This week Danielle completes a double-feature with the 2007 movie Blood and Chocolate. Hold on to your hats werewolf fans, because we’re back with lycanthropes! If you hoped this movie shares more than a name with the book, prepare to be greatly disappointed. This time, our much more adult werewolf Vivian is in Bucharest, and while breaking into a werewolf church (go with it) she runs into Aiden, a graphic novelist making a new book about werewolves, of course. Aiden is super into Vivian but she doesn’t feel the same at first. That’s the boring stuff, the crazy stuff is that now the city seems to be run by the werewolves now called loups-garoux. They also seem to abduct people, possibly criminals, to hunt for funsies. Vivian is not into the hunts, but her cousin Rafe is, and the pack leader Gabriel really don’t like humans at all. Also, he wants to dump Vivian’s aunt Astrid to hookup with Vivian, but now it’s somehow even creepier than in the book. Anyway, as you might expect, Vivian and Aiden start dating in secret, but that secret doesn’t last long. When Gabriel finds out, he sends Rafe to confront Aiden in the bone cathedral (Sam’s favorite part) and utters possibly the greatest line in cinema history. While the plot seems thin, that’s because the movie is just stuffed full of irrelevant werewolf lore that Danielle loves and Sam is just confused by. So come learn if the movie is as good as the book (spoiler: it’s not). Oh yeah, there’s also a prophecy, but it super doesn’t matter. Enjoy!
This week Danielle brings Sam the 1994 Don Bluth animated feature Thumbelina. In past France, of an indeterminate time ago, a lonely woman secures a magic barley corn which grows a flower which, in turn, an adolescent girl pops out of fully formed but just two inches tall. Unfazed by this nightmare, and possessing a sick sense of humor, the woman names her new “child” Thumbelina. As a teenage girl fresh to the world, Thumbelina is lonely with literally no one in the world she can relate to. Fortunately, the fairy prince (go with it) happens to be out riding his apparently massive bumblebee and sees Thumbelina falling instantly in love with her. After a quick flight on the bee, Thumbelina is on board, and really, he’s definitely her best option. However, while they were out and about a toad named Grundel had also fallen in love with Thumbelina and has his mom (voiced amazingly by Charo) kidnap her to become part of his song troupe/wife. Thumbelina escapes, but is set upon by just so many random animals who all lust after this diminutive human teenager, and Sam is intensely disturbed by all of it. The only creature not wanting to marry Thumbelina is a bird that does all he can to help her except the only thing that would actually help, which is fly her around. With the fairies forced to bring on winter (oh yeah, they control the seasons) after a full two days of autumn, Thumbelina is desperate to find her love the prince before she is forced to either freeze to death or marry a mole at the behest of a mouse voiced by Carol Channing. This movie is bonkers, y’all.
This week the kangafus are back as Sam brings the 2002 movie Warriors of Virtue 2: The Return to Tao. What becomes most apparent in this episode is how bad of and idea it was for Sam not to prepare by listening to the previous Warriors of Virtue episode as he remembers almost nothing about the story, the characters, or even what he and Danielle talked about during that episode. This is extra unfortunate since this movie dives right in expecting you’re already a Warrior of Virtue expert as we rejoin Ryan Jeffers, now in Beijing for the international highschool wushu tournament. After the previous captain of the US team had to drop out, Ryan, who hadn’t even made the team, was brought in as the substitute captain, and already this film is bonkers. You might expect Ryan to be very good at wushu if they brought him in as the new captain, but he is, in fact, quite terrible. Anyway, after he and his buddy bop around Beijing for a few days, entirely unsupervised, Ryan once again finds himself in an abandoned building and being sucked through a portal to the land of Tao. There he meets Yasbin, who serves as the exposition machine of the movie and, true to purpose, tells Ryan that Tao is once again under threat, this time from Dogon and his absolutely incredible henchman. Seriously, that man henches better than anyone Sam has ever seen. Anyway, Ryan goes to see Queen Amythis (who knew Tao has a queen?) and learns that the Warriors of Virtue have been nearly all defeated and captured by Dogon. You’d think the mystical land of Tao would have someone better than a not-very-good-at-wushu teenager from Earth to help them, but nope, Ryan is the best they got apparently. If this plot all seems both dull and convoluted, don’t worry, as the movie progresses things make way less sense and thus are way more fun. Also, be sure to stick around to see Sam at the angriest he’s ever been as this film betrays him on a deeply personal level. Fun!
This week Sam is back on his direct-to-home-video adventure with the 2002 movie Cinderella II: Dreams Come True. Cinderella is back, and this time Sam is doing the previous movie to see if it fixes the timeline that Cinderella III absolutely destroyed (Spoiler: it does not). In this collection of three animated shorts loosely tied together into what could be generously called a “movie”, we start with the mice who have decided to write a book for Cinderella about Cinderella and her adventures. Mice, it turns out, are not very smart. And so they take us through three stories about Cinderella planning parties, because that’s apparently the main (only) export of this kingdom. The individual stories are pretty much what you would expect: Cinderella and her friends learn valuable life lessons, though no one, it seems, had learned the Prince’s name. The good news is that, aside from planning parties, these stories are chock-full of insanity. In no particular order: Jaq gets turned into a human but continues to be stalked by a cat determined to eat him, the Forbidden Curtains in the castle are finally opened, Anastasia finds several fountains to cry over, chocolate pudding is made that almost certainly contains hantavirus, and a horse kicks Anastasia through a building which would certainly kill her. While we never manage to understand the Cinderella timeline any better, we do learn two things from this movie: Cinderella is almost certainly a sociopath, and Pompom is our new favorite character.
We kick off the new year with a short! It’s Danielle’s turn to recall any details about the 2007 direct to video Disney threequel Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. Danielle does a decent job, but her holiday-addled brains are no match for the insanity that is Cinderella III. So enjoy as we reminisce about this fairy tale story and then become upset with it all over again.
In this week’s (not so) short, Partial Recall is back as Danielle challenges Sam to remember what she told him about the 2011 movie Red Riding Hood. Sam begins his recollection by promptly falling flat on his face, and it only goes downhill from there. Danielle relishes her sweet revenge as Sam struggles to recall the most basic plot details, but does somehow remember a werewolf contract was involved. So join us as Sam becomes outraged at this movie all over again.
This week Danielle brings the 2006 time traveling romance movie The Lake House. When Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) sells her lake house to apparently no one, she decides to leave a note for the next owners in the mailbox, like a totally normal human being. Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) moves in and receives her letter. This confuses him, because the letter mentions things about the house—like apparently impossible to remove dog prints in paint—that don’t exist. Instead of just ignoring this letter like a sane person, Alex writes back and puts the letter in the lake house mailbox. After Kate fails to save a man pancaked by a bus in front of her, she decides the best course of action is to return to the lake house and raid the mailbox there and see if the new owners took her letter. She finds the letter from Alex and they start exchanging letters, learning that Alex is writing from 2004, while Kate is writing from 2006. They also seem to have a magic dog that they both have owned for years even though it’s, again, the same dog and they don’t know each other. They engage in more time-communication shenanigans, like Alex planting a tree for Kate that suddenly magically springs into existence before her eyes. It should be noted Sam absolutely hates the nonsensical time mechanics of this movie. Alex engages in some light time-stalking of Kate, and then he kisses her at a birthday party Kate’s not-Alex boyfriend threw for her when she still doesn’t know who Alex is. It should also be noted that both their families know they are having romantic communications through time and, insanely, no one seems to care. So join us for what is amazingly, baffling, the least coherent time travel story ever heard on Book Retorts, which is really saying something.
This week Danielle returns to the Disney Channel Original Movie well with the 1999 TV movie The Thirteenth Year. The movie opens with a mermaid being chased by a far too enthusiastic fisherman and abandoning her extremely human-looking child in a basket on a boat in a reverse Moses situation. We later learn that this may, or may not, be a natural part of the mermaid lifecycle, and already the first few minutes of this movie would require years of study to unpack. The baby is found and claimed by two humans who own the boat, they name him Cody and raise him to help them administer their fiscally unsustainable $5 boat tours. Cody is also on the swim team, and boy does Danielle have opinions about swim meets in this episode. Cody is eventually partnered up with the school nerd, Jess, on a marine biology project when he discovers his body is going through changes. The kind of changes every young man deals with: scales on his hands, Sith lightning from his fingertips, being able to tell fish to do circus tricks, and the ability to climb walls; you know, the classic merperson things of lore. Cody’s mom negligently avoids taking him to a doctor, and his kinda girlfriend Sam (no relation) at first doesn’t care, until she sees him with arm fins later (seriously, this movie has no idea how merpeople work). Cody struggles to understand his new identity while trying to hide his changes from Jess’ dad, the same fisherman who chased his mer-mom all those years ago and is now obsessed with finding proof of fish-people. Sam (yes relation) wonders if there’s some common heritage between merpeople and centaurs, and then makes a bunch of terrible fish puns which Danielle does not appreciate. Anyway, Cody tries to reconcile his burgeoning mer-identity with his human upbringing, and also just absolutely crush it at the most well attended state swim meet ever. However, a time comes when he must make a very difficult choice between his human life and and mer-heritage. Kidding! This is a Disney movie, so it goes completely bonkers trying to make it a happy ending for everyone. So get ready for an Olympic-sized swimming pool of aquatic nonsense!
This week we’re back in Wisteria, Maryland for the thrilling conclusion of the Elizabeth Chandler teen novel Legacy of Lies. After her spooky dream, Megan and Matt start to grow closer, closer than kinda-family even. Megan’s grandmother is not happy that Megan and Matt have started to connect, but not because of the creepy pseudo-incest implications, but because that means they’ll be united against her. To no one’s surprise, the grandmother continues to, and will always, be the worst. Objects in the house start getting moved to places they shouldn’t be, as if someone was moving them in the middle of the night. Spoiler: it’s not a ghost and is, in fact, much dumber than that. Meanwhile, Megan and Sophie decide to go to a party with Matt and Alex, although Danielle and Sam can’t agree on if this qualifies as a double-date. On the way there, even though Megan is going with Alex, he and Sophie start getting a little snuggly in the back of the car. Megan is unperturbed since she is starting to really crush on her sorta cousin anyway. Eventually, Megan starts to learn a little of her family’s history, and that her great aunt Avril and her grandmother Helen actually competed over a boy back in the day by the name of Thomas. Thomas was originally with Helen, but then cheated on her with Avril, and then he went back to Helen after Avril died of an overdose of a cosmetic known as Red Creep. Sam is much more interested in the Red Creep as a superhero (villain?), but nonetheless is still flummoxed why Helen would ever get back with Thomas, whom Helen eventually married and is Megan’s grandfather. Megan goes back to the not very impressive psychic of Mrs. Riley, who tells her that Megan is the reincarnation of Avril. This leads to Megan concluding that Matt is the reincarnation of Thomas, Sophie is the reincarnation of Avril’s best friend Angel, and Alex in the reincarnation of Angel’s lover who died in World War II (the whole town is chock-a-block full of reincarnations apparently). Megan also learns that Thomas was just after Avril’s money, but poisoned her (maybe with the help of Helen) because Avril wasn’t going to marry him, and now Megan (as the reincarnation of Avril) must kill the reincarnation of her killer (Matt, as Thomas) or be killed by him again because fate or something. If you think that’s the craziest thing this book has to offer, just wait until you hear the end and all the weird, nested reincarnation incest that results. So join us for a conclusion that is sure to leave you with one word rattling around inside your head: “What?”
This week Danielle takes us to Maryland, or possibly England, in the Elizabeth Chandler teen novel from 2000, Legacy of Lies. Meet Megan, a teen whose whole personalty could be described in one word: sassy. Megan is the adopted daughter of an interracial couple, and her maternal grandmother does not approve of such things (this grandmother is, as should be clear, the worst). However, for some mysterious reason this grandmother has invited Megan to come stay with her in the small town of Wisteria. Even more mysteriously, Megan goes after her father inexplicably thinks it’s somehow a good idea. Megan arrives in town and meets her grandmother who doesn’t really seem to want Megan there. Megan also meets her cousin Matt, who is staying there and is, like, so super cute, and also super rude. Basically, her whole extended family is awful. Megan is also shocked to discover her grandmother’s house is the same one she’s been seeing in her dreams for years. While wandering around the family graves, as ya do, Megan notices a figure in her bedroom window, but dismisses that as nothing. At dinner, Megan’s relatives continue to be the worst and Megan leaves and finds herself given a job in a local secondhand store. There, Megan meets who new bestie, and then Matt and his friends walk in, and one of them of them is totally into Megan, while Matt pretends not to care. At the store, Megan learns that her grandmother’s sister died many years ago in the very house she’s staying in under mysterious circumstances, and supposedly her ghost still haunts the house to this day. That night, Megan hears a voice in the dark, she gets up to look and finds no one, but when she returns to her room there’s a girl in her bed: herself! Then she wakes up. Was it all a dream, or are ghosts real? Will Matt hook up with his “sorta cousin” Megan? The answer to both questions is almost definitely yes, but find out for sure next time in part two!