Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Monsters vs. Aliens


It’s weird to review cartoons for me because on the one hand I love animation and would love to be involved in its production somehow, probably as a writer. It’s such an underutilized method of storytelling (In the West, I mean) that doesn’t get as much respect as its live action counterpart does. On the other hand I tend to get more judgmental about cartoons than anything else (With the possible exception of comic books). I may get angry that a cartoon fails on certain levels simply because it may make the whole genre look bad (In my sometimes crazed opinion, of course). So reviewing Monsters vs. Aliens is something of a worrisome situation. If it’s not what I consider "good" it’s likely I’ll tear it to pieces and look like a oversize child (More so than I already do with my internet blog). But that said I need as much practice writing these reviews as I can get before the summer movie rush so review it I shall.

Released last year (2009) Monsters vs. Aliens is another attempt by DreamWorks to compete against the critically acclaimed Pixar. The story centers on Susan, played by the talented Reese Witherspoon. We join our protagonist on her wedding day where she seems to be living the dream of being engaged to Paul Rudd. We see very little of her life however, but just enough to see that Rudd’s character Derek is at least kind of a jerk but seriously who among us isn’t? Anyway before the knot is tied Susan is hit by a meteor and soon grows to giant size. Almost immediately she is captured by the government, thrown into a suspiciously convenient sized cell in their secret complex, renamed “Ginomica” (Because the American Government is a dick, I guess) and told she’ll never be allowed to contact the outside world again because she has now been labeled a monster. There she meets fellow captured monsters Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link (Will Arnett) and Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate aka B.O.B. (Seth Rogen). Meanwhile an evil (Obviously) alien called Gallaxhar is alerted to the fact that a substance called “quantonium” is now on Earth and soon begins an invasion that only the detained monsters can stop…for whatever reason.

Only monsters can save us because...uh...they're expendable?

Witherspoon does a pretty fine job in her role. She works with what she’s given well and actually acts as opposed to stand in a booth reading some papers. In fact kudos to the entire main cast for doing their jobs in above average fashion. I had actually never seen Hugh Laurie in anything outside of House and was surprised by the versatility he showed here (Although I shouldn’t have been since he fakes an American accent like a champ on his show). Will Arnett pretty much is only capable of playing one type of character but plays it well each time and you don’t ever really get sick of it. Gallaxhar turned out to be Rainn Wilson, something I didn’t realize until the credits so he gets special props for his character acting chops. Seth Rogen…well he plays that lovable same Seth Rogen type character we’ve seen before, if significantly more incompetent, which was fine by me. The animation was pretty good as well, not the best but certainly not the worst I’ve seen. When the action starts it also incredibly fun as the battle between the two sides was very reminiscent of a superhero battle which is always neat. This of course brings up images of The Incredible which, as you can imagine, is either good or bad depending on your point of view.

Alright, now that I’ve got the positive out of the way let’s move on to the negative.

THIS MOVIE SUCKS!!!

CRICHTON!!!

Okay, I’ll try to refrain from entering an uncontrollable hyper rage. Frankly this film has a lot of ingredients to be a really good, maybe even“Pixar-Level”, piece of cinema but in the end it falls flat for one general reason: it seriously underestimates its audience. This leads to several annoying shortcomings in plot and character development which ends seeming somewhere between incompetent and lazy.

Like I said I like the main protagonists. They each have their own individual personality (Even B.O.B. who tends to accidentally steal the others’ personalities). Coupled with the great performances from their actors its hard not to find these guys appealing. The problem is that we don’t really go further than skin deep with most of them. None of the secondary guys have any real motivation to do anything in this film, other than a promise of freedom. Dr. Cockroach seems to just want to conduct mad science, something that he was doing well enough in prison, Link says he wants to scare people but he’s really inconsistent with this, and B.O.B., well, any motivation B.OB. might have would probably be beyond our carbon based limitations so I’ll give the filmmakers that one. But seriously I don’t feel emotional attachment to these characters because I’m given no reason to. Lots of folk are likable but I cannot care about a main character who remains a two note static caricature.

SCIENCE!!!

Susan is better but not by much. She does indeed grow as a character and we are indeed given suitable motivation for her, I guess. He story seems to be a sort of “I don’t need to define my existence through the man I love” type of change through the film as she slowly realizes that she can be great on her own and not just as Paul Rudd’s wife (Though frankly what crazy woman wouldn’t want to marry Paul Rudd?). That’s fine, except that we barely see her before her transformation into Ginomica so when the movie implies that she spent a lot of time in Derek’s shadow we have to take their word for it since they opted not to show us.

The worst offender is Gallaxhar but that’s more in line with the plot problems that I’ll get to in a minute. While looking at characters I want to briefly mention some of the supporting/minor ones. Paul Rudd is fine as Derek, but the character is pretty much that douche bag boyfriend that women in movies always seem to need rescuing from (i.e. Not interesting). Kiefer Sutherland plays the General who acted as warden to the monsters. He’s okay, but he literally acts circles around his father Donald Sutherland’s performance as the villain of the Astro Boy movie as Donald apparently couldn’t be bothered to emote. Stephen Colbert shows up too playing the President in a role that is pretty much the one he plays on his The Colbert Report except he demonstrates the same voice acting talent he displays in the Tek Jansen shorts. You know; a token amount. Which is weird because he played Doctor Impossible on the Venture Bros. and was awesome in that role yet he undoubtedly was paid far more to appear in this film. Has fame and money made him lazy? Lazier?

Stephen Colbert has become "The Mask"

Anyway the plot of the film is just as patchy as the character development. I was left with so many questions in regard to the world and the villainous plot. My Nitpick Senses were tingling like crazy during my viewing of the movie until I realized that they were actually serious problems. Like Gallaxhar’s scheme: He wants to get the quantonium. Why? Because he needs it to make a new planet. Okay, but how? And also why? Well he claims he destroyed his planet and the quantonium is needed to rebuild it. Wait, why the hell did he blow up his planet? Why does he care about restoring it if he destroyed it to begin with? Why does he need to destroy Earth to do it? Why is quantonium such an important element to this process? Even the movie is aware that Gallaxhar doesn’t seem to have any good reason to do any of the evil things he does; he attempts to tell us his evil plan but he is “comically” cut off and we learn NOTHING!!! WE DON’T HAVE TO EXPLAIN HIS SCHEMES OR MOTIVATION! IT’S A KIDS’ FILM! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

There’s also the government’s role in this film. I find it strange that the team charged with housing the monsters are so well funded considering they’re top secret and they only actually house four monsters (Five when Susan is captured). Plus they seem really serious about making sure they never see the light of day again, claiming they’re too dangerous to co-exist with humanity, but are very quick to grant them their freedom in exchange for fighting the aliens. If they were so horribly dangerous why would you ever make a deal that involves them being freed? This stuff just really took away my ability to enjoy the movie, sadly. I have since learned that there were a ton of writers working on this film, which shows me flat-out where the real problem was. How can you expect to properly boil water when there’s half a dozen cooks squeezed into the kitchen?

Simply put this film is bad, but it could have been good. I know I’m grading this thing a bit harshly but it had a ton of potential and it failed to deliver. Basically the film makers behind this one did not take their audience’s intelligence seriously at all and it shows with this very simple and straightforward plot which felt like handling a toy with the sharp bits removed to keep me from poking my eye out. With films like Up and Wall-E non-Pixar companies have got to step up their game. It’s ironic that Monsters vs. Aliens was marketed heavily as being in 3-D when the film itself is extremely two-dimensional, both character-wise and story-wise. If you have a young child I suppose they won’t care about any of the things that I brought up and you can probably stand to lose the two hours it takes to watch it with them without any real problem. However my advice would be to just rent The Incredibles instead.

Pictured: What a kids' film should be like

I’m going to a have to give this movie 2 out of 5 Adorable Pandas because it could have been so much better with not a lot of work.


Pros

-The main characters are interesting, even if only on a superficial level

-This is because we get solid performances from their actors

-Action scenes had a very superhero team feel to them

Cons

-Except for the main protagonist there are no dynamic characters

-Insultingly simple plot

-No less than six writers worked on the script, meaning there were probably a lot of re-writes to what was probably once a perfectly watchable film

Saturday, March 27, 2010

SMCS Companion Piece #9: Clutch Cargo

So I’ll be honest with you: I know little about this show. Here’s what I do know: disgusting human mouths on cartoon stills! Gross gross gross! I have no interest in talking about this show at all, but I suppose I gotta or else this blog is lackluster as a companion piece to the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show. Also DJ Muppet will beat me.

Beta on Clutch Cargo


This travesty show called Clutch Cargo was released in 1959. While it is not really an animated series it does fall under being a “cartoon” in the traditional sense of the word (Comics are cartoons in this way as well). It stars the title character Clutch Cargo who is a very much so a Doc Savage-type of character. One part writer, one part adventurer Clutch travels around the globe looking for problems he can fix but presumably ones that don’t require him to actually move around because that’s beyond the show’s budget. Joining him is his young ward, the unfortunately named “Spinner” who is Cargo’s constant companion. I’d like to point out that somehow parental watch groups didn’t seem to mind Clutch hanging out with a young boy on TV but just a few years earlier went crazy-bananas over Batman and Robin in comic form with the release of the Seduction of the Innocent.

What? They just want to get some shut eye.

Some sexy shut eye...

From what I understand the production had a very limited budget so instead of traditional animation they went for just having stills and adding human lips from real people provide the talking (AAAAHHHHHH!!!!) as well as other effects that almost seemed to blend live action and comics. While I wouldn’t call this “cutting edge” it did create a different feel to storytelling and that almost certainly played a central role in this show’s popularity. And in a way I can understand it. After all its basically just a radio drama with picture..nasty pictures that make me throw up, but pictures nonetheless. As a fan of old radio broadcasts of The Shadow and The Lone Ranger I can say for certain that there are worse things in life.

Possible Movie Title: "Clutch Cargo: Escape from the Uncanny Valley"

That said I have two main problems with this show: #1) It makes me sick. Literally. Just looking at pictures that I needed to use for this essay made me have to stop eating lunch since I was seconds away from blowing chunks all over my laptop. What’s sad is that this has been the case all my life. As long as I can remember I have seen clips of these strange and bizarre creatures. Pictures that talked with human mouths while staring at me. What did they want, I wondered. Why were they talking to me? And why did I suddenly have to find a bathroom every time I viewed it. I didn’t know the beast had a name; in fact it’s only fairly recently (Adulthood) that I discovered it even had a title and wasn’t just a product of my own madness and self-loathing. Adult though I may be I still find this show both nauseating and creepy.

#2) I’m just too young to possibly find it interesting. It’s not particularly well-written. It doesn’t really take its audience terrible seriously. But then again it wasn’t written for me. I wouldn’t be born for another twenty-five years or so: they didn’t care about some future boy from Space Year 1984.

Pictured: Future Boy from Space Year 1985

Basically my point is that modern sensibilities have ruined my ability to enjoy this show on an intellectual level. On an emotional level I rather dip my eyeballs into a bucket of bleach just so that the burning sensation of my impending blindness could distract me from their horrible mouths.

In fact I rather watch the anime Bleach than ever have to look at this crap again.

Obviously Beta has become suicidal

For a less biased take on this proof that the devil exists here on Earth show click here

For more on the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show click here for our blog and here for the podcasts

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wolverine and the Avengers

So Marvel Comics is relaunching all the Avengers' books this summer to usher in the new "Heroic Age" storyline. They are releasing Avenger #1, New Avengers #1, Secret Avengers #1 and the sure to be terrible Avengers Academy #1. Nothing surprising about this of course, and I'm totally okay with it. Heck, maybe I'll even pick up a few issues.

Wait a second; something's wrong but I can't put my finger on it. Let's look at the cover of Avengers #1.



Two anti-heroes, a super villain, an obvious loner and one real superhero
What is this? The Suicide Squad?


Okay, okay, we got Thor and Iron Man and Bucky America. Cool, cool. Now let me see the cover of New Avengers #1.



No joke here. Just note that The Thing/Ben Grimm is too cool for school

Holy socks! Is Wolverine on both squads of the team? Clearly Spider-Man is as well, but Wolverine is also a member of several squads of X-Men on top of also being the star of about 164 ongoing series!

So let's streamline the whole company and have Wolverine star in every book every month. Can you smell the profits?!?



Pictured: Not a murdering psychopath. Honest

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

It’s been a while since my last review. It’s also been a little while since I saw this movie. But with a line of films coming up within the next few months that I’ll be watching it will be good to get the practice in.


Ah Tim Burton. You and I have a complex relationship. You made Batman which was pretty good aside from some minor fanboy nitpicking, but then you followed it up with Batman Returns and revealed that you didn’t actually read the source material. You directed Mars Attacks! which I still find amusing in a low-brain-power kind of way but then you also directed the Planet of the Apes remake which required low-brain-power to even begin to enjoy it. Frankly Burton is the definition of hit or miss with me and his somewhat dark and “gothic” style just reminds me of rich teenagers shopping at Hot Topic in 2001 (And, no surprise, their anthem is practically The Nightmare Before Christmas). Honestly I would just wash my hands of the guy except that Big Fish is one of my favorite movies of all time so now whenever his name is attached to something I think “Oh good, a Tim Burton film. How could this go wrong?” Well…
Alice in Wonderland is Burton’s attempt at making a family friendly film which is certainly not out of his range by any means but boy do I find it strange that he followed up the blood happy Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with a kids’ film. Not so surprising is that Johnny Depp seems to play the same character in both projects but more on that later. In this film we have what is something of a loose sequel to the original book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and maybe the 1951 Disney cartoon but probably not the 1976 porno film.
Sorry pervs. You'll have to rent "Havoc" to see the goods
The story seems to take place under the assumption that the events of the book happened, albeit years prior. Though it’s open to interpretation I do not believe the sequel novel “Through the Looking Glass” is part of the timeline as several character from that book do appear but don’t act as if they have met Alice before. Of course the first time they would have met her she would have been younger and most of them are very insane anyway, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The plot begins with 19-year old Alice Kingsley, local weirdo, who is tricked by her mother into attending a party which turns out to be an arranged marriage setup. Before she is married off to some British dope who apparently doesn’t appreciate her (Although in his defense she does sort of act like a serial killer) the White Rabbit totally shows up and points at his pocket watch indicating that it’s time to go. So rather than deal with the large group of onlookers she decides to jump into a random hole after an animal in a suit coat with unknown intentions. Can’t say I’d do differently.
Of course the hole leads to Wonderland, Alice though for her part she seems to have no idea where the hell she is and why all these crazy animals are asking her to save their world. Whether she’s the same Alice they think is some sort of savior becomes the big question throughout the film. Armed with the absolute certainty that this is a all just a dream induced by her own self-aware madness she ends up joining the resistance against the large headed Red Queen and help restore the rightful ruler, the White Queen, with reckless abandon.
Also Johnny Depp wears a hat.
First of all I want to point out that the world that this movie takes place in is fun to watch. It’s what you imagined Wonderland would look like crossed with Halloween Town: a depressing dystopia filled with dead trees, fog and a lack of hope in the air yet somehow colorful (Though not bright). The playing card troops come off very Storm Trooper-like and there’s some genuine tension when they search for members of the rebel alliance (See what I did there?). “It’s a crapsack world and it sucks to be here”; that’s the vibe I got from watching this movie. The battlefield at the climax of the film was also a nice touch (I won’t say much about it) and it adds to what I think is the underlying theme of this film: this is Wonderland for Adults. But unlike the porn of the same name you can bring your kids to this movie and not be the worst parent in the world. Unfortunately the inhabitants of the world aren’t nearly as interesting.
Alice is fine. She’s brave, resourceful, quick-witted and loyal; everything you need in a protagonist of a fantasy setting. The problem is that she’s kind of dull. I’m not sure if this is because Mia Wasikowska doesn’t put a solid enough effort into it or if the character was just one-note in the script but I honestly didn’t care that much about her. Johnny Depp is of, course, the Mad Hatter. In this film the Hatter is more of a cross between the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Sweeney Todd and that is completely Depp’s doing. I’m sure. This leads to the guy switching from being a sort of manic madman to Jack Sparrow depending on whether he’s upset or not. Perhaps he’s bi-polar. In short the way Depp plays the Mad Hatter is literally nothing I haven’t seen from him all decade. Worse he gets a lot of screen time. Wasn’t the Mad Hatter something of a secondary, if that, character in the book? Hell if I recall it wasn’t even his tea party; it was the March Hare’s. Here he seems t be the leader of the fight against tyranny despite being, well, far too mad to be effective. Regardless the movie could have been called “The Mad Hatter: On the Edge of Reason” and it would have been appropriate. I can basically see the same character in a much better Disney film “Pirates of the Caribbean and the Curse of the Black Pearl” and that seems to defeat the purpose.
Geez I get it. The rum's gone, get over it already
The Red Queen is bit more entertaining. She’s played by Helena Bonham Carter, Burton’s longtime girlfriend but that doesn’t annoy me as much as you’d think. Yes Carter gets cast as a major character in every single one of Burton’s film these days but she usually seems to prove that she was the correct choice even if she wasn’t bonking the director. Anyway here she is charmingly off, sanity wise. The Red queen is evil, but not diabolically or creepy evil but incompetently evil. Every scene Carter is in you instantly decided she’s the most entertaining character in the room. On the other side of the spectrum we have the White Queen play by Anne Hathaway who has proven to be a n above-average actress that isn’t just really attractive (Though she is really attractive). In this role she’s…okay. She didn't set my world on fire here, though she hasn't really done that since Rachel Getting Married. The Queen is intriguing though as she keeps breaking her “flowery and virginal” character everyonce in a while. It’s fun but she doesn’t go far enough with it to be as noteworthy as Hathaway thinks it is.
All other characters fall flat. They aren’t developed past the very basics and completely felt superfluous to me (Although the Knave of Hearts has a hilarious fetish). In fact they were kind of annoying since pretty much everyone in the film is too weak, too incompetent, or too crazed to do anything to improve their situation in their terrible lives. They basically wait around for Alice to come save them from the Red Queen. I’m not an objectivist or anything but these guys sound like parasites to me.
I didn't read it because I'm not a white upper middle class high school kid
That plot itself bored me by midway. With the exception of some scenes where Alice was 9-feet tall and wrecking the joint I was pretty much out of it by the time the climax started. On top of that my nitpick sense was going off like crazy. I did not read either book, I make no claims, but even I know that the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts are not the same person! In this film the Red Queen has the temperament of the Queen of Hearts, the catchphrase of the Queen of Hearts, has a playing card army like the Queen of Hearts and hearts on her goddamn dress! Wasn’t the Red Queen calm and collective while also being chess themed? Why not just call this character the Queen of Hearts? Was it so they could make a stronger connection to the White Queen (Who they kept chess themed)?
While I angrily pondered this the movie resolves itself and I didn’t really notice or care. I came out of this one not really worrying if I ever saw it again.
Bottom line is that this movie basically does its job; it’s a family film that both adults and children can go see together and it won’t really offend either. While it didn’t grab me it didn’t even come close to making me think about leaving, which is more than I can say for other non-Pixar Disney films. To use an analogy it features great ingredients (Burton, Carter, Depp, Hathaway) but whether you’ll like the recipe is really a matter of taste preference. I suggest checking it out if only just to say you saw it.
Call it 3 Adorable Pandas out of 5

Pros
- Helena Bonham Carter delivers, as per usual
- Wonderland is a sad, sad place. Neat!
- The art direction in general was pretty good
-The engagement scene where Alice first demonstrates how fractured her mind is was pretty dang funny
Cons
-Johnny Depp at certain points thought they were filming Pirates of the Caribbean 4
-All character are underdeveloped and at least a bit dull
-Can we please make a big budget Through the Looking Glass movie so we can settle that the RED QUEEN IS NOT THE QUEEN OF HEARTS once and for all?!?!?!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SMCS Companion Piece #8: Camp Candy

I like John Candy, I really do. He was a funny guy who made a ton of great films (Canadian Bacon being my favorite of his) and died too soon. It’s safe to say that I am a fan. I don’t think he was a comedic genius or anything but I enjoyed most of the work I saw him do. That said who the hell thought he should have his own cartoon? I’m not saying he had no business having one but how did executives come to the conclusion that Candy needed a kids show? “You know who’d make a great cartoon character? That dog-guy from Space Balls.” Again I’m not saying that it doesn’t work. Sitcoms based on material of comedians get made all the time so there’s no reason for it to be limited to primetime. But here’s an interesting question: where does the line get drawn when making shows based on celebrities? For every logical cartoon made (While he may be technically worthless as a comedian Louie Anderson’s cartoon certainly makes sense considering the material he uses in his stand-up) we get some crazy self-indulging venture featuring a celebrity fighting terrorists or space aliens. Is this justified entertainment? Or is just another example of amoral opportunists making money off of American celebrity worship?

Celebrity Worship: 1, Justified Entertainment: 0

This week on the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show we saw Camp Candy. Let’s take a look of similar cartoons featuring celebrities.

Beta VERSUS Celebrity Cartoons

Johnny Actor is very popular, even if it’s just a craze that will only last a few years. Even if Johnny wasn’t marketed for children kids seem to love him nonetheless. Therefore if we make a cartoon about him than logically the little twits will flock to it, right? Maybe I’m not being fair. Plenty of shows were developed by actors/comedians/whatever who earnestly wanted to produce children’s television. But this is not every show. Basically it depends on how much said celebrity has to do with the production (Whether s/he’s voicing his/hers cartoon counterpart or just letting them use his /hers likeliness), whether or not the show has a fantastical and unlike scenario (If the celebrity fights crime/evil), and the overall quality of the cartoon. A good show would probably be a Slice of Life cartoon about growing up in non-ideal situations but making the best of it and ultimately triumphing. A bad show almost certainly involves a celebrity and his elite team battling the forces of evil (I’m looking at you Sgt. Slaughter).

Let’s look at some of these shows and judge them on these criteria and see whether they pass or fail. Take in mind that this is strictly for shows that are based on some celebrity whether they be actor musician or athlete. A cartoon based on a movie is a different type of cartoon altogether even if a character looks exactly like the actor that played the original. Also a show that happens to feature the vocal talents of a popular celebrity shouldn’t count unless an aspect of the show was based on him or her of his or hers material. Let’s start with the show that sparked this essay to begin with:

Camp Candy

Due to his inherent "Santa Factor" John Candy is an ideal candidate for child care

Premise: John Candy runs a summer camp for kids but unfortunately Candy is about as competent here as he is in all of his movies. Hilarity ensues.

Celebrity Involvement? Candy voices his avatar in the show, sings the theme song, and appeared in live-action segment that were placed in the show after its initial run. It seems that he did his best to be a part of the production as much as possible, despite that at time his acting seems forced and insincere probably due to the fact that he’s not primarily a voice actor.

Farfetched? It’s a pretty wacky cartoon, and it never forgets it’s a cartoon for sure, but even so it’s still pretty mundane. Although if Candy had started a summer camp in real I hope he wouldn’t cheap-out but on the equipment and living conditions as much as he apparently does in the cartoon.

Beta Says: This cartoon wasn’t Shakespeare, but it wasn’t offensive either and that is a victory in itself.

Grade: Pass

Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos

Roundhouse kicking your enemies is half the battle!

Premise: “Man of Action” Chuck Norris takes time off from making B-Action Movies to form a government team of specialists to fight the evil forces of The Claw and the Super Ninja.

Celebrity Involvement? Sure enough Norris voices himself and also taught the audiences moral an lessons at the end of the episode in live-action segment but, like everything else he does, he is completely devoid of actual acting ability.

Farfetched? That the government would leave the defense of our nation in the hands of an actor and his sumo wrestler friend is pretty insane. Maybe, maybe, if Norris wasn’t playing himself it would be fine but as it is I can’t buy it.

Beta Says: Despite the fact that Chuck Norris is involved with the show proper he leads still a GI Joe-like team against a Cobra-like villain and that just makes my eye twitch. Add to the fact that this cartoon was insanely terrible means the result is obvious.

Grade: Fail

Hammerman

Premise: MC Hammer Brokey McNo-Money Stanley Burrel is given magical talking shoes (?!) that transforms him into the super hero Hammerman, because why the hell not?

Celebrity Involvement? MC Hammer voices Stanly/Hammerman according to IMDB and also does the terrible terrible theme song which has some of the worst raping-exposition lyrics in cartoon history.

Farfetched? I don’t believe MC Hammer could manage a savings account correctly let alone fight crime. If he really had super powers then why couldn’t he save his music career?

Beta Says: This cartoon was so bad that I repeatedly pondered putting my head in an oven in order to make sure I never had to watch it again. I was seven years old! Anyway this cartoon is nothing more than a limb of bigger money making monster wherein MC Hammer proved to White America™ that Hip Hop wasn’t completely all about political change, racial awareness, and shooting cops and could be “safe” for them as well. See also: Vanilla Ice.

Grade: Fail

Bobby’s World

Behold the face of madness

Premise: 4-Year Old Bobby Generic lives a fairly normal life save for his amazingly vivid imagination. He has adventures both in mundane reality and in his own twisted mind.

Celebrity Involvement? The entire concept of the character was completely ripped from comedian/servant of the damned Howie Mandel. He voice both Bobby and also Bobby’s father Howard, who is clearly Howie Mandel as a cartoon character. More importantly Mandel is credited as the creator of the show which probably means that he was the man pulling the strings in the cartoon’s production. If you liked this show he’s the reason why…God help us all.

Farfetched? Despite the fact that Bobby tends to dream up all sorts of crazy crap about every five minutes or so it’s all in his little kid head and the world he actually lives in is about as Slice of Life as you get. It does seem be bit unrealistic that Mandel was able marry any real human being and have a family considering he’s suffers from a fear of germs (And is also really greasy looking) but sure enough in real life he’s married and has several kids so there you go.

Beta Says: This show is very similar to Rugrats, except that Bobby is a little older than the toddlers from that show and also might be insane, but this show actually predates the Nickelodeon cartoon by about a year. Anyway as a kid I didn’t care for this cartoon but as an adult I’ve come to decide that it’s pretty decent at the least. It has one of the best theme songs in cartoons, that’s for sure.

Grade: Pass

Also voiced by Frank Welker


Jackie Chan Adventures

Premise: An archeologist who is clearly not Jackie Chan named Jackie Chan, who is also a part-time secret agent, battles the forces of evil as he collects a variety of ancient artifacts of power (Depending on the season) in order to keep them out of the hands of evil. He is sometimes aided by a group of specialists known as the “J-Team”.

Celebrity Involvement? Jackie Chan did do some live-action scenes where he answered supposed fan made questions but that is apparently the extent of his involvement with the show. Not only did Chan not voice the title character the Animated Jackie doesn’t really resemble him that much. Add to the fact that the actual actor playing the role, James Sie, isn’t doing a great job of mimicking Chan’s voice I might actually assume that this is not a cartoon based on Jackie Chan but rather an amazing coincidence.

Farfetched? Well if “Animated Jackie Chan” just happens to share a name with the “Live-Action Jackie Chan” than I would just assume this is another ill-conceived action cartoon. Otherwise I am uncomfortable with the idea of Jackie Chan, actor/stuntman/gymnast, involved in an American Government endorsed power struggle against an army of demons.

Beta Says: This cartoon could probably being changed to Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos 2000 as the two shows are practically identical on paper except that Chan is more popular in 2000 than Norris was in 1986 so the newer series lasted much longer (Five seasons). Even with the dumb premise and Chan clearly just using it to cash a check I would probably be neutral on the show if it wasn’t for Jade, the most annoying action cartoon sidekick in history. Something of a Mary Sue insert Jade actually makes me think Scrappy-Doo was just misunderstood. If possible let’s all destroy all footage of this show so we can banish this wretched character from pop culture forever.

Grade: Fail Fail A Thousand Times Fail

Life with Louie

Premise: A young Louie Anderson deals with the pressures of growing up in a large middle class family in Wisconsin. Um…that’s it.

Celebrity Involvement? Like with Bobby’s World Life with Louie is based on the stand-up of the star of the show, in this case Louie Anderson. Anderson also provided the voice of his eight-year old counterpart as well as his insane, but genuinely good-hearted, father Andy. Also he voiced the narrator who, seemed to be Anderson himself as an adult looking back on his childhood, and is credited as a co-creator of the show meaning he, like Mandel on his show, was likely heavily involved in many aspects of the cartoon’s production.

Farfetched? Uh…no. This was Slice of Life at its best. It’s just a normal everyday (If hideously ugly) eight-year old who’s trying to find his place in the world, one mundane adventure at a time. Bullies, chores, problems with his father, etc, stuff that you or I had to deal with ourselves. Frankly this show was about everyday life for a kid.

Beta Says: Though it pains me to give Louie Anderson any credit at all I have to say that this may be the best example of a celebrity cartoon done right. This was clearly a show he wanted to do, stories he wanted to tell, and he made sure that he had as many fingers in as many pies on the show as he could. Then he ate the pies.

Pictured: Louie Anderson on the Set of Family Feud

Grade: Pass (Alright!)

So I think based on that we can see that if there’s a comedian involved it’s not going to be as bad. This was pretty fun; we’ll have to do another one of these later since there are a lot of other cartoons like these out there.


For the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show Podcast visit the SMCS Blog or the WIDR web page.