Tag Archive: toy story


A few weeks ago, I got into a dust-up on IMDb.com with someone who stated he could name 30 better animated movies that Despicable Me 2.

Normally, this would not bother me until the idiot put up a list. A list that was very incomplete and did not even include anything from Studio Ghibli.

So I am starting my own list of animated movies that are some of the best in regards to being a complete package type of movie coupled with animation style/techniques.  This list is subjective and based on what I have actually watched. I wish I could say they are in order of what I think is the best But I know some of the ones at the bottom should be closer to the top. But the next dilemma is who goes lower and that is not a question I want to answer today.

I am not explaining or defending any choice until the comment section, should anyone want to have that discussion.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

1. The Incredibles

2. Spirited Away

3. Toy Story Series

4. The Iron Giant

5. My Neighbor Totoro

6. Snow White

7. Cinderella

8. Beauty and the Beast

9. The Jungle Book

10. Shrek

11. The Adventures of Tin-Tin

12. Howl’s Moving Castle

13. The Lion King

14.  Fantasia

15. Tarzan

16. Up

17. Sleeping Beauty

18. Kung Fu Panda

19.  Ponyo

20. Aladdin

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

21. Dumbo

22. Wallace and Gromit

23. Monsters, Inc.

24. The Nightmare Before Christmas

25. Coraline

26. James and the Giant Peach

27. Lilo and Stitch

28. The Rescuers

29. Monsters Vs. Aliens

30. Finding Nemo

What movies do you rank as some of the best in animation?

Do You Have Grit?

Family Movie Night

A few months ago my husband asked what is the latest western to be made that was a good movie.

Robert Duvall, Annette Bening and Kevin Kostner in "Open Range," image from IMDB.com.

If you had asked me then, I would have said “Open Range” starring Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner. The time period is the old west when men could still move their herd of cattle to graze without worrying about property lines. However, times are changing and a land baron wishes to teach these old timers a lesson.

While the movie is rated “R” for violence and perhaps not the kid friendliest because of that and its length, I find it beautiful and lyrical. It is a slow moving story and yet I am gripped by the beauty of it all. Duvall and Costner work well off of each other while Annette Bening glows as the sister of the local doctor. She is older than most women and shows her age. But her grace and heart willing to love is on simple display.

Had you asked me before Saturday, I would have said that movie. But then the husband and I watched “True Grit” starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld.

Movie Poster image from IMDb.com.

It has been years since I have last seen the original so there was nothing former to compare. Relieved of that burden, I sat back an enjoyed a superbly made movie that is moves into the darker aspects

of the west. Men formed gangs and happily robbed others. They thought nothing of shooting each other and knowing that retribution would more than likely not be delivered to them.

We see this in Tom Chaney as played by Josh Brolin. We see this in Rooster Cogburn and LaBoeuf as they argue who has grit and who did more wrong during the civil war. But lets talk about Haille Steinfeld.

This young girl puts in a bravura performance as a young girl who has been in an adult role for some time.

Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit," image from IMDb.com.

She runs the family, not her mother. And she can bargain with the best of them. But Steinfeld also allows the little girl to show when when she collects her father’s personal effects. Her eyes glows as she remembers the man and finds a way to make his hat fit on her smaller head.

It is her idealism that allows her to make the decision to hire a man to capture her father’s killer. It is that sense of justice owed to her father that makes her deal with Cogburn and LaBouef. She is constantly wrangling and bargaining. Make me wonder if this girl (Mattie, not Hailee) was ever given a chance to simply play.

Probably not.

As the story movies on, we see that she is made of a stern of stuff as the two lawmen. They may not have wanted her around on this mission but they take her when there is no choice and become appreciative of her lack of ‘missus’ behavior. Damon and Bridges work well together as two men who cannot stand each other but have a common goal. It was a joy watching them work off of each other.

This is not a kid movie. The rating is PG-13 for intense sequences such as a hanging and several gun fights. I would allow middle school age and older to watch this one although my husband and I did it as a “date night’ at home.

Sherrif Woody and Buzz from "Toy Story," Image from IMDb.com.

If seeing a western with the kids is what you want to do with the kids, I would suggest Toy Story. Maybe it is not a western with cowboys and indians but it has many of those themes. And besides, who doesn’t love Sheriff Woody?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

The Oscars are over.

The statues have gone home to sit on mantles or in the bathroom. And you are probably thinking about how you never got to see this movie or that one.

For families, the animated features of Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever have been out for some time in the home theater market. Tangled, the re-imagining of the Rapunzel story, comes out at the end of March.

But for adults, a whole slew of movies that will break your heart and/or make you think are coming out .

James Franco in "127 Hours," Picture from IMDb.com

Last week 127 Hours came to DVD. Starring James Franco, it is the story of a man who falls while rock climbing. His right arm is trapped under a rock and he must make tough decisions about what to do while alone and having no hope of rescue. Gripping, terrifying and a performance that won Franco a nomination.

This week sees Inside Job coming out to DVD. The Oscar-winning documentary explores what happened on Wall Street three years ago when there was a $20 million meltdown that lost people jobs, homes, everything.

poster image from IMDb.com

Matt Damon narrates the movie that interviews experts and journalists, exploring what happened in the rogue aspects of the industry. I am not sure how I am going to feel watching this, considering this event lead to our current national economic situation. Just the thought makes me angry but I am willing to try watching anyway.

One movie that I wish had received an Oscar nomination for Best Song was Burlesque. It is the story of a young woman who comes to Los Angeles to find a life better than she had in Iowa.

Cher in "Burlesque," Picture from IMDb.com

She finds work at a burlesque club owned by Tess (Cher) who becomes her teacher and mentor. As Tess fights to hold on to the club, one night she sings a song about struggle and determination.

“You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me Yet” won a Golden Globe award and was written by Diane Warren. Cher sang this song with heart and soul although there was a cheesy moment or two with the light booth guy. It should have been nominated for an Oscar; Randy Newman was right about there needing to be five songs nominated for the category.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

Lovin’ that Animation

Family Movie Night

When it comes to animated movies, I am a real sucker.

But like any other movie, I want it to be good. I have gone to the theater to see bad Winnie the Pooh movies or other movies directed at kids that I could not understand how they ever got the green light to be made.

I have a few favorites that I will watch over and over again with my kids. Or maybe without them.

Movie Poster for My Neighbor Totoro, picture from IMDb.com

I first found Studio Ghibli when I was searching for a movie to watch with my oldest when he was sick one afternoon. I picked up My Neighbor Totoro and fell in love with Japanese folk tales and creatures later that day.

The story is about a father and his two daughters who move into a home in the country. It may or may not be haunted but it is definitely near the home of a giant Totoro, king of the forest.  The girls are also missing their mother who must stay in a hospital for the time being.

Hayao Miyazaki directed this film, giving it emotional depth and artistic beauty with the hand drawn animation. If you like this movie, you may also like some of his other films including Ponyo (with a little girl that looks like Mai from Totoro) and Spirited Away. Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke are titles that may be better suited for pre-teen and teenagers.

Buzz and Woody racing to the moving van in Toy Story, picture from IMDb.com

 This year, I was enamored with Toy Story 3, a sequel that was as good as the original. In the running for Best Picture at the Oscars, the story follows the gang of toys as Andy prepares to go to college.  Bad things happen Andy’s bag does not go to the attic as intended but to the donation box to a day care center.

What should be a great second life for toys turns into something else when the toys run afoul of Lotso, the ruler of the toys in the daycare center. We know that an escape plan will be hatched. But what happens after that takes things farther than most ‘cute kids films’ are willing to go.

Go for the whole series, appropriate for all family members, because we get nothing but solid story telling from producers who respect the audience enough to give them the goods without sitting on their laurels.  

Tarzan (1999) , picture from IMDb.cm

My last pick is two movies that I love for being great family films that are exciting and wonderful in their story telling. If either of these two movies happens to appear on regular TV, chances are I will stop what I am doing and watch them. The Incredibles and Tarzan get me every time.

Each has style and a certain elegance in the artwork that draws me in every time. There are plenty of quirky characters and real affection between the leads that make me want to watch them again and again and again.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

And On To The Oscars

Family Movie Night

This past weekend saw the Golden globes hand out their awards and next will be various guilds until we get to Oscar Night!

As a movie person, I get really excited about this night and I feel bad when I have not seen all of the movies. But this year I am taking the bulls by the horn. 

Rooney Mara and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network," picture from IMDb.com

 As of the 18th, you can start your rental road to the Oscars with Golden Globe Best Movie winner, The Social Network.  Jesse Eisenberg stars as the Harvard student who came up with Facebook. This is how he wheeled and dealed (sort of), lost friends, gained business associates and became the youngest billionaire.

 All the critics have raved about this movie, talking about Eisenberg’s  accurate portrayal and Justin Timberlake’s incredible performance. As much as I do not know about computer programming, I want to see this movie for the story.

 Another movie that is destined for a Best Movie nomination is Inception starring Leonardo Di Caprio and directed by

Leonardo Di Caprio in "Inception," picture from IMDb.com

Christopher Nolan. The story is about a man who can steal ideas as people are sleeping. However, Di Caprio is not able to go home to his children. That is when he is offered a deal to plant a suggestion in someone’s head in exchange for redemption.

 What makes this movie fascinating, besides the premise alone, is the special effects of the ever-changing dream world. With a tug of the hand scenes can instantly change. It is incredible to watch along with the emotionally charged story. I was able to get through one hour before I had to turn it off. I plan to rent this movie again.

Grown-up Andy looking at his favorite toys, Picture from IMDb.com

Finally, I hope that Toy Story 3 will get nominated for Best Picture although I suspect it will be placed in Best Animation as a consolation prize. I find this movie to be a thrilling story of growing up, regrets, a little action adventure and, finally, rebirth.

 Now if none of these movies appeal, let me suggest The Other Guys starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as two NYPD detectives who hate each other. Luck shines on the caustic partners as they discover a case that could make them into the big-time cops they dream of being.

This is a PG-13 movie, not suitable for the younger members of the family. It looks like a whole lot of fun besides the opportunity to ogle Mark Wahlberg’s abs that were put into shape as he got ready for The Fighter.

Will Ferrell and the hot, hot, hot Mark Wahlberg in "The Other Guys," picture from IMDb.com

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

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?

Getting Cozy in the Cabin

Family Movie Night

As the temperature begins to drop, all I really want to do is dress in a big sweater, jeans and hide indoors.

Picture by Anita Patterson

I felt it this morning as I was getting up and trying to get the kids up for the day. It was cold on those floors to the bare feet. No one wanted to get up and face the day.

Here’s the rub – it is not even that cold yet. We are talking about temperatures in the 40s. I guess after the hot summer we had had, 40s feel like a slap in the face. Where is the comforting warmth, the cool breeze at the right time? My guess is that they packed up and went to Bermuda.

Which leads me back to the couch with a warm blanket and a cup of hot something to drink. As the kids and dog huddle around, we also want to watch something heartwarming and comforting in its own way.

That is when you pull out Toy Story. Give yourself a mini film fest of the best family movie series of all time.

Buzz and Woody race back to Andy, Picture from IMDb.com

When the first movie hit, we fell in love. Woody and Buzz, as voiced by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, were the kind of guys we could relate to and cheer for. Plus, they are always trying to go home. They understand as much as we do that there must be one safe place you always want to go. Call it the “Cheers” maxim, go where everyone knows your name.

Toy Story saw the introduction of Buzz to Andy’s bedroom and the big rescue from Sid’s house. Toy Story 2 introduced us to Jessie, Bullseye and Mrs. Potatohead as well as the world of collectible toys while bringing on a great airport rescue.

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

Toy Story 3 was released on DVD on November 2, making the final entry of the series that will have you crying at various parts for all the right reasons.

In this outing, Andy is leaving for college. He is packing up his room and has to decide what to do

An 18-year-old Andy deciding what to do with his old toys. Picture from IMDb.com

with his old toys. No 18 year-old wants to admit he still loves his toys nor does Andy truly want to be parted with them. By accident the gang finds they have been taken to a daycare center. What seems like paradise turns to be something very different and sinister.

Why do all three movies work? Because first and foremost, the scripts never doubt the intelligence of the viewer. It is not dumbed-down just because this is a “family movie.”

The characters are fully formed with many aspects to them. The animation is always top quality, giving pictures to the wonderful voice talents that are being used. It’s not just Hanks and Allen who are great. So are Don Rickles, Joan Cusack, Annie Potts, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenburger, Laurie Metcalf, Kelsey Grammer, Ned Beatty and the late Jim Varney.

Finally, the music written for this series has always been perfect. The songs have me laughing and crying, amazed by their depth of emotion.

There are so many reasons to love this movie series but the biggest one is that it is fun.  We learn so much through playing but because it is play we never realize just how much we are learning. After you watch Toy Story once, you will be a fan forever.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below. Become my friend on Facebook.

 
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.