Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Every video that shows Robert De Niro's career should be required by law to include this film.



The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle – 3 out of 5

I used to watch reruns of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle as a kid.  I wouldn’t go as far to say I was a huge fan but I had fun with the cartoons.  When the live-action film came out in 2000, I was already well over the days of watching Moose and Squirrel and was a college kid who felt he was “too cool” for this feature.  After being reminded of its existence and due to the fact I’m way more laidback now when it concerns properties of entertainment I decided to finally check out The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Was there fanboys in 2000 all saying this film was going to ruin their childhood?

Looks like Trump's cabinet.
35 years after their cancellation, Rocky (voiced by June Foray) and Bullwinkle (voice by Keith Scott) are watching their hometown of Frostbite Falls fall apart around them.  As they struggle, their archenemies; Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro), Boris (Jason Alexander) and Natasha (Rene Russo) have entered the real world after signing a contract with a Hollywood film studio and now intend to brainwash the country with bad television in order to make Fearless Leader the president.  The FBI sends out agent Karen Sympathy (Piper Perabo) to bring in Rocky and Bullwinkle from the cartoon world and work with them to stop this nefarious plan.  However, the road to victory gets a little bumpy and filled with cartoon hijinks.

I don't want to be controversial but...why does Bullwinkle wear gloves?

Two things struck and stuck with me with The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and they are the fact this feature really nailed the comedic tone of the original cartoon show and that there are TONS of big name actors in this film.  While both Jason Alexander and Robert De Niro have been reportedly stated that they did the film for the paycheck (which is cool, I’m a performer and have done many a shows just so I can get some money—especially when I was a standup comic) but the film is just jam packed with big names and recognizable stars.  Rene Russo, Janeane Garofalo, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters, John Goodman, Kenan & Kel, Randy Quaid and Billy Crystal (to name just a few) all have roles or surprise cameos in this film.  Every time a new star showed up I found myself wondering if the budget for this film was enormous and a lot were doing it for the money or were some of these stars big fans of the characters and the old cartoon show.  Either way, it was kinda impressive to see this amazing amount of stars in a property like Rocky and Bullwinkle.

John Goodman's presence makes any film marginally better.
Even this one.  It's science.

What was actually pretty impressive about the film is how it nailed the overall tone of how the original cartoon was.  The humor and the story itself feels like it was directly lifted from the old series and it was actually pretty admirable that the production never compromised itself to fit in with how the world was turning in 2000.  Imagine how awful that could have been?  A soundtrack featuring Limp Bizkit and the Insane Clown Posse, the characters dropping the R-word to describe things they hate and chugging Go-gurt as they skateboard.  While I dug that the film avoided feeling like a product of the 00’s and stayed true to its roots this dynamic was also its partial undoing.

Bobby and I have a lot in common.  He's a human being. I'm a human being.
He did The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle for the paycheck and paychecks
are the only reason I go to my day job.  And that's about it.

I won’t argue that The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle is a bad movie but it is one that I just didn’t find that funny.  Granted, there are some jokes here and there that are amusing and made me chuckle but I never laughed very hard at the film.  The movie is going for a more wholesome, innocent approach with the humor and that’s fine because that’s how the cartoon was but the jokes just fell a little flat for me.  Thankfully, the humor isn’t too cringe-y but sometimes they do come off very cheesy and made the whole thing feel like one long Dad Joke.  It’s funny in theory but never enough to be laugh-out-loud funny.

I admire the faith that Karen puts in Rocky.  I wouldn't trust a cartoon squirrel
to carry me and fly me around at great heights.

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle is a fine movie.  It’s not doing anything particularly wrong as it keeps the tone of the cartoon, has a great cast and the animation to bring the characters to life may not be earth-shatteringly amazing but works for the aesthetic of the characters but it doesn’t change the fact the film is a bit meh when it comes to its humor.  This end result equals a film that is kinda forgettable.  In 2000 I would have been too cool to watch this film and never would have stopped telling people how dumb it was so people would realize how awesome I was that I found it beneath me but 2019 I find that I watched it, it didn’t resonate with me and I just shrug my shoulders over it.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Troll 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The movie that won't piss on hospitality.



Troll 2 – 2 out of 5

Troll 2 is probably the quintessential “so bad it’s good” cult classic B-movie.  It has all the watermarks of a truly successful and entertaining bad movie and so much more.  It has absolutely nothing to do with Troll (read my review of that one here) and it has endlessly quotable terrible moments.  I discovered the film when RiffTrax released their riff on it years back and I recently realized that I’ve only watched the film in this form for over a decade now.  I’ve never actually watched the film without jokes being told over it and I decided to change that.  The only real difference is this time I was making the jokes and having a great time doing it!

Without the RiffTrax you can also really appreciate the film's inherent eroticism.

Nilbog is populated by men who 100% have
"Blue Lives Matter" stickers on their pickup trucks.
Joshua (Michael Paul Stephenson) is just your average kid but with one glaring difference:  He is constantly visited by the ghost of his grandpa (Robert Ormsby).  His deceased grandpa warns him of evil goblins looking to eat his family by turning them into planets (makes sense).  Joshua’s father; Michael (George Hardy), decides to take the family; his wife Diana (Margo Prey) and daughter Holly (Connie Young), on a month long vacation to the small farming town of Nilbog where they will trade houses with a family there.  They are followed by Holly’s boyfriend Elliot (Jason Wright) and his friends who hope to meet single Nilbog ladies while Elliot tries to batch up his rocky relationship with Holly.  Once at Nilbog, Joshua discovers a nefarious plan from the townsfolk and a witch living there by the name of Creedance Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed) that involves transforming them into food for the evil goblins—Grandpa was right!  Now it is a fight for survival and a mad dash to get out of Nilbog alive!

Wait a moment, Nilbog is Goblin spelled backwards!!!  What a twist!

If you like goblins replacing trolls in your movie called
Troll 2 then, gang, I have the film for you!
Troll 2 is in no way a good movie.  It is outright awful.  The acting is atrocious, the story barely flows and makes sense, the makeup effects are cringe-y and it is loaded with tons of filmmaking goofs like flubbed lines, visible cameras and crew members and tons of editing mistakes.  However, like a great bad movie that is fun to watch, all these terrible qualities comes together in the right way to make it fun to watch.  Sometimes bad movies are unenjoyable due to filmmaker apathy as you can feel the production just doesn’t give a shit about what they are farting out and when a production goes out of its way to be cheeky and bad it robs itself of its natural charm (this latter reason is why I Sharknado stopped being fun but, ironically, the former reason is why the first one was good—these are fluid rules that are not set in stone).  Troll 2 kinda/sorta feels like the director wants to make a good movie but also kinda/sorta looks like he doesn’t care and this results in the film being a blast to watch.

It's annoying that this film tries really hard to sell the idea that this character is
somehow "cool" but it's worth sitting through it for the iconic scene he later
hits...which you can see here.

Please this woman's heart, she is really giving her all
and then some to this awful movie.
Now, I will admit that I have fun watching and riffing on bad movies but, at the end of it all, they are still pretty bad.  Even though I am having fun, I’m not going to give them a high score.  For example, I can watch films like Troll 2, The Room and a billion different low-budget shark films over and over again and laugh the night away and have a great time but due to the terrible production they will still get a low score.  The entertainment value I take away from this film is not due to the product but the accidental by-product of riffing on its bad production.  That is essential what films like Troll 2 are:  Accidental comedies and entertainment by-products.  The film wasn’t designed or created to be mocked and laughed at.  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what they were going for with Troll 2 but I can guarantee it wasn’t created to be riffed on.  

The director got this reaction by making him watch the dailes.

I mentioned the film's eroticism, right?
Troll 2 is one of those films that screams to be viewed at with a group of friends and just spend the night playfully making jokes about it.  I know that sounds mean but even the cast admits the film is a stinker and all have good feelings about how it has achieved cult status due to its said badness (check out the documentary about it call Best Worst Movie, it is fantastic).  Yes, it is bad but it is a fun type of bad that replaces the disappointment of not seeing a good movie with the pleasure of experiencing a unique, one-of-a-kind bad film that is fun to watch.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Toy Story 4

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! It feels like yesterday that Toy Story 3 came out but it's already almost 10 years old!



Toy Story 4 – 5 out of 5

The first Toy Story came out 24 years ago and, in doing so, Pixar redefined what an animated film could be and helped usher in a Golden Age of animated movies (in my opinion).  Every sequel that has come out has always had the danger of being a generic follow-up but has proven to be a welcomed addition to the franchise.  Sure, the second one feels a tad generic but the third film is basically perfect, in my opinion, and one I considered to be the best in the series.  So, how do you follow something like Toy Story 3?  Releasing a subpar film after such a masterpiece could harm one's overall opinion of the franchise but, sure enough, Pixar did it again and made something truly meaningful and magical with Toy Story 4.

                                                                                                                            Pixar
Key and Peele and Toy Story are a match made in heaven!

The toys have settled into their new life with little Bonnie but Woody (Tom Hanks) notices that she has been playing with him less and less.  When it is time for her to head to kindergarten orientation, Bonnie feels incredibly distressed and, going against the advisement of the other toys, Woody sneaks into her bag in order to provide covert comfort.  While at school, Bonnie creates a new toy out of a spork and art supplies and names his Forky (Tony Hale).  Forky becomes Bonnie’s new favorite toy and goes with her everywhere she goes as her and her family head out on a road trip but Forky is having a hard time reconciling being a toy and now garbage.  During one of Forky’s attempts to escape, Woody and Forky find themselves at an antiques store where an old doll by the name of Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) wants to take Woody’s voice box and replace her old, non-functioning one.  To get what she wants, she and her army of ventriloquist dummies have taken Forky hostage but Woody finds himself reuniting with Bo Peep (Annie Potts)—who is now a lost toy after she was given to a new owner years ago—and they team with a stuntman action figure named Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) and a pair of carnival prize stuff animals named Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) in order to rescue him and bring him back to Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of Bonnie’s toys.

                                                                                                                             Pixar
Forky, you got a friend in him.

                                                                                                 Pixar
Hey, while you toys are there can you do some
dusting?
Toy Story 3 felt like such a perfect final chapter for Woody, Buzz and the gang as Andy grows up and passes on his toys to Bonnie.  How can Toy Story 4 compete or even tell a tale that doesn’t feel like just a grab for cash?  Well, the book about the toys with Andy is over but that doesn’t mean their evolution is done.  Without getting into Spoilers, Pixar brought forth a tale that explores new chapters in the toys’ own existence and tackles the idea of what makes both them and their kid happy.  This is dived into in fun and sweet ways as Forky tries to come to terms with not being trash anymore, what it is like if a toy goes lost as we learn that Bo Peep is out in the world on her own, and a toy that just desperately wants to find meaning with belonging to a child and how that can take them to dark territory in order to get what they want.  The story is very fulfilling and never feels like a cheap follow-up and it brings about some great closure if Pixar decides to never do another Toy Story again.

                                                                                                                            Pixar
I wish I could have one moment in my life where I could have that Buzz Lightyear
look of smug self-satisfaction.


Like pretty much everything Pixar does, the story does a great job at melding humor and heart and is able to tell a mature story that kids can understand, that parents won’t feel like they are being spoken down to and doesn’t skim on the humor.  And, like all Pixar features, the tender and emotional moments are crafted so well that I openly cry my eyes out.  Heck, it wouldn’t be a Pixar movie if it didn’t bring me to tears at some point.  I thought the franchise reached its zenith when they all were willing to perish together in the garbage chute in the third film but the way this film ended just had me a slobbering mess…but not in a sad or bad way.  The ending is, simply put, beautiful and really shows just how great this studio is at finding the right level of emotion, heart and humor their features need.

                                                                                                                            Pixar
No doubt about it, a doll with an army of ventriloquist dummies is intimidating AF.

                                                                                                Pixar
I already have a pretty great name but if I thought about
changing it, Duke Caboom is a pretty good choice
for a change.
Aside from great storytelling, Pixar is also synonymous with killer animation and terrific voice casts.  This one is no different as the animation once again is just mind-blowing.  Their stuff has this amazing balance of being just realistic enough and cartoon-y enough to be truly astounding and looking fantastic.  Finally, the cast is great as the returning crew keeps the status bar high as they continue to bring these beloved characters to life and the new members like Tony Hale, Keanu Reeves, Key and Peele, and Christina Hendricks do an amazing job at fitting in and finding the right voice for their character.  I particularly enjoyed Tony Hale as Forky because it feels like Buster Bluth as a toy and it was cool to have Annie Potts return.

                                                                                                                             Pixar
Also, Bo Peep is a total badass in this film.  So, needless to say, fragile
men everywhere are threatened by her.


Concerning drawbacks, I didn’t find any.  I was worried that the feature was going to feel like just “another adventure” with the toys and had fears that it wouldn’t live up to the emotional standards that Toy Story 3 set so impossibly high but the film delivered as it explored a story on a very small, more personal scale.  After 3 films, the roster of characters is super high and it couldn’t be easy figuring out a story that didn’t seem like it was specifically excluding some characters but, for the most part, it felt very balanced and even though the story mostly focused on a small set of characters I never felt like I was being robbed of seeing other, rarely shown characters.

                                                                                                                             Pixar
Forky thinks he's trash.  Finally, a Toy Story character I can relate to.

Toy Story 4 is just another win for Pixar, another win for the franchise, and a perfect ending to the series if they so choose it to be that.  However, I had my reservations that they couldn't follow the third film but they did it, so if a fifth film comes along, I will welcome it with open arms!