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Even the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia can't save this one.
I was a child of the 80s and grew up watching this special every single Easter. We even had a copy on a battered old VHS that my father had taped off of the television. So even if it didn't air on a network, we were still always able to see "The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town" when Easter rolled around. It had literally been decades since I'd last seen it when I came across it on YouTube and decided to watch it for old time's sake. I vaguely remembered the plot and characters, and some bits of dialog verbatim, but I had forgotten quite a lot about this little special. I sat with my husband and hoped that I would be rediscovering a gem of my childhood that I could share with my own son in a few years. Boy was I wrong.
I'm a big fan of all the classic Rankin Bass stop-motion holiday specials, but this one? In a word, terrible. Even the rose-colored glasses of my childhood nostalgia couldn't save this one. In fact, I was shocked when I came on here to see that there was not one negative review for this appalling program. I felt compelled to write my own review, because someone needs to be honest here, this program is just not good.
For starters, this special is little more than "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" with the Easter Bunny shoe-horned into Santa's role. Complete with the Fred Astaire character and the reading of children's letters with questions for the Easter Bunny during the intro. Since when do children write letters to the Easter Bunny anyway? But I'll be kind and ignore this. It even looks like they've reused the same set for Somber Town that was used in "SCICTT", so it's very difficult to ignore the similarities. As with the Christmas special, the whole point of the show is to explain why we do certain things at Easter, but the scenarios they come up with to explain why we do certain Easter traditions are ridiculously laughable.
By far the worst explained Easter tradition is, "Why do we dress up on Easter?" There is a big mean bear who lives on the mountain that separates Kidville from the rest of the civilized world. Sunny the Easter Bunny decides that in order to warm the bear's icy heart, all he needs is a new suit of clothes. One minute the bear is all roaring and mean, but then once he sees his new clothes he becomes a sobbing mess and is a pushover for the rest of the film. This was the best they could come up with to explain wearing nice clothes on Easter? It makes my brain hurt.
Also I understand that this is a children's program and no one is expecting writing on par with Citizen Kane, but there are plot holes in this special big enough to float the Titanic through. It really feels like the people involved in this special didn't even try.
Sunny the Easter Bunny lives in a town called Kidville, where everyone is a kid, even the teachers and mayor. As the special progresses, several Easters pass, but not a single one of the children age a day. This could have easily been explained away with a quick mention of Kidville being a magical place, but not even that deus ex machina is utilized.
When the villains are trying to thwart Sunny in his attempts to bring a trainload of Easter goodies into town, their "brilliant" plan is that they put butter on the train rails to make the train slip. After this plan doesn't work out, they have absolutely nothing to fall back on. Seriously? You're supposed to be these awful villains hell-bent on destroying Easter, but after your buckets of butter don't work out you just give up? Lamest villains EVER. Not to mention that all it takes for the main villain to give up her mean ways is a flower. Seriously, a flower. One minute she's banning people from having children and forcing an entire town to eat nothing but beans, but give her a nice flower and she's suddenly sweet as pie.
The one nice thing I will say about this special, and the only reason I was kind enough to give it three stars, is the fact that all these years later some of the songs are still danged catchy. Also Sunny the Easter Bunny is very cute. So kudos to whoever did the song writing for this Easter special, and whichever character designer came up with Sunny, but shame on everyone else who was involved with it.
Needless to say, I think instead of ever watching this special with my son, we'll just color some eggs instead.
Daydream Believers or Randy Scouse Gits?
Daydream Believers: The Monkees' Story is a big disappointment because the story of The Monkees has such great potential and could have made for a great film. This unfortunately, is not a great film. In a way, the project was doomed from the get-go simply for being a made-for-TV movie. The Monkees story isn't one that can be told in a PG-rated way, and unfortunately those were the standards that had to be met.
First off, the casting seemed to make the unfortunate decision of choosing the four lead actors who portray the Monkees, more for their physical appearances than anything else. All four actors resemble their Monkey counterparts fairly well, but their performances were all over-the-top and leaned dangerously into the areas of caricature. Micky was "the zany one", Mike "the controlling one", Peter "the zen one" and Davy "the easy-going one". The reduction of The Monkees to these one-dimensional characters makes the main characters difficult to relate to, and hard to believe. It would have been much nicer to see all four portrayed as fully fleshed out human-beings. The actor who plays Peter was probably the best in my opinion, while the actor who played Davy did at least seem to take some time to get Davy Jones's mannerisms down fairly well, most especially when playing the tambourine. All in all though, it was difficult to see them as The Monkees and not as four actors doing poor imitations of The Monkees. Aaron Lohr's "Micky Dolenz doing James Cagney" was particularly cringe-worthy.
Also a great deal of screen-time was wasted with this film by recreating full music videos or scenes from the show. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but accuracy was not taken into account when filming these recreations. They appeared to try to make the "Daydream Believer" video fairly close to the original in terms of choreography, but goofed on the wardrobe by outfitting the boys in the clothing worn in the "Star Collector" video. They also attempted to recreate the Monkees opening sequence, but mixed up scenes from the first season opener with the second season opener. Since these bits took up a good portion of the film, you think they'd have taken the care to at least recreate them accurately.
Many of the more scandalous bits of Monkey history (Michael Nesmith's affair and the resulting illegitimate child, most notably) were left out entirely to paint a much cleaner picture than what existed in reality. In addition, many facts were fudged, changed, or outright left out in order to make this film more of a happy-go-lucky affair than the real tell-all expose that it could have been.
All-in-all, it's a shame that the first attempt at bringing the lives of The Monkees to the screen resulted in such a mediocre piece. Hopefully someday a bigger studio, with more funds and more time, can do justice in telling the real story of the Pre-fab Four we know and love.
Futurama: Jurassic Bark (2002)
The Saddest Thing In the World
I gave this episode a 5, because it is both excellent, AND awful. The last minute of this episode, is without a doubt, the saddest thing ever written, or put to film, in the entire world. This makes it both brilliantly good, and terribly upsetting at the same time. Hours after seeing this episode, I found myself sobbing over it. It doesn't just tug at your heart-strings, it wrenches them out, like a dentist pulling out an abscessed tooth. Even now, just thinking about this episode is enough to make me tear up almost instantly. I can't imagine what state of mind the writer was in, to write such an agonizingly sad piece. Do not watch this episode if you are at all soft-hearted, or especially if you are a dog lover.
A Little Slice of My Childhood
Faeries was one of those films that I could never get out of my mind. We had taped it off of the TV when it first aired, and I watched this battered VHS copy of it several times during my toddler-hood. For some reason, even though I couldn't have been any older than four the last time I saw it, this film made an indelible impression.
I was recently lucky enough to purchase a used video-store copy of this film from a seller at amazon.com, and I was amazed at how much of this film I remembered even though over two decades have passed since I last saw it.
The dancing of the faeries accompanied by string and woodwind instruments, the three hags, the one-legged demon, the shape-changing Puck, the frightened Kobold, the Faerie King dancing with his shadow, the journey across the lake, and the final frightening battle between Oisin and the Shadow; it was all lying dormant in my brain, just waiting to be awoken.
The film follows the would-be hero Oisin, as he is brought into the land of faerie by a beautiful faerie princess with long blue hair. The faerie King foolishly brought his shadow to life, and the shadow has since sapped the King's own powers, and threatened to plunge the world of Faerie into darkness. Only a mortal can destroy the shadow, and so Oisin agrees to help out the faerie folk, and sets out, accompanied by the shape-changer Puck. While venturing to the Shadow's evil castle, they come across a group of goblins, getting ready to make Kobold stew out of a poor helpless little fellow whom they captured. Oisin and Puck free the Kobold, and he joins them on their quest.
With the help of the Kobold's candles, Oisin is able to defeat the evil Shadow, and the land of faerie is saved.
I wouldn't say that this film is a great film, but there's definitely something magical and enchanting about it. I wish that Brian Froud's influence were more prevalent in the look of the film, and of course it's far too short, lasting only 30 minutes. All-in-all though, I'm very happy to own a copy of this charming, if-short fairy tale.
Hansel and Gretel (1954)
Charming Children's Film
When I was growing up, we had a battered old VHS copy of this film that someone had had the presence of mind to tape off of the television one day. Even though I was born over twenty years after this film was created, it still captured my imagination and I remember watching it many times over with my older sisters.
This film is a retelling of the classic story of Hansel and Gretel, with a few whimsical additions and a musical score. The stop-motion animation used to create this film, is both primitive and charming at the same time. Although nowadays much smoother looking animation can be created on the computer, the claymation creatures in this film do not suffer in comparison, any more than claymation classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
The wonderful thing about this little film is the atmosphere created by the animated visuals, and by the lovely soundtrack. It's enchanting and creepy at the same time, which was an irresistible combination when I was a child. The cheerful parts are fun and engaging, while the more sinister scenes with the witch are wonderfully unsettling. Although it's been years since I've seen this film, to this very day I still remember the songs word for word and can recite from the script.
I think any child fond of fairy tales, or fantasy stories would enjoy seeing this little film. If you happen to see it on the television, or find it for sale somewhere, don't pass it up!
The Puppeteer (2004)
A Magical Man, Taken Too Soon.
I was lucky enough to see The Puppeteer on WGBH yesterday, and I am still thinking about it. Although I live within quick driving distance of Harvard Square, I had never before heard about Igor Fokin. This documentary is a wonderful and touching look into the life of a man who brought so much joy to people, simply through his talent and warm heart.
Igor Fokin was a puppeteer from Russia who came to America in the early 1990's. With his hand-made wooden puppets, and his skill as a puppeteer, Igor became a well-loved street performer in Harvard Square. The puppets themselves are works of art with a life and personality all their own, but combined with Igor's wonderful ability to make them interact with the crowd, and the charming Russian folk music he'd use as a background, his shows were mesmerizing.
In a world where children are so often glued to a television set, or playing on a video game consol, it is magical to see the children in this film so enchanted by Igor and his puppets. One small bird puppet runs from child to child to "eat" invisible seeds from their cupped hands, another old woman puppet runs around the stage area, sweeping up near people's feet and glancing at them with disdain. In one particularly beautiful sequence, a little redheaded girl reaches her hands out to a dancing clown puppet, and little by little takes it into her lap where she gently places her arms around it and leans her head against its head as if conversing quietly with a new friend. Igor's puppets truly came alive in his hands and the smile on his face when performing is heartwarming.
Igor comes across as so full of life, so passionate about the art of puppetry that it comes as a terrible shock when you learn that he tragically passed away at the young age of 36. It is a shame to think that a man who brought so many smiles to so many faces, should be taken from us so quickly.
Igor brought a small bit of magic to the world, and it's heartbreaking that he wasn't able to share his gift with more people on his short time on this earth. Luckily this documentary of his life, lets all of us see a little bit of the magic that he created. He will be missed by all those who he touched.
She's the dummy!!
This film is proof that not every movie needs to have academy award winning performances, a gripping plot and special effects to be enjoyable. Mannequin is certainly not a spectacular piece of cinematic achievement, but its simplicity and light-heartedness is what makes it great! I've loved this movie ever since I was a kid and I always, and still do, find it a fun and enjoyable watch, especially on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Jonathan Switcher is a down-on-his-luck artist. He can't hold down a regular job because his creativity keeps on sabotaging his productivity. One day he saves a little old lady who gratefully offers him employment at the department store that she owns. Jonathan goes to work arranging the store's window displays, and happens across a mannequin that he built during one of his short lived careers. Low and behold, the mannequin he created comes to life when the two of them are alone and a fun and silly romantic comedy ensues.
The entire plot is quite silly and full of holes, but the movie is pure fun. Andrew McCarthy is cute and endearing as always and Kim Cattrall is fun and witty as the bubbly mannequin. This film is rife with great one-liners and hysterical situations and of course a great 80's style musical montage. Actual one of the most unfortunate things about this film is that the music is great and a soundtrack album was never released! For shame!
Of course Mannequin isn't thought-provoking, nor is it clever or cinematic ally impressive. It's just a cute silly little film that will make you laugh as long as you don't take it too seriously.
Gregory's Girl (1980)
I've caught this movie a few times playing on Stars in the states, and there is something indescribably charming about it. Maybe I'm biased because I've always loved British movies and television shows, but I found this movie very cute. The story is nothing big and dramatic, just a boy liking a girl and learning a bit about himself and about love in general in the end. The lead character of Gregory is very convincing and very real, you like him but at the same time you can't help wincing a bit at his awkwardness, especially in the scene where he's helping Dorothy out in football by playing goalie. I find this movie very refreshing when compared to teen comedies that are being made nowadays. Gregory's Girl has a realness and innocence to it that is severely lacking in Hollywood now.
And also thanks to whoever posted that the US version had the Scottish accents dubbed. I always noticed there was something "off" about the voices, especially the younger kids and now I see why. I hope someday I can see a copy with the original voices intact.
Not as great as the books, but not horrendously bad either
It seems like I'm one of the few Americans who read translations of the Pippi Longstocking books, AND saw this movie as a kid. At this point, I can't remember what came first for me, the books or the movies, but I will say that as a child, I enjoyed both.
Pippi is a GREAT character in literature, I could consider her arguably one of the greatest female characters ever created.
She's strong, she's independent, she's fun, intelligent and gifted.
What girl WOULDN'T want to be like Pippi? I know that reading about her as a little girl, I was endlessly jealous of Tommy and Annika who got Pippi as a playmate. I wished she'd move next door to me.
This movie doesn't do such a great job of translating the Pippi character. She seems less creative and imaginative, and more crazy and dim. There's something about the character of Pippi that is lacking in the movie and the movie loses a lot because of that.
But Pippi aside, the movie isn't ALL bad. It's a late 80's kids movie with cheesy special effects, poor acting, and a silly story. But through all this, it is still enjoyable. The situations that Pippi and Tommy and Annika get in are still fun, and it's a good movie for young kids. If you do show this movie to your kids though, be sure to buy them the books afterwards and show them what Pippi is REALLY like. This movie is a good starting point to get kids introduced to the great character of Pippi.
The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
Yeah it's GREAT when it WORKS!
I grew up with the Muppets and even got to see "The Muppets Take
Manhatten" in the theatre when I was four years old, but even now
at the age of 24 "The Great Muppet Caper" is still my favorite
Muppet Movie and one of my favorite movies. The Muppets are
almost always great, but "The Great Muppet Caper" is the Muppets
at their best.
Great for kids and adults, kids will love the funny Muppets and the
madcap situations, adults will love the wit, satire and hysterical
cameos. This is a movie you can sit down and watch with your
kids, but you'll be enjoying it just as much as them.
Kermit and Fozzie the Bear are reporters and are sent to England
along with their photographer Gonzo to track down the thieves who
stole Lady Holiday's jewels. They wind up meeting the whole
Muppet gang at the Happiness Hotel, and Miss Piggy finds herself
framed for robbery, and caught in a love triangle with Kermit and
Charles Grodin. If that isn't a recipe for hilarity, I don't know what is.
John Cleese makes a memorable cameo as Neville, an upper
class Brit who along with his wife, doesn't seem phased at all by
the pig he notices climbing up the outside of the house. And
Charles Grodin is positively brilliant with his straight-faced
whooing of Miss Piggy. "She's sensational."
This is a movie that really makes the Muppets shine and is a
must-see for any Muppet/Jim Henson fan. Jim Henson, we salute
and miss you.
The Mouse and His Child (1977)
This was one of the first movies I ever saw. I must have been a
toddler, barely able to form words when I first saw it. Up until this
past week, the last time I had seen this movie I was probably five
years old, but in spite of my young age I never forgot it.
Most of the comments I have seen made by others mention things
like, "this movie probably isn't suited for young children", however I
adored this movie as a very young child, and can honestly say that
I think this movie had a profound effect on who I am today.
Some things embed themselves in your memory in a lasting way
that others do not, this movie was one of those things. A simple
cartoon, but so much more. The memory of this movie has always
been with me, and it has always affected me more than many
memories I have of things that I actually experienced. I thought that
I would never see it again and it would remain a memory until I
managed to pick up a copy on ebay last week. When the movie
started after I pressed play on my VCR, it was like stepping back
into time and reconnecting with myself at age four.
I remembered every visual, every spoken word, my memory just
needed to be jogged. This film is amazingly poignant, deeply
thoughtful, and insightful. I feel lucky that I saw it at such a young
age and grew up with its message in my heart.
The movie opens up with a homeless man scrounging through
garbage cans, even though I was only a toddler when I first saw
this movie, I remember immediately feeling compassion for this
character, and for other characters throughout. The thing about this
movie that makes it great is not its ability to entertain, but its ability
to make you feel.
A toy wind-up mouse and his child awaken to consciousness in a
toy shop after hours. "Papa, where are we? What are we?" asks
the child mouse. "I don't know son," is all the father can offer. They
learn that they are toys, and must do what they are intended to do:
be wound up and walk in a circle. The child mouse is distraught;
he doesn't want to go out into the world, he wants to stay in the toy
shop and have a family with the other toys. They fall off of the shelf
and are broken and later taken out with the trash.
In one of the movie's more poignant moments, the mouse child
says, "Papa, is THIS the world?" while they are helplessly caught
in a pile of trash. "I hope not," answers the father.
They wind up being found by Manny the Rat, a wonderfully crafted
villain who enslaves toys to do his bidding until they are old and of
no use. In a particularly horrific scene, an old wind up donkey is
unhinged into spare parts after collapsing from exhaustion. The
mouse and his child spend the rest of the movie trying to escape
from Manny and become "self-winding" so that they no longer have
to depend on someone for their well-being.
The messages in this movie are deep and profound, but the more
general messages are not so symbolic that they are lost on a
child. This movie does so much more than the average "children's
movie", it does not set out to entertain, it sets out to tell a brilliant
story with morals and it succeeds beautifully.
In a time where cartoon villains are usually a mix of the comical,
ugly and detestable, Manny is a breath of fresh air and far more
"real" of a villain. A character driven by greed and power, he also
maintains a shred of humanity, enough that when he meets his
downfall at the movie's end, you still manage to feel compassion
for him. This is not a movie where the child roots for the good guys
and rejoices when the bad guy is defeated. This is a story where
the child sees that there is good in evil and evil in good, and that
love and compassion is the only power that truly matters.
If only more children's movies were like The Mouse and Child and
didn't fall prey to the "short attention span" myths. While I'll admit
that this movie probably isn't for some children, it is miles ahead of
any other children's movie that I've seen in terms of content. If you
want your child to sit still for 90 minutes and have mindless prattle,
catchy songs and potty humor sieved through their brain, then this
movie is not for you. But if you're looking for your child to actually
learn something about life and the world, then you have found
what you're looking for.
Little Darlings (1980)
Good (not so clean) Fun
I grew up with this movie, surprising considering that I was born in 1979 and literally cannot remember a time when I did not know and enjoy this movie. I suppose my parents figured that being a small toddler and child I wouldn't get the sexual aspects of the movie. They were right. Although I nearly died of embarrassment years later when I asked my father quite innocently what were those "balloon things" that the girls stole from the restroom.
This movie is campy (no pun intended) this movie is 80's-style cheesy, but none of these factors change the fact that this is a GOOD movie. It details the exploits of a group of teenage girls at summer camp more accurately than any other summer camp movie I've seen. The acting isn't sterling at all times, but it doesn't change the fact that you feel as if you really are watching a bunch of girls goofing off and having fun at summer camp. The food fight scene is wonderfully real with the actors all genuinely laughing and having a great time, the condom-thieving scene is legendary and never loses its hilarity. All the fun and silliness is balanced with the seriousness of some of the situations they get themselves into, and there is a wonderful sense of shared growth between the characters. As stated by many other reviewers, Kristy McNichol shines in her role as Angel, and pulls off a startlingly emotional performance opposite a young Matt Dillon.
I recommend this movie to every preteen girl, even though it is a tad outdated, I think the heart of the movie will still ring true to all girls out there.
The Dark Crystal (1982)
Possibly the Best Fantasy Film Ever Created
Out of all the Fantasy films I have ever seen, they pale in comparison to The Dark Crystal. Nearly everyone has one movie or story that moves them deeply and really means something to them and holds tight onto their heartstrings throughout their life. For me, this movie is The Dark Crystal. I can't remember a time when I did not know about The Dark Crystal, as I was a toddler when I first saw it. I cannot remember the first time I saw the movie, but it has always resonated inside of me as one of the most amazing stories I have ever seen in a movie, book or otherwise. Even at the young ages of 3 and 4 I adored this movie, in spite of things which might be considered too frightening for a toddler this movie always held me completely entranced. Unlike the majority of fantasy films created which borrow substance from ancient mythology, or great writers like Tolkein, The Dark Crystal alone created an entirely new world of fantasy for the movie to take place in. This is a fantasy film with no dragons, elves, dwarves, goblins or unicorns. Instead we have unique creations like the gelflings, skeksis, mystics, garthim and podlings. Ridiculously underrated, and underappreciated, this movie was a result of the amazing partnership of artist Brian Froud and the late Jim Henson. Henson created the story, and Froud brought the world to life. The story is your classic fight between good-verses-evil, with a slight twist. However the thing about The Dark Crystal that makes the story so powerful, is the amazing artistry behind it all and the complete immersive quality of the world it takes place in. The Dark Crystal, is a powerful magical device that the wise Urskeks use to make their world beautiful and perfect. A thousand years ago the crystal was cracked, and the Urskeks were split, turned into two separate races. The Mystics who are wise and gentle, and the Skeksis who are cruel and ambitious. It was prophesized that the crystal would be healed by the hand of a Gelfling, a race of peaceful elfin-creatures. And so the Skeksis decided to rid the world of Gelflings and engage in a genocidal hunt to murder them all. However, two gelfling survive, the hero Jen who is raised by the Mystics, and the heroine Kyra who is saved by the Pod People. Jen is told by his dying master that he must find the missing shard of the Dark Crystal and unite it with the whole crystal so that the world can be peaceful once more. Along the way, Jen meets Kyra who accompanies him on his quest to heal the Dark Crystal. Without a drop of CGI, Henson and Froud managed to create a new world entirely out of puppets, paintings and animatronics. The amount of work that was put into this movie is staggering. From the smallest rodent seen scurrying quickly through a scene, to the gorgeous grotesqueness of the skeksis, every creation in this movie is beautiful. You are never distracted by thinking, "Oh look at those puppets", simply because the environment is so complete and convincing. There is nothing "puppety" about this movie. It's movies like this that make me hang my head in shame when I see poorly done CGI that does not properly blend in with its real surroundings. It is a pity that it is more common in these days for people to use cheap CGI that looks unconvincing rather than taking the time and money to create amazing special effects through makeup, animatronics and puppetry that can be much more effective. It is a shame that Jim Henson never saw this amazing work of art given the appreciation it deserved. In my opinion, it is the best Fantasy Film ever created.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of many movies that has always been with me, in my heart and memory from the time that I was old enough to focus my eyes on a television screen. Although it was already an "old" movie by the time I was able to watch it, Bedknobs and Broomsticks completely enchanted me. People here who say that the movie would not hold the attention of a young child are mistaken. I must have watched this movie dozens of times between the ages of 1 and 10 and every time I watched it all the way though, intensely engrossed through every scene. There are a handful of movies that hold very fond places in my childhood memories, this is one of them. It is a wonderful movie, and even now I still find the story charming. Angela Lansbury stars as Miss Price, a widow who is studying witchcraft through a correspondence course during World War II. She grumpily agrees to let three children board at her home in the country to keep them safe from the air raids going on in London. After the three children discover that Miss Price is an apprentice witch, they are swept up into a magical adventure on a traveling bed along with Miss Price and Professor Brown, the headmaster of the College of Witchcraft. The thing I like best about this movie, is that the magic never stops as the children along with the two adults journey to London, the Island of Naboomboo, Naboomboo Lagoon and Portabello Road. The children are treated to a marvelous adventure, flying through the skies on a bed, swimming underwater in a tropical lagoon, watching a football game played by animals and finally helping out in the war when Miss Price enchants a museum full of ancient suits of armor with the magic words, "Traguna, Macoities, Tracorum Satis De." The songs in the movie may be your typical musical-stock, but I challenge anyone to not tap their toes during "Portabello Road", or to not get "Englentine" stuck in their head. They just add another element of fun and enjoyment to an already delightful movie. The movie is well worth watching, and suitable for any child. Even today's children will find delight in the cartoon/human relations and the spectacular ending sequence were empty suits of armor are brought to life to fight for the good guys. I consider this movie a timeless classic that shouldn't be passed up.
Crank Yankers (2002)
Crank Calls + Puppets = Funny in my book!
How can someone not find this show funny? The complaints about "lack of plotlines" are just ludicrous. Since when are crank calls supposed to have plots? The whole premise of the show is a wide range of comedians call up unsuspecting individuals and crank call them in a variety of hilarious ways, these calls are then acted out with puppets playing the roll of the cranker and the crankee. Some of the bits are funnier than others of course, but the same thing happens with any type of comedy program with sketches, and it doesn't stop the funny sketches from being fall-on-the-floor-hold-your-buns-in-place funny. Some of the crankers are completely hysterical in their dead-pan delivery of the crank calls. Kevin Nealon's performance as a man suffering from OCD who is looking to join a dating service and Wanda Sykes who calls someone to try and free her ass from her toilet are two of my personal favorites. One has to wonder if the people who received these calls ever heard themselves on Comedy Central afterwards and slapped their foreheads in agony. Crank Yankers definitely isn't for someone who has a problem with low-brow humor, as most of the jokes do hinge around making fun of other people or toilet humor. But if you're someone who enjoys a good laugh, even if it's at the sake of someone else, give Crank Yankers a try.
Earplugs and Blinders
I was unlucky enough to catch this film at the Boston Independent Film Festival. Upon reading the description of the movie, I was intrigued as I have always had a passionate love and fascination with old photography and films. The notion of seeing a collection of old decaying films artfully woven together sounded wonderful on paper, the actual film however leaves MUCH to be desired.
The film's "score" (if it can even be called a score) is a painful melange of long drawn out sharps and flats that are akin to having a gremlin in one's head scratching a blackboard with their claws.
This seemingly neverending barrage of ambient noise is the number one thing that is wrong with this film. I found myself squeezing my hands to my ears in the fashion of the "Hear no Evil" monkey and wishing that the theatre speakers would just give out.
The film would have improved by 150% if the "music" had been exchanged for absolute silence, or the whir of a film projector. Aside from being beastly torturous to the ears, the score also had the unfortunate affect of changing the way you perceived what you were seeing on the screen. Because of the dreadful hopeless sound of the "music" it influenced your perception of the film dramatically and made you see all of the hopelessness in the film's subject matter.
Some of the imagery used in the film was quite beautiful, the shapes and patterns created by the decaying celluloid could have been displayed separately as works of natural art on their own.
There were a few noteworthy film sequences, a boxer who appears to be fighting against a pulsing column of nothingness, patrons at an amusement park who appear to be jetting out of the wavering nothingness of a black hole in roller coaster cars, a solarized man and woman going out for a stroll. However, it was the segments themselves that brought the small bit of beauty that there was to the film, there was nothing that the director did which in any way enhanced or did justice to the visuals that he collected.
All in all this film seemed to me to be a selfish piece of art wherein the artist forcefully inflicts his own interpretation of his piece onto the entire audience and doesn't leave them any freedom to make their own judgments. The music told you how you were supposed to feel about the decaying films and the disintegrating characters shown in them. "Despair in the shortness of life and in the fact that death and decay is an unavoidable inevitability! Despair at the frailty of our existence!" The director got that message across within the first twenty minutes of the film, the rest could have been edited extensively and we all would have left the theatre much happier. The phrase beating a dead horse comes to mind, after twenty minutes of disintegrating celluloid and ambient noise, 50 more minutes of the same thing isn't going to do much good.
And interesting side note, after the film was finished, not a single member of the audience applauded, so I imagine that I was not the only viewer who felt unimpressed by Decasia. Unless you are a rabid historical film buff with a taste for insanity-inducing musical scores, philosophizing on the futility of life and endlessly long and repetitive imagery, skip this film.