Where have you gone, Nick Park?
It seems like only yesterday I was watching a variety of classics created by this great animator and starring his most beloved creations: the befuddled inventor Wallace and his trusty, whip-smart dog Gromit. There was The Wrong Trousers. Then there was A Close Shave. Heck, I even loved the duo’s earliest entry into cinema, A Grand Day Out.
Sadly, we haven’t seen any more of these brilliant movies in a while. I think that’s a shame.
The pair is as inimitable as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, or Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The few films they’ve starred in are comic treasures, filled with lovingly designed animation and wonderful, witty scripts, along with terrific, iconic characterizations.
I miss them.
Maybe one day Park will revisit these two cartoon stalwarts. I still remember watching them at Spike & Mike’s Festival of Animation in New York long ago, relishing their delightful humor. Please grace us with more films in which they appear, Mr. Park. We could use them.
Signing off now …
I didn’t find the original Madagascar amusing. It was broad, forced, in love with its own smugness.
Now we have a spinoff: Penguins of Madagascar. To that, I say: “Humph.”
Those not-so-adorable penguins. Full of comic mischief. And little to no humor.
I realize this kind of thing isn’t geared to grown-ups with elevated tastes and sensibilities, but why must Hollywood insist on spouting out sequels to movies that weren’t very good to begin with? It’s a rhetorical question; I know it’s to make money. But the industry could at least try to put forward a strong project … not one that’s easy to dismiss. And I suspect Penguins will be the latter.
Some things you don’t have to see to know they’re of low quality. This film is one of them. And as I’ve already suffered through Madagascar, I have no doubt that the avian addition to its dreary family will be just as bad.
I’m gonna miss its debut. On purpose. My prediction is: I won’t be missing much.
Why I don’t have certain classic movies on DVD at home is beyond me.
Watership Down is one of those missing from my rather lackluster collection. Why? This great, un-Disney-esque cartoon about the (often-scary) trials and tribulations of a migrating rabbit colony is one of my favorite animated features, yet for some reason, I don’t have it at home for my viewing pleasure. And sometimes I get a hankering for it – the atmospheric mythology of the bunnies, the expert vocal performances of actors ranging from John Hurt to Zero Mostel, the evocative score by Angela Morley. It’s a unique film, the type of thing that they don’t make anymore … in part because it’s sometimes very bloody (strange for a cartoon of that era) and certainly not for children. But it’s tremendously moving, and it’s got a lot to offer viewers open to something new and different.
I only read part of the novel by Richard Adams on which the movie was based, so I’m not sure how true to the book it was. A great film, however, stands on its own, in my opinion, and Watership Down does exactly that. At some point, I do expect to buy the DVD for myself. But first I must catch it.
Sorry. A bit of ill-chosen rabbity humor, there. I’ll stop now while I’m behind.
Gosh, The Boxtrolls looks horrible.
Saw a preview for it recently. Not funny. OK, maybe the funny bits were cut out of the trailer. But wait a second … aren’t the trailers supposed to include the funny bits? You know, to make people wanna see the movie?
The lack of humor in the preview suggests to me that the film is going to be a dud. Yes, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before. Yes, the trailers aren’t always a foolproof way of determining the worth of a picture. But for some reason, this rubs me the wrong way.
It has to do, to a certain extent, with the dearth of good children’s movies out there today. Kids’ fare is often loud, cartoony, with flashy visuals and little heart. The soul that is instilled into much of the pictures for tykes today is junky, flat, clichéd. I get the feeling that The Boxtrolls isn’t going to be any different. Its splashiness seems superficial. And it won’t hide the fact that the plot is ordinary.
So I’m not going to see it. I already know what it’s going to be like. Sure, you can say that I shouldn’t judge a picture before I see it, but I can tell I won’t enjoy this one. It’s a box I refuse to open. And I’m proud to say I’m doing just that.
Last night, I watched something I hadn’t seen in more than 30 years.
It was an imaginative animated short that appeared on Sesame Street when I was a kid, so you know it was long ago. In it, a young woman lying on her bed imagines the crack on her wall to be various friendly animals: a camel, a hen and a monkey. She travels with them through the wall and finds what is hoped to be a new pal but turns out to be the “Crack Master,” a horrible, frowning face made of cracks. This “Crack Master” then is “destroyed” as the plaster that makes up his visage falls to the ground because he is “mean.”
Whoa, right? What a trip.
Actually, this short frightened me practically to death as a young child; I remember running out of the room when it was on so I didn’t have to see it. There was something about the face of the “Crack Master” that bothered me, as well as the idea of cracks coming to life. But in watching it last night, I did something I’ve been unable to do for decades: Conquer my fear. The scares of childhood weren’t, thankfully, there. Just the remnants of memories.
This clip has some notoriety; apparently I wasn’t the only kid to be horrified by it years ago. It remains a very creative piece: stark but well-realized, despite the eerie subject matter. You can decide for yourself whether all my fears were warranted by watching it here:
Reading the news elicits a wide range of responses from me, but today was the first time in many months that I actually reacted to something with a cry of “Oh, no.”
It was to the report of character actor extraordinaire Bob Hoskins’ death at the untimely age of 71.
Like all performers, Hoskins has done good work and not-so-good work, but he had a very distinctive style and an old-fashioned bloke quality that worked brilliantly in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, among others. And I’ll tell ya, his performance as Smee in the very bad film Hook nearly elevated it to watchable quality. So this was one pro actor we’re talking about here, with a long, accomplished resume to boot.
I’m sad to see him go.
I think the reason Frozen was such a hit was marketing.
Ads for the animated film were all over TV. They got people to see it.
But I’m not sure why so many people liked it. I thought the script was dreadful and the songs mediocre. Plus, it was highly, highly unfunny, especially the character of the live, talking, happy-go-lucky snowman. It’s highly possible that the execrable Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was a more humorous, better developed character.
OK, the computer animation was quite well done in Frozen; that was no surprise. Yet the film seemed artificial, manufactured, as if devised specifically for a certain audience and peppered with hip dialogue and silly situations. It didn’t have an organic quality, and the songs just made it worse.
I’m in the minority on this, I know. Frozen was a huge success. Yet that doesn’t necessarily equate quality, and in that light, the movie doesn’t make the cut for me.
Disney can do better than this, methinks.