unshaved mouse

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Disney Reviews the Unshaved Mouse #49: The Princess and the Frog

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

God I hate when this happens.
See, here’s the thing. I already knew what I was going to say about Princess and the Frog months ago. I had my arguments prepared, I’d done my research, the only thing remaining to do was to sit down and watch it again before actually writing the review. And then, of course, my opinion of the movie changed pretty substantially and now I’m back to square one. Alright, a lot of you have been asking me my opinion on the Princess and the Frog, and until very, very recently it was this:
Don’t like it. Hugely disappointing. Major flaws. Disney screwed the pooch. To get traditional animation back in contention they needed a perfect ten and we got a five. Mouse not happy.
But then…yeah, I watched it again and it’s safe to say that my opinion has mellowed quite a bit. Not totally. The problems I thought were there are still there. What problems you ask? Three are the problems, and the number of the problems is three.
  1. Tiana
You know, given Disney’s sterling record of diversity it’s kind of amazing that it’s taken this long for us to have an African American princess.
"Ha! Good one!"

“Ha! Good one!”

I’m actually not being sarcastic. Think about it, since Little Mermaid in 1987, of the seventeen canon movies featuring humans we’ve had Arab protaganoists, Asian protagonists, Native American protagonists, gypsy protagonists, Hawaiian protagonists, Mayan protagonists and even that most reviled and loathed of all minorities…
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The French.

So, why has it taken them this long? Well, seeing as you’re on the internet you probably aren’t aware of this, but race can be something of a sticky wicket. By which I mean, Disney knew that if they fucked up on this they would be eaten alive so it’s probably not surprising that they took this one nice and slow. And, in my opinion at least, they succeeded. There is nothing problematic about the character of Tiana. She is as positive and progressive a depiction of an African American woman as you could hope to find. On a possibly not unrelated note, she is also really, really, really, really, really boring. Who do I blame for that? The writers? The animators? Voice actor Anika Noni Rose? No. At the risk of being unpopular, I place the blame solely on…
You
Yes you, people on the internet.
This movie came under an insane amount of scrutiny long, long, before it was even released, with Disney making many changes in response to every new backlash and charge of racism. Now, some of the criticism may have been fair, but honestly some of it just strikes me as petty. For example, the heroine’s name was originally “Maddy” which was changed to Tiana because “Maddy” rhymes with “Mammy”. So, yeah, I know right? Wasn’t that a bullet narrowly dodged? Now I, for one, was unaware that names that happen coincidentally to rhyme with racist slurs are racist by association but I’ll certainly keep that in mind in fut…OH MY GOD!!!
GET HIM THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!!!!

GET HIM THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!!!!

So, it’s understandable that the script for this thing feels like it was written by someone walking on eggshells. And yes, obviously writers have to treat the issue of race carefully and with sensitivity, but I think a certain degree of good faith is required on behalf of the audience as well. It’s just the problem with living in a world where any blowhard can get on his virtual soap box and complain about a movie that hasn’t even been released yet and why are you all looking at me like that? But there is another problem with Tiana that goes beyond all of that. Alright, the simplest, most basic story you can tell goes like this. Character A (the protagonist), wants something, and we want to see him get that thing. Character B (the antagonist) wants something that is mutually exclusive to what character A wants, and we don’t want to see him get that. The characters struggle against each other, and from this we get conflict, drama and finally resolution. Now, you can alter and flip and rearrange and deconstruct or just flat out ignore this model in literally an infinite number of different ways but most of the time that’s what it boils down to. The central conflict is the heart of the story. And Tiana exists almost entirely outside the central conflict. She’s essentially an onlooker in her own story. The conflict is between Naveen and Facilier. You could conceivably have a movie just about those two. What is the relationship between Tiana and Facilier? What’s the personal stake? As the old lady once said, where’s the beef?
  1. The Script
Not bad, but really needed to be funnier. And from Clements and Musker we had a right to expect better.
  1. Randy Goddamn Newman
Fine in small doses, don’t get me wrong. But to write a musical you need versatility almost as much as you need raw songwriting talent. Your songs need to be versatile enough to convey an entire emotional spectrum and Newman just can’t do that. There’s an unmistakeable saminess to his songs that make them less emotional beats in the story set to music, and more mere musical intervals (with the exception of Friends on the Other Side, which is awesome.) This is the single biggest problem with the movie in my opinion. There’s enough good in the rest of the movie that a Howard Ashman or Sherman Brothers or Kristen Anderson Lopez could have lifted this up to the realm of the all-time greats.
Well okay, enough about what they got wrong. Let’s take a look at what they got right.

(more…)

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

“Man, I’m beat. That list of the 25 most punchable Disney sidekicks took a lot longer than I thought. I think I’ll just relax with some internet browsing. Just log on to www.fishfistingandfuckingforfun.com...”

“Man, I’m beat. That list of the 25 most punchable Disney sidekicks took a lot longer than I thought. I think I’ll just relax with some internet browsing. Just log on to www.fishfistingandfuckingforfun.com…”

“What ya doin'?"

“What ya doin’?”

“Argh!”

“Aaaaaah!”

“Aaaah!"

“Aaaah!”

“Wait a minute, I know you! You’re Baby Mouse, the mental projection of my inner child.”

“Wait a minute, I know you! You’re Baby Mouse, the mental projection of my inner child.”

“And a clunky, exposition-filled “hello” to you too.”

“And a clunky, exposition-filled “hello” to you too.”

“What are you doing back? I thought you’d returned to the deepest recesses of my psyche?”

“What are you doing back? I thought you’d returned to the deepest recesses of my psyche?”

“Hate to break it to you dude, but after all the messing around Disney and the Horned King did to your brain, escaping the deepest recesses of your psyche is about as difficult as busting out of Arkham.”

“Hate to break it to you dude, but after all the messing around Disney and the Horned King did to your brain, escaping the deepest recesses of your psyche is about as difficult as busting out of Arkham.”

“Well what do you want?”

“Well what do you want?”

“I’m bored, I want to watch another movie.”

“I’m bored, I want to watch another movie.”

“Okay fine, which one?”

“Okay fine, which one?”

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“No! No, no, no. I’m putting my foot down. Not only is it terrible, it’s not even an animated movie. It’s cartoon’s only on this blog, buster.”

“No! No, no, no. I’m putting my foot down. Not only is it terrible, it’s not even an animated movie. It’s cartoon’s only on this blog, buster.”

“Oh c’mon! It’s the BEST MOVE EVER!”

“Oh c’mon! It’s the BEST MOVE EVER!”

“That’s what you said about Transformers!”

“That’s what you said about Transformers!

“I may have been overly hasty in my appraisal. I’m impetuous, it’s part of my charm. Now review the movie before I start telling people about all your weird fetishes.”

“I may have been overly hasty in my appraisal. I’m impetuous, it’s part of my charm. Now review the movie before I start telling people about all your weird fetishes.”

“Okay! Okay! Be cool!"

“Okay! Okay! Be cool!”

(more…)

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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #48: Bolt

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)
You know what’s weird? In Irish, there’s no word for “Yes” or “No”.
You know what else is weird? If you ask someone to imagine “a Disney movie” they automatically think of a Princess movie, something like the world of Giselle in Enchanted. But the Princess movies only make up a small fraction of the canon, 10 movies out of 52. Whereas the talking animal movies comprise a staggering twenty four movies depending on how you count them (Pinocchio, no, the two Winnie the Poohs, yes for our purposes here). So why is it that the Princess movies have such an outsized influence on how the rest of the canon is seen? Well, for whatever reason, it’s the Princess movies that seem to do really well. Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, Tangled, Frozen, all really, really huge hits. And even Pocahontas and Princess and the Frog were not exactly slouches at the box-office. The talking animal movies, by comparison, tend to perform more modestly. Oh, you’ll get the occasional big hit (Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, Jungle Book, The Rescuers and oh yeah, The Lion King) but mostly it feels like their role is to just keep things ticking over until the next Princess movie comes along.  And that’s just not right, dammit. Disney have done some if their very best work in this sub-genre. Take today’s movie for example, Bolt, which was released in 2008 and…
Oh my God.
Oh my God, this thing was released in 2008. Obama had been elected by the time this thing came out. I was on Facebook. I was in my current job. I remember this thing coming out as a recent event in my life. It’s just…wow. When I started this blog I was making jokes about Hitler and the Second World War (that came out wrong). I mean, it’s really all coming to an end, isn’t it? Finish line’s in sight.
Ahem. Anyway.
It’s possible to think of Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons and Bolt as a trilogy of the “Pixarification” of Disney. Chicken Little is Disney, trying to be Pixar, Meet the Robinsons is Disney on its way to becoming Pixar and Bolt is basically Pixar. It was produced by John Lasseter and it looks, feels and runs like a Pixar movie. Seriously, they could have slapped a Pixar logo on this and no one would have known the difference. But what kind of Pixar movie is it? Are we talking Toy Story 3? Or are we talking Cars?
Let’s take a look.

(more…)

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The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

"So that’s why I’ve decided I should go back into therapy. I’m just worried that, what with my last psychiatrist turning out  to be an immortal Lich King who tried to trap me in a hell dimension for all time…"

“So that’s why I’ve decided I should go back into therapy. I’m just worried that, what with my last psychiatrist turning out to be an immortal Lich King who tried to trap me in a hell dimension for all time…”

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“Your trust was betrayed. And now you worry that you may not be able to trust anyone again.”

"Exactly."

“Exactly.”

"Mouse, if I am to help you, you must feel comfortable in opening up to me. Only then can we overcome your issues and help you reach your true potential."

“Mouse, if I am to help you, you must feel comfortable in opening up to me. Only then can we overcome your issues and help you reach your true potential.”

"My true potential?"

“My true potential?”

"Yes. You should be killing people. Like, all the time."

“Yes. You should be killing people. Like, all the time.”

"Huh. Well, I did feed a friend of mine to a shark two weeks."

“Huh. Well, I did feed a friend of mine to a shark two weeks ago.”

"Excellent, then we are already on the road to recovery. But first we must deal with your trust issues. I am going to hypnotise you now."

“Excellent, then we are already on the road to recovery. But first we must deal with your trust issues. I am going to hypnotize you now.”

"Okay."

“Okay.”

"Listen to my voice. I am going to reactivate memories that have long since lain dormant. We are going to put you in touch with your inner child."

“Listen to my voice. I am going to reactivate memories that have long since lain dormant. We are going to put you in touch with your inner child.”

"What the...what's happening?"

“What the…what’s happening?”

"Hey, where am I?"

“Hey, where am I?”

"What the…who are you?"

“What the…who are you?”

"He’s not really here Mouse. He is a psychological projection of you when you were a child."

“He’s not really here Mouse. He is a psychological projection of you when you were a child.”

"Wow. I got REAL fat."

“Wow. I got REAL fat.”

"Ah yes. I forgot. I was a real charmer. What exactly am I supposed to do with him?"

“Ah yes. I forgot. I was a real charmer. What exactly am I supposed to do with him?”

"Spend time together. Reconnect. Try and recover the trust and innocence that you once had, and then we’ll be killing people together in no time."

“Spend time together. Reconnect. Try and recover the trust and innocence that you once had, and then we’ll be killing people together in no time.”

"Fine. What you want to do?"

“Fine. What you want to do?”

"What do you normally do?"

“What do you normally do?”

"Honestly, I spend most of my time watching cartoons and then making stupid jokes about them."

“Honestly, I spend most of my time watching cartoons and then making stupid jokes about them.”

"So…you haven’t actually changed in twenty five years?"

“So…you haven’t actually changed in twenty three years?”

"Well I don’t wet the bed anymore. You want to watch cartoons or not?"

“Well I don’t wet the bed anymore. You want to watch cartoons or not?”

"Okay. Oh! Oh! That one!"

“Okay. Oh! Oh! That one!”

Transformers-movieposter-west

"What? No. It's AWFUL."

“What? No. It’s AWFUL.”

"Nuh-uh! It’s the BEST MOVIE EVER!"

“Nuh-uh! It’s the BEST MOVIE EVER!”

"Kid, look, I know you have a lot of fond memories of this but, trust me, as someone who reviews animated movies for a living…"

“Kid, look, I know you have a lot of fond memories of this but, trust me, as someone who reviews animated movies for a living…”

"Really? You get paid to do this?"

“Really? You get paid to do this?”

"…Fine, let’s watch the movie."

“…Fine, let’s watch the movie.”

(more…)

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Let’s all take a look at the Big Hero Six trailer

So after a long period of radio silence Disney have finally released the first teaser trailer for the next installment in the canon, Big Hero Six. We’ll take a look at the teaser in a second but first, let’s go over what we know about this one.
What is Big Hero Six?
Big Hero Six is a movie.
See? This is why I come here. Searing insight like that.
Well I aim to please.
What is the movie about, smart guy?
Big Hero Six came about with Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Comics. The Disney animators were told to go through Marvel’s back catalogue to look for concepts that would work as animated features.
So, when presented with the opportunity to play with Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, Nextwave…
They chose Big Hero Six, an obscure team of Japanese superheroes. Correct.
So who are Big Hero Six?
The original team included X-Men characters Sunfire and Silver Samurai, GoGo Tomago who can transform into a ball of energy, Honey Lemon who can pull any object out of her magic purse, boy genius Hiro Takachito and his robot buddy Baymax. They’ve made the odd appearance in other books, and were introduced in Starfire & Big Hero Six #1.
Was it any good?
I dunno.
Wait a minute. You? Unshaved Mouse? Don’t know something about a comic book?
Really, really, really obscure property guys. I’m a nerd, I’m not a “I’ve read Big Hero Six” nerd. However, it was written by Scott Lobdell who wrote this little treasure.
Worst goddamn book of the worst goddam reboot in the worst goddamn period of DC history.

Worst goddamn book of the worst goddamn reboot in the worst goddamn period of DC history…sorry I’m getting off track.

So I’m guessing it’s not the second coming of Watchmen.
So why would Disney choose to adapt a property that was both so obscure and so tainted with Lobdell stink?
Probably precisely because it was so obscure. One thing that holds true with Disney adaptations across the eras is that they tend to be, very, very loose, often deviating wildly from the source material.
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This is, after all, the company that took the story of a chicken getting hit on the head with an acorn and turned it into War of the Worlds . 

If you are a Big Hero Six fan hoping for a faithful adaptation of the comic then this is not the movie you’re looking for. We can go about our business. Move along. If Disney had decided to do, say, an animated Captain America movie, they’d have legions of fanboys breathing down their next over the slightest change to the story. With Big Hero Six, they have more freedom to truly make it their own (and if the movie is a success, you can damn well bet that Marvel will change the in-comic team to more closely resemble the movie). Disney seem to have been attracted to the story by the relationship between Hiro and Baymax and will apparently be focussing on that. Also, Sunfire and Silver Samurai will almost certainly not be appearing in the film as Sunfire is an X-Man and Silver Samurai is a Wolverine villain, the movie rights to which are both owned by Fox.
I want Robert Downey Junior in my lady parts. Since this is a Marvel movie, is there a chance that Iron Man might cameo. Is this connected to the greater Marvel cinematic universe?
Almost certainly no. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say DEFINITELY no. Disney seems to have created an entirely new fictional world for this movie. It takes place in “San Fransokyo”, a mashup of Tokyo and San Francisco. It would be pretty much impossible to reconcile that with the more realistic world depicted in the Avengers whose nations and cities are shown to pretty much line up exactly with our own. The only possible hint of a crossover with other Marvel properties is that Samuel L. Jackson has been cast in an unconfirmed role. Will he appear as Nick Fury? Possibly. But I still wouldn’t hold out much hope of this movie crossing over with the other Marvel movies.
Alright, let’s take a look at the trailer.
Hmmm…I can’t quite put my finger on it but there’s something quite familiar about this.
Okay, not the most original trailer Disney have ever done. So what we have here is a sequence of Hiro putting Baymax together. Rather than showing a sizzle reel of scenes from the movie this feels more like the Olaf/Sven shorts that Disney released before Frozen, more about showing off the characters designs and animation that going into plot. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if none of this actually ends up being in the movie. A big difference is that I absolutely hated the Olaf/Sven shorts which seemed to be aping DreamWorks whereas this feels more Pixar by way of Miyazaki to me.
Which, as pedigrees go...

Which, as pedigrees go…

“Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” Baymax is pretty adorable and the animation is of course excellent. I can’t say I’m now absolutely raring to go and see Big Hero Six but I don’t see anything here that worries me (which makes it a big step up from the Frozen teaser). We’ll see where they go from here.
What do you guys think? Let me know in comments.
Mouse.
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Unshaved Mouse and Erik Copper review: Enchanted

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

UM: Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Unshaved Mouse, with me tonight is my lovely assitant Erik Copper, say hi to the nice folks Erik.

 

EC: Hi to the nice folks, Erik!

 

UM: Alright, listen buster, you want a corny joke war you got a corny joke war.

 

EC: Oh, trust me, good sir, I am more than proficient in the art of the corny joke. How do the folks over seas say it? “You don’t want nunna this?”

 

UM: They do say that. In England. Which, for me, is also overseas.

 

EC: Ah, yes. “The pond” as I heard it once called. Anyway, there are people reading this post, and I’m sure they heard enough of your corny jokes from the past 47 reviews. Ohhhh! And that is what we Americans call a “sick burn”.

 

UM:  Yes. There are people reading this. Because it is my blog. Key difference. In Ireland, that is what we call “sruthán tinn.”

 

EC: You’ll have to excuse me. I do not speak–

 

UM:  Don’t say Gaelic. Don’t say Gaelic. I warn you. Do not say Gaelic.

 

EC: “Paddy-talk.”

 

UM: Much better. So, before we incite an international incident., how about we talk about Enchanted?

 

EC: Well…From last week’s “next week” preview, I have a feeling your thoughts of this movie might already incite an international incident. I hear you do not like this film?

 

UM: Ah….okay, I may have overstated the case. No, I didn’t. I hate this movie. But I recognise that it’s not bad, and that there’s a lot of good in it. But, I think it’s kind of mediocre and phoned in and really overrated. It’s like American History X for me.

 

EC: But isn’t that part of the charm? It’s supposed to be a parody/deconstruction of the Disney princess motif. And in that respect, I think it does it’s job really well. Showing that the Disney “magic” doesn’t really exist outside of film kind of makes the charm all the more endearing.

 

UM: Well, firstly I don’t think it does it WELL, I think it does it like…competently. Like, it starts with the premise of letting a Disney princess loose in modern day New York, gets the most obvious jokes it can out of it (and don’t get me wrong, just because they’re obvious doesn’t mean they’re not funny), but it never really goes beyond that. It does everything you expect with the concept and not a jot more. And it’s not that noticeable because Amy Adams and James Marsden are giving it so much energy. I mean, they are both really, really appealing in this. That’s why I likened it to American History X, a mediocre movie that people think is great because it has a really good lead performance. Also, it’s about white supremacy.

EC: I’ve never seen American History X, but that description makes me think I might have a Song of the South reaction to the film. While I do see the side of your argument (and believe me, this movie seems to have more sides than an octagon) I think the point of the movie isn’t to give more than what it did. If you think about it, the film’s concept isn’t really all that broad. “Fairy tale in New York” (No, Pogue’s fans, go away). That’s a theme you can’t do much with, because fairy tales are so confined to a certain kind of feel, and real life contrasts with it so much. I think what the movie did with what it had made it a better film than you’re giving it credit for.

UM: “It’s Christmas Eve Baaaaaaaaabe….in the drunk taaaaaaaaank!” I’m sorry, did you say something?

EC: Goddammit, I’ve lost the Mouse. After I fetch a cat to try and wake him up (fear is often the best medicine, I find), we’ll start the actual review.

Hssssssssssss!

Hssssssssssss!

UM: You ever….EVER  do that to me again. You just wait. I’m gonna get your natural predator and launch it at you when you least expect it!

 

EC: Somehow, I doubt that entirely. ANYWAY! How does the movie start?

(more…)

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Turn this ship around (How to rescue Star Trek).

I am a massive Star Trek fan (please, no shrieks of astonishment) so fair warning right now, we are going DEEP down the nerd hole for this post.

In 2005 Star Trek was dead. The last film, Nemesis, was a big dumb turd (although not the worst Star Trek film by a space-mile in my humble opinion) and Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled, marking the first time since 1987 that there had been no new Trek on TV. Then, in 2009, JJ Abrams massively successful Star Trek brought the franchise roaring back to life. That movie pissed off a lot of hardcore Star Trek fans. I was not one of them. I loved that movie. Was it dumb? Oh hell yes, but then the Star Trek movies have always been less cerebral affairs than the TV series (and in fact the movies that did try to go all deep and philosophical often were even dumber and a hell of a lot less fun than the ones that were content to be straight up action flicks). There was plenty of sloppy plotting and ridiculous coincidence but the cast had good chemistry, the action looked great and it took some really brave chances. Blowing up Vulcan genuinely shocked me and showed that these guys weren’t afraid to seriously shake things up. So I was well and truly pumped for Star Trek Into Darkness when it came out in 2013.

Star Trek Into Darkness was the shittiest piece of shit that ever shat. God-DAMN but I hate that movie. Hands down my least favourite Star Trek film. Yes, even more than the one where Kirk meets God and then he’s not God. Even more than the one that’s almost entirely slow motion shots of the Enterprise. I hate that movie even more than the never released Star Trek: Scotty Presents the Wonderful World of Nude Mime and I just made up that film. I literally flipped off the screen in the cinema as the credits rolled.    

And now the news has broken that JJ Abrams (who, whatever you think of his work, at least we can all agree is a director) is not returning for the sequel and will instead be replaced by script writer Roberto Orci, the man responsible for most of what I hated about the last film and who has never directed a movie before in his life.

(more…)

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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #47: Meet the Robinsons

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

I never get to say everything I want to say with these things, there’s never enough time. For example, in the Chicken Little review there was actually a lot of fascinating stuff going on between Disney and Pixar that I didn’t  even get to mention because I spent so much time talking about the fan-hate for that film and how I felt it was completely overblown. So, Chicken Little came out around the time when Pixar’s co-production deal with Disney was coming up for renewal and there was a lot riding on it, as whether it was a success or failure would strengthen or weaken Disney’s hand at the negotiating table. A flop would allow Pixar to say “See? You can’t make CGI movies without us, your movies blow chunks.” and a success would allow Disney to say “Nu-uh, our movies are totally boss and everyone says so.”
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A typical Disney boardroom negotiation.

Chicken Little was released in 2005 and was a resounding minor success. Critics hated it, but it did do quite well at the box-office. Pixar realised that while Disney’s CGI output might not be ready for primetime, they’d probably be better to have as a friend than as an enemy. And so Disney and Pixar patched things up and decided to stay together for the kids and the billions of box-office and merchandising revenue generated by those kids. Disney acquired Pixar wholesale in 2006, at which point it became very, very difficult to tell where Disney ends and Pixar begins, what’s a Pixar movie and what’s a Disney movie and who exactly is qualified to be  a Disney princess.
Sure. Why not? She wasn’t in a canon Disney film, but why not? Hell, let’s make BUGS BUNNY a Disney Princess, who cares anymore?

Sure. Why not? She wasn’t in a canon Disney film, but why not? Hell, let’s make BUGS BUNNY a Disney Princess, who cares anymore?

Sorry. It’s just been a dark time for people like me who don’t like their fishfingers touching the peas.  Today’s movie, Meet the Robinsons was created right about the time that “Disney” and “Pixar” were becoming “DisneyPixar” (“Dixar”, as the media conglomerate shippers call them) and it really, really, really shows. In every Disney era there is a movie that sums up that whole era perfectly. Pinocchio is the quintessential Tar and Sugar movie, Jungle Book perfectly defines Scratchy Movies and honestly, I kinda feel that Meet the Robinsons is the ultimate Lost Era movie. Not that it’s bad (it’s not). But it is thoroughly weird and constantly searching for a tone. There’s also a wild, “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” style to its comedy, and in fairness to it, a lot of it does indeed stick. It’s a movie that feels more like several little movies strung together rather than a single, cohesive whole. But first a little background.
Meet the Robinsons is loosely based on A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce, the infamous Anglo-Irish fascist who, during the second world war broadcast Nazi propaganda from Berlin into British homes as the notorious “Lord Haw Haw”…
"Im sorry..."

“I’m sorry…”

Ah. Different William Joyce. This William Joyce is an American illustrator, children’s author and animator and most definitely not a Nazi. He did write Epic, however, so. Y’know. He’s not Mother Teresa either. He also worked on some really good movies like Toy Story and A Bug’s Life.  Which side of the spectrum does Meet the Robinsons fall on? Let’s take a look.

(more…)

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Princess Mononoke (1997)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)
Alright, let’s deal with the elephant in the room, shall we?
I watched the dubbed version.
マウスの死亡! (Death to Mouse!)

マウスの死亡!
(Death to Mouse!)

Yes. Yes. Yes. Illiterate. Ignoramus. Buffoon. Yada yada yada. Look, to a certain degree I sympathise. When it comes to live action movies, I cannot STAND dubbing. Der Untergang is one of my favourite films and if you ever suggested watching it in anything other than the original German, I’d accuse you of being the first person to ever talk about Der Untergang who was actually worse than the main character. But that’s for live action. Animation is slightly different. One of my big problems with dubbing over live action is that even when the characters are outside in a forest or whatever the voices coming out of their mouths always sound like they’re in a recording booth. Which of course, they are. Also, you just can’t make the lip movements synch up, it’s just not possible. With an animated film, however, everyone, original voice actors and unwashed gaijin alike are in a recording booth anyway so it doesn’t matter. It’s also easier to make the lip movements more closely approximate the new language in animation. So basically, when it comes to animé, subbed or dubbed, I’m easy. For Princess Mononoke I’m reviewing the dubbed version for the following reasons:
  • It is a phenomenal dub. Great cast, fantastic performances, wonderful adapted script by Neil Gaiman, just amazingly well done.
  • Miyazaki himself prefers his movies to be watched rather than read and supports his films being dubbed into foreign languages.
  • I don’t want subtitles clogging up my screencaps when I’m makin’ mah dick jokes.
  • It’s easier for me to come up with jokes for the American voice actors. “Perhaps I wasn’t clear, I’m Hisaya mother fucking Morishige” doesn’t quite have the same ring.
  • Watching the subbed version means I don’t get to hear Gillian Anderson’s voice. I want to hear Gillian Anderson’s voice. Why don’t you want me to hear Gillian Anderson’s voice? Try and take it away from me and see what happens. Just. Try.
I’m not arguing for the superiority of the dubbed version over the original Japanese, or vice versa. What I’m saying is; it doesn’t matter. Watch either. Watch both. This movie is so damn good it will not make a lick of difference.
Monoke-Hime “The Spirit Princess” was released in Japan in 1997 and almost immediately became the most successful Japanese film of all time against a budget of 2 billion yen (aka around $20 million dollars or a third of what it cost to make Foodfight!). Following that, Miramax, a tentacle of the vast Disney octopus, purchased the rights for distribution in the West. Now, it’s a tired old truism that the big difference between animation in Japan and in the West is that here, animation is seen as being “just for kids” and I really hope we can put that one to rest finally. No, animation in the West is no longer seen as being children’s entertainment. The most successful television show in American history is The Simpsons. The airwaves are full of animated series specifically marketed towards adults. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncutwas one of the biggest grossing movie musicals of all time. It’s done. Grown ups watch cartoons now. War is over.  If you want it. Having said that, it’s certainly true that animé can be…well, pretty shocking to Western audiences used to animation being almost totally comedic. Animé is into some messed up shit quite frankly, and I’m not even talking about their lax stance on schoolgirl/tentacle relationships. There is an intensity to the violence and body horror in animé that’s like nothing you’d see in Western entertainment. Which, of course, is why it’s so popular here. Even Miyazaki, who is about as far as you can get from Fist of the Northstar, can serve you up some pretty disturbing imagery and Mononoke is probably the darkest movie in his filmography (I’ve heard Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is even darker but I haven’t seen it yet). We got decapitations, monstrous transformations, severed limbs, giant bleeding boars turning into worm monsters of pure hatred and all kinds of dark horror that Disney just doesn’t do.
Ahem. Anymore.
HELLO!

HELLO!

So legendary Miramax producer Harvey Weinstein wanted to make heavy cuts to the movie to have it more in keeping with American expectations for a full length animated film. Studio Ghibli’s response was simple and eloquent, sending Weinstein a katana sword with a note saying “NO CUTS!”. It’s my blog, so I will add to the story that it was delivered to Weinstein’s room in the dead of night by a ninja weeping a single tear as he crouched silhouetted in a window while behind him, cherry blossoms fell in the moonlight. But of course, the sword was probably just delivered by some FedEx guy (ah, the days before 9/11). Weinsten got the message and the film was released without cuts, thereby ensuring that Studio Ghibli did not have to take things to the next stage.
Horsehead
Miyazaki may well be the greatest animation director who has ever lived. Princess Mononoke is widely considered his greatest work. Just how good is that? And can I actually make any jokes about a movie this excellent? And will you actually laugh at them?
"Why start now?"

“Why start now?”

Let’s take a look.

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untitled

Disney Reviews with Unshaved Mouse #46: Chicken Little

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

"WE WANT BLOOD!" "WE WANT BLOOD!"

“WE WANT BLOOD!”
“WE WANT BLOOD!”

"Guys, that crowd is getting pretty nasty. Has he started reviewing it yet?"

“Guys, that crowd is getting pretty nasty. Has he started reviewing it yet?”

"Nah man. He just watched it and now hes just sitting there not doing any damn thang."

“Nah man. He just watched it and now he’s just sitting there not doing any damn thang.”

"What?! Mouse, cmon! Snap out of it!"

“What?! Mouse, cmon! Snap out of it!”

"..."

“…”

"I told you it was too soon! I told we couldnt expect to review so soon after Foodfight! I TOLD YOU ALL! "

“I told you! I told you we couldn’t expect to review another movie so soon, after…that…other movie. I TOLD YOU ALL! “

"SHUT UP! Mouse, listen to me! You've kept them waiting too long, if you don't review this movie we're going to be killed by hardcore Disney fans!"

“SHUT UP! Mouse, listen to me! You’ve kept them waiting too long, if you don’t tear this movie apart they’re going to kill us all!”

"I...can't..."

“I…can’t…”

"I knew it! He's too traumatised! Why din't you listen to me?! Making him watch that piece of shit so soon after Foodfight..."

“I knew it! He’s too traumatised! Why din’t you listen to me?! Making him watch that piece of shit so soon after Foodfight…”

"NYAAAAAARRGGHHH!"

“NYAAAAAARRGGHHH!”

"Sorry, sorry, my bad."

“Sorry, sorry, my bad.”

"BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!"

“BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!”

"Listen dawg. Ain't no thang. Just go out there and tell them that the movie was a piece of shit."

“Listen dawg. Ain’t no thang. Just go out there and tell them that the movie was a piece of shit and then you never have to see it again.”

"That's not the problem. I...I liked it."

“That’s not the problem. I…I liked it.”

"Oh Jesus. That's it everybody, run for your lives. Latin America, you run out and create a distraction."

“Oh Jesus. That’s it everybody, run for your lives. Latin America, you go out and create a distraction.”

"Sure thing...heeeeey, wait a minute!"

“Sure thing…heeeeey, wait a minute!”

"What?"

“What?”

"That's a "diversion", not a "distraction" silly."

“That’s a “diversion”, not a “distraction” silly.”

"Aw, you're so smart. Now get going! We'll rendezvous in the afterlife."

“Aw, you’re so smart. Now get going! We’ll rendezvous in the afterlife. Let’s go Mouse. You packin’ Asia?”

"You know it."

“You know it. Let’s murder some bitches.”

"No. It's alright. I'll go and talk to them."

“No. It’s alright. I’ll go and talk to them.”

***

Okay. Well. No point beating around the bush. Time to take my punishment like a mouse. Here goes.

ATTENTION INTERNET! CHICKEN LITTLE IS NOT THAT BAD! I REPEAT! CHICKEN LITTLE IS NOT THAT BAD! PLEASE ADJUST YOUR OPINIONS ON THE BADNESS OF CHICKEN LITTLE ACCORDINGLY!

DINOSAUR REMAINS SHIT!

THAT IS ALL!

"..."

“…”

"Um...hello?"

“Um…hello?”

"I think they're paralysed with rage, boss."

“I think they’re paralysed with rage, boss.”

"Ah. How long before they recover and tear me limb from limb like wet tissue paper?"

“Ah. How long before they recover and tear me limb from limb like wet tissue paper?”

"Eight, nine minutes?"

“Eight, nine minutes?”

Okay. Better make this quick.

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