Today marks ten years since the release of a film that is not only a phenomenal accomplishment in the realm of animation, but is perhaps the greatest superhero movie of all time. Too much? Not even close! The story Brad Bird developed has profundity effervescing from practically every line of dialogue. The film’s messages against praising mediocrity and of promoting heroism, duty and family resound as relevant and revivifying in our squishy, politically correct world. I could go on for two and a half years about how much I think of this film, but I may lose a few of you in my philosophical musings along the way. You got me monologuing!
Thirteen years ago today, (ooh, spooky!) Pixar released their fourth full-length animated feature: Monster’s Inc. Directed by Pete Docter, with a screenplay from the likes of Andrew Stanton, this film was destined for success. Monsters Inc. follows the lives of James P. Sullivan (Sulley) and Mike Wazowski as they work on the scare floor of the biggest company in Monstropolis, Monster’s Incorporated. This film may get blown past by some as one of many “good” films Pixar did in the early 2000’s, but Monster’s Inc. deserves to be hailed as one of the great animated films in history because it truly is.
So June 29, 2007 doesn’t sound like that long ago, but along with being the release date of Pixar’s 8th feature film, Ratatouille, this was also the day that the first iPhone came out. Crazy, right? I can’t imagine life without iPhones—and I can’t imagine a Pixar repertoire without Remy and Linguini. Not since Lady and the Tramp’s spaghetti scene has such delectable food and atmosphere been shown in an animated film. However, it wasn’t always peaches and cream for this culinary classic.
“Fire up the ovens, Muffin Man! We got a big order to fill!”
Released three years almost to the date after Shrek, Shrek 2 (May 19, 2004) is a remarkably successful follow-up to the blockbuster DreamWorks film. It remains in the top ten highest grossing animated films of all time and the top ranking of the Shrek features. The 105 minutes really fly by in this film full of familiar Shrek-ish humor, shocking reveals, and awesome character intros “I’m sorry, but the position of annoying talking animal has already been filled.”
Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo, the wonderful thing about Pooh bear is he’s such a lovable thing. On this day in 1977, Walt Disney Studios released the feature The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which is actually a compilation of three short films. Walt always wanted to make a feature-length Pooh film, but that wouldn’t happen until 2011, unless you count spinoff films like Piglet’s Big Movie and The Tigger Movie. The 1977 release includes the last animation Walt personally worked on with Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) as well as some timeless Sherman brothers songs. The film overall remains one of my favorite Disney classics.
Sixty-four years ago today, Walt Disney released his second princess fairy-tale story in hopes of matching the success of his first, Snow White. It had been eight years since the studio had come out with a full-length feature. “Package films” like Melody Time and Fun and Fancy Free had instead been released due to wartime budget cuts. The future of Walt Disney Studios depended on Cinderella doing well because Disney had put much more money into the film than was recommended. In the end, however, Cinderella did extremely well, being one of the top grossing films of 1950 and an enduring classic for every generation since its release.
“We’ll have a Dalmatian Plantation! What an inspiration!”
Walt Disney’s seventeenth feature-length animated film 101 Dalmatians came out January 25, 1961 and was a resounding success for the company. Sleeping Beauty had been a failure and had cost the company tons, so there was actually talk of shutting down the animation department. Walt was averse to the idea, but something had to be done to cut costs. 101 Dalmatians would be made for $2 million less than its predecessor thanks to a new Xeroxing technique that eliminated the ink department and it would be the highest grossing film of 1961 in the United States.
Fifteen years ago, Disney was shown again that they aren’t the only animation company capable of captivating audiences with award-winning music, story and design. The Prince of Egypt was DreamWorks’ first hand-drawn film and follows the story of Moses as told in Exodus of the Bible. The film was critically acclaimed and enjoyed fantastic box office numbers, being the second non-Disney animated film to top $100 million (the first was [drumroll, wait for it] The Rugrats Movie). Its numbers wouldn’t be matched by a non-Disney film until The Simpsons Movie in 1997.
“A Story About Toys”
Eighteen years ago, the world of animation changed irrevocably. The self-starters at the little animation company that produced (awesome) Listerine and Life Savers commercials had more up their sleeves than just realistic 3D rendering for the likes of George Lucas. Pixar’s Toy Story came out November 22, 1995 and the film’s reception couldn’t have been better if Shakespeare and Walt Disney produced a film scored by Beethoven and The Beatles.
Seventy-three years ago today, Walt Disney Productions released their third Animated Feature, Fantasia. I didn’t realize that this film was so closely released after Snow White and Pinocchio—in fact it was released the same year as Pinocchio! There are so many remarkable things about this film, which was initially a bomb in the box office, but which has gone on to be the 22nd in the US (when adjusted for inflation). It initially had mixed critical reviews, but today has a Fresh rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.