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Friday, September 30, 2016

'The Stolen Lyric' Amazon Video: Awesome Retelling of Robin Hood Focus on Corp Greed via Samples

The integrity and creativity that permeates the new Chase Peter Garrettson full-length animated movie "The Stolen Lyric" make it "must-see" for all ages. This virtue begins with this modern retelling of Robin Hood that transforms the titular hero into the lead singer of a rock band called The Merry staying true to its message of the evil of corporate greed by having literally all the dialog consist of roughly 12-second samples of 555 songs by 129 artists.

The scope of these tunes just as literally encompasses everything from country music legend Johnny Cash to several hip hop and rap artists that this not even pretty fly for a white guy does not recognize. The household names include "The Beatles," "Elton John," "The Cars," and "Pearl Jam." Fans of The Ramones will be particularly pleased despite getting the lyrics "I just want to have some kicks; I just want to get some chicks" stuck in his or her noggin.

The integrity of "Lyric" continues with Amazon Prime members being able stream it free; we peasants who resist paying Prince Jeff of Seattle the $100 "tax" for that service can also stream it free but for having to watch advertisements during it. 

An especially awesome aspect of "Lyric" for those of us whose childhood Saturday mornings consisted of eating (tragically discontinued) Quisp cereal and watching the first-run fare of les freres Krofft and Mssrs Hanna and Barbera is that this film extends on beloved novelty songs of that era. The concept of these tunes is that samples of popular songs are interspersed into a narrative. A hypothetical example of this is a voice actor pretending to interview former Georgia governor President Jimmy Carter about the energy crisis and the lyric "that's the night the lights went out in Georgia" playing in response to a question.

Visually, "Lyric" does great with the modern style of computer-generated drawings that have the sharp angles and bright colors of '60s cartoons. The overall grunge look and theme of idealistic but cynical 20-something rocker boys evoke great thoughts of the garage band "Mystik Spiral" from the late '90s MTV animated series "Daria."

A highly relatable aspect of "Lyric" dates back to the roots of the reviewing career of your not-so-humble host. Sharing thoughts on DVD and Blu-ray releases began with being recruited by a ginormous (and not so upstanding) corporate online site.

Delays of months and months in getting the miniscule compensation for those labors led to yours truly repeatedly referring to the company as Sherrod Forest in reference to the CEO of this company with an editor known in the industry as "Chainsaw McGraw;" needless to say, the suits were not amused. The good news is that Unreal TV Forest is a much happier place for this one-time leading voice for a third season of the CBS drama "Jericho;" yeah, I am behind sending all those apple pies to CBS.

The narrative in "Lyric" largely consists of Robin and his band trying to achieve commercial success while staying true to their music and not being robbed by the corporate fat cats. We also learn that they value their freedom and do not have the advantages of either being a "millionaire's son" or having a "rich daddy." Conveying much of this in the style of the groovy rock operas, such as "Tommy," of the '70s adds to the fun.

A good early scene has the band befriend a "suit" who is their age and having him sing about his yuppie lifestyle. A very memorable scene has a advertising executive using lyrics from the Rolling Stones song "Sympathy for the Devil" to seduce a recently transformed from rocker to suit-and-tie guy Will Scarlet to the dark side that the Nottingham and Nottingham agency represents.

The award for best segment goes to relatively graphic (no pun intended) energetic multi-position love scene between Robin and Maid Marion. The picking of songs is perfect (and often hilarious). It also puts songs of "The Cure" and other bands in a new perspective.

The award for best use of a song goes to an extended segment of "The Wall" by Pink Floyd, This comes out of the mouth of one of our babes in the Sherwood Forest while using drugs on a captive.

The same spirit of integrity behind spending so much time carefully crafting "Lyric" and properly communicating its messages requires candor regarding the things in the unique and well-worth-watching labor of love. The largest flaw is that Robin and his men seem completely interchangeable. Each uses songs from every generation and style to express himself.

Armchair film making makes it easy to suggest the change of giving each character his own voice while still using the same songs. Examples of this are having every '70s rock ballad come out of the mouth of Robin, giving Will the grunge tunes, and having LJ (a.k.a. Little John) belt out the hip hop and rap jams. The awesome thing about animation is that adapting "Lyric"  in that manner may not be so tough considering that the animation and samples are available.

A more minor note (again, no pun intended) is that the we get it element of using 12 second segments of each song often leads to getting into the tune just as it changes to another. This is the modern example of the countless times of being a passenger in a car and liking the selected song only to have the driver quickly (and repeatedly) change the radio station. 

The final note regarding all this is that "Lyric" combines the right modern elements to keep the centuries-old spirit of Robin Hood alive. Rock on, Chase; we look forward to The Canterbury Tales of John Lennon.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Lyric" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.