Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Top 20 Nostalgia Chick Episodes

Some of my more frequent readers (yep, all three of you) might recall some statements that I’ve made concerning modern feminism and, God help us, GamerGate. Without getting further into that big distracting sepulchre than we have to, know that a lot of the real arguments I have with the Nostalgia Chick are along those lines and… well, getting into political and socio-political matters aren’t exactly what I signed for this gig to do in the first place. Try not to read too heavily into that for an inkling on whether this is all coming from a Kotaku_In_Action guy or a GamerGhazi guy (although, for the record, I don’t really fall into either camp to begin with). Honestly, I’m more amazed at how this show actually ended up evolving as it went on. Starting out as a distaff counterpart for the Nostalgia Critic, Lindsay ended up shifting it more towards her traditionally trained point of view in regards to cinema and turned it into a more overall analytical approach that would go on to inspire its own niche in the reviewing market. As such, I’m choosing to honour this unexpected trendsetter with a rundown of what I believe are the top 20 best episodes of the Nostalgia Chick.

Special Mention: The Host Review

As usual, since this isn’t a part of the series proper (in fact, this is probably more in-line as a one-off special of 50 Shades Of Green more than anything else), it doesn’t get a numbered place on the list, but its worth is such that it deserved to be mentioned regardless. The Host itself holds a pretty major place in my growth as a critic, as watching it was the first stepping stone towards me watching films as religiously as I do now. But even without that in mind, seeing Lindsay and Nella go over just how plain broken this film is, along with its rather sexist attitudes towards sci-fi as a whole, is immensely satisfying to see. I also like how it ends on an unfortunately realistic note on the nature of female-lead genre films, where you end up laughing along with them and then a sudden downbeat feeling sets in about the current state of Hollywood.

#20: You’ve Got Mail

We’re at the stage where making fun of commercial plugs in videos has itself become as much of a cliché as its target, so episodes like this are a rarity in that its approach to that source of comedy actually works out. Through that, she mocks the film’s very rampant corporate tie-ins and the very tepid romance at its core, showcasing what is probably the most out-and-out bad of the Meg Ryan rom-comography.

#19: She-Ra: Princess Of Power

You know I’m a guy who loves good facial reactions, and this is another one of those picks. This was back during her more rudimentary days, so it doesn’t have much of the thematic breakdowns of her later work, but her riffing skills are still on point and she even throws in a slight nudge to the Critic’s rather homocentric critiques on works in the He-Man/She-Ra canon, while admitting that such jokes are kind of unavoidable with stuff like this. Also, favourite reaction face from her when she sees She-Ra heal an animal.

#18: The Christmas Shoes

The ultimate in Christmas cringe, this song and the attached TV movie that I still ashamed for now knowing exists are the kind of media that outright demand to be reviewed. Her outlying of how unintentionally asinine and borderline offensive the film’s message is, not to mention the insidiousness of the song it was borne from, is great and her reaction faces at times almost rival those from the She-Ra video.

#17: Jem And The Holograms

Yeah, back before the latest film iteration of the franchise, the original series was doing well enough on its own in terms of utter embarrassment. And speaking of which, the NChick team gets all glammed up in quite possibly some of the most intentionally ugly outfits I’ve seen and go over how the series really sucks, and yet there really isn’t that much to go over. Also, the musical montage of them trying to reverse the initial makeover is very funny.

#16: Blonde Girls Then And Now

This video is less Lindsay trying to rationalize the female pop scene of late, and more her trying to talk someone else off of a ledge as a response to it, even though she herself isn’t so content with the way things are. The way she starts out the video is “I’m here to tell: It’s okay”, a phrase that is repeated during the video, her analysis of singers like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and Britney Spears carries with a certain despair that, for good or for ill, we’re stuck with them. It’s tragic on an astoundingly subconscious level, helped by how Lindsay herself twitches at some of the statements she makes within the video.

#15: Baby Whatever: Nostalgic Baby Dolls

Happy Meal Girl? HAPPY MEAL GIRL?! Someone greenlit this fucking idea?! Ahem… yeah, some of the toys found here range from the good, the bad and the “I pray that this doesn’t establish future behaviour”, but it gets even better when she and the rest of the NChick team mock up their own commercials for other ill-advised baby dolls. I have a certain fascination with marketing, and that’s essentially what this video amounts to: Marvelling at the demented genius that went into a lot of these products.

#14: My Little Pony

This video came out mere months before the premiere of the Friendship Is Magic series that would take the world by storm, which makes her arguments about the popularity of the franchise have an unexpected poignancy to them. She talks about the more interactive nature of the toys themselves, especially for the older fans, the content of the TV show and film (complete with creepy demon eyes) but this video is probably best remembered for Nella’s little fantasy epic involving her own MLP toys. Fun fact: Oancitizen first started getting noticed thanks to an analysis of that very story Nella told on the TGWTG forums. You can choose to irrationally love or loathe this video based purely on that factoid if you wish.

#13: Charlie’s Angels

As I started out with saying, I don’t exactly see eye-to-eye with some of the feminist ideals espoused by Lindsay on her show, so you can imagine my surprise when this video came out and kind of turned my preconceptions on their heads. The whole video is a treatise on what is and what isn’t female empowerment and Lindsay seems to be poking fun at both sides of the argument as she goes, even out-and-out declaring feminism ‘dead’ as a reaction to the male-gaze-y nonsense in the film being reviewed.

#12: Top 10 Worst Disney Sequels

For all the fist-shaking I’ve done at films like Planes: Fire & Rescue, I am more than aware that the Disney sequel machine is capable of producing far worse. At least 10 things that are worse, as illustrated by Lindsay just breaking a little more each time the next pick is brought up. Just for a taste of how bad this list gets, previous review target Beauty & The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas is indeed on the list, but it isn’t even the worst B&TB follow-up to be on there. Oh yeah. Lindsay well and truly went through the black hole to nab some of these titles.

#11: Kate And Leopold

I have made my own stance on the usual brand of female wish fulfillment in films many, many times before, but here is honestly where I have to tip my hat to a film that is just pure cheesecake that somewhat doesn’t immediately offend the senses. Maybe it’s got something to do with Hugh Jackman using the world’s supply of charm for his performance, which inspired not a good cavalcade of cameos in the review (complete with one of the Critic’s funniest moments) but also a final note that is could not possibly have been timed better if they tried. And yes, I double-checked: The film they mention is indeed real.

#10: The Little Mermaid

An internet critic having what is basically a hate intervention is already a compelling idea for a video, but when it’s connected to something that is held dear by a lot of Disney fans out there, it pushes past that into a compelling video in it of itself. The musical rebuttals from Nella and Elisa as well as Marzgurl, PushingUpRoses and Obscurus Lupa mix well with Lindsay’s pretty solid reasoning for disliking the film as she does, creating a good balanced perspective on the film overall. Also, bonus points for making a running gag out of avoiding a rather infamous bit of artwork on the original VHS cover for the thing.

#9: Top Ten Viral Videos From The Ancient Internet (Before YouTube)

A tribute to ye olden days of Internet memes, this video came as something of a minor revelation as a number of the videos mentioned like Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me and Moscow are things that little 20-year-old me remembers from back in the dial-up years. If nothing else, this video ranks up on here because it actually brought some mild clarity to the question of why I even knew who Dschinghis Khan was. It’s also nice to see a rundown of how a lot of what used to be popular online (read: copious randomness) ended up dictating an entire generation of content creators in the YouTube era.

#8: Reality Bites

Performed as an internal monologue via a letter to the 90’s about the current amount of nostalgia concerning the era, this review goes into the heavy sheen of hipster irony covering the film in question. Having watched Reality Bites after seeing this review, I don’t agree with every issue she has with it but she definitely gets across how the privileged mindset of the time seems really freaking petty in hindsight. Her comparisons to other media like The Lonely Island and Trainspotting to help illustrate the point are very well picked out as well.

#7: Disaster Movies Of Roland Emmerich

Released smack-dab in the middle of the Dark Nella arc, which is easily one of the weaker attempts at storylines out there, Lindsay details the Emmerich to the smallest detail. Even with her begrudging enjoyment of Independence Day, this video probably helped cement a lot of the issues I have with Emmerich’s work in my own mind, whereas Kyle’s review of Anonymous put the final nail in the coffin. After watching this, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to see any of his films the same way again… provided you have the intestinal fortitude to sit through any of them more than once.

#6: The Sexual Awakening Of The Human Nerd

A nice mixture of cringe and reaction comedy as Nella and Elisa don their Dr. Block and Dr. Tease smocks and go around MAGFest interviewing reviewers about their own geeky sexual awakening. What helps with this whole setup is that there are varying degrees of willingness to play along among the crowd, from the more valiant like Sage and Marzgurl to the ones who just keep breaking like Angry Joe. While the experiment itself is a bit aimless, the results do bring up some interesting questions about childhood media’s impact on one’s own sexuality. But, as you can no doubt tell by now, I’m leaving questions like that for the professionals to ponder; I feel awkward enough pretending I know thing one about cinema in the first place.

#5: Les Misérables: The Musical

Unpopular opinion incoming but I like this review better than the Nostalgia Critic Les Mis review. The way Lindsay manages to blaze through the incredibly thickly-laden story of both the original novel and the musical adaptation as quickly as she did, with considerate effort, is definitely commendable and the renditions of the songs by the reviewers are very good. I especially like JewWario messes with Lindsay a little with a very funny lyric alteration.

#4: TLC And The 90’s

Definitely the most emotionally personal episode, Lindsay looks into the history and music of TLC, in particular her fascination and admiration for rapper Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez. What starts out as a look at the group’s highs, lows and whatever the hell you call someone burning down a house, it suddenly shifts at the end to an extremely tender revelation from Lindsay about not only the unfortunate passing of Left Eye but also the then-recent death of Amy Winehouse. Good God, the feels on this thing are immense, just hearing her pour her heart and soul out about not only their deaths but also that of a friend’s that ties into the events going on. Got to admit, I’m getting a little weepy-eyed just writing about this thing.

#3: Nostalgic Foods Of Yore

This is basically a head-on collision between nostalgias past and present, as no less than Mara friggin’ Wilson, Matilda herself, sits in as Lindsay and Nella partake in some of the more ill-advised snack foods of their youth. It’s essentially a Tries video at its core, so most of the enjoyment is gotten out of the reactions to some of the stuff (Mara in particular has some great quips here), but just the mere existence of this video that unites two things that were seriously important to my personal upbringing (Matilda and Internet critics) in such a way is just amazing to me. Yeah, they had worked together on Lindsay’s review of Matilda before, but this is the one that is more fun to watch at the end of the day. Also, be warned: There’s a Lady And The Tramp re-enactment that may just destroy your childhood if you remember her child acting to any degree.

#2: Ender’s Game

As someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time advocating for the separation of the art from the artist, it’s little surprise that a video discussing exactly that would score major points with me. She goes over the titular book, written by quite prominent homophobe Orson Scott Card, and discusses how one’s personal views may or may not affect one’s work and others’ enjoyment of it. It may date the discussion by tying it into the Chik-fil-A debacle along similar lines, but her going over the moral implications next to a want for decent product makes it a worthy addition to what is already a very understandable perspective on the matter.

#1: Freddy Got Fingered

After my last Top 20 list, this pick should come as no real surprise but, yeah, the big collab between Lindsay and Kyle is the #1 choice. Going against the usual standards for Kyle’s crossovers, Lindsay manages to match him for analytical prowess as she mingles her own youth watching/listening/beholding Tom Green on MTV with her look at how… wat the film is as a whole. Kyle’s attempts to contextualize the film as a darker subversion of the usual Adam Sandler fare make some degree of sense, but at the end of the day, it just ain’t good. Kyle’s cry of “It’s too normal to be Dada! It’s too shit to be anything else!”, coupled with the… awkward situation he finds himself in at the time, is amazing and the finale, featuring how Lindsay and Kyle take out their aggression at the film, is painfully hilarious.

Next time, we'll be looking at a book that looks into just how intentionally bad a writer can take things, all done by a person that may or may not even exist.

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