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STUDIO:  Paramount
MSRP: $16.99 each
RATED:  G
RUNNING TIME: 76 Minutes and 66 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
-    Original movie artwork gallery
-    Bonus CD with all the music from The Chipmunk Adventure



The Pitch

Dave fucked a chipmunk and it had deformed triplets. He is trying to raise them as best he can, weaning them off of their feral manmunk tendencies.



The Humans

In this land of interspecies mating, the boundaries between what is and isn’t human is truly blurred.


“Do you think Dave’s had enough yet?”


The Nutshell

In the Adventure, our boys (along with their female counterparts the Chippettes*) are used as drug mules as they stage a race around the world collecting doll versions of themselves stuffed with diamonds or gemstones or some such shit. In their Go to the Movies collection we get some undercooked rehashes of Big, Back to the Future and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids with Alvin usually leading the brainy Simon and the terribly obese Theodore into some sort of shenanigans that either parallel or directly rip off the source material. Oh, they also sing. Oh god, do they sing.


Rule #1 of time travel: DON’T SLOW DANCE WITH YOUR PAST SELVES.


The Lowdown

Beyond the Christmas song that has found its way into the pop cultural lexicon, my exposure to the Chipmunks has been minimal at best so I was prepared for just about anything when I popped the Chipmunks go to the Movies into my DVD player. What I wasn’t prepare for was just how much I was troubled by the interspecies relationship between Alvin and a young neighbor in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids spin-off episode. I mean, the creators had to think about this right?  You’re essentially saying that this girl wouldn’t be opposed to fucking an animal. It’s possible the show could’ve steered my thoughts away from this train of thought (What would the kids look like? What would kids call it at school? Why the fuck doesn’t Alvin wear pants?) if there was anything more going on there. Unfortunately 2/3rd of the equation on the Go to the Movies disc is pretty derivative garbage. They’re just aping the plots of the movies they’re paying homage to without doing any extra work to make it interesting. In the final episode on the disc however they finally get things right by having the modern incarnation of the Chipmunks meet the originals in a time traveling plot. They make fun of the older frigid animation style and manage to have some postmodern fun with the concept. There was no sense of that fun in the other episodes, however. Which led me to waxing philosophic on Alvin doing some waxing of his own. However, the Big homage episode has to be a Furry’s absolute dream come true.  So I suppose there’s that.


Gentlemen, start your engines.  Your jerking off engines.


The feature-length Chipmunk Adventure is perfectly acceptable kids entertainment, as they have the Chippettes there as a perfectly acceptable group of female foils allowing me a brief reprieve from the thoughts of terrifying half-man/half-munk offspring drooling translucent green slime from their sharpened fangs with tufts of wild fur exploding from their joints wailing through the night. It also helps that the feature length movie has the benefit of feature-length quality animators. The animation is remarkably smooth and the character designs are quite nice. The villains of the piece are delightfully grotesque with folds of neckfat and facial expressions that amp up the grotesquerie quite nicely.However, the movie is chockfull of musical numbers, and I couldn’t understand what the fuck these supersonic frequencies were trying to say with lyrics. However, it flows much more smoothly with better animation, pacing and a much more streamlined storyline. Of the two discs, it’s easily superior.


…(still pounding away)…


The Package


The Chipmunk Adventure transfer is much stronger than the episodes, which is no surprise based on the source material. Both of the covers are acceptable with interesting imagery that isn’t just a static image of the main characters. No extras on the ‘to the Movies’ disc but Adventure has a nice image gallery of concept and finished art on the movie as well as a bonus disc of all of the music in the film. I’d highly recommend it for kids who want to get some primetime exposure on Nancy Grace in the near future.




BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO:  Lionsgate
MSRP:  $14.98
RATED:  Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 66 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
-  The Making of Speed Racer – The Next Generation
-  The Virtual Track Racing Game
-  Meet the Folks at Racing Academy
-  Trailer Gallery




The Pitch

Speed Racer was one of the most unfairly maligned films of 2008. Any maligning done in the general direction of this project, however, is more or less justified. OR Speederly Hills 9021Racer.


The Humans

No voice actors of note, and warmed over rehashes of the characters from the original show.


Jim was in a real bind.  He could either pretend he didn’t know Joseph was there or slowly remove his mouth from Hollow Man.


The Nutshell

The O.C. meets Speed Racer in this young and hipified version of the original animated series. When Speed Deuce makes his way to Racing Academy he makes a few friends and a few more enemies. He then discovers he’s the long lost son of the original Speed Racer and his brother is the mysterious Racer X (a pretty poor disguise to pick if you’re aiming for subterfuge, using the same disguise name again, but I digress). He also discovers the plans to the Mach 6 and with the help of his friends will help take this crazy school by storm. Also: robot Chim-Chim.

The Lowdown

Speed Racer was amongst the most polarizing cinematic experiences of the past year, with people usually either loving or hating the magnificently gaudy Wachowski Brothers production. So what better time to cash in on the antisuccess of that franchise nonstarter by rebooting Speed Racer into a highly digestible concept that maintains everything you remember about the original. The kinetics of the original animated series is completely lost in a haze of poorly animated 2-d animation with slightly better but still bad CG work for all of the races. The character design is simplistic (all of the teenaged characters seem to be cut from the same template with different shading based on ethnicity) and the movement is far from fluid throughout the piece. And this is almost inexcusable when you consider that the kinetic style of animation is one of the things that made Speed Racer a crossover hit in the first place. You’d get the race sequences down pat and then work on the other stuff as a cherry on top, right?  


“They all laugh now.  But I’ll show them.  I’ll fling the robotic feces of their discontent!”


However, one thing retained from the original Speed Racer (and the movie for that matter) was an irreverent sense of humor that at least is trying to compensate for the lack of innovation or excitement on the action end. Let’s face it, a show that has a robot chimp isn’t doing everything wrong. But it’s little consolation for a show that is just not that pleasant to watch.  If it isn’t exciting, and the characters are stale, why bother? Which leads me to another point; why not just reboot the whole series? This fanwankery of tying it into the mythology of the previous series is going to float over the kids heads and any adults who would watch this are so emotionally retarded that the most anger they’d muster up is an impotent scream from their parent’s basement. It’s a weird concession for a show to make that’s essentially trying to Saved by the Bell: the New Class the Speed Racer franchise. It even has the ‘Screech hanging around creepily’ aspect nailed down by having Spritle be the principal of the racing school. All in all, unless you have a profound love for any and all things Speed, I’d content myself with the awesome summer movie that dropped last year instead of this pile of dick fingers.


I have no context for this image.  Nor do I want to remember any.


The Package

The cover art sucks. Don’t highlight the bland character design; just show some cool race cars doing what they do. Although the show is devoid of that, so I guess it would be false advertising. Out of all of the discs, this has the most comprehensive package of extras. A couple of looks at the behind-the-scenes methods of making the project as well as some trailers for other features are contained therein. Not a lot, but compared to the paucity of bonuses on the other discs, it’s a windfall.



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STUDIO:  Hasbro
MSRP: $16.99
RATED:  UNRATED
RUNNING TIME: 68 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
- 2 Transformers Animated Shorts




The Pitch

They’re robots in disguise…for about four minutes of the running time. Most of the time they’re just big fucking anthropomorphized robots.

The Humans

It’s the robot show with a few ancillary humans. Nobody’s gonna buy Sheriff Jones or the doe-eyed little girl action figures, now are they?


A little recreational game of football between the Autobots led to twelve million dollars in damages and thirty-six casualties.


The Nutshell

In yet another reboot to convoluted for my not-a-child brain to comprehend, the autobots make their way back to Earth again after a sojourn doing some deep space mining for the fucking allspark or minerals or some such shit. After a tussle with Decepticons they crash land on our planet where they remain underwater for a handful of decades. When they eventually rise up again, wouldn’t you know they befriend a plucky young girl and also run afoul of those dastardly Decepticons again. Commence big robot tussle.


“I repeat, Kathleen Turner is making her way towards the Downtown area.  Evac! Evac!”


The Lowdown

Having never been indoctrinated into the Transformers phenomenon as a child (my early toys were He-Man hand-me-downs, and later, the Power Rangers with their Voltron-esque animal robots that turned into a giant bushido robot that fought giant monsters more than sated my appetite for giant robots and destruction), I never have had much use for the expansive mythology and character work that gets the transfans so fired up. It’s part of why I loved the Michael Bay iteration of the series:  It embraced the fact that there isn’t much going on underneath the hood of this series and reveled in that fact.  It was a giant bacchanalian orgy of robo-violence. Plus, John Tuturro gets peed on. By a car. 


The urban legend about the autobot who hung himself in the background of one of the original Transformers movie: proven right!


So needless to say I was bored shitless by this Transformers animated series (which is ongoing, but the eighty-odd minute feature here helps set the plate for what’s to come) which spends an ungodly amount of time setting up its premise before things finally take a turn towards action. Even though I was bored shitless as an adult viewing this, I could see some kids being pulled in. The animation is a nice aping of the anime aesthetic without fully committing to it and the character design is sleek and fun, but this intial made-for-TV rebooting takes so long in getting to the excitement that I can’t imagine kids being enthralled by it despite being the best looking animation out of anything reviewed here. I’m sure it leads somewhere down the line to perfectly acceptable toy advertisements masquerading as serial television, but this particular setup is a healthy serving of weaksauce. Only for transfans, and I mean the Felicity Huffman kind.

The Package

The cover art is as dynamic as something boring can possibly be. For extras, all you get are a couple of cheesy PSA type animated shorts where the Autobots teach the kids meaningful life lessons and safety tips. These would’ve been better if they were instead blatant advertisements for other objects, like the old Hostess Marvel ads. Optimus macking on some Suzy Q’s is something I could definitely get behind. But these were harmless and fun and a nice feature to package along with this barely feature-length feature.



BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO:  Lionsgate
MSRP: $19.98
RATED:  Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 384 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
- None



The Pitch

The sixth season of the world’s most fearsome fighting teens.


 

The Humans

On one side you have Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo led by Splinter and assisted by the compassionate journalist April O’Neil. On the other side you got Shredder along with Krang in their Technodrome along with the genetic freaks that are Bebop and Rocksteady.


“Totally tubular!  Time for some auto-erotic asphyxiation!”

The Nutshell

Season Six opens with the Technodrome buried deep underwater with Krang and Shredder plotting to take over the Earth again, but first getting out of the ocean would be a good start. Luckily, they have an abundance of those drill thingies that pop them up out of the ground whenever they like so they’re able to easily torment the turtles with ease. All sorts of wacky hijinx (special powers granted to peripheral characters, the turtles being shrunk to babies, Krang’s robot body going haywire, etc.) ensue.  Turtle power!

The Lowdown

For people of a certain age bracket, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the thing. The fact that Leonardo leads and Donatello does machines was privileged information amongst a certain age bracket. I even know that my love of film was at least in some small part shaped by the Ninja Turtles advertising blitz. The original poster for the theatrical release of TMNT had me wondering just how they got the turtles captured in live action, and I can’t remember if I bought it or not, but I certainly was fascinated as to the process to get it on screen. One of my ultimate childhood accomplishments was defeating TMNT II: The Arcade Game for the NES without any cheat codes. It was such a vast improvement on the terrible first game for the platform that it dominated many hours of my young life beating the piss out of foot soldiers and constantly utilizing the jump kick option. I also had a plethora of turtle merchandise, but as an American kid growing up in that era that can’t be much of a surprise. One of my best friends in grade school had built a play set with his dad for his figurines that I was enormously jealous of. It had multiple levels (city streets, sewers, secret compartments, the works) and secret compartments and I always made sure I played the shit out of that play set whenever I was over to visit.


The piece de resistance of Chuck’s office was his original de Kooning of Concrete.


You may be asking yourself the reason I’ve opted to take a stroll down memory lane and wade in the hazy waters of nostalgia instead of taking the show at face value is because there’s really nothing there in retrospect. The animation is barely competent and the action sequences are choppy and abrupt. Anything visceral or exciting brought to the product was entirely fostered by the viewer’s imagination. One thing that really caught my attention while I was watching though was just how much the writers went into business for themselves in episodes to make it interesting. This usually took the form of the villains and their asides during scenes together, often poking holes in the flawed logic of their plans to take over the world. It would’ve flown over my head when I was a kid, but it was funny to look back and see the even the writers had trouble polishing a turd of this nature. It’s disappointing to revisit something so vivid in your imagination and not have it live up to your expectations, but it’s also not surprising. My generation’s pop culture frame of reference kind of sucks, to be perfectly frank. However, it’s also not surprising that this show hit it big. Teenage ninjas. That are turtles? And love pizza? And fuck up robots? Along with a reporter who inexplicably wears a yellow full body suit? SIGN ME UP. It wasn’t quite as craven as the Transformers and had a little bit in the way of character development, but it was nothing more than an attempt to get kids to buy other shit at the end of the day. As that, it’s a success. As a show, not so much.


Of course, Shredder was a perfectly fine megalomaniacal head of an evil organization.  But his real dream?  Robot hamburgers.


The Package

The cover art is fine. I would’ve liked it if I was a kid looking at it (I instead had to settle for the Burger King exclusive video tapes of episodes such as The Great Baldini). The video quality is pretty atrocious, but if you’re jonesing for some nostalgia that probably won’t serve as much of an impediment. There aren’t any extras.

*People be fuckin’ animals all up in this piece.



Chipmunk Adventure: 6.0 out of 10
Chipmunks Go to the Movies: 4.7 out of 10
Speed Racer – TNG: 4.0 out of 10
Transformers Animated: 5.5 out of 10
TMNT Season Six: 5.0 out of 10