Inside Out: Pixar Is Back In Fine Form!

What better place to be on a sweltering hot summer evening than a movie theatre. Our Movie Dude Toth made the right choice and spent an evening in the theatre watching Inside Out; here are his thoughts on Pixar’s latest work.

Hey, it’s the Movie Dude Toth daring Pixar to “hit me with your best shot!”  Anton Ego quoted Pat Benatar in the Pixar classic Ratatouille, and now I’m quoting Anton Ego from that classic master chef rat movie.

In the film, the dry and vampiric critic Ego, is daring the new chef to wow him with a new food item that is still amazing and will garner good reviews. Well Pixar has accomplished something similar to this feat with the movie Inside Out.

I will explain in a minute but let me sum it up by saying that Inside Out is a special film that fits easily among Pixar’s best films including Monsters Inc., Up, Wall-E, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Toy Story and The Incredibles.

Director Pete Docter made the movie Up, and he is once again able to juggle some very funny scenes with scenes that will undoubtedly tug at your heart strings. A well written script, stellar voice cast, inventive/ beautiful animation, and emotional concepts grounded in logic make Inside Out a must see summer film!

Let’s start with the cast, Amy Poehler is excellent as Joy who is kind of the self-appointed emotion who is in the driver’s seat inside 11 year old Riley’s mind.

Lewis Black absolutely kills it as Anger, who is ready to swear up a storm at a moment’s notice. Bill Hader is also very good as Fear, who has enough neuroses for all of the other emotions and then some.

I love The Mindy Project so I was very happy to find out that Mindy Kaling provides the voice of Disgust who keeps Riley safe from broccoli and bad fashion.

Finally Phyllis Smith from the American version of The Office plays Sadness who plays a very important role in the film.

The chemistry between the five emotions is really great and you can tell that the actors spent some quality time together talking and joking around.

The plot is not of great importance in a film like this, but the attention to detail and the intelligent script shows that a lot can be done with very little.

A seemingly everyday circumstance in someone’s life like moving from one city to another is all the plot needed to make a film full of emotion, adventure, and amazing insight.

As usual this will be a spoiler free review, and with Inside Out there are a lot of surprises that deserve to be discovered on your first viewing. I can say that I have revisited this film more than once this summer, and that is a sure sign of a good to great film!

There is something about the way that the Pixar team is able to get to the core emotions felt by people who are about to start a new phase of life that is amazing.

In Up, it was about an older person coming to terms with what life was really about by discovering what his beloved partner valued most in the world. In the Toy Story series, it was about what it means to be a child and then how that slowly changes into adolescence and eventually young adulthood, brilliantly told from the perspective of many toys. Inside Out is also exploring these themes but this time from the unique perspective inside the mind of an 11, soon to be 12 year old girl.

Inside Out’s plot deals with important memories the movie’s characters refer to as core memories. This is a very important idea that some psychologists refer to as long term memory. The long term memories that some believe influence many of the decisions we make later in life are what these “core memories” refer too.

Now there are many different theories on the human psyche and why people act the way they do, but the one offered in the movie is logical and based on some fact. The film’s directors, producers, and actors consulted with neurological experts to make sure that the film’s plot had some basis in reality. Children and adults (at least open minded ones) will be able to learn something from watching this movie.

I believe that Inside Out is one of Pixar’s best movies and it has obviously connected with many people based on the box office numbers. My only wish is that movies like this could connect with as many folks as more typical big summer fare like Jurassic World.

Is it too much too ask for escapist entertainment to be a bit more thought provoking? I think not and believe that movies aimed at the whole family need to be held to higher standards.

Inside Out meets the higher standards with an intelligent script that has something to say about our human condition. It also manages to be very entertaining for children and adults.

The humour in the script and the perfect delivery of the lines by the cast had me laughing aloud many times during the film. The strong emotional connection established by Riley’s emotions, in this case, also made the film surprisingly deep and had me choked up several times especially during the movie’s final 30 minutes.

If you don’t get a chance to see this at the theatres (it is still playing I believe), make sure you see it when it comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD/On Demand/Download. Inside Out is a wonderful film to experience and should not be missed!

Jurassic World: A Worthy Sequel?

Hello everybody, it’s the Movie Dude Toth laughing and scratching at ya once again, and surprise, surprise…there is no two month gap in between my reviews this time! 🙂

Anyhow, on to the matter at hand which is the film Jurassic World. The big question is can the movie re-capture some of magic of the original Jurassic Park? Also, can Chris Pratt continue to carry a movie on his own? The answer to both those questions is….almost and perhaps yes, if he had a better script to work with.

Jurassic World is not a bad movie, although there are some parts of it where it clearly is a bad movie.

If you are a fan of dinosaurs and Chris Pratt you will probably like this movie. If you are not a fan of explosions, dinosaurs screeching, and humans acting stupid then you will not like this movie.

Personally, I thought it was a fun popcorn flick but if you have the choice between this and Mad Max….well the answer should be obvious but if you need more of a hint I’d go with the one that focuses on blood and chrome!

Let’s talk seriously here, most people are going to this movie to see thunder lizards wreak havoc with frail humans who to these creatures are basically annoying insects.

The plot is a secondary consideration and people want to see dinos attacking humans and other dinos. Well on this note the movie delivers and goes gangbusters with the dinotific mayhem!

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for smart dialogue (and a smart story) and a tense thrill ride, the movie does not deliver. No one is more upset about this than me.

The Movie Dude Toth wants every movie that comes out to be awesome, especially ones that centre around human/dinosaur conflict. Alas, except for a few cool action sequences this is not to be with Jurassic World.

How’s the acting you ask? OK to good. If you’re looking for a Starlord encore from Pratt, you will not get it. Bryce Dallas Howard is good, but she doesn’t have a great story or great lines to work with. The two children in the film are typical children characters in this type of movie. They need rescuing and they scream here and there. Oh yes, they also have some emotional conflict to overcome involving their family.

In conclusion, if you are a die hard dinosaur fan then you will like this movie so you should see it.

However, if you liked the original film’s near perfect blend of slightly corny sci-fi, great acting, humour, and amazing special effects then you will be disappointed.

Hey it’s your money, I’m just trying to give you a basic rating based on my not so humble opinion based on years of watching and analyzing movies.

This is the MOvie DUde TOth signing off till later this week when I’ll be tackling the new Pixar film Inside Out.

Toth out!

Mad Max; Fury Road – Best Film of the Year

Hello ya’ll, it’s been a while but I’m back to spout more film wisdom onto all the unwashed masses of film goers out there. That’s right, it’s the MovieDude Toth coming at ya!

So today I’m reviewing a little film that I saw almost two months ago called Mad Max;

Random picture for you to look at
Random picture for you to look at
Fury Road, hitherto be called Mad Max 4. You may ask; is this a direct sequel, prequel, reboot, or some other crap?! Well to be honest with you it is a quasi-sequel removing Mel Gibson (Max in the original trilogy) and adding Tom Hardy(as Max) and Charlize Theron (as Furiosa).

As usual, NO SPOILERS!!!!! from me! Well, to all the former students who may be reading this (probably 1 or 2 LOL), here comes my topic sentence….! Mad Max 4 manages to thrill, evoke strong emotions, put you in the driver’s seat for a visceral action extravaganza, and be the BEST FILM of the YEAR so far!

I will now explain why I feel so strongly about the movie. Perhaps it is because I am a fan of the original Mad Max and Mad Max 2 (3 had some good ideas and is worth maybe one watch) but I have to say I was blown away by what was onscreen in this movie.

CGI, are you kidding me? Not too much overall, and what was CGI was mostly to remove wires, ropes, and change daytime scenes into night time scenes. Oh yes, also a massive flippin’ sandstorm. Almost every frame of this movie looks like a beautiful oil painting. This is ART, people. Run out and see this movie.

The plot? It is so simple that I will not spoil it for you save this: people are trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic future where oil, weapons, water, and viable females (ones that can still reproduce) have become the four commodities that these barbarians fight over.

Max is still out there trying to survive, but this is not just his story…he just happens to get taken for the ride, literally!

The director is the same person who directed the original 3 Mad Max films, then he went on to direct some of my favourite films of all time including Babe, Babe: Pig in the City and then some lesser children’s efforts like Happy Feet and Happy Feet 2.

I was a bit nervous about his return to adult action oriented cinema. But I shouldn’t have been worried, because as I’ve been telling everyone I know, he takes all modern action film makers to school and shows them how it’s done!

Do not hesitate to see this film! Run out right now and buy your tickets before exciting but ultimately lame popcorn fests take over the screens this summer. Dinosaurs are cool, and I will deal with them in my next review, but as Immorten Joe from Mad Max 4 would say they are ultimately just….”MEDIOCRE!!!”

Why are you still reading this, it’s a hot Canada Day! You should be in cold water, shade, or better yet in a air conditioned theatre watching Mad Max: Fury Road!!!!

THe MOvie DUde TOth Out!!!!

Avengers: Age of Ultron the Best Marvel Movie Yet!

Hey there, it’s The Movie Dude Toth back with another spellbinding review. Sorry for the long absence but work (those darned kids) and home (those darned kids) got in the way. I actually do have another review on the way of the latest Bill Murray vehicle.

Anyhow to the matter at hand….I said it in the title and I stand behind it! Joss Whedon has managed to make the best Marvel film to date with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

You may be saying: why do you say this? How are you an expert on movies anyways? Well, gather close and pull out a piece of paper and a pencil cause “I’m about to take you to school!” (Thank you Dr. Evil :))

Before I begin, I’ll preface my praise with the disclaimer that I am a Marvel fan but a very picky one at that. Here is how I rank the Marvel films to date:

  1. Age of Ultron
  2. Iron Man
  3. Guardians of Peace (oops sorry Sony hackers), I meant to say – Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. The Avengers
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger
  7. Iron Man 3
  8. Thor: The Dark World
  9. Thor
  10. The Incredible Hulk
  11. Iron Man 2

When I saw the first Iron Man back in May 2008 I knew that I had just seen something really special. It captivated me in a way that only the best movies I have seen in my lifetime can. I knew I had to see it again immediately.

I felt the same way walking out of Ultron.

This is the point in the Marvel films that I have been waiting for. There is no introduction or flashback to catch moviegoers up on what they missed. The movie jumps right into the action showing us what the Avengers can do as a team. This is perhaps the best action sequence in the film.

Some critics have complained that because the best action sequence is at the beginning, that the rest of the movie is a let down.

To quote Tony Stark: “I respectfully disagree.” My appetite was whetted for more from that point on. I saw Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye, and SHIELD operatives working in unison to take down some people.

I will try to make this review spoiler free hence the “some people” description of who the Avengers were attacking.

As a studio, Marvel is slowly achieving many comic book fans’ dreams by making a cohesive universe for their characters to play in. All the potential of Tony Stark and his capabilities that were brought up in the first Iron Man have come to fruition in Ultron literally and figuratively.

He realizes that someday a threat will come from our world or some other world that the Avengers will not be able to deal with. So what does he do?

With the help of another brilliant scientific mind and something else (no spoilers allowed), he creates the Ultron program to bring about world peace.

If you have seen even a single trailer then you will know that Ultron turns out to be Stark’s own Frankenstein monster. The rest of the film involves the Avengers trying to find a way to stop Ultron.

There is also some great character development amidst all the heroic fighting. Black Widow and Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk) have a lot of personal demons to fight before they can really help in the battle against Ultron.

Hawkeye is given a great back story and adds a lot of humanity to the fantastical proceedings. Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo have a nice chemistry together. Jeremy Renner is given more of a chance to shine here because he is not possessed by Loki the entire time as in the first Avengers.

James Spader does a great job as the voice of Ultron. He is snarky, angry, bitter, jealous, and dangerous all within the span of 30 seconds sometimes. I laughed out loud at several of his lines including this exchange with his creator where Stark asks Ultron what a rare element called vibranium is for and without missing a beat Ultron says: “I’m glad you asked that, because I wanted to take this time to explain my evil plan…”

Even though some of the subject matter is dark, I was laughing throughout Ultron and appreciated all the one liners and witty banter between hero and hero and from heroes to villains. In saying all this, the action sequences are nothing to snooze at.

I saw new and exciting action sequences that I had not seen before on film. The action was framed in a different way and was superior to the first Avengers film. There were some ideas that I had seen before in other superhero films but they were approached in a fresh way that made them seem more original.

There is a fight between two Avengers that is huge and city shaking. As I mentioned, the opening sequence is amazing and the finale achieves a certain kind of “lift-off”.

There is a mid-movie chase sequence involving a semi-trailer, motorcycle, and supersonic jet that is also eye-popping. Of course all of this would not matter at all if the stakes weren’t so high.

How does a movie raise the stakes so that the audience really cares about what is happening to the characters? Well in the Marvel Cinematic Universe they have nine other films that have developed the characters and story arcs.

Also, in Age of Ultron the writers have accomplished this by continuing to develop their characters in interesting ways.

There are new characters introduced that are a bit strange, but because the whole movie feels like you are flipping through the pages of a comic book these new people do not seem so out of place.

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Samuel L. Jackson continue to give great performances even though they are not given as much individual story time.

It is also interesting to note that the value of each human life is of great importance to all of the heroes. They are willing to sacrifice their lives to save the lives of others, and this is made very clear in the final action sequence of the film.

Avengers: Age of Ultron continues the Marvel tradition of making movies that are fun and intelligent. Unlike other big special effects blockbusters (looking at you Transformers!), Ultron shows that all those computer generated pixels on screen can make you feel thrilled and captivated.

Many strong performances anchored by a solid screenplay and excellent special effects helped to transport me away from my seat and into the movie. Is there any more I could ask from a summer blockbuster?

If you are a Marvel fan, run out and see this on the biggest screen you can find.

If you are a casual moviegoer, you could do a lot worse than seeing Ultron and will no doubt find yourself having a lot of fun with these modern day versions of mythical heroes trying to save the world.

The Skeleton Twins; Real Family Comedy

Here is our first movie review by our movie Dude, the Toth. Enjoy it –

“The dog dies at the end?!” Bill Hader responds in mock anger to Kristen Wiig’s accidental give away to the ending of the book Marley and Me. The two former Saturday Night Live alumni star in the new comedy/drama, The Skeleton Twins, about two siblings who are forced to re-examine their lives after they are thrown back together over the period of a few weeks.

The film is often dark and starts out with a suicide attempt that sets up the reunion between the siblings. Bill Hader plays Kristen Wiig’s gay brother Milo who seems to be having one emotional crisis after the other. It turns out Wiig’s character Maggie’s life isn’t that great either even though she is married to easy going Lance played by Luke Wilson.

The Skeleton Twins is a film that has some big laughs that are very well balanced with dramatic moments. It is about relationships and all the positive and negative consequences of being in any kind of relationship. The greatest accomplishment of the film is that both comedic and dramatic moments feel well earned and sincere.

The movie’s secret weapon is the chemistry between Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. These two worked for years together on an ensemble sketch show and were at the top of their game when they left the show.

They have been on the big screen before in 2009’s Adventureland starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. They played a married couple who run the Playland style amusement park Adventureland.

The chemistry in that film was great, but in this film it is flat out amazing. They really do feel like they could be brother and sister. The way that they can convey getting under each other’s skin is incredible to watch. It is also this great chemistry that makes one of the best scenes in the film work so well. I will not give it away but it does involve lip synching. A scene like this would not work unless the audience feels the connection between the two people in the scene. It works perfectly because of all the time that these two actor/comedians have spent together professionally.

Of course, I don’t want to sell the performances, writing, or direction short. This is a well made little film and the director’s choices are spot on, but I will again reiterate that casting the two leads as brother and sisters was a major coup.

I have liked Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in other roles before. Wiig was great in the movie Bridesmaids, and Hader had an amazingly funny cameo as Jason Segel’s married friend in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

However, in The Skeleton Twins they take their performances to the next level.  The movie was filmed over 22 days (which also means there was an amazing editor on board with this crew) and while there was a great script, improvisation was encouraged by the director.

I can easily imagine the two leads having a hell of a good time making this film and interacting with the rest of the great cast which also includes Ty Burrell from Modern Family in a surprisingly powerful performance.

Writer/director Craig Johnson, along with writing partner Mark Heyman deserve a lot of credit for the excellent script and great direction. By assembling a great cast and writing a great story, the team behind this movie has created one of the best surprises of 2014.

More people should check this movie out because it is a special film that will pleasantly surprise a lot of people. I would rate it 4.5/5 stars. Highly recommended! Available On Demand, download, and disc.

 

A New Contributor to the Blog

Hello out there to all you movie fans in Coquitlam and the other burbs of the Lower Mainland, province, and the world.  It’s just about time for another person who feels they have something to say about films to post some stuff on the Internet.

I’m Victor Toth, and ever since I saw the 70’s version of King Kong, you know the one with Jeff Bridges as the hero and Jessica Lange as Fay Wray, I have been captivated by movies.

Shortly after that fateful viewing I was sleeping beside my parents bed, shaking with fear. I was only 4 and a half at the time of course. Then I saw a small indie film called Star Wars and it was all over. I was hooked for life.

I also developed the uncanny ability to re-watch films over and over again. Anyhow, I’m almost 40 now and have worked in a video store ala Quentin Tarantino and have worked in a movie theatre ala Salvatore Di Vita from the great film Cinema Paradiso. 

Now, I am a parent and husband who annoys my family with my love for movies and my opinions on which movies people should watch. At the same time, if someone loves a movie for any reason, who am I to say which is the best movie to watch? I’m just offering my opinion. As the Dude said in one of my all time favourite movies,The Big Lebowski, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like your opinion man.”

In that spirit I hope you enjoy my reviews, that I will post up here semi-regularly. Toth out!