Movie reviews by
1 (out of 4)
Ruh Roh, Warner Brothers what you done? Did you honestly make us look back at those live-action films with reverence, ironic or otherwise? I knew just from the trailers this would be a waste of time, but there’s just nothing about Scoob! that wouldn’t have felt right at home in a direct-to-digital release and it's terrible to imagine wasting thousands of theater screens on something so cheap, joyless and misconceived. Whether it’s the haphazard milking of Hanna-Barbera properties, voice casting apparently done at random (aside from Jason Isaacs, bless him) or a story that doesn't even pretend to live up to the tradition of a classic cartoon mystery, this is an irredeemable mess and something of an insult to fans of the franchise's numerous delightful iterations.
You're better off with Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prince Jr., but even the most shoddily animated classic episode, hilariously aged straight-to-video features (Cyber Chase anyone?) or cockamamie idea tossed into the recent, really fun Mystery Incorporated would be an incomparably better time. Will Forte is a fine talent but the worst Shaggy you could pick when you could have a better big name or any unknown considering WB is riding on a notable property and lazy parents foremost – Zac Efron is an OK Fred, Gina Rodriguez brings some Latina energy to Velma, Amanda Seyfried makes a convincing Daphne. Warner Brothers has never really cracked the transition to 3D animation – without Chris Miller and Phil Lord, The LEGO Movie would not be able to support their short, deficient filmography since 2013.
All I know is they screwed the pooch (I couldn't help it) and the gang should disband till teenage hippies and talking dogs can solve the unending mystery of why we shamelessly force needless nostalgia on newew generations for its own sake. The animation is also ugly as sin and the inclusion of the other tangential characters is cramped, cringy and confusing at best. The insistence on celebrity cameos from Simon Cowell, easter egg overdoses and other insane trivialities means there’s never a moment to consider any real interpersonal relations within Mystery Inc. or arrive anywhere close to Saturday morning spookiness. Kids will be able to tell this is a dumb folly, at least I hope.
Trolls: World Tour
2 ½ (out of 4)
They said it couldn’t be done, and the good luck trolls laughed in AMC and Regal’s face. You’ll be back, they smirked. You can't pass up that DreamWorks money.
There are ethical, business and creative consequences in releasing Trolls World Tour to everyone through VOD, the first major post-COVID would-be theatrical film to do so. Did they troll the cinema world? Or was it all an overreaction?
But enough speculation – what is this epic sequel all about? If I told you it reached back to the origins of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth through the Alkabeth of The Silmarillion, would that be enough to justify the film’s disruption of the industry? Culture war, homogeny of taste and tribalism are at the core of World Tour’s story, which is not some silly road trip film but about the diversity of music, a welcome direction after the first film. 2016's Trolls was a rather enjoyable and emotional journey given the average expectations going in, with bubbly poptimism offsetting neat evil folklore. World Tour takes a silly, limited world (which still never addresses the whole Danish doll thing) and expands it with ornamental details along with a fruitful and fun mythology to unravel. Of course Tolkien comparisons are hyperbole, but what if a wannabe overlord of hard rock (Melkor) tried to usurp all other genres of music and fly all controlled musical under one genre's banner – Anna Kendrick still voices Princess Poppy, out to save the leaders of the Techno, Country, Classical, Funk trolls.
Yodelling, Kpop, Smooth Jazz, and Reggaeton all appear for bit jokes, and most of the central genres are there just for a couple gags too, but the film’s themes are so uncommonly strong that when all the genres are blended together in some quasi-utopia multicultural melting pot by the end, it undermines earlier ideas spelled out by the leaders of Funk, namely that diversity and perhaps their separation is what makes each genre, or cultural creations, special. Especially in America, our idealism leads us to believe that peaceful coexistence could strengthen a unified identity – things get a little muddled in here because its a pretty baseline kids movie. But damn what topics to consider. Melkor was ultimately banished from the Valar for his disruption to the harmony of Ea’s great symphonic creation, and he'd eventually be kicked out of the Kingdom of Arda for good after enough mischief, not won over by compromise and cultural understanding.
Trolls World Tour recognizes why the world is divided, even if it takes all the usual DreamWorks cheats to get to the very unrealistic happy ending. It's also a tolerable jukebox musical built upon the most ridiculous lore you could come up for a film based on novelty children's toys.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
On the Rocks
I'm Thinking of
and many more
"So what've you been up to?"
and I escape real good."
- Inherent Vice