by D.W. Lundberg

Monday, June 28, 2010





Fairy tales. Fantasies. Good old-fashioned family values. The kid-centric films of the Noughties were dominated by CG animation, performance capture, and Harry Potter. G- and PG-rated entertainment grew scarce, as did traditional hand-drawn animation (revived again, to mostly glorious effect, for 2009's The Princess And The Frog). And while Disney/Pixar continued to capture the imaginations of cinema-goers worldwide (with Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up), their chief rival, DreamWorks, fancied in-jokes over genuine storytelling (Shrek, Madagascar). The ultimate Family flicks must not only do without the heavy profanity, violence and sexuality required of other genres, they must also engage adults and children alike.

The Top Five:

5. Enchanted (Kevin Lima, 2007)

Disney satirizes itself to such a spectacular degree you'd be hard- pressed to look at any of their animated classics the same way again. It's a canny twist on an age-old formula, complete with wink-wink nods to past studio successes and hummable song score from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz ("That's How You Know," their centerpiece ballad, is a genuine crowd-pleaser). The whole thing actually plays like an answer to DreamWorks' Shrek, with jokes that poke fun at storybook conventions only to succumb to them, proudly, at the end. And while the 12-or-so minutes of featured animation are as sublime as anything Disney's done before, the movie really comes alive during its live-action sequences, with a game cast led by Amy Adams in the very definition of a star-making performance. She's delightful enough all on her own to make you believe in the corniest of fairy tales.

Friday, June 25, 2010


So. Toy Story 3. I've been letting it sink in for the past few days now, and here's what I think: as a sequel to my favorite animated franchise, it doesn't quite soar to the same heights as its predecessors (the writing's a tad lazy on a couple of fronts), but nevertheless acts as a lovely and moving coda to the series that began Pixar's cinematic legacy.

The original Toy Story – and I believe this just as strongly now as I did when the movie was released back in 1995, the year I graduated from high school (!) – is this generation's Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Sure, we knew (computer) animation had been around for a while, but we didn't know it could do thatIt also came as a firm announcement of the Pixar model: story first, everything else second. (Any movie can wow you with its technique, acting or special effects, but if the story's a bust there's really no point.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010


As an addendum to last week's post, I thought I'd entertain those less "in the know," as they say, with some of the more famous instances of Actors Replaced By Other Actors In Major Studio Tentpoles. (This is different from Actors Who Filled In For Other Actors Who Died, as it happened with Harry Potter or Superman, which may or may not be the subject of a post sometime in the future.)

Here are five cases I've always found particularly fascinating:

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Back To The Future Part II (1989)

I may be jumping on the bandwagon a little late here (as usual), but has anyone who's read this particular story had the same reaction as mine? (Or, when you do click that and read it, will you?) Megan Fox? Dropping out of Transformers 3? The horror! How can this be?

I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. A little perplexed, maybe, but hardly surprised. After all, this is only the latest in a long line of Sequels That Have Replaced Actors Because Of Popularity And/Or Pride Issues. It's a tried-and-true Hollywood tradition that's affected every movie series from Charlie Chan to James Bond to Batman to Don Cheadle stepping in for Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2. It's nothing new. Although to be fair, in this case it seems they aren't simply recasting the role so much as switching love interests altogether. Which is supposed to make the change a little less jarring, I guess. But whatever.