The final Oscar-nominated film for Best Animated Picture that I want to look at this month is 2018's 'Isle of Dogs'. This one was nominated alongside Pixar's 'Incredibles 2', Disney's 'Ralph Breaks the Internet', and another under-the-radar anime called 'Mirai'. Everything lost to 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse', which I never saw coming, but loved. Truth be told, I thought this might take it, based on the style and the director's name alone. It was awesome seeing Spidey win, but this had to be a very close second that year - even with Disney and Pixar in the running.
Taking place in the fictional city of Megasaki, Japan, the story opens up with an outbreak of canine influenza, risking a contagious effect towards humans. As a result, Mayor Kenji Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura) ratifies a decree, banishing all dogs to Trash Island. Kobayashi's opponent, Professor Watanabe (Akira Ito), mentions that he is very close in finding a cure for the canine disease, but despite this, the plan goes through, banishing the first dog. The dog in question is Spots (Liev Schreiber); the once bodyguard of a 12-year-old orphan named Atari Kobayashi, who is the mayor's nephew and ward.
Six months later, the island is full of dogs, earning it the nickname "Isle of Dogs". Here, we meet our five lead pooches, Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), and Boss (Bill Murray). One day, Atari hijacks a plane, flies it to the island, crash-lands, and meets these dogs. Soon enough, they somewhat all understand each other, and it's revealed that Atari has come to the island in search of Spots. The dogs help Atari on his search, they face certain dangers and obstacles along the way, and much of the story involves Chief's character development as opposed to the boy in search of his dog. Being a life-long stray, Chief learns a few things about what it means to have a human in his life.
Meanwhile, Professor Watanabe continues to develop a cure in the hopes of bringing man's best friend back around. However, some suspect a conspiracy to get rid of all of the dogs, namely American exchange student, Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig), a member of a pro-dog activist group, wanting to expose the possibly corrupt mayor. Let's just say with the way things are in the world right now considering disease and various conspiracies, it might not be the best thing to check out for the time being. On the other hand, I have to say it's still a pretty damn good movie that gets every emotion going - especially if you're an animal lover of any kind (especially dogs).
There's a lot to like about this movie, starting with this particular Wes Anderson style of stop-motion animation (the other being 'Fantastic Mr. Fox'). I appreciate its overall simplicity, but things like individual hairs moving in the "wind" are really cool details other stop motion movies never seem to utilize. The style gives the film an almost wild feeling, which makes all the more sense, considering what it's depicting. Meanwhile, the humans of the movie look a lot like plastic action figures, which may or may not mean something. There's far less detail to the human figures, almost as if the film pushes the dogs to the forefront stylistically as well as story-wise.
Another detail that makes this one a bit of a gem is the voice talent. Other than who I've mentioned, we also have an ex show-dog named Nutmeg (Scarlett Johansson), and two sort of seer dogs, Jupiter (F. Murray Abraham) and Oracle (Tilda Swinton) who sees "visions" through the TV, allowing her to predict things like the weather. We also have head "cannibal" dog, Gondo (Harvey Keitel) and the interpreter (Frances McDormand) who narrates much of the story through news reels Last but not least, and perhaps most interesting, Yoko Ono playing assistant scientist Yoko Ono. She doesn't pop up until near the end, so there would be a potential spoiler in her character's purpose.
On top of the voice talent, Anderson also made the decision to have the Japanese actors here speak in their native tongue, without translating much of it to English. Meanwhile, the dogs speak perfect English. It's interesting that it feels somewhat like we're viewing the "mainland" story as an outsider, unable to understand the language completely. However, when it comes to the dogs, we understand them completely. It makes me wonder if it was our of respect for Japanese culture, to be more in touch with our animal friends, or a little bit of both. Either way, the film was a joy to watch, being both fascinating in its style and execution, and funny when it comes to that Anderson sense of humor.
This one comes to us from the Oscar nomination list of 2018, which included nominations for 'Ferdinand', 'The Boss Baby', 'The Bread Winner' and Pixar's 'Coco' taking the win. I didn't see everything on the list, despite the fact that it would have been my first Annual Oscar Special. However, I do remember saying that by the looks of things, if 'Coco' ever had a real competitor, it had to be the groundbreaking 'Loving Vincent'; a beautifully animated mystery film, hand-painted all the way through by 100+ painters. It was a very big deal as far as the industry goes, but its brilliance has since been swept under the rug.
The film takes place one year after the death of Vincent van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk), who died two days after attempting suicide by shooting himself in the chest. A postman named Joseph's (Chris O'Dowd) son, Armand (Douglas Booth), is tasked with delivering Van Gogh's last letter to his brother, Theo (Cezary Lukaszewicz). Finding the suicide suspicious, Joseph sends Armand to Paris, and as Armand reluctantly agrees, he ends up interviewing most of the people who knew Van Gogh, each with their own take on the subject to tell. This essentially ends up being 'Citizen Kane' or 'Courage Under Fire' as far as its plot goes - but the artistry of the animation is truly unique and frankly kind of breathtaking.
This is a film that splits itself into two in a certain way. Before actually sitting down to watch it, I only ever saw this as something that was probably good for what it was, but sort of artsy-fartsy all the same. I can like artsy stuff, but I'm also very particular about some. I really don't like movies like 'Tree of Life' because I think they're just too much, but at the same time, somehow I love movies like 'Waking Life', which some might consider more to take than the prior. I suppose one could say my taste lies more in "dream-like" stuff that can really take me away, and this does that in spades. But the other side of the coin tells a really cool story. This could have been done without the overlaying animation and still have been really good; like potentially up for a Best Picture Oscar that year good.
Perhaps what I found most interesting about this movie is how much it made me think about "art" in general. As things unfold, and you see the brush strokes flow, the moods are set in such a way that the realms of canvas paintings and cinematography cross over and you are watching a painting come to life, quite literally. The stylization of the art is, of course, very reminiscent of Van Gogh's work as well, giving a whole new appreciation for the artist - not to sell the story short, of course. As mentioned before, though, this really is a dream-like movie. It's one of those films where when the credits started rolling, it almost felt like waking up - not because I fell asleep during a "boring" movie, but because I was that far sucked into the film's world. Very few movies have accomplished that, but if they ever do, I can't help but praise their accomplishment, even if others don't get the same effect.
Last but not least, this is a film that familiarizes a general audience with the consequences of having certain mental health problems. When you learn more and more about what Van Gogh was going through in his life, you feel more towards his character and see him less as "that crazy painter guy who once gifted his ear". It does get a little intense at times, but it's certainly not a movie that tries too hard to pull on the heartstrings. It's a good, proper dramatic flick with a great cast of performers, and an even better cast of artists. This is altogether one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen, speaking as someone who thrived in art class in school and learned that every painting tells a story. This is one painting that does it in the literal sense, and does it extremely well. Cheers to directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman who's work I am certain to check out further!
Released back in 2015, 'Shaun the Sheep' proved to us that sometimes less is more, and provided the world with a wonderful, down-to-earth, feel-good movie for the whole family. There's nothing that especially stands out about this title, but that's sort of what's so good about it. This is one of those "comfort food" movies you might watch if you're stuck at home, bored, and really need a pick-me-up. Incidentally, one can find it on Prime for the low, low rental price of a mere 99 cents. The price is most definitely right for what it is!
Stemming from the British animated series (also found on Prime), the film's central focus is Shaun (Justin Fletcher); a young sheep who lives alongside his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm. The routine on the farm is very much the same daily grind, and Shaun decides out of boredom that he needs a day off. A plan is made to have the farmer (John Sparkes) sleep through the day, but the flock ends up stashing the farmer in a trailer that rolls into the big city, while the farmer's loyal dog, Bitzer (also John Sparkes), chases after it. The farmer is eventually bonked on his head, causing memory loss, and through a series of events finds himself as a celebrity barber, derived from a vague memory of shearing.
Meanwhile, the sheep find life too difficult at the farm without the farmer, so they all put on human disguises and head into town to look for him. Along the way, the flock eventually reunites with Bitzer who wants to find the farmer even more than they do, so he's happy to help despite the fact that he's upset at them for letting things happen. However, they also come across a maniacal animal catcher named A. Trumper (Omid Djalili), who Shaun, Bitzer and the other sheep have to constantly dodge while trying to reunite with the farmer. That's basically the gist of things - it's what I might call a fun Sunday afternoon adventure.
I'm only really speaking for myself here, but I'd be hard-pressed not to say "yes" to an Aardman animation title for a simple pick-me-up. One might be more familiar with their 'Wallace and Gromit' titles, or 'Chicken Run', but much of the time their style is unmistakable. Those exaggerated mouths tend to sort of be the trademark of the company. In any case, these guys know how to put a smile on my face with their cheery, family-friendly material that has just a dose or two of adult humor. In one scene here, involving the City Animal Shelter, there's a cat with a cone around its neck doing a Hannibal Lector impression, but it can't possibly be scene as creepy because it's so funny.
As far as its Oscar nomination goes, it lost to Pixar's 'Inside-Out', but most people saw what the lineup was and even though I love 'Inside-Out', even I have to admit it was far too obvious that year. Of course, that's not to say any of the other films were bad at all. But consider 'Inside-Out' which everyone and their mother's still know about vs this title, Ghibli's 'When Marnie Was There', 'Anomalisa' and 'Boy and the World'. Does anyone reading this remember any of them, other than perhaps the Ghibli title? Anyway, I daresay this could have been a solid runner-up, but I'm still upset that somehow 'The Peanuts Movie' got diddly-squat that year! But I digress.
Whether this received any major awards or not, this is still well-worth the watch, especially if you need some cheering up. It's got an upbeat soundtrack to it, the atmosphere is mainly pretty bright and cheery, it provides quite a few laugh out loud moments, and it amazingly does everything without any speech at all. There are voices, yes, but the communication here is all done with gibberish, grunting and body language. Part of the brilliance of this film is that you understand exactly what's going on at any given time and there's absolutely no dialogue. Once again, it just goes to show that sometimes less is more. I highly recommend this ray of sunshine to provide anyone with light on these dark days.
While the Oscars are currently scheduled for April, we would normally be in Oscar Month by now. Thus, I wanted to do a "Round 2" of the animated Academy Award nominees from past years that tend to go overlooked. Our first example is a lovely little French film called 'Ernest & Celestine' (which I watched the English dub of). This one lost to 'Frozen' in 2013, and also had to deal with the likes of 'Despicable Me 2', 'The Croods' and Ghibli's 'The Wind Rises'. In other words, it didn't really stand a chance. But with that said, I can easily still recommend it for the right audience.
As the film opens, we are introduced to a young mouse named Celestine (Pauline Brunner/Mackenzie Foy) who lives in an underground world at an orphanage. Their caretaker; "The Gray One" (Anne-Marie Loop/Lauren Bacall) tells the orphan children foreboding stories at night about the bears who live above them. Celestine has her doubts about the "must-eat" nature of these bears, but the stories are nevertheless effectively creepy. In this rodent world, all rodents study dentistry, as good teeth used for building and burrowing are key to their lifestyle. The children are to go up to the surface and act as "mouse tooth fairies", collecting bear cub teeth which these mouse dentists use as replacement rodent incisors. Celestine isn't altogether interested, however, and would rather do something artistic.
When she is told by the Head Dentist (Dominique Collignon/William H. Macy) that she's severely behind on her tooth quota, Celestine heads to the surface and is chased into a trash can by a family of bears, where she is found by a destitute and reclusive bear named Ernest (Lambert Wilson/Forest Whitaker). Celestine eventually convinces him to help her out by robbing a dental office of its extracted teeth. At first, things go swimmingly. Celestine is praised for her tooth-collecting, and there's cause for celebration, until the rodents find Ernest in their midst and blame Celestine for bringing him. The pair are chased out, and soon find themselves on the run - Celestine for bringing Ernest down into their world, and Ernest for his thievery.
As one can probably tell out of context, this is very much a movie that portrays different societal understandings of different cultures. This is a world where a city of bears and an underground community of rodents pretty much hate each other, yet the rodents rely on the bears to provide them with teeth, and the bears simply see the rodents in the same way many humans see them as vermin. As sad as it is to say, we can make that symbolic towards some people when it comes to race, culture, creed, lifestyle, gender, the list goes on. It may not be a new and different thing to watch with the way things are today, as many movies are providing many messages in recent years (and the fight still goes on). But this was 2012, and though I'm not 100% on it, I don't think the message it conveys was as out there as it is now.
All in all, I enjoyed this one. It provides a pretty interesting atmosphere in that it seems to flip-flop things. The underground rodent world is so dark and creepy, but they are the ones who fear the above-ground world which is essentially just bears doing regular human stuff. I further appreciate the simplistic 2-D animation, proving once again that sometimes less is more. Some of the decisions made in the animators' artistry are genuinely beautiful, and really stand out. I particularly enjoy one final shot of the film that's incredibly minimalist, but provides an image that sort of says it all. I can recommend this largely for a younger audience, but I'd be hard-pressed to say adults wouldn't get anything out of it just as well. I'm still not entirely sure I'd say it's even that Oscar-worthy, but its a positive film worth checking out in one's spare time, nonetheless.
Here we have a title that I remember from my childhood. It has been quite some time since I've sat to watch it, but I'm certain I was no older than maybe 10 at the time. I also would have caught it as a Disney Sunday Afternoon Movie, so it would have been edited much more, and to be perfectly frank, perhaps a bit more enjoyable.
The biggest problem with it is that there's a whole wack of seemingly unnecessary musical numbers that take away from an otherwise pretty good story. It often stops just to say "look what we can do", and I often found myself thinking "can we move on, now?" But if we take away some of the music, it actually becomes a nice, light-hearted family comedy, for the most part. That said, there's still an innocence to this one that's almost too innocent, often to the point of pure sap. Some might even look at it as being a touch creepy, at times.
As the film opens, we are introduced immediately to the underlying concept of the movie. A young boy named Pete (Sean Marshall) enters the scene, riding an invisible dragon named Elliot (, and running from the Gogan family (Shelly Winters, Charles Tyner, Gary Morgan, and Jeff Conaway). This cruel family claims to own Pete after having bought him to put him to work as a slave on their farm. Pete manages to elude the Gogans and their opening musical number, and hikes with Elliot to the town of Passamaquoddy, Maine.
Elliot, invisible while walking through town, causes a lot of damage, and the blame is placed on Pete. The pair turn a corner to have a talk about it, but are discovered by the town's lighthouse keeper, Lampie (Mickey Rooney). His ramblings of seeing a dragon are passed off as a drunken illusion to the rest of the townsfolk. But he's in for even more of a surprise when Pete and Elliot find themselves taking shelter in a seaside cave where they are discovered by Lampie's daughter, Nora (Helen Reddy) who takes Pete in.
In the meantime, every tale like this needs a villain who wants to capture the creature for his own selfish purposes. Enter Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale) and his assistant Hoagy (Red Buttons). Terminus comes to town as a snake oil salesman, and barely manages to capture the town's attention with his own musical number. Business is okay, but when he gets wind that there's a dragon in town, he sees it as a unique business opportunity to use his various "parts" for a lot of different items he could sell that have the potential to actually work.
If I'm honest, there was quite a bit of material here that gave me genuine laughs. It's a comedic fantasy aimed a bit more towards kids, so when there's plenty of humor having to do with being drunk, and utilizing a lot of 'Three Stooges' style gags, it makes for a good time. This might date it a bit, depending on your perspective regarding good parenting methods. Such things include getting drunk to calm your nerves after seeing a dragon, as only Mickey Rooney can. But perhaps worse, the idea of a family trying to hunt a kid down to be a slave for them is downright scary. I have to admit that there were flash moments of camerawork here, regarding the Gogan family that I found creepy today, as a grown-ass slasher movie fan.
As mentioned before, I think this one would have worked a lot better with some of those musical numbers cut down. The musical numbers push it to a solid 2 hours plus, but it's a story that could easily take place within an hour and a half. With that said, this may very well have been what they went for at the time. In 1977, this was probably a great distraction for kids who were yet to be acquainted with things like video games and computers.
Today, it's still fairly passable, but there was also a remake in 2016 that may very well be better. I distinctly remember coming out of that one, and enjoying it for what it was. But after finishing this, while I had fun with it, it did prove to be a pretty sappy blend of the extreme end of innocence and the extreme end of whatever light trauma you could get away with as a Disney film. Just saying, but the remake averages an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, between critics and audiences. This one averages 57%. But if you wanna try this one out to get a little taste of Disney Broadway-ism fo a couple of hours, it still works.
Okay, so this one may not be quite as swept-under-he-rug as the other titles on this list, but I always considered it to be bypassed strongly for other films that this is essentially a combination of. Namely, these include 'Mary Poppins' and, far less fictional, 'The Sound of Music'. Let's face it, those two have gotten far more publicity over the years than this.
It's most definitely not without a few problems, so in comparison, 'Poppins' and 'Music' are probably the better films. But if I'm honest, I find this to be thoroughly overlooked. Most people I try to bring this up to either haven't heard of it, or have, but dismiss it as something kinda lame. But it holds 5 Oscar nominations, one of which it won for Best Visual Effects, and the reviews on it are mostly positive by audiences and critics alike. There's some dated things here I'll get to in a bit, but it still holds all of the classic magic that a Disney film from the early 70's can hold.
The film takes place in 1940, England, during World War II. Gathered in an evacuation center due to Nazi bombing raids, siblings Charlie, Carrie and Paul (Ian Weighill, Cindy O'Callaghan and Roy Snart, respectively) are the last kids of a massive group to be taken in. By law, they are sent to live with Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury), an apprentice witch trying to live her life in secret. Once the kids discover her secret without much surprise, Charlie blackmails her with the secret in order to get something in return. The result is her giving a travelling spell that only Paul can control, by way of a bedknob from the upstairs bed.
When a notice that her correspondence course for witchcraft has come to a hault, she asks Paul and the others to help her by travelling to London to meet Professor Emelius Brown (David Tomlinson), the course's former headmaster. This all starts a journey to find all the right pieces to a puzzle that will allow her to use a spell to make inanimate objects move, hopefully in favor of the British war effort against the invading Nazis.
As I mentioned before, sadly, there's some dated aspects to this. The big one is Mr. Brown's attitude towards women, which is extra harsh because he's an overall likable character, otherwise. But he is heard to say things like "women are always losing things" without any sort of comeback, which will be bothersome for some. My other problem with it is, ironically, the song "Portabello Road", which starts about 45 minutes in, and keeps going for the better part of 10 minutes. It takes a decent stab at multiculturalism, bringing in various ethnicities for one big dance number including Scots, Jamaicans, Indians and Australians. But it kind of leaves you questioning "why" It seems to mostly be filler, but there may very well be a whole point to it that I'm just not getting. It's bittersweet.
I am happy to say that the fun of the film pretty much overshadows its problems. The adventure they go on gets pretty fun, especially when they manage to use the bed to visit the Island of Naboombu, where they blend animation with live action. Bear in mind that this predates 'Roger Rabbit' by almost 20 years, so though it looks dated now, at the time it was a pretty big deal. It's at least worth checking out if you're curious to see something 'Poppins'-like, because though it can't quite get on par with it, it's sort of like its little sister. If nothing else, you've gotta get a kick out of the way these kids talk.
I had another movie called 'It's Gawd!' in place of this, originally. However, I've decided to hold onto that one for a differently themed month. Instead, I thought I'd wrap things up... or roll things up?... with 'Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie', just to relive some of those classic moments.
The film is really quite simply animation that has been put to various audio tracks from some of their albums. I had 'Cheech & Chong's Greatest Hit', and was able to recognize quite a few of the skits they've thrown in here. - some of it with added dialogue. I was also pleased to find out that there was a lot of this that i was unfamiliar with.
This is an anthology films, as well, so really something you'd have to be in the mood for. I'd have to imagine that mood is completely stoned, but I mean, when in Rome, right? Anyway, it sounds an awful lot like I'm praising this film, but nothing could be further from the truth. If I enjoyed this in any way, it was only because I got to listen to those old tracks again, and a few new ones, and they always managed to deliver the laughs.
The problem I have with this movie is that it's one of the most unnecessary things ever created. it's kinda neat to see about introducing some of the noobies through this idea, as it's almost a "best of", but in my humble opnion, it all just works better as audio. The cool thing about audio is that you can throw these images on the projector in your head, and come up with any imagery you want. This animation style isn't exactly the best, and there are way too many times it gets unnecessarily gross. If you're a fan of these two, it's just better to imagine the ACTUAL guys pulling these skits off. But God bless them, they tried.
It's not anything that I'd call horrible, but it's definitely weak, and it's one of those movies that might be better left on in the background during a house party or something, so people will mostly just be listening to it. And of course, that just circles back to these skits being an audible treat as opposed to a visual one, and my case is now rested.
But hey, don't just take my word for this. I can't really recommend this to anyone, but if you are a hardcore fan who's yet unfamiliar with a lot of their audio skits, it might be worth checking out. But again, I'd most highly recommend looking for the audio and just using your imagination to fill in the blanks. It's an altogether unnecessary movie, made only for an easy money grab. May I recommend getting your hands on 'Cheech & Chong's Greatest Hit' instead, and taking it from there. The only reason this is getting a rating as high as it is, is due to the reminiscent audio. This is otherwise a clear 1, or less than 1.
The final film of my 'Animation Month' collection is a title I've been meaning to check out for quite some time. It was screened for one night only, on December 6, 2016, then it was released on other services like video on demand and Netflix.
The concept has aspiring actor, John (Paul Rudd) and aspiring screenwriter, Elliot (Patton Oswalt) looking for fame, making a pact that after all their failures, they'd become famous within the next 24 hours. The more they go about it, the more in over their heads they get.
While on their 24-hour adventure, they keep coming back to this guy dubbed the Nerd King (Hannibal Buress) for advice and help, and for my money, he's probably the funniest character in the movie - just this over the top, ultimate geek guy, who even goes so far as to wear a crown and wield a scepter. He'll probably come off as just cocky and unlikable to others, but for some reason he got me. Think Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, but cranked to eleven.
As far as the other characters, our leads have their moments, but are overall kinda "meh". They're not really people you'd wanna be friends with, but you might have a drink with them at a social event every now and then. You don't hate them, but you're not exactly a fan of them either. However, their love interests, Sally (Kate Micucci) and Linda (Riki Lindhome) are just downright awful.
Sally and Linda are just two ditzy airheads with "perfect" bodies and absolutely no personalities, unless you can count "over-the-top valley girl" as a personality. For me, they're what kill the movie - bearing in mind I'm talking about the characters, not the actresses portraying them - them, I actually enjoy. What we had here was bad writing.
Now, I didn't HATE this movie, but I didn't come out of it all that impressed either. It ended things on a bit of a weird note, and the overall telling of things was kinda just okay. There are moments the movie pauses just to get weird, and I can't exactly tell if it's for a laugh, or just to get weird for the sake of it. The animation was something I enjoyed, kinda painting this whole dingy world, and often causing discomfort in the appropriate places. I know that sounds weird, but let's just say the animation was effective for what I think they were going for.
With that said, it's not really enough to save the overall film. There were things I liked about it, but there's nothing here that's enough to get me to come back for a rewatch. Every voice actor here has better things under their belts, as does writer, Andrew Kevin Walker, who worked on titles like 'Seven' and 'The Wolfman' from 2010 (I don't care what anyone says, that was an underappreciated movie). So as far as their resumes go, this one's one of their lesser titles.
This is an interesting little jaunt that I couldn't really help but appreciate. Its overall weirdness blends with a surprising form of animation that, although reminiscent of elementary school artwork, remains ultimately captivating.
The story centers on two best friends, Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and Asaaf (Reggie Watts) who attend Tides High School - a school located at the edge of a cliff and above a fault line. They write together for the school newspaper. The paper's editor, Verti (Maya Rudolph), one day assigns a solo project for Asaaf, which ultimately angers Dash, leading him to write a hurtful article about his best friend.
The article makes their Principal, Grimm (Thomas Jay Ryan) put a blotch on Dash's permanent record. This causes Dash to break into the school archives to retrieve his record, but in turn finds out that the school's overall structure isn't up to code. This will eventually lead to an earthquake that sends the... well, "entire high school sinking into the sea".
Added to the cast are a few recognizable names like Lena Dunham and Adam Lustick, but perhaps most interesting is Susan Sarandon as a bad ass, survivalist lunch lady, who helps everyone to try to survive this literal sinking ship of a school.
Going back to the animation style, I couldn't help but appreciate it. The story is a recap a major even during high school, being told by a high school student, so the style fits actually quite well, as it's somewhat juvenile looking. But what's fascinating about it is that the atmosphere of the story also gets animated. This movie shows you emotions with its flow of animation, and it really makes for a great, overall art piece of a film.
In the long run, this was one of those movies I really appreciated for myself, but I can't necessarily just recommend it to anyone and everyone. I think in order to really appreciate this film as a whole, you'll need to have at least a bit of an appreciation for artsy films, because this most certainly is that. It's almost like watching someone's dream unfold before your eyes.
The film can currently be found on Netflix (Canada) if you feel like giving it a whirl. It runs an easy hour and 15 minutes, so it's simple enough to sit though. However, I'd warn not to treat it as just another animated movie so much as an experience. I really enjoyed it for myself.
Now, here we have something I consider very close to my heart. When I was a kid, and had no patience for old, black and white films (I've missed out on a lot of good stuff due to such stubbornness), this was my 'Christmas Carol' story. It was fun, had a great atomsphere to go along with it, and featured some favourite Characters, including Scrooge of 'Duck Tales' fame (a cartoon I really loved back then) in the lead role.
Back when I caught it on TV, it was a 30-minute special that aired after another 30-minutes or so of fun Disney Christmas stories. The grouping of it all together really used to ignite the Christmas spirit in me, as it all managed to capture everything great about the holiday. But of course, our main focus here is the story of Scrooge.
For the two or three people out there who don't know this story at all, Scrooge is a greedy old meiser who sees Christmas as a poor excuse to pick his pockets, and a holiday that hasn't exactly been kind to him. Upon coming home on Christmas Eve, he runs into the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley (a rather hilarious rendition from Goofy) who tells him he's gonna be visited by three spirits. These spirits are gonna help him sort his life out before it's too late and he has to walk around the afterlife as a lonely, chain-wearing ghost.
The spirits in question are the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket), Present (that Giant from 'Mickey and the Beanstalk') and Future (A mysterious hooded character with a reveal I'm not sure is worth calling a "spoiler" or not). They all show him shadows of things that were, are, and are to become, giving him a reality check and hopefully, getting him to change his ways.
One can probably imagine how it all ends, but the journey is always interesting. In this version, so much of the story is punctuated by a humor to make it kid-friendly. However, something to be admired here is the overall atmosphere of things. It still carries a darkness to it, like any version should. But it also, otherwise, features great animation in front of some beautifully drawn set pieces that really and truly manage to give you some sort of Christmas spirit injection. The funny thing is, it's not even really bright and colourful, due to the mood that's being established. But somehow, you still get it coming through.
I have this one as "Under the Radar", because I find that no one ever talks about it anymore, or even knows it exists. Most of my generation remembers it, but there's a whole gap going on between us and the younger generation (ie, kids and teenagers nowadays). While there are plenty of other versions of this story to chose from, this is a great one that's short, sweet, does everything it needs to, and ages extremely well. I highly recommend finding it in some way, shape or form and checking it out again - if nothing else, it kinda hits you right in the nostalgias.
I had to see it, eventually. Most people I know have at least heard of this. Some have even seen it. But the general consensus is that this is by far one of the strangest decisions for a Christmas special that has ever existed. As one could imagine, it's based on the song of the same name - a pretty strange thing to land on in the first place.
However, much like the song, I've always considered this special to me more of a humorous novelty than something to be taken too seriously, so in all honesty, I've gotta cut this special some slack here and there. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's pretty bad. But it's also fascinating in what decisions it makes, which ultimately does make it pretty fun to watch, I'm not gonna lie.
Much of the plot involves the Spankenheimer family (yeah, I know) dealing with the cousin Mel (Michele Lee) that the song mentions. Someone playing cards in the song turns into a full-fledged villain here, as her big story is trying to get her money-grubbing hands on the family store. In the confusion, our "hero", Jake (Alex Doduk) is sent to go find Grandma, whom he discovers has been the victim of a Santa's reindeer hit and run. The rest of the special balances Jake constantly trying to locate his grandmother, and prove to everyone that Santa is real.
So, here's the thing. The plot is pretty ridiculous as it is, but there are parts to this that just go way overboard for a kids special, almost making it more of a cartoon for adults. One of the local cops even utters the word "broad" when referring to Grandma. But then, we have the overall random stuff to this as well, which is mostly what makes it so hilariously awkward to get through.
It is actually kinda hilarious how off his rocker Grandpa (Elmo Shropshire) actually is. There's a scene with Grandpa making a deal with cousin Mel where he randomly breaks out into song because he misunderstands a word. He also has my favorite bit of dialogue with Jake - when Jake tells him straight up that he's going out on his own to search for Grandma and prove Santa is real, he does it pretty casually, and Grandpa's response would be equivalent to Jake telling him that he was just going next door to his buddy's house. You kinda have to see it for yourself, but I can't deny it gave me a decent chuckle.
This is such a strange title. It doesn't fall into the "so bad its good" category, and it's not really good by any means, yet not necessarily that bad, if your mind can open up enough to it. What can I really say? It's worth checking out once, just for its craziness, but it's not necessarily worth revisiting - unless of course you're like me and wanna show your friends how goofy it is.
This one isn't what you'd call entirely "under the radar", but it does seem to be a title that no one really talks about. It's the same with the Halloween Special. Garfield pretty much just takes a back seat to that 'Peanuts' gang (which is fine, 'cause Peanuts does have more substance). I always enjoyed 'Garfield' (as long as he was being voiced by Lorenzo Music), but I do get that it's the same jokes over and over again. 'Garfield' is just a big part of my childhood, so naturally, I watched his specials with as much interest as I watched the 'Peanuts' specials. This was one of the stand-outs.
It's Christmas Eve morning, and Jon (Thom Huge) wakes up Garfield (Lorenzo Music) so they can head to the Arbuckle family farm for the night, along with Odie (Gregg Berger). The rest of it, is just family bumbling, as the Arbuckles celebrate their traditional get-together. There's sincerely nothing much to it, at all. But it still carries this particular charm with it, and does have a few good laughs, even today, with some of the dialogue. We also get to see a bit of Garfield's sensitive side in the end, which doesn't seem out of character for him here, so much as a nice moment.
I suppose the thing that keeps this Special good for me is, in fact, it's simplicity. It's just a family Christmas with some likable characters who could reflect almost anyone's family. Most notably, there's Grandma (Pat Caroll), a feisty, go-getter type, despite her age. There's a pretty tender moment in this special where she reflects on her late husband, and even though we never meet him, we get an idea of what he was about in just a couple of minutes. The scene is the heart of the special, to me, even though it really just comes out of the blue and has little to do with anything. I suppose, in a way, her monologue remains grounded in the comfortable family atmosphere, and it adds some Christmas heart to the otherwise whacky family.
So yeah, I suppose this is a pretty short review for a short special that no one talks about, but I recommend checking this title out at least once, just to see if you get the same feeling I get from it. In short, it's just a very simple and cozy family special. There really isn't a whole lot of depth to it, but that's what makes it appealing. We have movies that show family Christmas hubbub like 'Christmas Vacation', sure, but they tend to get a little over the top a lot of the time. This is just... comfort food. You know it's not great, but there's something appealing about it.
Going back to 1987, this particular Christmas special that has remained completely under the radar for audiences ever since, IS my all-time favourite TV Christmas Special. That's saying a lot, seeing as it has such things like 'Rudolph', 'Frosty', 'The Grinch' and of course, 'Charlie Brown' to contend with. But this came along when I was 5, and for whatever reason, very much into the California Raisins.
For anyone unfamiliar, the California Raisins were claymated jazz raisins for kids, who sang real soul songs our parents probably enjoyed. Their biggest hit was 'Heard it Through the Grapevine', and they were often used for advertising. For many of us kids, it worked... I still dunno why, but it is what it is. Here's a quick pick of their raisin commercials.
Anyway, they had their share of specials for kids, but their best featured appearance was probably right here in this one. They do their rendition of 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' as the big finale song for this special. And yes, I'm a 36-year-old man who still considers this to be the best version of the song, even over the talents of Burl Ives (whose rendition is from the 'Rudolph' special). A bold statement, perhaps, but there you have my unpopular opinion.
The special is hosted by a Tyrannosaurus named Rex (Johnny Counterfit) and a Triceratops named Herb (Tim Conner). Together, they go through the 24-minute special, introducing us to claymated music videos that cover specific Christmas traditions. Aside from 'Rudolph', they also tackle 'We Three Kings', 'Carol of the Bells', 'Angels We Have Heard on High', 'Oh Christmas Tree', 'Joy to the World' and 'Here We Come a Wassailing'. All are done in comedic fashion, except 'Joy to the World' which... honestly just plain looks awesome, and is probably my favourite version of THAT song too.
The special can be easily found to stream on-line, and each music video is easily found on YouTube. It sadly made its last run on television (that I'm aware of) some time back in the 90s, and has been well-hidden ever since. It's a special that, when brought up to people, no one seems to really remember. However, more people remember the next special I'm about to cover more, and it ran back-to-back with this for a little while. It's funny what our minds retain.
If you ever get curious about more claymation and those crazy raisins, however, check out this special's director Will Vinton. He directed pretty much all of the 'California Raisins' specials, along with an Easter special (that I have yet to see) and much more. He was an interesting and unique talent, who really seemed to understand that some kids wanted the strange and unusual. He only just passed away on October 4th of this year, and didn't seem to get any recognition for his work, even if it's completely dated. It should be known that most of the songs on that list, I was introduced to through this special. It's worth a watch for a mere good 24 minutes. Good laughs, good music, good animation, and a good way to get into the festive spirit.
Here we have a rather fantastic ditty from 2014 that managed to get itself an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. But, much like its predecessor, 'The Secret of Kells' (both directed by Tomm Moore, and both similar in tone), it was forgotten about, and kinda swept under the rug. However, also like 'Kells', it's most definitely a film worth checking out.
The film opens by sowing us a happy family consisting of Father, Conor (Brendan Gleeson), pregnant Mother, Bronach (Lisa Hannigan), and son and overall protagonist, Ben (David Rawle). One night, Bronach heads out and disappears, randomly, but the presumption is that she heads out to die after giving birth to Saoirse (Lucy O'Connell). So the beginning is pretty heavy, and sets the tone for much of the rest of things.
Some years later, Ben is shown with her little sister, being a bit mean to her, as he blames her for the apparent death of his mother. All in all, he loves her, but there's that bitterness that sort of overshadows things, causing him to do things like scare her with some of his mom's old stories of Irish folklore.
One night, Ben finds out that Saoirse is a selkie (a being who can alter states between being human and seal) who is sent on a mission to free a bunch of faeries from Celtic Goddess, Macha (Fionnula Flanagan). He joins her on the mission, and along the way they meet all sorts of entertaining characters from Irish lore, providing us with the idea that the mother's stories are actually true.
With that in mind, this ends up being one of the most gorgeous looking animated fantasies I've had the pleasure of viewing. Even looking at the simplicity of the animation here, the film provides us with some pretty awesome creatures and characters and settings that are something straight out of a dream. In fact, the best one-word description I can come up with for this title is probably "dreamlike". It's just beautiful.
It's otherwise that sort of adventure film we've seen done a few times over. I personally found it sort of reminiscent of something like 'NeverEnding Story' or 'Labrynth' in its execution. However, the animation allows for a bit more leeway in imagination, and some of these characters are reminiscent of Ghibli material with just how imaginative they are in their execution.
It's an all around beautiful film, between its animation, dreamlike settings and characters, and the story really sticks to your heart when everything is all said and done. A lot of it has to do with Ben learning to be a big brother, as well, and slowly being able to forgive Saoirse, and love and help her as her big brother. It's just one of those films you finish and think to yourself "wow, that was just beautiful".
I hope to see more from Tomm Moore, and intend on eventually seeing last year's release, 'The Breadwinner'. He has this particular style that really lends itself to all-out fantasy, and his films are as overlooked by the academy as Hayao Miyazaki - and even he won for 'Spirited Away'. I hope to see Moore win his Oscar one day. Seriously, check out his films if you haven't yet. They're a great peek into Irish folklore, and make for some really beautiful family viewing. I absolutely loved this, it was right up my alley.
In my search for some Under the Radar animation, this particular title was mentioned. The thing is, even though it's under said radar for myself, let's not forget that I'm just recently getting into this whole anime thing, starting with my Ghibli review series just a few months ago. Otherwise, this actually does seem to be a rather well-known film, at least among fans of anime. But I digress.
We're introduced to a girl named Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi/Stephanie Sheh), who is bored as hell, wants out of her town, wishes to be a Tokyo boy, and gets her wish. She and a boy named Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki/Michael Sinterniklaas), from Tokyo, begin switching bodies at random.
They end up realizing what's going on, and throughout their body-switches, they leave notes for each other as a means of communication. As Mitsuha, Taki tries to make her a bit more popular, and as Taki, Mitsuha tries her hand at hooking him up. Eventually the body swapping ends, and Taki is left with a note, telling him about a comet that's expected to pass over her town on the night of the town festival. This comet ends up being the big wist of the movie as well, so I'm just gonna shut up about plot at this point 'cause things admittedly get interesting.
As one may remember from my Ghibli reviews, I had a bit of a tendency to say "meh" to anything of the romantic sort, often claiming them to be along the lines of "pretty-looking, but dull". For the most part, the romantic side of anime isn't necessarily for me. I just prefer the fantasy side of things much more. But with that said, I think I can say with all sincerity that I actually kind of enjoyed this one.
Although it gets pretty sappy at points, and the whole back and forth of "who are you? / what's your name?" was very driven home, the film's overall execution is beautifully done. It carries a sense of humor with it, but there's also an undeniable charm to the more dramatic moments. In many ways, it's actually quite touching.
Also, take into account the flow and overall beauty of the animation here (which seems to be a praise I have for most anime films). It manages to make the big city of Tokyo just as appealing as the countryside, encompassing Japan's beauty as a whole. Finally, the overall climax of the film is something to be admired as to how it seems to turn the film on its head. It goes from an almost romantic comedy to a creative drama, and you can't help but find yourself a bit more engaged as the movie continues.
At first, things may get a bit confusing because you're not entirely sure what's going on. The film kinda just jumps right into things, and it's largely something you piece together as you go. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good anime that leans toward the romantic side of things. It tries something a bit different, and in my opinion, succeeds.
Here's the one film on this list that actually counts as something by Linklater that I've actually seen. It was brought to my attention by a friend as something that would kinda sorta "change my world perspective". And yeah, that's pretty much what 'Waking Life' does, in a nutshell.
'Waking Life' features 'Dazed and Confused' actor Wiley Wiggins as a nameless character, experiencing what seems to be a pretty much non-stop dream state. Throughout the dream, he meets the likes of various deep thinkers and modern philosophers who give their takes on life, death, where we're going, where we've been, what it all means, and dares to ask some of the deeper questions about our very existence.
This is an extremely deep movie that poses as a bit of a story, and a bit of a documentary. It has a lot of similarities to 'Slacker', but this involves more of an interview process with these real-life people as opposed to a bunch of actors portraying very real characters. In my mind, this movie is far more of an existential experience than just a Linklater art project. But I warn, it's not necessarily for everyone. It's for the open-minded, yes, but the extremely open-minded. You have to be able to let yourself accept what these people have to say, as it takes a largely philosophical stance on things.
On top of everything here, it also boasts a unique animation style that many may remember from another film of his, 'A Scanner Darkly'. Similar animation is fairly common these days, but back in 2001, it was a big deal. To put it another way, this was the same year 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within' was released, and the animation for that was a VERY big deal for the time.
Personally, I'm a fan of philosophical, deep thinking, unique animation, and everything to do with dreaming. So, for me, this is a movie that's right up my alley. But as I say, it represents more of a deep experience for the viewer as opposed to just a movie with a story and some characters. So, perhaps it's not entirely what one is looking for. But for me, it was definitely a movie that offered a pretty awesome, deeper perspective on some of the bigger mysteries of life.
To put it one way, I would almost recommend this movie to anyone looking for a deeper meaning in their own life. But again, it's to be approached with an open mind. If you shut too much of what this movie has to say out, it's not exactly gonna get into your head like it wants to.
Think of it like this - before you press play on the movie, pretend that you just took some crazy mind-expanding drug. If you struggle against it, and question too much of what's going on, you're gonna have a bad time. On the other hand, if you embrace its effects, you will come out the other side a little more enlightened, and have a great experience throughout. Or you'll just wonder what the hell you just watched, which is also acceptable considering the film's subject matter. But personally, I find this one to be a great experience for the open-minded.
So, yeah. There was 'The Illusionist' live action film from 2006 that most people's minds seem to jump to when I bring up this title, but many forget about the French animated film from 2010 that was nominated for an Oscar. However it was up against the likes of 'Toy Story 3' AND 'How to Train Your Dragon' that year, who were far too stiff a competition for this quaint little film.
This is one of those overall silent films with next to no talking, and most of the communication is done with body language. It follows a magician who is part of a dying breed of entertainer, and it shows when even his minimal audience doesn't seem altogether impressed with his act. He now has to compete with rock and roll music and other forms of popular entertainment, like film. He packs it in, and heads towards a small Scottish community who's entertained by his work, and there, he meets a young girl named Alice who takes an interest and genuine belief in his magic.
Believing that he's truly gifted, Alice heads with him to Edinburgh where he puts on a modest performance for a small theater. All the while the pair stay in a semi run-down hotel room, him on the couch and her on the bed, that favors older entertainers such as a clown, a couple of acrobats, and a ventriloquist. The rest of the movie plays out a lot like 'The Artist' in a way, where the end message seems to be that change must happen, even if it hurts.
This movie does, indeed, have quite a bit of charm to it. There's something to be said about a movie that can tell a story, and tell it well, with next to no dialogue. 'Shaun the Sheep' was probably the most recent thorough accomplishment of this technique. It's rare, but it's proof that simplicity can work.
However, the true star of this movie is most definitely in the animator's touch. Not only is it a nice stray away from the modern CG craze, but at times it looks so artistically beautiful that some of these landscapes look like professional paintings, and the animation of the camera doing a lot of wide landscape shots is as smooth as silk. It really is a sort of breathtaking film to watch and experience. It's like a trip to Europe in the comfort of your own home.
Part of what makes this movie good, however, is also what people might not like about it. To be perfectly blunt, this is a very depressing movie by the end of it all. However the sadness comes from the whole idea of change and moving on, and in such a nostalgic day and age where we're repeating the 80's like a record stuck on a loop, perhaps a lot of us (myself included) can learn from it. Change can be a scary thing, but it's necessary. So I could see it really bumming some viewers out. But at the same time, if you want something genuine and heart-felt, it's a good title to check out.
Here's a title from the 2011 Oscars; admittedly an interesting year with no Disney and/or Pixar films in the category, and between this and another one called 'Chico & Rita', it was actually relatively diverse as well.
'A Cat in Paris' tells the story of a... cat in Paris who lives a bit of a double life. By day, he hangs out with his loving owner and friend, a young girl named Zoe (Lauren Weintraub). By night, he heads over to a cat burglar named Nico's (Steve Blum) house to assist him with his thievery. This all makes it sound like a fun children's adventure, but make no mistake with this one. It's a great film, but it gets rough, and one can see what got it nominated.
They tackle the very serious issue here of a little girl straight up dealing with her father's murder. Zoe has become a mute due to this, and seemingly her only friend is this cat. The murder is carried out by a mobster named Victor Costa (JB Blanc), and Zoe's mother, Jeanne (Marcia Gay Harden) is actually a cop who worked with the father on the force, and is chasing down Costa in an effort to put him away for good. So, in other words, it's kind of a movie where all of this intense stuff is going on, but it's through the eyes of the cat... and Zoe, really.
Although the animation might have a tendency to look a little, how shall I say it.. "art-housey"? The story here is pretty engaging, considering how dark it all actually gets. The villains tend to be a little more on the bumbling, cartoonish side of things, so there's still some humor to it as they play off the otherwise very nasty Costa.
By the way, in case you've made it this far and you're wondering what's up with this cat burglar I mentioned, well, he plays the role of a subplot in which a lot of jewelry goes missing, and Jeanne is working that case as well. I won't spoil anything much, but he does serve a bit more of a purpose than I make it sound.
All this said, I probably wouldn't recommend it so highly to the young-young crowd. There are various parts here that could be kinda scary, and there's even a bit of language being used. But if you're good with all that, check it out for yourself. It's actually quite good, and it has a short running time of just over an hour. Perhaps not the family-friendly animated film the Academy might have been looking for that year, but time well spent altogether.
Continuing on with the theme of unknown Oscar-nominated, animated movies, here's one I once reviewed on the old site, in preparation for the upcoming 2010 Oscars. This one was nominated for Best Animated Feature, alongside such titles as 'The Princess and the Frog', 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', 'Coraline', and of course, 'Up', which ended up winning. When this title was mentioned, however, it was definitely the "what?" title that year, much like 'My Life as a Zucchini' was last year.
The story, in question, is based on the origin of the Book of Kells; a Latin manuscript containing the four gospels of the New Testament. It tells about a young boy named Brendan (Evan McGuire) who lives a sheltered life in a remote outpost. When a master illuminator named Aidan (Mick Lally) comes by with an ancient book. He calls Brendan to adventure, by sending him out into the wilderness to gather gall nuts to make ink with. In the forest, Brendan encounters various situations in which he has to face challenges as well as his own fears, and meets a forest spirit named Aisling (Christen Mooney).
As far as the rest of the movie goes, it's essentially a fantasy back story to something that exists in real life that I'm not sure a lot of us knew about. That is to say, at least I was blind to it. It seemingly went kind of ignored, despite it's nomination. But was it worth ignoring? Being a film having to do with religion and all, one might imagine it to be preachy in parts, it's anything but.
This movie has a lot to do with facing adversity head on just as much as it's a religious fantasy, if not more so. Most of this comes from the Vikings coming to attack the outpost while finishing this book holds the hope that it will draw back "evil forces", keeping them at bay. So there's a certain realism to this movie as well, covering the Viking raids of Ireland back near the end of the 700's.
Between the style of animation, making a historical and religious fantasy tale exciting, and even a bit of comedy here and there, I'd argue that it's the overall mood of the film that really makes it pop. It has this overall dreamy atmosphere going on throughout it, and it really shows with how beautifully animated it all is. When there's a scary scene, it looks and feels like a nightmare. When there's a pleasant scene, it looks and feels like some pleasant dream that might make you ponder things upon waking up. All in all, it's a rather intriguing escape.
It remains pretty under the radar as it is, but in my humble opinion it's well worth checking out. It's about an hour and twenty minutes, easy to get through, and it really does engage every emotion from the viewer. It seems clear to me that it was nominated that year for obvious reasons.
Considering the whole Oscar Season thing, I thought I'd take the time to go back and revisit something that's only sorta-kinda "under the radar", being the lesser-known Oscar nominated, animated features. I'll start with one from last year - the one with the confusing-as-hell title. No, really. When I first saw the title, I didn't know what to think. It's a French film, so I figured maybe it was a French thing I just didn't understand. Turns out, the meaning behind the title is much deeper.
Icare (Gaspard Schlatter) is a 9-year-old boy who lives with his mother who gave him the nickname, zucchini. There's never really a reason behind it, it's just kinda there. However, it doesn't fully need an explanation, when looking at how the story unfolds. You see, shit gets dark. The father has walked out on them, and the mother straight up dies in the beginning. Zucchini is then taken to an orphanage where, being the new kid, he gets picked on by this brat named Simon (Paulin Jaccoud). Soon, however, Zucchini learns that all these kids are here for various, very real situations including such things as drug-addicted parents to touchy-feely parents to parents who have murdered other parents and... I mean, damn! I found this on Netflix under "feel-good movies". But does all this make it a bad movie? Hell no!
For starters, going back to the claim of it being a "feel-good" movie, it works on the same level as something like '50/50', where it gets ballsy enough to illustrate rather serious issues with a sense of humor. In both cases, they're movies that show the potential of a "light at the end of the tunnel" when it comes to certain struggles. And they're there to tell us "hey, if you're going through this, know that you're not alone". It's what makes these kinds of films so strong, and eligible for not only a Golden Globe, but an Oscar.
Now, the big question with animation tends to be along the lines of "can I show this to my kids?" Well, it also covers things like sex and how a kid gets confused by certain things, so expect some sexual humor on top of everything I've already told you about. I'm gonna have to say that this isn't for kids, necessarily, but it will speak to a certain age group of children who may be orphans, themselves. It may just be one of those important movies for kids in that situation to, as I mentioned before, let them know that they sure as hell are not alone.
In several ways, this does end up being a bit of a feel-good movie. However, in several ways, it's also very depressing. But, it's really this near-perfect blend from both sides. So, check it out and judge however weird, creepy, happy, or powerful this movie really is for yourself. To me, it stands very strong, manages to be quite thought-provoking, and I think it's well worth the watch. If nothing else sways you, it's only about an hour and six minutes, so it's easy to get through.