Tag Archives: John Ratzenberger

The Set of 400: #97 – My Favorite Argument Against Capes

Today! Because under tremendous public pressure and the crippling financial burden of mounting lawsuits, the government quietly initiated the Superhero Relocation Program –

The Incredibles (2004)

Directed by Brad Bird (x2)

Starring Craig T. Nelson (x2), Holly Hunter (x2), Jason Lee (x2), Samuel L. Jackson (x7), Sarah Vowell, Spencer Fox, Elizabeth Pena, Brad Bird, Wallace Shawn (x5), John Ratzenberger (x6), Dominique Louis, Teddy Newton

For a good number of years the gold standard in superhero cartoons, and really, superhero movies in general, The Incredibles came along at just the right time. The Spider-Man and X-Men films were in full swing, but we were still years away from the MCU and the great Nolan Bat pictures (Batman Begins, being a weird prequel to The Dark Knight, does not count), so Pixar jumped in and filled that cape-and-laser void with a terrific story of supers hiding in retirement, being dragged back to battle a new foe. Quick – top of your head – when is this movie set? It never casually occurs to me that it isn’t the modern day – just a really retro designed modern day – but no! It’s set in this alternate reality 1960s, obviously. There isn’t anything to necessarily throw you off from this idea, it just doesn’t stick with me for some reason.

Maybe I’m just a moron when it comes to mid-century furniture design

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The Set of 400: #137 – My Favorite Crane Game

Today! Because I’m actually from a smaller company that was purchased by Mattel in a leveraged buyout –

Toy Story (1995)

Directed by John Lasseter (x2)

Starring Tom Hanks (x5), Tim Allen (x4), Don Rickles (x3), Wallace Shawn (x4), Jim Varney (x2), John Ratzenberger (x5), Laurie Metcalf (x4), R. Lee Ermey (x3), Annie Potts (x2), John Morris (x3), Erik von Detten, Penn Jillette (x2)

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I have a soft spot for the first films in movie series, even if the sequels are demonstrably better. This doesn’t extend to superhero movies for some reason, but in many other cases when people point to the superiority of a second or third film, I still feel beholden to the original as my favorite – you will see the bundle of examples of this in days to come.

I just think the degree of difficulty is so much higher when you have to tell an interesting, engaging story while also setting up your whole world and potential franchise. Sure, in many cases, the filmmakers weren’t operating under the idea that their movie needed to be the launching pad for a massive, multi-decade tale, which makes it all the more impressive when the original story can hold up and function as the solid backbone everything else stems from. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #152 – My Favorite Vending Machine Card Game

Today! Because if you want to get out of here, get rid of that monkey!

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Directed by Lee Unkrich (x2)

Starring Tom Hanks (x4), Tim Allen (x3), Joan Cusack (x3), John Ratzenberger (x4), Wallace Shawn (x3), Ned Beatty (x4), Michael Keaton (x6), Estelle Harris (x2), Don Rickles (x2), Laurie Metcalf (x3), John Morris (x2), Jodi Benson (x2), Blake Clark, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin, Bonnie Hunt, Whoopi Goldberg (x5), R. Lee Ermey (x2), Richard Kind (x3)

One of the most disconcertingly emotional movies ever made, Toy Story 3 manages to be alternatingly hilarious and heart-breaking, and forces you examine issues of loss and abandonment in ways that aren’t typical in mainstream entertainment. Hell, I would say it’s not something even esoteric filmmaking would attempt to inflict on an audience too often. If it weren’t for Buzz’s Spanish mode and hard-bitten, crime noir-ish gags from the telephone, I would say this might be the most insidiously horrifying children’s film ever created.

Oh Jesus Christ, that porch

Seriously, how do you navigate little ones through this movie? Is it possible to just separate the nightmare of Lotso’s life from all the Woody and Buzz adventures? I get that the ending is geared toward making adults cry – none of that can be anything kids will really understand – but what about the psychologically torturous aspects of this story? I would only imagine there are a million unanswerable questions raised through the middle section of this movie, straight through to Lotso’s end – which is no walk in the park either. And maybe that’s truly the genius of this film, and this whole series. We can examine the people and things we’ve lost – the parts of our lives that were left behind somewhere, by choice or just forgotten – without it killing us. Toy Story 3 sure as hell tries to rip you apart along the way, but in the end it’s okay. Like our heroes, we made it. Even if we narrowly escaped the landfill incinerator in the process.

Oh my God, that incinerator

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The Set of 400: #199 – My Favorite Niagara Falls Excursion

Today! Because these humans are beginning to bore me –

Superman II (1980)

Directed by Richard Lester (and Richard Donner (x3), somewhat)

Starring Christopher Reeve (x2), Margot Kidder (x2), Gene Hackman (x2), Terence Stamp (x4), Sarah Douglas (x2), Jack O’Halloran (x2), Jackie Cooper (x2), Ned Beatty (x3), Valerie Perrine (x3), Susannah York (x3), Clifton James (x2), E.G. Marshall (x2), Marc McClure (x3), John Ratzenberger (x3), Shane Rimmer, Pepper Martin

A good case for being the only solid movie starring Big Blue ever made, Superman II‘s production history is as entertaining as the movie itself – what with the crazy plan to film it concurrently with the original film in 1977 and ’78, the scrapping of this plan partway through, the firing of original film director Donner, a bunch of the actors quitting – including Hackman, requiring massive rewrites and doubling, the death of some key crew members, the lawsuits by Marlon Brando and against Christopher Reeve, and the fact that despite all this turbulence – and replacement director Lester’s decidedly different spin on the sequel – virtually everyone you talk to agrees that this movie is far superior to the original.

You know what? I’m good.

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The Set of 400: #240 – My Favorite Children’s Show Cliffhanger

Today! Because you never forget kids like Emily or Andy, but they forget you –

Toy Story 2 (1999)

Directed by John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, Lee Unkrich

Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack (x2), Kelsey Grammer, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger (x2), Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Annie Potts, Wayne Knight (x2), Laurie Metcalf (x2), Estelle Harris, John Morris, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Stanton, Jodi Benson

The middle child of quite possibly the greatest film trilogy in history, and also the first movie I saw at the Cinemark in Moosic – a theater still open to this day (as of this writing, anyway), Toy Story 2 doesn’t have the benefit of introducing us to the toy world (even though it does add a bunch of great new characters), nor does it get to wrap things up to such devastating effect as the third film did, the first sequel is nonetheless a monumentally great film.

(Again, for your edification, as of this writing the fourth film has not been released. In fact, the first teaser trailer for that movie literally came out today – for you Set of 400 sleuths trying to determine when the hell I actually strung these drafts together.)

What the hell is the deal with this fork??

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