Bands on the Run: The Rubber Band Movie

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Bands on the Run, complete with free bands! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

Earlier this month I received an advance copy of Bands on the Run: The Rubberband Movie to enjoy with my family.  The movie is available for sale on May 31st.

My 6- and 8-year old sons are avid “Silly Bandz” fans and each have about 100 10,000 that they wear to school, trade around and enjoy collecting.  They were very excited when the DVD arrived and were even more excited at the free package of “Silly Bandz-like” bracelets, featuring 2 of each of the main characters in the movie.

This is "Daisy", the only one of the bands with sparkles (a crucial part of the story, apparently). She also seems to have some molding problems along the top petals. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

Considering our family is a huge fan of all things Pixar, watching this film was a huge letdown.

This is the story of a group of rubber band bracelets that falls out of a truck in the middle of nowhere on their way to a store.  They know that they’re meant to make children happy, and set forth on a Toy Story-esque adventure to get back to the store to do just that.  They meet a plain rubber band – named “Stretch” – who has had quite a life serving as a part of a sling shot, holding newspapers together and even as a guitar string in a preschool garage band.

The film is all computer animation.  The background set images are decently done: the sky, the roads, the southwestern US-type terrain, and the buildings are adequate.  The main characters themselves, as well as much of the supporting animation, left a lot to be desired.  Want a sneak peek of what I mean?  Here’s the official trailer put out by Entertainment One, and check out the iron filings rabbit at 0:20:

My husband and I, being the geeks that we are, let the kids enjoy the movie while we searched for rendering errors and programming shortcuts.  And there are dozens of them!  (Perhaps a drinking game was in order?)  The rubber bands often would merge with each other while interacting, and there’s a scene with a garbage truck picking up trash, and the trash is nothing but some hastily-created dodecahedra.

It was noticed that the back cover art looks handdrawn, not CGI. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

The rabbit in the clip above was scary enough, but the humans are pretty hilarious too!  The woman walking in the store with a shopping cart looks like she was in a marching band.  I was reminded of some of Pixar’s earliest work, such as their 1988 short Tin Toy.

And don’t get me started on the infant in the sand box who finds the band!  We were all wondering if the baby would eat the band and then choke (which is what would have happened in real life).  Instead, the baby knew exactly what to do and put it on his/her wrist!  Really?

Bands on the Run is filled with slapstick humor that’s supposed to constantly remind you of each band’s persona.  For example, the lightbulb (named “Edison”) announces he’s getting “burned out” from all the traveling.  My boys are fans of Disney’s “Air Buddies” film franchise — Space Buddies, Snow Buddies, Santa Buddies, Spooky Buddies (coming this Halloween), etc. — and the dialogue where each character is expected to contribute uniquely to every conversation is similar.

There are awkwardly-placed psychedelic transitions throughout the film.  I was reminded of Austin Powers or Laugh-In.

There are two extras on the DVD — one is of the animated storyboards, which was cute to see.  The other extra is a little how-to narrated by the art director, Jared Norby, who explains in about 2 minutes how “easy” it is to make an animated movie.  His oversimplification was very telling indeed.

Two of each character -- which was great for my two sons! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

My oldest son’s review: “The story was okay and the animation was funny to watch.”

My youngest son thought it was very funny (for the wrong reasons — he’s giggling at the translucent rabbit, mechanical puppy dog and the humans walking around as if they’re in a marching band) and is watching it again as I write this.

This GeekMom’s review?  It was hard to watch.  I’m not at all talented at computer animation, but if I came up with something like this, I wouldn’t have been attempting to market it.

And I’m apparently not the only reviewer to think so.

NOTE: A free advance copy was provided for review purposes.

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6 thoughts on “Bands on the Run: The Rubber Band Movie

  1. Every time I see the title of this post, my mind goes to Paul McCartney *L*

    Sounds like something my toddler would like, but I think I’ll pass when it comes out since it sounds like it would be painful for me to watch.

  2. This was perhaps the worst thing I have ever seen. It would be easy to dismiss that as hyperbole, but this bordered on criminally bad. On the other hand, were banality a high art form, this would be on par with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Never a moment goes by without some inane comment to remind you that one is a light bulb, another a rock star (sans fans of course), and yet another an airplane with a ridiculous nose. Morbid curiosity is all that kept me in the room; there’s something mesmerizing about parts of the characters passing through each other. That, the complete suspension of physics, and the hypno-rabbit. Certainly this video is not for the sober parent or the child raised on Pixar.

  3. Hey! What a thorough review… I actually got this DVD this for my kids and what do you know.. they wont turn it off.

    Having the rubber bands from the movie included in the box is pretty neat for them.

    The best animation? Certainly not. It’s not Pixar. But isn’t that ok?

    Works for my kids, but I’m sure it’s not up to adult standards 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment. My kids liked the bracelets (my youngest son won’t take them off, even to sleep!) and they’re watching the movie again and again…although I have to admit it’s more because they think the animation quality is funny — they seem to laugh a lot at the human and how strange they move.

      You’re right in that my kids have smiles on their faces while watching it…

      Have a good evening.

  4. We just watched this lat night. It’s available on Netflix streaming and we watched with the kids on the Roku. My wife and I had to try very very hard (and not that successfully) not to “riff” this like Mystery Science Theater 3000. that was all the fun for us. If we did nto do this it would have been painful to watch this. the kdis seemed to like it well enough, but it’s not like they laughed all that much.

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