I'm a 32 year old male and my tastes in animation are broad and varied but they mainly include Disney movies. However, I like watching movies and shows that are different and seem to stand out to me.
Animation, Acting, Singing, Dancing
Animation that I love:
The Fox and the Hound, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Avatar: The Last Airbender
It's hard to judge this series based on just two DVDs with three episodes each. Each DVD seems to have one utterly terrible episode and two halfway decent episodes. As per above, the villains are terrible, but it seems the worst episodes involve the Raggedy kids' nemesis, Cracklin the wizard. Some of the other villains are reasonable diversions. There are way too many unnecessary chases, especially since every now and again, the series shows that the characters are capable of resourcefulness, but this can be gotten around if you possess a good constitution.
This is a series that seems to be aimed at a younger audience than even what is standard for this decade, but it's surprisingly free of the pompous PSA/"lesson of the day" kind of feel of most 80s cartoons(and surprisingly free of songs). For my money, I prefer the mannerisms and voice of Ann and Andy from A Musical Adventure, and there's little doubt the animation in the movie is leagues superior. However there are a few things that elevate this show and make it palatable. Grouchy Panda is often a laugh riot, injecting his cynicism, pessimism and sarcastic jokes at inappropriate times with gleefully sour venom. The Raggedy kids also seem to possess a kind of old-fashioned, warm-hearted charm about them. There are also a couple moments that seem to stand out for me, mostly from an episode involving pirates that I watched recently. In it, the pirates are out to steal a leprechaun's pot of gold. It is made clear in the episode that a leprechaun dies when his gold is stolen, and the pirates struggle through the dangers of the island, including giant snakes and quicksand. They also come across the skeleton of a former pirate, and Andy almost meets a grisly end by falling into a pit on the beach with the tide coming in, and the pirate captain tosses in the dead pirate's skull to "keep Andy company". Left as it was, this episode would've already been a basically entertaining episode. But these moments made me realize that every now and again, the creators and writers didn't feel the need to constrain themselves with kid sensibilities.
At any rate, it's probably just as well this show only got two DVD releases, but I wouldn't have minded seeing where this show would've headed, given the right string-pulling and directors. Raggedy Ann and Andy are such iconic characters that they deserve better animation. Even so, it's an okay show. I almost came close to writing the show off as a wretched one star show, but it somehow worked itself under my skin. It's an okay show. I especially enjoyed Grouchy's antics. He really saves it with his moments.
This show is explicitly painful to watch. It pales in comparison to other Boomerang classics like The Powerpuff Girls or Dexter's Lab. Bravo is exactly like Dee Dee, but not as charming. The main character is dumber than a box of rocks, and there's only so many times you can see a dim bulb like Johnny misread a situation due to his disastrously unlucky stupidity and set up a chain reaction of mishaps, random acts of destruction, and Amazonian women beating the crap out of him without rolling your eyes into the back of your skull or feeling your stomach turn inside out.
That number of times is zero.
I've found there's really nothing too terribly offensive enough to get worked up over in this show. It's actually got quite the interesting concept. Write the characters as every day joes living in suburbia instead of their bigger than life caricature selves in the vacuum of a prop and situation? Hmmmmmm. . .
The overall execution of the sitcom setup leaves a little to be desired, though. I suppose the purpose of its existence is also the bane of its existence, in that I mean for the sitcom situation to work, it has to forget everything that made the Looney Tunes the Looney Tunes. This will prove problematic for most people. The show wasn't meant to be hyperactive and yet people will WANT to see the hyperactive scenes. The problem is that it forgets the spirit of cartooning, something which Tiny Toons Adventures and Animaniacs never shared, natch. It's pretty funny when an official Looney Tunes product has not a single shred of Looney Tunes material while Friendship Is Magic, an entry from a franchise that was once the anti-thesis of classic cartooning, has more cartoonish expressions and wacky situations in any given ten minutes than this show's whole first season. If you want proof, look for the Friendship is Magic episode with the rubber chicken.
A lot of goofball changes have been made. Probably the strangest one is, apparently, that the Tazmanian Devil is Bugs Bunny's pet. Daffy Duck, once one of the classiest and wittiest characters, if slightly deviant, is now a character with the IQ of a box of rocks. Lola Bunny is now a clingy bimbo of a love monkey, which might actually be an improvement.
The shorter skits might cause you to raise on eyebrow. Yosemite Sam doing a hip hop song anyone? This is the kind of show that makes you long for the days of Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries. On the other hand, it's also not the travesty that Loonatics Unleashed was. If it wasn't for the subject of the progenitor material, people wouldn't be making such a big deal over it and would write it off as just a dry show instead of going "OMG liek stole mah childhood!" *shrug*
I feel the creators of the show did a better job with the Duck Dodgers reboot. They probably would've been better hiring the writers for Frasier instead of, I think, the writers for SNL. I usually make a rating based on first impressions and then fine tune it with subsequent viewings. I really can't be bothered to delve too deeply into this show beyond a handful of episodes. That's really saying something.
I'll freely admit that I liked watching this show as a kid. Actually, there were quite a number of things from the 80s I liked watching as a kid. Most of them didn't age well.
There aren't too many episodes on Youtube of this show that can be checked out, unlike Friendship is Magic, which is readily available from dozens of eager fans. The first episode annoyed me greatly, but there are a couple of the later episodes up which suggest that Jem got modestly better later on.
The first thing that can noticed about Jem is that, rather surprisingly given its American take on magical girl themes, it deals with some very realistic issues. Imagine my surprise when I saw that *gasp* a lead female character was fixing a sink without worrying about chipping a nail.
I'm really not all that terribly picky about my cartoons. While I do have my limits concerning characters and plot elements, there aren't too many things that I ask a cartoon NOT to do. One of these things is that a cartoon not find any and EVERY excuse to burst into song. One song per 22 minute show seems to be the norm for most franchises. Friendship is Magic actually has one song per SEVERAL episodes, and with these songs possessing Sondheim-inspired finesse, it seems the era of excusing bad songcraft in a children's show is over.
Jem almost threatens to dethrone Alvin and the Chipmunks in terms of musical obnoxiousness. I think most episodes have up to three songs, although I could be wrong. Still, that's quite stretching it. The transition from a scene to "song-filled fantasy sequence" is jarring at even the best moments. You could probably actually predict the precise moment where the show seems to go "cue musical number". Jem and the Holograms get a few decent numbers. I mean they have to get all the best songs if kids are to root for them. Even then, the band in question's songs are typical 80s glam rock fluff. Woe to the listener, then, when the Misfits take the stage and start their songs. They're supposed to be the only band in the show that can rival Jem and the Holograms. So why are most of their songs so terrible?
Jem is a show that feels somehow bigger than most of the other girl shows from the 80s. In a way, it was, what with its surprisingly rare insistence on showcasing relatively realistic situations among the bizarro world of 80s cartoons. That is if you ignore the painfully obvious villain and the hyper-intelligent hologram computer. It's a shame because when the show is not singing, it's actually quite good. Pitiful animation aside. Another "Barbie-inspired cartoon girl meets real life situations" show wouldn't be attempted again until Maxie's World, which was actually a halfway decent outing despite its anviliscious nature.
Imagine my surprise when I felt like I was watching the street gangs from West Side Story being plucked from their movie and dropped in the middle of Star Wars. In fact, these owls make the kids from West Side Story seem like model citizens. I don't imagine many parents expecting the sheer amount of violence when they took their kids to see this film. Yeah movies like 9 are rather dark, but woah nelly. Why do owls need razor blades? And rather wicked looking blades at that. There's a lot of slashing of claws and beaks, broken bones, and even the owl world's version of the haymaker.
It seems in the rush to make more animated movies "adult", certain directors like Snyder forgot that making an animated film NOT be like 300 is not really a bad idea. As I was watching the blood and feathers fly, my thoughts could only turn to "Where is this all going?" Without crafting an engaging world with equally engaging characters, all the violence is for naught. Maybe this is the reason I'm picky about my action hero movies. I didn't much care for the "brother turned lackey for the bad queen". I didn't much care for the hero either.
The movie tosses out more high and mighty mumbo-jumbo than James Cameron's Avatar in an attempt to sound "otherworldly", and as the incredibly painful final battle, which has the rather dubious honor of ripping off The Lion King and being worse at it, gave way to some rather cheesy epilogue narration designed to sound inspirational, I knew it was time to give up and never look back.
For all the movie's nonsense about how power isn't everything and defending the weak, even the most modestly discerning kid will realize that both the bad guys and the good guys are owls, predators who are powerful and crush the weak animals in the real world all the time. But of course, the bad owls wear the black helms while the good owls wear the bright shiny ones. Headdesk.
Not exactly a savagely terrible movie and I'm all for giving movies another shot to adjust my score. It's happened before. And this movie IS pretty. But this movie that is equal parts vicious and ploddingly mundane won't be joining the halls of animated classics any time soon. You're better off sticking with How To Train Your Dragon.