Bolt (2008)

Bolt Movie Review

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Bolt Movie Review

Bolt is a 2008 computer animated comedy film which is Disney’s 48th animated feature. It is one of their weaker efforts.

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They always pick the cute ones, the ones that look

like you, Bolt, but the rest of us never come back out

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Bolt Movie Review

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So we follow a white shepherd dog named Bolt who is a dog actor in a superhero show and once he gets separated from his human person, he sets out to find her along with his new friends, a cat and a hamster, and along the way he has to learn to cope with the fact that he doesn’t really have superpowers.

Now, a disillusioned protagonist is a familiar concept and a dog setting out to find his master is also a very tired story been told countless times by now. The movie is interesting as it deals with both of those things, but it is still a very unoriginal film and that is probably why it is ultimately forgettable and one of Disney’s weaker flicks.

Now in terms of storytelling, the film doesn’t really flow all that well. The pacing is off and although the film is very entertaining and sometimes even sweet, the beginning does drag and the film definitely started in a very unappealing manner. The ending is sweet, but typical. And the film shines in the middle parts where you get most of the adventure and fun humor.

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Bolt Movie Review

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So let’s talk about each of the film’s characters which are surprisingly solid in development. Bolt himself is honestly a bit boring as he is portrayed as too good-natured and heroic. He is fine, but a typical protagonist nonetheless. Penny is also a forgettable Disney kid, but the relationship between the two is heartwarming of course.

Bolt shines in its supporting characters as both Mittens and Rhino are such good sidekicks. Rhino the hamster is a lot of fun with his many nerdy lines and the concept of a hamster in a bowl is interesting and different. Mittens is the film’s finest character. I understood from the beginning that her backstory involves a human, but it was still a well done backstory. And I really liked how she was at first an unlikable cat, but Bolt grew on her eventually and the two became friends.

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Bolt Movie Review

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This is basically a dog film made for dog persons. I honestly think that a dog person is bound to like this movie much more than non-dog people and the film is definitely fun and charming, but so cliched and forgettable. I myself am in the middle section. I am a dog person so the film was suited for me, but I still could not deny its unoriginality and the overall forgettable nature to it. I don’t know what it is about it, but it is one of those movies that are at first quite enjoyable and you do love it in the moment, but quickly forget it afterwards much in the vein of ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ and ‘Meet the Robinsons’.

But dogs are well portrayed and cats as well. Stereotyped, but those stereotypes are mostly realistic so I did not mind it. The designs of the animals are actually different than usual and the film is memorable in its characters’ looks for sure. The humor is quite stupendous. I really laughed out loud a couple of times and the scene that shows how dogs make cute faces to get food and how cats cannot quite do that was hilarious.

Bolt is not a musical, but it does have two songs nonetheless. I Thought I Lost You is a very forgettable, typical number, but Barking at the Moon is honestly a lot of fun. The song is accompanied by such a cute sequence and I loved how catchy it was and how well it utilized on the barking sound in its lyrics. Jenny Lewis was much better here than Miley Cyrus.

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Bolt Movie Review

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Speaking of Miley, she did a good job as Penny. Her voice is too recognizable, but she did okay. Susie Essman is excellent as Mittens and Mark Walton is very funny. John Travolta does not have that recognizable a voice so he was pretty good as Bolt.

The animation here is very good. The film looks and sounds too much like a Pixar movie, but still the visuals are mostly quite good for 2008 and it looked quite polished and especially accomplished in the character design department. The score is solid, the pacing is bad and overall the film is emotional, but sometimes a bit too emotionally manipulative. It is one of the weaker Disney films, but for Second Dark Age, it is quite solid.

Bolt is one of the weaker Disney films as it is very forgettable, the storyline is mostly pretty generic and some parts were not as fun as the others were, but it is well animated with especially good character design, the voice acting is solid, the humor is actually quite good and the film is moving at times and mostly just a lot of fun, especially if you’re a dog person.

My Rating – 3.5

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Porco Rosso (1992)

Porco Rosso Movie Review

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

Porco Rosso is a 1992 animated adventure comedy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of the weaker Studio Ghibli offerings that still has a lot to offer.

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I’d rather be a big than a fascist

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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The subject of aviation is naturally very dear to Miyazaki, but somehow he never really knew how to utilize all that strong love for it. ‘The Wind Rises’ was problematic and Porco Rosso is no exception. It is a film that is just solid and I’d come to expect much more than solid from this director.

So the film is about an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace who was transformed into an anthropomorphic pig. The film is interesting for being the only Miyazaki film that is very realistic and could have happened in real life, everything except the curse part of course. Its Italian location is interesting and unique for the studio and I love the 30s decade so this was pleasant for me naturally.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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But I have to agree with the director himself who stated that he made an adult movie for children. And that is exactly the major problem of Porco Rosso in a nutshell. It is realistic, it has politics and history in it and yet somehow the movie is not serious as it tries to be fun and funny. It is fun and funny at times, but this tonal inconsistency just felt off for me and ultimately the movie did not work as much as it could have had he decided on just one consistent tone.

I found its first act somewhat abrupt as it starts in a rushed way and it did not introduce me to its characters and its world properly. The third act of the film is where it is at its silliest and most childish and although amusing, it felt too silly in contrast to everything that came before it. The second act is easily the best one as it features some strong characterization, humor and wonderful drama.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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Porco himself is very memorable and I really liked his character as he is a departure from the usual heroes from the director, or should I say heroines. His story is excellent and I loved the hint at the end that his face may be restored to human. Fio is such a wonderful, subtly feminist character and she is a lot of fun and has some great energy. The relationship between these two is the heart and soul of the film.

Donald Curtis is somewhat typical as an antagonist and again that fight at the end was silly, but Madame Gina is memorable as a love interest and I really enjoyed the love story in this movie and I even found this triangle to be pretty solid.

Porco Rosso is so well animated. It isn’t quite on par with the previous Ghibli films as it isn’t as artistic and the backgrounds are sometimes lacking, but the designs of the characters are so good, especially that of the protagonist, and the film is pleasing in color and quite endearing. The flight scenes are so well executed and I loved the attention to detail that went into the animation of airplanes. It is evident from this movie how much Hayao loves aviation.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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The score is also stupendous. It isn’t as memorable as say the score from ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ or ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is very fitting to the story and feel of the movie, not to mention the locations, and I loved how fun and retro it felt.

The movie is well paced and edited in spite of that somewhat rushed first act. It otherwise flows really well and the direction is as strong as usual. I also thought that the dialogue is quite solid and I loved the conversations between Fio and Porco and his origin story is so well told. So the movie is not one of Ghibli’s strongest and it is more in line with ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’. Still, it is endearing and charming enough that I can’t criticize it too much.

Porco Rosso is a problematic movie. The animation is as wonderful as usual for the studio, the characters are memorable, I loved the relationship between Fio and Porco, the locations of the film are different and interesting and the film is so well scored and charming and endearing for the most part. However, I have to agree with Miyazaki himself that this is an adult film for children and it thus felt odd both conceptually and tonally. It struggled with its tone too much, the first act is somewhat rushed and the third act is silly leading to one of Ghibli’s more humble offerings.

My Rating – 3.5

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Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Meet the Robinsons Movie Review

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Meet the Robinsons Movie Review

Meet the Robinsons is a 2007 animated science fiction comedy film which is the 47th Disney animated feature. It is such a solid, underrated Disney flick.

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Why is your dog wearing glasses?

Oh, because his insurance won’t pay for contacts

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Meet the Robinsons Movie Review

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I really like this movie and it is actually one of the better Disney films from their Second Dark Age. It is definitely underrated, but I can see why some people may not like it and it definitely isn’t the most memorable film out there. But despite its structural problems, the story remains its biggest strength.

Yes, Disney movies usually have stronger characters or music than the plot, but this time around it is most certainly the opposite case. This is probably the best that the company did regarding the future as I prefer it over ‘Treasure Planet’ honestly. It is a darn good time travel flick that utilizes on its premise so well and it never became a retread of ‘Back to the Future’ that it easily could have become. It is its own thing.

I liked the first act as it introduces you to its story and main characters well. And of course the third act is where the movie absolutely shines as it is filled with such a wonderful family drama so well executed. The highlights are what they did with the villain, the scene at the orphanage which was emotional and of course the sky writing scene is beautiful. I adored that ending with one of my favorite Disney songs playing in the background and when they showed Walt’s quote about moving forward afterwards, well, it just made my day and I was so emotional.

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Meet the Robinsons Movie Review

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But that second act is so problematic that it seriously affected the movie and hurt it from being quite good to just solid. I am talking about the characters. They are problematic in this movie and the Robinson family are a lovely bunch and the film has a lot of heart. However, they are too eccentric. I loved some of it, but the movie tried too hard that eccentricity card to the point of being overwhelming. And the family has so many members that it was hard keeping up and it seriously affected an otherwise solid character development.

Let’s talk about that family. The frogs are ridiculous and I just could not get past that no matter how cute they were. They felt tacked in on the movie needlessly. The various uncles were forgettable and most of the men in the family were not memorable at all. The robot himself is much less annoying than B. E. N. from ‘Treasure Planet’, but that is because he was less used and not because he was anything special to begin with.

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Meet the Robinsons Movie Review

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Lucille and Bud are the only really memorable members of the family and I loved both of them, so quirky and full of heart. And the wife also had her moments, but was your typical cartoon wife in some ways. But let’s talk about the big three characters: Wilbur, Lewis and the villain. Wilbur is very good and although somewhat typical, I loved his relationship with Lewis and that brotherly/fatherly relationship was very interesting.

Lewis is called Cornelius in the future and I really enjoyed that the movie did not employ that usual bullcrap with not supposed to be meeting yourself in the future or past and actually had the two of them meet. A very rewarding scene emotionally. Lewis is a good protagonist, not great, but good for who they were trying to portray and is better than most modern Disney main characters.

The Bowler Hat Guy is the very best character that Meet the Robinsons has to offer by far. At first I was slightly annoyed by his comedic presence, but still his design and voice were quite interesting and he was cartoony, but also felt like a human being in the end. Yes, he isn’t a villain and is in the end explained that he is Goob in the past and I loved that twist, so well done. Lewis helping him eventually was wonderful and I loved how he genuinely felt sorry for what he did. An excellent story for him and a great characterization.

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Meet the Robinsons Movie Review

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The animation is such a great improvement over ‘Chicken Little’ that it was honestly baffling to witness. It still needed some work in the backgrounds that honestly looked poor for the most part, but I really enjoyed its colorful approach and the designs of the characters are quirky and quite authentic in their own right. This future was fun over serious, bright over dark, imaginative over realistic and I honestly loved it, especially the buildings and the transportation.

Meet the Robinsons has just a couple of songs in it as it isn’t a musical. Another Believer is tonally in line with the movie’s feel itself, but I just did not enjoy it that much as it is forgettable and almost too modern. But Little Wonders is just, well, wondrous! A very underrated song that is the best of this era for the studio, it wonderfully accompanies that emotional ending and is so well sung by Rob Thomas and although catchy, it is more moving and poignant in its approach with such heartfelt lyrics.

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Meet the Robinsons Movie Review

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The film features a surprisingly strong humor and it is the funniest Disney has been since ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’. Some of the lines from Bud as well as the line about T-Rex’s small hands were just hilarious and I was honestly caught off-guard at how funny some moments were. The film is weakly paced and so incredibly rushed as it needed a much bigger runtime to tell this rich story. But overall it is one of Disney’s most underrated and most endearing modern efforts.

It is way too rushed in its pace and that second act is enormously chaotic to the point of hurting the movie tremendously as it has way too much energy and way too many characters in it, but Meet the Robinsons is otherwise a very solid, underrated Disney film with an animation that is a big improvement over their last effort, one great song, very good main characters and a superb “villain” and above all an original, so well crafted and heartfelt story with a surprising amount of wonderful humor in it.

My Rating – 3.5

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Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

Only Yesterday is a 1991 anime drama film directed by Isao Takahata which is Studio Ghibli’s fifth movie. It is one of their most underrated and very best.

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There is always a tomorrow

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The story is so strong. I am not usually a fan of this framing device where we jump from present to past, but this use of flashbacks is so strong that it complements the movie instead of hurting it. Critics have pointed out the strong adult approach that is present in Only Yesterday and that is definitely the case here. It is intended for women, but could be enjoyed by men as well. But it is mostly for adults as its story is very mature and deep.

We follow a 27-year-old woman as she journeys to the countryside and meanwhile reminisces about her 10-year-old self. This is not just your regular reminiscing, but it is important as she thus grows more as an adult and realizes her past and present mistakes. She is somewhat lost as an adult and she wants to fix that.

What I loved about it the most is its portrayal of childhood. Now there are a lot of movies about this subject matter, but this is easily one of the best of its type because it shows so truthfully how everything seemed better and more magical during childhood, but it also shows us that some of the problems and traumas faced during childhood are never really forgotten and they shape you as a human being. Incredibly powerful stuff.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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And I loved her romance with Toshio, so well done. I rooted for them to end up together and it is implied that they did which was wonderful. Their conversations were just so wonderful and realistic that they were easily the highlights here in terms of the dialogue. Toshio is a great character and Taeka just might be my favorite Ghibli heroine or at least in the top two or three. She is beautifully developed and always grounded in reality as she is never portrayed as too good, especially as a child and I appreciated that.

Other characters aren’t as memorable but they definitely help shape her experiences as an adult and as a child. Toshio’s family does have some great moments with her as they pressure her into dating Toshio which was such a realistically depicted scene. Taeka’s mother is also superbly realized, caring, yet also careless at times towards her. The same goes for her sister. And of course I liked all of her classmates and especially her love interest.

The scene where the two share their first conversation is just beautiful to witness. It wonderfully showcases the power and innocence of childhood love. All of the scenes between Taeka and Toshio were of course the other highlights. I loved the scenes with hitting puberty and the period talk is something you rarely see in animation and is greatly portrayed here. And her math problem led to such a great and relatable scene to me personally.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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But there is no denying the power of the last sequence. I just adored that ending and it is in fact one of my favorite Studio Ghibli scenes ever. There you see the need for the animated medium as this is a drama and not a fantasy but there it employs its flashback approach by bringing the kids on the screen together with her and facing her with her former self. That moment was just poetic and deep that I felt it emotionally. The fact that probably my favorite song ever The Rose was playing during the scene only heightened the emotion for me. It is the truly touching pinnacle of this entire mature and relatable drama.

Only Yesterday is beautifully animated. Now it isn’t on the level of some previous Ghibli classics such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is still incredibly strong. The film portrays its characters realistically as they are not overly pretty and perfect. The imagery is gorgeous and the attention to detail is once again overwhelming.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The film showcases the importance of country life and especially farm producing and I just loved that. This studio has always been the proponent of living in the country, but this movie takes that to the next level as it also shows us the importance of working and how producing plants can be beneficial to not just your health but also emotionally as you help grow a living thing. The relationship between humans and nature is so well emphasized here and it shows us how the two can co-exist peacefully and productively.

The score is again terrific and not just in the ending, but also in its use of Hungarian and Romanian folk music as that somehow transcends and perfectly fits the country scenes. It is so well edited and directed and a further proof why I love Isao Takahata so much as he truly directs his movies stupendously and his Ghibli films are my favorites.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday isn’t perfect as I thought that some scenes weren’t as compelling as the rest and the film needed more humor in my opinion as it was overly serious, but it truly is one of Studio Ghibli’s finest outings and definitely near the top of the list for me. It is an underrated film that should be appreciated by more people and now that it finally came out in the USA, I am glad to see that start to happen. Also, it is easily one of the best that the very weak year of 1991 has to offer.

Only Yesterday is one of the very best that Studio Ghibli has to offer thanks to again gorgeous animation, a truly phenomenal score, excellent character development and a rich story. Its framing device is put to some great use, the film flows so well, it is beautifully directed by always great Isao Takahata and it is so emotional, relatable and ultimately deep in its very mature story. The highlight is the ending which deeply touched me with its song choice, imagery and strong emotion.

My Rating – 4.5

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The Boss Baby (2017)

The Boss Baby Movie Review

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The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby is a 2017 animated comedy film by DreamWorks Animation. It is an okay, passable diversion and nothing more than that.

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Can’t we just share?

You really didn’t go to business school, did you?

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The Boss Baby Movie Review

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The plot follows a baby who is a secret agent in the secret war between babies and puppies. Yes, that is this movie in a nutshell and, needless to say, it is so far from a high-concept idea that the movie just never managed to get away from that silly and too simplistic premise. They did the best they could mostly, but that was still not enough.

I thought that the movie actually had pretty solid world building for a silly plot such as this one. Some of the scenes such as everything in the Baby Corp as well as the entire final scene which was intriguingly ambiguous were terrific and entertaining, but I do think that the film struggles with finding its audience. It is way too convoluted and detailed in its plot for kids and yet it was so obviously made for them. The perfect balance was not always struck here.

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The Boss Baby Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. The titular boss baby is a mixed bag for me. I liked how memorable and fun he was and caring for his brother yet I wanted more edge from him. I thought that according to its trailers, the movie would have been more adult-oriented and yet the baby himself is way too mild and too much on the good side. But Alec Baldwin did a really good job in the role.

Tim Templeton is your typical yet likable and realistic kid and I have to say that the film nailed their relationship. Their brotherly bond and love is wonderful and all of their scenes together are the highlights of the movie which is actually very sweet and childlike which I did not expect.

The parents are thoroughly forgettable, but the villain is pretty solid though again typical. The baby’s employees were too childish, but I did like that Gandalf alarm clock. The movie is mostly just about the baby and Tim so the other characters suffer consequently.

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The Boss Baby Movie Review

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The Boss Baby actually features some pretty solid animation from time to time. Yes, it is your typical overly polished and garish CGI animation of the 2010s, but it does have a couple of surprises up its sleeve. I am talking about those imaginary sequences which were cute and charming. The pirate ship was so well incorporated into the story. And the pop-up book segment was the most inventive of the bunch. Sometimes the movie was surprisingly inventive visually, but those moments came too far and few in between.

I found its score forgettable and to me the humor is where the movie dropped the ball almost entirely. Yes, some moments were admittedly chuckle-inducing, but most of it was overly childish in its approach and most of the jokes were overly simplistic and cartoony. The kids should find this movie mostly great, but for anyone older than 12, it should prove a challenge.

The action is way too overwhelming, at least it was to me personally. Again the reason why it is better suited for kids than adults. Some of the set pieces and action scenes were so long and silly and goofy that only the children could properly enjoy them, but I myself found the movie to be overly frenetic to the point of being exhausting at times.

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The Boss Baby Movie Review

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The Boss Baby has a lot of heart at its core, but in its sibling relationship, though the strongest, it’s also very derivative and your typical animated flick stuff. The ending is interesting, but I still saw it coming as it is a very predictable flick. It is a harmless little flick that is actually far from the worst that DreamWorks produced, but it is also far from truly good or solid too. But as I said, it is harmless and I do not get why some would object to it so harshly. It is along the line of ‘Home’ on my DreamWorks ranking list.

The Boss Baby is not a particularly good movie, but it’s a harmless, passable entertainment best suited for kids. It is way too frenetic in its action and too goofy at times, but also surprisingly sweet and touching in its brotherly relationship. But it is just okay as the humor is ultimately lacking and the movie never really overcame its ridiculously silly and simplistic premise. Some plot points were interesting and some of its animation was even inventive, but most of it was your typical DreamWorks fare and nothing more than that.

My Rating – 3

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Chicken Little (2005)

Chicken Little Movie Review

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Chicken Little Movie Review

Chicken Little is a 2005 animated science fiction comedy film which is the 46th Disney animated feature and easily their worst one.

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Hold your horses, here! And horses, hold your breath

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Chicken Little Movie Review

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Yes, I have to say that it is easily their worst film ever made. ‘Home on the Range’ is the only one that comes close. These two came at the same time and were the lowest point that Disney hit. It isn’t a horrible movie as it has its strengths (more on that later), but there is no denying the sheer unoriginality of its plot and many terrible choices in its production.

Let’s start with the story. Chicken Little never has any identity and it struggles because it never decides what movie it wants to be. At first it is a faithful adaptation of its source, then it veers to tired baseball drama and afterwards it goes to full extraterrestrial science fiction. There are a couple of movies you have here and neither of them are good.

I myself disliked the baseball one the most as I am not a fan of sports and especially of this stupid sport so those scenes bored me. They weren’t terrible, but were just too typical in execution and, not to mention, implausible. As for its science fiction elements, I wasn’t a fan of them either. The film is basically a rehash of ‘The War of the Worlds’ and maybe even the 2005 version as they were released in the same year. The aliens, the ship, everything reminded me of that with a touch of ‘Signs’ added. DreamWorks’ ‘Home’ is similar in plot and especially in ending, but frankly a better, more enjoyable film.

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Chicken Little Movie Review

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As I said above, the film isn’t devoid of good things and certainly the family drama is quite solid and it provides a couple of moving moments with their last conversation and embrace being quite touching. This is the heart of the entire film and the only aspect that provides any sort of emotion or storytelling.

Certainly the relationship between Chicken Little and Ace is quite strong and the movie should have focused on them even more. Ace is a very likable character, but unfortunately Chicken Little is not. He is obnoxious at times and just not a lovable protagonist as the story needed. That mostly stems from Zach Braff’s annoying performance and voice. The voice casting in this film is truly horrible and of the worst kind.

The film has some good characters such as Ace and Little’s team is pretty solid with a fine dynamic between them. Runt of the Litter is your typical nervous sidekick, Abby as this ugly duckling and love interest is okay, but forgettable and all of the other kids and “villains” are typical and not at all memorable. Fish Out of Water is the most lovable character here as his design is interesting and he has some good moments here.

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Chicken Little Movie Review

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Chicken Little’s animation is very mediocre and one of Disney’s first. So basically Disney struggled at the box office and before they acquired Pixar and before John Lasseter came to the studio, they decided to finally go to computer animation as their last resort and the results are beyond lackluster.

This is obviously a first attempt as the character designs are all over the place and not the greatest and the animation is unpolished, choppy and at times frankly very dated. It just feels incredibly dated and weak when compared to other films of its time such as ‘The Incredibles’. But it is better than ‘Madagascar’s animation, that’s for sure. I just wish that Pixar lent them a hand at this production as they were clearly not ready. And it truly is a shame that we got only two hand-drawn Disney flicks after this one. It breaks my heart.

The soundtrack is, well, horrible. I have to say that the soundtrack is the worst aspect of this movie and the one that entirely ruins it to no possible redemption. That is because it isn’t original and it is filled with an incredible amount of forced, frustrating pop culture references and pop music at just the worst times when the movie needed to be slower and calmer. I just hated the use of the songs here, really despised them.

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Chicken Little Movie Review

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Chicken Little is thus very weakly paced and the structure is just bad. The score, other than those reused songs, has its moments and is okay, but I wished for original songs or no songs at all. It has a very short running time and thus the use of those songs is entirely redundant. The dialogue is not great and the film’s humor is also pretty subpar. It truly is Disney’s worst film, but having in mind that Disney never made horrible and truly bad movies, surely this one isn’t bad as well and is just very mediocre.

Disney never made a truly bad, horrible movie and surely Chicken Little has its moments, some good characters and the family drama is moving, but it is still a very mediocre affair that is filled with annoying pop music, just terrible voice casting, quite subpar CGI animation as it is their first computer animated effort and an unoriginal plot that lacks identity and feels like two different movies put together. It truly is Disney’s worst film ever.

My Rating – 2.5

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Kiki’s Delivery Service Movie Review

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a 1989 fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is Studio Ghibli’s forth film which is solid, but pretty overrated.

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Flying used to be fun

until I started doing it for a living

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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It follows a young witch in training. She hits her teenage years and moves to a new town where she starts earning money by delivering packages with her broom. She meets a lot of different people and experiences adulthood. It is a coming-of-age flick which should prove awesome for children and most especially little girls, but it is in my opinion too childlike and girly and it doesn’t have the adult appeal that childlike movies such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ have.

That is mostly why I didn’t love it. I liked it more upon my second viewing, but I still think it isn’t better than solid. The plot is somewhat non-existent except that it is a coming-of-age story and although it is too slow at times, I mostly liked its casual approach which is the director’s signature direction. He directed the film really well, that’s for sure.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Of course Kiki not being able to talk to her cat eventually and losing her flying ability was a metaphor for becoming an adult and losing your innocence and I loved that, a very elegant and heartwarming way to state that transition. The movie is slow, but certainly quite sophisticated and although seemingly too sweet, it does portray many different types of people and some not all that good so it does become more mature at some points, but too rarely.

I’ve had a big problem with its ending. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a film that is leisurely in style and pace and thus its climactic ending felt way out of place and honestly quite ridiculous. It is a typical action-oriented finale that should be reserved for all those stupid family flicks made in USA and seeing Miyazaki resort to that was unfortunate.

Kiki is a good character, though a bit too good natured and somewhat forgettable when put against other strong Ghibli heroines. Jiji’s sarcasm proved to be a lot of fun and again I really liked that only she could talk to him. Their relationship pleasantly reminded me of Lyra and Pan’s relationship in ‘Northern Lights’.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Osono is charming and Ursula shared a really great scene with Kiki and I loved her artistic background. As for Tombo, he is your typical Ghibli male love interest, but their relationship was admittedly quite sweet and touching. The voice acting is expectedly very good here.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is as superbly animated as you would come to expect from the caliber of this studio and its famous director. The character designs themselves are good, but it is the backgrounds that prove to be a real treat here. I absolutely loved how gorgeous some of the imagery was here. I always loved seaside towns and this town being European in style was refreshing to see in an anime film. I loved how the town looked and it felt so cozy, but the house interiors, the food, of course the nature and every little detail was beautiful to witness and Ghibli’s early films from eighties and nineties really do give hand-drawn animation a great reputation.

The score is also very good and grandiose and different in its style which I loved. Its opening and closing number was also quite sweet. The film is definitely wonderfully made technically and both the script and the dialogue offer some gems in terms of the scenes. My favorite scenes are Kiki’s discussion about art and flying with Ursula, her first scenes in a new town were all phenomenal and her scenes with Tombo and Jiji were all big winners.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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So the film is pleasant and charming, but admittedly too slow at times and I honestly thought that the film was way too simplistic and it definitely ended in a very mediocre, frustratingly annoying manner. It is a movie that is perfect for kids and little girls, but it never has that universality to it that other Ghibli classics have. It is the weakest Ghibli outing from the eighties by far and definitely one of its most overrated films. It is solid, don’t get me wrong, but I’d come to expect much greater things from this magnificent studio and this one is certainly way too overrated for my taste.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is expectedly gorgeously and meticulously animated, very well scored, pleasantly leisurely in pace and style with a good metaphor and it is a charming coming-of-age film that is great for children and especially girls, but it isn’t all that appealing to adults, I found its ending annoyingly too climactic and out of place and although the film is definitely sweet and solid, it is far from great and is actually one of Studio Ghibli’s most overrated works.

My Rating – 3.5

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Home on the Range (2004)

Home on the Range Movie Review

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Home on the Range Movie Review

Home on the Range is a 2004 animated musical western comedy film which is the 45th Disney animated feature film and one of their weakest.

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Call me crazy, but I think these cows got it in for me!

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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This is one of those films that are perfect for kids and I could see myself loving it as a child. I do think that kids should see it regardless what adults think and yes, adults are harsh to it. A bit too harsh if you ask me. Yes, it is one of the worst films to come from Disney Animation Studios, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad as even the weakest Disney flicks are passable and okay as is the case with this one too.

The film is a comedy for sure and it is a musical owing to an abundance of songs, but more importantly it is a western film and that is rare for animation which is why I loved those elements here. ‘Spirit’ from DreamWorks is certainly an infinitely better western film, but this one manages to recreate the 1890s period really well thanks to solid imagery and good southern accents.

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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The plot itself certainly takes the backseat to all of the action which is a big problem but it has its moments such as a memorable villain, somewhat well executed last chase and a wonderful ending that is emotionally resonant and sweet. But yes, the film is way too short in its running time to be having this much action in it.

Home on the Range features solid characters in my opinion. Not the greatest, but not bad either. I really liked the dynamic between the three cows and they serve as solid protagonists. Grace is somewhat typical, but Mrs. Caloway is charming and Maggie is quite good, though over-the-top at times. The relationship between the two is the strongest in the film and the casting of Judi Dench and Roseanne Barr certainly helped the movie a lot as they’re great.

Buck is annoying, I have to say. He is one of those sidekicks that only kids could like and to the rest of us, he is actually a waste of time here. Lucky Jack also wasn’t all that memorable and those two henchmen had some good moments, but were ultimately 101 Disney henchmen a bit too much. But I have to say that I really like Alameda Slim. He is a good mix of competent and goofy villain and I loved his singing and that it was used as a weapon. That needed to happen at some point in all these Disney musicals.

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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Home on the Range has one of the worst animations ever for Disney. I really did not care for it and it brought the whole movie down significantly. It does have some good details and, as I said, the period is recreated rather well, but the only standout scene is the villain song and the rest are forgettable and actually kind of cheap. Not only does the whole movie look too garish in its colors, but also quite unappealing in its characters as their angular designs are rather off-putting. That is something that ‘Hercules’ did well, but this one fails in my opinion.

Easily the standout aspect of the entire film is its soundtrack and the only truly good thing about it. I really liked it and these songs are very underrated in my opinion as they are not only a lot of fun, but refreshingly different in their country genre and fitting to the tone and setting of the film.

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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The titular opening number is actually incredibly entertaining and a good opening for a western film, very fitting to its style and I always say that I love when these films pay attention to its time period and setting which this one did tremendously. Will the Sun Ever Shine Again is very much the same case as with No Way Out from ‘Brother Bear’. It is just not needed as we can see the emotions ourselves and we don’t need the song to spell it out for us. Certainly the weakest song here.

Little Patch of Heaven is so good. Again very fitting in style, so well sung and with fine and charming descriptive lyrics, it succeeds as a very endearing and catchy country song and a very good theme for the entire film. Of course the highlight is Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo. I love this song so much and it is one of the best from Disney’s Second Dark Age. As I said above, it is a very effective scene for our villain and the greatest moment in the entire film, but I just love yodeling so I naturally loved this song as well. Again fitting to the film, it has good lyrics and the tune is just so damn catchy and the visuals are so psychedelic that you gotta love it.

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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Home on the Range is definitely too short and actually not all that engaging for that short a running time which is a big problem. The direction is quite weak but at least the performances are good. The dialogue is nothing to write home about too. In the end, it is in my opinion the ‘Oliver & Company’ from the 2000s – a Disney flick which is fun and with a great soundtrack, but so weak in almost every other way that it’s one of the company’s worst movies.

Home on the Range is definitely one of Disney’s weakest films owing to a standard plot, way too much action for its short running time, forgettable supporting characters and garish animation with unappealing character designs. But it is still not a bad movie as it is very good for kids owing to its cartoony and goofy approach, it has good performances and fine protagonists plus its country soundtrack is a lot of fun and quite underrated in its own right.

My Rating – 3

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 family fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of Studio Ghibli’s loveliest offerings.

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Well, I’m not sure,

but I could’ve sworn that I saw

both of the girls up in the treetop, laughing

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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This has to be Ghibli’s most childlike film and that is okay as it is wonderful and so pleasing and gentle that you gotta love it no matter the age. So basically we follow two sisters as they explore the country and the forest while interacting with friendly wood spirits. Yes, this film apparently doesn’t have a clear storyline, but I have to say that I liked it all the more for it.

In real life, rare are sudden conflicts and there are no villains so this film ended up being rather realistic and an original take on an animated film as I cannot think of any other animated flick that did this. It is a wonderful slice of life story for children and their parents and I myself sympathized with the characters and I loved the country setting. Despite not having a clear plot and goal, the film still explores some themes and the most emphasized are those of sibling love, benefits of living in the country and of course the film is as ecological as you’d come to expect from the director. It reminded me pleasantly of my childhood and seeing the two sisters explore the house and the forest is exactly what I did as a kid so it was relatable to me.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. Satsuki and Mei are such wonderful child characters whom I really liked. As with ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, the film showcases realistically and nostalgically the powers of childhood and how children really interact. Everything is a wonder to them, their thirst for exploration is never-ending and they even portrayed realistically how boys and girls do not get along at an early age and how boys are much more shy. Very well done.

Satsuki having  to care for Mei also reminded me of the aforementioned film and it again shows us how responsible the role of an older child really is. Mei is cute and sometimes funny, but also at times annoying. A very grounded in reality four-year-old. I loved Kanta and his shy interactions with Satsuki were very amusing and of course the grandmother is lovable.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro is a family slice of life film but it is also very much a fantasy flick. Its creatures are so original in design and authentic that they deservedly stood the test of time and are iconic to this day. The dustbunnies are very interesting and the Catbus is such a fantastic creation that is zany in the best way possible. It obviously influenced J. K. Rowling for her Knight Bus. And of course Totoro is such a lovable creature and the mix of cute and large is memorable and he is cute while also being very funny at times.

Hayao Miyazaki directed this film really well and you cannot deny his strong sense of space and time as both the setting and the fifties are very well portrayed here. I just loved everything about this country. The house is quite memorable and of course the forest is beautiful to behold. I loved how we got to see the country jobs and the various amounts of vegetables and fruit shown here can definitely make you hungry.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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Yes, the animation is simply gorgeous as is expected from this magnificent studio. The character design of the humans is very good, but it is the creature design that really makes an impact as it is simple, yet unforgettable. The film is beautiful to look at and again highly advanced for its time as both the water and the light are so realistically portrayed.

As for some of the flaws, sometimes the kids yelled a bit too much for sure and the film can definitely be too simplistic and childish to some. I don’t see how a lot of people can like it. I myself did, but it isn’t for everyone. And even though I really liked the inclusion of their mother’s illness and the third act was more emotional and dark while still ending on a very positive note, I still wished that it was a bit darker and more emotional. I loved the film’s ending for sure, but maybe a more ambiguous ending would have been better.

And I loved the properties of the creatures such as the Catbus flying and Totoro making a tree grow to full size in a matter of minutes, but I still would have liked a bit more explanations and more concise rules for the powers as an adult. Again, that is where being a kid really matters as it leads to a better viewing experience of the film.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro is very well paced and although it may be too slow for some, I actually loved its languid pace and that meant that you can enjoy the power of the animation much more. The level of detail in this movie is truly staggering. The dialogue is also solid and some lines are quite memorable. And I have to mention its score as it is beautiful per usual but this time containing a song and its theme song is so endearing catchy and ultimately fantastic. The film has a big heart and very much a timeless appeal to it. It is one of the most wonderfully childlike films that I have ever seen and certainly one of Ghibli’s best works.

My Neighbor Totoro is a gentle, leisurely, simple slice of life film that offers you a heartwarming look into the eyes of a child without ever succumbing to clichéd conflicts and villains and thus it led to an original, more realistic take on an animated film. The characters are lovable, the creatures even more so and the animation is as brilliant as you would come to expect from the studio with a painstaking level of detail. It is a beautiful movie that is timeless in quality and it’s one of Studio Ghibli’s best.

My Rating – 4.5

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Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977)

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

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Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure is a 1977 animated musical fantasy film directed by Richard Williams. It is a pretty trippy movie.

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Is this endless eating all there is to be? Or not to be?

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Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

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This is one of the weirdest animated films that I have ever seen, there is no doubt about it. It is definitely influenced too much by Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and it is infinitely inferior to it in terms of quality, but it is still a pretty good, in my opinion even an underrated flick which surprised me pleasantly.
I could have gone without those live-action sequences and I found the first half to be overly slow and sometimes even dull to be frank. And when it suddenly goes into crazy territory, the shift is abrupt, not subtle at all and it makes you question its direction, pacing and structure which are all rather problematic.
But that second half is so good that it is worth the watch for sure. It has an abundance of either weird or creepy or downright loony characters and that I liked a lot. Yes, it definitely is similar at times to the aforementioned Disney classic, but that movie is obviously the archetype of such stories so that was to be expected. And having in mind that animated films like this are very rare, this one should be appreciated more.

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Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

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The voice acting is good and I really liked those weird characters such as the Camel and King Koo Koo. And of course the Greedy is quite memorable. Each and every one of those imaginative characters was very interesting and a lot of fun. But the main characters Ann and Andy are flat in comparison and immensely boring.
Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure is obviously a musical as its title says. And I have mixed feelings about this soundtrack. On the one hand, I liked its Broadway feel a lot, but on the other hand, most songs blend into each other as they are mostly too bland and similar.
I’m No Girl’s Toy is catchy, but somewhat annoying. Rag Dolly is also fine, but way too long as most songs are in this film. Camel’s Mirage has good imagery, but that’s about it. The same goes for I Never Get Enough. Two weak songs, but two great scenes. And all of the other songs are very forgettable and overly abundant. But there is no denying the power of Candy Hearts which is a wonderful song and the only song here that reached Disney quality even though its second half is weaker. I loved its lyrics, it is such a catchy tune and the song is sweet and accompanied by charming imagery.

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Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

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The animation here is phenomenal and one of its highlights for sure. I loved its weird imagery and there are many memorable scenes such as the two aforementioned scenes in the passage above. The character designs are actually rather impressive and the overall animation is quite fluid, inspired and mostly fueling its imaginative action so well.

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure has a very frustrating lack of structure, the first half is too slow and dull and the main characters are bland, but the other characters are quite memorable and the entire second half is so great in its trippy and weird imagery. Some songs are bland, but some such as Candy Hearts are very good. The animation is simply fantastic and that coupled with its weirdness is a good enough reason to see this crazy, underrated flick.

My Rating – 3.5

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