Tag Archives: Pixar

The Set of 400: #33 – My Favorite Lightning Umbrella

Today! Because rather than try to fix this problem, it’ll just be easier if everyone remains in space –

WALL·E (2008)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin (x2), Fred Willard (x2), John Ratzenberger (x8), Kathy Najimy (x3), Sigourney Weaver (x6), Donald Fullilove (x4), Laraine Newman (x3)

The glorious summer of 2008 returns with the greatest animated film of all time. That’s right, the top dog in the entire game. You might be sputtering and muttering about all the wonders of Dumbo right now, but stuff it! You might want to rage about how Spirited Away is criminally underseen and deserves more recognition, but save that snobby tripe for someone else! You might want to go on about how Inside Out is clearly Pixar’s masterpiece, and…you might have a point. It wasn’t eligible for this list. But as far as the vast history of animated cinema up to the end of 2013 is concerned, it’s WALL·E at the mountaintop.

Sure, it doesn’t hurt that it is my favorite animated film – #33 is as high as the genre managed – but this wasn’t one that needed to grow on me. I’ve been saying almost since the first time I saw it that WALL·E was the best I’d ever seen, and that hasn’t really changed since (again, except for maybe Inside Out, and maybe the Into the Spider-Verse movie). But anyone who tells you that the golden age of animation was the old world Disney classics (e.g. Bambi, Cinderella, Song of the South) or the ’90s revival (Aladdin, Lion King, er, Hercules) is too stuck in the past to argue with. The Pixar run from 2003 to 2010, which included Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, WALL·E, Up, Ratatouille, and Toy Story 3 (and Cars) is the golden age of cartoon films.

But (just to emphasize) not because of Cars

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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: #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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Pixar’s WALL•E – “A Masterpiece”

The landscape of cinema and entertainment was irrevocably altered on June 28th of this year, with the release of Pixar’s latest computer animated epic, WALL·E, which proved itself to be not only the best yet production of the Disney-owned company, but to be unquestionably, inarguably the greatest motion picture ever made. 

The Best Film of All-Time

That’s right.  Ever.  And it’s not even close.  This is a film in a class so distinctly its own that it barely can be squeezed into the existing parameters of how we define a movie.  It so outdoes everything that’s come before that it is almost like watching some new, far superior form of entertainment unlikely ever to be duplicated. Continue reading

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