Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Supergirl - Product of the 80's or Subpar Additon to a Film Franchise?

Imagine the TV sitcom The Facts of Life if one the girls was from another planet and the cousin of a popular superhero. That's the movie Supergirl.

Supergirl was produced at the height of Superman's film popularity in the 80's. I recall passing by a poster of this movie when I was younger thinking it was just a dream.
Even as a child I loved female based media. Females were more fun and 3 dimensional. Especially Jem. :-)

Guys were boring and only good for sex. Especially that blonde kid from Who's the Boss. We were the same age so it was okay.

I finally saw Supergirl on television repeatedly as a teen and fell instantly in love. Supergirl had a mission, to save her planet of Argo, she had a friend in Lois Lane's little sister played by Maureen Teefy (Fame, Grease 2) and she had an awesome villain in Mommie Dearest herself. No, not Joan Crawford, but Faye Dunaway.

I finally got to see Supergirl on DVD. The director's cut. Holla!
Supergirl herself was played to perfection by Helen Slater in her first role ever. Faye Dunaway as the villainous witch Selena can be argued to have more screen time than Supergirl, but come on, it's Faye Dunaway. Faye Dunaway gives one of her best camp performances. If you loved her in Mommie Dearest then this movie will be one big gay ole' time.
While Superman had Lois Lane to save now and then, Supergirl has a hottie himbo named Ethan (Hart Bochner) who reminds me of Owen Wilson if he played that hottie gardener in Desperate Housewives. Unlike Lois Lane, Ethan has very little when it comes to brains. Thus the term "himbo." He is very enchanting though and it's easy to see why Supergirl would be enamored with him. It's kinda' like me and my love of my guinea pig Chubbles.

The movie itself is an acquired taste. Aside from references to Superman (Christopher Reeve doesn't appear in person) and a cameo from Jimmy Olsen, there's very little connection to the other Superman movies. The plot is a little contrived: Supergirl must save her inner-space planet from dying out by retrieving it's power source, The Omegahedron, from Earth. While on Earth it gets into the hands of the witch Selena who uses it's powers for (gasp) evil. The music is very beautiful, composed by the great Jerry Goldsmith, and the acting is top notch. It's the script that really needed help. Director Jeannot Szwarc has stated that not having Christopher Reeves in the movie really affected his vision of the movie.

The movie is not bad for being a Superhero fantasy film of the 80's, especially the newly found director's cut which should be the ONLY version you watch. I can't wait to get this on Blu Ray, if that release ever happens that is.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Drawn Together Movie The Movie - Then, Now and Now What?

A while back, I met Cree Summer at The San Diego Comic Con sitting at a booth for a new series she was a part of that was coming out soon called Drawn Together. Cree Summer has been one of my favorite all around artists. She does it all really. She's acted on-screen, voice acted and she sings too. She's also the voice of one of the Disney Princesses, but one that is never really used ever: Kida from Journey to Atlantis.
Pretty much I love this woman and when she told me, in person, to watch Drawn Together, I pretty much had no choice. I was going to watch Drawn Together. As a side note, co-star Tara Strong, who voices Princess Clara in the series, a parody of the Disney Princess archetype, also voices a Disney Princess. Ariel's Daughter Melody.

Drawn Together was created at the height of reality television popularity. It was based on a premise that a lot of reality shows utilized and still utilize: Take strangers, put them in a cage/house together and watch the chaos.
The strangers in this case were eight cartoon characters:
  • Princess Clara - Based on the archetype of The Disney Princess. Very sheltered and ignorant of the world.
  • Foxxy Love, voiced by Cree Summer - An homage to the mystery crime solving heroine of the Hanna Barbera Cartoons. Borrows heavily from Josie and the Pussycats and ScoobyDoo. And since she is voiced by Cree Summer, she is the real star of the series voicing several other characters like Strawberry Sweetcake in the Season 2 opener and Suck My Taint Girl in the movie.
  • Toot - Imagine if Betty Boop were a fat disgusting cow. That's Toot. Bless her heart.
  • Waldorf - Spongebob, but not Spongebob. But yeah, it's Spongebob.
  • Captain Hero - A bastard child of Marvel and DC.
  • Spanky - An internet cartoon download. Crude and nasty, and very lovable.
  • Xandir - An openly gay character based on Link from Legend of Zelda. I love him. 
  • Ling Ling - Pikachu as an Asian Stereotype. Speaks in a made up Asian language.

The show is weird and morbid and always offensive, but I've always been a fan of such things. I think it's because I grew up addicted to the MTV series Liquid Television.
While I have to agree that the series strayed from it's strong 1st Season, the other 2 seasons probably have the best character interaction I've seen in any show in a long time in an animated series. Watching this show is like visiting a group of friends that no doubt love each other, but because of how different they are makes for interesting conversations and situations. One just has to watch the Season 1 episode Gay Bash to see how the each one of the housemates react to Xandir's coming out.
The humor of the episode also varies from Family Guy "cut to clip" type humor, to well written dialogue humor and to old fashioned Looney Tunes type humor.
When the show was canceled, I wasn't exactly surprised. Most shows I adore get canceled.
So that brings us to today. The Drawn Together movie, titled The Drawn Together Movie The Movie, is a direct to DVD (and Best Buy Blu Ray) finale to the canceled series.
The movie's release and it's complete series release on home video is also a way of seeing if the series can make a come back. When Family Guy was released on DVD after it's cancelation, the sales went so high that it came back on Fox TV 5 years later. Drawn Together is hoping for the same kind of miracle.
The plot revolves around a meta fiction type plot in which The Drawn Together characters deal with their cancellation. One of the reasons of their cancellation, as said by their replacement -  Suck My Taint Girl - is that their show has no point, so our favorite characters are sent to Make a Point Land where they hope to find some moral value to their show.

If you're a fan of the series, there is much to love in this movie. If you're a fan of the many animated cartoons they reference, there is also much to love. The movie features cameos from Bedrock, The Smurfs, Disney and anime. The villainous ISRAEL (Intelligent Smart Robotic Animation Eraser Lady voiced by Family Guy creator Seth Macfarlane) looks like one of the robots from the 80s anime Bubblegum Crisis.
The movie was animated with Flash, but I barely noticed. The movie looks beautiful and if it's cheaper to animate with Flash and get away with it, I say go for it.

My only gripe is the movie's claim that Drawn Together has no moral value. I disagree. I can name a number of episodes that pay tribute to the history of animation or really expose a moral dilemma. But then again, the creator's themselves have said that Drawn Together has no real continuity, and that's okay too. Cartoons are funny people and Drawn Together embraces that fully.
The movie can only be full enjoyed if one has prior knowledge to the series. I would not want to introduce Drawn Together to new fans with this movie, especially it being the finale.
I can only hope that this release will mean a new future for Drawn Together. Already I can see Drawn Together's influence in popular culture. In Archie Comics, Archie has recently started to woo Valerie, whom Foxxy Love is based off of; and an openly gay character has been introduced to the family friendly comic as well. I would've just saved everyone time and just had Jughead come out along with Alan M.
So please everyone, buy this movie, buy the complete box set of the series, and help keep these characters alive.