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You know this might come as a shock for some people but I seriously don’t go into some movies and shows to hate them take for example Open Season. When I put that movie on I was going to spend the day watching and writing notes on other crappy movies but my mother came down to where I was watching them really sick so I said “No I’m gonna put on something good so my mom doesn’t have to watch The Prodigy or Elf Bowling The Movie.” I put on Open Season and I was shocked to realize that BOTH my mom and me hated that movie so don’t think that I have always low expectations of movies and shows I watch. In actuality I keep them relatively high because unlike most of the people behind the crap I review I know there’s some intelligent and artistic merit out there BUT NOT IN MATT HATTER. OH NO! There is NOTHING close to intelligence or artistic merit in Matt Hatter Chronicles.
The story goes that one day Matt Hatter an his family go to his grandfather’s movie theater to take care of the place while he’s gone. While looking around Matt finds a book that has his grandfather’s ghost… life energy… recording, I watched the freaking pilot episode and I have no idea, inside and his grandfather tells him he’s the new “Hatter Hero.” Seriously. HATTER HERO. Did the writers read this out loud when they were writing? Now Matt most go into the Multiverse, which is a world built from different movie genres, to save his grandfather from the evil Tenoroc and his Gollum wannabee sidekick by defeating all the evil villains that Tenoroc has in his collection with the help of a tracker named Roxy, and a seven little dwarf reject named Gomez.
First off any pretense of this being related to movie genres, throw that out the window. This pilot shows they’re just creating random monster designs for this villain of the week series. In this episode Matt faces the Black Knight and when you think Black Knight I’m positive you don’t think this steam punk teapot head with a RAINBOW COLOURED LANCE. Why do they have it rainbow coloured instead of a metal colour or just one colour? Because violence would completely corrupt our children turning them all into serial killers or something like that. Next I’m sure we can expect when Tenoroc releases Dracula he’ll do a blood sucking rap before attacking Matt and his friends.
Second, this pilot might possibly have the worst written expository dialogue ever. Nothing is said with a hint of subtext to it and there is ALWAYS subtext to dialogue. While learning script writing we learn that no matter what dialogue you write there is always the subtext of the main point of the dialogue that guides people through it. This is because subconsciously we’re always looking for subtext. Think of any romantic comedy where the two leads “hate” each other we all see the subtext of every line being that they do love each other they just won’t say it. What’s interesting about someone saying, “If we want to beat the black Knight we have to get a strong light source to beat him?” Answer: It’s Not. That’s mostly all the dialogue just trying to explain everything but by writing with no subtext to it you miss A LOT of important details. For example, I had NO idea that the grandfather character was trapped inside the book until the very end of the pilot, hell I needed to watch it again to figure out the book was actually called the chronicles.
When I first saw the character of Matt Hatter one thing screamed across my mind. Archetype. Picture him as one of the blander Disney Princes if he were a lot younger. The other characters aren’t much better. Roxy tries to pull off the bitch archetype but the dialogue CONSTANTLY… itself in this regard. My favorite being when Matt is getting his weapon, the Cell Blaster, and right before this Gomez says that NO ONE but a Hatter can pull the Cell Blaster from the stone (Ha ha. Sword in the stone reference. Clever.). Guess what happens in, not kidding, 1 minute after that? She tries to pull the Cell Blaster from the stone to try ad show him up. This doesn’t make her a bitch. This makes her freaking stupid to even try that. Oh and Gomez… yeah he exists. His character is the blandest out of the three, hard to believe I know, thanks to him having no personality other than he’s afraid and he gives exposition on EVERYTHING. Guess it makes writing easier when you can just have Gomez read off everything you got in your notes on the world and such. The cherry on this crap sundae is that they are all voiced by people who apparently are 5 minutes away from falling asleep saying their lines.
An entire 30 second scene is SERIOUSLY just this ice slide. You don't even see
Matt or anyone excel for some flying toasters
Now onto the art style… BLLLLLLLLLEEEEEH!!!!! This is one of the most unappealing designs I’ve ever seen. Picture if every Western RPG character and every JRPG character were smashed together and told to dress as conservatively as possible. These designs are what you would get. Bland and dully animated. Oh all except for Matt’s bestest friend Marlin.
What in the holy mother of hell is this? A mouse/hamster hybrid? Whatever he isn’t in the pilot for too long. Actually a second is too long to have this abomination on screen. The settings (what little I saw of them) aren’t all that impressive either. A lot of dark greens and blues making it not seem grim or oppressing but boring and sleep inducing. Even the actual textures of all the models make everything seem flat and lifeless. The only thing that looks remotely good is the dessert, which is already a bleak and desolate location to begin with.
Plot hole time. It’s been a while since I’ve seen writing that made this many huge plot holes. The most prominent being, that at the beginning of the episode it’s made clear that Grandpa is trapped in the book, and Tenoroc has all the monsters he can use to destroy everything so… why in god’s name does he only send out one monster? I know it’s a monster of the week series but he JUST beat the previous Hatter Hero wouldn’t his first order of business be to release them all to wreck everything while the next Hatter is being chosen. Strategically doesn’t that make sense for an evil mastermind? Second big ass plot hole or maybe I would call it plot padding, the Black Knight is released and Tenoroc gives him zero mission just run around destroying crap. BUT THEN Tenoroc orders the Black Knight to go back WHERE HE MADE HIM FIRST APPEARED to steal this magical grail that undoubtedly will kill him. Am I just stupid? This seems easy to fix, let the first thing he does BE to steal the grail and use it to boost the power of his energy lance. Without that the Black Knight is just wondering around for 10 minutes before Matt Hatter and his crew show up to kick his ass.
Matt Hatter Chronicles someday may end up on Cartoon Corner because if it keeps heading down this path it will need to be talked about but I think I got all my major grievances out of the way. It’s blandly designed and animated, the characters are uninteresting archetypes that contradict themselves from line to line, and the whole movie connection is completely lost potential and not utilized in any form of intelligent away. In short, Matt Hatter Chronicles is the Open Season of television shows to me disappointing and infuriating. Finally if you want a Kickass Theme song that explains the plot of the story each time take a tip from Conan The Adventurer and don’t suck total ass and be as forgettable as Chop Kick Panda.
NEXT TIME: Legendary A Paintball Documentary OR Paranorman
Written By Taylor 'Whyboy' Wyatt
During my time as an Internet reviewer I’ve grown to be friends with many awesome people like Jess of xXJessworldXx, DanB, the FanFic Critic, Johnny Oldschool, and my best friend Jordan Tucker, my title card artist. I truly believe an Internet friendship can work if the people have a lot in common. It’s just fun to meet all the awesome people on the Internet and the movie today captures that feeling of friendship and trust as well as deal with some very touchy subjects in a more mature way. Yes, Mary and Max a very mature and beautiful movie based off the director, Adam Elliot's, friendship with his Australian pen pal that has lasted for over 20 years.
In the mid-1970s, a homely, friendless 8-year-old Australian girl picks a name out of a Manhattan phone book and writes to the first name she reads. The girl’s name is Mary Dinkle, the only child of an alcoholic mother and a distracted emotionally distant father. The man that Mary writes to is the overweight New Yorker Max Horowitz who suffers from aspergers and is subject to major anxiety attacks. I know half of you just became very uncomfortable the moment you read that line but really there isn’t any worry. The portrayal of Max’s aspergers is played to a somewhat extreme but handles the extreme very maturely, knowing when exactly to hit the extreme (Usually during one of his many anxiety attacks in the movie) and when to act respectful. Mary and Max have a very unique chemistry due to them both being loners in a way and the two over letters help each other out, giving each other advice, and giving them both something to look forward to each day.
The whole first third of the movie is all about the blossoming relationship of these two very different loners. This begins a 20-yearfriendship, interrupted by a stay in an asylum and many misunderstandings. These tribulations give Mary and Max the much-needed edge that makes this truly an involving and in-depth look at the slowly deteriorating psyches of Mary and Max. Mary due to her insecurities and emotional personality creates most of the conflict within the story but Max’s inexperience and sheer dumbfounded fear of human interaction just throws gasoline on that fire which lets the whole movie spin off into the amazing third act. The movie becomes a teeter-totter effect on how horrid both their lives can become and how the two overcome them.
Now the story isn’t all doom and gloom, Mary and Max actually has a funny bone in it usually linked to Max’s inability to understand emotions and Mary’s childish idealism messing with Max’s already laid in concrete reality. But there is one thing that I really hate about this movie. The poop jokes. On several occasions including the poop birthmark bit, Mary & Max will throw in some form of poop joke usually centring in on Mary and her socializing insecurities. Usually manifesting as her getting a dog turd on her shoe when she asks out the neighbour boy or when a pigeon takes a crap on her head as a kid. I’ve said time and time again that poop jokes are just plain stupid and lazy about 80% of the time. The use of poop jokes in Mary & Max really destroys my enthusiasm for it right when I’m in the middle of the movie and about to lose myself in it a poop joke pops up and I land back in reality again. By the end they stop doing it but seriously it gets annoying after the third immersion breaking poop joke. But in all honesty the poop jokes could have been a lot worst so I'm happy for at least that.
The artistic direction of the movie has been lifted from another Melodrama Pictures short called Harvie Krumpet. A story about a man who has Tourette's syndrome, chronic bad luck, menial jobs, nudist tendencies, and a book of "fakts" hung around his neck. Look familiar?
My favourite type of animation is definitely stop motion just for the sheer blood, sweat and tears that goes into making one. I know all other sorts of animation takes a LONG time to complete and make it look good but I'd argue that stop motion would take the longest. Principal photography for Mary and Max lasted over 57 weeks, using 133 separate sets, 212 puppets, and 475 miniature props, "including a fully functioning underwood typewriter which apparently took 9 weeks to design and build. That takes commitment and a lot of patience.
The very simplistic colour palette creates a more real, bleak atmosphere around the movie that makes the characters’ dialogue and the world’s animation all the more interesting. The only colors that this movie deals with, which are split into the two characters’ stories, are browns and greys with a few splashes of red. In those instances the reds really pop on the screen and make you focus in on the object that the red is on. The browns used in Mary’s half of the story invoke the feelings of neglect, and emotional abuse that Mary suffers through but it also represents the sweetness of Mary like chocolate. And for all you smartasses out there. Yes. Brown represents the poop that Mary always seems to attract too. Ugh… Max’s story however predominantly uses greys which represent Max’s bland, monotonous life and a darker scarier nature world that Max sees but the greys also could represent the 1930s movie motif, meaning Max can be very civil and quite intelligent. It’s truly very fun to dissect the movie to see all the hidden meanings in it and the very subtle undertones shown in the art design.
Overall Mary and Max is a very emotional roller coaster I'd say the third act is one of the best third acts I've seen in any movie and the final scene the very final moment is just amazing. Period. I love it's sense of humour that helps it from being unbearably gloomy. I love the artistic design that creates the beautiful atmosphere of friendship and sadness. I just love Mary and Max it may have become one of my favourite movies of all time its that good despite the poop jokes. I'll now leave you with an image of Max's favourite snack.
It's Heart Attack-tastic :)
NEXT TIME: Small Soldiers
Written by Taylor 'Whyboy' Wyatt
Illustration by Jordan Tucker
If anyone has any requests for a future spotlight
or comment below
Ever since I started film school I have made it my mission to start watching movies and shows that I would originally never watch, movies like The Blair Witch Project were on the top of the list of movies I wanted to see. I got a perfect chance to watch some new movies during my first script writing class where I watched movies like Shakespeare in Love, When Harry Met Sally, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Shawshank Redemption (actually I saw this movie before school. VERY good movie and fantastic script), and today’s spotlighted film is Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.
In this tale we follow Joel Barish (Jim Carrey), an emotionally withdrawn man, and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) his girlfriend who is a dysfunctional free spirit. They are inexplicably attracted to each other despite their different personalities. They do not realize it at the time, but they are former lovers now separated after two years together. After a nasty fight, Clementine has had her memories of their relationship erased from her mind. Upon learning this, Joel is devastated and goes to the doctor to have the same procedure of erasing her memories done. However, while unconscious, Joel has second thoughts and decides he wants to keep his memories of Clementine.
Much of the film takes place in Joel's brain as he tries to find a way to preserve his memories of Clementine as the two Lacuna techies Patrick (Elijah Wood) and Stan (Mark Ruffalo) try to erase the memories. We watch the love of Joel and Clementine go in reverse as each memory is slowly erased while Joel tries his best to resist the procedure and hide inside his mind. Jim Carrey truly surprised me with this performance of Joel Barish. This time he's playing a character that’s very reserved and quiet. The complete opposite of most of his previous roles which shows that he is magnificent range when it comes to his acting talent which should be applauded. THAT said Carrey’s true comedic charm always seeps through all his performances. In everything he does. Drama included. I’m always able to see the exact moment when Carrey goes Carrey on the movie and starts to play the part for laughs which is always enjoyable. So, where did Carrey go Carrey in this movie?
Yah that’s a really messed up scene. Regardless of Carrey going Carey, the character of Joel doesn’t suffer much and I truly identify with him. It’s also very intriguing to see the physical manifestation of Joel’s memories being erased. Definite props to the special effects department with their work they created a topsy turvy world inside this character’s head a reality.
Onto Kate Winslet’s Clementine whom is another story completely. She’s a very well put together character, has a very definite personality, and overall is a fun character to see in a scene. But I do have some slight issues with Kate. First off, at the beginning of the movie she didn’t seem to have a firm hold on her character yet and came off as just slightly nutty unlike the spontaneous rebel that she shows us later in the movie. Just a slight character inconsistency. That’s all.
Now as the basics of this story goes we got a simple boy meets girl love story. But what makes this movie great is that it builds depth on top of the base story structure. I don’t think there’s any other perfect way to say this but Eternal Sunshine is basically Inception if it were just a love story and instead of going into dreams Joel is going into his memories.
In the other story arcs, the employees of Lacuna Corporation are revealed to be more than peripheral characters in scenes which further shows the harm caused by the memory-altering procedure. Mary (Kirsten Dunst) had an affair with the married doctor, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak. She agreed to have the affair erased from her memory when his wife discovered the relationship. This story arc however was really not that interesting for me. I couldn’t give to craps about how Mary was feeling mainly due to the fact that she and Stan got high on weed on top of Joel.
What a couple of assholes, right? Anyway my uninterest in this scene is also due to the fact that Mary isn’t that much of a character. She’s kinda like the grown up version of Rosie from A Troll in Central Park. Her only true purpose is to bitch and moan until OH NO she was DECIEVED! Oh deary me. I care so much for her now even after she smoked pot on top of Joel. Also, by the twist of this movie I’d say she and Stan smoked pot multiple times on top of Joel while also doing "other" things.
Another more disturbing story arc is Patrick who becomes fixated on Clementine and uses Joel's personal mementos that he gave to Lacuna as part of the procedure in order to seduce Clementine. One word. FREAK. This is without a doubt the most lonesome character I’ve seen Elijah play and I saw him in North. Patrick is such a disgusting bag of crap that he becomes the villain that I love to hate.
Overall I really do like Eternal Sunshine. The story is interesting and the visual styling of the movie is beautiful. The script lays out the characters rather well but more work on the side characters was needed. The main reason why I like this movie is probably Jim Carrey because he surprised me. Jim Carrey n my mind was never the type to do drama such as this. He was always the class clown of the film industry in my eyes but now I see Carrey in a new light. But honestly I’ll always love him more for his comedies.
The Mask - My Favourite Jim Carrey Movie
Written by Taylor 'Whyboy' Wyatt
Illustration by Jordan Tucker
If anyone has any requests for a future spotlight
or comment below
Detention, a time where troublemakers are forced to just sit and think about what they have done and “supposedly” teaches them to never do it again. When really they are back to doing whatever got them in trouble as soon as they are let out the door. In my experience with detention, only hearing second-hand info, it comes off as a very minor punishment and in no way teaches the you what anything while in there and only holding them for about half an hour before they are released. So, detention in my school may have been too lenient but now we got Detentionaire hat may just take it too far in the other direction. The story goes that Lee Ping and his best friends, Holger Holgaart and Camillio “Cam” Martinez are starting their first year of high school at A. Nigma High. That is, until he was falsely accused of pulling off the biggest prank in high school history and sentenced to one full year of detention by the new half cyborg principal General Barrage. You know what they say - do the crime, do the time. Now, every day, Lee must escape the detention, infiltrate a new social clique (Nerds, Jocks, Goths stc.), and unravel yet another piece of the gigantic, mysterious prank and deduce who is the culprit who framed him simply called “Radcircles.”
Already by the time I heard this in the dozen of teasers I saw on Teletoon I was really looking forward to Detentionaire. It had the one thing that makes me love them uncontrollably and that is mystery. I’ve been starving for some animated mystery shows like the criminally under-appreciated Disney’s Filmore and Detentionaire felt like it could truly quench that hunger and it did. When I started watching the show the theme song is the perfect first impression. One of my major factors as to whether I like a show or not is the intro and Detentionaire doesn't disappoint in that department at all. The opening's addictive opening music gets the adrenaline pumping and puts yah in the right mood for a more grimy solo sleuth show which I just love. The use of contrasting sizes and colours creates a visually beautiful array of textures and this has the one thing I love in a opening "flow." All the visuals match the music dead on and the visuals flow directly into one another creating the flow that I love.
Detentionaire is definitely one of the more shining examples when combating the “All of today’s cartoons suck” trolls because Detentionaire’s story balances both quirky comedy and mystery to a fantastic degree… well most of the time. The mysterious plotlines of “radcircles,” Lee’s past, and putting together how the big prank came together fleshes out the mystery and making the viewer almost NEED to find out what happens next. That’s exactly what happens to me everytime I watch a truly mysterious episode. But sometimes Detentionaire’s mystery is overpowered by its quirky comedy ending in our characters acting completely moronic like in the episode “28 Sneezes Later.” Yah I think you all know where this is going from the title. Short story is that while Lee escapes from detention again chasing after A. Nigma High’s mascot the Tazelwurm, who looks like a rejected character from Spliced, Cam, Holger and two other students are fighting “Flu Zombies.” And while this is going on Barrage is having a chat with… "Colonel Von Virus."
… So, yeah, the show can really turn the silly dial up to 11 creating the real jarring feeling where while Lee is trying to escape from an exploding soda pop factory, by going into another about to explode underground passageway, robotic Tazzelwurms pop out of no where and after they are dispatched it’s only met with a mild head scratching moment for Lee. Wouldn’t the next logical step be… oh I don’t know… asking the freaking factory owners why there’s a secret passage way to a place where there’s robotic lizards ready to rip people’s faces off? But it probably is that most of this will be explained in a later episode but it still seems like a jarring idea to throw in robots and then immediately drop them until a later episode. There was also the episode “15th Grader” which is this series’ special public service announcement on bullying and let me just say my one thought on that episode. BLEH! Please we’ve seen probably hundreds of these bully PSAs in cartoons and in always amounts to some of the most ham handed speeches ever uttered that are so unbearably sappy it makes you want to puke. But really the good episodes outweigh the total embarrassing one’s. The only thing I hate is that the worst episodes turn out most of the time to bring the key clues to the mystery. *Groan*
Moving on from the episodes to the characters. While most are stock characters like the Goths, the nerds, and the skater dudes, they really are more for stereotype humor, which I do find funny. It reminds me of the cliques from, Rock Star’s, Bully (which is one of my favorite games of all time. Basically picture GTA for kids) who were all shameless stereotypes but pushed to the extreme to the point of parody. I think this point can be cemented by saying that the nerd clique has a DDR machine that works by “dancing” equations on a humongous calculator. It’s freaking hilariously surreal.
The main focus is on our main character Lee and his three friends; Holger, Cam and the school bully, Biff Goldstien, and thankfully these four are quite interesting characters. Starting with the most stereotypical of the bunch Cam. Though loyal to Lee and helping with his endeavors when he can he'd just as soon ride Lee's new found wave of popularity after the prank as long as it will last. Cam shows a rather strong interest in finding a girlfriend but fails due to using pick-up lines as charming as a tube sock, which drives his motivation to try and keep Lee from openly denying his status as the prank master, as Lee's fame helps Cam score attention with girls. Now this is a very different spin on the best friend character basically Cam is Lee’s B.F. but he is completely fine with using him in order to make himself popular which at the time of writing this spotlight has placed him as a suspect for being the mastermind of the prank “Radcircles.” Interesting.
Holger, on the other hand, is almost the complete opposite character archetype of Cam. While Cam’s loyalty sways by how it suits his needs, Holger is Lee's obsessively loyal friend and A. Nigma High's Scandinavian exchange student. Though he appears and acts incompetent in all things, on occasion having to be bailed out of trouble by Lee, the value of his few skills have proven to exceed his incompetence. Hoger is the definite comic center of the show hands down with most of his antics centered on his obsessive loyalty. Even when the show turns the silly dial to 11, Holger is always the one that keeps the silliness bearable and allows me to keep watching the sometimes-lead paint drinking awful comedy bits.
Biff is the fan favorite of the cast and I can definitely see why. As the wiki for Detentionaire states Biff “…is a gentle giant with a soft spot for his pet cat” which definitely doesn’t sell who Biff actually is. The writers made sure that Biff wasn’t in any meaning of the world “gentle” except to his cat but he stills shows his true colors. Biff while in the middle of school acts like the big tough bully who’ll pummel your face in by just breathing funny to him and in detention… he still looks like he’ll pound your face in by breathing on him funny. But Biff finds more fun in being a sarcastic wise ass, constantly mocking Lee and all the crap that he gets himself into. Sure Biff helps Lee out but not before verbally prodding him. If I were to compare Biff to another character I say he takes his snarky behavior from Patrick Jane from The Mentalist. Always two steps ahead of Lee’s thinking and definitely a genius despite how he acts. Biff isn’t a gentle giant masking as a bully. He’s a sarcastic tough guy masking as a bully.
Now onto my favorite character the framed prank master himself, Lee Ping. Lee is what we like to call the “straight man”, the character that plays normal to the wacky, mysterious crap that fluctuates throughout his life at school. Lee also is the audience’s frame of reference to all the weird crap that happens in A. Nigma and in doing so I feel he turns into one of the most realistic student characters ever. Despite being part of a school, which even in reality is clique central, Lee couldn’t care less of being part of any clique even the popular clique. His only goals are to get good grades, talk to his love interest Tina Kwee (Lois Lane reference anyone?), and just hang out with his pals. I don’t know about all of you guys and gals but I couldn’t care less about cliques and popularity either which allows me to sympathize with him when Lee gets swept up in the popular crowd after he’s framed for the prank. Because really why wouldn’t you find the guy who covered you in puke and other crap cool? All Lee wants is to hang out with his friends but now he is forced to delph into the cliques of the school to find out who set him up which again leading back to the calculator DDR example leads to some hilarious shenanigans.
Nelvana, Detentionaire’s production company, who produced classics like Redwall and the Care Bears creates a flash based art style reminiscent of 6Teen but adding more of a grimy look to the backgrounds which creates a more mysterious, dingy feel to the series. There are only two major issues I have with the show’s animation. The first being its walk cycles. These walk cycles are just plain terrible with all their characters’ movements having the "flashy" look about them. The second thing and this is rather silly to notice but whenever the show does a close-up of Lee’s hands it, for some reason, becomes… this.
I mean come on seriously? This looks plain awful. It’s completely jarring to look at when the rest of the show is very clean. Overall I love this show. There are some definite low points of the show and some lazy flash animating tactics pulled in the show. But overall the characters are funny and take interesting spins on old clichés, the storyline is mysterious making you really want to know what happens next, and the animation overall is very immersive to the world of A.Nigma High. If you’re in Canada check it out on Teletoon sometime and if you’re in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world there are full episodes posted on youtube if you want to check it out. Now in the words of Detentionaire’s principal Barrage “DISMISSED!”
NEXT: Whyboy Spotlights... Renny The Fox
Illustrations by Jordan Tucker - Facebook Gallery
Written by: Taylor "Whyboy" Wyatt
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SPOTLIGHTED BY Galo N.
Cats. What would life be without cats? Well half of youtube would seize to exist, writers would stop demonizing them in almost every comedy movie and cartoon, and we wouldn’t have Turner Entertainment’s first and last film Cat’s Don’t Dance before getting they’re company absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation. The story goes like this the bright-eyed dreamer Danny from the small town of Kokomo, Indiana, played by Scott Bakula, leaves home to head to Hollywood to obtain his dreams of starring in the movies. When he reaches Hollywood he meets a rag tag team of animal actors including his love interest Sawyer, played by Jasmine Guy, and gets a job working on the latest Darla Dimple picture. Mayhem ensues as Danny takes his quest to make himself and his fellow animals Hollywood stars by showing their audience and the film industry that, in fact, they can dance.
Now the story overall is fairly simple but does have this coat of depth to it. This would probably go unnoticed to most kids but the whole movie is tangentially teaching everyone who watches it decades worth of film history. Let’s start off with the most obvious example of how this movie tangentially teaches everyone through its sheer amount of caricature characters. Can you name every single famous actor/director that this movie shows? Here's just a few.
Laurel & Hardy
Louis B. Mayer
Named in this L.B. Mammoth
It is quite ingenious showing kids all these famous film icons through this mostly cameo style and just not jamming it down our throats but showing enough that our interest in them makes us curious want to find out more. The next bit of tangential learning that this movie shows us is through the story itself and it’s exactly what you think it is. Minorities would go to auditions and casting calls like the one’s shown here and be given roles based solely that they were black, Hispanic, a women or whatever and when they were being filmed they got very small roles like Danny.
Overall as a tangential learning tool Cat’s Don’t Dance is a very intelligent movie but the movie suffers a little bit because of how much it loves it’s film references and tangential topics. All the side characters in the movie, T.W. Turtle, Cranston Goat, Frances the fish, Wollie Mammoth and Tillie Hippo, are all underdeveloped ending in me not caring one little bit on whether they have their dreams come true or not but when I say underdeveloped I don’t mean they are bland or stereotypes. Unlike the Open Season characters, that have only one joke to them and nothing else, these characters actually have some interesting aspects to them like how Tillie is constantly playing matchmaker for characters, the sort of second personality of T.W. when he sings, and even the seemingly romantic relationship of Cranston and Frances is interesting. If these characters got a little more time to interact with Danny on screen I feel they could have been all very memorable characters. We see it can work like with Woolie Mammoth’s scene where he talks about his woes of doing the company production logo at the beginning of movies.
Also, he's played by John Reyes Davies so that helps a bit.
Now onto the main leads of the movie Danny and Sawyer. Sawyer is a very good antagonizing love interest for Danny, counteracting Danny’s bright-eyed optimism with her realistic pessimism. This contrast in personality does create believable conflict. Bottom line for Sawyer’s character I feel she is a great character but her voice actress is a different story. During research I found that Turner Entertainment had several actresses audition for the role of Sawyer, but there was a lot of indecision that led to many scenes being animated for different actresses. Jasmine Guy was chosen to play Sawyer when the movie was 90% complete. The original voice actress chosen for the character (never was specified who it was) had a much deeper voice which resulted in a noticeable contrast of tones between Jasmine Guy's voice and Sawyer’s singing voice Natalie Cole. I can simply say I love Natalie Cole’s singing in Cat’s Don’t Dance. She is able to bring so much energy and passion into all her singing performances in the movie. This however creates the awkwardness when during the transition between the two actresses voices (Jasmine Guy’s and Natalie Cole’s) there was an extremely distracting tonal shift that made me scratch my head numerous times. If they had stuck with the more deeper voice actress that tonal shift wouldn’t have been as distracting.
Now onto Danny! He’s dull. Yes I said that the contrasting personalities between Danny and Sawyer were great. The contrast is great, and Sawyer’s personality is great but Danny’s personality is not great. Below average would be how I describe it. This could have been more to the fact that we are introduced to Danny through one of the most generic songs “Danny's Arrival Song,” you can just see the creativity is just beaming from that title, done by the king of generic himself Randy Newman. The only thing I remember of that song was the visuals, which were fantastic. Everything else is just a smudge on my memory. The song does state everything you need to know about Danny but that’s the thing what it states is just a generic hero. Danny like I said is the optimistic bright-eyed dreamer nothing more nothing less. This character isn’t bad but it has been done to death in countless movies. There is nothing new that Danny brings to the table that twelve other movies haven’t already brought but even generic Danny is still likeable. He's just the least memorable of the bunch.
But now onto the most memorable characters of the movie, the villains, Darla Dimple and her humongous bodyguard Max. First off Darla Dimple is a great reference to Shirley Temple and Darla Hood respectively taking the look from Shirley and the name from Darla, who were both huge child actors from the 1930s. Next Darla is a very fun but brutal character with her split personality. On one side she’s the darling miss Darla Dimple lover of all things and America’s sweetheart and on the other side Cruella De Ville’s evil hell spawn. The difference between these sides is spotlighted during her fantastic villian song “Big & Loud.” First starting off like this…
And ending with this…
Darla Dimple is definitely the highlight of the movie. Her bodyguard Max… well I just like his running joke of being this huge lumbering laviathan but doing almost everything in the most delicate of fashions.
Finally the songs are mixed but all are made even better with the movies fantastic visuals.
Danny’s Arrival Song
Big & Loud
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now (Especially This Song)
The visuals along are worth the price to get this movie. Everything in this movie just “pops” out and is easily distinguishable and memorable even though the characters themselves aren’t. Also, has there been any other movie where the color pink is shown as threatening? None that I can think of. Cats Don’t Dance overall is a decent movie that sacrificed character development for more film history references. If they had put the exact amount of effort they did for film history references to character development then I’m sure this movie would be an animated classic.
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Written by: Taylor "Whyboy" Wyatt
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