VHS Review (Posted on 07-06-2013)
As a child back then, I didn't care much for this volume. In fact, that word before "Dragon" always ticked me off because I didn't know how to pronounce it that time. When I finally learned its pronunciation, I actually was surprised by this animation; it was really good. And for those who don't recall what the word "reluctant" means, or for those who aren't vocabulary-oriented, here it is:
(Source: the Dictionary application by Apple, Inc.)
unwilling and hesitant; disinclined : [ with infinitive ] she seemed reluctant to discuss the matter.
Now that you know, combine that with a very poetic, reserved, yet lazy, dragon. Aren't those creatures supposed to be vicious and unforgiving? The dragon (unnamed) doesn't seem like the violent type, not until the boy (also unnamed) in the village has a talk with the dragon, after his dad runs home to warn the family about the creature. The boy, fond of fairy tales, plans to have a talk with the dragon the next morning.
Next morning, the boy walks over to the dragon sleeping soundly. The dragon introduces himself yet explains he's one lazy animal, yet very occupied in his mind. Even though the dragon is willing to share his writings—sonnets—the boy isn't willing to spend time with him because he's an enemy of the human race. That very same day, the boy explains to his parents about the dragon he briefly met.
Next day comes St. George, as he shows up in town ready to eliminate some dragon skin, while the boy runs back to the dragon and warns him about it. The dragon refuses to see him and considers St. George a rude person, let alone admitting he has never stood up for a fight. The boy the runs back to the village to have a short talk with St. George, telling him the dragon is very kind. St. George, appreciating the boy's connection with people and his friends, isn't convinced having heard villagers' stories about murders and chaos that dragons have caused in the past. Having thought about it for a while, the boy successfully convinces St. George into meeting the dragon.
St. George and the boy both meet the dragon the next day. After a brief chit-chat, George and Dragon comprise: George will attack the dragon on his body where it hurts least. Without spewing any blood whatsoever, they both agree.
The next morning, the stage is set: St. George calls out the dragon ready to fight. Taking a page from the knights' performances at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, St. George plunges in and charges at the dragon, while the dragon, with its fiery breath, charges as well. Both clash and St. George wins! As the crowd cheers, the boy runs to the dragon subtly asking if he's okay. The dragon responds, "Hehehe! Piece o'cake!" then winks in satisfaction.
A villager asks if George will chop the dragon's head off, but George refuses. As the folks walk back to the village, George says, "You'll find that he'll be a very
different dragon." That night, George talks to the people at a banquet why fighting isn't a recipe for success, and the dragon isn't as vicious as they all believed, from the stories they've heard. Finally, they were told that because of his wit and kindness, they must accept the dragon to be part of the village.
"I couldn't have said it better myself!" says the dragon, ready to take a drink. Right on.
Next up, we have a story of Melvin Spitznagle, who introduces himself and his family, his workshop being in a farm and telling folks his dreams of becoming a "scientific mechanical wizard." If that occupation hasn't gained traction, it will now (you heard it here first). At one time, his dad who runs an ice cream parlor had a freezer that went berserk, flooding Radish St. with ice cream. Melvin came to the rescue and fixed a loose screw. In return, his dad awards him with a bicycle.
Before continuing, you may want to know the animation quality is reminiscent, or closely similar to, the Charlie Brown
animation series. Thought I'd mention.
Anyway, Melvin talks about his hero Mickimecki, who oddly enough, moves in to town where he wants to spend the rest of his life; he's considered the world's greatest inventor, despite not coming out of his house and taking interviews from the press.
While Melvin purchases some items one day, Professor Mickimecki runs into him as the store clerk tells Melvin he's their best customer and prepared the wires he ordered. As Melvin kindly brought the wires for Mickimecki after a quick chat, he also asked to spend some time together to which Mickimecki agreed. As Professor wanted to jump on in with his work, Melvin lends him a baseball to demonstrate something. Professor bores a hole into the baseball, inserts pellets, uses a crystal stick making sure the pellets are in then plugs the hole with putty. As a result, Professor turns up the generator to unveil the baseball floating about (something every aspiring quantum physicist would love to try and build). While Professor works in the background, Melvin snatches a pellet to find its hidden secrets in his workshop, let alone jotting the diagram of the transformers of the device. While the Professor is a little antsy, not willing to share any of his cryptic ingredients, Melvin keeps telling him how dedicated he is to become an inventor like him.
"Nothing can separate me from my work, not even tear gas."
- Melvin Spitznagle
Just like what the dragon said, 'I couldn't have said it better myself,' too. I love the kid's dedication, as he told this to his parents the next morning.
While shipments have arrived at Melvin's workshop, he finally discovered the secret of the pellet! Suddenly, his parents receive a telegram informing them their relatives are three days late, despite a canoe incident. Melvin comes over to unveil his new device to his stressed-out, worried mom: his "Generating, Stabilizing, Electro-Carbon, Condensating, Atmospheric, Pro-Cyclonic, Compact, Dynamic, Magnetic [Black] Box." Melvin knows it'll be the one to save their relatives.
Without asking police, the FBI, the CIA or any other authorities, Melvin gravitates in the sky with his bicycle using his new invention. This scene looks like that last scene from the classic film E.T.
if you ask me. Anyway, biking through the city and the mountains, he strolls through the rivers and the woods. He discovers footprints leading up to a tree. Surrounded by vicious wolves, it's their relatives: Uncle Gus, Aunt Lola, Benny and Chester. Melvin rescues them safely as he kicks start his bike which begins bouncing to the beat's soundtrack.
Closer to night, Melvin grows tired of biking weakening the gravitational lift from the box, but knows they'll be home using the Big Dipper as his guide. Having flown through a flock of birds, they all make it home safely! Melvin then concludes it is very difficult to be a mechanical wizard, and very tiring.
Despite not having watched this as frequently as I did with the other shows during my youth, it packs quite a chunk in terms of content and its meaning. Being a nineties animation, this was well done—having been based off the books with similar titles.
The meanings behind these? Simple: not everyone, or everything, are vicious, flesh-eating cyclones of violence. Regardless of a person's weight, skin color and/or more, is the person that they are. Just because they're different from you, doesn't mean they're a bad person (tell that to the Atheist-hating religious people). There are exceptions to this but it's true for the most part. Also, violence is not an answer. It's rare seeing protagonists and antagonists rigging a fight to bring about the message of violence. (Yes, you see this in college and professional sports, but instead of anti-violence messages, they rig matches for TV ratings and profit. Please email
me, and I'd love to tell you more.) As for The Furious Flycycle
, care for your relatives and have someone whom you look up to. Best of all, never criticize someone's passion for their work. Do you, or your kid(s) look to become the country's next president? A quantum physicist? A filmmaker? A biologist? As long as their dedication to their work helps keep the world spinning, let them be; they'll succeed. Who knows, their work can save lives and entertain many; you just never know.
With two great classics for the price of one, and hidden messages that are quite strong for a kids film, I don't think you should pass this up. One oddity is the credits, as the credits don't even provide who
did the voice for which character. Another weird thing was while watching the credits, I noticed that some of the text passed over the title safe
area. Did the editors activate the action/title safe guides before editing?
Nevertheless, great content, and great animation as I highly recommend it.
I also don't think you should pass up getting $5 off orders over $50 at the Warner Bros Online Shop:
© 2008-2019 written and reviewed personally by Kris Caballero.
from the book
The Reluctant Dragon
Holiday House, Inc.
from the book
The Furious Flycycle
Dell Publishing Company, Inc.
Ink and Paint
Deborah L. Katz