Sunday, November 27, 2016

2016 was another horrible year for sitcoms.

When it comes to judging this year's television comedies, there's no way around the fact that 2016 turned out to be a bad year for sitcoms. Almost every show that has aired this year has been incredibly disappointing.

Not only have almost all of the existing award winning sitcoms have failed us (Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory), but those new freshman comedies that have premiered have been pretty massive failures too. 

For example, when it comes to those existing sitcoms that used to be good, Modern Family has finally, officially 'jumped the shark'. The writers on the show aren't even trying to come up with anything that would be watchable anymore. 

Instead of writing quality material, the showrunners are more interested in complaining about the presidential election. Apparently it's much more interesting to blame Bernie Sanders on twitter than it is to do their jobs.

Another long running sitcom that hasn't delivered in a long time, is of course The Big Bang Theory. This series about four nerds and their three female masters hasn't been watchable either, even though the show is still getting very high ratings.

As far as I'm concerned, it just isn't funny to watch these four geeks losing their mojos as characters. Even though the show has already reached its 10th season and is clearly running on fumes, the writers could still try at least a bit.

Naturally, dealing with the inevitable decline of these existing shows would be much easier if we could get some new shows to replace them. It would be much appreciated if we could get new sitcoms that would show at least some promise.

Instead, when it comes to those new comedies, I haven't heard any good things about any of them. Shows like 'Kevin Can Wait', 'The Great Indoors' or 'Man With a Plan' haven't gotten any good reviews from any serious people.

The only new series that was supposed to be even remotely watchable was Kristen Bell's and Ted Danson's 'The Good Place'. It had gotten some positive reviews, so I gave the series a chance, even though the trailer for it didn't impress me at all.

Not surprisingly, the show turned out to be a total abomination and didn't make me laugh even once. The first three episodes were so bad that I couldn't help but to think that the creators and the writers had to be at least a bit challenged mentally.

In any case, based on how much Hollywood has been patting itself on the back lately, should it even surprise anyone that the state of television comedies is so incredibly disappointing and depressing at the moment?

Especially when you keep in mind that the entertainment industry keeps giving their precious awards to horrible, disgusting and vulgar 'comedy' shows like HBO's 'Veep', the lack of good shows on tv shouldn't surprise anyone.

In the end, I'm obviously not saying that coming up with these new quality shows is easy or simple at all. It most certainly takes a lot of talent, dedication and luck to create a successful sitcom that works and keeps us entertained.

At the same time, the truth is that unless those in charge of the networks are willing to admit that we're currently not witnessing the 'golden age of sitcoms™', things are not going to get any better any time soon.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why do I like watching animated films so much?

Over the last few months I have managed to watch a lot of animated movies. I have checked many of those recently released animations whenever I have felt lonely and whenever I have felt that I needed to get myself on a better mood.

In most cases, watching these animations has helped to make myself feel a bit happier inside. Most of the time watching these cartoons has made me think that I shouldn't worry about things as much as I usually do.

So when it comes to me and others liking these animations, one of the biggest reasons for this is that these films make us less judgmental. Watching these cartoons lets us forget many of our problems and prejudices in real life.

For example, at least in my case, I'm pretty happy and relieved that I don't always have to watch 'real' people act. For me it's much more relaxing to watch animated characters instead of watching actual human beings all the time.

When I'm watching these films, I don't have to think about how this movie might be a vehicle for this particular actor. I don't have to think or worry about all those superficial things that might interfere with my viewing experience.

Instead, I get to fully pay attention to the characters and to the storylines in these movies. I get to pay attention to the ideas, hoping that the writers and the producers of these films would manage to come up with something good.

Fortunately, in most cases these animations work and are so watchable, because they are more uplifting and more idealistic than live action movies. These animated films are uplifiting, even though they are about things that matter in life.

These movies also work because writers in them try a bit harder than they do with most of the live action films. They try their hardest to make sure that the characters in these animations would be as relatable and as likable as possible.

Let's not forget that when it comes to labor intensive animated films, it simply isn't enough to just write average stuff and be happy with that. You have to try your best because those others working with the movie are also giving their everything.

In the end, the biggest reason that I like watching animated films so much is because they make me feel that I'm a child again. Watching these films makes me feel that almost anything is possible if we just try hard enough and won't give up.

In that sense, I'm really looking forward to watching quality animations in the future too. Especially when it comes to companies like Pixar, I can't wait to see what kind of movies and stories they are going to come up with next.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

There was too much cursing in 'Sausage Party'.

A couple of weeks ago I managed to watch a raunchy animation called 'Sausage Party' with my friend. This was a movie written and voiced by Seth Rogen, who was known for writing movies that were filled with sex jokes and profanities.

Knowing this all, I got curious and wanted to see how well an r-rated animation that had tons of four letter words would work in practice. Could it actually work or would the end result be a total disaster instead?

In any case, after seeing the movie I have to say that the film was a bit smarter than I thought it would be. There were observations in 'Sausage Party' that made me smile and made me think that the writers were pretty clever.

By that I mean that the story about the sausages, buns and other groceries had more potential than I had thought at first. The premise about all these foods not knowing that they would get eaten by humans was actually somewhat solid.

At least in my opinion, the best thing about 'Sausage Party' was that it was a comedy about different races. Different types of groceries represented different kinds of cultures and religions, which made the film surprisingly relevant. 

The animation managed, in my opinion to equally poke fun at the religious, cultural and national stereotypes. Jews, arabs, nazis, african americans, mexicans and indians got all their fair share of ridicule in the film.

For example, who could not find it funny when the jewish bagel talked to the muslim lavash how he totally liked humus? That joke itself, at least in my opinion, made the film worth watching and put me on a good mood. 

In the film, I also liked like how the german sauer kraut wanted to get rid of all the 'juice' at the grocery store. This, again, was a pretty solid observation and I was pretty glad that the movie was able to notice that.

Having said that, there were far too many f-bombs and sex jokes in 'Sausage Party'. Most of them didn't work, even though the african american Mr. Grits repeatedly dropping the 'mothaf*cka' was admittedly hilarious,

For example, I didn't like how in the beginning of the film the f-bomb was being dropped too frequently for no good reason. This constant cursing and sex talk made it difficult to relate to the characters and wasn't really needed.

In the movie, I also didn't like how in the middle of it there was a scene where the villain - if I'm able to remember correctly - raped one of the characters. Clearly that was cringeworthy stuff that we could have lived without.

Furthermore, it certainly didn't help that there was a completely unnecessary group orgy & masturbation scene at the end. This had absolutely nothing to do with the actual story and could have been left out of the final product.  

At least in my opinion, all these examples took away from the movie as a whole and made the viewing experience less enjoyable. In my view, these unnecessary profanities hurt 'Sausage Party' as a film and gave you a reason to dislike it.

In the end, I just wish that the writers would have had more confidence in their story and their characters. If only they had felt that writing relatable characters would be enough and that they didn't have to try that hard.

In that case, not only would have Seth Rogen's 'Sausage Party' been a bit more meaningful and a bit more consistent animation as a whole, but at least in my case, as a film, it would have left a better taste in my mouth too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Angry Birds could have been a better movie.

Yesterday, after trying to find something to write about, I noticed that I could watch Rovio Studios' animation Angry Birds. Since the film was produced by Finns, I thought I should give it a chance and see if it was any good.

Even though I knew that the reviews for it hadn't been that enthusiastic, I decided to watch it. Film critics had given the animation a 43% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, so I knew that I might not like the film that much.

In any case, after seeing the movie last evening, I have to say that Angry Birds could have been a better film than it turned out to be. As a whole, there are too many problems and flaws with it that you simply can't overlook.

The biggest problem I had with the movie has to do with the story and how it wasn't interesting enough. There weren't enough captivating ideas in the film that could have kept us excited throughout the movie's length. 

That the story wasn't interesting is mostly because the characters in it unfortunately weren't interesting enough. Especially during the first 30 or 40 minutes it was genuinely difficult to feel anything for the main characters.

By that I mean that during the first half of Angry Birds, our main character (the red one) is simply too unlikable. He's 'angry' for the sake of being angry, which makes it very hard to relate to him and to pay attention to what is going on in the film.

For example, in one of the very first scenes that we get to see, our protagonist is such a selfish, 'angry' jerk that he even manages to ruin a birthday party. It's hard to think of a worse way to start a children's movie than this.

Later on in the first act, our protagonist continues with his bad behavior and is even forced to attend an anger management class. This is where we meet the rest of the main characters - who all happen to be more likable than he is.

All this unlikable stuff happens because the writers were too strict and too obsessed with the original concept. Since these characters were called 'angry birds', our main protagonist had to be angry, even if it didn't make any sense.

Having said this all, once we got past these obviously awful moments in the movie, during the second half the film gets better. This is when the bad piggies reveal their true nature, which gives the movie its much needed momentum.

So when the piggies steal the bird eggs, it's the first time in the film when our birds have an organic reason to get mad. This is when they have a right to become 'angry birds' and the title of the movie starts to make sense.

Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise that during the film's final 30 minutes, it actually works. Its final act almost makes you forget that earlier in film there were huge problems with the story and that the film had been too episodic and convoluted.

Yet, as a whole, it has to be said that Angry Birds is still a clear disappointment as an animated film. There are too many problems with the characters and the story, even though the film does admittedly look pretty good.

In that sense, I just wish that the writers and the producers would have paid more attention to the film's screenplay. In that case, Angry Birds could have been a pretty solid film and not just a cheap attempt to cash in.