Tress Macneille

Tress Macneille

Tress Macneille Quick Links

Film RSS

The Simpsons: Season Ten Review


Good
By the end of the 1990s The Simpsons, the former enfant terrible of Rupert Murdoch's once upstart Fox Network, was well into its mature middle period of cultural acceptance. Earlier seasons (the first full episode aired back in December 1989) had seen a lot of attention paid to Bart's supposedly dangerous antisocial tendencies. But throughout the 1990s, the show had honed its satire and firmed up its roster of stellar voice actors, turning what had been seen first as the animated equivalent of Married With Children into something of a national institution. Seasons 8 and 9 had provided some of the show's greatest episodes, like "Homer's Enemy" (a devastating stab at American lassitude featuring Homer's nemesis Frank Grimes) and "Lisa the Skeptic" (where consumerism and religion get a similarly brutal treatment).

The 23 episodes of Season 10, broadcast between August 1998 and May 1999, reveal a show securely positioned both as money-making endeavor for Fox and well-regarded repository for smarty-pants satire. The show's writers, one of TV's greatest collections of comic minds since the stellar days of Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, know exactly what notes to hit, and they hit them over and over again; meaning, in short: lots of Homer being an unthinking idiot. Homer could save Grandpa's life with a kidney transplant, but he's too scared of the operation and keeps running away, ala the climax of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Homer becomes a bodyguard. And so on. But all this attention also means that the writers are constantly feeding Homer the best lines ("Are you sure this is a sci-fi convention? It's full of nerds."), though Bart gets plenty of one-liners as well ("Dad, you make a great hippie; you're lazy and self-righteous!").

Continue reading: The Simpsons: Season Ten Review

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True Review


Terrible
"The magic didn't end at midnight!" the promotional materials for Cinderella II tell us. But I'm here to tell you that not only did the magic definitely end at midnight, it ended at midnight 52 years ago, when the original Cinderella went home in her pumpkin.

This pathetic sequel, only 65 minutes long until the credits roll, tells three sad vignettes about the now-blissfully married Cinderella's life. Among them: Cinderella flounts tradition and invites (gasp!) commoners to the royal ball. The fairy godmother turns one of the mice into a person. And ugly stepsister Anastasia finds love in the arms of a portly baker.

Continue reading: Cinderella II: Dreams Come True Review

My Neighbors the Yamadas Review


Good
In the US, we embrace animated families steeped in enormous dysfunction--the Simpsons, Family Guy's Griffin clan, or the poor bastards on King of the Hill. The Japanese Yamadas, on the other hand, title characters in this unique collection of vignettes, have a more universal level of dysfunction. Their humor doesn't lean on huge levels of bumbling idiocy and resentment; instead, it is gentle and knowing, like the Japanese poetry that appears throughout My Neighbors the Yamadas.

The Yamadas are your basic suburban family weathering the storms that most families deal with. Because their issues have such a commonality, nearly everyone, regardless of age, will find something to connect with -- and chuckle at -- in this charming feature just released on DVD here in the States.

Continue reading: My Neighbors the Yamadas Review

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True Review


Terrible
"The magic didn't end at midnight!" the promotional materials for Cinderella II tell us. But I'm here to tell you that not only did the magic definitely end at midnight, it ended at midnight 52 years ago, when the original Cinderella went home in her pumpkin.

This pathetic sequel, only 65 minutes long until the credits roll, tells three sad vignettes about the now-blissfully married Cinderella's life. Among them: Cinderella flounts tradition and invites (gasp!) commoners to the royal ball. The fairy godmother turns one of the mice into a person. And ugly stepsister Anastasia finds love in the arms of a portly baker.

Continue reading: Cinderella II: Dreams Come True Review

My Neighbors the Yamadas Review


Good
In the US, we embrace animated families steeped in enormous dysfunction--the Simpsons, Family Guy's Griffin clan, or the poor bastards on King of the Hill. The Japanese Yamadas, on the other hand, title characters in this unique collection of vignettes, have a more universal level of dysfunction. Their humor doesn't lean on huge levels of bumbling idiocy and resentment; instead, it is gentle and knowing, like the Japanese poetry that appears throughout My Neighbors the Yamadas.

The Yamadas are your basic suburban family weathering the storms that most families deal with. Because their issues have such a commonality, nearly everyone, regardless of age, will find something to connect with -- and chuckle at -- in this charming feature just released on DVD here in the States.

Continue reading: My Neighbors the Yamadas Review

Rugrats Go Wild! Review


Terrible
You would have figured that with a show and movie series as delightfully cynical as Rugrats would have had the foresight to see that naming a movie with "Go Wild" in the title is just asking for insult. The similarities between the "Wild" movies go beyond the titles. Both take place in exotic getaway spots (a deserted island / a deserted alley outside a cheap New Orleans bar in Mardi Gras). Both involve a large cast of characters whose names you don't remember and whose voice you can barely make out through the sucking, slurping, or slurring of something or another. Oh yeah, and both are an utter waste of time unless your mind can't discern between binki-ness and kinkiness.

As if your kid will care, Rugrats Go Wild! is a cross between the shows Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, in which a Rugrats family vacation leads to being stranded on a deserted island. The only other inhabitants are the Thornberrys, a dysfunctional set of explorers with a souped-up RV that makes the new Lexus SUVs look like bumper cars. The adults get the idea to start going Lord of the Flies. The babies get the idea to start going exploring, and I get the idea to leave the theatre before dealing with an extra hour and a half of wasted time.

Continue reading: Rugrats Go Wild! Review

Pom Poko Review


Excellent
As an ambitious morality tale, the Japanese animated film Pom Poko is certainly worthy of a solid recommendation. As a family-friendly film, this story of angry raccoons saving their land from destruction has a problem. Let's just say Pom Poko ain't no Ferngully.

In the midst of their battle against man, raccoons are hit by cars and ensnared in traps. They use their ingenuity and crazy skills (more on those later) to sabotage construction and kill a handful of humans. They create a fever dream-style parade used to haunt the locals. This kind of adult-level entertainment boasts smart, stylishly trippy animation that veers far from anything that can be called a "kid" movie. But Pom Poko is one of a series of Japanese Studio Ghibli films being distributed in the US by Disney -- so, to the uninitiated, it looks like a warm cuddly Disney movie on the DVD shelves.

Continue reading: Pom Poko Review

Kiki's Delivery Service Review


Good
Hayao Miyazaki scored a big kid-friendly hit with this story about a 13-year-old witch living on her own for the first time. (Yeah, tough love for pubescent Japanese witches!) Unfortunately, Kiki's Delivery Service lacks a lot of depth; though it's exquisitely sweet and endlessly watchable (and much better than Miyazaki's widly overrated Castle of Cagliostro),

Kiki (voiced in the U.S. version by Kirsten Dunst), in keeping with her people's tradition, jets off with broom and talking cat (Phil Hartman) to a random city in order to become the town witch. Unfortunately, Kiki hasn't really thought this through, and soon enough she finds that not only does she have no real marketable skills, she has no place to live and little money, too.

Continue reading: Kiki's Delivery Service Review

Tress Macneille

Tress Macneille Quick Links

Film RSS
Advertisement

Suggested

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Film Review

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Film Review

Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise.

Vacation Puts Ed Helms Face-To-Face With His Heroes

Vacation Puts Ed Helms Face-To-Face With His Heroes

Ed Helms has spoken about his initial reluctance to follow up the 80's cult classics.

American Ultra - Trailer

American Ultra - Trailer

Mike's current life revolves around his girlfriend, a healthy amount of weed and his job at the local cash & carry.

Advertisement
Michael Douglas Shifts From Ant-Man To Beyond The Reach

Michael Douglas Shifts From Ant-Man To Beyond The Reach

Michael Douglas' two movies this year couldn't be much more different.

Richard O'Brien To Return To 'The Rocky Horror Show' For First Time In 20 Years

Richard O'Brien To Return To 'The Rocky Horror Show' For First Time In 20 Years

O'Brien, Rocky Horror's creator, will be playing the narrator in a special West End run in September this year.

Is Calvin Harris About To Pop The Question?

Is Calvin Harris About To Pop The Question?

As soon a pop partnership Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift got together, we knew it...

Surprise New One Direction Single Tops iTunes Chart Within An Hour

Surprise New One Direction Single Tops iTunes Chart Within An Hour

Just a day after Zayn Malik said that he had left them to make “#realmusic”, One Direction...

Advertisement