ParaNorman (2012)

Nice throwback-style poster.

Nice throwback-style poster.

Directed by: Sam Fell and Chris Butler (haven’t seen any of their other movies, though I am interested in Fell’s Flushed Away)

Written by: Chris Butler wrote screenplay based upon Arianne Sutner and Stephen Stone’s story

Starring: the vocal talents of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman and others.

What it’s about: a young boy who can speak to the dead needs to save the townspeople from the spirit of a recently awakened witch

Movie Mash Up: The Sixth SenseThe GooniesScooby-Doo

What I liked: It is not often that I will actually hail the message of a film, but in this case the anti-bullying stance and accepting everyone for who they are is one that needs to be championed.  The film is absolutely gorgeous, and I hope to see more stop-motion animation movies in the future.  Now that 3D printers have been invented, it certainly streamlines the process.  The movie is dark, but fun.  The vocal cast is great throughout, and there are numerous little fun scenes throughout which showed off the sense of humour of the filmmakers.

What I disliked: Nothing in general, though I wasn’t really a fan of the big gay reveal at the end.  It really didn’t add anything to the character, and people trumpeting it as the “first openly gay character in a children’s animated movie”, well, there were absolutely no indications of him being gay until he said that he was.  It wasn’t a plot point, it was used as a cheap shock joke.  True, before that he was just another character in the movie, treated the same as everyone else which is in line with the film’s message.  I just felt it wasn’t necessary for the character or the movie at all.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is a fun movie for people of all ages, though I would avoid showing it to younger children.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Animated Feature Oscar Rankings: 1. Wreck-It Ralph 2. ParaNorman 3. Brave

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

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Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow (his feature film debut)

Written by: Derek Connolly, inspired by a 1997 Backwoods Home Magazine classified ad apparently

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Mark Duplass, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Kristen Bell, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Jeff Garlin

What it’s about: a trio of reporters investigates a classified ad placed by someone looking to time travel

B-Movie Alternate Title: SWM for Time Travel

Movie Mash Up: Napoleon Dynamite + oh, I dunno, Primer?  Maybe not.  That might be too cerebral of a combination.

What I liked: Put Aubrey Plaza in everything.  She is wonderful.  Also, Jake Johnson (from TV’s “New Girl”) is great.  I liked most of the execution of the story, and it was entertaining enough for me to want to watch again.

What I disliked: The subplot involving Jake Johnson and Jenica Bergere’s characters seemed pointless.  Johnson’s character didn’t really grow from the experience, and it really had no huge impact on the overall arc.  Wasn’t a fan of the ending either, as it was too decisive in this day and age of the ambiguous ending.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: I enjoyed it, and it was funny enough, so I’d say sure, though it isn’t a briskly paced movie.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

WALL•E (2008)

 

Jeez, when I’m watching so many obviously five out of five movies in a time period, I’m just tempted to turn this into a Tumblr blog so I can just post a picture and my rating rather than add more under-read words into the bloated Internet landscape.  If you don’t remember way back in 2008, many people were skeptical about whether WALL•E would end up being a successful movie or not, due to it being somewhat of a “silent” movie and kids are dumb or something.  I’d say it’s mostly that some people are dumb, and kids haven’t lost their innocence yet.  That’s why kids love WALL•E and some dumb people think it is a boring movie.

Aside from the abhorrent Cars franchise (and let’s not kid ourselves here, there’s going to be a Cars 3), nearly every Pixar movie is of the highest quality, and has a different emotional impact on people.  When I first saw WALL•E, it was an opening day matinee and that’s the last time I ever did that for a Pixar movie.  Parents, don’t bring your screaming babies to movies!  Anyways, the theatre was packed, and by the last scene, I was glassy-eyed watching WALL•E (Ben Burtt) and Eve (Elissa Knight), wondering if Pixar would ever turn heel and finally give us a dark ending.

Anyways, this movie just narrowly misses out being in my Top 20 of All Time, and if it weren’t for The Dark Knight, it would have been my #1 movie of 2008.

5 / 5

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Like people who don’t like dogs, people who do not like the Toy Story movies are not to be trusted.  Chances are quite good that they’re dead inside, had a terribly unimaginative childhood, don’t know who Calvin & Hobbes are, hate fun, take themselves too seriously and should probably be sequestered on an island far away from people.  On this island would be man-eating tigers.  PROBLEM SOLVED.  However, I will admit to a bit of trepidation when Toy Story 3 was announced to be in production.  I had already endured Cars and was worried that this would be a soulless merchandising shillstravaganza.

Thankfully (no matter what Armond White says) it was a masterpiece.  There.  Review’s over, five stars, perfect movie.  Best Trilogy of All Time.  That’s the easy way to write this review, and I wish I could just leave it at that instead of talking about how I was glassy-eyed and trying not to cry during several scenes.  Believe me, this is an emotionally devastating movie, and I cannot imagine seeing it through the eyes of a child because how could I do that, that’s weird!  I mean, as a kid, 17 years old is a lifetime away.  You say you’ll never give up your toys or whatever, but you grow up, and sometimes you leave things behind.  Some things might stick around far longer than should be healthy for your image though I’m a Pokemon Master.

It’s not just that the wonderful storytelling, the gorgeous animation, the perfect voice casting/acting, etc. that makes the Toy Story Trilogy the Best Trilogy of All Time.  It’s the attention to detail, the little things, like Ken (Michael Keaton) mispronouncing “library” as “lie-berry”.  The Star Wars references that correlate to the Original Trilogy so brilliantly and not in a pandering nerd way.  There’s a sequence in this movie where the toys are in an impossible situation, and the way they accepted it and were prepared to stick together to the end, well if the movie would have ended that way, it would have been dark, but I’d still have loved it.  A bit more bittersweetly, though.

In a way, I hope the Pixar people leave it like this, and don’t go ahead and make a Toy Story 4.  However, if they do, the first Trilogy will have to be called something related to Andy.  Andy’s Years.  Andy’s Trilogy.  Something like that, because sometimes we’ve got to let things go.

5 / 5

Cars 2 (2011)

In preparation for writing this, I re-read my old review of Cars from way back in 2006 to make sure I didn’t really repeat myself and to see how much I disliked the movie.  Looking at the rating I gave it (3.5/5) reminds me that for all the shit I give my old pretentious movie-reviewing self, I was also far too forgiving.  Or maybe I could just stomach Cars that much more than the sequel, because holy hell I did not like Cars 2 at all.

Normally I have the highest of praise for anything Pixar-related because the movies they make, make me feel.  The only things Cars 2 made me feel were depressed and dead inside.  Pretty much everyone agrees that the first Cars was Pixar’s weakest film to date, and that the only reason a sequel was made is because memorabilia and toys from the first movie continues to make hundreds of millions of dollars for Disney, because little boys like car toys.

This is a movie that maintains the original absolutely dumb premise of the cars talking/living in a world where there are no humans apparently which – again – MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE.  But, I digress.  It also contains that offensively racist comedian, Larry the Cable Guy, providing the voice for Mater, the offensively racist tow truck.  There is so much Mater in this movie, that it should not be called Cars 2 without some absurd sub-title relating to Mater being attached to it.  It also contains what I perceive to be the weakest attention to detail for a Pixar movie ever.  You look at some of the scenes with Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) in them, and the headlights on him appear to have all the depth of a decal.

The vocal casting continues the first movie’s tradition of catering to ethnic stereotypes whilst barely straddling the line of being racist.  That being said, I enjoyed some of the performances, and that is the only reason this movie rates at all with me.  I didn’t go into watching Cars 2 expecting something emotional like Up, but I was still hoping that it would be at least as alright as the first Cars, not the terribly hollow and moronic movie I got instead.  When the Fast & Furious Franchise is more appealing to me than a Pixar movie, you know it cannot be good by any stretch of the imagination.

This is easily the worst movie that Pixar has ever made, and hopefully will always be that way.

0.5 / 5