Continuing on with my series analyzing the Oscar nominated animated feature films each year I am at 2004.
I’d love if you could take a look at the video and if you like it give it a thumbs up. It’s a bit longer than any of my other videos but I had lots to say on The Incredibles!
My thoughts on the other films is basically Shark Tale is a complete failure. I didn’t like the animation. The lead character is a complete jerk. The world building isn’t good. They don’t look like fish and there are no bubbles. Most importantly I didn’t laugh once. I personally think Home on the Range was a better film that year! I had never seen Shark Tale before last night and I can see why I avoided it.
Shrek 2 I think is the strongest of the series. It has the most interesting story, more of the jokes work and it has a pretty good villain. I still have some of the same issues as Shrek and it could have been about 15 minutes tighter but it definitely deserves the nomination. Oh and I did like the music especially Jennifer Saunders.
What do you think of 2004? I’m guessing most of my readers will agree with me The Incredibles was the correct winner for the year.
The last few nights of movie viewing have been rough going…I try to be kind and positive on my reviews but I would be lying if I didn’t say how much I disliked Brother Bear, Chicken Little and Home on the Range. Treasure Planet was fine but kind of dry. The reviews don’t have any meaning if they are all vanilla and you never either love or hate something.
But it’s tough when there is a stretch of bad reviews. Start to feel like a jerk! I want to like them! Really I do.
Fortunately we get a break from the dreck with Disney’s strange but entertaining 47th animated classic Meet the Robinsons. This is not a masterpiece but as pop entertainment it is creative and bizarre and I liked it.
There isn’t a ton to say on production but that Pixar was officially purchased by Disney during the making of the movie, which is why John Lasseter became a producer on the film.
In fact, he saw an early screening and didn’t think the villain was scary enough so he changed it and evidently 60% was changed and retooled. It has the feel of a movie that is a bit overwrought and maybe retooled a bit too much but it still works.
It is also of note because it was the first Disney movie to be released in digital 3D that is so common now.
The movie has a bit of a Simpsons feel with broad humor and bright colors and even has Danny Elfman as the composer of the score (who wrote the Simpsons theme). It’s not as good as the Simpsons or as funny but I would bet it is a creative influence.
The soundtrack has songs by Jamie Cullum, Rob Thomas, They Might be Giants and others and it is very good. Probably Disney’s best pop song soundtrack. (At least it is a step up from The Spice Girls in Chicken Little…)
The voicecast is universally strong and huge (shows how many characters are in the story). Steve Anderson voices 3 parts including the Bowler Hat Guy, Ethan Sandler 5 including Doris. Tom Kenny, Tom Selleck, Laurie Metcalf, Angela Bassett, Harland Williams all provide voices.
This movie is impossible to describe without being a huge spoiler for those who haven’t seen it.
Basically it’s kind of Back to the Future meets The Incredibles meets strangeness.
A little kid named Lewis is an orphan who likes to invent things (kind of like Doc Brown as an orphan kid). He even keeps his roommate up all hours of the night with his inventions.
His inventions prevent him from being adopted, so he decides he wants to get to know his mother using a memory scanner he has invented. He then meets a strange boy named Wilbur
Wilbur is looking for a man with a bowler hat who has stolen a time machine. This sends Lewis on quite the journey! The Bowler Hat man is a very good and creepily drawn villain. You will never guess who the Bowler Hat man really is. Or at least I didn’t. It’s very clever!
Lewis and Wilbur meet the Robinson family and I don’t want to give the surprises away but there is a dinosaur and several other inventions. It’s a nutty movie.
At times it gets a little cluttered and convoluted but basically it’s about how Lewis gets to understand his mother, his own potential and the importance of family.
I don’t want to oversell Meet the Robinsons because it has big problems. It throws a lot at the screen and at a certain point it becomes exhausting, but I’d rather have that than a lazy predictable entry like Brother Bear. Just my personal preference I suppose.
I’m not sure every plot point works out and the writing could be sharper, creating more compelling characters but what we get isn’t bad. In fact, I think it is pretty good.
It’s certainly bright and colorful and the story definitely surprised me. The villain is very well done and like I said caught me off guard. The big reveals work and overall I was charmed by it.
It might be a little hard for kids to keep track of everything and I wish there were a few more laughs but I think enough is there to entertain kids and it’s maybe even more suited to teens.
We do also get some really nice messages about family, being yourself, and getting adequate amounts of sleep each night…!
It’s certainly a huge step up from Chicken Little. That’s for sure. It’s no Pixar. I mean Pixar came out with Rataouille in 2007 and who can compete with that?… (was a weird year for animation because the Bee movie also came out which is a strange mixed bag like Meet the Robinsons).
So looking for some odd and colorful entertainment? Give Meet the Robinsons a shot.
I’ll just give a warning before reading this review. If you like Brother Bear you probably don’t want to read further because I did not. It had such potential but everything about it was a failure. So, if reading a review of someone who dislikes something you like is an unpleasant experience for you than STOP READING NOW!
In 2003 I went on a mission for my church so for 2 years I didn’t see any movies and with new movies coming out when I came home I never really got to play catch up. Sure I watched the 3rd Harry Potter movie, The Incredibles and Return of the King but that was about it in the 2003-2005 era. If one had a bad reputation I skipped it and moved on. Brother Bear was one of those films and I hate to say it but I’m glad I did.
I’m sorry guys but this movie stinks.
Literally every choice I would have advised them to reconsider. Everything from the yogi bearish 2D characters on top of the deep canvas which looked strange, the odd voice cast, the underwhelming songs, the uber-predictable story, the painful attempts at humor and the incredibly unlikable lead character made it a very unpleasant experience. Honestly I’m struggling to find anything I like about this one.
Unfortunately I’m not the most witty writer in the world (at least I can admit it unlike the writers of this movie…) but my friend over at Disney Movie Year wrote a very funny review of Brother Bear. He liked it about as much I did…
It is obvious from the start of the movie Brother Bear tries to recycle themes, characters even whole scenes from Lion King, Pocahontas, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, and more. One article I read (information was fairly sparse on this one) said
“Michael Eisner informed the animation department that he wanted a movie about bears. What about bears? The fact that they are readily marketable, in Stepakoff’s estimation. Various ideas were kicked around – “bear King Lear”, “bear Antigone”, none of which came to fruition, surprisingly.
Well said but even a commercial cash grab can turn out interesting as Disney has proven many times (think Robin Hood) but the choices they made are so strange.
Everything in the movie looked odd to me. The way the characters are designed on top of the Deep Canvas background always felt off. Also the voice casting never seemed to fit.
The songs are super lame and who thinks ‘Intuit bear story’ and then ‘I’ll hire Tina Turner’? I don’t get it? That makes no sense? There were so many strange choices like that.
The story is so predictable. Every time it took the obvious turn I groaned at the screen. And the sentimental moments are not earned by the characters. I don’t believe the journey they are on or even understand why it is completely necessary. I mean does every teenager who mouths off and acts in anger get turned into a bear in the world of this story? Even if you accept his punishment, I saw no change or growth and the events on their road trip are so obvious and so predictable they bored me to the point I kept checking the time left on the netflix stream….It wouldn’t speed up but seemed to have a half an hour left for 3 hours….
Just bad choices all around. The dialogue is awful. The script feels childish and a lot of times we are introduced to characters and then we never hear form them again. Something usually isn’t funny if we have just met a character. Honestly the script left me aghast at it’s stupidity. I expect better from Disney! (No wonder this only has 32% on Rotten tomatoes…)
For example, there is a line in the movie where the two moose are playing ‘I spy’ and they go back and forth spying things and I kept waiting for the joke. There was no joke!! It was just a 2 minute bit of dialogue playing I spy and I guess that’s supposed to be funny? And I guess talking ‘Canadian’ and saying hosier a lot is also supposed to be funny? It certainly didn’t make me laugh.
There were so many befuddling moments like that? Why attempt to treat the Intuit culture so carefully at the beginning and then have modern voices speaking the way modern teens would speak? That was so distracting. There’s one scene where some billygoats who are introduced and forgotten about in like 2 minutes, say shut up 7 times. Is that supposed to be funny characters saying shut up a lot?
Aladdin could get away with modern voiced characters because there was no attempt to be authentic to Arabic culture. Same with Hercules.
The other huge problem is the lead character is so unlikable. I started to watch after a while (I was so bored) to see when we finally get a smile from Kenai. Literally 1 hr 2 minutes before a smile. He is so winy and for things that don’t seem so bad. It’s not like they are stuck in terrible weather or life is miserable? And at the beginning, so he got a love totem? Is that really such a shameful thing? What a cliche for the male character to hate love and kindness. Groan…It seemed so immature for someone having been officially made a man to be continually harping on it.
He is either angry, bitter, or complaining the whole movie. This made his transformation at the end completely unbelievable. The relationship between Koda and Kenai doesn’t feel earned as he goes from hating him to loving him in literally one conversation and musical montage. I realize Tarzan kind of does this but the montage shows weeks of interaction and sharing. This is literally a song and them frolicking in the woods. There’s no sense of time elapsing or growth of characters. And even when he finally smiles he is still kind of a grump. I don’t know when I’ve disliked a lead character more in any movie, Disney or not ..
I could keep going but really this movie sucks. I think Bongo is a better bear movie…
I’m sorry if I offend people who like it but I thought every choice they made was wrong. Even the pretty scenery was ruined by the Saturday morning cartoons they placed on top of it. And that’s an insult to Saturday morning cartoons…
I’ll say it again but I really thought this movie sucked and it had such potential, so I’m not inclined to be easy on it. Badly done!
Overall Grade- F
Just to show I’m not alone on this one Rotten tomatoes bottom 2 is Brother Bear and Chicken Little of the Disney Canon. They are the only 2 movies in the 30 percentages (which is pretty amazing when you think about it). Nearly every other Disney movie is pretty close to being fresh. I don’t think any other studio could say that. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/guides/best_disney_animated_movies/