In a nice change of shelf-aesthetics pace, Walmart and Malt-O-Meal have teamed up to create a line of cereals based on Dreamworks’ movies.
It’s a good news bad news situation. The bad news – all the ingredients (I think – more on that later) are just sourced from other existing cereals. The good news – cheap licensed cereals. Also, for fans of Malt-O-Meal, you finally get to enjoy purchasing cereal in a box.
There’s four cereals in the line – I’ll go in order of least to most interesting.
Dragons – “Dragon Adventure Crunch”
I never saw How To Train Your Dragon. I heard it was actually pretty good. I’ve also heard a lot of other movies are pretty good, and I haven’t seen them. Instead, I just watch Hackers and Demolition Man for the thousandth time.
Also, at some point I guess the movies changed the name to just “Dragons”? I don’t know. Sorry for the lack of research – it’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I don’t care.
Box-wise, it’s nice enough. It has a dragon on it, so you can’t claim they’re ripping you off. It’s also got some Jim Halpert-looking guy in armor.
Cereal-wise – it’s Crunch Berries. I never loved Oops All Berries, because I found that flavor annoying after a while. It’s a sad state of affairs when you need the already sweet Cap’n Crunch pieces to temper the berries’ sweetness in Crunch Berries, but at least that finds a good, albeit very sweet, balance.
By itself, the flavor reminds me of if you let Hi-C simmer and reduce, then drank that. If you want fruity orbs, Froot Loops Bloopers are my go-to.
Shrek – “Ogre O’s”
This is arguably less interesting than the Dragons cereal, but at least I’ve seen Shrek, so that got it undeserved interesting points.
Box-wise, ugh. Look at Donkey’s face. Ugh.
Cereal-wise, it’s Froot Loops. But with more green pieces. Because Shrek.
Penguins – “Operation Chocolate Mix”
I’ve never seen Penguins, but based on their faces, I don’t think I want to. Except the one on the left – he seems cool. He looks like Howard the Duck.
Cereal-wise, it’s Cocoa Pebbles with little marshmallows. I don’t know what Malt-O-Meal cereal these marshmallows might have been stolen from, but they’re awesome. I am not a big fan of real marshmallows, with their creepy softness. But dry cereal marshmallows, or those little dry marshmallows you get in a packet of hot chocolate? Those I’m down with.
The marshmallows here are like hot chocolate marshmallows, just slightly larger and less dry. In the grand scheme of cereal things, they’re not necessary here, but they don’t hurt the cereal at all.
Cocoa Pebbles are awesome, and the marshmallow addition is either easily ignored or kind of good, depending on how you look at it.
And Cocoa Pebbles – sorry, Operation Chocolate Mix – makes probably the best chocolate cereal milk in the business, so it’s good from beginning to end.
Madagascar – “S’mores Jungle Party”
As per usual with most of these, I haven’t seen Madagascar. I hate all these characters’ faces, though.
I’d give this cereal way more credit if it didn’t already exist as Malt-O-Meal’s S’mores cereal. Also, apparently Malt-O-Meal is called MOM Brands now. I probably should have mentioned that earlier.
There have been plenty of S’mores cereals in the past, to varying levels of success. Currently, you can find S’mores Krave, and less recently you could get a S’mores Pebbles, Smorz (awful name), and way back when – S’mores Grahams / S’mores Crunch.
Despite just being a rebrand of an existing cereal, S’mores Jungle Party is a solid cereal. It’s got fake Golden Grahams – which are always great, fake Cocoa Puffs – which are always underwhelming, and marshmallows – which are creepy here.
The marshmallows used are oddly soft for a cereal marshmallow. For this cereal, I’d have loved the hot chocolate marshmallows from the Penguins cereal.
But overall, this is at least a more interesting cereal than some of the lazier ones we’ve seen.
It’s nice to see some new cereals on the shelf, but I’d say the Dreamworks cereal line doesn’t really need to exist. It’s got some colorful repackaging, and I guess that’s cool if you like the movies, but cereal-wise it’s nothing new.
I’d say that’s literal and not metaphorical, but I haven’t seen a MOM Brands cereal that is identical to the Penguins cereal. They make a Cocoa Pebbles with marshmallows, but the marshmallows are larger and shaped, so that’s not exactly the same. So I’ll say it’s literally the same, but with an asterisk.
Seal of Approval-wise, eh. They’re a good price ($2.50), and you get a solid cereal with licensed characters. So don’t go out of your way for these, but the most I can knock these cereals for is being occasionally dull and just repackaged. Taste-wise, nothing wrong here.
With all the excitement and hype for Episode VII, it’s not surprising that there is a new Star Wars cereal out.
What is surprising, however, is that this cereal has absolutely nothing to do with Episode VII, and is just an arbitrary Star Wars cereal. That’s still cool, though. It’s Star Wars, after all.
After the surprising twist on Cinnamon Toast Crunch of Minions cereal, here we are with another cereal piece and marshmallow effort. Thankfully, I assumed no matter how good or bad this might turn out to be, it would have to be better than my previous Star Wars cereal experience.
There are two box designs – a Vader and a Yoda. I went with Vader because, well, it’s Darth Vader. That’s all the explanation necessary. As supplementary reasoning, the Yoda was the CG Yoda, and no thanks to that. Puppet Yoda is my Yoda.
The box design is very nice, blacks and reds for Vader, and a shot of the cereal and marshmallows at the bottom. The only real downside is that it’s the Revenge of the Sith Vader suit and helmet, but as a cereal box mascot he still looks as imposing as ever.
Weighing in at a paltry 10.5 oz, we’re back in prime licensed cereal territory. It’s a small, light box – but at least it has the decency to have an eye-catching design. I didn’t take a picture of the back of the box because all it is is a game of Star Wars checkers. Come on.
Since most of the time licensed marshmallows tend to look nothing like their “inspiration”, the side of the box provides a handy guide. Yoda and Stormtrooper look good, but the others are just lazy. The lightsaber is a decent attempt, but the stumpy shape makes it look more like a tube of lipstick or an ice pop.
I will move on from the marshmallow discussion, because I’m feeling very self conscious about sounding like an Onion editorial.
The cereal itself isn’t particularly attractive – the cereal pieces are a sickly shade of yellowish-tan, and feel very light for their size. The marshmallows look pretty good, most of their advertised shapes held up, and the colors are relatively bright.
Flavor-wise, it’s quite good. The cereal pieces are very lightly fruit flavored – or, more accurately, “froot” flavored. The flavor reminds me a lot of Prince of Thieves cereal, or what I remember that cereal tasting like, anyway. The Star Wars cereal pieces are a lot less phallic than the Prince of Thieves’ pieces, though.
It’s sweet enough, but definitely not overwhelmingly so – almost restrained, given that this is a sweetened Star Wars cereal.
Since this is a temporary licensed cereal, I won’t be too heartbroken when this cereal goes away – especially since a nearly identical cereal probably isn’t too far off. But this was much better than it needed to be, given its “license to print money” Star Wars lineage.
Seeing a “Minions” cereal on the shelf just made me think, “Wow, it took that long?” Timing it with the upcoming movie makes sense, but since the characters have blown up so big and long since escaped being tied with the Despicable Me license, it seemed like Universal would have wanted to milk that cash cow a while back.
As of now, I like the Minions. They’re harmless, funny, and the humor harkens back to old slapstick more than modern Dreamworks humor. Shrek’s humor always had that not-subtle coating of cynicism and mean-spiritedness, something that made it age very poorly for me. But old school slapstick is timeless.
And the fact that these characters literally speak gibberish is fantastic. I’m actually disappointed the upcoming movie has human characters. I would have loved to have seen how far they could take a movie with no dialogue, and survived solely on the lunacy of the characters. Like the first half of Wall-E on amphetamines.
I’m not too thrilled with those Minions memes on Facebook, though. Those can go away as soon as possible.
It was surprising that the cereal didn’t involve marshmallows in some capacity. Though I was grateful for the respite, given the terribleness of the last two marshmallow-containing movie tie-in cereals I’d had.
Instead, Minions cereal goes with a square cereal piece with Minion designs on them. Whether the cereal pieces would be more Golden Graham or Cinnamon Toast Crunch was yet to be determined, but it looked like CTC was the front runner.
The box design is good enough – it gives you a giant Minion design and shows some of the cereal, so it gets the point across. Other than that, there’s not too much on the box worth noting. Oh, wait…
Ugh. Oh, no.
Well, this is discouraging. The presence of “berry” in the flavor didn’t do much to lift my spirits. Oh well – on with the show.
Thankfully, upon opening the box, the banana smell was not overwhelming. It was barely present, surprisingly. Banana doesn’t tend to be a subtle flavor or scent, so I had a small glimmer of hope. Just a small one, though – this is still banana we’re talking about.
Speaking of “barely present”, the Minion designs on the cereal are… unimpressive.
I mustered up all the courage I could, and took a bite. And the flavor is… pretty good? Wait, what?
This is a cereal based on hyperactive weirdos, with a flavor that tends to punch you in the face with its assertiveness, and the end result is a relatively restrained usage of banana? Color me surprised.
The banana flavor is more akin to banana bread than the “BANANA!” flavor you tend to get in candy, ice cream, and other banana-flavored foods. The “berry” aspect is there as well, but it is also not a strong flavor.
The end result is Cinnamon Toast Crunch with some back-end flavors of banana bread and some mysterious berry flavor. Oddly enough, the berry aspect of the taste is the worst part. It’s not bad, it’s just kind of pointless.
Given my fears, I’m as surprised as anyone that I not only finished the bowl, but actually enjoyed it. Well, enjoyed it enough. I’ll probably finish the box, but that’d be it for me. For a banana-flavored cereal, the fact that it’s as good as it is – shocking, really.
[insert seal of approval here]
(Approval given mainly due to how impressed I am that they made this cereal so edible in spite of the uphill battle it faced)
When Disney bought Marvel, there was a lot of concern. It was mostly stupid concerns, usually akin to “Now Mickey Mouse is going to become a part of the Avengers LOLOL aren’t I original?” But there were some genuine issues raised over Disney’s handling of Marvel licenses, especially in the cinematic realm.
I wasn’t worried about any of this. Until now. Thanks to Disney and Marvel’s synergy, the new Avengers cereal sucks.
I wouldn’t have expected Avengers cereal to be some ground breaking cereal, with all sorts of new marshmallow technology, or anything. But I would have hoped it wouldn’t literally be the same cereal as Frozen’s cereal, with a few marshmallow dye changes.
Since you most likely already forgot, I hated the Frozen cereal. The one saving grace that cereal had was a truly nice looking box. Avengers doesn’t even have that – it’s perfectly serviceable for what it is, but it’s nothing particularly good.
The box also specifies it’s a “Hero Edition”. One would assume that a Villain Edition can’t be far behind, but I don’t know how popular a weird-looking Ultron Prime box would be. If they fill the box with his much better looking drones, then that could work.
It’s also possible they’re saving the Villain Edition for later on, in case they put a villain on the box that’s meant to be a surprise in the movie. In any case, I won’t be buying the Villain Edition.
The marshmallows in Avengers cereal are pretty good looking. I assume they’re meant to symbolize various members’ uniform colors. But the odd shades of the marshmallows hinder this comparison. Though I wouldn’t mind seeing Avengers 3 with Captain America in a teal and magenta uniform, or a pink and yellow Iron Man.
If you think of the marshmallows as round Bonkers candies, they look more appealing.
Other than the marshmallow color change (and removing the diamond-shaped marshmallows), this is Frozen cereal. Same cheap cereal pieces with the weird and vaguely unpleasant fake vanilla aftertaste.
On the bright side, if you stick with it like Calvin eating Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs to get his beanie, you can eventually get a free movie ticket. The movie ticket requires six boxes of Avengers cereal, unlike Calvin’s four boxes – so he got the better deal. But for about $18, you can get six boxes of cereal and a ticket to see the movie.
That’s probably a pretty legit deal if you have a kid who will eat anything with Iron Man on it, or you are a fan of bad cereals.
One aspect of childhood that will fall by the wayside in this “everything on the internet” time is the concept of only having vague memories of some form of media from when you were younger.
There won’t be any more “there was this movie, and there was this guy in it and I think he had an eye patch or a hat or something. Anyway, it was weird.” Because now you can Google “movie weird eye patch” and bam, there it is.
Which isn’t to say this is a foolproof plan. I’ve long been trying to find the name of this series of books I had as a kid. The main character was a lion (or some other big cat) with a Cap’n Crunch-esque sailor hat, and he had a rodent friend who put ketchup on his ice cream. And yet, searching “children’s book lion sailor ketchup” has not helped me one bit. No Google, for the thousandth time I am not looking for “Ketchup On Your Cornflakes” – stop showing me this result!
So if you know what those books are, let me know.
Searching for stuff from your childhood can be a rewarding task, though normally it just sends you into some weird, vertigo-inducing spiral of deja vu which ultimately just ends up with an indiscernible feeling of sadness.
But pre-internet, talking about stuff from your childhood that no one else remembered just turned into some stoner-esque conversation, where the two sides of the conversation are talking to each other, but neither side knows what the other is talking about.
I had this phenomenon for two main movies from my childhood. One was less vague, because I knew the title – “The Peanut Butter Solution”. But I’d only seen it once or twice, so my pieced-together memories didn’t help explain the movie, and instead made it sound like a truly horrific thing to watch. Now, in the internet age, I can watch a VHS-rip of it, to realize that the movie actually kind of sucked. Oh well.
The second movie achieved a far more legendary status in my childhood. All I remembered about it was some teacher and her class getting kidnapped by some guys wearing creepy children’s masks. Then, at some point about ten years ago, I looked up “movie creepy masks teacher” and there it was – “Fortress”.
Fortress used to air on HBO a lot in the mid-80’s. And I’d watch it all the time. In retrospect, this was a really weird movie for a child to watch, which you’ll understand more when you see how the plot unfolds.
The creepy masks really were the movie’s selling point. They had a variety of movie posters, I guess for different video, TV, and movie theater releases. This is why I had to specify “1985 / 1986” as the release year(s) – 1985 was the TV movie release, 1986 was its theatrical release. But they knew what the public wanted on this box:
What’s odd is that my situation was not unique – every time I’ve mentioned this movie online, I get the same response from numerous people. “I used to watch this as a kid, and I can’t believe my parents let me.” This isn’t to say this is some depraved horror movie, or something truly terrifying – it’s just a weird movie for kids to watch, and a weird movie for so many kids to have watched.
And while it didn’t entirely hold up to this mythical movie my memories had turned it into (that was a lot of “m” sounds), it does hold up as a “Well, that certainly was… something” type of movie.
The movie starts off employing the concept of “scary music makes things scary”, as we pan across a farm while creepy music plays. This is, presumably, to lure you in, because the next five minutes or so just involve a rural Australian family eating breakfast. The school teacher also lives with them, for some reason.
We find out that the reason she lives with them might be because she isn’t getting paid much, because she is a terrible role model. She is walking two of her students to school, walking on train tracks, which are clearly in use. She finally steps off the tracks as the train passes her, literally less than two seconds behind her.
The movie keeps playing creepy music, as a hint to not turn the movie off, despite the fact that all we’re watching is Australian school children, of a variety of ages, playing in a school yard.
I’m not sure how the school actually works, since they are multiplying fractions, despite the fact that half the class appears to be made up of five year old children.
Fortress decides that ten minutes of watching rural children discussing killing foxes and classroom antics is enough, and gets things going with a cut to…
BAM! Creepy duck mask guy!
I’m sure there were a lot of things I was afraid of as a kid, but there are two things that vividly stick with me. That shot of the duck mask guy, and when Ronald Reagan’s head comes out of the water in the video for “Land of Confusion” by Genesis.
The creepiness can be found at 3:30 in. Well, the creepiness can be found in the entire video, but that part was traumatizing to me as a kid. I’d look away every time it was on. I’m much better now that I’ve grown up – now when I watch it, I’m only a little scared of that part.
Honestly, this movie doesn’t even need a plot.
Just give me ninety minutes of creepy-masked guys scaring children while that stressful 80’s synth music plays, and I’d be happy.
But, for some reason, they felt a plot was needed on top of the awesomeness that is little kids being terrorized.
The children (and the credits) name the masks as Dabby Duck, Mac the Mouse, Pussy Cat, and Father Christmas. Looking more into the movie, I wondered if these were Australian cartoon characters, or just ripoffs of the name Daffy Duck and Mickey Mouse. I didn’t find anything regarding the characters, so I assume they’re just for the movie.
What kind of insane grammar school is this?
Given how many people apparently saw this when they were little, I don’t understand how we didn’t all grow up absolutely terrified of Santa Claus. All of the masked men in this are creepy, but Santa is far and away the worst. Especially since he’s the one tasked with riding in the back of the creepy kidnapper van with the teacher and the kids.
When the teacher suggests the kids all sing, Santa threatens them with a gun, screaming “SHUT UP!” to them. Which, really, is fair. Who wants to be stuck in a van with nine singing kids? The mask will only muffle your ears so much.
When they stop the van to go to the bathroom, the teacher suggests one of the kids, named Tommy, hide in the bushes then run for help.
Kids being kids, they blow the plan within two minutes.
On the bright side, the news gets better when the kidnappers reveal where the kids are off to next:
Despite the imposing entrance, the cave they are shuttled into isn’t so bad. So now, they’re in a cave. Which is still better than stuck in the back of that creepy van with evil Santa. And you could even make an argument that it’s better than their classroom. Actually, forget it – no argument needed. That cave is awesome.
I must admit, the cave is decidedly less awesome now.
After eating lunch and starting a fire from paper and books they had, which will surely last at least four minutes, the teacher tells the kids to gather around so they can have a “council of war”. None of the kids asks what that means, which implies that they’ve already had a council of war before, which is… odd.
Their plan of action is to move the boulder blocking them in. The two older boys start making boasts about moving the boulder, and that they’re not just a bunch of kids.
So after not being able to move the boulder, they make a new plan.
After realizing one of the kids has a bottle of oily salad dressing, the teacher puts a shoelace into a can filled with the oil. I thought, “oh cool, they’re going to make a Molotov Cocktail to throw at the kidnappers.” Instead, it turns out they’re making a lamp. That works too, I guess.
They go off to explore the cave, and come upon a pool of water. Since they see daylight on the far end, the teacher decides to swim over to see if it leads out. But not before stripping to just her underwear in front of a little kid.
The whole group heads to the water to swim out. Now we’ve got a bunch of almost naked little kids, which is rather off-putting.
After a bunch of slow motion footage of the kids swimming underwater (in their underwear, which is now wet, which is now much worse), they all escape the cave.
Now, the most logical course of action would be sneak towards society and find a phone, right? Well first, they decide to have a picnic to eat more lunch. After they eat, the teacher encourages the kids to take a nap. Huh? They couldn’t have been swimming underwater for that far. You know, because of the possibility of drowning, and all. So they have no idea when the kidnappers will return, they couldn’t have gotten that far from the cave’s entrance, but sure – time for a nap!
My plan of going to the first house they can find turns out to not be as solid as I thought…
… since the first house they come upon results in this.
Ho! Ho! Ho!
So, they’re kidnapped again.
Besides the inherent creepiness of the Santa kidnapper, one other wild thing about him is – just how big are his eyes? They fit the mask perfectly, he just looks like a scary Santa cartoon character. Like, he’s got his eyes pressed right up against the mask – that can’t be comfortable. Kudos to you, Santa, for going the extra mile. You’re a good guy.
The teacher asks for something to eat, and Santa tells her that their food is back at the cave, where they were bringing it to them. So he tells them that they can go without food. He then tells the lady of the house to serve up four plates. Four – you know, like the number of kidnappers. Faced with these facts, one of the kids declares, “I hope she gives us lots of spuds!” I know they’ve been through a lot today but jeez – these kids are stupid.
In case you’re wondering which kid uttered the line about spuds, it’s the one at the bottom right. You know, the only one smiling.
The man of the house gets mad because Santa hit his wife, so he attacks Santa and Santa gives him a shotgun blast in the chest. As Santa is wont to do.
The shot breaks the fish tank, spilling fish everywhere. So the oldest girl starts picking up the fish. Really, that’s your go-to first priority? Although I guess they are hungry.
While stuck in a barn, the group hatches a plan to get free. This plan seemingly relies on one of the kidnappers being dumb as rocks. They invite the cat to sit next to them by the fire, offer him cookies, while the older girl (who has apparently gotten over the fish trauma) flirts with him. And the cat kidnapper thinks this is all status quo.
One of the older boys hits the cat, knocking him out, shooting Tommy in the process. Tommy isn’t dead, but he did take a shotgun to the shoulder, so he’s probably not that good, either.
While escaping (again), the teacher comes across the duck kidnapper, whose head is tied to a fence. Very soon after, his head is not attached to his body, which is even less good than getting shot in the shoulder. It’s also worse than being tied to a fence while your head is still attached to your body.
Presumably, the other kidnappers killed him, because one of them was heard earlier yelling that he wanted out. I’m going to rule out suicide, since decapitating yourself whilst attached to a fence is tough to pull off.
Keep in mind – this movie aired on TV.I know it was HBO, so maybe I should add some extra details – this movie aired on TV in the daytime. When kids get home from school and watch TV.
Fun Fact: the guy who plays the duck also played Bennett in “Commando”. He would also go on to star in another movie in 1992 named… “Fortress”.
After escaping the barn, they hide out in another cave. I guess the director really wanted to get his money’s worth from the cave set they already paid for.
The next morning, the teacher finds Santa wandering the woods, so she shoots him in the head. That would be too easy, so it turns out she just shot the mask. The remaining two kidnappers are elsewhere in the woods, shouting taunts to the kids.
The teacher decides that they need to fight back, pointing out that they outnumber the kidnappers four to one. She’s forgetting the fact that most of their numbers involve little kids, but okay.
We are then treated to a montage of the kids making lots of spears, setting deadly traps, and doing all sorts of other fun activities.
Oh, and putting on war paint. The “Lord of the Flies” ending this movie is about to reveal just wouldn’t be complete without it. That little kid is a total Jack in the making.
I’m assuming the final battle takes place two weeks after they started, since that would be the minimum amount of time needed to make the hundreds of spears and traps they created.
The oldest girl, Narelle, tells the teacher that she got her period, then proceeds to disappear in the woods, as teenaged girls often do. While wandering in the woods, she is chased by the mouse kidnapper.
After dropping boulders on a fighting teacher and mouse, the kids watch them as they fall on the spears, where the mouse dies. The kids have also taken to calling the teacher “Sally”, as a very (cough) subtle way of showing that this experience has forced them to grow up.
We get our first glimpse of an unmasked Santa, with his mask-eye-hole-filling eyes. You can tell he’s a villain because he’s got an earring.
And Santa gets his first glimpse of the dead mouse.
Everything I know about shooting guns, I learned from video games, so I’m certainly no expert. But this isn’t a normal way to fire a shotgun, right?
Santa finds his way into the cave, where he trips and falls into a campfire, and somehow it gets worse from there.
Sally and the kids proceed to stab Santa with spears, hit him with axes and rocks, and just generally make Santa’s life not great for about five minutes, while they repeatedly beat and stab him to death.
Also they hit him with rocks. Don’t forget the rocks. Come to think of it, this might be overkill.
Back at the school, it appears they finally decided to go dig Narelle out of the woods. Nice of them.
Some policemen show up, following up about why their kidnappers wound up stabbed seven hundred times and mutilated. The kids encircle the policemen, in a vaguely threatening manner, and the policemen decide that they’d rather not piss off the group of killer Australian outback kids that stabbed a man seven hundred times and mutilated him.
Tommy, a boy who has no idea what the term “too soon” means, decides it’d be hilarious to stand in the window with a Santa mask on. Good job, Tommy. Spook a teacher who is now a hardened killer, and is very likely armed in the classroom at this point.
You might think, “Oh, they killed the kidnappers because they had to. It was a one time thing and they took no joy in it – they’re not hardened killers.” I could buy that, if it weren’t for the fact that the last shot of the movie is Sally smiling at a glass jar, which contains the Santa kidnapper’s heart.
I mean, yeah, that’s an awesome classroom decoration, but that’s still some macabre stuff.
And there you have it – Fortress. A movie that countless children watched countless times. It sure beats most daytime entertainment for kids being aired these days.
I debated whether or not I should open this article with the question, “What is wrong with the Japanese?” Because, let’s face it, that sounds sort of racist. Then while re-watching the movie in order to get screen caps, I was reminded of all the moments in the movie that made me ask myself that question. In the end, it was confirmed that the only way one can start a review of a movie like this is to ask that question. So let’s start over.
What is wrong with the Japanese? I’ve always taken much of their media with a grain of salt. Those bizarre commercials that American actors do for some reason, the video game characters with four foot high hair and two hundred pound swords, and their apparent obsession with cartoon girls being sexually assaulted by octopi. I don’t get it.
Granted, they probably feel the same way about much of our entertainment, and I understand that. However, once in a while something comes along that surpasses that understanding, and reignites the questioning.
I’m not even sure how I came upon the trailer for Executive Koala. All I know is that after seeing it, I knew what I had to do… watch the movie. Luckily, I was able to find it, since for some reason this movie didn’t wind up with the widest distribution in America.
The movie starts off, as most movies usually do, with an animated musical theme song. I’m not sure if something got lost in the translation, but the theme song’s lyrics are as follows:
With beautiful eyes
With a heart of gold
Not tempted to be seduced
Not tempted to commit adultery or to divorce
Go for it, Executive Koala!
But terrible when made angry
Love is just around the corner
Granted, I don’t have a theme song, so the Executive Koala does have an advantage over me. At the same time, does that song sound like something you would want written about you? Not tempted to commit adultery… yeah great, thanks. Terrible when made angry? This koala just sounds like a normal guy with a bad temper. Hardly song worthy.
Also, the credits show the koala peeing on a street pole. This guy isn’t off to the greatest start as far as showing his character goes. Of course he knows he can get away with this criminal act, because no one wants to make him angry and terrible.
The movie opens at the workplace where the koala gets his executive title from, the Rubbles Pickle Company. Oh and in case you weren’t sure about the title, it isn’t meant as a metaphor. He is a koala. A giant, suit wearing koala. His co-workers know that he is a koala, as they talk about how hairiness is a turnoff, yet they don’t seem to find the fact that he is a koala to be a turn off as well.
The Koala, whose actual name is Keiichi Tamura, is presenting at a big meeting at the pickle company. Tamura seems obsessed with kimchi, a pickled cabbage dish. In fact, kimchi is the purpose of Tamura’s presentation as he believes it will “bring in all the big money.”
Tamura insists that it is imperative to sell kimchi, “for the youth”. And I certainly agree. Everyone knows the youth of America demands its pickled cabbage, and the companies that provide it certainly bring in all the big money. Despite this, the presentation doesn’t go too well, as the pickle executives don’t seem as enthralled with kimchi as Tamura is.
I don’t know if this is a common affliction among giant koalas, but Tamura sweats lot. He spends the first ten minutes wiping his forehead with a towel, until finally he gives up and wears a sweatband. Which as humans know, totally does not go with a suit.
Tamura then goes home with his human girlfriend (gross), and proceeds to keep yelling out his ex-girlfriend’s name in bed. I’m not sure what the girl is getting out of this. You would think that if she is willing to date a giant, hairy koala, that he would at least have the courtesy to not dwell on past relationships.
The next day at work, a pair of detectives visit Tamura. When co-workers notice that detectives want to talk to him, the first thing that comes to mind is that they assume he has stolen underwear. It must be hard enough for a koala to get on the corporate fast track, but when you also have a reputation as an underwear thieving deviant, it must get that much more difficult.
It turns out the detectives want to question Tamura because they think he murdered his girlfriend. Which, as I have learned from watching Law & Order, is a worse crime than underwear theft.
When Tamura objects to being accused of murder, they assume his upset emotions are due to hunger. So they do what is common with hardboiled detectives, and offer him… pork chops. That makes Tamura even more upset, as he claims pork chops are what criminals get fed. That doesn’t seem so bad. I’m not a big fan of pork chops, but I would assume that is a better entree choice than most prison foods.
We then find out another one of Tamura’s girlfriends disappeared three years ago. His dating life doesn’t seem to be looking too hot. The next day, Tamura returns to work, where everyone is scared of him after seeing newspaper articles saying he is the suspect in the murder.
To calm Tamura down, the CEO of his company calls him into his office to tell Tamura he thinks he is innocent. By the way, the CEO is a rabbit.
The detective begins trailing Tamura, hoping to catch him in the act of doing one of his depraved koala activities. He follows Tamura to Tamura’s psychiatrist, where Tamura begins talking about his girlfriend. This results in a montage of their activities, which included dancing in front of a green screen, possibly making a music video at Six Flags.
Tamura starts crying about his girlfriend Yukari. To be more accurate, he continues crying about her, since he tends to cry a lot.
After Tamura leaves, the detective asks the psychiatrist questions about Tamura. For some reason, the psychiatrist doesn’t want to answer personal questions about his patient.
Tamura then meets with Mr. Kim, to discuss the big kimchi deal. After taking Kim on a tour of Japan, Tamura gets attacked by a squirrel that Kim was carrying in his bag. At this point, I’ve stopped questioning why things are happening in this movie and why it is accepted that they can, because I’ve already been broken down by the ridiculousness.
It also helps with the next part, where Kim demonstrates martial arts moves as a way to thank Tamura for his hospitality. Instead of Kim demonstrating the moves where they are, they go to a dojo and change first. We then go into another montage, this time involving Kim’s martial arts, kimchi, and what looks to be bacon.
Again, it’s better to not ask questions and just accept it.
Kim then tells Tamura that if Tamura doesn’t hit him with a stick, they will not agree to the contract between the two companies. You know, just as most business deals get done.
After the meeting, they go out to a club, where Kim is treated like a celebrity. I don’t know what the deal with how the Japanese feel about Koreans, because I’m ignorant, but they seemed to go a bit overboard. If I was at a restaurant and saw someone from Canada (or Korea for that matter), I wouldn’t get excited and want to take his picture.
Okay, I might a little, but not that much.
Kim tells Tamura that he used to date Yukari, Tamura’s missing girlfriend. Or maybe she’s the one that’s dead. Or maybe she’s not an ex and is just the one that’s missing. I’ve honestly lost track at this point.
Kim shows Tamura a picture of Yukari, showing her all beaten up. According to a letter written by her, Tamura is the one who beat her up. Surprisingly, Tamura doesn’t cry this time, but he does get a bit indignant at the accusations.
The next day, Tamura goes to a deli, which is run by a frog. Why not?
At the same time, the detective goes to Tamura’s home town, to ask questions. Unfortunately, when his villagers see a picture of him, they get frightened just by his appearance. It could be assumed that the fear is because he is a giant koala, but we are meant to believe the fear is due to something else.
Next there is a montage (of course), this time a dream sequence where a beat up Yukari tries to kill Tamura. Tamura somehow gets Terminator eyes, winds up killing Yukari, then goes after his psychiatrist and one of his coworkers. Of course, this doesn’t mean anything towards the plot and is just filler. Really, really long filler.
After Tamura kills his coworker, all of a sudden the director yells “Cut”, and we then see the cast and crew. I don’t want to see that! Come on, I was really starting to believe that suit-wearing koalas can exist, now you’ve ruined the illusion, forcing me to realize that it’s actually just a costumed guy with those long Asian sideburns.
I know at this point I should stop saying I’ve given up on attempting to understand what’s going on. However, this movie just keeps managing to top itself with irreverent nonsense that demands pointing out.
And then, SHOCKINGLY, Tamura wakes up… it was just a dream! Wait no it wasn’t, there is the undead corpse of Yukari! Oh wait, now he’s woken up from the dream. I think.
The next day, Tamura goes to visit his psychiatrist and is surprised to find his CEO sitting with him. One can understand why Tamura is so shocked, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to find out that my boss has been talking to my psychiatrist. Not that I need a psychiatrist of course. Just… in theory I wouldn’t want that to happen.
This leads us into expository dialogue that they don’t even attempt to cover with another plot device, it is just them explaining point blank the history of Tamura. He is actually the founder of Rubbles Pickles, and was a very energetic worker. However, he took his energy home, beat on Yukari and apparently put her on a leash to eat off the floor while he drank beer.
It is then revealed that Tamura actually did kill Yukari. Tamura asked his psychiatrist to take her body into the woods and burn it. And since psychiatrists do that kind of thing, he did. Tamura then had his memories of killing Yukari replaced with good memories, like that time they made a music video at Six Flags.
When Tamura goes to turn himself in, he is met with resistance from his boss and psychiatrist. They are worried that this will lead to the downfall of Rubbles Pickles. Their concern is understandable. Can you imagine what would happen if one of our beloved pickle companies collapsed? There would be anarchy and rioting in the streets. Because of this, Rubbles Pickles could not be allowed to go out of business.
The CEO injects Tamura in the neck, and makes him pass out. Next we are in the midst of Tamura’s trial. Since Tamura was knocked out so he wouldn’t go to the police, I’m assuming this trial is meant to be a dream. But given the other events in this movie that actually happened, I won’t write this off as a dream just yet.
Tamura is put on trial for murder. This trial, of course, is represented by a musical montage. The witnesses tell the tale of how Tamura tormented them, stealing and threatening them every day. Instead of speaking their story, the witnesses sing and gyrate around.
Personally, I wouldn’t put much faith in what these people had to say, but it’s quite possible that the legal system over there is different.
According to the witnesses, Tamura was a real prick. He punched an old women in the face and robbed her, and when she told his parents, they burned her house down. Also, he raped three girls in high school. It’s really getting hard to find Tamura to be a sympathetic protagonist.
In fairness, the story from their next witness was suspicious. He and Tamura bumped into each other, and they started fighting. But the other guy threw the first punch, and Tamura fought back. Now he’s whining that he never recovered from the battle. Tough luck, wimp. Next time don’t start a fight with a giant animal.
Oh, and this is the judge:
So yeah, it was a dream. Surprise. When Tamura wakes up, he is relieved to find out it was a dream. What he isn’t relieved to find out is that he murdered his psychiatrist and his boss, and wakes up to find this out just as the detective walks in. Admittedly, that does look pretty suspicious.
Tamura is then taken to Alcatraz (huh?), where his cell mates hold him down and jump on his chest and steal his food. Although it isn’t pork chops, so now I’m even more confused as to why the detectives offered them to Tamura earlier.
It’s been almost five minutes, so that means it’s time for another dream sequence. I’ve learned you can tell it’s a dream because that’s when he turns into Terminator Koala. In the dream, he kills everyone in his cell and some policemen.
Tamura realizes that today is the day he promised to meet Yukari one year from proposing to confirm that their love is eternal, or at least good for one year. He is depressed that he can’t escape until Kim’s squirrel shows up at his window with the keys. Of course.
When Tamura goes to the amusement park where he promised to meet Yukari, he is surprised to see Kim and surprised that Yoko is still alive. Her is also surprised she is pointing a gun at him. Then it turns out Yoko is Yukari.
They explain that Yukari is the reincarnation of Yoko to get revenge on Tamura. But really they could have just said that Yoko was Yukari the whole time and I would have believed it. It’s actually one of the less strange things in this movie.
Yukari explains that she practices the same martial arts as Kim, which teaches resurrection. Which I’d assume is a hard thing to teach. It’s also probably hard to know if you learned it or not, because if you didn’t you’re still dead.
Tamura begs Yukari to think of “that single time” when he proposed to her, which makes sense because then she wouldn’t be thinking of the times he beat her, put her in a leash, and killed her… twice.
Yukari shoots Tamura, but the bullet is taken by the detective, who jumps in front of the shot. The detective came because he found a witness who saw that Tamura didn’t kill his boss and psychiatrist, and that it was Kim and Yukari. Or, as the detective said, “It was them!” Yeah, we know that already.
Tamura is pissed, not only because Yukari killed the detective, but also because 100 years ago humans killed a bunch of koalas. Oh, now you’re interested in koalas? You’ve spent your whole life trying to be more human, you can’t have it both ways. You either side with the humans or side with the koalas.
I also must doubt the accuracy of Tamura’s accusations, I just don’t see why humans would crucify koalas, it just doesn’t seem time efficient. Although that koala hat is kind of cool, it looks like those Stitch hats they sell at Disney World.
Tamura’s got the Terminator eyes, but I think this time it actually isn’t a dream, and it is his koala rage that is making his eyes glow. And while this isn’t a dream, it certainly is another (you guessed it) montage. This time it is a long fighting scene, but unfortunately watching a woman and a giant koala fight isn’t nearly as entertaining as you would think. Although at one point Tamura swings Yukari by her legs while hitting her head, repeatedly, against a metal pole. Terrible when made angry, indeed.
After smashing her head against a metal pole (in case you forgot), Tamura then throws Yukari up in the air, allowing her head to land on concrete. She then does that martial arts things she does, to resurrect herself. Just to clarify… if she had to use resurrection, that means Tamura killed her. Again. Tamura beats Yukari up some more, presumably because he had so much practice during their relationship, and I think kills her again. In either case, it is now time to fight Kim.
And fight they do. For a long time. I know continuing to bring this up may border on redundant but I do feel I should point out that this fight scene involves a six foot koala.
Kim gets beat up, uses resurrection (which means Tamura killed someone again! This is the least likeable koala ever), and eventually the fight scene just fades to black.
It is now morning, and all three of them are laying unconscious on the ground. They all wake up, look at the sunrise, and start laughing. No hard feelings.
Tamura then proposes to Yukari, and she says yes! Hey Yukari, you see those bruises on your face? They’re from Tamura punching and kicking you. And killing you! Multiple times!
Then, of course, the detective gets up, he’s not dead either. They all come together, stare off towards the future, and realize everything is going to be okay. And just in case your attention drifted for half a second and you thought that maybe you were watching a normal movie, the frog pops in to remind you that no, you are not.
Hopefully, there is no lesson to be learned from this movie. Because any lesson you could take away would be a terrible thing to learn. Feel free to lead a life of abuse towards others, especially domestic abuse, that’s awesome. And if you happen to kill your girlfriend, don’t worry. If you happen to kill another one, don’t worry either. And if the first girlfriend turned out to be the second girlfriend and you kill her again, it’s okay. She will still marry you, and you will live happily ever after.
Of course, you will be the only one living happily. She will be miserable due to the constant beatings and leash-wearing, but eventually that will end, because you will kill her for about the sixth time.
Farewell, Executive Koala. You are officially the strangest movie I have ever seen. Your combination of adorable giant animals, brutal violence, and unrestrained use of montages may never be topped.
Here in New York, the mid-winter season is a wonderful time of year, of which many post-Christmas carols deserve to be written. It is that magical season where we have no decent holidays to hold our interest, or at least distract us from the crushing boredom that we feel due to the marathon trek of January through March. February, the time of year when we look forward to an end to this winter rain, when it will finally be replaced by springtime rain.
Of course, everyone already knows there is only one way to break out of this lull and bring some excitement back into our lives… discussing the previous year’s summer blockbusters!
Hm, that sounded a lot better in theory.
Okay fine, it didn’t. I was mostly hoping my lie would have some plausibility, then quickly realized it had no such thing. The truth is I needed some way to try to stretch talking about Spider Man soda into a full article. I’d say it’s going very well so far.
While discussing popular movies from over seven months ago might seem like a shockingly useless topic, even for this site, it does have some semblance of importance. Not much, admittedly… just some. Since I didn’t feel like doing the usual ‘search Google Images for pictures’ routine, I have provided hand made artwork for each movie. I would recommend printing them out on the highest quality paper you can find, and framing them.
The first wave in the trilogy-ruining movie assault was X-Men 3. While that didn’t come out last summer, it is definitely worth mentioning due to the fact that is was terrible, and was a bad sign of things to come.
Of the summer 2007 movies, Shrek the Third was the one I was looking forward to least. I liked the first two Shrek movies well enough, but never loved them. The overuse of pop culture reference became grating, and the undertones of bitterness and mean spiritedness dropped them down a few more notches.
I never wound up seeing the third one in theaters, and only finally got around to seeing it a few weeks ago. It was okay; I’m not angry I watched it, but I’m sure as hell glad I didn’t pay ten dollars to see it. My biggest problem with it, and this was a problem with all three of the big summer movies, was that it was boring. I’m not even sure how you manage to be as boring as Shrek the Third was when it had that short a running time, but they pulled it off.
On the flipside to Shrek, I was looking forward to Pirates 3 a lot. The first one was great and the second one, while slower, was very entertaining (and catches a lot of undeserved flak). The ride is one of my favorites in Disney World (the Disneyland version is even better, but unfortunately it’s been too long since I’ve been on it), and I didn’t even mind the merchandising onslaught that much. Sure, I got a bit tired of seeing it everywhere in Disney World, but pirates are awesome, and if it takes a femme, alcoholic lead character to keep that image alive, then so be it.
As far as At World’s End went, it would have been a lot better if they trimmed a few minutes off the running time. Somewhere in the vicinity of seventy minutes would be ideal. The scene where Jack wanders around by himself for twenty minutes really sums up the movie. Take what people already like, have a lot more of it, but make everything longer. I didn’t dislike the movie, but it was a huge letdown. I’m sure once Starz starts showing it four times a day like they do with Dead Man’s Chest, I’ll watch it again.
Almost everything about Spider Man 3 was annoying. It had way too many villains, worst of all being the Capri Sun-commercial-looking new Green Goblin. It had numerous scenes involving singing and dancing. Finally, like all the other part three’s, it was boring.
Spider Man 3 was shaping up pretty well from the start. The main villain was Venom… okay, sounds good so far. Any comic book reading loser who grew up during the 90’s is a fan of Venom. I liked him when he was a great villain, who hated Spider Man both as a superhero and as a person. Venom knew Spider Man’s secret identity, so it opened up a lot of great story lines they couldn’t do with other villains. Then once Venom got hugely popular, 90’s Marvel did what 90’s Marvel did best: screwed things up.
They created dozens of Venom spawns, most notably the inexplicably popular Carnage, who was used to substitute violence and insanity for good writing. There were other Venom spawns, one of which was used on the Spider Man ride in Islands of Adventure, which to this day strikes me as truly puzzling. There were approximately 1,200 better villains to use, yet they went ahead with “Scream”, a female Venom.
After all the Venom spawns were created, they turned Venom into something of a hero, and it was all downhill from there. Actually, it was downhill from before there, but when Venom became the bodyguard for a city of people living below street level in a turn of the century society, well that was a wrap for Venom.
Even with that tragic turn from great villain to terrible licensing cash cow, I was still excited to have Venom in part three. And given that Venom is a huge, bulky monster, it made sense that they cast… Topher Grace? Uh… I was able to rationalize it pretty quickly; I assumed they were making Venom more of an evil, bizarro version of Spider Man, and I didn’t mind the casting so much. Venom wasn’t even that bad in the movie, he was actually pretty cool. Even still, it wasn’t enough to save this movie.
Spider Man 3 did have some redeeming qualities. “Evil” Peter Parker was the funniest character of the summer, whether he was supposed to be or not. And the “How’s the pie?” scene… incredible.
We can now skip forward to the beginning of winter, to a place where many wonderful memories are made: Wal-Mart. I try to visit Wal-Mart as infrequently as possible, since being inside them brings about a palpable feeling of depression. At the same time, who can pass up Crunch Berries for two bucks?
While wandering through the soda aisle (which, surprisingly, isn’t very cheap at Wal-Mart, what’s up with that?), I came upon a sad and dimly lit section. I saw Spider Man on the package, and assumed they were juice boxes. Upon closer inspection, they were cans of soda. I’m not sure why I was so amazed by this, but I was. I couldn’t see how much they were, because the price sticker on the shelf said, literally, $3BG. I spent a good two minutes trying to figure out what “BG” stood for, and if three BG’s held any significance. Coming up empty for an answer, I brought a box to the cashier to find out how much it cost.
Actually, that should be clarified. I waited on line for over five minutes to find out how much it cost. Yes, that is how I feel my time is most valuably spent: waiting on line to find the price of something I don’t actually have much interest in buying. As rewarding as that may seem, finding out the price was the true reward: fifty cents. Fifty cents for twelve cans of Spider Man soda. Sold. I assumed this steal of a deal had to do with the movie being out of theaters for months, and even during the movie’s peak this peculiarly licensed product probably didn’t have that much momentum.
The soda came in three flavors: orange, blue raspberry, and green apple. Unfortunately, they had no more orange, as that is the most normal flavor, and people probably bought it because it was cheaper than a Shasta. There was no way I was getting green apple, even to do a review of it. Here’s a review: It’s disgusting. There, you got your green apple review and I saved fifty cents. Actually, it wouldn’t be fifty cents. The bottle deposit on twelve cans wound up costing more than the soda itself.
Upon opening the box, I was surprised to find that the cans are tiny. Granted, I should have figured that out given the box’s small size. I guess I was too blinded by pride for my wise fiscal investment. The cans are the same size as those laughable “100 Calorie” cans of Coke. I don’t understand the purpose of those cans… are parents putting them in lunch boxes? That’s awful. Who wants a little can of soda? Even airplanes give you full sized cans (for now, anyway). The only conceivable use for these cans is if someone has one of those little bottles of alcohol, and doesn’t want to buy a full sized soda and waste the rest. Although with that ratio it seem like that would be a pretty weak drink.
Side note regarding airplane sodas: On airplanes, I used to always get tomato juice with lemon. I mostly started getting it because my dad always used to get it, and it seemed interesting enough. It wasn’t something I drink any other time, so it became something of an airplane tradition. I don’t order it as much on airplanes anymore because now many of them serve a horrid “Bloody Mary Mix” instead. And while that may taste good with vodka and a few other condiments, it’s gross by itself. It would be like drinking pina colada mix straight from the bottle, except that actually doesn’t sound too bad.
The last time I was on a plane, I ordered a Diet Coke, and asked for a packet of lemon juice. Instead of juice, they gave me this strange packet of dehydrated lemon flavored chemicals. I thought nothing of it, and proceeded to stir it into the can of soda. What followed was a replica of the Diet Coke and Mentos phenomenon, except instead of taking place outside, it took place in a crowded coach class seat. I tried doing that moron thing where you try to drink everything that is shooting out, which only results in you getting it all over your face and up your nose. After that attempt failed, I thought that the foaming had to stop soon. Nope. The lemon chemicals caused the entire can of soda to foam up and shoot out all over my tray table, my lap, my shirt, and my face. Luckily this happened near the beginning of the flight, so I got to sit there, uncomfortable and warmly moist, for hours.
All things considered, the smaller sized can for the Spider Man soda is probably a blessing. I don’t think I would want to drink more than a few sips of something that is blue raspberry flavored. Surprisingly, it really doesn’t taste too bad; in some circles it may be considered good. While I don’t see myself cracking these cans open very frequently, I would consider the flavor a victory for a licensed product. It tasted like carbonated, melted blue Pop-Ices. That description probably does a disservice to the soda, since blue Pop-Ices tend to be kind of lame, but the similarities are definitely there.
What was strange, and a bit suspicious, is that I couldn’t locate a brand on the can. All I saw was “Columbia Pictures”. Granted, they released the movie, but shouldn’t there be some sort of indication of where this soda came from? Now that I think about it, the squat shape of the can, the cheapness, and the blue flavor is now reminding not of Pop-Ices, but of blue barrel drinks. Since there is no information on who makes the Spider Man soda, I will choose to believe they are made by the same company that makes barrel drinks (or “quarter water”, depending on what you grew up calling it). And since I don’t know the specific company that makes those, our final conclusion is that Spider Man 3 soda is made by Barrel Drinks.
Would I drink this again? Well I do have eleven cans, so I’m not sure if I have much of a choice. My only other alternative, which is what I will most likely end up doing, is to hide them in the back of the closet. Then I will find them later on and say “Hey, there’s that Spider Man soda.” That’s all you can do with it. Because the lesson we have all learned today… Spider Man soda? Not that interesting.
When I was ten, I led a fairly simple life. I currently do as well, except the whole point of saying that was to segue into a topic that happened when I was ten. So to avoid confusion, we will pretend my current life is interesting.
My simple ten year old life was made even simpler by the fact that I had a single goal for over a year (so my nine year old life was simple also; my eleven year old life, however, was balls-to-the-wall outrageous). This goal was to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which will be referred to as TMNT, an abbreviation I made up) was the first real marketing blitz that I can remember being a part of. I was barely alive for the second two Star Wars movies and was too young to care about the presidential elections. I’m pretty sure that covers all the important events from 1980 to 1990.
Given my lack of exposure to insanity level marketing, it is easy to see how I could get completely sucked into TMNT mania.
Not that the movie promotion was my first exposure to TMNT, far from it. I had the figures, watched the cartoon, and read the comic that Archie Comics put out. In fact, I wrote a letter to the comic book. Yeah, I was that cool. I don’t remember what the letter was about, or who it was even addressed to (probably Michaelangelo). What I do remember is a few months later receiving a postcard with a message that read, “Cowabunga, dude! Thanks for writing!” Whoa.
Receiving this card was, arguably, the most exciting thing that had happened to me until that point. It may be the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me; I’d have to think about it. But probably.
Not only did I receive a hand written message, but I also got a hand drawn cartoon of a turtle face. This was important to me because I had always been interested in drawing cartoons. My first epic character was named Cool Man. He was a collaboration from the third grade, between my friend Eric and me. I drew the character, but couldn’t have done it without his inspiration. I don’t mean to sound arrogant by claiming the design to be all my own, but if you created a masterpiece such as this, you would act the same way.
Cool Man starred in “Cool Man Attacks New York”, which depicted him destroying the city in a Godzilla/Rampage fashion. Eric and I created about forty sequels to “Attacks New York”, all basically the same picture but with a new number at the end of the title. Why we had someone named “Cool Man” destroying a city rather than surfing, riding a motorcycle, or something similarly cool, I can’t say.
My second major entry into the cartooning world was named Rocko. Now if you want an idea of just how incredibly un-cool I was, this character will give a crystal clear depiction. I designed him with all sorts of traits that I thought were totally cool:
Luckily, I gave up on him relatively quickly. Unfortunately, I gave up after drawing him on my book bag, forcing me to carry my visible shame with me for two years. My parents wouldn’t let me get a new bag every year. I think it’s because I kept forcing them to buy me a new Trapper Keeper every year, despite the fact that it didn’t even fit in my desk and had to be kept on the floor.
So I am as surprised as you that my career as a professional cartoonist never took flight. But, hopefully, this anecdote will at least help shed some light on why getting a hand drawn Ninja Turtle in the mail was such an epic, season finale-worthy event.
Between the postcard, the TMNT cereal, the pudding pies, the “Hey Dudes, This Is No Cartoon!” poster, and the previews, I was pumped. That was another thing increasing the anticipation. I was old enough to understand costuming and special effects, but the previews still gave me that “What! How are they doing that?” reaction.
Finally, the day came. I won’t get into details, since the gist of it is me remaining in a near comatose state of euphoria for weeks.
Fast forwarding to present day, what surprised me the most about this movie is that it stands up fairly well. The movie actually played itself pretty straight, in that it took seriously what should have been taken seriously, but still contained a lot of humor.
What inspired me to watch the movie again was a conversation with my friends involving whether or not Christopher Meloni, best known as Detective Stabler on Law and Order: SVU, played Casey Jones or not. And by “conversation”, I mean that subject was the entire conversation, not a small part. But I’ll extrapolate on that in a bit.
I can’t even call this a “Top Ten” list, since it won’t be ranked or anything. It’s more of a “movie adoration grouped by subject” list; or “writing full fledged movie reviews always seem like a more interesting venture in the beginning” list. Anyway, here come the highlights, Sports Center style.
As I mentioned, seeing the trailer as a kid was epic. It had instant gratification; no slow narrative and no fading in. It started with the New Line Cinema logo. If you don’t see this logo today and immediately think of the Ninja Turtle movie, then you were sleepwalking through this time period. The logo comes and quickly goes, then BAM… The Shredder.
No teaser silhouettes, no alluding to him, just an instant shot of his helmet. That’s about as close to carnal pleasure as a ten year old gets. Without any real chance to fully take in the visual, he starts speaking… in an incredibly Asian voice. Looking back on the trailer versus the actual movie, it is quite evident that many voices were overdubbed. The Shredder’s speech serves to introduce the turtles themselves. This leads to the coolest shot of the trailer: a quick flash of Raphael’s mask as he ducks under a manhole.
The turtles were voiced by stand-ins also, it seems. The trailer’s money shot of “God, I love being a turtle!” sounds incredibly underwhelming with the extra goofy trailer voice; although it does make the movie version that much better.
This scene is fantastic. Donatello is trying to get all philosophical, and all Michaelangelo responds with is how much time the delivery guy has left. The pizza guy arrives, and shoves the Domino’s Pizza box down a grate, while the payment comes up. Mike defends the $10, saying it’s $3 off for the driver being late, but that also means he gave no tip. That’s weak.
Raphael is a dick head. Michaelangelo is probably drunk. Leonardo and Donatello are there. That sums up their personalities fairly well, although the movie manages to flesh out their personalities a bit more.
Raphael’s ninja skills are in full effect. This is the only explanation for him going to the movies wearing a trench coat and hat, and not being noticed. He also proceeds to get absolutely pummeled by the Foot Clan. Which doesn’t really make him cool, but the situation itself is. It was a pretty hardcore scene for a kid to watch. It wasn’t a fair fight, just Raphael getting ghetto stomped by about two hundred ninjas.
Donatello doesn’t get a chance to show too much personality, but he does get some good lines. Making the lines even better is the wonderful delivery by esteemed thespian Corey Feldman. This is, without a doubt, his best role ever. Even watching it now, some of his lines still make me laugh. His incredulous reaction to The Shredder’s dramatic entrance to the final battle is perfect. LISTEN
Also, his proclamation of love for pizza is awe inspiring. LISTEN
Michaelangelo has the best lines written for him, in both jokes and memorable lines (the aforementioned “God, I love being a turtle” line). I still think Donatello’s lines are funnier, although like I said, Michaelangelo does carve out a nice role for himself as the fun, inebriated uncle type of turtle.
Leonardo is lame.
Look how Goddamn cute Michaelangelo is. AWWWWWWW! He’s sad. : (
And Leonardo looks like he’s riding an extremely pleasant Percocet wave.
This movie was helpful in my development as a male, in that I was able to stop having a crush on a cartoon character, and instead convert it into a crush on a real person playing a cartoon character. It reduces the weirdness by at least 40%.
April O’Neil managed to overcome a horrid wardrobe, horrid hair, and an extremely unattractive real-life last name (Hoag).
Even the turtles perv on her the entire movie, creating uncomfortable levels of inter-species sexual tension. That is, until her heart is finally won by someone truly deserving. More on that in a bit.
THE FOOT CLAN HIDEOUT
The one problem this movie had was that it made kids want to join the bad guys. The Shredder is incredibly cool. Besides that, the Foot Clan’s hideout was the ultimate hangout for kids. Video games, pool tables, skateboard ramps, everything you could want. I found it hard to cheer against the Foot Clan, since they obviously knew how to treat their employees well. This is where Disney got all their ideas for Pleasure Island.
Casey Jones. The best part about this movie. Possibly the best part of any movie, ever.
We are first introduced to him when Raphael is out seeing Critters (!), and sees a couple of purse snatchers. We then see the criminals in the park, where they are accosted by a sleazy looking man in a goalie mask, brandishing a hockey stick. Which he proceeds to use by smashing the thieves in the face.
Raphael rudely interrupts the episode of street justice, which allows the thieves to escape. So, of course, he and Casey Jones must do battle. The result is rather surprising, as Casey Jones proceeds to beat the crap out of him with a cricket bat.
We don’t see Casey for a while. After Ralph gets jumped by the hundred or so Foot members, the rest of the turtles are getting beaten as well. When it seems like the turtles are about to be defeated, in comes Casey, inquiring as to why the Foot members are beating up his friend. So he fought Raphael, but also considers him his friend? This guy is deep.
The turtles, Casey, and April escape the Foot, and hide out at a cabin, for the boring part of the movie. During this time, Casey fixes their truck, cooks, and gives April back massages. Straight up suave.
Speaking of suave, as I said, Casey Jones turned out to not be Detective Stabler. But he’s still Casey Jones, so he’s still cool with me. Remember when I said I’d go into more detail on that? That’s all you’re getting.
After the final battle, when Shredder gets thrown off the roof of a building and lands in a garbage truck, Casey turns on the compacter, then proceeds to make out with April O’Neil. This guy is Cary Grant and John Wayne rolled into one perfect example of manliness.
And there you have it. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. Despite the fact that this rarely happens, it is as good as you remember it.
I’m not big on recommendations. When someone tells me I HAVE to see this movie, watch this show, listen to this band, and so on, I usually give a vague, “I’ll check it out.” This is especially true when it comes to movies. I don’t even like watching movies I’ve never seen very much. Which begs the question of why I have a Netflix subscription when I usually just spend my nights watching Beavis and Butthead or The Office on my computer.
All I knew about Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo was the surname. Oftentimes I’ll be reading and see something jokingly referred to as (Something) 2: Electric Boogaloo. Of course this happens more often when you mostly stick to reading “Toyfare” magazine, but that’s not important. I even used that joke a couple years back in one of the Florida articles. However, when this movie was recommended to me, it was described as “I love this movie the same way you love Silent Night, Deadly Night 2.” Whoa. Since I couldn’t refuse an offer like that, I immediately queued it up in Netflix.
I was worried I wouldn’t be able to follow the plot, since I had never seen the original Breakin’. How would I understand the reappearing characters? I never saw their personalities, their memorable quotes, or their emotions. Would I be lost? There was only one way to find out. No, not watch the original Breakin’. That would make too much sense. I also doubt it would be as awesome as Breakin’ 2 had the potential to be. A sequel to an irreverent, unnecessary movie is usually great. The original irreverent, unnecessary movie usually isn’t. No, watching the original was out of the question; instead I was just going to jump right into the action. The Breakin’ 2 action.
The movie really couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. The first thing we see is a gigantic boom box. As the opening credits roll, we are treated to a visual bouillabaisse of awesomeness, including fingerless gloves, headbands, belts around thighs, Jeri curls, and, of course, break dancing.
We first meet Kelly, who I assume is from the first movie. She is at home in her father’s mansion, who is telling her she should take his offer of attending Princeton. After a back and forth between daughter and father where the main point was “dancing is awesome”, we are treated, less than four minutes in, to the fantastic Generic Line Number 1: “Well it’s my life, Dad!”
Kelly then goes to meet up with her old dance partners Turbo and Ozone. Someone starts a song on a boom box, which ignites a five minute music sequence where every single person in the neighborhood begins dancing down the street, eventually forming what can only be described as an unruly mob. This dance sequence continues to go on, MUCH longer than would be expected, even in a movie like this.
Eventually the posse winds up at “Miracles” a youth center that Turbo and Ozone volunteer at. This leads to more dancing. We then meet Byron, who is old.
Summary of next ten or so minutes: Man, they sure like to dance.
Enter: Rich white businessman who wants to demolish the youth center in order to build a shopping center.
More dancing. Jeez. One point of interest in this dance sequence is Kelly dancing in what appears to be her underwear in front of a bunch of little kids.
Now is when the drama really picks up. Kelly and her group get accosted by a dance gang called The Electros. Byron finds out he has 30 days to vacate Miracles, unless he can buy it out to the tune of $200,000. You know what that means. Fund raising montage. They wash cars, sell lemonade, sell “Maps to the Stars”, make balloon animals (?), among other high yield activities.
Quick plot points: all this activity results in only $7,000, so they decide to set up a street festival. Kelly finds out she has an audition for some big musical in Paris. Ozone flirts with a girl that looks like a “Beat It” era Michael Jackson. Ozone gets mad about Kelly’s audition. The Miracles gang has a dance battle with the Electros, which includes nunchakus and trash can shields. I don’t know how to tell who won. Finally, there is a confrontation between Rich White Guy and Byron.
After meeting a Spanish dancer, Turbo goes to ask a sleeping Ozone how to “get it on” with a girl. After standing up and zipping up his pants (?), Ozone explains the art of seduction. Then they dance with each other. Kelly, Turbo, and Ozone go to have dinner with her parents, which ends poorly after the father makes racist generalities about the kids at Miracles.
Ozone tries to call a truce with The Electros, saying they need to team up to save Miracles. Ozone is quickly rebuffed. Kelly then gets harassed by the Michael Jackson girl.
Finally, the day of reckoning is at hand. The Rich White Company is speaking before the city committee to discuss the fate of the building. Despite a few heart wrenching speeches from the gang, the committee lets The Rich White Company buy the land. The gang decides to fight back by harassing the construction workers. Turbo steals one of the construction workers’ toolboxes, and in the ensuing chase, falls down a flight of stairs and dies.
Well, maybe he didn’t die, but he does go to the hospital. This idiot’s fall costs Kelly her job in Paris, since she has to go visit Turbo, who is in a coma. The girl that Turbo likes comes out of a closet in Turbo’s hospital room (?), and proceeds to give Turbo a kiss. Which, of course, brings Turbo out of his coma. Everyone in the hospital, including Turbo and the rest of the patients, begins dancing. This dance sequence then, and I am not joking, brings a dead patient back to life, who then (of course) starts dancing.
After this, Kelly is eating pizza with Ozone, who is shirtless for some reason. Kelly’s father comes over with a proposal: if she goes to Princeton, he will give Miracles the money it needs. Instead of being, you know, sensible, Ozone tells her father they don’t need his money. We are then treated to awesome Generic Line Number 2: “NOBODY is going to tell me when to lay down my pride!”
Turbo escapes from the hospital with the help of his non-English speaking girlfriend.
When the bulldozers come to knock down Miracles, the gang defends the building by climbing on the machinery and starting to…
I’ll let you guess what they do there…
That’s right, dance.
Turbo refuses to move from out of the bulldozers’ way, so despite the fact that Rich White Guy tells the construction workers to run him over, the construction workers refuse and leave. A news team shows up, which prompts the city planner to change his mind for fear of losing the next election. Knowing he won’t get the land, Rich White Guy is then pressured by Byron into donating $10,000 to Miracles. Ozone then uses his incredible marketing skills to get crowds to the festival by promising “Dancing and juggling.” And really, can anyone resist the lure of juggling?
Since this is the part of the movie where all the loose ends get tied up, Kelly’s dad shows up to tell her he is proud of her, and donates the rest of the money needed to save Miracles. The Electros call their truce by dancing along with everyone else. Everyone is happy.
And this is the end of Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Was I glad this was recommended to me? I will say yes, conditionally. That condition being I wish I didn’t have to watch it alone at two in the morning. However, this would be an excellent movie to watch with a group of people. Then, after watching the movie you can turn the boom box to the max, have some dance battles, wash some cars, learn to love your parents, and, of course, learn a valuable lesson.