Author Archives: jambareeqi

Mickey Mouse in “Runaway Brain” (1995) SHORT FILM REVIEW

Written by Jambareeqi

In this Mickey Mouse short that played before ” A Goofy Movie” in cinemas, Mickey accidentally makes Minnie think that he’s taking her to Hawaii for their anniversary! In order to make the money for the vacation, Mickey agrees to take a job for the a sinister scientist, but it turns out that the lunatic just wants to switch the mouse’s brain with a brutish monster called Julius. When Julius finds out about Mickey’s girlfriend, he hunts down Minnie in Mickey’s body.

This was a very controversial cartoon when it came out. Many criticised it for giving a much darker take on the Mickey Mouse legacy. I was so disturbed by Runaway Brain TV spots as a kid, that I assumed it was the first ever Mickey Mouse short to be given a “12” rating haha! Before you tease me, keep in mind that I was only 4 years old!

It is quite a departure from Mickey’s wholesome brand. The short opens with Mickey straight up lying to Minnie about already have anniversary plans! That’s something that’s quite out of character for him, and a trait that you’d expect from a more abrasive animated character. However, that’s not exactly why the short shocked people back then.

What alarmed audiences the most was the character of Julius. This huge beastly creature was like a giant mutated version of Mickey’s rival Pete. What pushed the bar even further for this character, was seeing him in the body of the cute Mickey Mouse! Suddenly, an American treasure was being portrayed as a snarling and drooling monster.

Fun Fact! Julius ended up being referenced in a Kingdom Hearts game, so maybe Disney does treasure him with pride in spite of the controversy behind him, and it’s great to see a modern video game keeping this obscure cartoon alive in some way.

Julius as a secret boss in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

On the one hand, I can see why these things might upset younger children, especially those who felt attached to the character of Mickey. However, I think it’s important to put some trust and faith in children’s intelligence before attacking the cartoon. Most kids are smart enough to know that this isn’t the Mickey they love, but an evil mindless presence inside his body. I actually showed this cartoon to my best friend’s daughter, and she seemed to be fine with it!

Sure, maybe the short MIGHT give some kids nightmares, but that wasn’t the intent of the filmmakers, they just wanted to entertain families with a fun horror inspired cartoon. Some kids will LOVE how this film challenges their preconceptions, because there are children out there getting to an age where they want something darker or edgier, but aren’t ready for more mature horror films, and I think this is the perfect starter pack for them.

The reason I love this Mickey Mouse short personally, is because it takes so many risks with Disney’s golden boy mascot! With over 67 years of Mickey Mouse content already made by this point, maybe it was time to shake things up? I have nothing against wholesome innocence, but reinvention and freshness are key ingredients to keeping a character from getting stale.

I’d say that my only criticism against this short, would be that Mickey doesn’t get to admit that he never planned to take Minnie to Hawaii, and explain that it was all a big misunderstanding. This could have perhaps taught kids about telling the truth. He sort of gets away with pulling off his lie, and that does kind of rub me the wrong way. Besides that though, I still love this short.

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10 Cute & Adorable Animated Cartoons About Cats That’ll Cheer You Up!

Perhaps you don’t have your own house cat for company during this Coronavirus pandemic? Or maybe your cat is having to stay at someone else’s house for quarantine? I hope that these 10 animated shorts and cartoon show episodes featuring fluffy felines lift your spirits!

FARFALLA

If you want to switch your mind off right now, then maybe Farfalla is for you? It’s just a cat chasing a butterfly! The gorgeous cat is authentically animated with feline elegance. The butterfly is a pretty little thing that flutters like an angel and sparkles in the sunset light. The cherry on top has to be the French street backgrounds and exotic music; they’ll make you feel like you’re on holiday! ^_^

“FUTURAMA” – THAT DARN KATZ

In this Season 6 episode of the Sci-Fi sitcom “Futurama”, a race of evil alien cats try to steal Earth’s rotation using the Planet Express boiler room. With most employees under the cats’ spell, it’s up to Amy and Nibbler to save the world.

Even when cats are put in the role of villainy, they can still be undeniably cute! Throw in our favourite fluffy Nibblonian for good measure, and you get one adorable episode of Futurama.

Of course, the whole feline conspiracy premise has been done before (most notably the family film “Cats & Dogs”), but this episode expands on the concept by making it a more galactic sized threat.

PETALS

This animated short follows two anthropomorphic little girls. An idealistic bunny called Pan, and a cynical cat named Robin. Who try to chase down a flower in a wagon that’s rolling down the hill.

What makes “Petals” so sweet, is how these two polar opposite characters cross paths. Robin has destructive interest in the plant, but Pan sees the the flower as a glimmer of hope for the burned down local forest, and the former must understand Pan’s mission.

The comic animation is really well timed and full of cute little anime-esque nuances. Both girls’ distinctive personalities are vividly illustrated in every frame too. While the premise might sound like a preachy environmental lecture, it’s more about how this violent little kitty girl comes to appreciate Pan’s nature-loving sentiments.

“RECESS” – OPERATION STUART

In this episode of Disney’s Recess, Mikey finds a poor tattered cat that he names Stuart, and he tries to keep it a secret from the teachers, but all the other students want to play with it too. Everyone is eager to use the cat for their own purpose, and no one will stop to realise what the kitty itself needs.

Stuart may not be the most beautiful cat, but it’s terrible state will make you pity it, and it’s still a sweet innocent animal at the end of the day. Most of the episode’s story focuses on different characters’ ideas for what the cat can be to them. However, the episode ends on a surprising nice twist that I won’t spoil.

DECAF

“Decaf” is about a dog giving a kitten coffee to wake him up, but the kitty becomes addicted to the caffeine! On the surface, this is just a funny cartoon about a pug dealing with a dementedly hyper baby cat. However, it’s also the tale of a pug dealing with how coffee dependence changes his best friend – and this doggo maybe feeling guilty for introducing the java.

You can either appreciate it as a goofy cat vs. dog animation, or find valuable meaning to it’s profound message of supporting a self-abusive pal. Both interpretations are completely valid! As long as it brings a smile to your face then I’ll be happy for suggesting it.

“HEY ARNOLD!” – HAROLD’S KITTY

In this “Hey Arnold!” episode, Harold finds a lost kitten, and he becomes very attached to it. When it’s owner is found though, Harold refuses to give up his new best friend.

The kitty in this episode is too cute for words. Just so darn cute. The major appeal of the episode though is the friendship between Harold and the kitten. Harold always puts on a tough guy exterior, but this pet and boy relationships touches on his softer side.

The episode does get a bit crazy once Harold keeps the cat hostage, but don’t worry, a solution that benefits everyone is found, and you’ll leave this episode feeling really warm inside.

THE CAT’S MEOW

In this cartoon, a cat has made it’s owner’s beret hat into their bed, and the two fight over ownership. The whole comedic dynamic of this short comes from the human’s advantages over his cat, but also how said kitty turns the tables on him.

It’s also just really cute seeing a cat being THIS possessive of a simple little hat. Sometimes pets can be really difficult to cooperate with, and I think that “The Cat’s Meow” nails the hardship of getting back something claimed by a domestic animal.

FEED THE KITTY

This Chuck Jones short features a dog called Marc Anthony befriending a homeless kitten called Pussyfoot. When Marc takes his new pet home though, he is afraid if his owner will refuse to let him keep the little fluff-ball.

This is one the most wholesome Merry Melodies cartoons ever made. Most of the short is all about how Marc Anthony tries desperately hard to hide Pussyfoot from his Mom. However, underneath all of these comical sketches is a big heart.

The friendship bonded between these two animals is what makes this cartoon special. A charming friendship that’s founded on Marc Anthony’s protective need to look after his new pal. Everything does lead to one big misunderstanding that’ll tug at your heartstrings, but rest assured that it’s a happy ending!

“THE WILD THORNBERRYS” – THE TEMPLE OF ELIZA

Perhaps you are more in the mood for a cartoon about BIG cats? Especially after maybe marathoning Tiger King on Netflix! Well, there’s a bunch of episodes of “The Wild Thornberrys” that feature these kinds of cats. One example is an episode titled “The Temple of Eliza”.

Eliza feels ignored by her very distracted family. So, after winning over the trust and interest of a pack of jaguars, she convinces all these big cats that she’s a sacred princess to them.

It’s quite interesting to see the usually righteous Eliza conning the animals that she can talk too, showing that she does have a devious side if a void needs filling. If Eliza always did the right thing, then she’d be too perfect, less relatable, and one dimensional.

When someone feels neglected by those around them, they can end up going to extreme lengths to find ANY kind of attention. These jaguars are very susceptible to Eliza’s lies, because humanity is so alien to them, and this leads to a psychological dependence. Of course, she does eventually learn her lesson!

PUSS IN BOOTS: THE THREE DIABLOS

The biggest budgeted cartoon on this list, “The Three Diablos” is an animated short spin off of Dreamworks’ “Puss in Boots” movie. The story follows Puss on a mission to retrieve a crown jewel from a crook called “The Whisperer”, with royally assigned help from the Whisperer’s hench-kitties.

These kittens are perhaps the most fluffy and adorable cats out of all the cartoons in this list. Yes, they are little brats when we first meet them, but we learn about a tragic reason why these kitties are so misguided, and Puss becomes their role model for being better cats.

Puss is once again his usual charming self, backed by the charismatic voice of Antonio Banderas. His bond with the kittens is the heart of the short, because he is a light in the darkness for their lost childhoods, and someone who genuinely wants to raise them better.

The Whisperer himself may have the one joke of talking too quietly, but he makes for a very menacing antagonist! It’s clear that he abuses his hench-kitties, which is what makes us resent him beyond being a thief. I do also like that Puss does TRY to show this criminal mercy, because he’s the bigger person in spite of the Whisperer’s evil.

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Well, that’s my list! I hope you enjoyed reading it. If a cartoon featuring cats din’t make it into my recommendations, please know that it wasn’t done out of ignorance or neglect. This is less of a definitive “best of” countdown, and more of a random selection of suggestions for cat lovers. If you have any suggestions yourself, feel free to comment them below! Also, if you’re a dog fan, maybe check out my new review of Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright ^_^

Scooby Doo! Stage Fright (2013) FILM REVIEW

So today is the birthday of Leo Mitchell. She’s maybe known to my fans as the thumbnail artist for my channel, but she’s also been a writer or script consultant for a few of my videos too. She’s a fantastic mate! Always supporting me at hard times, giving me honest advice, or sharing a good laugh with me over something silly.

I think it’s criminal that someone as amazingly talented as Leo isn’t more famous. She’s super underrated. Leo should be one of the most recognizable British artists on the internet. To better show off how brilliant Leo’s artwork is, I have made a slideshow for a few of her illustrations:

 

See what I mean?! PLEASE support Leo by following her Deviantart, Facebook, and Twitter. She deserves a MUCH bigger fanbase, and YOU can be part of that exciting increase! You also won’t regret following her, because she publishes wonderful art quite often.

So you’re most likely asking “What does Leo have to do with this review?!”. Well Leo loves two things: Scooby-Doo and actor Peter McNichol. Interestingly, McNichol has actually lent his voice to a Scooby-Doo movie! This review is for Leo; her birthday present.

In this Scooby-Doo movie, Fred and Daphne have made it to next stage of a TV talent contest, and the Mystery Inc. team head to Chicago to shoot the show. The filming location for the performances is a supposedly haunted opera house. While rehearsals are taking place, a mysterious masked phantom is trying to disrupt everything, who could this monster be?

Now, I actually read that a critic called this film a “Phantom of the Opera” rip-off. No offence to that reviewer, but do they even know what a rip-off is? Not only is it pointless to seriously accuse a film of taking a story from the public domain, because legally that makes the property up for grabs to everyone, but this Scooby-Doo movie is CLEARLY a straight up comedic parody of Phantom – NOT a sneaky attempt to copy a classic tale. This is like criticising “Hot Shots!” for being a rip off of “Top Gun”.

Anyway, this film did actually keep me wondering WHO the phantom could be? This isn’t because the red herrings or clues are cleverly-hidden with subtle nuance though. Nearly every character in the film acts extremely suspicious or has an obvious motive, so it’s pretty easy to keep the audience guessing. However, this does actually pay off, because we gradually stop asking “Who is the Phantom?” and begin wondering HOW MANY are playing this behind the scenes menace.

The Phantom himself is pretty spooky for children’s movies standards, with his glowing red eyes, skull-shaped face, and booming malevolent voice. He’s the kind of monster that’ll creep kids out, but not to the point where parents should be concerned. However, adult Scooby fans may find him to be too tame (especially when compared to the monsters from “Camp Scare” and “Zombie Island”). If I’m honest, I personally found some of contestants or their parents to more intimidating haha! They are that off the wall.

That’s the thing, I have to say that the film’s strongest aspect is it’s array of eccentric contestants. Everyone trying out for this talent show has a louder-than-life personality trope or displays sociopathic behavior with deviant flamboyancy. If you’ve seen enough talent show contests on television, you’ll recognise these archetypes as realistic reflections of the kind of folks who DO audition – as cartoony as they are. I do also like how an entrant with Dwarfism is seen as the “hot guy” of the contest, as well as someone who completely owns his height with confidence, because little people are rarely given flattering representations in media.

What makes this contest special to Fred and Daphne though, is that it makes Daphne confront her feelings for Fred, because their duet is a chance for them to get closer. Of course, this does mean that we mainly carry on the whole oblivious Fred gag, but the film manages to conclude this subplot, by naturally tieing their romance INTO the competition.

Will you care who wins this contest? Well, at first you MIGHT have a favourite, but that becomes irrelevant once contestants start leaving one by one out of fear. What I DO like though, is that we become subconsciously challenged about whether Fred & Daphne should win or a sweet and talented violinist girl called Emma? On the one hand, audiences might naturally want to root for Fred and Daphne, but on the other hand, Emma maybe deserves and needs this more? I really like how Emma’s inclusion shakes up our feelings towards Daphne and Fred’s race to win.

I won’t spoil how this moral conundrum is solved, because that would be spoilers, but I have to admit that it’s a REALLY wholesome conclusion that does favors for everyone. Some audiences might see it as a cop out, while I reckon it was perhaps the most heartfelt way to resolve a predicament like this – especially when we know what’s on the line for Emma.

This is also a REALLY funny Scooby-Doo movie! Like, a legit hilarious film that got a lot of loud strong laughs out of me. The screenplay was penned by Doug Langdale, creator of Disney’s “The Weekenders” and developer of the “Earthworm Jim” TV show, and he brings the snappy wit from those cartoons into this Hannah Barbera franchise in great fashion. The comedy finds it’s best gags from taking jabs at reality show politics or subverting the Phantom of the Opera story.

That’s not to say that the film is all giggles and farcical satire. There’s a lot of tension inspired by the Phantom’s threatening tactics to frighten contestants. Heck, we even get a sequence where Fred physically FIGHTS the Phantom on the stage rails, and it’s quite intense to watch for a Scooby-Doo confrontation – Fred could get seriously injured or killed. Not to mention, when one Phantom is revealed, he goes totally insane! Resulting in a really fun car chase that pays homage to “101 Dalmatians”.

Seeing as I brought up Peter McNichol early on, I think that I should address his performance. It’s really great, perhaps the best one in the film even! His character is a Germaphobic and dog-hating assistant director called Dewey. McNichol brings a neurotic grumpiness and colourful theatricality to the role. He gives the character some extra depth that goes beyond what’s on the paper. It’s also funny to note that Dewey ends up getting pink slime on him later on, which is maybe an affectionate reference to his “Ghostbusters II” character?

To conclude, I REALLY enjoyed this movie! A lot! It may follow your usual Scooby-Doo cliches, but having more than one perpetrator really spices things up. It’s humour is wittily-penned, the action scenes are surprisingly intense for Scoob standards, the Phantom references are brilliant, and the satirical pokes at reality show contests are spot on. I’ve not seen that many Scooby-Doo movies, but this is certainly one of the best I’ve watched yet.

Now, before you all leave this page, I have one more special favor to ask of you all! I’ve been asking people to direct tweet Leo a happy birthday message, while ALSO including a picture of one of her favourite characters: Mr. Rzykruski (Frankenweenie), Robert Callaghan (Big Hero 6), Mad Hatter (Batman: Arkham City), Dr. Janosz Poha (Ghostbusters II), or Walter Peck (Ghostbusters II)! Can you be one of those people who does this? Thanks! Let’s make her quarantined birthday special!

Want to read MORE of my written reviews? Then CLICK HERE!

“We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story” (1993) FILM REVIEW

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Written by Jambareeqi

Eccentric scientist Captain Neweyes uses his time traveling spaceship to turn a group of dinosaurs into friendly harmless creatures. He then informs them all that kids around the world wish that they could meet real dinosaurs, and they agree to make these kids’ dreams come true.

Once dropped off in New York, the dinosaurs help a boy called Louie and a girl named Cecilia find the circus after both running away from home. However, this circus turns out to be run by the Captain’s evil brother Professor Screweyes. This ringmaster villain puts the kids under contract and agrees to rip up the contract if the dinosaurs surrender back to their primitive selves for horror entertainment.

What can I even say about this movie? It’s infamous for being one of the most bonkers animated films ever made. The movie is a constant string of nonsensical madness being bombarded at the audience. Its a pretty simple story on the surface, but the execution is relentlessly exhausting in it’s delivery.

The best word I’d use to describe the film is “misguided”. What the movie THINKS is sensible or straight forward is actually quite weird and not well thought out. I’m sure that the filmmakers meant well, but I can’t shake off how they might have ended up getting carried away.

For example, the film tries to frame Captain Neweyes as this whimsical and good-hearted man, but when you really let his actions sink in, he’s just the lesser of two evils compared to his brother (Screweyes simply happens to be less subtle about his darkness). There’s applying fairy tale logic and ambiguity to create a mysterious character… then there’s accidentally writing the wise old man trope as someone as off-kilter as the villain. Yes, he’s trying to make children’s wishes come true using science, but at what cost?

Neweyes is a man who abducts dinosaurs and gives them human level intelligence without their consent. Not only is he tampering with time itself, but he’s also interfering with the laws of nature. He’s not a hero for his science efforts, he’s a nutjob playing God!

A soft-spoken voice and friendly demeanor doesn’t distract me from his unintentional menace. I mean, he has a machine that spies on children to see their wishes – which is more creepy than sweet (talk about invasion of privacy). Even his spaceship comes off as quite sinister due to it’s aggressive mechanical limbs.

Not to mention, he drops a bunch of dinosaurs into New York without educating them on earth customs or notifying the authorities. Everything he’s doing is either highly questionable or a recipe for disaster. This is a man who clearly didn’t think about the repercussions for his project, yet the film glosses over how dangerous this guy really is.

The film only has one musical number. Now, that may seem pretty normal, but it stands out way more in a film that’s non-stop unpredictable. It’s not the worst song I’ve heard, quite catchy even, but it’s not exactly necessary – especially when it exposes the dinosaurs as real to the public (the New Yorkers take a laughably long time to realise though).

This is a movie that maybe only 70 minutes long, but it spends ages trying to find it’s focus. The storytelling zigs-zags and somersaults to setup it’s premise. It then wastes so much time with pointless slapstick in the city, that we’re mainly left with filler until the kids get to the circus.

The film does actually get better when we reach the circus though. The energy calms down a bit in order to create a spooky atmosphere for Screweyes’ lair. However, this is also where we are given even MORE new information regarding the movie’s fantasy lore.

The overall animation is decently fluid and clearly high budgeted. Although, such qualities can’t make up for how over-the-top the visuals are. Good animation requires patient pauses and careful attention to detail.

No matter how comedic an animated film is supposed to be, controlled thought is required for the timing to work. There are some humanistic moments here or there, but you’ll only notice them when the pace chills down.

Now, even though I’ve been heavily criticising this film’s messy and misdirected execution, I want to make it clear that I don’t hate it. On the contrary, there’s no denying that this is a fascinating train wreck to watch. There’s a so-bad-it’s-good appeal to all the mayhem that I do enjoy.

Also, there’s actually some elements of the film that I legitimately appreciate. The kids are realistically naïve and I feel a little sorry for Cecilia being raised by neglectful parents (Louie’s reason for leaving home seems shallow in comparison though).

The dinosaurs themselves may lack strongly defined personalities, but I LOVE their eagerness to make kids happy, and was touched by how much they were willing sacrifice to protect Louie and Cecilia – who both love them just as much in return. It helps that these creatures are voiced by likable comic actors too.

There’s also a clown at the Circus that I found endearing, because he’s a good guy who can’t admit that his employer is an abusive user. He has a sincere passion for comedy that makes the children laugh at a dark time, but Screweyes doesn’t respect his efforts as a comedian.

Screweyes himself is a fantastically theatrical villain! A menacing figure who represents the very essence of stranger danger for kids watching the film. It is made clear that he applies horror gimmicks to his show in a bid to hide his own closeted fears. I even found myself feeling a little sorry for him after he was defeated, because he seems to be genuinely frightened about being alone, and his death is disturbingly ominous for a kids’ film.

To Conclude, “We’re Back! A Dinosaurs’ Story” is batsh*t insane! But the one thing I can’t call it is boring. It’s quite the experience! Having no regard for logic, sense, practicality, or natural pacing.

To some people, it’s a nostalgic fairy tale classic from their childhood. To others, it’s a terrible movie that annoys the hell out of them. I see it as a fun and strange ride that takes a lot of risky chances – with VERY mixed results.

This is the third time I’ve watched this film, and I still enjoyed it! Objectively, I can’t fairly say it’s an overall good movie, but it’s certainly one of my personal guilty pleasures! The perfect kind of nonsensical escapist entertainment that I need right now. There’s also something quite commendable about a film this broken managing to be surprisingly inspired at times.

“Bob’s Burgers” – Bob Day Afternoon EPISODE REVIEW

Written by Jambareeqi

In this episode of “Bob’s Burgers”, the bank across the road from Bob’s restaurant is taken hostage by a robber called Mickey. Bob himself is first sent in as a burger deliveryman for Nicky, but he soon becomes a hostage.

“Bob’s Burgers” is an animated sitcom that I’ve been getting into more during quarantine, and this is definitely the funniest episode I’ve seen so far. The plot maybe a simple robber Vs. cops stand-off, but the inclusion of Bob and his family is what makes it absurd. Most normal families would be scared in this situation. Bob’s family aren’t normal though, and they actually get a kick out of the excitement of confronting a criminal.

It’s really hilarious how nonchalant his kids act! This isn’t a horrifying predicament to them at all, because they see it as an opportunity to interview a robber or learn about police procedures. That’s the major charm of these children as characters; they are really blunt and unapologetic about their curiosity or feelings.

I do also like how the episode subverts hostage stories. The cops are portrayed as trigger-happy nut jobs without compassion or common sense. Meanwhile, Mickey comes off as a lost, lonely, and confused individual who needs guidance. It’s the first time that Mickey has committed a robbery without his partner – which really shows.

Mickey is so clueless about robbing that he ends up turning to his own hostages for help. Most of the hostages are too scared or upset to calm things down, but Bob steps up to be a voice of reason and someone to sympathise with Mickey. Bob is an average Joe caught between two dangerous sides. He ends up being the most sensible person in this whole mess, because he is a down-to-earth guy who just wants to do the right thing.

The episode is very humour driven, but it backs it’s comedy up with genuine tension. “Bob Day Afternoon” executes the intensity of a realistic confrontation with legitimate levity, and this helps create a believable situation to be transgressively poked fun at. Darkly comic jokes grow naturally out of the tense narrative, because there’s a normality and set of expectations to be deconstructed.

To Conclude, “Dog Day Afternoon” is an episode that had me laughing until I couldn’t breathe. It takes a lot of skill to make a hostage negotiation side-splittingly funny, and the show’s writers manage to approach the premise with a tongue-in-cheek earnestness. The episode tells the riveting story of a rubbish bank robber wanting to fail with humility, and how a schlub like Bob can relate to that; all while staying true to the show’s silly nature.

“Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” – Out, Darn Spotlight EPISODE REVIEW

Written by Jambareeqi

When Lindbergh Elementary School decides to put on a stage production of “Macbeth in Space”, Jimmy shows no interest in taking part. However, once Jimbo’s crush Betty says she wants to try out for Lady Macbeth, the boy genius auditions for the play’s title role. Unfortunately, Jimmy loses the part to Nick, and is resigned to the job special effects. In a change of fate though, Nick injures himself in a skateboarding accident, and Jimmy is asked to take over as Macbeth instead.

This is honestly one of the funniest Jimmy Neutron episodes I’ve ever seen. The complete chaos of seeing all these eccentric students putting on a show, under the energetic directing guidance of the flamboyant Principal Willoughby, is what makes the comedy so inspired. Not only do egos clash, but the less talented kids prove that they don’t have acting chops, and Willoughby is struggling to be the ringmaster of this circus. Can these nutty pupils pull off a space opera twist on Shakespeare?

Of course, this episode’s major appeal for fans is the chance to see Jimmy kiss a girl he fancies. While Betty herself isn’t the most interesting love interest, it’s how she brings Jimmy – who usually isn’t interested in girls – to his knees. Jimmy’s dark side even comes out due to his resentment towards Nick, going as far as using his weather machine to stop Nick and Betty’s rehearsal kiss.

ODS 5

It’s also fascinating seeing the more introverted and science focused Jimmy attempting acting. Yes, he’s terrible at it, but I liked watching him try, because it pushed the boy genius out of his comfort zone. What makes this even funnier is that his dad offers to give acting tips, but clearly has no talent for performance arts either.

If I was to say what I love the most about this episode though, it’d have to be Jimmy’s special effects for the play. Jimbo’s inventions are usually reserved for experiments or personal conveniences, but here, he uses his techno wizardry to bring an entire sci-fi world to life for audiences, thus giving a small school performance some amazing production value. THIS is what makes “Out, Darn Spotlight” so unique compared to other school play cartoon episodes.

Unsurprisingly though, Jimmy’s weather machine malfunctions after Sheen misuses it. Jimbo’s inventions always backfire in this show, but the context of a school play re-frames the calamity in a different way this time. How? Because audiences can’t tell the difference between stage effects and a legitimately dangerous tornado! So Jimmy has to keep everyone safe, but at the cost of the play.

To conclude, “Out, Darn Spotlight” is an imaginative take on the school play narrative that we see in a lot of cartoons. The inclusion of Neutron’s gadgets brings a pizzazz to the play, but also a sense of exciting danger – because Jimmy clearly put authenticity before school safety! It’s also a rare opportunity to see Jimmy actively going after a girl; showing that he is growing up – something he expressed fear about in the pilot movie.

“Quest for Camelot” (1998) FILM REVIEW

Written by Jambareeqi

Kayley is the daughter of Sir Lionel, one of the knights of Arthur’s round table. She really idolizes her father’s knighthood, seeing his role as noble and special. Unfortunately, Lionel is killed by the rogue knight Ruber, the latter of which resents Arthur for being King.

Years later, Ruber kidnaps Kayley’s mother Lady Juliana, so that he can use her to enter Arthur’s kingdom of Camelot. Meanwhile, Ruber’s Griffin has been sent off to steal Arthur’s powerful magic sword Excalibur, but fails to follow through and accidentally drops it in “The Forbidden Forest”.

Kayley vows to not only rescue her mother from Ruber, but also retrieve the lost Excalibur for her King. While venturing to the Forbidden Forest, Kayley meets a blind hermit called Garrett, who trained with Sir Lionel to become a knight, but his loss of sight ended his dreams.

After insisting that he fights alone, Garrett reluctantly joins forces with Kayley to save Camelot from Ruber. Along their journey together, the two befriend a two headed dragon called Devon and Cornwall, who can’t breathe fire, fly, or agree on anything.

This film has often been branded as a “Diet Disney” movie, due to how it’s obviously trying to imitate the Disney fairy tale brand – without knowing what makes the House of Mouse formula work. I can’t deny how much Quest for Camelot seems to be replicating the Disney renaissance films – almost like it’s following a set of requirements set by the studio.

But it’s easy to simply dismiss a film for copying what’s being done before. I think that this movie deserves praise for a few things it executes decently, in spite of how much it fails to recapture the essence of Disney’s 90’s smash hits.

Kayley herself makes for a good heroine in this story. Sure she has a bad habit of talking to much, but the movie is aware of that flaw, and she accepts the price paid when her yapping puts Garrett in danger. When push comes to shove in dangerous confrontations, Kayley will cleverly utilize her surroundings to physically outwit Ruber’s army. She’s also willing to learn fighting combat techniques from Garrett, by working with hostile plant life as practice opponents, and his lesson is applied later in the finale in a different context.

That’s another compliment I have to give, the relationship between our two leads! Garrett and Kayley maybe confrontational at first, but they connect through a shared admiration for Sir Lionel, and their perceptions of each other change after witnessing what the other can do. Their romance maybe short lived, but it’s a relationship that demonstrates chemistry and equal respect.

I also like how Kayley helps bring confidence to the blind Garrett, who has pushed away his knighthood dreams for a life of solitude. Garrett himself can be a little grumpy at times, but he holds a sincere pride for Camelot. Even though he doesn’t think he can be part of the round table, he does want do what he can to save Excalibur.

It’s rare for children’s films to feature disabled lead heroes, with many movies resigning the blind to being one joke caricatures or fodder for forced comic relief. Garrett is a dignified hero for visually impaired children to aspire to, someone who overcomes his blindness to achieve his goals. With the possible aid of audio descriptive commentary, I can imagine blind kids adoring how Garrett uses sound perception to overcome obstacles or fight enemies.

I do also think that the world building is decently done. I know a lot of people despise how the film doesn’t go into intense detail about the forbidden forest’s lore, but over-explaining would have taken away the charming ambiguity of the fantasy setting (plus could have resulted in excessive exposition dumping). Sometimes asking for more answers can do more harm than good.

The action sequences are pretty okay too. The metallic minions of Ruber make for fun opponents, because their steel bodies and sharp weaponized limbs pose as legit threats. The scene where our heroes have to run away from giant dragons is quite intense, mainly due to how imposing these dragons are compared to Devon and Cornwall. Not to mention, the final conflict against Ruber with Excalibur melded to his arm, inspires creative combat on our heroes’ part, because they have to work around being outmatched.

I’m afraid that’s where my praises stop though. While I will defend these said aspects, I can’t argue that the film didn’t completely deserve to be lynched by critics. It’s desperate need to clone Disney aesthetics is it’s own undoing; especially when it misses the mark for why these tropes worked for the House of Mouse.

The inclusion of Devon and Cornwall is an obvious attempt to recapture Aladdin’s Genie. These two sometimes have a funny line here or there, but they spend a lot of the movie without much of a purpose in the main story, and their constant arguments can become grating. It’s not until much later on that they help out.

Their development doesn’t happen until the climax, when they realise that cooperation triggers their flight and fire, making them suddenly highly valuable to the quest. While I like the idea of fighting sibling characters learning the benefits of teamwork, because it can teach brother and sisters in the audience the same thing, enduring these dragons’ incessant bickering until the third act, is quite a lot to ask of audiences. Simply attaching two talented comedians like Don Rickles and Eric Idle to talking dragons, doesn’t automatically make for endearing memorable characters.

Ruber is a villain with the super basic motive of ruling a kingdom. This would be fine to me, IF there was more to him besides his desire for power. He has his moments of threat: from his twitching insane expressions to how he casually punches a dragon in the face. Plus his plan to use Juliana as a Trojan horse to get into Camelot is deviously clever.

The problem is that he is rubbish at witty deception or cunning charm; hence why he resorts to exploiting Juliana as a decoy. Even the blind Garrett could tell that this guy is a greedy baddie! Which makes me wonder how he even ended up on Arthur’s round table? Gary Oldman’s microphone-chewing voice acting makes this worse, because the character was already too over the top. There’s only so much exaggerated villainy an antagonist can have, before they become too silly to take seriously.

Quest for Camelot is also a musical. You can tell that the songs are mainly here for Disney cloning reasons, because a lot of them are either pointless, a waste of time, end or start abruptly, and could easily be removed without consequences. Some songs carry important development for characters (For example, “I Stand Alone” has meaningful lyrics for reflecting Garrett’s internal conflicts with his blindness), but most of them are way too forgettable, don’t pay off, or intervene with the film’s pacing.

A lot of these songs are also fiercely ruined by comic relief characters’ cartoon antics. It’s hard to get invested in a love ballad or a villain’s sinister number, when a chicken is falling about or the dragons are fighting in the background. Are we supposed to be laughing at the clumsy characters? Or crying at the dramatic song’s narrative meaning? You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Heck, the dragon brothers’ song is the most pointless and annoying of them all! It tries to imitate Genie’s modern reference humour, but fails to understand WHY Genie could do this, because these two aren’t established as powerful keepers of time and space.

The Animation may LOOK like Disney’s renowned style, but it’s missing the same top tier standards. I’m not saying it looks bad, because that would be unfairly harsh. It’s just that the animation is standard at best. Characters move with fluidity and have varied expressions, but they lack the intellectual pauses or humanistic details that makes Disney animation impressive. I’d say that the animation’s only praiseworthy aspect is it’s special effects; like fire, lava, fantastical plants, magic, etc.

To Conclude, Quest for Camelot has always been one of my guilty pleasure films, but I’d say that a new viewing has made me appreciate what DOES work. If it distanced itself from Disney in a bid to find it’s own identity, and toned down the unnecessarily-intrusive comedy, then maybe it could have been a commercial success? And remembered more fondly by mainstream audiences? Because the more you try to make a film imitate a previous success, the more you clearly don’t understand how these hits required creative brainstorming.

“Rugrats” – Candy Bar Creep Show EPISODE REVIEW

It’s Halloween in the Pickles household, so the adults have setup a haunted house for trick or treaters, and the babies don’t understand what’s going on! Angelica then boasts to the little tykes about getting Reptar bars, telling them that they won’t receive any, but Tommy realises that older kids are going into the haunted house, and are coming out screaming while holding Reptar bars, so he knows what to do!

The endearing charm to this Rugrats episode is seeing how the babies react to Halloween traditions, each wondering what is going on, while none of the adults are explaining the reasons behind the spooky decorations or why they’re dressing up as monsters. Throwing Halloween into the Rugrats formula makes for a fascinating dynamic, because it’s the weirdest holiday to introduce to babies.

The grown ups ponder whether the babies are ready for their first haunted house, because it might give them nightmares. The Protective Deedee is being against them coming in, and old fashioned Lou insists that kids their age are brave enough. It did make me think, when SHOULD you introduce Halloween to infants? But I guess it depends on the child; only their parent will know them well enough to decide.

Angelica’s bratty boasting makes us root for the babies, because her mean spirited “You can’t have this” attitude is so harsh, and we also know much the babies love the Reptar bars. We cheer them on in hopes that they’ll get to have green tongues too, putting Angelica’s selfishness to shame.

The grown ups seem to be having lots of fun building their haunted house (which is really just a tent in the garden), each adult being very proud of their contributions. It’s cute seeing people this age getting so into the Halloween spirit – especially for the sake of making many kids’ Halloweens special. They could have just waited at the door with a bowl of candy, but the Pickles went the extra mile, taking creative pleasure in pulling it all off.

Although, I do wish that someone made sure an adult was looking after the kids, seeing as everyone is outside distracted with the haunted house gimmicks, particularly if Deedee doesn’t want the kids to come into the haunted house. Heck, the garden is open to the public, all the adults are busy scaring kids, AND it’s obvious that the backdoor isn’t locked, doesn’t that seem risky? Even if they are close. However, maybe I’m being overcautious after watching creepy true story videos on Youtube all week haha!

I get that the episode wants to setup a chance for the babies to get out, but why make it so easy? It takes away tension, and portrays the adults as irresponsible. Here’s my idea for how this could have been done better:

Grandpa Lou seemed to have the least input for the haunted house, so surely he could have babysat the babies? He could have accidentally fallen asleep, the babies would have then crawled towards the backdoor, noticed it was locked, and inspiring Tommy to make a tower to reach the keys on a hook, giving Tommy and friends a chance to get into the garden. Yeah, it would have made Lou look a little bad, but at least it could have showed that the grown ups at least tried.

Putting all that aside though, the haunted house itself is really fun. You can tell that a lot of imagination went into it, and I would have loved if my parents had a tent like this in our back yard at Halloween. Things take a comical turn too, when the babies’ antics in the haunted house create scary illusions for everyone, making Grandpa claim that the haunted house is REALLY haunted. After all the talk of the babies being too afraid of the adults’ tent project, it’s the rugrats themselves that end up scaring the adults. That’s pretty funny!

As far as I know too, this episode was the debut of the Reptar bar, a candy that became synonymous with this show, to the point where a company recently tried to sell them as real products, even including the novelty of it being able to turn your tongue green. I’ll confess, the episode does make Reptar bars look great, so maybe I’ll order a pack someday haha!

To Conclude, this is a cute Halloween special, with the heart of it’s charm coming from the babies’ reactions to spooky traditions, surprisingly To Conclude, this is a cute Halloween special, with the heart of it’s charm coming from the babies’ reactions to spooky traditions, surprisingly sparking me to think about the ethics of introducing Halloween to babies. Not to mention, it makes a dinosaur shaped chocolate bar look like the coolest thing ever, helping us to see WHY the babies want one so much.

However, the adults’ lack of precaution for protecting the babies, doesn’t make them look very responsible, and the show already has common criticism against it’s adult characters’ poor parenting. This maybe a childrens’ show, but mums and dads will sometimes watch it with their kids, and the grown ups are the characters they are going to relate to.
Despite that setback, it’s still an adorable wholesome take on Halloween – one that’s perfect for kids that are too young for scary movies in October!

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“The Emerald Banana” Chapter 6: The Cursed Town

< CHAPTER 5: A BATTLE OF DECEPTION

Sephita pondered over Hambridge’s offer for a few seconds, then nodded at the old wizard, which made Hambridge do a giddy child like cheer. As the evening went on, everyone put aside their differences, the wagon riders forgot their pride, and Sephita joined the tavern patrons in songs & games.

It was getting dark, so Sephita decided to stay the night in a room at the tavern, knowing that she had a long wagon ride ahead of her the next day. The room she booked was cosy, with a simple well made bed, a gorgeously crafted wardrobe, and a book shelf containing a variety of novels. Sephita picked a book, lit a candle, then read until she felt sleepy.

The next day, Sephita and Hambridge climbed onto Yunkel’s wagon, both men were suffering from severe hangovers. Yunkel commanded the horses to start trotting, off the three of them went, on a road trip to Zorkastan. After a few days, the dessert landscape started to become cold, as the wagon arrived in the snowy town of Ikacle, the frosty air made Hambridge shiver in discomfort.

Yunkel, feeling somewhat sorry for his passenger, suggested to Hambridge “Mate, there’s a winter jacket in the wagon, help yourself”, and the old wizard scrambled to find the warm clothing. Ikacle was much quieter than Willawessa, almost baron in comparison, as if they had arrived in a ghost town. There wasn’t many houses, mainly sticks tied in an “X” shape planted in the snow, and a couple wonky trees without any leaves.

Even Hambridge felt uneasy about this place, but Yunkel was calmly composed, and Sephita retained her stoic abrasiveness. Then, suddenly, Yunkel halted the the wagon, he froze still, Hambridge and Sephita looked ahead to see what was up, only to see a misty dark figure.

Sephita turned to Yunkel, she asked him “Who is that? And why are there so many crosses planted everywhere?”, Yunkel nervously replied “This town is said to be cursed, I thought we’d be safe because these X marks are supposed to ward off evil spirits, but… that’s one right ahead of us..”

Hambridge covered his mouth to stop himself from screaming, even the brave Sephita gulped, then Yunkel asked the two “Should we keep going? Or find a different route to Zorkastan?”, and Sephita bravely pointed ahead. Yunkel reluctantly signaled his horses to move forward, but at a steady pace, as the dark figure became clearer, and Hambridge covered his eyes with his pointy hat.

After a few minutes, the wagon came face to face with the spirit, Yunkel stuttered “H-h-hey! Spirit, be gone with you, these markings are here to protect this town, go away!”, but the spirit just kept floating there, like it didn’t hear a word of what Yunkel said, and the wagon rider boldly shouted “If you don’t get out of our way, we WILL use brute force, my passengers have very strong powers!”

Hambridge stared in repulsed shock at Yunkel, Hambridge snapped “Don’t force me into combat with that thing!! You know that I don’t that many spells!!”, Yunkel rubbed his head in annoyance, then told the old wizard “I’m bluffing you stupid geezer! He doesn’t know that”, and suddenly the figure began hovering towards the wagon.

Sephita got ready to defend everyone, not even knowing if her telekinesis could overpower an evil spirit, while Hambridge started fumbling through his pockets for his wand, and Yunkel whipped his horses into trotting in a fit of panic. As the wagon started racing away, Sephita looked back to see that the evil spirit was now charging after them, looking like it was angry, and Yunkel urged his horses to trot even faster.

The spirit opened it’s mouth, revealing a long snake like tongue, it was now gliding faster towards the wagon, Hambridge screamed in a high frightened pitch at this. Sephita was trying to hold tightly onto the rails, knowing that staying on the wagon was what was most important right now, she closed her eyes as the falling snow rushed into her face.

The spirit unfortunately caught up with our heroes, only for it to literally pick up the wagon, it then tossed the wagon off the road, and the wagon landed with a crash on the snowy ground. The wagon was now in pieces, Yunkel was fuming at this, but the bigger problem was facing the evil spirit, so Sephita stood up to face this demonic ghostly creature.

“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966) TV SPECIAL REVIEW

IIt’s Halloween for Charlie Brown and his friends, but while most kids want to celebrate with the usual traditions, Linus decides to wait for “The Great Pumpkin” in a pumpkin patch, with only Sally willing to keep him company. Meanwhile, Snoopy is getting into his Halloween fancy dress costume of “The Flying Ace”, by imagining he is in a dog fight.

This is a Halloween special that doesn’t aim for scares or spectacles, but simple dry humour and the spirit of spooky festivities. It’s a slice of life cartoon that perfectly illustrates the mood of Fall. You can really feel the atmosphere of the season, from the fallen crisp brown leaves to the gorgeous watercolour backdrops. The kids’ discussions about varied topics are highly amusing, each dead pan setup penned with clever wit by Charles M. Schulz himself; it’s a delightful script.

But this is also a special about one kids’ loyalty towards what he believes in: The Legend of the Great Pumpkin! Did Linus make up this character? Or does he truly exist? That doesn’t really matter, because it’s own belief that makes this running plot endearing, as Linus refuses to give up waiting, even while Sally grumbles about missing out on trick or treating. On the one hand, we understand why Sally might feel betrayed, but on the other hand, it’s hard to get mad at Linus’ sheer faith.

Watching these children going trick or treating is simple enough, but little things make it kind of funny, like the fact that most of them are dressed in the same ghost costume, or how Charlie Brown keeps getting rocks instead of candy at each house. I’d even say that all this trick or treating made me suddenly crave sweet confectionery myself, even though the candy doesn’t even look that appealing, and I guess that’s because the kids themselves made the candy sound fun.

I’ll admit that Snoopy’s subplot does slightly detract from the main focus, as the I’ll admit that Snoopy’s subplot does slightly detract from the main focus, as the short suddenly centres on his imaginary war game. It’s quite a stretch to say how relevant this gag is to the Halloween atmosphere, but it’s still cute seeing the Beagle playing soldier. Not to mention, Snoopy does later end up at the Halloween party, plus he fools Linus and Sally into thinking that he’s the Great Pumpkin too. So he has his purpose in the special.

To Conclude, this is a lovely relaxing Halloween cartoon, a charming special that will get you into the spirit of the season without needing to frighten, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a laid back Halloween atmosphere this month.

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