The Man in the Mirror

Candyman: Day of the Dead is dead on arrival. Any amount of dignity the franchise had is long gone in this direct-to-video third installment. Although it’s a direct follow up to Farewell to the Flesh, Candyman’s origin is reshot to be at night instead of day. Now Candyman’s legend springs up around Day of the Dead instead of Mardi Gras and takes place in Los Angeles for no good reason. There’s way more emphasis on Mexican culture instead of black culture. The final girl is of course the third blonde in a row.

Since the movie takes place in the distant future of 2020, Annie’s daughter has grown into Donna D’Errico. Despite the almost constant nudity, the former Playboy playmate never gets fully naked. Her acting is unsurprisingly terrible just like everyone else in the movie. Not even Tony Todd can save it. Caroline once again makes the brainless decision to invoke Candyman and has to deal with the bloody aftermath. There’s also a racist cop that she has to deal with.

Just as annoying are Caroline’s constant nightmares that remind me this is a late 90’s movie. Dead of the Dead is now your run of the mill gorefest. Bees continue to ravage people and his hook is always in use. It was already icky before, but Candyman continues to seduce one of his descendants. Only this time it’s his paintings that kill him instead of a mirror. Even though they once again go for a cheap fake out. There was supposed to be a fourth Candyman set in New England, but Candyman: Day of the Dead practically killed the legend.

3. Candyman 3 Day of the Dead

Candyman arrives

Preceded by: Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh

Christmas: Impossible

Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas is more Christmas than Disney can handle. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas may have been direct-to-video, but Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas is every bit the direct-to-video sequel sell out that most of them are. The primary difference is using computer animation on Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy for the first time in Disney history. Not counting Kingdom Hearts of course. The sequel has some similarities to the original, but segments are increased from 3 to 5 with pop up books in between.

Belles on Ice – The first segment focuses on both Minnie & Daisy. Mickey & Donald are only around for moral support. “Belles on Ice” gives the Disney ladies time to shine, but most of their time is spent fighting. They both get into a heated ice skating competition that includes the alligator and hippo dancers from Fantasia. Despite their pettiness taking up most of the story, they do come together in the end.

Christmas: Impossible – The second segment focuses on Huey, Dewey, and Louie. An ill-mannered Donald and polite Daisy aren’t nearly as important as Uncle Scrooge. “Christmas: Impossible” is about the mischievous boys mailing themselves to the North Pole where they hope to get on Santa’s nice list. Much like the first movie, this is my personal favorite story. The adventure in Santa’s workshop is fun, the elves are quirky, and Santa has plenty of heart. The message of thinking about others works its way through even if the boys had to mess up along the way.

Christmas Maximus – The third segment features Goofy, but focuses on his now grown up son Max. It’s nice to see Disney maintain some form of continuity between Max’s appearances. Even though I’m very much against Max being in love with anyone other than Roxanne from A Goofy Movie. “Christmas Maximus” is a mostly cliché story where Max is afraid Goofy will embarrass him in front of his new girlfriend Mona. It’s a mostly harmless series of antics that feels more like a music video set to the song “Make Me Look Good.”

Donald’s Gift – The fourth segment focuses on Donald. Ducks dominate the movie with Daisy, Huey, Dewey, and Louie making another appearance. “Donald’s Gift” has the most mixed message with Donald wanting to cozy up by the fire with hot chocolate, but constantly being annoyed with the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” I’ll always be filled with Christmas spirit, but I do understand some people wanting to be left alone.

Mickey’s Dog-Gone Christmas – The fifth segment features Mickey, but focuses on his pal Pluto. The normally cheerful Mickey goes overboard with Christmas decorations and yells at Pluto when he makes a mess. “Mickey’s Dog-Gone Christmas” is another cliché story where Pluto runs away from home, only to wind up in the North Pole. Donner and Blitzen are a comedic pair of reindeer who adopt Pluto until Santa has time to fulfill Mickey’s wish. Unlike the original movie, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Goofy, and Max come together as part of the story.

In conclusion, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas is something I watched just as much as the original when I was a kid. Though I don’t remember what VHS tape or DVD I saw it advertised on. The computer animation does feel unnecessary, but it’s really not that bad. Though there are more stories than there needs to be and most of them do go a little overboard, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas is innocent fun.

Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas

Mickey and friends sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

Preceded by: Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

Stuck on Christmas

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas is the ultimate combination of Disney and Christmas. Although released direct-to-video, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas has more effort put into it than most Disney sequels made at the time. It’s actually the first feature length Disney movie featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy in decades. If you consider 1 hour & 8 minutes to be feature length. The story is narrated by Kelsey Grammer and split into 3 roughly 20 minute segments that I can only talk about separately.

Donald Duck: Stuck on Christmas – The first segment features Donald, but focuses on his nephew’s Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Daisy, Uncle Scrooge, and one off character Aunt Gertie also appear along with a quick cameo from Chip ‘n Dale. It’s my personal favorite story, because I’m a big fan of the trio. “Stuck on Christmas” is about Huey, Dewey, and Louie wishing it was Christmas every day. Similar to a short story of the same name. Since I’m also a big fan of time loops, I enjoyed the boys having fun until they start to go crazy. Like most time loops, the second to last day is mean spirited, but the last day is where they discover the true meaning of Christmas.

A Very Goofy Christmas – The second segment features Goofy, but focuses on his son Max. In terms of the Goof Troop timeline, Max is younger than he was in the show. This story is filled with the kind of goofball charm you could only get from Goofy. He’s a real saint who gives to the less fortunate in his usual slapstick way. “A Very Goofy Christmas” is about Goofy trying to convince Max there’s a Santa Claus after his meddling neighbor Pete says otherwise. Goofy and Max share a special bond that results in the real Santa giving them what they always wanted.

Mickey and Minnie’s Gift of the Magi – The third segment focuses on both Mickey & Minnie. Of course Pluto is always by Mickey’s side and Minnie even gets Figaro from Pinocchio as her companion. Daisy and Pete appear, but they’re not animated exactly the same. “Gift of the Magi” is a more literal adaptation of the famous short story. Mickey & Minnie are such an innocent loving couple that it just fits in the best way. Like the original story, Mickey ends up trading his prized harmonica for Minnie’s present and Minnie trades her precious pocket watch for Mickey’s present. Both gifts are ironic, but given out of love.

In conclusion, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas has been a joy to watch since I was a kid. Ever since I saw it advertised on my Inspector Gadget VHS tape. The animation is refreshingly traditional and the voice cast is top-notch as usual. I suppose it is a little sappy, but sometimes that’s all a Christmas special needs to be. Only the finale brings everyone together as they sing a mashed up version of “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas is a Disney movie filled with Christmas spirit.

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

Donald sees Huey, Dewey, and Louie opening presents

Followed by: Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas

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

Stupid Bunny Suit

S. Darko is another inferior sequel released too many years later for anyone to care. Donnie Darko has a lot of cult appeal that can’t really be replicated. That didn’t stop them from trying anyway. S. Darko refers to Samantha Darko, sister of the late Donnie Darko from the first film. She wanders the road with her vapid best friend Corey. They wind up in a small town where several disturbances try to mimic the original.

Except the new cast of characters can’t back things up. You know you’re in trouble if Jackson Rathbone and Elizabeth Berkley were the best they could do. Although I have a personal appreciation for Daveigh Chase, her role is essentially a less interesting substitute for her brother. Now Sam is the one hallucinating, facing an end of the world scenario, and using the confusing time travel of the original. Only none of the minor alterations make it any less derivative.

An imaginary rabbit is replaced by an undead Sam (Samara Morgan she is not). The end is now 5 days before the 4th of July in 1995. Time travel is used twice in order to make the entire movie feel utterly pointless. Two separate deaths are reversed and the world nearly ends via meteor shower. Religious commentary is handled with far less grace. Meanwhile, the iconic bunny suit is only used as a recognizable image. S. Darko is just as unnecessary as it sounds.

S Darko

Sam and Justin stare at each other

Preceded by: Donnie Darko

Memory! All Alone in the Moonlight!

Cats (1998) has a bit of a reputation on Broadway. Although I was once a theater kid, I never really appreciated one of the longest-running musicals of all time. Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, it seems you either love or hate Cats. The 1998 movie is simply the play put to film with more effects and several returning cast members. I distinctly remember watching a VHS tape of Cats when I was 4.

I only remember being a combination of confused, creeped out, and bored to death. I don’t even remember how vaguely sexual the cats are. In case you’ve never seen the musical, Cats doesn’t really have a straightforward plot. It’s 100% singing, loosely tied together with various Jellicle cats wanting to be reborn in the Heaviside Layer. Don’t try to make sense of it. The stage is a more extravagant moonlit junkyard where each colorful cat is musically introduced. Each of them dressed in wild cat makeup and unitards.

There’s the ballet dancing Victoria the White Cat, storytelling Munkustrap, all-knowing Old Deuteronomy, seemingly lazy gumbie cat Jennyanydots, fun loving Rum Tum Tugger, fancy fat cat Bustopher Jones, cat burgling Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer, aging theater cat Gus, mischievous Macavity, flirtatious Bombalurina, railway riding Skimbleshanks, magical Mr. Mistoffelees, and sad former glamour cat Grizabella. Between all of those funny names are some genuinely catchy songs. I have a lot of personal favorites, but nothing beats Elaine Paige performing the showstopper “Memory.” Cats is still an acquired taste regardless of medium.

Cats

Cats

Off to the Ranch

Dr. Dolittle 3 is the first of 3 direct-to-video Dr. Dolittle movies without Eddie Murphy. I’m not sure if he was ever supposed to return, but he was a little busy making Dreamgirls. I don’t normally watch low quality straight to DVD sequels to popular movies, but I decided to give Doctor Dolittle 3 a chance. It’s the only one of those I’ve seen more than once.

Doctor Dolittle 3 now stars Kyla Pratt as John Dolittle’s daughter Maya. She was the only choice since Raven-Symoné was a little busy making That So Raven. Although Maya has sort of dropped her oddness in favor of wanting to be a normal teen. She’s inherited the ability to speak to animals like her father and sister, but a monkey related incident forces her to be sent to a ranch. Along with Kristen Wilson as her mother, Norm Macdonald as Lucky is the only other returning character. This time Lucky’s subplot is keeping an eye on Maya and romancing a country dog.

Dr. Dolittle 3 has a very cliché save the farm plot. Along with a cast of paper thin teens. There’s the mean girl who doesn’t like the protagonist for no reason, the fat guy who only wants to eat, and a clumsy redhead. Maya hides who she is from everyone including a handsome ranch hand. It’s only when she finds out about the financial troubles that she uses her abilities to influence the animals in a rodeo competition. Although Dr. Dolittle 3 is nothing special, I like Kyla Pratt too much not to at least find it watchable.

4. Dr Dolittle 3

Maya Dolittle encourages Butch

Preceded by: Dr. Dolittle 2 & Followed by: Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief

Super Soldier

Captain America (1990) is the crappy early attempt at a Marvel movie people forget exists. Rightfully so, because this low budget direct-to-video movie makes a mockery of the famous super soldier. Captain America is one of Marvel’s oldest characters. Having debuted in Timely comics as far back as 1941. Created by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby to help out the war effort. Captain America became Marvel’s first superhero to appear in other media. There was a 1944 serial, 2 crappy TV movies, and a catchy cartoon. Marvel needed a win against DC, but dumping him in the hands of a B movie director was a bad call.

Captain America (1990) is a complete mess with awful acting, cheesy special effects, lackluster action, horrific editing, and a costume that’s faithful, but worse than cosplay. The throwing of his mighty shield looks like a frisbee that defies all laws of physics. For some reason, Matt Salinger (son of J.D. Salinger) plays Steve Rogers/Captain America. His only qualification is being blonde since he can’t act to save his life. Steve is an already fit guy with polio living in California. Bernie Rosenthal from the comics is his girlfriend from the 40’s.

Steve volunteers for the procedure that makes him Captain America and they make a point of saying he’s no Superman. So it’s ironic that Ned Beatty appears in both movies. Red Skull is a terrible looking Italian Nazi who covers up his deformity for the entirety of the present. Cap is strapped to a rocket and frozen in ice. Waking up to thongs and Bernie’s 90’s daughter Sharon (not Carter). The not Red Skull is a mob boss who kidnaps the President for the environment or whatever. With a score of 7%, Captain America (1990) has the lowest Marvel movie score on Rotten Tomatoes. Now it’s only remembered as a weird novelty in the age of the MCU.

Captain America

Captain America speaks with the President

P.S. Since copies are scarce, I’ve supplied the full movie underneath.

Bucket of Slop

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.

5. CW2WGA

Wilbur plays with Cardigan

Preceded by: Charlotte’s Web

Skunk Smell

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.

3. SL3COTW

Stuart at camp

Preceded by: Stuart Little 2