Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Animation Nation : Holiday Edition

I think last year at this time I was listing off inspirational films to help you get through the holidays. The holidays this year call for something more….more….more animated! Years ago when I worked at Disney Studios, the hold music for the phones would be whatever new film Disney had coming out in the near future. One particular year I seemed to be on hold a lot and I listened to the soundtrack for Beauty and the Beast…for….ever….! Despite that, to this day it is still my favorite animated film and one I could watch over and over and still shed a tear when the Beast becomes the prince (I certainly hope I am not giving the big ending away! If so, you need to get out more...).

When your shopping is done, all the presents are wrapped, the cookies are all baked and you have time to sit down and relax, nothing entertains like a good animated film!

Beauty and the Beast: Tale as old as time....*sigh*. Beauty and the Beast combines (at the time) cutting edge computer graphics with the musical delight of a Broadway play. Need some Busby Berkeley? “Be Our Guest” fills the bill. Need amazing song writing? I give you Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (Winners of the Oscar for Best Original Song and Best Original Score for this film). This version of Beauty and the Beast veers off from the original fairy tale but, as far as I am concerned, not to the detriment of the story. The massive ego of Gaston makes this film all the more enjoyable and his song pointing out all his amazing qualities (he especially good at ex-pec-tor-a-ting!) is one of my favorites. Most girls know a Gaston and most girls would love to find that tender Beast so get out your hankies and enjoy!

Need more Disney animation: Fantasia, Lion King, or Dumbo.

Nightmare Before Christmas: What’s this? What’s this? This is a brilliant bit of stop-motion animation that is a holiday classic in my household. Although Henry Sellick directed this marvelous film, the script came from the twisted brain of Tim Burton. Is it better at Halloween? Is it better at Christmas? That’s for you to decide but I think this film is so good it could easily be seen at either holidays (or both!). Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, has grown bored with the confines of his holiday and wants to show the world an improved version of Christmas. Every inch of space is crammed full of delightful images that will either creep you out or fill you full of holiday good will. Not many films can say that!

Need more Burton? Try the Corpse Bride.

Spirited Away : This animated film is by Japanese master animator, Hayao Miyazaki (an animation God to most animators). Not fond of computers, Miyazaki draws thousands of frames by hand, and there is a richness in his work that comes from an artists eye. The story: a young girl named Chichiro embarks on a journey through a fantastical realm to save her parents. In this realm she interacts with a variety of imaginative characters, is surrounded by dazzling visuals, and supported by a rousing musical score. Although this is targeted toward children, adults will also be enchanted by the characters and situations. A charming tale about love, determination, and growing up.

More thought provoking animation: Howls Moving Castle, Iron Giant, Princess Mononoke, Persepolis.

Pixar Trifecta: Toy Story (1/2/3) * Up * Wall-E
Despite my utter adoration of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, I think that Pixar creates the best, most touching, most entertaining animated films available. The entire Toy Story trilogy is a masterpiece of animation storytelling, Up has one of the most moving and touching film montages ever created and Wall-E is a delight as well as a commentary on our future if we continue our sedentary lives. All of these Pixar films are ones that whenever I am swinging around the TV dial and land on one of them I go no further. Is Pixar perfect? Well, no one is perfect as is displayed by Cars 2 or How to Train Your Dragon, but a great many of their films are true genius so I still support them as the current kings (and queens) of animation.

Need more outstanding Pixar: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille

South Park: Bigger Longer Uncut: I was recently in New York and had the opportunity to see the incredible “Book of Mormon”. It is juvenile in parts and amazingly rude but it is also one of the most entertaining musicals I have ever seen (and I have seen ALOT of musicals!) This film was a pre-cursor to what Trey Parker and Matt Stone were capable of. Like the “Book of Mormon”, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is juvenile in parts and amazingly rude but it is one of the most entertaining animated films I have ever seen. Not to mention the fact the Trey Parker received an Oscar nomination for Best Song for the rousing “Blame Canada” ! The film follows the continuing escapades of Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny as they sneak into an R rated film. When the kids develop some new disturbing vocabulary, the parents and teachers decide to “Blame Canada” for leading their kids astray. Love ‘em, hate ‘em, but whatever you do, watch ‘em (just don’t let the kids watch with you)!

Need more juvenile animated fun: The Simpson’s Movie

Whether we are ready or not, the holidays are here. So in this season of giving, I give to you the permission to slow down, visit our Media Department and check out one of these wonderful animated films (all mentioned films available at HBPL).

May your holidays be merry and bright (and full of friends or chocolate or friends bearing chocolate) !!

Next post: They’re baaaaaack! The race for Oscar begins.