Even in short film form Toy Story manages to bring it time and again!
A handful of movies this week, I know, I’m just as surprised that I watched this many movies too,
Small Fry (2011, Angus MacLane, United States Of America) ****
Pixar can continue going to the well for these Toy Story inspired shorts because Small Fry was even better than Hawaiian Vacation. In a very short five or so minutes Small Fry manages to introduce some new and hilarious characters who are also able to bring thematic depth to the table. The actual small Buzz character plays a very minor part and that’s a good thing because it allows the film to explore other areas than just a miniature Buzz. Small Fry is another home run from the Toy Story Toons series, another hilarious and deep home run.
The Muppets (2011, James Bobin, United States Of America) ***1/2
It’s far too easy of a cop out to say that The Muppets works because of nostalgia. The Muppets works because of what it is saying about nostalgia, and because it’s really cute, funny, and awesome. There were really only two bits in the film that didn’t work for me, Jack Black’s initial appearance in the anger management group and Chris Cooper’s rap. Those moments aside The Muppets was sweet while remaining poignant and speaking very loudly to the idea of nostalgia in our society and how it most likely is not a bad thing. It was great to see Kermit and the gang on the big screen again, and Walter was a wonderful addition to the Muppet gang. Jason Segal and Amy Adams were well suited for their parts, and the cameos were the usual great stuff from a Muppet movie. There are a lot of reasons to see and love The Muppets, the bottom line is that The Muppets is a worthy addition to the Muppet canon.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966, Chuck Jones & Ben Washam, United States Of America) ***1/2
If not for a few small instances of the animation looking a tad unfinished, specifically the movements of the Grinch’s mouth, this would have been a masterpiece. As it stands How The Grinch Stole Christmas! is still a great movie, one that rightfully holds a place as a Christmas tradition. The story is tried and true, a classic in every sense of the word, and the animation is quite fetching. The songs, which according to my wife were lacking from the book and thus a major addition to the film, are catchy and devilish at the same time. Boris Karloff goes out on a high note, his Grinch is evil in tone of voice, but he always seems to be hiding some humanity beneath the surface. A great adaptation of a Dr. Seuss work, and another great film from Chuck Jones.
Broken Flowers (2005, Jim Jarmusch, France/United States Of America) ***1/2
What can I say, I love me some minimalist film making and acting. To say that Broken Flowers is a reserved movie would be an understatement. As a matter of fact I’m not sure what word I would use to describe how held back the entirety of Broken Flowers is. There’s a lot of quirk, sure, but the quirk worked for me because of how long Jim Jarmusch was willing to linger on every sequence of the film. Take a scene where Bill Murray is eating dinner with an ex and her husband. That scene is a big ball of quirk, but Mr. Murray plays the scene straight while Mr. Jarmusch lingers on the quirkiness and inherent awkwardness of the situation. Broken Flowers is one long awkward moment, and thanks to the wonderful shot selection of Mr. Jarmusch and the splendid acting of Mr. Murray, it’s a very funny and affecting kind of awkward.
Four great movies this week, now that is a week I can get behind. Every movie had something to offer that made me consider it for movie of the week. However, for its simple genius movie of the week honors go to Small Fry, another excellent entry in the Toy Story series of movies. Until next week, watch more movies!