2020 Reviews 2020s

Scoob! is a Total Misfire

I am not sure if me not writing on Scoob! until now is due to my busy schedule or my apprehension towards diving back into the giant misfire. I watched Scoob! the night it had its “Home Premiere” and haven’t written anything about it until now. Of course, I could have just rated the movie and tried to forget about it, but I felt I needed to air out – or maybe rather rant about – some of my frustrations with it.

I admit, I didn’t have high hopes. Scoob! can be filed under “Movies That Looked Worse and Worse From Trailers.” When I was growing up, I loved Scooby-Doo Where Are You! and would rewatch episodes all the time. If I were to rank my favorite animated shows from my childhood it would probably be in my Top 5. 

Nostalgia is a powerful thing and many major companies are trying to prey on it, especially Disney. I like to refrain from being cynical and believe that when these reboots come out and don’t live up to what we knew growing up, we are still able to fondly remember what came before. Although, in Scoob!‘s case you can’t exactly call it a reboot because new episodes still air on Cartoon Network with Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?. Unfortunately, whenever I remember Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! I can almost guarantee I will remember how disappointing Scoob! was.

Scoob! comes across as a giant cash grab, but any animated movie that tries to appeal beyond kids to Gen-X, millenials AND older zoomers through nostalgia definitely is. I imagine the board meeting at Warner Bros. going something along the lines of them trying to come up with a new animated movie, tossing away “risky” original screenplays, and going with an already established property with no real heart or love behind it. The fact that Scooby-Doo is currently making new episodes on Cartoon Network makes it even more obvious they wanted to appeal beyond children to capitalize on profits.

I have no idea what the thought process was behind Scoob!‘s screenplay. I remember Scooby-Doo as a group of teenagers or young adults solving mysteries. What I don’t remember is Scooby-Doo being an adventure show that featured Greek mythology. I have no idea why Scoob! functions like a Despicable Me movie with the characters from Scooby-Doo and whatever other Hanna-Barbera characters Warner Animation Group could cram into it. I would say Scoob! is about as bad as it gets when it comes to “nostalgia-baiting.” 

Oh, did you like Scooby-Doo, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, AND Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels growing up? Well don’t worry, we’ll find a way to shove them all into one movie to appease you and try to set up spin-offs.

What makes me most mad about Scoob! is it’s not a Scooby-Doo movie, it’s an animated movie that features characters from Scooby-Doo. Where was the mystery? I think the reason there isn’t a mystery is because the writers at Warner Bros. didn’t want to have to come up with one. But they certainly found a way to feature lame jokes that reference Netflix and IKEA. 

For a movie that tries to appeal to not just children, it feels very much like something that will only appeal to children. It’s generic and uninspired. Almost all of the jokes are for kids. The only part I truly enjoyed was the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! opening homage. The rest of the movie I’m just trying to forget.


2020 Reviews 2020s

The Willoughbys (2020)

The Willoughbys is a soulless animation hiding behind bright colors and a cotton candy aesthetic. While watching, I was reminded of watching Storks, but The Willoughbys lacks any strong comedic moments. It tries hard to evoke the warmness found in a Pixar film, but by forcing it the film becomes an empty shell.

Tonally, The Willoughbys is all over the place. I don’t think it ever fully works. The plot is dark and the film never showcases its self-awareness. The Willoughby children try to get their parents killed, but the mere act of it is presented in such an oddly playful way. The film might have felt less jarring if it embraced its dark themes and gave us something like Coraline.

Trying to do a lot, but never successfully compiling all of its intentions together, The Willoughbys is a disappointing animation from Netflix. The film may have pretty visuals, but it lacks a heart.


2020 Reviews

Onward is Exactly What Pixar Needed

There’s been questions regarding Pixar over the last few years related to its direction. Why are they only doing sequels now? Do they not have enough creativity anymore to produce more original ideas? OK, maybe this has just been troubling me, but I’m very passionate about Pixar. The studio that I adored growing up, that I’m sure was incredibly influential to me growing up, caught the sequel bug. Incredibles 2, Finding Dory, Toy Story (2,3,4) and lastly, Cars (2&3) are the sequels we’ve gotten. There was even a – gasp – prequel with Monsters University. Many of those sequels are very good, but they weren’t the new characters and stories we were inclined to expect from them.

Even though we got the beloved Coco and Inside Out, Pixar has started to feel like a factory pumping out sequels. So, when we get something like Onward, it is a breath of fresh air.

Onward is exactly what I thought we were going to get from Brave: a quest/adventure story. The quest isn’t the best you’ll ever see – it’s still rooted in the storyworld’s reality, so don’t expect off-the-wall moments – but the physical journey isn’t what the movie is really about. Getting to hang out with Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) on their Weekend at Bernie’s road trip is where the real fun is to be had. There are many funny moments – my favorite being the car chase with the pixies – but the dynamic you get to see between Ian and Barley and half of their dad is where the film’s true strength lies.

Over the years, Pixar has shown us that they can expertly give us movies that appeal to kids and adults. There are almost always adult themes that will go over the heads of children, but Onward might be one of the few where there is a bridge over the gap between the adult and child themes.

Pixar gives us the first animation I can think of that is about brotherhood and the relationship a younger brother can have with their older brother. They show the type of relationship two brothers can have and avoids the typical mean older brother vs. younger brother dynamic we normally see. I believe that when young children see this movie they may be able to pick up on the type of positive relationship two brothers can have.

The most heartbreaking and touching moment comes from a great act of selflessness that Ian does. I won’t spoil the movie, but I will never forget the image of Ian looking on (this will make sense after you’ve seen the movie). I can see this moment being one of my favorites of the year and it’s only March. Ian’s act of selflessness is another great message for children and complements its brotherhood theme in an excellent way.

Onward is a fantastic and emotional ride. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt are perfectly cast and never feel like they’re only voicing their characters solely because of being A-list stars and members of the Avengers.

Go see this while it’s still in theaters.


2016 Reviews

Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia is a very important film. Disney’s latest animation Zootopia teaches kids about racism by telling a story of a rabbit who dreams of being a cop. Not only does it have a great message, but it also has an intriguing story and is packed with plenty of humor and charm. Even if its target audience is kids, you should definitely consider seeing it if you’re an adult. Zootopia is a lot of fun!


2015 Reviews

Anomalisa (2015)

Anomalisa is one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen this year.  The film is an R-rated stop-motion animation.  The writing is sharp and funny.  The one flaw I found Anomalisa to have was I felt it was too short.  There were some messages that the film was getting across, but the filmmakers didn’t hammer them home because it ended before it had the opportunity to.


2015 Reviews

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

The Good Dinosaur may not be the best Pixar movie of the year, but it’s still one of the better animations of the year.  What makes The Good Dinosaur so interesting is how conventional and unconventional it is.  The way its story is structured is much like other animations, but what makes it different is how dark the film gets at times.  There are moments the movie feels a little too adult for kids, but that is one of the elements of the film that I like so much.  For example, you actually see Arlo form wounds that actually look unpleasant.  There are too many animations that are way too kid-friendly.  Another trait of the film I really enjoyed is how quiet and peaceful the film is at times.  The gorgeous animation style and the sound design combine to form a calming film.

The Good Dinosaur is worth watching!


2015 Reviews

The Peanuts Movie (2015)

The Peanuts Movie is fun for the whole family.  The story isn’t too great, but it’s exciting to see a new movie with Charlie Brown and his pals.  The animation is excellent and stays true to Charlie Brown’s original look.

The Peanuts Movie is sure to put a smile on your face.


2015 Reviews

Minions (2015)

Illumination Entertainment struck gold when they first created the Minions.  The adorable, charismatic creatures are hilarious.  Minions is not a monumental victory nor does it feel new.  However, the Minions carry the movie in the best way possible.  Kevin, Stuart, and Bob drive a fun, humorous journey.  It will definitely put a smile on your face.

You should see Minions if you liked Despicable Me.


2015 Reviews

Inside Out (2015)

Inside Out is one of Pixar’s greatest films so far.  It is perhaps Pixar’s most creative and clever.  With that in mind, I have to say it is their least kid-friendly film.  Not due to dark themes or adult content, but because Inside Out makes much more of an impact if you understand the jokes and concepts.  Children can understand the adventure aspect of the film, but there is so much more to Inside Out.  The film is incredibly touching.  It’ll make you laugh and also cry.  Phyllis Smith stands out contributing her voice to Sadness.

If you like Pixar, Disney, or movies in general, you need to see this movie!