There has been a big shift in entertainment over the past two decades. It has always been normal for adults to enjoy a little bit of children’s entertainment. You’re supposed to watch that stuff with your kids, after all. And there are plenty of grownup jokes in children’s movies that are there for the adults to pick up, and they’re designed to go over the kid’s heads. However, in the past decade or two, it has become much more normal for adults to consume children’s entertainment.
This has created a strange shift in children’s entertainment. Whereas older cartoons were just silly or banal, newer cartoons occupy a grey area between children’s shows and sitcoms for grownups. Good examples of this include the Regular Show, Stephen Universe, and, of course, Adventure Time. All of these shows are suitable for kids, yes. However, when consuming children’s entertainment, you usually have to suspend judgment. You have to let down your guard a little to enjoy kid’s entertainment. The difference with newer cartoons is that they’re written with a built-in grownup appeal, so that an adult can consume them without feeling as if they’re doing something age inappropriate.
Adventure Time is a good example of this on multiple levels. First of all, it’s a little known fact about the Adventure Time canon that the show is post-apocalyptic. This is incongruous with the way the show presents itself. It appears as something very happy go lucky. It’s also fantasy themed, and fantasy as a genre is typically characterized as escapist. But that extra layer of depth added by the way the world is constructed is just one example of how the show is designed to appeal to multiple demographics.
Another aspect of Adventure Time’s appeal to multiple demographics is its short length. Most episodes run about 11 minutes. This is intentional. If you’re a kid, then it’s bite-sized entertainment that can be consumed regardless of a child’s short attention span. If you’re an adult, then it’s the sort of thing you can watch on your phone while sitting at a bus stop or in a waiting room with some earbuds. The short, consumable nature of the show works for both children and adults, albeit for different reasons.
Adventure Time, and other cartoons like it, shows the changing nature of entertainment. First, cartoons were for kids. Then, they were for kids, but also watched “ironically” by college students and other people who wanted to signal their whimsical ironic sense of humor. Now, the irony has become sincere and you can quite comfortable be an adult running around in an Adventure Time t shirt.
Dave I: Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs the Munsters. With Spot.
Dave C: Munsters. Ever see Herman pissed?
DI: True. Might go badly for Granpa though. She is expert at vampires. Ghostbusters vs Evil Ash?
DI: Ghostbusters vs Big Ben from House with the M60.
DI: Big Ben vs the Winchester Bros from Supernatural.
DC: Ben was really tough. Haven’t seen Supernatural.
DI: You should watch Supernatural. It’s fun and has like 10 seasons. At least the Winchester Bros bring guns. Ghostbusters vs Beetlejuice.
DI: I agree. Unless they say his name three times.
DI: Partrick Sqayze in Ghost vs the Ghostbusters.
DC: Graboid. Aquaman vs Space Ghost.
DI: Space Ghost unless the Phantom Cruiser crash landed in the ocean. Blip from Space Ghost vs Gleek from Super Friends. Remember that Blip had a jet pack.
DI: Tough one. I’ll say Clint Eastwood unless they are fighting in a zombie apocalypse.
DI: Sorry Walker apocalypse.
DC: But the man with no name was a ghost.
DI: Ever get annoyed at the Walking Dead for not just saying zombies once in a while?
DC: High Plains Drifter he disappeared at the end. Ghostbusters vs High Plains Drifter! LOL!
DI: True. Blip vs Chim Chim. And as much as any sane human hates Chim Chim remember he could fix cars.
DI: That’s because you are a sane human.
DC: Never mention Chim Chim to me again.
the Infamous Dave Inman
(Mach 5 diagram from the cartoon t shirt category)
Regular readers of my blog (all three of you. Hi mom!) should have by now realized that I have an issue with Michael Bay and his movies, and that by “issue” I mean to date I have hated him and his work with the burning passion of 10,000 suns. His style of movie making (no story, big explosions, treating source material like toilet paper during a prune and Mexican food festival, acting that barely compares favorably to watching department store mannequins stare at each other, dopey cartoonish CGI that obscures the action and special effects with action and special effects, and characters who develop only under protest and usually come out looking like a failed mad science experiment) is everything I think is wrong with mass market movie making and I arrived at the theater like the bastard love child of MacGuyver and Elmer Fudd: armed and equipped with every literary shotgun, rifle, bear trap, claymore, and excrement coated punji stick to take down another gigantic movie wildebeest and mount it’s head up on my trophy wall. Imagine my surprise when I walked out of the theater realizing I had just seen the best movie of my life.
Wait, did I just write that correctly? No. What I meant to say was I had just seen the best Michael Bay movie of my life. On another day that might be like saying that the sand filled garden hose I had just been beaten with was made of the softest rubber available or that the piece of my brain they removed was the least important lobe but as the movie progressed I found myself warming up to the CGI turtles and being reasonably entertained. At no point during the movie did I want to see another human in the theater bleed (including myself or the projectionist. Surprises never cease) and at the end I felt like I had gotten my monies worth from the experience. It wasn’t a bargain and it wasn’t enriching but it did serve to entertain.
(note-I know there are those of you out there who will say the Rock was Michael Bay’s best movie but honestly if you go back and watch it again and mentally block out the stunning presences of Sean Connery and adequate presence of Nicholas Cage you will realize what schock it really was)
Life, the Universe, and Everything.
If you don’t know where that joke comes from you can turn in your nerd card on the way out. It is something of a mystery to me that I have absolutely no interest in watching baseball (or any other sports for that matter) on TV but love baseball movies. Major League, Moneyball, the Bad News Bears; these are all some of my personal favorites. I think I find the actual game dead boring but the intricacies of teamwork and sports training fascinate me. Either that or I can’t find anything of interest in watching a pitcher scratch his jock for two hours.
I saw this the other night but have been trying to process the experience. I went into this film with a lot of hope and honestly can’t say I was disappointed. It was a compelling story reasonably well told and well acted by all the principal characters. The problem I was having was trying to decide if it was ham handed or not. All the characters good or bad are kind of cartoonish in their portrayal and I couldn’t tell tell if this was a deliberate attempt to portray racist characters in the late ‘4os or if the director had the word subtlety excised from his vocabulary. Even Harrison Ford’s character Branch Rickey had a very strong Yosemite Sam feel to him. Again, I’m not an expert on any of the real life people these characters were drawn from (in truth I’d never heard of any of them before this film) but they all seemed more than a little over the top. Since the director Brian Helgeland also did L.A. Confidential and Man on Fire I will give him the benefit of the doubt, but that nagging thought was pecking at me the entire time like a tiny woodpecker on my brain (Woody image courtesy of the Cartoon T Shirt category).
In terms of portraying the advancement of civil rights on America this film was no Mississippi Burning or Glory but it certainly was better than Red Tails. My mother grew up in Brooklyn in the ’40s and is a huge Jackie Robinson fan. She told me he was known for being a complete gentleman and never lashed out against the bigotry and racist epithets thrown at him on the field. For the most part this movie held true to that. However he did not become the first African American major league baseball player out of a burning desire to advance civil rights. He did it to play baseball and make money. This attitude carries through in the film and actually denigrates the civil rights message. The racism becomes an obstacle for him to overcome in order to play ball but does not play out as the dragon he needs to slay. I’m not saying it didn’t have a great civil rights message. Just that it didn’t feel like the main thrust of the film. Again, perhaps that was purposeful on the part of Mr. Helgeland.
The story is of course about Jackie Robinson, the first African American major league baseball player. It starts out with Branch Richie (Harrison Ford-Star Wars, Indiana Jones, really if I have to list his credits for you go back to the cave you grew up in), owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers telling his management that he intends to hire an player from the Negro Leagues. They go through some known names and select Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman-The Kill Hole, Persons Unknown, Fringe). The recruit him into their secondary team the Montreal Royals. Once he gets the contract he proposes to his girlfriend Rachel (Nichole Beharie-Shame, the Express, American Violet) and marries her. He travels to spring training and at that point the racism comes thick and fast. He deals with all kinds of stereotypes including members of his own team. However he is supported my Mr. Rickey and the manager Leo Durochser (Christopher Meloni-Runaway Bride, 12 Monkeys, Law and Order).
Honestly at that point the story kind of trundles its way down the Predictable Highway. He gets hit in the head with a pitch. Over time his previously hesitant teammates accept him and support him as a member of the team rather than an African American. Another guy shouts all sorts of racist crap at him and his teammate jumps in to stop it. Durocher gets fired for sleeping with a movie starlet and another guy shows up and pretty much does nothing. With Jackies help the team gets into the World Series and the movie kind of peters off without a real conclusion.
I thought Chad Boseman did a great job with this role. One star. A really good story and one my mother will enjoy immensely. Two stars. Harrison Ford. One star. The period was well portrayed and accurate. You really got the feeling you were in post WWII America. One star. The portrayal of racism was well done, moving from out and out Southern cartoon characters (like the cop at one game) to more subtle things like the team signing a petition to not play with Jackie or an umpire purposely blowing a call against Jackie. One star. The gradual acceptance of Jackie on the team and the acknowledgement of the changing of the times was kind of refreshing to see. One star. Nichole Beharie has a heart breaker face. One star. Overall a quality film. Two stars. Total: ten stars.
The Black Holes:
That nagging question of whether this was an accurate portrayal or just an over the top in your face jumble kind of distracted me from enjoying the film. One black hole. With the exception of Jackie, the owner, and first manager, the entire Brooklyn Dodgers more or less morphed into pasty smear of white dudes. I was struggling to tell any of them apart. They all had the same short haired beefy look look normally associated with military policemen and tow truck drivers, and more or less sounded the same. I don’t know how they could have done it differently but I just found it confusing and distracting. One black hole. Jackie’s wife Rachel was portrayed as pretty two dimensional, and there was a supporting reporter who was supposed to add some back story to it but kind of got lost in the shuffle. Plus there was a couple of kid characters who felt really out of place. One black hole. The movie ending felt more like they just ran out of footage. The completed with a “where are they now” montage that was kind of cool but I think a stronger denouement would have been more impactful. One black hole. Total: Four black holes.
So a grand total of six stars. In spite of my doubts as to the veracity of the portrayal I think this was a cool movie and I’m glad I saw it. You will remain in your seat for the entire 128 minutes. Date movie? Sure, why not. Show her how forward thinking you are. Plus if you are a baseball fan here is your chance to maybe get her into it. Bathroom break? Nothing really stands out as not worth seeing. I suppose the scene after Jackie gets injured and they are stitching up his leg could be missed but if you can hold it do so.
Thanks for reading. I will be seeing Scary Movie 5 later today so look for that review tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Comments on this film or my review can be left here. Any off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
I get the joke. Crood = crude as in neanderthals. However, the title literally says nothing about the film and is a made up word that sounds like it could be mistaken for a weird sexual sub culture like cloppers or steampunks. Also do you want the word crude in your title if you movie is not about oil? Most kids movie titles have a simple description in them. Toy Story was a story about toys. Finding Nemo was about finding a fish named Nemo. Cars was about cars. You get the picture.
Title aside, how was the movie? Not bad. Definitely leaned more towards kids than adults in the humor section, but Dreamworks does know how to craft an animated movie. Honestly I would say it was slightly less than I had hoped for but at least in the range of what I expected. The humor and story didn’t have all the adult appeal that a better film such as the Incredibles would include (Incredibles logo from the Cartoon T Shirt category) but there was the attempt. It’s definitely a movie that pretty much anyone on the planet of almost any age can enjoy, which is what all “family” movies look for.
Kids movies are hard to review. As I have stated before I don’t do my usual stars/black holes routine for them as I think quantifying a kids movie is a waste of time. If I were to hit this movie for specific annoyances one thing that would definitely hit them for would be the sound track. I don’t know who they got to produce the music (oh, wait. Yes I do. Thank you IMDB. Alan Sivestri-the Avengers, Captain America, Beowolf) but he must have been watching a lot of 70’s porn lately (actually that kind of makes sense when you consider Ron Jeremy looks a lot like a cave man. By the way if you just laughed you are officially a degenerate). The music is intrusive as hell and really got on me. It’s not all 70’s porn but rather a mishmash of bad choices all designed to get on my jock. I rarely notice a soundtrack in any movie I see so when I do you know it’s bugging me.
I will say I was pleased to see a role that Nicolas Cage could get behind and do really well with. His last couple of movies have not been where you would imagine a career spanning 3 decades would want to go.
The story is of the Croods, a family of cave men (and women) who live in a cave and spend their lives in fear of everything outside, which for the most part all wants to eat them. The father Grug (Nicolas Cage-Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, Valley Girl) teaches his family that anything new is to be feared and their best chance to be safe is to never leave the cave except when looking for food. The rest of the family (wife Ugga (Catherine Keener-Into the Wild, Being John Malkovich, the 40 Year Old Virgin), son Thunk (Clark Duke-Kick Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine, Sex Drive), grandmother Gran (Cloris Leachman-Young Frankenstein, the Iron Giant, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), baby Sandy (Randy Thom-the Incredibles, How to Train Your Dragon, Forrest Gump)) all agree with him with the exception of teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone-Crazy, Stupid Love, Zombieland, the Help) who wants to explore. She sneaks out one night and meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds-Green Lantern, the Change Up, Safe House), a more advanced human who has the secret to fire. He tells her that the world is coming to an end and they have to get to higher ground or something.
Now go rent Ice Age: the Meltdown and you have the rest of the movie. The family has to keep moving to stay ahead of the wall of impending doom while overcoming assorted prehistoric (sort of. Not sure if this is supposed to be Earth at all. I don’t recall giant birds with four wings or rodents with two heads connected by a long tail from my Natural History class) obstacles. Grug is threatened by the presence of Guy while Eep has the hots for him. Lots of comic relieve shows up, as well as a ton of cute future plush toys.
Like I said I won’t do the whole star/black hole thing. I judge kids movies by how the kids in the audience seem to be acting and for the most part they all appeared to be enjoying it. None of them got bored and started acting out, so I guess if you are trying to keep your children entertained you could do a lot worse. Would I want to take my non-existant children to see it? Probably. Nothing to damage their tender brains (or my toughened one for that matter). Funny enough to keep mom and dad entertained but not so engrossing that if one of you wanted to bunk out for a smoke and make a phone call or three you would miss much. I predict this DVD will grace many a family entertainment collection in order to keep the kids out of your hair. By the way, the 3D was remarkably ineffective for an animated film.
Date movie? Sure, for mom and dad with kids. The movie isn’t so amazing or iconographic that a single girl you are courting will get turned on by it (plus no princesses). Bathroom break? Pretty much anywhere, but the best place is probably when the family is up in the tree resting and Grug is trying to come up with ideas.
Thenks for reading. I might not be able to post again until Tuesday. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Post comments on this film or my review here, and if you have an off topic question or comment feel free to email me at email@example.com. Talk to you soon.
I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging as I am dealing with the second flood in my warehouse in a week. My upstairs neighbors are the most moronic dregs of humanity available. I’m seeing Burt Wonderstone tonight so look for that review tomorrow.
However, on Wednesday I went to movie night and my friend Brian showed us The Iron Giant. This movie made my 10 best animated movies list and after last night I’m glad I included it. It has everything a kid and/or adult nerd could want in a film: a giant friendly robot who turns into an unstoppable killing machine. Really, what more do you want for a great flick?
One thing I learned during the course of the film is the guy who made the film, Brad Bird, was considered a failure after this film tanked in the box office and was on his way out when he got an offer from fledgling animation company Pixar to make the Incredibles. Thank god for someone’s sharp eye at Pixar.
Anyway, sorry for the brief blog but I have been up to my bottom in dealing with idiots. Look for a complete review tomorrow. The Iron Giant image comes to us from the Cartoon T Shirt category, by the way. Talk to you soon.
This is literally making me sick to my stomach. I felt the first queasiness when Michael Bay, bane of all movie franchises, announced he was going to do the next TMNT movie, but I saw him saying on a stage that he is planning on making them “funny, lovable aliens” rather than mutants and started vomiting all over my desk here. Why are there never any good snipers around when you really need one? Dave is going to flip when he gets back from Italy.
Then I heard that they are changing the title from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Ninja Turtles and I lost my lunch a second time. Middle aged ninja turtles?
Really, why is this even necessary? Aren’t the TMNT cool enough already? Do you really feel the need to make them somehow uncool? Also, aren’t ninjas an Earth thing, not alien thing? Why would aliens who possess the technology to travel from another galaxy want to fight with ninja weapons? Don’t the have ray guns or something? What the hell happened to Master Splinter?
Dave has always led the charge against Micheal Bay, and I have not been as hard core about it. Sure, Transformers has it’s issues but parts of it are entertaining. However, this move has franchise doom written all over it. Has Hollywood not learned anything from the Avengers and how much better you do if you stick with canon? Anyone else remember when the TMNTs were true ninjas and would kill people?
Anyway, this move sucks. The Dim Mak image I took from Dave’s cartoon t shirts. Cool if you are a true fan.
Sorry no movie today. I spent all day at our new office/warehouse and am totally beat. However, while sorting and folding a huge pile of cartoon t shirts like our friend Marvin the Martian here a bunch of the questions that have been cluttering up my cerebral cortex regarding cartoons popped up. I thought I would post them here in case any of you have any kind of insight. Here are a few of the most poignant.
Road Runner-this question seems pretty obvious, but it is perplexing: if Wile E Coyote could afford to order all those thing from Acme, couldn’t he just as easily afford to order a pizza or something? Same thing with Sylvester and Tweetie. They seem to live in an urban enviroment. You mean to tell me there is not Church’s or Chick Fil A within a reasonable distance? You would think after the fourth or fifth frying pan to the face Sylvester would have gotten the message.
Duck Tales-Why does Scrooge McDuck keep all his money in a giant money bin as a target for the Beagle Boys? If he is smart enough to earn all that money why isn’t he smart enough to figure out how to put his money in a bank? Not only would it be safer (and earn interest), it would be federally insured and if the Beagle Boys tried to rob it that would be a Federal Offense. That is a level of pain beyond the pale. Sure, he would not be able to go swimming in his money, but given that 99% of his stress is related to getting robbed wouldn’t that be worth it? For that matter how the hell does he swim in all that money? I’ve never had enough coins and bills to fill even a bath tub, but I have a Sparklets jug half full of loose change and I can say that if I dove head first into it I would probably break my neck.
Speed Buggy-if Tinker is smart enough to make a dune buggy that can think, fall in love, and control itself, isn’t he smart enough to create one without a major speech impediment?
Scooby Doo-the list of questions I have on this show would fill a library (most of them having to do with what exactly is in those Scooby Snacks?) but the one that bugs me the most is why is it the gang always finds someone trying to scare everyone away with a ghost pirate costume in order to smuggle diamonds, and never guys smuggling drugs across the border who scare meddling kids off with bullets? Also, shouldn’t the gang be roped into weeks if not months of testimony at the trial of every crook they catch, not bouncing off to their next adventure? For that matter what the hell do they do for money? There always seems to be pizza money. There is a dark part of my soul that secretly hopes the gang is into the sex trade and the Mystery Machine is some kind of rolling pimp wagon.
Winnie the Pooh-yes, I am recycling this one from my movie review, but it is still bugging me. Where is Roo’s father? Is Kanga a widow, or is her husband a deadbeat? Maybe he was abusive and she escaped to the 100 Acres Woods to hide out from him. Also, of you are a kangaroo why would your mom name you Kanga and you then in turn name your son Roo? That’s like if my name was Hu and I named my son Man. Everyone else has a fairly normal name.
I think that’s enough Zen conundrums for one evening. Odds are I will return to this on another slow night, as I have a ton of these. If you have any answers feel free to message me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu or post a comment here. If you have specific questions or suggestions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be finally seeing Pirates tomorrow so look for a review on that later. Thanks for reading. Talk to you later.
Wow this is lame. Caucasian pretty boy Zac Efron of High School Musical fame is supposed to play Japanese badass Shotaro Kaneda? How does that even make sense? There are no qualified Japanese actors anywhere in the world?
Also, while I am on the subject how can the even decide to ruin great Manga like Akira by excreting a live action movie all over it? Didn’t they learn anything from Dragonball Z? I don’t think you can find it any more, but you should try to see the video of Manga fan Hitler finding out about the changes they made to the story to create that bomb. Vegeta image courtesy of the Cartoon T Shirts, by the way.
I should be careful about letting my dating bile boil over, as I personally have a second date with a cool girl tomorrow night and don’t want to have this taint my interaction with her. I am sure one way or another the results of that date will make it’s appearance on the surface of this blog like a rarely seen Lock Ness Monster appearance. Wish me luck on my date. However, I feel the obligation to keep going with my current thread. Believe it or not, as rambling as these blogs tend to be, I have a plan in mind with a big finale for the end of the year.
So here are a few more signs that the girl you are dating is insane.
13. She is getting over some ex-boyfriend or husband. Remember that all women are crazy but some things are crazy catalysts and being in recovery over some guy is like Insano Brand manure on the field of her psyche. Also, there is no more thankless job on the planet than being rebound guy. You will suffer in agony as she regales you in excruciating detail the subtle nuances of their every encounter and hits you with questions like “What do you think he really meant when he said ‘Get out of my life and never call me again’?” Furthermore, being recently out of a relationship is her perfect excuse for raking you over the coals, punishing you for the crime of being the same gender as her ex, and then saying “It’s too soon. I’m not ready for intimacy” when you think you are getting some. Trust me when I say there isn’t enough of this abuse you can absorb to get her naked. She will damage your brain and leave you hanging. Also ex-boyfriends are a lot like certain social diseases, in that they tend to flare up at the least convenient times and can really ruin the mood. It is shockingly easy for him to resurface and become her boyfriend again.
14. She is a widow. God I feel guilty bringing this one up. This is Dave being the coldest bastard possible. However, if the girl you are seeing is a widow (or her boyfriend tragically died) there is no winning. The one nice thing about ex-boyfriends is if they were total jerks you can at least gain something in her perception by contrast. However, if he died no matter what kind of jerk he was in life in death he will be second only to Jesus Himself in her estimation. If you cured cancer, brought about world peace, and saved a busload of nuns and orphans from driving off a cliff you will still never live up to his legacy. His ghost will literally haunt you for the rest of her life. (Casper image courtesy of the cartoon t shirt category)
15. She cheated on, or was cheated on, by her last boyfriend. This is another one that is bad. The phrase to remember is “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” If she was OK making the decision to cheat once before she will find it that much easier to do so again with you. Also, nothing will make you feel more unmanly than finding out she is cheating, especially if you met the guy. Furthermore, there are certain types of insane women who revel in cheating on you with a good friend of yours, so unless you are trying to cut down on the number of friends you have stay away.
Now, it might seem like it would be OK if she were cheated on by her ex, but the fact is in my experience women tend to paint with a very broad brush. In other words, once she has had an example of cheating in a partner she will secretly assume all men are cheaters and treat them (and you) as such. You can look forward to all kinds of special paranoid insanity including but not restricted to her checking your cell phone records, email, text messages, following you in your car, and embedding RFID chips in your neck as you sleep. Also, there is something in girls that are attracted to cheaters that has the stench of the crazy. Save yourself the pain.
That’s it for now. More tomorrow.