Talking About Zootopia

My friend AJ joined me to talk all about Zootopia today.  We dive into the nitty gritty talking about the plot in detail, so this is very spoilery! We talk about the messaging and some of the complaints between both sides of the political spectrum.  We talk about the imagery, character design, story and Zootopia’s place in the history of Disney animation.  I am going to write up this breakdown in essay format later in the week in a spoilery review but I thought you might enjoy listening to the video.

It’s more the kind of video you listen to while doing other things or driving because it is an hour and half.

Let me know what you think of our discussion and the points we bring up.

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Rotoscopers, Little Mermaid Tag, and Dumbo

So today ended up being a crazy day content-wise for me.  I had 3 articles published on Rotoscopers.com you should check out!

Rocks in My Pockes Review for Rotoscopers.com

http://www.rotoscopers.com/2016/01/27/review-rocks-in-my-pockets/

My interview with creators of independent animated film Snowtime I did for Sundance Film Festival.

http://www.rotoscopers.com/2016/01/27/interview-with-snowtime-filmmakers-francois-brisson-and-marie-claude-beauchamp/

My review of Snowtime for Rotoscopers.com

http://www.rotoscopers.com/2016/01/27/review-snowtime/

I will be reviewing Snowtime in the next couple of days on this blog, as I didn’t want to take anything away from the Rotoscopers review.  I have previously reviewed Rocks in My Pockets on this blog (but I would still love it if you checked out the Rotoscopers review).

But I also posted 2 new videos on my youtube channel.  I created a tag called The Little Mermaid tag and my fellow youtuber Aly did it with me.  It ended up being really fun and if any of you want to do it I would love to hear your answers. (My cannon review of Little Mermaid is here)

Here are the questions if you want to do the tag.

Little Mermaid Tag
Favorite Ginger actress?
Have you ever had ginger hair?
What world from movie or book would you like to be a part of?
What teenage movie or book is your favorite?
If you could be a mermaid would you want to?
Best name- Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, Alana or Ariel?
What would you wish for from Ursula?
What human device could you picture using in a new way?
Favorite Disney song?
Favorite Disney couple?
Favorite fish recipe?
Could you convince someone to love you without speaking?
What is your ideal date/proposal/kiss?
Best father/daughter combo in a movie?
Belle vs Ariel? Lumiere vs Sebastian?
Is Little Mermaid feminist or not?
Who should play Ariel in live action Little Mermaid?
Why do you love Little Mermaid?

I also posted my review of Dumbo in my Disney Canon Project on my channel this morning.  I worked really hard on it and would love if you gave it a look.

So a bit of a jumbled post today but I hope you enjoy all the content.  I had a blast making it!

This weekend should be very busy coming up as well with Kung fu Panda 3 and The Finest Hours,  which I will review.  Will look forward to your feedback.

Pixar Review 25: Up

up_posterIt’s really hard to write about your favorite movie, or at least it is really hard for me.  So has been my challenge for the last week or so as I’ve faced writing about Pixar’s beautiful film Up, my favorite movie (animation or not).

To this day I have never met anyone in my real life who doesn’t like Up, and it is both my brother and my favorite movie and we are as different as can be.  It was also nominated for best picture not just animated film and receives  wide-spread acclaim from critics and fans with a 98% on rotten tomatoes with only 5 rotten reviews and 276 positives.  On the notoriously tough to please imdb Up has a 91% of user reviews a 7 or higher, which is truly remarkable.  You get the idea. I’m not alone in loving this movie!

I like Up so much when I threw my dream party look at the cake I had made (it was an open house).

up cakeSo why do I love it so much? It’s tough but I will do my best to describe.

Have you ever lost someone you love? Have you ever felt the pangs of regret that you wish you had said something or done something differently with the person who is gone?  I certainly have and that is the message behind Up.  It is what makes it special.  It is what moves me so much.  It is also a reminder that we need not feel such regret because the people we love are an active part of our lives as long as we live their dreams and make them proud.

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To begin with in Up we get introduced to Carl and Ellie as little children.  Carl is watching a filmstrip about Charles Muntz his hero.  He tells the audience “adventure is out there”.  This energizes Carl and he gets a balloon which is a hint of things to come. On his way home he finds a girl named Ellie in an abandoned house.  She also loves Muntz and dreams of going to Venezuela and seeing the Paradise Falls. She chronicles all her dreams in an Adventure book and has a section called ‘Stuff I’m Going to Do’.

up17 up15This is another theme of the movie- adventures and the power of big dreams to motivate us whether they are accomplished or not.

Ellie tells Carl he must take her to Paradise Falls ‘cross your heart. Cross it!’.  Then we see what happened with that promise.  A full life plays out and this is my favorite section of film ever. If you think of it from both the journey of a couple, of a life, and from Carl’s perspective of not keeping his promise to his beloved it is so moving.  I’ve seen it so many times and it still makes me cry each time.

The thing is about regret is it can make you bitter and resentful.  So has happened to our elderly Carl.  He is lonely and talks to Ellie as if she was sitting right beside him (I love that throughout the movie because I believe the dead are with us cheering us on).  A commercial developer has taken over the land near his house and they want him to sell.  He tells him “you can have the house…when I’m dead”.  You get the feeling he is just waiting to die and he see’s Ellie’s ‘Stuff I’m Going to Do’ and is overwhelmed with guilt at never having taken her to the Falls.

up18Through various contrivances he is going to be forced to assisted living but he decides to instead embrace the spirit of adventure and use a million balloons to take his house to the Falls.  This is so beautiful when it is first taking flight.

Unfortunately for Carl he is not alone in the house but his neighboring boy scout Russell is a stow away.  Russell is a lonely but eager kid who wants nothing more than to get his final badge in assisting the elderly.

up13There’s some dangerous weather but they eventually make it close to the Falls where they come in contact with a rare bird and some talking dogs!  Some people don’t like the dogs.  I do and think their fascination with squirrels is very funny especially when their voiceboxes go bad.

The most friendly dog is named Dug and he bonds with Carl and Russell quickly.

up9Russell names the bird Kevin and it turns out it is the very bird that Charles Muntz has been hunting all these years.

up kevinCarl gets to meet Charles Muntz and it turns out he is not the hero of his youth any more.  Originally they were planning on the eggs of the bird be youth serum for Muntz but it was taking up too much of the plot so they decided to leave the Muntz/Carl plothole feeling audiences would forgive them one such problem and for the most part they do.  I certainly do! Plus, our villain Charles Muntz is voiced by the great Christopher Plummer so I can’t complain about that.

up10The key is through all of these adventures Carl never looses his purpose of honoring Ellie.  He talks to her throughout and is even willing to abandon Russell in order to get the house to the Falls for his beloved.  I just love that.

Again, you can feel the weight of his grief melting as he goes on this adventure. And then he looks at the Adventure book and see’s for the first time a note from his wife.

up6Here’s the scene in French but you get the idea.  “Thanks for the adventure.  Now go have a new one”.  Make my heart melt.

In that moment Carl knows he did keep his promise to his Ellie and to me that is just as moving as the opening section.  I cry every time (like literally I just watched it again and cried). He forgives himself and has a whole new energy to go and save Russell from Muntz.  It’s a perfect scene in my book.

To me Up is a perfect movie.  The emotional journey Pete Docter takes you on should be something anyone who has lost a loved one can relate too.  I certainly do. Every time I watch it I feel like I get a hug from my Grandpa who I miss everyday of my life. He was my hero and I hope he is proud of me and my little life adventure.

It’s not only incredibly moving but also funny and sweet.  We get a lot of humor from the dogs, Russell and Kevin.  The relationship between Russell and Carl is sweet and grows organically through the story in a believable way.

up4The voice performances from Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson and others are first rate (how has Ed Asner managed to play the grumpy old man for the last 40 years!).  And the music by Michael Giacchino is one of my favorites in all of movies.  It is literally pitch perfect.

It is obviously not the most realistic stories.  For instance, it would take much more than one night to blow up all those balloons but if you can just go with it you are in for something special.  The script is the typically witty dialogue of a Pixar movie.  It is funny and sweet and will take you on a journey if you will let it.

Ever since Inside Out I’ve been thinking about Up and how both movies are about memories.  How we deal with those memories and not have them become debilitating is a challenge whether you are 11 or 71 (or however old Carl is!).  And I just love how we learn in Up the adventure of life is the greatest tribute we can give those who have past on.  We never forget but we keep on living and embracing whatever comes our way!  It’s the spirit of adventure!

It’s so rare a movie will teach you something about life and be a true moment of clarity.  Those films are more than just entertainment.  They are practically scripture in my life.  Up is such a movie.  It teaches me about loss, love, marriage, grief, adventure, life and everything else.

So yes Up is my favorite movie.  It is a movie I could watch every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of.  It’s just that kind of movie to me.  Something that comes around a couple times in a person’s life and is a true inspiration.

Thanks to the entire Pixar team for making such a beloved movie!

Overall Grade- A+

Cinderella Through the Years

cinderella through the years

Before I post my review of the latest Disney Cinderella I thought I would share with all of you my reviews of 4 other Cinderella movies over the years. I love the story of Cinderella because at its core is the human need to be rescued from time to time.  Some may see this as feminine frailty being celebrated but I believe all of us need rescue from the dark times of our lives.  In fact, Cinderella is not rescued by the Prince. She is rescued from this terrible situation from another woman.  And why is she rescued?  Because she is hard working, faithful and kind.

Cinderella is also a message about hope and that if you are a good person, a good friend who works hard eventually good things will happen to you.  It is for these reasons the story has lasted for centuries and permeated every medium of storytelling including literature, theater and of course the movies.

When I first started my youtube channel I did a defense of Cinderella and reviewed 4 different versions, which I believe show the versatility of the story.  Many think only of the 1950 Disney animated version which I love (#3 in my Disney Canon ranking).  But the other 3 versions I reviewed are unique in other ways and all a lot of fun to watch.  I would encourage you to hunt them down and watch them as you watch the latest version and let me know what you think.

Like I said, these videos were just when I was starting so the audio isn’t perfect but the content is I believe pretty solid. I will summarize a little bit before each video in case you prefer it written than in a video form.

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Disney 1950 Cinderella-

The first is the 1950 Disney Cinderella.  This version has the best music and is the most artistically beautiful of any version to date.  The backgrounds are especially lovely.  Scenes like the bubbles in Sing Sweet Nightangale are gorgeous and the way Lady Tremaine is drawn with the green eyes makes her one of Disney’s best villains ever.  She is completely unsympathetic and gets her self esteem in life out of ruining the life of another human being.  Yet Cinderella stays positive and hopeful until the dress, made by her loving friends, is destroyed and it is completely devastating.  Despite all that has happened to her this is the first time she is hopeless and it is then when the rescue comes.  Verna Felton is so great as the Fairy Godmother and I love this interchange:

There’s nothing left to believe in. Nothing.

Fairy Godmother: Nothing, my dear? Oh, now you don’t really mean that.

Cinderella: Oh, but I do…

Fairy Godmother: Nonsense, child. If you’d lost all your faith, I couldn’t be here. And here I am.

In a lot of ways it is similar to the message of Pinocchio.  ‘When you wish upon a star makes no difference who you are…anything your heart desires will come to you”.  Does that mean you just sit and wait?  No and that’s not what Cinderella does.  She works really hard and in the end good things happen in a way that is unexpected.  It has nothing to do with her marrying a Prince but escaping a rather Hellish existence and being free.

Glass Slipper

glass slipperThe Glass Slipper is a very different version of Cinderella because unlike the Disney version Cinderella is kind of a jerk.  She’s stubborn and willful and picks fights with everyone around her.  Played by Leslie Caron she insists she is going to end up in the palace and everybody thinks she’s a nut.  Then she meets the Prince in the mountains and thinks he is the Baker’s son.  She thinks he is making fun of her and throws him into the lake. They meet on several occasions and he’s bewitched by her ‘sad eyes’.

The main strength of this version is the amazing dancing.  Leslie Caron is of courses famous for her being an incredible dancer and in this film they have 2 full ballets done by Roland Petit and the Ballet de Paris.  For those that want a more headstrong determined Cinderella this might be a favorite of yours! I love dance so I love it.

The Slipper and the Rose

slipper and rose

Slipper and the Rose is a unique musical version of the Cinderella story with songs by the Sherman Brothers.  The songs are more like nuttiness of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang than the Sherman Brothers more mainstream musicals like Mary Poppins or The Jungle Book.  The lyrics are very funny and all of the performances are campy and silly but entertaining.  There are also a lot of unique touches to the story like the Prince and Cinderella actually get engaged for a period but Cinderella is convinced it would not be good for the kingdom for Prince to marry a commoner.  She is exiled but lives quite peacefully without the Prince quite happy to be free from her burdens.

Eventually the Prince agrees to marry out of duty despairing of finding Cinderella and she must decide whether to go back and stop the wedding.  Kind of a different take on the story and I like it! But the main appeal on this one is the music and all the humor.

Ever After

ever afterEver After is a very modern take on Cinderella story.  For starters there is no magic of any kind.  It is also the only version with a male Fairy Godmother figure in Leonardo Divinci.  Drew Barrymoore plays a girl named Danielle who ends up a servant to the terrific Anjelica Huston who is very sympathetic as the stepmother who married a strange out of necessity and then was expected to care for his daughter.  The Prince and Danielle meet early on and it is a very academic courtship.  They go to a romantic library covered in vines and spar over Utopian philosophy and the value of human freedom.

Drew Barrymoore and Dougray Scott have great chemistry together and it is the only version where he is the one who is devastated by her pretending to be someone she is isn’t.  That isn’t even addressed in other versions. It takes him a while to agree to forgive her and by that time she is sold and whipped but in the end she doesn’t need rescue, but rescues herself which I think is a cool spin on the story.  It’s an extremely satisfying version and may be my favorite live action.  They all have parts I love.

 

Have you guys seen any of these versions?  I would love to know your thoughts.  If not, go check them out.  They are great movies and it is fascinating to see the same story taken in such different ways.  Is there a version I have missed that you enjoy.  Last year we had Anna Kendrick as Cinderella in Into the Woods which I enjoyed

 

And my review of 2015 Cinderella is coming up next… 🙂

McFarland USA Review

mcfarland7I got the chance to see a very special film today, McFarland USA.  I know you see the pictures and you probably think it’s like every other motivational sports movie but I’m telling you it is a special movie.  I happen to love sports movies like Warrior, Hoosiers and Miracle and this is right up there with those great films but it has a human component that you don’t always see which I found very moving.

mcfarland6McFarland starts out kind of like Hoosiers with Kevin Costner’s Jim White getting in an altercation with a football player and getting fired.  As a last resort him and his family get a job in McFarland, California, a poor crop picking agricultural mostly latino town.

mcfarland12

His wife played by the always lovely Maria Bello and daughter Julie (Morgan Saylor) and daughter Jamie are at first disgusted and a little scared of living in McFarland. It is a seemingly dangerous neighborhood in a foreign land.

One of the things I learned on my 20 month mission for my church was in every poor ‘scary’ neighborhood there are families trying desperately to make things work and to make things better for their children.  We have this idea you cross the tracks and it leads to inherent gang activity just isn’t true. McFarland USA does a good job showing this reality.  That there are good neighbors in every neighborhood in America.  That’s a great lesson for kids.

mcfarland1

Costner ends up getting fired as assistant football coach but the principal (Valente Rodriguez) who I loved every scene he was in can’t lose any teachers so he keeps Costner around.

mcfarland-principal-valente-rodriquez-500x285

As he teaches PE he starts to notice many of the kids can run and he gets the crazy idea to start a cross country team.

The boys initially resist being on the team because they have work crop picking to do before and after school.  Costner even goes out to work at the picking one day and he says it was the ‘worst day of work in his life’ but he vows to make it work for the team and the more time together the more bonded he and the boys get.

mcfarland2

This material could have so easily veered into caricature and simplistic portrayals of a white man in a latino world but it doesn’t. The conversations and personalities felt authentic and real. Each of the boys has their own personality but not in the archetype way of Mighty Ducks. These are individuals and we root for every last one of them.mcfarland5

I particularly liked Carlos Pratts as team captain and star runner Thomas Valles. It is a subtle conflicted sweet performance and character.

I also thought the home drama as Costner’s family tries to find a home in McFarland and his daughter Julie turns 15 and gets a quinceanera.
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There was a point at the end when I was worried it was going to go the Pay it Forward route and give us an awful ending but then it didn’t so all was well.

It’s really quite the feat because I can’t think of a sport that is more boring to watch than cross country but the sport is just window dressing to a movie about teens, our failing educational system, family, culture, poverty and giving people something to dream about.
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I really can’t say enough good things about it. It has huge heart, good performances, and shows a side of urban life we rarely see- the functioning happy families that do exist and add so much to our country.

I think everyone should see and take your kids. It’s a real winner. Trust me on this. It’s great.

There are a few tense moments but other than that nothing to offend or be concerned about. A family film that will inspire everyone.

Overall Grade- A, Content Grade- A

Snow Day Movies

Best Snow Day MoviesSo I’ve heard of this little thing called Snowmogeddon that many of you are experiencing.  It is gorgeous here in Utah so go figure! As many of you are stuck inside with travel restrictions I thought I would help you out and suggest some great movies for watching on a snow day.  I figure you either want something you can cozy up with, something long or something cold.

For some reason I always think of making popcorn, hot cocoa and brownies when there is a blizzard outside.  Yum!

I am also specifically not picking any Christmas movies  because most people don’t watch those in January.

Here we go!

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy-

lord of the ringsWhat better for a day stuck inside than a good trilogy and it’s hard to top Lord of the Rings.  You could even watch the extended editions with all that time.  What Peter Jackson did truly fits the word epic. They hit every movie lover need- great action, beautiful worlds, good performances and a battle against evil that has real heart at the core. When you get to the final scene with Samwise, Frodo, Gollum and the ring it is so satisfying.

2. Up

up_posterPerfect time to watch a movie about a floating house when you are stuck in the house!  I can’t think of a time when I wouldn’t want to watch Up.  It’s sweet, funny and touching.  I love the opening sequence more than any other piece of filmmaking I’ve ever seen.  I love that a character passes away yet her presence is felt throughout the film.  It’s a reminder to us that those we love and have lost are still a part of our lives. It’s also very funny and has some nifty action, a good villain, great voice performances and a perfect score.

3. Shining

shiningGot a little cabin fever?  I can’t think of a more appropriate and terrifying movie than Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.  It is the only horror movie I like because it is about a man going insane not some outside force attacking.  The artistry is a huge step above the typical horror movie and there is a lot of symbolism that can keep you thinking.  Plus, great performances from all involved.

4. 101 Dalmatians

101 dalmations

My tails froze and my nose is froze and my ears are froze and my toes are froze

Of course I have to include a Disney and I almost went with Lady and the Tramp because that is a very cozy movie but I decided on 101 Dalmatians because it is warm, funny and has a lot of scenes in the snow. Cruella is one of Disney’s best villains and the dogs get really close to getting caught many times.  The scene getting into the van makes me always hold my breath.  Cruella’s plan is so outrageous it also gives us some great laughs.  One of my favorites and a rare time where the sketch style is actually a benefit to all those spotted puppies.

5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

ferrisWhat is a snow day but an unexpected day off, so this is a perfect film for the occasion.  Ferris’ antics are obviously over the top but there is a real heart to the film which I actually find quite moving.  There is a theory that the whole day is planned by Ferris because Cameron is going to commit suicide and it is all set up to get him to the moment with the car and confronting his father.  I don’t know if that is true or not but it makes sense.  It’s one of those rare pictures which balances comedy, great writing, likable performances, 4th wall jokes and pretty intense drama. I like it more each time I see it.

6.  Frozen

Frozen-movie-posterHow could I not put it in?  Let the cold never bother you anyway and watch one of Disney’s most satisfying movies and one of the best musicals in a long time.  I love the relationship between the sisters as I have 3 sisters and trying to figure out what’s in their heads is really hard.  I thought the ending worked and the villain twist surprised me, which is hard to do in a fairytale.  They also used just enough of Olaf to be funny without overdoing it.  I know it has its detractors but I love it!

7. Pride and Prejudice

pride and prejudice

Technically this is not a movie but a miniseries but I figure you have 6 hours when snowed in why not watch Colin Firth stare longingly into Lizzie’s eyes…Sigh?  This is the standard by which all Jane Austen adaptations are measured.  Andrew Davies is such a great director for period pieces and the whole cast is engaging with the exception of Susannah Harker who is a rather blank Jane.  I love Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie and of course Colin Firth with the staring, eloquence, and a little dip in the lake we won’t soon forget.  Other great miniseries to watch are North and South (my favorite book), Wives and Daughters, Little Dorrit, Downton Abbey, Persuasion/Emma/Sense and Sensibility.  They are all great!

8. Groundhog Day-

groundhog day

It’s only a few days away from Groundhog Day so why not watch a hilarious comedy about the holiday? Bill Murray is at his best as a cranky weatherman named Phil who is forced to cover the groundhog day ceremonies in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  Then he lives that aggravating day over and over again.  It is funny but there is also a nice heart to the story where he learns to see people in a new way including Andie MacDowell as the love interest.  He starts looking at her very cynically but as the days continue he understands her and starts to think a little less selfishly.  Terrific writing and directing by the great Harold Ramis.

9. Fargo-

Fargo_movieposter

I admit the ending I have to look away.  It’s pretty bloody but aside from that a perfect mystery set in cold Fargo, North Dakota. William H Macy is great as the man who’s plan begins to unravel.  Steve Buscemi is so creepy as one of the kidnappers. But the real star is Frances McDormand as the pregnant sheriff Marge who is one of the most likable characters in recent memory.  She is smarter than everyone else in the room but everyone discounts her because of her sex, way of speaking and being pregnant.  It makes you root for her and smile at the same time. Great direction by the Coen Brothers making the cold landscape of Fargo practically a character in the story.

10. 7 Brides for 7 Brothers

seven bridesA classic musical directed by Stanley Donnen and starring Jane Powell and Howard Keel as a couple who marry on first sight which gives Keel’s backwoods brothers a bad idea for getting their own brides.  It is silly and over-the-top premise but it works almost in spite of itself.  The engaging cast of mostly dancers helps keep it likable and light.  It also has some of the best dancing in any Hollywood movie of its era. The barn raising scene alone is amazing.  And it is a perfect musical to watch in a blizzard because the girls get snowed in by an avalanche!

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There are a lot of other movies I could have picked.  What are some of your favorites? Please share in the comments and stay warm!

Disney Over/Under

I haven’t done a straight Disney post for a while and I thought it might be fun to go through the decades of Disney and pick one movie I think is overrated, and one underrated. The overrated movies are not bad movies (except for 1).  I like all Disney movies to one level or another and there are only 4 that I have no desire to ever see again. (Any guesses?)

 

1937-1942  Early Era

Overrated- Pinocchio

pinocchio nose

I don’t think any from this era are overrated.  They are all great.  That said, I like Pinocchio.  It is brilliant, a masterpiece, but it is so dark and scary that it is not one I want to rewatch much.  I would give it an A where most people give it an A+ so only a small difference (I had a B in my original review but I’ve thought on it and would give an A now).  It’s a morality tale and sometimes that can be a little heavy handed and the Pleasure Island sequence is especially chilling particularly the kids turning into donkeys for the salt mines (holy crap that’s scary!). However,  I LOVE the music, animation, and heart! I appreciate a lot more now as an adult than I did as a child but unlike Hunchback which goes too far IMO this is still watchable scary for kids. Just not a favorite of mine even though I recognize its many great qualities.

Underrated- Dumbo

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Dumbo I think unfairly has a reputation as being racist and so people stay away.  The crows are a caricature but I never found them demeaning or insulting. Perhaps I am not culturally sensitive to that group but they are happy and cheerful, nothing childish or patronizing.  Even if you fast forward the crows (a small scene) the rest of the movie has such heart and teaches about accepting others with differences- just the message some fear the crows are against.

I love the relationship between Timothy Mouse and Dumbo and Mrs Jumbo and her son. The artistry is also simple but beautiful.

 

1942-1949  Package Era

Overrated- Fun and Fancy Free

bongo finds love2

None of the package movies are really rated very highly but I got a lot of pushback on my Fun and Fancy Free review because people have nostalgia for Mickey and the Beanstalk.  I wonder how many have really seen it recently? It is pleasant and Crazy Donald is cool but it is also predictable and kind of slow.  But it is harmless enough.  What I really didn’t care for was Bongo- the story of a circus bear who learns how to slap people to show them how much they love them.  What a great message for kids!

I am also not a big fan of the interruptions from Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen at a little girls birthday party.  I know they are legends but it didn’t make me laugh and felt a little awkward.

Underrated- Melody Time

I find Melody Time to be one of the more palatable of the package films because although it has 7 shorts it focuses mainly on 2 longer segments- Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill.  Appleseed I love but may be less agreeable to non-Christian viewers.  It looks like it was picked up off a Grandma Moses painting and the story is sweet and music lovely. Pecos Bill is also beautiful to look at and a very funny Western tall tale.

johnny appleseed

1950-1959 Post War Era

Overrated- Peter Pan

peter-pan-1953-peter-pan-and-captain-hook

I like Peter Pan but unlike Dumbo I think people have a right to complain about the Redman song.  It is pretty bad and long. Plus, everyone is so mean to Wendy and she doesn’t really do anything worthy of the ill treatment. It also resorts to slapstick a lot.  Most of it I think is funny but it gets a little old after a while.  Still, the artistry is lovely and music great.  It’s a solid, entertaining movie, just not a favorite of mine.

Underrated- Alice in Wonderland

Alice-march-hare-mad-hatter

Alice in Wonderland isn’t for every taste so I think that is why it gets a bad rap. If you can just take off your normal linear storytelling hat and appreciate something different you will be dazzled.  It is supposed to be nonsense, not have a plot.  The movie is Alice being introduced to a variety of unusual creatures and I think it is brilliant.  The artistry is so much fun with the great Mary Blair’s visual style and the music is wonderful too.  Even after seeing it many times I find myself curious for what Alice will find next on her journey.  It’s great!

1960-1979 Sketch Era

Overrated- Sword in the Stone

light and swordThis is another film I think a lot of people have a fondness for out of nostalgia more than it actually being a good movie.  I was honestly being generous when I gave it a C-.  I hated the way it looks.  Everything looks like it has been painted over with blue and gray and feels dirty.  But most importantly none of the lessons Arthur goes through teach him anything about being a King or make him qualified to take the sword out of the stone.  Let’s see- he learns to be saved as a fish by Archimedes, make a squirrel cry as a squirrel and have Merlin battle Madam Mim as a bird.  How does any of that relate to being a King?  The songs are fun I will grant it that.

Underrated- Robin Hood

robin and little johnThe movie even Disney is embarrassed by because of the recycled animation.  I’ve thought about it a lot and decided I don’t care about that.  It’s just a technique like CG, hand drawn, stop motion, and if the story is good than the technique doesn’t matter to me.  Not that Robin Hood is a perfect film.  I think it is one act too long and gets a little too melancholy in the 3rd act. But I love the dry English wit and pithy dialogue. It’s funny with a great villain and solid music.

 

1980-1988 Pre-Renaissance

Overrated- Fox and the Hound

foxandthehound2mc-08Fox and the Hound is a fine movie but I’ve seen it pretty high on some lists and it is far too corny for me to take seriously.  I mean there is an extended poem with violins playing in the background. If that’s not corny I don’t know what is? And the characters are kind of one note although the message about friendships changing is a good one.  I hate the female characters who are just man (or dog/fox) candy.  I am not a fan of the dopey music and the bear scene while striking feels like it belongs in a different movie.

Underrated- Great Mouse Detective

basil and dawson

Those of us who are in the animation fandom may think I’m nuts for saying Great Mouse Detective is underrated but I think if you asked the world at large many are unaware of The Great Mouse Detective.  It’s not a perfect movie and is pretty scary for little tikes but the energy of Basil and Dawson and the great performance by Vincent Price as Ratigan make it thoroughly entertaining.  The scheme is over-the-top like a Bond villain and the animation is lush including the terrific use of computer animation in the clocktower segment.  The only part I dislike is the stripper song at the bar which I fast forward.

1989-1999  Renaissance

Overrated- Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame_gargoyles

Hunchback of Notre Dame is kind of the opposite of Great Mouse Detective.  The hardcore Disney fandom loves it, where most normal moviegoers I know greatly dislike it. We’ve hashed this out a million times on this blog but my main issues are the tonal shifts it takes between obvious appeals to children to adult-appropriate cruelty and messaging. The movie is visually striking but I found myself either disliking or feeling ambivalent towards every character. The change of Frollo to a judge from the Archbishop actually makes the church look worse by being inattentive and enabling a madman. The music is wonderful and it is some of Disney’s best animation but I just can’t get over that tonal see-saw and the cruel imagery for a film marketed and made for children.  They should have just gone all adult and I would have gone for it.

Underrated- Rescuers Down Under

RescuersduposterThis movie hits a couple happy buttons for me.  I love action adventure movies with treasure hunts and clues. To me RDU tapped into that formula and was so much fun.  I also love scenes in movies where characters fly and this has stunning flying sequences with Marahute. I also had extremely low expectations because I hate the first one.  RDU tempers the meanness of the first by only having McCleach in the movie for about 12 minutes and Cody is rarely alone. There is way more hope throughout and John Candy is hilarious as Wilbur the albatross who is operated on by crazy mice doctors (still one of the funniest scenes in all of Disney!).

2000-2009 Post Renaissance

Overrated- Brother Bear

brother_bear_09-1Finding an overrated movie in this period is hard and Brother Bear has a bad rotten tomatoes score and is at the bottom section of most people’s list so how can it apply? Well, I guess this is degrees.  I thought it was total junk.  I disagreed with literally every decision they made.  Most people give it a ‘stupid but harmless’ pass but I hated everything about it- the voice acting, predictable story, terrible character designs, awful background songs, strange singer choices, unlikable characters, annoying side characters, humor that doesn’t work (most jokes aren’t even jokes, no punchlines given…), ending is unbelievable and it had potential which made their terrible choices even more maddening. I would way rather watch Brave than this and I am not a big Brave fan but in the world of Disney turning into bears movies this is by far the worst.  It was nominated for an Oscar I remind you!

Underrated- Meet the Robinsons

meet-the-robinsons-original-2Meet the Robinsons is not a perfect movie by a long shot but I think many were so upset by Chicken Little they didn’t give this a fair shot.  It’s a lot of fun and very clever.   It is too cluttered but it is also kind of a puzzle I had fun putting together.  The Bowler Hat villain is creepily drawn and you will never guess his surprise!  The characters are engaging and fun and the story has a lot of energy, zipping around all over the place. And I almost always like a time travel story so this just worked even with its flaws.  Give it another shot and I bet you will find some things to like.

 

2010-Present Revitalization Era

Overrated- Wreck It Ralph

Wreckitralphdisney.pngSorry guys. I like Wreck-it Ralph but it is an average Disney for me not a top tier film.  I love the setup.  I love Ralph but I do not like Vanellope or Sarah Silverman’s vocal performance.  The villain is very clever but they spend way too much time in Sugar Rush and I’ve seen lots of worlds that look like Sugar Rush. After a while it kind of looked like one of the new Care Bears movie backdrops.  I love the music, and what they were going for but it loses me. It should have been more like The Lego Movie or Monsters Inc in the door scene and skipped between lots of the games.  That would have been much more entertaining to me.  Again, not terrible.  I like it.  I own it.  I just don’t think it is the masterpiece others think. Plus, the other movies in the era are in my top 10 except for Winnie the Pooh which I love and Princess and the Frog which I feel is perfectly rated.

Underrated- Winnie the Pooh

winnie pooh 2011 meetingI don’t know if I think any of the films from this era is underrated but like Great Mouse Detective I think 2011’s Winnie the Pooh has been largely forgotten by the general public despite getting good reviews and praise of many hard-core fans.  This is a movie that takes its target demographic of little children under 3 seriously and is gentle and sweet and I loved it.  Aside from a few of the voice actors and Christopher’s eyes it is lovely story of the gang trying to find Eeyore’s tail and prepare for the coming of the Backson.  I love the music and the animation is wonderful. I love that this movie was made for little children with no attempts to wink at adults and even the short running time is perfect for the attention span of toddlers.

And please save your conspiracy theories. This was not a carefully constructed film to justify the closing of the 2D department. That is so asinine.  If Disney can make money on 2D guess what they want to make money.  That’s what a business wants to do…It’s not as good as the original but a worthy sequel in spirit and feel- an lovely homage you might say.

 

So there you have it.  I’m sure you will have lots to say.  Remember I like all of these movies except Brother Bear. I love Disney movies! Share with me what your over/under would be for the eras I mentioned?  Always be respectful and we can have a spirited debate.  Thanks!

Watchmojo Best of Animated Series

I don’t know how familiar most of you are with youtube but the channel which will make a top 10 of everything (they literally have a top 10 evil despot list…,) watchmojo, has recently come out with a series on the top animated films by decade.  I will share some of my thoughts of their lists and what I would change.

For starters, I wouldn’t factor in success or how it changed the genre.  For my lists it would just be my favorites but I am sure for their channel they need more criteria.  It just seems like there are too many things that are popular or groundbreaking without necessarily being good.

1920-1970-

I understand having to go off of the decade idea but why not do a golden age list, xerox list, ect?  You could do 1920-1950, 1950-1979.  Even that would be better than 1920-1970 but whatever that was their choice. For the most part its hard to argue with the quality of films on this list; although, I kind of feel like Charlotte’s Web made the cut because they needed a non-Disney.  I love Charlotte’s Web.  I included it on my Top 11 Forgotten Animated Films. But in the first 50 years of animated films it wouldn’t make my top 10.

I also would definitely not include Peter Pan, which disappointed me probably the most on rewatch.  Pinocchio and Bambi are artistic masterpieces but just not top 10 favorites for me, but I don’t mind them being on the list and I like them.  I personally would add Jungle Book and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (not even an HM?) in place of Charlotte’s Web and Peter Pan, but there isn’t a ‘bad’ movie on their list (too much to pick from over 50 years!)

#10: “Sleeping Beauty” (1959)-

#9: “Peter Pan” (1953)

#8: “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961)

#7: “Charlotte’s Web” (1973)

#6: “Alice in Wonderland” (1951)

#5: “Fantasia” (1940)

#4: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)

#3: “Bambi” (1942)

#2: “Cinderella” (1950)

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– “Lady and the Tramp” (1955)
– “Dumbo” (1941)
– “The Sword in the Stone” (1963)
– “The Jungle Book” (1967)
– “Robin Hood” (1973)

#1: “Pinocchio” (1940)

1980-1989

Someone took a long drink from the anime train in creating this list.  I can’t disagree with any of the Studio Ghibli picks and I have not seen Grave of the Fireflies or Akira but they are on my list to see.  Fox and the Hound is so corny I struggle including it; although, it certainly is better than other 80’s Disney offerings like Black Cauldron (which I don’t hate but has big flaws) and Oliver and Company.

I personally would take out Fox and the Hound (and certainly never put it 3rd!) and put Transformers on the list (it’s really good! Blows the Michael Bay monstrosities out the window).   I would also pick Secret of Nimh over An American Tail even though I like Tail, Nimh is sooo great with such a dynamic central female character and mother.  You certainly will have no quibble with me on their #1 pick! Little Mermaid is my favorite movie of the 80s period animated or live action.

#10: “The Land Before Time” (1988)

#9: “An American Tail” (1986)

#8: “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)

#7: “Castle in the Sky” (1986)

#6: “Akira” (1988)

#5: “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)

#4: “The Great Mouse Detective” (1986)

#3: “The Fox and the Hound” (1981)

#2: “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988)

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– “The Transformers: The Movie” (1986)
– “The Secret of NIMH” (1982)
– “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” (1984)

#1: “The Little Mermaid” (1989)

1990-1999-

This is a really solid list with few quibbles from me.  I have not seen Ghost in the Shell but will add it to the list of anime I need to see.  The only other strange addition is James and the Giant Peach because on their 80’s video they said no live action/animated hybrids and so Who Framed Roger Rabbit was out.  James and the Giant Peach has an extended section that is live action (not just a few minutes like Lego Movie).  What’s up watchmojo?

I love Prince of Egypt so that would probably sub out for James but other than that no issue with this list.  Solid picks.  (The order I could squabble with but I’ll give them that). I loved Rescuers Down Under more than the average bloke so if it was solely on my preferences might have put that in and I really do like Tarzan but tough to argue with their choices

#10: “Ghost in the Shell” (1995)

#9: “Mulan” (1998)

#8: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

#7: “James and the Giant Peach” (1996)

#6: “The Iron Giant” (1999)

#5: “Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

#4: “Princess Mononoke” (1997)

#3: “Aladdin” (1992)

#2: “The Lion King” (1994)

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– “Antz” (1998)
– “The Prince of Egypt” (1998)
– “Tarzan” (1999)
– “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)
– “Pocahontas” (1995)

#1: “Toy Story” (1995)

2000-2009

This is another solid list with a lot of predictable choices.  If I was just going off my personal preferences Shrek would definitely not make the list as I find those movies grating and obnoxious.  I am also not the biggest Wes Anderson fan and his style in a children’s film with Fantastic Mr Fox wasn’t a huge fan of although the film looks great.  I would have added The Triplets of Belleville, which is an animated french movie which blew me away.  Corpse Bride absolutely belongs on the list and Howl’s Moving Castle. Both I think are much better than Monsters Inc even though I like MI).

I also love Emperor’s New Groove and Atlantis: The Lost Empire more than the average person, but I can see why they wouldn’t have made the list.  Waltz with Bashir if a stunning adult animated film that I love and I think Chicken Run is better than the Wallace and Gromit; although I like WandG.  That said, it is a solid list and I can see it totally being a popular opinion.  For the record, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs wouldn’t get an HM from me!  I have also found Lilo & Stitch to grow on me (own it on blu-ray now) even though I still hate Stitch’s design and personality. What I like I love!

Up is my favorite movie period, not just animated movie so no issue with me with that at #1 and Spirited Away, Finding Nemo, Incredibles, Rataouille, and Wall-e are masterpieces.

#10: “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005)

#9: “Ratatouille” (2007)

#8: “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)

#7: “Monsters, Inc.” (2001)

#6: “The Incredibles” (2004)

#5: “Shrek” (2001)

#4: “Spirited Away” (2001)

#3: “WALL-E” (2008)

#2: “Finding Nemo” (2003)

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– “Kung Fu Panda” (2008)
– “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (2009)
– “Lilo & Stitch” (2002)
– “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)
– “Chicken Run” (2000)

#1: “Up” (2009)

2010-present

Another solid and probably very popular list (although Frozen haters will be up in arms.  Go Frozen!). I am not a big fan of Wreck-it Ralph although I see why others like it and don’t dislike it just not as in love with it as others. It wouldn’t make my personal list.  I have also not seen Rango as  most of my friends hated it (not sure why but they did so I never saw it).  Glad to see Ernest and Celestine mentioned as that is such a lovely film (although Secret of Kells is great too).

I guess they were only going with children’s movies for these lists because Persepolis would have been cool to see.  I also loved Big Hero 6 and would put that in the Despicable Me spot (not that big a fan of those movies but I like the Minions!).   I also recently rewatched Paranorman and liked it even better on rewatch.  That would have gotten my Wreck-it Ralph spot.   But still a solid list.  It is kind of strange they go 50 years in first year and only 5 in final list (bad planning watchmojo?).  Definitely no arguments from me on their #1 movie.  Toy Story 3 made me cry my eyes out and it was tense, exciting, scary, and gorgeous- a practically perfect animated film.

#10: “Adventures of Tintin ”

#9: “Wreck-it Ralph”

#8: “Rango”

#7: “Tangled

#6: “Despicable Me”

#5: “Frozen”

#4: “Lego Movie”

#3: “Ernest and Celestine”

#2: “How to Train Your Dragon”

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– Wind Rises

– Monsters University

– Bolt

– Megamind

– Frankenweenie

– Secret  World of Ariety

#1: “Toy Story 3”

So what do you think of Watchmojo’s list and my comments?  Where are they way off?  Where am I way off?  What do you agree with? As I well know nothing invites debate like the making of lists, so comment away.  Thanks!

Bracket Fun

So I found this bracket download and have been having fun with it tonight. I was just goofing off so please don’t take it too seriously.

Here we have a tournament of Christmas Carol versions
christmas carol bracket

Next is the worst of my Disney rankings.  Turns out Bolt is the bad movie I would most least mind watching again. It’s my favorite of the bad. I’d say that’s right on.  It’s an entertaining if forgettable little movie.

worst disneyThis I’m sure will cause all kinds of controversy but there you go.  My top 16 battling it out.  I did rank Big Hero 6 higher than Lion King but today if I had to pick I went with Lion King.  Maybe tomorrow I will feel differently.  They are all good!

disney bracketHere we go with my favorite holiday films battling it out!

tournamentA little 2014 Movies competition!

2014 movies

So this is just silly fun but I had a great time doing it.  It’s different than making a list because you are just making a choice over 2 movies.  If I had a top 8 holiday films Die Hard wouldn’t be on there but in the tournament it was, so that’s just kind of entertaining

If you want to make your own brackets go to http://www.printabletournamentbrackets.net/preview/16_Team_Single_Elimination_Bracket