REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets [2016]

“Liberated forever, domesticated never” Illumination Entertainment’s latest film The Secret Life of Pets has an amazing hook: what do our pets do while we’re gone? We could obviously pay Comcast Xfinity to supply cameras and discover the answer to that question—why use product placement when you can show a commercial before the film that uses its characters as shills—but it’s more fun to imagine the possibilities ourselves. If you’ve seen any of the trailers you’ll know this is precisely what Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch, and Cinco Paul have decided. Their…

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REVIEW: The Good Dinosaur [2015]

“Look who got relevated” You constantly hear about movies needing reshoots, but The Good Dinosaur‘s troubles went beyond cosmetic enhancements into full-blown emergency room triage. I’m talking two years of development before a release date announcement, two more before that date and original director Bob Peterson (who came up with the story alongside his directorial replacement Peter Sohn) were scrapped, and another two wherein the plot got completely retooled until the final film would bare little resemblance to the germ of an idea on which it began. Pixar’s cancelled Newt…

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REVIEW: Inside Out [2015]

“I call it the Happy Core Memory Development Program” The simplest ideas really are the greatest and Pixar’s made a legacy built on just such an ideal. They brought toys to life as living companions caring for our children. They humanized the monsters in our closets, conjured a spark of love in the circuitry of a tiny robot, and gave an old curmudgeon tired of too much loss the opportunity to rediscover the joy of living. So it wasn’t a surprise when the germination of Inside Out was announced on…

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REVIEW: Toy Story That Time Forgot [2014]

“Limitations are the shackles that we bind to ourselves” Following the success of last year’s Toy Story of Terror special, Disney and Pixar have presently tackled a holiday more on the nose: Christmas. Toy Story That Time Forgot opens two days after the presents have been torn apart and each new addition to the posable family introduced. A bit of cheer remains as Bonnie (Emily Hahn) has affixed antlers onto her triceratops Trixie’s (Kristen Schaal) horns to transform her into the unsuspecting victim of a terrible faux dinosaur played by…

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REVIEW: Tsukumo [Possessions] [2013]

“Here and there, use and dispose” The title of Shuhei Morita‘s Oscar nominated short Tsukumo [Possessions] on first blush conjures thoughts of two separate meanings. One is the idea of spirits possessing objects or people to do their bidding and the second is a grouping of things someone owns. If not for an opening textual prologue, it would be easy to believe what goes on strictly concerns the former when in fact there is more to it. Because as the screen explains, Japanese lore says tools and instruments attain souls…

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REVIEW: Toy Story of Terror [2013]

“And if something does happen to the potato—I don’t want to miss it!” While Disney/Pixar has dove into children’s television with Cars-centric offerings and a Buzz Lightyear spin-off, it’s surprising it’s taken this long to craft a primetime special. With what used to be a flawless feature film enterprise bolstered by award-winning shorts, perhaps they believed themselves above the small screen until now. But as Pixar evolves from luxury brand to simply one more animation arm of Disney proper, good press and high ratings aren’t something to ignore out of…

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REVIEW: Monsters University [2013]

“Technically I caught the pig” I entered the theatre with low expectations and a willingness to be surprised, curious towards Monsters University’s trailers lacking plot description besides a generalized notion of witnessing Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and Jimmy “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) becoming best friends. What would first-time Pixar feature-film director Dan Scanlon and co-writers Robert L. Baird and Daniel Gerson have up their sleeves? How would they fill the inevitable gaping hole of not bringing back the adorable Boo from Monsters, Inc. due to their newest installment’s status as…

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REVIEW: Monsters, Inc. [2001]

“Kitty!” If there is one film type where a laundry list of screenwriters can actually help the finished product, it’s the animated feature. Sparked by the simple idea of “Let’s make a movie about monsters”, Pete Doctor’s directorial debut evolved immensely from its brainstorming lunch origins in 1994. What would ultimately become Pixar Studios’ second most inspired fantasy world piggybacked on the shoulders of a child’s imagination—the first being Toy Story’s brilliant concept of toys living full lives when humans weren’t looking—Monsters, Inc. took us inside the dark, scary closets…

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REVIEW: The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare [2012]

“Honest Bunny Sez: You Have No Future” With it’s 25th season underway and a feature film already under its belt, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Matt Groening and James L. Brooks‘ “The Simpsons” begin a foray into animated shorts. Just as Disney/Pixar has been doing with their Toy Story franchise, I can see Gracie Films continuing to make these brief vignettes as a sort of insurance plan for if or when the long-standing television cartoon staple moves into retirement. It also doesn’t hurt that The Simpsons:…

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REVIEW: Rise of the Guardians [2012]

“Merry Christmas! Happy Easter! Don’t forget to floss!” It was only a matter of time before someone turned our favorite holiday-bound mythical creatures into superheroes. Unsurprisingly it’s William Joyce who did. By no means a household name, he isn’t a stranger to the world of youthful fantasy with credited work as a conceptual artist (Toy Story and A Bug’s Life), television show creator (“Rolie Polie Olie”), and author of cinematic adaptations earning box office success (Meet the Robinsons inspiration A Day with Wilbur Robinson). His latest project coined The Guardians…

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REVIEW: La Luna [2012]

After giving us a couple hilarious Toy Story shorts, Pixar finally gets back to the kind of heartwarming original animated visions that won the studio a slew of Oscar love during the aughts. Writer/director Enrico Casarosa comes out of the art department with a stunningly poignant film about three generations of Italian men and the uniquely secretive job they’ve held and passed on for decades. La Luna is Bambino’s (Krista Sheffler) introduction to the tradition—donning his first hat before climbing up to the stars. Utilizing Michael Giacchino‘s score to set…

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