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!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Early Holiday Shopping:
Today's Trash - Tomorrow's Gifts

As the holiday season approaches, any mail-order catalog that can find it's way to your house will end up in your mailbox. They all try and sell us meats, cheeses, candy, and the finest products available that you just can't pick up in your local Wal-Mart. I was leafing through one of these fine publications and thought I'd share with you some very special items that you might want to add to your shopping list this Christmas season!

Item #385-72-11726 Sheriff's Gun Knife I'm not saying that if you are into NASCAR than you would want this knife, but what I am saying is that if you want this knife than you also enjoy a good NASCAR race. Exactly what sheriff carries this gun knife? For that matter, who carries a gun knife? I suppose it's for the fella who wants to hold up a liquor store and make the clerk think, "Is he going to shoot me or stab me!?" If you're robbing a liquor store with this beauty that you didn't read the fine print; the catalog says this gun knife is For Decorative use only. What a bummer! Now $9.99

Item #385-72-12270 Pole Dancer Alarm Clock Tucked between the Nativity Music Box on page 29 and the Disney Princess Hideaway Tent over on page 42 is this lovely item. "A pole dancer twirls around the pole to music and flashing lights. What a way to wake up!" says the catalog. The photograph of the clock also suggests that you'll be saving money by not going to a strip joint. I'm wondering if anyone who would have this alarm clock would really have anywhere to get up and be every morning!? Now $19.99

Item #385-18-74053 5-Pc. Presidential Knife Set I'm not saying that if you are into NASCAR than you would want this knife set, but what I am saying is that if you are into NASCAR and fun facts about the leaders of our nation than you will most certainly want this knife set! How many times have you been carving you and your girlfriend's initials into a tree and wondered what hat size Eisenhower wore. Now thanks to modern technology, it's possible to have the best of both worlds! You might not be able to make it out in the picture here, but the Presidents names are beautifully presented in the ever popular Comic Sans MS font. only $12.99

Item #385-76-12541 Cat Tote and Umbrella Set We all know someone who would really like a cat umbrella and it's probably safe to assume that that person is not on your Christmas shopping list. only $14.99

Item #385-16-15787 Wolf Coverlet First of all, since when was "coverlet" a word? Second, I'm sure these sheets are a delightful way to unwind after an exciting evening of watching the latest WWE pay-per-view event. only $19.99

Oh, I hope Santa is reading this! Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Flintstones Meet The Jetsons and Then Sell Computers

Here's a nifty piece of modern animation featuring Fred & Barney along with George Jetson as they pitch some new laptop computer. This short cartoon was produced for stores to play on their wall of TVs or I guess computer screens. See if you can identify the different movie clips used in this short. The last one is pretty sweet!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baltimore Comic-Con

I've always wanted to go to a comic book or science fiction convention just for the experience of it. We've all seen them mocked in movies and television for years, but I wanted to check one out in person. Since my 6 year-old son is all about everything superhero related I thought it would be a great way for him and I to spend the afternoon together. This past weekend we headed into the big city for the 2009 Baltimore Comic-Con held at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The show took up three convention halls. The space was mostly divided between comic book vendors and comic book creators. There were numerous comic book dealers set up selling millions of books both new and old. You could really stock up on your library with the tons of 50 cents and one dollar books. I've always tended to enjoy cartoon comic books more, especially Disney and Hanna-Barbera (big shock there!). It seems all the Flintstones comics now sell for at least $20.00 an issue. I'm not that avid of a fan that I need to drop twenty bucks on one comic book.

It was also neat to see all the artists and small publishers who put out their own material. There was lots of neat artwork to look at and there were even a few artists who have been inspired by the recent Disney/Marvel buy out. Legendary Disney comic artist Don Rossa was there singing his art. I was tempted to buy a piece but never actually did. One of the "underground" comics that was represented at the show was a guy named "Dominator". He was even there, himself, to meet and greet the fans. Even though we've never heard of this guy, Elias was excited to meet a real live superhero. (You can read more about Dominator in this Baltimore Sun article.)

There was some video dealers at the show who were selling DVDs, not of the legit/legal variety. But they had complete series sets of any show you could possibly ever imagine. I was tempted to pick up The Wuzzles or Electra Woman and Dyna Girl but they were kinda pricey. After we left, It dawned on me that I should have looked for the #1 Convention Item of All Time: The Star Wars Holiday Special. But again, I didn't!

My favorite freebie at the convention was a Saw VI lollipop! Why not!?

Elias and I were both most looking forward to seeing people dressed in costume. We saw quite a few Star Wars guys and there was a really good Blade walking around. We saw more than one Joker. There was a Willy Wonka - Tim Burton style, a couple of slutty Wonder Women, and pretty cool looking Ghostbuster. Elias' favorite was...
...this guy from the new G.I. Joe movie. All these guys were so super-friendly too! My favorite fan costume was easily...

...Jane Jetson! It was nice to know that someone else also has a homemade Hanna-Barbera inspired costume. Pretty sweet, eh!?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hollywood Barbie

It's been announced that after 50 years as America's favorite plastic doll, Mattel's Barbie is headed to the big screen in live-action form for the very first time. An animated Barbie has already appeared in over a dozen direct to DVD movies, and she had a small role in 1999's Toy Story 2 but this new project will truly be the first "Barbie Movie".

I've spouted off before about my dreams to one day make a Yogi Bear movie or a Monopoly movie. Barbie is another property that I wanted to translate to the big screen. It's not that I'm a Barbie fan - I've never owned a single Barbie doll, ok...maybe I read an issue or two of her short lived comic book when I was younger, but honestly I'm not a Barbie fan. What interests me about Barbie is how much staying power she has had and what little there really is to her backstory.

All we really know about Barbie is that her real name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, she dates a guy named Ken, she's held every job imaginable and she has a fantastic figure! (Ok...some of us may also know that her parents are George and Margaret Roberts of Willow, Wisconsin and she attended Willows High School.) But that's it! How do you hang a 90 minute motion picture on that tiny of a backstory?

Here's how my version of the movie would go:

  • In the movie, Barbie needs to hold at least 25 different jobs all at the same time. In the opening of my movie, Barbie would be performing a delicate operation as chief surgeon at Malibu General Hospital. After the procedure is done, and Barbie has saved the patient's life, Barbie trades her surgical scrubs for a bikini and hits the beach with her friends for a totally bitchin' beach party!
  • The song Barbie Girl by Danish-Norwegian supergroup Aqua must be featured prominently in the film, preferably under the opening credits. I know Mattel had some problems with a few of the lyrics of this song and I don't see any reason why they can't go back and clean up the lyrics "Kidz Bop" style - but the song needs to be in the movie!
  • The "Malibu Dream House" needs to be somewhere in the movie. It's the number one Barbie toy that everyone knows. The house's elevator must also be used in the film.
  • In my original conception of the movie, Barbie was to be played by actress Brooke Theiss - best known for her role as Wendy Lubbock on the short lived sitcom Just the Ten of Us. That was quite sometime ago when I fake-casted her, she's 39 now. She's still attractive, but probably a little too old to play Barbie. I've read that Taylor Swift was being considered as well as Sara Paxton, those are both good choices. Myself, I would probably hold a nationwide audition looking for the perfect unknown actress. I'd picture the publicity tour involving a large pink bus.
  • Somewhere in movie, Barbie needs to go to the moon. One of the many jobs she's had was that of astronaut, and that's a pretty cool job to have for someone who has also worked at McDonald's!
  • The Barbie Movie does NOT need to have any bad guys in it or any plot where Barbie has to save the world. That would be missing the whole point of Barbie.
  • The Barbie Movie should be rated G and should not feature anything the slightest bit inappropriate for a 4 year-old girl to see. Every girl in the world is going to want to see this movie and every parent should feel completely comfortable taking their kids to see it.
  • Every single item of clothing, vehicle driven and building entered should (and will) be available as a cheap, crappy plastic toy! Because that's the American way!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

My Week In Movies - Claws & Balls

Hamburger The Motion Picture (1986) This week I finally hooked up the ol' VCR back to the big TV in the living room after having gone without it since the great DirecTV/surround sound install of February `09. The first movie I popped into the cassette player was the classic 1980's T&A comedy Hamburger The Motion Picture which I recently purchased at a flea market for two bucks. This is one of an endless number of Police Academy rip-offs that I adored when I was younger. Instead of training to become police officers, we meet a group of young misfits who are all training to run their own Buster Burger franchise. They all take classes like Pickleology 101 and learn how to treat customers rudely. In classic Police Academy rip-off style, each of the characters has one personality trait upon which all jokes are hung. Among the new recruits at Buster Burger University are a fat guy, a nerd, a South American freedom fighter complete with strips of ammo criss crossed across her chest, a ladies man, and of course...a nun. One of the new guys is so irresistible to women that he keeps finding himself at the mercy of topless girls who want to have their way with him. This of course provides the film with plenty of opportunity to show off some bare skin. But unlike alot of other 80's teen sex comedies, this one is pretty funny. It also features perhaps the greatest big screen performance of Dick Butkus' career ( I mean, he was great as Klawicki on My Two Dads but that was just TV!)

Beach Balls (1988) Delighted to have my VCR back, I dug through my library of tapes and rediscovered another low budget sex-minded brainless film from the 1980's. Here's the plot: Charlie likes beautiful Wendy, but Wendy likes Keith - some dude from a local hair metal band. So to impress Wendy, Charlie lets Keith's band perform at a big party at his parent's house while they are away at an anti-rock n' roll rally. Ok, that's not really a plot as much as it is just something that happens but that's all this simple movie needs to move along through an hour and fifteen minutes of smart ass remarks, girls in bikinis and more than one extended performance from a terrible metal band. Whether it knows it or not, Beach Balls takes it tone and structure from the classic Beach Party movies of the `60's. This isn't a great movie, but as someone who has seen every movie with the word "BEACH" in the title, I'd have to say it's above average.

Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) You at least have to give me credit for admitting that I watched this movie. I usually watch just about every Disney movie that comes down the pike, plus I'm always interested in a movie version of a TV show, especially when the show is still on. I'm not really a Hannah Montana fan, I've seen the show once (when Larry David was on) but I do have to confess I love the hell out of that song "Party in the U.S.A. Anywho...Getting back to the movie, Hannah Montana: The Movie was probably the first theatre going experience for alot of kids. The movie downplays the slapstick nature of the TV show and opens up the world to Miley/Hannah with a visit to her hometown in Tennessee where life is quite different from the Hollywood lifestyle she's used to. There's about a dozen songs in this movie, some G-rated romantic story lines and some stuff that probably makes more sense if you watch the show. In the end, it's a nice slow-paced wholesome movie that Disney is known for.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) Here's another movie I went into not knowing much of the backstory. I've never seen any of the other X-Men movies, in fact all I know about the X-Men is that Wolverine is one of them and I think Firestar and/or Ice Man from the old Spider-Man cartoon might have been in the X-Men at one time or another, I don't really know.

Wolverine kicked off the summer movie season this year and raked in...or should I say "clawed in"...close to $180 million domestically. What? Really!?! It's pretty much just two hours of Wolverine running around and killing people/things. I'm so sick of movies that rely entirely on CG. If you want to use computers to make a horse's mouth move while he talks...that's great, but two hours of fake explosions and monsters that jump around like cartoon characters doesn't really hold my interest. The only reason I saw this movie is because my 6 year old son was begging me to watch it. I'll give kudos to the filmmakers for not putting anything too inappropriate in this movie, but I found it to be a big snooze fest.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Retro Joe

The line of G.I. Joe action figures (i.e. dolls for boys) was first introduced in 1964 then later again released in 1982 and most recently within the last year on the heels of the movie G.I. Joe The Rise Of Cobra. I've never really been a fan of G.I. Joe, but I appreciate their place in pop culture plus I'll have a toy gun held to my head to watch the new movie when it comes out on DVD soon. My younger brother had quite a few figures and vehicles and we would spend hours building elaborate "mountains" for them by taking sheets and covering layers of boxes and different toys. We'd take cardboard paper towel rolls and use them as tunnels and we'd hang kite string all over the place for the Joes to slide in on. I don't want to brag but it was pretty darn awesome! Anywho...we found this old flyer for the second line of toys floating around my mom's house. There's even an order form to join the Official G.I. Joe Mobile Strike Force. Sounds important!

click on the images to enlarge

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Game Review: Toy Story Mania

When I heard about Toy Story Mania coming to the Wii, I was pretty excited. The new game is based on the ride Toy Story Midway Mania at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. While there have been games before that have attempted to turn the theme park experience into a video game (Adventures in the Magic Kingdom for the NES and Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour for the Playstation) Toy Story Mania promised to really bring a Disney World ride into my living room. If you haven't been on the Toy Story ride it's basically a ride that zips you around from screen to screen where you play very brief video game versions of popular midway games. (For more, you can check out a blog post I did when the ride opened at The Blog Wore Tennis Shoes.)

So, obviously when you play this new Wii version you're not going to be riding around, you'll most likely be sitting on your living room sofa. And also unlike the theme park attraction, you won't be waiting in line for at least an hour before your chance to play for a couple of minutes. Video games are designed to give you an experience that
will engage you for hours of game play. Toy Story Mania works hard to further the experience of the ride.

The games featured in the ride are faithfully recreated here. Almost all the games in the ride involve simply shooting or tossing things onto the screen to collect points as quickly as possible. The Wii adaptation also adds to the mix a set of additional objectives to each game. In addition to scoring a certain amount of points, there are more intricate goals like shooting five of the same target in a row, or looking for a special colored target or simply wiping out all of one kind of target. Completing all of the given objectives will unlock the game in a free play mode, otherwise you must experience the different games in a preselected lineup divided into five themes.

In addition to the shoot `em games from the ride, the game designers have added a handful of new games to the mix which use the Wii technology to their benefit. Some of these games have been thrown in to give the smallest of Wii players the chance to master a game. A few of the new games require nothing more than shaking the Wii remote to master the game. In one instance, Toy Story's resident swine Hamm is seen dancing on a stage and players are asked to mimic his actions by shaking their Wiimote in a certain direction. Even with the Wii controller sitting on a table in another room of the house, you're guaranteed to rack up a hefty amount of points. The games are pretty simple and not very challenging. Other new games like a labyrinth maze where you'll need to tilt your controller to move the maze table are quite unique.

All the gang from the Toy Story movies are here and each of the games fall into a theme connected to one of the characters. There's plenty of outer space fun with Buzz Lightyear and the aliens, Woody and Jessie host a variety of wild west games, Bo Peep, Rex, and most of the rest of the gang are all on hand as well. Some of the character voices are the same, most notably Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear but Tom Hank's brother Jim stands in to provide Woody's voice. Since many people have seen the Toy Story films numerous times over the years, the voice substitutes are quite noticeable.

There's also five 3-D games that you can unlock. The disc comes with two pairs of the old fashioned red-blue 3-D glasses. The effect is not nearly as effective as the polarized grey lens glasses used at the theme parks (and at the local multiplex).

While this new disc does transfer the imagery and the game play of the theme park ride very well, it does not give you the same overall experience. To achieve a complete experience like the ride you'll need to unlock all the shooting gallery style games and then set up your own lineup of games in the Free Play Mode.

Overall, it's a fun game - not really worth the $50.00 MSRP - but it's a good game for kids and fun disc to have at a party. The various games are all simple to learn and play. Those not looking to duplicate a recent vacation memory and more interested in playing with the Toy Story characters would probably be better off waiting for the Toy Story 3 game hitting shelves next summer with the release of the new movie.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Nursery Rhymes With Elias and Tanner

This one's been sitting around the WWoB office in draft mode since July so today we're dumping it on ya. It's just some pictures of my kids with various nursery rhymes at the Enchanted Forest. Enjoy!

Elias falling down the hill with Jack and Jill. (He didn't break his crown!)

Hey Diddle-Diddle, they don't have a cat or a fiddle just a dish who standing with a spoon.

It's surprising the tortoise won considering he had two kids on his back!

Jack by nimble
Jack by quick
where the heck
is the candlestick?

Three Ugly Ducklings

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Thursday, October 01, 2009

My Week In Movies - Point A to Point B

Race to Witch Mountain (2009) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a really likable guy and very charismatic screen presence who has suffered from a string of bad project choices for his career. I said a long time ago that he needed to take a page from the Vin Diesel playbook and do a Disney film where he plays against type. And finally he did and scored big with 2007's The Game Plan (which has been parked on my TiVo since March and I still haven't gotten around to watching it!) So, I thought it was pretty cool when they announced that The Rock would be staring in a follow-up to a duo of quintessential 70's Disney films: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and Return to Witch Mountain (1978). Unfortunately, this new recent visit to Witch Mountain is a boring plop of poop. Part of what made the original films so much fun were the special effects and the awesome things the alien kids could do with their minds. They could make doors open by themselves, they could fly a motor home, they even made a chandelier fall on a bad guy...and that's like the coolest way to catch a bad guy! But now it's 2009, we've seen special effects in a million movies and opening doors without touching them doesn't quite impress anymore. In one scene, the boy morphs through the backseat of a car to end up standing in the middle of the road where an Escalade hits him and crumples like tin foil while the boy remains unharmed. You can't really hang a movie on tricks like that...we've seen it all before. The story involves cab driver Johnson helping the two alien kids get back to their spaceship while a group of darkly dressed government agents chase them around every corner. There's some cute homages to other sci-fi flicks, including the original Witch Mountain movies, Disney's own Tron (also due for a modern revisit next year) and of course, plenty of Star Wars jokes. I think anyone would be better off watching the original 1975 film instead of wasting an evening on this no-so-great race.

The Incredible Journey (1963) Here's a reversal on the Witch Mountain scenario. The Incredible Journey is a lone animal adventure story from 1963, which Disney revisited twice in the 1990's with Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) and Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Fransisco (1996). I have seen both the modern films multiple times and enjoyed them but the original Disney classic had reminded one of the few films Walt Disney produced that I hadn't seen.

The Incredible Journey is pure Disney comfort food. The proceedings are narrated by Rex Allen, a warm welcoming voice which has accompanied many other Disney productions including the father in the Carousel of Progress show from the 1964 World's Fair - now playing at Walt Disney World. Allen provides the motives and thoughts of the animals in this story as they do not talk like in the modern remakes. Two dogs and a cat come to the conclusion that they are being abandoned by their caretaker so they begin on a 200 mile journey across the wilderness to return to their original family. Along the way they encounter bears and other wildlife and well as a handful of people. Near the end, the owners discover that the animals are missing and assume they are making the journey home. "That would be incredible!", they all say. This not being Old Yeller they do make it home for a happy ending. An ending that is played out very similar to the 1993 version which I've seen a dozen times and yet still teared up at the thought of a boy I don't know not being reunited with his long lost dog.

My kids liked the movie too, even though they didn't cry at the end!
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