Disney/Pixar Madness

Do you like getting into fights on the Internet over trivial things?  If so, I recommend you fill out this March Madness-style bracket of Disney and Pixar movies and begin alienating your friends with your terrible choices.

I had so much fun doing the Holiday Madness bracket at Christmas, I thought this would be another fun one to do.  As you see, Disney movies are on the left side of the bracket and Pixar movies are on the right, meeting in the final.  As with all brackets, the seeding is the most important factor in determining the outcome, and I think the seeding here is a bit flawed.  I’m not really sure how it was done, and I feel like the starting matchups could be better, but I’m too lazy to figure out my own, so we’ll go with this one.


I really tried to be objective instead of just picking my favorites.  On the Disney side, I knew it would come down to those top four, and then I struggled to pick among them.  I admit I probably let some nostalgia sway me, because The Lion King is my favorite Disney movie.  I’m confused by the inclusion of The Nightmare Before Christmas instead of, say, The Rescuers Down Under or Atlantis if they wanted to keep it around the Disney Renaissance period, or Wreck-It Ralph if going more contemporary.

On the Pixar side, Up and Wall-E are my favorite Pixar movies, but they didn’t make it very far.  I really struggled with the seeding: Finding Nemo vs. Inside Out and The Incredibles vs. Wall-E do not seem like first round matchups to me.  I also admit I have not seen Coco or Cars 2 (plus I fell asleep during the original Cars).

But overall, I think my “Elite Eight” are a pretty good representation of the best of Disney/Pixar.  Now here’s your chance to tell me how wrong I am!  What would your picks be?

Kaguya-hime got robbed

My quest to see all the 2014 Oscar-nominated animated movies concludes with:

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Image result for tale of princess kaguya us poster

Studio Ghibli

Isao Takahata, director

Viewing Source: local public library Blu-ray

 Late one weeknight evening, I sat down to watch The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, thinking that as an animated film it was likely to be short (the others are all around 100 min) and I could still get to bed at a decent hour.  I popped in the disc, started the movie, and then checked the case for the running time: 2hrs 17 min.  Oops.

Yet when I finished the movie, I looked at the clock incredulously.  It certainly could not be that late, could it?  I was so engrossed in the movie, it seemed to pass too quickly.

I am a fan of Studio Ghibli, so I was expecting to like Kaguya.  My only hesitation was that this movie is not by Miyazaki, but by Isao Takahata, who’s best known for his traumatizing war movie Grave of the Fireflies (which I’ve never seen).  Still, Kaguya now ranks among my favorite Ghibli films, giving even My Neighbor Totoro a run for its money.  For me, it was a nearly perfect movie.

Kaguya (or Kaguya-hime no Monogatari as it’s titled in Japanese) is based on a Japanese folktale called “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” about an old man who discovers a tiny, beautiful girl in a stalk of bamboo.  I had not read the story until after I saw the movie, but the movie follows the original tale fairly well, with the beneficial addition/expansion of Kaguya’s childhood friend Sutemaru nii-chan.

Kaguya is a very complex, emotional movie, and I’m not too sure that most American kids would really love it. It’s imbued with Buddhist philosophy and imagery, which I found thought-provoking but others may find confusing. The gorgeous artwork and music are used very effectively to help convey emotion, but the story is not really a happy one.

Did I mention the animation is gorgeous?  You should see it for that alone.  Its sketchy watercolor style is very different from anything else on the nomination list, different even than other Ghibli films.

I can’t comment on the quality of the English dub; I only had time to watch one version, and I always prefer subtitles.  If you are able, I encourage you to watch it this way as well.  The movie is very Japanese, and hearing it in its native language may help you appreciate its tone.

I began this series of posts with the premise that animated movies are not just for kids, and I think this movie really underscores that point.  As you can infer from the title of this post, if it had been up to me, I would have given the 2014 Oscar for Animated Feature Film to Kaguya.  I hope you will all enjoy this beautiful movie as much as I did.


Big Hero 6, reigning champion

My quest to see all the 2014 Oscar-nominated animated movies starts with:

Big Hero 6



Don Hall and Chris Williams, directors

Viewing Source: local public library Blu-ray

I was disappointed when I missed seeing Big Hero 6 in theaters; I had been so ready for this convergence of Disney, Marvel superheroes, and Japanese culture.  And it turns out that was the correct sentiment because I did love this movie and watched it twice before returning it to the library.

It was the top grossing animated movie of 2014, plus the Oscar winner, so I think a lot of people agreed with me.

Big Hero 6 has plenty to love.  One of my favorite parts was the setting of San Fransokyo, with a blend of Californian and Japanese culture.  I may have paused once or twice to practice reading katakana on the signs.

It also is impossible not to love the inflatable healthcare companion robot Baymax, and his lines like “Haaairy baby” to the cat and his special fist bump have become staples around our house.  And the rest of the (diverse) cast of superheroes are pretty great, too (Go Go is my favorite).

Big Hero 6 - Sketch by GabiBarbosa
Sketch of Big Hero 6 cast by GabiBarbosa on Deviant Art, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License

The plot slightly weak, partly due to a bunch of stereotypical superhero-group-origin-story stuff and some predictable twists.  But it does have a great heart.  Like my Pixar favorite Up, Big Hero 6 is very much about loss and the grieving process.

Also, I’m a huge Fall Out Boy fan, and they did the great song “Immortals” for movie, which plays during the testing-superhero-tech sequence.  So that was cool.

It may not be the best Disney animated movie, or even the best Disney animated superhero movie (that would be The Incredibles), but Big Hero 6 is a great addition to both the Disney and Marvel lines and I think both kids and adults will find it very enjoyable.

P.S. It honestly would be worth checking this out just to see the animated short “Feast” at the beginning, which coincidentally won the 2014 Oscar for Animated Short Film.  So many feels.

Where I can stay in a princess suite AND go on Star Tours

After hanging out at Harry Potter World, we did several other fun things at Universal, including playing with dino DNA at the Jurassic Park Discovery Center and getting our picture taken with Rogue and Storm (I was so thrilled they had female superheroes!).

Then we moved on to Disney.

Now, some people are “Disney people” and some people are not.  I am definitely a Disney person.  And I am trying to convert my husband.

His first time at Disney was four years ago, when we toured all 4 parks in Orlando.  This time we only did Hollywood Studios (to ride Star Tours because it was closed for its upgrade last time) and EPCOT (because it’s my favorite).

Staying on the Disney property is a treat for me because growing up we always just drove over for the day.  Last time B and I were there we had a pirate-themed room, and this time we had a Royal Room in the Port Orleans resort.

And this is one of the reasons I love Disney: where else do I get to live like a princess one minute and then hop on a ship to Hoth and Naboo the next?  I dragged my husband to the Frozen sing-along show, and then we were blown away by the Indiana Jones stunt show.  I can revel in Science in EPCOT’s Future World, then eat ichigo daifuku in Japan.  I feel like so many parts of me come together at Disney, and it’s magic.

wp_20141218_22_31_23_proBEST: Did you know that at the Art of Animation area in Hollywood Studios you can take a drawing class?  We learned to draw Stitch; here’s my effort on the left.  Also, I got a cute Star Wars shirt.


WORST: B once again beat me on the Toy Story Mania ride.  By at least 10,000 lol.  And the line was too long to ride again.





Here’s a short tour of the hidden gems in our room:

Abu el Banat

There’s an episode of The West Wing where President Bartlet describes a trip his family took to Egypt, where the Bedouin guide kept introducing him to locals as “Abu el Banat.”  The locals would then offer him tea, because it seemed “the least they could do.”

Abu el Banat means “Father of Daughters.”

My dad is also a Father of Daughters.

On my first trip to Disney, he took 2-year-old me on It’s a Small World, by himself.  When the ride was over, I started crying.  “I want to see more dollies!”

He took me on the ride again.  And again.  I still love that ride.

My dad loves sports, and played basketball and football in school.  Neither my sister nor I were ever great athletes, although we did both end up lettering, me in tennis and her in swimming.  My dad has been playing tennis with me basically since I was big enough to hold a racket.  I liked playing tennis in high school, but just hitting around with my dad has always been my favorite.  We don’t play points, we just rally.  My dad says the objective is to hit the ball right back at him, so he doesn’t have to run around the court.  Mostly, I oblige.

My dad is well-versed in Babysitter’s Club lore, because I had literally hundreds of those books as a pre-teen.  And he read practically all of them.  I should ask him which babysitter was his favorite.  I would guess Kristy or Mary Anne.

My dad was always a big hit at the sleep-overs my sister or I had growing up.  He would make pancakes for the group of sleepy girls in the morning, and he makes the best pancakes.  I believe “These are better than my mom’s!” was heard more than once from various friends.

So here’s to fathers, but especially those long-suffering fathers of little girls.  They sure do their best even when they’re in way over their heads.  Love you, Dadman.

I sent my dad this ecard today.
I sent my dad this ecard today.