Saturday, 16 January 2016

Monster High: Boo York, Boo York

Monster High started off as a series of cheap-looking cartoons and, after gaining popularity, evolved into a series of cheap-looking computer generated TV movies. There are loads of the things, each crammed full of more terrible puns than even I would ordinarily produce in one sitting. For the 'benefit' of those unaware, the characters are teenage monsters, mostly female riffs on well-known myths and legends. They therefore have names such as Draculaura, Frankie Stein, Clawdeen, Abbey Bominable, Deuce Gorgon... you get the idea. 

Out now on DVD, Monster High: Boo York, Boo York mostly takes place outside the confines of Monster High itself. Some of the gang make their way to – you guessed it – Boo York (yeah, I know, I did warn you about the puns). Cleo De Nile and her sister Nefera are being taken by their father Ramses, for a special event at the Museum of Unnatural History. Cleo ends up inviting not only her boyfriend Deuce, but a whole bunch of her friends. Also there's a comet due to smash into Boo York which they're oblivious to.

Of course, it's not a simple case of a trip to the big city then back again. Ramses' true reason for going is to marry off one of his daughters to Seth, the mysterious and aloof son of Amuncommon Ptolemy, to join their families and increase the influence and power of the De Nile family. He originally planned this for Nefera, but she convinces her father that Cleo is a much better choice, being a person “of the people”. She proposes splitting Cleo up from her boyfriend, tricking her into the marriage, and manipulating her from there to exercise the power. Her dad has no problem with this whatsoever. Nice family!

And that's one of the problems with the movie, albeit one that the kids likely won't notice. There are some extremely unpleasant thought processes going on here and, while they all fail, none are necessarily changed or punished particularly. It's a little disturbing, too, how quickly and easily Cleo decides to go ahead with marrying a total stranger almost immediately after splitting with her long-term boyfriend. She's not enthusiastic about it, but... is that the point?

Really though the story is largely about Catty Noir, a character who opens the movie singing before it's made clear that she has abandoned her career because she feels like a fraud for trying to write love songs without having actually been in love before. You see where this is going, right? Remember how Frozen helps teach young girls that the idea of instantly falling in love with a total stranger can be not only deceptive, but potentially dangerous? The polar opposite is preached here. That – and the fact that the young man in question is a young Justin Bieber lookalike rapper named “Pharoah” (hmm...) - is all you need to know about that subplot.

Even if you ignore the unpleasantness bubbling under the surface (and some people will, crying “it's just a kids' film” without realising that makes such things even more important), the fact is this is a movie which is rarely funny or interesting, and will briefly hold a fan's interest because it's a Monster High film; not because it's a good Monster High film. Deuce is an underused character whose comic relief (sometimes) works, and some of the visual design is quite good; but the textures & shading, writing, songs, themes, and overall presentation look seriously outdated in 2015.

Not so much NYC, this more of a Yorkshire pudding. 2/5 


Luke Kemp 

Monster High: Boo York, Boo York at CeX

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