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Corpse Bride (2005)
Corpse vs. Wallace
By now I think most of us can agree that the two main contenders for best animated feature are Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit. Both films are great, but my pick would be Corpse Bride.
I have been a fan of both The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Wallace and Gromit shorts since I was a child, so judging between the two has been no easy task. Ultimately, however, I chose Corpse Bride. I just can't ignore the amazing animation, acting, and of course, Mr. Elfman's amazing score, as usual. In many ways, it surpasses Wallace and Gromit tremendously.
Corpse Bride did have its flaws, mainly in the story. This movie is only 80 minutes. Ridiculously short, but understandable for a movie that uses a filming process so excruciatingly slow and painful. But because of its short length, at times the story seems rushed, particularly about fifteen minutes in, when Victor first meets the Corpse Bride. The entire sequence just felt to me as though both writer and director were trying to speed things along, and you never want to feel this way when you're watching something. You want it to go at an even pace. Not too slow, and not too fast.
Should you see this movie? Will you like it? Hard to say. It's brilliant, and Oscar-worthy, but that doesn't mean that everyone will like it. I'd say if you've seen anything with Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, or Danny Elfman in it, then you should see this movie and you will probably like it. If you haven't, then you need to watch the trailer a couple of times and decide for yourself if it looks good. The trailer is very helpful, I promise. And F.Y.I, Danny Elfman wrote the opening for The Simpsons, and that definitely counts.
Definitely Read the Book First
I absolutely loved the book, and I'm so glad I read it first, because halfway through the movie, I realized that if I hadn't read the book before reading the movie, I would have been very lost. This is based on a true story, and a rather long book, much of which had to be cut out of the film. Normally, that wouldn't confuse audiences, but this is not an action-packed story. It's a murder mystery with about ten minutes of murder and two hours of light conversation about the murder, which can make it very confusing and slow if you don't know the details that had to be left out, or the few things that were added in for what I can only imagine were cinematic continuity. But it's close enough to the book that if you liked it, you'll probably like the movie. But I think you'll agree that the book was a lot better.
The Ultimate in Inside Jokes
If you haven't seen this movie, you're out of the loop, plain and simple. There are about a million times in your life that you will be going, "Huh?" if you don't see this movie. If you're reading this, you probably already have, so I know I'm preaching to the choir, but humor me anyway...
This is by no means a perfect movie, but then again, what movie is? Some jokes aren't as funny as others, and even being one of the biggest Python fans I know, I can't help but feel a little sad about the rushed ending.
Don't look for political commentary. Don't look for a hidden sophistication or a message about life. It's not there. What is there is pure zaniness that is really unsurpassed, and if you don't get it, then you're probably thinking, "Why is this supposed to be funny?" Don't think that. In fact, don't think anything at all, if you can help it. Just relax, sit back, and enjoy the ride. You'll be able to keep up as long as you don't try to remember why you want to.
Oh! Sûpâ Miruku-chan (1998)
If you're American, watch the second dub
I own the first two DVD's of this series, and I have to say, it's one of my favorite anime series right now. When they brought this anime over to America for the first time, ADV realized they had two choices: make a dub with all the original Japanese references so that the die-hard purist anime fans will be happy, or change the references so that American audiences can understand it better. They decided to go with the former. Now, I understand that some of you are going, "Woo-hoo!" and in some cases, that would be justified. But not in this one. Super Milk-Chan just contains too many obscure Japanese references that it's not funny to Americans. There's no way around it: American culture is too different from Japanese culture to make for a smooth transition. I've seen the original dub. It just wasn't funny.
So then they made a second dub. They changed all of the references and replaced the Japanese live-action scenes with their own. And you know what? It was just funnier that way. Buy the DVD, but watch the second dub only. And I don't want to hear, "But it's not accurate to the original version!" Who cares? It's still funny and spontaneous and just so well done, and in the end, it's much more palatable and more enjoyable for American audiences.