The Boxtrolls

the-boxtrollsThe latest fun effort from Laika studios. The characters & plot were all refreshingly unique, and I loved the “character” of the setting – one of these ancient, brick-laden, hilly European cities that exist more in imagination than reality. It was wonderful to see some vivid imagination brought to life.

Inside Out

inside-outPixar’s latest tug at our heart-strings. As with most of their movies, it’s a little unconventional, a little predictable, a little original… and in the end, it all manages to work. I’ll have to say though – there’s a whole wealth of material if they’d take this movie to the next level and see what’s in everyone else’s heads. It’s likely a lot of that would be x-rated, but I’m sure Pixar could figure out some way to make it cute… right?

Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the SheepAardman studios has put out a lot of superb stop-frame animation over the years, but this might be their best ever. Shaun the Sheep is a simple story – perhaps the simplest of stories. It’s lighthearted and fun throughout, and will only bring you smiles. But, it’s done just brilliantly. Essentially this is a silent film – not one word of dialog is spoken. There are a few mumbles, but that’s it. It takes quite a bit of storytelling to pull that off. I had the feeling that I was watching years of meticulous work crammed into the space of 90+ minutes, and it showed. Each scene could stand on its own (and in fact much of the movie was made of previously released scenes). The whole thing was just utter joy.


braveA cute little movie from Pixar. Sure, it was pretty good, but it didn’t grab my soul… it was really a straightforward kids movie. Pixar really shines when their movies work on multiple levels, or break new storytelling ground – this one did neither. It was fine, just not exceptional.


This is one I liked more and more as it went along… It kept the entire story at a high-level… I rarely had the notion that I was watching a “kids movie”. The thing even starts off with a character being eaten. Other characters die along the way too; no kid gloves with this one! That’s part of what keeps it so engaging – you truly don’t know what’s going to happen next – anyone is fair game.

I also appreciated the way Rango didn’t have to start off as some wimp who finds his strength (which is a total cliche). Instead, he’s such a prodigious liar, the lie starts to become the truth. What a refreshing twist.

The Illusionist (2010)

From acid-trip factory that brought you the Triplets of Bellville, comes this far more tame and mainstream tale of… of… um, I’m not really sure. Magic? The animation had a refreshing hand-drawn look. It wasn’t all polished like today’s computer-generated perfect desserts. Instead, it was rough… like life. It had a dream quality to it. You’re never quite sure where it’s going, but it does make some kind of strange logical story… even if it’s one you wouldn’t expect as it skips from scene to scene. And I liked the rabbit too.

Beavis and Butt-head Do America

This suffers from the same problem as many TV-to-movie things.  It borrows too heavily from the TV show, and is just way too much.  Beavis and Butthead work much better in shorter bits.  Sure, the movie was broken-up to make it like a bunch of TV-shows spliced together, but by the second time Beavis did “cornholio”, I was rolling my eyes.


Let’s set the record straight, Bambi is a BOY!  Why the hell do I always see bimbos named Bambi?  It’s a guy’s name dammit!  I’ve had more than one argument with people who insist that Bambi was a girl, then realize… hey, you’re right, he was a buck.  What the hell is going on out there??? Wake up!!!


Much of this movie was cute, and fun, and beautiful… But I thought the main story (about the bird, etc), was “forced”, like the needed “something” to keep the story moving, and you could see the writers shrugging their shoulders, “rare rainbow colored bird? Um, I guess that’ll do…” I guess I just don’t like it when “they” invent animal species for some reason. Maybe it goes back to an old episode of woody woodpecker about the “pipsquak bird” wherein a birdwatcher is mocked, etc… I hated that episode during my childhood, and have disliked that plot device ever since. I’m not entirely sure why, but there you have it. Anyway, this movie has enough positives going for it to more than compensate.
(oh, one other thing… Do they even have squirrels in the amazon? I’d guess not… So, why would the dogs even know of squirrels, much less call one out? Stuff like that makes me feel like the writers are talking down to me. Sure, it would be a funny little “bit” for a kid, but I expect more from pixar wrt/ jokes like that one.)


Went to go see this in 3d, but they’d moved it to the 2d theater because some teeny-bopper concert flick had taken over the 3d theater. Dangit. Anyway, even in 2d, it was an entertaining artistic feast. There was lots to like from start to finish, for young to old.


An epic story which takes on such issues as slavery, class struggle, communism, genocide, and the importance of free will.  The hero (who is so insignificant that his name is nothing more than the letter “z”) rises from the masses of oppressed workers and seduces the entrenched monarchy with a sample of ‘insectopia’.  He is hunted down by a fascist dictator who tries to create a pure race by exterminating the weakest members of the society.  Throughout the movie, there are ruthless battles, passionate romances, senseless deaths, and wretched souls who eat crap.  In the end, the entire population rises from ‘underground’ and becomes enlightened.

Mary and Max

What an amazing thing this is. A whole big group of people devoted months or years of their lives to telling a story about an unlikely friendship between a strange young girl in Australia, and a middle-aged misfit loner in New York… with grotesque animated clay figurines. Who’d have thunk it’d work so well? I’m so glad there are people out there taking chances.


A really cool movie.  I have to wonder what the animators were thinking when they came up with the “pink elephants” scene – my favorite.  And those crows… something that would never fly in a modern movie… but there it is.

Brother Bear

Yer typical Disney product – all the elements are there… well, except the platonic love interest. Unless of course we are to assume there was “something going on” between the two bears… or the two moose… wait a second, maybe there was more than meets the eye on this one. Well, it’s about time Disney came out of the closet!

The Triplets of Belleville

A woman cures her son’s malaise with the gift of a new bike, then molds him into a mid-rate champion bike racer, only to have him kidnapped by a mafia boss who hooks him and two other bicyclists up to a machine that makes them race against each other so other mafia types can gamble on the outcome. His only hope of rescue lies with his mother and overweight dog, who fall in with a group of aging lounge singers that now perform music on houshold appliances and subsist on a diet of frogs which they acquire by exploding dynamite in a swamp. It’s amazing what one must dream up to make an original movie these days. This dream is worth getting lost in for a couple hours at least…


Toy Story 2

This was probably just as good as the first, but it suffered just a little by being a sequel – the characters weren’t as new and fresh, I knew what to expect going in. Although, I guess every sequel has that… that’s why they’re sequels in the first place. Ok, so it was incredible too.