I'm a 32 year old male and my tastes in animation are broad and varied but they mainly include Disney movies. However, I like watching movies and shows that are different and seem to stand out to me.
Animation, Acting, Singing, Dancing
Animation that I love:
The Fox and the Hound, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Avatar: The Last Airbender
Raggedy Ann and Andy pretty much make this movie. Raggedy Ann is pop culture's ultimate sweetheart. Heck it even says in the movie that she possesses a heart made of candy. Andy is a rough and tumble kid who seems to be stuck in the era of Gene Kelly movies. But I think what I find most attractive about this movie is the two's relationship. The two's sibling love for each other is so unrealistic and yet somehow commendable because of its sweetness. Seriously. The two hang on each other so much, you'd think they were married instead of related.
The problems are many, but not the kind I couldn't overlook. My main issue was that I seriously wanted to kill that camel. Otherwise, it's like starlac said. Song after song after song with little story to speak of. Even the way it wraps itself up makes you suspicious of the writers. That said, there were parts I genuinely enjoyed. The king of Koo Koo Land was a trip. The song sung by The Greedy was probably the only good song in the whole movie, other than the genuinely sweet Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers and No Girl's Toy, which is fun on account of Andy's bewildering dancing and enthusiastic singing. The animation is also nothing to dismiss. It helps with the enjoyment factor and is actually beautiful in parts. Raggedy Ann and Andy are a joy to watch, especially when they dance together, but one particular scene that stands out involves a chase through a surreal black and white world. It sort of reminded me of bits of The Thief and the Cobbler. I could only but admire the artistry and hyper-kinetic appeal of it as I was watching.
Anyway. I felt this movie could be someone's cult guilty pleasure for the right price. It has a lot of things going for it.
Cars 2 is a movie that feels like it should be another fun entry from Pixar. And yet it also doesn't. I'm not really picky about my animated movies. I feel like I'm getting slightly pickier about comedy, but even so. . . sometimes I feel when a movie clicks. Cars 2 marks the first time I can recall when a Pixar film is purposefully painful to watch.
I was almost content just to leave it as a rating because I was so exasperated on what to think of the film, but something about that just didn't sit right with me.
Here's the thing. Cars 2 is rather busy film, and that's in the bad way, not in the good way. It never finds its center, but that's not the offending element of the film. Cars worked because it was funny without trying to be funny. Cars 2's funny moments feel shoe-horned in, but that's only because the spy motif doesn't work and it's the comedy that feels like it's trying to save the film. But that's still not the offending element of the film. Here it is:
I don't think parents took their kids to this film expecting to see dumbed down elements of James Bond plots, like the rather gruesome sight of a good guy agent car being compressed into a cube or other cars breaking apart into bits as they hit the ocean or cars blowing up in flames. Well you get the idea. Oh yeah. And a message about alternative fuel being the bad guy and "big oil all the way". Way to go, Disney. You made a political statement. Want a medal for that?
Cars 2 gets better later on as it turns into a chase and escape kind of film, and Mater shows just how knowledgeable he can be, if not quite book smart.
I really should like this film, but. . .
On second thought, thinking about this being a Pixar film is starting to piss me off.
Thankfully, Kung Fu Panda isn't the kind of animated movie that lends itself to the painfully obvious style of humor that Dreamworks is often known for. While the first Kung Fu Panda dabbled in some mildly amusing but still kid-familiar humor types and jokes, Kung Fu Panda 2 blends both this type of humor(Po is still quite the wise-cracker) and an almost fourth-wall-breaking camp acknowledgement of it being a kung fu movie. This "nudge and wink" loving parody of movie and kung fu cliches is what separates this movie from the first.
However, Kung Fu Panda 2 still keeps a steady foot in the realm of the serious and is all the better for it compared with Dreamworks' other franchises. Indeed, there's a sort of "Star Wars light" vibe going on in the film that wasn't present in the first one. The main villain's vision of a mechanized, industrial China, thirst for war and conquest, and barely disguised acts of attempted genocide are all terrifying themes to find in a kids show. In fact, I don't remember the last time I saw an animated movie with a villain of such an alluring combination of desires and relative complexities but ultimately of such utter despicableness that you couldn't wait until the point of the movie where the villain gets destroyed. Tai Lung has nothing on Lord Chen. Strangely, the peacock makes a convincing villain, and he reminds me of an animal version of Darth Vader.
The kung fu fighting is faster, fiercer, and more acrobatic than ever before. In fact, there were several points in the movie where I felt the need to exhibit a slow build up of "Go go go. Yes yes YES!" to match the increasing tension of the scene. And because Po is now an accomplished fighter(some would say obnoxiously perfect), the sequel has to mine a different set of themes to build up its characters than the first film's training motif. Here, it's self-discovery and trusting your friends, which isn't built on and explored all as well as I would've liked, but Dreamworks isn't known for their depth, and it's enough for the kids. Heck. It's enough to fuel a desire to purchase the DVD when it comes out.
Rio is more paint-by-numbers kiddie entertainment, sure, but strip away its "catch me if you can" theme and even its menacing villain, and you'll find Rio is a happily bouncy movie about love and courage. And it's pretty and soaked with Brazilian culture to boot. Its jokes often misfire, but they're few and far between and relatively easy on the ears(although I could've done without the gang rumble). Possibly the best test of how much you'll enjoy this movie lies in how much you're electrified by the opening number, in which dozens of tropical birds, as if to say "look at us", all engage in a spicy dance number. You'll also to swallow the occasional hip hop star, but this authentic Brazilian atmosphere is the soul of Rio.
For a kids show, Rio also has some noticeable racy attitude, but I welcome this as needed sex appeal. Actually I would quite happily watch this over Happy Feet.