Some, if not most of the people my age remember a little something we came home from school to called 'The Disney Afternoon'. It was this great slot of cartoons, spanning about two hours, featuring classics like 'The Gummie Bears', 'Duck Tales', 'TaleSpin', 'Darkwing Duck', 'The Goof Troop', and a few more. My all-time favourite of the bunch, however, was 'Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers' (although 'Darkwing' was almost a coinflip).
'Rescue Rangers' featured the Disney duo, along with newcomer characters; Gadget - the brainy mouse; Monterey Jack - the brawny, Australian mouse; and Zipper - a housefly, and a sort of underdog character who only spoke in buzzes. The outfits they gave Chip and Dale were parodies of Indiana Jones and Magnum PI, respectively. Together, they would go on adventures, solving mysteries, and taking down a batch of repeating villains; namely Fat Cat - a sort of mob kingpin feline, and Professor Norton Nimnul - your average mad professor type.
The film, however, twists things into a sort of 'Roger Rabbit' universe (while making reference to said character) and plays out somewhat similarly. Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) meet in elementary school, and to make a long story short, one day they pair up and create the successful 'Rescue Rangers' series, explaining that they gave the 'Rescue Ranger' characters the cartoon voices we know from the show. Amid the show's great success, however, Dale gets his own show, the two have a falling out, and both 'Rescue Rangers' and the would-be 'Double-O-Dale' get cancelled.
After thirty years without fame, Chip takes a job as an insurance salesman while Dale lives in the past, going to all sorts of fan conventions. The two are called together, one day, by their old friend, Monterey Jack (Eric Bana), who owes a gang money for his cheese addiction. If he doesn't pay up, Monty may be kidnapped and altered in appearance only to be shipped overseas, and sold into bootlegging, being featured in the terrible, no-name, straight-to-video cartoons kids avoid. Of course, Monty does end up missing, and Chip and Dale have to put aside their differences to find and rescue him.
Along the way, they get some help from Police Captain Putty (J.K. Simmons) and (to a greater extent) Officer Ellie Steckler (KiKi Layne), who is a huge fan of 'Rescue Rangers' - the kind who can name every specific episode title and where it is in what season. And fans, not to worry, we do get to see Gadget (Tress MacNeille) and Zipper (Dennis Haysbert) come back as well. Just fair warning, their screen time isn't much. That said, it's hardly even the original characters that make this movie so good. I appreciate that this is a sort of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' for this generation, as there's plenty of adult humour here even though we're dealing with beloved childhood characters.
The most fun part of the film is how far it goes with some of its character cameos. Perhaps most entertaining is that of Ugly Sonic (Tim Robinson) from the original 'Sonic' movie trailers, before his glorious makeover, thanks to a fan uprising! We also have Seth Rogan doing some of his various cartoon voices we know him from, which leads me to wonder what kind of contract was signed upon making this movie. Another way it's similar to 'Roger Rabbit' is that it seems to be an open invitation to just about any company. The one that surprised me most was seeing a trailer for a 'Batman' movie within the movie. The open-invite concept this seems to give makes things so much more entertaining, because we never know who's gonna pop up next.
This was one seemingly made for my generation, as it brings up some early 90s nostalgia, and at the same time, as mentioned earlier, has its fair share of adult humour to it. Personally, I loved the concept here. It's a pretty unique product when the only thing I feel like I can really compare it to is 'Roger Rabbit'. The only difference in quality is that there are many more animated characters to pick from nowadays as opposed to in the late 80s. I'd say if you were ever a fan of 'Rescue Rangers', growing up, and have an appreciation for the better quality stuff the Lonely Island can create, then I highly recommend it. It's worth checking out either way though, just as a movie so big on its easter eggs.
When I first looked at this title, I thought to myself "hey, cool, another 'Ice Age' movie!" Of course, I came to that thought without really thinking of anything past the second 'Ice Age' title, not fully realizing just how much this franchise has been run into the ground. Still, though, I thought this might at least make for a fun family adventure more than something made for little kids. I'm not gonna full fault the movie for that but at the very least, the first handful of 'Ice Age' movies were made for the whole family.
For those of you who have been like me and totally losing track, this is actually the sixth 'Ice Age' movie, following the original, ''The Meltdown', 'Dawn of the Dinosaurs', 'Continental Drift' and 'Collision Course'. And, while you've no doubt probably heard of all of those, there was also an Oscar-nominated short called 'No Time for Nuts', featuring everyone's favourite sabre-toothed squirrel, Scrat. So I was kind of under a rock during most of that, and the ones I tend to primarily remember (although I know I've seen at least a little bit past them) are the first two. Going into this, I was relatively blind, although it's kind enough to give us a recap of events up until this point.
While this is called the 'Adventures of Buck Wild', the primary characters are actually Crash and Eddie (Vincent Tong and Aaron Harris, respectively). Their adoptive mammoth sister, Ellie (Dominique Jennings) is a bit concerned about them being independent in the wild, but they don't want to listen, and it eventually leads them to sneak away from their herd of misfits to try an adventure of their own, straight back to the Lost World (as seen in 'Dawn of the Dinosaurs'). There, they run into adventurer Buck Wild (Simon Pegg), who has established peace among the Lost World with a watering hole for species to live together in harmony.
However, a Protoceratops with a huge, off-putting and exposed brain named Orson (Utkarsh Ambudkar) believes that society should operate where the strong dominate the weak, so he kind of becomes the big baddie in this one. Largely, the plot involves Buck, Crash, Eddie, and the help of a zorilla named Zee (Justina Machado) putting a stop to Orson's plans, and the whole thing plays out more or less like a Saturday morning cartoon as opposed to a feature film. In fact, apparently this was meant to be a series, but they were like "no, movies are better". The funny thing is, if this were a series, it would make a hell of a lot more sense.
Now, what about our other favourites from the past 'Ice Age' movies? Well, they're all here, but every one of them has since been voice-replaced. Ellie (originally Queen Latifah), along with Manny (Sean Kenin, originally Ray Romano), Diego (Skyler Stone, originally Denis Leary) and Sid (Jake Green, originally John Leguizamo) spend the movie searching for the two runaways, Crash & Eddie (originally Seann William Scott and Josh Peck, respectively), while the two runaways are busy trying to prove themselves as independent. The big message of the movie is a bit of a combination of not biting off more than one can chew, but at the same time, letting the "birds" leave the proverbial nest.
So, if you're a fan of all the 'Ice Age' movies, I might suggest either taking this with a grain of salt, or even just avoiding it altogther. People my age may remember Disney cranking out various animated series based on their movies; primarily 'Aladdin' (although I'm almost certain there were others). This is a LOT like watching something like that. The voices are all different, there doesn't seem to be a lot at stake, and it's very, very basic in the way it flows. And although I'm not sure I've seen anything past 'The Meltdown', I might suggest that this is probably the weakest of them... at least so far, as it seems like they wanna milk this as far as it can go.
To make one thing perfectly clear, the original two 'Home Alone' movies (specifically the first one) are a couple of Christmas classics that can't quite be recreated, although God knows people have tried time and time again. I've always held those first two rather close to my heart while never seeing anything beyond it, and being quite happy with that decision. Then, along came this, and out of pure curiosity, I felt for some reason that I had to check it out. This is one of those cases where I checked out a movie to see how bad it actually turned out, as the trailer makes it look quite literally like a complete theft of the first movie.
Well, for the love of Saint Nick's big, bushy beard, I'll be damned if this didn't turn out exactly as I expected. I went into this with three big things on my mind. For one, this kid wasn't gonna be able to hold a torch to Culkin despite the fact that he once played my favourite "little buddy" character in 'Jojo Rabbit'. Two, the traps were bound to be more family friendly and less violent for this day and age despite the fact that the violent slapstick in 'Home Alone' was part of what made it comedy gold. And three, the overall threat of being left home alone was going to be a joke this time. Much of this is indicated by the trailer anyway, but I didn't realize it was gonna be as lame as it actually was.
This one's premise actually follows the would-be criminals, Jeff and Pam McKenzie (Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper, respectively) a bit more closely than the kid. These two are a couple trying to sell their house, but have yet to tell their children, Abby (Katie Beth Hall) and Chris (Max Ivutin). They have run into hard times with Jeff losing his job, and Pam on a minimal salary, so they kind of have to sell. To add to their stress, Jeff's brother, Hunter (Timothy Simons), his wife, Mei (Ally Maki) and son, Ollie (Aiden/Allan Wang) come to stay for the holidays.
Meanwhile, on the road and having to drain the lizard, Max (Archie Yates) is coming home with his Mom, Carol (Aisling Bea). His Mom stops at the open house Jeff and Pam are having for Max to use the bathroom (though I don't remember ever seeing it happen), and soon Max bumps into Jeff and his collection of old dolls. Then, max is a total jerk to him and one wonders why we're supposed to sympathize with this damn wiener kid. Anyway, long story short, you see something come across Max's face having to do with the dolls, eventually leading to Jeff and Pam assuming Max stole one as some sort of vengeful act after their exchange.
While Max's family all leave for Japan, they forget him at home, and that part of the film is the exact same premise as the first 'Home Alone', although in this, the kid is left alone at the age of 10, the family goes to "Japan" (which you get no hint of, whatsoever - it's like watching Jason "Take Manhattan"), and Max misses his family WAY too fast. Add to that the couple who are trying to get their doll back from Max. Max ends up setting up traps for them and such, but there's little to no humour here as this is just a relatively innocent couple here trying to get something back that belongs to them. It's not tough guy Joe Pesci and bumbling buffoon Daniel Stern going around robbing neighbourhoods. There's no satisfaction in their injuries (if you can call them that) you just kind of want Max to knock it off and stop being such a little shit.
And speaking of that, Max really is such a little bastard. I'll admit that Kevin wasn't exactly the most likable kid in the original, but one of the big points of the original was to show that Kevin still loved his family deep down despite all of the bad he said about them. Its a realization on his part that he still needs them in his life, and his wishing for them to disappear is something he ends up regretting. You really feel this in the moments between him fending off Harry and Marv and his Mother coming home. He still sets the house up for Christmas Eve etc. It's subtle but, it's there. In this, the kid comes across as a whiney little brat and you almost want to see the couple turn the tables on him.
I could sit here all day picking this movie apart, but there were a few little odds and ends I have to admit I sort of appreciated. For one, Buzz McCallister (Devin Ratray) makes a cameo appearance here as a cop, and there's a gag involving Kevin prank calling in, reporting a kid who has been left home alone. Apparently something he bugs him with on a yearly basis. I sort of appreciated that, even though it was a touch crow-barred in and sort of implausible. Another character I liked here was Uncle Blake (Pete Holmes) who adds a touch of comedy relief to things by seemingly spotting all of the more realistic things about the plot, like for instance, leaving Max at home as a sort of "first world problem" (his words, not mine, but I get his point).
Anyway, it's time to wrap this one up. The bottom line is simple - the original 1990 version is most definitely the way to go when it comes to these movies. I love the second one too, but the first is the highly recommended and incredibly quotable Christmas classic. This comes across as something an angry mother in the fight against cartoon violence would have come up with. Even the happy ending to this is lame. It merely focuses on "poor" Max, where the first at least had that side story about their neighbour reuniting with his son to really pull at the heart strings. Despite a few little giggles here and there, as a whole, this is just crap. And note to writers - jokes about remakes never being good as the originals DO NOT excuse your film for being a crappy remake!
Those who know me very well know that I have a real thing for the Muppets. If ever I am feeling a little down in the dumps, there's nothing quite like the magic that the Muppets can provide to cheer me up. It's innocent family fun with just a little bit of an edge, and provides a bit of that good old nostalgia while still offering something new. The thing is, while I've had 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' as a go-to Christmas movie over the years, I've never had a Muppet Halloween movie.
This lack of entertainment has bugged me for a long time now, because again, those who know me very well know I have a real thing for Halloween, too. FINALLY, in 2021, that movie came to light. And while it's not the best Muppet movie out there, it's actually still quite good in comparison to a lot of their later stuff (save for 'Muppets', 2011, which was awesome). I further appreciate that this goes back to Gonzo being the main Muppet on the adventure, as it was with 'Christmas Carol', 'Treasure Island' and the lesser-rated 'From Space' (which I still enjoy and really don't care what people think about it). Even though I consider Kermit my favorite Muppet, there's always been something about Gonzo that has tickled my funny bone.
This one has Gonzo (Dave Goelz) and Pepe (Bill Barretta) going to a fear challenge event instead of the annual Muppet Halloween party. The challenge is the old cliché of staying in a haunted mansion overnight, which once belonged to Gonzo's favorite magician, the Great MacGuffin (whose name I love by the way). Upon arrival, they are greeted by their host (Will Arnett) who warns them that if they can't survive the night, they get trapped there forever. Gonzo, claiming to not be afraid of anything at all, claims it to be no problem while Pepe isn't quite so lucky, as he plays the Costello to Gonzo's Abbott here.
As it is with any Muppet movie, this one is packed with celebrity guest stars as well as other Muppets playing different roles within the mansion. As far as the Muppets, we get to see all our favorites; even the new Walter. As far as our celebrity guest stars, while Arnett seems to be the "main", this one further includes Taraji P. Henson, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alfonso Ribeiro, Danny Trejo, Pat Sajak, Craig Robinson, and John Stamos just to name a few. To top it all off, there is a screaming Muppet goat in this movie, taking from the famous YouTube videos of screaming goats. Maybe I'm lame, but I laughed out loud every time that goat was on screen. For yours truly, it was the highlight of the film. Again, maybe lame, but there's my cards on the table.
While the description of this doesn't sound all that special, and frankly done to death, it's a combination of how the film ends and the sense of humor it carries with it that I really appreciated. I won't go into real spoiler territory, but this does a good job of giving the right message at the end, and the message is surprisingly sort of deep and even somewhat humbling. It could be that I'm reading too deeply into things, as it's a Muppet movie, but regardless, I definitely appreciated what the movie was saying. It could even be that it spoke to me on a personal level, but check it out for yourself and see what you think. For myself, I'm just insanely happy to have something to watch for Halloween that features my favorite nostalgic fuzzy critters, the Muppets!