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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

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Ratatouille

Starring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Janeane Garofalo, Brad Garrett, Will Arnett

Directed by: Brad Bird

Disney

The Official Site of Ratatouille

Discuss Ratatouille on the boards!

I love a good animated movie, and I think that a lot of adults feel the same way after realizing they’re not just for kids anymore. Sophisticated characters and high-end animation are regularly offering experiences to inspire and entertain children of all ages. There’s no shortage of animation these days with an average of two or three a month being featured on screens, cereal boxes, and fast food promotions. And there’s nothing wrong with that because the forgettable ones make you appreciate the truly exceptional ones. Two days after watching Disney Pixar’s latest offering Ratatouille, I can’t decide if it’s worth struggling to find that exceptional quality or if I should just let it go and look forward to an animated feature that’s easier to admire. The film is far from bad, but with Pixar, a company synonymous with the best visuals and storytelling in all of animation, should we settle for anything less than something to remember?

Whatever qualms I might have with the movie (I’ll get to it. It’s not as bad as you think), there’s no bones about it – Pixar is the best animation studio working today. They’re masters. I was wowed right off the bat as the film goes into “rat perspective” with extended scenes of our hero Remy (Patton Oswalt) dashing through the sewers and building interiors of Paris, as well as a later scene through the very busy, very dangerous kitchen that would soon become his new home. These scenes are fast paced and whimsical in a way reminiscent of early Woody Allen movies. Honing in on this pure form of classic fun comes off as second nature to the Pixar crew who include moments like these in ever one of their productions. It’s important to note that the swiveling, uninterrupted camera flow in such tight locations could never have been filmed in real life. It could only be animated. And that may seem like an obvious observation, but I point it out because it really shows that Pixar really knows how to take advantage of their medium.

But the beauty of the film doesn’t end with what other films can’t do, they put their best foot forward with the things we take for granted like character design and surface texture. The water in Ratatouille might as well be real. It’s almost too real. It makes Finding Nemo seem like practice, and it makes nearly ever other animation studios attempt at water seem like someone shaking a piece of blue paper and spitting at you.

They clearly know what they’re doing. Fur, hair, skin blemishes, little food stains on the counter tops… it’s all there, and it’s all Grade A. Best in the business. It’s a given. It’s expected. So how’s the story?

It’s ok… Writer/director Brad Brid who picked up the project halfway through the story process is the magic man at Pixar hitting a huge bulls eye with The Incredibles, arguably the best-animated movie of all time. But this fish out of water story about vermin passionate about food felt slightly off target.

Remy is a country rat with a love of the fine cuisine and an excellent sense of taste. Suddenly he is separated form his heard (Pack? Flock? Gaggle? Whatever a group of rats is called.) and finds himself in Paris, the center of fine cuisine in the known universe! Once there he can’t resist adding his culinary skills to the soup pot of the nearest restaurant, and of course it goes over huge with a well-timed food critic. The credit of the masterful dish is given to the restaurants garbage boy, Linguini ( Lou Romano ) who witnessed Remy’s skills and comes up with the genius plan of the two working together to be the best chef in town. It’s so crazy that it just might work!

If only our two heroes themselves weren’t certifiably insane. You see, in a town with no rats Remy has resorted to talking to himself via the ghostly image of his dead human mentor, (CRAZY!) and just in case you forgot, Linguini is taking orders from a rodent (DOUBLE CRAZY!)

It wouldn’t be so bad accept that the only character that’s even remotely on to their scheme, the restaurant’s head chef voiced masterfully and unrecognizably by Ian Holm, is made out to be the true crazy one. It’s to be expected. He is the villain after all, but when two head cases make a legitimately sane person lose his mind, you have to ask yourself, “Who’s really the bad guy in this situation?”

Thankfully kids, and sane moviegoers, won’t overanalyze a children’s movie to the point where this becomes a distraction, and they’ll be able to enjoy the characterization for what it is. And for the most part it’s great. I felt like Oswalt as Remy was a very realized and loveable rat. And his extended universe including everyone from his dim but unconditionally supportive brother Emile, to the scene stealing Peter O’Toole as the ridiculously named food critic Anton Ego, all came through very well to me. I liked Remy’s little world even if I didn’t especially care about what happen next, and was disappointed when it refused to end.

For, as good as characters came off, the story is a little dry, and one problem after another (why does love always have to be an obstacle?) extends the movie past it’s welcome. At just under 2 hours, Ratatouille will test the patience and bladder of your children, but if you have to take them out for a walk or a tinkle, you won’t have any trouble slipping back into the films storyline. Though if your kid’s are up for it, you’d be better off slipping into Transformers.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Ratatouille losing some appeal because humans almost universally despise the featured critters. Ask anyone what their first reaction upon seeing a rat would be and you’ll get one of two answers. Scream or Attack. (For me it’s both. I’m a vocally aggressive.) But I don’t see much to the cartoon rats scaring away audiences. The character design is strong enough where in limited numbers you’ll be able to see past the way they move and skulk, and let their true characteristics shine through. In large numbers though, they’re dangerous. They look real, and as a group of rats, when they flee together, the reaction of the audience is far from, ”Oh, well isn’t that the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen in your entire life?” Instead you’ll here plenty of gasps, and maybe even see a few people roll up their cuffs. That may make you laugh, but theaters are a hotbed for rodent activity. It’s all bags of popcorn and cheese wiz. It’s like Disney Land to them.

There’s a lot to admire in Ratatouille, things I look forward to revisiting one day, though I can’t say I’ll actively seek it out any time soon. The movie is sweet but forgettable, and while I could find bits and pieces to praise for days… I just don’t care to.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 - Fans of this movie are very passionate and I admire them for that. I also don’t want them to take anything negative I said in the review too harshly. There’s a lot of love up there. And just as I dig for the good in a bad movie, I’ll also dig for the bad in a good one. It’s just the nature of the critique.

Also, I highly recommend Ratatouille! If only for Horst’s thumb! See, now people have to go see the movie to know what I’m talking about.

Pixar films used to be a standard in my DVD pick-ups, but that all stopped a few years ago. I found myself with a bunch of animated movies I was never watching. For whatever reason, the replay ability on movies like Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo isn’t especially high. They’re still great movies but I just can’t force myself to learn the same life lessons over and over again even if they do look spectacular. I’m sure that once I have babies of my own I’ll be pushing the Pixar library on them with great enthusiasm, but until then… I’ve got Netflix… I’ve got the Disney Channel… that should hold me over.

I wasn’t nearly as excited to see this movie as comic Joe was. My enthusiasm is pure fiction for the sake of the joke. You see how I grossly misrepresent myself for you people? Truthfully, I wasn’t excited in the least bit and it shames me, because it was for the worst reason of all –everyone else was.

People were freaking out over this movie before it even came out. It was like a Ratatouille bukkake online and I couldn’t stand it anymore. A movie neither “sucks” or “rules” until you’ve seen it and can decide for yourself, but the inter-nerds had already awarded Pixar and Brad Bird a couple of choice Oscars. I’m not saying that if Bird dose end up with golden statues bookending his rare collection of first print whatevers, it wouldn’t be well deserved. But let’s wait for the movie to come out before we completely write off those poor lost souls that worked for years on Surf’s Up. Ratatouille did great and it was fun so I did a lot of fretting for nothing, but I dread the next Pixar release because I’m sure the love explosion will happen all over again. And after Cars… I’m the definition of hesitant.

Holy crap Transformers was a lot of fun. So many problems with character arcs, but enough robot punching excitement to knock my socks, pants and hat completely off my body. Don’t wait for my review - just buy your tickets now.

The review will be up soon, but I’ve been having trouble coming up with a comic. A really great strip that properly pays tribute to the kind of movie it is. There’s a lot of pressure to come up with good comics for these big summer movies and I’m not sure I’ve hit the mark with them. Some I’ve drawn a complete blank on and I’m coming close to the point where I’ll have to abandon them. (Fantastic Four 2, I still love you!). I do have something done for Transformers, it’s just not awesome. …I might have to double up. Put up the review now with the less than awesome strip, and then come back swinging with my A material during the DVD releases in the fall. I should really plan these things out ahead of time.

Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!

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Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V

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