The results of the eighth once in a decade Sight and Sound "Greatest Films of All Time" poll were released last year, which kind of puts my list in its place. The number one movie there was Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles; haven't seen that one yet. Catchy title, though! Hey, my top pick for 2017 did make top 100 (in a five way tie for last)! Well, let's see how influential my picks for this year are in 10 years for the next poll.
So, this is a year end top ten list of my picks for favorite movies of the year. Pretty simple premise, and I've written what counts and what doesn't before, and this is the internet, so I can just link to older lists if you want the nitty gritty details. I don't need to rehash them. Though Flayrah is a furry site, this is not a furry list. However, I will pick out my favorite furry movie of the year, which was Turning Red this year, as well as a Cutest Vixen Award, just for fun. This year's prestigious CVA goes to Diane Foxington, a.k.a. the Crimson Paw, in The Bad Guys. It was an overall pretty good year for movies, so much that I actually feel like giving away a few honorable mentions, listed here in no particular order other than alphabetical; Beast, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Three Thousand Years of Longing and The Woman King. Also, shoutout to Prey, which was streaming exclusive, and which I didn't consider for the list, but was worth a shoutout anyway.
Well, let's get to the list proper. The film's title and posters link to IMDB or a Flayrah review for more information than the short blurb here could give you. Enjoy!
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (trailer) is a live-action musical comedy family film released in October 2022, with computer-animated critters mixed into it. It's an adaptation of two children's books by Bernard Waber, The House on East 88th Street (1962), and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (1965).
In my earlier review of My Father's Dragon, also an adaptation, my biggest complaint was how it borrowed story elements while destroying the spirit of the book. With Lyle, the spirit has definitely been kept. The premise is silly, it doesn't make sense, and has fun with it. It knows exactly what it is!
Hector P. Valenti is a charismatic showman and second-rate stage magician who buys a baby crocodile (Lyle), vainly hoping his new pet will become his ticket to stardom. When it doesn't work out (think One Froggy Evening), Hector leaves to recover his finances, abandoning Lyle in a New York townhouse, where he lives in secret. When the Primm family moves in, Lyle gradually befriends them and brings out their better natures. Until he runs afoul of their conniving basement tenant, Mr. Grumps.
The books had a low word count, so a lot of things had to be added to make a full movie. The Primms were originally bland and generic. Lyle's presence in the house (and how he survived) needed more of an explanation, so all of that received more details. Most (though not all) of the major plot points from the books still exist in some form. The changes make sense from a screenwriting perspective, but whether you think the movie is a respectful adaptation, that's going to vary a lot from person to person. It depends on what people are willing to accept or let go of.
You can poke holes in this movie like crazy, but at heart, it's an entertaining ride without any delusions of grandeur. I don't mean that in a snooty film review way. Like I said, the premise is silly, and it's having fun. I'm going to nit-pick things anyway, but there's lots of good energy!
Before Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, even. How about DreamWorks Animation's new studio bumper? It's a bit ostentatious, even a bit overly pleased with itself. Maybe goes on a little long. But, then again, what studio bumper doesn't, nowadays? But, being a celebration of DreamWorks past triumphs, it's interesting to note what franchises were chosen to be spotlighted.
Right out the gate, the Bad Guys are getting quite a vote of confidence, despite being the new guys with one movie under their belts. So I think it's safe to say we're getting a sequel. Also for furries, the Kung Fu Panda series is featured, and we already know that's got a fourth movie coming. The How To Train Your Dragon series is also represented by Toothless, despite the fact that the last movie came to a very decisive story end. It's one of the more acclaimed franchises of DreamWorks, so it has to show up, and even if there are no more movies, smaller screen spinoffs are still happening. There are also appearances by the Trolls and Boss Baby franchises, but they aren't furry, so who cares?
There are some notable absences, however. Despite featuring four movies, the Madagascar franchise is ignored. Spirit, you know, the one with the horse? That somehow managed two movies, but is apparently not an ongoing concern. And obviously, the Shrek franchise is prominently featured, but the star of the movie we're about to actually start reviewing is not. Maybe he'll show up in the bumper for movies he's not the star of?
There are two movies that came out this year based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, the story of a marionette who gains life and then proceeds to, well, go on adventures. Both for all intents and purposes went straight to streaming services, but were treated on the higher "prestige" end of streaming movies, though we're still, as a culture, not sure if streaming first is on par with theatrical releases or more along the lines of straight to video trash (or are they TV movies?). Both were directed by Best Picture/Best Director Oscar winning directors. I personally found them both not actually very interesting, one being ridiculously over-hated, the other just as ridiculously over-loved.
The first was Robert Zemeckis's Pinocchio, which is less a straight adaptation of Collodi's novel than another one of those "live action Disney remakes" that everyone loves so much, this time of the 1940 version of Pinocchio. It released on Disney+ back in September, so I've been very efficient getting around to it. The second is Gillermo Del Toro's Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio. Normally, I hate when they do that "Director's Name's Whatever" thing to titles, it comes off as pretentious and boastful, but given the circumstances, I'm going to have to allow it this time. It released to Netflix this month.
Since the last Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Volume 2, a lot has happened, both in the universe of the story, and behind the scenes. In universe, every member of the team except Rocket was "snapped" out of existence, which is okay for furries, since Rocket was the only actual furry member of the team, and they mostly all got better, anyway. In the real world, meanwhile, series director James Gunn was fired from this third world, but he also got better. Anyway, the third movie will finally come out next year, and a trailer has been released.
From a furry perspective, it doesn't get much better than this. Rocket's origins are being explored, the villain is the High Evolutionary whose whole thing is literally making furries, Cosmo will continue to appear after The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+, and, oh yeah, that's Lylla the otter.
My Father's Dragon is a 2D animated children's fantasy film, the latest from Cartoon Saloon, directed by Nora Twomey. The studio kept an amazingly tight lid on this 99-minute production, with its trailer only becoming available five weeks before the film was released on Netflix. I'm very glad this project didn't get cancelled, what with partially being made during the Covid pandemic.
The main character is a quick-thinking boy named Elmer. After he shows kindness to Whoopi Goldberg-- I mean, to a talking cat, the magical neko tells him there's an island where he can find a dragon. And if Elmer can bring the dragon back, its novelty will save him and his single mom from financial ruin! So off Elmer goes, equipped only with a bunch of random stuff he happens to have in his bag. The situation on the island is difficult, and Elmer isn't the only one who needs the dragon.
How furry is it? Sssort of. Only in the sense of having animals that can talk; none of them are physically anthropomorphic, aside from a few primate species. A diplomatic gorilla is the closest this film gets to having an antagonist. As for the dragon, he has a very... unique design, because he's based on illustrations from a 1948 children's book that inspired this film. Despite getting top billing, the dragon is not especially interesting.
What this film does well is provide a sense of adventure and danger. Drawn in Cartoon Saloon's signature geometric artstyle with excellent use of color, it continues the common theme of their other films, a child protagonist trying to persevere against a situation that looms over them. Story-wise, it's a little uneven. It's primarily for younger children.
I wouldn't call it a must-see, unless you're a fan of Cartoon Saloon's work; personally I would much more highly recommend Wolfwalkers (exclusively on Apple TV+). My Father's Dragon scores 87% with critics and 77% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm with the audience, although I'd give it a 68% "Enh, maybe". Check it out if you're interested though!
As for being a book adaptation... That's something to rant about. Major spoilers ahead.
Perlimps (trailer) is a Brazilian 2D animated film, the second from animator and director Alê Abreu. After seeing his earlier film, Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo, 2013), I really wanted to see what his next project would be like. I wasn't expecting to wait nine years!
Abreu's films definitely do not adhere to typical Hollywood narrative structures, veering towards the artsy without being self-indulgent. Boy and the World, for example, has no dialog at all, and conveys things entirely with sounds and visuals. (As well as being an abstract statement about growing up and the poverty that comes from the exploitation of labor.)
Perlimps is way more approachable in comparison. On the surface, judging by its trailer, I thought it was going to be another film about the devastation of the environment by humans. It does some of that, sure, but that's just surface stuff.
The rest of the film's surface is all in the trailer. Claé (an orange wolf) and Bruô (a blue bear) are secret agents from the opposing kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon, trying to find the Perlimps, mysterious entities who can help save the forest from the encroachment of man.
Between the time I went to see DC League of Super-Pets and writing this, things got weird at Warner Bros. Two movies that were reportedly near completion were suddenly shelved. Most mainstream movie press outlets covered this as "What does this mean for this group of comic book superhero movies?". Even Flayrah's Newsbyte on the subject only mentioned Batgirl, despite the fact that Scoob! Holiday Haunt, an actual movie featuring anthropomorphic animals, rather than just one superhero in a pseudo-fursuit, was also cancelled.
And that has some bearing on my thoughts on this movie. Warner Animation Group is looking like it could be in trouble. Even though it appears that the studio will survive in some capacity, people are going to lose jobs in this area. So, it doesn't feel like a good time to take a look at their latest output, shrug, and say, "It was okay, I guess?"
DC League of Super-Pets was directed by Jared Stern and Sam Levine, and stars Dwayne Johnson as Krypto, Superman's superpowered pet dog. When the evil guinea pig Lulu (voiced by Kate McKinnon) manages to depower Krypto, he must lead a team of newly-empowered shelter pets in order to rescue his kidnapped master.
It was okay, I guess?
The story follows Sam, an extremely unlucky 18-year-old. After years in an orphanage and never being adopted, she moves into her first apartment. When she encounters a black cat, her luck suddenly changes, becoming good - and when it reverts to her previous bad luck, she follows the cat into the magical Land of Luck, the source of all luck in our world (both good and bad).
Most of the film revolves around Sam trying to regain luck - not for herself, but to help a younger girl at the orphanage - while a series of evasions and accidents escalate into circumstances that threaten the Land of Luck itself.
It's an ok film, with a really nice magical world, although the story has tons of holes if you think about it too much. Furry-wise, besides the cat, most of the characters are leprechauns. Here and there are some cartoony bunnies and pigs, plus a couple of other background creatures that you don't often see anthropomorphized (goats and root vegetables). And a large, pink, six-limbed dragoness, in charge of good luck. She's not in too many scenes, but she's definitely one of the highlights!
Interestingly, this film lacks a clear antagonist; most of the conflict is situational in nature. I wouldn't say this movie is a must-see, but it's fine to pass the time with, and I think it shows a lot of potential for what Skydance could make in the future, if they polish up their writing a bit.
(Spoilers and griping under this cut.)
"You couldn't make a Mel Brooks movie today. I saw Blazing Saddles yesterday."
-SR-71, "Politically Correct"
With all the delayed releases for movies in the last couple of years, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank fits right in. Of course, it's been delayed a bit longer than most. It was originally supposed to come out in August of 2017. It's been juggled around distribution companies in the last five years, and somehow managed to avoid the straight-to-video route, or the more modern straight-to-streaming path that even Pixar couldn't avoid recently. It's managed to keep hope alive, and now it's finally hitting theaters, and with a plushy summer month release date, too.
Directed by the duo of theatrical feature first time directors Chris Bailey and Mark Koetsier along with veteran Rob Minkoff (with directing credits on The Lion King and Mr. Peabody and Sherman), the movie is set in a cartoon version of feudal Japan inhabited by anthropomorphic cats. When an evil local governor (voiced by Ricky Gervais) decides he wants to get rid of a small village, he finds out he is tasked with finding them a new samurai to help them fight off his own thugs. Thinking outside the box, he decides to send them a replacement samurai that will, by his very nature, offend the sensibilities of the townsfolk so much that he might be the last straw that finally destroys the town. He sends Hank (voiced by Michael Cera), a dog.
If this set up sounds familiar, it should. The movie is a funny animal take on the 1974 Mel Brooks Western spoof Blazing Saddles, but also for some reason set in Japan. Paws of Fury was originally even entitled Blazing Samurai. What the heck are you worried about? This is Edo Japan! You'll be able to sue him! Mel Brooks even shows up to voice the shogun, so he seems to be well aware of what they are doing and completely fine with it. Who says you can't make a Mel Brooks movie today?
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers is the Disney+ streaming service's newest exclusive movie, directed by Akiva Schaffer and starring John Mulaney as the voice of Chip and Andy Samberg as Dale, the titular pair of cartoon chipmunks. The movie is mostly live action, but features cartoon characters interacting with this live action world. The movie's relationship with the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers animated television show is a bit complicated. This movie is not a sequel or reboot, but instead takes as its premise that the characters of that show were actors playing parts in a world where cartoons and humans coexist.
The obvious point of comparison is the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, made even more obvious by the fact that Roger Rabbit himself makes a small cameo in this movie. If anything, a few people have interpreted this as taking place in the same world as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, though I'd argue it's actually a bit more meta than that. Unless I'm getting this wrong, the Roger Rabbit that cameos here is another actor who played himself in a movie that is equally fictional in both our world and the world of this movie. Cartoon actors share their names with their characters, for whatever reason. But, the point is, the movie is very meta like that, and though it never explicitly acknowledges it's own fictionality, it's showbiz savvy characters are likely to treat their situation as if it were a movie.
Also like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a major appeal of the movie is nostalgia for its animated characters, both specifically for its titular duo, as well as a series of cameos and walk-ons from others. While this sort of thing can be fun, it can also come off as a cynical branding exercise. However, the movie manages to avoid the pitfalls of this sort of thing better than most.
With a voice cast of personal favorites such as Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina and Craig Robinson? Full of anthropomorphic animal characters in a kid-friendly Tarantino take-off? And there's even a furry vixen in the mix? What, is it my birthday? (Actually, that's Saturday.) [Happy Birthday! --The editors]
After a television interview with the local governor, a vixen named Diane Foxington, Mr. Wolf is goaded into carrying out a ridiculously difficult heist. Which correspondingly goes ridiculously wrong. The gang are put in the care of Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), a guinea pig who tries to teach them how to be good guys.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is that thing which, as a furry reviewer, I feel like I should run into more, but actually don’t. It is a perfectly acceptable kid’s movie. Which is a bit of a problem, because that makes it the worst type of movie to review. A movie that’s just okay. It’s fine. Alright, even.
I’m tempted to write more about how the Sonic the Hedgehog movies bookend the Covid-19 pandemic, which is just a coincidence, than this movie. I'll keep it short, but I want to make clear I’m a guy who reviews kid’s movies for adults, not a virologist, so while I may feel safe enough to go back to theaters, you do what you feel comfortable with.
It’s okay enough, and the Sonic franchise has a passionate enough fanbase, if you want to spend full price for a movie ticket, I won’t judge too much. But it’s not so good I don’t still recommend waiting until it hits streaming.
Though it’s the baby of Oscar categories, the Best Animated Feature Academy Award will turn 21 this Sunday, meaning it would be old enough to drink alcohol in America, if it could actually do that. Encanto, Flee, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Raya and the Last Dragon will compete to become the next recipient of the award.
First introduced in 2001, Best Animated Feature is the only “new” category to be introduced this century so far. Like many new categories, a few animated features had earned "Special Achievement" Oscars, starting with the original American made animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with another going to 1997’s Toy Story, as well as one to the live action/animated hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Other movie awards followed the Oscars, adding their own animated categories, though the Annies, which are for animation, had obviously been awarding Best Feature for a few years.
Since 2001, 20 movies have won the award, which is a nice round number for doing a countdown, worst to best. The following ranking is based on my opinions, and my opinions only. But, even if you think my rankings are horrible, no good, absolutely wrong, well, I’ve also included a lot of factoids and trivia, so that might be worth reading. Also, not all of the winners have been particularly furry, but most have something of interest to furries going on in them.
Pixar's newest movie is a woman-directed, coming-of-age film where a red-headed daughter finds herself rebelling against an overbearing mother during the course of an adventure involving human-to-animal transformation of a bear-like nature; that worked out so well for all involved last time.
Let's see: they replaced Brenda Chapman half-way through production, and her career still hasn't recovered; the movie was the first non-Cars Pixar movie to not reach a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes; and, most importantly, readers didn't like my review of it very much. Seriously, the best thing to come out of Brave was the line "She's from the other studio." in Ralph Breaks the Internet, which unfortunately was the best thing to come out of Ralph Breaks the Internet.