Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

My Favorite Themes - Part XI

Score: Addams Family Values by Marc Shaiman (The American President)

About the film: There's a new addition to the family - the mustachioed Pubert. A nanny (Joan Cusack) happens along and she and Fester (Christopher Lloyd) fall in love. Meanwhile, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) end up at a nightmarishly perky summer camp. The rare sequel that is as good as the original (perhaps even better), this follow-up is terrific, thanks to Paul Rudnick's clever script and fine performances all around, especially by Cusack and Ricci.

Title: "Wednesday and Joel". The melody seems like a waltz, but its orchestrations (mostly woodwinds) indicate a certain unsureness about its romantic underpinnings...or maybe it leans more toward the nebbishy Joel (David Krumholtz). In any event, it's quite lovely, particularly toward the end of "Escape from Debbie".

Other themes of interest: One thing that must be commended about Shaiman's work on these films is his utter commitment; it's astonishing how many themes he created. There's the bouncy "Camp Chippewa" theme that forms the basis for a hilarious, album-exclusive song and is turned into an action melody in "Wednesday's Revolt". Pubert's five-note theme is introduced in "Sibling Rivalry" and becomes something of a march in "Debbie's Big Scene". Speaking of Debbie, there is a flighty love theme for her and Fester ("Debbie Meets the Family", "Fester's in Love"), as well as a menacing motif that bespeaks her true intentions (the beginning of "Escape from Debbie", "The Honeymoon is Over").

Availability: Varese Sarabande released this in late 1993, making it hard to find now, but might have some copies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"To a mouse, you are the intruder."

Apparently, our furry fiend is on the upstairs level. Traps are being purchased, while I wait anxiously for the whole thing to end.

Yep, that's pretty much it.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cartoons have writers?!

Maybe, that should read, 'Today's cartoons...'

So, there was this cartoon airing this morning, "Viva Pinata" about...well, talking pinatas. It was airing on Fox, clearly a long way from the days when that channel was worth watching on Saturday mornings. Then again, it's part of the 4Kids TV block, and they're not exactly bastions of quality (or pickiness, apparently). I noticed that one of the producers of this tax write-off is Bardel Entertainment, which also produces the hugely entertaining "Edgar and Ellen" shorts that air on Nicktoons TV. So, "Edgar and Ellen" are only allowed on two minutes at a time, but this tripe gets a full season commitment. How's that for justice?

A show like "Viva Pinata" reminds me of the musings of cartoon writer Andrew Nicholls. In his (all-too-few) postings at Toonzone and in an interview, the man practically rips down the curtain, revealing the frail old man of cartoon creating.

Along with his partner, Darrell Vickers, they are responsible for some of the (to me, anyway) most entertaining cartoons of the last ten years ("Ned's Newt", "Pelswick", "W.I.T.C.H."). Other notable credits from this dynamic duo include episodes of "Jimmy Neutron" and "The Fairly Oddparents". It was their work on the latter that puzzled me. It wasn't bad, but it was scarcely recognizable as what they had done elsewhere. (Funnily enough, I had also wondered this about the episodes by Spencer Green, who did some uproarious work on "AAAAAH! Real Monsters" and "Duckman".)

The answer, in a sense, was delivered at the writers' corner of the web. This morning, I read the first draft for "Class Clown", then known as "The Joke's on Timmy".

While it's still not a great episode (I mean, it's no "Engine Blocked" or "TransParents"), it just...feels more like something that the head writers of "Pelswick" would concoct.

There are a lot more (direct) adult references and cutaways, almost like an episode of "Family Guy". Compared to most of the flavorless swill that had been churned out in that fourth season, this is significantly more worthwhile. I admit that the whole 'exhaust fumes' bit is pushing it, but it sure as hell read good. And how is it that this gets cut, but no one blinks an eye at the incest joke in "Love at First Height"? It's just not right.

Also, the idea of Cosmo tricking Wanda into marrying him is infinitely funnier than his constant insults in later episodes. (Seriously, for him to alienate the one woman who would have him despite his flaws is just self-destructive.) And their skill at gag writing (having written for "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson") really comes to the fore here.

In addition to the note-happy execs, the blame for this blanding has to fall on story editor Steve Marmel and (I'm loath to finish this sentence, as it has become vogue to point fingers at this person for what FOP turned into) script supervisor Cynthia True.

It's always nice to find this stuff out, I think.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Now I've seen everything.

I well and truly believe that, for all its popularity, a certain community website is nothing more than a fad. However, there are some things in life that have no explanation. As far as I can see, this is one of them:

Ennio Morricone has a MySpace page!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The obligatory Snakes on a Plane post.

Went to see the movie today. Those expecting to see it and have revealed to them the secrets of the universe, like some of the haters here, will not only face disappointment, but deserve it a thousand fold.

Those expecting, well, snakes on a plane will be pleasantly surprised.

The make-up effects on the snake bite victims were appropriately gruesome, and the cast was fine. The climax proved to be even more entertainingly preposterous than the basic small feat. I was worried that Trevor Rabin's music wouldn't be up to snuff. Sadly, I was proven correct. Pity; it sounded like so much fun from the scoring session report.

Though it's ultimately inferior to David Ellis's earlier Cellular, it is still a fun time at the movies; best recommended with an audience.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A different kind of MyTunes.

Remember what I said a long time ago about the music of my childhood. Well, thanks to a really great dude at a message board I post at, I've rediscovered the address:

You can't really purchase the tracks (unless you become a member), but you can listen to them for nothing. I heartily recommend searching for the following CDs: kpm 81-84, 223 and 224.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nice (magazine) rack.

Stopped off at Waldenbooks today. Here's some of what I glanced over.

- In Fangoria, there were pics from the Chicago Weekend of Horrors. Two of the guests were George A. Romero and Tom Savini, for whom I now have increased respect. According to the caption, part of their time was devoted to talking about 'why fast zombies suck'. I have no clue what was exactly said, but a poster in a long ago Ain't It Cool News thread said something to the effect of 'How would the zombies even have all that stamina to run? They're dead!'. I could not agree more.

- Entertainment Weekly did something very amusing for their Fall Movie Preview issue. The cover features the newest James Bond, Daniel Craig, and...well, I don't want to give it away. Let's just say that what they've done for the cover(s) is terrific.

- That same issue has increased my respect for Gary Cole, as well. He lists Team America: World Police as a guilty pleasure: of the few films to make me convulse myself with laughter. Plus, you can't go too wrong with puppet sex.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Don't get eliminated!"

The world's toughest competition in town!

Between this, "Animaniacs" and "Kids in the Hall" finishing its run, this has been a spectacular year for comedy shows on DVD.

Now, where the Christ is "Duckman"?!

"It's just a mouse!"

Recently, I've taken on the task of beta reading (that's proof reading, for the uninitiated) a "Kim Possible" fan fiction, "A Mouse by Any Other Name", which sees the teen heroine turned into a mouse.

In what has to be one of the most fudged-up coincidences in the history of...well, ever, I spotted a mouse crawling across the hallway outside my room. Now, I'm not keen on killing it (like my father seems to be), but I do want it to not be in my house. Thankfully, a) it's still on the lower level of the house as opposed to where the food is and b) it's not a rat (my father pointed this out to me...and he's right; those things have rabies!).

It's not that pest trouble is foreign to me; we dealt with a nasty roach problem a couple of years back.

Also, I'm sorry, but I just could not help quoting Mouse Hunt in the title (and I can't promise that more quotes won't follow in subsequent entries).

If worse comes to worse, we can always throw fruit at it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Playing around.

Now, I haven't played video games in well over a decade (having finished "The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past" on Super Nintendo - am I showing my age yet? - I kinda lost interest), but I do love movies.

It's astonishing how many video games nowadays are based on movies: X-Men: the Last Stand, Superman Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Monster House, The Ant Bully and, not a few moments ago, I saw a spot for a Barnyard video game.

I'm sort of surprised that Lady in the Water missed the boat, but you just know that Snakes on a Plane is getting a tie-in game. Don't even try to dispute this.

Friday, August 04, 2006

At the movies.

Clerks 2 and Monster House. What could they possibly have in common, besides being really fine films I've seen in the last couple of weeks? Both of them have come under fire for material potentially offensive to African-Americans. As an African-American, I find this rather laughable.

In Clerks 2, there's a scene introducing a foreign (to me) racial slur: 'porchmonkey'. I can't be faulted too much for my ignorance; it originated in the South and I'm a Yankee. The scene also features the 'n' word (used in the context of a broken bottle as a 'n***er knife'). Racial slurs trouble me, but, used in this context (Randal trying to take back that which I've never heard before), it's surprisingly funny. There are some at the IMDB message boards up in arms that this stuff might be offensive to my people. Two points I want to make: a) For some reason, I just know that someone who isn't Black made that comment and b) Would comics Wanda Sykes and Earthquake have done the scene if they considered it offensive? Besides, where are those people claiming that this film could be offensive to Christians, Lord of the Rings fans and people who are pro-ass to mouth?

Monster House is certainly a more benign film, but, lo and behold, people (at the IMDB) have raised a fuss over it. One of the bungling cops investigating the house is Black, and people have actually stated comparisons to Stepin Fetchit. Christ on a pogo stick! It's just a forking movie! Besides, the two of them struck me as 'these kids are making this up', bumbling authority figures one tends to see in these movies.

To steer away from racial issues, which I honestly couldn't care about, I read one of the funniest lines I've ever seen in a movie review, about the Will Ferrell vehicle (pun not intended) Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby:

It approaches its few funny ideas like a cat watching fish in an aquarium: It sees them, it wants them, but it has no idea how to get to them.