Barnyard makes you laugh till the cows come home. Well not really, I just wanted to milk a few cow puns. Mooove over Jimmy Neutron, because there’s a new computer animated Nicktoon in town. Unlike all the other animated Nickelodeon movies, I didn’t express an interest in going to see it. Mostly because it looked too weird to me. Barnyard is about a male cow. Not a bull, but a cow with udders and everything. You don’t have to be a farmer to know all cows are female. That’s just one detail though. The animation was also a little crude. That being said, when the Nick series came on, my brother and I scrambled to watch it. Thanks to Blockbuster, we watched Barnyard the same day as the pilot for Back at the Barnyard. Barnyard centers around a barn where animals stand and talk when no one is looking. Otis is a he-cow that just wants to party with his friends. Pip the mouse, Pig the pig, Freddy the ferret, and Peck the rooster. When coyotes kill his father, it’s up to Otis to grow up and defend the farm. I personally think the TV series is a vast improvement over the movie. The series has faster jokes, better voice acting, and is more loosely inspired by the movie. Kevin James lacks the energy of his successor. While characters like a pregnant cow named Daisy are replaced by an athletic cow named Abby. Most of the movie’s jokes are immature with rare flashes of wit. Barnyard is just udder insanity.
Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie was the movie fans deserved. After Hey Arnold!: The Movie failed to make a profit, the other planned theatrical movie was scrapped. That movie was the fabled Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie. A project that was meant to be the true finale for the 100 episode series. It was meant to answer all the show’s important questions. Like the whereabouts of Arnold’s parents or whether or not Arnold and Helga will finally end up together. Burning questions that fans had to wait a grand total of 13 years to find out! When my brother and I found out about the unproduced Nicktoon film, we were desperate to see it get made. We almost lost hope, but thanks to 90’s nostalgia, Nickelodeon finally made it happen. Making it one of a few online fan petitions that actually worked. I still can’t believe the movie got made, that almost every voice actor returned, and that it lived up to every expectation. The movie’s TV premiere made it the #1 trending topic on Twitter. Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie picks up right where the TV special “The Journal” left off. As Arnold wins a field trip to San Lorenzo with the help of his friends, family, and all the people he’s helped throughout the series. It’s their in the jungle that Arnold hopes to find his lost parents. It’s a surprisingly intense, yet hilarious adventure that ends with Arnold, Gerald, and Helga on their own. What they find hits you right in the feels. Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie left me feeling satisfied to have finally seen moments I only ever dreamed of.
Preceded by: Hey Arnold!: The Movie
Hey Arnold!: The Movie brought everybody’s favorite football head to the big screen. To mixed results. Hey Arnold! was a personal favorite early Nicktoon for my brother and me. We really connected to the show’s urban slice of life comedy, romance, and drama. Arnold is a football headed kid who always looks on the bright side. He lives with his wacky grandparents in a neighborhood full of quirky friends. It’s a kids show that wasn’t afraid to have complex characters and mature storylines. I would highly recommend checking the show out, but the movie is a different story. Released in the middle of season 5, it was meant to be a TV movie titled Arnold Saves the Neighborhood. But then Nickelodeon movies became big hits, so they made it theatrical instead (earning their first PG rating). Which was a bad decision considering it wasn’t as original as the other planned movie. Hey Arnold!: The Movie is about Arnold and best friend Gerald trying to save their neighborhood from a greedy businessman by becoming kid spies. Meanwhile Grandpa and the Boarders set explosives under the roads. Even the poster was derivative of the Jimmy Neutron poster. Despite that, my brother and I were very excited to see the movie. Even though the trailer gave away a major character moment. Helga is a seriously underappreciated Nick character. Both for her complicated home life and love/hate relationship with Arnold. So to see her finally reveal her love for Arnold in the trailer, was just insulting to the fans. I’ll always love seeing my favorite Nicktoons on the big screen, but Hey Arnold!: The Movie was not the movie fans deserved.
Followed by: Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius earned Nickelodeon its first Oscar nomination. By giving us the best computer animated boy genius of them all. Jimmy Neutron is a kid with an knack for inventions. He’s got a super-powered mind, a mechanical canine (Goddard), and he rescues the day from sure destruction. My brother and I couldn’t get enough of it. Especially my brother and our cousins who ended up watching the movie on repeat one day. So obviously Jimmy Neutron was a cutting edge Nicktoon worth talking about. Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius introduces the day-to-day life of the boy with a big brain. Jimmy’s so smart that he’s able to build a rocket, a shrink ray, and a bunch of other kid friendly inventions. Despite his intellect, Jimmy is still a kid at heart. In his first adventure, Jimmy unintentionally makes contact with a race of eggy Yokians lead by the villainous King Goobot that abducts all the parents in Retroville. Right after sneaking off to a theme park and wishing they would disappear. The kids live out their adult-free fantasies, but it’s not long before they realize they need them back. All the kids get creative and convert each theme park ride into a fleet of interstellar warships. Jimmy is joined by his best friends: Llama obsessed Carl, Ultra Lord obsessed Sheen, intellectual rival Cindy, and music obsessed Libby. Their whole space adventure is completely illogical, but tons of fun. Although nominated in the first Best Animated Feature award, I’m not sure the movie would be today. It’s really more of an hour & a half pilot for the equally awesome TV series. Yet Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is still a total blast.
Zombieland: Double Tap wins the 10 year challenge. Despite a fun unique take on zombie survival, it seemed like a sequel and/or show would never happen. What with the near dominance of zombie related media. Not to mention the fact that all four leads became Oscar nominees (Emma Stone being the one winner). So it wasn’t until 6 years after a failed Amazon pilot that a sequel was finally confirmed with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin all returning. Zombieland: Double Tap picks up a decade after the initial zombie outbreak. Yet life is still pretty laid back, because the power is somehow still on. The only major change is a mutated set of new zombies. Dumb ones, smart ones, sneaky ones, and nearly unstoppable ones. While not overly fresh, it’s just nice to catch up with these survivors. Columbus and Wichita are trying to figure out their relationship. While the now Elvis obsessed Tallahassee is overprotective of the much bigger Little Rock. Despite how long this zombie apocalypse has been going on, there’s still a large amount of survivors. Like a hippie love interest for Little Rock, an equally badass love interest for Tallahassee, and unlikely doppelgängers for him and Columbus. The most entertaining new survivor is a ditzy blonde love rival to Wichita named Madison. In the end, everyone grows as a person while killing as many zombies as possible. What more could you ask for? There’s even justice for Bill Murray. Zombieland: Double Tap rule #32 (“Enjoy the little things”) officially fulfilled.
Preceded by: Zombieland
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous is not runway ready. Which is why I didn’t watch it immediately after the first. Weeks after Gracie Hart stopped a beauty pageant bombing, her newfound celebrity status starts to interfere with her job. So instead of fire her, the F.B.I. makes her the celebrity face of the agency. Having her go on mid-2000’s talk shows. Miss Congeniality 2 makes the mistake of giving Gracie almost nothing to do for nearly the entire movie. Since she’s not aloud to be physical. It wouldn’t be too much of a problem if she was still undercover at Miss United States. Instead she’s just become shallow and heartbroken. I’m still annoyed by love interests breaking up with the main character off screen. Sandra Bullock can’t seem to hold onto her on screen boyfriends in a sequel (*cough* Speed 2). Regina King does her best, but her frenemy interactions with Bullock are mostly cringy. When she finally comes to her senses, Gracie and Sam go undercover as a showgirl and Tina Turner respectively. In order to find the kidnaped Miss United States and the William Shatner judge. The only fun scene in the movie is the two agents dancing along to “Proud Mary.” Other than that, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous is barely armed and less than fabulous.
Preceded by: Miss Congeniality
Miss Congeniality invites you to glide with the next Miss United States. With a simple premise that seems far fetched, but is surprisingly based on a true story. Where a female F.B.I. agent went undercover by posing as a beauty pageant contestant. Normally I wouldn’t consider watching a movie about beauty pageants, but my mom told me it was funny. Not that I don’t have an interest in the beautiful intelligent young women who compete in Miss America or Miss Universe. Sandra Bullock plays “unattractive” F.B.I. agent Gracie Hart. She’s clumsy with unbrushed hair, no table manners, and is fully content with being just one of the guys. It isn’t until the upcoming Miss United States beauty pageant receives a bomb threat that someone in her agency has to go undercover. And that agent is the newly dubbed Gracie-Lou Freebush. Since she’s the only one who looks good in a swimsuit. Of course it helps that she’s Sandra Bullock for crying out loud. Michael Caine teaches her all the ropes. Until she makes a stunning transformation. From there Gracie tries to blend in as Miss New Jersey. She gains a newfound respect for pageants and her self-defense training even comes in handy for her talent. Miss Congeniality is mostly held together by Sandra Bullock’s charming performance. Which is good because it has a somewhat predictable romance and not every joke lands. Not even with William Shatner as a judge. That being said, Miss Congeniality can still win over the hearts of many… and world peace.
Followed by: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
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 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)