You’re a curmudgeonly one Mr Grinch? (poster + trailer)

(image courtesy IMP Awards)


For their eighth fully animated feature, Illumination and Universal Pictures present The Grinch, based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved holiday classic. The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism.

Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Who-ville when he runs out of food.

Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter and louder celebrations. When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realizes there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas. To do so, he decides he will pose as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, even going so far as to trap a lackadaisical misfit reindeer to pull his sleigh.

Meanwhile, down in Who-ville, Cindy-Lou Who—a young girl overflowing with holiday cheer—plots with her gang of friends to trap Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas Eve rounds so that she can thank him for help for her overworked single mother. As Christmas approaches, however, her good-natured scheme threatens to collide with the Grinch’s more nefarious one. Will Cindy-Lou achieve her goal of finally meeting Santa Claus? Will the Grinch succeed in silencing the Whos’ holiday cheer once and for all? (synopsis via Coming Soon)


(image courtesy IMP Awards)


I love animation.

Perhaps it’s my inner child still flexing his considerable imaginative muscles or maybe I just love the escapism that comes with made-up worlds, drawn and illustrated, that are so different and so much more free than my own.

Whatever the basis, I have loved animated films and TV shows since I was a kid and I don’t see the love affair ending anytime soon, as long as Pixar and Disney keep releaseing wonderful films, Laika and Aardman keep making gorgeously well-realised stop-motion films and Studio Ghibli’s superlative output is still there to stream.

One rung down from these A-gamers is Illumination Entertainment and while I enjoy their films on a reasonably superficial level, films like Sing and the Despicable Me series, while lovely and cute in their own way, never really hit the heights of Pixar or Laika. (The Secret Life of Pets aside which was actually quite moving and delightfully realised.)

So the fact that they’re behind the latest iteration of The Grinch means you can expect quick easy jobs, sparklingly colourful animation and lots of cute moments to distract from the lack of robustness in the story.



Now as Boss Baby, which somehow managed to snag an Academy Award nomination, illustrates all too painfully, kids care not often about robust storylines nor particularly fetching animation.

The big plus for Illumination’s films is that they do have a knack for catchy animation and memorably arresting characters, even if the narratives in which they exist aren’t as complex nor philosophically or emotionally dense as Pixar or Laika’s efforts.

All that to say that The Grinch looks like it will be amusing and fun as far as it goes but I can help agreeing with IO9 when they say:

“… this time around, it looks like the Grinch is less a public menace who seeks to destroy Christmas, and more a disgruntled humbug who’d take 11 items into the 10-item lane at the grocery store. I’m shaking in my fur pants.”

Still, while this is likely one for parents, and for guncles (gay uncles) like me, it could be amusing enough to pass the time and if they’re doing their job right, and let’s face it generating festiveness shouldn’t be that hard, get us in the Christmas spirit.

The Grinch opens in the USA and UK on 9 November and Australia on 29 November.

Why are there so many stairs?! Final Space hilariously asks the important questions

(image courtesy TBS)


The intergalactic escapade follows an astronaut named Gary and his planet-destroying sidekick, Mooncake. Together, the two embark on serialized journeys through space in order to unlock the mystery of where the universe actually ends, and if it actually does exist. (synopsis via Wikipedia)

Begone shrivelled carcasses of depression!

Gary Space and his “cute innocent ball of pureness” friend Mooncake (both voiced by series creator Olan Rogers), who is more powerful than appearances might suggest – OK he’s a Planet Killer bur lordy what an adorable one! – have no time for looking back or auto self-destruct as they do their level best to outrun the evil Lord Commander (David Tennant).

Small snag – Gary is, um, a prisoner onboard a ship and going nowhere which makes valiant, evil-defying adventuring a tad problematic, and he’s dumb as a post.

No matter – he’s surrounded by people who do know what they’re doing and when he becomes the captain and not the prisoner, all bets are off.



It would be easy to assume Final Space is all guffaws and giggles and no substances but not so, according to Monkeys Fighting Robots:

“Final Space is dense with plotting, but the plot moves with many hilarious gags along the way. The animation is sharp, and the jokes fly a mile a minute. The series threads its unique voice through even the most dramatic moments of the first two episodes.”

So substance and laughs and even some Rick & Morty lunacy! I’m in.

Best to watch it somewhere though, I think, with not too many stairs …

After previewing the first episodes on Reddit and the TBS app and website, Final Space officially launched on 26 February.


The beat goes on: Trolls explodes with season 2 colour and fun

(image via YouTube (c) Dreamworks / Netflix)


The newest season follows Poppy (Amanda Leighton), Branch (Skylar Astin) and the Snack Pack as they live it up with all new glitter-rific festivities and adventures, like taking part in the Annual Party Games, battling in an epic village-wide pillow fight, and rapping in an open mic compliment battle. As they celebrate Troll Village with new critters and new songs, the party is just beginning. (Coming Soon)

Trolls is one those animated films that turned out way more substantial and lovely than you might have supposed from the trailer.

While it did look appealing in just about every respect – colour! glitter! fun! Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake voicing the two main characters! – it didn’t look like it was going to be as much fun as it actually was.

Sure it’s no Pixar or Laika but goddamn didn’t you leave it feeling good about, well, practically everything, and honestly if that’s the main takeaway in our cynical world, then I’m just fine with that.

Happily the movie lives in a Netflix animated series with season 2 following relatively hard on the heels of season 1, and while only Ron Funches and Walt Dohrn, who voiced Cooper and Cloud Guy respectively, remain from the original cast, the spirit and fun lives on which my inner child is more than happy to immerse itself in, glitter and all.

Trolls season 2 premiered on Netflix today, 9 March, with season 1 also currently available.

(source: Two Kids and a Coupon)


Script to screen: Bringing Wall-E to memorable life

    (image courtesy IMP Awards)


Pixar have long been the masters of creating meaningful, evocative storytelling that touches the soul with sometimes the simplest of gestures or words.

One of their greatest achievements is WALL-E, the story of a lone refuse clean up robot left behind on a disastrously polluted Earth who remains dedicated to his programmed task long after it’s become obvious (to anyone but him) that humanity, far away in the cosmos, is not coming home.

From WALL-E ‘s sweet, earnest persona through a nuanced, emotionally-resonant storyline, the film is a masterpiece, made all the more impressive by the fact that it uses minimal dialogue to tell its story.

Disney-Pixar Script to Screen series, which includes looks at scenes from UP and Inside Out among others,  illustrates how powerful WALL-E‘s storytelling is by running one of the film’s key scenes, where WALL-E and Eve show an enervated humanity how wonderful being alive, actually, truly in-the-moment alive, can be.

It’s a joyous scene in a wonderfully affecting film and this video will make you appreciate it all the more.

(source: io9)


Lost in created worlds: The most beautiful animation scenes in movie history

(image via YouTube (c) Pixar / Disney)


One of the most appealing aspects of animation is the ability it gives storytellers to take us to a breathtakingly diverse range of worlds, times and places that might otherwise elude us.

While CGI has not caught up to animation’s imaginative possibilities in many ways, there is still something beguilingly wonderful about the immersive journeys an animaetd tale can take us on.

YouTube creator video editor James Casey of The Solomon Society have brought together some of the evocative scenes in animation history in this exquisitely-lovely supercut, The Most Beautiful Animation Shots in Movie History (with sublimely good musical accompaniment courtesy of “Moon River (ukulele cover)” by Reneé Dominique), that will entrance, delight and make you fall in love with animation all over again.

Just press play and lose yourself in all that gorgeous animated beauty …

(source: Laughing Squid)


Cluck cluck cluck zoom! Blast off with Space Chickens in Space!

(image courtesy CAKE)


Why should pigs have all the fun in space, right?

Back in the ’70s, and yes, I remember when it was all on TV, The Muppet Show gave us Pigs in Space! and behold the world was a wondrous, wacky and very funny, over-the-top place.

Now lo all these years later, and after what I can only assume has been some strenuous fowl lobbying (I apologise for nothing) by fellow farmyward animals, chickens are finally heading into the great starry beyond with Space Chickens in Space, a joint production of British production company CAKE, Australia’s Studio Moshi, Mexico’s Ánima and Ireland’s Gingerbread Animation.

Designed and directed by Norwegian animators Tommy and Markus Vad Flaaten, the 52 11-minute episodes which tell the story of some quite remarkable chickens according to Bleeding Cool:

Space Chickens in Space (which though while redundant, does an excellent job of clearing up any confusion there might be that the Space Chickens are in a Trader Joe’s or something) tells the story of three chickens who are mistakenly taken from their homes and enrolled in an elite intergalactic former military academy. The siblings need all their wits and each other to survive in this world full of aliens and tricky homework challenges.”

Sure the series might be aimed at 6 to 11 year-olds but as Ben and Holly Little Kingdom and countless other shows have gloriously demonstrated, you’re never too old to let your inner kid run free or, it must be noted, blast off into space with a bunch of kidnapped and militarily-trained chickens … in SPAAAAACE!


(image courtesy CAKE)

Disney characters get their Avengers on and my, if it isn’t fun to behold!

(image via YouTube (c) SJPLAY)


Sorry superhero fanatics out there but I am not one of you, much as I like much of the storytelling that happens in that space.

I often enjoy many of the movies but I am not, by any stretch, any kind of super fan.

What I do love, and with a passion, are Pixar films which have delighted with their wit, wisdom and superlative visual wonder since Toy Story hit screens back in 1995.

So the fact that YouTube creator SJPLAY have seen fit, and what a stroke of inspiration it was, to combine Pixar and Marvel fills me with great delight, as well investing the Avengers: Infinity War trailer with all kinds of animated goodness.

It’s a beautiful piece of work, the perfect combination of blockbuster and cinematic intimacy, with added Mr and Mrs Potatohead.

For more go to Digital Spy.


Take down Mechno-Hive! Join the fight with The Axiom Chronicles

(image via Laughing Squid (c) Edison Creative)


On a dystopian planet in the far reaches of the cosmos, an evil sentient mechanical entity known as the Mechno-Hive has enslaved the organic races as their labor force. By controlling an ancient and mysterious crystaline power source known as the Axiom, they exert their tyrannical will on the entire planet.

The fate and future of the planet, and it’s occupants lies in the hands of a young hero named Rake. It falls to Rake to learn to control the ultimate power of the Axiom for good, and bring peace to the world he calls home. (synopsis via Kickstarter)

It really doesn’t matter who you are, there’s something intensely appealing, almost magically inspiring about underdogs taking on dictatiorial rulers (well, unless you’re a monster tyrant occupying a position of unassailable power; then maybe not so much).

Star Wars made merry use, and still does, of the idea, as have countless other books, movies and TV shows, and now The Axiom Chronicles is joining the rebellious fray in all its transportive animated glory.


(image courtesy Edison Creative)


Theirs is an epic, against-the-odds, one its creators, Edison Creative will inspire you enough to join their Kickstarter campaign which is seeking funds to complete production on this imaginative sci-fi Western.

The Axiom Chronicles, the brainchild of Dillon Wheelock, is a passion project for the busy design studio based in Omaha, Nebraska, and so they need our help to make it a reality.

One glimpse of that trailer and you can’t help but play a part – the animation is sensational, the storyline gripping and the emotional impact off the scale.

Go join The Axiom Chronicles and keep the rebellion, and some pretty impressive creativity, alive.

The Axiom Chronicles Kickstarter closes 5am AEDT AU time, 2 March 2018.


Weekend pop art: Trapped inside Tweety Bird and other clever pop culture icons

(image (c) Super A)


While peeking behind the curtain to see what lies beyond doesn’t always the hoped-for dividends – exhibit A being The Wizard of Oz who turned out to be not so wizard-y after all – we can help wondering what we might see if we go beyond initial appearances an dig a little deeper.

Artist Super A is very much in that camp, taking a brilliantly-revealing look behind pop culture icons like Snow White, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to find the person or animal within.

The big reveal is most definitely worth the wait, and the large amounts of cat-like curiosity that we all harbour, with his series of paintings and sculptures known as Trapped an enormously clever, enchanting take on what may lie beneath.

Now let’s hope he does the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man next – that would be the ultimate (very squishy) look within!

You can see the full collection at Super A’s Instagram page.

(source: Laughing Squid)


(image (c) Super A)


(image (c) Super A)


(image (c) Super A)


(image (c) Super A)


(image (c) Super A)


  • If you’d like to watch one of Super A’s other creations on this theme come alive, check out this animated video of the Ronald McDonald without … and within.


Saturday morning cartoons: Josie and the Pussycats

(image via YouTube (c) Hanna-Barbera)


I like to think of myself as being a fairly self-aware kid, in touch with my emotions, willing to think through the big issues, and creatively critical where needed.

But hey, at the end of the day, which by the way were sooooo much longer when I was younger, I was a kid and so there was quite a deal about the books I read, movies I saw and TV shows I watched that slipped right past me.

Such as the fact that many Hanna-Barbera cartoons were, in one way or another, partial or sometimes full carbon copies of each other, visually and narratively.

Take Josie and the Pussycats, part of a considerable wave of shows in the 1960s and early 1970s that featured travelling singers – think The Partridge Family, The Monkees, The Cattanooga Cats and The Archies – solving crimes, scaring off ghosts, helping people and just making the world a better place.

It was a well-worn template that offered endless narrative possibilities; after all when your band could go anywhere and interact with pretty much anyone, what couldn’t you do with them?

Well, being wholly original, as it turns out.

While the characters in Josie and the Pussycats were engaging and fun to spend some time with – let’s face it when you’re a kid and there’s only so much cartoon-watching time available, that’s pretty important – what they got up to wasn’t exactly out of the box different.

It wasn’t even what the characters got up to in the original comic book series by Dan DeCarlo from Archie Comics.

In fact when band members Josie (voiced by Janet Waldo/sung by Cathy Dougher), Valerie (voiced by Barbara Pariot/sung by Patrice Holloway) – the first African-American female character on a regular Saturday morning cartoon series – Melody (voiced by Jackie Joseph/sung by Cherie Moor), roadie Alan (voiced by Jerry Dexter), manager Alexander Cabot III (voiced by Casey Kasem) and his twin sister Alexandra Cabot (voiced by Sherry Alberoni) and her cat Sebastian (voiced by Don Messick) made their debut in the episode “The Nemo’s a No-No Affair”, they were a marked change from the characters in the comics.

They were almost much more different with Hanna-Barbera initially fighting the idea of Valerie, whom Alexander sometimes displays interest in, being African-American, their vision being for an all-white group it seems.

But the production company behind the recordings, La La Productions, run by Danny Janssen and Bobby Young – the idea originally was to have a live group sing a song at the end of each episode but this was dropped when the show went into production – held their ground, Hanna-Barbera acceded and we have the Josie and the Pussycats we know today.



Like many Hanna-Barbera cartoons, the run of Josie and the Pussycats was relatively short, accounting for only 14 episodes in their original iteration and then 16 episodes in their Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space incarnation.

But again, that was something I really didn’t notice as a kid, and I probably watched the same episodes over and over, illustrating once again that you tend to be a whole lot less critical in childhood than you are as an adult.

Nor did I notice the fact that the show drew really heavily on established Hanna-Barbera properties such as Scooby-Doo: Where Are You!, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, and Shazzan – they shared voice actors too with Casey Kasem voicing both Alexander Cabot III and Shaggy Rogers at the same time – and in many respects hewed faithfully to the whole idea of wide-eyed kids solving mysteries, righting wrongs and making things right and annoying the hell out of the bad guys.

So, so much Scooby Doo right?

Well yes, but honestly there’s such a charm to this show that you’re willing to overlook the great similarities with other Hanna-Barbera shows.

Granted characters Alexandra are trope-heavy nasty, Sebastian laughs just like Muttley and the band have an amazing ability to put their stage and instruments together in no time flat even after the ship carrying them has sunk, and sure there are odd narrative leaps and continuity mishaps but somehow Josie and the Pussycats rose above all the visual and thematic sameness and became its own charming cartoon series.

Like many a Hanna-Barbera character, the Josie and the Pussycats gang had a chequered post-run life, with their last animated appearance taking place in a 1973 episode of the New Scooby-Doo Movies.

They were supposed to appear in the Battle of the Network Stars spoof Laff-A-Lympics but legal issues put paid that to that, leaving Josie and the Pussycats to live on in NBC re-runs in 1975-76, VHS releases in the 1980s, and even small song snippets in 2001 on The Cartoon Network and a 2016 comic book series.

But when a show has been a part of your childhood, no matter how derivative it might appear to adult ideas, it never really goes away and ceases to be appealing, at least in some form and so it is with this show which continues to be a delightful way to spend some time, with songs sung over chase scenes (of course) and a sense that no matter the evil, even a pop band with no military or espionage experience can tame them.

And in these current fraught times, that’s kind of comforting.