Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Small Kids, Big Heroes

It was absolutely gorgeous when I got up this morning. The sun was out, the breeze was blowing, and the clouds must had disappeared sometime overnight. I celebrated the nice weather with breakfast and the end of Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo. "Lock the Door, It's the Minotaur!" takes us to Greece, where the kids are cruising the Mediterranean isles. A Minotaur is trying to keep everyone away from the local temples. While the Minotaur chases Shaggy and Scooby around the maze, for once, it's Scrappy who finds the clue that gives the monster away.

"The Ransom of Scooby Chief" is probably meant to carry viewers over into the next version of "Scooby Doo." Scrappy is visiting his puppy buddies in New York when Shaggy and Scooby are kidnapped by a couple of gangsters looking for quick loot. Scrappy and the other pups try to rescue the duo...but they accidentally do more to keep Shaggy and Scooby in prison than get them out!

The emphasis here is on comedy. Fred, Daphne, and Velma don't even figure into the story - they only appear in the beginning and the end. I suspect this was intended to be an introduction to the Scooby/Shaggy/Scrappy gag-based shorts that debuted the next year. The whole gang wouldn't be together in another show until 1989's A Pup Named Scooby Doo. Also, this reminds me why so many people don't like Scrappy. A little of that kid goes a long way, and he's just plain annoying in "Scooby Chief."

Work was boring, just as it's been all summer long. In Camden County, most people tend to hurry off to the nearest vacation spot the moment summer comes. Everyone is probably at the Shore or the Poconos, and will be for the next few weeks, until we get closer to Labor Day. (And even after that, a lot of folks will probably disappear on weekends and after school until the holidays pick up and it gets too cold and too busy for trips.) It was so dead, I was able to shut down relatively early with no relief and really no need for one.

It was such a nice day, I dodged the traffic on Nicholson Road and took the long way home down Nicholson, Atlantic, and Manor. They were doing a lot of work on Manor, especially down by the Oaklyn Manor Bar. I think they were tree-trimming (and cutting down some trees).

As soon as I got home, I went right into working on The Little Mer-Betty. Betty rescues Scott from drowning in a violent storm. Though she gets him to shore, he doesn't see her. He tells his friend Maple he heard a beautiful voice and saw a pretty girl helping him before he passed out. Betty is smitten with Scott...and she wants him to appreciate her saving his life.

Even though she gets in trouble with Mackie for communicating with a human and being out too late, Betty thinks constantly about Scott and the world above anyway. Her grandmother tells her that she'll need an immortal soul to be truly human. Mermaids don't live on, the way humans do. When they die, they become sea foam on the waves.

Betty knows who can help her make her dreams come true. She begs her older brother Jeff to bring him to his wife Hilary, a noted sea witch. Jeff doesn't want to, but Betty convinces him that she really wants to be human.

I broke for dinner around 5:30. Made one of the turkey tenderloins I've picked up in the last few weeks, baked in leeks and an augmented version of the sauce it came in (with additional chicken stock and lemon juice). Had corn on the cob and sauteed Chinese long beans on the side. Yuumm. The turkey tenderloin was amazing, juicy and sooo tender. The corn on the cob is the sweetest I've ever tasted. My hands were so sticky from the corn when I finished, I had to wash them twice.

Ran Big Hero 6 during dinner. Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a young man living in a futuristic hybrid of Tokyo and San Francisco. He's brilliant, but he tends to use his skills with robots to win illegal robot battles. His brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) and Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) wish he'd join the college for brilliant science students, like Tadashi did. A visit to the laboratory and seeing all the cool things they do wins Hiro over. Hiro makes tiny little micro-bots that can do anything to win a spot in the college. He does win...but the auditorium where he's making his introduction is blown to smithereens. His brother dies in the blast. Hiro is totally lost without his brother's encouragement...until he and the soft, marshmallow-like nurse robot Baymax (Scott Adsit) his brother made discover that both his brother's killer and the micro-bots are alive. Now he, Baymax, and his brother's buddies have to figure out who stole the microbots, and what they're really after....and learn that it's a lot easier to heal when you open up to friends and let them help you.

Awww. For an action-filled superhero extravaganza, this was really one of the more touching movies Disney's done in a while. Someone at the House of Walt really has sibling relationships on the brain. Tadashi and Hiro have very sweet bond, almost like Anna and Elsa's in Frozen, and Cass is pretty darn cool too. As much as I liked the kids, I think my favorite characters were big, soft Baymax (Tadashi programmed him well) and Aunt Cass, who really cared about her adopted sons, even if she wasn't always the best parent in the universe. I questioned whether or not this one deserved its Oscar win back in the spring...but now, as much as I liked How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The LEGO Movie, I think it really earned it.

I will warn that the PG rating on this one is well-earned. The death of a major character, discussions of mental health and puberty, and more violence than usual for a Disney animated feature puts this one out of the reach of really young kids. Anyone over the age of about eight with even a mild taste for sci fi adventure or anime will likely have as much fun with this one as I did.

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