Monday, December 28, 2009

My Christmas Time In Movies Part 2

Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas (1999) [NR] In my opinion, one of the most overlooked Christmas movies of the season. This theatrical worthy direct-to-DVD movie is made up of three short stories each with a Christmas theme and all staring the cast of major Disney animated characters. The first story is a take-off on the Groundhog Dog idea and Huey, Dewey, and Louie end up having to celebrate Christmas day over and over again. In the middle segment, Goofy tries to prove to his son Max that Santy Claus really does exist. And finally, Mickey and Minnie star in their own version of O'Henry's The Gift of the Magi.

While this movie is brief, clocking in at just around an hour, it is a beautifully animated film considering the direct-to-DVD budget this project must have had. The film does not have the obnoxious fast and furious pace that so many animated movies do. There are several moments in the film where the soundtrack is nothing more than the characters talking. And the characters are actually given some mature roles to carry. As dumb as this might sound...and adding to the fact that these cartoon characters are in their 70' actually come away from this picture feeling like you know these beloved characters a little better. The Goofy segment in particular is filled with some emotional moments that really humanize the Goofy character. I always enjoy when cartoon characters are treated in a mature manor, and Once Upon A Christmas does a good job of giving Mickey and the gang more to do than run around and get hit with pies.

Ernest Saves Christmas (1989) [PG] If I haven't already decided it before, I think it's official this year that Ernest Saves Christmas (the 2nd of 9 Ernest movies) is my absolute favorite Christmas movie. It's such a well done movie with so many great little touches and a heart warming Christmasey story that I can't think of a Christmas flick I love more!

In this comedy, Santa arrives in Orlando, Florida to find his replacement. Upon his arrival at the airport, Santa meets up with cab driver Ernest. Ernest ends up getting involved in helping Santa find the new guy for the job. As I've said on numerous occasions, and I'll say it again: When you mix Ernest P. Worrell with a holiday only good things can happen! This film has it's heart in such the right place that I don't know how anyone could watch it and not at least crack a smile. And the best part about it, as with all the Ernest films, there is absolutely nothing objectionable for the kids to see. It's a great family picture. I was excited to share it with my kids this year. At first they didn't know what to make of Ernest, and let's face it - most people don't, but before long they were laughing along with this fine holiday classic!

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) [PG] Oh...this movie is sooooo bad! This entire movie feels like such a giant poop on the grave of poor ol' Dr. Seuss. He would have hated this movie! The original animated television special of this story was the only filmed adaptation of Seuss' work that he liked - and that had to be, in part, that it stuck so closely to the book. But this live action offering adds so much unnecessary, boring, pointless shenanigans to the Grinch tale that it's just painful to watch. Jim Carey is funny as the Grinch, and he has a few really good moments but when you watch this film you gotta be wondering if everybody involved thought they were making a good movie. Seriously folks, given the choice between this movie and a sea-sick crocodile...I'd take the sea-sick crocodile!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In Sweden They Do Christmas Right

My friend Andy pointed me to this very interesting article about Donald Duck and his major role in Sweden's Christmas traditions. The article is called Nordic Quack: Sweden's Bizarre Tradition of Watching Donald Duck Cartoons on Christmas Eve. Apparently, every year on Christmas Eve the country comes to a stand still so that everybody can watch a telecast of a 1959 Christmas themed episode of Wonderful World of Disney. If you ask me, that's the way to celebrate any holiday! Read the article for all the details of this neat custom that is a sacred tradition with families in Sweden.

As a die-hard Disney fan, I was surprised that I had never heard of this ritual. I was so intrigued by it that I actually went searching on line and found a few photos related to the tradition...

Here's an authentic Swedish family sitting down at 3:00pm to watch the annual airing of Sverige, Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul.

Every year a different actor plays the role of Walt Disney and introduces the show. It's nice that even though Sweden has only had television since the late 50's they too have upgraded their broadcast system to HD.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Ghosts of Christmas Awesome

Perhaps you caught the classic Christmas special Christmas Comes to Pac-Land on TV this weekend! No? Oh well! But check out this way cool Pac-Man flavored X-Mas tree that some chomp loving folks put together. If you wanna see it yourself you'll have to fly to Madrid...ya know, in Spain. But it's pretty darn cool, don't ya think!? After all, Pac-Man is the international sign of peace, love and Christmas cheer!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Classic Commercial Sunday - Christmas Shopping

Why do I love old department store commercials...?

This video is extra long for all of you snowed in this weekend...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Christmas Time in Movies

I actually hadn't watched a whole lot of movies in the weeks after I got out of the hospital. As a result, the "My Week In Movies" feature hasn't appeared in a few weeks. Then in the last week or so I started picking up the pace and getting into the holiday spirit with a handful of films. I though I'd wrap up my holiday film reviews in this post and I'll cover some of the other films I've seen at a later date.

Prancer (1989) [G] I've always felt like this was my own little discovery in the world of Christmas movies. During it's initial release it got lost in the shuffle competing with The Little Mermaid. I saw it on video the following year and really enjoyed it. It's the story of a little girl who finds a lost injured reindeer which she believes is Santa's. It's a nice simple sweet story that I've always enjoyed. In 1989, who could remember the last time a live-action, non-Disney movie came out that was rated G!? I showed it to my kids the other night. Tanner fell asleep during the FBI warning. Elias was very interested in the story and really liked it, but he wouldn't fully admit that he was into it because it didn't have any superheroes or any bad guys.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) [NR] I didn't grow up watching this every year like so many other people have. In fact, I saw it for the first time last year. I really liked it, again enjoying the simplicity and sweetness of the story. It's also cool to see a film which is so mature (and maybe even sophisticated) with the basic theme of believing in Santa Claus. As with so many other films from the black and white days, Miracle is filled with wonderful performances from both the main cast and so much of the supporting cast. The new DVD and Blue-Ray release of this film contain both the original black and white version and a colorized version. I assume that the colorization process has been improved in the years since Ted Turner went crazy with his Color Machine, but didn't we as a nation decide shortly after the process began that colorizing old movies was something that just wasn't in the best interest of anyone!?

Elf (2003) [PG] I know to alot of people this is required holiday viewing each year. I was a bit disappointed when I saw Elf in the theatre six years ago, and watching it again for the first time since I have to say it's still not a really good movie. As with almost any Will Ferrell flick - there are at least a few parts where I laughed out loud...quite hard I admit. But overall, this holiday film just doesn't do it for me. I wanted the kids to see it because I thought they'd enjoy it and they did giggle and laugh at most of it. For me, this film's crowning achievement is the casting of Bob Newhart as Papa Elf. Hopefully it will be at least another six years before I get the holiday urge to see Elf again.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)[PG-13] I'm a huge fan of the Vacation films. It makes me feel old to realize that this holiday classic is celebrating it's 20th Anniversary this year. I can vividly remember winning tickets on the radio to a preview screening and can remember sitting in the theatre and just laughing myself silly along with everyone else. Perhaps this movie is the Christmas classic that it is because it was the first Christmas movie with a little edgier and darker humor. Anywho, I was a little disappointed when I discovered that my DVD of Christmas Vacation was not widescreen. Then I was more bummed when I checked my other Vacation DVDs and my copy of the original 1982 movie is also not in widescreen. How longer must I live in the dark ages! Heck, I don't even have a DVD of Vegas Vacation...I still have the VHS. Quickly, I added The Ultimate Vacation Collection 4-DVD set to my list for Santa. If you wanna watch Christmas Vacation filled with commercials and slightly edited - AMC is running it almost every day this month!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Early 80's Christmas Wishes

I should probably pay my mom some kind of finders fee for all the stuff she digs up in the far recesses of her home and passes on to me for fodder for this blog. Sometime ago she came across some Christmas lists that my brother and I had written to Santa Claus almost 30 years ago. (That doesn't make me feel old!) This first one is mine from 1980...

Not only did I indeed get the Charlie Brown record listed in the #1 spot, I still have the record. In fact, it's sitting on the shelf no more than 10 feet from where I'm sitting now. Good times! (I can still recite the whole thing for you if you like!) As you may know, I have a pretty good memory of my childhood and I know somewhere along the line we had a drum set and a Lite-Bright...but other than those three things I'm pretty sure not a single other item on the front of this list ever made it under my tree. There are four more items on the back side of this list (which I didn't bother to scan) and it does list a Star Wars Twin-Pod Car which I do remember having.

The next list is from the following year, 1981...

I did like me some records back in the day! Pink Panther Party Time & Smurfs All-Star Show were two records that Santa did leave for me in 1981! Sadly, both of those records have not survived over the years and that's a shame because I'd love to hear the Smurfs album again. (I'm a pink're a blue toothbrush...) If I recall correctly, my brother got the Dukes of Hazzard Etch-a-Sketch set which were little plastic sheets you put over the Etch-a-Sketch screen and play games with. I'm pretty sure I ended up getting the Smurfs set, which was just as good I'm sure. Both years I asked Santa for a Mighty Mouse Punching Bag. I'm gonna assume I saw that in a Sears catalog or maybe a TV commercial because it's kind of random...but the bottom line is I never got one. I love me some Mighty Mouse though!

Who knows!? Maybe I did get some things that I just don't remember but either way we always had fun on Christmas morning and I have plenty of warm, fuzzy memories that I hope I'm creating for my children now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12 Muppets Singing

In my opinion, the best Christmas album of all time has got to be John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together from 1979. The album was accompanied by a television special the same year. The TV show has never been released on VHS or DVD. Here's a clip from the rare program featuring John Denver and The Muppets singing The Twelve Days Of Christmas. Even if you're not a Muppets fan, you've heard this song dozens of times on the radio. This TV performance features the Muppets assigned to different lines of the song than the version that appeared on the original LP. No need to worry...Miss Piggy still does Five Golden Rings:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ernest Plugs Christmas

One of my very favorite Christmas movies is Ernest Saves Christmas from 1989. You usually don't have trouble finding it somewhere on TV every weekend in December. Here's a cool TV ad for the film, which doesn't feature any clips from the movie just Ernest doing what he does best: selling directly to Vern...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Classic Commercial Sunday - Spicy Christmas

This isn't really a classic but here's a neat advert for a British (I assume) chain of department stores. It stars the reunited Spice Girls, who at the time of this commercial had just gotten back together for a world wide reunion tour. (I went...and it was awesome!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Letters to Santa

There's not many nice things I can say about the goshforsaken little town that we live in, but one nice thing that they do every year is have a little cabin in the town square where Santa visits with children every night of the holiday season. Sure, you could drive three more blocks up the road and visit Santa in the warm mall but there's something nice and cozy about seeing St. Nick in his own little Christmas cottage. Also, at the mall they don't let you take your own pictures of your own children with Santa (which should be a crime!) and at the cabin, even though you can buy a photo package with can snap as many pictures as you like.

Anywho, the kids get a much bigger kick out of seeing Santa in his cabin than at the mall. This year I was very proud of my boys as they both wrote their own letters to Santa Claus.

Three months ago you couldn't even get Elias to write his name without wanting to put the pencil down immediately. Nowadays he spends half his free time writing words anywhere he can find the space. His favorite thing to do is grab a DVD or Wii game case and copy down the title or description. He did a good job on his letter to Santa...the scanner chopped off the right hand side of his letter.

Tanner is not even learning handwriting in school yet, but he's learned quite a bit from watching his big brother. He doesn't understand any of the structure or formatting of writing but he's got all his letters down pretty nicely. He didn't write out a list for Santa, instead he just wrote the big guy a nice greeting. He was very proud to read it to Santa. Tanner also thought it was funny to spell "We" as "Wii" instead...thanks Nintendo!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wii Wish You A Merry Christmas

I've been a little preoccupied lately with my 13 doctors appointments a week, but I wanted to tell ya'll about a great new game that's out for the Wii. Now if you're a hard core gamer or someone who likes a real challenging video game - this is not the title for you, but if you've got kids - especially younger ones - We Wish You A Merry Christmas will probably be a big hit with your family. This fun little title creatively gets everyone in the holiday spirit. It's essentially another mini-game collection tied together by a common theme but there are some nice touches here that separate this game from the pack. There's no ultimate objective in this disc except to have fun and get in a Christmas mood.

When the game starts up you'll find yourself in a warm and cozy living room all decked out for Christmas. There's a roaring fire, a Christmas tree, and even a radio playing Christmas carols. In one section of the room, you'll find the disc's game collection. There are six different games that can be accessed, each one a slight variation on a classic video game. Deck The Halls is a puzzle game where you match 3 ornaments of the same kind on a moving grid. Hot Chocolate has players taking and filling drink orders for thirsty elves. Candy Cane Lanes is almost identical to the bowling game in Wii Sports except with a Christmas overlay and elves instead of bowling pins. In Santa's Sleigh you'll catch and deliver presents to homes on Christmas eve. Present Catch is a clever updated version of Pong and Reindeer Games (my favorite, and pictured below) lets you fly a reindeer high into the sky. The games are all easy but also addictively fun to play and can be enjoyed by even the smallest members of the house.

In addition to the games there are also a few activities. There's a place to write an electronic letter to Santa, a sticker book for creating various Christmas scenes, and Elf Hunt which is a fairly elaborate version of one of those Look and Find Books neatly adapted to the Wii. Back in the living room area of the game you can actually go in and decorate the Christmas tree, throw logs onto the fire and roast marshmallows and tune the radio to your favorite Christmas song.

I think the neatest feature of We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and the one that gives the game it's most value, is the Advent Calendar. Sitting on top of the virtual fireplace is a traditional looking Advent Calendar. Each day between December 1 and December 25 when you turn the game on you can open another door of the advent calendar and you'll get a surprise. My kids LOVE this! Everyday they can't wait to find what they'll unlock next. So far the kids have been treated to extra ornaments for the tree, new pages and stickers for the sticker book, bonus games of Elf Hunt, and even some Magic Sparkles which change the color of the fire in the fireplace. It all sounds so simple and not like something that kids who are used to using the Wii to fight the Joker or destroy the Death Star would even be interested in but when they unlock new ornaments they can't wait to zap on over to the tree and hang them. It's been a fun addition to our holiday season this year!
You should be able to find We Wish You A Merry Christmas tucked away among the more popular video games at your local game slinging establishment for about $20 bucks. It's some wholesome family entertainment and a unique way to get the kids pumped for December 25.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Rudolph's First Flight

Here's a print ad for the original airing of the classic Christmas special Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was first broadcast on NBC December 6, 1964 as the General Electric Fantasy Hour and has been shown on television every year since! (click to enlarge)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

This is a clip from a UK tele program called Family Fortunes. It's their version of Family Feud...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Sauce of Paul Sorvino

Let's get back into the swing of things with another odd supermarket shelf find. Actor Paul Sorvino often plays mobsters and crime lords. And let's face it, we all picture mobsters as Italian guys who like to eat alot of pasta. So it makes perfect sense for Paul Sorvino to run with that stereotype and start a line of his own pasta sauce. I don't know, Paul! It's gonna have to taste at least half as good as Paul Newman's Sockarooni sauce!

Paul Sorvino Foods make two kinds of sauce and four different kinds of sausage. Now all he needs is to make the pasta too. Maybe that's a business for daughter Mira to pick up.

See Paul pitch his sauce here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Playing Catch Up

You might have been wondering where I've been, the blog hasn't been updated in a few weeks. Wednesday November 11 I suffered a massive heart attack which almost killed me. An ambulance took me to our local hospital and after an hour or more of extreme pain I was flown to Hershey Medical Center, some 60+ miles away, where they operated on me and put a stent in my heart.

I spent five days and four nights in the hospital but I've been home now for a little over a week. Everyone that I encountered at both Hanover Hospital and Hershey Medical Center were absolutely amazing and helpful and I owe a huge thanks to everyone involved that saved my life!

You hear the term "life-changing event" tossed around quite freely, but two weeks ago I did have a life-changing event. Not only did sitting on Death's doorstep open my eyes to the way I take care of myself but hugging and kissing my children good-bye and knowing full well that it could possibly be the last time I ever see them again is an experience I will NEVER forget!

Among other (more important) things, it made me think that I might not want to return to writing this blog. But, keeping up with this silly blog is a very important creative outlet for me and it's something that I enjoy doing alot so after a brief break from it, I'm happy to return to the Wonderful World of Blog. Besides, who else is going to share with you Miley Cyrus Muffins or pictures of old Flintstones junk!?

Before all this heart attack stuff happened, I had a contest running on WWoB courtesy of the fine folks at General Mills. I didn't get the chance to promote the contest as much as I had hoped but we'd like to announce Jason as our lucky winner. He'll receive 4 free movie tickets to the flick of his choice plus a free box of General Mills cereal. You can get your free movie tickets by purchasing specially marked boxes of General Mills cereal.

And also, if you've been wondering...the only movie I've watched since the last instalment of "My Week In Movies" is Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), which I watched on a laptop computer in my hospital room. I probably would have watched another movie or two but the TV in my room was in the wrong aspect ratio and I tried...but I just couldn't sit through a movie where everyone was all squished.

Last, regarding my hospital stay, I've already thanked people on Facebook but I want to again say thanks to my visitors (and great friends) Kevin, Mike, Amanada, Diana, Tad, Grant, Mr. Corley, Andy, and Chad. And most especially my wonderful wife, Jennifer, who made the 1 1/2 drive from our home to the hospital numerous times during my stay. I couldn't be luckier to be alive and have such an incredible family!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pancakes on Parade

As I've mentioned before, I love food that is flavored like other food. It's like a 2-for-1 deal! When I laid my eyes on Tastykake's new Pancake Krimpets they were in my shopping cart quicker than you can say "Mrs. Butterworth!" Everyone enjoys the classic Krimpets varieties of jelly filled or butterscotch, but the thought of sinking my teeth into a pancake flavored snack cake simply sent chills up my spine. The description on the box reads: "Butter Flavored Cream Filled Sponge Cakes with Maple Syrup Flavored Icing". Yes, they are that tasty! Plus they are alot easier then frying up some cakes on the griddle. They might also be responsible for the mild heart attack I've been having all day.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sit On This, Lincoln!

Everyone loves a good statue, but who says they all have to be dead presidents or civil war soldiers!?! Here's a handful of kooky, crazy statues around the country that you might want to visit on your next road trip!

Bob Newhart - Chicago, Il Cable outfit TV Land installed this "interactive" statue of Bob Newhart as his character Dr. Bob Hartley from the 1972 - 1978 sitcom "The Bob Newhart Show." Dr. Hartley was a Chicago psychologist so here you can lay down and tell your problems to Dr. Bob - even though he won't really help you out...because he's a statue! They originally installed this statue in front of the actual building that was used as Dr. Bob's office exterior on the show. Later, they moved to piece to Navy Pier - a major tourist attraction a mile away.

Popeye - Crystal City, TX This fine country of ours actually hosts four different Popeye statues. This one here was erected in the small Texas town that claims to be the Spinach capital of the world. I think what makes this statue extra special is the fact that it sits smack dab in front of City Hall. There's another Popeye statue in Chester, Il - the home of Popeye creator E.C. Segar. There are two more in Arkansas. But Crystal City IS the spinach capital of the world and to prove it they hold an annual Spinach Festival...which just happens to be this weekend! Get your airline tickets!

World's Largest Catsup Bottle - Collinsville, Il Another score for the great state of Illinois. The problem with any "World's Largest" is that it's not really what ever it's supposed to be the "world's largest" of...I mean, that's not a real catsup bottle - it's a water tower. Which I guess also makes it not a statue...but a water tower, so why did I even bring it up? Either way, that's a 100,000 gallon water tower which I assume means it could also hold 100,000 gallons of catsup. The way my kids use catsup on everything, we'd need one of these giant bottles of the red stuff to get us through a month! The World's Largest Catsup Bottle even has it's own website!

Superman - Metropolis, Il Clark Kent's hometown might be Smallville, but Superman belongs to Metropolis. The current version of this super structure is 15 feet tall and weighs two tons! There was an earlier version of this tribute, but everyone wanted to see if he really was the Man of Steel and destroyed the statue by throwing stuff at it. Now Superman stands tall in Metropolis' town square which they call Superman Square. The town is home to a Superman Museum, a Harrah's casino, a Huddle House (good eats!) and of course the Annual Superman Celebration.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Classic Commercial Sunday - Coffee Break

They used to do these commercials all the time where they would go to some fancy restaurant and switch out the fancy coffee with some grocery store brand and then everybody would be impressed that they didn't know the difference. Look at the beginning of this ad, it says that everyone involved received a free meal...suggesting that things might have gone different if these were actual paying customers drinking down instant coffee...

Here's a coffee ad from the days when commercials were like little movies:

and from Jim Henson:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

See A Free Movie Tonight

The only thing better than a good movie is a free good movie! That's why we're pretty excited to partner up with General Mills Cereal to give you a chance to see a the theater...for free! Actually, there's two ways you can catch a movie for free. Inside specially marked packages of General Mills’ Cereals you'll find a code. When you enter two codes into the General Mills website, you'll be able to print a free movie certificate good for admission to any movie. Pretty sweet, eh!? You know General Mills cereals...Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Trix and my personal favorite Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs.

Here's another way you can get your mitts on some free movie tix. To get the word out about their new See A Free Movie Tonight! promotion, General Mills is giving one lucky WWoB reader a Movie Moments prize package featuring Four Free Movie Tickets and a Free Coupon for a General Mills Cereal! (The movie tickets are good at almost any theatre in the country.) All you have to do is leave a comment (or send an e-mail) telling us about the first time your parents took you to the movies or the first time you took your kids to the movies. You don't have to get real creative, just a sentence or two will do. We'll pick a winner at random from all the entries received before 11:59pm Friday, November 13, 20009.

This isn't me sending you something I got out of a cereal box, folks! This is a real prize package provided by the good folks at General Mills. We're your favorite website for stuff about movies and breakfast cereals, now the two worlds are colliding. WWoB is taking a little step up in the Internet universe, how do ya like that!? Maybe now someone will listen to my idea for a Count Chocula movie!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Juice of Miley

First it was a breakfast cereal and then it was her muffins and now Miley Cyrus takes over another portion of your balanced breakfast with her very own juice! Hannah Montana Juice is 100% juice because Miley wouldn't just lend her name to any ol' product! It has to be only the finest 100% juice for Miley Cyrus to slap her face on the bottle. This beverage comes to us from the folks at Langers, the #9 name in bottled juice!

I don't post these pictures because of some crush on Hannah Montana, I just think it's hilarious how much stuff they'll plaster her face on. Every once in a while a property will come down the pike that gets merchandised to death...I don't think New Kids on the Block, Pokemon, or Britney Spears ever had their own line of juice. Miley Cyrus is a trailblazer, folks!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Classic Commercial Sunday - Drink Up!

Here's a remarkably sexist ad from the early 70's....

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Week In Movies - Rainy Weekend = More Movies

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) In my high school days I was an avid Python fan. I couldn't get my hands on enough Monty Python material. In later years, I felt I had kind of burned out the fun of the group. I had heard and seen everything a million times that they just weren't that funny to me anymore. I've more or less given them a rest for the last 8 or 9 years. Last week, the Independent Film Channel ran a brand new 6-part documentary about Monty Python that covered the members lives before they met all the way up to present day. Not only was it a fantastic program, but it made me yearn for all my favorite Python bits that I hadn't seen in so long. In addition to the new doc, IFC also aired 4 of Python's 5 feature films. Hollywood Bowl captures a live stage show the Monty Python gang toured with in Canada and the States in the early 90's. A large arena like the Hollywood Bowl doesn't seem like the best venue to get your Python on, but everyone in the audience seems to be having so much fun. This movie gives you a front row seat to 75 minutes of Python songs and sketches and plays as sort of a "greatest hits" of Monty Python. (I TiVo'ed all their other movies too, and hope to watch them in the new few weeks.)

Astro Boy (2009) Based on one of the first anime series, this American update of the tale of a robotic boy is pretty standard kiddie fare. Fairly bland with too many characters, too much fighting and generic story points. This might have been the first time I took the kids to the movie theatre and didn't hear a peep out of them the entire time, but then again I was asleep for a good portion of the second who knows what happened!

Casper (1995) I remember thinking this was a really great movie when it first came out. The first part of the film is filled with some really great cameos but it turns out there really wasn't much to it after that. It's an enjoyable film but 14 years later, and oh so more mature, it just wasn't that great! My kids loved it.

Back to the Beach (1987) Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello made a large number of Beach Party movies in the 1960's. These silly movies were nothing more than flimsy plotlines to string an endless number of musical performances by some of the up-and-coming singers of the day. The "Beach" films are made up mostly of silly dialogue, rock n' roll, and sustained shots of girls in bikinis wiggling their rear ends. Back to the Beach revisits the spirit of those films twenty years later with Frankie and Annette all grown and with kids of their own. This movie is the very definition of wacky and tacky, and of course, I love it. This is one of my personal "oft-quoted" movies.

Land of the Lost (2009) Why would they take a beloved children's television show and turn it into a movie filled to the rims with vulgarity? Sex, drugs, nudity and wall-to-wall profanity, I'm surprised Sid and Marty Krofft (the creators of the original show) had anything to do with this. Not only did they approve it, they produced it! There's some funny moments tucked here and there, but most of the time I was shuddering at the thought of kids watching this. Seriously, if you put a dinosaur on your movie poster - you've gotta expect that kids are going to want to watch it. I don't care what the rating is, kids will want to watch it. Jurassic Park might have also been rated PG-13, but it was just a bit intense. It didn't have boob jokes and foul language in it. As a fan of the original television series, Land of the Lost 2009 is a real disappointment.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here He Comes to DVD!

I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Mighty Mouse on DVD. The classic Terrytoons shorts that were produced in the 1950's and 60's were a major staple of my cartoon diet growing up and I've always loved the little guy. There were a few hard to find releases of the original shorts on VHS, but all-in-all just a handful of the library was ever made available. There were also two other series where Mighty Mouse appeared; The New Adventrues of Mighty Mouse & Heckle and Jeckle produced by Filmation ran for two seasons beginning in 1979, and there was Mighty Mouse The New Adventures which was produced by legendary adult animator Ralph Bakshi which popped up near the end of the 1980's. I love all three versions of the show, none of which have been on television in quite a while. I do have a few segments of each in the ol' VHS collection, however!

It's been reported that a nice deluxe DVD set of the original Mighty Mouse cartoons is scheduled to be released with a brand new CGI-movie that Nickelodeon is producing. In the meantime, in between time, it's just been announced that Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures! is going to show up on shelves on January 5, 2010. My least favorite of the three different shows, it's still a great show with a really warped sense of humor and plenty of jokes thrown at adults to make it even more fun. It will be a welcome addition to my DVD library.

When the show originally aired, some people were uneasy that a Saturday morning cartoon for kids was being produced by a studio that formerly turned out X-rated cartoons. Some media watchdog group accused the show of featuring a scene where Mighty Mouse snorted cocaine even though it was clear he was just smelling a flower. (I've seen the clip, he's smelling a flower!) Besides, why would Mighty Mouse need to do cocaine!? He doesn't need any drugs to beat up cats! He's Mighty Mouse!? Duh!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Fans of movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones often get the chance to see props actually used in the movies, at various exhibits and theme parks. When you're like me, and you're a huge fan of oddball films that the general public doesn't care about, you don't get the same opportunity to see props from your favorite movies. Which is why I was delighted to find this prop from one of my all-time favorite movies, 1980's Popeye. The Robert Altman film is a musical, live-action adaptation of E.C. Segar's 1930 era comic strip. It's a bizarre film based on the comic strip universe and not the more well-known animated cartoons, which makes it a little harder to follow at times. Since I've seen Popeye no less than 100 times...and that's no exaggeration, I've been able to figure out what the heck is going on. Anywho...the prop in question here is Popeye's famous pipe, which I'm sure is one of many that Robin Williams chomped on while filming this movie. The pipe is on display, like all good Hollywood props, at a Planet Hollywood...this one a stand alone gift shop in Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios. If you look closely, you can see a lightsaber on display right above the picture of Robin Williams. Those Star Wars props are everywhere!

Check out this website for: Popeye Village, a tourist attraction in Malta built around the village that was constructed for the movie.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Week In Movies - Two 1's, One 2 and a 5

Every movie I saw last week is part of a multi-film franchise.

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 Double Feature in 3-D (1995,1999,2009) Nothing pops out of the screen at ya in this double billing on the classic animated movies, but it's still alot of fun to see Buzz Lightyear, Woody and the whole gang up on the big screen again. By donning 3-D glasses, the world of Andy's bedroom comes alive like nothing you could imagine. It's as if you were standing right there with the toys watching this all happen. The 3-D effect gives the movies a clarity so crisp you can make out every tiny little detail the filmmakers put into both of these wonderful movies. This new double feature is fun because 1) you get to see both of these great movies for the slightly-elevated price of one 3-D movie, 2) it's great to see any older movies get a re-release and 3) there's a really nifty intermission between the films. The intermission is filled with trivia, animation tests, a neat soundtrack that gives the illusion that the Toy Story gang is sitting in the theatre with you and other surprises. I was disappointed that we missed two minutes of the intermission while we did a bathroom break - but I would have been more upset if we missed any of the second film because my kid had to go potty! They should have included an intermission from the intermission.

The Toy Story/Toy Story 2 Double Feature in 3-D has been held over from it's initial two week run. If you haven't seen it yet, you've still got time! You'll also have a chance to see Buzz and Woody in 3-D again when Toy Story 3 opens next summer.

Bring It On: Fight To The Finish (2009) There's four main components to every Bring It On movie. (This is part 5, by the way!) It starts out with a dream sequence, there's some mention of the fabled "spirit stick", the characters use words like "cheer-tastrophe" and "cheer-tatorship", and they all end as some big giant Cheerleader competition. I've really enjoyed the goofy charm of the first four instalments in the Bring In On saga. Sadly, this fifth chapter trades the silliness for a slightly more serious tone. All the above elements are in place, but dragging out the almost identical story line for the fifth time is starting to show it's age. True, I'm not the target demographic for these films, but even a 13 year old is going to feel the storyline is old and tired. Christina Milian must switch schools and go from her championship Cheerleader squad to the new school's squad who doesn't know what they are doing. Within 5 minutes of seeing the new squad, she's voted team captain and then proceeds to bring the ramshackle team to National Victory. The team is made up of about 20-25 cheerleaders, but only 5 of them ever speak in the movie. That about sums up how "auto-pilot" this movie is. Maybe it's time to hang up the pom-poms Bring It On.

Balto (1995) The true-life story of the origin on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race is the basis of this hand-drawn animated feature. Having been flooded with computer animation for so long, it's nice to go back and watch one of the hand crafted cartoons from the previous decade. I really enjoyed this film when it came out in theatres and had always wanted to see it again. My kids love all things dogs, so they wanted to see it. There's quite a bit of childish slapstick, physical humor but over all it's a really well done movie. The "celebrity" voice cast dates the film a bit, with Kevin Bacon, Bridget Fonda, Bob Hoskins, and Phil Collins. (What ever happened to Bridget Fonda?)

Superman (1978) Every kid my age has at least caught bits and pieces of this movie on television back in the day. I don't think I've ever sat down and watched the whole thing from beginning to end. It's always referred to as Superman: The Movie, but it's opening titles just state Superman. Either way, I guess there's no need to guess who in my household wanted to watch this movie! Superman was the bee's knees when I was a young lad and it seems good ol' Superman has taken a fourth seat place these days to Batman, Spiderman and Wolverine (and maybe even Iron Man!?!) So it was nice to energize my superhero worshiping son with the epic Superman origin. This grand film, which pushes 2 1/2 hours, really shows off what a work of art film making used to be. There's no digital computer generated effects in this movie. They used old fashioned movie making tricks to make it look like a man was flying...and 30 years later the effects still look great. I picked up a copy of this movie in a 4-film, 2-disc set of all four Christopher Reeve Superman flicks for a mere $10 bucks! Good deal!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WWoB Halloween Treasury

I hate when people declare Halloween or Christmas as their favorite holiday. Of course it is, nobody's favorite is Valentine's Day or Easter or Columbus's always Christmas or Halloween!'s some links to some past Halloween related fun we've had here at WWoB. Enjoy!

Vintage Halloween Photos

My Halloween Costumes

Halloween Weekend Movie Suggestions

Mr. Ed's Barn of Thought 11/2/94

How The Grinch Didn't Save Halloween

Monday, October 19, 2009

10 Great Movie Cameos

If a few text messages back and forth constitutes a conversation then...The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend about one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, cameo appearance in a movie ever! We both agreed that it's got to be Big Bird in The Muppet Movie (1979). Now, The Muppet Movie is a landmark film in cameos anyway. The movie is packed with brief appearances by some of the biggest legends in showbiz: Orson Wells, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Richard Pryor to name a few. But who would have ever guessed that a Muppet could make a cameo in a Muppet movie? While driving along on their way to Hollywood, Kermit and Fozzie see a strange figure in the road up ahead. It turns out to be Big Bird traveling in the opposite direction. It turns out he's on his way to New York City to break into public television. Comedy gold! That kind of humor is sort of common place today, but that was oddly self-referential for 1979.

So, as the title of this post suggests, this got me thinking about some other great cameos in movies and it was an excuse for me to make a list.

Chevy Chase in Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird (1985)
My other all-time favorite cameo comes from another Muppet filled motion picture and it's one of my all-time favorite movie stars. Chevy Chase was the number one box-office star when he appeared in this big screen venture for the timeless children's show. Chevy plays a news reporter on television who first breaks the story that Big Bird has run away from Sesame Street...or Sesaim Street as he pronounces it. In just a few brief moments on screen he is hilarious. After a remote spot from on the scene reporter Kermit the Frog, Chevy returns to do the weather: "And now for the weather. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood....A wonderful day in the neighborhood. Won't you neighbor." It still makes me laugh!

Ethel Merman in Airplane! (1980) At a mental hospital: "It's Lieutenant Hurwitz. Severe shell-shock. Thinks he's Ethel Merman." "You'll be swell, you'll be great. Gonna have the whole world on a plate. Startin' here, startin' now. Honey, everything's comin' up roses..."

Pee-Wee Herman in Back to the Beach (1987) Back to the Beach is the 20 year later follow up to the popular Beach Party movies of the 60's. It stars Frankie and Annette as grown-ups with kids of their own. It is a fantastic motion picture you must see! It has a bunch of great cameos in it, most notably Don Addams, Bob Denver and Alan Hale Jr. all playing off their TV personalities. But the best cameo has got to be Pee-Wee Herman, who appears out of nowhere, for no reason at all, sings Surfin' Bird, and then flies off into the sky on a rocket powered surfboard. Brilliance!

Tim Conway and Don Knotts in Cannonball Run II (1984) Here's the setup: This being a Cannonball movie, everyone is driving a car or one sort or another. Tony Danza is driving a stunt limo which makes it look like an orangutan is actually driving the car. The orangutan is even dressed up in a little valet outfit...classy stuff! So, they're speeding and they get pulled over by two motorcycle cops. The police are none other than The Apple Dumpling Gang themselves, Conway and Knotts. The two try to give the monkey a ticket and then all comedy-heck breaks loose!

Bill Murray in Space Jam (1996) There's two great things about this cameo. First, he's just Bill Murray. He doesn't play a character or even play himself really...he's just there. He just shows up and he's there, and he's funny. Second, he shows up twice. Just as out of the blue as his first appearance, he walks back into the movie for no good reason near the end to help Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordon defeat the bad guys. Bill Murray is so good at what he does that you over look the major loopholes in the story.

Leonard Maltin in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) This sequel is not quite as good as it's original, but it's worthy of being a sequel to such a fine film. The gremlins show up in New York City where they take over a mega-skyscraper. Among the many operations in the building is a television studio where film critic Leonard Maltin is doing a show. He's reviewing the classic 1984 film Gremlins, and he's not giving it a favorable review. In turn, Gremlins show up and give Maltin an unfavorable eating him! (Gremlins 2 is also home to two "lost cameos." Hulk Hogan and Bubba Smith appeared in the theatrical cut of the film, but their scene is replaced in video and television versions.)

"Weird Al" Yankovic in Halloween 2 (2009) I haven't seen this or any of Rob Zombie's other movies...nor do I think I ever will. But how great is it that they put my close personal friend Al in a gory horror movie. It's gotta be great! When this finally makes it's way down to cable TV I'll TiVo it and then fast forward (while hiding behind my hands over my face) to Al's part and hope I don't see anything else that will traumatize me for life.

David Letterman in Cabin Boy (1994) We've never gotten a David Letterman movie so his brief appearance in this film will probably serve as our only big screen adventure with Dave. In this otherwise forgettable film, David Letterman shows up as (according to ImbB) Old Salt in Fishing Village. He has a scene where he harasses Chris Elliott for a few minutes and it is easily the highlight of the film. There is no other reason to watch this movie than to see Dave be funny...very funny. Better yet, you don't have to watch the can easily find the clip on YouTube.

Kenny Rogers and Britney Spears in Longshot (2000) Horrible...HORRIBLE movie which only exists to squeeze as many cameos into one movie as humanly possible. The majority of the Z-list celebs that show up in this stinker, you'll have no idea who they are. But you do get a great pairing when Britney Spears shows up as a flight attendant for 3o seconds. Just long enough for her to make her way into the cockpit of the plane and trade a joke with Captain Kenny Rogers.
Any favorites of yours that we missed....please leave a comment!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Classic Commercial Sunday - RoboCop is Hungry

In our country, RoboCop is a string of extremely violent action movies. In other countries, RoboCop is a pitchman for various food products...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Week In Movies - Ladies and Gentlemen, Academy Award Nominated Actor Liam Neeson and Scooby-Doo

Taken (2009) Between the fact that I usually only watch comedies and kids films and that Taken is a really well made action picture, my heart was literally thumping out of my chest watching this fantastically intense thriller. Liam Neeson's daughter gets kidnapped and sold into white slavery while vacationing in France. Luckily, Neeson's character was some sort of top secret government spy trained to kill anyone who gets in his way. So, he hops a plane to France and starts kicking butt left and right on his quest to find his daughter. This movie is tight! And by that I mean there isn't much unnecessary time spent in this film. Once the girl gets nabbed, the rest of the film is about getting her back. Very well done movie that I probably wouldn't have seen if it wasn't for my wife.

Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins (2009) Much better than the previous two theatrical Scooby Doo movies, The Mystery Begins is much closer in spirit to the original 1960's cartoon show. In fact, this direct-to-DVD movie nails the transition from beloved cartoon series to live-action motion picture. Directed by Brian Levant, who also directed both of The Flintstones movies, Scooby-Doo meets up with Shaggy and the rest of the gang for their very first mystery. The special effects are kept to a minimum and the focus is on the friendship that forms between these four kids (and one dog.) There's some nice nods to the TV show while bringing the whole Scooby-Doo universe up-to-date in a non-obnoxious way. I was honestly blown away by how much better The Mystery Begins is over Scooby-Doo (2002) and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004). If you were let down by the first attempt to bring Mystery Inc. into the real world, rent this movie (or catch it on Cartoon Network) and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Loose Screws (1985) Imagine a film spoken almost entirely in double entendre. It's kind of like a Mad Magazine comic that goes on for 75 minutes. In this Canadian classic, four guys get sent off to a boarding school where they decide to devise a point system for all the girls in the school and then see who can score the most points hooking up with the girls. Yes, it's as tasteless as it sounds. The boys all set their sites on the new French teacher, 100-point Miss Mona Lott. Get it, Mona Lott? Everybody's name in this movie is a pun/entendre...but that's the only one I can publish here at WWoB. None of the guys ever do hook up with Miss Lott, but at the graduation ceremony at the end of the movie a statue comes to life and blows marijuana smoke all over the place causing Mona Lott to do a striptease in front of the whole student body. Oh Canadians, you guys have all the fun!
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