Christmas Marathon: A Wish for Wings That Work (1991)

Opus&BillA WISH FOR WINGS THAT WORK (1991)

A part of my childhood was occupied by Opus and Bill.  This one was first aired on TV. Its one of the few that I haven’t grown to love as much when I grew up, although I did only get a hands on the DVD last year.  I watch it every year though because I think that the voice work is quite good.  Its a bit strange though, so I’m not sure whether Opus was popular.

The movie is quite short at about 30mins for the whole movie.  For those who don’t know, Opus is a penguin who wants to fly.  Its his absolute dream and for Christmas, he decides that its what he wants from Santa the most.  Bill is a cat that Opus rescued from a mad scientist (something like that) and he’s quite bizarre but very loyal to Opus.  He doesn’t really talk but makes random sounds.  We also have a fun cast with a pig called Truffles who thinks he’s a rhinoceros.  We have the Ducks who are like the clowns of the movie.

I can’t really say too much about the plot in case you do see it.  It is a fun movie and I think in particular, kids would enjoy it a lot.  I actually went to check out who did the voices, since I learned that even Robin Williams had a voice in the movie as a kiwi whose wife ran off with an albatross (silly, eh? I know).  That role was short but so hilarious.  Other than that, we have Joe Alsakey who did the voice for a movie I had looked at in Halloween, Casper as one of the three uncles, Stinkie.

Its definitely something that kids would enjoy a lot.  The characters are adorable and the story is really nice.  Opus and Bill has a nice duo dynamic.  I’d say this is a good holiday movie.

Have you ever seen this? Who knew about Opus and Bill before this?

Part 1: Animated Halloween Movie Marathon

Welcome all to October! I know that I’ve already done a few posts already but let me welcome you to the official start of Halloween month.  Sure, I can’t go out for trick or treating anymore but I do go to Halloween parties and my brain is frantically looking for my next costume…although I have a few ideas, its how to put it together cost efficiently that going to be hard.  Our party topic this year is Famous Characters.  Any suggestions?

Its the first time I’m putting a theme to a month, but I thought it would be cool to get some extras going on here other than the challenges and random reviews.  Remember when I did Top 10 Romantic Comedies for Valentine’s  Well, we’re getting more of that, but Halloween version.  This time, I have a bit (just a bit!) more time to research and plan, I’m going to do this in 3 parts.

I was going to do the hardcore, straight up horror movies first but seeing as this weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada, I decided otherwise.  I’m going to choose something more family-oriented. Its going to be on my Animated/Children Halloween Movie Marathon.  I haven’t had time to really rewatch all the movies.  I really tried though!  I’m doing this in a realistic way, where its just movies that I own up to now.  As it was a sudden decision to do 3 parts, I’ve been binge watching this list, just so the reviews are a bit more accurate.

So lets go! (They are in no particular order of preference but the order in how I had watched them)

PART 1: ANIMATED/CHILDREN HALLOWEEN MOVIE

1) Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (1985)

Who doesn’t love the lasagna-eating lazy orange feline?  I sure do, even though I’m in my twenties now, I still love him.  Garfield was one of the first comics that I ever read and I think that I actually watched most of it.  It was also his holiday movie collection that I had replaced on DVD first.

This movie was around 20ish minutes and its suitable for kids. Its right at the core of Trick or Treating.  We have a gentle mix of candies, ghosts and light-hearted fun, kind of jazzy music at times.  I don’t know what happened to cartoons but I sure miss Garfield.  C’mon, as much as Garfield picks on Odie, he’s still the cutest, sweetest dog and always Garfield’s best friend.  These cartoons are fun and easy to watch.  At the same time, its simple and quick.  Perfect for children and family watching and exactly the reason why it was the first one I picked out of my movie collection to start off Halloween month.

2) KiKi’s Delivery Service (1989)

As much as this isn’t about Halloween, the main girl is a witch so it qualifies.  We all need to find more time to watch Studio Ghibli movies, right? I think so!

The story is about a 13 year old witch called KiKi who goes into obligatory independent training for one year.  As she learns to take care of herself, she shows her adventures, good and difficult times, as she makes her living with her delivery services.  With her, she has her black cat to accompany her.  Its a fun movie with charismatic characters, nice plot and beautiful animation.  To match it all up, Miyazaki productions always beautiful background music.  Overall, its a  heartwarming coming of age story.

“We each need to find our own inspiration, Kiki. Sometimes it’s not easy.”- Kiki’s Delivery Service

3) Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

Disney is entering the house! Yeah! This movie is a wild animation ride as its a Mary Poppins-like type of movie where its with humans along with animated characters.  Talk about imagination.  I’m not sure how many people out there know about this one.  I only picked this up last year sometime around Halloween.  This is how the story goes: Its set during the World War II in England and the children in London are evacuated to the country.  Three children, Charlie, Carrie and Paul, are assigned into a house with a woman called Miss Price, to learn eventually that she is an apprentice witch.  Together, with a conman, they go off on a enchanted flying bed to look for an ingredient in a faraway place for a spell that could save the country.

Its a fun imaginative ride filled with some songs.  David Tomlinson is also in this one.  For those who don’t know, he was the one who played Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins. I loved him in that role.  This one is quite different but he just plays a more sly, free-spirited man.  The witch is played by Angela Lansbury, who we know in another more recent Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, doing the voice of Mrs. Potts.

4) Casper (1995)

This is one of the newer additions to my movie collection.  You don’t want to see how I reacted when I saw it on the store shelf.  I LOVE this movie when I was young.  I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t like it as much, but turns out it hasn’t changed that much in my mind.  This movie, like the Bedknobs and Broomsticks is also mix of human and animated characters.  The story is different though.  A paranormal expert, Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) are hired by Carrigan, the successor of a mansion, to get rid of ghosts that have been living/haunting it.  Carrigan hires them because she needs to evade the ghosts to find the hidden treasure. While at the house, Dr. Harvey and Kat meet 4 ghosts.  One is Casper, the friendly ghost and the other 3 are Casper’s mischievious uncles, Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso.  Its how their stories unfold with Dr. Harvey trying to help send back the ghosts, Carrigan trying to get her treasure and Casper trying to just make a friend with Kat.  Its a mix of humor and fun times.  Its an alright animation but does fit into Halloween perfectly.

5) Hocus Pocus (1993)

This movie starts off three centruies ago where a town who hung the Sanderson sisters, 3 witches who killed a little girl.  These witches left the world with a curse that a virgin that lights the black flame candle  will wake them from the dead  Flash forward to 1993, we meet Max and his sister Dani who are new to town.  On Halloween night when Max takes Dani to go trick or treating, he meet up with Max’s classmate Allison, and ends up visiting the ancient house of the 3 witches, which is ta museum.  There Max lights the black flame candle and in turn, wakes the sisters.  So starts the hunt by the witches to get back the spell book that they stole, so that they can whip up the potion that will give them eternal life instead of just revived for one night.

This movie is one of my favorites Halloween movies.  Thats because its hilarious and an exciting adventure.  The oldest of the sisters, Winifred is played by Bette Midler and she is one of my favorite actresses.  I just think she’s amazingly funny.  The other sister, Sarah, is played by Sarah Jessica Parker who does the whole dumb blonde role but does it rather decently.

6) The Black Cauldron (1985)

I had to put a Disney in.  I could choose The Nightmare Before Christmas but I watch that as part of my Christmas marathon (is it weird to do that?).  So I chose The Black Cauldron.  This animation is about young boy called Taran, who is an assistant pig keeper.  This pig, Hen-Wen holds secret powers where he can reveal what others don’t know.  The Horned King is trying to take over the land as they speak and they find out that the Horned King is looking for the Black Cauldron, which is a Cauldron possessed by demonic spirits and if unleashed, will be capable of evil things in the world.  Taran is then sent to hide Hen Wen so that the Horned King does not find out through her where the Cauldron is.  Its here we embark on an adventure and Taran is joined by a dog Gurgi, a princess Eilonwy and a ministrel called Fflewddur Fflam.

I always felt that Halloween should be filled with fantasy and magic so this fit right in there.  Its a fun little adventure.  I don’t think a lot of people actually enjoy it but just a fun fact, I learned that Tim Burton actually had originally designed some characters for this animation which was later turned down.  At the Tim Burton exhibit, we had the opportunity to see some of those drawings and designs and it was pretty awesome stuff.  Too bad it wasn’t added in.

7) Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

The next little TV classic that I watched was Charlie Brown.  Its about 20 minutes long about Linus’ belief in the Great Pumpkin and how it rises from the pumpkin patch.  The Great Pumpkin chooses a pumpkin patch to visit every Halloween.  It will choose the most sincere one.  No one else believes him and decides to go Trick or Treat and afterwards, to go to Violet’s party.  Snoopy, of course, dresses up as well and uses his fantastic imagination.  Its a cute, short animation joined with little laughs from all the Peanuts characters: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Sally, Linus, Schroeder, Pigpen, etc.

I love Peanuts movies.  Even though they are short but just like Garfield, its hard to replace their value in my heart.  I think its just getting older is making me more and more nostalgic? I don’t know but I’m enjoyed it thoroughly and I’m sure that others will also.

8) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Another Disney classic based on the Legend of Sleepy Hollow using the characters of The Wind in the Willows.  I think the last time I watched this one was on the Disney program showing Disney movies every Sunday afternoon/evening about 15 years ago or so.  For those unfamiliar of the Wind in the Willows characters, we have Mr. Toad with his friends Rat (a water rat), Mole and Angus MacBadger (a badger).  We start where MacBadger calls in Rat and Mole because Mr. Toad with his horse is destructing property all over the place and he needs them to help stop him.  Thats just the start of the adventures we are to join into.  After Mr. Toad’s adventures, we get introduced to Ichabod Crane in a second story and his wish to capture a girl’s heart and the Headless Horseman’s appearance.

This is a classic and one very much worth watching.  It has nice dialogue and its entertaining to watch, the animation is pretty nice and there is very nice music to match the story itself.  Definitely worthy as a Halloween watch (or any watch for that matter).

9) Corpse Bride (2005)

Had enough of classics yet? We’re finally in the 21st century! Corpse Bride is a Tim Burton movie paired with the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson.  To me, this one is more fitting than Nightmare Before Christmas.  As usual, it has a darker tone than other animations.  I love Tim Burton and equally love both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.  So you can imagine that its a complete pleasure to watch this one.  Its a mix of fantasy and musical.

The story of the Corpse Bride starts with Victor (Johnny Depp) who is to wed a young lady called Victoria (Emma Watson) and goes into the forest to recite his wedding vows.  He chooses right above the grave of a dead bride, the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter) and put a ring on her “finger”.  The Corpse Bride assumes this as the final marriage and considers him as her husband.  She takes him to the underworld where we meet the funny dead characters from skeletons.  How does he get out of this?  Will he be able to go back to marry Victoria?

Its definitely a good choice even though it may not be Tim Burton’s best work.  It has its mix of skeletons, maggots, corpses and the meeting of the dead and human relationship.

10) Coraline (2009)

I’m saving the best for the last.  I LOVE this animation. I can’t imagine how much I love I can express.  I saw this at home with my best friend and even for her, she was a bit shocked at how creepy it got.  Does it suit completely for children? I’m not completely sure but it has parts where its enjoyable enough that its for at least adolescents.  The animation and the story was just captivating, simply captivating.  The characters and the voices were fantastic.  The only two people I knew for the voices was Dakota Fanning, who did Coraline and Teri Hatcher, who plays her mother/Other Mother.

The story is one thats really creepy.  It starts out with Coraline who moves into a new neighborhood.  She is generally neglected by her parents who are both writers and don’t spend too much time on the family part.  She wanders off and meets Wybert and also a mysterious cat.  One day as she’s exploring the house, she finds a secret door.  Later on at night, she crawls through it and enters another realm with her dream family.  The Other Mother takes especially good care of her and cooks her wonderful food, while her Other Father is a pianist and treats her like a treasure.  What happens after you will see for yourself if you haven’t seen it yet.  This movie is very captivating.  It keeps you wanting to know more.  Its also accompanied by a lot of charming characters as her neighbors in the same building.  Upstairs she has a man called Mr. Bobinsky and downstairs, two elder women who used to be stars called Miss Spinks and Miss Forcible.  They pack in a good few laughs to liven up the darker tone sometimes.

There you have it, my movie marathon for animated/family movie marathon.  I actually started watching it after work on Wednesday and finished up tonight.  Its so that I can give you all a nice review and more accurate description and my sentiments about it.  This list originally only had 8 movies but since today I crossed the border to the States and visited Plattsburgh with some friends for a while and found some good movie deals, I managed to add in Charlie Brown and Ichabod Crane.

Hope you enjoy it and if you get the chance, check these out! They are some fun movies.  Not all of them are top of the line but it works for the holidays.  Some pack in some good laughs, some are a bit darker, some adventurous and a few of them are classics.  Definitely worth your time.

How about you? Do you do any family-oriented movies? Would you change some of my movies? Any that you’d suggest?

As for the next part, it will be up by next weekend, so remember to come back if you enjoyed this one! I’m going to build it up a bit and turn up the intensity.

To my fellow Canadian friends reading, Happy Thanksgiving!