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Schitt's Creek (2015– )
2/10
Decent Premise, Some Great Cast (Wasted), Terrible Show
12 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, you really need to dig down deep and go all the way back to page 1 of the reviews to see the genuine ones. The over-the-top positive reviews on the other four pages are so obviously plants presumably by friends of the cast and crew hoping to get a second season. They win; I hear it's coming back.

Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara are largely wasted. None of the characters are particularly well-written. Why is the mayor's wife the most believable of any of the characters? And even that's thrown out the window by having her married to Chris Elliott who looks like an extra from "Deliverance." Chris Elliott is a funny guy; but having him look even worse than he did in "Something About Mary" yet married to the most normal woman in town doesn't make a lot of sense.

Even the premise is never really explained. How does Johnny Rose "own" the town? What exactly does he own? It's mentioned in the first episode, but briefly. He "bought" the town as a joke for David's birthday. What exactly did he buy?

The Mayor's son, Mutt, has the distinction of having the worst fake beard in the history of television. He looks like one of those Wooly Willy magnetic steel-shavings beard toys.

Possible spoiler (?): David Rose was funnier when we all presumed he was just a pretentious gay guy. Throwing him together with the girl at the front desk, sexually if not romantically, again, makes no sense, even as a one-time fling.

Alexis' boyfriend Ted is another head-scratcher. It's as if the writers were afraid to commit to him as a genuinely nice (if naive) guy that Alexis was just using. But soon they trotted out silly quirks in his personality that just weren't necessary.

None of the characters seem to be written with any sense of consistency. Sadly, this extends to Catherine O'Hara's Moira as well. Some episodes she's crazy, others she's merely high-maintenance; others still she's relatively well-adjusted.

Dan Levy should have taken a page from a certain 60s fish-out-of-water sitcom and made all of the townspeople consistently wacky, and played to his father's strengths: Reacting. It would be a much funnier show to have Eugene Levy be the one voice of sanity and normalcy in town, reacting to everyone else, much like Oliver Wendell Douglas did in "Green Acres."
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6/10
How Did They Pack So Much Schmaltz Into 118 Minutes?!
25 March 2009
This has to be, hands-down, the schmaltziest movie ever made. There's no other way to describe it! Oh, sure, it's definitely a product of its time, and it's not a bad movie at all, but man! The schmaltz! All that schmaltz! Every chance any adult gets, they all make these grandstanding speeches on morality and life and God and patriotism! The mother, at her harp! The ancient telegrapher, at his desk. The librarian, in her stacks! The teacher, in her classroom! The soldier, on the train! They're all making these melodramatic, eyes-tearing-up speeches! It never ends! Even the dead come back and make speeches! I don't remember the book piling it on quite so thick, but it's been some time since I read it. But the one scene I remember vividly from reading it in high school - the scene where Homer delivers a telegram containing tragic news - and the recipient responding by making him eat cactus candy, is there, just as I envisioned it! Except I wouldn't have cast Mickey Rooney. Look for a post-Our Gang Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer in the charming apricot-stealing scene. It made me want to steal some apricots myself, if you know what I mean - and I think you do!
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Mission: Impossible: Recovery (1968)
Season 2, Episode 25
8/10
A Fun Romp Down a Paper-Shredder Chute!
1 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It seems there's a bomb in a plane and it didn't explode! So the Impossible Missions Group have to recover it from a bad country! All of your favorites are here, from Cinnamon Carter, to Willy Armitage, and everyone in between! Jim Phelps, their leader, jumps out of a plane and lands with dark hair, which is never explained! Meanwhile, Roland and Cinnamin go to a party and talk to the guy that has the bomb - an American! But he lives in the country now and is the "bad guy." He talks quietly but don't let that full you, behind those glasses is a heart as cold as stone! Then he finds out that Rollin and Cinnamin made the bomb at a bomb factory in Duluth. Duluth?! I'm not making this up! So the bad guy, Paul, kidnaps them and makes them dismantle it - but not before Roland "pretends" to have a heart attack. Meanwhile, Barney throws a grappling hook down a chute and jams the paper shredder! Enter Jim and Willy to fix it! Anyway, at the end, everything works out okay!
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Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby (1993 TV Movie)
2/10
Bedrock Lays in Shambles
12 April 2008
...after this piece of prehistoric junk. Awful, awful TV movie. Follow-up to the forgettable one where Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm get married. Everything is by the books here in regards to TV reunions: Wilma and Betty now own a catering business. Usually when we revisit beloved sitcom characters in TV reunion movies, the women are suddenly career women now working either as real estate agents or own a catering business. No one knows why, but it is an unwritten law to which all bad TV reunion writers must adhere. Pebbles works at an ad agency. Hoo boy. And Bamm-Bamm wants to be a successful screenwriter, evidently channeling the dreams of whoever wrote this piece of junk. What's even more offensive are the voices and character design. Jean Vander Pyl was the only surviving original (main) cast member, and she's fine (though H&B had the annoying and wholly unnecessary habit of electronically "sweetening" her voice for about the last ten years of Flintstones productions she worked on.). John Stephenson returns as Mr. Slate, sounding almost exactly as he always has. Excellent. Don Messick does a quick cameo as baby Bamm-Bamm in a flashback. Nice. But - beware! - this is a Henry Corden-voiced cartoon, and as wonderful a character actor as Corden was, he was terrible as the voice of Fred, yet H&B would never admit it and recast anyone else until the amazing "The Flintstones: On the Rocks" TV movie 8 years later. Corden's bizarre take on "Yabba Dabba Doo!" ("Yappa, dappa-doo!") must have Alan Reed rolling over in his grace. Surprisingly, we've got Frank Welker as Barney & Dino. "Surprisingly" because Frank Welker is versatile and very talented and the voice director (Gordon Hunt in "I just don't care anymore" mode) has managed to find the two voices Welker cannot do to save his life. Barney's frequent, all-but-involuntary chuckling that punctuates the end of a lot of his lines makes Mr. Rubble sound like he's suffering from emphysema. Dino, too, no longer barks, evidently having had his vocal cords removed, but instead wheezes. Would it have killed the producers to pay Mel Blanc's estate some money and just drop in some old audio of Dino barking and yapping and growling from the original series? The character design is atrocious. Wilma and Betty no longer have feminine figures but instead have bodies that resemble men in drag. Fred's head and nose in particular bear very little resemblance to any of the models they used in the original series. I saw this when it originally aired and was mortified. I just caught the first 15 minutes on Boomerang this afternoon and couldn't bear to watch any more. Horrible production; typical of late H&B cartoons and cartoon movies. Avoid it at all costs.
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Pushing Daisies (2007–2009)
3/10
This Season's Most Annoying Show!
11 October 2007
First, you've got that smug, pompous narrator who keeps referring to Ned as "the pie maker." Eugh. And then the specifics of how old everyone is when they died, as if that has any significance other than giving the show some ridiculously gimmicky hallmark. Yes, yes, he's a famous voice-over guy! He does the Harry Potter books on tape! Whee! Doesn't make him any less irritating.

Then you've got the girl Ned brings back to life - as if her calculatedly unlikely name "Chuck" wasn't bad enough, she's annoying as hell, especially when Ned has one minute to get information out of a dead person and she's butting in with her cutesy shtick.

And then the so obviously crafted and precise dialog with Ned and Charlotte all but talking over each other and dropping little esoteric references and non-sequitirs.

Then the annoyingly squeaky-voiced neighbor/employee of Ned's who for reasons I must have missed is suddenly taking care of his dog for some unspecified amount of time when it was somehow convenient for him to take care of a dog he is unable to touch for the last 20 years. Now there's bad writing. It's like they wanted the dog as a prop or for some sort of exposition to explain Ned's powers for the first episode, but they never thought beyond that. Too complicated having Ned living with two creatures he can't touch? Wouldn't it be easier for Ned to have the dog in his apartment with "Chuck" there to keep him out of harm's way? And this unrequited love angle of the squeaky-voiced waitress is a completely unnecessary element to the show. Her "Hopelessly Devoted" solo was embarrassing. The character adds an element of unnecessary misery to the show.

The one character I truly feel bad for is the poor detective. He seems like the only one with any common sense. Poor sucker, trapped in this inane and irritating world.

Sadly, it's a great idea for a show, and it has promise. But it's being executed here so...annoyingly!
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2/10
Don't Waste Your Time Looking Now Or Ever
1 January 2007
Horrible muddled adaptation of a compelling short story. Donald Sutherland plays John Baxter who restores old Venetian churches or something like that. Julie Christie plays his wife. Both of them are actually pretty good and close to how Du Maurier wrote the original characters. But soon enough we're subjected to a bizarre, extended sex scene that is inter-cut with footage of the couple getting dressed. Not only does this make absolutely no sense, we also have to look at Donald Sutherland's bony ass for six or seven minutes. There's other strange scenes and confusing red herrings thrown in that really do nothing to advance the story, including a slightly sinister Catholic bishop who wasn't in the original source material. The religious imagery and aspects to this film keep suggesting that it's about to turn into something like The Omen, but it never does, which is a shame, because even an Omen rip-off would have been more welcome than this thing. The director would have done better to follow the original story a bit closer - if you haven't read it, you'll be lost watching this mess and you'll have to be content with enjoying on-location footage of early 1970s Venice, Italy, which is one of this film's few redeeming qualities.
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Really Rosie (1975 TV Movie)
3/10
The ONE Special CBS Showed That I Didn't Care If I Missed
12 August 2006
I like Maurice Sendak's work. I mean, who doesn't like Where the Wild Things Are?

And Carole King never bothered me too much.

But pair them together and you end up with this lame special that CBS aired at least a handful of times, from the unfortunate feel-good / let's-use-our-imaginations / "Free To Be You and Me" era of the mid-1970s.

I think you had to be a little rich girl living in Manhattan to appreciate this yawner of a cartoon. Or maybe you had to be a little rich girl living in a suburb of New York. Because all the girls in my class were singing the mostly forgettable songs the next day. Then it was back to their overpriced and equally pretentious Shel Silverstein books.

Having said that, the song "Chicken Soup with Rice" has stayed with me all these years. I'm not sure if that's a blessing or a curse.

All I know is if this thing was on at eight p.m., I'd play with my Legos until it was over and come back to the TV set at 8:30 for the infinitely superior Rikki Tikki Tavi.
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Boundin' (2003)
3/10
Dull, Corny Short with Hackneyed Feel-Good Message
11 June 2006
Beautiful visuals and top-notch animation as usual, but that's about it. Isn't Pixar above these lame "feel-good" type message films? I'm really surprised they would have a) created such a sappy film and then b) release it in front of The Incredibles, which was aimed at an older audience than this "Boundin'" pap.

The message of the film? Ooh, be proud of whoever you are, whatever you look like.

That's an excellent sentiment, and one that would be right at home in a cartoon from, I don't know, about 1970. In 2003, it's over thirty years late.

Most of the Dr. Seuss-like rhymes seemed a little forced as well.

Pixar needs to stick with what it knows, and that's making intelligent, witty films. Leave the cutesy message films aimed at five-year-olds for some lesser studio to create.
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4/10
This Film Will Keep You Guessing...
6 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
...at least for the first fifteen or twenty minutes!

That the three murders at the beginning of the film are depicted without showing the murderers' faces would tip off anyone who's ever seen, I don't know, a MOVIE before as to what's going to eventually be revealed. Willis's character's name was laughable; it was like he was named what he was so that Hartnett's character could do a play on it later on. It wasn't the worst movie in the world. It was reasonably entertaining. But it had plenty of plot holes and situations stretching believability way too thin. Goodkat's first meeting with the Rabbi, for instance. "I've been paid X amount of money to kill your son. Pay me double and I'll kill the guy who hired me instead." The Rabbi opted to pay the money as opposed to, I don't know, maybe HAVING HIS BODYGUARDS KILL GOODKAT ON THE WAY OUT OF THE BUILDING...?!
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Mammoth (2006 TV Movie)
5/10
Well, The Opening Credits Were Good...
23 April 2006
I saw the last half of this movie on SciFi and then a few hours later, I saw the beginning when they replayed it. If I had seen it from the beginning, I would have been a lot more disappointed, because the opening sequence was amazing, and sadly, the rest of the film didn't quite measure up. But the opening? Great CGI effects giving way to traditional animation (of cave drawings) that gave us a taste of the backstory, with fun, appropriately theramin-heavy music - it could have been the opening to a theatrical film, it was just that good! I can tell what the director/writers/producers were going for with the rest of the film, with the over-the-top plot, characters, and humorous lines and references to classic 50s sci- fi schlock. But it just didn't quite come off. And for the hour that I saw of it, they could have benefited from a whole lot more mammoth, since that IS the title. Oh well. I bet the creators do better next time.
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Holes (2003)
9/10
This Is What Happens When You Refuse To Deviate From the Source Material
7 January 2006
...You get a great movie. Of course, you have to start with great source material.

The casting was excellent - thank goodness Disney didn't decide to go with kid-friendly (and obnoxious) Frankie Muñiz or (ugh) Alex Linz for Stanley, as the trivia section for this movie suggests were possibilities. Shia LaBeouf was outstanding.

Sigourney Weaver was wonderful, though I was disappointed that the scene where she pokes one of the kids in the chest with the pitchfork and knocks him back into a hole was left on the cutting room floor. (It's included among the Deleted Scenes on the DVD). Including that would have made her character that much more villainous, just as she comes across in the book. Otherwise we're left with just that one scene of pure viciousness - where she swipes Mr. Sir with her nails. And at the end, she crumbles in front of Stanley and pleads with him for a look in the locked chest, and then later cries while being arrested - making her practically sympathetic.

Jon Voight, unfortunately, seemed to go for a comic turn as Mr. Sir, where a more ruthless interpretation would have been more faithful. It was like watching James Best as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane in The Dukes of Hazzard at times. But Tim Blake Nelson was absolutely ideal as Pendanski, deftly moving from *seemingly* concerned father-(or, actually, mother-)figure to mean bastard as the script dictated.

The kids were all excellent, especially Khleo Thomas as Zero. They expanded the scenes at Stanley's home, and added a grandfather!, and surprise, it all worked!

Why can't more of Disney's recent kids movies be this good?
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1/10
There's A Reason The Original Cast Didn't Make Cameos
19 August 2005
I'm not going to bother going into all the many specific reasons this movie sucked, because I think it boils all down to this: The original series, as cartoonish, as formulaic as it was, had a certain amount of heart, of charm, of tongue-in-cheek...ness. This mess was just an excuse to get every element of the original show in there without any rhyme of reason, without any regard for the source material...and somehow, the screenwriters completely got the gist of the two sets of characters totally reversed. And, yes, I'm allowed to compare this movie to the original show because anyone that goes to see this does so on the strength of the TV show.

In the TV show, the Dukes were all the straight men. Boss Hogg and Roscoe were the buffoons. Sure, Sorrell Booke and James Best may not have been Abbott and Costello, but they were very good at the shtick they did. There's none of that here. Hogg and Roscoe are ruthless, the Dukes are the cartoon characters. How do they get this wrong? Ugh.

The General Lee looked good, though.
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1/10
Wonkatrastrophe
20 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Tim Burton kept saying he wanted to make a version much more faithful to the source material, which leaves me wondering why he didn't.

There's the awful (and unnecessary, and counterproductive) back story showing Wonka's childhood, which is nothing more than an excuse for Burton to bring in one of his horror movie heroes from childhood (Christopher Lee) while completely killing any sense of mystery Wonka might otherwise possess.

I like Johnny Depp, but his Wonka had zero warmth...and was just plain creepy and random - one minute he's snippy and/or oblivious to the kids, the next he's paternal, offering Charlie some nourishing hot chocolate because he "looks like he could use it" (and because it's a line from the book).

Wonka in the book is a spritely little gent...neither Gene Wilder nor Johnny Depp are really much like him (much less so Depp), but Wilder's interpretation always has that twinkle in his eye - you know he's a little eccentric but he's always in control. The kids in this version are all pretty good. But Wonka himself? Yikes. Give me Gene Wilder's version over creepy Johnny Depp's Michael Jackson take any day.

The Oompa-Loompa musical numbers blew. The first one, in the chocolate room, was okay. But overall, I had a hard time understanding most of the lyrics. It was all just raucous noise. Come on, Elfman, you can do better than that.

Wonka telling Charlie he can't bring his family to live with him in the factory was insane. First of all, it makes Wonka look even more like a freaky pedophile; second of all - how on earth is that faithful to the book?!

This is the second time in recent memory I've heard of a producer/director wooing the widow of a beloved children's book author and then she deciding that her dead husband would love this new big-screen version of his source material.

Somewhere, Dr. Seuss is consoling Roald Dahl.
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Bewitched (2005)
1/10
Everything I Expected (And Less)
15 July 2005
Just a piece of trash from beginning to end. No wonder Jim Carrey ran screaming from the script after he read it. Kidman should have done the same and maybe it wouldn't have been made at all.

Most puzzling, however, was the numerous layers of, I dunno, various realities in this movie. Aunt Clara doesn't appear in the show-within-the-movie (as much as we see), but other characters remember her from the old series - and are amazed that Isabel is playing Samantha and actually has an Aunt Clara! There's no mention that she looks and acts like Marion Lorne, makes the same entrance, and collects door knobs as does the character on the TV show. What the hell?

And then, again, we don't see any Uncle Arthur in the show-within-the-movie, but we see some sort of fictional character Uncle Arthur who doesn't really exist and is supposed to be Uncle Arthur from the original series. What?!

And then, finally, no mention of the Kravitzes - characters on the show - in the new show- within-a-movie...but then, in the last scene, we see the two characters playing the Stevens move across the street from a guy named Abner and his nosy wife Gladys.

The Ephron sisters need to retire from the movie business after this big steaming pile.
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Curiosity Shop (1971– )
Freaky, Freaky Puppets
2 March 2005
Someone needs to put this thing on DVD. If only to scare the pants off of a new generation of kids. I was fascinated by this show, and remember precious little about it other than it featured three kids (including perennial favorite Pamelyn Ferdin) and a Laugh-In Joke Wall-type series of doors out of which a number of puppets would poke their heads and talk to the kids. And these puppets scared the HELL out of me. But it was a good scared because I loved watching the show. I don't remember anything about the cartoon elements of the show, or even that Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc were involved (when I watched it, at age five). But I read recently that Chuck was pretty heavily involved in the production of the show, so: daughter Linda Jones, if you're listening and you own the rights to this thing, put it on DVD! Does anyone remember the names of the puppets or what creatures they were supposed to be? There was one in particular which really gave me the heeby-jeebies, but I couldn't even describe it now to save my life.
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The Doughnuts (1963)
7/10
Mmm...Doughnuts!
2 March 2005
What a great film! Whenever it rained during recess when I was in elementary school, the teachers would dutifully pull out the projector and show this film, The Red Balloon, or Paddle to the Sea. They should be available on DVD in a Rainy Day at Parkway Elementary School box set. Just for me. All three are great childhood films.

I'm surprised "The Doughnuts" is from 1963. I would have pegged it as from the late 1940s or 50s...but then I haven't seen it in 25 years. I only learned the title of it when I happened across an old Scholastic book by Robert McCloskey in which it appears ("Homer Price") - it's merely a chapter of the book where Homer visits his uncle and left in charge of his diner...and a doughnut machine goes haywire.

Does anyone know why this film was made? 1963 seems kind of late for theatrical live- action shorts/featurettes. Wonder if this was produced as a TV pilot and then just sold as a short film...?
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