I don’t really like Tom Waits, and certainly don’t have anything interesting to say about him. I did, however, have this spare pun lying around in my brain that needed to get used and decided to use it here. He is an alright actor though, I dig his gruff voice and Ron Perlman face. I liked him in Mystery Men (“Heller. Repeat it… Hellerrrrrr”) even though the rest of the movie was pretty shitty. They could have at least stuck The Flaming Carrot in there, being the main character in the peripheral Mystery Men’s universe. Also he is a bad ass. What could be better than a super hero with the primary power of having a gun and being fucking mental? Not much, thats what.
Both of my points are illustrated nicely by this picture:
I definitely dig comic books that adhere to these sort of comedy super hero themes, I hesitate to call them obscure but I have yet to meet another Flaming Carrot reader.
The Tick is another favourite of mine, Edlund’s bumbling do-gooder has crossed over into the mainstream a few times. Once in the excellent Saturday morning cartoon series, and once with the underrated super-sitcom which all my friends hated but I loved enough to buy on dvd when it first came out (read: when it was firgging expensive!). I’m not sure if this bolstered the readership, I guess it must have done with people backtracking from the TV incarnations back to the source.
Anyway, I totally got sidetracked by stupid Tom Waits and forgot to write about what I had intended this post to be about. Which is the Animals Playing Sports sub-sub-subgenre of movies.
Nothing makes me happier (well, not too many things make me happier) than seeing an animal scoring a goal or spiking a volleyball. I was first introduced to these flicks by Air Bud, Disney’s long running dog-doing-sports franchise. In the first Air Bud movie, it quickly becomes apparent that this labrador is fucking excellent at basketball. Who would have thought it? Not me!
I like that the Air Bud franchise made every movie using the same playbook: Kid has no friends, dog plays sport, sneaky types want dog, dog wins big game, kid gets popular, baddies defeated, family values prevail.
Here are the sports that this magnificent dog can play without any training whatsoever (in chronological order):
American Football (known to the yanks as just Football)
Football (known to the yanks as Soccer)
In fact, this dog is so unique that by 2006 Bud had learned to talk. And had a litter of little stereotypes dubbed The Buddies. The talkies are less interesting as if effectively removes the dog necessity to act, which is a shame. Also I find myself watching their CGI mouths.
Besides those niggles I really do love these movies, I find it difficult to criticize rehashing plots, the introduction of talking animals and overuse of talentless pretty-boy Kevin Zegers (he pops up in the first MVP: Most Valuable Primate movie too) in the face of such unflinching positivity. Sure the movies might be fairly low rent and easy to churn out, but there is something to be said for the fifteen year old boy getting the girl. Maybe it has something to do with my lack of popularity back in my high school days.
I mentioned the MVP series up there a bit, they are excellent too. Its a bit of a cop out using a super intelligent research chimp as the sports hero, but I defy you not to say “AWWWWWWWWW” in the early scenes of the first flick with the janitor dude. In fact, I would defy you not maintain that “AWWWWWW” throughout because, frankly, you would have to be made out of blunt diamonds.
Although I don’t rate the MVP series as highly as the Air Bud series, you cannot deny that they were a little more creative with their sports. Not content to waste his time playing boring old field sports, Jack the vagabond chimp learns to skateboard (in Most Vertical Primate) and snowboard (in Most Extreme Primate). You remember Animals Do The Funniest Things from Saturday daytime? These are the feature versions.
The MVP trilogy is a little different to the Air Bud franchise is another way too, even though both have heavy handed themes of acceptance in that Jack eschews family values for freedom giving the impression that when are animals are allowed to roam unabated they are capable of great things. There is a great irony in there somewhere.
There are plenty of other flicks like this that serve to recycle the same themes, and in some cases plots, such as Soccer Dog, Firehouse Dog and The Karate Dog.
I haven’t seen Karate Dog but it has Chevy Chase on voice duties and, presumably, a lot of cgi. It sounds pretty excellent to me.
Maybe I just like dogs and monkeys, eh Hannah?