All posts tagged: Pixar

'Ant-Man' stars ants, and Paul Rudd.

Farkakte Film Flashback: Buggy ‘Ant-Man’ Edition

I saw “Ant-Man” over the weekend, and given the fact that advance buzz (so to speak) was iffy, I was pleasantly surprised: It was the funniest Marvel movie yet, and it fully embraces its ludicrous premise (something about being able to make people shrink by “changing the distance between atoms,” a concept that only sounds even mildly reasonable because it’s uttered by Michael Douglas). But one of my favorite parts of the movie is its cast of supporting characters — no, not Michael Peña, although he is awesome. I’m talking about the ants, whom Ant-Man controls by harnessing the something in their whatsis … actually I don’t think they ever really explain how it works, but who cares? Unlike most movie bugs they’re a huge help to our hero, and one of them — SPOILER ALERT! — even gets a name (Antony) and a heroic demise. It also made me think of certain other, previous bug movies, some of which are definitely lesser than “Ant-Man,” but which all hold a space in the pantheon of creepy …

Monsters University

10 Movies…That Are Unnecessary Prequels (To Prepare You For ‘Monsters University’)

Once Disney took a more draconian handle on Pixar, it was inevitable that they’d make the tiny, massively-gifted studio start churning out sequels and prequels to their most marketable hits. A couple years ago, they made Cars 2, which focused on Mater, the character that sold the most toys, and later this year we’ve got an offshoot called Planes. But first, Monsters University, in which we get to see the monsters from Monsters Inc. learning the job skills they’ll need to one day land a job at Monsters Inc. Here are 10 other unnecessary prequels. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd You want to know how Harry and Lloyd met? They met in high school. Where the hell else were they going to meet? Oz The Great and Powerful All about how Professor Marvel made his way to Oz and how everything went to shit before Dorothy showed up. However, the entire premise of this movie doesn’t make any sense, because Oz was dreamed up by a little girl in a dream and didn’t …

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10 Movies…About Really Fast Cars (To Prepare You for ‘Fast & Furious 6’)

Programming note: this week’s “10 Movies” column was written/dictated by a discerning expert who knows and appreciates race-car cinema far more than I: my four-year-old nephew, Jaden. Driven They’re at a big party and then the race car goes by through the city! And then the man gets in the other race car and chases the first racer and they go really fast and then there’s all this stuff blowing away! Stroker Ace He has a mustache and he’s really nice and he races on the racetrack and smashes the car. VROOOOOOOM! The Cannonball Run I liked this movie because Stroker Ace is in it, but he’s not on the race track he’s on the highway and he drives fast like my dad! GRRRRR! VROOOOOOOM! ZOOOOOOM! Talladega Nights Mommy says I’m not allowed to watch this but I don’t know why. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift It’s like regular Faster Furious, but the cars so sideways and go screeeeeeech and they’re in the street and I like Pokemons, too but cars mostly. Herbie …

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PopSmarts: Looking for God in “Toy Story”

It’s not a revelation to anyone, anymore, to point out that Hollywood is no longer in the business of original ideas. It takes a great deal of money to make and market a movie — any movie. And the Powers That Be have long ago figured out that the best way to ensure a return on their investment is to make films that are pre-sold, inasmuch as such a thing is possible — that is, movies with built-in name recognition: adaptations, sequels, reboots, reimaginings. Movies where name recognition alone will be enough to put butts in seats. Everybody does it, simply because it minimizes the colossal risks of filmmaking. It’s just smart business sense. So it is not unexpected — but still disappointing — to see Pixar fall into line behind this conventional wisdom. From its 1995 debut feature Toy Story onward, the computer-animation studio has mostly concentrated on making original films. Of the ten movies put out by Pixar between 1995 and 2009, only one was a sequel; and yet all were immensely profitable. …

Basement Songs: Thomas Newman, “Finding Nemo: Main Title”

People do this all the time: they neglect to ask about my daughter Sophie. They don’t mean to, especially when they receive so many updates about her brother Jacob’s health and our efforts to find a cure for CF. But they do. They ask about  him and only him. How’s his health? How’s he doing in school? Does he have a lot of friends? What are his hobbies? They are genuinely concerned about his well-being and we really appreciate it. In each of these conversations, I always… ALWAYS make a point to tell people that both of my children are doing great. That Sophie is doing awesome in school and is one of the tops in her class, that she excels at the piano, and that she’s still the most empathetic little girl (sorry, tween) that you’ll ever meet. I don’t want anyone to forget that we have two children and that both of them are affected by cystic fibrosis. Jacob lives with the disease physically; Sophie lives with it just as much emotionally. Sophie …

Sugar Water: Dog Days

I realized the other day that it’s been a couple months since I updated you on my personal life. No one’s asked for an update, of course, but I figured the fan letter that said, “Send me the music from Running Scarred because I dont know how to use the internet except for email and this is the first time I have used email I swear so please hurry,” was probably from a non-English speaker who really meant to ask, “How’s your girlfriend, Aimiee, and the child you abandoned in Nebraska last fall?” Well, I have good and bad news about Xing, our adopted son who’s really our daughter. The good news is she’s doing really well for herself in Lincoln, Nebraska, having been accepted for early enrollment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the tender age of seven. She’s also reclaimed her natural name of Zhen, along with the gender Aimiee and I denied her. (Don’t judge our gender reassignment until you’ve seen for yourself how it can have a down side.) As is the …

Film Review: “Up”

The new Disney/Pixar collaboration, Up, has just opened to some of the best reviews the studio’s ever received. While it’s a very enjoyable film, I have to say it certainly isn’t among their best, in spite of the talent behind it. As a child, Carl Fredricksen (at this point voiced by Jeremy Leary) is a huge fan of famed adventurer/explorer Charles Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer). Young Carl is a true devotee, keeping up with all of Muntz’ doings and is shocked to the core when one of his archaeological finds is disputed as a fraud. While Muntz sets off to clear his name, Carl happens to cross paths with Ellie (voiced by Elie Docter), who is just as much a fan of Muntz as Carl. The two become close, eventually falling in love, marrying and growing old together…all while keeping a coin jar in which they save whatever money they can to one day take a trip to Paradise Falls, the “land lost in time” for which Muntz set out. Carl makes the ultimate kids’ …

Dw. Dunphy On… “WALL-E”

No, it wasn’t a nightmare. I was surrounded by jive-ass talking cartoon animals, and so were you. The dictum of great animation is that it gives us something a straightforward film cannot. It can show us visions that would be impossible in reality, if not just ridiculous looking. Animation affords an instant degree of suspension of reality, that magical bit of stuff that allows us to empathize with photos projected in succession. It’s an unwritten pact between the maker of those images and the person who spent $10+ for the ticket — take me out of reality for an hour and a half. For many years that pact has been, if not broken, arguably fudged and cheated. It’s the only way I can explain 2005’s Madagascar, 2006’s The Wild and Over the Hedge, this summer’s Kung Fu Panda, and even the upcoming CG-tweaked horror of Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It’s as if the studios all gave up writing and just agreed to make animals yammer and yap for a couple decades. Pixar, the little CG studio …