Remember Me

Coco_(2017_film)_poster

You know how sometimes you see something at just the right moment in your life? Like there’s a weird confluence of events that leads to you sitting in a theater with a bottle of Miller Lite crying like baby on a Saturday morning?

That’s kind of what’s happening with me and Coco…

You guys know at this point that stories about art, family and faith are heavy hitters for me, so like, I was primed for Coco to begin with, but there’s also a deeply touching subplot about aging family members, which given some personal stuff these past few years absolutely destroyed me.

From a purely objective standpoint Coco is a brilliant work. It’s tightly scripted, stunningly animated with delightful music and memorable characters. It may be my new favorite Pixar flick, it’s certainly in the top 3.

But regardless of where it sits in canon, it’s a wonderful movie about figuring out your place, and the price of dreams.

Bonus: Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is very cute with some good jokes and some OK songs. It is WAYYYY too long to be placed in front of a feature. Also, I’d imagine if you weren’t just back from Disney World where “That Time Of Year” was played at least once an hour…you might find the song more amusing and less groan inducing.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Battle Of The Sexes
  5. Dunkirk
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  7. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  8. Thor: Ragnarok
  9. Justice League
  10. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  11. The Dark Tower
  12. Cars 3
  13. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

Duck Duck Goose: No.

Ferdinand: MMmm… Maybe? Seriously, it looks quite charming, and I can’t get over how good a pick for Ferdinand John Cena is.

 

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Not Pony Tails, Or Cotton Tails

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When I heard that there was going to be a Duck Tales reboot, my initial response was, “but why though?” I had fond memories of the original, but saw no pressing need to bring it back.

Then they announced the cast.

Then the cast sang that adorable version of the theme song.

Then came the panels. (And my new crush on Ben Schwartz. Did I think I would ever swoon for Jean-Ralphio? No. Am I glad that I now do? You betcha!)

Then came the double length pilot. Then came the Youtube videos, and now, I am fully 100% OBSESSED with this new show.

Here are some of the things that I love:

Genuine Sense of Danger and Adventure

Something I’ve noticed a lot since Steven Universe pulled me into the magical world that is superior children’s cartoons (I’m trying with Gravity Falls at the moment, it hasn’t quite gotten me yet.) is that I really love the “big adventure” feeling of the shows, that I haven’t gotten from adult oriented genre entertainment in a while. I love my Berlanti-verse shows, but mostly for the interpersonal dynamics and awesome casting. Once Upon A Time I’m basically watching because I have Stockholm Syndrome, I think? Game Of Thrones was never about adventure, but Duck Tales really is. Scrooge is dead set on it, the Triplets & Webby (WHO I WILL GET TO) are aching for it, and even worry wort Donald is exceptionally GOOD at it.

Voice Cast

David Tennant. Kate Miccuci. Danny Pudi. Bobby Moinaghan. BEN SCHWARTZ.

Obviously, Tennant is the perfect choice for Scrooge, the Scottish accent, the quick temper, the thirst to find something new out there. It’s all in my favorite doctor. (Frankly, Capaldi could have done it as well!) And it’s creating a new version of Scrooge McDuck that we all should be grateful for, there’s a playfulness to him that I adore.

Kate Miccuci is voicing Webby Vanderquack. You know…the girl. But thank god they’re doing more with her. Webby is enthusiastic, nerdy, bright, lonely, odd, and puts glitter on her notebooks, because it is both pretty and functional (she can tell when the boys have gotten into her stuff by their sparkly feathers.). Miccuci is a treasure, and brings a sort of annoying but sweet energy to Webby’s manic pixie dream duck.

Danny Pudi’s work on Huey has been fine. He hasn’t gotten his spotlight yet, but the sense is that as the oldest (by however brief a margin) he feels the need to be the responsible one.  His dorky sea chanty mix tape and road trip itinerary reminded me of someone…I won’t say who. (*clears throat, closes touring plans and stares at floor*)

Bobby Moinaghan’s Louie is also kind of great. Louie is identified by his brothers as the “evil triplet” but he comes across less as evil and more as lazy and little bit entitled. His attempts to teach Webby to lie are kind of precious, and his overall belief that as Scrooge is old with one foot in the grave he is entitled to a fair share of treasure is hilarious.

And then there’s Ben Schwartz as Dewey. Clearly, Duck Tales has decided to focus on the middle triplet. And Schwartz is more than up for the challenge. Dewey is frustrated with is limited experience, especially his Uncle Donald and Great-Uncle Scrooge’s attempts to further limit it. He’s teamed up with Webby to find out the truth about what happened the boys’ mother Della, and he’s just overall the best. (Seriously, his dance through the death trap laser beams in Atlantis is BEAUTIFUL. “DEWEY Dewey, how does he Dewey it?”) It’s weird for me at the moment because I’m also re-watching Parks & Recreation and being this endeared to Jean-Ralphio is bizarre. But Dewey’s done it, and Schwartz is adorable so there’s that.

So far we’ve also had guest spots from Margot Martindale as Ma Beagle, Jim Rash as Gyro (which teased the arrival of Gizmo-Duck, who we already know is coming, who will be voiced by LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, because God, or Disney, or whatever, loves me)   and Mark Evan Jackson (ONUS!) as one of Scrooge’s board members. I’m sure every voice actor I love will pop up at some point, and I look forward to it.

Ship’s Ahead! AHOY!

On Saturday, Crystan and I discussed our favorite game, “why am I a horrible garbage person today?” My reason this week? I’m shipping Webby and Dewey.

Yes.

I know.

It’s terrible.

They are cartoon duck children.

I don’t care.

They’re adorable together. Dewey defends her to his brothers when they think she’s too weird. She enthusiastically signs on to help him find his mom. I love them together. Fanfic will be written. Tumblr gif sets will be searched. Every moment they are on screen together will be analyzed.

Seriously, you guys, I’ve been doing this for well over six years, you get how I am when I find a new ship, right?

The Girl

I want to give special attention to Webby Vanderquack. I barely remembered Webby from the original show, which sort of speaks to her importance there. Luckily, in the spanning decades, many entertainment companies, and Disney especially have come to understand the market power of young girls, so Webby’s been given prime billing along with Huey, Dewey and Louie! Hooray!

Of course this is an action adventure show, which gives some pitfalls, that it seems at the moment Duck Tales is sidestepping. She’s still the only girl around. (Though her grandmother, Mrs. Beakley also there…) But, she’s not a tomboy. Her head is adorned with a bow. She wears a dress. She coats her notebooks in pink glitter.

She’s imaginative, a little naive, very eager to please and a total weirdo.

I adore her.

Overall, I really can’t wait until to see what the new series brings.

Top 5 Disney Duets

Guys! I’m leaving tomorrow. With a collective 10 hours of holding for cast members (all of whom were super courteous and helpful, and frankly a lot of folks are dealing with bigger fall out from Irma than having to wait a week to ride Flight of Passage) and tonight I’m going to see War Paint, so I though it was a good time to talk about duets.

A duet is, quite simply, a song sung between two people. They are often, but not always, romantic in nature (all of the ones on this list are…) and often they take place in the climax of Act II. Some of classic Broadway duets include, “People Will Say We’re In Love” from Oklahoma, “Friendship” from assorted Cole Porter projects but mostly Anything Goes, “For Good” from Wicked, “What You Own,” from Rent, and the ultimate Act II duet “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors.

5. “I See The Light” from Rapunzel

I see the light

I remember the first time I heard this song, when Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi sang it at the Oscars. I was already deep into crush land with Zach, because I’d been watching Chuck and learning that he could sing, whoo baby. Anyway, the song, it’s beautiful and illuminates (ha!) the relationship between Rapunzel and Flynn so perfectly, as well as walking through their journey. This is the fulfillment of what they both want more than anything before. And those lanterns.

4. “Once Upon A Dream” from Sleeping Beauty

Once Upon a Dream

There are few things in the world I love the way I love the moment where Aurora and Phillip waltz through the woods together. It’s so lovely, and this perfect little song about feeling like you know some one and being connected by fate and love. Ugh, it’s so beautiful.

3. “Something There” from Beauty And The Beast

Something There

I have deep affection for the music from Beauty And The Beast and “Something There” is certainly up there in the “songs that sometimes get forgotten.” A big function of the duet is often to move us emotionally from one place to another with characters. This does that, almost as clearly as anything.

2. “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters Inc.

Monsters Inc

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how much I love Billy Crystal, and I also love John Goodman, and I love the sort of old school-ness of both of them, which is captured in this delightful bff duet between Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc.

1. “A Whole New World” from Aladdin

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In the intro I described “Suddenly Seymour” as the ultimate Act II duet. It is. It is the best one ever written in my very very unexpert opinion, however, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken also wrote the second best Act II duet ever for Aladdin and it’s “A Whole New World.” Aladdin and Jasmine’s magic carpet ride around the world is delightful, romantic and soaring. Also, Lea Solanga.

Runners Up: “Love is An Open Door” from Frozen, “If I Never Knew You” from Pocohontas

 

You Don’t Know How That Feels

Cars 3 is an interesting animal. I mean, all of the Cars movies are sort of interesting and a little bit weird, but also quite enjoyable.

I had a feeling that I was going to like it, because it’s basically the plot of Rocky 3, and I really, really like Rocky 3. (It’s my favorite Rocky…) Lightning McQueen wants to come back, but it seems like racing has moved on, and his mentor is dead, and his partner is supportive, but unable do much for him, and there’s outside pressure that has nothing to do with why he fell in love with the whole thing anyway.

The movie itself is sweet, touching, and not overly long, which made for a nice change. I adore new character Cruz Ramirez, as well as several quite sweet tributes to Paul Newman.

There are fun cameos as always, although I think Lighting’s new corporate boss being a Cadillac named “Mr. Sterling” being voiced by Nathan Fillion and NOT John Slattery is a waste of a perfectly good easter egg. (Not to take away from Fillion, who is as always, flawless.)

Cars 3 is worth checking out, Pixar usually is, if only to see what they were able to do visually, and this one has a fun story and some nice new characters to go along with it.

Short:

Lou, about the sentient, loving Lost and Found being is straight up adorable, with a touching bit to say about bullying, and attachment.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  3. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  4. Cars 3
  5. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers

Despicable Me 3: This is coming up. I’ll probably go see it. Unlikely I’ll see it opening night.

Ferdinand: I knew this was happening, I did not know that John Cena was voicing Ferdinand. That’s kind of ridiculously perfect.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure: Oh my goodness, can I not wait for a short of Olaf running around learning about Scandinavian Christmas traditions. Also, Else and Anna’s Christmas dresses are everything.

Coco: OK, this is going to be great, or at the very least beautiful. I don’t know a lot about Dios De Los Muertos, except that it’s also my birthday, and in Ireland we call it All Souls Day.

Watching Wonder Woman: A Primer

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So, maybe you live under a rock and you’re wondering, “Hey, what’s this movie coming out this weekend? You know, that one with the lady and the sword?”

Or maybe, you’re like me and you just cannot wait another day for this movie. (Aless and I are going Thursday night.) So, you’re looking for something to watch to hold you over, or introduce you to Princess Diana of Themyscira.

Also known as Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman

A good a primer as any if the 2009 animated movie. Co-Written by Queen of All Superhero Awesomeness Gale Simone, and starring voice talent like Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Virginia Madsen, Rosario Dawson and Alfred Molina, gets you up to date on Diana’s traditional origins, as well as having a really cool battle in the streets of Washington D.C.

Justice League: Season 1: Episodes 1-3: “Secret Origins”

Meet the Justice League as they join forces. Diana leaves home here and it’s a fun alternate origin for her. Plus it has a really great scene where she is baffled by a department store.

Justice League: Season 1: Episodes 14 & 15: “Fury”

Diana and Sheyara (Hawkgirl) team up to save Themyscira from a rogue Amazon, and while I don’t remember the episode in detail, I believe this is the one where Hawkgirl makes fun of Wonder Woman for being a virgin, which is why I included it. Also, I like watching ladies team up to fight other ladies.

Justice League: Season 2: Episodes 7 & 8: “Maid Of Honor”

While this episode is a big ol step in the Wonder Woman/Batman ship that I hate so very much, it is also a Diana spotlight episode that comes as close as any non comics anything to confirming Diana’s bisexuality. (Although Gal Gadot has stated that Diana in the films is. SQUEE!) It’s also really, really good.

Justice League Unlimited: Season 1: Episode 4: “Hawk And Dove”

Diana fights Ares. This is important because Ares as an enemy is pretty important to the overall mythos of Wonder Woman, and this is definitely the only time in JL or JLU that it happens…I think.

Justice League Unlimited: Season 1: Episode 5: “This Little Piggy”

OK, so Wonder Woman isn’t actually in this episode much, and it showcases the dreaded ship, but it’s also a really fun episode, where she gets turned into a pig. And then Batman has to save her by singing a song for Cersi. It’s great, and Kevin Conroy croons “Am I Blue?” Also, Zatanna is in this episode a lot and so it showcases both of Aless’s top cosplays. (Also, I know it’s one of her favorites and she’d be mad if I didn’t include it.)

Justice League Unlimited: Season 1: Episode 18: “The Balance”

Diana learns her heritage, and also she and Hawkgirl make up after having a fight. And that’s where this picture, that is my favorite comes from.

Wonder Woman Sword

SWORD!!!!

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice: The Grand Total of 20 minutes or Whatever that have Wonder Woman in Them.

I went on HBO go last night and fast forwarded through the boring and kind of terrible rest of the movie and just watched Wonder Woman’s parts, and they are great. I would never suggest anyone watch the whole movie, but just watch the Wonder Woman parts. Gal Gadot is awesome and she and Affleck are good together. (I am less opposed to this ship here. I hate it in the DCAU, however, I WILL ALWAYS HATE IT!)

I’ll be back on Friday after seeing the movie. Guys, I’m really excited for this one. Who’s ready for the

Ever Just The Same, Ever A Surprise

Beauty And The Beast

Beauty And The Beast is not my favorite Disney movie. I love it a lot, and I still think it’s one of the greatest examples of a film musical. (Right behind Singin In The Rain and The Sound Of Music.)  So I had similar if not the same expectations as everyone going into the movie last weekend.

I wasn’t disappointed. Baffled, unsure, and impressed, for sure, but never disappointed.

The basics of Beauty And The Beast remain as they always have been, but the new film manages to add wrinkles and twists to the story you know that are surprising enough to make watching the film engrossing. The characters we know and love are given turns in their paths and depths revealed in their wake.

If I sound a little too poetic I’m sorry, but I was very happy with this movie. I’m obsessed with this cast, with the decision made in it’s screen play, and I could babble on for days about the visual, but I guess I have to focus on one thing at a time.

Let’s start with the cast. Emma Watson is delightful as Belle. There’s none of Hermione’s intensity or bossiness in her quiet thoughtful French village girl, and that’s something of a relief. Watson’s voice is noticeably autotuned in spots, but when it isn’t has a lovely sing song quality that I think suits the piece quite well. Dan Stevens brings a mournful heartbreak to the Beast and “For Evermore” is an excellent addition to the canon of Howard Ashman penned Disney songs. These two were also wonderful together. Kevin Kline. I wish Kevin Kline were in more movies. The only reason I can think that he isn’t is that he is not inclined to be, because he’s ALWAYS SO GOOD! Ian McKellan is wonderful if underused. There’s a lot of comedy to Cogsworth that I think got lost in the more serious tone taken on the overall film, but both he and Emma Thomspson do exceedingly well with their limited scope. I would watch Audra McDonald read the phone book as long as she got to hit a few above the staff notes and the movie grants her that and then some. Ewan McGregor acquits himself well with Lumiere, the one of the servants who I think gets to maintain their original charm. This is probably because Lumiere is the most *ahem* flamboyant, (pun  not intended) his light (Damn, keep walking into those) is harder to dampen.

Luke Evans and Josh Gad are flawless and I want more of them doing musical theater. I hope this movie shows the mainstream what theater people have known about Gad for a long time. There’s more to him than Olaf, not that mainstream comedy has the kind of roles that really suit Gad, but he’s really great here, and Evans makes Gaston’s particular brand of masculine menace chilling.

The screenplays new wrinkles would constitute spoilers if I talked about them too deeply, but I will talk about the deepening characterizations, starting with Gaston and LeFou! The codifying of LeFou’s queerness is interesting, especially as it dawns on him that his adoration of Gaston is both troubling and misplaced, giving a comic sidekick an actual arc is something that I always support and it’s executed well here. Gaston is shown here as a soldier and returning golden boy who finds the provincial town dull after the horror and glory of war. Which is way more interesting than a blustering hunter and a good deal more frightening. He’s enamored of Belle not just because she’s beautiful (though that helps) but because she’s, well, disinterested. There’s an undercurrent of “yes, you and I are above this place” to his attempts to woo her, and that’s fascinating to me.

Maurice also gets a makeover, made less of a buffoon and more of an eccentric and it works. Belle and The Beast, both become wounded motherless children, searching for a connection anywhere they can find it, and it makes their romance deeper, sweeter and sadder all at once.

I didn’t love all of the changes. It seemed strange to turn the village from a quiet, sleepy, slightly backward hamlet to some kind of patriarchal hellscape a la The Republic of Gilead where women aren’t allowed to learn to read and if they’re unmarried or without a father’s protection they’re thrown out into the streets to beg. This seems extreme for a fairytale that’s about seeing past first impressions and I did feel the loss of some of the comedy.

But there’s something deeply instinctual about fairy tales, and Disney’s take on these stories that have been with us forever is so deep in the company’s roots, I’m not surprised that they’re able to execute things well.

Things I’m Obsessed With Right Now: The Ballad of Ahsoka Tano


Hey everyone! So this is a very special version of Things I’m Obsessed With Right Now that has almost everything to do with my preparation for Star Wars: Rogue One

Which is to say, watching as much of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels as a human being possibly can while still having a full time job and maintaining what is left of her sanity.

If you’re curious, that adds up to something near 15 hours in the past 3 days.

Anyway, let’s get to the nitty gritty of this post.

Ahsoka Tano. She’s amazing. I knew she was amazing a year ago when I started Clone Wars, but now I think she’s really, incredibly amazing, one of the best characters I’ve encountered anywhere, let alone in my fairly recent dive into the world of modern American animation. Ahsoka is confident, badass, vulnerable, has agency coming out of her many orrifices. She’s as powerful a Jedi as Anakin Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi and although she is their student, she’s held up as their peer and in many cases, their moral superior.

Her decision to walk away from the Jedi order when they wouldn’t stand be her was brave and a good way to illustrate that sometimes, an apology just isn’t enough. Her commitment to helping start the Rebellion is also incredible. Her decision to help Kanan train Ezra is a huge boon to the series. (I also love Kanan. I could take or leave Ezra. He’s like Anakin if you sucked out the angst, and that makes him fine but boring, and we already have Luke in this series.)

But the end (I suppose) of her story, has left me wrecked, like to the point that I had to retool this post, which was supposed to be about Clone Wars and Rebels in general. Her decision to face Darth Vader, which lead to the unthinkable truth that he was her old master, and the one moment where he revealed himself to her and then killed her is just, I can’t deal with it.

Of course it was impossible to ignore, “Anakin Skywalker was weak and so I destroyed him.” In a few decades, well, someone else is going to us those same words to describe his descent into the darkness. (It will also make me cry there.)

There is a tiny part of me that wanted to subvert this well executed and dramatically satisfying story, plus retcon an entire series that I’ve loved my entire life by Ahsoka, literally just punching Vader in the face and says, “Seriously, Skyguy? I was gone for like a minute and you turn to the dark side? GET IT TOGETHER?” And then Anakin wakes up, he gets all redeemed, we save everyone a bunch of trouble and heartache. Alderaan doesn’t explode, Luke keeps that hand of his, Obi-Wan lives.

Downside? Han and Leia probably never meet, but that means they don’t create Ben, and he doesn’t become Kylo Ren, so Han also lives. Or, I guess not, because he’d probably have been killed by Jabba the Hutt, huh? OK, so things still don’t go well for Han, but as much as I love him, it’s a net gain for the galaxy.

Alas no, and a great character gets a satisfying and brutal ending. Also Kanan is blind now and Darth Maul is back. (The Clone Wars and Rebels people really love them some Darth Maul, I’m pretty sure they’ve brought him back like six times. I can only assume this will lead to Obi-Wan, since you know, they hate each other a lot…)

Anyway, I’m glad I finally invested in this story. I’m glad I’ve gotten to know Ahsoka.