The Three Stooges are the funniest comedy trio in all of classic cinema. So a modern movie about them had to be done just right. Rather than make it a biopic, The Three Stooges movie is more of an homage to their classic style. Since the Farrelly Brothers hadn’t made a really good comedy in years, I didn’t have much faith in it. Then again, I did really enjoy the Stooges shorts that I’d seen, so I was willing to give it a shot. The Three Stooges is actually a lot funnier than I thought it would be. The performances are as close to the original three as possible. Without feeling like bad imitations. While they’re not as big as Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, or Jim Carrey, Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso more than capture Moe, Larry, and Curly respectfully. Sasso was born to play Curly. He manages to recapture his trademark “Whoop, whoop, whoop” and dim-witted nature. Diamantopoulos pokes the eyes of just enough people to recapture Moe’s short-tempered charm. And Hayes is there too… just kidding, he recaptures Larry’s straight man role. The story is a bit cliché though. It involves the trio growing up with nuns (they’re jewish), trying to save the orphanage, getting mixed up in a murder scheme, and going on the Jersey Shore. Cringy pop culture stuff like that and the occasional immature joke are really the only problems with the movie. The Three Stooges proves that slapstick comedy will always be funny no matter the decade. Plus Kate Upton is in a nunkini.
The Invasion is more invasion than body snatchers. In fact, this fourth and final version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers doesn’t even use pods. Instead the invading force is made to be a generic fungus-like virus that came from a crash landed spaceship. It’s just not as interesting if they’re not technically “pod people.” Emotionless husks yes, but pods they are not. Despite this I very briefly considered going to see the movie in theaters. Since my mom had shown us the original. I stress briefly because there was no way I was going to see it with all the changes that they made. It may have been PG-13 and had more high profile stars like Nicole Kidman or Daniel Craig, but I could tell something was off about it. The Invasion this time focuses on a mother trying to rescue her son. A gender swapped Dr. Bennell discovers something is wrong when Veronica Cartwright comes to her with the usual warnings. Then a group of not pods infects her in an overly disgusting way. So she now has to spend many sleepless days trying to blend in just to find her son. Another drastic change is the idea that there’s a cure. It ends The Invasion on an overly happy note. Even if it tries to suggest humans were better off without emotion. While the atmosphere is there, The Invasion is just too generic to live up to its legacy.
Remake of: Body Snatchers
Body Snatchers is an invasion you’ve likely never heard of. I always thought there was just the original and remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. So I had to watch this version as well, that I knew nothing about. Body Snatchers is the only version that bares the name of the book. It’s vastly different from the previous adaptations. Though it does utilizes ideas present in each version. Like the 1956 original, the lead narrates the story and a boy claims that his mother is not his mother. Like the 1978 remake, the “pod people” are naked as their host bodies decompose and they let out a high pitched scream to alert other pods. Aside from those similarities, Body Snatchers now takes place on an army base. Which seems to be suggesting that soldiers are like pods. In the way that both are emotionless drones. An agent of the EPA is sent to the base along with his family. Another change of pace is having the lead be a teenage girl. Marti just wants to be a normal teen, but the invasion happens so fast that it barely registers. Really the only name actors in the movie are R. Lee Ermey and Forrest Whitaker. Both of whom are barely in it. Instead Body Snatchers is more focused on the many people that end up being body snatched. They’re clearly taking more advantage of the R rating by having a lot more naked pod women. The ending is sort of a mix of both downer and hopeful. Everyone Marti loves turns into a pod, but the military is able to blow the pods up. Body Snatchers works best as a more human examination of the invasion.
Remake of: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is often considered to be one of the greatest remakes ever made. I’m not sure I share that sentiment, but I get why people feel that way. My mom always told me she preferred the original. So I wasn’t sure what my opinion was going to be. I’d say that it works better as a 70’s horror film than a thought provoking thriller. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) takes the basic pod’s from deep space invasion and takes it to the bigger city of San Francisco. Dr. Bennell is now a health inspector and played by Donald Sutherland. He and colleague Elizabeth seek to investigate a series of emotionless loved ones. With the help of a very young Jeff Goldblum, pre-Alien Veronica Cartwright, and Spock himself Leonard Nimoy. The biggest difference between versions is its more intense. The effects on the “pod people” are a lot more icky. We also see what happens to someone after they’ve fallen asleep. They decompose and their pods wake up fully naked. Another more devisive decision was having the pods scream and point whenever they spot a human. The remakes most stand out moments would have to be Bennell’s terrified phone call (“I didn’t tell them my name!”) or the disturbing mutation of a homeless man’s head on a dog body. I’ll also admit that I genuinely wasn’t expecting a cameo from the original Dr. Bennell. Still running and warning people after all these years. Although I was expecting the twist ending. Which is kind of hard to avoid. SPOILER ALERT! Bennell is revealed to be a pod when he lets out a high pitched scream at the very end. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) takes paranoia to a whole new level.
Remake of: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is deep-seeded paranoia on an extraterrestrial level. Another one of my mom’s all time favorite sci-fi horror movies is the 1956 original version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A movie my brother and I first saw with her at a young age. The very idea of having your loved ones replaced terrified me. It’s a classic that still works very well today. Even though its themes are very much of the era. The alien invasion is really in place of deeper themes such as fear of McCarthyism, Communism, and conformity. Science fiction is really the best medium for political subtext. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is told through flashbacks by Dr. Miles Bennell. He recounts how his small town of Santa Mira was secretly invaded by a race of plant-like aliens. It first began with multiple patients claiming that their loved ones were replaced by emotionless duplicates. Then Bennell and his girlfriend Becky discover its origin. A series of sea pods that descended from space are creating emotionless “pod people” when an individual is asleep. It’s not long before the entire town is overrun by them. Leaving Bennell and Becky as the only ones left. They can be fooled, but Becky has trouble supressing her emotions. By far the most terrifying scene for me was when Bennell kisses Becky, only to discover that there’s nothing there. It leads to the famous ending where a frantic Dr. Bennell tries desperately to convince people of the invasion. “They’re here already! Your next! Your next!” It would have been a chilling note to end things on, but it was changed to include a prologue and epilogue. Making things a bit more hopeful. Whether hopeful or not, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is both a classic and a cautionary tale.
The Trumpet of the Swan is the third and final children’s book written by author E.B. White. Yet unlike Stuart Little or Charlotte’s Web, it’s likely you’ve never heard of it. The same can be said for the 2001 animated movie. Which has the lowest reception out of any of the theatrically released E.B. White films. It’s from the same guy whose directed a countless number of Swan Princess movies. I guess he’s got a thing for swans. The Trumpet of the Swan is about a trumpeter swan named Louis (like Louis Armstrong) that needs a trumpet to speak, as well as attract a mate. His father steals one for him, so Louis sets out to earn enough money to pay it off. Louis’s trumpet makes him rich and famous. Effectively solving all his problems. The biggest criticism with The Trumpet of the Swan is its inability to follow the source material. If you know E.B. White you’ll be able to tell that they played things too safe. Although even the stuff that they did follow from the book is kind of weird. I get why this isn’t his most talked about story. The lesser animation studio shows as well. While the jazzy tunes aren’t all that memorable. The voice actors are probably miscast too. The Trumpet of the Swan plays one too many foul notes to make an impression.
Charlotte’s Web (2006) is the equivalent of a modern live-action Disney remake. Bare in mind that this is still a Nickelodeon movie. I just find the similarities to be too much to ignore. While E.B. White’s other story Stuart Little was first done in live-action, Charlotte’s Web was a different story. Instead they chose the easier route of animation. So several years later in a move that surely drew Babe comparisons, a live-action remake was released. I was immediately on board with seeing it, but I didn’t for a very frustrating reason. My brother’s fear of spiders made it impossible for us to go see the movie. Then I got really upset when he told me he saw the movie in school with no problems. Needless to say we watched the movie the very same day. Charlotte’s Web (2006) isn’t a musical. It also uses CGI for characters that are a bit trickier to train in real life. Specifically Templeton and Charlotte. Charlotte’s appearance is actually a lot less creepy than you’d expect. She only has 2 normal sized eyes with the other 6 being smaller. As I expected, Dakota Fanning plays Fern. She takes care of Wilbur until he’s old enough to go to Zuckerman’s farm. Although Wilbur maintains a child’s voice. The barn is made up of a surprising amount of talent with the likes of Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Kathy Bates, Robert Redford, Oprah Winfrey, and Cedric the Entertainer. Julia Roberts is a pleasant surprise as Charlotte. And her web of messages for Wilbur is just as miraculous in live-action. Her death hit me just as hard as the original. Charlotte’s Web (2006) and its simple tale of a spider’s love for an innocent pig works in any medium.
Live-Action Remake of: Charlotte’s Web (1973)
Charlotte’s Web 2: Wilbur’s Great Adventure is the equivalent of a lousy direct-to-video Disney sequel. In the way that it continues a much older movie nearly 2 decades later. Only with lower quality animation, storytelling, and voice acting. I first discovered the so-called sequel on a Nickelodeon VHS tape that I owned. That’s who markets the movie now that Hanna-Barbera isn’t as big as it used to be. Charlotte’s Web 2 has nothing to do with anything that E.B. White wrote. All the deep themes of the original story are ditched in favor of a juvenile kiddie story. The animation doesn’t help. It’s way too stylized with an overuse of bright colors. The worst character looks are Charlotte and her three daughters Nellie, Joy, and Aranea. Who for some reason have human hair. Amanda Bynes as Nellie is the only recognizable voice in the movie. Charlotte’s Web 2 is about Wilbur, Charlotte’s kids, and Templeton trying to save a black sheep named Cardigan from a dastardly fox. Then Wilbur spends almost the entire rest of the movie as a dirty wild pig covered in nature. I think I’ll take the honest depiction of mortality in Charlotte’s Web over the lazy adventure in Charlotte’s Web 2 anyday.
Preceded by: Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web is the original talking pig who just wants to live movie. It’s one of the most beloved children’s books of all time. I know I enjoyed reading it when I was young. Written by author E. B. White, the 1973 adaptation was the only one of his stories released in his lifetime. He was less than pleased, but the same can’t be said for everyone else. Charlotte’s Web is one of a few older animated movies that I loved just as much as a Disney movie. It was actually the first original movie released by Hanna-Barbera Productions. You can tell by the quality of animation. Which looks more like a saturday morning cartoon the more I think about it. White’s main criticism was directed towards its Disney style songs. They’re a mixed bag, but perfectly harmless. Charlotte’s Web is all about runt of the litter Wilbur. Who like every other pig, is in danger of becoming dinner. The farmer’s daughter Fern keeps this from happening at first, but only for so long. It’s only at Zuckerman’s barn that Wilbur meets Charlotte A. Cavatica. A loving spider who along with a chatty goose and hungry rat Templeton, decide to help Wilbur. Charlotte spins four different miraculous messages in her web for Wilbur. He’s “Some Pig,” he’s “Terrific,” “Radiant,” and “Humble.” The messages work, effectively saving Wilbur’s life. Sadly that’s not the end of the story. Charlotte passes away at the fair when all her hard work is done. The only time I’ve ever cried over a spider. Which is only helped by Debbie Reynolds beautiful vocal performance. Thankfully Charlotte’s spirit lives on in her children. Charlotte’s Web goes to show that life is precious no matter the creature.
Followed by: Charlotte’s Web 2: Wilbur’s Great Adventure
Why does Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild exist? It has nothing to do with E.B. White’s book. Instead they just make up a story set in the not so great outdoors. Stuart Little 2 and Spider-Man were such big hits for Sony that they both received short lived computer animated shows. Maybe they would have lasted longer if they didn’t have such bizarre animation. It wasn’t just computer animation, it was crossed with some kind of cel shading technique. Bottom line, it didn’t look right to me. So I wasn’t exactly keen on checking out the so-called third movie that came out 2 years later. Even if Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, and Michael J. Fox all returned, there’s still a distinct lack of Nathan Lane. Sadly this was Fox’s last movie role for nearly a decade. And this wasn’t even a theatrical release. Instead the quality is greatly decreased, the rating is lowered to a G, and the actors are given nothing to work with. Stuart Little 3 is just about camping. Along with Snowbell being kidnaped by a cougar in the wilderness. What’s worse is the fact that Stuart befriends a skunk whose just a walking stereotype. Stuart Little 3 ditches charming fun in favor of a childish cartoon.
Preceded by: Stuart Little 2