(*homocinematically inclined)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Dearest... 2016: Animaniacs


Animated films proved to be some of 2016’s best and, in one case, worst.

A world of talking animals didn’t sound at first like anything new, let alone special. Boy, was I wrong. Disney dug deep into just what a civilization like that would be like, creating a land not unlike our own with class and racial distinctions and all the complications those entail. And if that sounds a bit heavy, Zootopia is also clever, smart, charming and funny. Most of the animated fare out there these days would be happy to claim to be just one of those. (8/10)


The Little Prince:
Unlike Stanley Donen’s bizarre 1974 musical version, this screen adaptation of the classic children’s novella adds a framing device to pad out the story instead of Lerner & Loewe songs. A (computer animated) little girl learns of the (stop-motion animated) little prince from her nextdoor neighbor, the now-elderly aviator (voiced most gruffly by Jeff Bridges). The original story was slight (and strange), and it is quickly overwhelmed by the new narrative that reintroduces the no-longer-little prince as… a janitor? Yeah, still strange. (6/10)


Finding Dory:
Everyone’s favorite forgetful fish takes the lead in this sequel to Finding Nemo, which has Dory in search of her long lost parents. With most of the original cast back, plus some new characters voiced by members of ABC’s Modern Family (ah, corporate synergy!), it tries really hard to be as heartwarming and lovable as the original. But Pixar has become such a well-oiled machine that most of their latest (yes, including Inside Out) feel empty and uninspired. (6/10)

Significant otters.

Kubo and the Two Strings:
Kubo is a one-eyed boy with magical origami in this epic fantasy adventure set in ancient Japan, the latest from stop motion animation studio Laika, creators of Coraline and ParaNorman. Like their earlier films, Kubo is strong on visuals but the story is cluttered and weirdly uninvolving. And in a year when live action films were called to task about "white washing" characters, why not a word about this film, which casts, among others, Matthew McConaughey and Brenda Vaccaro as Asians? (6/10)

Not a single paper cut.

Disney's latest musical adventure features it's strongest female character, like, ever (and there's no icky romance getting in the way either). A treat for the eyes and ears, Moana has beautiful animation and great music, especially the big showstopper "You're Welcome" sung by Dwayne Johnson... yes, The Rock sings, and he's the best magical co-lead since Robin Williams' Genie (seriously). The big question: is it better than Frozen? I'll have to let it go with a "yes" on that one. (8/10)

Wait for it...

Sausage Party:
I imagine Seth Rogen thought this was a fuckin' gnarly idea for a movie, sort of like Toy Story but with food. He probably dashed off the script while taking a dump using bong water for ink on some old rolling papers, but then he smoked it so he just invited over all his obnoxious friends (Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, etc.) to improvise some shit up and then somehow got somebody to animate it. Strictly for anyone who thinks a hot dog bun that looks like a vagina is funny. (1/10)

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Worst Movie of the Year.

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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