Storks: Time To Tell Your Kids The Truth

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Some American children still believe that storks bring babies to parents, this film imagines a world where once that was true but now they are basically Amazon delivery drivers.

This film is made watchable by the charm of Andy Samberg, a film would have to be deeply terrible for the charm of Samberg to not  be able to salvage it, he truly is the only thing that makes this film good. That is not to say that the film is bad however, I would say it doesn’t do anything bold enough to be bad, rather it is happy to sit in the generic.

The human plot line of the young boy, voiced by Anton Starkman, who writes to the Storks to get a baby brother despite this not being his parents wishes, not only doesn’t land in terms of emotional impact but instead seems to be going out of its way to make the boy seem unlikeable and brattish. I think the whole human plotline should have been cut out.

The story is fairly boring and uninspired you know everything that is going to happen as it has happened time and again in other better films before this one. On the whole the film seems scared to try and do anything new.

Overall, a very generic animated film.

Pros.

Samberg

It is watchable

A few unintentionally funny scenes

Cons.

The human plot line

Pacing issues

It is deeply generic   

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South Park The Return Of Covid: We All Wish We Could Escape This Bleak Future

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The residents of South Park try to travel back in time and stop the outbreak of the covid epidemic.

I enjoyed this special far more than I did the last, mainly because I thought the message of learning to live with the disease, saying enough is enough, and trying to regain a semblance of our old lives, where being locked down for several months a year isn’t the norm, is not only agreeable but should be encouraged. It is nice to see things like this as a counter weight to the scare-mongering.

I enjoyed the friendship of the boys being the central focus and thought that the future Cartman, voiced by Trey Parker, storyline was actually quite sweet and well done. I know some fans will not like the final fate of Cartman but I thought in some ways it was poetic to the character we knew all along, though this is by no means the end and probably a series of the show years from now will give him a whole different future.

This special I also found to be funnier than the last and it made me chuckle a good number of times during it. I am still quite apathetic to the topic of covid and hopefully this will be the last time the show mentions it as the jokes are starting to run dry.

Overall, better than the last and hopefully the last time we will see the series tackle covid.

Pros.

The message

The ending

The jokes

Cons.

The covid jokes have been done to death

It goes on for a bit too long  

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Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Disney Coming In To Ruin Another Franchise

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A new animated take on the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney.

Where to begin on what went wrong with this film.

I think the most obvious place to start is that this film is a carbon copy of the much better live action version, it lifts scenes and lines of dialogue from that film and that just serves to remind you how needless this film really is, it is an animated reskin of a better product that came out just long ago enough for kids today to not remember it.

Speaking of the animation there is something noticeably off with it. I can’t quite put my finger on what is wrong, but there is certainly something going wrong with the lighting and the framing of it a lot of the time throughout the film. The animation style itself is fairly ugly, I understand they have chosen it to look closer to the books however it looks cheap and low rent.

The voice cast for the most part is doing their best to mimic the performances from the beloved live action films, and whilst in a few cases the effort is valiant, it never really rises to the occasion and lacks a lot of the charm and the warmth that made the performances in the live action films what they were.

Overall, entirely needless.

Pros.

It is short and if you close your eyes at times it feels like you are watching the live action version.

Cons.

The animation is off

It feels wholly unneeded and unoriginal

It is unfunny

It lacks any charm or warmth

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Santa Inc: Father Christmas Is A Patriarchal White Supremacist

0/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young elf, voiced by Sarah Silverman, dreams of becoming the new Santa Clause and whilst doing it preaches on every hot button political topic and takes a big dump all over Christmas itself.

This show highlights everything wrong with modern day Hollywood to the letter. It is not funny, it makes constant political statements in an attempt to be funny or topical but fails at both, none of the characters are likeable and each is more annoying than the last, and finally it preaches and in that I take my biggest issue.

Don’t be like me, don’t sit through eight hours of being preached to and told how bad you are and how bad humanity in general is. Within the first few minutes of the show they make a joke about vaccination and the holocaust, because why have fun at all right? This show feels like the worst parts of adult animated comedy the parts that want to be edgy for the sake of being edgy and ultimately just feel needless and irritating.

Another major issue with this show is that it clearly hates Christmas, it takes every attempt it is given to tear down Christmas and those associated with it, do you like Santa Clause? Not anymore because he is part of the patriarchy. That is the essence of this show.

Finally in a move that shows just how out of touch actors are Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen, both key voices in the show, have allegedly said that anyone who doesn’t like the show is a white supremacist, which makes zero sense. However, what it does do is make me less likely to check out Rogen’s work in the future.

Overall, making something to attack Christmas and that is edgy for edgy sake is never going to be good.

Pros.

None

Cons.

It is too long

It isn’t funny

None of the characters are likeable

The constant political points/preaching

Being edgy for the sake of being edgy

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South Park Post Covid: The Future Is Bleak, Especially If You Are Apathetic To Covid

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The kids of South Park are now men forced to return to their home town after the death of one of their own, in a world still ravaged by covid.

Honestly I think the main reason for my low score is because I am personally I am really bored of covid and talking about it, seeing this whole hour special just go on and on about it became old quickly. I wish it could have been about anything else.

That said I do admire the show for lampooning the current crisis and laughing at how extremely over the top some people have been about it, acting like it is the end of days or something. I thought this coupled with the side plot about comedy in the era of cancel culture/ woke comedy were really interesting and insightful comments on where we are right now as a species.

I didn’t think this was the funniest thing I have ever seen from South Park as though there were a few jokes that landed, and landed well for that matter, for the most part they left me cold. I don’t know if it is because of my apathy towards hearing about covid but I didn’t find myself laughing a whole lot here.

Overall, if this hadn’t been about covid I probably would have found it funnier.

Pros.

A few good jokes

Not being afraid to laughable at how over the top some people have been with covid

Comments about woke comedy

Cons.

I am bored of covid narratives

It is not hugely funny

The central mystery is not all that interesting

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Robin Robin: Whilst You Sleep At Night Mice Steal Your Food

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young robin called Robin, voiced by Bronte Carmichael, is taken in by a family of mice, but must then find out who she is after she realises she doesn’t make for a very good mouse.

My track record with Aardman Animation is mixed, I liked Wallace and Gromit and thought Early Man was okay, but I really didn’t like Chicken Run. So when it came to watching this I was mixed, however I have to say this is easily the best Aardman feature to date and if this is any indication for what they are going to produce through their collaboration with Netflix then I am very on board for what is to come.

I thought the film was sweet and really sold its message of being yourself and being proud of who you are well. I enjoyed all the characters and thought each had their moments to shine over the features run time. I thought the pace was well decided as well, as by keeping it short it allowed the film to have a real momentum that lead to it be constantly engaging and never boring.

Finally, there is a musical element to this film which could be hit or miss for people, for me I thought it worked and I enjoyed almost all of the songs, bar the final proper one during the third act, but for the most part I thought the songs added to the film’s charm.

Overall, a lovely little animated Christmas film.

Pros.

It is sweet

It is well paced

It has fun characters

The songs work well

Cons.

The third act could use work as it is a little played out  

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Encanto: Does Every Animated Film Need To Be A Musical?

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family is each gifted with superpowers by a miracle however when one of the members of the unit does not receive her powers then things start to fall apart and the family has to work through there issues to restore the magic.

I am very mixed on this film. On the one hand, the message is very good and important and one that is worth remembering by everyone in the audience. Furthermore, the film does manage to connect emotionally and pulls on all the right heartstrings to make you feel something and care about the characters.

However, on the other hand, this film has no stakes and there is no real journey to it. The issues come about because of miscommunication and then the family communicates and everything is fixed, there is no real peril and it all feels very simplistic.

Moreover, the musical numbers start to get in the way of the plot. By that I mean they are unnecessary, overused and not particularly good. As I have said before there is something about the Lin Manuel Miranda style of musical that doesn’t jive with me and that I find irritating, having what could easily be dialogue sung for the sake of it is not clever or inventive- it feels lazy.

Overall, though some parts of the film connected with me for the most part it either left me cold or slight underwhelmed. Certainly not worth seeing at the cinema, wait until you can watch it for free.

Pros.

The message

Stephanie Beatriz in the lead role

The emotional resonance

Cons.

The songs

The lack of real character journey or stakes

It has pacing issues  

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Big Mouth: Season 5 Overview

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The kids face off against love and hate.

I thought after last season this was an improvement, that is not to say that last season was bad more that it went a bit too heavy on its themes of anxiety and future dread, this I felt did a better job as it tackled and did justice to its themes whilst keeping things moving at a fairly nice breezy pace.

Moreover, I thought the jokes were more on point this time around as it returned to the comedic ability of earlier seasons having me laughing quite a few times per episode. In terms of emotional weight I think this film tackles teenage love, unrequited love and hate all quite well having the characters go on believable journeys throughout the season. I enjoyed the scene where Nick, voiced by Nick Kroll, ventures into the monster world to find out who the boss is only for it to be the real life actor Nick Kroll, I thought the metaphor of you being in control and being the boss of your emotions was apt and quite poignant for the show.

If the show was going to end I would say that scene should have been the last of the show.

Moreover, I enjoyed the Christmas episode quite a bit as well. At first the idea of an anthology of stories seemed to be irritating as it was taking us out of the action, however it actually served as quite a nice pallet cleanser and had a number of great segments.

Overall, a strong season that saw a closer return to form for the show.

Pros.

It is funny

It is heartfelt

The Christmas special

The live action scene

Cons.

On occasion it belabours its points and drags them out for too long

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Star Wars Visions: Lop And Ocho

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

On a distant world a family is driven apart by the influence of the Empire, with one young alien Lop, voiced by Seiran Kobayashi, forced to take up arms to keep her family together.

I enjoyed the focus on family here, I always think Star Wars is at its best when it is telling familial tales of fractured families. In that regard I really bought the father daughter dynamic. However, I struggled to believe the sister dynamic as I thought it did not receive enough development. In the final shots of the episode when such a key focus is placed on family and sisterhood the payoff doesn’t land as the two characters have not really spend much screen time together.

In terms of animation I thought this one looked good and I enjoyed how stylised the battle scenes were, particularly the when the lightsabre got involved. The battle sequence felt just the right length to convey the importance of the moment and the emotion, without beginning to feel repetitive.

My main gripe with this episode comes back to things I have already said here, the pacing is off. This episode could have done with being ten minutes longer, it could have scored higher if it had been as it could have devoted more of its runtime to the sister dynamic and shown the sway of the dark side more than just implying it. However, as it is it just feels like it is missing something.

Overall, a good episode, but one that could have been improved by being longer.

Pros.

The father daughter dynamic

The animation style

The focus on the Jedi and Lightsabres significance

The ending

Cons.

The sister dynamic needed more work

It felt like it was missing something on the whole

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Ron’s Gone Wrong: The Most Toxic Message Of The Year

0.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In a dystopia where children need a personal robot to be their friend and post everything they do online one boy, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, complains to his family about not having one and then is unhappy when he gets a discounted one. An unhealthy friendship ensues.

Don’t take your kids to see this. Don’t waste your money. There are so, so many better animated films out there that actually have a positive message and enrich those who view them, this only serves to cause harm. This is one of the worst animated films I have seen in a long time.

Firstly, the main boy inspires no sympathy because whilst yes he is a social outcast once he gets a friend in his damaged robot Ron, voiced by Zach Galifianakis, he immediately puts him down and treats him like dirt. Insisting that he gets to pick his friends and because Ron is not perfect out of the box he doesn’t want to know him, what sort of message is this sending to kids? Yes, as the film goes on her learns the error of his ways, but by that point he is already a loathsome lead.

Secondly, this film seems to view the younger generation as being unable to function without constantly being online, which I don’t believe is true. Rather it is more likely to be a cynical Gen X or older view of ‘these young people today always on their phones’, which honestly was never more than a gross generalisation. The world that this film is set in is honestly a hellscape, with big tech companies being basically all powerful, and viewed in this context the whole film becomes incredibly depressing, was that the point?

Thirdly, and in my opinion the most grievous of all, this film treats online issues as throwaway lines and worse yet jokes. Within the film one of the characters Savannah, voiced by Kylie Cantrall, becomes the victim of online bullying as she is labelled ‘poop girl’. This presents the film with the opportunity to tackle an issue that is effecting a lot of young people around the globe, however, rather than do this it trivialises the issue, overlooks it in favour of continuing the main plot and then uses it as a joke as the film almost wants you to laugh at her for being called ‘poop girl’. In my mind not only is this a wasted opportunity but also it is incredibly dangerous.

Overall, this film highlights everything wrong with modern animation, and children should not be allowed to see it.

Pros

Ron is a nice character who made me laugh

Cons.

It is harmful

Using online bullying as a joke

The main kid is a brat and the film says his friend with Ron is good when in fact it is deeply unhealthy

Kids today, and how again Hollywood executives don’t know the first thing

It’s message is rotten

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