Here Are The 2017 Annie Award Nominations!


On December 4th, the Annie Award nominations were announced.  The Annies honor the year’s best in animation.  This year, just like almost everyone else who has handed out an award, the Annies are very appreciative of Coco.

Anyway, there are a lot of nominations so instead of posting them all below, I’m just going to post a few key categories.  For a full list, check out the post at Awardscircuit.

Best Animated Feature

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
DreamWorks Animation

Cars 3
Pixar Animation Studios

Coco
Pixar Animation Studios

Despicable Me 3
Illumination

The Boss Baby
DreamWorks Animation

Best Animated Feature-Independent

In This Corner of the World
Taro Maki, GENCO, Inc. and Masao Maruyama,
MAPPA Co., Ltd

Loving Vincent
BreakThru Films, Production Company Trademark
Films, Co-Production Company

Napping Princess
Nippon TV
The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales
Folivari / Panique! / Studiocanal

The Breadwinner
Cartoon Saloon / Aircraft Pictures / Melusine
Productions

Voice Acting In An Animated Feature

Nick Kroll in Captain Underpants

Anthony Gonzalez in Coco

Saara Chaudry in The Breadwinner

Laara Sadiq in The Breadwinner

Zach Galifianakis in The Lego Batman Movie

Advertisements

Playing Catch-Up: Sausage Party (dir by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan)


Sausage Party opens with a scene that could have come straight for a heart-warming Pixar film.  It’s morning and, in a gigantic grocery store called Shopwell’s, all of the grocery items are excited about the start of a new day.  The hot dogs are singing.  The buns are harmonizing.  The produce is bragging about how fresh they are.  Everyone is hoping that this will be the day that they are selected to leave the aisles of Shopwell’s and that they’ll be taken to the Great Beyond.  At Shopwell’s, shoppers are viewed as being Gods and being selected by a God means…

…well, no one is quite sure what it means but everyone’s sure that it has to be something good.  Surely, the Great Beyond couldn’t be something terrible, right?  At least, that’s what everyone assumes until a previously purchased jar of Honey Mustard returns to the store and tells a hot dog named Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen, who also co-wrote the film) that the Great Beyond is a lie.  The Great Beyond is not a paradise.  Instead, it’s something terrible.  Before Honey Mustard can be persuaded to give more details, it leaps off the shelf, choosing suicide over being restocked.

What could it all mean?  Well, there’s not too much time to worry about that because, even as Honey Mustard is committing suicide, a customer is selecting both Frank and Frank’s girlfriend, a bun named Brenda (Kristin Wiig).  They’re going to the Great Beyond together!  Yay!  Except…

…calamity!  A shopping cart collision leads to both Frank and Brenda being thrown to the floor.  While their friends are taken to the Great Beyond, Frank and Brenda are left to wander the store.  It turns out that Shopwell’s really comes alive after the lights go down and the doors are locked.  All of the grocery items leave their shelves and have one big party.  Frank seeks answers about the Great Beyond from a bottle of liquor named Firewater (Bill Hader).  Firewater has all the answers but you need to be stoned to truly understand.  This is a Seth Rogen movie, after all.  Meanwhile…

…Frank’s friends, the ones who survived the earlier cart collision, are discovering that the Great Beyond is not what they thought it was…

I apologize for all the ellipses but Sausage Party is the kind of movie that warrants them.  This is a rambling, occasionally uneven, and often hilariously funny little movie.  (I know that there were allegations that the film’s animators were treated horribly.  That’s sad to hear, not least because they did a truly wonderful job.)  Sausage Party was perhaps the ultimate stoner film of 2016, a comedy with a deeply philosophical bent that plays out with a logic that feels both random and calculated at the same time.

(If you’ve ever had the three-in-the-morning conversation about “What if our entire universe is just a speck of dust in a bigger universe?”, you’ll immediately understand what Sausage Party is trying to say.)

It’s also an amazingly profane little movie but again, that’s a huge reason why it works.  Yes, a lot of the humor is juvenile and hit-and-miss.  (I cringed whenever the film’s nominal villain, a douche voiced by Nick Kroll, showed up.)  But for every joke that misses, there’s a joke that works perfectly.  Interestingly, for all the silliness that’s inherent in the idea of making a film about talking grocery items, there’s a strain a very real melancholy running through Sausage Party.  Sausage Party may be a dumb comedy but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a lot on its mind.

Since it’s a Seth Rogen film, the cast is full of familiar voices.  Yes, James Franco can be heard.  So can Paul Rudd, Danny McBride, Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson.  They all sound great, bringing vibrant life to the film’s collection of consumables and condiments.

Sausage Party.  After watching it, it’s possible you’ll never eat another hot dog.

The Indiana Film Journalists Honor Moonlight and Rebecca Hall!


moonlight

The Indiana Film Journalists announced their picks for the best of 2016 on the 19th!  Along with picking Moonlight for best film, they also gave best actress to the destined-to-be-nominated-some-day Rebecca Hall for Christine!

Best Film
Winner: “Moonlight”
Runner-up: “Hell or High Water”
Other Finalists (listed alphabetically):
American Honey”
“Arrival”
“Deadpool”
“Everybody Wants Some!!”
“La La Land”
“The Lobster”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Sing Street”

Best Animated Feature
Winner: “Kubo and the Two Strings”
Runner-Up: “Sausage Party”

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: “The Handmaiden”
Runner-Up: “A Man Called Ove”

Best Documentary
Winner: “O.J.: Made in America”
Runner-Up: “Weiner”

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Runner-up: Taylor Sheridan, “Hell or High Water”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
Runner-up: Eric Heisserer, “Arrival”

Best Director
Winner: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Runner-up: Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Actress
Winner: Rebecca Hall, “Christine”
Runner-up: Natalie Portman, “Jackie”

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Viola Davis, “Fences”
Runner-up: Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”

Best Actor
Winner: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Runner-up: Ethan Hawke, “Born to Be Blue”

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Runner-up: Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”

Best Vocal/Motion Capture Performance
Winner: Alan Tudyk, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
Runner-up: Nick Kroll, “Sausage Party”

Best Ensemble Acting
Winner: “Everybody Wants Some!!”
Runner-up: “Don’t Think Twice”

Best Musical Score
Winner: Mica Levi, “Jackie”
Runner-up: Justin Hurwitz, “La La Land”

Breakout of the Year
Winner: Robert Eggers, “The Witch”
Runner-up: Sasha Lane, “American Honey”

Original Vision Award
Winner: “The Lobster”
Runner-up: “Sausage Party”

The Hoosier Award 
Winner: Andrew Cohn, “Night School”

Film Review: Vacation (dir by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley)


Vacation_poster

Oh, what sweet Hell is this?

I have definitely seen worse movies than Vacation but it’s hard to think of one that left me as annoyed.  As I watched this movie, I found myself wondering how anyone could have made as many wrong decisions while directing one comedy.  Then I remembered that this film had two directors and I was left even more annoyed.  Seriously, couldn’t one of these two credited directors look at the footage and say, “Wow, we’re making a really crappy, unfunny, and mean-spirited comedy.  Maybe we should reconsider the tone of some of these scenes.  Maybe we should just abandon this all together…”

This film is a reboot of the old Vacation movies that Chevy Chase used to make in the 80s and 90s.  (Christmas Vacation is the one that everyone loves but there were others as well.)  In the original Vacation movies, Chase played Clark Griswold.  Clark would always try to take his family on the perfect vacation and would slowly lose his mind as his best laid plans always crashed into a wall of chaotic reality.  The original Vacation films were all uneven but likable, largely because Clark seemed to be so sincere in his madness.

In Vacation, Ed Helms plays Clark’s son, Rusty Griswold.  Rusty is all grown up and living in the suburbs.  He has a job as a pilot for a cheap airline.  He’s married to Debbie (Christina Applegate), who was known as Debbie Do Anything in college.  He has two sons and they’re both annoying.  James (Skyler Gisondo) is overly sensitive and plays guitar.  Kevin (Steele Stebbins) is a psychopath who is constantly bullying his older brother and dropping F-bombs every chance he gets.  (A little kid saying “Fuck,” is only funny the first few times you hear it.  After the 20th time, it just gets boring.)  James sings self-pitying songs.  Kevin continually tries to murder his brother by putting a plastic bag over his head.

Rusty wants to take his family to Walley World, the same destination that Clark wanted to visit in the original Vacation.  This involves driving across the country in an Albanian car that’s always on the verge of exploding.  Along the way, they stop off at various locations and have adventures.

And not all of the adventures are bad.  Occasionally, the film is saved by a funny cameo.  Charlie Day shows up as a suicidal river guide and he’s genuinely funny.  You find yourself wishing that he had a bigger role.  And then there’s a scene where Rusty and Debbie attempt to have sex at the Four Corners and are caught by cops from four different states, all of whom promptly start to argue about who has jurisdiction.

But those scenes are the exception.  For the most part, Vacation is just a parade of uninspired scatological humor and missed opportunities.  When Rusty and the family drop in on his sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) and her well-endowed husband, Stone (Chris Hemsworth), Rusty spends a lot of time talking about how Audrey and Stone are politically conservative.  Once they arrive at Audrey’s home, we are shown a picture of Stone hanging out with Charlton Heston but, otherwise, Stone and Rusty’s political differences are never mentioned again.  And don’t get me wrong — I wasn’t particularly looking forward to having to sit through a political argument between Ed Helms and Chris Hemsworth.  But still, why set up a joke if you’re too lazy to include the punch line?

Of course, the main problem is that you just don’t care about these Griswolds.  As characters, they’re all pretty unlikable and therefore, you really don’t care if their vacation is a success or not.  Poor Christina Applegate!  After holding her own against Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner in both Anchorman films, she’s given nothing to do here, beyond being the punchline in a few misogynistic jokes about being wild before marrying Rusty.

As weak as all the characters are, Rusty is the main problem.  He can’t handle the fact that his wife has had more sexual partners than he has.  He can’t discipline his youngest demon child.  He has absolutely no good advice to give to his oldest son.  When Rusty drags them across the country to Walley World, it’s not because he wants them to have a good vacation but because he wants to recreate a memory from his childhood.  If Chevy Chase’s Clark was always unhinged but sincere, Rusty Griswold is just an asshole and it’s impossible to care about him.  It doesn’t help that Ed Helms, as talented as he may be, has a neediness to him that can be amazingly off-putting whenever he’s cast in a lead role.  He always seems to be trying way too hard to convince the audience to love him.

Incidentally, Rusty and the family do make time to visit Grandpa Clark.  Chevy Chase looks even worse than he did on Community and it’s all pretty boring.

My advice would be to take a vacation from seeing Vacation.

Vacation Shows That Chris Hemsworth Is Quite Mighty (Red Band)


Vacation2015

Any kid growing up during the 1980’s remembers having seen the original Chevy Chase comedy classic National Lampoon’s Vacation. While subsequent sequels weren’t as memorable as the first film it didn’t diminish just how fun that original one was.

It’s been many, many years since the last Vacation film but now it looks like we have a new one set to release this year. Chevy Chase returns, though it would seem it might be more of a cameo. This latest film in the series looks to focus on Clark Griswold’s oldest son, Rusty, who now yearns to relive the happiest time of his life as a child: the road trip to Wally World,

The trailer looks to up return the raunch in the series with some help from Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. From looking at the trailer’s payoff it looks like Hemsworth is quite mighty indeed.

Vacation is set to release this July, 31, 2015.