Tag Archive: pixar


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Cooling off sometimes means hitting a wonderfully cool movie theater.

Besides a library, one of my favorite places to hang is a nice cool and dark movie theater. Plus the kids wanted to see Finding Dory so it was one of those win-win situations.

Finding DoryAll of us liked the movie. It was fun, bright and colorful most of the time. Dory, as ever, is fearless despite or because of her memory problems.

In this movie, Dory has a memory come back to her while helping Mr. Ray lead class. In it, she remembers her parents. Suddenly, Dory realizes she has to go home to California. And like all of Dory’s ideas, they have to happen now.

Thankfully, Marlin knows a guy who can help them.

Soon, they have found their way to California, to a marine life rescue and release center. Dory pieces together bits of memories, figuring out how to find her family.

Like all good adventure movies, there are close calls and separations and reunions and companions who seem unreliable but are the best friends you’re going to ever have. We have chase scenes and close calls and the impossible solution to a problem.

Are you going to love this movie?

Probably, especially if you liked the first one. But things are different. First off, the annoying part of Dory’s memory problem is made clear. There is no rest for Marlin, he and other adults, are always on the watch out for Dory because she is easily distracted and forgets two seconds after you tell her something. Marlin can be snappy and irritable.

Secondly, there are some scary scenes, especially for those of us who might be claustrophobic. The pipe scene got to me, had me running for more popcorn when I didn’t need more popcorn. Thankfully by the time I go back to my seat, that scene was over. And I don’t feel like I missed much much or a big clue.

Lastly, this movie has a more California vibe to it, especially with the music. It is more laid back, less ethnic than the first movie.

Finding Dory HankWhat is the same as Finding Nemo are the great side characters. There are the ferocious sea lions defending their rock while helping Marlin and Nemo. We meet Becky, the slightly deranged bird. Then there is Hank the seven tentacled octopus. His only goal in life is to get to Cleveland and never return to the ocean, if he can help it. Ed O’Neil has fun with this character and makes him almost more important than Dory.

What I didn’t like was the slow opening, the heavy handedness of fair treatment to disabilities. And I think about the world as it was in the days of the first movie. Autism had not come to the great rates as it is today. ABA therapies and GFCF diets were being developed for a population that started growing like crazy. And the aging population was on the verge of a great Alzheimer’s epidemic. Life has changed in those 13 years. We look at our parents and our children, wondering how to cope with it all.

The adults may never be allowed to forget these issues. But the kids do, they just see Dory as Dory. She is strong and brave and funny and believable as she goes on an adventure of rediscovery. Pixar has done what they do best, put together a strong story with great animation. And this movie never lets us down in the process.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.`

Last week I wrote about how The Iron Giant would make my top ten list of best animated movies.

As much as I love that movie, it made me think of what other movies I would put in that list. People who know me, know there are a few that are naturals. I have raved about them in the past and there is no way I could do a list without them.

On the other hand, I have done this list and later wondered why I didn’t put a movie down only to realize I forgot about it amidst all of my other steller choices. That is when one must do an honorable mention to make up for something that should be on the list but never made it.

So what do I look for in an animated feature. Beautiful animation for starters. Because animation can be otherworldly in depicting our world, I want something that is both dreamy and realistic. Like any other movie I watch, I want there to be good storytelling and characters with whom I can feel a connection. And because this list is family friendly, I want something most of the family can watch together.

  1. Toy Story FriendsToy Story – This computer animated flick tells the story of a toy who is the known favorite and must make an adjustment when his human gets a new toy. It is a story of jealousy, action and adventure, and a lesson on learning to accept your situation as it changes. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were perfect as Woody and Buzz.

  2. Shrek – I loved this movie for making fun of the various fairy tales and legends of Europe while giving it’s lead monster a sincere heart and wicked sense of humor. Its sound track was pretty great, too. Parents could watch this movie with their kids and not poke their eyes out after repeat viewings.

  3. Spirited Away – Director Hiyao Miyazaki is one of the best anime masters in the world. Based on Japanese folklore, the story is about a young girl who goes to work for a spa for the spirits in order to save her parents. Along with the incredible storytelling is animation that makes you think you are looking at a black and white photo in one scene and drawings on incredible depth in others.

  4. The Incredibles – Pixar hit the trifecta with this movie. The animation is fantastic with the variety of super heroes. Then there is the story telling, taking on the issues of what does a superhero do when he can no longer be a superhero and what it means when we reward everyone with or without merit. Finally the voice-over work of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Jason Lee are simply wonderful, giving life to the characters as we get to know them.

  5. Kung Fu PandaKung Fu Panda – Jack Black plays into type here as the lovable loser who manages to succeed without the initial willing help of his teacher. Then there is the animation. One scene in particular that stands out is when the flowers on the peach tree fall and blow into the sky. While I consider this a family movie in the action/adventure vein, it is one my father would not watch. He firmly said he was not watching a movie with Pandas.

  6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – I mention this movie because it gave us the formula for all animated movies. As the Disney company’s first foray into a feature length movie, it proved animation could be interesting for 70 minutes or more. Take a classic fairy tale, create a great villain, and make the surroundings beautifully detailed. While the singing is classic to its time period, we still sing those songs today. Do you ‘whistle while you work?’

  7. The Jungle Book – This movie gave us jazz on a mainstream level while telling the story of a lost Asian Indian boy trying to find his way back to the man village. The animated background on four movable panels within one scene gave us the depth of the jungle. It is hard not to tap your fingers and your toes to this movie or be impressed by the animation.

  8. The Lion King IMDb com

    Movie poster for The Lion King, picture from IMDb.com

    The Lion King – This is one of those once in a lifetime movies where everything comes together. The music is inspiring, hitting on emotional points without pulling you too far into despair. The story telling is excellent as a young prince is driven from his kingdom by a beloved uncle. Finally, the animation is filled with splendor whether is it the opening scene or the trip to the elephant graveyard.

  9. The Iron Giant – I went in detail why I like this movie last week. But in a nutshell I love the storyline about a boy in the 1950s who discovers a giant robot. The animation, the story telling, the characterizations, and the way everything incorporates pop culture of the period is breathtaking while being relatable.

  10. Beauty and the Beast – There has been some chatter lately as to Frozen having great female characters who do no wait to be saved by the male characters. True but Elsa and Anna are not the first of these role breaking women in the Disney world. That honor goes to Belle from Beauty and the Beast who does all she can to save the Beast. Her story is wrapped around with fantastic music, the conversation of if a small town for your entire life better, and a villain who is very handsome despite his cold heart.

Until Next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Want to know something that is a bit of a secret?

Book Cover Image from barnesandnoble.com

I do another blog for a former employer. This one is a real mish-mash of subjects, kind of like this one. The topics tend to be more local to the area where I live.

I mention it because today’s entry is about the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. I could say more but I already have and here is the link.

So make a little visit, leave a note and tell me what you think.

http://blogs.i57life.com/mytwocents/2012/03/30/the-steve-jobs-biography-or-how-i-learned-to-love-the-disortion-field/

 

I look forwards to seeing you in my other home.

 

 

What Did You Like Best?

I keep reading stories about the last year in movies and how it was lackluster. But I find critics say that every year. As a former critic, I know how easy it is to get jaded.

Every year there are bad sequels and bad re-makes and bad old-TV series-made-into-movies. What? You thought The A-Team and Hot Tub Time Machine were going to be good movies?

While some movies were disappointing, there were a few that I really loved.

Toy Story 3

What a great ending to a great series. Pixar, the makers of Toy Story, always seemed to get that toys are very real to kids. Each toy has its own personality, its own quirk and that is why we love various toys. But more importantly they never doubted the capabilities of their audience to understand that those qualities may be different from what we perceive.

Andy gazing at his old toys, Picture from IMDb.com

 

There are so many elements, so many details that goes into this last movie. It is a coming-of-age movie, an ending but also action-adventure with a heist element. We mourn who is gone and celebrate with who is left. We cry with relief and sadness and happiness. It may be one of the best movies of the entire year.

Burlesque

Christina Aquilera wants to be so much more than a fine singer, she wants to be an actress as well. This is a first good step in that direction. Starring with the ultimate singer-turned-actress in Cher, Aquilera is a small town girl from Iowa who wants something more from her life. A one-way ticket to L.A. is the first step. A waitressing  job at the best burlesque house is the next.

Cher and Christina Aquilera in Burlesque, Picture from IMDb.com

 

That is where she meets Cher who mentors her along in the way of make-up and performing. And when Aquilera lets loose on the pipes, all bets are off to discovering how successful she will be. Forget reality while watching this movie because you know some of what will happen. Stay for Cher’s solo, Kristen Bell’s anger and Stanley Tucci’s every scene.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1

I know that everything in the book did not make it into the movie. I was looking forward to some things that did not make it. But this movie did what it had to do. It gave us the fill towards the end. It lead us from school life to real life for Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Daniel, Rupert and Emma in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Picture from IMDb.com.

 

We are now set up for the final movie, the final episode. We are ready for the huge battle we know must come. And if it all goes the way I hope, David Yates will be praised forever as one of the best directors of one of the best movie series ever.

Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Jr. has seen a renaissance that has been remarkable for the roles he is getting and what he is doing with them. In this movie, Downey had to contend with the specter of Basil Rathbone and made his own mark. I wondered if he was giving Sherlock a bit of an Asperberger’s twist with his incredible focus on a single subject and lack of social niceties.

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. in "Sherlock Holmes," Picture from IMDb.com

 

Jude Law also has some hurdles to cross as he makes Dr. Watson different from the Nigel Bruce charactization. We follow the story of a woman from Holmes’ past whom needs Holmes to do some investigating. Plus, the two men are dealing with an estrangement as Watson finds a woman he wants to marry. I was entranced and loved how Guy Richie envisioned the story.

There are so many other movies I need to see. I am looking forward to Rabbit Hole, Country Strong and True Grit, among others.

 What movies did you love in the past year?

 
Andy giving a loving look at his favorite toys. Picture from IMDb.com

Family Movie Night Column

This week the third installment of the Toy Story franchise will come to theaters.

 Andy is about to go to college and his mother mistakenly gives his old toys – Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the whole gang – to a day care with other toys she meant to give away.

 Are you going to see it? I know we are. Our house has loved this series of movies. We had the first movie on VHS when our second oldest was a toddler. He loved watching this movie so much it became a daily routine.

 When Toy Story 2 came out on VHS, we had to get it just for him. Then I had to make the one-movie-per-day ruling because that child wanted to watch both movies every day.

 On the other hand, this child also had some speech problems and by

Buzz and Woody fighting at the gas station. Picture from IMDb.com

repeating the lines over and over, it helped his annunciation. I would come around the corner and listen to him saying Woody’s lines or making Buzz and Woody fight.

 For a while we had just about every character in toy form. Over the years, some have been broken and had to be thrown away. Broke my heart every time.

 Why? Because a part of me buys the premise that when we fall asleep or are not in the room, toys come alive. They seem very real. There has to be a reason toys are never where you put them or why game pieces suddenly go missing.

 Before you go to Toy Story 3, go ahead and rent Toy Story and Toy Story 2. See how Pixar broke the mold of family movies by making them with

the gang crossing the street to rescue Woody in TS2. Picture from IMDb.com.

solid plots, good characterization and taking away those bad parental figures.  We love these characters because they have our faults and graces. We know them inside and out in a good way.

I like that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have always managed to find the right notes for their characters. Woody may be a benevolent despot but he likes to be in control of his world. Yet, his character always manages to grow and do the right thing when he wants to do otherwise. And Buzz? I can’t think of anything mean to say about him. He is just a great guy, even when he believes he is a real space ranger.

I have watched Toy Story several times, loving it with each viewing. I can repeat dialogue and know when everything is going to happen. I have analyzed the music, noting how Toy Story 2 uses incidental music that sounds like it could come from a 1950’s serial flick.

Jessie, Woody and Bullseye watching their TV show in TS2. Picture from IMDb.com

In the end, I believe that Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are in that small group of perfect movies in the world. And I am hoping Toy Story 3 is just as good at pulling my heartstrings without making me feel manipulated.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for your own Family Movie Night and leave a comment or become my friend on Facebook.

The Oscars™ are going to be held on March 7 this year and the Bowman house is getting ready for the Celebration.

David has requested to be in charge of the Oscar Supper, usually my domain, because of his plans to be an actor some day. He wants to serve pizza and I requested he make one or two of them something Wolfgang Puck would make for his Hollywood restaurant.

I keep joking that one has to be made of goat cheese.  Now, I am wondering where I can find goat cheese in the Kankakee area. Suggestions anyone?

What I am also  trying to do is see as many of the nominated films as possible. We took out Julie and Julia a few weeks ago. Inglorious Bastards is available for rental as is The Hurt Locker.

Last week we crossed another off the list when the family watched Up. My family had seen it in the theater and I missed out. While the kids were waiting for the good parts, I was seeing this movie for the charming tale the Pixar crew had created.

Every time I see a title by Pixar that I want to doubt, they come back with something great. I thought Finding Nemo was going to reek more than dead fish, that Wall-E was going be a bucket of missing parts. Cars was a sign that these guys were starting to run low on ideas; and that movie was better than most animation out there.

Yet, Pixar is a company that never fails to impress, to go out on a limb creatively, and never fails to entertain.

 I felt all of this with Up. There were so many moments that made me want to cry, that made me want to cheer. I worked for years in the healthcare system and knew a lot of couples as devoted as Carl and Ellie.

 While I enjoyed the first part of the movie, the kids loved the second half when Carl goes off on his grand adventure. Who could ever imagine that balloons could carry off a house to South America? Or that a childhood hero could still be alive? And through it all you learn how to live again?

 There is a lot to like in this movie even if it is hard to believe a 78 year-old man can pull a balloon-lifted house across a canyon. It is a movie all family members can watch AND enjoy together.

 Maybe Up is not deserving of an Oscar™ Best Picture nomination but it is certainly deserving of being viewed again for its bravery, for delivering a great message, and for willing to think that inside the heart of a septuagenarian lives a seven-year-old waiting to explore the world.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world, or at least St. Anne, know your family’s recent selection by dropping a line to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net. You can also ‘friend’ me on Facebook.