Toy Story – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1995 Film Toy Story.

Story

This is a movie about jealousy and mob mentality. It’s a terrifying look into the worst of humanity dressed up as a kid’s movie. The jokes and overall message of teamwork and accepting who you are are nice however.

Score: 0.5

Characters

This is a group or characters that belongs in a grimdark survival horror or maybe a Stephen King film. They are overall unlikable and cruel to each other. This works for the plot, but means that I’m almost cheering for Sid.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The dialogue is quippy and very well thought out. It has an almost Disney-style of multiple levels for adults and kids. It is a little heavy on the exposition, and the gags sometimes last way too long.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie is visually impressive for it’s time, but after almost thirty years I looks very dated. The lighting, liquids, and anything with fur is really plastic-looking, which works for the toys. The humans are weird uncanny valley rejects.

The music and sound mixing were clear and beautiful.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie was more fun than it should have been. Despite the despicable characters and forced story, the world building is great and everyone laughed a bunch.

Score: 1

Overall

This has all the wonder of future Pixar movies without the amazingly relatable characters. It’s a first draft for their formula and unfortunately doesn’t land as well as it could. Still fun and looks okay, considering it’s almost thirty.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Lightyear – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Lightyear.

Story

This was a great concept. A movie about the real Buzz Lightyear. The character is the basis for the toy in Toy Story.

Unfortunately, there are some issues with this sort of story. People are expecting a movie about the cartoonish and silly character. This means that people who only care about Toy Story might be turned off by the science-fiction elements, while people who love science-fiction might be turned off by the the association with Toy Story.

That being said, this is an excellent adventure / science-fiction film with influence and nods to so many other great films.

Score: 1

Characters

The character of Buzz is only changed a little from the toy; his silliness is toned down, but he’s still brash, overconfident, and single-minded.

The rest of the cast, although not as fleshed out, are fun and have rewarding story arcs.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There are plenty of references to both Toy Story and classic Sci-Fi. With so much reference material, it could easily have been a quote fest that left people feeling like they missed something. The writers did a great job balancing the quotes and the original story. To a point that they’re great for those that know, but pass over other’s heads.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

I was in awe of the space scenes, and pretty much all the animation. Pixar ups their quality with every movie and I love it. Beyond the animation, the cinematography is fantastic and references so many other great movies. The shot of Zurg’s ship rising from the floor was just like Vader’s in A New Hope, the airlocks look just like those of 2001: A Space Odyssey, there were plenty of others too.

The music was epic and had just the right balance to be remarkable but not overpower the action.

Score: 1

Fun

The fun you get from this is definitely influenced by your expectations. If you’re expecting the tone and feel of Toy Story, you’ll be disappointed. I went in expecting cheesy sci-fi and was surprised by how much fun it was.

My five and three year old both loved it and sat through the whole thing without complaining. The rest of the family seemed to really love it too.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie is a retro sci-fi with all the best parts from the movies of the genre in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. It’s delightfully littered with Pixar and Sci-fi references and has a fun and heartwarming story.

Final Score: 5* Stars out of 5


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Turning Red – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Turning Red.

Story

This was a coming of age movie done extremely well. I loved the supportive friends and the music obsession. The family trauma was well done. I’m also amazed that with no real villain they managed to have a marvel-worthy boss fight at the end.

Score: 1

Characters

The kids in the movie were all stereotypes I remember from my high school. They are, however, well nuanced despite the little amount of screentime.

The overbearing mom with the soft-spoken dad is a dynamic I’ve seen in real life and is nice to see a move away from the idiot/useless father figures.

The aunties gave me flashbacks and made me giggle.

At the heart of it, Mei was both cringingly 13 but extremely relatable.

Score: 1

Dialogue

It was odd watching a Pixar-Disney movie with Canadian accents and expressions; odd but comforting.

A lot of information was given as worldbuilding and came back as important to the plot. The dialogue was fast, frantic and well crafted. I’ll need a rewatch to appreciate the full scope.

Score: 1

Music and Visuals

The songs are perfectly crafted to match the time period and the style of music. It reminded me of sitting in my cousin’s room listening to TLC, Destiny’s Child, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, and 98 Degrees. Meanwhile the score was absolutely epic.

The animation is spectacular, as expected for Pixar. The backgrounds and details are wonderful and the character design was spot on.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie’s pace and energy is so perfectly reminiscent of being an early teen that it took me a little time to acclimate. It was great to step into that feeling and world again. I also thought it was fun spotting all the Canadianisms and things that are purely Toronto.

My kids liked it, although the 2 year old found the big panda scary and my 5 year old writhed in secondary embarrassment for most of it.

The most unrealistic thing was that they could get their concert tickets that close to the show and be on the floor.

I can’t wait to rewatch it and see all the little details I missed in the animation and storytelling.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie throws you into the life of a teen and drags you at the breakneck speed of youth. It’s exciting, heartwarming, and extremely poignant. It continues the excellent storytelling that Pixar is known for.

See this movie with an open mind and heart and it’ll transport you to the exotic land of Toronto and remind you what it means to be a young teen.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Monsters University – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 film Monsters University.

Story

The story is a great subversion of the traditional college movie. I like how much it plays with our expectations from knowing the first movie. The messages of “it’s okay to change your dream” and “there are many paths” are more poignant to me now than they were when the movie came out, making me enjoy it a lot more.

Score: 1

Characters

As much as I like the story and the movie itself is very consistent with it’s characters, I find Sulley feels off. His greatest character trait from the first movie was how much he cared for people and monsters. His empathy and genuine niceness was impressive and played at odds with his scaring. Making him an entitled rich kid works for this movie, but we don’t see any hint of it in the original and his turn around feels a little unmotivated.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The writing is extremely well done and the dialogue really reflects the lived experience of a lot of animators and writers. Especially the parts where someone says, “You just don’t have it.”

The humour is clever and delivered perfectly.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The original was spectacular for it’s time and is starting to look a little dated. After almost a decade, this movie still looks better than a lot of other animations that came out this year. It’s spectacular and beautiful in all its detail.

The music takes a shift away from jazzy to more orchestral which works extremely well both for the plot and the location.

Score: 1

Fun

Once I let go of my precious nostalgia, this movie was fantastic. I laughed and cheered throughout. My kids both loved it with the two year old laughing at everything Mike did.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a prequel and as such suffers a little at having to fit in the world and story of the first movie. It is, however, a fantastic watch and worth every moment. It’s a beautiful and poignant movie with lots of laughs.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Luca – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Luca

Story

An interesting mix of coming of age and fish out of water (pun intended) stories. It had me wondering how they were going to resolve the plot with a happy ending. They managed a satisfying ending and I’m impressed with how heart warming it is.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters acted and reacted like they were in a stereotypical kids story. The parents didn’t listen, the kids didn’t know what they were doing, the stakes felt high, but in a well obviously nothing’s going to happen, kinda way.

There wasn’t one character I didn’t get annoyed with at some point for doing the most dramatic thing possible.

Although I felt for the trio, I didn’t really like them or feel they were in any kind of trouble.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Although played out both in fiction and in reality, the boisterous exaggerator who is covering for trauma, is still relevant and we all knew a kid like that when we were young. It’s done in such a believable way with the dialogue that it shows the writers have dealt with kids.

The rest of the dialogue ranges from silly to hilarious and I was quite impressed.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie was typical Pixar beauty. The backgrounds, textures, and world were absolutely gorgeous.

The music was good accentuating and enhancing the story and made the kids want to dance.

I was also ridiculously impressed with the voices underwater being a little muffled. That was a nice touch.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie had some awkward angst that I found forced and made me lose interest, the relationship with the parents was uncomfortable to watch, and the entire thing with the uncle felt like a gross out joke gone to far.

That being said the kids were riveted, as were the other adults. It was exciting, cute, funny, and satisfying.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Pixar creates another wonderful story filled with beautiful animation. Despite a few forced moments and some awkward jokes it’s a fun movie with something for everyone. Warning, you might want a Vespa afterwards.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Monsters, Inc. – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 Monsters, Inc.

Story

Behind a cutesy story there’s a lot of great messages and social commentary. I’m a huge fan of the moment Sully realizes that what he’s always been told was the right thing to do actually hurt people. That moment was extremely relatable. The subtext of child labour, exploitation of others, and being a good person doesn’t mean you always do good things, are still very powerful.

Score: 1

Characters

A little bit of an odd couple, but with a great friendship, Sully and Mike are the heart of the movie. They are genuinely nice people who’ve been socialized to do bad things. It’s a wonderful dichotomy. The rest of the cast are a little less nuanced, but show different aspects of how this society molds people.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Every time I watch this movie I’m shocked by the amount of things in it that I’ve integrated into my everyday. From “Put that thing back where you found it or so help me” to “Follow the sultry sounds of my voice.”

The wonderful thing about the dialogue is that most of it does double or triple duty; humour, character development, and world building.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

At now 20 years old, the 3D rendering does look dated. Especially compared to newer Disney or Pixar. That being said, the hair particles and snow are stunning. The character design is well balanced between creepy and funny. Even dated, it looks great and the attention to detail is amazing.

Score: 1

Fun

This is the hardest category to judge. I watched this one in theatres and it’s a staple in our house. My daughter was glued to the screen when she was younger and she was still glued this time. My son sat and watched the entire time, although he was pretty freaked out at the beginning. He loved Boo and kept asking for her when she wasn’t on screen.

Score: 1

Overall

A classic film with all the heart and levels that Pixar is so great at. Its warmth and humour make it a joy to watch. Even twenty years after, the hair and snow animations are amazing. I’ll be honest, I’m not objective since this is one of my top ten movies of all time.

Final Score: 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Soul – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Soul.

Story

What does it mean to be human? Do we have a fated purpose? What is life? Do cats have souls? This movie answers and philosophizes left, right, and centre. All while pulling us along a body swap adventure. It’s funny, fun, and has lots to think about.

Despite the trailers making it look it it would, I’m glad the movie didn’t fall into the “Transformed POC” trope.

Story: 1

Characters

The main character is written in such a way that we sympathize with him immediately. There’s no doubting his dream. Then as we see his life through the eyes of another character we start to see his obsession with making it has hurt his ability to live in the moment. It’s a subtle transition that was so well done.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was mostly okay but in some parts was amazing. The conversation with his mom, the barber, and the double meanings of so many bits of dialogue between him and 22 are extremely well done.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie wasn’t about grand vistas and fantasy landscapes like Onward but instead was a lot more about details and abstract concepts. This movie was beautiful. The wood grain on the mother’s tailor shop to the minimalist interpretation of the great beyond’s light. This was breath taking.

The music was fantastic. I love how the pieces he plays are representative of his character growth. I look forward to buying this album.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was beautiful and fun. My mind still races at the world building. My daughter (4yo) loved it but my 18 month old didn’t sit through it. I’m not sure why. Either way, it’s not a knock on the film but it certainly isn’t the best for small kids.

Score: 1

Overall

The writing and music alone had me enthralled with their complexity and subtly. This movie is smart, funny, beautiful and certainly full of Soul.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Onward – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Onward.

Story

I had heard reviews about this movie that said it was the herald that Pixar had lost it’s magic and just become another copy of Disney. (Which I think is unfair since modern Disney owes a lot to Pixar.) This movie didn’t disappoint me. Like the vast majority, it left me crying.

I think the story itself is fairly simple but the world and buildup are fantastic. There’s very little in the movie that isn’t used or exploited again.

That all being said… It was a little predictable. The structure of a Quest or road trip movie, dictates that no matter what they choose, it’ll be wrong but end up pushing the character development. I guessed every twist in advance, which is uncommon for a Pixar.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The story is the characters. That’s really what Pixar is best at, engaging, flawed, lovable, characters that grow because of the story.

From the awkward Mom’s boyfriend to the retired adventurer, they all have depths. I mean, they somehow managed to make a character who was just a bottom half, have a loving and endearing personality.

Score: 1

Dialogue

“You’ll never be ready. Now Merge!” is probably one of the most inspiring things I’ve heard. As someone without his license, it’s also terrifying.

The dialogue is true and it’s certainly authentic; but it’s not extremely memorable after a first watch.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie’s description call it a Suburban Fantasy and the visuals never let you forget it. Anytime you see a lush, beautiful, fantasy moment, the visuals will throw in a plane or road sign or manhole cover.

It’s a great balancing act that makes the entire movie visually coherent. I love the look and feel of this world. It’s beautiful and ugly in all the right ways.

The music is mostly variations on fantasy themes with a bunch of classic rock inspired music thrown in. The combination gives a quirky feel but is definitely authentic its Dungeons & Dragons influence.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie had everything I wanted and didn’t try to jam in an awkward romance.

It was exciting, pretty, and a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie feels like it was made to entertain me and pull at my heartstrings. It won’t hit everyone the same way but it is an extremely fun road trip movie set in a suburban fantasy. Plus there’s a gelatinous cube.

Score: 4 stars

New Disney Updates

I am a big Disney fan. Anyone who knows me can tell you that. So when I heard that the two North American Disney parks were adding Pixar content, I got incredibly (get it?) excited.

Disney World (Florida)

Toy Story Land, in the Hollywood Studios park (possibly soon to be renamed again), is opening on June 30, 2018 in Florida. There will be a roller coaster (Slinky dog), swirling saucers (Aliens), an expanded Toy Story Mania, and Woody’s lunch box fill this new space. I’m sure there will be more coming, as well. There’s lots of room for expansion.

Disneyland (California)

Image from www.travelweekly.com

June 23, 2018, Pixar Pier in the California Adventures park will be officially open! If you don’t want to wait that long, however, there will be a preview of the Pier during Pixar Fest starting April 13. Rides you will find include a roller coaster (Incredibles), Toy Story Mania and neighbourhood, “something” from Inside Out, and a complete re-theme of the pier with images and characters.

You can read more about the changes in Florida here, and California here, here, and here.


Are you interested in travelling to Disney? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca