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'Puzzle' is Well Made, but a Few Pieces are Missing

MOVIE REVIEW
Based on the film Rompecabezas, Puzzle is one of those little-known independent films that sneaks into theaters with little to no fanfare, although the fact that it is being promoted “from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine” should help it get noticed somewhat. Puzzle is a quiet, little film about a woman who discovers that jigsaw puzzles are the key to changing her life. While the subject matter doesn’t sound all that exciting, the film really isn’t about puzzles but instead about one finding their voice, or so it appears. It’s also a message film that has its own agenda expecting the audience to agree with the choices of the main character and applaud her “brave” behavior. Frankly, it just feels manipulative.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub, Puzzle’s most impactful scene comes within the first few minutes. We see Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) cleaning up the house and they decorating it for a birthday party. Then we see her serving appetizers while being ignored by the guests. …

'Laff-A-Lympics': The Animated 'Battle of the Network Stars'

Laff-A-Lympics
(Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros.)


TV

Since ABC has revived (at lease for this summer) The Battle of the Network Stars, I thought I might showcase another show that was loosely based and/or inspired by the twice-yearly TV special: Laff-A-Lympics (also known as Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics). Don't remember it? Watch the video after the jump and see if that brings back some memories for you.

Though Laff-A-Lympics only lasted for two seasons, it was a fairly popular limited animated cartoon series sandwiched between episodes of Scooby-Doo, Captain Cavemen and the Teen Angels and Dynomutt. The show aired on ABC from September 1977 to July 1979. Videos of the two seasons are available on DVD.

Like the Battle of the Network Stars, which featured one team from the three national networks (ABC, NBC and CBS), this cartoon pitted well-known Hanna-Barbera characters against one another divided up into three teams: The Scooby Doobies, The Yogi Yahooeys and the Really Rottens. At the time, most kids were well aware of all of the team players on the Scooby Doobies, but not as many were familiar with some of the Yogi Yahooeys. Worse though was the decision to create almost all new characters for the Really Rottens.

Originally, Dick Dastardly and Muttley were going to lead the team, but those characters were co-owned by Heatter-Quigley Productions. So, Hanna-Barbera created the Dick Dastardly look-alike, Dread Baron and gave him Mumbly as his pooch. Though he had a strong resemblance to Muttley complete with the same distinctive laugh, Mumby was actually an existing character who played a detective years earlier. Apparently, somewhere down the line he choose a life of crime.


The cast of the Laff-A-Lympics

The Teams

The Scooby Doobies
Scooby-Doo, Shaggy Rogers, Scooby-Dum, Dynomutt, Blue Falcon, Captain Cavemen, the Teen Angeles (Brenda Chance, Taffy Dare and Dee Dee Sykes), Speed Buggy, Tinker, Babu (from Jeannie) and Hong Kong Phooey.

The Yogi Yahooeys
Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo Bear, Cindy Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry House, Pixie, Dixie, Mr. Jinks, Hokey Wolf, Yakky Doodle, Snooper, Blabber, Augie Doggie, Doggie Daddy, Wally Gator and Grape Ape.

The Really Rottens
Mumbly, Dread Baron, Dinky Dalton, Dirty Dalton, Dastardly Dalton, Mr. Creepley, Mrs. Creepley, Junior Creepley, Orful Octopus, the Great Fondoo, Magic Rabbit, Daisy Mayhem and Sooey the pig.
Snagglepuss and a fairly obscure character, Mildew Wolf, served as commentators wearing the traditional gold jackets. Occasionally, Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, Jabberjaw and Peter Potamus would make brief appearances as well.

Now that Warner Bros. owns all of the characters created by Hanna-Barbera, who would like to see compete if the animation studio was to revive the show again?


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