General Review: Bad Times at the El Royale

Hello, Spongey here.

So yesterday I got Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, which you will read all about next year. Spoilers, it was okay I guess. But again, that’s not important. Today we shall have a bad time.

I got that joke out of the way, so let us move on. This isn’t the type of thing I’d rush out and see but I had room for another movie this month and this looked good. This is an original film from director/writer Drew Goddard, who did The Cabin in the Woods.

You’ll hear about that one soon (wink wink) but the short version is that it was really good so his involvement made me excited for this one. The ads more this look like a pretty cool movie with a strong cast.

So does it live up to its concept, as well as Drew’s previous film? Let’s head into the El Royale and find out!

This, is Bad Times at the El Royale

Set in 1969, we follow seven strangers who find themselves at the El Royale, a novelty hotel at the border of California and Nevada. But as the strangers — including a priest , a vacuum cleaner salesman a Southern gangster , and a former singer — settle into their rooms, they discover that something strange is afoot inside and outside the hotel.

This movie was pretty good. It wasn’t as good as I would have hoped but in the least it was pretty solid. It really just one major issue: It’s too long. It runs a little over 2 hours and it feels like that way.

Even from the first few scenes, it already feels like it is dragging things out a tad too much. The pacing is on the slow side on purpose and sometimes that works but a lot of it that did bring it down.

It has a fair bit going on but it didn’t have enough to justify being as long as it is. It didn’t ruin anything, I just feel like a 95-ish minute version of would have made it stronger. But aside from that, I don’t have too many issues.

Sure not every part was super interesting but being shorter would easily make me forgive that. The set up allows me to explore some interesting characters as we slowly dive into them and see what their deals.

Of them Dakota Johnson and Jeff Bridges proved to be the most interesting. And not just because one is hot and one is Jeff Bridges, their deals are fleshed out more, especially the former as the climax centers around something from her plot line.

Darlene was the least interesting I suppose but she did work as the least troubled of the group. She’s also a hell of a singer. Despite the pacing, the directing is solid and when things go happen they manage to be pretty interesting.

There’s some intense scenes are masterfully done, even if one of the more intense moments didn’t quite go anywhere. The rest usually did go somewhere though. I have to be vague as part of the fun is seeing exactly what is going on them, resulting in some crazy stuff.

It’s been compared to Tarentino, and while the structure brings to mind Reservoir Dogs, the dialogue doesn’t really feel like him and otherwise it worked without really leaning too hard into it’s influences.

(Seriously, even someone in my theater was comparing it to some of his work on the way out, that’s how much people think they’re comparable)

It gets quite interesting as it goes along as it fleshes things out and the actors bring the characters to life pretty well. The ones behind the folks I mentioned stand out the most but everyone is good.

Don’t expect too much of Chris Hemsworth though. He is good when he is there though, and adds an interesting wrinkle to all this. Also, he’s shirtless for most of it which is never a bad thing.

I’ve heard some mix things about this one which I do get, but it did manage to be pretty good despite the pacing. It’s like that through the whole thing so when it is still a bit padded near the end, I was just used to it.

I just feel that a tighter version of this story would be more impactul and full on really good, rather than pretty good with some really good moments. It also serves as a good bottle movie, using the main location pretty well and it being in just one place doesn’t hold it back too much.

As a whole, Bad Times at the El Royale perhaps wasn’t one of my favorites of the year like I was hoping mostly thanks to weak pacing but it still manages to be a solid film with uses its cast well as it gives us some interesting people who the script fleshes out pretty well.

It is the kind of movie that is hard to discuss without spoiling some of the surprises, but just know it is an interesting movie to watch unfold. It doesn’t quite fit into the expected boxes which Drew is pretty good at doing.

It’s a step down from Cabin in the Woods but it Is a solid movie nonetheless. If you can tolerate slower pacing then you’ll find plenty to like in this one. Not the best of the year but it is an original movie worth supporting this weekend

Sorry this was short but I just want to get this out and there isn’t too much to say. Just know it’s slow at times but overall pretty engaging for most of it.

Rating: Good

Not quite what I was hoping for but ah well, still quite good. It is worth it. I’ll see you in November as we’ll have an early Christmas.

See ya.

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Posted in General Reviews | Leave a comment

Ranking the Animated Films of 2011

Hello, Spongey here.

The 2010’s continue as we get into 2011, a pretty interesting year indeed. It’s reception is on the mixed side, but it has some pretty notable moments. Like the last 2D Disney movie, the first “Rotten” Pixar movie, and the final Image Movers movie.

This year is pretty crazy with the variety and I can’t wait to dive in. This is where the landscape got more interesting as we didn’t always know what to expect, especially since even everyone’s favorite lamp had some trouble this year.

Onto the awards, the Oscars nominated Rango, A Cat in Paris, Chico and Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots. Slightly odd mix but a good one. Rango won which I don’t quite agree with, but we’ll see how I feel when i get to it.

I prefer the Golden Globes line up, which was Tin Tin, Arthur Christmas, Rango, Puss in Boots, and Cars 2. Okay, that last one is an odd pick but otherwise I like it. They picked Tin Tin, which makes me happy. The Academy doesn’t count Motion Capture for some reason so screw them.

The Annies expanded the number, so every movie I mentioned got nominated, along with Wrinkle, which is too small to get into the full list. Rango still won though. It had a lot of awards love, as you can see.

This year is interesting for me, as it was the first year where I started paying more attention to the movies coming out and thus saw more of them. So from here on it, I’ve seen most of the big ones at least once, with my first time watches being for the Indie movies. K?

With that said, how did this year plan? Let’s dive in.

This, is Ranking the animated films of 2011

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

All Star Superman: Heard good things about this DC one

Batman Year One; I wanna see this one cuz it has Bryan Cranston as Gordon

Green Lantern Emerald Knights: Looks fine

The Little Engine that Could: It’s from Crest, so you know it’s good.

Magic Tree House: https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/magic-tree-house/

A Monster in Paris: I hear it’s a cute movie, from one of the directors of Shark Tale.


Phineas and Ferb Across the 2nd Dimension:
https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/phineas-and-ferb-across-the-second-dimension/

Thor Tales of Asgard; Animated marvel movie, nothing to say here.

Tom and Jerry Wizard of Oz: At least it’s not Willy Wonka

Wrinkles: That Annie nom has to mean something

Now for our films

BAD:

Hoodwinked 2:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/hoodwinked-too-hood-vs-evil/

Yeah, no surprise. I’ve talked about this quite a bit, and went over went why I dislike it so much. I was a bit harsh the first time around just for the sake of it, nor did I quite explain why the original was so much better.

But now I have discussed why that one worked, so we’re good. I re-watched some of this in a Rabbit stream a bit ago and yeah, it’s every bit as painful as I remembered. I’m only nicer to ti since I’ve way worse in the 6 years since that review.

At least this stays family friendly for most of it, and has an actual story to speak of. It’s not much of one, but at least it’s there. But it’s really bad, with none of the charm the first one had. Even taking that aside, it’s pretty painful with tons of bad jokes a really weak and cliche story.

If I were to find positives, I’d say there’s a few okay jokes (the title drop amuses me way more now lol), and the voice actors for Hansel and Gretel at least seemed they were having fun compared to the rest of the class. But that’s not enough to save a pretty bad sequel. Bleh.

MEH:

Mars Needs Moms:

This is fairly infamous, mostly for being such a huge bomb that it caused Image Movers Digital to shut down, thus meaning the end of Zemickis motion capture movies. He didn’t direct this one and it shows, due to being way weaker than the ones he did.

This movie is mostly just seen as bad, but I’ve seen some go as far as to call it one of the worst animated films ever made. I wouldn’t go that far at all. It’s not very good, but it’s far from flat out awful. The backgrounds are well done and there’s some attempts at drama that aren’t too bad in theory.

I certainly saw more effort put into this than other weak animated films out there. But most of it falls flat. I know they’re doing a story where the lead learns to appreciate his Mom, but he still feels too whiny to like. And even when he’s not whining, he’s just boring with little dimension..

Speaking of weak characters, there’s also Gribble who I find annoying with his constant chatter and the film needing to remind us he’s an 80’s kid. He also randomly has a romance with this hippie martian that adds nothing . And as many have said, the motion capture is strictly in the uncanny valley.

It just lacks that polish that the Zemickis ones had, so it can’t make up for the creepy-ness. I don’t take quite as much issue with the conformable parts as some do since that stuff can work, it just feels like too much, especially for a movie with this title.

But the movie is mostly just flat out boring. Most of it is just them running around, and because the set up is botched and the characters are weak, I don’t personally care about anything going on.

They tried, but it’s just a boring movie with flat characters and creepy animation. Again, far from the worst but not something I enjoyed re-visiting. When it comes to Disney mars movies, I’ll stick with John Carter, thank you very much.

(Also, not to kinkshame, but the character designer seems to like his women with a little thicc-ness, if you know what i mean. …I’m not sorry for telling you that)

Happy Feet Two:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/happy-feet-two/

Another one I reviewed. I feel about the same as I did 5 years ago, which is quite rare. This is just a typical lackluster sequel. It has the same stunning animation but is lacking everything else. The characters are less interesting and the story is weaker with too much filler.

There’s way less musical numbers, which is dumb given it’s the whole point of the these movies. It’s kind of sad that the pointless subplot with the gay krill is more compelling than the main plot. That said, it’s mostly harmless. It’s totally bearable and has some fun moments.

It’s just quite dull, even more so than before. I forget it even exists sometimes, to be honest. So yeah, just a big ball of meh.

DECENT:

Gnomeo and Juliet:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/general-review-sherlock-gnomes/

I talked about this one bit when I reviewed the completely needed sequel. I actually did my watch of it the day before that one came out, so I didn’t really need to watch it around this time for the post. Thus, I won’t go into too much detail.

I stand by what I said before: It’s fine. It manages to have some clever humor (love the 2B bit), and decently likable leads. As well as a solid cast and some well crafted animation with decent attention to detail.

The problem is there’s only so many things you can with this premise so it does wear out it’s welcome near the end. some of the jokes don’t quite work, and it mostly is just a standard take on this story, with animated gnomes. But I still find it enjoyable and cute enough for what it is.

It’s at least tolerable and I didn’t mind re-visiting, even if I would have forgotten it if not for the sequel coming out. I appreciate this one more after said sequel, since this movie at least picks one plot and does it fine enough.

It also has no seals, which is a big plus in my book.

Overall, Gnomeo and Juliet is really nothing special, but it’s a mild diversion at least.

Cars 2:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/pixarathon-12-cars-2/

I said in my Cars 3 review I stand by what I said there, I’m just more aware of the flaws now, and I stand by that. Cars 2 is more or less a guilty pleasure for now, as I mostly enjoy it for the animation, action and score than the actual story/script.

It’s biggest flaw is that it fails as a Cars sequel. Making it faster paced isn’t a bad idea, but the way it’s done kid of betrays the whole point of the first movie. Although not as much as having Lightning get into all this because some random guy mocked him, even though he learned to ignore people like that in the first one.

And while it kind works as a spy movie, there’s no reason for it to even be one. And yeah, the moral more or less allows Mater to be kind of a jerk. However, I do think even objectively, it’s mostly…fine. There are some solid moments like when mater realizes everyone thinks he’s a fool and it’s generally entertaining as a spy adventure, with some slightly smart ideas.

It just doesn’t quite all work together to create a full “Good” movie. However, I do enjoy it and I think it gets up to Decent. It has more flaws than Gnomeo but I had more fun with this one and am more likely to revisit it. Honestly, the whole John Lasster thing really showed where this movie went wrong.

He was too wrapped up in these crazy ideas he had for it that he never stopped to think about if any of it actually made sense. This was far from his biggest flaw but you get what I mean,

So yeah, it’s the only not fully Good Pixar movie but I still enjoy it enough, and it’s not even close to being awful, or even that bad.

GOOD:

Rio:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/rio/

Yep, another I can skip. My review wasn’t the best since it’s technically unfinished but I covered my general thoughts well enough. Like a fair bit of Blue Sky movies, the story isn’t great but even more so than most, the style really makes up for it.

Carlos Saldanha injects with a lot of energy, and the animation and music is of very high quality. The characters are mostly likable, and it serves as a solid ode to Rio.

So yeah, a fun time, even if it’s far from a great movie. But hey, that’s fine sometimes, it at least has style.

A Cat in Paris:

It’s Indie time my friends, and here we have a rather short French film. And by short,I mean without credits it’s only 59 minutes long. That was honestly pretty refreshing.

The premise is that a girl’s cat goes out every night to hang with a burglar and soon they all get involved in this plot with these gangsters. It’s a simple plot that leads to a pretty charming movie. There’s not a lot to it as mostly just focuses on fun antics as this plot unravels.

It’s all done pretty well, as it is surprisingly funny. Mostly with the villains, they get some fun moments even if their dynamic is a bit typical. My favorite joke involves a dog, but as usual I won’t spoil it.

The art style is the unique kind that may put some off, but I think it works. The animation itself is a strange combo of both fluid and chop-y which was rather charming. I watched the dub which was surprisingly good, with solid actors like Angelica Huston and Mike Pollock.

The lip sync is a bit off though. Speaking of flaws, the main one holding this back is that there’s a subplot where the girls Mom wants revenge on the guy who killed Dad. It felt a bit oddly dramatic for a somewhat light hearted movie, and it didn’t quite gel with the main story in general. (Yes, it’s a crime movie but the villains are mostly funny so it’s not like the movie is a gritty thriller)

It’s not a deal breaker though. Its short length is used well as it doesn’t outstay its welcome. It manages to be a charming little movie with with a solid art style and some funny moments. If you need something quick and solid, then A Cat in Paris is worth a look.

Not the best animated film released in 2011 to feature a pet going off to do his adventures but it’s still fun.

Chico & Rita:

Yep, two indies in a row and I really don’t have much to say about this one. It’s a Spanish movie that revolves around a romance that forms between the titular characters.

And yeah, that’s basically what it has. There’s a few other things but it’s mostly just that, which is fine because it’s generally well handled. There are a few cliche moments with it but otherwise it is a solid story told over a decent amount of time.

The characters are solid together and it is a decently interesting story to watch. It’s one of the movies where you’ll either be really into it and love, or just find it kind of okay. As usually, I’m slightly in the middle. I quite liked it, just wasn’t something I loved.

That said, the animation is certainly great. It has a unique style that I can’t describe but it reminded me a bit of Archer, I guess. The music is also good, nice and jazzy.

It’s pretty simple but in a good way with some themes in there if you want to look for them. It’s a nice movie with a pretty effective ending. And it’s an adult animated feature that knows how to adult, so that’s good.

Chico and Rita isn’t great to me but I did find it to be a simple and well crafted story. Not totally my thing but still solid.

Rango:

This is one of those movies that a lot of people were raving about it when it came out, but despite winning the Oscar, it seems to not be disused that much. It’s certainly an interesting one, as it was directed Gore Versenski, animated by ILM, and it was the firs animated Nickelodeon movie not based on one of their shows.

While I do like it, I do see why it’s not too discussed these days as it’s more notable for it’s style than anything else. Here’s a hot take: This winning over my top pick is way worse than when Brave won the following year. But whatever, onto the movie.

Animated westerns aren’t too common but this is the best of the few we do have. They capture the style of a western quite well, and it works well as one rather than being a full parody. Hans Zimmers score really add to the feel, along with the writing.

Rango himself is pretty likable with how much of a thespian he is, and he goes full force with his hero persona. There’s also some other solid characters, like the fearsome Rattlesnake Jake. It also has a solid offbeat sense of humor.

Where it falters for me is the story. It’s a fairly typical “fake hero” story and despite some well executed moments (I like how he isn’t shamed into leaving town when the secret is revealed, he’s basically kicked out by the villain) it doesn’t too much new with it.

Plus, it does feel too long with some scenes feeling a tad long and aimless. That said, the style that got this movie os much is pretty amazing. The animation is extremely detailed, and unlike so many other mainstream animated films, it’s not afraid to have ugly designs.

Ugly in a good way, of course.

While I do think it’s perhaps a bit of style of substance, there’s enough to like here to make it pretty good overall. Rango doesn’t have the strongest story but it does boast amazing animation, unique designs, some memorable characters and a solid tone.

It’s a somewhat unique and fun western that is solid enough to make up for a fairly basic story. I prefer Nick’s other offering from this year, but Rango is still fun.

Winnie the Pooh:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/ranking-the-disney-animated-canon-2010s/

Another Disney one I went into already. It really shows how good this decade is for them that this movie was at the bottom of the ranking. It was a good throwback and really was just charming. A bit short but otherwise really enjoyable and fun.

While it sucks this is the last 2D Disney movie for now, at least it was a very cute note to go out on.

Puss in Boots:

This is another one that’s been forgotten about somewhat over the years, which is a shame, as I think this movie is pretty good. I think it’s one of the better “supporting character” movies out there. It manages to prove Puss can work on his own and it stands from the main Shrek franchise.

Instead of being a farce, it takes itself seriously as an action/adventure flick and it’s a well done one. The adventure is a fun one with them trying to get the golden goose, with some fun set pieces that are elevated by the animation (they pretty much nailed humans by this point) and Henry Jackman’s score.

The overall story is surprisingly well written, mostly when it comes to Puss and Humpty Dumpty. Puss has a solid backstory that shows us how he was once close to Dumpty and eventually was forced to betray him. It’s on the cliche side, but it’s genuinely well executed and I was way more invested than I expected to be given what we’re dealing with here.

Their relationship is a well written one with some solid turns that lead to some emotional moments. I won’t spoil it but a part near the end surprised me, although there’s one bit in the credits that confuses me a bit. And while the thing with Kitty Softpaws is pretty cliche stuff, she does end up being a fun character.

This trio ended up being fun to watch, and I do like that they keep the cast somewhat small compared to main series. Jack & Jill also make for decent enough villains.

My only major complaints are that it’s focus on being more serious causes it to be a bit unironically cliche at times, and what little humor there is is hit or miss, although that does improve in the 2nd half.

So yeah, this movie is surprisingly good and deserves more attention. I’d go as far to say I like it more than Shrek 1. It’s a bit close but I personally got wrapped up in the adventure and found it to be a well executed story.

It still doesn’t top Shrek 2 but it’s still a fun adventure that develops Puss further and even tells a solid story. This could have just been a throwaway movie they did because Puss was popular, but they made it really solid and I give them props for it.

It’s fun and solid adventure as a whole. I wish we got a sequel, but I guess a Netflix show is good enough. At least this movie was quite good.

GREAT:

Arthur Christmas:

Christmas in October, boys! Well, I’m writing this in September but whatever.

After things with Dreamworks fell through, Aardman took their business to Sony and created another CGI film with this one. And the result is my favorite film from both studios.

Yes, Chicken Run and Cloudy are very good, and I get why those tend to be more favored in terms of films from those studios, but this one appeals to me a bit more. That may be because it’s a Christmas movie but I do feel it’s really well executed.

When I first saw it, I quite enjoyed but didn’t think too much of it. After Someone whose name can’t be mentioned now did d a video praising it, I watched it again and saw that it was even better than I have it credit for, and now people are getting into it more.

The set up is a good one that explores the generational gap in a smart way. A kid is accidentally skipped at Christmas and Arthur is dead set on getting her gift to her, even though an aging Santa and Arthur’s brother Steve don’t think it’s a big deal. So Grand Santa must help him do it.

The North Pole is more high tech now, and you’d think it would be one of those stories about how technically is evil and the good old ways were way better. But instead it’s a lot more fair to both sides. Grand Santa ends up being more focused on trying to prove his ways are better than actually getting the gift to the girl.

In the end Arthur doesn’t care how they do it, he just wants every child to be happy. Santa forgot about that as well, and that’s what the movie is all about. Even though Steve is somewhat antagonist, he’s not really evil, he’s just set in his ways like everyone else.

It’s surprisingly well-balanced and it makes up for an engaging story. Oh and there’s plenty of sweet moments, as you’d expect in a Christmas movie. Each character is enjoyable in their own way, and there’s a solid dynamic between them.

It has less of that “British Humor” you’d expect from an Aardman production, but there’s still some decent humor here. The animation is a bit less polished than in some other CGI movies, but it’s still pretty well done, mostly with the backgrounds.

I will say it does feel a bit long despite only being 90 or so minutes. It starts to get a bit aimless in the middle, but that ends up being a small issue in the end.

Overall, Arthur Christmas is a bit different from other Aardman movies (and even other SPA movies) but it still stands tall with strong writing, a good message, solid animation, fun character, and a lot of heart that brings in the Christmas spirit.

If you haven’t seen it, try it out this December, it’s a worthy addition to your yearly holiday viewing list.

The Adventures of Tin Tin:

I never thought Nickelodeon of all companies would give as an awesome adventure film directed by Steven
Spielberg and co-written by Edgar Wright, but here we are, and I love it.

I’m not super familiar with Tin Tin but besides me hearing it’s faithful, it’s an incredibly fun action/adventure movie on its own. Right from the amazing opening credits, I was wrapped up in this. It really captures that old fashioned adventure feeling seen in the Indiana series extremely well, through both Speilberg’s direction and John Williams score.

Tin-Tin isn’t the most complicated character ever, but he is likable and worth following. The others make up for any dull-ness you may find in him, including the fun villain, Snowy the best dog ever and especially Haddock, amazingly played by Andy Serkis.

They work well off each other and Haddock is easily the most interesting character as they delve more into him. Also, Thompson and Thompson are great too.

The film keeps a good pace, with the direction being really tight and fast paced. The action is really incredible, with the stand out of cross being that one take scene in Morocco.

And on top of that, we have perfect motion capture. They don’t try to make them totally realistic, and the characters eyes have life in them. This manages to make them easier to latch onto. I also like that this is a family film that actually earns the PG rating.

Besides there being blood at one point, the fact the Haddock likes to be drink is a major plot point. Nickelodeon, everyone!

Besides being a bit over long in places, my only complaint is with the ending. I don’t mind the “The Adventure continues thing”, it’s just that there wasn’t quite a good enough wrap up for this to feel quite right. Feels like the film didn’t “end” before then so it’s a slightly annoying cliffhanger.

Especially since we still don’t have that damn sequel yet. But even with those small issues, Tin Tin is still an awesome and incredibly well directed adventure with likable characters and the best motion capture ever.

While I have no idea when we’ll get that sequel, at least we have this highly enjoyable gem to re-visit in the meantime.

And my favorite animated film of 2011 is…

Kung FU Panda 2:

This was a really easy choice for me. Yes, Tin Tin is great and they were close back when I first saw them, but as the years went on this one easily beat it. And watching this again just cemented it.

This is everything a sequel should be. It keeps everything that made me love the first one and expands on it very well. Honestly, only real complaint is that the rest of the Furious Five seem to have even less to do, but Tigress gets one great moment at least.’

We still get great action, decent humor and beautiful animation (the lighting is especially noteworthy in a lot of scenes) but they add in plenty of substance. Po learns he was adopted and finds exactly he came to be where is. Through this, he learns how to achieve inner peace.

The scene where he finds out his backstory is perfectly handled, with a perfect mix of telling which really makes it all the more powerful. Shen is a great villain as he manages to be really threatening (thanks to both the animation and Gary Old Man) while still having depth to him due to his backstory and he refuses to learn the right lesson.

It’s a balance a lot of villains of his type struggle with and they nail it here. Put all this together, and you get a truly great experience that does just about everything right.

Po is fleshed out further, the villain is great, the humor mostly lands (even if the first is a tad funnier I suppose), the action is thrilling, the animation is lovely, and the emotional moments are really effective. It’s everything I look for a sequel, while still working quite well on its own.

I guess I’m over praising it a tad but even if I am, I still think it’s pretty great. I think I’d put it as my favorite Dreamworks movie, but it sometimes switch with some others. Still, it’s up there and I quite like.

All this easily makes Kung Fu Panda 2 my favorite animated film of 2011.

And those were the animated films of 2011. Honestly, I think this was a damn good year for animated movies. Yes, we had a few more weak ones but only one of them was full on bad. And as terrible as Hoodwinked 2 is, there’s too much good here for it to bog the year down for me.

Most of the movies were good, and were all decently memorable for one reason or another. And we have 3 Great movies that were great for different reasons and my favorite one was especially fantastic. While it’s no 2009, 2011 still proved to be a pretty solid year.

I mean, this year gave us the first badly reviewed Pixar movie and it was still mostly solid! That’s just insane. This decade is off to a solid start with ho many high quality films we have.

Will 2012 keep it up? Find out next time. Until then…

See ya.

Posted in Animation, Lists | Leave a comment

Wish Upon

I wish for a better movie ha ha never heard that one before

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s finally October once again, which means it’s time for some spooky themed blog content. And also tons of works for me, which is truly scary.

We’ve the usual holiday reviews but of course we’ve got two scene by reviews which are going to be very interesting. First one, we got a pretty good comedy which was billed as a horror movie for some reason.

Okay, this is actually some random crappy horror movie that just came out of nowhere last year, and on my birthday no less. I didn’t think much of it until I saw Brad Jones video on it which made me wanna watch it.

I did and after all my other ideas for our first October review fell for, I decided to just cover it. I should have just picked it at first but whatever. Apparently this is a loose remake of a 2004 Philippine movie I’ve never heard of, I guess because we’ve run out of J Horror movies to ruin.

The script actually ended up on the 2015 Blacklist, which is a collection of the most beloved unproduced screenplays which puts this movie on par with Juno and A Monster Calls, clearly.

It flopped and was panned but even Rotten Tomatoes it’s a good bad movie to watch. Our writer has doe nothing of note, while the director did Annabelle and ..Mortal Kombat Annihilation. Huh.

So, just how funny is this would be scary flick? Let’s take a peek.

This, is Wish Upon

The movie opens with a woman throwing away something while her daughter runs around. The music here can’t decide if it wants to be creepy or sweet and if it’s supposed to be both…I guess it works.

Thankfully it picks a side as the woman hangs herself a bit later. This would be effective if not for the super loud noise that plays when this happens. Yep, it’s that kind of horror movie.

To make things worse, the cut to years later stars with the now older daughter waking up. You just had to make that a dream of some sort even though it actually happened, didn’t you?

Anyway, this is Clare, a teen played by Joey King. Yes, it feels like yesterday when was playing a kid in Ramona and Beezus, and that Haunting Hour episode that’s somehow scarier than this movie.

She now only lives with her Dad who is a dumpster diver, ouch. In the middle of this, they play pop music to help really build up the scares. At school, we meet the fodder known as her friends and the ever obligatory mean girls.

Also, she has a crush on this one boy. The originality is just stunning, isn’t it?

I will admit it’s cool when she owns the mean girl by calling her a…

“Smegma”

Smegma nuts? Actually no it’s some gross thing that relates to genitals. Either way, Clare stands up to the mean girl which I admit is pretty cool.

This leads to an epic fight that has to be broken up and it abruptly cuts to later. And now she’s talking to some person about the guy she likes and then suddenly she’s talking to Dad. What fantastic editing.

He says he found a weird box that he thinks Clare might be interested in. Spoilers, it’s the object that was thrown away in the opening. I think they do explain why she didn’t try harder to get rid of it but we’ll see.

She reads some text on the box and it says it gives you 7 wishes. A step up from 3 but a step down from 16. She thinks it’s dumb but tries it out anyway.

“I wish Darcy Chapman would just like…go rot”

That’s…rather harsh and an odd thing to just randomly say. It’s also perhaps a bit much for the first wish scare. The scene ends with the dog growling at the box. How ominous.

Sure enough, the Alpha Bitch starts to rot and this one guy she is with reacts to it by taking a phone picture. I hate today’s youth.

Clare and her friends hear about this the next day and the main female friend is happy. Because this is a movie that does not allow itself have many likable characters.

“Apparently Karma is a bigger bitch than Darcy Chapman”

Back at home, the dog dies which she finds out via a jump scare. They are just checking all the boxes in the best/worst possible way. The dog died in her house’s crawlspace by being eaten by rats, I think. Spoilers the box did it, which is way less stupid. Barely.

After a few more quick scenes that show bad editing, Clare makes another wish which I hope is just because she didn’t put 2 and 2 together yet. She wishes that guy would fall in love with her which is my 2nd reminder of a Haunting Hour episode I could be watching instead.

Right away, her uncle dies in the bathtub. The only thing worse than a dead body is a naked dead body. It happens in this oddly edited scene that cuts between his death scene and Clare talking to some people at school. The latter kind of nulls the impact of the former.

She finds out about this later and it turns out he was rich but it’s made clear they aren’t liked enough to possibly be put in his will. I’d like to know just how bad the uncle was to justify not being too upset at this death.

Clare then wishes that Uncle August would leave them everything and sure enough, it comes true. And right away they move into his house and we have a living the rich life montage.

This movie was very good pacing and editing. Seriously, things happen before I have time to think of a snarky comment about it.

Anyway, once again someone dies, this time it is some random neighbor lady. It’s death by hair getting stuck in the garbage disposal which is dumb in the best way.

She isn’t aware of the death yet so we get a scene with dad that’s honestly almost kind of sweet. Until he tells Clare she’s like her Mom and she cries because…her mom committed suicide so she thought he meant she will also do so? Huh?

“Statistically if you have a parent that committed suicide-”

I’m not sure if I should make fun of this since for all I know, this could be true. But in context it comes across as a bit dumb. They wrap that up and the next day Paul asks Clare out.

Oh yeah, forgot about wish because we were so wrapped up in the Uncle one. Guess it would be clunky to deal with them both at once so, fine. But of course that ends very quickly so Clare can have her friend Ryan help decipher more of the words on the magic box.

They visit Ryan’s friend Gina who translates some of it and they find out the basics of what we already know but now we find out it grants 7 wishes. And also the wishes some undone if you lose/sell/get rid of it but based on the opening, I think there’s more to it.

They find out some legend but that’s the end of line until Gina’s friend can translate more of it.. But since they now know it some sort of connect to demons, they’ll stop wishing.

A man can dream, damn it.

At home, Clare sees that her dad still does dumpster diving. While I agree that is a bit dumb now that they’re rich, I don’t see much harm in it. But instead of being reasonable, she uses the box to wish he’d stop being “so embarrassing”

And all my sympathy went straight out the window, great job.

Right away, he becomes a lot cooler and in the next scene he’s playing the sax while Clare’s less bitch-y friend calls him hot. Lovely. Spliced in during this is a scene of Gina dying of jump scares.

Great, you killed off the only cool character. I didn’t mention that she was cool but she kind of was but now she’s gone. But it did give us creepy music over sax playing at least.

The next day Ryan finds out about Gina’s death and also finds a message from her friend that translates the box. It basically confirms that someone has to die after every wish but it says “blood price must be payed” so that Clare can be confused and unlikable.

She leaves and at lunch we see that she’s still on popularity despite the cool boyfriend and wealth. Can’t tell if that’s realistic or not. But it does give us out next wish, for her to be popular.

You know, whole thing would work better if it was her friends who kept making wishes and killing people while Clare is unsure and worried. It would make more sense for these side characters to be idiots since it’s like they’re meant to be fleshed out and it would keep Clare actually likable.

But whatever, we have a getting popular montage. That night she hears some creepy shit and even though there’s nothing out there, she randomly puts two and two together and puts away the music box.

Maybe it actually made sense but the bad editing/pacing gave me no time to see if that translation worked. Either way, it is a tad random.

The next day she visits that neighbor who died early on and is surprised to see her dead. Wait, she died a few days ago and only now someone is finding this out? Are you kidding me?!

The thing that makes it especially dumb is that we cut away soon after so what was even the point of that scene? Clare already saw a couple of deaths, so I imagine her knowing about this one earlier would not have changed much.

Anyway, she naturally got too busy being popular to hang out with her friends because we’re hitting all the cliches. But thankfully we first see this right as Clare is sad so they actually listen to her. Kind of makes that part pointless but ah well.

She tells them about the wish box and like idiots, they don’t believe it even though the evidence is frankly a bit damning.

“I think you’re a selfish bowl of bitch sauce”

Screw you too.

“You wasted 5 whole wishes already and you didn’t wish for anything for me and June”

Oh you’re just mad she did nothing for you, you selfish bowl of bitch sauce.

June tells her to throw it away, which I very much agree with but it cuts away before we see if she did it so I’ll just assume she didn’t because she’s generally stupid right now.

It’s here where the boyfriend wish goes wrong as she finds creepy pics of her on her phone that show he’s been spying on her. This is the only creepy scene but frankly, people creeping on girls is always creepy, especially these days.

That is just brushed off for now as we cut to Clare and her friends the next day as Clare reveals to June that she still has the box. Called it. And not because I’ve seen this before, I have terrible memory.

And while our next scary scene is playing out, I just realized that the game Meredith is playing is a Pokemon Go knockoff. Woooow.

Thankfully, she dies after the elevator she gets into crashes. At least the most unlikable character was gone, even if Clare had to be stupid for this to happen. June rightfully calls her out at least.

A bit later, Ryan has looked into this box and finds out it goes around and plenty of people have fallen it’s trap. Also, after the 7 wishes it claims your soul. Then Ryan joins in on calling her out.. At least there’s a few smart people here.

But she’s sorry so he forgives her so they can try to get rid of the box. And by that I mean they hit with a hammer a few times and just give up, putting in the hiding place she put it in before. The place it was in when Meredith died, meaning putting it there does nothing.

I take back the smart thing.

That night, Paul shows up and starts slitting his wrists for her. That actually would have been pretty creepy in a movie with better direction, although as it is his deal is the scariest part of the movie.

It abruptly cuts to him in an ambulance then cuts to the next scene as all that is ignored. Better pacing would also help that scene..

The box seems to be gone which means all her wishes were undone, meaning she’s back to being poor and unpopular. That should also mean the movie is over but there’s the matter of where the box went.

But first they try to get us to feel sad for during this mini montage at school but for some reason I can’t. I guess it’s supposed to be a mixed blessing given that the popularity was fun but came with people dying and whatever, but I’m mostly focused on the latter part.

Anyway, it turns out June stole but is planning to use it for herself, meaning she learned nothing. Now it’s Clare’s turn to call out idiocy! But wait, she takes it from June and says “I’m not ready yet!” meaning she still plans to keep it, even as she says she won’t wish on it.

Can any one character stay consistently smart please? Okay, I guess she’s all power-hungry cuz power is bad but the way it’s done just makes her wish-y wash-y.

She takes the box back to her room as she has officially gone crazy, so she wishes her Mom never committed suicide. Sure enough, she appears and everything seems to be totally perfect.

Until it hits Clare that her mom was one of the music box victims. So did anyone notice/question her going wish crazy before hand? Because they only mention her killing herself, nothing leading up to it.

But anyway, it’s time for a literal death wish as Dad is sadly up to next. Darn, I kinda liked that guy. This finally convinces her to stop being stupid, so her final wish is to go back to before she found it.

Yep, her solution s to make a wish. Yes, it is to rewind time but it’s still a wish and she already knows wishes get reversed by flat-out getting rid of it as June showed. So nah, still stupid.

But yeah, it works and everything goes back to normal. The dog is alive, and other less important people I guess, so that’s good. She finds the music box and makes sure dad doesn’t find it like before.

Don’t worry, she finds Ryan and asks him to bury it. She could have done it herself but at least she knows she has to rid of it. Also, she asks Ryan out cuz they were a thing I guess.

So you’re thinking that this is kind of a lame and sudden ending after a non climax. But oh boy, get ready for what happens next.

She leaves but then a car comes out of nowhere and hits her in the worst getting hit by a vehicle effect since Re-Animated. The effect, her flying, and the sudden-ness makes that the funniest movie scene of 2017.

You can’t convince me that wasn’t supposed to be funny because that made the whole movie worth it. If nothing else, that one bit is worth watching. So with that, Clare is dead meaning the blood price is paid, whoop dee doo.

Way to make the movie hilariously pointless, roll those credits. Also play a pop song to ruin what little scary impact that ending had. But we’re not done yet, because there’s a freaking mid credits scene.

Ryan buries the box sometime later…but reads the text on it and gets curious, dun dun dun. Can’t wait for Wish Upon 2: Wish Harder but sadly that’s the end of this movie.

Final Thoughts:

That was pretty dumb. It’s not really the worst thing ever, as it as some decent acting and a few okay moments that showed it could have worked. Horror movies aren’t the kind to truly piss me as you’ve seen by now and this didn’t change that.

Still, it was fairly poor. The main problem is the pacing is editing, as a lot of things happen so abruptly or quickly that there’s no time to build any sort of tension. There were next to no legit scary scenes, the Paul stuff is as close as it gets. And at only 80 so minutes, it can’t use that time well.

The characters are mostly unlikable in one way or another, with Clare really getting stupid as the movie goes on. I get what they are trying to do with her but they fumble it pretty bad.

But yeah, it’s entertainment value makes it bearable. It’s really the ending that’s funny but some of the other dumb things were fun to make fun of. The ending alone makes it worth watching at least once.

That’s all I got for this. It’s a poorly paced/edited mess with characters too stupid to care about. It could have worked with some tweaking, but as it is it’s pretty stupid and bad.

But when it comes to 2017 Horror movies…still better than The Bye Bye Man.

Rating: Meh

Well, that made for a decent review,, if a bit repetitive. Also, as far as recent movies inexplicably made by Orion Pictures goes, it was way weaker than Every Day.

Join me close to Halloween for movie that’s somehow even sillier than this one. It’s a can of worms, that’s for sure.

See ya.

Posted in Halloween/Horror Reviews, Scene by Scene Reviews, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Goosebumps Most Wanted-Night of the Puppet People

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s Most Wanted time again. And this time I forgot I had to do this until I noticed today was the day I was supposed to start it so I wanna get this intro out of the way.

Today we have some puppets, but none of therm are Slappy. Surprising, I know. We’re now in really recent times, so I read this earlier this year and I don’t remember much from it.

That’s a good sign. But let’s see just how it is. Can Stine write puppets that are not Slappy? Let’s see.

This, is Night of the Puppet People

Even though this isn’t a special, the book still starts with a prologue, but at least it’s only 7 years ago this time. We meet our protagonists Ben and Jenny (which is only one gender flip away from being copyright infringing) at the ripe old age of 5, right on their birthday.

They’re having a puppet show helmed by Wizzbang the Wizard. Well, technically they are marionettes but Puppet is easier to spell. It doesn’t take long for one of the puppets to go bad and bite Ben.

They try out another one but that puppet grabs Jenny’s nose. Nothing like a little childhood trauma to start us off!

“Those puppets were bad. Very Bad”

And boom, 7 years later. That was so abrupt I think it gave me whiplash. Anyway, we join them as they are talking to some friends that are actually quite awful.

Yeah, we’re doing that again and it makes as much sense as usual. They’ve known them since Kindergarten and I guess they’re just forced to hang out a lot and only barely can put up with them,’

They’re amazing at everything and brag about it a lot, that kind of stuff. Anna and Maria are doing a Puppet Skit for the upcoming 6th grade variety show, As you can imagine, this upsets them a fair bit

I don’t think we needed a tragic backstory to explain why they hate puppets, but I suppose it’s a bit more than we usually get.

“They’re like one of those bad teen movies”

Hey, I get to mock cliches around here!

“I’d do anything to beat them in the variety show. Seriously, I’d do anything”

Okay but if they show up dead, I’m blaming you before the puppets.

Later, they visit their friend Jonathan Sparrow who they nicknamed Bird., Geez, Goosebumps has never done that before.

“Everyone calls him Bird because his last name is Sparrow. Duh”

Yes, I think we got that. Also, I’d call him Jack but whatever.

“We have no talent”

“Are we going to let a little thing like that stop us?”

It didn’t stop INSERT SOMEONE YOU DISLIKE HERE.

They go up to his attic to get some stuffs they can do a thing with. They fumble around for a couple of chapters until they eventually find some puppets, dun dun dun.

They seem to be the same ones from the flashback but they don’t reconize them since it was that long ago I guess. Ben says he doesn’t know why he has this fear so that trauma must be really suppressed.

Bird gets the idea to possibly use them in the show but Ben and Jenny do not like that idea for obvious reasons. They still play around with them anyway until Bird’s Dad announces that there’s a storm outside that’s so bad that Ben and Jenny will have to stay over tonight.

“Yaay. A Sleepover. Can we have hot chocolate and Oreos? Aren’t you supposed to have Hot chocolate and Oreros at a Sleepover?”

“You’ve been watching the Disney Channel too much”

I feel personally attacked.

They have some fun that night and Ben thinks about the puppet skit that they are now going to do. Yeah, not much of a transition there.

He hears something upstairs and of course thinks it’s the puppets when it is actually a squirrel, wah wah.

“You heard a Squirrel”

“Are you sure?”

Chapter break. Whoa, such an intense moment that really needed a break.

We move on to the auditions for the show where we get some acts that would fit in a bad audition montage. Two kids do a rap called “Middle School, Yo”. Did I mention Stine is currently 74?

Anna and Maria go on and do quite well. Then right after-

“Next will be April Lewis, who will accompanied herself on keyboard and sing a song from the movie Frozen”

If it’s the song I think it is, that will make people shudder more than anything else in this book.

Ben and Jenny start their skit which Anna and Maria are not happy with since they are doing the same thing and all. The teacher allows them to go on anyway and it ends up being a decent hit.

“But we were first!”

I’ll give the book this: Anna and Maria are indeed quite annoying. It’s not a case where the jerks aren’t really that bad, they put on a slight nice act but then they go and whine about dumb stuff like this.

Also they generally annoying the lead duo on purpose a fair bit.

After everyone goes up, Anna and Maria find out that their puppets strings were cut, which of course they blame on Ben and Jenny. At least it makes sense for them to do so.

Some scissors are in the hands of one of Ben’s puppets, so you can imagine who actually did it. Puppets doing bad things that the lead is blamed for. Yep, totally an original concept.

They swear they did not do it and the principal who calls them in believes them. They go back to where the puppets are but now someone seems to have written Puppets rule on the wall.

Now it seems petty clear the puppets did it but of course Bird and Jenny brush it off. I man I’m not one to jump to conclusions but this is just a bit too much evidence all at once.

The principal walks in to see this and we abruptly cut to one week later, as we start Part 2. Okay seriously, what’s the point of splitting these up into parts?

They got suspended for the week and are completely grounded. The principal called them “Desrtive problem children’ which might be a bit….much.

Eventually “Doom week” ends and they go back to school where they bump into Anna and Maria. Ben randomly gets the idea that they are the ones who did this just to get Ben and Jenny out of the show.

…And they confess to doing so. That’s right, Anna and Maria are indeed the ones who cut their own puppet’s strings, because “It only takes 10 minutes to put new strings on Puppets”

First off, you really hate them so much you’d go and do that just to get them out of the show? I’d put them on the list if they weren’t clearly meant to be hated.. and 2nd, of all the elements from the Slappy books, you pick the one that prevented 1 and 3 from being anything above decent?

“This means WAR”

Great, Ben has turned into Daffy Duck.

“We’re gonna photo bomb the variety show”

“You mean Puppet bomb the show?”

No.

So yeah, they plan to run on stage during the show and just and just do their skit.

“”Once we’re out there, how can Mrs. Neal stp us? Is she going to drag us off one by one?”

I imagine she can and will, actually.

This whole plan is rather crazy, as it’s just for petty revenge and it hinges on them even getting far enough for them to be liked more than Anna and Maria.

“Excellent plan dude”

No.

They practice their skit for a while and eventually Bird’s Dad finds out they took them back out and gets mad like he did off page.

“I knew I should have destroyed them”

I don’t even need to know the details to know you really should have.

And suddenly now is when Ben realizes those are the puppets from the opening. And plot twist: Bird’s Dad was the puppeteer!

Okay, that I saw coming given he had the puppets but still it’s finally something interesting He got the puppets from a puppet maker on the other side of town and after the bad show, he locked the puppets up.

Yet, you should have destroyed them or told Bird the truth the first time you caught them with the puppets.

He forces them to do put the puppets back up, hopefully so he can destroy them later. They’re bummed out about losing their skit which I don’t think is that important right now.

The next morning, Ben wakes up feeling weird, and he starts walking in a way rather similar to a marionette. Then it gets worse as his skin starts to feel like wood.

Apparently one puppet shocked him earlier and he thinks this is why this is going on. At least he puts two and two together fairly quickly, even if I forgot this happened.

They go over to Bird’s place to confront the puppets and finds a card in one of their pockets revealing where they can find their creator. Okay, Bird’s Dad said he wanted to give the puppets back but couldn’t find his address.

And yet it was right here the whole time, Woooow.

They take a little trip to where they are supposed to go, as Ben becomes more of a puppet. At least this is mildly creepy. But of course they arrive only to find out Calab the puppet maker moved away some time ago and the random guy who told them doesn’t know where he is.

But wait, they saw someone in the window so they’ll break in to see if that random guy was wrong. And sure enough, they go in and find Eduardo Caleb.

He tells them that the puppets they have are cursed evil ones he’s been trying to find for ages so no one is exposed to their injection like Ben was. They weren’t “made right” which is a vague excuse but I’ll take it.

He says he’ll use this machine thing he has to turn Ben totally back to normal…but some puppets on the floor shake their heads no. I think I know where this is going based on that but let’s agree with Caleb that they are just totally evil.

He puts Ben on a table and also ties him up so he doesn’t move too much. One zap of “electrons” later, Ben is back to having skin instead of wood on him, so I guess he was on the up and up.

Yeah, this book isn’t giving me much to work with, sorry.

“Now that I’ve cleaned the bad puppet out of you, I’m going to turn you into the greatest puppet anyone has ever seen!”

…Oh.

“I cured you so I can turn you into a better puppet!”

When you say it like that it sounds kind of dumb. Still, slightly interesting that we have a human villain in a puppet book.

Thankfully, the puppets come alive and attack Caleb are “revenge”. I assume they were generally evil until now with this being a feel turn. Or something, I don’t care.

They run away and bam, that’s the sort of end of that. What an epic climax. But Ben is nice enough to say we’re not quite done yet.

We still have the variety show, which they are of course not in anymore.

“-ready to boo everyone who performed”

Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen!

They do get to see a puppet show…but it’s by someone else, as their puppets look like an awful lot like Anna and Maria. They speculate that they followed them to Caleb’s place and he turned them into puppets.

When did he have the time to do this? He got attacked by the puppets so it can’t have been after they left so I guess it was before they got there? But how?

And who are these puppeteers here? None of this makes any sense. Whatever, at least they got comeuppance and the audience is enjoying this.

“Do you believe it? They win again!”

Wah wah. The end. Okay, that was an amusing ironic ending even if none of that made any sense. At least it was a tad interesting.

Final Thoughts:

As you can tell, I wasn’t too thrilled with this one. It had less big issues than some others but it didn’t have anything that special either. That’s the main problem, this book felt so stale in general.

It’s somewhat near for this series to tackle puppets without Slappy but it just ends up being a a discount version of a Slappy book. While it is better than Revenge, most Slappy books are generally more interesting than this was. (Also, way to steal the “Night of” part in the title)

There are okay aspects, like the jerks being actual jerks and how Ben becomes a puppet but it doesn’t make up for how routine a lot of this is. Plus, Ben being a puppet should have been the main idea, not something shoved in near the end.

And nothing really makes sense when you think about it. If the Slappy books didn’t exist,I would have been nicer but since they do, as recently as this very series, I can’t help but find this one a bit lazy.

Even on it’s own, it’s only kind of interesting. Also, the leads can be a tad unlikable at times.

I don’t wanna be too harsh given that it doesn’t anything too bad on it’s own. Also it’s Goosebumps which is for actual children. But this book still felt too much like the Slappy ones and was mostly dull on it’s own.

Not as flawed as some of these others but still weak.

Rating: Average

I hope our next one is closer to actually decent. I’ll find out next time as…I kind of don’t even have the book yet. …I swear I’ll have it to review and we’ll see how it turns out.

See ya.

Posted in R.L Stine Reviews | Leave a comment

General Review: Smallfoot

Hello, Spongey here.

…Yeah, it’s been a bit since the last general review. I did tell you in advance at least. You can again blame my lack of money/interest in other films. But yeah, we’re finally back to animated with films with the latest from Warner Animation Group.

Between the Lego movies and Storks, Warner Animation Group has done a solid job at making animated movies that are very funny while still offering some nice stuff as well. The LEGO movies are generally their best, but Storks was also solid and even held up well on re-watch.

This new offering didn’t spark my interest too much though. Outside of their involvement, it just sort of looked alright. The kind of alright that may still be enjoyable though. If it’s at least a s decently solid as Ninjago was, I’ll consider it a victory.

Our director previously did Over the Hedge, which you may recall I enjoyed well enough. He also did Imagine That but I can overlook that. He also wrote it alongside someone who wrote Blended. …Again, we’ll overlook that.

Before I move on, I have to mention that next year Dreamworks will be releasing a Yeti-centic film. It’s Antz/A Bug’s Life all over again.

Anyway, will Warner Bros give us another solid feature? Let’s see.

This, is Smallfoot

A village of Yetis lives together under the guidance of the Stonekeeper, with Migo being next in line to bang the gong that brings them the sun. But one day Migo bumps into the fabled “Smallfoot” who the others don’t think is real, because the “stones” say they don’t exist.

They don’t think Migo saw one so after he’s banished, he teams up with some friends to find proof of one, and soon he forges a friendship with Percy, a washed up TV show host who is looking to get famous again.

This movie was…good, just simply…good. Yeah, that’s kind of family film to me. Of WAG’s movies so far, it’s easily the weakest but I was still able to enjoy it fine. The main issue is that it doesn’t do anything too special.

The characters, story and comedy are all simply fine with nothing standing out as that special, especially compared to some of the stuff in the other WAG movies. Storks for example a lot funnier and had better characters.

The story goes in the directions you’ll expect and the characters aren’t super duper memorable or complicated. As far as specific problems, sometimes the script will forget about certain characters for too long like Percy’s female friend.

Speaking of female friends, Meechee is a love interest for really no reason. Migo liking her isn’t that important and it as per usual with family films, it did not need to be an aspect of their characters.

Also, there’s one comic relief who was mostly annoying, to the point where even the others agree that he sucks

But that said, it still kept me entertained for most of it. The comedy isn’t really anything great but there are still some laughs, especially with some of the slapstick they have. Nothing hilarious but mostly nothing groan worthy either.

The animation is pretty strong, with some really good cartoon-y character animation and nice lighting and backgrounds. The faces look a bit off (something about their eyes and lips, I don’t know) but I got used to it fairly quickly.

The animation doesn’t break new ground but it is still of solid quality. As I said, the characters are nothing special but most of them were at least likable. Migo is a decent lead I didn’t mind following, and some of the others like Meechee had their moments.

I did like James Corden’s Percy more than I expected. He’s kind of jerk but in the good way with how he develops over time. His voice was a bit odd coming out of this design but I think he pulls this kind of character well enough. Between this and Peter Rabbit, he’s kind of growing on me.

The voice acting in general is, you guessed it, not amazing but still solid. Channing Tatum brings some likability to Migo and you likely heard, Zendya is Meeche. (And Danny Devito is always great)

But while Common and LeBron James were fine in their roles, I don’t see why they didn’t cast actual actors, to be honest.

Migo’s relationship with Percy is done well, as they have to communicate despite not speaking the others language. It’s developed in a nice way. And while the message is far from anything new, it is still a good one, especially with the aspect of how he should reach out and try to communicate rather than just assuming things about others.

There’s one aspect with the Stonekeeper I found rather interesting with how it played out, even if one heel turn was a tad abrupt. And the way the ending played out was basically TrollLand done right.

Let’s see what else..oh yeah, this is a musical…sort of.

There’s only 4 original songs (with one cover of Under Pressure for some reason) but they are fully produced and pretty good. Nothing great (sick of me saying that yet?) but they are good enough that I hope WAG does a full-blown musical.

(I heard LEGO 2 is supposed to be a one but I’m not sure if that’s still true)

My favorite song might be the Stonekeeper’s song, it has a cool feel to it. It’s weird that it has songs at all, but I still enjoyed them fine.

Overall, Smallfoot was the definition of fine. It doesn’t do anything too new and carries some flaws, but it was still a pleasant enough experience. The story is basic but in the least it’s competently told with some likable enough characters, decent humor, strong animation, and a nice message.

I’d say if you wanna see it, go ahead but just know what you’re getting into and you won’t be too disappointed. If you’re on the fence and really want to hear it’s full on really good to check it out, I’d say you can wait til you can rent it.

Still, it’s worth watching at least once if you’re interest. It wasn’t quite as fun as Storks but it’s a fine way to spend 90 minutes. This review doesn’t sound quite as positive as my rating may suggest, but I did generally enjoy what this movie had to offer.

I liked the message and the comedy enough for me to like it, it just didn’t do anything special enough for me to say it’s a must see. It just simply lacks any great things instead of having any especially bad things.

I would have been more positives if some of the other movies this reminded me of didn’t exist but as it is, it’s a fun movie, just not the next LEGO movie or anything.

Rating: Good

Yeah, it sounds more like a Decent but it just barely pulled through for me. I could totally see anyone rating it lower, I just simply saw a bit more in it. Also, there’s a mid credits scene but it’s so short that it’s not worth waiting just to see it.

Not counting the now on Netflix Gnome Alone, we won’t have another animated movie until November, where Illumination will bring Christmas early to us.

Until them in two weeks I will see Goosebumps 2 and do a scene by scene review of it when it hits DVD like with the first film, unless it just gives me nothing to work with.

Either way, after I do that we will hopefully have a good time with a different movie, despite what the title may say.

See ya.

Posted in Animation, General Reviews | Leave a comment

The Thirteenth Year

To quote Captain KNuckles: “Mermaids are weird”

Hello, Spongey here.

September 21 has come once again, which means it is also time to do a review requested by my dear brother for his birthday, It’ll make up for the fact that I can’t fit in any more requested review batches in the rest of the year.

And for the 3rd time since I started doing these, he picked the DCOM. Well, actually for most of these I just have DCOM as one of the options and of the ones I haven’t done yet, he picked this one.

Which is good, because I’ve wanted to do ever since I got into DCOM reviews. I’ve done a fair few this year and spoilers, there’s actually more coming so yeah, sorry in advance.

This comes to us from 1999 and is one of the more fondly looked at ones. It’s a nostalgic one for me, just like Smart House. Spoilers, not quite as good but it’s not bad.

Of the 3 writers, two did little of note while the 3rd has credits on Monsters University and Ferdinand. Neat. The director did Tiger Cruise and Halloweentown so we’re in good hands there.

So exactly how well does this one hold up? Let’s dive in.

This, is The Thirteenth Year

The movie opens with a mermaid swimming around with her baby which catches the attention of a fisher dude. Right off the bat I quite like the atmosphere. There’s something about the music that gives this movie a sort of magical atmosphere which pulled me right away.

He tries to capture the MerMom so she pulls a Superman and puts the baby somewhere away from all this danger. Looking at the baby and thinking of this movie’s premise, really makes me wonder how mermaid reproduction works.

I’m not sure if I want to know though….

“If I didn’t know any better I’d swear this fish was half human!”

I’d get the confusion of the fish part was on the top but it isn’t is..

When he sees it is a mermaid, he stops his chase and just waves to her. And…hits on her, I think.

“Hey, you’re beautiful!”

Ew.

The baby ends up in the hands of a couple, the male of half of which is played by Dave Couiler. I think he’s better off with the in danger mermaid. After thinking about a bit, they decide to keep him name him Cody.

I like how Dave is naturally weirded out by this baby but then a minute later they’re like “let’s keep it”.

We cut to 13 years later as we see teenage Cody staring at water. Subtle. Dad has this boat tour business and he’s as good at it as you think he would be.

Cody is late for a swim meet so we get a scene of him just barely getting there on time, set to some odd blaring music I can’t quite describe. He makes it but despite being quite amazing, he’s in 2nd place which apparently happens often.

But they still get to go to the state finals, so there’s that. We’re introduced to the nerdy best friend as he just falls right into the pool by accident. It’s so on the nose it’s hilarious.

After he’s saved, we meet the female friend as they talk while waiting for Dad to pick him up, which happens pretty quickly.

“Are you guys an item now?”

I see we’re not even trying to be subtle here.

Out on the water, the guy from the opening meets up with his friends, one of which is played by the Dad from Dog with a blog. Whoa, that’s random. Even more random: His other friend is played by someone who was in that Good Luck Charlie episode with the Muppets.

That’s such a random thing for me to remember him from but there you go.

His friends mock him as they think mermaids are like the Snyder cut: They don’t exist. He’s the dad of the nerdy kid which adds an interesting element they dive into later.

Some later at school, someone kindly informs us Cody is the most popular guy in school. An interesting contrast to other DCOMs where the lead is more of an outcast which does make his fish problems a bit more interesting.

Cody has to do some project on “Creatures of the deep” (because of course he does) and his partner is the nerdy kid. While they’re talking, I should say Cody’s acting is rather hit or miss.

It’s not always bad but at times he comes across as kind of stilted which isn’t great for our lead. I didn’t notice on “First” viewing but it’s bugging me a tad now.

Today is Cody’s 13th Birthday and he has a little party where he has to pretend to like some bad food Mom made. Because that joke hasn’t died yet. Sam the female friend gives him a present and then a kiss, which causes a literal spark.

Mermen have electric powers, who knew?

That night, his parents tell him that turning 13 means his whole life will be different now. Get it, because he’s gonna start becoming a merman soon.

After the inevitable dream sequence, he wakes up and shocks his alarm clock. I don’t these powers even do anything important. Because this is a movie, puberty starts hitting all at once, like how Cody has sticky hands.

I’m not touching that one.

DAD: Am I the only sane one in this house?

You know your family is weird when Dave Couiler has to say that.

He meets up with the nerdy friend and starts to hit off with him. Eventually they strike a deal so the nerdy friend can help him with biology and Cody can teach the nerd how to swim.

But who cares about that, let’s give Cody some scales! Or whatever is growing on his hand here. He gives home where they are having fish for dinner. Oh crap, he’s gonna become a cannibal.

We sadly don’t get to see as we cut to the next day where Nerdy Kid isn’t worried about Cody’s condition since apparently a lot of people have freaky shit like that. Yeah no, you should be worried.

They go to Nerdy Kid’s house where they bump into his crazy dad. Right away he asks Cody is his parents have seen any odd creatures, like any normal human would.

We skip past all the studying and go straight to Cody getting an A on his test. Because we have fish puberty to go through.

Then we have a quick bit at the water fountain where a line is forming. One of the people in that line gives us the very first screen appearance of Kristen Stewart. I am not kidding. This was even before Viva Rock Vegas and you can see her way more clearly!

I don’t even have a joke for that, that’s just amazing.

He was at the fountain because he’s really thirsty and he tells his parents about these weird things. They don’t quite know what to do but Dad suggests hitting up a doctor…which offends Mom.

“You know how I feel about doctors.”

Oh god she’s an anti vaxxer.

After a quick date with Sam, we head back home where he starts crawling on the ceiling. Oh okay, he’s not a merman, he’s just Spider-Man.

This makes Mom call the doctor (making that bit pointless) who just simply says it’s puberty. Well duh but I don’t think scales are a normal part of that.

Cody agrees with me as he tells Nerdy Friend about all this. Also, Nerdy Kid says “Crawling walls like Spider-Man”. Don’t steal my totally clever jokes!

We then get a montage of them running various tests and the only conclusion they come to is that maybe he should stay away from water. But Cody ignores this since water makes him feel “Right”.

This is where he should have put 2 and 2 together.

Nerdy Kid’s Dad notices that he is taking an interest in mermaid and tells a sob story about how this guy who is totally not him drove people crazy with his mermaid obsession but still swears they are out there. This scene is actually pretty nice, it shows a bit of a nicer side to him even if they could have fleshed it out a tad more.

Some papers Nerdy Kid is reading tells us that young merpeople can walk among humans.

“Their aquatic physiology only manifests itself in The Thirteenth Year of life”

I’ll never get tired of it, never!

This is what finally sets off alarm bells, so he pitches Cody his theory that Cody is indeed a merman.

“A mermaid. Or a merman I guess”

There’s a hopefully tasteful gender identity joke in there somewhere…
Cody finds this confusing because Nerdy Kid forgot to tell him the stuff he read in that book. Thankfully, Cody remembers he’s adopted and while I don’t think he guesses his Mom’s a mermaid, he does think his real parents might know what is going on.

He tells his adopted ones about all this and they tell him the story of how they just found him out in the water. They aren’t sure about the mermaid thing but they do think he should stay out of the water since that is what’s causing the issue.

Hey look, they’re being reasonable rather than just calling him crazy. I’m honestly surprised.

But the next day, after some dreams, Cody ignores that and goes for a swim anyway. It’s another scene with some really nice atmosphere at least. Also, his Mermom happens to still be hanging around this general area, likely just to make sure he’s okay.

Sam shows up to remind us she exists but she leaves just as quickly. She really should have been a bigger part of this plot.

He goes over to Nerdy Kid (whose name is Jess by te way) to help him swim, another thing I forgot about, but one of the swim team jerks shows up to take issue with this.

“He’s not one of us”

Cue Lion King 2 song!

Speaking of the swim team, he has a swim meet which he feels obligated to attend. So we just cut straight to it, as he sneaks off to attend it. Thankfully,it takes only a little bit for his parents to notice he’s gone.

But it’s still too late as Cody as soon after that, we see Cody winning the meet and spouting his fish parts. He’s able to slip away quickly but that swim team jerk saw it and chases after him because like most jerks in movies, he cares way too much about the kid he hates.

Cody escapes him and goes home as soon after Sam also pops up to see him becoming a fish boy.

“It’s a long story. I don’t know how to begin”

“He’s a merman”

CHRIS: That…wasn’t a long story.

She’s freaked out by this but she’s a jerk about it and leaves. I also like that she at first thinks the merman claims are crazy, AFTER seeing his scales. We abruptly cut to the next day at school….because dealing with being a fish person isn’t a good enough reason to stay home.

There’s a bit with him and the jerk who seems to have forgotten he saw fish scales and we move on to later as Cody is sad about the fact things are falling apart around him.

That night he goes for a swim and bumps into his MerMom in a way that makes me glad their family or this would go all Shape of Water any moment now. That reminds me, MerMom doesn’t talk so if she a mute or something?

But right at that moment, Jess’s Dad shows up and the two are almost caught. And like the last few scenes, it ends almost as soon as it begins.

Cody calls up Sam and asks her to come over so they can talk things out.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

I agree, your reaction back there was so calm.

Like any good boy, he has his girl meet his MerMom but suddenly this is when he starts to really become a merman. But before I can blink, he’s suddenly on Jess’s Dad’s boat.

“I don’t feel so good”

I hate that Marvel has ruined that phrase forever.

He’s taking care of Cody while at the same time trying to catch his Mom. So he’s both being helpful and not so helpful at the same time, which is pretty interesting. This leads to a decently intense climax as Jess tries to free MerMom which eventually does work.

But then Jess gets in danger and his Dad must save him, which is nice. They save him but he’s not breathing, which Cody fixes with his electric powers. It’s nice that they came into play but they are still dumb.

Once he’s okay, they get to finally properly meet Cody’s MerMom. And now she wants Cody to go home as it’s pretty clear he’s better off embracing his fish side. Thankfully, everyone else agrees, even if it is hard to say bye to Cody.

I really like this moment. Aside from having the strong atmosphere of the rest of the film, I’m glad they didn’t go for a more typical ending with him staying. No, they acknowledge he belongs with MerMom and I give them credit for ending it like this.

With that, everyone has a nice goodbye as Cody promises he will return. After all, gotta set up The 14th Year! We also finally get to see Cody as a full merman which is neat.

And so they leave and the movie ends. Okay, it’s somewhat abrupt so we basically end after the climax, but the way it was done made it pretty satisfying
despite the mild abrupt-ness.

Either way, this ends with me again sharing the same thought as K’nuckles: Mermaids are weird.

Final Thoughts:

This movie was totally fine. It’s about the same as I remembered it being: Not great but perfectly enjoyable for what it is.

My main problem is that it can drag in the middle as it meanders a bit. There’s some dumb parts with people doing weird things and I wouldn’t say the characters are especially complicated or anything. Also, the acting isn’t great.

There’s some things they could have fleshed out more but despite that, I enjoyed this fine. As I’ve said, the atmosphere really makes this one stand out. There’s something about the music especially that makes this one rather calming and enjoyable to watch.

It helps create some solid scenes, especially in the 3rd act. I also like the coming of age element this has, with him dealing with merman puberty. It’s not perfectly done but the story is a mostly fine one.

The friendship he has with Jess with is decently handled and what they do with Jess’s Dad is pretty interesting in the end. The stuff with Sam is mostly kind of pointless though.

Overall, the Thirteenth Year is kind of dull in places but I generally enjoyed it due to the interesting premise and atmosphere. It’s on the higher side of the rating I’m about to give it.

It’s not the best Classic Era DCOM but it’s better than even something like Johnny Tsunami. So…yeah, it was fine.

Rating: Decent

As I said, the higher side of that. I can’t quite explain why it’s not higher given what movies I have called Good but ah well.

Happy Birthday Antony, for like the 5th time. This was better than Another Cinderella Story to say the least.

Next time, it’ll be October which finally means some spooky reviews! For our first one, let’s say you couldn’t wish for a better pick for our first one.

See ya.

Posted in Disney Channel Movie Reviews, Scene by Scene Reviews | Leave a comment

Spongey’s Favorite Episodes: Clarence

Hello, Spongey here.

You may have noticed both of my top episode lists this year have been of shows that recently ended. That trend will continue, sorry. But they are all ones I’ve been wanting to do, since it will still all be fun.

We looked at a slice of life show from Nick so today we’ve got one from Cartoon Network: Clarence. I’ve talked about this show a couple of times and gave you a solid taste of what it’s like but it’s time to dive deeper.

We’ve been getting a fair few fun slice of shows lately and I think this show helped kicked off that trend. CN especially wasn’t doing too many at the time but after this show, they, and the others, embraced them a bit more.

They all tend to be good for the same reasons but Clarence always stood out to me as hitting even higher highs than some of the others. It was a bit more mixed at the start, as it did struggle to balance the slice of stuff stories with some goofy jokes.

But Season 2 improved hugely, with a lot of really nice episodes along with really fun ones. Like any good of slice of life show, it captures childhood well and has a big cast of memorable characters.

It of course got the ax unfairly, but it was allowed to have a solid enough ending. That’s been happening a lot lately, but ah well.

So today I will give you a few episodes that stood out as me as especially enjoyable. This one will be a bit more scattered, as I didn’t re-watch the whole series and just picked out 10I thought highly of.

I do have a solid group though, and the last one is my big number one. With that said, let’s look at all the great episodes this kid has given us, be it funny or dramatic.

These, are my Favorite Episodes of Clarnece

Goldfish Follies

Writer: Spencer Rothbell

We start with an example of how the first season was a bit wackier and more experimental, but it’s also the best example of that.

The plot is that Clarence buys a goldfish and tries to get it home without trouble. Oh and it’s all done in the style of a cartoon from the 1930’s or so. Yeah, that’s the aspect that really makes this one stand out.

They do a great job of capturing that style, with wonderful energetic rubberhose animation and great music and sound effects that really help sell the whole thing.

They pack in a few more direct homages, like one to Fleshier’s Superman. There’s tons of good gags and it’s extremely entertaining all the way through. Even the theme song is done in this style and it’s great.

We do get …sort of an explanation for why the story was being told this way, and it’s a pretty funny punchline.

If I had one complaint (besides maybe it could have been a short rather than a full 11 minute episode) is that sometimes it has spoke dialogue, while other times they do that silent movie card thing. It’s funny but a bit inconsistent. Otherwise, this episode is really funny.

I don’t wanna describe any exact jokes but I think the fun of it is seeing what they do with this style. I will say the gag of who gave the shop keeper the idea of giving out free fish was pretty great.

So yeah, Goldfish Follies is a spot on homage to classic cartoons that captures the style perfectly and serves as one of the funniest episodes of the show for me.

Just like those cartoons, the plot is simple to allow for a lot of great jokes and the homage is just very spot on. Even if you haven’t seen this show, fans of classic cartoon should give this one a look.

Oh and insert Cuphead joke here.

Sneaky Peaky

Writer: Tony Infante

This episode has some minor sweet stuff but it’s on here simply because I find it to be really funny.

The gang is seeing Paul Blart, I mean Tom Blarps, in order to see the trailer for Robofrog 2. Yeah, this premise doesn’t totally work in the modern era but we’ll humor them.

They sneak in after the film is sold out and end up taking the trailer (it’s on film, yeah) only to ruin it, forcing them to make their own.

Clarence isn’t the one to do jokes about nerd culture (that’s more Gumball’s thing) but this episode managed to do it without going overboard. Of course, all my favorite jokes in this one do relate back to it.

There’s this one guy who is overly nitpick-y, and keeps saying Robofrog 2 is gonna be trash, even after calling the trailer “A real Auter piece of cinema”. He’s both funny and sadly quite accurate.

Another great bit is when Jeff is going over how he has all these theories for what the trailer will show and Sumo is like “Do you actually watch the movie?”. Also, they talk about how Robofrog is going to back to their roots with practical effects, ha ha.

Bonus points fort the movie being a sequel to a movie mentioned in an earlier episode.

All that aside, all the stuff with them making the trailer is really fun. It’s cute to see them make this low rent trailer and it ends up being as innocent and fun as you’d expect.

There’s also a nice element with Jeff thinking he’s a bad Robofrog fan because he got one detail wrong in a trivia question. He eventually sucks it up realizes it’s no big deal. It’s not a huge thing but it adds a small something to the episode.

It’s a fairly simple with a lot of good jokes and some nice moments, along with a funny ending. Oh and the Paul Blart parody is so spot on it hurts. It’s a nice mix of childhood innocent, with a more modern sense of humor.

Even if the premise requires this to take place in 1999 to make sense.

So yeah, very funny and cute episode.

Stump Brothers

Writer: Sam Kremers-Nedell

Sumo is one of the more interesting characters and this episode shows that off nicely. We’ll talk more about some of the things brought up in this episode in another entry but there’s still some stuff to say here.

He and his brother Tanner do not get along so when the freezer breaks, Dad has them go Pete’s in order to get some parts. This episode is of course about them learning to understand each other a little more.

We show off more of Sumo’s home life as we see that they put nails into a stump to settle disputes. It makes sense in context. It’s another where there isn’t a ton to the plot but there’s plenty of substance.

They do a good job of fleshing out their relationship, as we do find out why Tanner is mean to him a lot of time. You can argue his reasoning causes bad implications, but the way it’s done makes it passable enough for me.

Plus, it makes for a great dramatic moment. Speaking of which, those moments are done well. There’s a bit in the truck that not only works story wise, but has some really nice lighting.

It’s light on jokes, but Clarence does have some amusing moments. The ending joke is a good, and it also gives us another nice moment!

This episode mostly exists to build on what we saw in Dream Boat but it works on its own to focus just on Sumo and Tanner. It’s a good little slice of life episode that has some solid drama in there.

It’s not as amazing of a Sumo showcase as another one we’ll talk about, but Stump Brothers is still great for what it does do. It’s pretty solid at what it does as a whole.

Tree of Life

Writer: Joe Tracz

These more dramatic episodes will be most of the rest of the list, but don’t worry, they have some fun stuff too.

Clarence’s Dad tells him about a tree that he and his friends used to climb, which reminds him about his old friends are mostly doing other things now. This gets Clarence thinking about his own friendship with Jeff and Sumo won’t last forever, so they plan to climb the tree to carve their names into it.

From the set up, you can guess why this one is as good as it is. From the start, it sets up the themes pretty well and quickly gets into the good stuff.

There’s some good jokes though, like how Dad says one of his friends is likely watching him…because he works in surveillance. Or the running gag of what happens when one of them falls from the tree that I won’t spoil.

here is some fun cute stuff as they climb the tree but as they go on troubles arise but Clarence cares more about getting to the top to write their names. This leads to a fairly obvious still well executed moral.

At the start they establish that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and at the end they learn that just trying hold onto your memories or whatnot is a better way then going out of our way to carve your name into a tree or something like that.

This message is a good one and it’s told well with plenty of nice moments. Also, the tree has a voice and it’s Fred Stoeller, because he’s clearly not in enough things I watch.

This episode shows the more dramatic side of the “capturing childhood” thing and I relate to this one a bit more than some of the others. The whole idea that your friendships may not stay the same forever is an interesting one and it reminds me that I’m way better at keeping in touch with my old online friends then my old real life ones.

…Okay, this just got too real for my tastes. Anyway, this episode has some good themes and manage to be a very good story with great dramatic moments.

It’s an episode I appreciate and find to be a great one to come back. Insert Terrance Malik joke here.

(Someday I’ll actually insert a joke instead of asking you to do so)

Capture the Flag

Writer: Tony Infante

I have even less to say about this one then some of these others, which is surprising given that this was the show’s first 22 minute episode.

The set up is that the kids are playing a very elaborate game of Capture the Flag. By that I mean they are split into teams that try like kingdoms in a way. The whole thing is treated very seriously, with some kids being put in jail,and Clarence has to put an end to all this madness.

I’ve mentioned the “Capturing childhood” thing a lot and this episode really has it with this silly game that they treat like a big deal. That’s the main thing I like about this one, they take it so seriously and that makes it really fun.

They take it so seriously that it’s easy to get wrapped into it along with them. They do remind you it just a game with jokes like Chad’s reaction to all this.

Clarence is treated as this god-like figure with how he needs to save everyone, and all that. It’s weird but I quite like. Usually this would be a problem but it feels like part of the big joke so it works for the episode.

The whole episode is just fun with how this game gets treated so seriously and it becomes this big out of control war. Everyone has a solid role, and the ending joke with Belson is pretty great.

I’m not sure it needed to be 22 minutes, but the extra time allows them to do more with the concept so I don’t mind it too much.

So yeah, that’s about all there is to it. A simple idea done really well that ends up being a ton of fun. I love stories that take silly things seriously and this is a great example of that done very well.

It’s a pretty fun and crazy episode all around. (I promise the next section will be longer…by a fair bit)

Clarence’s Stormy Sleepover

Writers: Tony Infante, Kelsy Abbott, Stephen P. Neary, Spencer Rothbell, and Sam Kremers-Nedell

This entry is quite unique, as it’s not a single episode but a whole miniseries. Yep, Clarence jumped on the trend which may seem odd for a show like this but it turned out very well.

We’ll be talking about each part, then we’ll talk about how they work together.

The Phantom Clarence:

Clarence wants to have the biggest sleepover ever, but no one will come due to having other things to do. (Well, Jeff shows once no one else can come) This does a pretty good job of setting things up.

They introduce the side stories well, like how Belson is in detention and Sumo’s Dad is forcing him to do Doomsday stuff, and put in some funny moments.

It’s all set up but it’s good set up and ends on a solid note with Jeff’s kite accidentally hitting the power lines, thus taking out the power all across Aberdale.

And this is after Clarence has vanish. So yeah, very solid set up for this mini series.

Jeffery Wendle:

Jeff feels guilty about knocking the power out and doesn’t want Clarence’s parents to know, so he distracts them by cleaning all over the place.

This one shows the advantage of a Mini Series with how it focuses on just one element and fleshes it out nicely. We see how Jeff can be as he’s guilty and how he gets a bit unhinged as a result.

Clarence’s parents are good too as treat Jeff well and like having someone who is clean around. There’s some good interactions and amusing moments, along with some slightly freaky imagery at the end.

It’s pretty nice.

Badgers and Bunkers:

This one focuses on Sumo’s side, as we jump around in time for the first time in the mini series. We see a bit from earlier and day and more context to what Sumo was talking about on the phone.

I love how Sumo is just having none of his Dad’s doomsday antics here. He’s totally right so he’s not unlikable either. The friction between him and Dad causes us solid drama and a few funny moments.’

“That boy just doesn’t listen”

“I wonder where he gets that from”

“What?”

Sumo also finds a badger that Dad does not want around and that leads into the ending of this part. This parts mixes comedy and drama quite well and is just great overall.

Dingus & McNoBrain:

Back at school during detention, Miss Baker seems to be missing so Belson and Mr. Reese have to do a buddy cop team to find out. It’s just as amazing as it sounds.

This might be my favorite part of the mini series. It’s just a great set up that leads to a lot of funny moments. Their interactions are good, with Reese being dimwitted and Belson being a jerk.

There’s some nice moments as well like when they find out what happened to Miss Baker. And also some pretty decent plot twists that add to the buddy cop homage in a fun way.

Add in a solid tie to the overall story (Clarence’s parents and Jeff show up to get away from the storm) and you get a well-rounded and fun part.

Bye Bye Baker:

This one focuses on Miss Baker as she gets trapped in the store with Clarence and one of Jeff’s Moms. It’s a bottle episode and a really fun one.

Seeing them all eventually bond is pretty nice and they end up taking advantage of the one setting they have. Meg, one of the workers, doesn’t want them to leave so that adds some tension near the end as well.

Baker is planning to leave for California which Clarence doesn’t like, and that adds more to the plot in a good way.

There’s one thing Clarence does I don’t like but otherwise this is another great part that stands on it’s own as a fun bottle episode and adds to the overall story, especially with Dungus and McNoBrain saving the day at the end.

It’s nice, slightly intense and fun overall.

Flood Brothers:

The Mini series concludes as everyone is now trapped at school, waiting out the storm.

This part nicely wraps things up as various things from earlier come back in some way and spoilers, Baker decides to stay. It all wraps up in a nice way and is just as fun and sweet as the rest of the series.

There actually isn’t much to say. It wraps up in the way it should with plenty of nice moments. Some aspects get a better wrap up than others but the ending overall is quite good.

As a whole, this uses the mini series format quite well. It has a simple concept and explores all these side stories that explore how each character is dealing with this.

Most are wrapped up pretty well, even if it not all get huge fanfare. Baker’s deal ends a bit abruptly but it ends up being nice nonetheless.

When I first saw this I had a problem with Clarence being a bit reckless but it’s only an issue in Bye Bye Baker. For the rest of it, he’s pretty good even if I think he could have been called out a bit more.

Otherwise, this mini series is great. I feel making it just one episode wouldn’t have given it enough time to flesh out certain things, so it’s good that a show like this used the format well.

They manage to pack in plenty of funny and nice moments with good character interactions. Also, I love Clarence’s recaps which add some more humor.

Overall, Clarence’s Stormy Sleepover is a great mini series with a solid concept done well, and it uses the format effectively. Good stuff.

Breehn Ho

Writer: Tony Infante

I don’t have a clever way to introduce this one, so let’s just talk about.

Jeff invites Breehn over to their game night, but has problems when Breehn doesn’t do things the exact same way he would.

This episode is just a really solid and fun one. It’s another one where Jeff has to deal with being a bit too uptight and this is one of the better takes on that plot.

Jeff doesn’t cross the line into unlikable, as I do see where he’s coming from. At first he’s just making a big deal out of little things, then when Breehn starts getting it, he gets jealous since he Clarence and Sumo are getting more into Breehn’s way of doing this.

It’s done in a way that keeps everyone likable, and it’s a pretty engaging story. It mostly keeps things fun, since they are playing a pirate game after all. Eventually it becomes a real adventure as Breehn leaves while it’s storming outside.

Two entries in a row with them facing a storm, weird.

…And the rest got lost somehow, as for some reason when I responded it , the post was in this state. I even used the backup thing which usually saves everything. It got most of the section but ah well.

But yeah overall, Breenhn Ho is a great little adventure with plenty to fun to be had. That’s all you need to anyway.

Pretty Great Day with a Girl/Mystery Girl

Writers: Skyler Page and Patrick Harpin/Tony Infante

I put these two together because they both about Clarence hanging out with a girl, and both show the strengths of the show at each point in the run they wall in.

Pretty Great Day with a Girl was the 2nd episode and it serves as a nice introduction, arguably more so than the actual first episode.

It’s a simple set up with Clarence simply deciding to go have some fun with a girl named Amy which Belson does not approve of. This episode really showed how well the show could capture a slice of life.

It really is just these two hanging out, with Belson coming in to give us a sort of climax. There’s a lot of small moments, like Clarence needing to go pee at one point. It’s just as a small dumb joke but it adds a bit of realism.

These two are really cute together, and it’s done in a very innocent way rather than a shippy way. There’s a funny bit where the other kids claim to find girls gross but admit they find them nice.

Belson also proves to be a funny antagonist. There’s not much to the story which really gives it its charm. It’s all just very quaint and fun. My only issue is that I don’t care for Clarence’s voice in these early episode.

I don’t know, Spencer Rothbell’s Clarence just sounds a bit less annoying to my ears.

Then we have Mystery Girl, which is the main one I wanted to put here, as Pretty Great Day is just here for contrast ad also because it’s an example of how the show started off right.

While making pranks calls, Clarence ends up befriending a girl. This one is also really cute, but with the added element of him only talking to her via phone for most of it.

It’s just them talking but the things they talk about it make it really fun to watch. Bella and Clarence work well off each other Their interactions are just simply very cute, and her being on the phones adds extra comedy and conflict.

I’ll say right now that there’s a sort of subplot where Jeff and Sumo feel a bit left out due to him spending so much time with her, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s not really resolved which is a bit odd.

But thankfully it’s short lived enough to not be a big problem for me.

They eventually do meet up for real and it’s just as sweet as you’d expect it to be. It ends up being a nice cap to a nice episode.

Both these episodes are just the epitome of cute. The interactions in both are strong and are simply and charming. I honestly these episodes would be good ones to use to introduce someone to the series.

Sure, some are deeper but this is what the mostly is: Simple stories with childhood innocence. And they are very sweet ones. I like Mystery Girl a tad more despite the one flaw, but Pretty great day with a girl is also really sweet and a lot of fun.

Two cute episodes for the price of one.

Chad and the Marathon

Writer: Stephen P. Neary

This post was mostly an excuse to talk about a few episodes in particular, and this is one of them.

Clarence has to do a report on someone who inspires him and he picks Chad, but Chad soon realizes he hasn’t done much with him. He decides to do that by doing the Aberdale marathon, which means some intense training.

Chad is a fairly typical dumbass Dad but he usually works fine, especially since we get episodes like this one. This episode is another really sweet one, only this has more of a story to it.

There’s some funny moments that come from the training (which indeed comes with a great montage), and it even ends on a pretty funny moment. But it’s Chad who brings this one up.

It’s great to see him try hard to do something like this, and we see just how difficult this is for him to do. Normally I don’t do spoilers but for this episode I have to kind of spoil it to further explain why it’s so great, so here we go.

The ending is the main reason this gets on here. You probably expected all this training to result in him wining, or at least getting close. Nope, he passes out on Mile 2.

It shows a bit of realism, as you can’t exactly win a marathon via a montage. He tried his best and didn’t quite win, but he did try, and that’s all that matters. Of course, Clarence is just proud of him for trying and Chad didn’t really need to do all this to impress him.

It’s Chad who thought there was a problem after all. Some of this is a bit cliche but the way it’s done makes it a really sweet, and it’s a great moment for Chad.

Chad and the Marathon has a really solid story with good development for Chad and it has a solid moral about how you don’t always win even if you try your best. I’m glad we’re getting more stories about that, as it’s pretty important.

This episode is really great and certainly was worth spoiling.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Bird Boy Man (Tony Infante): Sumo finds a bird whom he names Hot Sauce and nurses it back to health. It’s just as nice as it sounds.

The Tails of Mardrynia (Tony Infante): A solid Percy spotlight that has a Don Bluth homage…along with a random parody of The Mob Song from Beauty and the Beast.

Average Jeff (Spender Rothbell): Slightly spot-y ending aside, this is a really solid Jeff episode and was another great early-ish episode.

Lil Buddy (Spencer Rothbell): Clarence’s social life spirals out of control when he gets in trouble for playing with his “Li’l Buddy” doll. This is an odd one, but odd in a very good way.

Ren Faire (Tony Infante): Not really a big fave, but I put this here just to point out that Josh FINALLY gets some sort of happy ending. After Nature Clarence, that was amazing to see.

Sumo Goes West/Anywhere but Sumo (Tony Infante): I put these together because they bookend Season 3. Sumo has to go to a new school which nicely changes up the status qou. The latter has Clarence dealing with Sumo having friends at that school. I know it’s odd for me to not put the finale on the last but as great as it is, it is hurt by being 11 minute, as it doesn’t feel as grand as it could have. Still, these episodes are great.

And my favorite episode of Clarence is…

Dream Boat

Writer: Mark Banker

This episode has been my number 1 ever since it first aired. I of course was open to something else topping it but even after two more seasons, that never happened. So let’s get into it.

During detention, this thing Sumo is supposed to fill on asks if he has any goals and how he hopes to achieve them. That night during dinner, dad mentions a friend or something is building a boat, and Sumo decides to build a boat to impress him.

This episode shows us Sumo’s home life and really develops him quite a bit. He has a big family full of rowdy brothers, so it’s hard for him to get a word in.

His dad is in this episode is a bit condescending which gives Sumo extra motivation to want to build this boat and prove his worthy. I wouldn’t say his a full on jerk here since he does clearly care about Sumo, he just has his not so great moments.

Sumo naturally gets a bit too into making the boat and lashes out at Clarence for goofing off. Besides being a great moment in general, I like that he does apologize not too long after, instead of making this big thing.

They get why he lashed out and it helps add to the story. There’s not as much comedy as most of the episodes on here but they are some fun moments with them making the boat later on at least.

It all builds to an ending speech from Sumo that does a great job of summing everything up and is really nice. This whole episode is a really engaging one with a lot of emotion.

It actually has a fair bit in common with Chad and the Marathon, the main difference is that the focus on Sumo makes it a tad more relatable for the target audience.

It’s a great story for Sumo as he tries to make his dream boat (Yes, they do amusingly drop the title) and it leads to a very emotionally satisfying ending.

This episode really showcases all the best aspects of the show. It has some fun childhood moments, is a great character showcase and is a really well told story with a nice moral and some emotional moments.

The way the story is told got to me in a way that made it stand tall above all these other gems. It’s fun, sweet and really compelling. I think Sumo had some of the more compelling stories and this one shows that off the best.

Overall, Dream Boat is just a great story with plenty that I loved. It has everything that made this show solid and not much really topped it. All that makes it easily my favorite episode of Clarence.

And those were my favorite Clarence episodes. This wasn’t my best work I admit, but I at least got to talk about certain episodes. In the least I hope I was able to explain why these episodes as good as I think they are.

Especially with the top few, those were especially great. I wouldn’t call Clarence a flat-out great show like some others but it was a good one and was rather refreshing for the time.

It was a solid slice of life series with plenty of great moments, as this little list thing shows. If sucks that CN didn’t give it the best treatment as it went on, but ah well.

I had fun with this series and I had going over it’s highlights, especially my number one. And yeah, I think I said all I need to say. Thank you Clarence crew for making such a good show, and especially Showrunner Spencer Rothbell for following me on Twitter.

Not even kidding. ..His Twitter seems to be gone though. Huh.

Anyway. the next top list type thing will be in November and it’s one I said I would do last year, so don’t say I don’t keep my promises .

See ya.

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