Shake Your Groove Thing

An Extremely Goofy Movie is an extremely strong follow up. Although not officially part of the Disney Renaissance, A Goofy Movie nevertheless earned an unnecessary direct-to-video sequel. Unlike other Disney sequels released in the 2000’s, An Extremely Goofy Movie is just as good as the first movie. My brother and I actually valued both movies equally growing up. The animation remains relatively cinematic and the core voice cast remains intact. An Extremely Goofy Movie continues to follow Max’s life as he goes off to college. It’s just as timelessly dated with a strong focus on totally radical extreme sports.

Max, P.J, and Bobby are now into extreme skateboarding and end up performing in the X Games. My only frustration is a glaring lack of Max’s girlfriend Roxanne. After an entire movie spent building up their relationship, it feels wrong to leave her out. P.J. is instead given a girlfriend in the form of a poetic beatnik Beret Girl. Bobby is given a fresh cut and a ton of extra attention with Pauly Shore doing his thing. Goofy of course misses Max when he leaves, but Pete can’t wait to get rid of P.J. When Goofy loses a job to his usual antics, he makes the relatable decision to return to college to get a degree. Much to the embarrassment of his son Max.

Sure it’s similar to Back to School, but that’s not a bad thing. Together Max & Goofy also deal with the cheating head of Gamma Mu Mu Bradley Uppercrust III. He’s just a preppy jerk supported by his muscle tank. They compete against Gamma in the X Games and another father/son lesson is learned. More unexpected is Goofy having his very own love interest in the form of cute librarian Sylvia Marpole. Since they both love the 70’s, they end up dancing to “Shake Your Groove Thing” on the disco floor. An Extremely Goofy Movie is both groovy and goofy.

An Extremely Goofy Movie

Goofy dances with Sylvia

Preceded by: A Goofy Movie

On the Open Road

A Goofy Movie is the goofiest, most heartfelt father/son adventure you’ll ever see. Unlike DuckTales, Goof Troop was never a major Saturday-morning cartoon. It only lasted 2 seasons and I honestly never knew it existed for a long time. So how did A Goofy Movie gain a stronger cult following than DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp? Although Scrooge McDuck is an icon in his own right, there’s no beating a classic character like Goofy. His goofy antics have been a mainstay of Disney since the early 30’s. Along with his popular How to… series, Goofy became something of an everyman with a job and family in the 50’s.

Goof Troop similarly turned Goofy into a single father with a son named Max. Since A Goofy Movie was made in the middle of the Disney Renaissance, soon to be fired Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg gave it the same treatment. Turning Goofy into a loving father just trying to connect with his son. Even though Walt Disney Feature Animation worked on the movie at the same time as The Lion King, no one believed in the project. Making it the second Disneytoon production. A Goofy Movie wasn’t an instant hit, but thankfully my generation has given it a second chance…

A Goofy Movie

Goofy on the road with Max

A Goofy Movie is just as much a childhood favorite as the rest of the Disney Renaissance. My brother and I watched it on VHS before it was cool. Something about A Goofy Movie really speaks to millennials such as myself. Maybe because it was one of a few contemporary Disney movies made in the 90’s. A Goofy Movie is filled with 90’s slang, pop songs, modern technology, and celebrities like Pauly Shore. Sure it’s dated, but timeless at the same time. A Goofy Movie picks up years after Goof Troop when Max is an average 14 year old dog. Jason Marsden replaces Dana Hill a year before her untimely death. Marsden gives Max all the attitude and awkwardness of a teenager. His biggest fear is turning into his father. Which is especially embarrassing when his dad is literally Goofy. Although strangely asked to tone down his goofy voice, Bill Farmer manages to make Goofy sincere without losing his “Hyucks.” Cartoony antics are maintained, but the story remains relatable. Goofy also remains a single father, but Pete is a different story.

In Goof Troop, longtime Disney villain Pete was Goofy’s brutish neighbor with a son named P.J, a daughter named Pistol, and a wife named Peg. Only Jim Cummings and Rob Paulsen return as Pete and P.J. in order to enforce the themes of fatherhood. Pete rules by fear, while Goofy prefers affection. All Max wants to do is impress his crush Roxanne. Roxanne has nerdy friends like Stacey and is just as shy as Max, but she does return his feelings. Max & Roxanne are honestly one of the cutest Disney couples. It’s literal puppy love. With the help of his friends, Max manages to put on a concert at his school dressed as their favorite popstar Powerline. Singer Tevin Campbell voices Powerline as a cross between Michael Jackson and Prince. P.J. is still Max’s best friend, but they’re joined by Bobby aka Pauly Shore as himself. Wallace Shawn voices the mildly villainous Principal Mazur who worries Goofy to the point of starting a father/son fishing trip. Max doesn’t want to go, but he makes things worse when he tells Roxanne he’ll be at a Powerline concert. A Goofy Movie is a particularly wacky road movie with references to Walt Disney and cameos from Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Even a movie as zany as this isn’t exempt from creepy Disney moments. The opening is a dream turned nightmare that somehow manages to make Goofy’s laugh scary. Goofy taking Max to a corny hillbilly possum show always upset me when I was younger. Goofy later tries to bond over teaching Max the perfect fishing cast, but it only succeeds in finding a vicious, albeit rambunctious Bigfoot. Leading to a genuinely heartfelt connection ruined by Max changing the map. As they start to compromise over the things that they enjoy, Max starts to have second thoughts. When he doesn’t act on them, it leads to an appropriately goofy father/son talk that sends their car off a canyon, plunges them in a river, and nearly takes them over a waterfall. Max performs a perfect cast and Goofy takes his son to the concert. Ending with Max telling the truth, getting an innocent kiss from Roxanne, and fully embracing his dad.

A Goofy Movie may have outsourced its animation, but I honestly can’t tell the difference between other Disney movies of the era. The open road feels grand and concerts feel like actual events. A Goofy Movie is a contemporary musical with a seriously underrated soundtrack. “After Today” highlights the high school experience and Max wanting to stand out. “Stand Out” is a fun Powerline single that helps Max get noticed. “On the Open Road” gives Goofy his silly showstopper, while the “Lester’s Possum Park” theme is just cringy. “Nobody Else But You” is the right song to bring Goofy & Max together. Until the much more energetic and catchy “I 2 I” performed by Powerline on stage. A Goofy Movie took a forgotten show and made something special out of it.

A Goofy Movie 2

Max sings to Roxanne

Followed by: An Extremely Goofy Movie

King for a Night

The King of Comedy is no laughing matter. Although Martin Scorsese is best known for hard-hitting drama, Robert De Niro wanted to make a PG rated comedy. Especially after Raging Bull. The King of Comedy feels very underrated considering I hadn’t heard of it until Joker came out. Everyone knows Taxi Driver, but The King of Comedy received a renewed interest. Despite watching the film a year after Joker, I’m shocked by how well its themes were translated. De Niro plays aspiring stand-up comedian Rupert Pupkin.

Pupkin is obsessed with late-night New York talk show host Jerry Langford. Although delusional to the point of imagining a friendship with Jerry, Pupkin never feels too threatening. De Niro makes him surprisingly sympathetic. When Jerry tells him to start at the bottom, he practices his act with an elaborate set in his unseen mother’s basement. Pupkin only goes a step too far when he invites his lady friend to Jerry’s house uninvited. The King of Comedy isn’t violent like Taxi Driver, but it is a realistic depiction of stalking and celebrity worship.

The legendary Jerry Lewis is perfect for the aptly named role of Jerry. I’ve never seen the comedian so serious. When Pupkin is continually turned away, he resorts to kidnapping Jerry with an even crazier fan. Sandra Bernhard is just as well cast as the romantically obsessed Masha. Calling himself “The King of Comedy,” Rupert Pupkin literally breaks into show business when Jerry is all tied up. The final stand-up routine is both funny and tragic as Pupkin lives his dream before going to jail. The ambiguous ending was the right call, since The King of Comedy is so good at blurring the line.

The King of Comedy

Rupert Pupkin on The Jerry Langford Show

One More Game

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? changed the very course of Hollywood itself. The film is based on the 1962 play from Edward Albee that caused quite a stir with its lewd and vulgar content. The dialogue being kept intact meant the original Production Code left Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? unrated. Although PG-13 by today’s standards, audiences weren’t used to hearing profanity in pictures. Even I was a little shocked, but I knew to expect 2 hours of non-stop fighting. It feels all the more authentic with the often turbulent Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as the leads. Despite its controversy, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is one of only 2 movies nominated in every eligible category.

Best Picture for producer Ernest Lehman’s persistence and first time director Mike Nichols for his ability to translate the stage to the screen. Having only 4 actors meant the entire cast was nominated for acting. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? follows the failing marriage of George and Martha. Burton plays the passive history professor of a university and Taylor plays the aggressive daughter of the university’s president. The title refers to an in-joke that they sing to each other. They unwillingly entertain the young, good looking, and well built biology professor Nick and his hip wife Honey. George Segal and Sandy Dennis fill the remaining roles. Over the course of only one night of heavy drinking, arguments begin to escalate very quickly. It’s a unique character study that’ll make you laugh as well as wince.

George goes from timid to ruthless with his casual insults and “games” that he plays with his guests. Nick goes from non-confrontational to pushed around by almost everybody. Despite the men receiving a bit more attention, it’s the women who both won an Academy Award. Honey wants to leave at first, but Dennis becomes a very convincing silly drunk who can’t hold her liquor. Really most of the attention understandably went to Taylor playing against type. Martha is very overbearing as she puts down her husband, but she can also be flirtatious towards Nick and vulnerable when certain topics are brought up. Just about everything is discussed, but it’s George and Martha’s son that feels the most poignant. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a black & white classic with a modern sense of storytelling.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

George prepares to shoot Martha

Don’t Have a Good Day, Have a Great Day

Free Guy isn’t a good movie, it’s a great movie. Although I think it is very Deadpool light. Free Guy is also like Ready Player One with a dash of The Matrix, a drop of The LEGO Movie, and a touch of The Truman Show. It’s no secret that Ryan Reynolds practically plays himself nowadays. Although the concept of a self aware NPC in an open-world video game sounded cool, the marketing screamed PG-13 Deadpool. There were several jokes made about Disney since Fox developed the movie under the uncomfortable 20th Century Studios banner. Further delays included Deadpool & Korg crossovers and a muscular Ryan Reynolds interview.

It wasn’t until Free Guy finally hit theaters that I couldn’t help but have fun with the surprisingly heartfelt premise. Guy is just your average mild mannered bank teller who loves coffee, his Buddy played by Lil Rel, and “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey. Until he suddenly goes off-script and becomes the hero Free City deserves. Free City is an unmistakable combination of Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite. The movie’s video game appreciation is made clear with several cameos from real life YouTube and Twitch gamers. The heart comes from Guy falling in love with the sexy badass Molotov Girl. Killing Eve star Jodie Comer very convincingly plays both her British avatar and American player Millie.

Millie and her estranged co-creator Keys, played by a nerdier Joe Keery, have an unexpected impact on the game. Real world villain Antwan threatens to unplug the game if Guy isn’t deleted. This of course isn’t the first time Reynolds and Taika Waititi worked together (*cough* Green Lantern). There’s a nice sense of community when Guy fights to save his world’s existence. Although Free Guy isn’t without faults. It’s not Deadpool, but some jokes feel overly crude, PC, of blasphemous for my taste. Not to mention how profane it is without F bombs. The movie takes far better advantage of surprise celebrity cameos and unexpected references to Disney owned properties. The action is intense, but I expect nothing less from an entertaining shoot ’em up. Free Guy makes every concept work to its advantage.

Free Guy

Guy and Molotov Girl work together

Tra-La-Laaa!

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is packed with action, thrills, and laffs! Although I was 22 at the time, Captain Underpants was something I had to watch in theaters. Unlike the previous DreamWorks Animation movie starring an underwear clad hero released in 2017, I already knew what to expect from Captain Underpants. I’ve been reading Dav Pilkey’s epic novels since middle school. I mostly ignored them in elementary school, but I found them hilarious and relatable when I gave them a chance. Like the main characters, I myself created my own superhero comics at a young age. Knowing they were making a movie was both unexpected and overdue. DreamWorks made The First Epic Movie cheap, but very faithful to the books.

The cartoony drawings are nicely computer animated and the potty humor is very much intact. Your enjoyment of the movie depends on how you feel about the source material. The cast of comedians is fitting, but not at all what I imagined. The adult Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch voice 4th graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins. George is the kid with the tie and the flat top and Harold is the one with the t-shirt and the bad haircut (remember that now). Like the books, they’re best friends who love pranks and making comics at Treehouse Comix Inc. Their crude comics are recreated with fun traditional animation and the “Flip-O-Rama” is even used in a graphic action scene. Ed Helms is a mean, but surprisingly sympathetic principal Mr. Krupp. A romantic subplot is added to humanize him a bit more.

Like the book, Krupp is hypnotized into thinking he’s the greatest superhero of all time! Although Captain Underpants steals the show as a dimwitted superhero, the friendship between George & Harold is the heart of the movie. They hilariously try to keep their principal out of trouble, but a classic villain gets in the way. Unlike his starring book, Professor Poopypants plots to eliminate all laughter. Nick Kroll voices a mean villain, but Jordan Peele voicing the nerdy tattletail Melvin Sneedly is more unexpected. Laughter saves the day and Captain Underpants gains powers in the process. Ending with terrible talking toilets and an appropriate song from Weird Al Yankovic. Captain Underpants will win over the young and the young at heart. “Tra-la-laaa!”

33. Captain Underpants

George and Harold laugh at Captain Underpants

Mad Wealthy Orientals

Crazy Rich Asians is something I may never truly understand. Since I’m not crazy, rich, or Asian. I don’t have to relate to something to enjoy it, but I feel like Crazy Rich Asians would’ve been overlooked if not for its cast. Based on the book by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians is the first Chinese American movie released by a major studio in decades. Although executives were nervous, the movie was a box-office success with Awards attention. The more hype it got, the more likely I was to be disappointed. Director Jon M. Chu wasn’t exactly that beloved beforehand. I love rom-coms, but I don’t see them in theaters no matter who stars in them. Even the 91% Rotten Tomatoes consensus called it formulaic without truly criticizing the movie.

I do think Crazy Rich Asians has merit outside of its all-Asian cast, but that still doesn’t make it less cliché. The cinematography is beautiful with epic Singapore landscapes and a magical wedding. The cast is impressive, but I can only follow so many extended family members. Fresh Off the Boat star Constance Wu plays likeable leading lady/college professor Rachel Chu from a working class family. She somehow never knows that her handsome British-Chinese boyfriend Nick Young played by newcomer Henry Golding is crazy rich after 1 year of dating. They do get romantic, but the focus is really the status struggle between Rachel and Nick’s family.

They attend his friend’s wedding in Singapore where she comes in direct conflict with his old fashioned Christian mother Eleanor. Michelle Yeoh elevates the material past the disapproving mother cliché. Other family members receive attention, but I was most interested in Gemma Chan’s subplot as Nick’s cousin Astrid. She feels genuinely classy and her problems are sympathetic. I have nothing against rich people, but they do feel obnoxiously wealthy at times. As for the comedy, I’ll never understand the appeal of Awkwafina. Ken Jeong was funnier in one scene than she was in the entire movie. The use of Mahjong in the climax feels appropriately unique, but there’s still a last minute grand romantic gesture on an airplane. Crazy Rich Asians just barely elevates its familiar story for me to commend it.

Crazy Rich Asians

Rachel Chu and Nick Young look lovingly

Dirty Diaper

The Boss Baby: Family Business is no worse than the original Boss Baby. At this point I know what to expect from a more low effort DreamWorks Animation sequel. Most direct follow ups are just as good or better, but the bar was already pretty low. Family Business does have its moments like the original. It just wasn’t worth seeing it in theaters in a post-pandemic world. My brother and I paid for Peacock just to see it at home. I wasn’t looking forward to a sequel, but I knew it was inevitable after how the first movie ended. Similar to the book sequel The Bossier Baby, Family Business follows a female Boss Baby. Tim & Ted Templeton are grown ups as promised, but the movie does change a few things.

Anything from their childhood can be seen in the Netflix show Back in Business. Alec Baldwin is back, but Tobey Maguire wasn’t likely to return. He’s instead replaced by fellow Marvel superhero James Marsden. With Tim’s wife Carol being voiced by the hispanic Eva Longoria, their children Tabitha & Tina are both redesigned with mixed features. The computer animation is still simple and Tim is still imaginative, but his oldest daughter Tabitha is a typical smart girl growing up too fast. Ted is a CEO who showers his niece with money and honors his word to buy her a rambunctious pony. Now set during Christmas time, there’s conflict between the two brothers that can only be solved by doing the first movie all over again.

Amy Sedaris tries, but only the original Boss Baby can steal the show. Tina reveals herself to be a fellow Baby Corp worker with another important mission. She uses the magic pacifiers on her father and uncle, then turns them young again using the special formula. Except Marsden continues to voice his younger self. The new, but admittedly similar threat involves another villainous baby man. Jeff Goldblum is the intelligent Dr. Armstrong who plans to eliminate all grown ups at Tabitha’s advanced school. Tim bounds with his daughter, helps her sing “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out,” and bounds with his baby brother yet again. Just add more unnecessary baby butts and that’s The Boss Baby: Family Business.

38. The Boss Baby Family Business

Tina turns Ted and Tim young again

Preceded by: The Boss Baby

Cookies are for Closers

The Boss Baby is literally for babies. DreamWorks Animation isn’t known for its consistency, but I never expected a movie centered on a baby in a business suit. The Boss Baby is mostly based on a picture book of the same name. It’s a straightforward metaphor for newborn babies that feel like the boss of the house, but the movie is a lot weirder than you might expect. So weird that I was very confident in skipping The Boss Baby in theaters. Until my brother and I gave in to all the attention it was getting. Although The Boss Baby has its moments, they’re either too adult or too childish for me to be fully invested. With a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’ll never understand how it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

I’m a big fan of Rugrats, but other properties like Baby Geniuses prove baby movies are a tricky thing to get right. Frequent DreamWorks collaborator Alec Baldwin now voices a literal boss baby named Boss Baby. I’ve never seen Glengarry Glen Ross, so most of the office humor doesn’t appeal to me. The only thing I can relate to is the brother dynamic between Boss Baby and his new brother Tim Templeton. The seldom seen Tobey Maguire voices an older Tim who narrates his childhood in an over exaggerated way. Tim often speaks to a Gandalf-like alarm clock and has many fantasies. The computer animation is simple with stylized imagination sequences. Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow voice his parents who always sing “Blackbird” by Paul McCartney.

It’s only when Boss Baby is discovered that things get really bizarre. Turns out all babies are made at Baby Corp where they’re either assigned to a family or management. They stay young by drinking special baby formula, a pacifier can astral project people to his office, and Tim actually questions whether Boss Baby is the baby Jesus. He conducts meetings with his fellow babies Jimbo, Staci, and the Triplets to solve a love crisis. His mission is to prevent Puppy Co. from taking all the love away from babies. You can’t make this stuff up, but I do wish it were more clever. There’s still several poop jokes and more baby butts than I’d expect to see in a kids movie. Steve Buscemi voices the villainous Puppy Co. CEO out for revenge. He sends his burly goon after the brothers as they go on an adventure to save babykind and maybe bound along the way. The Boss Baby delivers what it promises.

32. The Boss Baby

The Boss Baby

Followed by: The Boss Baby: Family Business

Imaginary Rabbit

Harvey has to be seen to be appreciated. I’ve seen many James Stewart classics, but nothing is as unique as Harvey. Based on the 1944 play, Harvey tells the peculiar tale of a man who sees an invisible over 6ft. tall white rabbit. My only knowledge of the imaginary rabbit was from references in either Who Framed Roger Rabbit or The Simpsons. I wondered how an entire movie could be centered on an unseen character, but Harvey was far more delightful than I was expecting.

Stewart is effortlessly likeable as the charming Elwood P. Dowd. Aside from frequent drinking, his only problem is how crazy he seems walking and talking with Harvey. Harvey remains unseen throughout, but we do get a quick glimpse in a portrait. Stewart was nominated for his performance, although it’s Josephine Hull who most deserved her Oscar win for playing Dowd’s sister Veta. She’s high-strung and humorous, but Veta is first to suggest committing her brother to a sanitarium. Even though she claims to have seen Harvey as well.

Much like the play it’s based on, each character plays an important role no matter how small. There’s Veta’s neutral daughter Myrtle Mae, a judge caught in the middle, a rough around the edges orderly, will they or won’t they sanitarium workers, and their boss Dr. Chumley who begins to see Harvey himself. Although Harvey is described as a somewhat sinister sounding pooka, you can’t help but root for Dowd’s friendship as he spreads kindness wherever he goes. Harvey is a classic with an invisible friend we all could use.

Harvey

Elwood P. Dowd with a portrait of Harvey