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Toy Story 2 is kept near and dear

10 Jun


Toy Story 2 is one of those rare films where the sequel is equal to or better than the original. Pixar develops the Woody (Tom Hanks) character into Gary Cooper like hero that resonates with young and old audiences. They also expand Buzz Lightyear’s role (Tim Allen) turn him into a larger than life hero.  Toy Story 2 is more than a visual exploration of computer animation. It is a film that entertains a set of serious ideas rooted in the importance of loyalty and friendship. The second installment brings back all of the original characters, as well as some new ones that will expand upon the film’s humor in a way that balances its sharp wit with physical humor. Audiences are treated to Pixar’s toy box and leave feeling good about those special toys that everyone kept near and dear as a child.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A

The Incredibles is a super movie

7 Mar


At a time, when every other month another big star is donning a costume or exhibiting an unstoppable superpower, the animated film, The Incredibles continues to be one of the best superhero films of all time. Brad Bird’s inventive story mixes action/adventure along with humor to create a film that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.

Bob aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and his wife Helen aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) were forced into retirement and to live a “normal” life with their three “gifted” children Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack, but after 15 years, Bob gets his chance to come out of retirement. Shortly thereafter, he realizes that it will take a family effort to rescue the world.

This film connects with audiences of all ages because it is more about the “modern” family overcoming real-life problems and being there for one another than it is fighting evil villains. The combination of Bird’s story and Pixar’s dazzling visuals creates a “super” movie.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A

Paperman delivers the message

5 Mar


Paperman is an Academy Award winning animated short film that uses a paper plane to transport the message of love.  John Kahrs directs this black and white Disney film about a man and a meeting by chance on a train platform because of strong wind and loose piece of paper, but their encounter is interrupted by the train’s arrival and the girl’s abrupt exit. Audiences can relate to the romantic notion of love at first sight and Paperman delivers,  but I have an issue with Disney’s propensity for creating ultra-skinny, unrealistic looking female characters as the main love interest. The emotion is there and audiences connect with the story to the point you are rooting for them, but whenever an animated film attempts to capture the essence of the human condition I believe it should also represent the characters in a realistic way. This is my only criticism for an otherwise clever piece of art.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: A

Head over Heels (short film)

1 Mar


Timothy Reckart’s stop motion animated short, Head over Heels is an unusual film about a couple that has grown apart. Literally, the wife lives on the ceiling and the husband lives on the floor of their spiraling home. The attention to detail and the patience to create this film is a testament to the team artists involved in bringing this story of lost love together. The co-existing living arrangements is very clever. Watching the simultaneous action was interesting and the figures’ facial expressions said it all, even though there were no words spoken in the film. Head over Heels turns our understanding of relationships upside down for short period of time, which in this case is a good thing.


Chuck’s Grade: A-

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Fresh Guacamole serves up a delicious short

26 Feb

Fresh Guacamole slices and dices up a recipe that uses stop motion as its main ingredient for success. PES aka Adam Pesapane’s Academy Award nominated Animated Short serves up a delicious film that takes a staple of the Southwest’s menu and combines it with items associated with games of chances. The final dish is a clever and colorful appetizer that is a feast for audiences’ imaginations.

Word Count: 66

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: B

Adam and Dog is a friendly film

24 Feb


Adam and Dog is an Oscar nominated animated short that puts a playful canine into the Book of Genesis. The dog explores the Garden of Eden, until he meets Adam alone in the forest. The first man makes his first friendship with the dog, but their relationship will change when Eve becomes part of Adam’s life.  The dog loves his master unconditionally no matter what “sins” have been committed. There are no words spoken, but his characters expressions and the shared silences find a voice that speaks to audiences everywhere.

Director Minkyu Lee’s story is endearing to anyone that has experienced the unconditional love of a four-legged friend. His animations are simple, but have a subtle subtext that communicates the power and passion of a first time filmmaker. Like his story, Lee is just beginning his journey into the world and I look forward to his watching his future projects.


Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: B+

The Adventures of Tintin did not impress

4 Jan


The Adventures of Tintin was a popular stop motion animated film in 2011 that did well at the box office and was well received by audiences from around the world, but I don’t share the same enthusiasm about Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s animated tale about Belgian artist, Herge’s comic character, Tintin. To be honest, I did not see the theatrical 3D version of the film. I watch the movie on Netflix and I was not impressed.  There was nothing remarkable about the script and the story lacked suspense. Tintin is repeatedly upstaged by Captain Haddock’s volume and physical humor while Snowy (Tin Tin’s dog) becomes the most interesting character to watch. The film’s villan, Sakharine oddly enough looks like a young Steven Spielberg, which I found funny, but I realize this humor is lost on younger audiences. Although, most children will be satisfied with the film, I believe Jackson and Spielberg are capable of something much better.


Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: C+

9 is more than just a number

14 Oct

The number 9 is not your ordinary animated film of cute characters and a simple story. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of Frankenstein-like doll characters trying to survive in a world that seems to have loss all sense of humanity.  The characters look like something you would find if Tim Burton and Trent Reznor were hanging out for a spell.  Each number signifies the order, in which they were created with 9 (Elijah Wood) being the final creation.  The numbers all have different characteristics and talents that make it easy for an audience to discern. It reminded me of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory in action.

Director and co-writer Shane Acker’s rag doll character was first introduced in 2005 with his eleven minute short film. Four years later, Burton and Timur Bekmambetov help Acker bring these characters to life with an all star cast, Wood, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover and Jennifer Connelly. 9 is much more than a number.


Chuck’s Grade: A-

Adam’s Grade: B-

Emperor’s New Groove

15 Sep

Disney delivers a laugh out loud animated film with a great story that keeps children and adults entertained.  The movie is about a insensitive young Emperor named Kuzco (David Spade) that is used to getting what he wants when he wants it.  This is your classic story of a mean character having the tables turned and being turned into a Llama. Maybe the particulars, are a little different, but the principle character is forced into re-discovering his true self through a series of humbling, but hilarious scenarios.   The character transformation is fun to watch and his new “master” Pacha (John Goodman) is an absolute hoot.

The actor’s voices take the film to another level, as well as the special attention paid to the animation’s detail. As a young adult, I love the pace of this film and think this is one of those films that you can put in the DVD player and the whole family will enjoy.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A