Author Archives: jambareeqi

“The Wild Thornberrys” – Operation Valentine (EPISODE REVIEW)

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In this Season 3 episode of “The Wild Thornberrys”, which is set in Australia, Eliza goes in search of fenced off Dingos, while Debbie gets ready for a date with her internet friend, and Marianne finishes building her Valentines gift for Nigel. Tragedy strikes though, when Eliza’s stomach starts hurting, and Darwin doesn’t know what to do.

What I enjoyed about this episode, is that it celebrates love in a variety of ways, not just limited to romantic. Sure, there’s talk of dates and gifts, but the real gestures of love come from the family’s support of Eliza, who may have something worse than a tummy bug. Everyone pitches in to save Eliza: Darwin protects her while help arrives, Donnie tries to tell Nigel, Marianne diagnoses Eliza with Appendicitis, Debbie sacrifices her date to make transport easier, and Nigel bravely flies his daughter to the nearest hospital. It doesn’t always matter if you’re alone on Valentines Day, because your family can be just as special as a date.

Operation Valentines 2

I really felt for Eliza too, her pain seems so real, I totally wanted her to be safely taken to hospital, and didn’t like seeing her suffering. Imagine feeling searing stomach pain in the Australian outback too! The humid scorching weather wouldn’t be helping the unbearable ache in your tummy. This is what makes the race to the hospital so intense, we want her to get there so bad, and any hindrances are infuriating.

However, that’s not to say that this episode is completely devoid of any romance, because we do get to see a big happy smile on Nigel’s face when his Valentines’ gift is unveiled, and Nigel himself does talk about his first ever love (the big twist will make you grin warmly). Debbie’s preparation for her date is kind of cute, from her clumsy baking skills leading to awful cookies, to trying on possible dresses that may impress her friend.


In terms of animal characters, wildlife interaction is played down, because Eliza is too sick to talk to any critters, but we get to meet some Emu who are afraid of being turned into shampoo. The real guest animal star though, is an eagle, who serves as a recurring antagonist, and boy did I end up despising him! He brings the most conflict to the episode, even getting in the way of Nigel’s flight, and I’ve never hated a bird as much as this Eagle haha!


To Conclude, if you want a Valentines Day special episode of “The Wild Thornberrys” where romantic love is the main focus, you maybe disappointed, because while there’s elements of romance here, the central theme is familial love, and there are other episodes of the show that are far more romance heavy. It’s a sweet and touching episode though, that teaches how Valentines Day can also be about showing love to your family, which still manages to include animals even with Eliza suffering from appendicitis.

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Warner Bros. Release “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” Trailer

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 14th November, 2018

There’s finally a live action Pokémon movie coming out soon, but this is no Ash Ketchum adventure, it’s a buddy cop movie about a Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), teaming up with a failed Pokémon trainer called Tim (played by Justice Smith), to uncover the mystery behind Tim’s father’s disappearance.

As a life-long Pokémon fan myself, I’m quite happy to see my favourite pocket monsters in a live action movie, it’s almost surreal to witness, because the concept has been dreamed up by fans for so long, that it became almost impossible to believe it’ll ever happen. Yes, it’s not about Ash, but that doesn’t bother me, as someone who has mixed feelings on that character, and our main character here is roughly the age of a first generation Pokémon fan – which will speak to millennial nostalgia.

Tim Goodman

As I mentioned, Pikachu is voiced by Ryan Reynolds, don’t worry though, he’s the only celebrity voiced character, and it Ikue Ōtani still voices Pikachu when he doesn’t speak English. Confused? Let me explain, this Pikachu can be understood by Tim, while everyone else just hears him say “Pika! Pika!”, which will make for some funny interactions for sure, especially with Ryan Reynold’s natural ability to make any line sound three times more hilarious.

You’re most likely wondering about my thoughts on the animation for the Pokemon, which has divided many fans, some loving them and others finding them to be “gross”. Here’s the thing, translating hand drawn characters into 3D CGI is very tough, you have to make them look faithful to the original designs, but you still need to be certain that they appear organic, it’s a super hard line to meet.


Failing to reach this balance can have consequences, like with Michael Bay’s Transformers, which put realistic mechanical intricacy before identifiable visual design, leading to characters that look downright unreadable, and it’s that stretch towards the uncanny valley that upset fans. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the potential issue of making the characters look too cartoony, which will make us fail to believe that they are part of a world where Pokémon are real, and that’s something that could kill the movie.


Personally, I think that Detective Pikachu reaches the standard I’d expect, where the Pokémon are a mix of anime monster aesthetics and biological realism. I don’t even have a personal issue with any of these Pokémon, because I instantly recognise them all, which is very important to me as a fan. Yes, Mr. Mime looks a little creepy, they could have given him a less Tim Burton-esque face, but I don’t think he’s as disturbing as most folks are making him out to be, I’ve seen much worse. I also trust the director, Rob Letterman, because he has a background in directing at Dreamworks Animation, he’s bound to have a high knowledge of animation standards, even if he did co-direct the awful “Shark Tale”.

Mr. Mime

My only real fear is that the film’s story will be bogged down with buddy cop movie cliches, especially after sitting through a Pokéball collection of them in “The Happytime Murders” this year. It’s a genuine concern I had after seeing the trailer, but that’s because the dynamic isn’t explored that much, with most of the trailer centering on the joke that Pikachu is now a talking detective. I’ll remain apprehensive, yet hope that the finished movie takes me by surprise, perhaps it’ll twist the genre’s expectations around, and maybe give a new angle on this setup. What do you think of this trailer? Let me know in the comment section below! Also, if you’re new to this site, consider exploring it, and maybe click the subscribe button.

Illumination Release The Max Trailer for The “Secret Life of Pets 2”

Written By Jambareeqi

Posted 8th November, 2018

Illumination have recently released a trailer for their upcoming film The Secret Life of Pets 2, which is dubbed “The Max Trailer”, it centres on Max reluctantly going to the vet, where he meets a variety of pets, all of whom are there for behavioral therapy. I thought that the original “The Secret Life of Pets” was just fine, it’s simply the “Toy Story” formula with animals, but it had a lot of heart and humour. That being said, I never thought it warranted a sequel?

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This trailer doesn’t give away too much about the plot for the sequel, but apparently the film is about the pets taking on an evil abusive veterinarian, which explains the setting in the trailer. I do wish that we got a glimpse of the vet, I’m curious how Illumination will villainize someone assigned to animal medical care, it’s not the immediate profession that comes to mind when you think bad guy (Thinking back though, I do recall that Scott Evil from “Austin Powers” wanted to be a vet), but maybe a future trailer will showcase them.

The other animals in the veterinary clinic are amusing enough, I’m not sure what they’ll be like for a whole feature story though, because so far, their personalities are limited to their behavioral issues. I will admit that their jokes are a little predictable, from a cat who gets annoyed at her owner for not appreciating dead gifts, to a hamster who can’t stop running on their wheel, but they have another comedic level in the context of why the pets are there.

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With this trailer being named after Max, I’m guessing that there will be other trailers for each character? Which seems like a decent idea, good way to showcase the cast of animals in the film, could give us a chance to get to know them beyond their behavioral problems. For a first trailer, this gives very little in terms of story, but at least it has a glimpse into the setting, and it’s a decent introduction to the new pets.

LAIKA Release First Trailer For “The Missing Link”

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 8th November, 2018

LAIKA, the animation studio behind such great stop motion films as “Coraline” and “Paranorman”, have released a new trailer for their upcoming feature film “The Missing Link”, a movie about an eccentric explorer Sir. Lionel Frost, discovering a legendary creature called Mr. Link, and how he helps Mr. Link find his own kind.

This film looks cute, but nothing too remarkable, it seems less daring and more light hearted compared to LAIKA’s usual films, which isn’t bad thing, it just makes it hard for me to get too excited about it. We’ve seen a lot of movies about a protagonist returning a character to their family, so I can’t say that LAIKA isn’t playing things safe, because it is familiar ground. I’ll admit that most of the trailer’s jokes didn’t make me laugh, bar the one where Mr. Link smashes a train window to get some fresh air, after the explorer suggests that he “cracks open a window”, but most of the other jokes weren’t that laugh worthy.

Missing Link 2

I do think that Mr. Link himself, who will be voiced by comedian Zach Galifianakis, seems a bit charming, there’s an every man quality to his personality that amusingly contrasts against his furry Sasquatch appearance, but I do fear that he could be too annoying, because of his verbal diarrhea. Sir. Lionel, played by Hugh Jackman, has a dry personality that may bounce off well against Mr. Link’s chatty nature, there’s something there in the trailer.

The Animation looks very pretty, there’s sort of a vintage look to everything, a bit like LAIKA’s other film “The Boxtrolls”, I dig that kind of aesthetic personally, and the nature backgrounds appear rather lovely. Nothing in the trailer indicates anything visually spectacular though, another reason why I’m not too giddy about the movie, considering that LAIKA’s movies are renowned for being mindblowingly experimental when it comes to stop motion.

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I think that this might be in the “Okay” spectrum of quality, based on what has been teased so far, as nothing in the trailer says that it’ll be as impressive as “Kubo and the Two Strings” or “Coraline”, but there’s also nothing too noticeably off-putting about it either (minus maybe Mr. Link’s frequent dialogue). I’m fine with that, if it’s the case, as I don’t expect every film from a studio to be creatively ambitious, a nice quiet understated movie can mix things up; but it does give the film a disadvantage if it wants to be remembered by a wide audience, compete with other studios, or make a big impact. What do you think of this trailer? Let me know in the comment section below!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) TV MOVIE REVIEW

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 8th November, 2018

Illumination Studios’ “The Grinch” is now out cinemas in some parts of Europe, but it won’t be released on the UK until tomorrow, so I’ll have to play the waiting game, but I can always finally watch Chuck Jones’ TV adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story! Yes, you read that right, I didn’t grow up with this Christmas Special, I just never caught it on TV, and today was the first ever time that I watched it all the way through.

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” tells the tale of the Grinch, a green furred grump who lives in a mountain cave in the land of Whoville, always looking down on the cheery Whos with disgust, judging their happiness with spite. He becomes particularly surly around Christmas, he actually hates this holiday with passion, frustrated at all the joyful noise that the Whos make at this festive time, and so he decides to steal Christmas under the disguise of Santa Claus.

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Adapting a children’s picture book can be tricky if you’re aiming for something longer than 5 minutes, but not when Chuck Jones is at the director’s helm, because this acclaimed animation filmmaker knew no bounds. Nothing in this film seems tacked on for filler or over-extended to help the special reach 25 minutes, it’s all organically played out with a faithful love to the spirit of Dr. Seuss. Jones always had a knack for bringing personality and humour to the simplest set pieces, so every scene is supported with comic energy, whether it’s the Grinch’s race down the mountain or his night of thieving.

The animation for the Grinch is deviously charismatic, as Jones lets the animation pause at the best poses, giving the audience a chance to read the Grinch’s thoughts through his mischievous face, and it’s all delightfully fun to watch. When the Grinch monologues to himself, his actions are reminiscent of a Shakespearean villain, with his broad hand gestures and visually loud expressions. There’s something arresting about watching him, he never looks emotionally stifled, he wears his evil proudly on his sleeves, and we can’t help but be endeared by his passion for ruining this holiday.

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The Whos may not have much screen time, but there’s a charm to their innocence that wonderfully contrasts against the malicious Grinch, a wholesome sweetness that makes us despise the Grinch even more for his Christmas sabotage. 2 year old Cindy Lou Who, the only Who that gets any dialogue, serves as an antagonist for Grinchy when she wakes up to see him stealing from her, but also shows that the green grouch can be vulnerable when exposed for his crimes, foreshadowing his eventual turn later on. Heck, let’s not forget Grinch’s adorable pet dog Max, who is a loyal but goofy sidekick for the villain, and indicates that maybe Grinchy was once a loving man, why else would he adopt a cutie like Max?

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Boris Karloff, one of the great masters of acting, not only narrates the TV Special, but also provides the voice of the Grinch. Karloff’s narration is softly tender, the kind of reading that’s perfect for a Christmas story by the fire, it’s a captivating performance that adds to Chuck Jones’ magnetic character animation, and it never takes anything away from the visuals. It’s Karloff’s voice as the Grinch that really steals the show though, he uses his background in horror to bring a malevolent venom to the Grinch, and we can’t help but smile as he sinks his teeth into the beastly Scrooge.

The film is also remembered for it’s song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, penned by Seuss himself, and performed by the bass singer Thurl Ravenscroft. I love this song, it’s always finding funny ways to criticise the Grinch, going into great detail to get across how much we should hate him, and Ravenscroft’s deep vocals make the singer’s character sound like a courtroom judge bellowing a verdict.

After the Grinch completes his mission of stealing Christmas, he is surprised to see that robbing all of the Whos’ material goods didn’t hinder their celebrations, as they still have the spirit to sing together in centre of their town, and they carry on like nothing of value was taken away. The Grinch has a change of heart, realises that he has done something wrong, then speeds down the mountain to return the Whos’ gifts, and they warmly invite him to Christmas in spite of what he did.

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What I like about the Grinch’s growth here, is that he comes to the conclusion of what Christmas really means all by myself, no one preaches to him about shallow capitalism, he actually stops to think why the Whos go ahead with their Christmas plans, and he seems genuinely moved by their optimism. It’s like the Grinch assumed that the Whos celebrated out of deliberate annoyance towards him, when really, they were just simple happy folk who enjoyed eachother’s company, and the Grinch’s guilt over this comes off as very honest.

To Conclude, I do really wish that this special was part of my childhood, rather than the  Jim Carrey adaptation from 2000, because this version is far more sincere and wholesome, plus Karloff’s Grinch has an endearing nuance to it. If you’ve never seen it before, maybe check it out before watching Illumination’s take on the Dr. Seuss book, or perhaps save it for a nice Christmas afternoon with some eggnog and mince pies. I’m nervous about seeing the Illumination version now, because this short is just so perfect as it is, I don’t see how another animation studio can improve on it or compete with it, but we will have to see.

5 Strawberries

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Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003) FILM REVIEW

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 7th November, 2018

Sinbad is a sea captain leading a band of thieves, his next steal is the book of peace, an item that brings harmony to 12 cities, but when Eris, the Goddess of Discord, takes it from it’s guarded tower in disguise as Sinbad, he is sent to death by beheading. His childhood friend, Prince Proteus of Syracuse, volunteers to take Sinbad’s place, and Sinbad has 10 days to get the book back from Eris, or Proteus will be beheaded. With help from Proteus’ fiancée, and his loyal crew, Sinbad travels the seas to retrieve the book of peace from Eris’ domain, but Eris has some obstacles in store for them.

This film doesn’t really do anything exceptional, following the usual formula for most sea fantasy adventure movies, a band of travelers take a quest across the ocean while facing monsters, and it doesn’t really leave the guideline of this formulaic setup. That being said, it’s not a bad film, it’s still a fun movie that will keep families entertained, and I can safely say that I enjoyed it just fine. I get why it wasn’t smash hit, it’s as generic as they come, but it shouldn’t have deterred Dreamworks from making anymore hand drawn movies.

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Each monster is a new surprise, they all have their own unique designs, one even gets mistaken for an island at first, while another requires Eris to freeze the sea in order for it to inhabit the crew’s path. The confrontations with the monsters are a blast, as you can tell that a lot of energy went into the film’s action, there’s constant momentum as our heroes use their wits and sword skills to conquer their obstacles, it never gets boring because of this. Their ship is also pushed and pulled in every battle, it’s scars showing how unforgiving every threat is, with Eris throwing everything she can at the sailors.


Sinbad makes for a charming anti-hero, he’s grumpy and surly, but there’s a smoothness to his confidence and a wink in his eye when he shows off. Sure, he’s sometimes a bit of a dick, but his passion for the sea is endearing, and he does have a good heart deep down. Marina isn’t your typical token female or damsel in distress, she’s a feisty heroine who proves the sexist Sinbad wrong, when she ends up saving the day, demonstrating that she is a fully capable sailor when things get tense. Sinbad’s crew aren’t exactly memorable, each one limited to having a simple one dimensional trait or even no distinct personality at all, but they likable enough company with their own funny moments.

Sinbad and Marina’s relationship is your cliche Hollywood romance, starting off with the usual bickering and arguing, then developing into something more intimate, it’s nothing new for a movie love story. However, their banter can be funny or cute at times, they do have a spark once they warm up to each other, and the romantic tension is a little saucy, because it’s a forbidden love due to Marina’s engagement to Proteus. I didn’t end up buying their eventual “I love you” though, because they spend a lot of the movie together down each other’s throats, and only develop chemistry much later on.


Eris is actually a rather interesting villainess for who she is, as she is mainly committing evil out of fun, creepily using her mortal spying to get inside our protagonist’s head, and I do love how she transforms her fluid watery body (especially in a scene that requires her to step into a Sinbad disguise). A lot of the film explores Sinbad’s lost heroism, something that faded when he and Proteus went their separate ways, with Eris tapping into his conscience by manipulating him into doubting his moral compass, and this all makes for an engaging hero-villainess dynamic. Not to mention, Michelle Pfeiffer sizzles as the voice of Eris, playing her with a spiteful tongue and flirty sexuality, it’s a terrific vocal performance.


Visually, the film is full of exciting colours and charismatic animation, everything certainly pops, especially when characters break out into a sword fight or battle a monster. The only thing that lets the film’s imagery down, is it’s terribly aged CGI animation, which is used for sets, props, and monsters; it’s painfully bad to look at, because it doesn’t naturally blend with the hand drawn characters, and the rendering has aged as well as a sandwich crust that fell under the sofa. Of course, Dreamworks would one day become giants in the computer animation industry, with such hits as “Shrek” and “How to train your dragon”, but their primitive CGI effects for this film are pretty ghastly (even critics at the time were appalled by them).

To Conclude, “Sinbad and the Seven Seas” doesn’t break any molds, it’s basically “Jason and the Argonauts” for the 2000’s, but it has a fun bouncy energy! It’s action packed with cool combat choreography, there’s a diverse collection of monsters, and the villain is quite entertaining to watch. It follows many cliches of Hollywood action adventures, particularly with it’s romance elements, yet there’s still a likable charm to it that stopped me from yawning every 5 minutes. I’m not surprised that it didn’t blow people away, it’s nothing original compared to what’s come before in it’s genre; I just don’t think it deserves to be seen as Dreamworks’ embarrassment, because they have done MUCH worse since.

3 and a half strawberries


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Bambi II (2006) FILM REVIEW

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 6th November, 2018

In this midquel to “Bambi”, we begin right after Bambi’s mother was shot, as his father, the great prince (wonderfully voiced by a nuanced Patrick Stewart), takes him in, and we focus on the relationship between the fawn & stag. At first, the great prince is reluctant to bond with his son, because he’s so stubborn and serious, but Bambi’s adorable youthful energy charms the stag out of his stuffiness.

I thought that the first “Bambi” movie was okay at best (click here to read my review of it), most of it’s appeal comes from the amazing animal animation and seasonal atmospheres, while it’s story & characters lack anything special. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it didn’t connect with me personally on any emotional level, giving me a very hollow feeling of dissatisfaction, and I’d even call it one of the more overrated Disney films. All power to anyone who resonates with it’s simplicity, that’s totally cool for you, I just found it to be too bland to share most people’s sentiments.

Like the first film, “Bambi II” is clogged up with lots of sickly sweet scenes of animals being cute, which may entertain very small children, but everyone else might be bored to tears by them. A lot of the film has the same storytelling weight as a Saturday morning cartoon too, with Bambi trying to woo a token female love interest, while also dealing with a generic bully who picks on him.

Bambi II 1

It’s this low stakes padding that stops the film from being a bigger improvement on the original, because while I love cute baby animals, there’s only so much saccharine coated nothingness I can sit through, especially when these scenes are no more creative than a formulaic average cartoon on TV. If you love tiny critters with children’s voices acting all innocent, then maybe you’ll really enjoy these scenes, but they dragged the film down for me.

However, unlike most Disney sequels, “Bambi II” exists for a reason, it has the necessary purposes of exploring Bambi’s grief over his mother, and showing Bambi bonding with his royal father. It always bothered me that the first film brushed off Bambi’s mother’s death so easily, which is why I enjoyed watching Bambi finally getting to address her passing, because it’s all brilliantly handled. Not only do we see Bambi realistically struggling to accept her death (not to mention, his father’s grief is amazingly subtle), but there’s also a beautiful dream sequence that teaches death to kids in very good taste, by telling the important truths of saying goodbye to a loved one, and I commend DisneyToon for their efforts here.


Bambi’s relationship with his father is where the movie shines the most, as there’s a fascinating mystery to the great prince’s subdued nobility, making his interactions with his energetic curious son very charming. I wouldn’t say that the great prince is a bad father, you can tell that he cares about Bambi, he’s just having to keep up his public persona, not out of arrogance, but because he has to show the herd that he’s a strong level headed leader. It’s quite adorable seeing the great prince shake off his sternness when playing with Bambi, it’s a funny change in character that warms my heart, and I loved seeing his softer playful side come out.


The animation never reaches the same artistic level as the original, which I will admit is a very high bar to reach, considering that the first film was animated by Disney animation gods, but that’s not to say that this new generation of animators don’t try, because I have to admit that this is the most beautiful looking Disney sequel (remember, I’ve seen them all), it’s so damn pretty compared to all those television budget quickies.

The filmmakers clearly studied the lighting, colours, and aesthetics of the original, because they do a great job recapturing the essence of what made Bambi visually captivating. The character animation can also be downright stunning too, I was really impressed by the little touches, especially from the enigmatic great prince, who actually shows more facial emotion than he thinks.

Bambi's Dad

“Bambi II” might not be a wildly huge improvement on it’s predecessor, but it at least gives me more to get invested in emotionally, and I’d even say that it’s one of the better straight to video Disney sequels out there. I do wish that the relationship between Bambi and his dad was a bigger focus, with the boring cutesy baby animal scenes maybe being replaced with more father-son development, yet what we got, was still more substantial than most straight to video sequels pumped out by Disney.


3 and a half strawberries

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“Hey Arnold!” – Mr. Green Runs (EPISODE REVIEW)

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 6th November, 2018

Seeing as it’s the midterm elections in the US right now, I thought I’d talk about something related to this major political event, and I went with a classic episode of “Hey Arnold”. In this episode’s second story (following “Helga’s Masquerade”), Mr. Green the butcher is getting fed up of all the pot holes in the neighborhood, but the local councilman Gladhand couldn’t care less about filling them. So, with encouragement from his fellow residents, Mr. Green decides to enter the upcoming councilman elections, with Arnold serving as his campaign manager.

This episode tackles the importance of the relationship between the public and politicians, showing that fancy showmanship doesn’t compensate for insincerity or lazy incompetence. Gladhand relies on buzzwords and overconfident bravado, which people seem to eat up, so Mr. Green feels pressured to do likewise, but when it comes down to it, being himself is what will help the public resonate with him.

Nervous Green

Too many politicians hide behind an act, so that they can win an election out of self serving ego, it’s an all too common problem that makes voting difficult, which is why it’s vital for political candidates to show how human they are. Gladhand symbolises everything wrong with bad politicians, from arrogant selfishness to careless ignorance, so we end up seeing our least favourite politicians in him, and that’s one major reason to hope that he’ll lose.


Mr. Green may not have a background in politics, but he is a passionate working class man who loves his neighborhood, qualities that make him down to earth and relatable compared to Gladhand. We want him to win the elections, because he seems to enthusiastic and sincere about filling the potholes, but it’s not just about the potholes, he truly cares about his town so much, and it’s a love that never seems forced or faked.

Arnold is just a kid, yet as Mr. Green’s campaign manager, he can use his strong moral compass to steer his candidate’s passion in the right direction, convincing Mr. Green that being himself is the key to making the town put confidence in him, and this once again proves that Arnold is remarkably mature for a child his age. Not to mention, kids watching this show, can feel empowered, motivating them to take an interest in politics, just like their hero Arnold. While Mr. Green’s meat analogies maybe silly, they relate to something he’s keen about, helping him to better explain why he’s the man for the job, and better formulate how much he cares about this neighborhood.

Arnold & Green

To Conclude, “Mr. Green Runs” is a great story, that promotes the righteous value of being yourself in politics, rather than putting on a stage show to distract the masses from your lack of humanity or compassion, and this sentiment remains relevant even 18 years later. The episode also leaves a motivational message, that even the everyday ordinary person can make a change, as long as their heart is in their campaign, and that’s something that can apply to anyone at all. If you’re an American citizen with the right to vote, please make sure to participate in the elections today!

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Despicable Me (2010) FILM REVIEW

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 5th November 2018

“Despicable Me” centres on a villain called Gru, an eccentric criminal with a strong European accent, who needs to steal a shrink ray from a fellow bad guy named Vector, but Vector’s home is defended by intricate booby traps. So, Gru adopts three girls called Margo, Edith, and Agnes, then orders them to sell cookies to Vector, but these cookies are really robots designed to snatch the shrink ray from Vector. Gru’s plan is to shrink down the moon, so that he can have power over the whole world, and prove that he’s that best villain ever. However, Gru starts becoming attached to the girls, they bring out his softer side, and he begins falling in love with the precious kids, will this ruin his world domination plans?

I used to consider “Despicable Me” to be just okay, a passable effort, yet re-watching it for this written review, I developed a better appreciation for it, and enjoyed it more than ever. Maybe it’s because of my current wave of paternal feelings, something I’ve been open about recently, but I think that “Despicable Me” deserves more credit than I gave it before. Yes, it’s not the greatest children’s film made, it doesn’t deserve to be put on a pedestal of any kind, but as far as Illumination films go, this one is a cherry in their bowl of raisins.


While the “Despicable Me” sequels overload themselves with too many plots, the first movie keeps things simple, which is where it’s charm comes from, because it knows exactly what it’s going for, and doesn’t complicate things with a dozens of obstacles. It’s the tale of a villain trying to juggle being a criminal and a foster father the same time, with his inner conflict over these two lives being a central focus for the overall narrative. Sure, the other “Despicable Me” films have Gru facing multiple conflicts, but they rarely address how Gru feels about having more than one predicament, because they just want to keep things busy, while the first film does stop to let Gru’s feelings sink in.

The girls themselves are as one dimensional as they come, Margo the mature one, Edith the weird one, and Agnes the cute one, but that’s not to say that I didn’t like them, because they’re all very cute, and act like real genuine kids. It’s their budding relationship with Gru that serves as the heart of the film, with their natural youthful charm bringing out their adoptive dad’s more sensitive side, and their scenes together as a foster family are too adorable for words. Gru might be a grumpy bum around them at first, reluctant to admit that they are sweet kids, but that’s because he was raised by a rubbish mother who stifled his self esteem, he doesn’t understand how to be nice to kids.

Bedtime Story

You can tell that he does have paternal feelings deep down, considering that his minions are child like creatures who look up to him, which makes me believe that he hired them all for a subconscious reason, and they fill a hole that his mother made. The minions themselves, while not as funny as I used to think they were, are entertaining little guys, and the film doesn’t overexpose them as much as the sequels do. Yeah, they can have some unnecessary moments of comic relief, but in the grand scheme of things, they do play a part in the overall narrative, and contribute a little something at points.

Seeing as Gru is a villain, it must have been hard to come up with antagonist, but Illumination found a good compromise! Gru is an underdog in the villain community, someone who struggles to make it big as a criminal, helping us to sympathise with him, and hope that he gets the shrink ray. We boo at Vector, because of his over-privileged advantages, self important personality, and wormy twerp face that needs a good punch.

Unlike Vector, Gru grows as a character, unabashedly embracing his more feminine attributes, while becoming a stronger father to three daughters, and this is why we cheer for him when he goes up against Vector. Oh and isn’t it surreal that Vector is voiced by Jason Segal? An actor renowned for playing big softies? Yet he totally nails the role, having a blast bringing out his darker side.


The finale, which I refuse to spoil, tests Gru as a dad, pushing him to prove that his love for his daughters is worth cherishing, and super villainy is the right path for him. It’s a very emotional climax, supported by the strength of the bond between Gru and his girls, but it never gets too over-sentimental, because it’s drama is very sincere. I wanted this family to be together, I cared about Gru learning to open up after years of emotional repression, and I totally hated Vector enough to be engaged in his defeat.

To conclude, “Despicable Me” is a simple film, but that’s what so great about it, it doesn’t try overdo itself, and puts all of it’s attention on finely crafting a straight forward story. It’s not something that warrants more attention, or a movie that breaks the mold, but it does deserve to be appreciated as a well made effort for what it is. It’s more than just a cute film, it’s the story of an emotionally repressed man with mummy issues, who learns to love children of his own, in an environment where evil is the norm, and it’s a well executed take on that set up.

I don’t expect everyone to enjoy it as much as I did, because I get why they would be underwhelmed, but after sitting through many mind numbing and insulting kids’ films, revisiting “Despicable Me” made me have a much more optimistic angle on what it’s going for. If “Illumination” stuck to the spirit of this film more often, they could end up making something that’s able to compete with the big boys, but we will have to see about that.

4 Strawberries


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“King of the Hill” – New Cowboy on the Block (EPISODE REVIEW)

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 5th November, 2018

With the NFL season getting American sports fans excited right now, I thought that I’d talk about a “King of the Hill” episode on American football, a topic that was a frequent central focus on show, due to Hank and his friends being big fans of the Dallas Cowboys (who will be facing the Tennessee Titans tomorrow).

In this episode, a former Dallas Cowboys back-up lineman called Willie Lane, who is most famous for blocking a kick during the 70’s, moves next door to Hank Hill, and this makes the Cowboys fan very excited. At first, Hank is enamored by the retired athlete, constantly in awe of knowing that he’s now friends with a famous football star, but then, Willie reveals his true self, and turns out to be the worst neighbor ever.


This episode does start off slow, with Hank gushing over Willie to begin with, but I always find Hank adorable when he gets giddy over a hero, because it’s rare that he expresses emotional admiration for others face to face, and it’s cute that even the level headed Hank has his own idols. When Willie starts teaches Bobby a violent football trick, Hank becomes less forgiving of his hero, realising that he let his celebrity worship cloud his judgement, and he has a duty as block captain. The episode livens up from this point on, pitting the drunk rude Dallas Cowboy against Hank & Kahn, and we have no idea what destructive or annoying thing Willie will do next.

“New Cowboy on the Block” satirizes the privilege that comes with being celebrity, with everyone fawning over Willie, never questioning his moral compass, just because he blocked a kick a few decades ago. It’s a part of celebrity culture that’s still relevant, with fans refusing to believe that their favourite stars could be a bad person, because they are so in love with their on camera personas. Behind the glitz and glamour, some famous folk can be real jerks when cameras aren’t pointed at them, and this “King of the Hill” episode exposes that dark side of celebrity worship.


It’s also an episode that many people can relate to, as lots of us have had annoyingly obnoxious neighbors or roommates, myself included, so we totally resonate with Hank’s frustrations, and want him to make his street feel safe again. That’s something I love about Hank in this episode, despite his friends abandoning, even though he is losing his temper with this awful man, he still tries to stick to his block rules and state law when making a change. So, no matter what, Hank can defend himself if he ends up in court, because he cleverly works around the laws, and we can side with him easier as an audience.

There’s something very satisfying about the moments when a character stands up to Willie, whether it’s Hank playing tough ball as block captain, or Kahn breaking down Willie’s ego with honest thoughts on the washed up football star, because we’ve grown to hate Willie so much, and can see our own awful neighbors in his character. We grind our teeth when the police shrug off Hank’s accusations, each cop siding with Willie out of celebrity worship, but that’s what makes the episode’s ending taste so sweet, when Willie punches Hank with his Super Bowl ring, and leaves a mark for assault evidence.


To conclude, “New Cowboy on the Block” is a good episode about fighting for what’s right while staying true, the dangers of cult like admiration for famous people, and how some celebrities can be terrible people when their Hollywood masks are removed. You’ll cheer for Hank when he fights to save his street, boo at Willie’s disgusting habits as a poor neighbor, and yell at the screen every time a cop brushes off Hank’s claims. Check this one out if it sounds like your cup of tea, plus if you want to see more “King of the Hill” episodes about American football, then I suggest watching “A Beer Can Named Desire” and “The Suite Smell of Success”.

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