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And we are back Humans! By popular demand! I consulted my sources and have more animated dudes for you to analyze your life choices by. And for those of you that are more interested in those of the female persuasion, I may be cooking up something for you so stay tuned.

Kristoff

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Need some ice towed or a fun wedding date? I’m your guy. 

If you like Kristoff you fall into one of three categories: people who follow lumbersexual accounts on Instagram, people who follow the Jonathan Groff’s Bike Helmet account on Instagram, or people who follow both of these Instagram accounts. You like rosy cheeks. You’re into the boy next door mountain man type you can bring to dinner at your parents’ house. You enjoy sarcasm, loyalty, and musical theater. You like a man who’s just as loyal to his pets/buddies as he is to you. You may have watched the Groffsauce and Lin-Manuel Miranda friendship video on youtube more times than should be allowed.

 

Hans 

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My sideburns are very deceiving

You fall for false advertising all the time. You still have The Perfect Pancake, Hairdini, and Turbie Towel. You’re also just a sucker for a well coiffed man with deceivingly sincere eyebrows and ginger freckles. Come on Disney why is the ginger evil? You probably just really also like musical theater and watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend so you can see Santino Fontana being not-evil. (Seriously if you haven’t yet, watch that show. It’s on Netflix, you have no choice).

Gaston 

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Which way is the gym brah? Cross-fit? 

You date bro-dudes who like to get swole at the gym, do cross-fit, drink brotein shakes, and are super misogynist to you. Your house is covered in empty beer tankards and those stupid bro-tanks with the sides cut open. (Also probably some super deep v-neck tees). You actually enjoy the patriarchy for some reason. You probably look like one of the bimbettes who faint in his presence in the movie. Honey, you need help.

Lumiere

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Doing the eyebrow raise like I invented it. 

You like Don Juan types and bisexual candlesticks who turn back into a stereotypical Frenchman by the end of the movie I guess. You’re a foodie and enjoy dinner theater. You spent a summer abroad in Paris and Lumiere reminds you of the men there apparently. Your go-to Halloween costume is French maid. But in the most culturally sensitive way possible because you did study abroad there. You only serve Bordeaux wine at your parties and are an expert wino.

Hercules 

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Actual Precious Cinnamon Roll

You were a Classical Studies/Mythology major in college. You’re super into Greek and other types of mythology and you love this movie despite its inaccuracies. You appreciate a man who doesn’t skip leg day but also is utterly devoted to you. Herc is a redhead with nice Greek youth curls and that killer smile that gets you every time. Just throwing this out there but you probably also enjoy the acting style of Andrew Rannells.

Jake (From Rescuers Down Under)

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Heart = melted 

You are into the rugged, outdoorsy, hiking, and crocodile wrestling type. Growing up, you watched a lot of shows like Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures, Kratt’s Creatures and Steve Erwin: Crocodile Hunter. You’re a sucker for an accent and like the Hemsworths and Hugh Jackman. Your dream job is to work at a zoo. You and your ideal mate both rock those khaki shorts like nobody’s business.

Fix It Felix Jr.

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I knock Maxwell’s Silver Hammer out of the park. 

You love a good handyman and watch a lot of HGTV, Property Brothers in particular. You’re looking for someone good-natured, helpful, and willing to help you build your dream home in Napa Valley. You also just really enjoy 30 Rock, Martin Freeman, and fun-sized guys. You probably own a pair of Timberlands.

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Last week while substitute teaching, I watched Finding Nemo in German  (Findet Nemo!). Boy, it had been an awfully long time since I had seen that movie. I had forgotten a lot of it and how it’s basically The Odyssey for kids. With Fish! In Australia! Yay! But really, it got me thinking of Pixar films as a whole and how I would rate them, especially now since there are a lot of them and more coming soon. The Good Dinosaur comes out next year, followed by Finding Dory, and the promise of a sequel to The Incredibles (yay!) and another Cars sequel (nay).

So without further ado here is my list.

1. Wall-E. I love the hell out of this little robot guy. While this film is very different from the usual Pixar fare, it is in my opinion the most artistic, the most risk-taking, and the most beautiful and heart-felt of all of them. Only Pixar could make us care about a love story between two robots. I also like the post-apocalyptic nature of the story. It’s kind of a futuristic re-imagining of the Noah story, Eve is the white dove who brings back the olive-branch. Humanity re-populates the earth, etc. It’s just such a beautiful film.

2. The Toy Story films, collectively. These three films are Pixar’s masterpiece. This is the heart of Pixar, the first Toy Story is the one that started it all and I have such fond memories of it growing up. The trilogy grew with that first audience and even kids who weren’t alive to see this first one in theaters still enjoy it. The heart of Pixar is friendship and family and the bonds we form with others. Toy Story taught us to value that.

3. The Incredibles. One of the funnest, most hilarious Pixar films of all. I also wanted to be Elasta-girl when I first saw this movie when it came out. Really she is the ideal strong fantastic female role model. She does it all! And has fabulous hair while she does it. (Forget about Merida, but more on that later).

4. Monsters Inc. Everyone loves this movie. Mike and Sully have probably the best Pixar bromance since Buzz and Woody. This movie is the most quoted by my sibs and I. Seriously it scares me how much I have memorized of this film. This one ranks high because of the nostalgia vote.

5. Ratatouille. This film ranks in the weird/artsy era of Pixar. It has a unique charm and is so darn French. I just love it. The concept is super weird but yet it follows its own bizarre logic so well it becomes endearing.

6. Up. Don’t squawk that I ranked this so low. Yes it is a charming story and beautifully animated. But at the same time I think it was over-hyped as super artsy quasi-hipster fare. It still ranks above and beyond most animated schlock that gets made these days, but it just doesn’t live up to the hype for me. And way too many hipstery photo-shoots are all over Pinterest because of it.

7. Finding Nemo. I’ve posted before my satirical thoughts about this movie. And I do still think it’s scary and super emotional. But it is also a great story and a well done sort of re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey but more child friendly and with fish. Not to mention it is beautifully animated like all good Pixar films.

8. A Bug’s Life. Pixar’s sophomore effort has always been underrated in my opinion. While it’s not as grand as many of it’s other films it still holds up in my opinion. It’s very cute, has memorable characters and hilarious dialogue.

9. Brave. This was a film I was supposed to love more than I did. First female protagonist? From a Celtic country? Accurately represents what life with curly hair is like? All things I should love except only the latter is something she succeeded in doing for me. Merida was supposed to be so, so cool. But this film fell flat of it’s potential. I really think it was because the story was re-written after half the animation was done. it could have been such a great fantasy-epic. I would like to have known what this film was before the re-write. That said, the mother-daughter relationship here was very real and heart-warming. Otherwise this movie was basically Brother Bear meets How to Train Your Dragon.

10. Cars. This was cute. The soundtrack wasn’t too bad. It was just cute the first time and maybe it’s just because I enjoy Owen Wilson. The most annoying thing about this movie was Mater. And the fact that it became such a huge marketing ploy for the company it just was so over-commercialized in a confusing way. Much like NASCAR racing.

11. Monsters University. Again, cute. But not amazing in any sense or really living up to the spirit of the original. Some funny inside jokey references to the first film. But really nothing groundbreaking like previous films.

12. Cars 2. The worst piece of dreck to be animated and possible the worst animated film of all time besides late era Don Bluth and most of the other schleck that gets green-lighted these days. (I’m looking at you The Nut Job and Shrek 15: It’s only a matter of time). Let’s take the most annoying thing from the first movie, Mater, and make a film centered around him. Bad form Pixar. Bad form. I thought better of you. This was actually the first Pixar film that made me question their integrity and creative genius. They stooped so low to cash-in on merchandising. My dreams were shattered. But the future looks bright. (Looking forward to you, The Good Dinosaur).

 

 

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        So I saw The Lego Movie last weekend. And I won’t spoil it for anyone but I will say that everything about it is AWESOME. After seeing it I turned to my 19-year-old brother and said, “This is exactly what playing with Legos as kids was like.” And he agreed. Playing with Legos was always super fun and imaginative. And even though I wasn’t the best at building with the bricks or following the instructions. I was pretty good at creating different Mini-fig characters. Part of what I loved about this film was there was a motley crew of characters that the protagonist Emmet teams up with to save the day, much like in earlier films such as Toy Story or The Muppet Movie. The world-building involved in the film was really cool as well. I almost wanted to go home and dig out my old Legos. I’m sure most kids watching it were going to go home and play with their Legos too.

And here we come to my other point in writing. I’ve read a few complaints that The Lego Movie as well as the Lego franchise in general is marketed mainly to boys and short changes girls and the female characters created for them. The review (found here) on the AVClub website has this to say: “Wyldstyle, though confident and talented, often exists to play the foil of Batman (her jerk boyfriend) and Emmet (the object of her mild envy, then affection). And the only other major female character, voiced by Alison Brie, isn’t portrayed as a mini-figure, making Wyldstyle the catchall female protagonist.”

This. Makes. Me. Very. Angry. Maybe Lego failed in most of its toys marketed to girls because it just thought hey let’s make everything pink then girls will like it. Wrong. Girls like playing with normal Legos just as much as boys. I see it as more of a gender-neutral toy since there’s something there for every type of kid regardless of gender. I liked building people and creating stories. My youngest brother liked building castles and houses and backstories for all his characters that lived in them. My middle brother who later on went to a technological university to become an IT guy, enjoyed spending hours building huge sets like the directions said or even creating new things he thought up.

Kids don’t like characters because of their gender. Most children don’t like only characters that are the same gender as them nor do they look for characters to be “role models.” I’m sick of this lens in which we always must see female characters. Can’t they just be characters first why do their personality traits have to be: I am female. We don’t like it when lead character’s traits are: I am a protagonist. So why let the gender of a character get in the way of developing them as an interesting, quirky, FLAWED, person.

My two favorite characters in this film were a lot like the types of lego people I created as a child. Wyldstyle was a lot like the spunky, independent girl lego people I would create. I usually made cool interesting boyfriends for them too. They didn’t have Lego Batman mini-figs when I was a kid, so my main ponytail-sporting horseback-rider girl dated a cargo pants wearing lego named Joe who owned a restaurant. If I recall correctly he basically looked something like a mini-fig version of Ted Mosby. (Which is weird because that show wasn’t even a thing yet).

The other character from the movie I loved was Benny the 1980-something Space Man. I had this figure! And his helmet was broken too. His crazy spastic-ness was much how I played Legos which also caused me break a lot of my brother’s creations on accident.

So what can we take away from all this? Legos are a fun, creativity inducing toy filled with lots of fun made-up and licensed characters. And the movie reflects this. It would also be great if we learned to analyze characters as people first rather than worrying about whether they represent their gender well or not.

Labor Day weekend is upon us. The official closeout of summer and welcoming in the start of school and Autumn. (Although I live in Michigan, which means we will probably have an Indian summer late into September).

At the end of summer I almost always read and/or watch The Last Unicorn. Why? Because it’s perfect for the end of the season. Unicorns in myth often represent spring and the whole story of the Last Unicorn is about the end of something ancient, myth passing away into something new and different but equally good.

The book, by Peter S. Beagle is full of beautiful prose that reads like poetry. It is full of whimsy as well as high mythology which combines the best aspects of all fantasy.

The movie which is animated by Topcraft and directed by Rankin Bass of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Heat-miser, and animated “The Hobbit” fame, manages to capture that whimsy and mythos in its adaptation. The animation is really beautiful, even if it looks a little to anime-esque at times

Rejected Sailor Moon characters need apply.

Rejected Sailor Moon characters need apply.

Peter S. Beagle actually provided the screenplay for the film, which is cool, but you can tell at times relies on narrative devices that are great in book form, but seem awkward on screen. (Mia Farrow as The Last Unicorn talks to herself and it’s…..uncomfortable?).

This is how unicorns look. I like that they took inspiration from the medieval unicorn tapestries.

This is how unicorns look. I like that they took inspiration from the medieval unicorn tapestries.

Lovable magicians should always juggle.

Lovable magicians should always juggle.

The plot is that the last unicorn overhears some hunters in her wood talk about her possibly being the last of her kind. Bemused and concerned she sets out to find out if she really is the last. She learns that the Red Bull drove them all into the sea at the ends of the earth.

Red Bull has always driven people to crazed lengths.

Red Bull has always driven people to crazed lengths.

She is joined on her quest by Schmendrick the magician played perfectly by Alan Arkin, a hap-hazard wizard in training and a woman named Molly Grue, who is Captain Cully’s love. Captain Cully is basically a send up to Robin Hood and his merry men except much less merry. Molly is the Mary Magdalene figure in this story and I love her. Linked below is by far the best scene in the film. If you can watch it without crying you are a grinch.

Other characters include King Haggard played by Christopher Lee, fantasy king for our times. And his son Prince Lir played by Jeff Bridges which equals #awesome.

I'm even animated to look like young Jeff Bridges.

I’m even animated to look like young Jeff Bridges.

I enjoy that the unicorn is female. It opens up to a different interpretation of the unicorn mythos. Traditionally, in most literature and fairy tales (outside of My Little Pony), unicorns are portrayed as male. The medieval male unicorn curing the water of poison, appearing only to virgins only to be hunted down, killed and resurrected. He was supposed to be a Christ figure. Which is cool, I can dig that. However, why not a female unicorn? They represent beauty and purity which are most commonly portrayed as feminine virtues. Little girls (and grown-up girls) love unicorns so it only makes sense. Essentially though, the story of the Last Unicorn only really works if she is female. Toward the end of the novel and the film she has to be turned into a human woman in order to be kept safe. She learns what it is like to be a mortal human with all of it’s messiness and wonderfulness. She learns to love and also becomes the only immortal unicorn who lives to regret. At the end of the story she is changed, but she is grateful for that change.

This is a modern fairy tale full of all the trademarks of the genre, beauty, goodness, truth, and redemption. What’s not to love? It’s up there with The Princess Bride as my favorite modern fantasy.

I forgive you.

I forgive you.

ps. the film has music from the band America. Yes.

There are plenty of Disney Dudes I didn’t cover in my previous post so here we go.

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My chin could cut glass.

Kronk.

Let me just say, can I be your friend? If he is your favorite then you are possibly the coolest person ever and have excellent taste in men because Kronk is the ideal guy. Clearly you enjoy funny men with a sense of humor and interesting hobbies like playing exotic bird bingo and speaking squirrel. You enjoy a big strong guy who can make a great dinner and help you whip up that dish to pass on your way to the family barbecue. You’re looking for a good life partner and Kronk is the perfect choice. Just don’t ask him to mix the drinks.

peterpan

I wear tights, can fly and have a fairy friend whom I have placed permanently in the friend-zone. Such great boyfriend material.

Then again I do look pretty cool while sword-fighting. I'm like Jim Hawkins if he could fly.

Then again I do look pretty cool while sword-fighting. I’m like Jim Hawkins if he could fly

Peter Pan

You might have some dating issues on the horizon if not already. I guess he would make a good 12 year old crush but from an adult stand point? NO. Be honest with yourself, he doesn’t want to grow up. You clearly are interested in man-children who want to pal around in the woods with their bros and play video games or go larping in animal suits. You probably think Judd Apatow movies are about your life. You are ok with leggings as pants worn by any gender, clearly.

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Taking my art seriously. Basically the original hipster.

Roger

You go for the musician, artist type. Your favorite actor is probably Jason Segel. You enjoy gangly adorkable guys who are super into their craft but also super into you and your pets. You believe in love at first my dog literally set us up on a date. And you are ok when your significant other writes a song about how your old school friend is evil. Although how you did not realize this on your own is baffling.

Dedication.

Dedication personified.

Guy from Paperman

This guy is Joseph Gordon Levitt in 500 Days of Summer, Jim Halpert, and Roger all rolled into one goofy package. He’s adorkable. He does everything to reconnect with the cute girl he fell for at the train. He’s the American ideal. You probably saw this short film before “Wreck-It Ralph” which means you haven’t given up hope on Disney films after “Princess and the Frog.” You probably grew up during the Disney Renaissance and still remember what Disney magic is like. This short film made you realize that magic wasn’t gone. Can we be friends?

I'm getting kinda fond of you kid.

I’m getting kinda fond of you kid.

Genie from Aladdin

You enjoy blue people and 90s comedians so you probably also have a crush on Megamind. You enjoy puns and celebrity impersonations. You think it is perfectly acceptable to wear Hawaiian shirts even when not on vacation or on the set of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You like your men to be able to provide you with every wish and flight of fancy you have as long as they love you for you and not because of a magic spell.

Boring capitalist. You can still find guys like me at upscale bars.

Boring capitalist. You can still find guys like me at upscale bars.

John Smith

You like beautiful people darn it and you don’t care if they’re racist or played by Mel Gibson. You don’t care if your boyfriends and potential love interests have any original thoughts. You are perfectly okay that they are a product of a controlling colonizing government who speak in buzzwords and phrases. You don’t care if they want to shoot every animal that walks if it looks unfamiliar to them. You probably thought Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad was a jolly good time. The horror.

Let's get down to business.

Let’s get down to business.

Li Shang

You don’t like messing around and you want to get down to business to defeat the huns. You enjoy when guys take things like training their army seriously. So you like guys who work hard. You also probably enjoy singing show tunes as if you suddenly had the voice of Donny Osmond. Your favorite Shakespeare play is Twelfth Night.

I love graphic novels. I’m a sucker for art and literature, something I chalk up to being the child of a graphic design artist and an English Degree holder/editor. Graphic novels combine both of these in the best way possible. In college one of my capstone classes for my English major was on the Graphic novel as literature. That was when I really got into reading literary graphic novels.

This summer I discovered my local library has accumulated a nice little collection of these books and I have taken full advantage.

Here are a few of the novels I read.

Disclaimer: I know some kids and teens might read my blog. These books are really for adults. There’s nothing wrong with mature entertainment, (Les Miserables is a prime example) you just should be an adult to read these in my opinion. I would not assign any of these for my students to read.

 

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Bottomless Bellybutton by Dash Shaw.

This is my kind of novel. 3 adult siblings gather at their parents’ home where their parents announce they are divorcing. (It’s a lot like the Royal Tenenbaums). Everyone realizes how much they mean to each other etc. It also has a lot about identity, the younger brother perceives himself as a frog the whole time except for one scene where we see him as others see him. A lot of great ideas/imagery.

Habibi

Habibi by Craig Thompson.

Thompson creates beauty. He is a genius. I love all of his stuff. I read Blankets in college and fell in love. His imagery is like a tapestry. This story set in the Middle East shows the turmoil and how the old outdated ways continue to exist alongside modernity and how this effects two young people growing up in the midst of it.

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Ghostworld by Daniel Clowes

This is such a weird book. It’s like Daria and everything from the 90s got together in one comic. It has the show about nothing aspect of Seinfeld and the snark of Mean Girls. But at its heart it is about friendship even though both the protagonists are kind of awful people.

 

Next on my list are Watchmen1-800 Mice, and Persepolis. 

Dumbo. What are some things that come to mind? Cute, flying, baby elephant, TAKEN AWAY FROM HIS MOTHER. This movie is more traumatizing than Bambi, but not just because of the mom thing. Let’s take a look.

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I’m adorable. Be prepared to watch everything in my life go down the tubes.

Plot-wise, baby Dumbo is born (who names their child that btw?) everyone thinks he is totes adorbs until he sneezes and it’s revealed he has big ears. So he and his mother are shunned from circus elephant society. Alrighty then, pretty harsh.

Side-note here that has always bugged me as I was a child who researched animals constantly. Our home-boy Dumbo is a different species of elephant. His ears make him an African elephant, while the smaller ears of his mom and the other mean elephant ladies make them Indian elephants. So he’s a mixed race elephant? Where is his dad? These are questions I ask that the movie NEVER ANSWERS.

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African elephant. Note the build and the ear size. Dumbo’s dad probably looked like this.

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Indian elephant. Notice her ears and build, which is a lot like Dumbo’s mom.

An annoying song happens. Then a creepy song.

More racism happens, the circus workers have no faces.

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They made this movie so cheaply they didn’t have time to give us faces and identities.

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More racism. Here is exhibited an evil ginger.

Then this wonderful child from the planet obnoxiousia teases Dumbo. This kid and his posse has always irked me. Where are his parents? Then Dumbo’s mom is locked away for attacking the kid. As an adult this makes sense. Even though the kid deserved it. Also it serves as an argument against keeping animals in circuses. Don’t do it. Seriously where is the Sarah Mclachlan commercial for elephant cruelty?

Then Dumbo is left alone and the ADULT female elephants create a living hell for him. Not to mention the clowns and other circus workers. Seriously everyone in this film is awful for no reason.

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This movie even depresses me.

Dumbo makes friends with an annoying Mickey Mouse stand-in named Timothy who basically is Dumbo’s voice. He takes Dumbo to see his mom and a sappy song plays. Then more crummy stuff happens. Dumbo takes a bath and Timothy natters on about life. Then the drunk circus workers drop some booze into Dumbo’s bath. He and Tim go through a trippy dream sequence that basically says hey we intoxicated a child elephant and a mouse in a children’s film.

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Fine family viewing.

He wakes up in a tree and learns he can fly from another group of unfortunate racial stereotypes. Basically Disney is telling us we can learn of crazy illogical hidden abilities when we are drunk. I’ll let that sink in for you.

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Disney has come out and said that these guys were not intended to be racist. So there’s that.

Side note: Disney is always trying to tell us we can fly. Peter Pan much? Mary Poppins defied gravity on a regular basis.

In the end he’s reunited with his mom and learns to believe in himself like the main character at the end of all movies.

What fresh hell is this movie? It was animated super cheaply since the studio had lost a lot of money on Pinocchio and Fantasia. World War II was going on, so I guess that explains a lot. It did somehow make a lot of money for them. I do not understand. This movie is traumatizing. Watch at your own risk.