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Onward

In this animated film from Pixar, Ian and Barley, two brothers who lost their father to an illness, are given the opportunity to have their father back for one day through the use of an old magic wand. When the spell becomes botched, the brothers set off on an adventure to find the magic stone that will result in being able to see their dad. I liked the movie mostly for its message about parenting and being about to recognize the amazing things we do without even realizing how amazing they are. I would not consider this a film that …

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Soul

In this latest animation effort from Pixar studios, Joe Gardner is a music teacher at a public school in New York City who is a piano player constantly dreaming about jazz music. One day, he gets his break when he gets an opportunity to play with Dorothea Williams, a renowned musician. On the way to his debut, he suffers an accident and, through a series of events, finds himself assigned as a mentor to a particularly precocious spirit who can’t seem to find his way to becoming a body on Earth. The film is quite stunning. The animation is superior; …

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Wolfwalkers

This is the latest animated film by the same director who created The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. Robyn and her father Bill have stationed in Ireland in 1650 at an outpost overseen by a cruel ruler. Robyn dreams of hunting wolves, like her father. One day, Robyn meets Mebh, who turns out to be a wolf walker, a creature who by day is in human form but at night can leave the sleeping body and roam the world as a wolf. This is a really beautiful film. The story is based on Celtic legend but feels …

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Weathering With You

This film is a follow-up to the wonderful Makoto Shinkai 2016 film Your Name. Hodaka is a 16-year-old boy who runs away from his home on one of the islands to the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is experiencing record intense and long-lasting rains. There, struggling to find his way as a minor in a big city, he meets Hina, a girl who has the ability to bring sunshine for short periods of time. When she realizes this, the two of them start a business to ensure that special events have sun. I love this film. The animation is very colorful, …

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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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