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Toy Story 3 (2010)

So long… partner.

— Woody

Currently the #6 Film of All-Time on IMDb, Toy Story 3 is the inevitable conclusion of the series Pixar created over fifteen years ago. It finally goes full circle as we get to know how these characters that we grew up with will do once they are not needed anymore. This latest offering redeems everything bad that I have said about Pixar as of long, a coherent story with memorable characters that is not trying to be overly ambitious.

After years of being holed up in the toy box, the toys try to find ways of getting Andy’s (John Morris) attention. Now that he is seventeen, the dreaded time has come when Andy is going to give them up. He leaves for college in a couple of days. He has to decide whether who will come with him, go to the attic, donate or be thrown away. Half of the toys has already been given away over the years except for Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Hamm, (John Ratzenberger), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Bull’s-Eye, Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles, Estelle Harris) and Molly’s Barbie (Jodi Benson).

While Andy decided to bring Woody to college with him and leave the other toys for the attic. Andy carelessly put the others in a garbage bag which makes Andy’s mom (Laurie Metcalf) think that they are garbage. Woody tries to save them before getting tossed into the garbage where the break out to go to the donate box.

Andy’s mom drops the toys off at a daycare center called Sunny Side. When the toys first get there, they thought it was a fantastical place where they would be played with everyday. This was the Butterfly Room with the pre-schoolers. After the pre-schoolers leave the leader of the Butterfly Room, Lotso the Bear (Ned Beatty) welcomes the newcomers with the help of Ken (Michael Keaton) as a tour guide.

Lotso and Ken show Andy toys around the place and lead them into the Caterpillar Room which is for the toddlers that are not as gentle with the toys like the Butterfly Room. Woody wants the gang to stay together with Andy or in the attic. The others want to stay at the daycare center. Woody wants to stay with Andy. Woody leaves and is picked up by a little girl named Bonnie (Emily Hahn). At Bonnie’s house, Woody hears that the other toys are in trouble and Woody has to decide whether to go back to Andy’s house or save the toys.

This movie explained better the themes that were introduced in the second movies with the inevitably of every toy that they will not be needed anymore. Their owners grow up. They have different priorities and playing with a toy is not one of them. If my toys could talk, they would have the same conversation the toys had in this movie. This movie ultimately shows up that when somebody grows up. No matter how big they are. There will always be an inner child poking out of them.

The ending of the movie was heartbreaking, heart affirming, poignant and brilliant. Being leery of this installment, I would say that this is a perfect ending for this series.

Judgment: Bravo and thank you, Pixar.

Rating: ****1/2

Toy Story 2 (1999)

How long will it last, Woody? Do you really think Andy is going to take you to college, or on his honeymoon? Andy’s growing up, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s your choice, Woody. You can go back, or you can stay with us and last forever. You’ll be adored by children for generations.

— Stinky Pete the Prospector


Before I watch the latest offering from Pixar, I wanted to refresh my memory with viewing the #243 film of All Time on IMDB, Toy Story 2 again. I did not see the double feature 3D extravaganza late last year. I thought what is the point. Since I have been weary about Pixar movies, I wanted to see if this movie stacks up on its own. My answer would be “no.”

I am not saying tat Toy Story 2 is bad movie it feels like Pixar was fulfilling an obligation – and it was – for Disney to put this movie out. This movie was taking place right after the first one with Andy (John Morris) going to Cowboy Camp with Woody (Tom Hanks). It is there only one-on-one time together until Woody’s arm is ripped when Andy was roughhousing with his toys. His mother (Laurie Metcalf) shelves Woody. Andy couldn’t take Woody with him.

After the Andy leaves, Andy’s mother has a yard sale and decides to sell some of Andy’s old things, which includes Wheezy (John Ranft), a penguin that was collecting dust because its squeaker is broken. Woody tries to save Wheezy from being sold by riding on the back of the family dog, Buster. The rescue mission hits a snag when Woody falls off. He is picked up by a slimy toy collector named Al McWhiggen (Wayne Knight) who is familiar to the toys by dressing up as a chicken for his Al’s Toy Barn commercials.

Al almost spontaneously combusts when he sees the doll. He wants to buy the doll, but Andy’s mother continually says that the toy is not for sale. When her back is the turned, the slimy snake brazenly snatches Woody. The other toys see this happen. They try to piece together who took Woody and where Woody is held. As is customary, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn) and Slinky Dog (Jim Varney) go on a mission to rescue Woody from Al.

Woody wonders where Al took it. Woody is place in a display case with Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), the horse that acts like a dog, Bull’s-Eye, and Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammar) that is mint condition. They are joyous because with the addition of Woody they could be on display at a museum in Tokyo instead of locked up in storage unit. They let Woody know about the television Woody starred in and the numerous products that was in a shrine in Al’s office. Woody learns about the impact on the youth. Jessie wants Woody to leave Andy behind and come to Japan. Woody wants to stay and be Andy’s toy. That is the dilemma Woody has to go through.

You could see the improvements of the animation from the movie to this one. It’s apparent with the humans, the dog, creating individual space rocks in the environment. I thought the story was lacking a little bit. I understand what the screenwriters were trying to say about the inevitability of kid growing up and the toys will be forgotten. Woody’s journey felt a little cheap. I don’t believe that this movie was better than the first one. The introduction of Jessie and Stinky Pete bothered me to know end. I didn’t think that Joan Cusack or Kelsey Grammar were the right people to voice these characters. Cusack came off brash and not the loving sidekick or Stinky Pete who is very country and have Frasier doing his voice. It doesn’t quite work.

Judgment: It was nice to revisit the characters again, but the not the best in terms of story.

Judgment: ***

Toy Story (1995)

What chance does a toy like me have against a Buzz Lightyear action figure?

— Woody

In my opinion, Pixar’s latest movies have left me high and dry with brilliant concepts that are poorly executed. I thought that I might revisit the film that put the company on the map; the first feature-length computer animated movie, Toy Story. Never gone out to the see this and the sequel in 3D a couple of months ago, I wanted to see how they started. This movie was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1995 and it is the #159 movie of All Time on IMDb. This movie continues to hit home with the message of friendship, even though they are toys.

During a birthday party for Andy (John Morris), the other toys like Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Little Bo Peep (Annie Potts) in his room wanted to know if there is anything new coming into the house, particularly the alpha toy, Woody (Tom Hanks) that is worried of getting replaced.

A team of plastic green army men headed by the Sergeant (R. Lee Ermey) goes with a baby monitor to scope out the gift that Andy has gotten. Everything seems to be fine, when there is a surprise present by Andy’s mother (Laurie Metcalf). It turns out to be Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) who thinks that it is actually a space ranger on a space mission instead of a mass produced product.

Andy and the other toys really like Buzz. Woody feels left out of being the favorite toy of Andy’s. Woody becomes more jealous during the next couple of days before the family moves into another house.

Hearing noises outside of Andy’s window, the other toys tell Buzz about the kid next door, Sid (Erik von Detten), has an infamous reputation for blowing up toys. Two days before the family leaves, Woody overhears the mother tell Andy to bring one toy on their final dinner together to Pizza Planet. He finds it the opportunity to get rid of Buzz by forcing him out of the house. He does, but the other toys think that he murder Buzz. The toys plan to execute him.

Woody tries to find a way to get Buzz back and get back in the good grace of the other toys.

I thought I remember this movie. Watching it again, I believed I saw bits and pieces of it instead of the entire thing. I could not believe that this movie is fifteen years old. The most of the animation still holds up after fifteen years. There is still blockiness with the Scud, Sid’s dog and Sid’s brace face, but I let that slide because the movie was innovative at the time.

Judgment: It’s a good movie to revisit before Toy Story 3 comes out.

Rating: ****1/2

Finding Nemo (2003)

If this is some kind of practical joke, it’s not funny, and I know funny. I’m a clownfish.

— Marlin

The last couple of Pixar movies that I have reviewed, I had a lukewarm response to most of them. The creators are trying to have the action more grounded, but they always have to cock it up with putting kiddy stuff in it. Finding Nemo is the last great Pixar movie in my opinion. This #149 Move of All-Time on IMDb won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was well deserved.

A clownfish, Marlin (Albert Brooks) moves his wife, Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) and their 400 eggs to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. When they get there, the community is threatened by a barracuda that takes Coral and almost of all of her 400 eggs, saved one.

Marlin tries everything in his power to protect his son, Nemo, perhaps overprotecting him. It’s understandable. Nemo is eager to go to his first day of school. Marlin is worried that the children are going to make fun of Nemo’s shorter fin, which they call his lucky fin.

His new friends want to explore the open ocean, which is forbidden. When Marlin comes to take Nemo away, Nemo wanted to be on his own. He swims up to a boat near by. Nemo is caught by the swimmers and taken with them.

Frantically searching for Nemo, Marlin bumps into the scatterbrain Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) to tries to take him to where the boat was last seen.

A shark sneaks up to the duo, Bruce (Barry Humphries). He brings the two into a Sharks Anonymous meeting with Anchor (Eric Bana) and Chum (Bruce Spence). Marlin sees a clue to help find Nemo. One of the divers drops his mask with his contact information on it. He needs someone that could read it. That someone is closer then he might think.

Nemo wakes up in a fish tank at a dentist’s office. Nemo meets the creatures that inhabit the tank Bloat (Brad Garrett), Gurgle (Austin Pendleton), Bubbles (Stephen Root), Peach (Alison Janney), Deb (Vicki Lewis), Jacques (Joe Ranft) and Gill (Willem Dafoe). A pelican, Nigel (Geoffrey Rush) pops by the office window to chat about the goings on at the office.

Nemo learns that he is going to be the pet of the dentist’s niece, Darla for her birthday. He has limited time to escape before he is torn away from his father forever.

The look of this movie is absolutely gorgeous. The effects of the water, the sun rays beaming into the water, the vibrant colors of the Great Barrier Reef were fantastic. The textures of the landscape made my jaw drop. I swear, I thought that some scenes were live action. At the end of the movie, I weep like a baby. I hate myself for crying. I’m a sucker to a final reunion. It’s not like I’m spoiling the ending. It’s obvious.

Judgment: If you want to watch the best Pixar movie of the Aughties, watch this .

Rating: ****1/2

Ratatouille (2007)

Food is fuel. You get picky about what you put in your tank, your engine is gonna die. Now shut up and eat your garbage.

Django

Ratatouille is currently number 154 of the top 250 of all time on IMDB. I have to disagree highly with the praise that movie has gotten. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature against Persepolis and Surf’s Up. I did not see the latter, but it must have been slim pickings that year if the movie won.

The movie centers around Remy (Patton Oswalt), a rat that has impeccable palate for good food and different combinations of tastes. He lives with his nest family in the roof of an old lady’s house.

His father, Django (Brian Dennehy) wants his son to be a thief like his other son, Emile (Peter Sohn) and himself. Remy doesn’t want that. He wants to be a world famous chef like his hero, Chef Gusteau (Brad Garrett).

One day, he hears news that Gusteau died when he lost a star from his five-star restaurant. Also, the nest is discovered when Remy and Emile were trying to scour for food.

As usual, Remy is separated from the nest and he ends up at Gusteau’s restaurant. Imagine that. He helps out a bumbling, flailing guy, Linguini (Lou Romano) to help bring out his creations.

Hilarity ensues and the move falls out the rails so much that I had to turn it off.

Here are my major problems with the movie:

  • I have an issue with a family, even if they’re rats, being from Paris and none of them have the slightest accent.
  • Why would you let a rat cook? Whose idea with this?
  • Why did Linguini tell that cook that he doesn’t when in a scene ten minutes before he was sipping wine with Remy?
  • How it is physiologically possible control a person’s movements by hair?

Are you kidding me, Pixar? Are we suppose to buy this dreck? What happened to the Finding Nemos, the Toy Storys of yesteryear? We have to deal with convoluted plots with ridiculous characters and situations that is supposed to be heartwarming. Spare me!

Judgment: There are some genuine laughs, but it’s not worth getting invested in it.

Rating: **1/2

Spirited Away (2002)

The tunnel led Chichiro to a mysterious town.

I wanted to see Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away for awhile ever since it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002. It is currently on number 60 of Top 250 on IMDB. I can understand why people think that this is a great movie, but I have some problems with some of the voices in the English dubbed version that I had.

This movie centers around a mousy ten-year-old girl, named Chichiro (English voice by Daveigh Chase) is moving with her parents (Lauren Holly, Michael Chiklis) when her father decides to make a shortcut through a deep forest. On the other side, they see a tunnel. Curious the family walks through the tunnel to find an abandoned amusement park.

In instance, they follow curiously looks around until the father smells some food. The parents gorge on the free food until they are turned into pigs, literally.

Chichiro tries to find somebody to help her parents. She meets Haku (Jason Marsden), a spirit guide that helps her try to find a way to save her parents.

Chichiro has to work for the bathhouse that is for the spirits residing in the land.

She meets wacky characters like Kamajii (David Ogden Stiers), Lin (Susan Egan), Yubaba (Suzanne Pleshette), and No Face (Bob Bergen).

I have a problem with the leads girl’s voice. It was so screechy that I wanted to turn the movie off. Also, the first thirty minutes of the film moved at the pace of snails having sex. So slow. I was up and down with this movie.

Judgment: If you are into anime movie with effed up looking character, I would suggest this movie.

Rating: ***1/2

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