Throwback Thursday: Toy Story 2 (1999)

In a film series, the second is the most important. It is a litmus test of two important questions: 1. Is there an audience appetite for the sequel? and 2. Is there enough of a narrative to warrant a second movie?

Toy Story 2 (1999) is the second tale within the Toy Story franchise. After Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen by a toy collector, it is up to his friends to save him. While Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) works on the outside to free Woody, Woody makes friends on the inside. Jessie (Joan Cusack) is a cowgirl and a part of the wild west line of playthings.

I enjoyed Toy Story 2. It has everything that made its predecessor great and then some. It is funny, entertaining, and suspenseful, and the addition of the new characters provides enough stretch to make the story plausible.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Lightyear Movie Review

Every narrative and IP has its limits. Though a movie studio may want to test its limit, the audience may feel differently.

The new Disney/Pixar movie, Lightyear, is an origin story/prequel within the Toy Story franchise. After being stranded for years on a mysterious planet, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans, taking over from Tim Allen) is looking for a way to return home. His friend and co-pilot, Alicia Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), tries to be supportive while also being realistic.

As Buzz continues in his efforts to get his crew home, time moves on. When he finally achieves his goal, he discovers that it has been sixty years since his first attempt. An army of robots led by Zurg (James Brolin) is doing everything they can to steal his power source. Leading a small band of misfits that includes Alicia’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), Darby Steel (Dale Soules), and the animatronic cat Sox (Peter Sohn), they must save the day and stop Zurg.

I have mixed feelings about this film. As a standalone narrative, it’s not bad. I appreciate the diversity and representation of the characters. But I also feel like Disney and Pixar are perhaps becoming a little too reliant on a known quantity instead of trying out something new. The lessons within the story are universal and ageless, but that does not take away from the fact that this is the fifth time that we have seen Buzz on the big screen.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Lightyear is presently in theaters.

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Best Movies of 2020

  1. Soul: Though it is marketed as a kids movie, the subtext of appreciating life feels appropriate and potent this year.
  2. Mulan: The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film Mulan rises above its predecessor, making it fresh and relevant.
  3. Emma.: Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Jane Austen‘s eponymous heroine, Emma Woodhouse, introduced as clever, rich, and handsome. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this adaption is entertaining, funny, and a lovely addition to the list of Austen adaptations.
  4. The Trial of the Chicago 7: The film tells. the story of the 7 men accused of being responsible for the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. Though it is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it feels very 2020.
  5. Portrait of a Lady on Fire: This LBGTQ historical romance between a young woman and the female artist hired to paint her portrait is sweet, romantic, and powerful. It proves once more that love is love is love.
  6. Ordinary Love: Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) are your average middle-aged couple. When she is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, they both must deal with the rough road ahead.
  7. The Assistant: Jane (Julia Garner) is an assistant to a Harvey Weinstein-esque powerful movie producer. She starts to notice things that don’t sit right with her.
  8. I am Greta: This documentary follows teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as she advocates for the world to pay serious attention to climate change.
  9. Mank: Gary Oldman plays Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz in a performance that is nothing but Oscar bait.
  10. #AnneFrank-Parallel Lives: Narrated by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells not just Anne’s story. It follows other young women who survived the Holocaust. Parallel to the stories of the past, the viewer is traveling with another young woman as she visits different countries in present-day Europe.

Soul Movie Review

We all know that at some point, we will exit this life. The question is, will we live to the fullest while we can?

The new Disney Plus movie, Soul, premiered yesterday. Joe Gardiner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) is a junior high school band teacher with a passion for playing music. At this point in his adult life, his dream of being a professional jazz musician has yet to be achieved. Then he gets an opportunity to play at a local jazz club.

But before he can play, he falls into a manhole. Discovering that he is in the Great Beyond, Joe tries everything he can to get back to his body. His ticket back to Earth is 22, (Tina Fey) an infant soul who is disinterested in being born. Together, they will learn about what true passion is and how to live life to the fullest.

What I like about this movie is while it is obviously a kids movie, there are themes that are well over the heads of younger audience members. The message of appreciating being alive and knowing what is truly important radiates through the narratives, reaching the viewer as only a touching and funny film can.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Soul is available for streaming on Disney Plus.

Add Another One To The List Part IV: John Lasseter

The list of well-known men who have been accused of sexual assault has grown to include one more: John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney.

Several female employees have accused Mr. Lassetter of grabbing, kissing and commenting about their physical attributes.

He has temporarily left the company and has apologized for his behavior.

As painful as these allegations are, I believe that they have to be brought into the light and investigated. Change is never easy, especially when it is overall cultural change. But this change is necessary. The problem of sexual assault/unwanted sexual comments or action has to be addressed. This is the time and place to address it, otherwise we will never be able to move forward as a society.

Brave Movie Review

23 years ago, Disney presented their first ginger heroine. Ariel, the title character in The Little Mermaid (a retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson fable) went through the trial and tribulations of growing up and like many of her fairy tale sisters, ended her story with a happily ever after and prince charming.

Last weekend, Disney & Pixar presented another ginger princess to the world of fairy tales. Merida, like Ariel is a princess repressed by both duty and an overbearing parent. She dreams of having another life. That is where the similarities end.

Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) is a medieval princess in the Scottish Highlands. She longs for freedom, but her mother, Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson) keeps reminding her daughter of her responsobility as princess. The clash between mother and daughter reaches its peak when Merida is forced to witness an athletic contest between the eldest sons of three local clans. The winner will become Merida’s husband, an idea that Merida vocally disaproves of. 

I wont give the rest of the movie away, but I walked out of the movie a very happy moviegoer. This one of the best movies that both Disney and Pixar have put out in years.

Women have been fighting for their rights in this country for many decades. The best part of the movie was seeing the payoff of that fight, that we as women can stand on our own two feet, without relying on a man.

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