Montreal Film Journal


Toy Story (John Lasseter) 73
[ review ]

A Bug's Life (John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton) 48
[ This is pure eye candy like all Pixar movies but, maybe because "Antz" covered the same grounds first (and better), this particular flick is not so involving. The humor is childish, the characters are forgettable... This is no "Toy Story". ]

Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon) 75
[ review ]

Monsters, Inc. (Lee Unkrich, Pete Docter and David Silverman) 74
[ review ]

Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich) 86
[ review ]

The Incredibles (Brad Bird) 60
[ review ]

Cars (John Lasseter and Joe Ranft) 63
[ review ]

Ratatouille (Brad Bird) 85
[ Not only has Pixar managed to make rats adorable in this flick, they also got away with putting them in a restaurant kitchen, the last place we would usually want to find them! Voiced by Patton Oswalt, the titular rodent only wants to cook, but it's hard out there for a gourmet rat... Until he teams with a dishwasher who becomes his front so he can become the best chef in Paris! "Ratatouille" is a wonderfully entertaining movie which proves that cartoons don't have to be only for kids, they can be one of the most sensational forms of expression there. With an amazing attention to detail, Brad Bird has created an eye-popping film which makes brilliant use of light, textures and virtual camerawork. The character design and the voice performances are great as well and most of all, the story is original, unpredictable, funny and moving, too, with its theme about how one can transcend his nature and become what he dreams of, no matter what his origins are. Oh, and that epiphany near the end by the critic character voiced by Peter O'Toole? Brought me to tears. ]

WALL•E (Andrew Stanton) 93
[ review ]

Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson) 72
[ After a charming little scene where our protagonist, Carl Fredricksen, meets his future wife while they're both children dreaming of going on amazing adventures, we're shown the next 60-some years of their life together through a series of happy memories set to Michael Giacchino's extraordinary classical score. Who knew a wordless montage could be so moving? Carl and his wife lived a wonderful life, but one he feels was not devoid of regrets, of missed opportunities. Notably, the fact that they never got to go on that trip to South America they always dreamed of before his wife passed away. But gosh darn it, it ain't over 'til it's over, right? So the old guy ties up thousands of ballons to his house and up! it goes into the sky, on its way south, way south...

This is pure fantasy, of course, but it's driven by real sadness and real hope, which makes it incredibly poetic and beautiful. Visually, also, the sight of this flying house with all those bright, colourful balloons is a treat... So much so that once Carl actually gets to South America, it's a bit of a downer. What follows is less lyrical, more conventionally cartoonish, you know, for kids, what with Carl soon being followed by a Boy Scout, a big silly bird and a talking dog (don't ask). There's also a conflict that arises involving a bona fide old-timey adventurer, which is okay but again, more typical than what came before. Still, sad old Carl remains endearing, talking to his dead wife throughout the film. And of course, the thing is absolutely gorgeously crafted, which is to be expected from Pixar. It's just that whereas the first act of "Up" is four-star great, the remainder is "only" three-star good... ]

Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich) 86
[ Opening with a wildly enjoyable Western/sci-fi sequence with the feel of Spielberg and Zemeckis's movie-movies, climaxing with a truly scary glimpse of mass death that has actually been linked by some scribes to the Holocaust, and filled with awesome action, funny bits and moving moments throughout, this brilliant final chapter in the "Toy Story" trilogy outdoes its predecessors in every way, thriving on the kind of boundless imagination a kid displays during playtime, indiscriminately throwing together cowboy, space ranger, Mr. Potato Head, aliens, dinosaur and others, this typically technically flawless Pixar production is also inhabited by a sense of loss, of abandonment, of being "grown out of" as childhood ends... It makes one nostalgic about his own lost, thrown out or given away toys, even though they might never have been as endearing as Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang.

Plotwise, "Toy Story 3" takes the form of a prison (or POW or, again, Holocaust) film, with our heroes struggling to escape from a daycare center where toys are ruled over by an "evil bear who smells of strawberries" (!) and his cronies, who include the creepy Big Baby, a screaming cymbal-banging monkey and "girl's toy" Ken. As mentioned, it all works wonders, delivering plenty of thrills, laughs and maybe even some tears. Between this and "Shrek Forever After", 2010 is proving to be an amazing year for animated sequel. ]