Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Pets On the Run

Rain was coming down in torrents again when I awoke this morning. I didn't mind. It was a cozy backdrop to Batgirl at Super Hero High and writing. None of my plans needed to be done right away. I was in no hurry, and it felt really nice.

When I did roll out of bed, I had breakfast, then started cleaning the bathroom. It was a little grungy, possibly from all the wet weather we've had. There was another person using it last month, too. After I finished the bathroom, I did the kitchen, too, since there was plenty of time. That wasn't quite so bad...except for the evidence that there are still mice around. I need to find better places to put those traps.

Ran The Secret Life of Pets while I worked. Max (Louis C.K) is a Jack Russell terrier living a good life in Manhattan with Katie (Ellie Kemper). His life is turned upside-down when she brings home big, furry Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Duke's a nice dog, but he's also a bit of a slob and neither he nor Max are used to sharing owners. When they get into trouble on the street, they run afoul of Animal Control and a group of stray animals lead by vicious rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart). While they try to get home to Manhattan and Katie, Max's fellow pets from his building, including Gidget (Jenny Slate), who has a huge crush on him, set out to rescue the two missing critters.

This was...ok. Not great, not horrible. On one hand, nice soundtrack and terrific animation. The New York skyline never looked better. The animals are both cartoony enough to be cute and realistic-looking enough to pass for real pets.

I just wish the story had been as creative. This screams "cliche" from start to finish. There are some inventive or funny moments, like the animal party at Pops' apartment, the initiation with the snake, and how Gidget gets the stray pets to tell her where Max went. And I give them props for trying something at least a little different. While the plot's been done many times before, the characters and urban setting are fairly novel.

Cute enough that I didn't mind the rental, but I probably won't buy this one. This was a surprise hit last summer, even amid intense competition from Finding Dory and Ice Age: Collision Course. If you or your kids are animal or pet lovers, you may find more in this movie than I did.

Went right into Tiny Toons Adventures: How I Spent My Summer Vacation while doing some quick vacuuming. Max and Duke are hardly the only animals to go on the road trip from hell. Plucky Duck seriously regrets begging to come with his best buddy Hampton Pig to Happy World Land. Hampton's family is a smiley-happy group of naive tourists who proceed to drive him nuts the entire two weeks. Babs and Buster aren't doing much better when their water gun game goes too far and they end up dodging hungry swamp animals downriver. While Elmyra chases the wild animals at a safari park, Fifi La Fume wants to get an autograph from her favorite movie star...but he ends up being nothing like she expects. Frantic fun if you're a fan of the show or other 90's Warners animation.

Did two episodes of Scooby Doo, Where are You? that involved scary swamps and far-out fairs as I ate lunch and got organized. The gang is wondering "Which Witch Is Which?" when they encounter a gruesome zombie and spooky witch on an old riverboat. When the kids find an abandoned town and a spooked frog fisherman, they begin to wonder if there's more to this than voodoo magic. "Foul Play at Funland" isn't quite so dire. There's a robot running around the local boardwalk amusement park, wrecking havoc. The caretakers claim they haven't seen anything, but the kids know what they saw and decide to search for clues on their own.

Ran a few errands after lunch. First stop was the Oaklyn Library to return the DVDs and look over the DVD shelves. They were busy for a half-hour before their afternoon closing, mainly with people using the computers. I couldn't get around one woman in the children's area well enough to organize the back shelves. I'll do them next time.

My stop at CVS was shorter. I was hoping to take out money for laundry, but they don't let you take out small amounts. I just bought skim milk and left.

Though the rain was long gone by the time I was out, it remained cloudy, windy, and cool, no more than the upper 60's. I spent the rest of the afternoon at home, working on my story. While the group makes plans to invade Jenkins Huttman's casino and rescue Henry, Vader's got his own problems dealing with his boss. Palpatine wants the Death Star Airship to be operational, and he wants it yesterday. He has his own plans for luring Luke to their side and replace Hux. Hux is being sent to Endor to deal with the natives being used to mine the Khyber Crystal tunnels.

Broke around 5:30 for dinner. I made an old favorite of mine, Chicken Therese. The recipe I have uses cream of chicken for a sauce base. I added white cooking wine instead of the dry sherry (which I don't have) and thighs instead of breasts. Oh, yum yum. Came out so nice and tender. Steamed green beans and baby carrots gave my plate some color.

Ran Lady and the Tramp while having dinner. This has a lot of things in common with The Secret Life of Pets. Lady is a pampered cocker spaniel who also sees her life turned upside-down by a new addition to the household. Her humans have just had a baby, and she feels neglected, but she's still loyal to them. When a fussy aunt who prefers cats tries to muzzle her, she runs off. Tramp, a laid-back mongrel, helps her out. They fall for each other over one of the most famous spaghetti dinners in cinema history. When Lady gets into trouble and a rat tries to attack the baby, it's Tramp to the rescue...until the aunt misunderstands what happened...

Charming Disney animated romantic comedy is a sweet love-letter to both animals and the turn-of-the-20th-century, rendered in loving detail. Another good score here, too, including jazz chanteuse Peggy Lee's "He's a Tramp." Fun for animal lovers and Disney fans, but watch out for some dark parts, including Tramp's fight with the rat.

Ended the night with Lego Star Wars: Clone Wars. Got through two of the longer rounds tonight. Finally figured out how to do the Jedi lightsaber jump in "Jedi Crash" - you jump from side to side, rather than right up the middle. Once I got through that part, the rest was smooth sailing. "Blue Shadow Virus" wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. This one had it all - puzzles, shooting droids, using the Force to knock out a bad guy, even a brief flying segment - but it was fairly easy to figure out.

Next time I play, I'll move on to the fourth missions, probably either Ventress or Grievous.

Oh, and the rain returned during "Blue Shadow Virus." It's been off and on for the past few hours.

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