character (although I don’t know if Scrooge McDuck is usually that grumpy). The characters were well-cast. Goofy did an amazing portrayal of the first ghost. The chains made me feel sorry for him. I found it sad when Isabelle (play by Daisy) cried because Scrooge called off his marriage. And she’d waited ten years. I guess that’s believable, but not sure how common it is.

At the end of that clip, when Scrooge has grown and changed drastically, he reverted back to his old self when visiting Bob Crachett (played by Mickey) to fool around. Then he returned to a good character. The song at the end of the “Christmas Carol” clip sounded kind of like “God Bless us Everyone” from the live musical version of the story. Of course, it wasn’t.

My final thought is wondering how all the different characters from different movies came together and knew about it as well as celebrated Christmas (including Timon and Pumbaa—there are no humans in “The Lion King”). I guess that’s supposed to be a mystery.

I would rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a great holiday classic for everyone and I would gladly recommend it.

 

 

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I Will Analyze… I Can Go the Distance with Disney’s “Hercules” (1997)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

 

Seeing “Hercules” in the movie theater is one of my very earliest (and very faint) memories. I was 3 years old at the time. Then I saw it in 4th grade, during an indoor recess. I watched it again more recently—in March of this year.

In Ancient Greece, the muses start with an opening song. Then it goes to Mount Olympus, where Zeus, Hera, and the other gods are adoring the infant, Hercules. Hades, the god of the underworld, has a plan to harm Hercules. His assistants, Pain and Panic, kidnap Baby Hercules from Mount Olympus and feed him a potion that makes him mortal. They stop when a couple finds Hercules. There is one remaining drop. And Hercules still has his strength. However, since he has become mortal, he cannot return to Mount Olympus. The human couple takes Hercules and raises him.

Years have gone by and Hercules is now a young man going with his adoptive parents to Athens. He accidentally destroys the architecture with his involuntary strength. Hercules feels that something about him is unusual. His adoptive parents reveal to him that he was found and they still have the metal he wore when they found him. The metal has the symbol of the gods. Hercules goes to the temple of Zeus. In order to return to Mount Olympus as a god, Hercules has to prove himself a true hero. He gets help from the faun, Phil, but also falls in love with a young woman named Megara (Meg). Hercules struggles but pushes himself.

I found Hercules’s struggles to make him very believable. The way he acted toward people was done well. The midpoint, where Hercules becomes super famous and popular was great, even if it didn’t satisfy the Zeus statue.

The humor was not slapstick, but used appropriately, such as when Pain and Panic had those sandals with Hercules on them. Hades got mad and Pain and Panic defended themselves with the excuse of the Hercules being a different entity than the one they knew. There were also a lot of 90’s references, such as Air Hercs (like Air-Jordans), Grecian Express, and more. I grew up in the 2000’s, but I still got the references.

The plot points were also done well, especially the deal Hercules made with Hades. It went back and forth. Hercules lost his strength, gained it back, and acknowledged the deal again.

With Meg, I felt her role was only there for romantic element convenience, because hey— shouldn’t Disney movies with protagonists in their teens or over have romance. Not necessarily! I don’t know about the 90’s, but if you’ve seen 2016’s “Moana” or 2012’s “Brave”, neither main characters fell in love. And they were females.

Anyway, back to this film. Although Meg was just okay, I did appreciate how Hercules gave up his return to Mount Olympus at the end to rejoin Meg. I thought that was so sweet. This is one of those movies where the main character does not achieve his or her goal. Yet, the ending is still satisfying. Which leaves me wondering… what if Hercules never met Meg? Hmmm…

Anyhow, the movie is still a 5-star film for me. It isn’t one of the top Disney classics for me. But I still really enjoyed it.

 

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What Review is This? It’s “The Aristocats” (1970)

It’s 1910 in Paris. A retired opera singer named Madame Adelaide Bonfamille and her butler, Edgar, return home. Duchess the mother cat, and her three children, Berlioz, Marie, and Toulouse play around. Meanwhile, Edgar brews some milk to put the cats to sleep. The cats drink the milk and get taken away in a basket. The four cats end up frightened until they meet the alley cat, Thomas O’Malley. From there, they journey back to Paris.

This movie was amazing with its characters (with the exception of a few stereotypes), retro 2D animation style, French culture, and music. My favorite song from this film is “Everybody Wants to be a Cat”.

Duchess was very motherly and gentle with the kittens. Marie was a bit of a snob. And should she really have made goo-goo eyes at Thomas O’Malley? Speaking of which, Thomas O’Malley was voiced by the same actor who played Baloo in 1967’s “The Jungle Book”.

The hounds were great, too. I loved how the lead dog, Napoleon, claimed that he was the leader. Abigail and Amelia, the British geese, were hilarious. Uncle Waldo was okay, although he was not very developed except for his drunk-like attitude. I don’t think Disney or any movie geared toward families and children would get away with that today.

The songs were good, although there were only a few. While the movie was a good watch, to be honest, it wasn’t super-engaging. I don’t know why.

Nevertheless, I would rate “The Aristocats” 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would gladly recommend it today. It didn’t do as poorly as some Disney films (i.e. “The Black Cauldron”), but I was surprised to hear how many people don’t pay as much attention to “The Aristocats” as to “Aladdin” and “The Lion King”. However, the movie did do pretty well when it came out.