Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Top 20 animated movies: Part 3, #6-10

My Top 20 animated movies (continued)

You've seen the bottom 10 in my list of favorite animated movies. I love them all and it's difficult to place one above another, but the Top 10 do have something extra in my opinion.

Let's continue with the next five:

10. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Directed by Pete Docter, David Silverman and Lee Unkrich
Starring the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Mary Gibbs

Monsters, Inc. produces power for the city of Monstropolis by scaring kids and storing the energy produced in their screams. The two principals are Sulley (Goodman) and Mike (Crystal). Sulley is a giant furry beast with purple and blue fur and regularly tops the company standings as chief scarer. Mike is small, green and has one huge eye, and is Sulley’s assistant. They have doors with direct access to children’s bedrooms in the real world and get to work each night. Things are complicated by Randall Boggs (Buscemi), who is trying to cheat his way to the top of the standings. Direct physical contact with a human child is thought to be dangerous and possibly lethal, so a team stands by to sanitize any infected monsters. When Sulley inadvertently brings a little girl called Boo (Gibbs) to Monstropolis, he finds out the truth about human contact. With the help of Mike, Sulley tries to hide the little girl until they can get her home. The reason I love Monsters, Inc. so much is its heart. It’s a cute world and Boo is adorable. There’s a lot of clever humor throughout the movie and it lives up to Pixar’s high standards.

There’s nothing in the film that would scare children, so it’s a perfect family film. The Blu-ray presentation is strong in all areas. I could watch this film every few weeks and never get tired of it.

9. Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Directed by Steve Box and Nick Park
Starring the voices of Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes

Here’s another claymation movie. It was good enough to win the Oscar for Best Animated Film, and it deserved the award. There were three short films in the series before this feature; all are funny and worth owning, but none match the quality of Were-Rabbit. For those new to the characters, Wallace (Sallis) is an inventor living in Northern England and Gromit is his faithful dog. The two run a service to protect people’s vegetables from the jaws of unwanted rabbits. They have a warning system similar to the one used in Thunderbirds and Wallace’s inventions are used to capture and store the rabbits. Gromit doesn’t speak, but says so much with his body language. He’s the source of most of the humor. There are jokes in almost every frame; both visual and verbal. The pair is hired by Lady Tottington (Bonham-Carter), who fears that her grounds are being overrun by rabbits. The expressions on the faces of the model rabbits are hilarious.

There’s no Blu-ray release as yet, but the first three shorts and a later fourth installment can be found on Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection Blu-ray. It isn’t actually complete because it’s missing this film, but it’s a must-own. Wallace & Gromit is funny, innocent and suitable for the whole family.

8. Bolt (2008)
Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams
Starring the voices of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Mark Walton and Susie Essman

Are you fan of Pixar titles? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Pixar created Bolt. It looks and feels similar and has so much heart. Bolt (Travolta) is a dog who stars in a TV show in which he has superpowers. That would make a good movie in its own right, but it gets even better. Bolt escapes from the film studio by accident and is separated from Penny (Cyrus), his owner. He listens to the advice of a group of pigeons and enlists the help of a cat named Mittens (Essman), who claims she knows how he can get home. They eventually run into a hamster, Rhino (Walton), who thinks that Bolt has real powers. They make their way across America in search of the film studio and Penny. Bolt keeps me laughing. It mixes slapstick humor with clever comments and astute observations. Watch how Mittens teaches Bolt to act like a real dog and you’ll see what I mean.

The movie is a good choice for the whole family and the Blu-ray presentation is flawless. The picture quality is perfect throughout and check out the sound during the sequences in which Bolt starts in the TV show.

7. Up (2009)
Directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
Starring the voices of Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai and Bob Peterson

Up is Pixar’s most adult-oriented release thus far, but it still contains enough fun and action to hold the attention of any child. There’s a silent montage near the start of the movie which tells the story of Ellie, who is the wife of balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen (Asner). The sequence takes us through their initial meeting as children and ends with Ellie’s death as an old woman. You’ll almost certainly cry or at least have to hold back tears. Carl and Ellie always planned to visit South America, but never got around to it. Carl decides to make the trip on his own by attaching balloons to his house so that it will fly. He finds Russell (Nagai) – a boy scout trapped on his porch – and the two make the trip together. They are joined by a weird bird and Dug (Peterson), who is a dog with the ability to talk using a device on his collar. The movie is very colorful and is full of action once the group is assembled. There are some other truly touching moments and I would urge anyone to see this film.

It’s suitable for people of all ages and has something for everybody. The humor is funny because it’s an accurate observation on the way people behave. Dug is the funniest character, but they all have their moments.

6. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring the voices of Kirsten Dunst and Phil Hartman

Talking of heart, it’s time for some more Miyazaki. Kiki (Dunst) is a 13-year-old witch, and in her culture that means she has to spend a year on her own providing a service in another city. She’s just learning her craft and can barely fly her broom, but sets of with her cat, Jiji (Hartman). She finds a small town and helps the owner of a bakery by returning a baby’s pacifier to a customer who left it behind. The owner offers her a place to stay and suggests that she start a delivery service. It’s a delightful coming-of-age story in which Kiki learns to become independent and finds out about friendship and romance. She has great respect for her elders and quickly wins their approval. Jiji has almost all of the best lines and his sarcastic comments are genuinely funny. There are no villains, just situations and problems to overcome.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is charming and funny. It should entertain the whole family. There’s no Blu-ray release yet, but expect Disney to get around to it in a year or two. There are at least two DVD versions and the dubs are different. Be sure to research which one you want to own if you have previously seen the movie and have a preference.

For #16-20 on the list, click here

For #11-15 on the list, click here.

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