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Triumph of the CG animated animal.

Triumph of the CG animated animal. (photo)

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If you’re working at Fox, you’re probably feeling pretty good this week. The naysayers were wrong about “Avatar,” which has cracked a billion dollars worldwide and shows no signs of slowing down. And “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” performed just as expected — which would mean $256 million globally and counting.

And there’s much more to come on the CGI-animals-adapted-from-comics/TV shows front: “Heathcliff” (Garfield’s thinner but equally snide long-lost feline relative), “Marmaduke,” “Yogi Bear.” All of these adaptations have a few things in common. They come from low-rent, generally shoddy material whose franchise durability is impeccable. And they all involve (ostensibly) funny talking animals (except for “Heathcliff,” who didn’t talk until he hit TV).

The question is, when did this become standard and why? Once, your average cartoon-turned-movie stayed a cartoon. The wrangling of live-action animals wasn’t an option — the gap between actuality and cutesy anthropomorphization was too wide too bridge — and CGI used to be quite expensive. Hence the low-rent “Garfield” show and TV specials and so on.

In that respect, it’s safe to say that “Garfield: The Movie” was a trailblazer of sorts, proving few things were more reliable than an established animal character cracking wise in glorious full-fleshed life. The progress curve has been exponential since Disney touted 2000’s enormously expensive “Dinosaur” as a landmark in integrating CGI creatures into the real world.

Now we have a new breed of movies — not precisely cheap, but easy enough to keep the costs down on. And it’s the new, default face of children’s entertainment, the new millennial equivalent of all those shoddy ’70s Disney kiddie matinees.

We’ve come a long way baby. Let’s not all cheer at once.

[Photos: “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,” Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 2009; “Garfield,” 20th Century Fox, 2004]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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