Tag Archives: Disney

Feature Presentation: Moana

uk_moanaMoana starring the voices of Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel Hall, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk

Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2016. Rated PG.

Synopsis: Moana Waialiki is a sea voyaging enthusiast and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her island’s fishermen can’t catch any fish and the crops fail, she learns that the demigod Maui caused the blight by stealing the heart of the goddess, Te Fiti. The only way to heal the island is to persuade Maui to return Te Fiti’s heart, so Moana sets off on an epic journey across the Pacific. The film is based on stories from Polynesian mythology. – from IMDB

I’m always a fan of ancient cultures and myths being woven into our more modern tapestry. In a lot of ways, I feel like this puts us more in touch with the world at large and gives insight into where we came from, and perhaps more importantly, where we will go. There’s also something to be said about the message that while it might be uncomfortable to leave home/safe spaces/the familiar, we can achieve even more both personally and culturally when we stray off a beaten path. I’m reminded of the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote, “Well-behaved women seldom make history”. In many respects, Moana is a well-behaved young lady: she desires to do what is best for her people and to follow the path that has been determined for her. And yet, she is still plagued by the classic dilemma of doing what is right by her family and doing what she feels is right for her, to help her become the woman she wants to be. Clearly her desire to get in touch with her voyager roots and venture beyond the island reef wins out, or this would have been a short movie. And like the Disney heroines before her, there’s a couple of musical numbers that assert her confidence in her decision to venture out on the ocean and the uncertainty of the success her journey may or may not bring. She still has moments of despair, but it is her stubbornness and quick wit that help her push through the obstacles that hinder her voyage. Despite the range of reactions to Moana, I feel like the film did a credit to the Polynesian culture and made it come even more alive for the viewer. I liked that native dialects were used in some of the songs and that the animators made trips through the islands in the South Pacific to do their research. It’s a coming-of-age story that encourages us once again to discover who we are inside and how we can share our purpose and passions with the world around us.

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Feature Presentation: Finding Dory

Finding_DoryFinding Dory starring the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, and Dominic West

Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures, 2016. Rated PG

Synopsis: Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is a Blue Tang that suffers from short-term memory loss, something that is somewhat of a conundrum to her other fish companions. So when Dory remembers her family, she becomes convinced that she must cross the ocean to find them. Reluctantly accompanied by Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Dory journeys to the Marine Life Institute in search of the mother and father she left behind.

The internet memes weren’t lying when they joked about just how much non-Millenials have been waiting for this film. To really truly appreciate this movie, you had to have seen Finding Nemo, and I’m not just saying that because portions of the film are highlighted in Finding Dory. Finding Nemo is when we are introduced to and fall in love with Dory. Yes, she is forgetful; yes, she is somewhat naive; but despite her flaws, she heart and the creativity to be able to keep Marlin going as he searches for Nemo. She applies this same tenacity to her own search for her family after suddenly being able to recall portions of her younger years. Dory’s ability to consistently recall anything is something of an anomaly (“P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney” being the only other thing she has been able to recall to date, aside from names of her fish companions), and the disjointed nature by which she is recalling things at first seems like a reinforcement of her memory issues. But as the film goes on, we see that there is a sort of puzzle that Dory is solving as she searches through the Marine Life Institute for her parents and begins to recall the circumstances by which she was initially separated from them. There are a few scary moments, one in particular involving a giant squid in a field of sunken ships and another in which the characters are going through a rather perilous path of pipes. While I enjoyed the film, my one criticism is that it seemed to lack the emotional punch of its predecessor. There are a lot of heightened emotions involved with Dory’s search for her family, but for some reason it didn’t grab at my heartstrings the same way. Despite the lack of tear-jerking moments (for my part), it’s a fun, humorous story about the meaning of family and being able to find your way home.

 

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Feature Presentation: Inside Out

mv5botgxmdqwmdk0of5bml5banbnxkftztgwnju5otg2nde-_v1_sx640_sy720_Inside Out starring the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MachLachlan, and Richard Kind

Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios, 2015. Rated PG.

Synopsis: Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school. – from IMDb

This is one of those movies that my coworkers kept telling me to see and for some reason or another, I kept putting it off. And then, of course, after I saw it, I was sorry it took me so long. This is a family film with a wide appeal that will take you on an emotional roller coaster and make you think about how you process your own thoughts. It puts a different spin on what goes on inside your head as you go through your day and how you handle the changes in your life. It personifies the science, in a sense, and it makes sense. It makes sense that there would be these little people in our heads that help us process our thoughts and emotions. It shows what happens when there is an absence or suppression of emotions, what drives us to make the decisions we do. The premise is surprisingly believable for being a film largely ground in fiction. I loved Poehler as Joy and Smith as Sadness and the two women play off of each other very well. Smith (whom older viewers may recognize from The Office) has a delightfully melancholy voice that gives Sadness a bit of humor, though it typically represents a very low emotion. I also loved the fact that Black (who is an angry comedian) is Anger. Even though the actors aren’t actually physically interacting together, the cast feeds into each other and really bring each of the emotions to life. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t going to cry during this movie, but I have a feeling even the most stone cold of persons may shed a tear or two remembering their own childhoods and their own lost/faded memories. It’s a fun, funny, and thought-provoking film that is sure to please the crowd.

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Feature Presentation: Frozen

frozenFrozen starring the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, and Alan Tudyk

Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2013. Rated PG

Synopsis: Growing up, Anna and her sister Elsa were very close. Then after Elsa hurts Anna while they are playing, she is kept away from her sister so that her ability to create ice and snow can remain a secret. But when Elsa turns her little kingdom of Arendelle into a winter wonderland, Anna must enlist the help of Iceman Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and a snowman named Olaf to convince Elsa to melt the snow and come home.

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Snow Queen, Frozen draws from its original source materials to create a distinctly Bavarian feel to the scenery and harkens back to its Disney predecessors and turns the story into a charming musical about selfless love and doing the right thing. There is a certain spell cast by this movie even before it begins, and if it were to be solely judged on the animation, it would be getting high marks. The setting is both beautiful and dangerous, as the viewer comes to understand what Elsa can do when her powers are out of control. The image of a glowing ice castle set into the side of a mountain and the idyllic scenes of snowy woods and isolated chateaus give the setting and scenery a bit of a tourist-in-the-frozen-North sort of image and in some scenes adds to the humor of the story. The relationship between Anna and Elsa is special, as we can tell from the first scenes, but when Elsa is whisked out of Anna’s life, it is her pleas for company (“Do you want to build a snowman?”) that are the most heartbreaking. Anna is a very determined young lady, willing to do anything for her sister and to understand why she has been kept at arm’s length. Elsa lives in fear of becoming the monster she believes she is, and this fear is what drives her character for most of the film. She is so afraid of hurting people that she can’t seem to let in the one person – Anna – that she needs to help curb the fierceness of her powers. Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf are a great comic team: Kristoff might be kind of a weirdo (he has conversations with Sven, who it would appear can ‘talk’ back), but he shares Anna’s spirit and desire to do the right thing; Olaf is a snowman that likes warm hugs who wishes for summer and is adorably clueless as to what can happen when something cold is exposed to heat. It’s a sweet story that is fun for the whole family.

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Feature Presentation: Wreck-It Ralph

wreck-it-ralphWreck-It Ralph starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Ed O’Neil, and Dennis Haysbert

Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2012. Rated PG

Synopsis: For the last 30 years, Ralph has been wrecking the same building inhabited by Nicelanders only to have it be fixed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. in the same game, Fix-It Felix, Jr. and quite frankly, he’s fed up. He doesn’t want to watch Felix get all of the medals and be left out of all the parties any more. Despite being told that even though he is a bad guy it does not mean that he is a bad guy, Ralph leaves his game to earn a medal that will make the people of Niceland be, well, nicer. And even though he does earn his medal, he soon finds himself facing a permanent ‘Game Over’ when he brings a bug from one arcade game to another. Will a ‘glitch’ from a candy go-kart racing game be enough to help him save the arcade?

It took me long enough to finally getting around to watching this, and I think it’s probably one of the better movies that Disney has put out in the last couple of years. Like any good kid’s movie, it has its share of little kid humor, but most of the jokes are aimed at the parents that are accompanying them. Sure, a good portion of the comedy comes from the understanding that arcade games used to be really pixilated compared to the latest and greatest CGI (of which Felix makes note when he meets Calhoun) and I’m pretty sure that half of the attendees at the Bad-Anon meeting will be (for the most part) unrecognizable to  anyone under the age of 18, but that isn’t really what makes the film so charming. For me, watching Ralph struggle with who he is and trying to find a way to prove he is more than just a guy that wrecks things is what sells it because it’s something to which we can relate. It makes us keep cheering for Ralph even when he can’t seem to fix any of the damage that he has caused. And really, how many movies have we seen where the bad guy is actually the hero, not the hero? This is a family film that has appeal for all ages that calls back those endless happy hours of playing Pac-Man or struggling to make the Atari work and proves that retro in some form is always  in style.

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