A marionette is given the chance to become a real boy. Still-dazzling Carlo Collodi adaptation (only the Monstro sequence doesn’t quite work), with impressive visuals, some great songs used deftly, and more than a few adult gags sneaked in. A pop culture touchstone for good reason. Remade by Disney in 2022.
Buster Moon talks himself into trouble mounting a show in a Las Vegas-style resort. Dayglo jukebox animation sequel that doesn’t have the focus of the first flick, but nevertheless delivers jokes, visuals, and a musical palette from Mercury Rev to System of a Down via Prince, Billie Eilish, and The King and I. Something for everyone, pretty much.
A kinkajou quests from Cuba to Miami with a statement of long-held love. Bland animated musical comedy adventure. The songs are the movie’s weakest point: the movie looks great (Roger Deakins is listed as a consultant) and there’s some OK comic moments, but this is forgettable underwritten stuff.
The wastrel son of a postmaster is given a challenging remote office to run as a final opportunity. Oddball but charming Santa Claus origin variant story, with some fine gags and great animation and design throughout. A welcome spin on the lets-save-Christmas storyline.
A headstrong tomboyish princess battles with her mother when she is to be betrothed for political reasons. Perhaps the most Disneyish Pixar movie to date, Brave benefits from its focus on mother/daughter relationships and from a dark magical turn that sits awkwardly with the knockabout stuff elsewhere.
A stranded alien causes havoc at Mossy Bottom Farm. Aardman does ET, basically. And pretty well, too. This second Shaun movie is gorgeous-looking, as English as tuppence, has a high gag-to-minute ratio, and enough genre shout-outs to please the most demanding of SF faithful. The best flick of its type since, oh, Paddington 2.
Dog Max’s family gains a child; elsewhere, there’s a zoo tiger to rescue. Episodic and somewhat contrived sequel that delivers in some scenes, but which doesn’t hang together as a movie. Some sharper jokes this time out though, and both a lovely chase climax and a lesson learned for our protagonist.
A New Yorker’s pet dog has to cope with a new arrival, and then getting lost in the city. Okay animation that dispenses with its potentially-subversive title in the first few minutes for something more linear and straightforward. Bright, though, with some good gags. Fun while it’s on. A sequel soon followed.
A videogame character abandons his console to prove that he has worth. Toy Story/Tron mashup that generally works despite the conceptual awkwardness of its conceit. Plenty of game in-jokes and references, some nice gags, lovely design elements, and a splendid villainous performance from Alan Tudyk, riffing on Ed Wynn. A sequel followed.
An origin story for The Joker, filtered through his attempts to show anyone can become like him if they have a single day traumatic enough. Okay expansion of the iconic Moore/Bolland graphic novel. Doesn’t add much except running time; for completists only, perhaps, though those unfamiliar with the book may appreciate it more.