Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pixar: All 15 movies ranked least favorite to favorite

     If you don’t love classic animated Disney movies or at least feel like you’ve grown out of them, it’s much harder to say that with Disney’s Pixar movies, (most of them anyway). They just hit that note perfectly, playing to both kids and adults alike. To this day Pixar is regarded as the greatest children’s movie company of all time and here are all 15 of their movies, which I’ve personally ranked from least favorite to favorite.    

15. Cars 2 (2011)

 This film is widely regarded as the absolute worst of all the Pixar movies and probably for good reasons. First of all, after seeing how great the “Toy Story” sequels were you’d expect Pixar to make another out of the box sequel, while this one is just okay. Second, of all the really good Pixar movies to get a sequel, why “Cars”, not that the first movie was bad, I just wasn’t that interested in seeing the story continue. But the biggest problem is that this movies story is nothing like the first movie, it actually gets to the point where this could have been something else entirely because it has so little to do with the first film. The only saving grace for this movie is that there are some entertaining scenes with lots of energy and the animation is amazing to look at. However, that’s just not enough to save “Cars 2” from being on the bottom run.  

13. A Bug’s Life (1998)

 I don’t hate any of the Pixar movies, but there are some that are far less good than others and “A Bug’s Life” always stood out as the least good, even as a kid I didn’t really like this one. The characters were so forgettable, the story was basic, there are one too many things that happen in that story that personally annoy me and by the end, it just felt too mean spirited, I mean for goodness sake, the lead character is almost beaten to death and no one is going to his aid until the last second. There's certainly some things to enjoy, some of the side characters are fun and the animation is bright and colorful, it’s not a movie that I’d re-watch and especially after fallowing on the heels of both DreamWorks “Ants” and “Toy Story”, this one just felt a little weak. 

14. Monsters University (2013)

While the movie certainly has its cheerful moments and a very nice message, it just doesn’t do that much for the “Monsters Inc.” series that I really cared to know. In fact, this whole college themed story is something that I’ve already seen so many times before, and this film doesn’t add much more to the concept, with the small exception of staring characters from “Monsters Inc.” It’s nice to be back in this world that I loved from the first film, it also pleasing to see how the characters met but the movie as a whole isn’t anything that spectacular, it’s just okay.
12. Cars (2006)

 I always regarded this one as just a perfectly harmless and wholesome family film. It didn’t do too much for me because I was mid way through middle school at the time and you’re not really making nostalgic connections with kids films anymore and it’s also a very predictable story with kind of an odd premise. It still has its moments, it has its morals and it even has some charms that make it worth viewing.  

11. Up (2009)

 I certainly admire “Up” for being this really mature film with some very adult themes but my big problem with this movie was its tone, this film feels way too cynical and mean spirited at times and way too silly and childish in others. I just didn’t feel that same proper balance I felt in films like “Finding Nemo” or “Toy Story 3”. When I first saw this movie I kept saying to myself “I should be enjoying this” but I wasn’t. I think it’s simply a case of good material going a little too far for its own good. Having said all of that, this is still a very mature children's film that is absolutely worth viewing, and if you were able to enjoy this from beginning to end like any other Pixar film, then good for you, I really wish it worked like that for me.    

10. The Incredibles (2004)

 Of all the Pixar movies, “The Incredibles” is the one that I have the most mixed feelings about. From the perspective of a super hero comedy, this film was done very well, the characters are great, the action is awesome and the story holds your interest well. However, much like “Up”, I really just didn’t feel a proper balance between the comedy and the cynical, even depressing moments. It’s still a good film, not one of Pixar’s best or one of their worst, it’s just in that middle good category.  

9. Ratatouille (2007)

 Even though “Ratatouilli” isn’t a film that I watch that often I do still enjoy watching it a lot. It doesn’t have the same charms or even characters that I love in other Pixar movies but this film provides its own unique charms. I just love this movies atmosphere, its warm colors, it’s simple story telling which is full but feels light as air and the ending is a real joy. It's simply one of those movies that just gets a little better every time I watch it.

8. Wall-E (2008)

 I remember when this film first came out, I thought for sure that I was going to hate it but to my surprise it turned out of be a really good film. The lead character Wall-E is so innocent, gentle and cute that it’s impossible not to like him. This is also the only Pixar movie to feature a lover’s relationship that honestly worked and it’s even more ironic that it’s a relationship between two robots, but that just shows how great the righting is. The two lead characters are great, the visuals are stunning, the story is simple and fun, it’s just a genuine and unique little picture that’s easy to enjoy. 

7. Brave (2012)

 This was the first original (by that, I mean not sequel) Pixar movie in years that I really liked. Admittedly, this film uses a lot of really familiar story elements regarding a princes but there are so many new things added to this formula that I really liked. First of all, this was a mother doubter story which I don’t think has been done by either Pixar or Disney. The characters are all great and even though we’ve all seen animated Princesses, it’s still very easy to like this one and her design is awesome. There’s also some stellar animation, lots of atmosphere, it can be funny at times, the music is also really good and this was the first time that I felt a nice mix between the charms of both Disney and Pixar, taking the classic fantasy adventure and mixing it with some depth and a phew good twists.     

6. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Much like the “Toy Story” movies, “Monster’s Inc.” is a treasured little gem from my youth that always manages to put me in a good mood. The lack of drama and depth dose keep it from reaching the same heights as the “Toy Story” movies, but it’s still very fun. The characters are charming and memorable, the story is simple yet very creative, the villains are some of the absolute best that Pixar has to offer and the climax is especially fun to watch. I love the jazzy background music, I enjoy the world the film created, it’s just a really pleasant and fun little film.   

5. Finding Nemo (2003)

It’s really hard not to like “Finding Nemo” because it’s just so perfectly constructed, the story is engaging, all the characters are a lot of fun and unforgettable, the moral of the film is also very wholesome and may even be more for adults than children. I especially love this films rendition of an underwater world, the colors and especially the detail are all just perfect. This one also brought on a lot more drama and dark tones then previous Pixar films and there’s always a perfect balance with some really funny and inventive scenes. I don’t even need to comment further, if you’ve seen the movie already, then you know just how great it is.  

4. Inside Out (2015)

You know that little voice in your head that always tells you what to do in any given situation, well, that’s an emotion or more precisely one of five distinct emotions that live in your imagination and have creative influence on how you live each day. That’s the premise of Disney and Pixar’s 2015 motion picture “Inside Out”. Jumping right to the point, this is one of the studio’s best movies, not just in recent years but in general, it’s one of their greatest animated offerings, top 5 easy. It really has the makings of a classic and has something to offer to younger audiences, older audiences and especially the young at heart. Pixar had been turning out some subpar material lately, but this was a very strong return to the high quality films that they’ve done in the past. It was imaginative, colorful, innovative, touching, magical and for lack of better words, a truly emotional experience that I look forward to seeing again, and again.

3-1. The Toy Story Trilogy (1995, 1999, & 2010)

There was simply no way I could choose one “Toy Story” movie over the other, all three are solid 5 out of 5 star movies. They will always stand as the greatest family films of all time for me and they perfectly capture all the charms and nostalgia of our youths. These films do an amazing job combining laughs with legitimate drama and that balance is always so perfectly in place. The characters are all so lovable, colorful and genuine that they practically leap off the screen. There’s actually a touch of humanity to these characters that some human characters in other films lack, and it’s that bit of believability mixed with all the charms and impressive visual effects that make these films so timeless. I’ve held a special place for these films for the longest time and in return can share them with a new young generation ahead and every installment has the power to make you laugh, cry and just warm your heart with repeated viewings.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Top 10 Favorite Jim Carry performances

Jim Carry is one of those actors that audiences either love or hate and personally, I think it’s impossible not to love Jim Carry. His goofy antics, his energy, his charm, his ability to just bring a smile to ones face, it’s an art that only Jim Carry can perfect so well. But Comedy isn’t the only thing he’s talented with, in fact he’s been in some legitimate dramas, turning out some truly heartfelt and even touching performances. Whether or not you laugh at him or take him seriously, he’s always a tone of fun to watch and here are my personal top 10 favorite Jim Carry performances.  

10. Ernie “Chip” Douglas from “The Cable Guy” 

Have you ever had that annoying best friend that would always be in your face and never give you a moment of peace, well, he’s probably more tolerable then this crazy electrician out for friendship. While this was one of Carries more controversial films and certainly not one of my favorites, it was still one of his most memorable characters. As a psychopathic man with a lisp and wild attitude, Carry proved that he can just as dark and scary and he is charming and funny.   

9. Horton from “Horton Hears a Who!” 

Jim Carry already came off like a live action cartoon character, and when this 2007 animated family film came along, it was about time for him to become one with the world of animation.  Horton is an elephant with a heart of gold and cherishes all forms of life, no matter how small. Jim Carry’s lovable personality and voice fit the character perfectly and it’s honestly on par with Robin Williams when he voiced the Genie of the Lamp from Disney’s “Aladdin”. Plus, this Dr. Sues adaption and Jim Carry’s simple charm was a real breath of fresh air after seeing Mike Mires disastrous “Cat in the Hat”. 

8.  Bruce Nolan from “Bruce Almighty” 

I always liked to think of Jim Carry as a God among mortal comedians, and now he takes that the extra mile as a man with all the powers of God. In this early 2000’s comedy, Jim Carry plays a self indulgent newsman who’s given the chance to play God and either serve his own ego or take a moment to help others in greater need. It’s a movie that’s every bit as creative and funny as it is touching and somewhat meaningful, but of course the highlight comes from Carry playing God. His speed, energy and wit match with the effects and premise perfectly and the final result is another memorable comedy in Jim’s carrier.  

7. Andy Kaufman from “Man on the Moon” 

This was the first time Jim Carry had a performance that was based around an entirely real person, and while I honestly don’t know that much of what the actual Andy Kaufman was like, Jim Carry clearly did his homework and brought him to life with perfection. Many critics found his performance to be so genuine that he should have been nominated for a best actor Oscar ... that says it all. While I feel the movie itself hits as often as it misses, one thing remains certain, Jim Carry delivered a performance that was every bit as funny as it was honest and accurate to the real life comedian.

6. Charlie & Hank from “Me, Myself and Iren

The side splitting comedian has a side-split personality in this dark comedy, and boy dose he ham it up the only way Jim Carry knows how. He’s a man abused by everyone around him, which causes Carry to develop a dual personality in the form of a character named Hank, and what really elevates this into one of his funniest performances is all the physical comedy in which he literally battles himself. The on a dime transformations are amusing enough, but Carries desperate need to take control of his evil dominate side are what steal the show. With non-stop frantic energy and two crazy performances for the price of one, it’s the kind of role that Carry was simply born to play.

5. Count Olaf from “A Series of Unfortunate Events” 

While the movie itself has always been kind of a mixed bag for me, Jim Carry is undeniably on the top of his game as the villainess Count Olaf, in fact, this is easily the best villain he’s played in his entire carrier. In this movie based on the novel by Lemony Snicket, Carry plays an evil old miser out to steal a fortune from three orphaned children. The character himself is also a failed sage actor, and in his evil scheme the count always hides under a variety of discuses allowing Carry full rang to act as several different over exaggerated caricatures.  It’s a role that was simply meant for him. Carry also manages to hit that perfect balance between being lovable and hat-able all at once, which is the mark of any great villain actor. His portrayal of the Count was still appropriately hammy, without coming off as obnoxiously over the top as his portrayal of the Riddler in “Batman forever”. 

4. Truman Burbank from “The Truman Show” 

While Jim Carry had given some stellar performances in his carrier, it was his portrayal of Truman Burbank that had the masses demanding he receive an Oscar nomination. It’s a movie about a man who’s life is being broadcasted live on network television, which is already an original concept, but it’s Jim Carry at the helm who delivers such a lovable and endearing performance. It’s the kind of character that could have come off as manipulative if not in the right hands, which further demonstrates that for as over the top as Jim Carry gets, he knows how to hold back, restrain himself and convey the honest goods.    

3. Stanley Ipkiss/ The Mask from “The Mask” 

This is personally my second favorite movie of his on my list, next to another film that I’ll mention at the #1 spot, nothing quiet represents Jim Carries dual talents as an actor quiet like his portrayal in the mask. As Stanley Ipkiss he’s a quiet, shy individual with a good heart but always acts down to earth. Then on the flip side, when he puts on an enchanted mask, he becomes a living cartoon character who’s nothing short of wild and energized. The computer effects blend with Jim Carries comedic charm perfectly, neither upstages the other, and with Carries more down to earth performance to level out the fun, “The Mask” stands as a bright spot on his resume.  

2. Fletcher Reede from “Liar Liar” 

This is one of Jim Carry’s funniest comedies, with a premise that only “he” could pull off so well. Playing a dishonest family man who’s cursed to tell the truth for twenty four hours gives Carry no boundaries to utilizes his ample comedic timing, bursts of energy and elastic body movements to full effect. He even manages to show off some good drama and touching bonding moments with his family as the character goes on a reformation journey from a dead beat parent to a loving father that always sticks with the truth. The movie is a great comedy classic from the 90’s and it’s one of the funniest performances in Carry’s long carrier.  

Honorable MentionsJoel Barish from “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The Grinch from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Riddiler from “Batman Forever

Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb & Dumber

Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol

1. Ace Ventura from  Ace Ventura: Pet Detective 

This is the movie that made me love comedies, the first time I experienced the joy of laughing hard at something completely ridicules. That’s what makes comedies so great, you don’t take them seriously, you just have fun with them. Jim Carry’s performance as Ace Ventura is just fantastic, and astablished all his recognizable trademarks from his rubbery face, to the goofy hair due, and of course his talking butt. He’s the only actor I know who can be so hammy and over the top, yet still deliver a performance with so much class and genuine charm. In this film, Jim Carry plays a detective that specializes in looking for missing animals, and his methods for trying to rescue them are nothing short of laugh out loud hilarious. There’s even a decent mystery plot to be weaved in with all the silliness. He’s certainly one of the silliest actors ever and this is the film that captures his goofy antics perfectly. It’s the simple joy and talent of this crazy actor that make it such a joy to watch and he’ll always be one of my favorite actors of all time. 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Field of Dreams (1989, Movie Review)

       If you’ve looked though my Blog Site you may have noticed a lack posts regarding sports movies. Well, personally I’m just not a sports guy and there are only a handful of sports themed movies that I’ve ever really loved. I just feel that if you’ve seen one sports movie you’ve seen them all, and their conventions can get a pinch repetitive. I don’t have any animosity toured the subject, it’s just not for me. Then every once in a while you get a film like the 1989 fantasy drama “Field of Dreams”, which is undeniably a Baseball movie, but completely devoid of any typical sports movie clich├ęs, offering an experience that’s unique, simplistic and very touching. Based on the Novel “Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa”, “Field of Dreams” is a modern fairy tale that has something special to offer to viewers ... whether their sports fans or not.  

       Our movie begins with some back-story of the life of Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella who’s played by Kevin Costner. Basically, this guy was a prodigy of the 1960’s, loves baseball and had a pretty stable relation with his father, at least until he left the family and started one of his own. Now in present day, this farmer finds himself hearing a mysterious voice saying “If you build it, he will come!” At first the “Voice” makes no sense to him, but soon he discovers that if he were to build a Baseball stadium in his corn field, it would call upon the spirit of his greatest Baseball idle, the disgraced Shoeless Joe Jackson. Sure enough, Ray spends a fortune on the construction of a Baseball field right in his corn field, and sure enough it does bring back the deceased Baseball player, but it doesn’t stop there. Soon, several other deceased Baseball players come out of the wood works, or corn field in this case, as they’ve all had short comings that kept them from their dream. Some Baseball players retired, taking up other professions while others were banned from the game as a result of the 1919 scandal. Now in Ray’s baseball field, these lost souls get the chance to live their dreams. Meanwhile, Ray’s mysterious voice begins asking for further requests, revolving around the lives of other people, some of whom are dead and others who have lost hope.

        It’s a very simple premise, and the simplicity of the story just adds to the wonder and charm of the film. Think of it like an episode of “The Twilight Zone”, except very heartfelt and leaving you feeling warm and cheerful inside. There’s never any strait forward explanation as to why these magical oddities happen in the film, and the characters themselves while very confused don’t ask to many questions either, they just go with flow. There’s a statement made by Ray that he was probably chosen to build the baseball field as an act of penance for something unforgivable he did to his father. As you’d expect, this all pays off and leads to a somewhat predictable but very wholesome ending. I’ve never been a huge fan of Kevin Costner but he does a respectable job in the role of Ray Kinsella, but even at his best, he’s admittedly over shadowed by the supporting cast.

       His wife Annie played by Amy Madigan is awesome, she’s full of energy, very supportive and she doesn’t shy away from standing up for what she believes in, and by that I mean loudly speaking her mind to a large group of bigots. Enter author Terence Mann played by the always awesome James Earl Jones, who’s retired from writing novels and has been reduced to a grumpy old miser. There’s a subplot in which Ray seeks him out and convinces Terence to take up his writing pin again which renews the authors faith in own dreams. This is easily my favorite character in the movie, and James Earl Jones steals the show with every scene his in. He’s funny in his stubborn attitude, but he’s also very humble and sincere as he conveys his words of wisdom to Ray and it’s just a real joy watching this grumpy old hermit come out of his shell. His introduction scene is especially funny, and his closing monologue near the end of the film is nothing short of sensational. Burt Lancaster also makes a noteworthy appearance as Doc Graham, a man who never got to see his sports dream come true as he left Baseball to pursue a carrier in medicine. To be honest, most of these supporting characters actually have more captivating stories then our main hero.

      The late James Horner composed the music for the film, and boy dose he nail the tone and feel of this track. It has a quiet, almost ghostly quality that creates an atmosphere that reflects off of the emotional tones in the film beautifully. Now, the movie is very sentimental, you can even argue that it’s overly sentimental, but personally I think it’s done in just the right way. The films emotional moments balance hand in hand with the simplicity of the story and its magical atmosphere. It’s actually a very inspiring film that can affect a wide range of people, not just die hard baseball players. It’s the films relatable themes of lamenting missed opportunities and a driving passion to pursue your dreams that give the movie substance, and there’s even a subtle enfaces on family bonding, particularly between father and son, which is done very well.

      I often think of this movie as a classic modern fairly tail. It may be sports themed and even has that same look and feel of a classic sports movie, but it’s still a fantasy and it’s an experience that’s just plain good for the heart. If you’re like me and don’t care for baseball or sports in general, I still highly recommend this movie. It’s just a very humble film that can put you in a good mood when it’s over, and while I freely admit it’s not one of the absolute greatest movies I’ve ever seen, it’s still worth experiencing more than once. If you’re someone who feels they were never able to fulfill a dream, this film might just raise your spirit and cheerfully encourage you to go the distance. 

                                                       I give “Field of Dreams” 4 stars out of 5.