Cheese Trouble: The glorious fun of Wallace & Gromit meeting the Minions

(image via Vimeo (c) Fabrice Mathieu)

 

As fun, whimsical calling cards go, they don’t come much better than director and editor Fabrice Mathieu‘s seamless editing together of Aardman Animation’s Wallace and Gromit, and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions.

In his delightful mash-up Cheese Trouble, the Minions forgo their usual food of choice, bananas!, in favour of cheese which naturally puts them into competition with Wallace and Gromit, in whose household cheese is, most assuredly, king, queen and every other hierarchical ruling personage.

Stitching together footage from a number of films featuring the two sets of characters – the full list is available at the end of the short film and via Film School Rejects – and music drawn from The Wrong Trousers and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Julian Nott) and The Trouble With Harry (Bernard Herrmann), Mathieu has crafted a delightfully amusing short animated special that plays to the strengths of both sets of characters, a sum that is appreciably greater than its cobbled-together parts.

Not to mention an intense craving for cheese …

 

Daria is back! And as feisty and authentic as ever

(image via EW)

 

I love Daria.

Granted while she was on TV in the ’90s into the Noughties, I was not exactly the core demographic – I was *cough* 32-37 at the time – but there was something about daria’s disdain for the superficial established order and the way she masterfully handled the insipid stupidity of the unthinking world around her, that really struck a chord with me.

As someone who endured a great deal of bullying at high school and who struggled to rise above it and respond to it in a way that was meaningful and reasserted who I was, I admired her ability to stick to all the detractors, naysayers and fools and to defend her well-defined sense of identity. (It took me considerably longer to get to the point where I knew innately who I was and was able to coherently and strongly articulate and defend it to all comers.)

 

 

So it thrills me immensely that Daria hasn’t lost her strong sense of self nor willingness to stand up for herself as time has passed with a new video from series co-creator Susie Lewis and character designer Karen Disher, which gives us updates on Daria Morgendorffer, her bestie Jane and the rest of the quirky, real-to-life characters from the show.

It’s fun, informative and reassuring that much has changed and yet not much too – that’s the way of life for most of us right? – and makes us wish that Daria: The Sequel could totally be a thing.

We’re not alone with EW, who featured the video, noting that that Lewis said “she’d love to bring Daria back to TV.”

Bring it on! I mean, you know, whatever …

Weekend pop art: Joey Spiotto’s pop culture Little Golden Books

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

My love for Little Golden Books knows no bounds.

A key part of my childhood, they are the stuff of joy and nostalgia, a reassuring touchstone that there are some great and wonderful things in this world that are inherently simple and uncomplicated, and intensely rewarding.

The only thing better than Little Golden Books is when someone like Joey Spiotto, a talented artist who I’ve featured to my inestimable joy on the blog before, takes this eminently elegant idea and furnishes it with brilliantly imaginative pop culture flourishes.

The best part is, if you’re in L.A. now until Saturday 22 April, you can see his work, Storytime 3, up close and enchantingly personal at Gallery1988 (East) and you can even prints of them if you like via the gallery’s website.

Childhood and pop culture mixed together? Sounds a perfect exhibition to me!

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

Where can you see it? Right here!

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

Saturday morning cartoons: The Funky Phantom

(image via YouTube (c) Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros)

 

Show business has had a long and productive love affair with the axiom “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, happy to keep churning out variations on a theme, or even the same theme itself with minimal changes, if the viewers kept turning up to consume it.

Everyone is guilty of it, of course with everyone from Hollywood studios through to TV stations and comic books, happy to jump on the bandwagon and keep riding it until the wheels broke, but one of the foremost proponents of the art was Hanna-Barbera which for all its groundbreaking successes such as The Flintstones, the Jetsons and Scooby Doo, was always keen to take a basic concept and rework into all manner of likeminded permutations.

Case in point is The Funky Phantom (11 September 1971 – 2 September 1972), produced for Hanna-Barbera by Australia’s own Air Programs International, whose 17 episodes owed, in more ways than one, a substantial debt of creative inspiration to the far longer-running Scooby Doo (and apparently to a 1946 Abbott and Costello film The Time of their Lives, which features two Revolutionary Era-ghosts caught in, you guessed it, a clock).

With everything from roughly the same gender split of core characters to the fun mode of transport to the weekly mysteries and wise quips and aside, The Funky Phantom was quite the carbon copy of its more successful cousin, taking its creative mimicry even further by having the titular character, a Revolutionary Era-American patriot named Jonathan Wellington “Mudsy” Muddlemore, use the same voice as Snagglepuss (courtesy of Daws Butler), even down to the word “even” which punctuated the end of sentences.

That doesn’t detract from one minute from the fun and enjoyment to be had from the series, but it’s worth pointing out simply to illustrate that cannibalising, in the most flattering way possible, previously successful properties, was something that Hanna-Barbera, ever on the look out for another commercially successful idea, did remarkably well.

It didn’t lead to the same longevity as the source material – neither The Funky Phantom nor Speed Buggy nor the slew of other imitators from the studio lasted anywhere near as long as the big marquee series that made the studio’s name – but when you’re a young kid, like I was in the early to mid-1970s, you don’t really mind.

 

 

The Funky Phantom delivered up what I wanted in cartoons at that point:

  • Characters I liked – Skip Gilroy (Micky Dolenz) and Augie Anderson (Tommy Cook), who were in a love triangle with the beautiful April (Kristina Holland) and who, along with Elmo the Dog (Jerry Dexter) drove The Looney Duney all over the place, financial backing never disclosed, in search of adventure and mystery (thus opening the opportunity for endlessly creative storylines)
  • A fun, camp protagonist in Muddsy and his ghostly cat Boo who hid themselves in a grandfather clock in revolutionary Boston to escape British pursuers and never left dying while they waited and only being released when the The Looney Duney gang stumbled into the haunted mansion where the clock remarkably still sat (clearly not a gentrifying neighbourhood).
  • A cute, cheesy expository theme song that lays everything you need to know before the mystery sleuthing begins.
  • Some over the top silly situations, mostly due to over the top villains camply posturing their way through each episode and engaging in all manner of chases and ultimately ineffective terrifying of the kids (the bigger scaredy cat was Muddsy who was, believe it or not, actually afraid of ghosts; and yes it was pointed out to him time and again that he is one).

What is interesting as someone who loves comic books is that it was the print version adventures of The Funky Phantom that showed more creativity than the TV series.

Dispensing with the Scooby Doo-esque villains in a mask trope – one episode of The Funky Phantom (#3 “I’ll Haunt You Later”) even used the phrase “I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!” – they tried a completely tack to drive the narrative, according to Wikipedia:

“In the 1970s, comic books of The Funky Phantom were released by Western Publishing and Gold Key Comics. The comics were both original stories as well as adaptations of some of the TV episodes. The stories in the comics, however, took a different turn from the TV episodes. While on the show, the “ghost” was always a villain in a mask (like Scooby-Doo), in some of the original comic stories, the villains would often turn out to be other ghosts from on or around the colonial era. (The show never addressed why it seemed that there were no other ghosts besides Mudsy and Boo.) The comics even did a twist on the series when the gang traveled back to colonial times via an erratic time machine, only to find out that the kids are now the ghosts (the machine could only transport spiritual matter) and Mudsy is once more inside his original flesh-and-blood body. Also, the comics introduced a new regular character who never appeared in the show. Priscilla Atwater, a ghostly matron from Mudsy’s time, who lusted after Mudsy and pursued him actively, although she tended to flirt with about any other ghost who came along.”

That burst of creative originality aside, The Funky Phantom was never a powerhouse of cutting edge storytelling but then was that ever really the point for it or many of Hanna-Barbera’s workhorse series?

They were designed as entertainment for kids on a Saturday morning pure and simple, and we cared not if it was thematically groundbreaking or if the backgrounds all looked the same, or whether The Looney Duney even looked like were driving on all four wheels thanks to its placement on said backgrounds; in truth, I, and countless other kids like me, just wanted to laugh, and have some precious non-school fun, something The Funky Phantom delivered in spades, and even after all these years, still manages to the delight of my still cartoon-crazy inner child.

 

It’s true, animated Mariah! All I Want For Christmas is You (teaser trailer)

(cover image courtesy Penguin Random House)

 

SNAPSHOT
According to the official press release, All I Want for Christmas Is You will center around a young Mariah (voiced by Breanna Yde), who wants a puppy named Princess for Christmas. But before Princess can be hers, she has to pet-sit Jack, described as “a scraggly rascal of a dog; in fact, the worst dog in the county!” (synopsis via Mashable)

All I Want For Christmas is … my two front teeth?

C’mon you can do way better than that!

How about an animated film based on the book All I Want For Christmas is You which is in turn based on the insanely successful modern Christmas classic, which launched itself into collective music consciousness, thereafter forever to remain, in the long ago heady days of 1994.

So compulsively listenable and so delightfully, compellingly Christmasy is the song that it makes sense that it’s been turned into a book and a film and who knows what other wonders down the track.

For now, we have Mariah Carey introducing the movie in its Christmas glory and you’ll be able to see what wanting your true love for Christmas looks like when All I Want for Christmas Is You doesn’t have an exact release date yet, it’s expected to premiere in all its festive glory on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and On Demand just in time for Christmas this year.

 

Bogan* : An hilarious parody that shows how washed-up Wolverine actually is

(image via YouTube (c) Artspear Entertainment)

 

You really have to have watched the trailer for one of this year’s best movies Logan – but by all means watching the whole film which is just superb – to realise that Wolverine aka James Howlett is a mere near non-invincible shadow of his former self.

In the year 2029 he is in pain, being poisoned by the admantium within, barely making ends meet as a limousine driver in a partially-dystopian world and not nearly as quick to repair himself from grievous wounds and bodily harm.

He is, in short, the gruff, EQ-challenged mutant of old but with even less charm and charisma; yes indeed yikes!

Now granted he isn’t any near as bad as this delightfully good, very funny parody from Toon Sandwich by Artspear Entertainment, would have you believe, but in terms of capturing, in the most hilarious way possible, his general broken down sense of mind and spirit, it absolutely nails it.

It’s a nice way to add some levity to a film that while very, very good, is not exactly a guffawing walk in the booze-sozzled park.

And trust me you’ll never look at barbecuing quite the same way again!

(* And for all the non-Aussies and New Zealanders reading, a bogan is, and I quote, “an uncouth or unsophisticated person regarded as being of low social status.”)

 

Coco: We are all a part of those who came before (trailer + poster)

(image via Screenrant (c) Pixar / Disney)

 

SNAPSHOT
Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

While Pixar has fallen in love with sequels of late – to be fair beautifully rendered, highly original sequels that elevate the very idea of mining an original concept for further stories – with cars 3 due for release this summer, it has also kept producing emotionally-resonant new films that such as Inside Out and God Dinosaur that have continued its winning of visually and narratively-rich storytelling.

The latest film to join this august group of films is Coco, a film that radiates all the qualities that have made Pixar’s gorgeously imaginative films the superlative benchmark for modern feature animation.

In keeping with many of its films, the protagonist, Miguel, who is a musician in a family that has banned music being played for generations, reasons unknown, finds himself in an extraordinary world far beyond his own, quite by accident, launching him on an adventure that will supply answers for a great many of his lingering questions.

The trailer admittedly only gives us a glimpse of what’s in store but it’s more than enough to realise that Coco has the real potential to be another rich standout entry in the Pixar animation pantheon, which is certainly not short on outstanding members already, a rare claim for any movie studio.

Coco opens in Australia and USA on 22 November.

 

More comics reinvention: Looney Tunes meets DC Comics

Martian Manhunter and Marvin the Martian (image via io9 (c) DC)

 

Now that they have (mostly) successfully re-imagined a slew of Hanna-Barbera characters such as Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and Wacky Races, Warner Bros, through their DC Comics imprint, have decided to move on to the goofy cast of Looney Tunes.

The idea, according to the press release (below) is to match characters like Yosemite Sam and Road Runner with characters from the DC Comics universe, in the processing re-imagining them in a far grittier, much more Mad Max-ian kind of way.

PRESS RELEASE

Stay tuned.

Jonah Hex. Yosemite Sam.

Martian Manhunter. Marvin the Martian.

Lobo. The Road Runner.

Batman. Elmer Fudd.

 

Batman and Elmer Fudd (image via io9 (c) DC)

 

Quite whether that will work is another matter entirely since Looney Tunes occupied a whole other kind of hilarious, inspired lunacy than their now Hanna-Barbera counterparts, but as long as the essential characteristics of the characters remain intact, and the Hanna-Barbera re-imaginings have shown us this is possible, it may just have a chance of working.

Or it could end up as the comic version of Bewitched (*collective shudder*).

Either way, it will be a fascinating experiment, yet another example of postmodern synergising which, depending on your perspective, is either creative leveraging of the highest, most inspired order, or representative of a slump in originality.

 

Lobo and The Road Runner (image via io9 (c) DC)

 

Being an innate optimist, always eager to see what’s ahead and hoping and believing it’ll be good, I’m going to hope for the former and look to seeing what a way where Jonah Hex and Yosemite Sam rub shoulders looks like.

And hope that somewhere down the track someone puts Bugs Bunny and Wonder Woman together. Now THAT would be interesting!

(source: io9 Gizmodo)

 

Jonah Hex and Yosemite Sam (image via io9 (c) DC)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit – The 3 Rules of Living Animation

(image via IMP Awards)

 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is an amazing film on so many levels.

Made at a time when the digital revolution had yet to make its indelible mark on the art of animation, the Robert Zemeckis-dtrected film, which beautifully combined live action and animation in a story in an alternate 1940s world where cartoon characters were every bit as real as their human counterparts.

Sporting a fil noir aesthetic, both visually and narratively, it’s an emotional-rich, visually dazzling accomplishment which as the enormously-talented Kaptain Kristian, a man with a gift for creating details-rich, incredibly-knowledgable mini-documentaries, pushed the boundaries in so many impressive ways.

For example, he points out that the animators, who only began work once all the live-action filming was complete, went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the characters relfected every element of their environment from the way the light hit them through to how they reacted when plunged into a sink of water for instance.

 

 

On every level the film is a thing of wonder and beauty, a testament to what can happen when someone “bumps the lamp”, a parlance developed during the creation of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which essentially means to go well and truly above and beyond and create something truly special because someone, somewhere will notice.

This video makes you appreciate the film all over again as Kaptain Kristian explains in luxurious, well-informed detail why it matters so much.

* Kaptain Kristian is a talented creator who relies on the Patreon model to enable to make his amazing videos. It’s a great system and I’d encourage you to think about supporting him and other creative types so they can keep making great art.

Daffy Duck finds his Gangsta’s Paradise in this marvellous mashup

(image via YouTube (c) Warner Bros.)

 

In the unexpected cartoon/musical marriages made in mash-up heaven, may we introduce you to the joining together of Daffy Duck in all his gloriously hilarious cantankerousness with Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”, which you’ll recall was the standout song on the soundtrack for 1995’s Dangerous Minds film.

This impressive mash-up is the work of YouTube user isthishowyougoviral aka Adam Schleichkorn, who as EW points out, has been rather busy merging all kinds of cool songs with equally interesting visual inspirations.

“… Schleichkorn has been making mashups for Cartoon Network’s AdultSwim. He previously spliced together Rick and Morty with Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Swimming Pools (Drank),’ Arthur with Eminem’s ‘Not Afraid,’ and The Muppets with Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo Wop (That Thing).'”

Joyously capturing Daffy Duck’s kinetic grumpiness and plain ol’ loopiness with a song that is, quite honestly, custom made for him, the mash-up is intended as momentary escape from the current troubles of the world as Schleichkorn explains in the video’s description:

“No matter which side you’re on, there’s a lot of craziness going on in the world today, so hopefully this video is a nice 1 minute break from the chaos …”