Category Archives: Animation

Treehouse of Horror Roundup 26-27

Like most other Americans, I spent the last couple of days consumed with a different sort of nightmarish joke. But life and the days of November march on, and now that it’s ten days past Halloween, we need to wrap this up.

It felt good to laugh and get one last sweet taste of Halloween for the year. I even ate some candy — gummy bears — to mark the occasion. And The Simpsons managed to let me end on happy note by providing two mostly solid episodes. I’m glad I took this ride with you all.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 19-21

It only just occurred to me tonight (10 and a half hours into this roundup) that I could have made things interesting by collecting and crunching some Simpsons data as I watched. What percentage of Halloween segments focus on each character? How often are Kang and Kudos central to a plot rather than mere background? How many times does each character actually die onscreen? What a missed opportunity!

Well, I guess I could just start over.

Yeah, no.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 11-16

We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch. What say you, Groundskeeper Willie?

Picture of Groundskeeper Willie

We’re wasting more energy than Ricky Martin’s girlfriend.

Harsh, but probably accurate. This was not a great group of episodes, although it wasn’t a complete comedic dead space.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 7-10

A shorter batch tonight. My stamina is already waning. And yet so far I feel really engaged with this exercise. This is fun. This group reminded me that for such a topical show, The Simpsons can also feel extraordinarily fresh and relevant even two decades later. I tend to roll my eyes a little when people say stuff like that because I’ve never been quite the Simpsons devotee that many other people are. But sometimes a particular joke will reach out and shake you by the throat until you acknowledge the truth.

Not a single chuckle-worthy tombstone or framing device to be found tonight. I guess those are well and truly dead.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 1-6

In honor of All Hallows Eve 2016, I intend to revisit every single Simpsons Halloween special. Many I’ve seen countless times before, but many I’ve never seen at all. So this should be an interesting experiment… at least for me. However, because The Simpsons has been in continuous production for the majority of the years I’ve walked this planet and because I have a day job, I won’t really be able to dig deep with a lot of substantive commentary. And it will still take me most of this week anyway. I hope you enjoy this quick-and-dirty nostalgia trip anyway.

Opening title from the first Simpsons Halloween Special

Wait, are these not actually called Treehouse of Horror? Everything I know is a lie.

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Deathmatch: Animation Domination

The Boxtrolls vs. The Book of Life!

Posters for The Boxtrolls and The Book of Life

Images from IMDB

There is no real competition here. I loved BoL. I loved it the same way everyone else in the known universe who is not me reacted to Frozen.*

In contrast, I appreciated Boxtrolls more than I really liked it per se. I respect how it expressed a uniquely weird vision. And make no mistake, it is seriously weird. That isn’t precisely a complaint considering I bought my ticket hoping for something as weird-and-wonderful as Coraline and ParaNorman.** The good folks at the Laika stop-motion animation studio aren’t afraid to go scary and unpleasant, and that’s exactly what I like about their product. But this maybe crossed a threshold for me.

While I mostly enjoyed the look and the feel of Boxtrolls, I found some parts almost unendurably ugly and repellent. The icky look of the villains undermines the story’s message of tolerance. I do firmly believe our culture needs more stories about learning to love things that aren’t cute, but this one features trolls that are far cuter than the humans. I spent more than half the running time terribly afraid the movie would go full Jungle Book, but it course-corrected in time to make a nice point about choosing your own path in life. However, that doesn’t completely make up for the fact that the plot jags off on a bizarre, cross-dressing-related tangent, which I wouldn’t mind except that they treat the subject so negatively.

Other than thematic concerns, I just didn’t get swept up in the tale, and I didn’t fall in love with the characters. Frankly, the bratty ginger “heroine” has few redeeming qualities.­ And it felt overly long even at a slim 96 minutes. It would’ve been an amazing short film, though.

As for BoL, I find I don’t have a lot to dissect with it, so I can mostly sum up my feeling with an enthusiastic recommendation. BoL is definitely more conventional, but it still feels like a breath of fresh air. I loved the colorful visual style that felt textured and almost touchable. The soundtrack is a brilliant mix of original songs and pop music arranged in a traditional mariachi style. And it manages to effectively convey a layered narrative without confusing children. It’s not just a love story, but also manages to have something meaningful to say about family ties, the nature of heroism, and how to draw inspiration from folklore to live a better modern life. All strands weave together magically into a lovely tapestry. If I had one small quibble, I do wish we could’ve spent more time with Maria to get to know her better, but perhaps then the movie would’ve overstayed its welcome with the youngest audience members.

* Note: I actually quite enjoyed Frozen. Please don’t send me hate mail.

 ** ParaNorman was once itself the subject of an October animation deathmatch, wherein it cleaned the floor with Disney’s shallow re-imagining of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie.

Now tweeting

I created a Twitter account for this blog. See the sidebar for a link. Hopefully, this tweeting thing works out better for me than it did for Chef Carl Casper. Although if all I have to do to find my path to true happiness is embarrass myself on social media, bring it on. Or even if I just get to have a consult with Amy Sedaris, Publicist Extraordinaire.

Seriously, though, wasn’t her scene in Chef just exactly like watching a live-action version of Princess Carolyn? Amazing.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, get thee immediately to BoJack Horseman (subject of my very first tweet). I’m not kidding. Can’t-afford-Netflix is the only acceptable excuse for not watching.

 

 

Recap: Summer 2013 Roundup

Even though I was too busy the last couple months moving and working and traveling and whatever else to broadcast my reactions on the Interwebs, I still wasn’t too busy to make it to the movie theater. I’m very rarely too busy for that. So here is a quick run-down of the new releases I’ve seen recently, along with the 30-second version of my verdicts on them. I do feel wistful that I’m not taking more time to engage in meaningful conversation about some of these titles – particularly Man of Steel. My complex emotions about just that one could probably fill an entire book. But realistically, more movies get released each and every weekend, I’ve started watching a new-to-me show (more on this later), and this fall television season just might see a genuine attempt by me to watch a current show or two for the first time in a very long while. So this is all you get.

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