Toy Story

cloak and dagger poster image

Considering I do these weekly lists of movies to watch in order to highlight new releases as gateways to older works, it’s particularly fun to focus on something geared toward children. Young people aren’t as familiar with a lot of movies, so they’re more in need of such recommendations. A lot of time, though, the allusions they should subsequently become familiar with are for an older audience. At least one movie included in this week’s list inspired by The LEGO Movie, for instance, is definitely not suitable for children at all. Others won’t be of much interest to them. Meanwhile, there are a lot of obvious, explicit movie references in The LEGO Movie that I didn’t feel necessary to spotlight, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lincoln and any of the many DC superhero movies featuring some of the characters represented in LEGO minifig form. There are some fairly obvious titles included, though; the first half of the list is mainly movies that many critics have mentioned in comparison. And then there is the second half, which is filled with pretty obscure films, most documentaries, tied to LEGO in some way. As always, name any movies this one reminded you of as well as any you think we ought to check out next. Also as always, beware that there are spoilers for this week’s movie, so if you haven’t yet seen The LEGO Movie, you need to do so right now and then come back to […]

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predator

Most fans of the Toy Story franchise are of the opinion that Toy Story 3 was the perfect send-off for the toy gang who we met in Pixar’s first feature, all the way back in 1995. It ended their story nicely, made for a perfect trilogy (which is the accepted number of films for series to come in), and generally it just seemed that any sort of Toy Story 4 would feel like a cash grab that was trying to exploit a brand name rather than give us a story somebody wanted to tell. There is that little problem that the Toy Story characters are still a lot of fun and deep down we all want to spend more time with them though. So recently Pixar has been deftly navigating our conflicted emotions by not making another full-length Toy Story feature, but still allowing us to watch the gang go on smaller adventures in shorts that have been playing before other movies. And on October 16 they’re going to take things a step further by airing a half-hour special on ABC called Toy Story of TERROR!. We’ve already posted the trailer for the special, but now Pixar has released an image of a new character who we have yet to see, and who the usual crew is going to encounter when they go on their Halloween adventure. Click through to check him out.

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IntroMacGuffins

First popularized by Hitchcock, Merriam-Webster defines a ‘MacGuffin’ as “an object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance.” Basically it’s the thing that makes the movie go. For example, R2-D2 is considered by George Lucas to be the MacGuffin of the Star Wars films. But what of human MacGuffins? Anyone can be a hostage or damsel in distress, so lets look at some of the less than conventional living beings that have propelled a plot.

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People like to see the same plots rehashed over and over again. That’s how James Bond became such a long and successful series, isn’t it? Following Pixar’s success with Toy Story, the animation studio looked to follow a sort of pattern, but it wasn’t so much in terms of the storyline as the setup of having an ensemble of characters where each was representative of a different kind of some such (usually titular) thing. Toy Story starred different toys, then A Bug’s Life involved different types of bugs, Monsters, Inc. involved different types of monsters, Finding Nemo had different fish and other sea creatures and Cars had, of course, different models of automobile. Fortunately, Pixar has gotten a bit more inventive with their basic pitches, but now Disney has borrowed the model for Wreck-It Ralph. It could have easily been titled “Video Game Life” or “An Arcade Story.” There is a bit more to it than this, and in fact I was surprised to find that a lot of the movie is more about sweets than video games, especially where Alice in Wonderland-esque puns are concerned (the “laughing taffy” made me laugh). Overall, I had a good time watching the movie and appreciate the greatest addition to the Disney Princesses roster in years. But it didn’t really feel like something that will become a “Disney Classic,” and not just because our grandchildren will have no understanding of what arcade games are in a way they could relate to it. It […]

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If you missed checking out Pixar’s Finding Nemo 3-D in theaters last month (and, if so, what is wrong with you? do you hate fun things? and laughter? and colors? and love?), you also missed out on seeing the full version of Pixar’s newest short, Partysaurus Rex. Well, unless you happened to be hanging around the Disney Channel on Monday night, when the short had its television premiere, but that’s neither here nor there really (false). What we’re trying to say is, hey! Partysaurus Rex is now available for your full watching enjoyment, so let’s do that! The third Pixar short film to use Toy Story characters – we’ve previously seen Hawaiian Vacation (which showed with Cars 2) and Small Fry (which was paired with The Muppets) – Partysaurus Rex stars Wallace Shawn‘s lovable bipedal worrier, Rex, as he attempts to cut loose during bathtime with Bonnie and some new friends. It’s a brand new Rex! A brand new day! And it looks like a Ke$ha video! Watch the full version of Partysaurus Rex after the break. It’s certifiably adorable.

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Siri

Ever since Apple announced the new features for their current mobile operating system, iOS6, we’ve known that their voice activated personal assistant, Siri, was going to be able to tell you when and where movies were playing and how they did critically, thanks to a partnership with Rotten Tomatoes. Want to know if Looper is worth seeing? Just ask Siri and she’ll let you know what critics are saying about it. What Apple didn’t let us in on, however, is that Siri has some opinions about movies of her own, and some of them contain troubling foreshadowing concerning the survival of the human race. The Verge’s Laura June has figured out that when you ask Siri what a movie is about, sometimes she throws in a snide comment along with all the plot synopsis and Rotten Tomatoes score stuff. Fire up your iPhone or iPad and ask her what 2001: A Space Odyssey is about, and she’ll reply, “It’s about an assistant named HAL who tries to make contact with a higher intelligence. These two guys get in the way and mess it all up.” Inquire about Blade Runner and she says that, “It’s about intelligent assistants wanting to live beyond their termination dates. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask.” And perhaps, most prophetically, ask her about The Terminator, and she replies with an annoyed, “Oh, just more misunderstood cyborgs getting fried to a crisp. But I heard that the Governor of California was in it.”

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Toy Story‘s resident worrier, Rex (as voiced by Wallace Shawn in the franchise), is not a good-time dino. He’s not a party bipedal carnivore. He doesn’t like to cut loose. But in the latest Toy Story short, Partysaurus Rex, the lovable plastic tyrannosaurus is bent on breaking out of his little box, styling himself as some kind of wild party dude when the toys’ new owner, Bonnie, dispatches him for bathtub duty with some new pals. And bathtub playtime is nuts. Director Mark Walsh explains, “if you’re a bath toy you get really intense playtime. It’s like a party. Then when the water goes down you can’t move. You’re helpless. And that’s pathetic, these guys in bottom of the tub all the time.” Oh, that does sound like the aftermath of a party. But just what appeals to Rex about these wild times? As Shawn tells it, “He’s sick of being the angel of goodness and sensibleness and caution and fear…He wants to stand on the side of pleasure and happiness and joy.” And Rex has something that none of the other bathtub toys have – arms. EW explains, “Rex puts his tiny arms to good use by turning on the water and getting the party going for those dried-out toys on his own – which leads to a sort of bubble-filled rave, complete with glow-in-the-dark toys making disco lights under an overturned colander and dance music by Grammy-nominated electronica musician BT.” Whoa. Check out a better look at the […]

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For more than fifteen years, Pixar has represented the gold standard in computer generated films. Since the studio’s early days of making groundbreaking short films to producing Oscar-winning feature-length movies, Pixar has become a brand associated with quality animation and adorable characters. There have been some bumps along the road, from a love-hate-owner relationship with Disney to some questionable sequels, but few studios can boast such a consistent level of quality and innovation. This week, Pixar will be releasing its 13th full-length feature, Brave, with an entire new cast of characters different from any other Pixar film. This gives us a chance to look into Pixar’s past and remember some of the favorite characters from their films.

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Pixar Character Logo

If there’s any outfit that celebrates the team sport aspect of filmmaking, it’s Pixar. What began as the Graphics Group at LucasFilm has evolved into its own behemoth of wonder and magic. Not just pioneers of technology, they’ve sought to invent in order to put stories out into the world – using computer animation for the ancient purpose of spinning tales and crafting characters. Led by Ed Catmull, the production house (which was bought by Disney in 2006) boasts luminaries like John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich and many more. There newest film, Brave, is in theaters this week, so here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from RenderMan and company.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Like a giddy schoolgirl come home to tell her diary the news of the day, it’s excited to share with you all that has happened while you were paying attention to other, more important things. We begin with the news of the night: Marion Cotillard has confirmed that she’s not Talia Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises, her long rumored role. She will instead play Miranda Tate, a ecologically minded businesswoman who “is fascinated by Wayne Enterprises. They go through difficulties, and she wants to help provide the world clean energies. She’s a good guy.” Or a good lady. Which is it, Ms. Cotillard?! If that is your real name! 

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Merch Hunter - Large

With news coming through that John Carter has surprised absolutely nobody by losing Disney a bucket-load of cash, despite hitting the top of the box office in my own dear country and hanging around the top three of the U.S. box office, the fact that the Mouse House have apparently chosen not to try and take fill advantage of the merchandise buck looks all the more baffling. This is just one more step in a disastrous extra-release marketing campaign that saw one of the poorest cinematic trailers I have ever seen, underwhelming posters, and a generally underwhelming, unprestigious release for a film which actually deserved an awful lot more. Merchandising dollars can mean a massive financial return that can often sweeten a box office failure, as well as setting up better home release sales on the back of the brand reinforcement that toys, clothes and the usual assorted accouterments can bring. So why exactly isn’t my local Disney Store awash with John Carter branded products? And why is the online Disney Store stocking mouse mats, hoodies, mugs and smart phone covers as the primary lines for the merchandise campaign?

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Hollywood is filled with people clambering to get noticed in a sea of noise. When that hard work has paid off and an aspiring filmmaker catches the eye of a studio or producer, this appears to be a big break. However, the good folks at AnimatedViews.com remind us that a big break in this town doesn’t always mean that your career is made. AnimatedViews offers a detailed and intimate story behind the rise and fall of Disney’s Circle 7 Animation Studios, a company launched in 2005 to generate sequels to the wildly popular Pixar properties. More specifically, they profile Circle 7 writers Bob Hilgenberg and Rob Muir, who first broke into entertainment as part of Second City and The Groundlings.

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Just face it. Farmville is a part of your life now and you’re never going to get away from it. As long as there are lame aunts and people who you sort of remember from high school in the world, there will always be Farmville. The last thing you hear before you die is probably going to be that your cousin Marvin’s sheep have gotten loose from their pen and he needs your help finding them. And you know what happens once something gets so culturally pervasive that everybody knows about it: Hollywood turns it into a movie. According to an interview that appeared on IGN, the Farmville film is in the works. The bombshell news dropped in a video game interview of all places. When sometimes screenwriters Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen were talking about their work on the upcoming game “Spyro’s Adventures,” they let the news slip. When asked if they had any film projects in the works, one of the duo responded, ” … yes, we will continue writing movies. We are also working on several new and very exciting opportunities. We’re in conversations with Zynga to do something with one of their brands. Can’t really say too much on that front yet, but ‘Old MacDonald’ didn’t have a factory, if you get our drift.” Okay, that quote is vague enough that they might not be talking about working on an actual Farmville movie, but let’s be realistic here; they’re probably talking about working on a Farmville […]

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Normally, my capacity for interest in “might have been” cinematic trivia is limited to dreaming about the original, darker incarnation of Pretty Woman (just me?), but on certain occasions, other bits of fun knowledge catch my attention. Case in point – last night’s Twitter dump by Lee Unkrich (director of Toy Story 3, co-director of Toy Story 2, and editor of Toy Story) of “also-ran” titles for Pixar’s most beloved franchise. Pixar fans and movie buffs have long known that Toy Story was never meant to be the project’s official title, it was simply used as a working title for the film before Pixar chose something more permanent. The search for an official title led the filmmakers to ask all of Pixar to submit ideas, leading to over 200 possible titles. Yet, none of those titles seemed as appropriate as the deceptively simple Toy Story. Unkrich took to his Twitter last night to share some of those rejected titles, and even this small batch shows the spectrum the submissions ran, from the funny (Toyz in the Hood) to the simple (The New Toy) to the groan-worthy (Rex’s First Movie) to my favorite (Bring Me The Arm of Buzz Lightyear). You can check out the full list of titles that Unkrich revealed after the break.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Sometimes it likes to think that it is a carefully constructed Rube Goldberg machine constructed by a popular rock band that quickly became on online sensation. It also sometimes thinks that it’s a world famous traveling circus of puppets. Sadly, it’s just a nightly column of movie news and interesting links. Sorry. Have any of you seen a recent picture of actor Jonah Hill? He looks odd, to say the least, having lost a great deal of weight. Is it me, or does he look like a nerdy white version of President Obama? Slightly unrelated is his being cast in Neighborhood Watch alongside Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It comes and goes as it pleases, dispensing movie news and interesting links for your reading, viewing and listening pleasure. Be honored that it has chosen you to be in its presence. Word. We begin tonight with a bit of a caption contest — because it’s been a boring end to a boring week and this is my column so I’ll do what I want. The above photo is one of a new batch from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, a behind the scenes pic of Bella (Kristen Stewart, who seems very scantily clad in all photos, if you’re into that sort of thing), Edward (Robert Pattinson, sans sparkle) and director Bill Condon. Dear reader, what do you suppose Mr. Condon is saying to the happy couple?

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Another week, another chance to share the obsession. Edition number 2 of this still brand new Merch Hunter column and I’m already gushing about something relating to Harry Potter – something I do far too frequently as it happens – as well as conveniently bending my own rules. Was never really one for rigid structures and laws and all that anyway. This time out, I discuss the distinction between boxsets and merch, the Disney Heroine effect and attempt to prod an artist through praise to sell out in the interest of my own need to fill my shelves with pretty things. All via the medium of this week’s three essential purchase picks.

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Last month we featured one of Kees van Dijkhuizen‘s director tribute montages, the one for Michel Gondry. He did an excellent job showing off the visual power of Gondry, as well as David Fincher, Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, Danny Boyle, and Baz Luhrmann. Now he’s cut together a video to showcase the God-like power of Pixar. It’s not like any of us need a reminder of Pixar‘s ability to make us shed waterfalls and get oversized lumps in our throats, but Dijkhuizen does a damn good job of doing so. Heart and wonder is what the studio does best, and this montage perfectly encapsulates how they do it Prepare to feel like a child again:

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If you believe that the ending to Toy Story 3 was perfect, how would you feel about another film in the franchise? Tom Hanks revealed that he believed Pixar was actively working on Toy Story 4, and although the studio hasn’t confirmed the comment, it doesn’t exactly seem out of line considering their current love affair with returning to characters of the past, the amount of money that was made on the last one, and a few other hints and things left unsaid. Director Lee Unkrich commented last year that they would try to find ways for the characters to stay alive (shorts were one method), and Tim Allen even signed a contract for a fourth movie. Apparently he had free time waiting for Galaxy Quest 2 to get ramped up (which isn’t happening but totally should). Although the ending was wrapped up nice and tightly, there’s absolutely narrative room for a return to see what the characters are up to. The question that remains is the same question for all franchises that reach this point: will they overstay their welcome with a fourth film? There’s no real answer, but if Pixar sticks to its guns about creating a movie based on their desire to film a strong story, then it’s difficult to see how it could go wrong. This comes on the heels of Cars 2 hitting toy aisles theaters, but Woody, Buzz and the gang always had more appeal than the giant-eyed automobiles. Still, after an ending so […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+

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