Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly - Part 2 (Final Part)

Part 1

Time to talk about The Joker's wealthy businessman brother again. I hate leaving fast food meals unfinished, because I know that if I don't polish it off now, this movie will end up getting shoved in the back of my refrigerator where it will stay until I pull it out five months later and find that literally nothing in the meal has rotted and, if left untouched, a McDonalds Big Mac could probably outlive me if it wanted to.

For those of you who read the first part and wondering just what was so scary about just camping in the woods, hold on tight. Because you haven't seen nothing yet. The worst has yet to come, and readers beware, because you're in for a scare.

The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly - Part 2

When I last left Ronald McDonald and his freaky food friends designed to shill various products to the people in my household, their really uneventful (save for the bear) camping trip had taken a turn for the crappy when the weather suddenly turned disasterous. Because of the wind and rain, Ronald led his friends to a creepy haunted house, because it's not like their waterproof tents could protect them from those types of elements. Nah, it's much better to hike several miles through driving rain in pitch black darkness to a house that could be boarded up and abandoned.

But hey, anything to get them into a bona fide haunted mansion I guess.

Aw yeah...
And what a mansion it is! In addition to having creepy security cameras just like the tree from earlier, this place really has it all. Doors that close automatically, cobwebs, skulls on the bookshelves, wildly appropriate scary music. Truly a house that begged to be haunted and is now infested with more spooks than a season of The Real Ghostbusters.

...also, it kind of bears a slight resemblance to the house that appears in the opening sequence of "AAAHH!!! Real Monsters".
That shark painting totally adds to the atmosphere of the room.
Unfortunately, Ronald decides to ruin what atmosphere the chateau was setting up by singing a freaking song about this place, just because he decided to lead the way. Yeah, hate to say it, but after this clown sung a song about pitching tents and gathering wood, I'm really not expecting miracles from his songwriting. Especially now that this house is outstaging Ronald in his own movie.

I'm half-expecting Wallmasters and Keese to pop up any second now...
Luckily, this song that comes up is without a doubt the best song of this movie, but that really isn't saying much considering it has to compete with a song about what a forest contains and a song about how it's time to set up camp. With that competition, characters, even one-dimensional ones such as these grease covered abominations, singing about a scary haunted house full of different scary features instantly wins hands down, even if they have to resort to rhyming "scary" with "hairy" within the first lyric.

Well, that, and the fact that the movie pulls out all of the stops and tries to make this haunted house the best damn haunted house in cinema history and, to be honest, it's a pretty serious contender. Words cannot describe how much I want to live in this house. Such an awesome house and it's in this movie. Throughout the course of this song, pianos shapeshift into tables, carpets fly, inanimate objects move in and out of paintings, and overall frightening crap seriously goes down. My favorite part has to be the part where Grimace spots a monster hiding behind a door, partly because you have to freeze-frame in order to see the monster's face. To the movie's credit, it's legitimately trying to be spooky.

It's the Burger King! Run!
The only downside? Tika. I really hate how the little black girl just can't even try to sing. The little snot sounds like she's bored and just doesn't want to be singing right now, and if that's the case, then she should've handed her part over to the Fry Kids or the freakish McNugget birds. Hamburglar also kind of sucks at singing, but at least his part's over pretty quickly. 

But I get over that once I find out that they're going to end the song by grouping together and screaming the final word up into the heavens. Man, that's so over the top, guys. You're in a freaking cartoon about hamburgers, not a Broadway musical! Try toning it down!

...how would a McDonalds Broadway musical go? Now I'm curious.
After their spontaneous singing session is over, the group makes their way through the haunted mansion before any grim grinning ghosts come out and socialize with them, because to hell with that. Feeling that it's exhausted its creepy factor already, this miracle of an estate decides that the next room is going to be full of scientific marvels for no reason at all. Sure, the hallways had boogeymen and floating carpets, that doesn't mean this house can't also throw robots and holographic armchairs into the mix as well.

While sight gags that do nothing to advance the plot fill the screen with their blandness, Tika tries to coin a catchphrase for this show at the last minute. In her case, it's "We get tough and we get going", but everyone decides to ignore her. As they rightfully should.

...holy cow, do I want a room with that kind of a ceiling.

"Why the hell did we invite her again, Ronald?"
The group continues down the long hallway of crazy doodads until they make it to a set of doors that have no knobs. And, as soon as Hamburglar helpfully points out that the doors have no knobs, the lights dim and suddenly, well...this happens.
Because this is what I think of when I order fast food.
I can't believe I'm typing this, but a ghostly head with a butt chin the size of a Buick materializes out of nowhere and starts to recite a riddle to Ronald McDonald and his group of corporate mascots. For posterity, I'm just going to copy the entire riddle because I know no one's going to share my pain and watch this trainwreck.

Never push and never pull,
You're finished when your plate is full,
Exercise your force of will,
You proceed by standing still.

...yeah, it's not anything The Riddler would use, I'll tell you that much. But hey, you can't have a haunted mansion without any disembodied ghost heads with really thick mascara on.

That is one sleep-deprived ghost.
I love how no one in the entire group bothers to go "What the hell was that?" or even act at all scared by whatever the hell just materialized in front of them. Instead they just calmly start deciphering the riddle as if some creepy ghost head didn't just come out of nowhere and start telling them to exercise their force of will. Well huh, I guess it's not every day where you see the likes of Grimace and the Hamburglar star in a kid-friendly version of Saw.

But then, disaster strikes in the form of the Fry Kids who, up until now, have been just standing around and wasting oxygen. With the yellow one sporting the exact voice of Phil from Rugrats, the Fry Kids decide that they've been opening doors all their lives (and yes, they actually say this in the dialogue) so they're just going to disregard the riddle and try kicking the doors open. Go, Fry Kids! Fight the power!

But yeah, you can see where this is going, especially considering how the owner of this mansion didn't even try to conceal the outline of the inevitable trap door.They should be thankful that they're only dealing with Nameless Buttchin Ghosthead here and not Jigsaw or The Riddler. Otherwise they'd have to censor the resulting blood gusher that would erupt from the trap door.

"Hey, guys! Let's all stand on top of this suspicious-looking section of floor! There's no way this could go wrong!"
The useless characters disappear down a shaft and are quickly forgotten by the entire group because hey, they certainly weren't contributing anything in any of the previous scenes, but that's when Tika discovers a clue in the form of an incredibly strange floor decoration. Of course!

...why the hell would someone have a giant placemat as a carpet? Did the ghost head guy seriously not think of anything more clever than hiring Home Depot to install a freaking plate carpet in his house just so he can have "you're finished when your plate is full" in his riddle?

And yes, this is a really stupid riddle, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't find this clever when I was a little kid. Probably because, in a Ronald McDonald cartoon, you'd expect the riddles to be something like "What's delicious, contains no trans fat, and affordable?"

I wonder if the McNuggets felt uncomfortable standing on a giant plate...
They proceed to level two, only to be met with a hall of doors, sort of like the first Resident Evil game but with fewer zombies. As you would expect, several of the doors are booby-trapped, but unfortunately, none of them are actually lethal. Even the room that imitates the garbage compactor scene from one of the Star Wars movies only exists to be a pretty frightening sight gag and nothing else. 
Sundae's face is going to haunt me for weeks.
Finally, they make it to a library. A suspiciously normal library that has no cobwebs or creepy creeps with eerie eyes that start to shriek and harmonize. At first, the library seems really safe, if a little boring, but then Hamburglar decides to ruin it for everybody by spotting a suspicious lever and then pulling it. He's not really genre savvy, I've noticed.
"Ooooooh! What does this lever do?"
This eliminates the chicken McNuggets, aka the second most useless batch of characters next to the Fry Kids. Man, this house is intelligent in its eradication. However, even after seeing three of his friends get taken away to parts unknown and even though Birdie practically breaks her voice box yelling at him, that dumbass criminal decides that maybe he should push the lever back and see what that does.

This spontaneously generates a maze made out of mirrors. Hey, thanks, asshole.

"Problem, Ronald?"
After Hamburglar dooms them all, Ghosthead McIrritatedface shows up and gives them a really stupid, easy to follow riddle. Consisting of only two lines, it's just "It's not hard to understand, find the door with your left hand". Riddle me this, Klasky-Csupo. Would it be too much to ask for the phantom to give a clue that's like an extended metaphor based off a passage of the Bible and Ronald needing a passing knowledge of Russian language structure in order to disentangle everything?

"Ronald, I think I'm having another episode!"
And, for the first time, Birdie actually has a great line and a great piece of animation. For some reason, she gets a minor animation bump when she says "I don't care what it says, I don't understand it!" and actually doesn't look as creepy as she normally does.

...also, I have a question. Can Birdie fly? And if she can, why isn't she using that power to bypass some of the traps? Sheesh, Birdie, you have no room to complain if you're not actually helping.

"For god's sakes, Ronald. My wings are completely vestigial! I can't work miracles with them!"
But no worries, guys! Ronald has this all figured out. It turns out his uncle owns a giant hedge maze and the left hand part of the ghost riddle is the trick to getting out of a hedge maze.

...okay, I feel bad for thinking this, but I find it a little suspicious that Ronald has a relative that owns a giant hedge maze. It's probably wrong to assume that his whole family consists of clownfolk, but clowns and hedge mazes are not something that should mix. Ever.

"He also owns a really nice hotel next to his hedge maze. The caretakers keep murdering their families in it though."
Since it'd be pretty boring just watching a clown holding hands with a young girl and walking through a maze of mirrors, we get a small song that's just an extension of the previous haunted mansion song (it even uses the same instruments and rhythm), only it's about how they're in a maze and must follow the clue. Yeah, okay. I'll buy it, if only because Disney has made sing-a-longs that were a lot worse.

There's not much to note about this song, other than the fact that Grimace and Ronald keep hallucinating and seeing random images out of the corner of their eyes. Oddly, not only do they see the serious ghost face, but they also hallucinate the Chicken McNuggets. So wait, if the McNuggets are haunting them, does that mean they died in that last trap...?

This is what happens when all you eat is food packed with preservatives and cow hormones...
Also, when it pans out and shows the entire size of the maze, it just reinforces my desire to live in this magical place. The fact that you can summon it whenever you want implies that it randomly generates too. A house with a randomly generating hall of mirrors. Think about it.

...I wonder if they have tours in this place. Such toys should be shared with the whole community, even if keeping all of those mirrors sparkly clean would be such a hassle. I mean, sure, it's out of the way and it's smack dab in the middle of the forest, but that's nothing a little construction and deforestation can't solve.

I think I've seen this movie before! I believe it was called "Cube".
What's contained in the next room? Well, first there's a puzzle and then they somehow end up in the place RPG heroes teleport to whenever they engage in battle, especially in older titles. Don't believe me? Just look at the fact that they're standing on this floor floating in front of a stormy background that repeats.

And who should arrive in this arena but the phantom ghosthead dude who, up until now, was only speaking to them in rhyme. Now he's showing them that he really can talk like a normal human being while he congratulates them on making it this far. I know he takes a sadistic glee in the fact that he's forcing random strangers that went into his house into "little games" for his amusement, but they did kind of break and enter. I'm sure it's within his rights as a landowner to mess around with trespassers for kicks.

"I loved it when everyone nearly died in that shrinking room trap. I still can't believe you idiots fell for that."
Ronald's getting kind of pissed off that he's being played like a puppet on a string so he demands to know what's going on. Ghost head finally gives a name by saying that he's...Franklin.

Yep, that's his name. Just Franklin. No Dr. Ghostistein or Sir Calamitous Disaster. Just Franklin. His friends call him Frankie.
He doesn't look like a Franklin. He looks more like an Albert or a Simon.
Scary clown demon decides to test his luck by saying that this situation is just like "one of those cheeseball computer games" which is strangely appropriate, seeing as they do have to solve problems in order to get to the next room, and at several points, the characters have even called the rooms "levels". Franklin responds by saying that they must face off in a battle of wits in order to win the game and get their friends back.

I love how, in response to this, Ronald merely says "See, Grimace? I told you they were alright." I love that he's not at all concerned with his friends' mental health as they're being held captive by a decapitated specter that likes to torture people with mazes and riddles to get his jollies off.

...wait. Franklin said they'd get their friends back, but he never said that they'd be alive or still in one piece. The fact that the friends missing happen to be sentient fries and chicken nuggets make this so much worse.

"You wanna know how I lost my head? My father...was...a drinker, and a fiend. And one night,
he goes off craaazier than usual..."
After the rules are set in place, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz's asshole brother asks for a first contestant. Tika helpfully raises her hand, and the head gives her an easy riddle that, even as a kid, I could solve because it was a major plot point in an Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode.

"What is it that the more you take out of it, the bigger it gets?"

Tika answers a restaurant (finally, some product placement!) and then tries to give a complicated explanation as to why that's right. I remember when she said that, I said "A hole! A hole! What is wrong with you?" to the TV set. Back then, I thought I had magic abilities that allowed the cartoons to listen to me, you see.

Tika, why are you so useless?
Anyways, this ends expectantly with Tika getting kicked out of the game, and she's swallowed up by a hole. Hah hah, serves her right.

I love how Franklin takes a sick joy in what he does. Sure, he may be a ghost (or a hologram, considering it was hinted at several times that this house is very technologically based), but he's going to have fun with these assholes trespassing on his property. Serves them right for scuffing the floors.

"The rules of our game have been made very clear. You need to abide by those rules."
Who's up next? Hamburglar and Birdie. And they decide to prove what I was already expecting by Birdie grabbing him by the hand and comforting him, saying that they've gotten this far. Oooooh, so that's why Birdie was always so critical of Hamburglar throughout this entire trip!

...well crap, now I ship it. Thanks a lot, cartoon.

Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you...
The loving couple's riddle is "What can you feel outside, hear inside, and only see when it's full of dust". Another no-brainer, but somehow this stumps our oil-covered mascots. The duo responds to this by repeating the riddle to themselves while still keeping a firm grip on each other's hands. Geez, you two, just admit your feelings for one another. The act you put up in front of your friends really isn't fooling anybody.

"How will my family accept him? He's a convicted felon!"
By the way, the answer is "the wind", and their answers were "moth balls" and "a dust mop". Oh come on, you two. You weren't even trying! You can't hear moth balls! You can't feel a dust mop outside! You two deserve whatever fate Franklin head has in store for you.

I love how even when he summons some wind in his ironic punishment for them, Hamburglar and Birdie never let go of each other's hands. That my friends is true love.

The more I look at this, the more disturbed I get.
 Birdie and Hamburglar are blown away, and then Ronald helpfully points out that the answers are also the traps. Thank you, Captain Obvious. That's kind of the whole point of characters that have a riddle gimmick.

Also, because I haven't pointed this out yet, I have to say that I really love the lighting in this entire scene. It's made obvious that Frankfurter is the light source, so you can track where he is in relation to the rest of the characters just by the highlights he leaves on their bodies. It's really cool and surprisingly inventive for a McDonald's cartoon.
Oddly, I find Ronald way scarier than Franklin the Floating Sadist Head.
Ronald's up next, and Franklin decides to give him a humdinger of a riddle, one that somehow ties in with the theme of this entire episode and bring down the climax upon all of the viewers. Once again, I'm going to copy the riddle, and see if you can't figure this out.

"What costs nothing but is worth everything, weighs nothing but lasts a lifetime, and one person can't own but two people can't share."

This riddle is apparently so badass that we get weird camera tricks like 360 turnarounds Ronald and lightning bolts and crap like that. It's so powerful that when Ronald gives the answer, it causes the phantom to scream out in pain, for the answer is FRIENDSHIP!

Man, friendship is one hell of a weapon, defeating Franklin the Far-Flung Phantom (he IS the Far-Flung Phantom, right? Because otherwise they just dropped a plot point like midway through this movie) like that. One could even call it magic.

Killer Klowns from Fast Food Places
Franklin is less than pleased with this, so he just gets up and leaves, plunging the room in pitch black darkness while Ronald and Grimace sit there wondering just what the hell is going on. Hey, in all fairness, I would've done the exact same thing if the climax ended with this.

And Grimace comes out of the closet, saying that he's not scared because Ronald's here, filling the room with pure, unadulterated friendship. It is now that I'd like to point out that Grimace is completely stark naked and has, in his fear, been pressing up against Ronald this entire movie. Hey, het fans get Birdie/Hamburglar and the slash fans get Grimace/Ronald. Everybody wins!

...wait, if the riddles were also the traps, what would've happened if Ronald got his answer wrong? How would Franklin turn friendship into a weapon?
I'm pretty sure Grimace is going to die of a massive coronary two months from now.
However, before things take a turn for the gay, Sundae brings the clown a wire that leads to a TV camera. Wow, Ronald. Ripping off of Scooby Doo? Really?

...also how the hell did they not notice the TV camera earlier when there was more light in the room?

Meddling clowns!
They follow the wire, and it leads them to a decidedly unhaunted situation. It turns out the haunted mansion is just a fraud and it's all being controlled by a really smart kid who knows differential calculus and has a lot of neat toys.

...well, that's a bummer. I don't know, but for some reason I would've preferred the idea that Franklin really was just a ghost, and after someone finally solves his riddle, he becomes their friend and fights crime as this giant creepy floating head that can summon obstacles based on what riddle he tells. Come on, tell me you wouldn't buy food from a fast food place that has a scary phantom mascot that lives in a haunted house. Compared to that, this reveal is such a letdown.

This scene also reveals that Tika and the McNuggets are traitors and were playing their clown friend like a cheap violin. I wonder if Ronald felt at all insulted that a good number of his friends don't respect him.

Oh, and see that kid with the really weirdly shaped hair and the baseball cap? That's Franklin. I can see why he gave his ghostly avatar Super Saiyan hair instead of the number he's sporting, because I cannot take that plume of curly hair seriously.

"Okay, that does it. I'm summoning the meteors. Let's see that clown live through that!"
 But then Ronald finds them and politely demands Franklin to tell him that he wins. Franklin is grumpy about this, but personally, he should be grateful that Ronald isn't using his "magic fun" to summon a door out of nowhere and then shove him into. 

"Oh yeah? Well, I like Jack in the Box better! Suck on that, clown!"
And, since Franklin isn't feeling terrible enough, we find his dad, and good god, is his dad a dork. Just look at this piece of work. He's like every nerdy scientist cliche blended into one medium-sized McFlurrie. He's Dr. Quizzical, and his house just happens to be equipped with virtual reality projectors because he's a scientist and who wouldn't do that if they had the means?

He's mad that his son wants to scare people instead of help people, which just causes me to shake my head. Uh, yeah. Dr. Quizzical? Your son's going to turn into a supervillain when he gets older. Just thought I'd let you know.
If this guy can get laid, then anyone can.
 There's a scene where Tika apologizes for tricking them into going into a haunted house and nearly risking their lives in some child's sick, twisted mind games, and of course Ronald instantly forgives her for everything. Right after that, Franklin apologizes for being a horrifying piece of work that likes to scare people, and of course Ronald instantly forgives him for everything too. Because camping!

It's nice that Ronald is so trusting and benevolent, because if I was in his squeaky, oversized shoes I'd tell her where she can take that walkie talkie and shove it.

I love how Ronald needs to have his name written on the back of his clothing.
Once again we find everyone gathered around the campfire, where Ronald delightfully shouts that they've made a new friend. Hooray for stating the obvious! All's said and good, until Birdie says that the new friend makes Hamburglar look absolutely sweet by comparison. Come on, you two. Just head far enough out into the woods and make out already. Stop yanking the poor thief's chain.

Also, how long have they been trapped in that mansion? It was dark when they went in, and it's still dark when they went out. Does time just move more slowly in McDonaldland due to high levels of cholesterol in the air?

Everyone laughs for no reason, Franklin is established as a new character in this series of direct-to-video productions, and sadly, we leave this colorful painted world and head back into dumb, boring reality where scary clowns with painted faces and animatronic dogs await us.

But I'm okay with that, because we get to see another clip of "Attack of the Dinosaurs" which consists of the best characters ever, disgruntled mad scientist and disgruntled mad scientist's assistant. Aw yeah. And, if anything, this scene is even better, because the mad scientist is bemoaning the fact that he had to sit on that dinosaur egg, which causes the woman to mockingly say "because of science" in an attempt to make the scientist feel bad. Ha ha, best movie ever.
Why does his TV have legs.
After this, we get a quick scene where the dog tells Ronald that he doesn't feel scared because he has his friend right by him. Awww, heartwarming AND heartclogging!

The bone represents the number of people he's given heart attacks with his fast food.
We get a fade out, and with it, the conclusion to this salty, fattening, and all-around not good for you slab of medium rare animation meat. Hope you enjoyed your helping.

The Morals of this Movie
*If you pack tents and it starts to rain, abandon the tents and wander aimlessly through the woods until you find an abandoned house to take refuge in.
*Never go on a camping trip with Ronald McDonald unless if you want to risk getting eaten by bears or being trapped in a hall of mirrors for all eternity.
*If a ghost starts reciting riddles at you, leave the house immediately. It's not worth the trouble.

Final Verdict
Okay, what's there to really say about this?

Well, for starters, it's not as bad as it looks. And this is really saying a lot, because a Ronald McDonald cartoon could never look like a good idea. I think part of it might be the fact that they hired a high-name company to do this production, but I honestly had fun watching it in some parts. The animation is pretty smooth, they have some clever ideas, and the haunted mansion obviously had a lot of thought put into it. Also, for a cartoon about McDonaldland, there is a surprising lack of advertisement. This movie honestly doesn't promote McDonald's at all, unless if you want to be cynical and say that Ronald being the hero is subliminal advertising in on itself.

But in the end, it's a cartoon about Ronald McDonald. This is a case where the premise and the characters they went with are what's hurting it more than anything else. You could remove the characters and keep the plot completely intact, leading me to wonder how well this would've gone if they went with a brand new cast of characters.

But despite all that, this cartoon has a certain charm to it that makes it fun to watch. I mean, there was a pretty good reason why this was in our batch of Halloween movies. Ronald's not completely annoying, several of the characters are at least kind of cool, and hey, if they continue to have plots such as this, then I'm in no room to complain.

So in short, stupid premise and it's a McDonald's cartoon, but it's oddly charming.

I'm just glad they didn't defeat the Far-Flung Franklin by shoving a hamburger in his face, because that probably would've set me off and cause me to fly into a VCR-murdering rage.