The Incredibles 2 (2018)

“You can’t count on anyone, especially your heroes.”  – Syndrome

Leave it to Disney and Pixar. They have the stable of Marvel superheroes at their disposal and they approach “The Incredibles 2” not as a cash grab but a sincere look at the idea of superheroes in the modern era. Sure superheroes seem like a great idea in theory, but “The Incredibles 2” uses its concept as a means of exploring the world with superheroes and how it can have its definite upsides and crushing downsides. The first film had the concept of the idea of the meaning of being exceptional, our natural advantages, and how mediocrity has become the norm for society that only accepted stellar, once upon a time. “The Incredibles 2” takes it a bit further dissecting the need for heroes and whether self-reliance is the only thing we have in this world.

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My Top Five Favorite Fictional Babysitters

aib1987With the remake of “Adventures in Babysitting” coming to Disney Channel on Friday, I thought I’d go over some of my favorite babysitters from pop culture. I went through a ton of potentials, including the ladies from “The Babysitters Club,” but I admittedly never read any of the books, so this is more cinematic babysitters. Some of these are babysitters I wish I had as child. It would have made staying home so much easier.

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Finding Dory (2016)

findingdoryI, like many other people, were wondering why there even needed to be a sequel to “Finding Nemo” that focused on Dory. Granted, Dory was a charming supporting character, and Ellen DeGeneres was great, but Dory always seemed like a character you could quickly get bored with. Surprisingly, director Andrew Stanton not only proves that Dory is worth focusing an entire film on, but that her story deserved to be told just as much as Marlin and Nemo’s did. Stanton and co. follow a very non–linear storyline for the sequel; “Finding Dory” goes back in time to follow the blue Tang we know as Dory, then cuts off as she meets Marlin, and begins a year later where she’s now living with Marlin and Nemo and acting as Nemo’s surrogate guardian alongside Marlin.

Dory, much like Nemo, was born with just as much of a disadvantage. While “Finding Nemo” conveyed the trials, tribulations, and worries of raising a child with a physical disability, “Finding Dory” uses Dory’s short term memory loss as a metaphor for the trials, tribulations, and worries that come with raising a child with a mental illness or mental disability. Raising Dory isn’t so much a burden for her parents Jenny and Charlie, as they approach her lack of memory with as much patience and consideration as possible. They’re well meaning and lovely parents that do everything in their power to help Dory channel her disability in to an advantage all while turning it in to a fun game.

But they can only do so much, since they don’t really seem to accept that Dory’s condition is permanent and may be a part of who she is for the rest of her life. Plus, as she ages, the world is looking more and more appealing to her, so it soon becomes a race for her parents to make her handicapable before their worst fears of the ocean swallowing her up come to fruition. Sadly, Dory does get lost, and her short term memory becomes a constant pitfall in her efforts to reunite with her parents. Before long, she’s forgotten that she’s even lost, and years have passed on. Thus she meets her fate with Marlin and Nemo, which gives her a newfound perspective and the confidence that she can find her parents once again. “Finding Dory” opens up the world we saw in “Finding Nemo” by adding a new slew of fun and lovable characters.

I especially loved Hank the Septopus, Destiny a near sighted Whale Shark, and a pair of Walrus’ comically protective of their perching rock. “Finding Dory” isn’t just a callback to the original film, but the narrative literally centers on Dory trying to find her memories and her family which ultimately represents herself. DeGeneres is even better here than in the first film as Dory, as she injects a lot of complexity and true emotions in the character and her journey to find her family which she is convinced will help improve her memory in the long run. “Finding Dory” is fantastic as director Andrew Stanton and co. give Dory brand new obstacles and dimensions, and comprise a funny, exciting, and incredibly heartbreaking tale of overcoming a handicap and leaning on family when the world is at its darkest.

The Good Dinosaur (2015) [Blu-ray/DVD/Digital]

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It’s a shame that “The Good Dinosaur” will forever be regarded as one of Pixar’s black sheep titles. Because as a whole it’s one of their most original and unique tales that channels the modern Western to invoke a tale about family, getting over one’s own shortcomings, and learning that life is often senseless and unfair. Pixar uses the aesthetic of the dinosaur to help induce the idea of nature and how the environment around us is both an element we must fear and respect in the long run. As with most Pixar films, “The Good Dinosaur” doesn’t justify the idea of death with simplicity, nor does it coddle the intended target audience. It instead takes us through a large journey and tells us that yes, life is hard, yes life is very unfair, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop living.

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Sanjay’s Super Team (2015)

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Director Sanjay Patel’s short film can pretty much apply to anyone who is either an immigrant or a minority growing up in America. Too often when you come from an ethnic background, living in the country can help you lose sight of your heritage very easily, and you almost find stuff like family and heritage almost unimportant. For young Sanjay, it’s a matter of perspective that gets him to realize that his heritage is rich, interesting and quite magical.

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Twenty Years Later, “Toy Story” Still Works As the Beginning of a Saga

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I was lucky enough to be one of the folks that went to see “Toy Story” in theaters back in 1995 when Pixar premiered their newest animated adventure. It was an amazing experience then, and it is still one of the best movie going experiences of my life. Back then, the very notion of a motion picture completely computer animated was absurd and made people gasp in shock, even when Pixar boasted about creating a large realistic world. Just producing Homer Simpson in computer animation for a segment of “The Simpsons” cost a lot of money and took immense man hours, just think of a movie based around the medium. “Toy Story” is gladly not a film you’d expect to be computer animated since Pixar takes great pains to unfold a world that’s charming, magical, and grounded in enough reality to enjoy.

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Monsters University (2013)

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With Pixar’s “Monsters University,” the company has its heart in the right place once again, except it’s in a different spot this time around. With their prequel, Pixar creates a respectable and fun companion piece to “Monsters, Inc.” Pixar’s dabbling in to the ever heinous prequel works as a part of the mythology of Sullie and Mike Wazowksi and how they became companions. If Mike isn’t a scarer why does he work at Monsters, Inc? And how did Sullivan become such a great scarer? It’s because of the bond that the pair share; and the prequel gives us a wider back story on the core characters of the monsters series.

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Inside Out (2015)

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It’s remarkable how Pixar continues to top themselves in the arena of family entertainment that’s artistic, pleasing, and so multifaceted. “Inside Out” is that rare family film that demonstrates originality by appealing to its audience and tries to understand the experience of being a child in the modern age, rather than condescend or berate. “Inside Out” is one of Pixar’s greatest films to date; its complex, it’s heartbreaking, it’s sweet, and damn it, it should go down in the annals of animated Disney masterpieces.

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