As much an animated work of storybook art come to life as Song of the Sea and Secret of Kells, featuring another story that doesn’t speak down to it’s audience and deals with stuff like colonization, Claude Frollo levels of villainous doctrine, and man’s abuse of nature in addition to the friendly magical tale of wolves and self-actualization going on.
It’s just such a treat to get finely crafted 2D animation like this from Cartoon Saloon every few years.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “This could very well be categorized as a kind of werewolf film, which is wonderful. Like if David from American Werewolf in London had gone to Kilkenny in Ireland instead of those hellish moors in Britain, he could have become a part of a beautiful tale of friendship instead of getting shot with a silver bullet in an alley.”
Definitely up there with Pixar’s standalone best, giving out some serious Coco and Inside Out vibes just pulled to a stylish metaphysical extreme. The “It’s a Wonderful Life” style themes dealing with the joys of life are front and center, but so too is the drive of creatives to create and what ‘success’ means after chasing it for so long (which absolutely resonated with me as a writer person).
The soundtrack is also outstanding and, of course, it’s another good step forward for the company in terms of diverse characters and leads in their films (but not so much for major representation behind the camera).
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Joe reminds me of my childhood trumpet teacher, and I wonder if he also dealt with the self-doubts and setbacks that Joe did in his life that eventually led him to teaching music as a career (a career I would love to have). I probably should have practiced more to make his job easier. My bad, Roger.”
Less of a Scooby-Doo feature than it is an unabashedly out there and weird all-star Avengers-style Hanna-Barbera extravaganza that’s just centered around Scoob and Shag. It mostly works, though, despite too many pop culture references and modern music cues. Yes, there’s a Hex Girls easter egg. And don’t worry, Hanna-Barbera superfans, Magilla Gorrila makes a small appearance.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is still the best Scooby-Doo movie because that’s when shit got real for the gang and for me. Scooby Doo, Mystery Inc. is the best Scooby-Doo TV show because that’s just some damn fine cartoon storytelling. Scoob! is probably the best Wacky Races episode of all time.”
A fantastic enough questy comedy about brothers, a van, father legs, sons, overcoming loss, and family, featuring some pretty solid D&D references throughout.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Disney and Pixar put out Cars 2 for money, certainly, but also so that when something like Onward or The Good Dinosaur comes out, which are high quality but not UP or Coco or Wall-E levels of high quality, people will say, “well, it’s not Cars 2 so that’s nice.”
Despite the American marketing team’s attempts to convince everyone otherwise, this is 100% a football/soccer sports movie about a primitive Manchester United. Even so, Early Man still has all the heart, stop motion artistry, absurdity, British tomfoolery, and general lovability of any of Aardman’s other films.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “*Various British noises*!”