Category Archives: Rant

Beauty and the Beast (2017): Doesn’t Hold a Candelabra to the Original

Just…go see the stage musical and pretend that Hermione is in place of whoever is Belle. It’s more worth your time and money to do that than to go see this live-action remake.

This is the only one so far that I would not consider buying. And spoilers below, so be warned.

Normally, I would wait to post this until I have calmed down and reflected more, but nope! This sucker is so flawed and inexplicably disjointed that I have to talk about it now. It is that astoundingly incompetent.

Maybe that’s not the right word…perhaps I should say that it’s astoundingly pointless. This is a diet version of the animated feature and has no reason to exist. If I could somehow scream the word “whatever” without putting too much effort and emotion into it, that  is how I would describe my feelings towards this movie.

This remake tries so hard to not just live up to its animated namesake, but be it as well, and it can’t possibly do so.

The music is noticeably over-polished and poorly mixed. It’s the opposite problem of Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables; it’s not raw and emotional enough. It sounds like it was just made to sell the soundtrack as close to the “pop” section as it could get.

We (meaning my boyfriend and I) checked to see if it was just our cheap movie theatre that was behind the bad mixing, but no, there are plenty of problems still present in the music itself. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens sound great, but only the latter has any raw emotion in his voice, and both definitely sound like they’re singing in a studio, rather than in the actual movie. And the in-song dialogue is stripped of all emotion, as the producers were clearly more interested in making everyone sound “pretty” than giving them any semblance of character.

 

Notice how Belle gets really pissed off at the beginning, almost yelling? Imagine in this scene that she has a British accent, and then picture she’s in a chair at the salon casually complaining to her girl friends. That’s essentially how powerful and compelling it is; mild annoyance vs actual shocked outrage.

Also, Gaston doesn’t get humiliated with a wedding fiasco. Belle shuts a door in his face, and then the next time we see him, he’s mildly disappointed at the tavern. How does this fuel the fire of his depraved ego, making him into the true monster of the movie? What leads him to make the drastic jump of deciding to throw Belle’s father into a mental institution? I have no clue. It was in the original, so let’s put it in here too, I guess!

The actors (all good people clearly trying to do their best with crap direction) almost never seem like real people. Belle seems less terrified and more put-out most of the time, and otherwise, she’s smiling. I think Watson was trying to be more confident in an effort to seem stronger, willful, and more independent than the original Belle, but it just comes across like she’s not a real human being dealing with a terrifying and stressful situation. She’s not quite at Anakin Skywalker levels of bland, but still not very compelling, which is a damn shame.

 

The original Belle, voiced by Paige O’Hara, was a strong, likeable character who also managed to be human, if a bit more forgiving and kind than most of us would be in her situation.

Emma Watson, on the other hand,  has very little character. The film keeps telling me she’s odd and different and awesome, like the previous Belle, but she doesn’t show it unless she’s directly speaking, and even then, it’s pretty basic. There’s a lot of tell, don’t show that happens here, and it’s not just because it’s a musical. The original was a musical as well, practically virtually identical to this one, but even during moments where the characters were silent, a lot of personality comes through in their designs and the “cartoon-ish” animation. 

For example, when Gaston comes a-calling with a whole impromptu wedding party, Belle’s eye roll upon seeing him through her peephole is incredibly pronounced, even maybe overexaggerated. 

That said, Watson does look the part. She is gorgeous and I will always love her, even when her performance is sadly kind of bland and  lackluster.

The story is too much retreading of old material (word-for-word dialogue and essentially shot-for-shot scenes), to the point where you can’t help but compare it to the original animated feature. Some things are changed completely, while others are changed not nearly enough, and there is far more of the latter than the former, too much more for my liking.

This ain’t “recapturing the spirit of the original, with some new twists to make it fresh.” This is riding the original’s coat tails and throwing in a few scraps of difference to try to throw us off their scent.

 

The visuals are over-gilded and painful to my eyes; I had to look away for most of the Be Our Guest number, it was so hideous, overcrowded, and just overdone. The castle never feels lonely, ominous, or terrifying in any way, demonstrated best by the fact that Belle shows up at it during the day, in brilliant sunshine. Sooo dramatic! 

But don’t worry. God will still send that out-of-nowhere thunderstorm to the climax for dramatic effect. Some Disney tropes never die, after all.

The wardrobe is hideous and makes no sense. Most of the other objects I can tolerate, but she was too much, with her haphazardly flailing curtains and utter lack of a face.

The pacing is whack. I was checking my watch all through the first half, and then, to my surprise, numerous scenes in the second half went speeding by like the Road Runner. 

For example, the moment when Beast gets angry about Belle trying to touch his enchanted rose isn’t literally a minute, but it feels like it might as well have been. There’s virtually no drama behind it, and then Belle leaves, looking like the Beast just told her to go to the kitchen and make him a sandwich. I have no idea why she’s running or why she just up and decides to leave after this; the look on her face is minor frustration, and nothing more.

She doesn’t even look all that scared staring down a pack of angry wolves that are about to eat her face off.

That said….the added songs were nice. And some of the jokes were pretty damn funny. Some of the added scenes were interesting, if superfluous or largely irrelevant. Why did Belle’s mother getting the Plague matter? I could have sworn they were leading up to some Sweeney Todd-style rape ambush; you know, maybe something related to the fact that she was apparently a weirdo like Belle and her father, and people ganged up on her…?

 

As far as I can tell, nothing was added to Belle and the Beast’s relationship other than her telling him about her family a little bit…Cool? Belle didn’t even know her mother, and was a baby when she died, so I’m not sure why she remembers much or why this is so important to her.

Yeah, I was pretty much right in my pre-movie fears. But even before that, I should have started having misgivings once it was mentioned that they were going to be using the original songs and score. There is taking inspiration and changing context, and then there is copy-pasting in someone else’s work instead of doing your own.

But hey, that’s how the film basically pays for itself. Who needs creative marketing when you have simple brand name recognition?

I tried so very hard to go into this and be fair and objective, but the movie begs so much to be compared to its predecessor, and in that light, it fails miserably. I’d rank it below Maleficent, and it didn’t even have the gall to do the “here is the true version of this story, lost to time and retellings” bullcrap. At least Maleficent was working from an already fairly flawed movie, and tried to switch the sympathy to the villain.

It just feels so lazy. I was of half a mind to go back to the cashier and ask for my money back before we had even reached the halfway point, and not because I was all that angry.
I was bored. I’d seen this all before. It was like going to the stage musical without the novelty of it being live, and after a short time, I stopped wondering how they were going to handle the scenes from the original movie differently. The CG was just so fake and hideous…I almost stopped caring until the “Days in the Sun” scene.

The stage musical, at the very least, had some intrigue. What props will they use? How will they set up and work with the stage? The “movie magic” on the screen isn’t true movie magic anymore. It’s all done with computers. That’s the answer.

The Beast isn’t scary or even all that intimidating. The household objects are confirmed to be frozen in their forms once the last petal falls (left ambiguous in the original movie, but a major plot point in the Broadway musical), and it is needlessly sad, even for Disney. Someone told me to bring tissues, but I wasn’t even crying. And guys, I cry at everything! I cried when Ash got turned to stone in Pokemon: The First Movie, for Pete’s sake!

Honestly, that was the darkest thing about the entire movie, and doesn’t it make the Beast so much more likable that he screwed them over, just for a hot girl?

 

I’m sorry, petrification is one of the most universally scary things ever. Being frozen alive, but aware for the rest of your life sounds absolutely horrible and torturous. Waaaaay worse than being a Beast who can travel anywhere in the world on a whim (the Enchantress gave him a magic book for some reason), and yet this guy just lets Belle go knowing this is going to happen to his servants?!!!! 

If I were one of them, I’d probably beat him with the hardest, sharpest part of myself right up until the very end. Yeesh…and people call the original Beast a jerk.

 

Oh, also, Disney took a page from the original story, in that Belle’s father takes a rose from the garden and that’s what pisses the Beast off initially…lame. It’s not like Maurice went after the enchanted rose or anything. Hell, he took food from the Beast’s table, but no, Maurice. You picked a flower, you heartless thief! How dare you?!

If there anything that the original movie did right, it was picking and choosing what to adapt out of the source material. Maurice trespassing pisses off the Beast, and the Beast only cares about the rose (not a random rose from his garden) because its wilting is tied to his curse. His despair leads him to act more like the animal he had become, and guess what? Animals are territorial. It makes sense on a simple, but also brilliant, level, when you think about it.

What was the point of her father’s taking one leading him to be locked in a dungeon? Also, why is it randomly snowing in Beast land?

 

New Beast still seems too human, but ironically he also doesn’t emote very well, and his voice is princely but not remotely beastly. It’s a wonder that anyone can take him seriously.

There is so much to complain about in this movie that I can hardly keep focused. LeFou is officially gay now, which kind of strikes me as the new filmmakers poking mean-spirited fun at the old version of LeFou, but ultimately, I’m surprised more people are pleased by that portrayal. I mean, he knows Gaston is doing bad things the whole time, and he seems genuinely regretful,  but LeFou stands by and lets things happen just because he’s got a crush on Gaston.

 

In the end, Gaston snubs him pretty casually and pointlessly, and that’s all it takes to get him to be a full-on good guy. Not that it amounts to anything. LeFou talks to Mrs. Potts, and then a few scenes later, he appears again with dancing with a new guy….Cool? I guess it pays to be an obvious walking-stereotype that compromises his morals for a hot person and then gives up being a bad guy immediately

No sir, nothing questionable or poorly-thought-out there…

But hey, I can’t tell people what they should or shouldn’t find insulting. Visibility is still visibility, after all, and the “women scorned” trope can probably work just as well on a man…who didn’t seem all that committed in the first place. Last minute redemption, anyone?

I just think it’s weird to praise it simply because it’s Disney. There is a much better LGBT victory AND first from Disney that we should be talking more about, in my opinion…

 

Gaston is okay, but like LeFou, he’s not nearly as despicable as his animated counterpart. His scene at the tavern is probably the best thing in the whole movie, but again, I’d personally rather be watching it live, on a stage. The script tries to make him cartoonishly, unambiguously evil, but it’s more funny than damning.

I’d still rank his acting higher than just about anyone else in the film.

The Enchantress appears very obviously throughout, especially at the end, but we never get her thought process on the terms and conditions of this curse she’s evidentially so proud of. Never once does anyone think to question her about her actions, even when she’s standing right next to them. Mrs. Potts handwaves a short explanation that she and her fellow servants let the king brainwash his son, turning him into a fellow scumbag, but that’s the only indication we ever get of what the Beast’s father was like. 

Oh, and if we’re going for realism here, the servants were probably a step up from property, so what choice would they have really had, movie? You want to elaborate on that one a little bit more?

See, the animated movie had its unfortunate or questionable implications, but it didn’t draw attention to them nearly as much as this one does. The remake tries to explain a few things (such as why no one in the surrounding area remembers the cursed ruler of the land and his castle in the nearby woods), but utterly ignores several crucial others.

It DOES answer one very important question right at the end, however…that yes, Belle was very much into the bestiality of the situation.

 

No, seriously. Belle teasingly asks if the Prince-Beast can grow a beard, and he roars at her, making her laugh. 

Um….ewwwwww……Thanks for that, Disney. That is one part of the story that I never wanted to seriously ponder.

To cut this disjointed rant short, the new movie is not the worst thing ever. It’s okay. But it is pretty bad and pretty shamelessly just coasting off the love and prestige (duels deserved) of a much better movie. You can argue that all of the Disney remakes, retreads, and sequels do that to some extent, but this film is the live-action iteration that tries the  absolute least, and it’s arguably the one that should least be allowed to get away with that.

Despite their flaws, Cinderella, Maleficent, and The Jungle Book gave me enough that was new and likeable for me to acknowledge their existence. Beauty and the Beast, on the other hand, truly feels like a hollow, whore-ish cash-grab, and given what it’s trying to be, that’s depressing.

But hey, Hermione’s in it, so that automatically makes it good, right?

Not for me, thanks. I think I’ll stick with the original, despite how much it traumatized me as a child. At  least it was well-paced and creatively put together by clearly passionate people. 

At least that beast had some bite to it.


 

*3/10

*Please note: none of the images, songs, or video clips in this article belong to me. They are owned by Disney (except the Medusa one). 

 

 

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“Stop Touching My Hair!” A Short Rant From a Curlicue Woman

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

So, taking a break from movies and whatnot…here’s an issue facing some women I know. A lesser one when compared to many, mind you, but still obnoxious:

“I wish I had hair like yours.”

Trust me, ladies. No you don’t.

The first Disney Princess with realistic-looking hair, let alone curly.

Having other women tell you how much they’re lusting after your “luscious curls” is well-meaning, but about as annoying as hearing, “When are you going to have children?” Or hearing an attached person groan about minor relationship problems when you  yourself are unhappily single.

The first two phrases are often used as “small talk”, but I try to give the former a little bit more credit. After all, it comes with genuine admiration, and tends to evoke less of a “none of your business” reaction on the part of the receiver.

That is, until people start touching your hair without so much as a “by your leave”.

 

This is probably why I’ve started to dislike the comment “I want your hair”: the handsy-ness that accompanies it. Having curls means adjusting to friends and sometimes even total strangers playing with your hair when it suits them, much like how some people seem to think they are entitled to touch a pregnant woman’s belly, just by virtue of it existing.

A few weeks ago, while chatting with a friend who was getting her hair done (I wasn’t), I was only partially surprised by one of the other stylists appearing suddenly behind me, hands buried firmly in my ‘do’.

Scrunch scrunch. “I’m sorry,” she said happily once I had noticed her, not retreating in the slightest. “I just love the way you did your hair. These are natural, aren’t they?” Scrunch scrunch.

At one point in my youth, I might have asked back, “I’m sorry, are we talking about hair or breasts?” It would have seemed equally as impertinent of a question, if only because of the hands.

Instead, I smiled. “Yep, it’s natural. Sorry if it feels a little sticky. I gel the crap out of it just to keep its shape.”

Not that I felt that bad if she got stuff on her hands. If you choose to stick your foot on a mousetrap, it shouldn’t surprise you when it snaps down on your toes. 

Hell, why was I even apologizing to her? “Sorry if you touched my hair without permission and didn’t like what you felt”?! How cowed am I?
She shook her head, not visibly put-off at all.

“Are you one with the curls?” she then murmured in a distinctly cult-y way, along with several other things like that. She made my hair sound like a state of being, rather than something that was on my head.

“Of course!” I tried to laugh jokingly, taking it in stride as I have for my whole life. As I said, that’s what it means to have curls for me.

In school, friends would bat at my ponytail, because it was “so soft and fluffy!” I was often pet on the head like a dog, as if my hair was actually some cute little animal. But hey, at least I knew who they were, and most of them asked first. 

 

Having curls, for me, means being told I look “unprofessional,” or, at best, “cute”. The other day, one person actually used the word “precious”.

Women who aren’t white might hear the former or worse, just because they want to work with what they were born with. I don’t know who decided that straight hair obviously translates to having one’s life together, but I can tell you this: at the shortest (about shoulder-length), my hair takes nearly two hours to straighten. Unless I want that look on a given day, why spend all that time burning myself and my hair?

Having curls has often meant hating my hair on most days, because after a shower, my curls are good for precisely one, and then they become a tangled rats’ nest if I don’t sleep on them exactly the right way. And even then, as I mentioned, it takes a lot of product to hold them in the hellishly-oppressive humidity that naturally occurs where I live.

After one good brushing, my hair becomes a frizzy, wavy pyramid. Huzzah

Source here.

Having curls meant being bullied occasionally, because in addition to wearing glasses, I had weird, loopy, frizzy hair while most other girls had straight or wavy locks. Having curls also means being told by some of those same little girls how much they want my hair as grown women.

Oh, to hear what they’d do if they had it…

Having curls means tangles and snags, often painful to remove. I end up pulling it back after I inevitably exhaust all known tactics to try and tame it, and after people see it down for the first time, they remark what a shame it is that I don’t wear it that way more often.

If only I could.   

Having curls means wanting to have your hair instead, because even if you say“Oh, no!  It’s too flat”, “oily”, or “thin”, at least it’s under control. Trust me; I could make it work.  Nice hair costs time and money, as I learn every time I go for a haircut.

If you’re shy, good luck not being noticed with curly hair. Corkscrews make a statement whether you’re trying to or not, so marvels and coos are sure to follow. And yet no one really exclaims at straight hair that looks like it’s straight out of a shampoo commercial, all sleek and shiny and gorgeous.

Imagine if curly girls started doing the same thing to straight-haired girls. Would this seem weird to you?

Source here.

Having curls means reading magazines and watching movies and TV shows where straight hair is dominant or the only style shown, subtly reinforcing the idea that there must be wrong with my hair.

And before you start rolling your eyes, yes, I’ll admit that this is a mentality carried over from childhood. Which makes it hard to shake off, even as an adult. In 2015, a report by Common Sense Media found that “more than half of girls and one-third of boys as young as 6 to 8” have already developed issues with self-image, particularly that of body weight.

Even the more neutral excuse, “Curly hair is just not as marketable,” is an implicit dis that leaves many girls feeling like they have to change their hair, in order to be beautiful and fit in. The times are getting way better thankfully, but still. 

It’s not like head hair is linked to obesity or anything. It doesn’t change much about you for the better if you burn it or perm it or shave it all off.

…Look, I’m not trying to be bitter, or bash other women with naturally straight hair. I know this is just yet another poorly thought out nicety that people pepper into conversations to be complimentary, polite, or just generally social. It’s not wrong to long for some simple human contact, even from people you don’t know, and sometimes we’re all just scrambling for ideas about how to start.

Or maybe you feel compelled to say something, anything, just to acknowledge that someone is, in fact, there.

 

What I’m trying to say is the same basic thing people mean when they beg you not to pry into their number of children, marital status, health conditions, etc.: don’t just assume, and try to think before you speak. Or in this case, touch.

It took me a long time to accept my hair, let alone love it.
*These images do not belong to me.

Top 5 Anime Clichés I Wish Would Die

…Well, “die” is a strong word. Maybe they should just…go away? Quit their day jobs? Take a vacation?

Don’t get me wrong; I love me some good Japanese animation. I’ve grew up with it, even if it was mostly terrible, kiddy-fied dubs of adult shows done by 4KidsEntertainment at first.

By middle school, I was frequently sneaking downstairs at 3am on a school night to catch Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, which broadened my horizons with shows like Inuyasha, Case Closed (a.k.a Detective Conan), .hack//SIGN, and Wolf’s Rain. That was when I really learned that, despite its silliness, anime had so much more dramatic, mature potential. I certainly preferred it to live-action teenage schlock like Degrassi and One Tree Hill.

This was the closest I ever came to being a hipster, by the way.

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All compliments aside, anime can be weird. I mean really, really weird. Like used underwear in a vending machine weird…even though those don’t really exist.

Here are some things that annoy me about anime:

 

5) The Tsundere Character

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While it may be true that there is a fine line between love and hate, most average people don’t behave this way. It’s extremely bipolar.

I suppose it’s only to be expected. There’s a prevalent stereotype that women date men who are no good for them so that they can “fix” them, so why shouldn’t the opposite be true for some men? It might make sense that they’d want to melt the beautiful, frigid harpy’s heart. In theory, the greater the challenge, the more satisfying the reward, so if you could just tweak her the teensiest bit, she’d be the perfect wife!

I’ve never personally felt the attraction to people who treat me like crap (unless you count a few odd two-faced friends), and while I can understand why it’s a popular fantasy, I’ll thank it to stay out of my escapism as much as possible.

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Wait no, just kidding! NOTICE ME, SENPAI!

 

The Tsundere character is, as you might have guessed, a belligerent female character. She either runs hot, cold, or jumps schizophrenically back and forth between the two, almost as though she’s in need of some serious therapy. Even more so in the cases where the woman seems unaware or in denial of this fact.

But I’d never suggest something like that. This behavior is obviously totally normal and healthy. Why, just look at how often it shows up:

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It’s not cute and charming. It needs to be treated immediately.

 

4) Too Many Harems

Ah, I remember being young and having 7+ super attractive male friends who all had a stupendous crush on me and constantly fought for my attention.

Oh wait…

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I can buy some people making lots of friends, even if it’s predominantly with one gender. What I can’t buy is an unremarkable dude (or girl, for that matter) being surrounded by hotties, all of whom seem intent on winning this Joe Schmoe’s heart.

There is nothing subtle about this setup; it’s a shallow fantasy for the viewer at home to mentally port themselves into. Even if the main character has something of a genuine personality, which is unlikely, there’s usually a very flimsy explanation given as to why they’ve suddenly become the clueless anime Bachelor.

Even if I could believe it more often, I’m getting sick of it. Save it for the dating simulator games. To make it work effectively in a un-interactive visual medium is to make the protagonist so bland that you could close your eyes and lose nothing whatsoever. It’s junk food sprinkled over many generic anime shows, particularly poorly-written ones like Sword Art Online. Probably the best use of it was in Ouran High School Host Club, which was an affectionate parody of the genre and ended over a decade ago.

 

3) “You Had Me Worried”/”I’ll Never Forgive You!”

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I see this attitude as an extension of Japan’s highly collectivist culture, and in truth, there is something to be said for it. It’s not wrong to keep others (especially your loved ones) in mind when deciding how to live your life, and in anime, protagonists frequently run off and risk their lives, and not always for the sanest reasons.

However, coming from a country where mental illness is skyrocketing, I find something distinctly off-putting to this as well, at least in the anime context. Particularly when it appears to be presented as the only reason that the protagonist should feel bad.

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You might have just as easily destroyed the world, rather than saving it, but who cares? Your bae was worried about you!

The two basic flavors here are sadness and anger. Either the character is trying to guilt our hero into an apology, or he or she is trying to scare them into one.

On some level, it comes across as battling selfishness with more selfishness, just from a different source. And then the other person (usually the protagonist) mumbles a “sorry” and either all is pretty much instantly forgiven or the worrier is mollified for the time being. It feels like a lip-service to the worrier, and trust me, there is a world of difference between someone who shows concern for others and someone who feels the need to play the martyr.

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This can often be the dutiful girlfriend/boyfriend character, which also pairs well the Tsundere. It’s more obnoxious when the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, so to speak. Even when it seems genuine, it’s still an attitude that doesn’t sit well with me, but to be fair, I am an individualistic Westerner. Maybe its value is just lost in translation.

 

2) Blandly Unlikeable (Or Just Bland) Protagonists

This is very in-line with trope #4 above, but whether the character gets a bunch of interchangeable love interests or not, bad writing is still bad writing, regardless of how much bad writing there is.

People often debate about what makes someone a Mary Sue, and to what extent that title is warranted. Why would some complain about Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when she is no more inexplicably gifted and lucky than Anakin or Luke Skywalker before her? Is it just because she is female, and the largely male Star Wars fanbase can’t easily picture themselves in her shoes without having to sprout a uterus in the process?

I understand that the term “Mary Sue” gets thrown around to the point of near meaninglessness these days, but think about it’s classic definition. And think about this: the lead character, as you might expect, usually has to carry the story (unless you’re particularly clever and talented)

 

*cough* deathparadevisual1 *cough*

 

and while you can fill the screen with quirky side-characters to balance things out, you’re better off putting some real time and effort into your main man (or woman) right off the bat. Who that person is can determine what your story is really about (for example, growing up vs saving the planet).

If all you can say is “she’s pretty and nice,” but then have her instantly become an all-powerful witch who can bend reality to her whims…that’s when it can become a problem.

Believe it or not, a character can be unlikeable, yet still easy to sympathize with. Characters can do bad things or think bad thoughts, but the point is to make them work with their flaws, not be ignorant or dismissive of them. Real people are admired for overcoming adversity, and so too are their fictional counterparts. We like to see that we’re not alone, and furthermore, we want to believe that, regardless of the obstacle life has thrown at us, we can beat it.

On the flip side, you can also find characters that are so ridiculously upbeat and happy-go-lucky that you pretty much never find them in the real world. Or if you did, they’d likely annoy the living hell out of you.

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It’s fine though. They’re just too good for this world, kind of like Jesus or Nausicaa.

Being too nice and generic is by no means the worst that can happen, though. In fact, I’d prefer that to a character who is despicable, yet inexplicably coddled.

Involving the every-man in a world-changing story can be a great way to build character, drama, and intrigue in a way that doesn’t feel too forced or contrived, but giving a boring, unremarkable, sometimes actively contemptible character mad skills or a remarkable destiny doesn’t endear us to them automatically.

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Nor should it.

Huh…maybe Sword Art Online is just the perfect barometer for everything I can’t stand about anime.

Speaking of which…

 

1) Gratuitous/Surprise Nudity and Perversion

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But seriously, guys. If the show is not labeled as an Ecchi, Hentai, or whatever sexual genre, I don’t want to see stuff like this popping up. It’s very off-putting.

If I know to expect it, that’s one thing. While I think the “don’t like, don’t read” sentiment is too often used as an excuse not to write better,  it does have some practical, necessary uses. I take the “Mature Audiences” label with as big of a grain of salt as I can muster, especially if I’m familiar with the studio, director, channel, or even time of day that I’m watching. But I don’t think I should just expect to see some “hilarious” (MASSIVE air quotes) sexual harassment just because I happen to be watching an anime. To me, it’s like a happy kids movie being suddenly interrupted by a vicious grizzly bear mauling. Where did that come from? Why?

Did it add something meaningful to the story or the tone that I’m just not getting?

If there is one thing that puts me off about Japan and Japanese culture as a whole, it’s the portrayal and representation of women. And I say this as someone who has become significantly less prudish since I left high school.  I realize that my country has a very different religious background, among other things, and that we have this weird double-standard where extreme violence being easily visible and accessible is a-okay, but sex isn’t.

That said, both the U.S.A. and Japan have their share of problematic elements, and we seem to be on a similar page when it comes to how we view ladies. Whether they are competent fighters or damsels in distress, 14 year olds who look 20 or 20 year olds that look 14, there is nothing quite like the unparalleled character development we get from naughty up-skirt shots.

And it seems my cup runeth over with them, no matter where I go.

Notice that I’m not calling  for a ban. If that is your thing, power to you. Just because I like chocolate doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily like chocolate covered ramen noodles, but you totally can, if you catch my drift. I’m just asking that we give it a point, or ease up on it a little bit, because plenty of people do find it creepy.

At least when it comes right out of nowhere and is particularly mean-spirited. You have the entirety of the internet for that, if you really want it.

 

*None of these images in the article above are owned by me.

The Lego Batman Movie, And Why It Outclasses Despicable Me

Pandering doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but neither does it have to be stupid.

After siting through a commercial for Despicable Me 3, and then immediately following it with The Lego Batman Movie, I got to thinking. What’s the difference between these two family movies? Why do I find one infinitely more tolerable?

I’d ask why I find the other one utterly obnoxious and loathsome as well, but I’ve already kind of answered that question before.

The Lego Batman Movie has many of the same kinds of jokes (butts, low-hanging fruit jokes, etc), but in addition to poking fun at the angsty dark knight, it also satirizes the film industry as a whole while having its own complete, engaging story. It also has many jokes that adults can appreciate on multiple levels, such as poking fun at the 60’s Batman show and other lovingly nerdy references.

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Based on the trailer, and my experience from watching the other movies, Despicable Me 3 appears to be mostly silly slapstick. While the dialogue might sound more mature than The Lego Batman Movie, the very presences of the minions makes me picture Illumination Entertainment dangling shiny keys over the audience and making silly noises.

Sadly, this seems to work for most people.

We have a supervillain who is pretty much Vector/Victor from the first movie. He wears silly clothes, dances in a ridiculously outdated way, and generally acts “too cool for school,” except now we should be making fun of him for that, rather than being charmed by it. Gru still sucks at being a bad guy, and now sucks at being a good guy too, and not even working off the genuine charm of Kristen Wiig can help him. I sort of laughed at him beginning to sing after accidentally mooning an office birthday party, but that was about it.

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The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie speak to my inner child far more than the bright colors, quirky shapes, and loud noises of Illumination Entertainment films, and not just because of my personal ire. I didn’t own legos as a child and didn’t play with them much when I did get my hands on them, but the dialogue and story progression of these movies harkens back to play sessions with any kind of toy. Barbies, action figures, horses, dollies, or what-have-you, most kids made up stories like this, sometimes even more elaborately. It’s a pleasant, nostalgic reminder of the unfettered creativity of childhood while still having adult structure and thought applied to it, and the slapstick jokes (as overdone today as the pie-in-the-face of yore) are mingled with actual intelligence, humor, and wit.

Hell, my boyfriend and I laughed at the opening credits. The only other movie that got us to do that (that we can remember) was Deadpool.

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You may be skeptical watching the trailers, and perhaps rightly so; I certainly wasn’t sure the first few times, even after hearing how well the first film was received by critics and general audiences. But I definitely believe that these movies deserve more praise and affection than those made by, if you’ll pardon my bluntness, marketing whores and rip-off artists with barely half of that remarkable talent. That’s just instant gratification, in my opinion, and until I see some vast improvement, I shall continue to scorn and ignore Illumination Entertainment and its kindred.

You’d think a movie about legos would seem like the more blatant marketing exercise, but not so, somehow. It’s very fun and genuinely funny. Even the jokes that weren’t my typical cup of tea didn’t get so much as an eye-roll from me.

The Lego Movies may look iffy, especially to older folks, but if you take the risk, you may just find yourself well-rewarded. If nothing else, it’s cute, and you, your kids, and your grandkids will enjoy it together.

 

8/10

*Any images used in this post do not belong to me, but are being used for the purposes of review and satire.

The Worst Romantic Movie I Have Ever Seen

Happy Early Valentines Day! And say what you want about Hollywood schlock, at least there is usually chemistry involved.

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For a movie that claims to be about true, real love, Old Fashioned has not an ounce of love to be found. A woman named Amber moves into town to get away from an abusive past relationship, only to take up residence above an old antique shop called Old Fashioned. The owner and landlord, Clay, is a former frat boy-turned born again Christian, and he insists that he can’t be in the same room with any woman who is not his wife. So whenever he comes up to fix things, he makes Amber wait outside. Sounds charming, right?

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Amber is for some reason charmed by his convictions, and proceeds to purposefully break things around her apartment just to get him to visit. Sounds healthy, right?

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At one point, she drills holes into her refrigerator. Any other landlord would throw her out on the street for this, but okay.

When they finally go on a “date,” Clay’s church gives them this wonderfully intrusive book questionnaire, and Clay insists on asking questions such as, “How many children do you want?” On the first date. 

And just so you know, other questions range from, “What are your pet peeves?” to, “What percentage of your annual income is appropriate to spend on a pet?” And, “Do you believe in the death penalty?” No, I am not kidding. Dates are apparently a bunch of malarkey that Clay is just too real for, because who wants to come to any of these questions naturally over the course of dating for months? That’s obvious crazy talk.

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But hey, at least it’s not that sinful Fifty Shades of Grey, right?

Clay has a friend who is a shock radio deejay, and this gent constantly says mean and horrible things about women. But later, Clay interrupts his other friend’s bachelor party – which he was invited to, for some reason – and self-righteously reprimands his friends and the stripper they hired for degrading women…

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You know, Clay, some people would argue that what you’re doing is just as bad; trying to be a knight in shining armor and treating women less like complex human beings and more like sacred mannequins that you can’t even bring yourself to touch, lest you sully them. You cost the stripper a paycheck and tips that night, which she might have really needed, and you didn’t even stop to consider that she might be perfectly happy and fulfilled in this line of work. You saw something you judged to be “wrong” and tried to correct it without any real compassion or critical thought.

But ignoring all of that, you didn’t think to stand up to your deejay friend and straighten him out at any point before this. How is this a step too far, assuming that the other guy’s fiancé is aware and is comfortable with it?

My point here is that high-and-mighty is a suit that looks poor on most people, but especially if you can argue that they are just as flawed as the folks they are criticizing. Just food for thought.

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Clay constantly asserts that dating is stupid and superficial, but he seems to be conflating dating with one-night stands. There is quite a difference between those two things, but I guess Clay knows better than me because he “used to be” a part of that culture. It’s kind of unclear whether or not that means that he’d prefer arranged marriages instead, but even if I believed that he was ever really that wild and crazy, Clay’s pendulum has now swung so far in the opposite direction that I’m not convinced that his new way is all that healthy either.

Meanwhile, Amber seems nice enough. She’s described as “quirky,” but it’s in a really forced and awkward way that comes across more like hardcore Christians trying to make a relatable 20-something with no prior knowledge. But of course, anyone looks better standing next to Clay, the future axe murderer.

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I have no idea what Amber sees in Clay physically, mentally, emotionally, or what-have-you; it’s like watching Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker all over again, but without the occasional welcomed reprieve of epic space battles and CG aliens. Even before the hilariously offensive dating guidebook is introduced, Clay already comes across as controlling and arrogant, but afterwards, not only does he have to control almost every aspect of the relationship, but he can’t even be bothered to kiss or compliment her. I’m not saying she should force him to, but at the same time, nothing else about this relationship makes sense to me.

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In my mind, “love” is wanting to be with someone; to be happy with them, and make them happy. Even if he didn’t want to do things for Amber’s benefit, does Clay feel nothing when he’s around her? Does he never feel compelled to say, “You’re so beautiful,” or even just something like, “I love you laugh/smile/jokes/etc.”?

Sex doesn’t even need to enter into it. One or both of them could be asexual, or just really, really wholesome, and still you could convince me of why they enjoy each other’s company!

Instead, they are together because the writers say so, plain and simple. They want these two to be together, and so they are. Huzzah…

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What is even funnier is that Amber makes some new friends in town, and all throughout the movie, they are mocking Clay and telling her she could do so much better than him. I can’t disagree, especially when one of his good friends is such a misogynistic buttmunch, and he won’t stand up to this guy except when he wants to. It’s like the movie is lambasting itself; like it knows exactly what the problem is, but refuses to fix it.

I can’t defend this thing on any level. It’s unintentionally funny at times, but it’s also kind of psychotic and disturbing too. When Hollywood gives you film after film of crazy, unhealthy romcoms, at least there are different flavors to them. At least there is usually some passion, or half-way decent writing. People can choose to wonder how much of that relationship is implied to be a) normal, and b) what you should strive for.

With Christian film companies like Pure Flix, you know exactly what they are telling you at all times. It basically translates out to, “Shame shame shame! Gawd gawd gawd!” “You should be ashamed, disgusted, and afraid of where society is going, and where you’re going. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with ‘knell.’”

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It’s so much more condescending and obnoxious. As someone who still identifies as religious, I even dare to call it ‘preachy.’ 

 

*1/10 

The images in this article do not belong to me, but are being used to critique.

 

 

 

The 2005 Producers: Mel Brooks Doesn’t “Get” His Own Movie

Don’t get me wrong; I love Mel Brooks. I grew up watching the man’s movies. But something I have found over years of watching and re-watching is that Brooks is best when he’s reined in.

Look at it this way: what are Mel Brook’s best known classics? The story for Blazing Saddles is credited to Andrew Bergman, and in addition to Mel Brooks, he, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg, and Al Uger worked on the screenplay. Young Frankenstein was helped along by the late, great Gene Wilder. Multiple talented people worked on these films with Brooks, and you can see that in the prevalence of the jokes that everyone remembers.

While I can’t be the most definitive here, I argue that it’s pretty easy to pick up on Brook’s style of comedy when he’s alone or unhindered.

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Jewish people, genitalia, bodily functions, gay people being stereotypically campy.  He tends to swing for the obvious jokes, the “cheap seats,” if you will, and across the country, 12-year-old boys titter with delight.

Haha…I said “titter.”

Which is not to say that these jokes can’t be humorous. Sometimes the funniest jokes are the over-the-top, silly, crazy, and crude ones when they’re used well. Mel Brooks just tends to use more of them than necessary, and when the gags aren’t that funny to begin with, this puts any given film only a few steps above Seltzer and Friedberg fare.

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Which it shouldn’t, because clearly Brooks has more talent than that. One such example that is amazing – and more importantly Brooks’s own – is The Producers. 

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The 1968 film The Producers is a masterpiece of black comedy, in my opinion. It is the story of one has-been producer, played by Zero Mostel, who shamelessly uses everyone in his life to get ahead, whether they be old ladies looking for a fling with a younger man, or a naive, neurotic accountant, played by Gene Wilder, who simply doesn’t know any better. When the accountant stumbles upon the realization that a flop could produce more money than a hit, this man hatches a scheme to purposefully continue his recent bad Broadway luck and make off with his investors’ money, this time with a show that is guaranteed to fail.

Everything about Mostel’s character, Max Bialystock, is terrible, and the things he does are only really funny because they highlight what a selfish, manipulative louse he is…well, that and the fact that his unwitting partner in crime, Leo Bloom, is so tightly-wound that he overreacts to every little thing. Max is a scumbag, but he’s a very charismatic scumbag, and while he does get punished in the end, along with Leo, it’s amusing to see that he still hasn’t really learned his lesson. Likely, he’s going to keep on failing with “get rich quick” schemes, and dragging anyone else that he can down with him.

A lot of comedy – dark, mean-spirited, or otherwise – is based on one of two things: misery and a subversion of expectation. We, the audience, like to see people punished when they deserve it, but we also like to see general pain and frustration because it relieves some of ours. Why else do people watch shows where someone they’ve never even met does a stupid stunt and is clearly injured?

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Maybe we tell ourselves that this person is stupid, and therefore deserves to be punished for thinking this would work. Whatever the justification, it’s probably a bit screwed up, but people still find it funny and cathartic.

Just by virtue of being a woman, I probably should be offended by the scene where Max Bialystock hires Ulla, a woman who can barely speak English, to be his office “secretary.” He refers to her as “a toy,” and tells her that dance and gyrating to music is what “work” is, just so that he can watch.

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But when I find myself amused at that scene, I’m not laughing at the objectification of some poor, underprivileged woman; I’m laughing at the new depth of the main character’s depravity and douchebaggery that I just witnessed. I mean, what a creep!  This just makes me want him to fail even more!

Dark humor is hard to explain to people, especially if it’s not their cup of tea, but the basic gist is this: sometimes laughing at the horrible things in life is what gets you through them.

Now, what about the musical and the remake of The Producers?

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OH MY GOD, MEL BROOKS! IT’S LIKE YOU DIDN’T EVEN WATCH YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE!

Aside from the delightful addition of Will Ferrell as Franz, the playwright who allows Max and Leo access to his Springtime for Hitler, nearly everything about the choices in both of these adaptations goes against the spirit of the original! Max and Leo are real friends? Wrong! Leo always hated his job and dreamed of following in Max’s footsteps? Wrong! Ulla comes to them both willingly, knowingly, and starts singing about the virtues of sexing yourself up to get ahead? Wrong! (But dark and screwed up. I will give it that.) Ulla then comes between these two good friends like Yoko Ono supposedly did with the Beatles?

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This was not a brotherly road trip movie about two underdog guys working their way up to success, Mel Brooks! Where did you even get that from the original movie?

Nathan Lane is okay, but while he’s got some sliminess, he doesn’t pull off the same kind of character as Zero Mostel, and it’s clear now that he wasn’t meant to. Matthew Broderick is at his absolute worst “acting wise”; he clearly can’t transition naturally from being on a stage to being in front of a camera several feet away. Nothing he says or does makes any sense, even in the conversations he’s a part of. It’s less like he has some sort of condition (or is just bad under any kind of pressure) and more like he’s just a weirdo with delayed reaction time and a random blankie.

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Seriously, watch the scene from the original back-to-back with the remake. Gene Wilder sells it. Matthew Broderick does not.

The remake’s solution to everything appears to be: add more gay jokes. Gay jokes! Get your gay jokes, here! How about them gay jokes?! The original movie had a few, sure, and they were only so funny there too, but it wasn’t an onslaught. The 2005 movie takes out the classic audition of LSD, who becomes hippy Hitler, and just gives the gay director the role because he acted stereotypically gay. I can understand that most people have never seen a real hippy from way back in the day, but even as a whippersnapper, I still found it hilarious.

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As I said, Will Ferrell is good. He’s derivative of the original character while still making the role his own, and that’s cool. I personally think he was born to play people like this.

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The bigger budget of the remake also allows for more to be going on in the musical within a musical, so that’s pretty good too.

But the original movie had great, punchy timing. The newer movie has awkward, slow timing, only to be relieved by scenes with Franz or the opening night of Springtime for Hitler itself. A last-minute conflict is thrown in when Leo flees the successful musical with Ulla on his arm, leaving Max to rot in jail. But don’t worry…he comes back…

Whoop dee do…

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Then, pow! Happy ending! Friendship wins the day, and the two go on to produce hit after hit in the musical scene!

Give me a %$#&ing break.

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Mel Brooks is a nice guy, and he’s made several good, funny movies, but I have no idea what he was thinking with this one. He had a decent film but apparently wasn’t satisfied with it, so he turned around and sucked all of the point, charm, and humor out of it. Would his other fans be okay with it if he did the same thing to Young Frankenstein? Or Space Balls?

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Okay, I hope I didn’t give him any ideas with that one. I hope he’s telling a good joke and is in on it. But you know what I mean.

It’s annoying when someone makes a crappy remake of a movie you like, but it somehow feels even worse when the original maker, who should have plenty of creative control, makes choices that visibly, palpably detract from his initial vision. Maybe if he’d called it a “re-imagining”, I’d be more forgiving of its existence, but still. It doesn’t hold a candle to the 1968 version, and no, this is not nostalgia blindness. I didn’t even see the original until I was 20, and that was only after seeing the remake and not understanding why it was supposed to be so funny.

Bottom line: I think the remake is Scheme. Feel free to disagree, but that’s just how I feel.

 

*3/10

The pictures in this article do not belong to me. 

 

The Powerpuff Girls: Twas a Blight Upon Christmas

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Usually during the month of December, I give myself a short break from reviews. Many of the old Christmas specials aired on television range from good and charming to downright goofy, but people can still be just a little bit touchy about them. Even the worst, most nonsensical stories seem to get a pass.

Well, screw that! Let’s tear apart one of my old childhood favorites!

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The Powerpuff Girls: T’was the Fight Before Christmas aired in December 2003 on Cartoon Network. The original show ran from 1998 to 2005, and began to dip down in quality towards the end, something that is often referred to as “seasonal rot.” Long-running shows tend to have the hardest time maintaining quality, as production members come and go and the creativity well dries up. Different priorities begin to clash, and meanwhile studios demand more episodes, more relevance to drive the interest in merchandise.

As you might guess, this Christmas special is but one example of the writers scrambling for ideas and a quick cash grab.

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The plot is this: Princess Morbucks (a somewhat unique Powerpuff Girls villain due to lack of superpowers and age proximity to the heroes) doesn’t like Christmas. Due to her father’s downright obscene wealth, she apparently didn’t question why Santa Claus never brought her any presents up to this point. She even somehow rationalized the massive stacks of coal piled outside her door every year as being “from Daddy’s coal mines.”

After this angry epiphany, brought on by the Powerpuff Girls’ pointless shaming at school earlier that day, Princess ventures all the way to the North Pole to switch out the naughty and nice lists, tricking Santa into giving her what she’s always wanted: superpowers.

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Now I liked this special when I was a kid, but that was mostly because it has nice Christmas colors and decorations everywhere, and characters that I liked were in it. I’ll admit that I never understood, even in the regular tv show, why Princess specifically wanted to be a Powerpuff Girl. I’m sure she wants to be the best of the best at everything, but then she could just take those powers and go off to do her own thing. Why did she want to be a part of a group of girls she didn’t like, share interests, or any common values with?

Probably because she’s a kid. Evil and bratty though she may be, Princess lacks in logic. She just wants to be popular, even with the people she holds contempt for. Fair enough.

But setting that aside, nothing about the setup of this special makes any sense whatsoever. Not in the context of a “Santa is real” story, and certainly not in the context of the in-story universe itself.

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First of all, Princess attempts her sabotage plan on Christmas Eve itself, and before her scheme was even conceived, she already received a delivery of coal. That implies that Santa was already out doing deliveries at that time, so by the time she gets to his workshop, the lists should either be with him in his sleigh or scrapped to make room for next year’s lists.

For one throw away joke, Princess should be too late.

Secondly, supposing that Princess wasn’t attempting this so late in the game, is Santa really that stupid? Hasn’t he been looking at these lists for months, prepping toys for specific children? This wouldn’t bother me so much if, as some other weird joke on the writers’ parts, the naughty list wasn’t literally a sticky note with one name on it. The nice list is huge, so even if Princess was a master at forging handwriting, Santa is an idiot for thinking that his naughty list magically grew 100,000,000 times bigger in the…what, 10 minute bathroom break he probably took to leave alone in the first place?

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“But that’s the joke!” you say. “He didn’t check his list twice!”

…Um, that’s more than “not checking it twice,” guys. Think about it: Santa and all of his elves must have Dory-level short-term memory loss for not one of them to notice the list sizes changing at the last minute. It’s not like it’s that hard to remember the one person you’ve marked off as naughty, year after year, but wouldn’t he have a giant bag of coal marked “Princess,” for his weird, sadistic hobby of trying to burry bad children alive? Wouldn’t he see the names on the presents and wonder why his now unusually-tiny nice list wasn’t matching up?

He has only one other “naughty” list, the permanent plaque for those truly irredeemable kids, but the writers clearly only included that as a little in-joke for themselves. We can see that they have what appear to be their relatives’ names carved into there.

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And as a fan of the show, I do wonder why the fem-devil villain character, Him, isn’t evil enough to get on any of these naughty lists. Considering that he’s brainwashed the entire city of Townsville with hate and took over the future, enslaving and zombifying everyone, Santa seems to have some seriously screwed-up priorities.

As you can see, while the concept for the story isn’t that bad, the execution is very poorly thought-out. It is a cartoon, sure, which means that it can get away with a lot, but not all cartoons operate on, say, Wile E. Coyote physics. Charlie Brown is a cartoon character, but he would still probably die if a piano fell on his head.

Even for a silly, made-for-kids show, the plot is flimsy beyond the suspension of disbelief.

But it’s not just the story that sours this special for me. I always found Bubbles pretty annoying at the worst of times, second only to Blossom and her know-it-all arrogance, so let’s combine one girl’s worst traits with another girl’s worst traits for even more annoyance! Bubbles is not only baby-ish and high-pitched; now, she goes around being smug to her sisters about how good she is and how thoroughly she prepared for Santa.

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Although, to be fair, yes, Buttercup is an idiot for waiting until the day of Christmas Eve to send out her wish list. I know she’s not the designated “smart one” of the group, but unless she plans to copy Johnny Bravo and hand-deliver it to Santa herself, she should mentally and emotionally prepare herself to get some toys that…*gasp* aren’t on her wish list!

…Yeah, that’s another thing. I know that these are all kids and kids are pretty selfish, especially around a time of year that supplies them with tons of presents seemingly out of nowhere, but I can only excuse so much at that in a character I’m supposed to enjoy watching. Especially when it comes from already-annoying characters.

And then Bubbles, pretty clearly motivated by the existential horror of potentially not being as good as she thinks she is, checks her family’s and every other family in the neighborhood’s stockings and trees to make sure that she wasn’t the only one shafted. It’s apparently excused, though, because she only used x-ray vision. It’s not like she broke into each house individually and started rooting through stockings and such…

Except she might as well have done that.

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Okay, so maybe she and her sisters do occasionally express concern for the other kids out there who will wake up shocked and disappointed, but up until Princess shows up to taunt them with her newly-acquired powers, the Powerpuff Girls seem mostly like they just want to go ask Santa what gives with their stockings. And just because Bubbles’ motive changes doesn’t mean that it makes her actions alright. It’s okay to snoop through other people’s things if they might have got something you didn’t?

But besides Princess. Bubbles is the character that gets the most attention, so supposedly she’s the one in the right here…so huzzah…

The last thing I’ll bring up is that Santa, even excusing all of his other clear negligence and stupidity, is kind of a jerk. I’m sure the writers thought it’d be funny to do a parody of the traditional jolly old Saint Nick, but this guy is just unpleasant to watch. For one thing, he’s got an ugly design, even in a show full of bug-eyed little girls.

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He clashes with the rest of the special’s overly-happy aesthetic, like the boys and teenagers skipping around with dopey smiles and the narrator calling train sets “choo-choos” to force a rhyme to work. He calls all the children of the world names when he’s annoyed at them, he shouts menacingly at Princess and the Powerpuff Girls to answer a question he asked them, and he stomps around almost like a giant monster that they should be defeating. Santa also keeps saying “Check it!” in this weird, faux-cool-kid voice, and things like “I don’t need no stinking list!” (which pretty obviously, he does). That is extremely stupid and out of place, and definitely makes him seem like he’s in the wrong line of work.

You know who did a beleaguered Santa well? Rankin Bass.

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This incarnation stayed in character, but understandably got a bit burned out with his job.

The Powerpuff Girls: T’was the Fight Before Christmas may still charm some, and it’s relatively harmless, so I can’t tell you not to watch it. I still catch it on tv from time to time, despite the fact that, under any kind of scrutiny, it falls apart like a bad gingerbread house. It’s silly and colorful, and as I said, the visuals are just right for the holiday it’s representing. The scene where the girls race Princess to Santa’s workshop is pretty entertaining, and hearing them rib each other for being occasionally outwitted and pummeled by her is funny in that mean-spirited Simpsons kind of way.

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Lastly, in line with that whole permanent naughty plaque thing I mentioned above, I find it hilarious that the special shows a scene of Mojo Jojo preparing for Christmas, like he actually expects Santa to leave him presents. That’s right, kiddies: a spoiled child is the absolute worst, but being an evil genius who repeatedly tries to destroy and take over the city, that’s A-Okay!

It’s laughably stupid, in that sense.

What I’m trying to say is that the special is not completely irredeemable, especially if your kids are fans of either of the shows (Powerpuff Girls 2016 can go die, roasted on an open fire). But it won’t hold up for any adults who didn’t grow up with it. Some pretty colors and a throw away reference to A Christmas Story can’t save something this flawed.

Plenty of people still seem to enjoy it, but it’s a lot lazier than they give it credit for.

 

3.5/10

*All images belong to Cartoon Network.