Intro – the last 3 letters were not particularly long (all of them fit comfortably in a single cube shelf with room leftover. The L’s are a little longer 17 DVDs, 14 movies, 7 TV shows/series/cartoon shorts complications. These movies were watched between August and December of 2020. There’s a good bit to get through so let’s get started.
It’s been a while since the last DVD Marathon post, so quick review: ^means I opened the DVD, *means it’s the first time watching it if it’s part of a box with things I have seen before then *indicates that something in it was a first time viewing (this will come into play for the “Laugh Out Loud Comedy” DVD).
Labyrinth [8/2] – this is the third time I’ve seen this movie, and it’s a good one, Jennifer Connely, David Bowie, and a bunch of Goblin puppets. And although this is a Jim Henson movie, it’s not really a kids movie; it’s a coming of age teen movie with a dark fantasy bend. I still want to see Dark Chrystal one of these days. 4/5 stars.
Land of the Lost Season 3* [8/2 – 8/3] – I used to watch the 90s version of this show, of which I remember very little (other than the theme song). This show I’ve never seen. It is cheaply made (almost a public access vibe), with C List celebrities… yet it has a cult following, and I can see why. It’s actually really good, with good stories, good side characters, and a good chemistry that may not be immediately present at the superficial viewing. Why season 3 and not the others? Well, this one was the only one available in the grocery store bargain bin. I picked it up for 5$ and is worth every penny. In “King Arthur and the Knights of Justice“, there was an episode about a bad fever that struck the Purple Horde. In this series, there is another episode about a dangerous fever, this time it has struck a fort of Calvary men and a Nez Perce tribe, of which one of each ends up in the land of the lost, and the two work through their bitter rivalry, it’s really good. The show, at least this season, is also really good. If I find the other two seasons, I’ll be picking it up.
Laugh Out Loud Comedies^* [8/4 – 8/19] – this is a collection of 3 classic Bill Murray/Harold Ramis Movies: Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and Stripes. You’ve already seen my review of the first two movies on the G’s, Stripes I haven’t seen before. So I skipped over Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, right? You got to be kidding. Of course I watched them again. I watch both of those movies at least once a year anyway and have no problem watching them more than once. I bought this DVD for a friend, but before I gave it to him, he got a copy of Groundhog Day for himself (and he already had the others).
Ghostbusters – I’ve already covered this, so all I’m going to say is this. I’ve seen this movie over a hundred times, and this is the first time I noticed that next to the Ghostbusters Fire House, there is an advertisement on the wall of the next-door building for (of all things) stay puff marshmallows. If you’re a fan of Ghostbusters, you may want to check out this funny little video which is a parody not of Ghostbusters but of a movie called Room 237, which is an analytical documentary about “The Shining.” Though a great movie, I can’t give it 5 stars, as I am one of the very few people that think Ghostbusters 2 is an overall better movie than the first. 4/5 stars.
Groundhog Day – basically, this is my all-time favorite movie; I’ve covered it before, I think a few times on this blog, so I won’t be going Into a whole lot of detail here. I enjoyed watching it even in the Dog Days of Summer. 6/5 stars.
Stripes – of the three movies on this DVD, this is the only one I hadn’t seen before (though I had seen a few clips from it on Comedy Central when I was a teenager. It’s about Murray and Ramis as aimless young men who decide to join the army. Certainly not the best Murray/Ramis film, but I still enjoyed it; it’s a fun movie with a fun little adventure. 4/5 stars,
Lawrence of Arabia* [8/23] – this is the second time I’ve seen this movie, and it’s a great one; every frame is a work of art. The story is about a WWI British officer sent to Arabia to unify the Arabs against the Ottomans. Based on a true story, how much of the story is true? I don’t know; it’s hard to believe any of it is. Unfortunately, I made it to the last 10 minutes, and I had to turn it off, and when I went to watch it again, The DVD player wouldn’t let me finish; I think it’s time for an upgrade to a Blu-ray. The player I am using now costs me 10$, and I’ve had it for at least 3 years or more, so I can’t complain too much. I will let you know when I break in the new Blu-ray player and with what. As for the movie, 5/5 stars.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian [8/23 to 8/26] – this is the third time I’ve watched this movie, the second time this year. It’s not as good as “Holy Grail,” and it never will be, but there are few movies that are (Monty Python or otherwise). The story takes place in the time of Christ, but not directly involved with him; the movie is a little more careful and sensitive than “Holy Grail,” and at the same time a little more vulgar and adult. The movie has grown on me; there are quite a few funny scenes, especially the Sermon on the Mount scene, which has a quick bridge into another funny scene about a stoning. Interesting side note, this is (I believe) the only DVD in my collection that is a Criterion (for now at least). If you know anything about DVD collecting at all, you would know the Criterion DVDs are just about the highest quality you can get, chock-full of bonus features, high grade, and usually very expensive. This DVD, however, I got as a gift from a library sale (in the dark days between 2008 and 2015 when I got almost no DVDs at all) and didn’t even realize it was a Criterion until I watched it earlier this year. 4/5 stars.
Little Bear: Feel Better Little Bear [8/27 to 8/28] – this is definitely a show meant for younger children, but that doesn’t mean older people can’t enjoy it. It’s such an innocent, calm, and peaceful show, something meant to be enjoyed with a cup of tea on a cool autumn day, or maybe a rainy day with nothing else to do. That being said, I watched this late in August without the tea. The animation is well done, far better than the cheap CGI of the modern day. The DVD has 12 episodes, 4 are based around being sick, and the other 8 are bonus episodes without a theme. Unfortunately, my favorite episode, “The Solstice” is not included, but there is enough here to relax with after a bad day, to make things better. I believe I picked this DVD up at a library sale. Regardless, I did pick it up well into adulthood because I had fond memories of the show when it was extant… when I was a teenager.
The Little Mermaid*^ [8/28] – I finally gave in a bought a Blu-Ray player, and this movie was the first to break it in (and yes, it is a Blu-ray). Though I was a little surprised and disappointed that the animation didn’t pop the way other animated HD movies have, but I can live with that; maybe I’m just getting used to the style (though I’m still relatively new to the format). I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen this movie before. Part of me thinks I must have, and at the very least, I must have seen enough of it to have seen nearly the whole thing. It was good, though, not great, not the best Disney movie out there, but it is an important one. This movie was the beginning of the Disney Renaissance, which led to greater movies like Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan, Hercules, and Pocahontas. These movies are not just rose-tinted because I grew up with them; they are empirically better: higher detail, better stories, terrific music, etc. The Renaissance had a failed start with the previous movie “Oliver and Company,” but that one flopped. The song “Part of Their World” may be the best song from any Disney movie from a purely composition point of view. Unfortunately, Disney seems to be getting pretty stingy with their bonus features on their recent DVD releases. They used to include a couple of shorts; this one only has some behind-the-scenes stuff; a couple of episodes of the Little Mermaid TV show or the Sebastian Shorts from Marsupalami would have been nice. 4/5 stars.
The Littles: the Complete Series [8/29 to 9/7] – I had never heard of this cartoon until 2015 when I picked up the infamous (if you’ve been following this blog for a while) TV Toons to Go DVD, and I instantly fell in love with this series. Two years ago, I picked up the entire series on a separate DVD, the second disk is identical to the disk in TVT2G, but I still watched it this time, even though I’ve seen it many, many times. The Littles are anthropomorphic mice, and the only human that knows about them is a boy named Henry Bigg (“Big” is also their term for humans). The first two disks are standard fare for the show, but the third disk (season 3) has the Littles traveling the world, and in my opinion, had the better theme song; you can compare it here: original and third season. The best episode of the series is “Dinky’s Doomsday Pizza,” aside from just being a kick-ass title. This, The second episode of the second season has Dinkey (the schlemiel braggart, and slightly older, little) revealing their existence to Dr. Hunter (the show’s main antagonist in the first 2 seasons), and the Littles being captured and kept in cadges for study (spoiler alert: it was all a dream). This episode has made me wonder how humans would react to discovering another intelligent race, and I may write an easy or a story or maybe even a novel about the idea; I find it very intriguing. The series ends without any grand finale, and The DVD also includes the two Littles Movies, but they are harsh, especially the first one, which is the origin story of the series, so I didn’t watch them. I do not understand why this show isn’t remembered well; it should be; you should check it out, it’s meant for a younger audience, but it’s very well done. In the 80s, animation was expensive, and this shown did all it could and then some.
The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie [9/7] – This is actually the second Bugs Bunny movie, but that won’t really matter until you read a little further on. This is an anthology movie primarily made up of Looney Tunes shorts with a narrative that combines them all. It starts with Knighty Knight Bugs. Then goes into a segment about the Devil reincarnating Yosemite Sam to try and kill Bugs to be his hell surrogate, a segment focusing on the Bugsy and Mugsy cartoons, and then ending with a segment about the Ozwolds (a cartoon version of the Oscars). As far as the primary cartoons go, they are all AAA toons, in my opinion. The only downside is that the frame narrative seems a bit pieced together. I’ll be upfront my favorite Loony Tune is Yosemite Sam. His chemistry with Bugs Bunny is spot on, making the movie that much better. The shorts used in the movie are Knighty Knight Bugs, Hare Trimmed, Roman Legion-Hare, Devil’s Feud Cake, Sahara Hare, Wild and Woolly Hare, the Unmentionables, Golden Yeggs, Catty Cornered, Three Little Bops, Birds Anonymous, High Diving Hare, and Show Biz Bugs. Overall 4/5 stars, this is the best of the three Bugs Bunny movies, though it’s not an easy choice to make, and the movie is not exactly perfect.
The Looney Tunes Movie Collection [9/7] – this DVD consists of 2 more Looney Tunes movies, the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner movie, and Bugs Bunny’s Third Movie, 1001 Rabbit Tales. I got this as a birthday gift when I was still in college, and of the Looney Tune Box sets (and there are a few more to come), this one is probably my favorite.
The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Movie is sometimes referred to as “the Chase Movie,” and it’s presented almost like a documentary about the history of slapstick comedy. The first portion has several classic Cartoons: Duck Dodgers, Duck Amuck, Long-Haired Hare, Bully for Bugs, What’s Opera Doc, and Operation Rabbit (which has Bugs and the genius Wile E. Coyote), this is then followed by a 20-minute block of unbroken Road Runner cartoons, which works pretty well together since the Road Runner cartoons are sans plot. 4/5 stars
Bugs Bunny’s Third Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales: of the three Bugs Bunny Movies, this one has the best frame narrative; it starts with Bugs and Daffy at a sales meeting for a children’s book company. Bugs ends up in the Sahara, where Yosemite Sam abducts him to read stories to his son Crown Prince Abba Dabba. The selection of cartoons is good but not great. There are many fairytales and uses the “Hansel, Hansel?” Joke, of which I’ve yet to find a good explanation. The movie ends (source material-wise) with “One Froggy Evening,” one of the greatest cartoons ever. I should do a top 10 cartoon shorts. The movie gets 4/5 stars.
Looney Tunes: Spotlight Vol. 1 [9/12 to 9/13] – Warner Brothers have, and I imagine always will, jealousy guard their Looney Tunes IP. You can’t find (easily) Looney Tunes on YouTube, and the DVD releases have been less than generous. Go ahead and do an Amazon search on Looney Tunes DVDs, and you’ll see what I mean. There are over a thousand Looney Tunes and Marry Melody shorts one day; I’ll go through and catalog them all and figure out how many I’ve seen. The “Gold Collections” started coming out in 2003, with about 50 cartoons each and several bonus features. Alongside these, they released the “Spotlight Collections,” which sold at about half the price, had two disks, about 30 cartoons, and fewer features. I have 4 of them, most of them picked up at movie store liquidations. It’s been a while since I’ve watched these, and I forgot how good they were. Some of my favorites from Vol. 1 are: Hair-Raising Hare, Frigged Hare, Baton Bunny, Feed the Kitty, Bunker Hill Bunny, Bugs and Thugs, Lumber Jerks, and Devil May Hare.
Looney Tunes: Spotlight Vol. 2 [9/13 to 9/18] – another tempting schemer of classic Looney Tunes, the first disk is largely Tweety Pie cartoons, and the second disk is primarily music-based cartoons. Some of the highlights are: Old Glory, Porky in Wackyland, Book Revue, Hollywood Steps Out, I Love To Singa, the Three Little Bops, One Froggy Evening, Rhapsody Rabbit, What’s Opera Doc, and You Ought to Be in Pictures. “Porky in Wackyland” is a B&W that introduces Dodo. “Old Glory” is a patriotic American cartoon where Porky learns the importance of the pledge of allegiance. My feelings are mixed on the message, but it’s important for historical reasons and not one of the better-known ones. “Three Little Bops” is a modernized version of the “Three Little Pigs,” told through a very catchy jazz song and rhymed verse. “You Ought to Be in Pictures” is a live-action/animation with one of the great cartoon directors, Leon Schlesinger, playing himself, also B&W.
Looney Tunes: Spotlight Vol. 4 [11/27 – 11/28] – Unlike the other two Looney Tunes spotlight collection DVD’s these are presented in slimmer cases and can be kind of finicky to put back in, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s the content that does. And the contents on this one is quite good, the first disk in the box is all Bugs Bunny, 14 cartoons, and they include some of Bugs’ best work: it starts out with Roman Legion Hare, and also has Mississippi Hair (a semi banned short with an alternate Yosemite Sam called Colonial Shuffle), Barbary Coast Bunny (which had Bugs Bunny constantly winning at a Casio opened by a crook who ripped him off), Nightmare Hair, Forward March Hare (an interesting look at American conscription and basic training), Sahara Hare (loosely based on Beau Guest), and Knightly-Knight Bugs (which won an academy award – I should try to see all the academy award-winning cartoon shorts, that would make an interesting project, I’m sure I’ve seen more than a few of them at this point). The second disk is all cat-related cartoons: The Night Watchman (an interesting older color cartoon where a young cat fills in for his sick father to watch over the kitchen and is bullied by some rats), Cat Feud (another Mark Anthony/Pussyfoot cartoon, good but not quite as cute as “Feed the Kitty”), and Mouse and Garden (which is a great little bitter rivalry between Silvester and Sam Cat). The second disk is good, but not as good as the first, but that’s to be expected; nobody survives against Bugs Bunny. Vol. 4 is the best of the Looney Tunes DVDs (spotlight and others).
Looney Tunes: Spotlight Vol. 5 [12/13] – disk one has Bugs and Daffy (but not too many of them working with each other), and disk two is all fairytales. Some of the highlights from the DVD: 14 Carrot Rabbit (I love the old prospector archetypal story, and this one does a good job; also the art in this short has always stood out to me for some reason, can’t really explain why, funny too Bugs and Sam at their best), Bugs Bonnets (I believe this one his taught in psychology classes, different hats on Bugs and Elmer cause them to act in different ways, it may not be the best Looney Tune, but it’s worth looking at for analytical reasons), Transylvanian 6-5000 (once upon a time I had the movie with the same title on VHS, I saw it once but don’t remember it. I think it was a Rocky Horror knockoff from the 80s, but I could be wrong, a funny cartoon though, Bugs gets lost and ends up in Transylvania and takes on a vampire with magic words, classic. The title comes from an old big band song called “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” which was [at the time of the song] a phone number). Bewitching Bunny (a take on “Hansel and Gretel,” and the primary short for the character Witch Hazel). There are also several variations of Little Red Riding Hood on the DVD.
Loaded Weapon 1* [12/20/20] – this one is slightly out of place, alphabetically. I received it as a Christmas gift, but since I was still in the same letter, I decided to watch it away. And oh man, this is a goofy and great movie in every way, from the opening scene of Emilio Estiveze over delivering the dialogue to the Wayne’s World Parody at the end, with cameos from a lot of unexpected actors. I remember when this movie came out, and I don’t understand why it never hit the same groove as other parody movies like the Naked Gun or Airplane! This will be a movie I will watch closely, quite a few more times, and I think every time I will pick up on something new. 5/5 stars.
The Lord of the Rings Part 1: The Fellowship of the Ring [12/27/20] – it takes a special kind of movie that is 12 hours long and still does not feel like it’s dragging at any point. I’ve seen this movie over a hundred times, and I mean that literally, I used to keep a running tally, and for a time, this was my favorite movie. Upon watching it again, I can not understand why I haven’t watched it in so long. Most people say the second movie is their favorite of the three; the third one won all the awards; I count all three as a single movie, but, if I had to choose among them, the first movie “The Fellowship of the Ring” is the best one, it has the best score, the best cinematography, and it doesn’t rely on the epic battles to keep the viewer interested. The movie is much more pastoral and peaceful than the other two. It’s also the one I watched the most, but that’s a bit unfair because I was binge-watching it for half a year before the next one came out. If you’re wondering, this movie (along with the next two) are all the 4 disk leather-bound extended edition DVDs. Yes, I watched the 12-hour compendium documentary as well (a few times), but I haven’t watched them for this Mega DVD Marathon, as bonus features are not a high priority for this review. Like “Groundhog Day,” This movie gets the rare 6 out of 5 stars.
The Lord of the Rings Part 2: The Two Towers [12/27/20 – 12/29/20] – Although lacking in the peace and pastoral nature of the first movies, it is hard (if not impossible) to watch the first movie to the end and not wonder what happens next. Frodo and Sam meet up with Golom/Schmeegle, reach the black gate, and then turn for a different hidden path. Mary and Pippen meet up with an Ent (a walking tree – a creature that is sorely lacking in fantasy fiction IMO), and the others go to Rohan to defend it against an orc army. The story gets more complicated in this movie, with the divergent narratives, and the true reality of the ring and the situation becomes more apparent. It’s my least favorite of the 3, but still easily 4 out of 5 stars.
The Lord of the Rings part 3: The Return of the King [12/29 – 12/30] – Such a good ending to a great movie or trilogy (depending on how you look at it), but I always forget just how sad of an ending it is. Spoiler warning here (though this isn’t the most obscure of movies, so how many people would I actually be spoiling it for?) in my opinion Froto does not really make it back to the shire. Sure he returns physically, but mentally and spiritually, he is far too damaged to really return. And that’s okay, many people in the movie gave their lives to save the world (few of them named), so one damaged hobbit is a fair trade, yes it’s sad, but the world is not a perfect one (our world or Middle Earth). Now I’ve watched these movies many, many times, but I haven’t seen them in a while; I think I need to add them to my yearly viewing (I think I can leave them on in the background and do other things given that I’ve seen them recently) but I’m not sure when. Logical would suggest that they go in the Halloween/fall movie list since that was when I first saw the first movie, but that list is already pretty full. I may put them into the summer list (which has little else in it at this juncture). Part of me wants to put it in the seasonal selection; 20 years ago, this would have been the obvious choice, but that list is getting a bit too full. I’ll probably end up putting them on the summer list. I should also point out here that these movies significantly influenced me in both writing and even reading. I may not write very much High Fantasy, but I do write a lot, so thank you J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson, and the fans of this blog (by proxy) thank you as well. 4 out of 5 stars.
Letter in review – And so we close out a pretty crappy year with a pretty good movie or a single five-star 12-hour movie in three volumes. I could have started the following letter before the New Year, but I didn’t really want to continue anything from 2020 into 2021, so I held off and finished watching Seinfeld (never a bad choice). I’m about halfway through this project, and I’ll be taking a harder stance on it. The average score for the letter (movies only) is 4.4.