Movie Review – Wakko’s Wish

Wakko’s Wish

Directed by Liz Holzman, Rusty Mills, and Tom Ruegger.

Starring the voices of Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Sherri Stoner, Nancy Cartwright, Frank Welker, and Paxton Whitehead.

I tend to shy away from DTV (direct to video) stuff. I mean, do we really need all those Disney sequels? But Warner Bros. tends to put out pretty decent stuff. Case in point: Batman: Sub-Zero, which many claimed to be better than the theatrical Batman & Robin. So, when I heard that they were doing a DTV Animaniacs movie, I knew I had to be first in line to rent it.

Things aren’t going well in the town of Acme Falls. Ever since that evil King Salazar took over, the poor townsfolk have been taxed to death. Hardest hit: the Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister). The orphanage closed, and they have no home, and Dot needs an operation. Late one night, Wakko makes a wish upon a star. And, by sheer luck, it is the one, the only, wishing star! So, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot set out on a quest to where the wishing star landed so they can make their wish. (Wishes have to be made in person, you see.) Of course, word travels quick in Acme Falls, and soon the entire cast of Animaniacs, from Slappy Squirrel to Pinky and the Brain, are off to find the wishing star! And naturally, the evil king wants it for his own evil purposes.

This is one of the funniest animated films I’ve seen in a long time! The songs are also pretty good. The film starts off with a bang, but kind of slows down in the middle, where the jokes take a back seat to an endless stream of musical numbers. But, things pick up again, and it ends with some vintage Animaniacs humour. This is pure, inspired lunacy. If you want to laugh, go rent it. It won’t disappoint.

3 Nibs

Midnight Ramblings V

Chaos in Print

NOTE: You know the premise. It’s late, I’m groggy, I have a few things I want to get off my chest. So, I e-mail my friend “Neelix.” Enjoy!

Hey Neelix!

Argh! I’m starting to hate ICQ. This always happens: someone sends me a message, but it freezes my computer. After I finish re-booting, I don’t get the message and I spend the rest of the day obsessing over who sent it to me. I think I’ve narrowed down the problem. It’s the sound clips! If I don’t want my computer to freeze anymore, I have to eliminate all the sound clips when stuff happens. But, I don’t want to think about that now.

I just read about this, and I have to gush to someone about it. I just read online that in June, Independence Day: Special Edition comes out on DVD! It’s got all kinds of neat goodies for my favorite movie! One of them is the option to watch either the theatrical version, which I own on video, or the “special edition,” with an extra 10 minutes of new footage! It was originally released on laserdisc about a year ago. It’s also got a running commentary by director/co-writer Roland Emmerich and producer/co-writer Dean Devlin! But, what I’m thrilled about is it has the original bi-plane ending!

OK, this is how ID4 ends: in the film we are presented with Russell Case. He’s an alcoholic. His kids don’t love him anymore. Many think he’s a crackpot for his alien abduction all those years ago. His life has hit rock bottom. So, when the army puts out a call for trained pilots, he sees his chance for redemption. He signs up to be a pilot, gets in an F-18, and goes off to fight for mankind. When, by a bizarre twist of fate, he is the only fighter left armed, he charges off into the heart of the alien ship. His missile launching mechanism jams, so he gives the ultimate sacrifice to save his kids, and Earth, and dies a hero.

This is the original bi-plane ending: in the film we are presented with Russell Case. He’s an alcoholic. His kids don’t love him anymore. Many think he’s a crackpot for his alien abduction all those years ago. His life has hit rock bottom. And now, it’s the end of the world. Life just isn’t worth living anymore. So, he gasses up his old Stearman bi-plane, swipes a sidewinder missile, and straps it to the underbelly. He goes off on a Kamikaze mission, and crashes his Stearman bi-plane into the heart of the alien ship. But, his suicide run just happens to destroy the ship, and he is forever remembered as a hero. They didn’t use this ending because it didn’t do well in test screening.

So, when I get a DVD player, I’ve got to get this disc!

Finally, another thing I have to gush about. I discovered that Rebirth is out on video. Rebirth, is, of course, the final episode of the Transformers cartoon! It was a big three-parter that went into the origins of the Headmasters and Targetmasters. I always remember the cliffhangers from that 3-parter. At the end of Part I, the Autobots who were to become Headmasters reached up, casually removed their heads, and set them on the ground in front of them. And Spike said “Autobots, you’re about to become Headmasters.” Then, at the end of Part II, we see Lord Zarok (was that it? Anyway, the leader of the evil Nebulons) getting into a Headmaster exo-suit. And he says “Thanks to the stolen Decepticon technology, my vengeance will be complete. I have created the most powerful headmaster ever.” We cut to a battle between Autobots and Decepticons. The ground rumbles. The Nebulon city off in the distance transforms into a huge robot, and Lord Zarok yells out “Now, Autobots and Decepticons, feel the wrath of SCORPONOK!” Gotta get it.

Actually, while I’m gushing about what’s on video and DVD, let me just take some time out to tell you that the animated Batman movies (Batman: Mask Of the Phantasm and Batman: Sub-Zero) are now available on DVD! Not only that, but the first six episodes of Batman Beyond have also been released on DVD! This becomes reason #5,198,456 why I should start saving for a DVD player.

Switching gears to more modern cartoon now, I watch Gargoyles on the Family channel almost religiously. Just last night, I saw the episode called Revelations. It was the only true Bluestone episode. If you don’t remember, Matt Bluestone was Elisa’s partner. The big obsession in his life was the secret society known as the Illuminati. He was dedicated to proving their existence. In fact, we eventually learn that it was that obsession that got him kicked out of the FBI. The episode ended with Bluestone finally learning about the gargoyles, and becoming a member of the Illuminati so he could learn about them from within. The last we heard of Bluestone was in the big three-part episode (and finale of the second season) called Hunter’s Moon, in which he was appointed to head up a special gargoyle task force. And then, after that, he was completely left out of The Goliath Chronicles. I wish we got to learn more about him. From what little we got, he seemed to be a rather intriguing character, with more than a few similarities to Special Agent Fox Mulder on X-Files. Actually, I’ve got this huge list of Gargoyles fanfics that I’d like to write someday, and I have more than my fair share of Bluestone stories planned.

Hey! Guess what I got in the mail today? Back in October, I sent away for this free CD from Dr. Pepper called Get The Buzz. It came today! I had no idea what would be on it, but I got it! It’s just like one of those radio samplers that the radio station back at Augustana always gets. When my sister asked my what it was like, I said “Just like those radio samplers, some of it’s good, some of it’s crap, and there’s a token French Canadian song.” Actually, there’s a surprising amount of good stuff on it. It makes me wonder how many good songs I would have discovered if I ever took the time to listen to all those radio samplers that the station got. It’s almost like the end of Schindler’s List: “I could have done so much more.” Oh, well, that CD is the best $2 and 4 proofs of purchase I ever spent!

Well, and that’s about all I have to gush about right now. Man oh man, I see Fantasia 2000 is going to be hitting theaters soon. I think it’s going to be just you and me going to see that. Everyone else I’ve talked to about it always says “Dude, I just never got Fantasia. All that music and no talking! How can you stand it?” So, whatcha doing January 1?


Who Is This Woman?

Chaos in Print

Well, it’s that time of year again. The malls are packed with holiday shoppers. Eggnog is available at every convenience store, and the Christmas specials are running non-stop on every television network. And it was while watching one of those television specials when I was hit with one of the profound questions of life.

The special was Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, one of those Rankin-Bass productions. Using the same-named song as a springboard, it attempted to tell the origins of Santa Claus. Sadly, though, you can tell it was made in the late 60’s. According to the special, Santa began his career as a rebellious youth, shaking up the establishment be violating an unjust law. The unjust law in this case: the banning of toys. Does that fit with the mentality of the 60’s or what? It even had its fair share of psychedelic animation at the special’s end. It came when the local school teacher, Ms. Jessica, who had been Santa’s willing partner in this law-breaking, realized that she had to go break Santa out of jail, that she loved him, and thus sang a tender love ballad. During this ballad, we had the traditional 60’s symbol of woman becoming liberated and freeing her mind: she let her hair down. So, she got some magic corn from the Winter Warlock, fed it to reindeer to make them fly, and then flew into the prison compound to bust out Santa. They spent the rest of their lives on the run. Oh, and since no preacher would marry them, they stood in the forest before the Lord. But I digress. Back to where I was going.

Watching this special, I soon got drawn to the character of Ms. Jessica/Mrs. Claus. When we first met her, she was the uptight schoolmarm who assisted in enforcing this law, but when Santa presented her with a gift, her heart was warmed and she became Santa’s accomplice, eventually falling in love with him. Something about that just got the feminist in me going. Right now in my life, the feminist in me could best be personified as L, the girlfriend of my friend Chuck. Actually, I’m wrong. She’s not Chuck’s girlfriend. She is a fine, upstanding, member of the community, working for social justice, and pursuing the betterment of society. At this moment in time, she just happens to be dating Chuck. She gets upset when I call her “Chuck’s girlfriend,” because she is an enlightened feminist who knows that she is her own person, and not just the extension of some guy. With this philosophy tickling the back of my brain, I came to a startling realization.

We know absolutely nothing about Mrs. Claus. As time progressed, she became nothing more than some female extension of Santa Claus. How does she spend her time at the North Pole? What does she do all year? What drew her to this Claus fellow? What’s her first name? My god! She doesn’t even have a first name! Plus, she seems to have been screwed out of all the good Christmas stuff. There are no Christmas songs about her. There is no holiday special detailing her origin. The only thing I can think of was some piece of fluff made-for-TV musical that came out a few years ago called Mrs. Santa Claus, starring Angela Lansbury. But that was about an adventure of hers in 1910 New York, nothing about her origins. This resulted in my new profound question of life: who exactly is Mrs. Claus?

Actually, when I was writing that paper for my “introduction to women’s studies” class a year ago, this would have made a much more fascinating topic than “An Analysis of Women in Star Trek.” While there have been countless TV documentaries detailing the life and adventures of the real Santa Claus, how come no attention was ever devoted to his companion and life-mate? Was she the willing partner and accomplice to her husband’s deeds? Does she ever think that her husband is married to his work? Was she there at the beginning, or did she meet Santa along the way? How come they never had kids? Hey! When I think about that last question, I also realize that we never learned the origin of the elves…. No! Don’t think dirty thoughts! Not at this time of the year, when Santa is watching you.

Oh, if only someone could go to the North Pole and talk to her! Interview her! Get her side of the story on this whole delivering-toys-to-the-world thing. Does she share in her husband’s magic powers? Think about it. If Santa watched little girls, wouldn’t that make him some kind of dirty old man? Maybe Mrs. Claus does that part of the watching thing. And what if Santa is incapacitated some Christmas Eve? Is it Mrs. Claus who goes out and delivers toys to the world? I’m sure she’s more than capable than driving a sleigh and reindeer team, and sliding down chimneys and all that. Oh, if only I could interview her. But I’m unemployed right now, and can’t afford an expedition to the North Pole.

This is evolving into my latest week-long obsession. At this time of year, the A&E network always shows their documentary on St. Nicholas. Was this saint a married man? In fact, how did the whole Mrs. Claus mythos develop? Was it a poor answer to the feminism movement, just simply giving Santa a wife? Actually, how come feminism hasn’t reached the North Pole? Sure, the special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer featured male and female elves working along side each other making toys, but do the female elves worry about the glass ceiling? Has a female elf ever been made shop-boss, the foreperson if you will? How high can a female elf rise in the North Pole? But again, I digress. My current interest in not North Pole politics, but Mrs. Claus.

I’ve got to start something. I’ve got to try something. If no one else is trying to figure out who this Mrs. Claus is, then perhaps it’s up to me. It’s best to start at the top. I think I’ll write a letter to Mrs. Claus. I’m sure she shares her husband’s address. But knowing how the North Pole operates, I’ll probably end up with one of Santa’s form-letter answers. The next step will come with those historians. I’m sure in all the research done on St. Nicholas, something about his wife must have come up. We must know how much of her life she has sacrificed to the world. We must know how she and Santa ended up together. Who knows? Perhaps she’ll finally be recognized as more than the devoted wife at the North Pole. Perhaps in five years, we will sing songs about her! Perhaps there will be TV special about her, showing us how she came to be!

And, perhaps finally, she will be given what is guaranteed to all of us by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: a name of her own. Fear not, Mrs. Claus! Your story will be told.

My First Hockey Game

Chaos in Print

Gather round, y’all, and let me tell you the tale of my first hockey game. It all starts on a cold December day in 1992. My Dad came home from work with exciting news. “Guess what, everybody?” my Dad said. “What?” we all responded. “Every year at this time, I get all kinds of goodies and gift baskets from the gravel companies for being such a nice government inspector. And this year, one of those cheap-ass gravel companies gave me a pair of Oilers tickets!” Dad explained. And the great debate started. Who would Dad take? Would it be me, or my brother? My sister was never a consideration, because it’s silly to take a girl to a hockey game. (In 1992, I wasn’t as enlightened as I am now) Soon, my Dad made a decision. My brother would go with him to see the Edmonton Oilers tackle the San Jose Sharks. I, understandably, was depressed. Here I was, the middle child, getting the shaft once again. My Dad sat down with me and we had a talk.

“Are you OK with this, Mark?” he asked.

“Sure I am,” I said, feigning enthusiasm.

Dad saw right through my charade. “Don’t worry, Mark,” he said. “Every Christmas, those gravel companies actually shell out for some pretty nice stuff. I’m sure it won’t be long until I get another pair of hockey tickets. And when I do, I’ll take you.”

“Promise Dad?”

“I promise.”

Seven years later. . . . No longer the innocent 15-year old high school freshman. Now, I’m a hulking 22-year old college graduate leaching off of his parents until I figure out what to do with this thing called “life.” Dad came home from work one night and said “Guess what? One of those cheap-ass gravel companies gave me hockey tickets for a Christmas present!” And I immediately shouted “WOO!! My turn!” On Wednesday, December 1, 1999, I was off to see the Edmonton Oilers tackle the Colorado Avalanche. Not those lame-ass Sharks. I was getting to see a good team. And the Avalanche.
Continue reading My First Hockey Game

Midnight Ramblings IV

Chaos in Print

NOTE: OK, I’m sure you know the premise by now. Every once in a while, I send these rambling e-mails to my buddy Neelix, if nothing just to get some things off my chest. So, sit back and read the latest installment in our personal correspondence!!

Hey Neelix!

So, how are things on your planet? Things are going OK with me. At least, I think they are. I’ve been having these weird dreams lately. Since you read the column, I’m sure that you heard the one about the zombies and the dustbuster time machine, and the one where I was one of the lawyers on Ally McBeal by day, and hanging out with the gang from The Drew Carey Show by night. Well, wait until you here the latest. I was back in high school. I was in Physical Education. It was shortly after midterms, because there were still desks all over the place in the gym. Rather than have us move the desks, our teacher ordered us to do wind sprints between the desks. You know, that’s where you run to the other side of the gym, touch the wall, turn around, run back, and touch the other wall. We were ordered to do five. So, I took off running. But, as I was running, things got all slow-motion and bullet time, like in The Matrix. As I ran towards the opposite wall, rather than simply touch the wall, I ran halfway up it, then I slammed my hand against the wall. I then pushed myself off of the wall, like I would push myself off the side of a swimming pool. I flew halfway across the gym before I hit the ground and kept running. When I reached the wall, I leaped as high as I could, hitting the wall, turning around and doing it again. Every time I did a sprint, I was jumping higher and higher along the side of the wall. Then, on the last sprint, someone wanted to stop me. He started stacking a row of desks in front of me, and sat in defiance in the lead desk. I yelled out “Keep your head down!” I jumped up on to that first desk, over that kid’s head, over the other desks, and landed on the wall. I then ran down the wall, past that kid, and towards the far wall. But, rather than touch the wall and stop, I hung a right, and ran out of the gym. Out in the hallway, I looked back to see my PhysEd teacher, waving me back into the gym. I gave him the finger, did a giddy back flip, and walked away. Halfway down the hall, I ran into my English teacher. He asked why I wasn’t in class. I just grinned and said “I don’t think I have to take PhysEd anymore.” And then I woke up. Very weird. I’m starting to worry for my mental health.

But forget this talk of dreams! Let us talk of reality! My sister rented Strange Brew the other night. You remember that, right? The Bob & Doug McKenzie movie? The best way to describe that movie is pure, inspired lunacy. Actually, watching it the other day (and only for my second time), I began seeing how it might have possibly influenced the Wayne’s World movies. If you’ve never seen Strange Brew, let me review the plot. After putting a mouse in a beer bottle, they go off to the Elsinore Brewery to try and get a free case of beer. But, they get jobs there instead, and before long they have to help stop the plans of the evil Brewmeister Smith, who’s adding a mind-controlling drug to beer in an attempt to take over the world! Actually, you have to watch it for yourself. It’s actually very loosely based on Hamlet. Seriously. It makes me wish that they were able to film the sequel. Yes, there is a sequel all good to go. It was going to be called Home Brew, and be about Bob & Doug’s adventures as they open their own micro-brewery. They even got Dan Aykroyd to play the villain. They were going to film it last summer. But, a week before filming was to start, the financing fell through! So, this film is now tied up in courts as they sue the financiers, and try to get someone else to put up the money. I at least hope it is out in 2003, just in time for the 20th anniversary of Strange Brew.

Speaking of TV shows-turned-movies, I got a brilliant idea. I think I told it to you before, but I’ll tell you again. Do you know what animated TV program we all grew up with is prime to be resurrected as an animated feature? The Raccoons! I tell you, that is just made to be a movie. I tell you I would pay my $8 to see that film. Bert, Ralph, and Melissa Raccoon, fighting the evil Cyril Sneer to save the Evergreen Forest. And, with the growing mis-trust of big business and large corporations, Sneer makes a perfect movie villain. We could get the Spice Girls to do a cover version of that closing credits theme. Each and every character could be a Beanie Baby! Ye gods, I’m starting to sound like Disney. Actually, what strikes me about that cartoon is how many Canadian voice over talent must have started on that show. A few weeks ago, I made this startling connection: Melissa Raccoon is Sailor Jupiter! Watch a rerun of The Raccoons followed by an episode of Sailor Moon and I’m sure you’ll be able to catch it for yourself. And, although I haven’t confirmed it yet, I’m fairly sure that Shafer, that lovable big dog (who provided the link between the human and animal worlds) is Rhinox on Beast Wars. I haven’t confirmed it yet. One of these days, I’ll tape the end credits of The Raccoons, find out who did Shafer’s voice, and cross reference it with the end credits of Beast Wars.

Actually, speaking of Beast Wars, are you keeping up with Beast Machines? Jeez, that’s one of the coolest cartoons on television. And the new developments! So, it turns out that the Vehicons of Thrust and Tankkor are actually the former Maximals Silverbolt and Rhinox! Rhinox, who was once corrupted to be evil, has had his true self brought to the surface, only to side with Megatron! Rhinox has succumbed to the dark side. But Thrust/Silverbolt is more interesting. In that case, he is still what Tankkor/Rhinox once was: the good is still inside him, but it is repressed. Do you think Blackarachnia’s love can bring him back? I sure hope so. Oh, and with Optimus done his vision quest, do you think he’ll return to command? I mean, Cheetor’s been doing OK as the leader, but Optimus is the once and future commander. Only time (and next week’s episode) will tell.

Anyway, things are getting kind of late. I think I’ll get off now and go to bed.