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Aug 122015
 

The newest movie version of Wizard of Oz to date is Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, which takes place after the events of the original movie.

As a new evil threat occurs in Emerald City, Scarecrow (voice of Dan Aykroyd), Tin Man (voice of Kelsey Grammar), and Cowardly Lion (voice of Jim Belushi) try to bring Dorothy (voice of Lea Michelle) back to Oz with a contraption called a rainbow mover. Even though it’s been years since Dorothy’s last visit, in her world it’s been only a day.

Meanwhile, Dorothy wakes up in Kansas to the aftermath of the tornado. The damage was so terrible all over town that everyone is forcibly evicted from their homes. Dorothy is the only one that’s not willing to stand for it, but nobody seems to listen since she’s not a grownup. Can you believe it?

When Dorothy and Toto arrive in Oz, she ends up off course in a completely different area altogether. She could just follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City, but it’s in ruins. Even in Oz, there’s a problem of weeds growing between the bricks in the ground.

The new villain is simply called the Jester (voice of Martin Short). He’s the Wicked Witch of the West’s brother cursed to only be able to wear a jester outfit. When he tries to remove it, another appears in its place. Now with his sister gone, the Jester is in control of her flying monkey army and is intent on taking over Oz.

The Jester also has the magic broomstick and has used it to turn all of Oz’s leaders into marionettes, including Glinda (voice of Bernadette Peters). It’s a little creepy when the Jester makes the puppets talk. That just goes to show that you shouldn’t take this jester lightly.

As Dorothy heads for Emerald City, she meets some new friends along the way. First there’s Wiser the Owl (voice of Oliver Platt). He struggles to fly and tends to interrupt people. One thing I can’t help but notice is that Wiser’s chest has an imprint that looks like he’s wearing a brown sweater. It makes you wonder how he got it.

The next new ally Dorothy meets is Marshal Mellow (voice of Hugh Dancy) a lawman from Candy County that is made of marshmallows. In a way, he looks like a Nutcracker from the way he’s dressed. It looks pretty cool.

Last to join the group is the princess of Dainty China Country, who is simply known as China Princess (voice of Megan Hilty). She is spoiled and picky when it comes to choosing suitors. Dorothy volunteers Marshal Mellow to be a suitor. He’s against it at first, but does manage to win the princess’s heart. Together they all journey forward and even build a ship out of an old talking tree named Tugg (voice of Patrick Stewart).

This was certainly a good sequel to the Wizard of Oz franchise. However, the timeline is a bit confusing since I remember Return to Oz being the true sequel with a completely different story line, villains, and allies. So where does this feature chronologically fit in?

Sep 262012
 

One of Martin Short’s classic characters is the neurotic Ed Grimley, who was a reoccurring character on sketch comedy shows like SCTV and Saturday Night Live. In the late 80s came the Saturday morning cartoon series The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley (1988-1989). On this series, Grimley lives in an apartment with his pet rat Sheldon and goldfish Moby. Grimley’s neighbors are his love interest Ms. Malone and her younger brother Wendell, who is good friends with Grimley.

One thing I remember best about Ed Grimley is how he enjoys playing the triangle while listening to classical music on his phonograph. As simple of an instrument the triangle is, Grimley is terrible at playing it. He has the timing down, but always ends up throwing the stick across the room. Seriously, is the triangle that hard to figure out?

In each episode, Grimley has a misadventure, which he always writes in his diary. When something exciting is about to happen during the first act, a science lesson sketch hosted by the Amazing Gustav Brothers, Roger and Emil, interrupts it. It may be related to Grimley’s predicaments, but takes away the impact when you’re more focused on what will happen next. Maybe if the science sketch was featured at a more convenient moment, the pacing would work so much better.

Another sketch featured on this series is a live action segment, which is also Grimley’s favorite show Count Floyd’s Scary Stories. It’s a cheesy kid show about Count Floyd (Joe Flaherty) the howling vampire telling spooky stories, but it comes off awkward because the kids in the audience always speak out of turn. Count Floyd always has a difficult time making a witty comeback when that happens.

This was a good series with Martin Short’s brand of humor. In my opinion though, Ed Grimley is a much better character than Jiminy Glick.

Jul 302012
 

The cleverly hilarious fairytale spoof is back in Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. As much as I enjoyed the first Hoodwinked movie, I looked so forward to this one. This time Red (voice of Hayden Panettiere), Granny Puckett (voice of Glenn Close), the Wolf (voice of Patrick Warburton), and Twitchy the squirrel are a team of secret agents for the Happily Ever After Agency (HEA for short).

The mission at hand is based on Hansel and Gretel. Two children, Hansel (voice of Bill Hader) and Gretel (voice of Amy Poehler), are being held captive by a wicked witch (voice of Joan Cusack). The rescue mission appears simple, but the team is troubled because Red is training elsewhere and the Wolf is a total screw up, even though he’s clever with disguises.

Then it becomes an exciting chase through the forest as Granny goes after the witch on a motorcycle, but ends up getting captured herself. I have to admit though. The witch’s rocket powered broom is amazing.

Meanwhile, as Red trains with the Sisterhood of Kung fu bakers, her skills are as sharp as ever, but she struggles to control her temper whenever her enemies call her a coward for walking away from a fight.

The mission becomes even more perilous because not only does the witch have Hansel, Gretel, and Granny, she has also taken the ultimate recipe for a super truffle from the Sisterhood. Now Red and Wolf must team up, whether they like it or not.

While on the search for where the witch is hiding, Red and Wolf head for the Beanstalk Club and meet up with the Giant (voice of Brad Garrett), who is a big time mobster, emphasis on big.

Later, Red and Wolf head over to the London Bridge Asylum to get information from their old nemesis Boingo the Bunny (voice of Andy Dick). He’s tied down like Hannibal Lecter, even though he was merely a recipe bandit. It was still neat to see Boingo again and he appears more sinister than before.

Another character who returns is Kirk the Woodsman (voice of Martin Short). He is now a star with the Happy Yodelers. I didn’t expect him to return in this movie, but he and the yodelers help out Red and Wolf when the chips are down. However, there’s a real twist I never would’ve seen coming once the secret of the witch is revealed.

This sequel was definitely as great as I thought it would be, especially with the return of Japeth the singing goat (voice of Benjy Gaither). He wanders around randomly and always ends up clobbered as a running gag. Gotta love it.

Jul 162012
 

Following the success of Independence Day, there came a sci-fi film about Martians invading Earth with an all-star cast called Mars Attacks!.

It starts with hundreds of spaceships arriving on Earth, covering every square inch of the planet. After careful consideration, the President of the United States James Dale (Jack Nicholson) informs everyone by televising an announcement that these aliens could be peaceful.

Before the aliens actually land though, the movie jumps around in several directions. None of these scenes have very much to do with preparing for the aliens’ arrival. It’s just random people doing random things and played by some big stars. They include Martin Short, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox, Annette Bening, Jack Black, and others.

Pam Grier, who I met at Cult Fiction Drive-in 2011, is also in this movie.

That begins to change when TV show hostess Nathalie Lake (Sarah Jessica Parker) interviews Professor Donald Kessler (Pierce Brosnan) about his thoughts of the aliens as an expert in astronautics. It would go so much smoother if Nathalie would just cut down on the flirting.

It’s soon revealed that the aliens are cheesy-looking Martians that speak a bizarre language. Once they land and the leaders greet the U.S. Army and everyone who arrives on the scene, the Martians say that they come in peace. Then all of a sudden, they attack and kill people with their laser blasters as if they were having fun doing it. Nobody could have seen that coming, as rude as it was of those Martians.

With Professor Kessler’s help, the President tries to make things right with the Martians. The killing spree earlier was believed to be a cultural misunderstanding because there was a dove released to celebrate the peace and the dove was the first to be shot.

The Congress meets up with the Martians again, but this time with no applause and no birds. The Martian Ambassador is apologetic, then suddenly out of the blue, the martians kill everyone as before. Seriously, what is with these aliens? Can’t any Earthlings even talk to them without getting shot and turned into a colorful skeleton?

By this point, everyone is convinced that these Martians have no humility and like to kill for fun. The Martians even tried to infiltrate the White House and shoot up a Tom Jones concert in Vegas while destroying the Earth. How low can these monsters get?

Now the entire human race tries to escape the Martians with their lives, but an unlikely hero finds their weakness, which is a very unusual one, I might add.

I admit that this wasn’t much of a favorite. The story wasn’t too bad, but the way these Martians manipulate people is awful.