Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Ellen Show Not-Reviewed, But Marking A Historical Milestone: The Puppy Episode

So as it turns out today (well, roughly today, apologies for being a day late because the RDMAs ended up taking longer than I thought) marks the 20th anniversary of the airing of The Ellen Show episode "The Puppy Episode," where Ellen's character had come out as gay (of course, the actress herself had come out as openly gay very shortly afterwards). It was a different time then than it is now where, frankly, it really does seem that the sexuality of an actor is not earth-shaking at least. But it was back then, and fortunately it seems history has borne out in very positive ways.

Some of you might know Shipping Wars Are Stupid from GirlMeetsWorldReviewed.com, and he was terrific enough to do this guest tribute for us, which is presented below (yeah, please nevermind the stupid formatting):

Twenty years ago, the history of television and culture changed forever with two simple words."I'm gay."Ellen was a sitcom on ABC, starring Ellen DeGeneres, David Anthony Higgins, Clea Lewis, Jeremy Piven and Joely Fisher. It aired from 1994-1998.On April 30, 1997, in what's known as "The Puppy Episode," 42 million people tuned in to see Ellen come out. In the episode, Ellen meets a television producer Susan, played by Laura Dern. Ellen is taken to Susan but struggled with why she couldn't feel the same way about her college friend Richard. In the end, Ellen came out to Susan and television changed forever.Sounds good, right?But twenty years ago, it was still very taboo to be gay. What happened?Threats were made against the station and the stars. Sponsors pulled advertising and a couple stations refused to show the episode at all.Ellen was cancelled about a year later-the show's focus shifted into gay issues and that wasn't okay with America.Laura Dern? You might remember her most from Jurassic Park. She didn't work again for a year-and-a-half after this episode aired.Today, Ellen is one of the most popular celebrities in the world. With 67 million followers on Twitter, the voice of one of the most beloved animated characters of all-time, the number one daytime talk show in the country and a Medal of Freedom recipient, everyone knows who Ellen is.We've come a long way in this country. In the past five years, Maine became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. The courts nationwide started listening. And then they realized love is love.But we're nowhere close to where we should be.You can still be fired in over half of the United States for being gay.Many businesses refuse service to gay patrons and far too many people are mistreated for being gay. It happens all day. Every day.Not to mention how far the rest of the world still needs to come where in many countries in Africa and the Middle East, you can be killed for being gay.Thank you Ellen for your courage and your sacrifices.You've changed so much and this country has come so far because of what people like you have fought for.

2017 RDMAs reviewed

Man, California can go screw itself

What is it? Annual radio/music awards hosted by Disney Channel and Radio Disney. I guess that's why they call it the "Radio Disney Music Awards."
Where did it air? I'm guess, maybe some channel, that's Disney-related?
Who stars in it? Well, pretty much everybody under the sun as far as Disney Channel's concerned. I also noticed a distinct absence of last year's disaster, "let's make a super-huge deal of the stars of Shadowhunters showing up, and they show up at the very end for less than two minutes."
Why are we reviewing this? Because I enjoy the envy I get every time I see pictures of these stars enjoying the red carpet in hot, sunny California weather while I look outside my window and there's three inches of snow on the goddamn ground.

Seriously, it's already the end of April. Quit it.

Actually today isn't too bad, the sun's back out and it's obliterated all of yesterday's snowfall - but that's the thing, yesterday. As in the day when the RDMAs actually took place and for some reason we get this 24-hour tape delay like we should be happy for it.

Hey, Disney. You know Nickelodeon does this "Bill O'Rielly"-style live, right? And that is why you're, like, #2 behind them (that, and something called "PAW Patrol").

I forgot how last years' started off (you can go back to our review last year to see) but this year actually starts out like Disney's learned a thing or two - with something big, even if it's a pre-recorded trailer of Descendants 2 and...have I mentioned how impossibly beautiful Sofia Carson is? Yeah, I'm probably going to double-back on my New Year's resolution to tone down the objectifying misogynist comments and say that a lot.

We also get a very nice mash-up Moana performance from Jordan Fisher, Alexia Cara and the star of Moana, I Can't Remember Her Really Long, Confusing Name, But She Has A Really Nice Red Dress On. In the interests of diversity, if it gives her a self-esteem boost and because it's just my honest opinion, I want to openly admit that I find her actually very pretty but...the New Year's resolution thing. And the fact that she's like, 15. But I guess that cat's out of the bag (no creepo). But a platonic pretty if that means a difference (yes, it actually is possible to find people pretty without being obsessively, sexually creepy about them!)

Anyway, speaking of pretty people and weirdness...anybody else notice that when they announced Zayn and Taylor's collab - you know, the one that's almost impossible to escape from on the air waves - they didn't bother to actually play a sample of it? It stands alone in that regards in its nomination category, in fact. Just thought I'd point it out. (Machine Gun Kelly and Camilla Cabello ended up winning, BTW).

"Top 5 Moments from Last Year's RDMAs" might be my nomination for "lamest category." Oh, Disney Channel!

But yeah, like last year, it's mostly going to be actual music performances. Is it better or worse than how the KCAs are conducted? Eh, I don't know. They've got plusses and minuses, but this year I think I'd give the edge to...and this is shocking even to me given what I said last year - the RDMAs. The live performances actually seem to keep up the energy better than the KCA's efforts this year.

Anyone else find it interesting that Jake Paul won Favorite Social Media star, the category that just happened to be introduced by his Bizaardvark costars?

Hmm, I guess they renamed Friends for Change (remember that?) to Heroes for Change.

The tribute to Nick Jonas from Jack Black was neat, and the diabetes-diagnosed little kid entourage was totes adorbs. Also TIL Nick was diagnosed with Type 1 before he ever even became remotely famous.

Final Grade:  *shrug* I guess a B+? Like I said I think the RDMAs actually managed to top the KCAs this year.
Best Performance: They were actually all really good (except Train, see Extra Thoughts below) but if I had to pick one well...either Erin Bowman (see below) or, well, seeing Sofia Carson tribute Britney Spears during Britney Spears' "bad girl" era is one for the ages (see, well, scattered throughout this review). If I were to judge on bases not objectifying...like I said, there pretty much wasn't a non-brilliant, non-amazing performance in the house (except Train) but I guess I'll have to go with Alessia Cara because Stars are Beautiful really is a legitimately beautiful song, and it has a message I can just really, really get behind and yes I am very well aware of how hypocritical I sound right now.

Extra Thoughts

 - Yeah again just like last year everything's all over the place so Extra Thoughts is just an extension of the main review (or rather the other way around)

 - Yeah I also would love to go on and on about how pretty I think Camilla Cabello is. Or literally the entirety of (the former, I guess) Fifth Harmony.

 - Have I mentioned how pretty Sofia Carson is?

 - Yeah I also hope my creepy, objectifying asides didn't chase away, like, the five or so of you who read this blog. Feedback, please!

 - This is actually the first time I've heard Hailee Steinfeld's "Most Girls." I like it.

 - Hehe, Miley's sister is named Noah.

 - Holy Crap Grace Vanderwaal is like a fetus (no I don't watch AGT)

 - Disney also advertised a live stream of Forever In Your Mind doing a viewing party during the airing of the RDMAs which just strikes me as dumb because of course dividing your audience's attention is productive. It also screws over people on the west coast who might not have access to the East Coast feed. You know, like that place where the RDMAs took place. Oh, Disney Channel!

 - They did show snippets of the viewing party during commercial and it looks....sooo exciting. And then I actually tried watching it in the app and it looked...soo exciting. And it's on a fixed volume setting. Oh, Disney Channel!

 - But one plus about the Radio Disney app is that it doesn't cause my phone to fucking crash.

 - Disney's also shilling for Xfinity. Fuck Xfinity.

 - My first thought regarding Hotel Transylvania: The Series is (and in star contrast to the announcement of Big Hero 6: The Series) ugh followed by huh? as I'd more expect a Hotel Transylvania series to be on Nick.

 - I have a closeted (well, not anymore I guess) somewhat fondness for American Girl.

 - I was tempted to fast forward through the Kelsi Ballerini part. Yeah, not a big country fan.

 - In all fairness to the Radio Disney Viewing Party, it had JiffPom in it!

   - I'm sorry but it makes much more sense to have Hailee Steinfeld (or for that matter Sofia Carson) do a Britney Spears tribute than it does Kelsi Ballerini, sorry again.

 - Have I mentioned how pretty Sofia Carson is?

 - I know they're sisters so it's mandatory, but it's still weird seeing Zoey101 on Disney Channel. Then again I guess it's no weirder than Ariana Grande shilling for Disney and shunning Nick at just about every turn available.

  - Train can't write lyrics to save their lives

 - last objectifying comment of the night I promise - holy crap I didn't realize Erin Bowman was so hot. Like I can literally feel my cheeks burning red as I'm just sitting at home watching this, this might sound really weird but I think she actually kind of reminds me of Zendaya-hot.

 - ...and Disney Channel is replaying the RDMAs immediately right after the RDMAs in back-to-back consecutive airings which, in an age of commonplace DVRs, separate East and West Coast feeds (even though the West Coast feed doesn't get a lot of love being stuck in 480p and all) and the near-universal access and availability of the Watch Disney Channel app which probably has the RDMAs right now, seems a bit of a throwback on Disney Channel's part.




Saturday, April 29, 2017

Xfinity vs. DirecTV: The Nickelodeon and Disney Channel Reviewed, uh, Review (or at least Unknown's Opinion)

So for this "review" we're doing something different: comparing two subscription TV providers, head-to-head. We're doing this for a number of reasons: because Nickelodeon and Disney Channel are subscription TV channels, and because I've subscribed with both Xfinity and DirecTV in the very recent past so I feel I'm qualified to speak on each's weaknesses and benefits and come to some conclusion as to which is the "winner" (more on why that's in quotes at the end). 

There's of course a third subscription TV service, Dish Network, but they're so pathetic I feel it's not even worth rating them beyond an "lol." And of course there's lots others, such as Netflix, Hulu, etc., but I feel it's most worthwhile pitting the two most "traditional" subscription services together and mention the newcomers at the very end (it should be obvious why at the very end).

In the first corner, Xfinity

Pluses:

 - They're more or less reliable. I guess you really do get what you pay for, if what you value most of all is just the ability to watch shows whenever the provider/network dictates it, and access OnDemand features. You don't have to worry about the weather.

Minuses:

 - They're hideously expensive compared to other options including DirecTV, when comparing feature-to-feature. To pay for the equivalent number of features comparable to even DirecTV (including basic HD packaging) you have to pay out the nose so much it just becomes stupid. If you do not have any concept regarding the value of money, it might not matter, but to most people living in the real world, an Xfinity subscription might just come off as outright idiotically stupid in terms of what you actually pay for.

I mean, seriously, you might as well just freely donate money to Xfinity's corporate bosses.

 - the customer service is awful and unresponsive, which means all that money you're freely giving to them is going to great use.

In conclusion: if you hate the money in your savings account, Xfinity is a great service. Final Grade: F Minus Minus. Just the fees and pricing you pay alone is an exercise in masochism.

In the second corner, DirecTV

Pluses:

 - They're relatively cheap, at least upfront. You get a number of services for the fraction of the cost you'd be paying for from Xfinity. Unless you opt for the most basic package possible HD is pretty much guaranteed across the board. Even really cheap packages come with oodles of channels.

Minuses:

 - Reliability is about on par with an early 90s Yugo. If it snows, you can pretty much forget about watching or recording TV. If you live in a climate where it snows at all you might want to think twice about DirecTV. Even if you live in a very sunny, warm climate the basic equipment itself is of questionable functionality. Remote controls tend to be very unresponsive and if you end up flinging them at your TV often, I won't blame you.

- You ever see those commercials from Xfinity about the hidden fees from DirecTV? Yeah, they have a point. Don't be surprised if your phone is hounded by DIrecTV sales people asking if you'd like to take advantage of a "promotional price" to add channels you'll never watch and inflate your monthly bill.

 - Customer service is about on par with Xfinity, in that it sucks.

In conclusion: If you think TV isn't something you should watch every day, especially when the weather sucks, and if you think remote controls are too easy to use, then DirecTV is the service for you
Final Grade: F Minus Minus. This type of unreliability should've gone extinct with the Soviet Union

The Xfinity vs. DirecTV NickAndDisneyChannel.Blogspot.com winner is: Neither. They both suck equally, they're both equally a waste of money and giving your money to either is equally incredibly, mind-numbingly stupid. Like, giving your money as a political donation to Donald Trump-stupid. Just cut your damn cord already.

There's a reason why providers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and what have you are gaining ground quickly and why the traditional big-boy players like Xfinity and DirecTV are facing extinction, whether they realize it or not. With Netflix you really get to dictate and determine your own schedule, not be left to the whims of people with bigger corporate bank accounts than you. 

Now granted, Netflix isn't perfect (they have huge gaps especially when it's relevant to what this blog reviews, as they've only just recently included shows like Liv and Maddie, Jessie, Austin & Ally etc) but it is the belief of this blog (well, Unknown at least) that those gaps can be economically filled with purchasing the individual episodes from Amazon Prime if needed (and really, what are you losing from shows that aren't included in Netflix? Are they really that hot if they're not on Netflix to begin with?) Or just sign up with Amazon Prime.

Live events are also a bit iffy with either Netflix or Amazon Prine - including the KCAs and RDMAs if you care about them - but both Nickelodeon and Disney Channel themselves are moving more to an online streaming format, which is clearly where the future is headed. As long as you have some sort of package or deal where you have access to and can unlock content from Watch Disney Channel or Nickelodeon Online, you should be good. And if recent years are any indication, you aren't missing much by missing the KCAs and RDMAs anyway.

Final Conclusion: In the opinion of Unknown, singing up for and paying out the nose for either Xfinity or DirecTV is just friggin' incredibly stupid. You might as well pay someone to let you bang your head against a goddamn brick wall. Those two services are dinosaurs, and it's in Unknown's opinion that their extinction is inevitable. Do you really want to financially back a guaranteed loser? It's in Unknown's opinion that "cutting the cord" and taking advantage of Disney Channel's and Nickelodeon's own acknowledgement that online streaming is the future, with services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime is a much better investment of your entertainment dollar. 

Don't sign up with either Xfinity or DirecTV. If you do, you're a goddamn idiot. If you sign up with Dish Network, you're doubly a goddamn idiot. Go back to middle school if you're going to do that.

Strange Magic movie review

...Because everyone deserves love.

What is it? CGI animated theatrical release movie produced by Disney's Touchstone Pictures and...LucasFilm and animated/rendered by Industrial Light & Magic from a story concept by George Lucas, of all things (note that this was released a couple years after Disney acquired LucasFilm and was released the same year as TFW)
Where did it air? Well originally it was a theatrical release so it shouldn't be too hard to find on streaming services or DVD/Blu-Ray by now, but I recorded it off Disney Channel's airing
Who stars in it? Maya Rudolf as the main character, Alan Cummings (hehe) as the main villain/other main character I guess, uh, some other big names I'm sure.
Why are we reviewing it? Well it was on Disney Channel so why not plus I was always curious about the movie in that "well I do kind of wonder if it's more than just a string of songs put together to form a movie."

Boy was I ever disappointed.

I mean, technically speaking it's very visually impressive as you'd expect from an all-CGI animation from one of the most high-tech studios in the country and therefore the world. But it really does feel like a tech demo and then Ole' Georgy Boy said, "eh, let's fill it with cover songs until we finally bump the run time up to 90 minutes and call it a day." Seriously there's probably 15 second before characters spontaneously break into song. The story is [i]literally[/i] told as a musical - which wouldn't be so bad if it had more original songs than songs so old they either appeal to really old people ("hey I remember that song! That was back when I was young! I remember my youth!") or little kids who just don't know any better.

I mean, let's take a look at the typical musical DCOM, like the granddaddy of them all, High School Musical. It's not like everybody was [i]literally[/i] singing the whole time (the number of times people burst out to spontaneous singing is at least somewhat exaggerated) and I think the numbers are actually pretty catchy (c'mon, who doesn't like Get Your Head in the Game, Bop to the Top, and so on). Or a typical Disney Canon animated musical like, say, The Emperor's New Groove (which we'll get to soon) or Tangled. As much as I said Tangled is overrated, it has some really catchy music.

As for Strange Magic (which I guess is technically a Disney Movie by way of LucasFilm?) I mean...it's short on story, doesn't have a single original song present (as I said, it's covered wall-to-wall, so to speak) and what story it does have is incredibly sappy.

Now at this point I should bring something up because there is [i]another[/i] movie that's guilty of all the same sins: short on story, also covered up wall-to-wall and what story it does have is incredibly sappy.

The movie I speak, of which, is Moulin Rouge. Yes, that Laz Burman movie that's highly divisive (then again I guess all his movies are) with Nicole Kidman in it.

But in Moulin Rouge's defense there's a major difference between it and Strange Magic. See, Moulin Rouge is sappy - but deliberately so, in that the whole message is "there is a time and place for sappiess, that there is validity to sappiness and we made this whole movie to prove it." Whether it succeeds in that message or not is up to you.

But Strange Magic feels sappy because they know little kids won't be able to tell the difference.

The story does pick up towards the end (and the number of spontaneous singing outbursts somewhat decreases) but...it's an incredibly soft movie. It's good for killing time regardless what age you are but it doesn't feel like something I'd really make multiple trips back to. I could definitely have it in the background a few times but I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it.

Movie Grade: C+
Movie MVP: I really like Alan Cumming's musical numbers plus his last name is fun, tee hee. Maya Rudolph really surprises me with her singing talents, too.

Extra Thoughts

 - Due to a spring snowstorm that knocked out the TV (don't do satellite, kids) I didn't get to see Andi Mack yet so you're getting this instead, folks

 - I mean, the basic core of the story and its moral message is fine enough I guess - you know, don't judge people by how they look (said explicitly in the movie in case you don't get it, said by the fairy king who looks like he was modelled after either George Lucas or the movie's animation director, it doesn't really matter because those two guys happen to look the same anyway) and you can fall in love with anyone - but it just lacks enough bite to really grab onto the memory and swim in the imagination for a bit and climb out of that C-territory grade. I'm sure there are musicals out there that do a better job. I dunno...I've seen Into the Woods as my high school's musical, maybe I should check out the movie.

- Or another movie that kind of does that that I mentioned previously is Little Manhattan. I should do a review of that movie too

 - You know, for a guy known for literally the most famous sci-fi franchise in history, George Lucas is actually a lot closer to Tolkien than Heinlein. Then again it shows up in spades in Star Wars if you really pay attention, but Lucas has a history of messing around with these soft-hearted, fantasy/fairy tale fluff going all the way back to Willow. It's really interesting to follow, what kind and type of storytelling a certain person really likes to do especially if that person is mostly known for a work that clashes with that style (the development of Star Wars as a response to the Vietnam War is really interesting too).

 - Wow I erroneously added a lot of HTML tags to this one (they've since been corrected, so by the time you're reading this, you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Yup it's another "the future of this blog" post but this time we're talking about videos, Patreon and Jim Sterling

So, despite the whole "future of this blog" thing being featured first and most prominently in the title and being the most important thing for this blog...I want to talk about Jim Sterling first.

Who's Jim Sterling? He's this guy:



So what about him? Nothing really, other than 1.) I'm a really big fan of his - I don't agree with him all the time but say 75% (which I consider to be a good ratio, I've learned personally the dangers of being in agreement with someone too much, politically-speaking at least) and 2.) I've been really thinking about how his show is entirely supported by Patreon. And the thing is, I'd like some of that action, too.

Now, if I'm going to bring up the subject of Patreon and funding, there's a number of things I feel obligated to share with you:

1.) The biggest question is, does this blog need Patreon to continue? And the firm answer is: absolutely not. Unlike say The Jimquisition this blog has no budget whatsoever aside from the sheer time Mike and I take to write what we write here. That's the big reason why I'm on this blog format to begin with (and I suspect it's true of Christian and Sean as well) - as awful and full of functional suck as it is, Blogspot is at least free - so yeah, you get what you pay for but in my case if what you can pay for is $0.00, you're glad with what you can get. It at least allows me to dink away at this keyboard on a weekly, semi-weekly or whenever-I-feel-like basis reaching an audience into the 5 or maybe even 6 individuals range.

2.) And so that brings us to the more intellectually honest question: do I just want money? And the answer is: oh hell yes. But, again, for the sake of intellectual honesty I just want to make it clear: this blog does not need your financial support. We are not officially asking for donations. If we are going to set up a Patreon, you are strictly and specifically giving me money of your own volition, for no stated purpose whatsoever, which I may feel free to blow at a casino if I wish. I really don't want to bring up the ethics of giving money to Patreon projects but what I do want to bring up is transparency, so here it is: I just want your damn money. Your damn money is not going to go to any worthy cause whatsoever. Not even to increase the quality of this blog, which is pretty much peaked. I'm just going to end up blowing it all on a damn casino anyway, probably. So you've been informed if we do sign on for Patreon - and again, if it happens, I'll take every step I can to remind you of that transparency at every step before you click on that Patreon donation thingie.

3.) And naturally, Mike'll get 50% of the Patreon cut too, so if you want to give money to Mike (and in all fairness he's going to college so he can probably use it) you'll need to double whatever amount you want to give him because 50% is going to me :D

4.) So I'll need to figure out how that will work exactly

5.) And that's the thing - I have no idea how Patreon actually works. As far as I'm aware all the Patreon projects I know of (The Jimquisition, Regular Car Reviews which I've linked to before, The Gaming Historian) are all YouTube video projects. I don't even know if there are blogs that use Patreon. I don't even know how that works exactly since, again, the whole point of Blogspot is to give a platform to bloggers that use literally zero budget.

6.) And on that matter, we're going to need a readership that's much more than just 6 if we're going to be very serious about Patreon.

7.) And so that brings up what's frankly a very scary frontier for me - doing videos and vlogs. Again, these will be literally zero-budget videos that I can do very easily and very lazily so that 100% of my 50% cut goes to me :) But seriously, I have very little time and resources (other than financial) to put videos together, and aside from being able to afford equipment I wouldn't know how to use anyway that really wouldn't change even if I had a million dollars. 

Also, my voice sounds really, really horrible on video. Like, Alex Borstein as Lois Griffin bad. 

I'm also really camera-shy and not in a hurry to stick my face in front of a video. I can also do a voice-over only, but, again, Alex Borstein as Lois Griffin impression, plus I want to have some interesting visuals so that it gives off some pretense of being an attempt at professionalism (haha). Plus, this really is uncharted territory for me and this blog. Would I just read back reviews on this blog? What kind of "exclusive" content would I bother with? And for that matter, how could I put in clips from Disney Channel and Nick shows without getting DCMA'd? Not that it matters because I don't even have the equipment to record and extract clips in the first place.

So, there you go. I really floating this out as a trial balloon for now, and uh, see what you guys think. All five of you.

Well, maybe all six of you.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Andi Mack Reviewed: Dancing in the Dark (S1E4)

I know I talk a big game but she scares me!

What is it? 24-minute single-cam kidcom on Disney Channel and all that, oh yeah it's more like 25-26 minutes because of Mack Chats. Those are always fun.
Where does it air? Disney Channel where it gets to hang out with other such KidCom greats as Bunk'd, random kiddie movies (just as long as they aren't DCOMs) and reruns of past shows that were actually popular.
Who stars in it? Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Lauren Bowden, Lauren Tom, you know the drill. I might as well mention the other players too - Joshua Rush, Sophia Wylie (I wonder if she's related to Noah Wylie who stars in and executive produces TNT's The Librarians which is one of the few, geek Millennial/Gen X-er-appealing genres shows I actually like a lot because it just does what it does so well), Emily Skinner as "Amber Alert" and Asher Angel which...ok, I'm not doubting that's his real name, but that still doesn't change the fact that it's a more contrived-sounding name than even Armie Hammer (BTW that link is clickbait trash so I don't blame you if you don't click on it).
Why are we reviewing this? Aww man, do I really have to insist on filling this out each and every episode? Man I'm starting to regret even greenlighting this format....

Man, that Amber is such a bitch isn't she? Yeah, let's talk about that.

I mean, on the one hand we've already established that she's not only a bitch but in fact a really creepy, weirdo of a bitch who's ultra-possessive so she's already hit the horror relationship-gone-wrong film trifecta right off the bat, and Jonah and Andi really do hit it off well and have great chemistry together, and yes yes, I know, above all else, it's necessary to give the show not only conflict away from Andi Mack's parentage and family dynamics but also give the show a specific romantic conflict because that's what the network demands as its bread and butter.

But when the hell did it not only become socially acceptable but lauded about it being ok to muscle in on someone else's partner just because you feel a particular sense of entitlement to him or her?

I mean, yes, Amber's sense of entitlement to Jonah is creepy, but that doesn't make Andi's own sense of entitlement to him any less presumptuous, bull-headed and just plain wrong. I'm not even sure how to address it because it doesn't even take away from the series' charm so far and...I hate that! 




From...Best of Funny Memes? Ugh, do I really have to credit them? Ewww.

I guess, to address it in broad strokes at least...it's extremely annoying how both Disney Channel and Nickelodeon (and the media at large) keep on trading on the idea of romance and relationships being centered around on a sense of entitlement to a particular person. That's extremely unhealthy and trust me, I know, as if my own really creepy obsessive hang-ups on my ex that I constantly talk about on this very blog at extremely inopportune, random times (like right now) wasn't already a dead giveaway to that. At best it means someone in the relationship has to surrender power. A lot of power, actually. That's not healthy for either party, needless to say especially the one surrendering that power.

Take Andi herself for instance as she's put herself in the unique and unenviable position of both trying to take power and voluntarily surrendering it. She's very lucky Jonah is just playing along and doesn't want to abuse the privilege - but as we're seeing here she's certainly giving a lot of power to Amber. And that's the thing - in this type of unhealthy relationship dynamic, and especially when you're muscling in on someone else's relationship, you risk surrendering power to people you have no intention of being romantically attached to!

We saw this again in Girl Meets World where Riley kept insisting on surrendering all her relationship power to Lucas, whether Lucas even wanted it or was even aware of it. And in the process she ended up surrendering a lot of power to Maya without even being aware of it - and ended up threatening their relationship multiple times. Now, if the whole point was to illustrate the dangers of this kind of relationship dynamic and power-surrender, then yes, GMW had a very good shot of actually being the series its hardcore fanbase has deluded itself into thinking it is. Buuut we all know the truth about that one quite well at this point. Or on Bunk'd with Emma and Xander and, again, a lot of that negative relationship dynamic ends up bouncing back against Emma and her relationship with Lou and Lou isn't even frickin' involved in it. Or an even more blatant, straightforward example, with Hazel who's so hung up on Xander she's just pretty much stuck being the pathetic stock trope character. Or on Wizards of Waverly Place where the weirdo, possessive and counter-possessive relationship dynamics between Alex and Dean and later Mason grew to truly infamous proportions even among the fandom who loved this show. Or on Austin & Ally where the relationship dynamics, for being healthy or unhealthy, nonetheless managed to put the whole damn series on shaky ground. Jessie may have had weird relationship dynamics itself between Jessie and Tony but at least, for all the other fault of that series especially Seasons 3 and 4, that relationship dynamic was, yes, realistic and a lot of their falling out was because they started stumbling through those power struggle pitfalls until at the very (rushed) end they sorted everything out (almost as it if was magic, because it was rushed and out of the blue and all). And on Good Luck Charlie too where Teddy wasn't so obsessively hung up on Spencer and kept herself in check and refused to surrender any of her power when she found out Spencer was a cheater, or just found out Dylan was a complete and total dud of a boyfriend.

Hmmm, Good Luck Charlie...you know, that's an interesting series because it was created by Phil Baker, a loooong-time veteran of Disney Channel who would later take over and helm I Didn't Do It's (rather infamous) Season 2 and become an executive producer of...hold on, lemme look it up...oh yeah Andi Mack, this show we're reviewing right now. And let me look it up because, oh yeah - this episode, Dancing in the Dark was written by Phil Baker.

But at least this show has the savviness and wherewithal to point it out, even if not necessarily in direct response to this unhealthy relationship dynamic that keeps popping up across the KidCom genre.

And regarding that, we still have nice character evolution or at least that "development" thing people keep harping on (you know, people like me). Right when I was worried the series might end up being nothing more but an endless string of episodes of Andi having to explain to complete strangers at this point that her older sister is really her mom, we get a blast e-mail and a party out of it because sure, why not. And we have Bex rushing straight into this party like they've done on literally every other KidCom, but here it really does feel like a young mom not only trying to keep up the pretense of being "cool" but really trying to reconnect with her daughter (and, oh yeah, using the party as a convenient excuse to have Andi drop the whole topic of her father). But what's really exciting was the conversation between Buffy and Marty - see, that's very natural-feeling and it felt like it added a lot of value to the episode.

Try finding that in, say, Girl Meets Popular or even Girl Meets She Don't Like Me (you won't - and just to remind you I still gave She Don't Like Me an A+/Best Episode of the Year on the Network Award).

Of course that's exciting to me because I'm a narrative geek who like emphasizing whenever a show actually has good talking points to illustrate this. What's probably exciting to you is that huge bombshell they dropped at the end of this show (see that's how you drop a major plot twist, not casually in the middle of the episode or in the friggin' promos for said episode well in advance of the show's actual premiere date).

Episode Grade: Congratulations Andi Mack! Already in Episode 4 you've earned your first A+! And despite all the...relationship creepiness and ranting I've just done. And for a stereotypical "oooh let's throw a party while the parents are away!" episode no less! That's extremely impressive on top of also marking an unbroken string of A-ratings for the entire series run so far (as short as it is). It's earning this grade - the second highest grade we give out on this blog, behind the A++ of course (hey if our lowest grade is going to be F--...) which this blog has yet to award - because it had a lot to offer including something that just simply feels very fresh on this network especially, but maybe for just the entire world of comedy television as it stands right now period. It's cheery without being overly sentimental and sappy, its dramatic moments don't interfere with the comedy and it feels light without having to sacrifice actual substance. So yeah, that's an A+ in my book.
Episode MVP: I'm really tempted to give it to Peyton Elizabeth Lee because she does all the heavy lifting in this episode and I won't argue with anyone who says she deserves it...or even Lillian Bowden, but I'm giving it to Sofia Wylie because I really feel like she hit it out of the park in what probably ended up being maybe five or so pages of dialogue in the script.

Extra Thoughts

 - As you can plainly see, I was perfectly able to resist any Bruce Springsteen references. You're welcome.

 - well it looks like we've finally found or new Girl Meets World in that we have a series we're going to come back to on a weekly basis provided they keep giving us new episodes, which means I'm going to get really sick and tired of having to fill out all that info at the beginning of every review with the same exact thing very quickly.

- I don't know if anyone wants to bother to suggest to Christian and Sean that they start up Andi Mack Reviewed, on that note?

 - Oh, and for those keeping count and playing the drinking game at home (where you should be, don't drink and drive): I think that's three shots for dinging on GMW yet again.

 - And one for me mentioning my ex and being creepy about it on a blog ostensibly dedicated to reviewing children's shows.

 - Speaking of creepy, we now have something that's finally dethroned the "Amber Alert:" the Macks' neighbor referring to Andi as "that Harry Potter-haircut cutie."

 - One thing I forgot to mention in last week's review is that it really tried to push the idea of seeing Lauren Tom in a bikini.

Image from...Know Your Meme? Awww man do I have to credit them too? Also for those of you playing at home that's two more shots, one for using a second Matt Groening-related image macro and one for making this same "do I have to credit them?" joke. And yes given that I'm talking about Lauren Tom now I should use the Futurama one here, but whatever.

 - I'll give out a special prize to anyone who can definitively prove to me that Asher Angel isn't some sort of Disney genetically-perfect clone grown in their labs underneath Disneyland alongside Walt Disney's perfectly preserved frozen head, as evidenced by Asher Angel's very friggin' name.

 - And on the Regal Academy front (because that show's way too pathetic to ever, ever deserve even a mini-review) they just killed off the main villainess: a villainess who just happened to be a teenaged girl who was more or less a completely harmless and ineffective villain, and she died by being frickin' dissolved to death which is an extremely painful and terrifying way to die.

Yeah. Still not hardcore enough to make me even bother reviewing it (does that technically qualify as the lowest grade we give out on this blog?)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tangled: Before Ever After "DCOM" (yes those quotation marks are important) reviewed

Again it's been so long I just forgot any notable quotes, so sue me

What is it? Approx. hour-length Disney Channel Original "Flash"-animated (yeah we'll get to those quotes too even) "Movie" (these still count as the first set of quotation marks)
Where did it air? Well, it's officially labelled as a Disney Channel Original Movie so, where it aired is impossible to determine, I'm afraid.
Who stars in it? Impressively enough all the returning characters from the original movie are reprised by their original VAs -  so yeah, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi are back. But, ummm...I'm very hard-pressed to remember if they've been doing anything else much lately, anyway.
Why are we reviewing this? Because it's on Disney Channel (oh man I just spoiled the sarcasm from above) and it's the first "DCOM" (yeah those quotes again) of the year, the first new series of the year and thus, well, it actually has a lot of firsts under its belt: the first DCOM to be based off a series since Good Luck Charlie, it's Christmas!; the first DCOM to serve as the actual successful pilot for a series since...well, if you're not counting movies made for DXD (which needs more love, I for one friggin' loved Pants on Fire) quite possibly ever; both the first DCOM to be based off an animated series and the first DCOM to be animated period since Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (for reference, that was just the summer before Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas!) and the first DCOM to serve as a direct sequel to a Disney Animated Canon Movie or Disney Princess Canon movie (unless there was a movie based on The Emperor's New School that I'm not aware of?)

But there are some other things we need to talk about too. Many of which are technical and nitpicky in nature and, uh, let's get those out of the way first.

The first of which is this whole "DCOM" thing in the first place. Since I kind of left the Tangled review hanging on this I might as well go over the details, even though they're probably obvious enough as it is: A Disney Channel Original Movie is a movie that aired on Disney Channel. Again, seems obvious right? And it can include live-action or animated movies; there's no medium-divide unlike the Disney Animated Canon and Disney Princess Canon that require the movies to be animated in some form. And obviously it includes movies based on Disney Channel original series. 

But it doesn't mean that any movie that premiered on Disney Channel is automatically a DCOM. Very obviously, theatrical-release movies that have their television premieres on the network like, say, Tangled or the one time when Disney Channel actually had the serious balls to premiere Little Manhattan on the network and run it over a three year period through the end of summer 2013 - seriously, it is a super excellent movie and it's one of my all-time favorites, and it's Josh Hutcherson's first movie, seriously do yourself a massive favor and go see it - don't count. And on the same token, made-for-TV movies made for foreign markets that have their American debut on Disney Channel such as My Babysitter's a Vampire don't count either, or direct-to-DVD movies that nonetheless later premiere on-network such as Another Cinderella Story (even though that was technically an ABC Family/Freeform premiere, but whatever). 

But what about movies that do premiere on the network first and nowhere else? I mean, Debby Ryan's 16 Wishes is a DCOM, right? It has a Disney Channel splash banner and it stars a major star of the network at the time! Even Disney Channel itself acknowledged it as a DCOM during the 100 DCOM celebration month on their Facebook page. But no, although it certainly looks and feels like a DCOM - it's not. It, along with Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars starring Jennifer Stone (oooh another cute redhead! ^_^) were produced by a completely separate studio (Mar Vista, even though they did produce DCOMs before and since including Debby's Radio Rebel, Zendaya's Zapped and I believe the latest live-action DCOM, The Swap, was theirs too) and then Disney actually swopped in mid-production to insert their stars and labels - so they kind of exist in a quasi-borderland between everything.

And they're not even the only ones - there are quite a few movies that carry the specific label "Disney Channel Original Movie" that are not considered part of the DCOM canon. Yeah, it makes things all sorts of confusing - but the general rule of thumb is that all movies with the DCOM label are true DCOMs after about the year 2000 or so. If you really want to learn more I highly recommend you check out the Zetus Lapodcast which is entirely dedicated to all things DCOM - and even if the technical minutiae of what qualifies as a DCOM seems to boring to you, if you're one of like the five people who read this blog who's really into this stuff it's a mandatory resource to check out. Really, I mean it, it's a terrific podcast. This very blog hopes to be a fraction as insightful as Zetus Lapodcast.

But there's another sticking point to the DCOM label, one that Disney Channel themselves have flagrantly ignored in Tangled: Before Ever After - and that's the idea of Feature Length. The Academy Awards itself defines a movie as being "at least 40 minutes in length" (without commercials) and more informally it's a minimum of 61 minutes long sans commercials, 70 minutes long sans commercials or 90 minutes with or without commercials (if it's a made-for-TV movie that works out to be about as little as 66 minutes to as much as 78 minutes depending on how aggressively a network is ruled by its marketing department) depending on who you ask. With a total commercial run-time of, what, an hour 5 minutes long or so?, Tangled: Before Ever After more or less juuuuuust squeaks by the Academy Award's own definition of a "movie," let alone the less forgiving, more informal definitions. It's pretty obvious it's just an extended episode as typical for a pilot, and to be really honest here I'm not even sure why they were so hung up on having it have a DCOM title.

One could guess that the DCOM label was applied to help distinguish Tangled: Before Ever After apart from the actual Tangled: The Series...but why? I mean, the whole purpose of Tangled: Before Ever After is to lead directly into Tangled: The Series. That's what pilots are for! Also, Tangled: Before Ever After (as annoying as it is to type out, even for a speed touch-typer like me) is a far better title than Name of the Original Movie the Series is Based On: The Series.

But like I said, that's extremely nitpicky. What about the DCOM/pilot itself? It's...super meh-tastic. In fact I even dare to say more meh-tastic than the source material.

It...just feels like a very average cartoon adaptation. Not unlike what I grew up with all the way back in the early-mid and even late 2000s (man I feel old). It's hard to describe without resorting to empty platitude descriptors like "it fails to feel special and elevate itself up to the renounced Disney Channel animated canon of the likes of Kim Possible, The Proud Family, Phineas and Ferb or Gravity Falls" or "it just feels bland, man." I mean, really, it ain't no Kim Possible or Proud Family, that's for sure, even though its storytelling and narrative structure feels rather old-school (unlike KP or Proud Family, not in a good way). In fact the biggest thing I felt after watching Tangled: BEA...ok, quick aside here first:

There's a certain theory that all works of fiction, no matter what they are or what medium they take, make you feel something. Certainly good works of fiction make you feel something. I know this is yet another obvious, duh thing I'm bringing up in this review but I really want to emphasize it. I really liked KP, Proud Family and P+F because it made me feel something, usually laughter or just a general feeling of awesomeness. I really liked Gravity Falls because it made me feel in awe when it was working at its peak. Hell I really like say Geek Charming or the book it's based off of or all the other stupid young adult books I read or even Jessie (the best episodes at least) because they usually make me feel something, and that "something" is usually something I can innately define as positive in some way at least.

Tangled: BEA made me feel like I wish I was watching KP or Proud Family instead. Those series were awesome. T: BEA...feels like yet another paint-by-numbers franchise cartoon, of the type I thought the industry as a whole more or less grew out of now almost two Presidents ago.

"DCOM" Grade: C.
"DCOM" MVP: Maximus duh.
Will I be bothering to watch the rest of the series? Nope. Although the recent episode with Rapunzel and Eugene/Flynn (from what little I've seen of the series consequence he goes by both names now depending on what he simply feels is more beneficial) and What's Her Face...Cynthia?...in that arena fighting thingie looks interesting.

Extra Thoughts:

 - I did promise you the Tangled movie review would come after Barbie, and this would come after that, so there, I am a man of my word.

 - This "DCOM" also gets a demerit for making the redhead the bad guy(gal). Yeah, I'm still going there and I always will.

 - Not that I really feel like it's in C+ territory to begin with #SorryNotSorry

 - Oh and this "DCOM" also gets a demerit for giving said badgal redhead incredibly stupid motivations, or rather forcing extremely stupid circumstances to give her the motivations to be a badgal, to be exact.

 - And as for the quotes around "Flash" animation, ok: a few years (decades?) ago this thing called Adobe Flash came out, it was a 2D animation program that virtually any computer can use and in its first generation it completely sucked and was responsible for a whole ton of incredibly crappy animation on Newgrounds and, let's face it, pretty much Newgrounds itself. But in successive generations the program became more refined - so refined, in fact, that it got to the point where animation on Newgrounds and especially this then-brand new thing called YouTube became less and less distinguishable from animated cartoons found on the big networks - and then the big networks themselves started using them. It offered incredible advantages - the most revolutionary of which is that it allowed ever-shrinking animation teams to come up with very high-quality animation at high-def resolution on the absolute cheap. So cheap, in fact, that the animation-vs. live-action pendulum swung back in animation's favor, finally beating the corner-cutting multi-cam filming procedure pioneered by Disney Channel itself for cost-effectiveness (though as it stands right now they're practically at a dead-heat). Pretty much every cartoon since at least the last dozen years is actually animated on Flash or at least some type of 2D animation program - if you've got a really good eye it's easy to tell (the stiffness of character movements, especially early on, or just "gut-feeling" giveaways like the geometry of character designs or character movements or overall physics being too good at continuity, etc) although especially now most animators are skilled enough to make the tells either invisible or at least academic. Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, Wander Over Yonder, Star vs. the Forces of Evil and yes even Tangled: BEA were all animated with a Flash-like program, quite possibly even going back to KP and Proud Family. Even the Watch Disney Channel app itself was powered by Flash - yes, as in, when you loaded up the Watch Disney Channel browser app and watched live-action multi-cams and movies through said browser app, you were actually watching those shows through Flash! I say "Flash-like" because Adobe themselves rather infamously stopped supporting Flash around 2014-2015 or so as Flash had become so old it was impossible to properly patch to latest security standards - the Watch Disney Channel browser app for example switched to different software sometime in 2015 I believe (if you've been using it long enough to remember, it's when the format/interface change happened - and now you know why). I'm sure Gravity Falls and series that are newer probably used a different software too (possibly Phineas and Ferb, at least at some point) but I'm willing to bet the software is nonetheless commercially available and if you're willing to plonk down a few hundred you can install it on your laptop or desktop and get to that Phineas and Ferb Enroll at Regal Academy crossover everyone's been dying to see.

 - Oh, and another quick Puppy Dog Pals update: Now they've not only resorted to ripping off PAW Patrol's Apollo the Super-Pup, but the first Despicable Me movie too. But I still have to give them props to casting Patrick Freakin' Warburton for the Apollo ripoff role.

 - The tunneling effect they use in same said episode is...incredibly cheesy-looking (it looks like the pups are actually floating in mid-air as they did) but...it's incredibly adorable all the same.

 - Just in case it wasn't clear, Regal Academy really, really sucks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tangled: Movie Review

Because it's been so damn long since I last saw this I forgot any quotes that stick out so just choose one from here.

What is it? Theatrical-release CGI movie and the first movie of the Disney "animated canon" to be both CGI and feature one of their famous princesses.
Where did it air? Given that it's a Pixar movie you'd think it'd air on Disney Channel eventually, like, I dunno, prior to the premiere of Tangled: Before Ever After - and while I think I remember it being on Disney Channel like a year or two ago, strangely enough it was only on ABC a few weeks prior to Before Ever After. So, yeah. Well, that's where I recorded it anyway.
Who stars in it? Mandy Moore who prior to this was afflicted with the "Mandy Moore Curse" where pretty much everything she starred in was a complete bomb (kind of like the "Heather Graham Curse). But unlike the Heather Graham Curse, she eventually broke it with this very movie. So Mandy Moore has had success with movies where she's a voice behind animated characters. Yeah. Zachary Levi's also in it, as well as Donna Murphy (whoever she is) and Ron Pearlman plays one of Donna Murphy's henchmen.
Why are we reviewing this? Because of Tangled: Ever After, and it's also credited with helping to fully carry the "Disney Animated Canon" (as well as the "Disney Princess Canon" - and yes, they're two distinct things though they do overlap a lot) fully into the CGI/3D era without Disney having to rely on Pixar for everything.

...and in order to do that, it had to be a pretty big box office success, which it indeed is. And in order to do that it had to bring a lot of endearing qualities to the table that movie-goers and particularly fans of children's movies, Disney movies and animated movies love in spades and offer something on top of what other animated movies screened at wide-release at the time were offering too.

The big problem is...I just don't see it.

I mean...I have the feeling, given how much I rag on Girl Meets World, even good episodes of Girl Meets World, that maybe my tastes are just seriously out of whack compared to the normal public (I mean, I like Jessie, for crying out loud). I think Cars is one of the most overrated Pixar movies of all time - but I also think Cars 2 is one of the most underrated even though I agree it was a bit of Larry the Cable Guy overload. Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 (both Disney Animated Canon movies, neither of which are Pixar - those two things are mutually exclusive) are some of my most favorite movies of all time - but I thought Frozen was....eeeeeeehhhhhhhhhh it's ok. I thought The Princess and the Frog was....eeeeehhhhh it was a little bit better than OK though it was very heavy-handed in what TVTropes calls "Anvillicious" (and to be fair a lot of Disney Animated Canon and animated movies in general are like this, especially the ones Millennials would've grown up with and earlier). I liked Up, though I thought it was a bit slow-paced. And you probably get the point.

Though I will add if you even slightly dislike any of the Toy Story movies you might not have a pulse. Yes, even the third one.

Anyway as for Tangled, well...ummm...it's your standard Disney action princess movie. Other than the CGI aspect it doesn't really offer anything on top of what came before. And I guess that's the point - play it safe and all. You see, Disney has almost always had two CGI animation studios, its own "Disney Animation Studios"label (really the same one that was also responsible for the classic 2D animated features as well) and of course Pixar. As you can imagine this was a rather awkward setup (a setup that persists today, but we're getting to that) and it reached a tipping point around the time Pixar became a fully-owned subsidiary of Disney when it was time for contract negotiations. Long story short, someone at Disney thought it'd be a brilliant idea to push for more CGI features from the Disney Animated Studios label - the first of which was Chicken Little, which turned out to be an abject disaster (you can in fact read more about this on that movie's TVTropes page). Disney Animated Studios in fact pretty much put themselves on the ropes through this until two key movies premiered that finally turned things around - Meet the Robinsons, and this movie, Tangled. 

So what happened, and what changed, that suddenly had a studio new to the CGI game that had been churning out duds suddenly have two finally become big hits? As part of those ongoing contract negotiations, Disney effectively just gave up and pretty much completely caved in to Pixar bigwig John Lassiter, in the process giving him so much control over Disney's own Animation Studios (including moving a lot of Pixar personnel to moonlight over there - perhaps most key in that being Lassiter himself who would attach himself as one of DAS' project directors) that DAS and Pixar pretty much unofficially merged in all but name. Hence, nearly all of Disney's CGI movies have had Lassiter attached as either director or producer or something regardless of what studio officially made the film, starting with Meet the Robinsons (where he made massive changes to the script) and Tangled being no exception (including imposing that the movie had to be in CGI - it was originally going to be a 2D animation like The Princess and the Frog, in a style that's at least partially homaged in both Tangled's end credits and in Tangled: Before Ever After - he would also demand the same 2D-to-CGI switch for all the Neverland Fairies movies. Since the release of TPatF, all Disney animated movies have consequently been CGI).

Given the success of the movies under Lassiter's belt, and given how he turned Meet the Robinsons in particular into a success through a heavy script rewrite, it's pretty clear the man really knows his stuff beyond how to render polygons. Also given the immense pressure resting upon Tangled's success (it along with TPatF were the turning point deciding if the Disney Princess Canon was going to continue to be a thing or if Disney was going to completely abandon their famed fairytale storytelling altogether) it's no surprise that Lassiter perhaps just wanted to play it safe - and really, it shows, both in the quality of the end-product itself, and in its success.

So what you have here is a story of the princess in distress, then the guy who accidentally falls in with her, and soon falls in love with her and together they battle the evil forces, and all that. We've seen it with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, and we've seen it all the way up to Frozen (I have see Moana yet but it looks to be breaking the mold quite a bit, for once). At this point it's really nothing special, especially since...well, our heroine Rapunzel and hero Flynn/Eugene are...rather exceedingly bland. Hell even Maximus, Mr. "I'm A Horse In A Disney Movie Therefore All The Personality is Traditionally Concentrated In Me" is rather, well, bland. 

So, um, there you go. I think Tangled is actually a pretty bland movie. It has some pretty impressive visuals especially with the sky lanterns and Rapunzel's room in Gothel's tower but other than that it's...bland. As heavy-handed in its moral messages as it may be, TPatF had tons of personality. It was seeping at the edges with personality. Mr. Facilier was one of the most personality-dripping villains of the Disney Renaissance Canon (yeah that's another thing) and trust me that says a lot

I'm sorry if that may disappoint you but, hey, I'm just an amateur reviewer with an opinion.

Movie Grade: C+. It's...well, bland. For like the fourth time now.
Movie MVP: Mandy Moore I guess for finally breaking that curse. At least in animated form. You still have one up on Heather Graham at least!

Extra Thoughts:

 - I talked about the wider concept of canon and the Disney Channel Live-Action Universe Canon (or its severe lack of it) about a year ago so you can refer back to that blog post if you're confused about what the heck am I talking about when I keep referring to Disney movies as big shooty-thingies, and also keep misspelling it by leaving a middle "n" out (I also address why the word "canon" is only a third n away from being big shooty-thingies in there, albeit very briefly). If you're mostly just confused by me throwing out all these random canon universes here and there....

The Disney Animated Canon is the selection of films that are "officially made by Disney Animated Studios." They go back all the way to 1930's Snow White, up to the most recent film Moana which was just released last quarter of last year. They don't include every single animated movie that Disney has ever slapped a label on it (including their subsidiary labels), very specifically only the ones Disney pretty much says so. Think of it as Disney's Nintendo Seal of Quality. Equally confusing, equally worthless and gimmicky.

The Disney Princess Canon is even more arbitrary than that, as you might think it's just "oh well every movie of the Disney Animated Canon that has a princess in it." Wrong! It's a very specific selection of princess-themed movies and it's all decided by...well, basically whatever Disney says, based on what movies they simply feel are most marketable especially given empowerment theme-requirements, often years or decades after the fact. The Black Cauldron is a Disney Animated Canon movie, and it does indeed have a princess in it, but good luck getting a Disney exec to cop up to acknowledging its existence. Brave is not a Disney Animated Canon movie (we'll get to why right below) but Disney does consider it to be a part of the Disney Princess Canon.

The Pixar Animated Canon is simply any - and this time I do mean any  - movie officially released with the Pixar label. This means every Pixar movie from the first Toy Story to Finding Dory, and everything in between, no exceptions. Now please note that NO movie can be in both the Disney Animated Canon AND the Pixar Animated Canon! They are totally, completely separate canons that are mutually incompatible! This is the reason why Disney Animated Canon movies nowadays are done by the separate Disney Animation Studio and not Pixar, even if it is for the most arbitrary reasons imaginable and even if the staff of both those studios ends up being the same anyway. Yes, for whatever reason Disney loves the mental gymnastics of all this arbitrariness, I guess. And as we've seen with Brave a Pixar movie isn't disqualified from being a Disney Princess movie, either.

Again, you gotta love how insanely arbitrary this stuff is.

The Disney Animated Renaissance isn't a "canon" collection of movies per se, but it does refer to a specific set of movies that begins with The Little Mermaid and ends more or less with The Emperor's New Groove (the last truly unqualified success Disney had with 2D movies until TPatF). The "Renaissance" part refers to how Disney had been in a major slump with real fears of complete bankruptcy until TLM pretty much saved everything, and things just keep climbing from there (people forget how Beauty and the Beast was nominated for best picture of the year and was the whole reason why separate categories for animation were created) until they reached a new slump and eventually a new "Renaissance" with this very movie being reviewed, as mentioned in this very review above. 

Now there's yet another special group of movies Disney makes that we haven't talked about in this review yet, but it's the one group of Disney-made movies and movies period (well, more or less)  that this blog trades the absolute most in - yes, I'm of course talking about the Disney Channel Original Movies or DCOMs. But it just convieniently happens to be that our very next review will not only be a DCOM but the sequel to this very movie - yup, Tangled: Before Ever After is coming next (of course).

Why we're not reviewing Ducktales (until January) and we have a new contest!

So first off, yeah, we're not reviewing Ducktales. Until January. There's a very specific reason why. It's because Disney Chan...