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The Bootleg Files: Petroushka

BOOTLEG FILES 604: “Petroushka” (1956 animated short based on the Stravinsky ballet).

LAST SEEN: A copy is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: As part of a VHS anthology of John David Wilson’s animated films.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It seems to have fallen through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is possible.

At least two generations of television-weaned cartoon lovers identify some of the greatest works of operatic and symphonic music by linking the landmark melodies to the knockabout mayhem of Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Heckle and Jeckle, Woody Woodpecker and Tex Avery’s menagerie. Of course, not every animation studio believed that the only way to approach classical musical was by having cartoon characters dancing on pianos or flooding an opera house. Disney did include comic highlights in his groundbreaking feature “Fantasia,” but he also mixed in segments of compelling artistic wonder – including an interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” tied to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs.

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Batman and Harley Quinn (2017): Deluxe Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

“Well that was a big ass bucket of nothing!”

“Batman: The Animated Series” is one of the seminal animated creations of the nineties and is still considered a quintessential depiction of Batman. It’s a masterpiece of animation and meticulous storytelling. The voice work by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker are so definitive, that some fans can’t possibly imagine either character on screen without either actor portraying them. Here we are in 2017 with Bruce Timm reviving his animated version of “Batman” and what do we get? A very long gag involving Harley Quinn farting in the Batmobile as Batman sniffs it in with pleasure, all the while Nightwing retches in the side seat. This is the bar of “quality” we get with “Batman and Harley Quinn.”

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The Lion King (1994): Signature Collection [Blu-ray/DVD/Digital]

“The Lion King” is still one of the most entertaining movie going experiences of my life and one of the most moving animated films I’ve ever seen. With the anticipation of the live action remake growing, Disney has granted fans a new release with their Signature Edition. This new edition packs in the DVD, a Digital copy, and of course the new Blu-Ray with changes that are interesting and more geared toward meticulous hardcore fans of the film more than anything. It’s certainly worth a double or triple dip, especially if it’s your favorite of the Disney animated library (and on your top ten), as it is mine.

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Jumanji – The Complete Animated Series (DVD)

In 1995, “Jumanji” was the big blockbuster that managed to take America by storm for just a little while. Like everything in the nineties, that meant it deserved an animated series, prompting an unusual but pretty okay series in 1996. Originally premiering on the American channel UPN, I really don’t recall ever seeing this series. I never cared for “Jumanji” honestly (I prefer “Zathura,” personally), but the animated series does a good job capturing the spirit of the movie and even garners some unique animation style.

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A Boy and His Beast (Un Garcon et Sa bête) (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

A young aristocratic boy adopts a dog on his birthday.  As he teaches his dog tricks and learns to love his pet, something happens and he meets a surprise in the family’s yard.

Written by Crystal Perea and directed by Calley MacDonald, this short stop-motion animation film is adorably cute and funny.  The story shows a lot of heart and love in a family that is rather strict and not accepting of new things.  The boy at the center of it all is the black sheep of his family and is shown as a sweet, loving boy.  The way the story is built, the surprise near the end is not evident or easily guessed.  While there is indeed more to this story than first meets the eye, it all makes sense in a way.  This story is loving and filled with just the right amount of humor to make it a comedy but without going overboard silly.  The film has very little dialog, almost none really, and it shares its story and emotions through well done animation and through its music.

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Mune: Guardian of the Moon (2015)

“Mune: Guardian of the Moon” draws obvious influences from the likes of Studio Ghibli and Laika, and it’s a rather entertaining gem of an animated fantasy that I couldn’t help but enjoy with a wide smile. After “The Emoji Movie,” it’s very calming to know that there are still studios out there trying to deliver quality family animated entertainment. Dubbed over from the original French track, “Mune” translates well for domestic audiences, and I didn’t have a very tough time following what is a pretty nifty premise based around mysticism, nature, and the like. It also sports the classic hero’s journey trope, which isn’t so bad when it’s handled subtly.

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The Emoji Movie (2017)

What I’m sure was going to set the platform for a Sony movie/ad universe following up with a The “Tic Tac Toe Movie,” The “Peek a Boo Movie,” and “The Jingle car keys in front our Faces Movie,” “The Emoji Movie” (aka “The Sony Press Kit”) is the height of laziness to the point where the script was probably written on a napkin at a some overpriced coffee shop in Beverly Hills. “The Emoji Movie” is not just bad, but it’s offensively boring, and tedious. It’s “Doogal” bad. It’s “A Shark Tale” bad. There are just so many bafflingly stupid and moronic moments in “The Emoji Movie,” that I can’t believe any actual writer put all of this down on page with sincerity or the goal of turning any of this in to a pop culture craze.

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The Bootleg Files: Fantasia – The Censored Centaurs

BOOTLEG FILES 599: “Fantasia – The Censored Centaurs” (deleted characters from Disney’s 1940 masterwork).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Racially motivated humor that the Mouse Factory does not want you to see.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Oh, Lawdy!

In many ways, Walt Disney was an artist who was way ahead of his times: his pioneering work in sound and color animation set new standards for filmmaking, and his genius for merchandising laid the foundation for contemporary Hollywood’s marketing machinery.

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