ScreenTime: Tangled Is Better Than Frozen, You Morons

Frozen is a smash hit. I don’t need to tell you this. It made $1.3 billion at the box office and countless more in merchandise. Tangled? Not so much. It made less than half of Frozen’s haul at the box office and trying to find a Flynn Rider doll at your local Toys ‘R Us is like trying to find a chameleon in an Army Surplus store. No home is free from the scourge of Let It Go, which is heard daily in my house, hourly at the weekends.

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But when it comes to Frozen: The Movie, my daughter couldn’t care less. Cries for Tangled ring out nearly as often as requests for “Padda“, but she hasn’t asked for “Elsa” once since she first saw it a few months ago.

Upon delving into the finer details of my precious offspring’s lack of interest, it became clear that her issue was one of representation. Specifically that Disney‘s 2010 offering did not contain enough characters of the equine persuasion. But this is, frankly, untrue. There are many horses in Frozen. Prince Hans has a horse, as does Anna, and there are several background equestrians in many key scenes. But none of these scenes bring effervescent joy to my daughter’s face like the moment in Tangled where the palace horse Maximus engages in a sword-fight with renowned thief Flynn Rider, who is armed only with a frying pan. 

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One could argue that this scene resonates so strongly merely because of the spectacle of a horse wielding a sword. But while such pageantry is impressive at first blush, it rarely holds up to multiple revisits. No, the power in this scene comes from beyond this cheap thrill. The power comes from the clash not of steel upon cast iron, but of idea upon idea, of dream upon dream. For Flynn desires nothing more than complete freedom, liberty from the hardship of everyday life, from his past, from law of the land, while Maximus’ ideals run directly counter to such libertarianism. The Rule of Law, Order, Peace. These are the things our noble steed desires. So when he crosses swords with the roguish Flynn, they fight not because of some plot contrivance, but because the fight is inevitable, because to fight is encoded in their very nature. 

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In contrast, the big action set-piece in Frozen sees our heroes Anna & Kristoff face off against an abomination of snow & ice, who’s inner life is not even hinted at. Does the frozen creature hate simply because he is created to do so? Does he wish to protect his creator, whom he truly loves? Or does he chase the interlopers halfheartedly, resigned to his lot in life, but without any real passion for his job? We will never know, because Frozen is uninterested in telling us.

This is emblematic of the difference between the two movies, one has depth of theme, character, and motivation, while the other has a lumbering snow-monstrosity whose dead eyes taunt the audience with their emptiness.

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This creature stumbles through scenes, grimacing and screaming, with no purpose or reason for existence. His cruel creation, ripped from black nothingness into a tenuously connected collection of geometric shapes and inexplicable whims is a twisted corruption of Frozen’s own inception, seemingly Frankensteined together from jarringly unrelated song fragments. Every moment he is on screen he taunts us with his own impossibility, mugging and “joking” his way through an existence that must be as painful for him endure as it is for us to witness. And then he starts to sing.

When Tangled’s characters sing of their dreams in the modern classic “I Have A Dream”, those dreams speak to the very core of who they are. Thugs and ruffians with hearts of gold, orphans so scared of being hurt again they can’t stop running, young women who yearn to discover who they are. They dream of lives free of constraint, of freedom from the prisons of expectation and judgement. We sing along with them because their dreams are our dreams, their frustrations our frustrations.

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When Olaf sings of his dreams, those dreams speak only to his emptiness. Olaf’s desire for “Summer” may match up neatly with Anna’s desire to end Elsa’s winter, but it isn’t motivated by real character growth or thematic depth. To empathize with Olaf’s dreams we must accept one of two premises:

1) He doesn’t know what Summer is, and so his desire for it is completely shallow, a wish for the baubles and trappings of a season that has absolutely no meaning to him.

or

2) He is very aware of what Summer is, and is performing ignorance to hide the dark nature of his cravings. He knows full well that the heat of Summer will destroy him, finally releasing him from his meaningless immortality.

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Either option reveals thematic underpinnings to “Summer” (and hence the character of Olaf) that have absolutely nothing to do with the purported themes of Frozen, and in the case of option number 2, directly oppose those themes.

It is here that we reveal the real difference between Frozen and Tangled: Tangled is ABOUT something, Frozen is not. Every scene, every character, every song in Tangled have something to say about its themes. Hope, Dreams, and Freedom. Lost Time and Past Mistakes. Tangled’s approach to these things can be summed up in a single moment.

When King Frederick & Queen Arianna are lighting their lantern in the ceremony to commemorate the lost princess, the King looks at his wife. He suddenly looks old, tired, hurt. The camera lingers, no words are exchanged. In this silent moment we feel all the time that has gone by and all the hopes and dreams that have been dashed by that lost time. It is a moment that subtly but powerfully reinforces not only the motivations of the King, the Queen and Rapunzel, but also the deeper themes of the movie.

Frozen doesn’t have any moments like this. It wouldn’t know how. For a start, Frozen doesn’t have the time to spend on such quiet contemplation, it’s too busy filling its time with gags and songs. More importantly, upon what topic would it meditate? What, at its heart, is Frozen about?

Sure, the final scenes of Frozen are about sisterly love, but what does “Frozen Heart” or “Let It Go” or Summer” have to say about that topic? The romantic arc of the movie deliberately subverts the Disney Prince archetype, but what do Duke of Weasleton or Elsa or Olaf have to do with that idea? Elsa’s story can be read as a coming out metaphor, but what does Anna’s relationship with Kristoff or Olaf’s desire for summer have to say about coming out? Frozen contains all these things, but it is about none of them.

It seems that my daughter, unlike the general public, requires not only more horses, but more depth from her entertainment. This is some thing Frozen cannot deliver.

Bryan Cranston Announces Malcolm in the Middle Reunion

Bryan Cranston Announces Malcolm in the Middle Reunion
(Instagram/bryancranston)

It’s hard to believe that 14 years have passed since the end of Malcolm in the Middle, a show that was brilliant and endearing enough to resonate with adults and children alike. The show was a departure from the typical family sitcom trope in the sense that it didn’t sugar-coat the struggles that life brings, even the mundane ones. The show followed a lower-middle-class family with four kids (eventually 5), an authoritative mom named Lois, and a goofy, overly-emotional dad named Hal. While the family does get into some ridiculous situations – like the time they all went to Burning Man and Hal, Malcolm’s dad was so outrageously protective of the RV he borrowed from his boss that festival-goers thought he was a performance artist. Despite the frequent absurdity of the family’s predicaments, they felt so much more like a typical family than most we’d see on TV.

Since the season finale of the show in 2006, fans have wondered what their favorite characters have been up to. In 2013, we got a small taste of our favorite TV couple when Bryan Cranston (Hal) and Jane Kaczmarek (Lois) teamed up to film an alternate ending to the best show of the 21st century: Breaking Bad. This brilliant clip showed Hal screaming frantically as he awoke from a nightmare, breathlessly telling Lois about his horrible dream. He explained that he had been cooking Meth, to which Lois replies, “You? Cooking anything?” The scene continues as a distressed Hal recalls detail after detail about his dream, like someone who had watched half an episode of Breaking Bad and attempted to piece together the rest. At one point, he refers to Jesse, his meth-making partner in the hit show, as “a man child who always looked like he was wearing his older brother’s clothes, and used the b-word a lot.”

Aside from the brief and ingenious Breaking Bad alternate ending, the rest of the Malcolm in the Middle cast has more or less stepped away from their iconic characters. That is until Bryan Cranston made an announcement that fans had only dared to dream about. Yesterday, Cranston announced on his Instagram that the cast would reunite to celebrate 20 years since the show’s premiere.

 

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Here we are… all are stuck in this five months of quarantine! Can you imagine how Hal would have gone bonkers on #MalcolmintheMiddle if he had to stay inside with his five knuckle-headed boys?! Makes me smile to think about that. So, if you’ve been missing some silliness in your life, check us out this Saturday night 8/8 for a 20th anniversary celebration of the show’s premiere. The cast is back!! This time we’re reading the pilot episode on Zoom. The whole thing is the brain child of Linwood Boomer, our show’s creator, to benefit his charity @HealingCalifornia, an amazing organization that provides FREE dental, medical, and vision care to those in need. There’s also lots of great stuff from the show that could be yours. Bid now on @Charitybuzz, link in bio. @RWQuarantunes See you on Saturday!

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The caption reads, “Here we are… all are stuck in this five months of quarantine! Can you imagine how Hal would have gone bonkers on #MalcolmintheMiddle if he had to stay inside with his five knuckle-headed boys?! Makes me smile to think about that. So, if you’ve been missing some silliness in your life, check us out this Saturday night 8/8 for a 20th anniversary celebration of the show’s premiere. The cast is back!! This time we’re reading the pilot episode on Zoom.”

Well, time to listen to They Might Be Giants’ “Boss of Me”, the show’s theme song, on repeat for a while. This is one reunion we don’t want to miss.

Dad Discovers Adorable Reason His Daughter Obsessively Checks Mailbox

Dad Discovers Adorable Reason His Daughter Obsessively Checks the Mail
(Reddit/Ballcoach79)

The excitement of checking the mail is an underrated lost joy of adulthood. Aside from the occasional Amazon package, mail means bills, appointment reminders, and junk that sits on the counter for a week before getting tossed unopened into the recycling. The Blue’s Clues “Mailtime” song mocks the parents of wide-eyed kids who still fully believe that mailboxes are mysterious wells full of exciting surprises. Most kids truly do love getting mail, but one dad became understandably confused when his 11-year-old daughter eagerly awaited the arrival of the mailman each day, despite the fact that there was never any mail addressed to her.

Well, one day this curious dad decided to investigate. What was it that so fully captured his daughter’s attention? Mind racing with possibilities both good and bad, he pulled open the mailbox door. What he found inside was quite possibly the most wholesome thing to ever happen in this history of mailboxes. Taped to the inside of the mailbox flap was a tic-tac-toe board drawn in light pink marker, with “Tik tac toe play with me!” written at the top in his daughter’s handwriting.

Mailbox Game
(Reddit/Ballcoach79)

The post was shared on Reddit by a user named BallCoach79 with the caption, “My 11 y/o daughter has insisted on checking the mail the last couple of days. Today, I checked it. This is what I found…” and hearts around the world were warmed.

Reddit sleuths figured out that the 11-year-old’s grandpa is a retired postal worker, which means she grew up thinking very highly of the mail carriers she saw each day. It makes sense then, that after months of being quarantined with her two rowdy little brothers, that she would seek out other friends in a familiar place. Fortunately, the mail carrier obliged – each day, this adorable little girl and her new friend take turns placing X’s and O’s on their game board.

The mail mystery has been solved in the most precious imaginable way. It doesn’t matter what the board says, everyone here is a winner.

Live-Action Mulan Coming Straight to Disney+ in September – For a Price

Mulan Disney Plus
(YouTube/Walt Disney Studios)

A month after releasing Hamilton well in advance of their original intentions, both platform and timing-wise (it was originally set to arrive in theaters in 2021), Disney has announced that another highly anticipated movie will premiere on their service. But there’s a wrinkle.

The latest in the growing catalog of live-action versions of their animated classics, Mulan was supposed to debut in theaters this fall. Now, with the pandemic still keeping theaters shuttered and consumers stuck inside their homes, Disney announced to stockholders that Mulan will premiere on Disney+, but not for free.

Instead, subscribers will need to access the title via the forthcoming Disney+ premium feature, where Mulan will be available to stream for $30.

In a call with stockholders, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Mulan will arrive on September 4, for $29.99, via “premiere access” according to Variety.

On the call, Chapek, who also announced that Disney+ has over 60 million paying subscribers, informed stockholders and the media that the “premiere access” feature was to be a singular event and not necessarily a permanent aspect of their service.

“We’re looking at ‘Mulan’ as a one-off, as opposed to saying there’s some new business windowing model that we’re looking at,” he said. “We find it very interesting to take a premiere offering to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it.”

This may mean that the book is not closed on whether or not premiere access is here to stay. So long as the coronavirus limits out-of-home entertainment options – which, for Disney, includes their amusement parks, causing massive financial losses for the company – streaming may continue to be the best option for studios, many of whom have been experimenting with in-home releases for months now.

Chapek says this direct-to-consumer offering is “top priority and key to the future of the company.” Odds are, some version of it will exist even after the pandemic subsides, whether it’s via a premiere access feature like Mulan or not.

Here’s the trailer:

‘Who’s the Boss?’ Coming Back With Alyssa Milano and Tony Danza

Who's The Boss? is Back
(Instagram/milano_alyssa/tonydanza)

We’ve been living through the age of cinematic remakes, reimaginings, and reboots for years now, and finally, it seems like television is catching up.

Every day, another classic cartoon or sitcom or drama is being remade or relaunched for some streaming platform. Today we learned about Ren and Stimpy joining Beavis and Butt-Head and Animaniacs, among other 90s cartoons being revived, I’ve recently been watching HBO’s Perry Mason reboot, and last year Netflix hit gold with their Full House redux, which had a successful two-season run.

That is probably what Sony Pictures Television is hoping for with the announcement of another family sitcom that’s coming back: Who’s the Boss?

Who’s the Boss? was a high-concept sitcom from the 80s in which Tony Danza starred as a former Major League Baseball player who moves his daughter Samantha (Alyssa Milano) and himself into the Connecticut home of Angela and her young son Jonathan, to serve as their housekeeper. Eventually Tony and Angela fall in love because, obviously. It ran for eight seasons (196 episodes!).

The reboot will star Milano as a single mother living in the house she grew up in, and will co-star Danza as her now-retired father, per Deadline.

No word yet on whether Judith Light and Danny Pintauro, who played Angela and her son Jonathan, will appear, but according to Deadline, there’s hope. Unfortunately, Angela’s mother Mona, the show’s sharp-witted fan favorite, will not be able to appear, as Katherine Helmond passed away in early 2019.

Like the recent ‘One Day at a Time’ remake, there is ample opportunity for the new Who’s the Boss, which won 10 Emmys and was fairly progressive in its depiction of gender roles (even if it was mostly played for laughs), to transcend its sitcom trappings and deliver a product more in line with 2020 than 1985.

I just hope we get to hear Tony tell Samantha to get out of his kitchen.

7-Yr-Old Pleased With Recommendations by Restaurant’s “Nugget Sommelier”

7-Yr-Old Approves of “Nugget Sommelier”
(Getty/Maskot/HelpingHandPhotos)

TOLEDO, OH – Second-grader Jesse Landgraf hailed a local restaurant’s nugget sommelier as “sophisticated and insightful,” in a glowing review posted Tuesday.

“I have a sophisticated palate — I eat literally any kind of nugget,” the 7-year-old said in his review of Big Papa’s Diner. “Having a trained nugget professional to communicate with is really important to me.”

Many kid-friendly restaurants now offer a nugget sommelier — or “nuggetista” — since that is the only thing kids will eat.

More than simply providing options for different kinds of nuggets, the 7-year-old said his nugget steward asked insightful questions so he could find the right nugget style for Jake’s palate.

“I was initially leaning toward the beef nuggets, but he said that wouldn’t pair well with my chocolate milk,” Jake recounted. “I appreciate that kind of expertise.”

Ultimately, Jake said he opted for the chicken nuggets because they were shaped like dinosaurs.

Despite being completely plausible to parents, THIS JUST IN is satire and intended for entertainment purposes only. For more stories like this one click here.

Reimagined Ren & Stimpy Coming to Comedy Central

Ren & Stimpy Return
(Nickelodian)

Back in my day (the 90s!), there was some bizarre, and often groundbreaking animation floating around. From Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead to Liquid Television’s Aeon Flux on MTV to the meta Animaniacs and the just plain batshit Ren and Stimpy, animators were going off.

Now, 20+ years later, many of those shows are coming back. Animaniacs is returning to the airwaves this fall, Beavis and Butthead is being revived in a very different era (are they still going to make fun of music videos?), and now it’s been announced that Ren and Stimpy is coming back as well.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that 25 years after its initial run on Nickelodeon, Ren and Stimpy, an adult-focused cartoon featuring the misadventures of Ren, a manic, often exasperated chihuahua, and his dopey sidekick, Stimpy. The show ran for 5 seasons and 100 episodes and often featured content – about religion, politics, and more – that didn’t jibe with Nickelodeon’s kid-centric content. Still, it gained a cult following.

Now the show is being reimagined for Comedy Central, which will also air the new Beavis and Butthead and Jodie, a series based on MTV’s Daria.

“We are excited to reinvent this iconic franchise with a new creative team and our partners at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio,” said ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group president Chris McCarthy. “Ren & Stimpy joins our rapidly expanding roster of adult animation including South Park, Beavis and Butt-Head and Clone High as we continue to reimagine our treasure chest of beloved IP for new generations.”

The new, “reimagined” Ren and Stimpy will be made with a new creative team and entirely without the involvement of creator John Kricfalusi, who will also reportedly not benefit financially in any way from the new series. He’s been a controversial figure since Buzzfeed published a story about his relationships with underage girls.

Keanu Is Writing a Comic Book and the Main Character Looks Like Him

brzrkr Keanu Comic
(Boom! Studios/Alessandro Vitti/Bill Crabtree)

Keanu Reeves is a popular guy on The Dad.

Not only does he star in some of our favorite movies, including the John Wick Series, The Matrix (the fourth installment is due next year… we hope!), the Toy Story series, and Bill and Ted‘s (which hits on-demand in about a month), he’s an all-around good dude who is constantly behaving like a real-life version of the superhero-type characters he often portrays on screen.

For his latest project, Keanu is finally joining the comic-book game, but not in the way you might think. He’s not suiting up – yet; instead, he’s leaving acting behind for a minute and shifting gears into writing.

He is teaming up with writer Matt Kindt to pen a 12-issue limited comic book series called BRZRKR.

According to USA Today, BRZRKR is illustrated by Alessandro Vitti and is “action-packed and hyperviolent.” It’s about a warrior who has spent centuries fighting battles and in 2020 finds himself doing dangerous jobs for the U.S. government – to prevent them from exposing his identity. It sounds a little bit like Netflix’s recent The Old Guard, with former Keanu co-star Charlize Theron, which was itself based on a comic series.

“This character who was born 80,000 years ago, half man, his father’s a war god. It’s a little fantasy in reality,” Reeves explained. “I had this image in my head of a guy fighting through the ages because of his father’s compulsion to violence.”

The main character of BRZRKR resembles Keanu, so perhaps one day he’ll play his own creation on screen: “I’d love to play Berzerker!” he admitted. “It’s a really fun story so if it’s not me, hopefully someone can play it.”

For now, he’s enjoying being behind the scenes.

“I guess I’m in the writing room,” he told USA TODAY from Berlin, where he was prepping for “Matrix 4” and “Skyping pretty regularly” with his co-writer.

“We’re excited about what’s happening,” Reeves says. “The story’s taking some really interesting twists and turns.”

So has his career, which is entering its fifth decade and shows no signs of slowing down. Especially if he’s able to parlay his stardom into comic book success.

You can get the full sneak peek from Boom! Studios here.

The first issue of the comic hits shelves on October 7th.

Skydiver’s Lost Prosthetic Leg is Returned by a Local Farmer

Skydiver’s Lost Prosthetic Leg is Returned by a Local Farmer
(Facebook/Chris Marckres)

There’s a lot to think about (read: worry about) when going skydiving. Is your parachute going to open, or did you somehow accidentally grab a random backpack instead? Did you eat too much beforehand? Are all of your limbs going to stay attached while you’re flailing around in free fall? For most of us, maybe that last one is nothing more than a flash of irrational panic as your brain scans through every horrible possibility while coming to terms with the fact that you’re about to jump out of a moving plane. But for Chris Marckres of Vermont, being a double amputee meant that he was just slightly more likely than the rest of us to lose track of a limb mid-air. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened during his very first jump last Saturday.

Marckres was tandem skydiving, which means he was safely strapped to an instructor to ensure that his first jump went (mostly) as planned. Even the most experienced instructor probably wouldn’t have imagined that one of Chris’s prosthetic legs would have detached during the jump – in fact, Chris himself didn’t even realize that his leg was missing until he landed.

Prosthetics are expensive and take time to replace, so with fading hope, Chris put out a social media post explaining his peculiar predicament in the hopes that someone might stumble upon his missing leg. In a shocking turn of events, a farmer named Joe Marszalkowski messaged Chris with some incredible news – the missing leg had been found, New Balance sneaker and all.

In a Facebook post, Chris shared his good fortune. The post read, “Just got a message from Joe Marszalkowski that he found my leg. 9500 foot drop and it’s 100% intact. I can not even begin thank everyone enough that has been involved with the search. You all have shown me there are still so many good people. Thank you all again, especially Joe.”

Chris Leg
(Facebook/Chris Marckres)

Nobody was more surprised than Chris that, against all odds, his leg had been safely recovered. “About the time Joe messaged me saying he had located my prosthetic, I had been coming to terms with the fact it was most likely not going to be found,” Chris told The Dad. “I was beyond excited to have it returned, and equally surprised it wasn’t damaged at all.”

After seeing Chris’s post on Facebook, Joe discovered the lonely leg in his soybean field. Fortunately, he had diligently kept an eye out – had any machine come in contact with it, the leg surely would have been destroyed.

This experience hasn’t turned Chris off of skydiving. In fact, he told The Dad that he anticipates completing more jumps in the future. And if anything like this ever happens again, the people on social media are always willing to lend a hand – or in this case, a leg.

Ben Stiller, Jon Cryer Auditioned for a Very Different Back to the Future

Alternate Back to the Future
(Universal Pictures)

Near-miss casting decisions are a fascinating experiment in alternative history. What if Tom Selleck had been able to get away from Magnum P.I. and play Indiana Jones? What if Robert Redford had starred in the Graduate? What if Eric Stoltz had played Marty McFly.

Well, Stoltz actually did play Marty McFly for about three weeks, before the people behind Back to the Future realized it wasn’t working and Michael J. Fox stepped in.

Turns out that Stoltz wasn’t the only future star to miss out on one of the biggest movies of the 80s. The 35th anniversary of Robert Zemeckis’s time-travel-sci-fi comedy is approaching, and with it comes a Blu-Ray box set complete with deleted scenes and auditions from a variety of well-known actors, including Jon Cryer (Pretty in Pink, and Two and a Half Men) and Ben Stiller (of half of the biggest comedies of the past 20 years.

Amblin Road, a website dedicated to Steven Spielberg (who produced BttF), tweeted out the news about the box set and those auditions.

Stiller responded, having apparently forgotten about his audition, which came a few years before he broke out on Fox with The Ben Stiller Show.

Jon Cryer, who made his name in 80s teen comedies before having a hugely successful run on Two and a Half Men, also chimed in about his audition, which apparently also wasn’t great:

Cryer also divulged some info about the original script of the movie, it originally opened with Marty playing something different with his guitar and closed differently too. It also didn’t yet feature the iconic DeLorean but did feature a sequence that Spielberg later repurposed, to much notoriety, in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.