Friday, December 17, 2010

Animaniacs Merchandise, Part 2

As promised, here's a follow-up to my previous post showcasing another 5 items from my Animaniacs/Pinky & The Brain merchandise collection:

Item #1 is my most recent addition:
an official Six Flags Wakko Warner ball cap, circa 1997.
Paid $1.71 for it at a thrift store in Winder, GA:

And since I found the Six Flags Pinky hat in October, of course you realize what this means... Now I'll have to track down the others to complete the set. That's what OCD peoples do.

Item #2 is an Animaniacs coffee mug, featuring several
of the series' principal characters:
...Rita & Runt, Buttons & Mindy:

...Pinky & The Brain:

...the Warners -- Yakko, Wakko and Dot, and Slappy Squirrel:

This Warner Bros Studio Store exclusive item is dated 1994,
and my wife found it for $2 at a flea market near Athens, GA.

Item #3 is a decorative piece appropriately-titled "Bad Chemistry"
with P&TB trapped in a lab beaker:

This Warner Bros Studio Store exclusive was manufactured in 1997, and was a gift from my brother Jon (thanks again, Jon!). Designed like a snow globe, the beaker is filled with a water/oil mixture and when you shake it up the water looks like it's boiling. And in a case of art imitating...well, art -- the front even has a visual gag:

- Item #4 is a Pinky & The Brain crystal mug (circa 1999)
-- official Warner Bros Studio Store product
purchased for $6 in 1999 at a WBSS in Memphis, TN:

Buyer's regret: not getting four of these for a complete beverage set.

Item #5 is a Where's Waldo?-type
"Look and Find" (TM) children's book:

This book was published in 1996 through Warner Bros Family Entertainment Reading and Publications International, LTD. It was written by Tom DeMichael, illustrated by the late Jaime Diaz, and the cover was illustrated by Animated Arts.

I should have done a post just on this book, and if it weren't copyright-protected I'd scan the whole thing and post it online for fans who haven't seen it. It's a gem of a collectible. Unlike standard licensed fare for animated properties, those involved in this book seem to have taken great care to make sure it felt like the show too. To write and illustrate a book with details like this has you would simply have to be a fan already. The illustration style is reminiscent of the show's design (especially the DC Comics based on the show), and like the show this book is based on, it's filled with in-jokes, pop culture gags and references to several A!/P&TB episodes.

Just a few examples:

From "Pavlov's Mice":

"Puppet Rulers":

"When Mice Ruled The Earth":

And scattered throughout the book are hidden cameos by politicians (Bill Clinton, George Bush), Looney Tunes characters (Witch Hazel), celebrities (Country stars a-plenty in the "Bubba Bo Bob Brain" double-page spread), and even appearances by Animaniacs characters like The Godpigeon, Buttons, Hip Hippos and of course the Warners (a recurring gag throughout the series is repeated here as well):

And my apologies that I cannot provide better quality images at this time -- print materials don't photograph well with my dated digital camera, and my scanner isn't working.

This book originally retailed for around $10, and I'd recommend it to any fan of the show. You should be able to find a used copy online through for around $5 (plus shipping). I found one for $3 at an antique mall in Brasselton, GA back in June 2010. There's also an Animaniacs version which I may cover the next time I feature five more items from my collection.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Destroy All Hogwarts!

Deleted scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- "Craigzilla attacks Hogwarts":

And here's another deleted scene featuring
my special wand-lighting ability finger
which I stole from E.T.:

* Photos from a September 2010 visit to the Universal Studios Store at the Orlando Airport.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: The Cable Guy

The Cable Guy (1996) **1/2
Director: Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder, Zoolander, Reality Bites)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick

I was disappointed by this movie, but to be fair I went expecting to see Jim Carrey's over-the-top comedy shtick that made him famous in Dumb and Dumber, The Mask, and Ace Ventura. And if that's what you're expecting too, you'll be sorely disappointed. This is a dark, cerebral comedy/drama and Carrey plays a complex, dark character, and although I didn't care for the film overall I thought his performance was intriguing.

The film also offers an underlying satire of America's obsession with television and news media. But if you don't care for the dark comedy and social commentary and just want to see Jim Carrey for his comic brilliance, there are a few funny scenes that I feel at least make it worth a rental: the basketball game, The Medieval Times restaurant (Star Trek spoof), and the Carrey-oke version of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love" (which is an amazing impression and performance). Also, the running gag involving the spoof of the Menendez Bros' trial are amusing although since rather dated. But even suggesting it as a rental, I can only recommend this one to fans of Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick and Jack Black because they'll be more tolerant of a bad movie because these guys are in it. So if it starts boring you or you simply don't like it, just skip to the few funny scenes.

Additional thoughts:

I originally published this review on a movie fan forum back in the late 90s which explains why I reference having actually watched the film at the movie theater. (If memory serves, I was the only one in the theater for a matinee show.) It was considered a box office bomb and was despised by critics, and Jim Carrey took a lot of flak for being grossly overpaid for his role ($20 mil!). A lot of Jim Carrey fans, besides myself, were also disappointed by this. The trailers were even misleading because they played up the film's comedic scenes, but as I stated above this is a dark comedy-driven drama. And it's only because I find Jim Carrey a fascinating performer that I even bothered to watch it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: Open Water

Open Water (2003) ****
Director/Writer: Chris Kentis (Grind, and another feature in post-prod scheduled for a 2011 release)
Starring: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis

Surprisingly entertaining indie thriller. Although we're not given much reason to care about the characters before they are accidentally abandoned in the ocean, this film offers a palpable sense of despair, hopelessness and fear the couple endure afterwards. The cinematography genuinely captures the feeling of what it would be like to be left behind in "open water." And the fact that the actors are actually in the ocean with real sharks swimming around them elevates the suspense to nail-biting status. For DVD viewers, after the film I recommend watching the production featurette -- the actors aren't just "acting" but reacting to real sharks swimming around them in the ocean. That kind of realism gives the movie a tangible sense of terror that other shark movies simply don't have.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review: Into The Wild

Into The Wild (2007) ***1/2 out of 5 asterisks
Director: Sean Penn (The Pledge, The Crossing Guard)
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Hal Holbrook

This twice Oscar-nominated indie film is a slow but interesting true-life adventure-drama with great performances. And I would rate it higher if it weren't for excess: excessive scenic footage, excessive use of slo-mo, and excessive montage Eddie Vedder-accompanied music videos. But the performances really shine, so if you don't mind a slow but inspiring drama it's worth watching.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Flight of Fury

Flight of Fury (2007) ...can't even give this one a half-asterisk
Director: Michael Keusch (responsible for a lot of German TV movies I don't recognize and can't spell)
Starring: Steven Seagal (also credited with screenplay, which explains a LOT)

While watching attempting to tolerate this film, I had a sneaking suspicion that Seagal left all the work to his stunt and photo doubles. And I'd be willing to bet Seagal's stand-in could have given a better performance. Seagal's stunt double sees more screen time than he does, and there's not even that many stunts! And even when Seagal actually appears his performance is totally "phoned in." The movie itself is predictable, nonsensical, and full of crappy acting and poor special effects. In other words: a big, stinking waste of time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

War is not funny

Another entry for T-Shirt Design Travesties:

Even Dick Cheney did not approve of this message.

A little history behind this: Back in 2006 when I was managing a religious bookstore, I discovered about a dozen of these shirts in a vendor shipment of random deep discount apparel. When I called the corporate office about it, they explained it was part of a huge bulk clearance deal on unsold inventory the company had purchased, and they emphasized that they had not ordered that specific shirt. After my call, the corporate office promptly instructed their stores to dispose of them, for obvious reasons.

Putting "Give War A Chance" on a T-shirt isn't just a design travesty, it's a design tragedy. I'm familiar with dark comedy, but this really goes far beyond being in poor taste. It blew my mind that any sane person might think the slogan was a good idea, or worse yet that they'd find it amusing or funny. Imagine my surprise when I discovered you can purchase bumper stickers and shirts with this slogan all over the internet. I guess stupidity really does have no limits.

It's worth noting there's a website listed on the shirt just below the slogan, but the text is too small to see in this image and I don't remember now what it was. I have a strong feeling, though, that it no longer exists.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review: Last Action Hero

Last Action Hero (1993) ***
Director: John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October)
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Austin O'Brien

Every now and then a movie comes along that critics love to hate, comedians love to make fun of, and then everyone else jumps on the bandwagon -- most of them never even having seen the movie and yet they still criticize and mock it. This is one of those movies. (The flak this movie has taken for being awesomely bad is legendary.) But I decided to buck the trend and actually watch it. I expected it to suck, so when I realized immediately that it was an action movie spoof, it became a lot more entertaining. In this film, life goes beyond imitating art to outright mocking it with Ah-nold spoofing himself and the movie genre that made him famous. Most Hollywood actors take their work far too seriously to be involved in a satire like this. I, for one, am glad Ah-nold accepted the challenge. Granted, it's cheesy and campy, but that's what it's meant to be. It shouldn't be taken seriously. Give this one a chance -- it's really not half as horrible as it's made out to be.