The Other Side of Animation 57: Rex the Runt Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

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WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP: This series is full of crass adult humor and dry wit. Parental Discretion is advised. I Hope you all like the review!

So, it’s been a little over a year since I started reviewing animated films. I’m feeling proud about that, so I decided to change things up a bit and talk about a TV series. I still plan on reviewing Sherlock Hound, but for now, I’m going to check out a short-lived series by our friends at Aardman. To celebrate their 40th birthday, I decided to write about the obscure series, Rex the Runt. This stop-motion series was directed mostly by Richard Starzak (aka Richard “Golly” Goleszowski) with other directors, including Dan Capozzi, Peter Peake, Christopher Sadler, and Sam Fell. It ran for two seasons from 1998-1999 to 2001, and was on A&E in the states. So, does this show about animated dogs age from back then? Let’s take a look.

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The show revolves around four dogs that live in a house together. You have the lead, Rex, voiced by Andrew Franks in season 1 and Colin Rote in season 2, Bad Bob, voiced by Kevin Wrench in season 1 and Andy Jeffers in season 2, Wendy, the token female voiced by Elisabeth Hadley, and Vince, voiced by Steve Box. The show pretty focuses on them going through creative and surreal British hijinks, while interacting with a quirky cast of characters.

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So, what made this show stand out to me, besides the fact that I barely know anyone who has heard or seen this show? Well, it was one of the few animated shows aimed at adults that dealt with stop-motion. The only other show I can think of that came out around the same time was The PJs. It also had a unique art style to it with the characters all being, for the most part, exaggeratedly flat designs. They even apparently put the characters against a glass sheet in front of the background to help keep that 2D look of the characters in certain sequences. Like most British comedy that I have seen, it’s peculiar and very dry in its execution. However, unlike a lot of British comedy that I have seen, I found a lot of the humor in this show to work. Yeah, you would get a dud of an episode or a few jokes that don’t hit, or to be honest, flew over my head, but I was laughing a lot during the show’s two seasons. The characters themselves are mostly of type, like Wendy is the token girl and Rex is the snarky, quick-witted protagonist, but the two characters of the main leads that stand out are Bad Bob and Vince. As the series went on, I found myself really loving both of these characters the most. Bob is smart, has an eye patch that switches from eye to eye, and carries around a normal-sized revolver, which just happens to look giant compared to him. Vince is the “pet” of the crew, and has a quite frankly hilarious, if underused in season two, disorder called “Random Pavarotti Disease”, where he will spew random opera from his mouth. He also has a habit of speech where he will only say one word or maybe an unfinished sentence for comedic effect. He easily gets the best laughs out of the entire show with how random and wacky he is.

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The animation is solid. For a show with episodes lasting about 10-15 minutes tops, the animation and the style of the characters are still done well. I mean, this is Aardman, so I would be surprised if this was bad animation. It might not be as detailed as Aardman’s bigger projects, but you won’t be distracted by low quality stuff here. The adventures they go on are as well pretty funny, like going to a Home Depot-style gardening center only to be captured by a race of alien plant pots, having to get their house back from an alternate timeline version of themselves, Bob losing weight, traveling into Vince’s head, finding out what is at the center of the earth, and so on. Most of them lead to creative jokes, and are fun to watch.

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However, with all that said, there are a few things you must know about this show. I sometimes felt like the episodes had no focus, or any real urgency to them. It leads to some episodes of the show feeling really boring, or the agency of the situation coming in at the last five or so minutes. The humor, while funny and clever, can be a bit too dry at times. Maybe the jokes flew over my head, or they probably weren’t funny, but some of the jokes were definitely duds. I also found the show to be at times a tad too British for an American viewer, if that makes any sense. I can perfectly see why some people will probably not find this show funny or entertaining. For example, I know the original version of The Office is looked at as a very funny show, I found it to be incredibly boring.

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In the end though, I love Rex the Runt, and I definitely feel like it’s another hit for Aardman. Can I see why it only lasted two seasons? Of course. Can I see why some people might not like the show? Yes. But do I like it? Indeed I do! I even showed it off to a lot of my friends and family friends, and they have great love for the series. You can easily pick up this show on the cheap, and you should check it out when or if you can. Well, now that one year has passed, and I covered my first TV series, it’s time to get back into movies with the promotional prequel film to Final Fantasy XV, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy. Thanks for reading, I hope you like what you saw, and I will see you next time

Rating: Go see it!

The Other Side of Animation: Shaun the Sheep Movie Review

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While I do consider myself a movie lover, I tend to enjoy movies that are easier to follow. Not to say that I can’t get into films with complex themes and stories, since one of my favorite movies of 2015 was Anomalisa, but sometimes, it seems like filmmakers or studios want to make a film look and feel complex and deep, but end up being more confusing, hard to follow, and not very good. It’s alright to have a movie that is good simple fun. It’s why I really loved today’s film, Shaun the Sheep Movie. This was a stop-motion film made by Aardman, and was released on August 5th here in the states, and was directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton. It was a solid hit with it making over $96 mil of its $25 mil budget. So, how good was this movie to me? Is it truly one of the best animated films of 2015? Maybe you should be like the sheep, and mosey on through the review, and find out.

The movie is about a sheep named Shaun and his flock of sheep friends that live on a farm that is owned by, well, a farmer. After going through the same routine after a number of days, Shaun decides to find a way to get a day off, which results in some shenanigans, resulting with the farmer ending up in the big city. It is up to Shaun and his friends to go into the big city and to save their farmer!

So, what does this stop-motion animated film do so well that it was considered one of the best animated films of 2015 and one of famous game designer Hideo Kojima’s favorite movies? One element it does well is that it has no real dialogue. Yeah, it’s a The Triplets of Belleville kind of situation, where the film relies more on its visual format to actually tell the story and get emotions out of the characters. It’s actually nice to see animated films do this, since it means that the writers and story creators don’t have to lean on lazy writing and pop culture lingo. Now, with that said, there are actors, but the most you will get out of them are grunts and other noises. Still, the choice of having no real words spoken won’t mean anything if the animation isn’t top-notch, and well, it’s Aardman, so it is top-notch animation. The characters move fluently, and the facial expressions are just hilarious to see unfold. Since this is Aardman, the physical humor is sidesplitting. It’s easily some of the best physical comedy you will ever see.

If I had to complain about something, it’s the story. The story is well told, but it is simple, and the villain, while funny, is not very interesting. It’s just a nitpick, but I can see some people for one reason or another not wanting to see this sort of silent film.

Overall, Shaun the Sheep Movie is a simple, charming, kind-hearted, entertaining, and beautifully-executed movie. It rightfully deserves that Oscar nomination and all of the high praise it received. It also makes you wish that Lionsgate, the distributors of the film, could use Shaun the Sheep as a milestone in what good animated films are, and help out other creative studios instead of well, Norm of the freaking North! Seriously, your first good animated family film in forever, and they think a good follow-up is a film where Rob Schneider is a polar bear? However, I’m telling you, if you pick up Shaun the Sheep Movie, for the love of everything that is amazing, skip the previews. It’s nothing but garbage. Well, we got that out of the way. I am feeling up to looking at an anthology film once more, but not just any anthology film, an anthology film based off of Halo. Thanks for reading, and see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!