PopCult Podcast – Puss in Boots: The Last Wish/Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

It’s attack of the IPs in this cineplex double feature. One movie is a spin-off of a trilogy of animated films which themselves have become an ongoing meme. The other is an adaptation of a beloved tabletop game using Marvel flavoring for every element in the movie.

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PopCult Podcast – The Addiction/Memories

New York based director Abel Ferrara left Hollywood and came back to his NYC indie roots in 1995 by directing a very…um, pretentious vampire movie. This was also the same year the creator of Akira got an anime anthology devoted to three of his stories.

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Movie Review – The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
Written by Matthew Fogel
Directed by Aaron Horvath & Michael Jelenic

Despite numerous adaptations to film & television, live-action & animated, Mario remains one of the most nebulous pop culture characters regarding his narrative arc. Most cartoon shows begin in media res; Mario is already the hero and, accompanied by his friends Luigi, Toad, and Peach, fights the good fight against Bowser & his Koopa Troopas. The hybrid Super Mario Bros. Super Show television series exists as this strange liminal object, with the framing device of Captain Lou Albano & Danny Wells, as Mario & Luigi, respectively, introducing audiences to cartoon stories about them. Yet, there is never an apparent effort made to establish the timeline of events. The 1993 live-action movie starring Bob Hoskins & John Leguizamo veers off into its own unique & bizarre direction, positing a parallel dinosaur-dominated timeline. As much presence as Mario has in American & Japanese culture since the 1980s, no one seems very concerned about the story behind the plumber. In this way, The Super Mario Bros. Movie exists as the first origin story that adheres closely to the designs & relationship dynamics of the video games.

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Patron Pick – The Spongebob Squarepants Movie

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (2004)
Written by Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Stephen Hillenburg, Kent Osborne, Aaron Springer, and Paul Tibbitt
Directed by Stephen Hillenburg

I was a bit beyond its target audience when Spongebob Squarepants appeared on the scene. In 1999, I finished my senior year and started college. I won’t say I didn’t continue watching cartoons, we certainly did in college, but our viewing was focused more on things from our childhoods out of nostalgia or the now very cringingly edgy animated fare of Family Guy or Adult Swim (though AS did have some fantastic shows in those early years). Spongebob was undoubtedly a phenomenon I was aware of, but it just didn’t interest me enough to watch it. Growing up, cable television was something we watched at our grandparents’ house as we didn’t have it at home. So when I had my chance, I was more curious about things like The Sci-Fi Channel or Comedy Central. We had cable access in college, but I discovered Tech Tv, which was much more helpful. Many years later, I would finally watch a few episodes of Spongebob and definitely get it. He is the Pee-Wee Herman of the 21st Century.

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Movie Review – Bob’s Burgers

Bob’s Burgers (2022)
Written by Loren Bouchard & Nora Smith
Directed by Loren Bouchard & Bernard Derriman

I was apparently one of the few viewers who watched Loren Bouchard’s Home Movies during its month-long run on UPN in 1999. At the time, I enjoyed the animated series and especially the contributions of H. Jon Benjamin as Coach McGurk. I also briefly remember seeing a few episodes of Science Court on ABC around 1997, also done in the trademark “squiggle vision” of Bouchard’s work at the time. However, when Bob’s Burgers came around, I wasn’t really watching many animated programs; I can’t exactly say why but it just doesn’t appeal to me much. While my wife loves Bob’s Burgers, I’ve watched a few episodes here and there and definitely found them to be funny, but nothing that had me coming back week after week. However, when the film was released, I was interested to see how it translated into a bigger format.

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TV Review – Saturday Morning All-Star Hits

Saturday Morning All-Star Hits (Netflix)
Written by Kyle Mooney, Ben Jones, Dave McCary, and Scott Gairdner
Directed by Ben Jones & Dave McCary

Nostalgia is one of the most dangerous sentiments people can have, made even worse when an entire society becomes regressively lost in it to avoid confronting present-day problems. Unfortunately, America is currently a society obsessed with nostalgia, with each generation suckling at memories from their childhood and yearning to return to that state of unknowing. “Make America Great Again” implies a better time, and even those who wear this proudly do so without acknowledging that it would not have been better for adults in their economic class. The pull of nostalgia is most potent during times of societal collapse and is one of the many tendrils of fascism that very slyly closes around the throat of the future. Kyle Mooney and co-creator Ben Jones have managed to create a streaming series that bathes in the aesthetics of nostalgia but doesn’t succumb to the lies that it was better “back then.”

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Movie Review – Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)
Written by Dan Gregor and Doug Mand
Directed by Akiva Schaffer

So much nostalgia that you feel like you’re going to vomit; this is what American mainstream media feels like these days. Every week, another intellectual property is rebooted, remade, sequel-ized, etc. Most of it is complete garbage. Nostalgia is a type of feeling that appeals to very regressive, reactionary, infantile minds. People are reasonably on edge because Western civilization seems to have reached its zenith and is now in a spiral of decline. The Boomers were the first generation that began to dominate with nostalgia; we saw multiple television series from their childhood made into feature films. Nothing has rivaled the Millennials’ slavering thirst to relieve every Saturday Morning Cartoon and blockbuster movie they saw growing up. So it was only a matter of time until Chip ‘n Dale saw this treatment, shaped by the cynical nature of animated comedy.

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Movie Review – Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue (1997)
Written by Sadayuki Murai
Directed by Satoshi Kon

I have tried to get into anime throughout my life, and I just don’t think it’s my thing. When I was in college, I had friends who would regularly consume Dragonball, Inuyasha, or whatever else was on Toonami. I ended up watching several films & parts of shows like Vampire Hunter D, Hellsing, Attack on Titan, among others. I can say that I usually enjoy feature films. I love Akira and Metropolis; I think they push past many tropes that generally don’t click with me in this particular animation genre. Of course, Miyazaki is fantastic, but he exists in a category all his own. Perfect Blue is something beyond anything I’d ever seen before, an anime with clear links to some of the best psychological thrillers of live-action cinema.

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Movie Review – The Spine of Night

The Spine of Night (2021)
Written & Directed by Philip Gelatt & Morgan Galen King

American animator Ralph Bakshi saw his star rise and fall across the 1970s and early 1980s. He’s fondly remembered as the director behind numerous fantasy films of that period, Lord of the Rings probably his most well-known work. Because hand-drawn animation had many limitations, Bakshi would often employ rotoscoping, a technique where film of live action actors is drawn over, adding textures and embellishments but keeping the fluid motion of real people. This technique would evolve into digital motion capture, and rotoscoping has become a niche technique used sparingly. However, Richard Linklater has used it to make his films Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Inspired by Bakshi, we have The Spine of Night, a dark horror fantasy that tells of another world where ancient dark magic prevails.

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