April Winchell

April Winchell

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Home Review


Excellent

A sharp script and especially colourful imagery make this animated romp a lot more fun than expected, entertaining grown-ups just as much as the kids. It may be the usual frantic action comedy, but there's an edge to the humour and a continual stream of knowing gags and witty references that keep us laughing. As a result, the busy plot is surprisingly involving, and the action scenes are genuinely thrilling.

It opens in outer space with the Boov, a race of blobby creatures that are only good at one thing: running away from their sworn enemy the Gorg. Their leader Captain Smek (Steve Martin) has selected Earth as their next hiding place, so they swoop in and corral mankind into Happy Humantowns in the Australian Outback while the Boov occupy the cities, hilariously trying to make sense of everything they find there. But a Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons) sticks out from the hive-like community. Friendlier and more curious than he should be, he inadvertently alerts the Gorg to their location. So he goes on the run, meeting up with the human teen girl Tip (Rihanna), who has managed to hide out with her chubby cat Pig and now wants to find her mother (Jennifer Lopez). Pursued by Smek and top cop Kyle (Matt Jones), Oh and Tip must dart around the globe to solve both of their predicaments.

Based on Adam Rex's novel The True Meaning of Smekday, the story is packed with lively twists and turns, and the filmmakers bring it to life with energy, humour and some real emotion. The animators pull out all the stops as they play with outrageous colours and eye-catching action, while the Boov's ability to selectively control gravity adds plenty of scope for additional mayhem. For example, Oh and Tip travel the globe in a car that Oh soups up Back to the Future-style so they can fly to Boov central command in Paris and then on to Australia. These kinds of knowing film references flit across the screen all the way through their adventure.

Continue reading: Home Review

Tarzan & Jane Review


Terrible
If you've seen Robert Smigel's "Bambi 2002" cartoon on Saturday Night Live, you pretty much know my feelings on direct-to-video Disney sequels. (The utterliy hilarious toon features a rapping Bambi, her injured-but-living mother, and a whole host of non-sequitur references to modern life.)

Tarzan & Jane isn't quite this commercially blatant, but there's not much to merit viewing this sequel to the popular Tarzan. The animation is rudimentary, the voices have all been replaced (the only notable one is Olivia d'Abo stepping in for Minnie Driver as Jane), and the soundtrack has returned to typical Disney orchestral music (though Phil Collins reprises a single song with Mandy Moore as accompaniment).

Continue reading: Tarzan & Jane Review

Tarzan & Jane Review


Terrible
If you've seen Robert Smigel's "Bambi 2002" cartoon on Saturday Night Live, you pretty much know my feelings on direct-to-video Disney sequels. (The utterliy hilarious toon features a rapping Bambi, her injured-but-living mother, and a whole host of non-sequitur references to modern life.)

Tarzan & Jane isn't quite this commercially blatant, but there's not much to merit viewing this sequel to the popular Tarzan. The animation is rudimentary, the voices have all been replaced (the only notable one is Olivia d'Abo stepping in for Minnie Driver as Jane), and the soundtrack has returned to typical Disney orchestral music (though Phil Collins reprises a single song with Mandy Moore as accompaniment).

Continue reading: Tarzan & Jane Review

Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street Review


OK
The teachers and principals of Recess reminisce about those rambunctious kids at Third Street School and how they've contirbuted to the holiday spirit -- whether trying to win a canned food drive or having to spend a weekend with the evil Ms. Finster.

Continue reading: Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street Review

Recess: School's Out Review


Terrible
The transition from a half-hour Saturday morning cartoon into a full-length feature film is always a tough sell. It hardly ever works because the attention span of the average child has been reduced to five nanoseconds, making a 22 minute cartoon difficult to stretch. The resulting feature typically looks cheap and underdeveloped on a big theater screen.

In fact, the few successful transitions of series to the big screen have been the Rugrats and South Park cartoons. Why were they successful? Because their creators went beyond the usual scope of TV work to incorporate real story and character development into the feature-length films.

Continue reading: Recess: School's Out Review

Recess: School's Out Review


Grim

The bad guy in "Recess: School's Out" is a megalomaniacal ex-elementary school principal determined to do away with summer vacations by altering the orbit of the Moon so there's no more summer.

Voiced by James Woods -- one of Hollywood's greatest scenery-chewers -- this rakish, oily antagonist is by far the most amusing thing about this latest in a seemingly endless glut of cheaply animated TV 'toons cashing in on the purchase power of kids.

Such movies are not concerned with style, creativity or entertainment value for anyone of a discerning age. They don't even bother aspiring to be a "Toy Story," a "Pokemon") and rarely much more than just expanded episodes of the show that spawned them, blown up to 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Continue reading: Recess: School's Out Review

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