Descendants (1, 2, 3): These Were Cute – Disney+ Review/Reader Request

My niece forced me to review these, but they were fine.

My sister-in-law forwarded one of the cutest videos ever of my young niece singing a song I had never heard before, complete with some attempted choreography. I was told that the song was from one of the Descendants movies on Disney+. Unfortunately, this somehow snowballed into my niece being told that she could ask me to watch all three of these movies and review them. I tried to say no, but then she used the term “reader request.” I was stuck. Fortunately, they were surprisingly decent movies with increasingly good musical numbers. They’re not going to go down in history as the pinnacle of cinema, but they’re pretty fun movies that pay off more if you’re a big fan of Disney’s classic films.

You can tell which ones are evil because they dress like they listen to My Chemical Romance.

The premise of Descendants is that there is a country called Auradon ruled by Belle and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast (Keegan Connor Tracy and Dan Payne). As part of setting up their perfect kingdom, they banished all of the villains to the “Isle of the Lost” which is behind a barrier that eliminates magic. Belle’s and Beast’s son, Ben (Mitchell Hope), decides to offer a chance to come to Auradon to the children of the villains. It starts with Carlos de Vil, Jay the son of Jafar, Evie the daughter of the Evil Queen, and Maleficent’s daughter Mal (Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, Sofia Carson, Dove Cameron), then eventually includes other children like Gaston’s son Gil, Ursula’s daughter Uma, Harry Hook, Dizzy Tremaine, Celia Facilier, and Smee’s boys Squeaky and Squirmy (Dylan Playfair, China Anne McClain, Thomas Doherty, Anna Cathcart, Jadah Marie, Christian Convery, and Luke Roessler). They basically attend high school with the children of the heroes, like Sleeping Beauty’s daughter Audrey, Dopey’s son Doug, Mulan’s daughter Lonnie, Fairy Godmother’s daughter Jane, and Cinderella’s son Chad (Sarah Jeffery, Zachary Gibson, Dianne Doan, Brenna D’Amico, Jedidiah Goodacre). Naturally, there are a lot of villain schemes that try to play out as the bad guys try to escape their prison and a lot of kids switch sides. There are songs and a happy ending for everyone that isn’t evil. 

And some very odd reveals along the way.

The idea behind these movies is actually pretty solid. It’s basically directly challenging the notion that you’re born good or evil and are rewarded accordingly by wealth, a thing which was so common among America’s founders that we are still dealing with it. Of course, most people nowadays recognize that most people are driven to bad acts by bad situations and the movies are about the adoption of this new ideology. It’s basically a generational story of how societal complexity forces the move away from people just being “good” and “evil.” The films point out that while most of the kids of the villains might start off with bad tendencies, that stems in part from the fact that they grew up in a poor area populated entirely by people who are literally condemned by society as irreparably evil by their nature. While many of their parents continue to be villains, most of the kids, when put in an area that rewards their hard work, grants them independence, and doesn’t say that they’re inherently evil, actually start to become better people. On the other hand, many of the heroes’ kids are a bit dickish because A) they’re rich and entitled and B) they’re literally told that they’re heroes and good people because their parents were. This plays out really well in the third movie. The songs are great and, honestly, they get better as the films go on. While the stories and conflicts get a little repetitive as they go on, the movies still have some fun moments. 

And some moments where you’re just wondering how we got here.

Overall, there are much better films, but these would be cute to watch with your kids, particularly since they have a message that will always apply more to the next generation than the current one.

Black Widow: Not Marvel’s Best, but Still Good – Disney+ Review

Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow first appeared in Iron Man 2 over a decade ago and died in 2019. Naturally, this was the perfect time to finally give her a solo film. I will acknowledge that Black Widow isn’t quite as easy to do a film about as Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel. Black Widow’s origin story is horrifying when you think about it hard enough. This movie, while it essentially montages over that period, makes it clear that she was essentially abducted as a child, tortured, operated on against her will, and brainwashed to be a perfect killing machine. Essentially, she’s the bad guy in most movies. So, doing a movie about her confronting that past, while it didn’t get as dark as it could have, was naturally going to have a lot of uncomfortable moments. The film tries, and largely succeeds, to balance this out with humor, but there are still a lot of parts of the movie where you will likely squirm a bit in your seat. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s definitely not what you expect from a Marvel movie.

As opposed to her posing repeatedly, which is heavily expected.

The film takes place right after Captain America: Civil War with Natasha Romanov on the run from General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt). After seemingly finding a good place to hideout, she receives a package that was sent by her sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh), and is attacked by the assassin codenamed Taskmaster. Escaping, Natasha reunites with Yelena to find out that the Black Widows and the Red Room that trains them are both still operating, despite the fact that Natasha believed she killed Dreykov (Ray Winstone), the man operating it, as well as his daughter Antonia (Olga Kurylenko). The pair decide to find the Red Room through their old handlers and fake parents, the Soviet Super-Soldier Red Guardian (David Harbour) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). 

They kill people and look good doing it.

There are a lot of things this movie does well. It spends a lot of time taking apart tropes forced onto female characters in action films, with Yelena even calling Natasha a “poser” and those conversations are usually pretty hilarious. Actually the humor is mostly on point, particularly with the banter between Johansson and Pugh as well as David Harbour’s self-deluded super-soldier persona. The action sequences are excellent and contain some of the more fun entries into Marvel due to the fact that almost all of the characters in this film are not superhuman. It’s a little harder to know when something is dangerous when the characters can bench-press a bus or hold a helicopter in place. When most of the people can suffer collateral damage from explosions or getting punched a lot, then it seems like they’re in more trouble when they are being chased by an armored vehicle. The movie also does a good job of distinguishing itself from most of the other female-led movies by not trying to be an origin story and not trying to make its main character a paragon of virtue. Black Widow is almost a reformed supervillain and that’s not a common main character for a blockbuster film. 

His knuckles say “Karl Marx.” He can punch you into class unconsciousness.

There are some downsides, though. The movie touching on the abuse that the girls suffer in the Red Room is deeply disturbing, but the fact that they end up bantering with Harbour and Weisz, their fake parents who essentially handed them over to be tortured, is almost more unnerving. They make jokes about genital mutilation at one point to make Red Guardian uncomfortable, but it still seems weird for them to not want to just put a bullet in his head for allowing them to go through that. While maybe you can forgive Red Guardian as he is kind of an idiot who really bought into the ideology that what happened to them for the best, Melina is a genius who helped design the program they went through. They should want her to die painfully, not be a surrogate mom again. Also, there’s nothing that can really happen in the movie that’s too surprising, because we know that Black Widow survives only to die five movies ago.

At least Natasha tries to keep her sister safe.

Overall, though, this was definitely a movie that was worth seeing. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Loki: It’s Loki All the Way Down – Disney+ Review (No Finale Spoilers)

The God of Mischief gets his own show and it is glorious.

It’s funny that people are still sharing the news article now about Tom Hiddleston’s casting in the original Thor film, saying that he, along with Chris Hemsworth, were “no names” as if it were absurd. The fact is it was true, they both were no names, particularly compared to Iron Man’s cast of Robert Downey Jr. and the Dude. After the film came out, it became clear that Hiddleston was not only going to be a big part of the MCU, but that he was the one villain that it made sense to keep bringing back. Iron Monger, Whiplash, Abomination, Red Skull… None of them held a candle to Loki as a fun villain, mostly because he was always just haughty enough that you loved watching him lose. When he finally died in Avengers: Infinity War, it was terrible knowing that we’d never see him again… until the past version of him escaped in Endgame and they announced that he was getting his own series. I was a little worried they might drop the ball by overusing the character, but somehow this show, which is as packed with Loki as it gets, nailed it.

Y’all want Loki? We’ll give you all the Loki you can handle.

The show starts with Loki escaping in Endgame, using the Tesseract to jump away from the Avengers during the events of the first Avengers film. He is quickly picked up by a group of militarized officers who take him to a facility called the Time Variance Authority, or TVA. The TVA are the group that patrols through time in order to avoid creating alternate timelines and the multiverse that would follow. Loki is recruited to work for the TVA by agent Mobius Mobius (Owen Wilson), who informs Loki that he has to track down an alternate version of Loki (Sophia Di Martino). However, it turns out there may be a lot more to the TVA than meets the eye, particularly when it comes to the motivations of TVA judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). 

Dammit Owen Wilson, you’re always awesome.

The secret to this show is in how well it plays personalities off of each other. For the first few episodes the biggest pairing is Hiddleston and Wilson, who come off as if they are in a television remake of the film 48 Hours, where it’s the hardlined but still rule-bending cop and the streetwise comedic sidekick. Wilson is so disarmingly earnest in contrast to Hiddleston’s constant side-eyed scheming that it really makes for hilarious conversations. Even though the female Loki, Sylvie, is supposed to be similar to the main Loki, and is, she is just different enough that watching them interacting is incredibly entertaining. She’s got a lot of chips on her shoulders due to her life being ruined at an early age and having to live on the run for no reason, unlike Loki who actually did things that merit punishment. While the show does expand the worlds every episode, it still stays focused on these beautiful moments between characters, so it always feels grounded. 

She’s amazing and everyone should love her.

Overall, just a fantastic show, maybe my favorite television show in the MCU so far.

The Bad Batch: It’s More Clone Wars, But Less Filler – Disney+ Review

I’m going to be perfectly honest here: Clone Wars was not my thing for a long time. When I was finally convinced to finish the series, it did end up being pretty good as it went on, and I will attribute at least some of my initial dislike to how it was replacing Genndy Tartakovsky’s amazing Clone Wars series. I prefer the darker and harsher tone of the hand-drawn to CGI and I still absolutely hate the Clone Wars pilot film. That said, the show did get better and, by the end, I admit that it grew on me to the point that it’s among my favorite Star Wars properties. The show was at its best when it was focusing mostly on Commander Rex and the 501st Legion, who eventually became aware that they were literally biologically programmed to kill the Jedi and had nothing they could do to avoid it. So, when they stated they were going to do a series that starts at the end of the Clone Wars (and the carrying out of Order 66) and bridge the gap between the series and the Rebels series following a group of renegade clones, I was on board.

They are discriminated against by people they’re genetically nearly-identical to. Fun.

The series literally starts with the implementation of Order 66. The “Bad Batch,” a group of genetically mutated clones who each have an enhanced ability: Hunter has heightened senses, Wrecker is strong, Tech is smart, Crosshair has superior marksmanship, and Echo is a cyborg (all voiced, like all clones, by Dee Bradley Baker). They witness the betrayal of the Jedi by their fellows but, except for Crosshair, feel no compulsion to do anything and they allow the young Jedi Caleb Dune (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), who will one day be Kanan Jarrus on Rebels, to escape the purge. The group, minus Crosshair, is soon accused of treason against the newly-formed Galactic Empire, but they manage to escape along with the gender-bent clone Omega (Michelle Ang). They then must travel along a rapidly-changing galaxy as outlaws, regularly interacting with characters from other series. 

She’s an unaltered clone, so she’s small, but also a she.

The weakness to this show, and it is not a huge one given the target audience, is that it is pretty lore heavy. If you didn’t watch Clone Wars, you probably won’t know the significance of about half of the things mentioned in a given episode. Sometimes, the references will be to things that occur in films or series set even later in the franchise, like Rebels. It does get more than a little annoying after a while to have to look up ten characters on Wookiepedia just because you might not have a perfect memory of Star Wars minutia. However, if you are either very dedicated to Star Wars or, unlike me, can just enjoy something fun, then you will like this show. The animation is great, the clones all have solid character development (particularly when contrasted with other renegade clones), and the settings are as creative as anything in Star Wars. Unlike The Clone Wars, I don’t feel like one-tenth of the episodes are filler or focused around characters that I don’t care about.

You get a lot of “cameo guides” for this kind of show.

Overall, it’s a good show, but it is definitely meant for Star Wars superfans.

Luca: A Heartwarming Pixar Film – Disney+ Review

Pixar bucks their usual style but still delivers a solid movie.

Before I saw this movie, I was greeted by the headline “Why is Pixar bad now?” I admit that this seemed like a completely ridiculous question, given that their last film, Soul, felt like one of the best films Pixar ever put out, but it definitely made me very concerned about this movie. However, having now seen it, that title seems to have been completely clickbait. While I don’t think that this will rank among their most outstanding films, I still think this was a well-done film. It doesn’t follow most of the traditional Pixar formula, in the sense that it mostly stays in the primary location and doesn’t have much of an actual “journey,” nor does it have much in the way of supporting comic relief, but it is still a solid film that has strong emotional moments and a decent number of subversions.

Also, who doesn’t love a seaside Italian village?

The story starts with a feeling of familiarity as we see a family of “sea monsters” with a young son, Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay), who is fascinated with the surface world. Similar to a famous redheaded mermaid, his parents, Daniela and Lorenzo (Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan), forbid him from journeying to the land and tell him to continue herding goatfish. Luca soon meets another sea monster, Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), who actually lives on an island off of the coast of Italy. It turns out that when sea monsters dry out, they become humans. 

Very cool transformation sequence used very well in the film.

Alberto is also fascinated with humans and the surface world, particularly the image of a Vespa. The two become close friends and eventually journey to the human city of Portorosso, where they befriend a young girl named Giulia (Emma Berman) and her father Massimo (Marco Barricelli). They hope to help Giulia with her dream of winning the Portorosso triathlon and, in the process, to win themselves a Vespa. The only thing stopping them is the local bully Ercole (Saverio Raimondo) and, oh yeah, the fact that everyone in the town hunts sea monsters and water changes them from human back to sea monster. 

Giulia, whose swears are mostly cheese-based.

This movie is much lighter in tone than many of Pixar’s other films, focusing mostly on childish hijinx that, while entertaining, often seem less important than say, WALL-E trying to appreciate art or the Incredibles dealing with the fact that they can’t be their true selves. The film reminds me a little of Onward in that I didn’t anticipate it having much of an emotional weight to it, but then basically blindsided me with a series of really strong moments that felt all the heavier because the film had been so light up until then. While it doesn’t have the “toys embracing the inevitable death because they’re together” kind of dark points, it manages to give the audience some strong shots to the gut.

Which can happen when a spit-take can mean your life.

In terms of animation, this movie is beautiful. It’s supposed to be a blend of Fellini and Miyazaki and I think they nailed that aesthetic. The film is set in the 1960s (although advertised as the 1950s for some reason), and the imagery of the seaside Italian village from that period is breathtaking. The cinematography is outstanding, particularly the many scenes involving the characters transitioning from ocean to land and the scenes of the characters traversing the city on bicycles. 

They also did great work with the underwater aesthetics.

Overall, solid film. Really recommend it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Cruella: A Great Movie Weighed Down by Forced Premise – Disney+ Review

This movie is like 90% great and 10% WHY?????

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Estella Miller (Emma Stone) was born a bit of an outcast due to her black-and-white hair, but it certainly isn’t helped by her mischievous streak. Her only friend growing up is a young girl named Anita Darling (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). Her mother, Catherine (Emily Beecham), decides to move the two of them to London, but when she stops to get help from a “friend,” Estella wanders into a fashion show and gets caught, resulting in a pack of Dalmatians chasing after her. The Dalmatians attack her mother and kill her. Yes, that actually happens. Now orphaned, Estella meets two street urchins named Horace and Jasper (Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry). The three grow up as thieves until Estella finally manages to get a job working for famed fashion designer The Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson) and befriends local fashion shop owner Artie (John McCrea). Soon, however, Estella decides she needs to pull a heist on her employer and debuts herself as the new face of fashion: Cruella. 

She makes all of her own outfits.


I will start by saying that having Cruella de Vil’s mother killed by Dalmatians is possibly the absolute dumbest thing they could have done. Moreover, it doesn’t even make her hate Dalmatians, not even the ones that actually orphaned her, thus making it completely useless to her origin. Combine that with the idea that Cruella de Vil’s black-and-white hair is somehow natural and the terrible “this is how I died” set-up and I’ll admit that at the 10 minute mark, I was about ready to call this movie a disaster (despite a great performance by Tipper Seifert-Cleveland as young Cruella). Surprisingly, though, once the movie kind of settles into its ultimate 1970s London location, the film actually gets pretty entertaining and impressive.

She. Was. Born. With two-toned hair.

First of all, the makeup and hair design and set design in this movie might both merit Oscar nominations, if not outright wins, but the costume design takes it to another level. The costumes in the film have to be beautiful, diverse (they are coming from multiple designers, after all), thematically appropriate, and inventive as heck. Somehow, they pull it off repeatedly. At one point, without spoiling anything, it’s revealed that Cruella is wearing almost the entire shot and I legitimately shouted at the brilliance of it. As far as makeup and set design goes, this movie looks absolutely gorgeous. Spots are hidden everywhere to reference the Dalmatians, the colors are bold, they look period appropriate while also containing references to locations of famous art shows (if you just watched Halston, then you’d probably recognize some stuff), and they’re just cool looking. 

Welcome to the future. It involves a lot of spray paint.

Emma Thompson and Emma Stone are both amazing. They’re both strong women with more similarities than they’d like to admit, particularly since Emma Thompson resembles the person that we are told Cruella will one day become. She definitely seems a bit influenced by Glenn Close in the live action version as well as Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Emma Stone plays Estella as a bit of a split personality with Cruella, changing quite a bit as she indulges further and further into her criminal persona, which starts to actually behave like a young version of her future self. Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry both give a lot more personality to their characters which is helped by the fact that they deal with both Estella, who treats them like close friends, and Cruella, who treats them like lackeys. It’s interesting to see them react to the change, because at first they just try to deal with it because they care about her, but then they slowly get worn down by her abuse.

I literally don’t know if this is a wig. We see dye, but then we see wig later.

The biggest problem, though, is that the film can’t actually let Cruella be the villain. While she does START to do a turn towards darkness, she never actually falls to it. By the end of the movie, she’s basically just a successful fashion designer with no indication that she’d ever order the murder of a bunch of Dalmatians just to make a coat. In fact, a big part of the movie is that one of her closest companions IS A DOG. Even when she is actually given the chance to be cruel to animals, the film makes it clear that she is not even considering it. At the end of the film, there is absolutely no way that the character we’ve been following will EVER be Cruella de Vil except in name. It’s not that she’s a bad character, in fact, she’s very interesting, but she’s not Cruella de Vil. Oh, and the mid-credits scene only drives that home way more.

She even has a dog. And Horace has the cutest chihuahua ever.

Overall, the only parts of this movie that don’t work are the ones that seem to be forced to make it a “Cruella de Vil” movie. If you just let it be independent of that, the movie was actually pretty enjoyable and, again, damned gorgeous.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Amphibia: One of Gravity Falls’ Proud Progeny – Disney+ Review

Disney is getting some real talent on their shows.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

Anne Boonchuy (Brenda Song) and her best friends Sasha Waybright (Anna Akana) and Marcy Wu (Haley Tju) steal a music box from an antique store. When they open it, they are sucked through and end up in the land of Amphibia, a world populated by sentient frogs, toads, and newts. Separated from the others, Anne meets the Plantar family, a trio of frog farmers living in the small town of Wartwood: Anne’s best friend and partner-in-crime Sprig (Justin Felbinger), Sprig’s pollywog sister Polly (Amanda Leighton), and their grandfather Hopediah AKA “Hop Pop.” Anne, who is perceived as a freak by the population, eventually grows to be liked by the people of Wartwood, only for it to be revealed that Sasha has become the chief lieutenant of Captain Grime (Troy Baker), the vicious head of Toad Tower that controls the region of Amphibia that includes Wartwood. After Anne and Sasha fight and the tower is destroyed, they end up separated again. Now, the Plantars and Anne set off for the capital, Newtopia, to find something that may help Anne get back home… and maybe to find Marcy.

Renewed for Season 3.


I have made at least a dozen statements on this blog about my absolute love of Gravity Falls. I think that, in many ways, it’s one of the most impressive shows ever made, managing to make a kid-friendly version of Twin Peaks while also creating some of the most memorable characters and most powerful scenes of emotion you can get in an animated show. One of the episodes even was added to my 100 Best Episodes of Television and I genuinely considered adding another. The creator of this show, Matt Braly, was not only a director of 8 episodes of Gravity Falls, but was the Key Animator of “Not What He Seems,” the episode that I consider the peak of that show. Whatever experience he got on Gravity Falls clearly helped shape this show, because Amphibia manages to push many of the same boundaries of television that Gravity Falls did while also delivering the kind of show that can be loved and enjoyed by people of any age. It’s a show that families can watch together, something that I think we really need more of. Along with The Owl House and The Mitchells vs. The Machines, there’s a whole generation of great talent making animated shows.

Show knows how to design a city.

Part of what makes this show successful is that the characters are all likably flawed. Anne has more issues than almost any protagonist you could have on a kids show, but she does always keep trying to do the right thing. More than that, she learns from her mistakes and, while she ends up making more, there’s never a doubt that she’ll get better. She has very different relationships with all three of the Plantars: She’s Sprig’s emotional confidant and closest friend, she’s Polly’s source of both femininity and also athleticism, and she’s both Hop Pop’s surrogate daughter and, occasionally, the one who bonds with him over the childish behavior of the younger Plantars. All of the relationships feel natural and they keep the show fresh because there’s always more to mine as the characters grow. 

It also has TROGDOR!! The Burninator.

The setting of the show manages to be completely alien and yet familiar. Everything in Amphibia is just a bit off from Earth, but you can still find common ground with it. That particularly applies to the citizens of Wartwood, which include the corrupt politician Mayor (Stephen Root), his well-named yes-man Toadie (Jack McBrayer), and local weirdo Wally (James Patrick Stuart). The technology is a bit irregular, with most of society being at Feudalism, but other aspects being in the 1930s or even 50s. The old-timey society makes it more understandable when there are monsters or cannibals (seriously) or other crazy things populating the area. I think they honestly get away with some of these horror figures only because most of the characters are frogs and therefore less “real.”

There’s a lot of diversity among amphibians.

Overall, the show just really gets a lot of stuff right. I really recommend it, particularly if you liked Gravity Falls (which does get a tribute episode).

Stan Ponds. Perfect.


So, you may have seen this show trending a month or so ago. That’s because Disney ended up cancelling the finale of Season 2 shortly before it aired. So shortly, in fact, that the episode ended up being available on iTunes for a few hours before it could be pulled. Fans, as well as the creators and their fellow people in the animated series industry, rioted, because this was done without any real explanation. Having now seen the finale, I notice two things: 1) They put a warning before the episode about its potential impact on small children and 2) they made the actual broadcast of the finale be followed up by a sample of season 3’s opening. I think they had to do this because the second season finale of Amphibia was one of the most shocking things I have ever seen, completely destroying what I thought Disney’s standards and practices would allow. While the show regularly puts members of the cast in mortal danger, it’s still a kids show, so you would not expect them to, hypothetically, violently impale a character with a sword and then end a season. But they did. I think they made them air the season 3 opening just because it reveals that the character is still alive (albeit in a tube). I am actually a little sad that they weren’t willing to perma-kill a character, but it is a character I really like, so… I’m torn. In any case, I still think they shouldn’t have delayed the finale, but I do understand it.

DuckTales “The Last Adventure”: How to End Your Great Reboot – Disney+ (Soon) Review

The gold standard for cartoon reboots comes to a glorious, glorious end.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Having spent a season fighting against the Fiendish Organization for World Larceny (F.O.W.L.), Scrooge McDuck (David Tennant) and family finally face off against the assembled forces of villainy. The stakes are not just the future of the McDuck family, but the future of adventure itself. IT. IS. MAGNIFICENT. 

Anything else would be a spoiler. 

This was just the cast at the Beginning of the season. It got bigger.


Since it came out I have hailed this show as nothing short of brilliant and that did not change. I’m deeply disappointed with Disney’s decision to end this show after only three seasons, but I cannot help but be impressed with how much effort the team behind it put into this sendoff. Not only does it directly reference multiple shows from the Disney Afternoon lineup (DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Goof Troop, The Wuzzles, Gummi Bears), it indirectly references essentially all of the other animated shows that Disney put on in the 1990s, including an insanely funny joke involving Keith David from Gargoyles. 

This show lives again!!!!! But not really. But kinda?

The key to this finale is that it both pays tribute to the huge mythology that this show built and also to all of the history that inspired the show itself. It doesn’t just present an amazing adventure for our characters, it highlights why we love them so much and why we want to root for them. The theme of the show has always been about family, particularly about how family are the people that stand up for you not the people you share blood with, and this finale makes that take the center. It’s got a lot of solid emotional moments between all of the characters, but particularly ones involving Webby (Kate Micucci), a character who often seemed to feel like she was an outsider trying to join a family. I think that’s something that many shows often overlook when doing a finale, that it still needs to have the emotional core to keep us invested in our characters even though we’ve been on the journey with them this far. DuckTales nailed it.

Hell, the title shot even focuses on her a bit.

I know that this is a kids show, but I will miss this series. It didn’t just try to hit nostalgia, it dove in and reminded us why nostalgia can be great, because it gives you a feeling of shared love between creator and viewer. It told us that whether it was the original comic books, the ‘87 series, the later comics, or even other shows that were just made by the same company, that we can all be bonded over our love of stories about good triumphing by being smarter than the smarties, tougher than the toughies, sharper than the sharpies, and earning it square. 

It also proves that Lin Manuel Miranda can play nerds really well.

Overall, I hope that they at least keep the Darkwing Duck show developing at Disney+ in this continuity, because even a few occasional cameos would help soften the blow. They probably won’t, but a man can dream. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Darby O’Gill and the Little People: The Perfect St. Paddy’s Day Film – (NOT) Disney+ Review

I love this movie and if you don’t love it, drink ‘til you do.


Darby O’Gill (Albert Sharpe) is an Irish groundskeeper for the estate of Lord Fitzpatrick (Walter Fitzgerald). Darby is one of the few people in the town of Rathcullen that knows that the town is populated by a tribe of leprechauns. Darby continually tries to capture their leader, King Brian (Jimmy O’Dea), who actually tends to consider Darby a friendly rival. Lord Fitzpatrick replaces Darby with a new groundskeeper, Michael McBride (Sean Connery), something that Darby tries to keep secret from his daughter, Katie (Janet Munro). Brian, sympathetic to Darby’s loss, tries to imprison him in his mountain keep, but Darby escapes and ends up finally capturing Brian, who has to give him three wishes. Darby uses the first to force Brian to stay by his side (preventing him from just running out of earshot), but Brian tricks him into using the second to bring Michael and Katie together. 

Having a nice time with a small friend.

After a local bully (Kieron Moore) tries to steal Michael’s job and Katie’s hand, Katie finds out that Darby had lied to her and yells at both her and Michael. She then chases a horse and, unfortunately, contracts a fever. Because King Brian is with Darby, Darby sees a banshee appear for Katie and call a headless death coachman to take her away. Darby uses his third wish to take the place of Katie and is carried off towards death. However, while in the coach, Darby wishes that he could have Brian’s company as a friend in the afterlife. Brian points out this is a fourth wish, which voids the other three, meaning Darby cannot be in the Death Coach. However, Katie has now recovered and thus cannot be taken either. Everyone gets to stay in Ireland and live happily ever after. Except for the bully, because he tried to get between Sean Connery and a lady. 

The violin is a key plot point.


*Update* So, I watched the copy of the film that I already owned to write this. It turns out that Disney has uploaded an altered version of the film onto Disney+ which dubs over much of Jimmy O’Dea and Albert Sharpe’s dialogue. The explanation appears to be that Americans can’t understand Irish accents and don’t understand when people have short exchanges in Munster Irish. This is one of the worst decisions I can imagine.

Perhaps the thing that is least believable about this film is what it was made in 1959. While most of us nowadays are familiar with forced perspective thanks to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, this film took that to an entirely different level and did so back when the only way to film a chariot race was to build a giant racetrack and just reenact it. In order to film several scenes in this film, the practical effects had to be pushed beyond the limit of what existed at the time, something that Walt Disney himself loved to do. To put it more in perspective (PUN INTENDED), just lighting these complicated scenes pulled so much power that it blew out a local substation. Additionally, there are many scenes in the film that clearly are not done solely through forced perspective, but through a combination of perspective and Chroma-Key work, something that was still mostly in its infancy at this point. The main reason they could pull it off was actually because Walt Disney had previously used it for his live-action/animated “Alice” shorts in the 1920s. Because of this use of careful and, mostly practical, effects, this movie holds up unbelievably well for its age. I’m sure that the version on Disney+ has been further retouched from my childhood, but if you had the old VHS copy of this movie growing up, you know that the magic of the scenes held up pretty well. Oh, and the Banshee/Death Coach scenes still creep me out.

When rotoscoping going wrong actually goes right.

It’s pretty clear that this movie would not have gotten made if it had not been a passion project for Walt Disney. He spent over a decade working on the script and the premise, even studying Irish folklore at the Dublin library while developing it. He picked Albert Sharpe to play the lead because he enjoyed him in a stage play years beforehand (his original pick, Barry Fitzgerald, declined to do the movie). Jimmy O’Dea was cast because Disney saw him doing pantomime. Connery was borrowed from Fox because Disney thought he was good looking enough to be a love interest with little screen time (which ended up getting him noticed by Albert R. Broccoli and thus auditioned for James Bond), while Munro was a contract player for Disney. Interestingly, in order to preserve the illusion that the leprechauns were real, Disney did not credit the actors playing the wee folk, instead giving “thanks” to King Brian and his subjects. He even had a special episode of Walt Disney Presents titled “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns” in which he and Albert Sharpe chase down King Brian to ask him to help make the movie. It’s all the little extra efforts that pay off in the end. 

Walt Disney had a bigger pot of gold than him.

As far as the film itself, I do love the story. Most of the film is Brian and Darby in their strange bromance and that’s genuinely a great relationship that grows over the course of the film. The performances are all great, although I admit that Sean Connery doesn’t really sell the song as much as they probably hoped. Still, “Pretty Irish Girl” is a great song and it really captures the small-town Irish vibe that the film was going for. It helps that it is used perfectly within the movie as a shortcut to believably move Katie and Michael’s relationship forward quickly. 

Overall, just a great movie. Grab a Guinness and check it out. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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WandaVision: A Magical Tribute to TV – Disney+ Review

Marvel’s first Phase Four series gives us an homage to the history of televised love.


Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is married to the android Vision (Paul Bettany), who is somehow back from the dead after having Thanos rip his head open. They now live in the town of Westview, New Jersey, which just so happens to mirror the setting of classic sitcoms, aging from the 1950s to the 2010s as the couple moves forward in their relationship. They regularly interact with their nosy neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) and eventually have two children named Billy and Tommy (Julian Hilliard and Jett Kline). At the same time, in the “real” world, S.W.O.R.D. Agent Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), and astrophysicist Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) attempt to find Wanda and end the strange things happening to Westview, while avoiding SWORD director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg).

Yes, ’70s Wanda and Vision are swingers.


When Marvel announced they were shifting to television for their fourth phase, I admit that I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. I liked Agents of SHIELD, but it was fairly inconsistent in terms of storytelling. Some arcs were amazing, others felt like they just ran out of ideas and were pulling from broad genre tropes that they forced in. Agent Carter felt more coherent, but it also got cancelled pretty quickly. The announcement of WandaVision initially excited me, but then I got worried that maybe the show would just be an excuse to do some hackneyed jokes based around the idea of the two characters living in a sitcom. Fortunately, this show focused just as much on the mystery as it did on the sitcom elements, which kept the series from overusing the premise. 

I do think it’s weird that NO agent of SHIELD showed up in the series.

Part of what makes it work is that the show plays the corny sitcom tropes completely straight for most of the first episode. That season is the 1950s and most of the jokes are, appropriately, pratfalls or bland and non offensive observations. If you rewatch most of the shows from that period that aren’t the Dick Van Dyke Show or I Love Lucy, a lot of shows largely relied on the novelty of just performing on television to make the spectacle enjoyable. Both Bettany and Olsen do a great job of duplicating the speaking and reaction style that were hallmarks of most of the shows during that period. As the show gets closer to the present, through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, the jokes from the “sitcoms” get more modern and better crafted, for the most part, but they also become more rare because the “fourth wall” gets progressively destroyed, starting with a moment that is deeply out of character at the end of the first episode. However, for at least the first two episodes, there are only a few minutes that appear to be anything outside of the sitcom, which really helps keep the balance between the show and the show within the show.

Also, kudos to the costumers and set designers. Great stuff.

The supporting cast ranges from classic sitcom guests like Fred Melamed, Debra Jo Rupp, and Emma Caulfield to the recurring “real world” cast of FBI and SWORD agents. It’s interesting in that we see both the “sitcom” version of the characters as well as their “real” versions and they are deeply different, in a way that reflects how dour reality is compared to the curated image of life that used to permeate television. It is compounded by the fact that, when their true selves show, they are dealing with having been essentially imprisoned by having their wills supressed. Some of the scenes of this are played darkly straight and make the entire situation seem even more disturbing. As far as the “real world” cast goes, Parris, Park, and Dennings are a near perfect balance of comic relief and competent supporting character. None of them are stupid, they’re just believably quirky people who have their own motivations and flaws. I will say I look forward to Parris becoming a superhero in future installments.

I am surprised that Kitty Foreman wasn’t in the 1970s episode, though.

I will admit that I regret not reviewing this show earlier, but I felt like I could not appropriately give praise to the best parts of the show without spoilers, and I wanted to give a week for that period to pass. So, SPOILER WARNING:

Kathryn Hahn is a god-given treasure to this show (and, let’s face it, any show she’s on). She not only plays the neighbor Agnes for most of the series, which was one of the more amusing and consistent parts of the “television show” illusion, but is revealed to be the witch Agatha Harkness, who essentially manipulated Wanda so that she could steal her powers. Hahn is not only clever, but her snarky delivery makes her likable even when she is acting as the villain. I’m hopeful that Marvel continues to use her. Another notable casting decision was Evan Peters as “Ralph Bohner,” an actor who is cast by Agatha as Quicksilver, Wanda’s brother. Peters played the character in the X-men Universe and, while it was kind of a let down that this wasn’t actually the alternate universe version of the character, it was still a great nod to the X-Men series by the creators.

Greatest. Character. Intro. Ever.

Overall, just a great series. If you haven’t watched it, or you quit after the first episode, give it another shot.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.