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‘Toy Story 4’ Won’t Have an Animated Short, Which Could Be The Start of a New Trend

toy story 4

We’ve known for a while that Pixar has no intention of attaching an animated short of some kind to precede Toy Story 4, but a Disney representative recently made it official, per Slate:

Toy Story 4 will break with tradition by going without an animated short when it enters theaters June 21, a representative for Disney confirmed to Slate. That makes it the first Pixar movie without one since the original Toy Story in 1995…

Again, this isn’t a surprise. We would have had heard about a short premiering with the movie a long time ago, but there’s been no hint of anything, not even one of the Sparkshorts Pixar released on YouTube (some speculated they might at least show one of those for the sake of showing something).

I’m seeing a mix of reactions to this, with many Pixar followers assuming this to be an anomaly; surely, Pixar wouldn’t ditch a tradition they’ve held since A Bug’s Life, right? Others, like me, are less optimistic. Pixar now has a hand in helping Disney develop computer-animated shows for the Disney+ streaming service, and the Sparkshorts are a newer program meant to push boundaries and cultivate new voices in and around the animation community. Feature shorts might not be considered a necessary expense for a studio under new leadership.

I’m not implying that this was a call made by Pete Docter, who now leads Pixar creatively, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the company has decided to refocus their efforts on shows and cheaper shorts that will accomplish the same goals as the feature ones (they’re really meant to keep employees working in between film projects).

And it’s worth pointing out that Coco paved the way for gradual changes in how Disney and Pixar handle short films. In 2017, Coco was the first Pixar film to come with a Walt Disney Animation short: Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, which was met with severe disdain for its bizarrely long runtime.

Bottom line: short films don’t make much money, if any, for Pixar. But their animators can be put to good use helping Disney and other production companies with spin-off shows, like the upcoming Monsters at Work, though the extent of Pixar’s specific contribution to these and other Disney+ projects is a bit unclear at the moment.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Pixar just didn’t have a short film ready in time for Toy Story 4, and for whatever reason, they’re downplaying this sudden change. We’ll know soon enough when more news comes in about Onward, their next film arriving in theaters by next March.

UPDATE: Pixar has given an official explanation for why they didn’t make a short. You can read their response here.

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Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni


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The Pixar Detectives: Here’s Every Animated Movie Coming Out In 2017


This week, we Pixar Detectives (Jon Negroni and Kayla Savage) took a close look at the animated movies coming out in 2017, and our live audience helped us decide which movie to be most excited about!

To catch our show live (and win our weekly giveaways), be sure to tune in to Super News on Facebook every Wednesday at 7:00 P.M. Pacific Time.

Thanks for watching, and here are all of the movies we talked about:

  1. The Boss Baby – March 31
  2. Lego Batman Movie – February 10
  3. Despicable Me 3 – June 30
  4. Cars 3 – June 16
  5. Coco – November 22
  6. The Emoji Movie – August 4
  7. Captain Underpants – June 1
  8. Blazing Samurai – August 25
  9. The Nut Job 2 – August 18
  10. The Lego Ninjago Movie – September 22
  11. Animal Crackers – January 13

Enjoy the show! And if you have any suggestions for future episodes and prizes, please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni

 

How ‘Big Hero 6: The Series’ Could Bring Back Tadashi

Big Hero 6 is being made into an animated series on Disney XD, set for sometime in 2017. For those of us still hoping for a Tadashi comeback, this is a good thing.

You can read a full transcription of the video above here

Hey friends, hope you enjoy the video this week. My new channel, Jon in Theory, is growing pretty well so far, and the feedback has been awesome since last week’s Doctor Strange video.

Be sure to send me your content suggestions, even if it involves topics I’ve already covered on this site. I’m even planning an updated Pixar Theory episode, which would be quite the undertaking. Again, send me any ideas you think are worth exploring.

One last thing: I want to plug my weekly live show yet again, The Pixar Detectives, which you can check out on Super News. Every Wednesday at 7pm (Pacific), Kayla Savage and I nerd out about Pixar and Disney movies, and we’ve been doing weekly giveaways, like Pixar T-Shirts, paperback copies of The Pixar Theory, and plenty more.

The audience on that show has become huge in recent weeks, and while that’s great, I’m definitely hoping more of you lovely readers check in as well to see what all the noise is about. Last week, for example, we did a live tutorial on how you can draw Doctor Strange as a Pixar character. Next week, we’ll be exploring Moana during an on-location pre-screening, so be sure to check that out, too.

Alright, that’s all from me. Let me know your Big Hero 6 theories in the comments below!


Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


 

 

Review: ‘Sausage Party’ Should Have Been a Lot More Satisfying

sausage party review

Sausage Party is an adult animated movie that’s been in the works for six years, and it’s a concept that’s been swimming inside the head of Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill since as far back as 2007. And their original conceit for the film has lasted through the majority of the marketing, narrowed down to one interesting question: what if our food had feelings?

Lambasting the “secret life” trope that computer animated movies have been breezily reproducing since Toy Story (coincidentally coming full circle with this year’s Secret Life of Pets, the most brazen copy of Pixar’s first film yet), Sausage Party positioned itself as the Deadpool of animated movies. It was a much-needed satire that could let us reflect on the good and bad of modern animated comedy, cleansing our palates for whatever comes next.

Instead, the film is more like God’s Not Dead, but for atheists.

Set in a grocery store to the tune of a musical number straight out of whatever Disney movie you watched last, Sausage Party focuses on the lives of food, jars, containers, bags, and pretty much any inanimate object the plot chooses to put a face on (which is by itself a humorous parody of Toy Story). The food “people” of Shopwell’s are convinced that getting bought by “gods,” i.e. people, sends them to the “Great Beyond,” or Heaven in case you thought that wasn’t overt enough.

sausage party review

After a mishap that separates some of the main characters, we watch a series of disparate subplots unfold. One group of the food learns the truth about how horrific it is to get eaten, while another group wanders around the grocery store engaging with racist stereotypes of other food, segregated into their own “aisles.”

There are three critical flaws in Sausage Party that make the film an overall disappointment. First, the film is a confusing mess when it comes to narrative. The pacing of the trailer (a dramatic unveiling of the food quickly realizing that getting bought is their version of hell) works for comedic effect because it’s a focused story that gets to the good stuff, quick. In the actual film, the humor of watching food get massacred is almost a side note, occurring later into the movie away from most of the characters you care about.

Watching Sausage Party, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of meandering with its plot and characters. Scenes linger a little too long on uninteresting subplots that shift the humor toward food puns, existential hand-holding, and some of the laziest race jokes you’ve seen outside of films like Disaster Movie. In fact, this is probably the closest any of us will ever get inside the mind of Carlos Mencia.

sausage party review

This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it weren’t for the second critical flaw of this movie, which is the humor. While Sausage Party has its fair share of well-crafted jokes, they’re unfortunately buried under weightless paragraphs of juvenile expletives, inevitably registering as vocal filler by the end of the first act. It’s almost as if the writers inserted f-bombs and s-bombs into a finished script simply to remind the audience that it’s fine for them to be watching what is otherwise a cheeky animated film that looks like it should be for children.

The final fatal flaw of Sausage Party is its message, or plurality of ill-conceived messages. At times, Sausage Party says something genuinely insightful about what it means to believe in something without proof, and whether or not it’s worth living life if you’re convinced there’s no possibility of hope. For many atheists and agnostics, this could have been a meaningful, even thoughtful representation of their frustrations within a world that mostly rejects their naysaying of a literal God or afterlife.

But Sausage Party is far too illogical and inconsistent with its message to be anything but a superficial bullet list of clichéd beliefs, about as substantial as junk food. It’s the animated equivalent of sitting through a conversation with a college stoner who loves to hear himself talk and inspire fear through self-prescribed fatalism, even though none of his metaphors or analogies hold water.

sausage party review

If all this weren’t enough, Sausage Party is also lacking in much entertainment in between the big moments. Sparse dialogue between characters is just barely passable, if not a little off-tone from the rest of the film’s irreverent attitude. And minor visual gags are about as intellectually satirical as a bumper sticker saying “DIXAR” instead of Pixar. Get it?

Ultimately, Sausage Party is a wasted opportunity of a brilliant idea. What would have worked as a dark, thought-provoking short film was stretched into a dumbed down think piece about how awesome and satisfying humanism would be if everyone was on board for one crazy day.

Grade: D

Extra Credits:

  • A few things kept me from marking Sausage Party with a straight “F.” First, it did make me laugh at times, though about as often as this year’s Ghostbusters did. But the main reason is that I felt completely deceived by this purported “satire” of animated films. It hardly is, and we deserve better.
  • Another thing I did like, most of the time, was the film’s willingness to recreate classic film scenes with food. Unfortunately, none of these homages ever amounted to much, save for the Saving Private Ryan scene you can see in the trailer.
  • This is Seth Rogen’s first screenplay for an animated film, and it’s the same team from This is the End (with many actors from that film lending their voices for this film). While that film felt quite original and frequently insightful, Sausage Party is almost its polar opposite in terms of a tight script and unique ideas.

    Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


X-Men Through the Looking Glass

x-men through the looking glass

This week on the Now Conspiring, we review X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass. We also cover some pressing entertainment news and debate whether or not Fox should give the X-Men rights back to Marvel Studios.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Do you think X-Men movies should be made by Marvel now?

Go on…X-Men Through the Looking Glass

Review: ‘Zootopia’ Is a Preachy Comedy, But Not In a Bad Way

zootopia review

Unlike the scores of other animated movies starring talking animals with clothes, Zootopia opens with a lengthy explanation for why the creatures of their world are “evolved” enough to stand upright and build cities. And it’s at this point that the predator vs. prey racial dynamics are introduced, setting the tone for what is mostly a two-note movie about how bigotry and tribalism can manifest when we work to “be anything we want.”

The hero for this adventure is Judy Hopps (voiced perfectly by Ginnifer Goodwin), a small bunny from the boroughs who dares to have a job mostly held by larger mammals and predators (for the sake of keeping things simple, the movie only features mammals).

That job is being a police officer in Zootopia, which is this world’s “big city” filled with hopes and dreams for animals of all shapes and sizes, or so it’s advertised. One of the unique flavors of this animated movie about culture relations is how these animals actually live amongst each other. Each part of the city is geared toward a different environment suited for different species, and we observe the implications of each location throughout the running time.

Often, these shared spaces bring about their own baggage for the creatures of Zootopia, and it’s no different for the first bunny to become a police officer. Judy Hopps passes at the top of her class, yet her family still worries she won’t be able to coexist with predators in such a dangerous environment.

For the first half of Zootopia, subtle details  like Judy’s unwillingness then willingness to carry around fox-repellent to protect herself illuminate some of the subtle prejudice sprinkled throughout. Only to come about in an unexpected twist that says something meaningful about the very tropes Disney has championed for decades.

zootopia review

Much of the movie centers around Judy’s reluctant friendship with a hustling fox (voiced by Jason Bateman) who helps her track down creatures going missing throughout Zootopia. Their teamwork is probably the most genuine chemistry we get in the first half of Zootopia, as their values are mismatched — though not exaggerated — enough to provide some bits for clever comedy. And ultimately, their relationship is what elevates the movie to being a must-see.

That said, the film suffers a few lingering flaws, such as a simplified resolution to the disappearing cases and some worn gags and dialogue that borrow a little too liberally from buddy copy movies, Chinatown, and The Godfather. But for the first time in years, it seems Disney is comfortable creating inside jokes for its movies, poking fun at Frozen on multiple occasions, as well as some of its other movies dressed up as animals.

Further, Zootopia has more of an imagination than any of the other recent Disney computer animated movies, even Big Hero 6. This is one of Disney’s most carefully considered and beautifully detailed worlds ever, as Zootopia itself actually feels like a world designed by animals.

Despite some of its weak points, Zootopia delivers a solid punch in the final act that will resonate with both adults and children. It will undoubtedly start helpful conversations among families concerning the prejudice and bigotry that coincidentally occurs between the police and civilians of America, for instance. But beyond all the messages and preachiness of Zootopia, there’s a sincere cast of characters who make these challenging themes come to life in the best way possible.

Grade: A-

 

Extra Credits

  • Some of you may be wondering if I now agree with Germain Lussier that Zootopia is the best Disney film in 20 years. I don’t, simply because Mulan is stronger, but I can understand why many people will prefer this to FrozenWreck-It Ralph, and Tangled.
  • And then there are people who say this is the best since Beauty and the Beast. Those people need to calm down.
  • Sitting through the first half of Zootopia is not easy, actually. I thought it dragged quite a bit, and a lot of the jokes didn’t land for me. Things pick up Frozen-style later on, but you’ll still be entertained enough by the amazing visuals to let it slide.
  • What they did with Nick Wilde’s character was genius, restraining from making him yet another “Han Solo” type. Wish they had been kinder to Bogo as a character, though Idris Elba does his best with this annoyingly familiar police chief.
  • I did not care fro the “Shakira Gazelle” thing. It felt more like product placement than a real character existing in an animal city. Weird sentence, I know.
  • I wish I could get into spoilers, because there’s so much to talk about. Needless to say, this is akin to Frozen‘s dismantling of the “strangers falling in love after just meeting” trope, but with some more serious subject material. Disney better not lose John Lasseter. anytime soon.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Review: ‘Inside Out’ Is More Than Some Feelings

I’ve written a more comprehensive review for Inside Out elsewhere, but I thought it would be fitting to craft a shorter review for this site’s readers, many of them being longtime fans of Pixar Animation Studios.

Yes, Inside Out is the latest Pixar feature. It takes you inside the head of an 11-year old girl and tells you her story through her five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.

Directed and produced by the team behind Up, this new story is all about the struggles of growing up. Its lessons aren’t cliche, however, in that the final message isn’t simply “do whatever makes you happy.” This is a staple of children movies that Inside Out rightfully tosses in favor of emotional truth.

inside out review

The movie doesn’t pull its heart-wrenching punches, but it’s also decisively clever and humorous. I haven’t laughed this much during a Pixar movie since Finding Nemo, which I consider Pixar’s funniest film ever. For that reason and others, I consider Inside Out Pixar’s overall best movie since Finding Nemo, and I’ve heard many say that the movie even surpasses that level of praise.

It’s easy to give Inside Out a little too much credit. Many of us have been yearning for an original Pixar feature of this caliber for years, and I’ll admit that I wanted this movie to be good. But I know myself, and I think I’m giving Inside Out the proper amount of praise based on both viewings I’ve had of the film so far.

Grade: A.

This is due to some minor nitpicks I have, including a missing antagonist for the movie and some of the film’s over-reliance on themes from other Pixar movies. If you’re curious about the score, then you can check out my full review on Moviepilot, where I discuss the film in detail.

Extra Credits

  • Yes, the movie will likely make you cry, so I suggest you pick a 3D showing that will hide your eyes.
  • Richard Kind voices Bing Bong, who has some of the film’s biggest laughs, next to…
  • Anger. Lewis Black killed it as my favorite emotion of the bunch.
  • I watched this movie in San Fransisco, which is where the movie takes place. This hyped up the setting for me, in that I recognized some of the locations they took right out of the map. I confirmed this with Ralph Eggleston, the art director, when I met him a few months back. Great guy.
  • LAVA is a fun short, especially if you love the ukulele as much as I do. For that reason, it’s a lot higher on my list of favorite shorts than some others, but I also didn’t love Blue Umbrella as much, so my opinion is weird.
  • Yes, this fits into the Pixar Theory. More on that later.

Inside Out was directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen. It was produced by Jonas Rivera and stars Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Lewis Black (Anger), Bill Hader (Fear), and Kaitlyn Dias (Riley).

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