Wake Up the Gypsy in Me (1933)

Wake Up the Gypsy in Me ReviewWake Up the Gypsy in Me Review

 Wake Up the Gypsy in Me is a 1933 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is such a good, hilarious flick.

This is easily one of the best Merry Melodies so far as it does everything a few of them manage to do – not only have good music, but memorable characters too. It follows a group of Russian gypsies as they dance around in town while a Rasputin-like figure kidnaps a young girl and forces himself onto her, but the villagers save her in time.

The plot is solid and the setting and the characters are interesting and refreshing for the series. The first half should have been faster and the gypsies aren’t that memorable, but the villain is spectacular, so delightfully goofy and still dangerous. But he is also really funny as him solving puzzles by making the missing puzzles himself was absolutely hilarious along with his laugh. And I liked the titular song quite a bit.

Wake Up the Gypsy in Me features a weaker first half, but such a terrific, memorable villain and very strong humor.

 My Rating – 4

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The Organ Grinder (1933)

The Organ Grinder ReviewThe Organ Grinder Review

 The Organ Grinder is a 1933 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a weak film that benefits from some great parts in it.

Now this one has such a weak plot and scenario as we basically follow a monkey fooling around. That’s it, there is nothing more than that here. So predictable and typical. I found the monkey to be okay, but ultimately not as memorable as he should have been and the entire film, although it has its good scenes, most come in the second half with the first one being sorely lacking.

I liked the third act in particular. The action there was good, if not the greatest and I liked how the movie ended. But the score is the best aspect here along with pretty good animation and I just loved that they used 42nd Street as it is one of my favorite 1930s songs. That was wonderful.

The Organ Grinder has a good score and animation, buy typical and lazy storytelling and action.

 My Rating – 3.4

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Closely Watched Trains (1966)

Closely Watched Trains Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Closely Watched Trains Movie Review

Closely Watched Trains is a 1966 Czech drama film directed by Jiri Menzel. It is a pretty overrated movie.
It is about a sexual awakening of a young man working at a train station in Czechoslovakia during World War II. A weird premise and the execution is just the same. I actually think it is pretty original because of that, but that originality isn’t usually great in this instance.

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A woman is nature’s finest jewel

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Closely Watched Trains Movie Review……………………………………………………..
First and foremost, the sexual aspect. That is what the whole movie is about and I do admire the film for tackling such brave subjects such as premature ejaculation in the sixties no less, but it still felt dated because of that. There are some nice sensual scenes here and there, but the emotion is missing almost entirely plus the character development is pretty weak.
But the war stuff was frustrating to me. I am pretty tired of WWII movies by this point and I unfortunately I have to say that this movie suffered because of that as it’s one of a few movies that just did not have to revolve around this time period at all. Maybe I am missing some context, but to me it felt almost pointless and such a needlessly clichéd approach.
Closely Watched Trains is very well acted and directed. Although the script isn’t great, the dialogue is pretty good and I liked how strongly the film relied on the visuals. I liked that as the cinematography is truly fantastic here.
There are a lot of phenomenal shots to be had here and the camera movements are top-notch. I liked its imagery at times and I really liked its score as well. It was fitting to the story and quite memorable.

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Closely Watched Trains Movie Review……………………………………………………..
In the end, I guess it is a solid film. Certainly not my cup of tea, but I realize how critics were taken aback by it. It is original and visually wonderful, but that just wasn’t enough for me. That is why it is in my book a 3.5 movie and a low one honestly. And of course it didn’t deserve its foreign Oscar at all.
Closely Watched Trains has very good cinematography and it is an interesting, original film in terms of storytelling, but it is pretty dated in my opinion, the character development is quite wek and it isn’t emotional enough leading to a very overrated foreign film.

My Rating – 3.5

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Fences (2016)

Fences Movie Review…………………………………………………………

Fences Movie Review

Fences is a 2016 drama film directed by and starring Denzel Washington with Viola Davis being the other lead. It is such a great, deservedly acclaimed movie that is one of the year’s best.

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Some people build fences to keep people out,

and other people build fences to keep people in

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Fences Movie Review…………………………………………………………

So obviously the film feels like a stage as it is based on a play. However, even though sometimes it definitely felt overly static, I really liked its stage feel for the most part. That is because I was always a big fan of family dramas that feel real, relevant and relatable and even though it is certainly not up to par with Hollywood’s best dramas such as this one from the fifties, it still feels as if it came during the fifties and I loved that. The film flows really well and to me it was always very involving to watch and filled with so many powerful scenes.

I loved its characters. So realistic and well developed. Troy is a highly unlikable, awful person, but there are people like him in this world and I especially loved the portrayal of such a domineering, manipulative figure as there has always been a lot of fathers like this. That is why the film should prove relatable to a lot of people who’ve had similar daddy issues.

Rose is also great and unlike him quite likable. Both of Troy’s sons are memorable, but Cory’s troublesome relationship with his father is the highlight. Gabe is such a tragic figure, Bono is so sympathetic and of course Raynell is such a wonderful, cute girl. I really liked all of the characters here as all of them are well developed and they felt real.

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Fences Movie Review…………………………………………………………

Of course the major highlight of Fences is most definitely the acting which is magnificent. All of the supporting actors did a good job in their roles, but of course Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are the standouts. I thought that Denzel’s performance wasn’t the year’s best, but it was certainly very good. In a difficult role, he definitely delivered and was both charismatic and unlikable. As for Viola, she is of course amazing. She delivered the finest performance of the year in my opinion, female or not. She was outstanding, just brilliant and watching her emotional speeches was such a special experience as both her words, her emotion and her facial expressions felt real. But she was also terrific in calmer and more dignified moments. She delivered in a hugely demanding role and once again showcased her evident immense talent.

Fences is definitely not cinematic enough, the editing is never polished and only the ending felt like a movie scene to me. But I like these kinds of films so I’ve never had a problem with it. The dialogue is stellar and it was so powerful hearing so many sophisticated, yet realistic lines spoken by people that felt real. This is a real family drama that has been absent from Hollywood for a long time which is why I fully embraced it.

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Fences Movie Review…………………………………………………………

The themes are great. It definitely deals with too many issues, but it makes use of most of them stupendously. The dominant, redneck and manipulative father is so well portrayed here, his relationship with his wife is excellent and his adultery was presented in a melodramatic, yet satisfying manner. His relationship with his son is superbly realized here and of course I really liked both the time period here and that the film showcased very subtly and cleverly what it felt like to be a black person during this period. But it was never a black movie, but a real drama that just happens to have black people in it. And because it has so many great scenes in it, it is much better than ‘Moonlight’ which only has one truly powerful scene. Here the ending is absolutely amazing and so emotionally rewarding, Troy’s speech to his son is of course memorable and the argument between the spouses is definitely tough to watch and heartbreaking. The movie is very moving and ultimately one of the best Oscar nominated films of the year.

With such a great script, many well explored issues, so many unforgettable emotional sequences, stellar dialogue and a magnificent, truly brilliant performance from Viola Davis, Fences definitely needed to be more cinematic, but I mostly really liked its dialogue-heavy, stage approach as it gave us many great discussions. It is above all such an emotionally rewarding and realistic family drama that delivers in almost every aspect and is certainly one of the year’s best films.

My Rating – 4.5

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Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures is a 2016 biopic starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae. It is a clichéd film in every way.

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Here at NASA we all pee the same color

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Hidden Figures Movie Review……………………………………………………………..
This is one of those movies that are so predictable not only in the actual execution, but also in the expected rating and quality. I knew I was going to give it a 3.5 and I ended up giving it that exact rating in the end. It is that kind of middling movie that is so familiar and such a shameless crowd pleaser, but still well acted, imporant and competently made. It is basically the ‘Bridge of Spies’ of 2016.
The three characters themselves are never properly developed, though the actresses playing them are certainly immensely likable in their roles. Octavia Spencer was nominated basically just for being a popular actress and everyone is talking about Janelle Monae and her role is also very slight and not the best. I do not understand that, but clearly Taraji P. Henson gave the best performance and her role was the biggest and best established. She should have been nominated.
This is obviously an important story. These three African American female mathematicians were hugely influential in NASA and it is certainly admirable that we finally see their stories. But although you have that importance factor and it is a charming, certainly extremely likable film, it is predictable from beginning to end and that hurt it a lot.
Hidden Figures is well acted, directed and shot. It is okay in its execution, although not the best. The script is solid and the movie can also be quite funny at times while constantly being likable in its characters. But the dialogue is so on the nose and lacking any subtlety whatsoever that it actually annoyed me hearing some of the more ridiculous lines spoken.

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Hidden Figures Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

I liked the glimpses into their personal lives and the issues were mostly well emphasized. But I would have liked to have seen more of the space stuff as I am a big fan of astronomy myself. But here we mostly only get boring mathematics and some of those scenes were done in the most obnoxious, arrogant manner possible which unpleasantly reminded me of ‘The Martian’.

But overall it is a solid film and although long, it is quite engaging and harmless. It did not deserve to be nominated for Best Picture at all in a very strong year and it is certainly the weakest nominee after the mediocre ‘Hell or High Water’.
Hidden Figures is an expectedly solid and clichéd film. It is very well acted with Taraji P. Henson actually being the highlight, the characters are very likable and this is definitely an important story, but it is told in the most predictable manner possible with not enough astronomy in it, overly annoying science scenes and a total lack of subtlety filled with many ridiculous lines.

My Rating – 3.5

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Ranking the 2016 Best Picture Nominees

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Ranking the 2016 Best Picture Nominees

2016 proved out to be an exceptionally strong year and that can even be seen in the Best Picture slate. The Academy nominated nine movies for their most prestigious award and seven of them really deserved their nominations. That is a rare feat and it is certainly infinitely better than that dismal slate from last year. So here is my ranking of all nine Best Picture nominees of 2016.
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Hell or High Water Movie Review
9. Hell or High Water
This is the only truly mediocre movie nominated this year. It is certainly okay and has nice scenes and performances, but even the acting is overrated and the entire film is one of the most overrated indie flicks in recent memory. The entire plot and feel of the movie is obviously influenced by the late 60s and early 70s crime thrillers and that lack of originality is baffling to me. And it is even boring and thoroughly forgettable. Needless to say, it is by far the worst Best Picture nominee of 2016.
Hidden Figures Movie Review
8. Hidden Figures
Another one of the two undeserved nominees, Hidden Figures is probably the most cliched film of the entire year. It certainly benefits from three strong performances and extremely likable characters, but even though its story is important, it is executed in the most predictable and standard manner possible. An even worse offender is the dialogue which is at times borderline ridiculous in its thoroughly unsubtle approach. It is a charming, but ultimately tiresome film.
Manchester by the Sea Movie Review
7. Manchester by the Sea
From here on, all of the movies are either very good or excellent. This one is a terrific showcase for acting and such a strong, emotional and realistic drama with a couple of sequences that are very poignant and even heartbreaking. However, it still features an overly depressing tone and the protagonist’s backstory is needlessly tragic. It is a very good, strong film, but the one movie here which disappointed me the most as I expected much greater things from it.
Moonlight Movie Review
6. Moonlight
Another movie that had great potential, but ultimately ended up being just quite good and never great, Moonlight is certainly very well acted, realistic and featuring such fantastic, emotionally powerful third act, but everything that came before it was overly familiar in terms of storytelling and it is again a movie that is more important than truly great. Of all the nominees this year, it is the one movie that felt the most like an Oscar film and surely it ended up taking the trophy and becoming the first gay film to do so which is admirable, but not entirely deserved.

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

5. Hacksaw Ridge
This is probably the nominee that surprised me the most as I did not expect the level of quality that this anti-war film possesses. It does feel pretty typical in its first half, but it has such a great, really interesting spin on the usual war picture with the pacifism and spiritual angle being very well explored and leading to many emotional scenes. Overly brutal, but realistic, its action is also highly memorable. But the heart of the movie lies in Andrew Garfield’s truly great turn which is the year’s finest male performance and excellent, truly accomplished direction from Mel Gibson who here marks a welcome return to the directing chair after a long absence.
La La Land Movie Review
4. La La Land
La La Land ended up being a giant loser in that shocking turn of events at the end of the ceremony and it certainly divided a lot of movie goers. It definitely features a muddled tone plus Mia is frustratingly unlikable. But apart from that, it truly is a very good musical romance that benefits from the year’s best score and a couple of very catchy musical numbers. But the romance is memorable as well and that beautiful ending is certainly one of the most unforgettable and original endings of the entire decade. It is an uneven, but highly rewatchable, charming and ultimately satisfactory film that I hope will lead to a return of the musical genre in the future.
Fences Movie Review
3. Fences
This is the best acted film of 2016 as Viola Davis is just so powerful in it. But everyone knows and talks about that. What is even more admirable is its dialogue which is very realistic and always fascinating along with the screenplay which is stellar and filled with many relatable and very well explored issues. It does feel a bit too much like a stage play as it is obviously based on it, but I love these highly realistic and dialogue heavy dramas and it wonderfully reminded me of the 1950s dramas. It did receive strong critical reception, but it is still a bit underapprecitated in my book.
Arrival Movie Review
2. Arrival
I love hard science fiction and I love strong storytelling. That is why I ended up loving Arrival. It is the best alien invasion movie that we’ve got in film history and probably the only one that felt real and truly scientific. Amy Adams is phenomenal and the film’s sound and visuals are superb too, but it is the twist that is the most unique thing about it along with its clever and very intriguing mix of sci-fi and drama elements. Arrival is such a wonderful mix of science and linguistics and that is why I enjoyed it immensely as I love those two areas.
Lion Movie Review
1. Lion
And of course Lion is my pick for the best nominee of the year as it is the finest film of 2016 as a whole. And the fact that it is basically forgotten even now goes to show how the general movie going public and critics cannot appreciate real human dramas. This is a fantastically acted, edited, directed and shot film, but it is above all imbued by such a beautiful real life story almost flawlessly executed. It is one of the rare movies that made me cry as its ending is unbelieavably beautiful and moving. But it is so raw and honest in its thought-provoking and relevant issues. It is the movie that affected me the most on a purely emotional level alone and it is by far the best and most underrated film of the year.
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Life, Animated (2016)

Life, Animated Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Life, Animated Movie Review

Life, Animated is a 2016 documentary film directed by Roger Ross Williams. It is one of the year’s best movies.
It is about an autistic man who learned to communicate with the outside world through his love of Disney animated films. I am a huge Disney animation fan, I have been their fan for seven years now and I am going to remain a fan for the rest of my life. Those movies mean so much to me that I naturally loved Life, Animated. It showcased hot strong and beautiful Disney films are and how they can even help people overcome their fears and problems.

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“When I now look in the mirror, I see a proud autistic man.”

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Life, Animated Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
That aspect to the film is so good. Not only do they emphasize the importance of animation and especially Disney in such a wonderful way, but they also showcase it beautifully throughout a series of well edited and used clips from these movies. I especially loved the emphasis on ‘The Little Mermaid’ as it is one of my favorites and a film that holds a strong emltional grip with the viewer.
But I respected the film for not fully be blinded by Disney and that was important. It certainly isn’t a one-sided endeavor. While it shows its strengths, it also shows us how those movies can be harmful for autistic people and that is also applicable to children everywhere. That issue is explored in Owen’s conversation with his brother where he states afterwards how Disney teaches you absolutely nothing about real relationships and sex. That was brutally honest, but important to state.
But let’s talk about the other aspect of the film. It may be called Life, Animated, but it is at its core a film about autism and to me an essential one. I knew little about this condition before, but that all changed after seeing this movie and now I am fully aware of this whole issue.

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Life, Animated Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
That is what documentaries are supposed to do – teach us about its subject and explore it thoroughly and this film did just that. I not only now know a lot about autism, but I see how underrated a condition it is. And Owen as the film’s center is just so wonderful and such a kind soul that I cared about him and rooted for him throuhout the whole flick.
I love the Suskind family and their story is so strong. He overcame autism in such an admirable and interesting way that it fascinated me. It states that animation is suitable for learning emotion and communication skills owing to its exaggerated facial expressions and voices. That certainly makes sense and the film explored it wonderfully.
The issue of growing up, the fears of it and the importance of taking your own responsibilites felt strong to me as I am right now at such a crossroads myself. That is why, although I am not an autistic person, I still found the movie immensely relatable and emotionally powerful.

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Life, Animated Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
However, Life, Animated isn’t perfect. I would have liked to have seen animated segments of his condition and those scenes could have visually helped us see how he feels. Those original animated segments about Owen and his stories are definitely fantastic, but I wanted more nonetheless. And I have to say that the third act of the film is, apart from its ending, much weaker than the rest of the picture and it seemes too real-time and less documentary-like. But still, this remains one of the best films of the years and certainly its finest documentary.
Owing to its emotional power, relatability in its theme of growing up and taking responsibilites for your life and such a wonderful person at the center of it, Life, Animated is simply a wonderful movie. The original animated segments are beautiful and the film showcases the strengths, but also the problems of Disney animated films in a great way. But it is above all a very thoughtful and factual examination of autism leading to 2016’s finest documentary and certainly one of the year’s best and most emotional films.

My Rating – 4.5

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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 1 (2005)

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 1 Review ………………………………………………………………………..

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 1

The first season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of the weakest, but it still has its great episodes.

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“I have a little bit of a problem with old people…

I find them kinda creepy…and scary. And gross, kinda gross.

It’s their hands really, you can see right through ’em and all their inside business”

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It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 1 Review ………………………………………………………………………..

I loved The Gang Gets Racist. It is one of the two truly great episodes of the season. Everything in it was great from its jokes about racism which were absolutely hilarious to Dennis and Charlie who are the two highlights here. It is interesting that Charlie’s obsession with Waitress begins in the very first episode and those scenes were great, but Dennis’s narcissism also produced some humorous results.

Charlie Wants an Abortion is one of the weakest episodes of the season. It is solid and it deals with an interesting subject matter (abortion), but neither of the two subplots never hit any higher notes in my opinion as both Charlie’s pursuit of Waitress and Dennis and Mac’s pursuit of hot chicks got many better developed parts than the ones we got here.

Underage Drinking: A National Concern for the first time introduces us to the history of the entire team and how unpopular all of them were except Dennis. I loved how Dennis and Dee got screwed up here in a hilarious fashion, but the ending with Charlie was surprisingly sweet and memorable with a great use of one of my favorite songs.

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It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 1 Review ………………………………………………………………………..

Charlie Has Cancer features another plot in which Charlie goes after the Waitress and even though that scenario got used too many times during this season, this was still a really good episode with a terrific use of all the characters.

Gun Fever isn’t the greatest episode. I loved its many twists and turns and Dee’s boyfriend is certainly memorable. I also liked the gun fever aspect of it, so amusing. But I found the overall episode to not be as funny as it could have been and the conclusion could have been better.

The Gang Finds a Dead Guy is easily one of the best that this season has to offer. I just loved this episode as it is the most hilarious of the season and certainly the richest in terms of the subplots. Dennis and Mac’s rivalry was great and it was funny watching Dennis’s scary and over-the-top womanizing tactics, but Dee and Charlie got the more interesting subplot as watching her disgust over old people was just so funny to me and of course the entire Nazi grandfather part was unexpected and genius. And I loved how the episode concluded both subplots really well.

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 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 1 Review………………………………………………………………………..

Charlie Got Molested is again rich in plot. I found all three storylines really well incorporated into the whole and Mac’s part, even though somewhat tangential, still was the funniest and the craziest one. But the episode was a bit too creepy with those pedophilia jokes in my opinion. Most of it was very funny, but some of it was too much.

Overall, this was an interesting first season for one of my favorite comedy shows. I loved some of its episodes and all of the crew got their moments to shine and we learn who they all are really quickly owing to excellent writing and directing, but to me this season is very problematic because it has just seven episodes, not all are as great (though none is bad) and Dee was too good here which they changed later on plus there is no Frank Reynolds/Danny deVito here which was unfortunate. But he will appear in the second season and in this one all of the foursome was great with the highlights being Charlie Day and Kaitlin Olson.

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Worst Episodes: Charlie Wants an Abortion and Gun Fever.

Best Episodes: The Gang Gets Racist and The Gang Finds a Dead Guy.

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Piper (2016)

Piper ReviewPiper Review

Piper is a 2016 Pixar short film that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

It follows a baby sandpiper learning to overcome her fear of water by digging into the sand. The plot is very simple, but it is cute and endearing. The baby follows the hermit crab and by copying its behavior, the bird discovers the beauty of the underwater world while learning a new way to find food, thus inspiring others. It was a clever way to explain these birds’ behavior.

The animation is absolutely fantastic, so impressive. The character design in particular is superb. It was evident that this was a major, time-inducing project as the feathers and the overall birds look as realistic as they can be. The backgrounds are also nice and polished. The score is pretty solid too. But somehow it ended abruptly and it is just never particularly inspired or original in terms of storytelling and characterization. It is just a pretty solid Pixar short, but nothing more than that.

Piper isn’t ambitious or particularly original, but it is cute and charming with absolutely fantastic animation.

 My Rating – 3.8

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Bosko the Speed King (1933)

Bosko the Speed King ReviewBosko the Speed King Review

 Bosko the Speed King is a 1933 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a very weak short.

Bosko the Speed King annoyed me as it is a rehash of some previous Bosko entries. We’ve seen stuff like this before and certainly done better. The racing was done before and here it wasn’t particularly memorable. I found Bosko to be pretty forgettable here as well and all of the other characters were weak too.

The ending is pretty good and overall the film isn’t bad and it has its good moments, but as a whole, it isn’t particularly entertaining and it is bland and certainly uninspired. I wish that Bosko’s next adventure will be much more interesting and original than this one.

Bosko the Speed King has a good ending, but the plot is rehashed and the film is overall pretty bland and uninspired.

 My Rating – 3.3

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