Jess Harnell

Troops (1997, Kevin Rubio)

Troops is an awesome "Cops" parody set in the Star Wars universe, specifically during the events of the original movie on Tatooine.

The feel of short makes it work, with writer-director Rubio hitting all the right "Cops" moments while still making sure to fit the roles of the stormtroopers in the film. There's also some really great static CGI shots for a short film.

While one assumes the filmmakers and the many costumed individuals are big Star Wars fans–Troops would have been back when stormtroopers were practically the only cosplay–it's a very accessible outing. The two incidents Rubio shows call back to memorable moments of the film.

There's some excellent voice work from Cam Clarke, who plays his stormtrooper like a guy out of Fargo. The second one, voiced by Jess Harnell, isn't quite as good but it's because Rubio's setting up a lengthy (but successful) gag.

Troops is hilarious.

3/3Highly Recommended


Directed by Kevin Rubio; screenplay by Rubio, based on a story by Steven Melching, David Hargrove and David McDermott; director of photography, Cricket Peters; edited by David W. Foster; produced by Shant Jordan, Patrick Perez and Rubio.

Starring Eric Hilleary & Cam Clarke (Captain Jyanix Bach), David Max & Jess Harnell (Officer Demon Mott), Susan Hinshaw (Beru Lars) and Neil Elliot (Owen Lars).

The Radiator Springs 500½ (2014, Rob Gibbs and Scott Morse)

There's some charm to The Radiator Springs 500½, but nowhere near enough. There are hints of good ideas–like a Western showdown motif at the beginning–and some of the failed gags should have worked–a car who comes along to do the cymbals after a pun. Oh, right, it's a Cars spin-off cartoon short. Forget to mention that part.

Anyway, there's nothing cohesive about it. Half the short is the good car (voiced by Owen Wilson, who must have been busy because he has almost no lines) racing against these bad cars who have no respect for the town. Then the town cars are on this idyllic anniversary drive.

There's an effective junk yard sequence towards the end, but otherwise it's tepid and without any excitement. Springs's greatest stylistic influence appears to be video game cut scenes. Whoop-de-doo.

It might get points for being harmless, but why give points for being harmless?

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Rob Gibbs and Scott Morse; written by John Lasseter, Jeremy Lasky and Gibbs; edited by Torbin Xan Bullock; music by Mark Mothersbaugh; production designer, Anthony Christov; produced by Mary Alice Drumm; released by Walt Disney Pictures.

Starring Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen), Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), Steve Purcell (Sandy Dunes), John Cygan (Idle Threat), Jess Harnell (Blue Grit), Bonnie Hunt (Sally Carrera), Cheech Marin (Ramone) and Danny Mann (Shifty Sidewinder).

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