Sing 2 opens with the cast and crew of Moon’s Theater putting on a pop-musical stage adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Alice is played by the elephant Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), the Mad Hatter is played by the gorilla Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), and the Cheshire Cat is played by a pig named Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), which seems like a bit of miscasting to me. This performance is particularly important, because in the audience is a talent scout, a saluki dog named Suki (voiced by Chelsea Peretti) who could get them an audition to perform at even bigger venues.
Anyway, she leaves about halfway through the first act.
The theater’s owner and director, the koala Mr. Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), tries to stop her, asking her what she thought of the show. She replies that it’s fine, really good local children’s theater production, but just not what they’re looking for. When Moon implores her to tell him, really honestly, what she thinks, Suki sighs and asks him if he really wants to know.
Because the honest truth, she says, is they’re just not good enough.
Hello and welcome to the November episode of Digging Up Positivity. October and November are traditionally busy months filled with all sorts of conventions and events, and boy does it show in our overview. We got a lot of fundraisers for various charities all over the world this time! Which brings us to our featurette: Joe G. Bear, our American friend who is one of those wonderful people behind Team Tony, one that is working so hard to raise funds against this terrible disease of ALS [Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis]!
But first we have the other charity news, followed by some animation news including Disney’s Zootopia+ and of course after all of these things, we will find out who has won that wonderful Thabo Meerkat T-shirt ‘I am just a mere kat’.
So now, on with the show!
With many eyes trained upon stories such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow this weekend, I was inspired to do a small tribute piece on the B-side of Disney's version. To think; The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad mainly came to comprise this format when it was decided that making two separate features wasn't budget-savvy. It's also worth a mention that this is one of my favorite stories from childhood, and even so today.
You may recall that we’ve been following development of the animated film Koati for some time now. Well recently Animation World Network was kind enough to let us know that now it’s been released in theaters! “Releasing in theaters today, Koati follows the heroic adventure of three unlikely heroes: Nachi (Sebastián Villalobos), a free-spirited coati; Xochi (Evaluna Montaner), a fearless monarch butterfly; and Pako (Eduardo Franco), a hyperactive glass frog – who embark on an exciting journey to prevent a wicked coral snake named Zaina (Sofía Vergara) from destroying their homeland of Xo. This is the first animated feature film produced by Upstairs, along with Los Hijos de Jack and Latin We. With animation by long-time Disney collaborator Toon City Animation, the film not only features actor Vergara as the film’s main antagonist, but the Modern Family star also serves as executive producer.” IMDB has the film’s official trailer. [ye ed-otter is off for a few days. See you all after BLFC!]
The long running My Little Pony is introducing its latest toyline "generation" with what was supposed to be a theatrical movie. Due to the whole "ongoing pandemic" thing, that was mostly canceled (it was released theatrically in a few regions) and the whole thing moved to the streaming service Netflix, where any further spin-offs will also be held. My Little Pony: A New Generation is directed by Robert Cullen and José Luis Ucha with co-director Mark Fattibene, and has been available on Netflix since September 24 in most regions.
Not to beat around the bush, but the last time My Little Pony launched, it was kind of a thing. I'm sure the vast majority of Flayrah's readership is well aware of the "brony" subculture, but if you somehow missed it, or would just like a refresher, this Ursa Major-nominated video by YouTuber Jenny Nicholson is recommended – though you could always troll through Flayrah's "My Little Pony" tag. The upshot: there are higher expectations attached to this series relaunch than usual.
Exciting news from the world of streaming. “DreamWorks Animation has shared a teaser trailer for the all-new CG animated series Dragons: The Nine Realms. Inspired by the hugely popular How to Train Your Dragon movie franchise, the show premieres on Hulu and Peacock December 23. Set 1,300 years after the events of How to Train Your Dragon, dragons are now just a legend to the modern world. When a geological anomaly opens an immense, miles-deep fissure in the Earth’s surface, scientists from all over the world gather at a new research facility to study the mysterious phenomenon. Soon a group of misfit kids, brought to the site by their parents, uncover the truth about dragons and where they’ve been hiding — a secret they must keep to themselves to protect what they’ve discovered.” Find out more and see the teaser trailer over at AWN.
Before the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy even came out, the sheer amount of cameos, Easter eggs and crossovers promised by the movie was raising eyebrows. Most critics were not impressed. With the movie in general, but also with the commercialism of the movie, as made clear by Rotten Tomatoes critic consensus (where the movie has a paltry 31% as of this writing):
Despite LeBron James' best efforts to make a winning team out of the Tune Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy trades the zany, meta humor of its predecessor for a shameless, tired exercise in IP-driven branding.
The Internet, always on the lookout for new and exciting clickbait, has plenty of lists breaking down each and every cameo in the movie (oftentimes complete with a link to a review decrying the annoying amount of IP branding at the end; here's ours!), and if you're more inclined to skip to the end, there is plenty of discussion about what the worst cameo is. But what's the best shout out in Space Jam: A New Legacy? For your consideration, how about the one to Wolfwalkers?
There’s a problem comparing Space Jam: A New Legacy to the original Space Jam. I could say the new movie lives up to old one; but the thing is, despite its popularity over the last quarter century, the verdict of whether or not it’s any good is still very much undecided.
That’s always been a bit of a mystery to me, however, because the original Space Jam is fine. It’s a movie for kids, and I was actually a bit old for it when it first came out, but I remember smaller kids than me absolutely loved it, so instant pass right there. Target audience likes it, you win. I rewatched it last year while binging a bunch of Looney Tunes stuff while in pandemic lockdown. I enjoyed it. Lots of the jokes held up. You’re a comedy. You make me laugh. There’s another instant pass. It’s fine. That’s my mini stealth review of the original Space Jam in my Space Jam: A New Legacy review. So you got two Space Jam reviews for the price of one. You’re welcome.
The movie Space Jam: A New Legacy is about LeBron James (charmingly credited as “Himself”) playing basketball with a bunch of Looney Tunes. It is a mixture of live action, CGI animation and hand drawn animation, directed by Malcolm D. Lee. It is playing in theaters now, or is available to stream until August 15 on HBO Max for those with a subscription to that service. It is also fine.
This is the part of the review where I should say which Space Jam is better, but actually if you get the HBO Max subscription, they also have the original to stream, plus a decent collection of the original shorts, some of the more modern iterations of the property, including the The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, The Looney Tunes Show, New Looney Tunes (a.k.a. Wabbit!), the HBO Max original Looney Tunes Cartoons and even something called Baby Looney Tunes: Musical Adventures – which I don't think shares a common target audience with Flayrah, but if that's your jam, you do you. So I'd recommend doing that.
A Whisker Away (trailer) is an anime film about a young Japanese teenager who gains the ability to turn into a cat. Released in the summer of 2020, it was written by Mari Okada, directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama, and animated by Studio Colorido. Its original title is Nakitai Watashi wa Neko o Kaburu, which translates to "Wanting to cry, I pretend to be a cat".
The main protagonist is a girl in her early teens, nicknamed Muge. She's madly in love with Hinode, a boy in her class who doesn't appreciate her advances. One night, she encounters a mysterious anthropomorphic feline who offers to sell her a magical mask. With it, Muge can turn into a cat and spend time with Hinode, getting to know him better. As she switches back and forth, she begins to wonder if she'd prefer to be a cat, rather than a human - but doesn't know what it might cost her.
Welcome to the June edition of Digging Up Positivity! This month we cover some animation, of course charities, and our featurette is a Paco Panda from Mexico. This episode you will have a chance to win a lovely hard cover comic book by him.
How? I will explain near the end of the video together with the lucky winner the Fandom bluRay of the last episode.
2017’s Rock Dog probably will never make lists of acknowledged “cult movies” published by the more “mainstream” movie press, but you could argue that just helps its cult movie street cred. Once a movie has become known enough to be catalogued and categorized, is it still really a cult object? Rock Dog, I predict, will continue to be largely forgotten in the annals of cinema, or even animation. Only the true, blue fans will remember.
Of course, those true, blue fans are furries. Rock Dog is a cult movie within the furry fandom. Put it another way, yeah, furries like Zootopia. On one hand, it makes sense furries would like it, but on the other hand it’s a beloved movie that was hailed as a classic by plenty of non-furries from it’s release. You can like Zootopia without joining the furry fandom pretty easily, but if you even saw Rock Dog and decided you liked it, you might want to check this furry thing out.
Which is not to say if you didn’t like the original, you have to turn in your conbadge. First of all, that would be gatekeeping, and that’s wrong. But second of all, Rock Dog is by no means a perfect movie. I loved it, but the sequel, Rock Dog 2: Rock around the Park, going to the 2020s equivalent of straight to video (it technically went to various streaming platforms first) makes sense.
In this short by Piti Yindee, released today, we see a cat and dog digging up bones. Completely silent except for music, it lets animation tell the story of their contrasting means to this end.
Keeping up with Flayrah's decades-long tradition of not reviewing (or even covering) animated shows until well after it's necessary, let's discuss Helluva Boss, a show about the misadventures of four demons from Hell who work as assassins.
I'd say most of Flayrah's audience is well aware of Helluva Boss. It would have won the 2020 Ursa Major Award for Best Dramatic Series, but then Beastars had to be translated into English, so never mind. Flayrah has a piece on Beastars currently planned for 2023. Furthermore, Helluva Boss is free on YouTube, and unlike My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, that's actually on purpose.
Granted there's only one character who is truly furry, and that's Loona the Hellhound. To be fair, she is really furry. On e621, "loona_(vivzmind)" results in over 2000 hits, so that's not too bad. To be less fair, she has the smallest role of the four main characters, to the point where her entire appearance in the second episode consists of her screaming obscenities offscreen. And in the episode that features her for any extended period of time, she's magically disguised as a human for the majority of it.
That being said, I'm still going to recommend furries at least try the series, because it features interesting non-human (if not exactly furry) character design. It has pretty good animation for a free YouTube series, and although it's got a dark, cynical sense of humor, it balances that with a strong moral center. That last one may come as a surprise, seeing as how the premise of the show is that the characters' job is to kill people.
Hayop Ka! ("You Animal!") is an adult 2D animated film from the Philippines, in which all the characters are anthropomorphic animals. Released in 2020, it was directed by Avid Liongoren, who co-wrote it along with Manny Angeles and Paulle Olivenza, and was produced by Rocketsheep Studio and Spring Films.
The story revolves around a cat named Nimfa (played by Angelica Panganiban), who works at a perfume counter in a department store in the city of Manila. She's been living with her boyfriend for over a year, a large, burly mongrel named Roger (played by Robin Padilla) who works as a janitor. She has doubts about their long-term prospects, so when she meets Inigo, a rich, tycoon husky (played by Sam Milby), a love triangle quickly develops. This is a very adult movie! All three want to have an active sexual life, with varying degrees of commitment.
Wish Dragon (trailer) is a computer-animated film from the Sony Pictures Animation International Initiative, a fancy way of saying "international co-production", in this case between Sony and several studios in China. Concept art made the rounds in 2018, and they hoped to finish it in 2019. For whatever reason, it didn't get released until January 15, 2021 - in China - so this review is of the Chinese dub with English subtitles.
A little backstory. When Kung Fu Panda came out in 2008, it had so much artistic attention to cultural detail that China kicked their animation industry into high gear. In the twelve years since then, they've become a powerhouse of animation. Recently, there's been a slow-growing effort to make their films more exportable. Some efforts have fallen flat, like the sadly-overlooked Rock Dog; but with Mosley and Wish Dragon I'm optimistic that there'll be more co-productions to come!