November 30, 2017
“There should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives”
This week the Spoiler team are feeling inspired as we read R.J. Palacio’s children’s novel ‘Wonder’. Paul predicts that Andy, given his favourite film is ‘Dumbo’, will enjoy this (for the record, Paul’s favourite film is ‘Paddington’) and its themes of kindness make Rachael a shoo-in but Paul teases the group by managing to spin out his opinion for as long as possible. Still, all the misdirection in the world can’t ultimately hide the fact that everyone loved this book and tears flow freely as Paul deliberately skirts the issue of Daisy the dog’s passing, Andy recounts a childhood experience of prejudice and Rachael remembers her relationship with her own grandmother. Rachael illustrates the difference between bullying and a gentle ribbing by making fun of Paul's strange pronunciation of the word ‘Mobile’, while Andy wonders if the novel could have found a place for the voice of school bully Julian. On the subject of voices, Paul struggles with his usual routine of listening to the audio book when he finds the impersonation of a child’s voice unlistenable but fortunately the YouTube channel ‘Mrs. Powers Loves to Read’ comes to his rescue. And the team get to the bottom of the mystery of the strange man who has been seen around Lincoln punching the air and crying at birch trees.
Elsewhere, Rachael decries the modern phenomenon of replacing book covers with images from their movie adaptations, a dubious honour bestowed upon ‘Wonder’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’.
This week’s scale: A respectful abstention
November 16, 2017
"What is so special about Josh Baskin?” “He’s a grown up!”
The Spoiler team are back and we all reckoned it was criminal that we still hadn’t looked at a Tom Hanks film yet. We’re rectifying this by kicking off series 6 with Penny Marshall’s 1988 fantasy comedy ‘Big’.
While Andy and Rachael both grew up with ‘Big’, Paul lives up to his reputation for procrastination by only having seen it for the first time a couple of days ago. While this precludes Paul from joining in with the rest of the team’s impromptu recreation of the ‘Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop’ song, the magic of this charming film proves as effective on a 41 year old man as it was on two wide-eyed pre-teens. Andy reluctantly recounts his inadvertent encyclopaedic knowledge of body-swap comedies and reveals how he himself fared when he took on the Ice Wizard (spoiler: his hesitancy cost him dearly!). The team also discuss some of ‘Big’s more questionable elements, such as the scene of “hand-on-bra action” between a 13 year old boy and an adult woman. Rachael wonders whether switching the genders of the lead characters would have made a difference to audience reactions and, of course, highlights the importance of the score in diminishing our misgivings. While Andy tries desperately to stop a determined Paul from asking all the questions you’re not supposed to ask about the Zoltar machine, everyone appreciates the authenticity of the classic ‘Heart and Soul’ piano scene, bum notes and all, but Rachael wonders whether ‘Big: The Musical’ might have been a step too far.
Elsewhere, inspired by John Heard’s performance as Paul Davenport, Andy reveals his top 5 baddies who weren’t really that bad, including Walter Peck from ‘Ghostbusters’, the hyenas from ‘The Lion King’ and Eddie Cochran’s parents in the rock ‘n’ roll classic ‘Summertime Blues’.
This week’s scale: Big or Gib (and yes, it is a word!)
November 2, 2017
In the final in a short series of very special episodes of Spoiler, Andy continues his quest to convince people that animation is more than just ‘kid’s stuff’ by talking to some of the medium’s greatest names. In this episode Andy talks to Canadian animator and artist Sheldon Cohen about his long and distinguished career. Best known for the Canadian institution that is ‘The Sweater’, Sheldon provides insights into the making of this beautiful and consistently popular film, recalls his positive experiences with the National Film Board of Canada and shares his initial intentions of becoming a dentist. Dentistry’s loss is quite clearly animation’s gain, although Sheldon also shares his theory that animation is “insane” but also speaks lovingly of the magic inherent in the medium, as evidenced in his wonderful adaptations of the children’s books of Dayal Kaur Khalsa. With his recent return to the world of animation with his latter-day masterpiece ‘My Heart Attack’, Sheldon also shares his experiences of animation as an outlet for telling a deeply personal story and as a therapeutic tool.
You can find out more about Sheldon and his work at his website Bysheldoncohen.blogspot.co.uk or in his memoir ‘This Sweater Is For You’. You can also check out Andy’s list of 1001 Animated Shorts You Must See at andystoons.wordpress.com.