*climbs on soapboax*

One of the trends we’ve seen in recent years is a tendency for certain populations to condemn films – often without even seeing them – for perceived messaging issues. These people are ridiculous and deserve whatever scorn or mockery you would like to send their way.

*climbs down from soapbox*

Everyone has a right to their opinion, even if that opinion comes from a place of ignorance. I’ll admit that it sometimes makes me want to overcompensate in the other direction, simply to balance the scales. I resist, but the temptation is there.

Take “Strange World,” the latest animated offering from Disney. There are a lot of people out there on the internet who take great umbrage at a few specific aspects of the film (you can probably guess what they are right now, but even if you can’t, read on and I bet you’ll figure it out). Those criticisms are misplaced.

This is a BEAUTIFUL movie, one whose animation allows for vivid and non-representational artistry. This film looks fantastic, bringing to life an unconventional landscape with bright color and vivid imagination. It has a wonderful central theme, digging into the notion of what it means to be a father and a son and how that can impact the way a life is lived moving forward. It is progressive in its messaging and features a wealth of quality vocal performances.

However – and it’s a BIG however – “Strange World” never fully comes together. The narrative is thin at best and threadbare at worst, with a few rather gaping plot holes stirred into the mix. The characterizations are charming in their way, but somewhat lacking in depth. That lack of story cohesion makes the film, well … a little bit dull in spots, to be honest. Stunning to behold, to be sure, but still - dull.

Published in Movies

Remakes are ubiquitous. That’s just the nature of the cinematic beast these days. There’s money to be made in repurposing and/or repackaging the familiar in order to sell it to a new audience, so studios do it. Commercially, it makes sense.

But one wonders where the line might be, because if the new Nickleodeon movie “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is any indication … there might not be any line at all. Why do I say that about this particular film?

Because it’s “Blazing Saddles.” For kids.

That’s right, folks – the powers that be looked at that controversial and delightfully crude 1974 Mel Brooks satire and asked themselves “What if this was an animated children’s movie?” The answer, friends, is “Paws of Fury.”

(Seriously – the writers of “Blazing Saddles” all receive screenwriting credits for this film.)

Now, it’s not exactly the same, of course. The setting is different – feudal Japan instead of the American West. The racial disparity is replaced with one motivated by species – cats hating dogs instead of the black/white dichotomy. And the language is considerably less charged, for obvious reasons.

All that said, a large amount of Brooksian DNA remains. Don’t get me wrong – it’s all been reduced in a manner that will allow more accessibility for young audiences. But “Paws of Fury” is still very much connected to its source material, which is (mostly) a good thing. Sure, the thing looks like it was plucked from the straight-to-DVD aisle in 2007, but the jokes are good, the voice cast is stacked and it never stops having fun. As far as kiddie flicks go, we’ve seen worse.

Published in Movies


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