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tavm

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I liked Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, 24 October 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So my movie theatre-working friend proposed seeing a movie today and he picked this one. I decided to humor him since I would mostly be at this computer, otherwise. He'd seen it before and I hadn't and for a while, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy it like he did since he laughed right away, unlike me. But when they went to that 4 Non Blondes song I remember from the '90s, I did laugh when that scene came on and I laughed at some places my friend didn't. So for the most part, I did like this movie and I did appreciate a lot of the humor in some lines and scenes. And since me and my friend were the only ones in the matinée audience, we talked quite a bit during the movie like whenever a familiar Disney song was played, I asked him if he knew what it was like when the "When You Wish Upon a Star" instrumental was played when the Disney logo was shown at the beginning (He didn't). Oh, and I was wonderfully surprised at the cameo by a Famous Celebrity reading something he wasn't supposed to (Glad my friend didn't reveal that part.) So for all that, I did indeed enjoy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. P.S. Of course the teen girl when practicing for her performance as Peter Pan would sing a song from the Disney version and not from the Broadway one that starred Mary Martin.

Readin' and Writin' marked the final appearance of Miss Crabtree in the Our Gang series, 23 October 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This Hal Roach comedy short, Readin' and Writin', is the one hundred eleventh in the "Our Gang/Little Rascals" series and the twenty-third talkie. Breezy doesn't want to go to school on the first day and does all he can to get expelled: like setting a car horn in the wastebasket, making Dorothy send a note to Miss Crabtree which tells her Dorothy's hard-of-hearing, and having Wheezer and Stymie calling her "Crabby"! The final straw is when he deliberately brings a mule in the classroom. So unless he recites a sappy poem, Breezy is expelled. He should be happy but now he's all alone. So guess what he does? This marked Kendall McComas' Our Gang debut having previously been in the Mickey McGuire series. It was a trade-in since previous Gang-er Shirley Jean Rickert ended up transitioned there at the same time. It was also June Marlowe's final episode as the lovely teacher. After one more film, she'd get married and retire. And this was the second appearance of Stymie's sister Carlena Beard in the series. Anyway, this was quite a funny short if not as hilarious as previous Crabtree entries. I especially loved seeing Pete the Pup's reaction at the end! So on that note, Readin' and Writin' is recommended.

The Christmas Party was a fascinating promotional short for M-G-M's stars celebrating the holidays, 23 October 2014
6/10

1931 was quite a year for Jackie Cooper. He began it while still a member of Hal Roach's Rascals (a.k.a Our Gang) before then filming Skippy for his uncle Norman Taurog at Paramount. After that film's success, Roach then sold Cooper's contract to his distributor M-G-M so he could do features there starting with The Champ which was also a success. So that probably got the powers-that-be there to make a promotional short featuring their now-hot child star and surrounding him with many of the studio's other adult stars in a holiday greeting meant to wow the theatrical audience with all the celebs in the studio's roster at the time. What I saw was quite amusing if not hilarious with whoever I recognized turning up at Jackie's "party" like Clark Gable, and, oh, let's not forget Norma Shearer who seems to have an "in" with Mr. Mayer but then, she was married to his second-in-command, Irving Thalberg, at the time. So on that note, The Christmas Party is worth a look for anyone curious about these things.

Shiver My Timbers is another hilarious Our Gang short, 23 October 2014
9/10

This Hal Roach comedy short, Shiver My Timbers, is the one hundred ninth in the "Our Gang/Little Rascals" series and the twenty-first talkie. In this one, Billy Gilbert is regaling the gang with stories of his adventures to the consternation of Miss Crabtree since the kids always miss her classes as a result. When she confronts Gilbert of this, he resolves to scare them of their desire to become pirates. I'll stop there and just say this was one of the most funny of the series especially when Gilbert really turns on the florid villainy in his performance! And Stymie, as always, steals the show with his wisecracks. By the way, his sister-Carlena Beard-is part of the gang here. After the too-serious subject matter dealt with in Big Ears, Shiver My Timbers takes the 180-degree approach to great hilarity! So that's definitely a recommendation. P.S. Among the crew is one Charles Oelze who was responsible for many of the outlandish props in the series. He's the one in glasses who scares Stymie.

Big Ears (1931)
Big Ears was the first really awful talkie Our Gang short, 23 October 2014
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This Hal Roach comedy short, Big Ears, is the one hundred eighth in the "Our Gang/Little Rascals" series and the twentieth talkie. Wheezer can't stand to hear his parents constantly argue and asks if they still love him. They both assure him they do and only after he puts them back together in the same room do they promise they won't argue anymore. But when he and Petie the Pup go outside, they're back to bickering. So Wheezer, Stymie, and Dorothy discuss what divorce is before another kid tells them the truth about that. So Wheezer decides to get really sick so his parents will forget about fighting. The subject matter is pretty appalling for a comedy especially one meant to be entertaining for kids relating to their counterpoints on screen. Even Stymie's wisecracks or the various ways of making Wheezer's stomach turn fail to make me laugh this time. In fact, the only time I chuckled was when Stymie had Petie smell the Limburger cheese and when Petie's ears made a raspberry noise after hearing the parents once again declare their love for each other! Petie has the right idea! So on that note, I really can't recommend Big Ears. P.S. That was really Stymie's mother-Johnnie Mae Beard-calling out to him near the end.

Fly My Kite was a worthy successor to previous Our Gang short, Helping Grandma, 22 October 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This Hal Roach comedy short, Fly My Kite, is the one hundred seventh in the "Our Gang/Little Rascals" series and the nineteenth talkie. A sequel to Helping Grandma, Margaret Mann once again portrays the gang's lovable elderly woman who's thrilling them with a western story in a magazine before then boxing with one of them. Then her son-in-law arrives to throw her out so he can move in with his new wife (Mae Busch-usually of Laurel & Hardy comedies who's as mean here as she often was to Stan & Ollie!). Since Grandma's now broke, she seems to have no other choice but, wait, there are some bonds that may have suddenly become valuable...When Ms. Mann starts crying, I admit to feeling a little manipulated to almost cringing levels but then she gives it to her son-in-law good and I'm really cheering for her as he really deserves what's coming to him! Oh, and seeing her do all those stunts is really fascinating to watch if a little unbelievable. It didn't surprise me when Richard W. Bann revealed in the commentary track that those stunts were actually done by Dave Sharpe in Ms. Mann's costume! Oh, and I also loved when he pointed out the locations in the short and what was still there and what wasn't. And the kids are hilarious as always especially when attacking the son-in-law played by an actor named James Mason (obviously, not the later British actor from Odd Man Out or the Judy Garland version of A Star Is Born). So on that note, I highly recommend Fly My Kite. P.S. This was the last Our Gang appearance for Mary Ann Jackson, Shirley Jean Rickert (she'd transition to the Mickey McGuire series as Tomboy Tailor), and Norman "Chubby" Chaney. He'd unfortunately die in 1936 after becoming very ill especially after an operation for glandular ailment. This was also Allen "Farina" Hoskins' last regular appearance in the series though he'd return a few years later for a mini-reunion.

The Stolen Jools is fascinating for the star cameos...and not much else!, 22 October 2014
2/10

I had once watched this short back in the late '80s when I bought a Goodtimes VHS tape that had this short on it. The fact that this was meant to be shown before someone in the theatre passed a jar around to raise money for a tuberculosis sanatorium and it was sponsored by Chesterfield Cigarettes must have been a lost irony at the time! Anyway, I was fascinated by the cameos that appeared in this especially those from Hal Roach Studios like Laurel & Hardy and the Our Gang kids who were at the time: Allen "Farina" Hoskins, Matthew "Stymie" Beard, Norman "Chubby" Cheney, Mary Ann Jackson, Shirley Jean Rickert, Dorothy "Echo" DeBorba, Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins, and Pete the Pup. Of the gang, all except Mary got close-ups though she did have the last line warning of the cops who happened to be L & H! Their scenes were funny as were the later appearance of Wheeler & Woolsey but all the scenes surrounding them were the most lame of all! So on that note, The Stolen Jools is worthy as a curiosity and nothing more.

Seein' Things is one of the most bizarre Our Gang shorts out there, 22 October 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This Hal Roach comedy short, Seein' Things, is the twenty-fifth in the "Our Gang/Little Rascals" series. The version I saw started with the gang preparing a "barbercooe" with Farina definitely not invited but "she" sabotages that when she puts something heavy in a mud puddle which causes the overflowing water to go on the chicken. So Farina is now on the run and stops at a corner which then has a bunch of food items from a running truck fall to where the little tyke is staying. So Farina is now full (as shown by the now-very large belly). So now comes this dream...I'll just say that the rest of the short is filled with some of the most bizarre images ever in the series from a giant-size gang chasing "her", to Farina going underwater to then being up a tall building to then imagining "herself" as a "he" in top hat and tails wooing a much taller female (Dorothy Morrison, Ernie "Sunshine Sammy"s sister). I found myself half-laughing and cringing but really, this was such a weird short that I say, Seein' Things is at the least worth a look especially for any Our Gang completists out there.

Bargain Day turned out to be Jackie Cooper's final Our Gang appearance, 22 October 2014
8/10

This Hal Roach comedy short, Bargain Day, is the one hundred sixth in the "Our Gang/Little Rascals" series and the eighteenth talkie. In this one, Chubby tries on every hat in the store but nothing seems right for him. It's during this time that we find out Wheezer sold many of the gang's items so they go out looking for him. Wheezer and Stymie end up at rich girl Shirley's house which has a monkey inside. I'll stop there and just say that I found most of this hilarious despite some lines that play on stereotypes of Stymie's race. I especially loved the "Watt Street" routine between Wheezer, Stymie, and Shirley which reminded me of Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First!". Of note: former Our Gang member Mickey Daniels was the laughing voice of the monkey and this turned out to be Jackie Cooper's final appearance in the series as he would shoot the feature Skippy during retakes and after that film's success, Hal Roach would sell Cooper's contract to Roach's distributor M-G-M to work on features full-time. When continuing to review these shorts in chronological order, I may stop once in while to also review films outside the series featuring many of these Our Gangers in movies that come between many of these entries. So on that note, I very much recommend Bargain Day.

Love Business is another great Our Gang short, 22 October 2014
10/10

This Hal Roach comedy short, Love Business, is the one hundred fourth in the "Our Gang/Little Rascals" series and the sixteenth talkie. Jackie is so in love with Miss Crabtree, he always looks at her picture and says, "I love you" constantly to the consternation of Wheezer who's always hugged and kissed by him when they're sleeping together! Now she's a border at his house. Chubby is also crushing on her heavily and when he finds out, comes to the house later that day in order to court her! I'll stop there and just say this was the funniest of the Jackie/Miss Crabtree trilogy in the series with great punchlines provided by Wheezer, Stymie, Mary Ann, and Dorothy. And June Marlowe is, as always, utterly charming as the pretty teacher. So on that note, Love Business is highly recommended.


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