Friday, December 17, 2010

Culture Corner: Dumb Things Based On Dumb Things Are Dumb

There are two movies coming out this weekend, neither of which I intend to see. One, Yogi Bear, is an apparently terrible movie based on the equally awful cartoons. The other, Tron Something, is reportedly a not-all-that-great film which is a sequel of a film which wasn't all that great.

So anyway, I'm seeing a lot of writing about these two bad-to-mediocre movies, and I keep seeing two things already hinted at above that are bugging me. Here's an example of the first thing: Mike Hale, in the New York Times, says of Yogi Bear, "...this mostly live-action film is a bland 21st-century family comedy without a single moment that captures the wit, energy or sophistication of the original, which by now dates back more than 50 years."

What on earth is he talking about? The original Yogi Bear cartoons were not good! OK, they may make you nostalgic, or you may have loved them when you were six-years-old; you can claim that the voice actors were good, or mitigate their terribleness by claiming that they had low budgets and that Hanna-Barbera's limited animation technique has a charm all its own, but there is simply no getting around the fact that anything that ever had Yogi Bear in it constituted the art of animation at its worst. Wit, energy or sophistication? Not in evidence in Hanna-Barbera's product from the Yogi Bear era, particularly when considered in relation to what came before (the golden age of theatrical animation) and after (the renaissance of the art form in the 80s and 90s) it. It's alright to be nostalgic about it, I guess; heck, "Afternoon Delight" makes me nostalgic, but that doesn't mean it's good.

Moving on to Tron! The reaction I'm seeing to this movie so far is, "Awwww, gee... after all that hype, and with all the neat special effects, it's just not a great movie." Sounds familiar! Sounds like the original Tron! I was 17 when the original came out, and I remember thinking, "Cool computer animation. Too bad they had to waste it in such a corny movie." So why the surprise that the sequel is also, according to most reports, kinda hokey and dumb?

So anyway, that's what bugged me on the internets today.


CartoonLover said...

No doubt about it. Often wondered if HB wasnt an early shot at the sweatshop labor style so prevalent in todays sorry crop of cartoons.

Anonymous said...

Yohoho, Booboo! I hated those cartoons, but my brother loved them so we watched them all. The artwork was crass, and the stories were, um, crass. You have an embargo on WVs so I can't tell you it's unpark.

Is it OK to say I loathed the Flintstones as well? Esp as a girl, thinking Freda was a twit. Nah, Fred was twit too. And Barney. And whossername.

They were terrible.

As for nostalgia, I am not hearing it for Greenacres either.

Matty Boy said...

I thought Yogi and Boo-Boo were shipped off to the Island of Misfit Toys at least 45 years ago, but looking on Wikipedia, there have been plenty of revivals over the years.

Like you, Peteykins, I have no idea why, because the original was awful.

Maddiane said...

People of a certain age got that HB crap imprinted on their brains. Including me. But I was horrified at the thought of a Yogi Bear movie when I happened on a trailer about a month ago. I had a moment of faint interest when I found out Dan Ackroyd was voicing Yogi (another imprint), but oh, so very no.

Luckily, Jeff Bridges (not an imprint, really, I'm just impressed with so much of his work) has a much better movie coming out 5 days after Tron: Retread.

John said...

But here is what makes it better: "House" just arrived from Netflix. The Japanese horror film, not the endless TV medical drama. Yay! I bet it will wash any thoughts of Yogi Bear from my brain.

Peteykins said...

Oooh... I really want to hear what you think of it.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

I always thought Yogi Bear sucked asse. But Tom & Jerry, now that was some fucken hilarious shitte!

coronaboomboom said...

Hanna-Barbera were the antichrist, basically. Even at six I knew I was getting ripped off. They were the end of cartoons for me.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Hanna Barbera did create a slew of crappy cartooning, partly because the stars were never that compelling. Sidekicks such as Baba Louie and BooBoo bear were far more engaging.
Back then, Rocky and Bullwinkle ruled the roost because the writing and wit was so superb. When Boris and Natasha came along, it only got better.
I can think of no drug or alcohol combination that would inspire me to see Yogi or that Tron thing.

Peteykins said...

That's a great point to make, Karen: Jay Ward was under the same constraints as Hanna/Barbera, but Bullwinkle is great because of the extra effort put into the writing.

drew in sf said...

While I admire your stand on not watching redredged slough that promises nothing amusing or important, I have to disagree on the overall lack of value in the Hanna-Barbera library that some here have indicated.

In a completely inartistic way, they were Warhol-meets-Mr. Brainwash-meets-The Teletubbies. Sure it's mostly hard-to-watch bargain basement fare aimed at the pre-teen set and others who don't know any better, but what it lacks in quality it makes up for in vast quantity. And repetition. Don't forget repetition. There was always their repetition.

There were also some great characters in there universe, and Yogi was among them (though I'd argue that Scooby Doo was the king of the studio's original characters). And OMG Laff-a-lympics? Hong Kong Phooey!? Pure gold.

There have been H-B rehashes worth every penny that was spent on them, in particular "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law". Actually that's the only remix I can think of that I truly love, but it holds up the entire legacy on its absurdly broad, homoerotic shoulders.

OK, so I'm a bit of a cartoon partisan and also a child of the 60s/70s, so I have a special place for this kiddie fare that I don't reserve for later productions by other low-rent studios, like He-Man or the Smurfs. So I will unreasonably and without reservation defend the honor of all things Hanna Barbera. Except the Flintstones.

sfmike said...

Saw the Tron Something this afternoon because we got to see it for free at a screening room at Pixar, and it was a disturbingly bad movie. The first boring movie version at least had candy colors, but this thing was bleached out and filled with portentous messages and pseudo "this information needs to be free" polemics while being the most disgusting piece of corporate crap imaginable, filled with war games galore.

Remember "Kiss of the Spider Woman" where William Hurt was telling the stories of his favorite melodramas where the Nazis were the good guys and the Resistance were the lying traitors? That's what it feels like watching big American movies over the last ten years.

samael7 said...

"Sophistication?" Are Mike Hale's peers pre-verbal toddlers??

Karen Zipdrive said...

Wait one minute, Drew.
The Flintstones was Hanna Barbara's greatest success. It ran for the table for 36-years as the top cartoon series--beaten only by The Simpson's in 1996.
The Flintstones, The Jetsons and maybe Quick Draw McGraw were the best shows Hanna Barbara ever created and produced.
The rest of their stuff had incredibly awful lead characters. Scooby-Doo is annoying, Jonny Quest--boring, Top Cat was a Narcissist, Space Ghost (ugh), and the two worst ever: Magilla Gorilla and, guess who else?
The Smurfs.

I still say Rocky and Bullwinkle was the best cartoon series of that era. Only The Simpsons has come in as clever and creative.

lorrwill said...

You have disrespected my favorite movie of all time.

I am scowling at you in the most hateful way my adorable little face and muster!

drew in sf said...

Points taken Karen. My complaint about the Flintstones are a) it was done to death much like the Simpsons has been, and b) it had somewhat higher production value than other HB series, and was therefore anti-proletariat (he says with a snark ;). Also, it doesn't really need defending compared to most of the rest of the pack.

I'm not saying I'd enjoy watching 90 percent of their library today, but I'm very glad it exists. I hope Adult Swim can come up with legit new uses for it (and not just new applications of formulas that have already been done).

drew in sf said...

ps totally agree re Moose and Squirrel.