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Our Friend, Martin

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Our Friend, Martin
DDD.jpg
We have a dream that, one day, there will a better movie made about MLK.
Genre: History
Directed By: Rob Smiley
Vincenzo Trippetti
Produced By: Andy Boron
Andy Heyward
Phillip Jones
Robby London
Michael Maliani
Judith Reilly
Janice Sonski
Written By: Dawn Comer
Chris Simmons
Sib Ventress
Deborah Pratt
Starring: Robert Ri'chard
Lucas Black
Dexter King
Jaleel White
Jessica Marie Garcia
Ed Asner
Angela Bassett
Danny Glover
Whoopi Goldberg
Samuel L. Jackson
James Earl Jones
Ashley Judd
Richard Kind
Susan Sarandon
John Travolta
Oprah Winfrey
Frank Welker
Jess Harnell
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 12, 1999
Runtime: 61 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English


Our Friend, Martin is a direct-to-DVD animated children's educational film about Martin Luther King, Jr. It was produced by DIC Entertainment and published by 20th Century Fox, and it was released on January 12, 1999.

Bad Qualities

  1. As expected from a good number of things made by DIC, the animation is cheaply done.
    • In fact, the animation style used in this movie looks like it was ripped off from fellow-DIC series Mummies Alive!, due to the fact many episodes of it were animated by the same overseas company that animated this movie (Hang Yang Production).
    • Additionally, some of the stock footage used in the film is edited to superimpose Miles and Randy into it.
  2. Some questionable voice choices. Martin Luther King Jr.'s voice actor for his 12-year-old self sounds way older than an actual 12-year-old.
    • Actually, pretty much all of the characters both look and sound way too old for 6th-graders.
  3. The movie has a rather strange premise. A class trip takes Miles, a student who is failing history class, and his best friend Randy to Martin Luther King Jr.'s childhood home, and they are able to travel back in time to various points of MLK's life by making contact with personal belongings of his.
    • Miles also tries to bring a younger MLK with him to the present, which unintentionally undoes all of MLK's work that he did as an adult.
  4. Some mediocre and unlikable characters. For example, Kyle is your everyday generic school bully character.
    • Wild Man Willis (the bus driver) is a dangerous bus driver, who doesn't stay on the road, resulting in damaged property, and he could have killed people by driving on the sidewalk.
    • Mr. Harris (who only appears in the alternate timeline and is briefly mentioned once at the beginning) is extremely rude towards Miles and a younger MLK, kicking them out of the school while screaming racial slurs at them.
    • Mrs. Dale (the woman from the past) is rude and racist towards Miles and MLK just because her kids were playing with baseball with them (It does make sense though, since black segregation was around during that time).
  5. Some moments in the movie don't really fit the G rating, such as Kyle's dad smoking in the car, Martin Luther King's assassination (which thankfully happens off-screen) and the depiction of racial segregation.
  6. Some of the voice acting is a bit mediocre.
  7. One of the scenes, where Maria Ramirez speaks Spanish and doesn't understand English when the timeline is screwed up, has no subtitles for the English viewers to understand what she is saying.
  8. Although the movie does talk about the Civil Rights Movement, a fair amount of stuff from it is still left out, such as the "Brown v. Board of Education" case and the Albany Movement.

Good Qualities

  1. Amazing soundtrack.
  2. Good voice acting from some voice actors, such as Samuel L. Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg.
  3. Despite some of it being left out, the movie does a good job of teaching about MLK's life and the Civil Rights Movement.
  4. The plot premise may be strange, but the idea of going back in time to witness the life of an important historical figure is very interesting.
  5. The scene where MLK accepts his fate and goes back in time to the motel where James Earl Ray will assassinate him, despite Miles begging him not to, is incredibly sad.
  6. The 34-year-old MLK being voiced by his actual son, Dexter King, is a nice touch.
  7. Most of the characters are likable.
    • Miles Woodman is a likable protagonist, as he is a determined underachiever who becomes curious about MLK's past in order to pass his history class and go on to the 7th grade.
    • MLK is a very likable character, which isn't surprising at all.

Reception

The movie currently has a 6.7/10 rating on IMDB and a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes.

It was nominated for an Emmy award in 1999 for Outstanding Animated Program.

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