What a difference a half-century makes: dismissed by critics and ignored by audiences when first released in 1968, the Monkees’ sole feature film “Head” is now considered a cult classic rich with innovative psychedelic effects, razor-edged satire and a wonderful score. On this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” we reconsider this last hurrah of Monkee-mania with Peter Mills, author of “The Monkees, Head, and the 60s.”
I’ve seen so many hours of Looney Tunes that it’s obscene. My mom bought my brother and I about five or six Looney Tunes compilations on VHS when we were kids and I saw them at least eighty times a week. When I got cable television, I watched looney tunes almost obsessively. From the “Bugs & Tweety Show” Saturday mornings, to various hour blocks on Cartoon Network like “Toonheads” and “Acme Hour,” to twenty two day blocks of Bugs Bunny called “June Bugs” my appetite was insatiable. One of the big things you learn being a Looney Tunes fanatic is that Bugs Bunny was not the OG of the Warner animated gallery, it was in fact Porky Pig.
The long out of print “Rock-a-Doodle” from animation master Don Bluth has finally stormed its way on to HD thanks to Olive Films, and it’s a blast to the past for me. I fondly remember seeing a lot of the ads for “Rock-a-Doodle” as well as coming across TV spots and ads in comic books. Sadly, the actual cinematic experience was a bust, even for an eight year old moi. It was a dull, awful movie then, and it’s a pretty dull and awful movie, now. I doubt even the best of nineties nostalgia geeks can find a gem in this mess of a movie. I spent a good number of years putting “Rock-a-Doodle” in the back burner of my memory, and I realize it was for good reason.
Although I absolutely love “Thriller,” I’ve never been one to associate Michael Jackson with Halloween, but apparently someone does. “Michael Jackson’s Halloween” isn’t just an animated special for the whole family, but it’s classic Michael Jackson. It has his music, it inspires individuality, and it further emphasizes Michael Jackson as something of a mythical figure that centered his life on defending children against sinister forces lurking in the shadows. Suffice to say “Michael Jackson’s Halloween” is a weird animated special, but it’s an oddly entertaining one that will work if you’re a Jackson buff.
This year, Nickelodeon decided to add some spice to their celebration of Halloween by providing a half hour stop motion special. The folks at Bikini Bottom are celebrating Halloween this time, and rather than the iconic wacky two dimensional style, we’re given a brand new spin, with some hilarious results. The stop motion by Screen Novelties is quite excellent, lending the series a sense of whimsy that you would find in something like “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” There is even a great homage to “The Haunted Mansion” Disney Ride, which is both dazzling and screams Halloween.
“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.”
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.
A young woman begins working in an old school shoe factory as it is under closure threat from the company trying to save a buck and move the production to a less expensive country. Through the fight to save the factory and the jobs, she and her co-workers learn a lot about themselves, each other, and life in general.