Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Nostalgia Vs. Reality: The Chipmunk Adventure

April 25, 2008

Nostalgia Vs. Reality is an ongoing feature where beloved things from my childhood are looked at today with a critical eye. Today we review 1987’s The Chipmunk Adventure.

Before the recent success of the Alvin and the Chpmunks feature film I had assumed that Alvin, Simon and Theodore were lost to the ages. They seemed to be the type of characters who, while extremely popular in their day, had failed to reinvent themselves for the younger generation. After all, in their 1980’s television series The Chipmunks regularly sang old Michael Jackson and Bruce Springstein songs — not exactly the most timeless children’s entertainment.

So, I pretty much assumed that their feature film debut, The Chipmunk Adventure would be much of the same.  Worse yet, the 1980’s is notorious for poor animation, a product of aggressive accounting and a realization that children will watch just about anything. Needless to say my expectations were low.

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Dear Universal Studios,

February 6, 2007

Hello,

My name is Josh, and I am a lifelong fan of your movie studios, feature films, and theme parks. I would like to thank you for the quality entertainment you have given to me and my family by offering you my services in your time of need.

You see, I, like many others who bother to think about these things, feel that your studio has always had a very weak staple of cartoon stars, and the irony of that is never lost on me. You see, Walt Disney once worked for Universal. In fact, if Walt’s original creation, ‘Oswald the Lucky Rabbit,’ wasn’t stolen by you he probably never would have left to create Mickey Mouse.

Every time I walk into one of your theme parks I sigh when I see an enormous Curious George or Crash Bandicoot greeting the guests. While Spider-Man and Beetlejuice are quite cool, there is one Universal character in particular I’m always looking for and can never seem to find: Chilly Willy.

Chilly willy

In case you are unfamiliar, Chilly Willy is a small, adorable, semi-mute penguin who wears a ski cap and a scarf. Never quite as popular as that other Universal Studios bird, Chilly has starred in nearly 100 theatrical shorts throughout his career. The truth is that most of these cartoons were awful, but despite this the character has managed to develop a cult following of his own. The lack of presence at Universal theme parks is especially noteworthy when you consider that Woody Woodpecker and the gang are supposedly its’ official mascots. Worse yet, they haven’t made a notable public appearance in about 40 years.

Knowing these things, you’ll understand my shock when I found a women’s t-shirt of the character at Hot Topic, nestled between two especially large piles of Family Guy crap. While it’s not a big deal to see Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny on some merchandise, seeing the Universal cartoon stars on anything warrants a marching band and a ticker-tape parade. Kudos to you, good sirs! (And I do assume you are ‘sirs,’ because I doubt a woman would design a shirt featuring the words ‘Chilly’ and ‘Willy’ so prominently, but I digress…)

With the public’s renewed interest in penguins, perhaps the marketing genuises at the studio can try and capitalize on this somehow. Releasing some Chilly Willy cartoons on DVD would be a nice start, but I have something much more amibtious in mind.

Penguins

If Universal Studios would be willing to loan me the rights to the character for one year, and also, use of a real penguin, I guarantee I could rework the property into something modern and relevant. My proposal includes projects such as taking ‘Chilly Willy’ to summits on global warming, and also, teaching him to do adorable tricks in exchange for pieces of fish!

By covering both ends of the spectrum I can remain respectful of the property while also pushing it head first into the new millennium, While I have no interest in revitalizing Andy Panda or Woody Woodpecker anytime soon, I feel saving Chilly Willy from obscurity is the least I can do for the studio that brought me ‘The Wizard,’ ‘Bride of Frankenstein,’ and terrible ‘King Kong’ remake after terrible ‘King Kong’ remake. It is my hope that you take my offer seriously, and I look forward to receiving your reply!

Thank you again,

– Josh!

My Favorite Movie: Network

September 7, 2006

Many people I know, if not everyone I know has those movies they can’t help but watch over and over again. These are the ones that connect with you at a visceral level, and instantly draw your full attention as you’re flipping through the channels on a late night. Despite being a great fan of the medium, I’m generally not the type of person who can do that. My short attention span makes it difficult for me to see a movie more than once, and for that reason alone I usually rent the films I claim to love instead of purchase them.

Tonight I was on the phone with a friend and ‘Network’ went on the air. ‘Network,’ for those of you unfamiliar, is a satirical film from 1976 about the downfall of American society, as told through the story of a struggling television network. About ten minutes into watching it tonight I realized that I was still on the phone, although my friend had hung up long on me out of annoyance.

‘Network’ is hypnotic, brilliant, passionate and above all, relevant. Every time I see it the ideas and themes behind it seem more important than ever; it’s about the dumbing down of America, it’s about media becoming the new God, it’s about how cold and impersonal the power of communication has made us.

All of these are emphasized, and almost overshadowed by the powerful acting of everybody involved. Peter Finch gives his greatest, and final, film performance as the mad prophet of the airwaves, Howard Beale.

Not only that, but ‘Network’ serves as proof that Faye Dunaway can do a lot more than telenovelas and ‘Dunston Checks In.’ She won the Academy Award for a reason, you know.

My Modern League

August 30, 2006

Today I was bored and decided to come up with my own modern-day League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This is an idea that has been floating on various comics blogs, so I figured that I (and my handful of readers) could come up with some interesting teams.

The rules here are simple: Assemble a team of fictional characters from various forms of fiction (movies, literature, comic books, video games and/or television.) The definition of ‘modern’ is a loose one, so feel free to toy around with anything you feel would work. Since they are working as a team, try to stay away from icons, since they are either too powerful or too important (and will therefore overshadow the rest of the team.)

An example for an interesting team might be Solid Snake, Hermoine Granger, The Incredible Hulk, Rambo and Emma Peel.

Please try to name a leader if possible, since without a leader there would hardly be a team in the first place.

Carmen

1) Leader: Carmen San Diego (Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?) is probably the greatest thief in video gaming, and an interesting personality to boot. Always a step ahead of her opponent, Carmen would function very well as the brains behind the group’s various missions. I was considering putting The Riddler (Batman) as the group’s leader, but I feel like Carmen was a more interesting and unique choice.

2) Space Ghost (Space Ghost) has a wide-variety of amazing abilities, and is a proven combatant. He could easily lead the team, but works best as a powerhouse waiting in the wings.

3) Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (Sheena, Queen of the Jungle) would be the muscle of my team. Her physical prowess, combined with natural instinct and combat skills more than justify her reasons for being in the group.

4) Hadji (The Adventures of Jonny Quest) is an experienced adventurer and the adopted son of a brilliant scientist. This gives the team a much-needed push in the brains department while not sacrificing combat prowess. Also important to note is that Hadji has trained in the mystic arts, and those skills would likely grow as he became an adult.

5) Hellboy (Hellboy) would be the team’s heavy hitter and a doorway into many supernatural elements that the group might encounter. He is arguably the most powerful member of the group, but his attitude really hurts how effectively he could act as a team player. This was an especially odd choice because after my internship at Dark Horse Comics I decided that I hated him.

Space Ghost was entirely Alan’s suggestion, and it seemed too cool not to use. I really wanted a retro sci-fi hero in the group, so Mr. Ghost worked perfectly. My big concern is that with Hadji and Space Ghost there were too many Hanna-Barbara action stars on the team, but I think they are different enough in terms of ability and personality to justify having them both.

Tarzan was my original choice for Sheena’s spot. However, after careful consideration I decided Tarzan was too obvious a choice, and Sheena would have an interesting “Who the hell?” mystery about them.

So that’s mine. What’s yours?

Favorite Movie Villain

August 29, 2006

Who’s your favorite movie villain?

Wicked Witch

I don’t care how stereotypical it is, but The Wicked Witch of the West is my favorite villain, and the greatest movie villain of all time. Regardless of how multi-faceted more modern antagonists may be, there are none as memorable or as pure as The Witch in The Wizard of Oz.

The talent behind this film managed to transform a generic children’s book character into the archtypical villain of cinema. In 100 years people will still be watching The Wicked Witch of the West.

Can you honestly say the same thing about your favorite?