The Best and Worst Films of 2020

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s time for our annual tradition of looking back at the past year in cinema, with the best and worst it had to offer. Except this time it’s gonna be….weird. Yeah, this is one of the harder lists I’ve had to do and it really isn’t my fault…sort of.

That pandemic forced theaters to shut down so there wasn’t a lot to pick from this year. Sure, studios made do and released plenty at home (and even still in theaters eventually) but tons had to be delayed. This meant many things, like the rise of mid tier Netflix movies, but for our sake it means not quite as good end of year lists.

At least people like me saw tons of things we usually wouldn’t give the time of day although really most of that ended up being just decent/fine . This ended up being one of the weakest film years in a while due to a lack of movies in general. But in some way, covid can only take so much blame.

I swear this was the year of movies I wished were better. A theme among so many is that they are good/fine, but not quite as good as I hoped. This even applied to more acclaimed ones and even the ones near the top had this a bit. Maybe if everything went as planned, those delayed movies would have swayed things but who’s to say. I just know that while there was plenty I liked, there wasn’t a lot that wowed me.

This could be all on me. As I said, some more beloved ones did have me wanting more in some ways. It’s weird going from previous years where I rated things arguably higher than they deserved to me doing the opposite this year. A positive rating is still good, I just wish a lot of these ignited more of a fire within me.

All of this also meant a lack of motivation to watch more so as of now, I’m at 80 and likely more when this comes out which is is a ton but not as much as previous years. Then there’s the fact that some Oscar movies like Nomadland and Minari won’t be released until February and even then it seems like it’ll only to be in theaters for late Oscar qualifying run so I’ll have to wait even longer for that DVD/digital release anyway.

(And now the former has been announced to go to Hulu on the same day so…still waiting though…and now the latter will be VOD same day. Whatever, point stands lol)

I’m not waiting that long so here we are. I really want to deeply apologize for this not being as good as it should be. I’ll go more into it when we get to the best but a lack of heavy hitters means I don’t have as much to really say about most of what ended up making that list.

I really wish I could say more and have as good of a post as I’ve had for the past years but that’s life. Most of it is out of my control but some is certainly my own failings as a critic. Either, let’s see what did end up standing out among al the stuff that actually did come out this year.

This, is the Best and Worst Films of 2020

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Sir Billi

I say Dr. No to this one.

Hello, Spongey here.

Welcome to my first scene by scene film review of 2021. The first one for a year has to really set the stage, I think. Usually if a year was tough, I would want to start the next one with a movie that in the least isn’t fully bad. I’m that sort of person. But for this year, I wanted to try the reverse.

See, if I start with a bad one, it’ll make the rest of the year seem better by comparison. This is odd logic I know but roll with me. It just makes sense to me, starting on a negative note will reverse our luck, I just know it. And it helps, my first actual post was on a book that was a high “Eh”.

Anyway, we’ve got a ripe one today. I had heard of it before as it’s one of those infamous foreign animated movie. It was put back in the spotlight recently. See, this stars Sean Connery, who actually went out of retirement to do this. Yeah, IIRC, it was a favor to the producer.

Sadly after his passing last year, it became his final film. Thus, it was brought up again. I heard it was an especially bad movie and is criticized for being “inappropriate” and “dirty”. I mean, just like the thumbnail for Sabrespark’s video. I was excited since it meant a movie I just had to review.

And …well I’m here but honestly…I was weirdly disappointed. It’s not good for sure, but it wasn’t really that level. We’ll get into it as we go but up front I will say this is a “Sure why not” review and not a “Oh boy I gotta do this” one.  It’s not as horribly misguided as others we’ve covered, honestly.

This is Scotland’s first CGI animated film and not go over well. Apparently the Scottish National Party choose to promote Brave over this which made the filmmakers upset. It’s especially amusing because they actually share the same composer.

I read somewhere some of the animators called out the makers for their handling of the movie but it has no source so I’d take that with a grain of salt. Those makers are Sacha and Tessa Hartmann who hardly have any other credits.

With that said, how badly did this legend’s swan song fare? Let’s see.

This, is Sir Billi (or Guardian of the Highlands as it’s called in the US)

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Goosebumps Series 2000-Scream School

Hello, Spongey here.

Welcome to 2021, everyone. We’ve got a long road ahead of us and hopefully it can be decent as a whole. For my reviews, we’ll start with our Stine review for the month, since we need a simpler post to start with. For this spot I used a randomizer and it picked a sort of fitting one. I mean, school is likely starting back up around now so why not a school themed book?

Well, it sort of is, we’ll get to that. This is one I wasn’t totally sure about doing when it was picked but I figured it was interesting enough to talk about in terms of the overall thoughts so why not.

When it comes to Series 2000, we’ve had some wild stuff in what we’ve covered: Ghost Cat Tornadoes, a man working in the film industry only slightly less evil than Harvey Weinstein, body stealing ghouls, a jackass kid dying, whatever the hell Revenge R Us was doing, and a boy and his evil twin. It’s been quite the ride but for this book we have something comparably more low key-ish.

This is one I read back in that school library I keep mentioning, and I recall not liking it much at the time. I actually haven’t fully read it since then so it will be interesting to see how I feel about it now. Reception is on the mixed end for the few reviews that exist so that should be fun.

So, how does it stack up in the Series 2000 pantheon? Let’s see.

This, is Scream School

The cover is fine. There’s not much you could have put here so they went with an universe character we’ll get to it. It doesn’t match the description much but on its own it is decently eye catching. They were trying too hard with that skull though. Overall, not one of the best covers but it works okay.

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2020 Blog Post Retrospective

Hello, Spongey here.

Well, 2020 is coming to an end. … I’m not doing the thing. You all recall my whole thing i 2018, it won’t take all of…this to break it. Yeah, I will admit I came close but at this point I’m getting sick of all the doomers and such that I’m burnt out. I’m sure Norty’s video will go into all that and whatnot.

(Correct: )

However, I don’t want to sugar coat everything either. We had plenty of large scale problems, like the pandemic and racial injustices that lead to big protests. It all really sucked and in some ways goes beyond typical bad things. Yet the way people made “2020 sucks” into a meme almost kind of trivialize it. I don’t know, could be just me.

Either way, I am aware of how 2020 was for the world, I just choose not to a debbie downer about all of it. That aside, is it really that hard to wear a mask when you go out?! Anyway, as for how 2020 was for me, if it were not for the world stuff, it would be another just average one.

The worst stuff, that is too personal to get into at the moment, was near the start of the year. Otherwise, it more or less the same. As far my mental state goes, some of the 2018 woes did return at some points as a result of the world stuff. It doesn’t affect me super directly, no one I know got COVID or anything like that so it  so it almost felt weird looking at the news and such compared to where I am. That said, I do really miss theaters, even if it at least helped me save money.

On the brighter side of world stuff, and sorry for being political but Trump is out and while sure, Biden is a complicated matter, at least we don’t have to worry about being on the verge of World War 3 for a while. Yeah, remember that?

As far as the blog goes, I reached a point where the idea well seemed to run dry and I got worried I was finally running out of what little steam I had. Thankfully, I got inspired and now I’m in idea overload so 2021 should be fun. As far the projects go, I hit some milestones.

I finally watched every DCOM and reviewed every all the the Friday the 13th. I covered some Goosebumps ripoff reviews, and while that Erik Patterson interview still isn’t out (I swear it’ll happen eventually), I did at least get Jim Kreig for my Spooksville post. Between the usual stuff I had some neat projects that I just enjoyed doing.

It seems like every year has me doing the usual scene by scene film/book stuff than a couple big projects, and a few disposable ones that I still enjoyed. If that’s how it will be, I’m cool with that as I still have ideas to last a while.

As for a random good thing outside of the blog no one else cares about, there’s been a new surge of Goosebumps/Stine podcasts, most of which have already mentioned me. And even before then, I found out about them through them following that Out of Context account I made. I swear this was the year of me either using or gaining connections via social media. I found out that Taye Diggs follows me. No, I don’t know either, maybe too many people do follow for follow. (Oh and speaking of Goosebumps, I finished collection the original 62 which is a big personal win for me tbh)

So yeah, 2020 had some things to like and this blog is still going to go strong for as long as I can do it. I will have my bouts of being unsure or having weak posts but ah well. So after all that, I want to reflect further. I was going to do my usual thing of looking at the best things I reviewed, as I have more to pick from.

However, there are some things I just want to talk about in a general way so here we go again. Once again we’re just generally looking at every post I did this year, except for General Reviews as there isn’t much to say and of course there were hardly any. Remember, if you want more in a way, follow me on Letterboxd.

So let’s reflect on what I managed to do this year and get a peek into my messed up mind.

This, is the 2020 Blog Post Retrospective

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General Review: Soul

Hello, Spongey here.

For the second year in a row, I have to do a general review for a Disney owned film on Christmas Day. They just want to keep me busy while they’re busy trying to take over the world. This should hopefully work for our final general review of 2020, out of the very few we sadly got.

With all this pandemic nonsense raging, many films have moved to VOD or streaming in some way, but generally it has been smaller movies that weren’t expected to be huge hits anyway. Even something like Trolls wasn’t the biggest thing ever. Now we’ve seen a few big movies do that, one example being Disney’s Mulan remake which did that whole surcharge thing that was just a bad idea.

They learned their lesson with this one at least, as it’s all on Disney+ without any of that. However, there’s no theatrical release to go along with it, except for in countries without Disney+. For as dumb as that Warner Bros thing which, it should have been possible to do it for at least this one movie.

I mean, it’s Pixar. That puts it on a far bigger scale than other things that got pushed to streaming. But whatever, I’m not here to complain about business decisions, I’m here to review a movie. From the announcement, this seemed to be an especially interesting one for them.

It’s basically taking the idea of Inside Out and putting it up to eleven, going into the very concept of existence. With the same director Pete Doctor on board, this is sure to be a hall of an experience. I was hyped and after all the delays, I finally get to see how it is.

For the writers, one did One Night in Miami which also came out this year, and the other has this as his first notable writing credit but before that he was a crew member on other Pixar movies, as well working on the English translation of a few Gibhli movies.

That all said, does this manage to be as good as it sounds? Let’s see.

This, is Soul

Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher, has long dreamed of performing jazz music onstage, and finally gets a chance after impressing other jazz musicians during an opening act at the Half Note Club. However, an untimely accident causes Gardner’s soul to be separated from his body and begin to proceed to the Great Beyond, and Gardner manages to escape to the Great Before, a world where souls develop personalities, quirks, and traits before being sent off to Earth. There, Gardner must work with souls in training at the Great Before, such as 22, a soul with a dim view on the concept of life, in order to return to Earth before his body dies.

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Posted in Animation, General Reviews, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Home Alone

I see he’s seen the fourth film.

Hello, Spongey here.

Merry Christmas, everyone! (Or, even the date this is going up, Happy Festivus). It’s time for this year’s official Christmas review. For the past few years, I’ve been using these to review good Christmas movies, mainly nostalgic ones to see how they hold up. The first few were of the good but fairly flawed kind but recently we’ve gotten into some quite good ones like Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

For this year, we’ve got an interesting one. It’s a big classic and I’ve only seen it perhaps once or twice. Yeah, it’s not that crossed my path per say as a kid so it took a bit to get to it. At least I saw it quite a few years ago instead of recently.

Much like The Santa Clause before it, I have previously looked at some of the others. I did full reviews for the awful Home Alone 4 and the shockingly …competent 5th movie. I did 2nd for one of my Twitter polls, than a Letterboxd review for the third one as part of me reviewing every Raja Gosnell film.

That’s the main thing this franchise should be known for, frankly. Raja started as an editor on these first two before upgrading to director for Part 3, starting this legendary line of work.

Anyway, this is interesting as far as Christmas movies go since it didn’t need to be given how universal the basic idea is. But they went that route and the rest is history. As for backstory, this product originally started at Warner Bros. However, they had a limit on their budgets and the movie went past it.

Thus, they took it to Fox, thus meaning I can review this off Disney+! Actually, they apparently started making a deal with Fox even before that cause they feared it would indeed exceed it and they wanted a backup plan. That’s pretty sneaky, I like that.

Releasing in 1990, it had massive success to the point where basically every family movie in the rest of the decade ripped it off. That perhaps could give it a Seinfeld is Unfunny effect for some but we’ll see. It was written by John Hughes who needs no introduction, being pretty renowned, mostly in the 80’s as this sadly started his weak 90’s streak of just rehashing this movie’s antics.

The director is Chris Columbus, who is also pretty well known. Amusingly, he wrote Gremlins which we did last year. He also recently returned to Christmas with Christmas Chronicles 2 so that’s an amusing tie in there.

Interesting fact, the original choice was Patrick Read Johnson, who I know as the director of When Good Ghouls Go bad. Because everything I talk about needs to tie into R.L. Stine somehow.

Anyway, how well does this supposed classic hold up all these years later, at least in my opinion? Let’s see.

This, is Home Alone

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A Look at Disney/Cartoon Network/Nick Christmas Episodes (2020)


The Rocketeer-The Christmas Star

Vamprina-The Fright Before Christmas

DuckTales 2017-How Santa Stole Christmas!

Puppy Dog Pals-A Christmas Mission in Toyland/Nine Lights Tonight

Thundercats Roar-Mandora Saves Christmas

Apple & Onion-Christmas Spirit

It’s Pony-Christmas with the Bramleys

The Casagrandes-A Very Casagrandes Christmas

The Loud HouseSeason’s Cheating/A Flipmas Carol

Just Roll With It-The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year

All That-1134

Raven’s Home-Mad About Yuletide

Danger Force-Down Goes Santa

Hello, Spongey here.

Welcome to the 2020 version of our yearly look at what the kids Networks gave us for Christmas episodes this year. I’m happy to say that we have a fair bit to get through this year, and Nick actually has content, just like in October. Seriously, they’ve been hit or miss with that lately.

There isn’t too much to say before we get into it, really. I like keeping these intros short. However, there are two things to address. First, streaming shows made by these companies, including Warner Bros do count. That’s why I am slightly annoyed the Animaniacs ended up putting a Halloween episode after October.

I mention that  to say that High School Musical The Musical The Series had a Holiday Special…that was just the actual actors doing a bunch of songs or whatever. It’s not an actual episode. That made me kind of miffed for some reason. So yeah, not covering it. Second, a recent Nick Sitcom called Side Hustle kinda sorta had one,

Apparently there’s an episode where the leads have a Friendiversary and the joke is that it’s treated like Christmas. However, it is not directly Christmas and it’s set in reality, I assume so I thought of it but passed. Mostly because I learned of it at the last minute.

With all that, how do I feel about what I did cover? Let’s get into it.

This, is A Look at Disney/Cartoon Network/Nick Christmas Episodes (2020)

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General Review: The Croods A New Age

Hello, Spongey here.

Well, here’s a surprise general review. Things have uh…changed even further since our last one, eh? I don’t have time to go into things you already know but the short version is that Universal pissed off AMC and Warner Bros is very bad at business. However, the latter did get resolved in an interesting way.

Basically, their movies will still go to theaters but there will be a short window where soon after it will hit VOD, just like with Trolls World Tour earlier his year, I think that’s a good way to do it, instead of having it be like that the same day or whatever. I’m optimistic regarding the theatrical experience but that’s a matter for elsewhere.

This matter is about a new DreamWorks movie, that is also a sequel. Back in 2013, they had The Croods, which I talked about it in the link above. I enjoyed it well enough and I feel the same upon re-watching it again. It doesn’t feel like anything too special as far as story goes, but it has great animation and decent characters. It’s just a fun little movie that doesn’t raise above that, which is fine.

After it became a hit, they announced a sequel soon after and in 2014 they said it would come out in 2017. When Comcast bought out Dreamworks in 2016, the film was sheleved and then canned. Instead, they did that Netflix show which seemed to be a replacement for a sequel.

But then in 2017 they randomly announced that it was back on track, and after some Pandemic troubles, it is here and it hit theaters a month earlier than expected. It’s so weird following all this given not many seem to care that much now. But hey, it can still be good.

I noticed DreamWorks sequel almost always tend to be better than the first, or at least on par. We saw that with Trolls 2 already this year, so we’ll see if this keeps up that trend.

As for the crew, Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco sadly stepped down. In their place as director is Joel Crawford, with this being his film debut. He previously did the Trolls Holiday Special and was a story artist at DreamWorks in general.

We’ve got four writers. Our first two were on Scary Stories to tell in the Dark and some animated series like Trollhunters. The other two worked on The LEGO Ninjago Movie.

With that covered, will this first family manage to make for a good second outing? Let’s see.

This, is The Croods: A New Age

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Spongey’s Favorite Christmas Episodes

Hello, Spongey here.

On December 27, 2010, I posted a list of my favorite Christmas specials, as my very first post on the blog. Yes, I posted it after Christmas…for some reason. As mentioned before, I attempted a blog before but it didn’t really get off the ground. Eventually I finally settled on this, which was basically a better place for my random postings than Deviant Art. I’ve gone into my inspiration before and all that, no need to really repeat it.

My days on Blogger were…not the best, but things like this take trial and error. I tried a bunch stuff until finally getting into the groove and being almost barely competent at this whole blog thing. It wasn’t my first review per say, we’ll get to that come 2021, but it was my first official attempt at this and was my first list.

That was 10 years ago, Christ, time sure flies. To put that in prospective, I was 15 at the time. I think I just threw my back out thinking about that. Anyway, that post was honestly not the worst I suppose but was certainly not good, as per usual for the time. Since then I’ve gotten into reviewing Christmas episodes and have thus seen way more and focus more on those than stand alone specials and movies.

Since I more or less finished up doing those, aside from the new ones from the networks, I wanted to really cap it all off. I kicked around the idea of a best holiday episodes from the Networks but figured that was a bit too small scale. Then I recalled that original list and figured it needed an update.

So that an easy decision, a list of my favorite Christmas episodes that could mix on ones I’ve reviewed and a few I hadn’t touched on since they weren’t part of what I already looked at. However, I had an idea to finally allow adult shows some time to shine on these. I wanted to allow those to qualify and actually asked on DA for some suggestions I could check out.

That was in 2018, as yes I do plan this far ahead….and I never go to doing that outside of a couple. Whoops. However, they did still qualify and a few will be mentioned…sort of. See, this was very hard to pin down. I had my obvious choices but it was impossible to pick from the ones outside of that. They were all still really good but which ones could sit along these old favorites?

It was hard…so I picked none and only went with the 7 that first came to mind. Yep, that’s all we got here. However, like Norty before me, I have tons of Honorable Mentions to make up for it. To make this more special, I’ll stickto  the big ones close to my heart for this but just know the ones I’ll get into in the runners up are mostly pretty close.

This is mostly taken up by ones I’ve gone into before so be warned of that. And even the few that I hadn’t are ones you’d expect. Still, I am passionate about these. Since most of these are heightened by nostalgia, adult ones still didn’t quite make it in. A few did make the runners up though.

Now, if that upsets you…I have a special project for next year that will really make up for that, hopefully. I’ll announce that at the end though. Oh and I wanted to do this on that special day I posted the first one, but I didn’t want to be late given this isn’t an especially great post anyway.

That said, let’s finally get into this,

This, is Spongey’s Favorite Christmas Episodes

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Posted in Christmas Reviews, Lists, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

More & More & More Tales to Give You Goosebumps

Hello, Spongey here.

Well, it’s that time of the year again. It’s not only time for December antics, but also for me to push Red Ribbon Reviewers yet again. Weirdly, the yearly promo for it isn’t out yet like it usually is. We’ll go on with the show anyway though. (It came out the night before this went up but I’m keeping this here to mess with him lol)

Yet again, don’t really need to explain their deal, hit up the link to get more on what they are all about. As usual, this month will be packed for me, mostly near the end so before the holiday rush, let’s crack into this month’s Stine review.

We’ve done the modern 12 Scream of Christmas, the even more modern Young Scrooge and the classic Silent Night. Oh and also Fright Christmas ages ago and it was re-visited in the Young Scrooge one. Now it’s time for a special holiday book from him…sort of, oh boy we’ll get to that.

Back in March, I reviewed the first Tales to Give You Goosebumps book. These are short story collections and that first one was very…okay. Most of the stories were just kind of there, either ending before they got good or not being that interesting to begin with, with a few standouts.

I don’t want to give away all my thoughts on all the others but spoilers, they mostly continued in the general direction quality-wise. So when we reach this one, you’d think the final one wouldn’t really escape that. Then came Blogger Beware’s review, where Troy sung this book’s praises, which was a surprise for him too.

Ever since then, I had been wanting to read this and last year I finally got to do so. There was previously a Halloween themed one, naturally, and for the finale they had this Christmas/Winter themed entry.

With all that said, does it live up to the hype? Is it really that good or is it on the same just okay track this series usually had? Did I review the first Tales just to setup this review? The answer to that least one is…yeah. Oh and some of these came with items and this had a stocking. Neat. Anyway, let’s get filled with holiday fear!

This, is More & More & More Tales to Give You Goosebumps

(God, that title)

This cover is cute, that’s the best way to sum it up. It’s just Curly and his dog Drool (who is not also a skeleton for some reason) snowboarding and it works. Not the most amazing standout cover ever but it’s…cute. That’s all, what more do you want from me?!

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Posted in Christmas Reviews, R.L Stine Reviews | 9 Comments