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lupercal

KF Animation Editor
Location: Tasmania
Birthday: August 27
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Tasmanian

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TV Series (156)
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4 stars
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Reviews for Animated Special

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holiday animation Gumnutz: A Juicy Tale © Flying Bark Productions / The Australian Film Finance Corporation / Big Pix
Gumnutz: A Juicy Tale
Rated it: 3
posted: Jun 08, 2009
I was torn between 2.5 and 3.0, but decided on 3 because of my new 'handicapped by category' policy.

First off, my nose is bleeding. Hang on...

I'm ok now. Why the hell did that happen? Oh, God it's bleeding again...

(sometime later)

Ok, this is an oddity: a made for TV feature length animated film from Australia. It's also a first because I don't believe any film has featured an animated numbat as the main character (they're moslty indigenous to Western Australia).

Claude is a slightly nerdy, though ultimately heroic numbat. He is protecting his uncle's 'juice' recipe (this juice is something else, I tell ya) from the rather delightful villain Charlie the Fox (who has a cockney accent, which kind of makes sense when you remember that foxes are an introduced species in Australia). Aided by his likeable girlfriend and interestingly demented uncle, Claude goes up against the bad guys.

This is a weird thing. It's a made-for-TV feature film, with (as far as I know) no series to back it. It's way better than other vaguely similar Australian films such as 'The Magic Pudding', but it's not quite cinema quality. Hang on: I just said it was better than a cinematic film. See why it's confusing.

I enjoyed this one. Thumbs up.

holiday animation Horton Hears a Who! © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) / Chuck Jones Enterprises / The Cat in the Hat Productions
Horton Hears a Who!
Rated it: 3
posted: Oct 16, 2006
This Chuck Jones - Dr Seuss TV short post-dates 'The Grinch' by four years, and is quite different in tone.

Firstly Jones has a co-director, and presumably this is why the film is less recognisably Jones. This is both a good and a bad thing. Bad, because Jones' touch, however recognisable, is usually brilliant. Good, because without Jones' signature the film is probably far truer to the original Seuss style, rather than being a hybrid of two aueteres.

Secondly, this is a far more cerebral and philosophical short film than 'The Grinch'. In fact, it would not be at all far-fetched to say that the basic plot could have been from an episode of 'Star Trek Voyager'.

Horton the Elephant hears a voice coming from a speck of dust on a flower which is floating by. He learns that the inhabitants of this microsopic land (or at least one scientist) is desperately trying to communicate with the macro-world to avoid a catastrophe. Nobody believes Horton, and he is persecuted by the other jungle residents (which include a kangaroo. I suppose I'll let that go.)

The other residents deem Horton insane, while the Whos try desperately to make themselves heard in the macro-universe.

Nowhere near as cute or plain emotive as 'The Grinch', but far more intellectually interesting, 'Horton' is very well worth a watch - which is probably unavoidable, as most DVD releases incluide both shorts.

holiday animation How the Grinch Stole Christmas © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) / Sib-Tower 12 Productions
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Oct 16, 2006
I think 'The Grinch' is a very good short, but I don't think it's a masterpiece. I'm sorry to break this film's unbroken run of 4.0 stars, but it's not as if I've been living 'in a hole' all my life. It's more that I don't have any rose-tinted glasses to watch this through. Up until the Jim Carey version of the story (which I've never seen) I'd never heard of it, and until a few weeks ago I'd never even seen a copy of it to review (that I can remember.)

This seems to be because The Grinch is a very North American phenomenon. In Australia it certainly isn't a perrenial classic that everyone should watch twice a year. Most people here probably don't know the 1966 animated version even exists. It's not that Dr Seuss isn't well known. I went through a brief Seuss phase as a kid. He just seems to be a national instituion in the US/Canada, whereas here he's just a well known children's writer.

Because of which I'll assume most of my audience know the story. The reviews below have told you what's great about this short, now I'll tell you what, from my POV stops it getting those four stars.

Firstly the animation. I'm sorry, but it isn't amazing or awesome. It looks like Chuck Jones doing the best he can with 60's limited TV animation. In other words, Warner shorts of 20 years earlier would put it to shame. What does shine through is Jone's great direction, timing, facial expressions, pacing and so forth, but that's great direction more than great animation.

Secondly, I wonder if I'm not more sympathetic to The Grinch than The Whos. To me they seem a tiresome bunch of Brady-Bunch like, wholesome, god-fearing, irritating pains in the neck, and if I lived near them, they'd probably drive me mad as well.

Thirdly, the Grinch's sudden 'conversion' from a hopeless cynic to a hopeless romantic in the space of a few seconds can only be attributed to an act of God or bipolar disorder. It just isn't credible. I understand that little kids probably won't worry about that, but I do.

The main song is overused and gets boring.

Having said that, Jones does a terrific job as director. Many of the Grinch's facial expession could be transplanted straight onto Bugs Bunny. The pacing is great; I like Max the Dog; Karloff is very good as narrator and Grinch (Bela Lugosi would have been interesting, but he was already dead), and the film sets out what it means to achieve, which is to be a unique, feel-good Christmas story, working well within the restraints of its technology and budget. Nevertheless it's 3.5 stars from me are a little hard-won.

A very worthy little film, and certainly worth watching, but not, IMO, a masterpiece.

holiday animation Scooby Doo Goes Hollywood © Hanna-Barbera
Scooby Doo Goes Hollywood
Rated it: 1
posted: May 15, 2005
They began making new animated Scooby Doo movies in the late 90's, so when this one came up in the catalogue of my online rental store, I assumed it was a new DTV movie and thought I'd get it to review. It turned out to be a 50 minute TV movie from 1979. However, since I hired the thing for review purposes, and sat through it, I may as well take the opportunity to warn you not to.

To be honest I have never understood why people like Scooby Doo. I thought the original series was bad, and everything I've ever seen in the following thirty years has varied from bad to fairly bad. This is really the pits, though. For a start it has an excruciating canned laughter track (and as Andy Kaufman is supposed to have observed, those are dead people laughing).

Analysing the film in any depth is a waste of time. It's the pits of 70's TV animation. Nothing in it is funny. Nothing in it works. Everything in it will make you cringe. That we have to watch things like this coming out on DVD (last month Warner released their 15-movie 'best of the New Scooby Doo Movies' boxed set (early 70's), and started their 'Pup Named Scooby Doo' DVDs (mid 80's)) when we still can't get 'Pinky and the Brain' or 'Tail Spin' on DVD... it's enough to make you want to write a review like this.

If they'd called it 'Scooby Doo DOES Hollywood' at least I might have got one laugh out of it.

holiday animation Rocko's Modern Christmas © Nickelodeon
Rocko's Modern Christmas
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Feb 26, 2005
I don't usually like holiday/christmas specials, and part of the reason dawned on me recently while watching the 'Father Ted' Christmas special. It was really funny, but it was double its normal running length, and it was obvious about three quarters of the way through that the writers were used to a half-hour format, and just didn't know how to pace a one hour episode, didn't know how to finish it, so just kept piling up joke after joke until the time ran out.*

Rocko's Modern Christmas is also basically a double length episode from the TV series. It's not among the best episodes, nor the worst, and when you're talking about a show with such a high average quality, even an average one is going to be good.

Rocko is surpised to find that his new next door neighbours are Christmas Elves (the laconic old head Elf is a great character). Their house is bursting at the seams with Christmasy motifs like flashing lights and giant wooden soldiers standing either side of the doorstep. This infuriates the Scroogish Ed Bighead who is determined to sabotage Rocko's Christmas party by spreading a rumour that the elves are carrying some sort of fungal infection.

Really, this might not appeal to you unless you're a Rocko fan, and seeing as how the videos are starting to now hard to find, wuth no sign yet of it on DVD, I'd suggest starting with some of the conventional tapes, though there's certainly nothing wrong with this. It's just shorter and not quite as good as most of the other tapes.

It does have the virtue though of having the episode 'Snowballs' as a bonus, which gives it the extra star, as it has one of the all time classic visual gags in a Rocko episode. It's alsoa more typical Rocko episode, with Heffer in fine form, and contains one of the most memorable scenes from the whole series.

*(of course this doesn't explain why I hate the Simpsons Halloween episodes, which are normal length...)

 
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