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The Willoughby

The Willoughby children live with probably the world’s most selfish parents. The children are left to fend for themselves while the parents feast on lavish meals; mom spends her evenings knitting silly things, and the father watches. When the children decide they have had enough, they hatch a scheme to send their parents on a trip around the world that they likely won’t survive. I liked the movie, but not as much as I thought I would. The premise is unusual for an animated movie. The film is full of vibrant colors and fun action sequences. And, it is a …

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Away

Latvia: This is probably one of the most unusual animated films I have seen. It reminded me a lot of the wonderful Red Turtle that came out a few years ago in that there is no dialog at all. The film, told in 5 chapters, starts out with a boy, probably a teenager, who is dangling from a parachute in a tree. When he regains consciousness, he is confronted by a large, menacing figure who pursues him throughout the film. The boy discovers a map that will take him to the other side of the island where civilization is, and …

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My Life as a Zucchini

I missed this film in 2017, which was nominated for a best animated film Oscar that year. Ikar, who likes to be called Zucchini, lives at home with his alcoholic mother. After an unfortunate accident, Zucchini ends up in an orphanage with other kids like him who were abandoned or orphaned by their parents or removed from their homes. This is such an adorable movie. The stop-motion animation is fantastic; those big heads on the kids’ bodies are so full of emotional expression. It is amazing how such a range of emotions can be captured in an animated format. There …

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Missing Link

An animated film about a world explorer of unusual phenomena, Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) who discovers Bigfoot (voiced by Zach Galifianakis). Frost and an old flame Adelina (voiced by Zoe Saldana) take Bigfoot on an adventure to the Himalayas to connect him with the Yeti, his long-lost cousins. This is a really fun movie. The stop-motion animation is wonderful, and the colors are quite beautiful and rich. The story is nice – it has what you want from an animated film: a lot of good humor and a good, heartfelt story behind it. The film does race …

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Klaus

Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzmann) is a spoiled brat who cannot hold a job and just wants to sleep on silk sheets and have his dinner served to him. His father, who I think owns the world postal system, banishes Jesper to a tiny island Smeerensburg somewhere near the North Pole with the instruction that he can return once he proves he has delivered 6000 pieces of mail. The island is home to two factions that have been feuding as long as anyone can remember. Here, he meets a burned-out schoolteacher (voiced by Rashida Jones) and a strange man named …

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Toy Story 4

And the franchise continues. This time, Woody is still feeling a bit lost without his childhood buddy Andy. One day, his new child, Bonnie, creates a new toy she calls Forky. Forky, who just thinks he is “trash”, keeps trying to escape back to the trash can. This leads Woody and the others on yet another Toy Story adventure. As with the other films in the series, the animation is great, the story is sweet, and there is a lot of great dialogue. I just couldn’t quite get interested. I think I am just through with the Toy Story franchise …

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I Lost My Body

(France) (The version on Netflix right now is dubbed English): This is the most unusual and creative animated film about a hand, which was detached from the body of Naoufel, a teenager who is living with his uncle and rather mean cousin. Two stories are intertwined: The first is the hand, which escaped from the laboratory and embarks on a rather perilous journey through Paris trying to find the rest of its body. The second is the story of Naoufel, who falls in love with a woman who he only knows through the apartment speaker after a botched pizza delivery. …

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

After several years of relative calm after Bricksburg was originally saved by Lucy and Rex, a new threat comes from invaders from outer space. Lucy is captured by the invaders, and it is up to Rex find Lucy and for both of them to once again save their city. I will start by saying that I don’t think this film worked nearly as well as the first one. My daughter called it right: the movie tries way too hard for its laughs. But at a deeper level, the laughs will come to those who are very young and respond to …

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I wasn’t totally sure about this movie – an animated version of Spider-Man that was reviewed well, but I couldn’t imagine how this could top the other Spiderman films (especially my favorite, Spider-Man 2). Well, I think this has become my favorite. This movie is incredible. First, it has exceptional animation, and it is filmed in such a way that you feel like you are inside a moving comic book. Every scene is fresh and takes you somewhere you don’t always expect to go. The film follows the traditional Spiderman story but brings to it a fresh twist with a …

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The Breadwinner

Parvana is a young girl growing up in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. Girls and women are expected to be fully covered at all times and not to be seen in public without a husband or close relative. One day, while they are on the street selling possessions to pay for food, her father makes one of the young Taliban soldiers angry, and the next day they arrest him and send him to prison. Parvana decides to cut her hair and pass as a boy to support her family and get her father out of prison. This film is exceptional; …

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