Inside Out (2015)

Take a deep dive into your own head. Do an archaeological dig. Work your way all the way to the center. What do you find?Core memories. Foundational impressions. The moments that made you.Me? Mine are almost all related to creativity:- Reading books — fairy tales and fantasy, mostly.- Writing and illustrating my own fantasy stories with crayons, and then learning how to type out the words with my index finger on a typewriter.- Drawing pictures on church bulletins during c … [Read more...]

Happy 5th Birthday, WALL•E!

Five years ago this weekend, Pixar brought us a vision of the future through the eyes — the amazing, expressive, binocular eyes — of a robot called WALL•E.A year and a half later, TIME Magazine named it the best movie of the decade.I think that was a bit extreme, but still... the first 20 minutes of this film remain the most astonishing advance in animation since Toy Story, and one of the most virtuosic flourishes of comedic visual storytelling since the days of Charlie Chaplin and Buster … [Read more...]

Monsters University (2013)

Finals are over, and summer is here. Nevertheless, I have volunteered to take the Monsters University Test. It's a Multiple Choice test with Essay Questions. And I don't think anybody will count it as cheating if I show you my answers.Here we go... … [Read more...]

Finding Nemo: This Fish is Still Fresh

Here comes Father's Day.And Steven Greydanus of Decent Films and The National Catholic Register once wrote: Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo is the best father-son story in all of Hollywood animation, and maybe animation generally. ... [W]hat makes Finding Nemo so unforgettable, in my book, is Marlin. He stands virtually alone among animated father figures: not an idealized father, but a heroic and lovable one who is trying his best and whose faults, such as they are, are regarded with sympat … [Read more...]

Over the Moon: A Critic in Top Form

At this time of year, when film lovers everywhere are posting their top ten lists and talking about which films deserve Oscars, I hear a lot of moviegoers complaining about critics. They talk about critics as if critics purposefully and habitually disdain anything that a "normal person" could enjoy. They speak as if critics deliberately seek out things that are merely complicated or "intellectual."Recently, when I praised The Master, another moviegoer groaned and said, "That movie was made … [Read more...]

From Desert Planet to Ocean Blue… Stanton’s Finding Nemo 2

It was bound to happen.Oh, the mixed feelings! … [Read more...]

Brave (2012)

My review of Brave is published at Seattle Pacific University's Response magazine. … [Read more...]

Toy Story 3 (2010)

This review was originally published in an abridged version at Good Letters, the blog for Image.-Fifteen years ago, I approached Toy Story with skepticism. A full-length feature animated on computers? I feared it would look fake and robotic, a poor substitute for the hand-drawn brilliance of Disney classics.But Toy Story won me over in its first five minutes. It had colorful characters, an adventurous spirit, and a big, warm, thrumming heart. It entertained kids and their parents … [Read more...]

Cars 2 (2011)

Dear people of Pixar,I've seen the trailer for Brave... … [Read more...]

Lucky Showest folks see Toy Story 3

Are you looking forward to Toy Story 3?I learned a long time ago not to let the trailer for a Pixar movie influence my expectations: The films almost always surpass high expectations.So I was surprised to read some grumbling about the latest trailer. Haven't other people learned the same lesson?Then came today: And the lucky folks who got to see Toy Story 3 at Showest are Tweeting up a storm. Here are some of the early reports: … [Read more...]