Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Mind wanderings of a Mommy (more movie reviews)

Sometimes I just have to stop and laugh at the thoughts that go through my mind, now that I am a Mommy. Not to mention the WORDS that come out of my mouth! For instance, I literally said this in frustration yesterday: "At four o'clock, I will cut the cheese, so stop asking me!" Of course, I lost my intensity in a fit of private giggles, which was lost on the children who are not familiar with that euphemism for passing gas.

Also? I participated (OK, probably initiated) a totally serious conversation with some other moms about which you would rather clean up from a car seat: vomit or feces? Most of us had experience with both so we could provide an educated opinion. FYI--feces for me. (SEE! Right there. That sentence is classic Mommy Talk.)

The other day we were on an hour long drive to visit our besties up "north." I let the kids bring the little DVD player and they were watching Monsters Inc. So, being as I'm trying to be a law-abiding citizen and not use my cell in the car, I was listening to the movie and started thinking about how great all the Pixar movies are. Then I wondered which one was my favorite. Then I wondered which one was my least favorite. Then I decided to mentally rank them. Then I decided to blog about it.

Since nobody asked, here are my own personal rankings of the 11 released Pixar movies. The top 4 are solid and then it gets a little muddy in the middle. It was a difficult process, greatly influenced by my own children's affection for certain flicks, and also probably weighted by number of times viewed in our home. But really, it's an honor to be on the list, so there are no losers.

#11 Bug's Life. Seriously, no offense. Great little pic. Creative idea to come from the bug's POV. Great voices by Dave Foley and Julia Louis-Dreyfus--and especially loved Richard Kind. But I think the writers were still figuring out their special angle on kid's movies and it's just not my favorite.

#10 Wall-E. From an adult's viewing, this was pretty entertaining. My kids have never sat still long enough to watch the whole thing, b/c they get bored, so that's a strike. Plus, it felt a little preachy. But if you do not love Wall-E and EVE by the end of the movie, you have a heart of stone.

#9 The Incredibles. This is a fun movie, and I love Edna the designer of superhero clothing. She stole the movie! But a movie that discusses an attempted suicide in the first 10 minutes and has pretty overt implications of an extramarital affair (suspected, not actual) isn't my fave fodder for my kids.

#8 Toy Story 3. I know! Most people loved it. Critics called it the best Pixar movie since Toy Story 1. But....eh. I think what really got to us, as viewers, was the theme of growing up. Seeing big boy Andy ignoring his toys was heart-wrenching, and [SPOILER ALERT!] the scene of Woody watching him drive away to college at the end was physically painful! I loved the scene of him passing on his toys to a deserving and imaginative new young owner. But the actual plot really bummed me out. The harshly malicious bullies at the daycare and the seemingly endless escape from toy death was just too much of a downer for me. I wish they had incorporated the new, kind toys from Bonnie's house to help with the rescue to lighten the mood a little bit.

#7 Ratatouille. Actually, I think Carson likes this one more than I do. It's a very clever screenplay, and the gimmick with Remy controlling Linguini's motion by pulling his hair is always amusing. I think I like all the French themes and music and accents. It's funny to think about rats cooking. I don't have a lot more to say about it.

#6 UP. This one is still pretty new to us, and I've only seen it about 3 times. It's kind of strange, to be honest. But when I'm crying real tears in the first 10 minutes--with hardly any dialogue spoken--then I know Pixar has done a good job. That opening series is to deepen the character development for the grown-ups, and the rest of the movie with the random exotic birds, silly boy scouts and talking dogs is for the kids. The last scene at the ice cream shop is almost as poignant as the first. Good stuff. We might have to buy this one.

#5 Toy Story 2. This was such a great sequel. Same eccentric, unique characters and introduction of some great new ones (Jessie and Bullseye.) In contrast to #3, I thought the plot created conflict and some suspense without being too dark. I think my favorite scenes are when Woody's friends are trying to get to him from across town. It's just laugh after laugh. Crossing the street under orange cones and causing a major traffic accident? Hilarious! Getting up the elevator with Zurg following? Classic! "Buzz. I'm your father." Tour Guide Barbie gives a ride to the toys through the store? Perfect. "I'm a married spud. I'm a married spud. I'm a married spud." I can watch this one over and over.

#4 CARS. LOVE this one! First, it's a great first full-length movie for little ones, b/c there is no scary bad guy. The music is awesome. The change of heart and humbling of the protagonist is so unsubtle that even children can detect the moral of the story. The different cars/people in the town of Radiator Springs are entertaining and diverse. I'm not at all surprised that Pixar is doing a sequel to this, and it looks like Mater has a larger role, which is totally deserved. This one is oft-viewed in our home.

#3 Finding Nemo. Seriously? Classic. This movie is so gorgeously animated--have you seen the behind the scenes vids about how they studied fish and underwater lighting to get it just right? No? Just me then. Again, the characters make this ensemble piece work. The hijinks in the dentist's aquarium (Oooo-ha-ha!) take what could potentially be the stuff of nightmares--child kidnapped from his widowed father!--and turn it into a sweet story of loyalty, friendship, family and reconciliation. Our whole family loves this movie.

#2 Monsters Inc. Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski has the best one-liners ever. When the bad guy calls him a one eyed "cretin" at the climactic fight scene: "First of all, it's 'creetin.' If you're going to threaten me, do it properly." There are hilarious little jokes sprinkled throughout this movie. How do I know? Because I LISTEN to it in the car on lots of drives. The clever concept that monsters are kind and actually scared of KIDS is fun, but I admit it doesn't necessarily keep a young child from being unnerved by the monsters on screen. We skipped the first scene (where a monster is working to scare a pretend child) for a good 2 years before Carson wanted to watch it. But the tender relationship between Sully and Boo is the heart of the movie. The rest is just icing on the cake. "She's out of our HAAAAAAIIRRRRR!"

#1 Toy Story. The first is still the best. It came out over 15 years ago and has seemingly not aged. It was groundbreaking at the time--I remember seeing it with college friends! It was like these producers at Pixar realized that children's movies don't have to be boring! That jokes for adults don't have to be lewd. The premise of toys coming to life and having such amazing and colorful personalities was nothing short of genius. The animation was unlike anything we'd ever seen, but it wasn't just the quality of the computer generated dinosaur, cowboy, astronaut--it was the funny, real relationships they conveyed. It still, after approximately 124 viewings, makes me laugh. "Tuesday night's plastic awareness corrosion awareness meeting was, I think, a great success. We'd like to thank Mr. Spell for putting that on for us." From Rex the friendly--and somewhat self-conscious Tyrannosaurus: "What if Andy gets a new dinosaur? A mean one? I just don't think I can handle that kind of rejection!"

So, that's my list. How about you--especially all of you who have seen these as many times as I have. Do you agree? Disagree?

4 comments:

Steph said...

Hmmm. It would take me a year to figure out all the in-betweens, but for sure, our favorite Pixar is Monsters, Inc. I have watched this with Henry approx. 50 times and now Wyatt is a fan of roaring at the monsters. :)

And, surprising as it may be, Wall-E is probably another of Henry's (and my!) favs. He has watched it from start to finish many times and giggles quietly to himself when Wall-E is silly. It kills me!

While the rest gets confuzled in the middle, I agree with you on Toy Story 3. It was good, but I didn't particularly care for the story and why would I put myself through that heart-wrenching scene again on purpose? I think I'd rather watch A Bug's Life. TA-DAAA!

Tibbslove said...

Well... I totally agree with your list... but I'm with Steph... it would take me a year to decide my top ten. I'm impressed with your mental clarity and ability to list your top ten... in your brain! Kudos!

Shannan said...

Feces for me.


#1 is Incredibles. Followed closely by the Toy Story trilogy. Finding Nemo would be at the bottom of my list simply because they killed off the mother within the first two minutes of the movie.

woosterweester said...

This is so over my head! Oh my goodness you need to be a movie critic. Seriously! Have you ever looked at the Focus on the Family movie critic section? I think it's called "unplugged." Anyway, you should totally do one from a mom's perspective. I am so impressed. And while driving your car you thought this? Amazing. I can barely form a coherent thought! I smell English Lit major.