Friday, 29 April 2016

Top 20 Nostalgia Critic Episodes


Well, after my major spleen venting from last time (which was met by alarmingly warm reception, might I add?), I feel a certain need to reiterate the main point of me doing all this in the first place. As much as this makes me come across as a rather hopeless fan-boy (which is kind of true), these people do mean a great deal to me both in terms of entertainment and broadening my own personal perspective on a number of things and none more so than the Nostalgia Critic. Hell, if I had any belief in it, I could almost carry this off as a tribute to his Avatar Episodes lists and twist it into me just trying to ensure balance. But really, it’s just a means for me to air out some dirty laundry I’ve been holding onto for a little too long. We’re not here to talk about all that again, though, as this time around I’m counting my picks for the Top 20 best episodes of the Nostalgia Critic.

#20: Demolition Man

It’s rare that a film becomes more timely after its initial release, especially when it's an action film soaked in 90’s tropes and starring Sylvester Stallone. Where Spoony’s review of the game got me interested in the film initially, this definitely cemented it for me as the Critic’s jabs at how the over-sanitized future depicted in the film is like some sort of Tumblrite utopia… and right now, I’m just wondering why the hell the word ‘Tumblrite’ doesn’t come up on my spell check. Maybe that future really is more prevalent now than we first thought.

#19: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Launch

An initial showing of Doug’s more lenient sensibilities on media fandom, this video plays out a bit like a geek version of Mardi Gras. Yeah, it’s over-the-top and most people certainly won’t comprehend a lot of it, but the infectious sense of joy that floods these sorts of events are so potent that, if you’re in the area, you’ll feel compelled to join in regardless. Such is the case with the Critic, who spends some time poking fun at the fans, but then ends up joining them as the launch clock keeps ticking down.

#18: Felix The Cat: The Movie

Even considering he did a whole video devoted the biggest nostalgic mindfucks (a video that introduced me to the insane brilliance of animator Cyriak), this would have to be the most insane film he’s looked at so far. All the noise, all the character clutter, all the painful colour choices; it just plain hurts to think about, let alone watch. As such, the Critic goes into full crackdown mode as he breaks down just how much of the film doesn’t work and its use of tropes concerning filmmaking for children that, quite frankly, need to stop before we get any more kids schlock like this and Home. Also, “I want you to make him look like he’s dry-humping a trash can.”

#17: The Haunting


A subversion of the Critic’s semi-regular comparison series Old Vs. New, he forgoes the traditional format of breaking the individual elements of each iteration of the story and instead strictly points out how much the remake pulled a Zeno’s arrow in how badly it missed the mark. Sure, he gives credit to some decent casting decisions, and his over-the-top lauding over Catherine Zeta-Jones is still hilarious, but I think it’s the Critic’s comments about the depiction of gay and lesbian characters in fiction that really strike a chord with me. Mainly because, even though he’s directly talking about how the 90’s treated them, we’re still using the same writing styles even today; more’s the pity.

#16: Let’s Play Bart’s Nightmare

Yeah, bet you weren’t expecting this one. And no, I’m not trolling; I genuinely love this video. Ignoring the hideous backlash that came as a result of this infamous little number, the core joke that Doug was going for with this video about how Let’s Plays aren’t as easy as the layman may think actually works here. It comes across more like the Critic as a character is in over his head more than Doug as a person and, after the rage has died down, it’s easy enough to get that from his performance. That, and it’s some good reaction porn with how he just raves like a manic chimpanzee at the game itself.

#15: Mamma Mia!

Far better than I have ever been able to articulate it before (despite my best efforts), this review manages to pin down just about everything wrong with the prototypical ‘chick flick’. He even gets down to brass tacks when it comes to the issue of the comedy part of the romantic-comedy, leading to a point that I seriously wish was referred to more often as it’s an issue that never ceases to irk general movie-goers.

#14: Conquest Of The Commercials

I should really hate this video for making sure that that bloody “Zestfully Clean” jingle never leaves my head, but as usual his picks for nostalgic commercials to look at is top-notch. However, what makes this higher up than the other commercial specials is the inclusion of a certain famous animator that Doug has discussed at length before. Not spoiling anything for those who haven’t seen it, but who knew such a legend could have a stare that can burn through sheet metal.

#13: We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story


Much like Sage’s review of Twilight Of The Cockroaches, this review might be affected by how well you know the material it’s referencing, this time with Doug doing it in character as Raoul Puke, a parody of the similarly-named main character from Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas. Also like with Sage’s Critic routine, this video still works without being familiar with the character source; once again, this was my first encounter with anything to do with the film and not only did it not bother me, it sold me on what is now one of my all-time favourite films.

#12: Titanic: The Animated Movie

Easily one of the most consistently funny of the show’s run, both past and present, the Critic had a lot of good material gift-wrapped for him with this unfathomably sugar-coated depiction of one of the most infamous sea disasters of all time. While the rapping dog (yes, there’s one of those in this thing; that’s how out-of-touch it is) allowed for some good riffs, I think the best material he got came from the mariachi rats, particularly when they start singing.

#11: Top 11 Cereal Mascots

This is another occasion where, if I was listing purely on amount of times viewed, this would be #1… except this time, I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s a more natural exhibition of his riffing on nostalgic marketing than his already excellent commercial specials. Maybe it’s because of the hefty dramatic air he gives some of these mascots, like the Trix rabbit being a Greek tragedy and Sonny the Cuckoo Bird being a sickly drug addict. Maybe it’s because it shows a certain level of serious analysis that would later blossom into greater things once the reboot came around. Or maybe it’s all of these things, I don’t know.

#10: The Worst Christmas Special EVER

After the already-thrashed Eight Crazy Nights review, have to admit, I was not looking forward to this one when it was first released. And yet, he more than manages to deliver on the title with some of the most jittery and almost schizophrenic animation, coupled with absolutely weaksauce voice acting, to be found outside of a Phoenix Games production. It probably helps that he closes out the review with an impromptu “THIS is what Christmas is really about” sentiment including not only the rest of the Critic team but also his family as well.

#9: The Last Airbender

The only episode of the show that has so far required an entire video series worth of setup before he even got to the film itself, this video not only highlights how bad this horrendous adaptation is but also how good the TV show is by comparison. He shows a real respect and admiration for the original cartoon, almost inversely proportional to the amount of respect Shyamalan had for the show when he was making the bloody movie. It also helps that he ends on a sentiment concerning franchises that seriously needs to be brought up more: A bad story doesn’t negate the good stories.

#8: A Tribute To Siskel & Ebert

A critic doing a tribute to other critics… I’m not going to say that I entirely ripped this one off, but I will say that it probably influenced me somewhere along the way while preparing for Meta Month. Actually, that comparison is kind of apropos because this video definitely showed one of the bigger hints of the inner fanboy that floats around a lot of Doug’s work. The amount of respect he shows for Siskel, Ebert and even Richard Roeper (despite their flaws) is palpable and it is kind of adorkable seeing him gush over the signed book that he got from Ebert himself. And then Ebert saw this video, tweeted Doug and Doug framed the tweet. Yeah, more than anything else, that level of admiration has to be commended. After a few of the tweets I’ve gotten in response to Meta Month, I can honestly say that it is certainly a thrill when senpai notices you.

#7: Pearl Harbor

Depicting a fictionalized version of Michael Bay’s career is a decent idea all on its own, but using it as a Jesus allegory? This video turned out a hell of a lot better than anyone could’ve guessed with a setup like that. The second episode to be made after the reboot, this was the first real inkling that this new, more skit-heavy approach by Doug might have been the best move for him to make. It also helps that a lot of his points about the film proper, in particular the way Bay seems to both love the military and feel fit to show them as incompetent, are justified and make for some good classic Critic rage-outs.

#6: Bio-Dome


Probably as a by-product of having sat through so many horrifically terrible comedies over the last few years, it’s kind of comforting watching a review where I can relate to just how much pain a person can go through while watching a bad comedy. It’s something akin to going insane, especially if you’re watching something that other people find funny (which might be the case for this film, I honestly don’t know); you feel like your whole reality is fucking warped. Because of this, seeing the Critic sit through easily one of the worst comedies ever gets some real sympathy going, and his riffing on the action is pretty much the only way any clips of this movie can be watched without immediate bleeding from the ears and eye sockets.
 
#5: Animaniacs Tribute



Full disclosure: I first found out about the existence of Animaniacs through the Critic’s Top 11 Naughtiest Animaniac Moments. Afterwards, whenever Pinky & the Brain would be on the TV when I got home from school, I just had to sit down and watch it. However, where the Siskel & Ebert tribute had the Critic in full fanboy mode, this allows for a few more traces of professionalism in the questions he asks. Not that this is dead serious, as it closes out on a bit of improv with the voice actors questioned that is just made of pure joy, but he strikes a good balance between the two.

#4: Moulin Rogue


While the concept of a review done in the style of a musical had been done before (*cough*Oancitizen*cough*) and would be repeated by the Critic after with a review of Les Misérables, this was the one that really gave some attention to the format. A collab between the Critic, Nostalgia Chick and Brentalfloss, along with a slew of other CA affiliates, this review did a good job at portraying what works and what so doesn’t bloody work about the film itself as well as its potential entertainment value. The songs also are very entertaining, particularly Phelous’ monotone growling on El Tango de Pretense.
 
#3: Devil


Even though Doug would sort of lampshade what he feels is his own weak writing with this one, in all honesty, this is a pretty well-written attempt to take the decent premise of the film and make it work. This is the kind of video that honestly improves with re-watches, as the character actions and motives start to make more sense when you see how they act during the video after the fact. No spoilers here, but the setup, the characters used, the points made about the film, the ending; this would be my go-to video to point out where storyline reviews can work, even in a vacuum.
 
#2: A Simple Wish

I have a very vivid memory of watching this video for the first time, and having my mind completely blown. The review itself is mostly the Critic reeling at the sheer insanity on screen and the extremely overwrought attempts to be funny, but then the ending comes around with a cameo that I don’t think anyone saw coming. This head-on collision between two crucial figures from my adolescence was a glorious thing to witness, and it provided a nice means for the Critic’s character to maybe re-evaluate how he critiques certain actors.

#1: Batman And Robin

Yeah, this one seems fairly obvious for the long-time fans, given the presence of the now-legendary “BAT CREDIT CARD!”, but this tops the list for different reasons than just pure entertainment value. Sure, this is one of the classic episodes of the show with good reason as, even with a slight plot recount hiccup, his comments are still solid. However, this particular video reaches first because, quite frankly, this is my first in more ways than one. This is the video that I was shown in that computer lab all those years ago that started my cinematic journey that led me to where I am now; this 17 minute video has had some of the most profound effect on my cultural mindset and how I approach pretty much any form of media. It is because of this guy that I began to realize just how crap films like Batman & Robin and Kazaam really are, but it’s also because of this video and the progress I’d make after it that I have been able to see the sheer artistry in my favourite films and enjoy them on a much deeper level. This isn’t so much a case of undying loyalty, but more undying gratitude.

Well, after such a proclamation as that, you’d think we’d be done by now. But no, we still have one last movie review to do and, much like the Batman & Robin review, this one has a certain amount of significance to me as well.

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