High School Party

Can’t Hardly Wait focuses solely on the party we see in almost every 80’s teen movie. Although Can’t Hardly Wait misses the 1999 teen movie craze by a year, I still included it in my marathon. I guarantee I probably wouldn’t have even heard of it if not for my love of cheesy teen flicks. Although the title doesn’t really indicate what it’s about. Can’t Hardly Wait is literally one big party scene. 1 hour & 41 minutes of non-stop teen partying, drinking, and PG-13 sex.

It gives attention to a collection of teen stars who appeared in the movie before they were famous. Along with a few major stars who weren’t even credited. Like Jerry O’Connell, Melissa Joan Hart, and Jenna Elfman to name a few. The after graduation party is attended by everyone from nerds to populars. Preston is the outcast who has an unspoken love for a popular girl. Something I can relate to. Jennifer Love Hewitt is the popular girl Amanda Beckett. The perpetually confused looking Amanda is every guy’s dream girl. Since she recently broke up with her jerk jock boyfriend Mike, Preston sees this as an opportunity to give her a letter containing his feelings.

Meanwhile, Preston’s anti-social friend Denise gets stuck in a bathroom with her childhood friend Kenny. A white kid who thinks he’s black that only Seth Green could play. They develop a romance that’s a bit more believable than the primary fairytale romance. There’s also a nerd who becomes the coolest guy at the party, a bickering band, struggling populars, and a bunch of colorful classmates. Can’t Hardly Wait is hardly realistic, but who cares when it’s this much fun.


Preston wants to talk to Amanda

Snake Goes Hollywood

Escape from L.A. is a little too Hollywood in terms of John Carpenter productions. But Snake Plissken became an icon and Kurt Russell wanted to play him again. So a sequel was manufactured for the high concept Escape from New York. Escape from L.A. now takes place in the distant future of 2013. Since it was 15 years since Snake escaped the supermax New York City. Now he’s somehow wound up in the exact same situation with a few minor differences.

Los Angeles has become a sinful wasteland that’s plunged partway into the ocean due to earthquakes. Cliff Robertson’s President has been made a permanent President after his prediction proved correct. His response is declaring all immoral citizens be deported to the L.A. island for life. I’m not saying it’s not plausible, but it is heavy handed. Instead of rescuing the President, Snake is ordered to take out the President’s free spirited daughter who’s dating a revolutionary terrorist. While at the same time retrieving a black box containing an EMP switch (instead of a tape). Snake still has a time limit, a bomb in his head, and the gotcha ending is almost exactly the same.

The main plus is that Snake sees way more action this time around. The only problem is Carpenter’s attempt at CGI. Which hasn’t aged well. Neither has the movie’s reliance on extreme 90’s action. Snake literally surfs a CGI tidal wave, hang glides from the Hollywood sign, and plays a life or death game of basketball. Escape from L.A. has some intriguing concepts and an interesting sequel set up, but it’s not enough just to change the city.


Snake Plissken emerges from an explosion

Preceded by: Escape from New York

A New Millennium

Fantasia 2000 is a sequel 60 years in the making. The idea for a sequel is as old as Walt Disney’s time at the studio. He wanted an ongoing series of Fantasia films every few years with new orchestrated segments released alongside familiar favorites. Fantasia wasn’t successful enough to support that vision and the idea was scrapped for decades. Until Walt’s nephew Roy E. Disney resurrected the sequel around the time of the Disney Renaissance. Making it clear that Tarzan ended the Renaissance before less formulaic movies were greenlit.

As the studio’s thirty-eighth production, Fantasia 2000 made sense as the beginning of the Post-Renaissance era. Which is best described as Disney’s experimental phase/identity crisis. Despite the title, Fantasia 2000 actually premiered in 1999 at Carnegie Hall. Before receiving a first of its kind exclusive IMAX release on January 1, 2000. Fantasia 2000 features 7 original animated shorts. Along with strange live-action celebrity cameos with an orchestra that make the movie feel like an educational music lesson that I can only talk about separately.

Symphony No. 5 – The first piece was originally written by Ludwig van Beethoven. A famous theme with a lot of power behind it. It became the movie’s key abstract segment. With colorful butterfly triangles being attacked by triangle bats. The light vs. dark experience brings back the trippy nature of Fantasia.

Pines of Rome – The second piece was originally written by Ottorino Respighi. The theme has a sense of wonder and enchantment. So it’s accompanied by a pod of humpback whales and their calf swimming through the arctic. Then flying through the air until they reach outer space. The soothing segment increases the trippier visuals with a beautiful blend of 2D & 3D animation.

Rhapsody in Blue – The third piece was originally written by George Gershwin. The lengthy theme has a distinct old fashion jazz beat. It’s one of the film’s best segments due to its narrative structure and use of blue tinted Al Hirschfeld caricature animation. 1930’s New York is a city of dreamers longing for more in life. A young African American construction worker wants to be a drummer, an average Joe wants a job, a schedule heavy little girl wants to be with her parents, and a high class citizen wants to have some fun. It’s a unique journey and a real highlight.

Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102 – The fourth piece was originally written by Dmitri Shostakovich. The balletic theme was chosen after a long search for a good theme to accompany Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” Which is the primary story adaptation in the movie. Except the ending was Disneyfied to fit the happier tune. A one-legged tin soldier falls in love with a ballerina while fighting off a jealous, creepy looking Jack-in-the-box. The segment is notable for featuring Disney’s first computer animated lead characters. Giving the toys a distinct glossy look that elevates the experimental animation choices.

The Carnival of the Animals, Finale – The fifth piece was originally written by Camille Saint-Saëns. The theme is fun and silly. Making it a perfect fit for a segment about a flamingo with a yo-yo. It’s short and sweet with plenty of humor packed into every trick. Which is why it’s my personal favorite.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – The sixth piece was originally written by Paul Dukas. It was only included as a nod to Disney’s idea to include the same segments in each Fantasia movie. Follow the link to the 1940 original for my full thoughts.

Pomp and Circumstance – The seventh piece was originally written by Edward Elgar. The theme is always associated with graduations, but it does work with other events. Like two of every animal being brought aboard Noah’s Ark for example. The segment saw the feature length return of Donald Duck in a manner similar to Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Donald and his wife Daisy assist Noah in rounding up the animals in a light hearted, beautifully animated take on the pivotal Bible story.

Firebird Suite – The eighth piece was originally written by Igor Stravinsky. The majestic theme was meant to be the movie’s powerful close. So it was matched with a segment similar to the theme it’s named after. It features a sprite giving life to nature alongside her elk friend. Until a volcano gives birth to a firebird that nearly destroys everything. Concluding with the sprite restoring life once more. The animation blends computer animation once again, but it’s far more reminiscent of anime. The nature vs. chaos is another great way to conclude a musical event like this.

In conclusion, Fantasia 2000 had no real effect on me as a child. I never saw IMAX movies, so I didn’t see it in theaters. The earliest I saw it was in school (music class). It wasn’t until way later that I rewatched it and found it to be just as well executed as Fantasia. It’s just 1 hour & 12 minutes shorter than the 2 hour & 6 minute original. Making it feel a bit insignificant in Disney’s greater movie library. Still, I’d call Fantasia 2000 underrated in terms of animation. I applaud Disney for taking more stylistic chances. I was once again familiar with just about every classical theme.

I wouldn’t mind more Fantasia type movies, but the sequel still didn’t justify more. Really it’s the odd formatting use of disconnected celebrities Steve Martin, Itzhak Perlman, Quincy Jones, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, Penn & Teller, and Angela Lansbury that feel off. At least Mickey transitioning from the 1940 to 2000 orchestra, then talking to Donald is a highlight. Otherwise, Fantasia 2000 is a valiant animation feat with middling transitions holding it together.

61. Fantasia 2000

The Spring Sprite

Preceded by: Fantasia

What a Zoo

Dr. Dolittle is the modern retelling of the doctor who could talk to the animals. A primarily black remake in the same vein as Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor. Much like The Nutty Professor (1996), Dr. Dolittle (1998) is the version I prefer since it’s the one I grew up with. It may be crude with gross out humor like most of Murphy’s later work, but it’s still a slightly better cinematic interpretation. With the interesting choice of Betty Thomas as director. I wouldn’t exactly call it a childhood favorite, but I have seen it multiple times.

Dr. Dolittle more interestingly makes John Dolittle’s ability to talk to animals something he was born with. Until he’s forced to suppress it later in life. In keeping with the modern setting, Dolittle is a respected medical doctor with a wife and 2 daughters. Raven-Symoné notably plays his older daughter Charisse and a very young Kyla Pratt plays his odder youngest daughter Maya. Dolittle’s abilities resurface when he hits a lucky dog named Lucky. With the unmistakable voice of Norm Macdonald. Then Chris Rock’s voice starts coming out of Maya’s guinea pig Rodney and soon Dolittle starts hearing all sorts of celebrity voices coming out of all kinds of animals.

Primarily domestic since this is much more small scale in comparison to the original. Most of the best, surprisingly PG-13 jokes come from random animals. There’s a drunk monkey, heckling rats, bickering pigeons, and even a horse that needs glasses (one of a few nods to the 1967 version). The main conflict is people questioning Dolittle’s sanity and his urgent need to treat a sick circus tiger. Dr. Dolittle ends up being pretty sincere in its message of being different as long as you’re willing to accept its crudity.

2. Dr Dolittle

Dr. Dolittle protects Jake

Followed by: Dr. Dolittle 2

East Meets West

Heaven & Earth details the seldom talked about Vietnamese perspective of the Vietnam war. After closely following the war in Platoon and its life changing aftermath in Born on the Fourth of July, Heaven & Earth was the final piece of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam war trilogy. Although it’s not as acclaimed or talked about half as much as the first two. I guarantee I’d probably never have seen it if not for the trilogy.

Heaven & Earth is based on Le Ly Hayslip’s personal experience during the Vietnam war. Painting a picture of how much Vietnamese villagers dealt with their place in the middle of conflict. Even dealing with the brutality of the Viet Cong before Americans even entered the war. The late Hiep Thi Le was chosen among many Vietnamese actresses. Although she had no acting experience, she’s natural enough to carry the film as Le Ly. Hiep’s performance, Stone’s filming techniques (especially in the gorgeous Vietnam fields), and less traumatizing aspects of the war itself are about all I got out of Heaven & Earth.

Le Ly’s narration dominates too much of the film. To the point important details of her life don’t have time to set in. Same with the out of place black & white flashbacks. Le Ly goes through a lot of personal trauma before meeting her American soldier husband. Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t appear until about an hour in. Le Ly becomes more Americanized, but everyone in Vietnam speaks English, so it’s not a big change. It’s depressing, but most of her American life was changed to increase tragedy. Heaven & Earth is a good perspective change that should’ve had a better presentation.

3. Heaven and Earth

Le Ly sits with Steve

Super Soldier

Captain America (1990) is the crappy early attempt at a Marvel movie people forget exists. Rightfully so, because this low budget direct-to-video movie makes a mockery of the famous super soldier. Captain America is one of Marvel’s oldest characters. Having debuted in Timely comics as far back as 1941. Created by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby to help out the war effort. Captain America became Marvel’s first superhero to appear in other media. There was a 1944 serial, 2 crappy TV movies, and a catchy cartoon. Marvel needed a win against DC, but dumping him in the hands of a B movie director was a bad call.

Captain America (1990) is a complete mess with awful acting, cheesy special effects, lackluster action, horrific editing, and a costume that’s faithful, but worse than cosplay. The throwing of his mighty shield looks like a frisbee that defies all laws of physics. For some reason, Matt Salinger (son of J.D. Salinger) plays Steve Rogers/Captain America. His only qualification is being blonde since he can’t act to save his life. Steve is an already fit guy with polio living in California. Bernie Rosenthal from the comics is his girlfriend from the 40’s.

Steve volunteers for the procedure that makes him Captain America and they make a point of saying he’s no Superman. So it’s ironic that Ned Beatty appears in both movies. Red Skull is a terrible looking Italian Nazi who covers up his deformity for the entirety of the present. Cap is strapped to a rocket and frozen in ice. Waking up to thongs and Bernie’s 90’s daughter Sharon (not Carter). The not Red Skull is a mob boss who kidnaps the President for the environment or whatever. With a score of 7%, Captain America (1990) has the lowest Marvel movie score on Rotten Tomatoes. Now it’s only remembered as a weird novelty in the age of the MCU.

Captain America

Captain America speaks with the President

P.S. Since copies are scarce, I’ve supplied the full movie underneath.

Woody’s Roundup

Toy Story 2 is a rare sequel that either matches or outdoes an already perfect movie. Maintaining the highest 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for a really long time. During production of A Bug’s Life, director John Lasseter knew children needed more Toy Story. So the third Pixar film also became the very first computer animated sequel. As flawless as Toy Story 2 turned out, the production might be the worst for any Pixar movie. Disney foolishly wanted it to be like their other cheap direct-to-video films. Something they’d still exploit with a Buzz Lightyear spin-off. Luckily they realized the potential of Toy Story 2 and made it clear that anything from Pixar deserved a theatrical released.

Toy Story 2 asks questions about toys that give more depth to their world. Like what does it mean for a toy to be abandoned, collected, or even outgrown? Despite coming 4 years after the first movie, Pixar only had 9 months to finish Toy Story 2. The story had to be changed midway through, the 1999 release couldn’t be changed, and all the footage was nearly lost when someone accidentally deleted the file. It’s a miracle Toy Story 2 came out at all. At 4 years old, the sequel became an instant favorite of mine. My mom took my brother and I to see it and we were apparently 5 feet from the screen. Yet I somehow don’t remember the experience. I only knew that Toy Story 2 set the standard for Pixar movies to come…

6. Toy Story 2

The toys celebrate

Toy Story 2 was accompanied by the early Pixar short Luxo Jr. Which centers on the lamp mascot and features the famous luxo ball. Toy Story 2 is a perfect sequel because it builds on what came before. Deepening the emotion, expanding on characters, and increasing the scope of the toy’s story. While still maintaining the computer animation style that came before. Some humans look better, but Andy, his mom, and Molly are about the same. Really it’s the impressive environments, lighting, and varied locations that Pixar continued to excel at. Along with the returning respectable cast joined by more respectable stars. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Jim Varney, and John Ratzenberger are all given a chance to shine the second time around.

Toy Story 2 begins in space with an awesome extended sequence of Buzz Lightyear on a mission. Fighting robots and entering the lair of his archenemy Evil Emperor Zurg. Who was mentioned by Buzz in the first movie. Turns out he’s like a purple Darth Vader with a large booster gun. It also turns out the entire mission was a video game played by Rex. Rex is actually given a whole subplot where he wants to learn to defeat Zurg. Woody frantically searches for his hat in preparation for Andy’s trip to cowboy camp. Buzz is now like a co-leader who’s grown from his past experiences and takes action every chance he gets. Hamm is his same old hammy self and Slinky is just as loyal as ever. The only difference for Mr. Potato Head is the wife he got at the end of the first movie. Estelle Harris was also born to play the sassy Mrs. Potato Head. Annie Potts’ Bo Peep performance is brief, but the love she has for Woody is clear.

Another change is the family dog Buster. Who’s a far more lovable and better rendered dog compared to Scud. Andy has another toy playing session with Woody & Buzz fighting Hamm as Evil Doctor Porkchop. Resulting in Woody’s arm being torn. Which opens up the possibility of Woody being forgotten. Leading to a particularly disturbing nightmare that causes him to discover Wheezy. An existential penguin toy with a broken squeaker forgotten on a shelf. Another toy problem is a yard sale. Something Woody rescues Wheezy from before being discovered by Al. From a toy’s point of view, a toy collector would be a villain. Wayne Knight is a great sleazy businessman who steals Woody and turns out to be the same Al from Al’s Toy Barn. The toy store mentioned in the Buzz commercial from the first movie.

It turns out Woody is a rare collectable with a line of vintage merchandise, cheesy 50’s marionette TV show, and a whole posse he never knew about. Jessie the yodeling cowgirl, Bullseye he’s Woody’s horse, and Stinky Pete the Prospector. Joan Cusack can’t yodel, but she is the best new addition to the cast as the excitable cowgirl. Fun fact, when I dressed up as Woody for Halloween, my classmate (also named Jessie) dressed up as Jessie. Although she seems like just a female version of Woody on the surface, Jessie is far more complex on the inside. She’s a toy who was sadly abandoned by her owner Emily and has a fear of being packed away forever.

Randy Newman still writes the songs, but Riders in the Sky sing the folksy “Woody’s Roundup” theme, Robert Goulet sings a swingin’ version of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” and Sarah McLachlan sings the Oscar nominated “When She Loved Me.” The whole sequence of Jessie slowly being outgrown by her kid is the first genuinely tear worthy Pixar moment. Bullseye doesn’t speak, but he is loyal to Woody. Kelsey Grammer turns out to be a twist toy villain. As Stinky Pete has grown resentful after spending his whole life in a box. After Al has Geri from Geri’s Game fix up Woody in a very satisfying sequence, Woody is swayed into believing his place is as a collectible with his new friends.

Meanwhile, Buzz leads a team of Mr. Potato Head, Hamm, Rex, and Slinky to rescue Woody. Their banter is hilarious and the increasingly over-the-top nature of their mission is genius. First by causing traffic damage after crossing the street under cones. Then by wrecking the toy store. Which is where Buzz comically switches places with a delusional Buzz in a utility belt. Since the material from space ranger Buzz is too good not to do again. The toys also run into Tour Guide Barbie. After Mattel realized their mistake in not including her in the first movie. I’ve always loved Barbie’s bubbly innocence and Jodi Benson is the best voice for her. The toys make it to the apartment after more humorous misunderstandings from imposter Buzz. The real Buzz catches up and even though Hanks & Allen have less time together, they still give Woody & Buzz more heartfelt chemistry.

Woody snaps out of it when he realizes he’d rather be outgrown then miss out on Andy’s childhood. Unfortunately, Pete blocks the way out and Al rushes the collection to Japan. The toys give chase on the elevator, but not before facing off with a delusional Zurg toy that followed Buzz there. The face off is among the best affectionate Star Wars parodies. Since the other Buzz actually embraces his father Zurg. The toys continue to cause chaos when they hijack a Pizza Planet truck containing three little green men. Who become part of the group after Mr. Potato Head saves their lives and they are eternally grateful. The airport climax is massive compared to the moving truck from the first movie. Same with the enormous baggage handling room. Buzz finds Woody’s case and Pete is defeated when he’s placed in a little girl’s Barbie backpack. The action really picks up when Jessie is trapped and Woody & Buzz take Bullseye to save her. They’re trapped on the plane, but Woody uses his pull-string to swing to safety.

Ending with Jessie and Bullseye being accepted into Andy’s toy collection. Buzz also develops feelings for Jessie, Woody’s arm is repaired again, and Wheezy gets a new squeaker. The following mock blooper reel features a nod to Toy Story 3, a running gag from Mrs. Potato Head, funny pranks on Buzz, and even a cameo by Flick & Heimlich from A Bug’s Life. Toy Story 2 is an adventure filled follow up that improves on Toy Story in every way. The original still holds a special place in my heart, but there’s no denying this is what sequels should be. Sadly, no Academy Awards were won. Instead Toy Story 2 became the last animated winner of Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. As the years go by, Toy Story 2 will never lose what makes it special.

7. Toy Story 2

Buzz Lightyear vs. Evil Emperor Zurg

Preceded by: Toy Story & Followed by: Toy Story 3

Pretend it’s a Seed

A Bug’s Life is easily the most underrated Pixar movie ever made. Despite being only the second computer animated feature made by the studio. A Bug’s Life asks the question, what does the world look like from an insects perspective? After successfully exploring toys with Toy Story, Pixar chose to literally follow a bug’s life with A Bug’s Life. Most of the production staff remained the same with John Lasseter continuing to direct and Randy Newman continuing to score. Unlike most of Pixar’s work, A Bug’s Life is a lot closer to most Disney productions. It’s loosely inspired by the aesop fable The Ant and the Grasshopper, features a princess, and has a large cast of characters.

A Bug’s Life was another of my most beloved animated movies growing up. At 3 years old, it was the first Pixar movie I saw in theaters and many times on VHS. I even had A Bug’s Life pajamas. Although it was another well received success, there’s no ignoring the obvious controversy surrounding it. A Bug’s Life was released in 1998 along with another ant movie about a misfit in love with a princess who fights for his colony. It’s a complicated story, but basically disgruntled Disney chairmen Jeffrey Katzenberg might have stolen the idea. Regardless, A Bug’s Life is different enough to stand on its own…

4. A Bug's Life

The warrior bugs

A Bug’s Life is the first Pixar movie to begin the tradition of having a short film before the movie. Geri’s Game is a fun little story about an old man playing chess by himself. Whereas, A Bug’s Life had the difficult task of taking creepy insects and giving them emotions. Toys were easy, but bugs needed a more approachable kid friendly redesign. My brother and I were obsessed with ants and other bugs at a young age. So it was fun to see regardless of their reputation. All ants have unnatural blue & purple exoskeletons with anthropomorphic bodies, no mandibles, four legs, and only females possess wings. Disney prides themselves on accuracy, but liberties like these were necessary. Instead Pixar put most of their effort into the bug’s eye view of the ant’s island colony.

No humans are featured, so the computer animation is thoroughly impressive years later. The simple design of the insects meant the use of more characters than you’d expect from an early Pixar production. Hundreds of ants are rendered since all they need is a face change. A Bug’s Life centers on a colony of literal drones who are unable to think for themselves. Allowing them to be oppressed by a small gang of grasshoppers. It’s a deep message that likely went over many kids heads. Grasshoppers also look more cartoony, but they maintain a threatening appearance. A large multi-generational cast of mostly TV stars helps make A Bug’s Life another respectable cast for Pixar. Comedian Dave Foley is the eccentric accident prone inventor Flick. An ant whose individualist ideas make him the black sheep of the colony. Despite his bug sized inventions being cool.

After Seinfeld ended, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ first role was as Princess Atta. The sadly forgotten nervous wreck Pixar princess in training to become queen. Phyllis Diller is the lighthearted Queen and a very young Hayden Panettiere is the kid Princess Dot. She’s the only one who believes in Flick, but his latest screw up gets the entire colony in trouble. Hopper will always be my personal favorite Pixar villain. Kevin Spacey brings the right domineering tone to the oppressive grasshopper who rules by exploiting the ants fear. Which he cleverly compares to a tiny grain that only becomes a problem if it grows. Hopper is funny enough on his own, but his loud mouthed brother Molt plays off him well. Rather than stay and recollect food, Flick hatches an idea to find warrior bugs to defend the colony. Which the colony gladly accepts. Flick flies away on a dandelion and ends up in a tiny city under a trailer (next to a Pizza Planet truck).

Most of the humorous bug puns mixed with sneaky adult humor can be found in the bug city. The circus bugs are a hilariously diverse troop of insects & arachnids of all shapes & sizes. There’s self conscious stick bug Slim, hot headed male ladybug Francis, praying mantis magician Manny, his lovely moth wife Gypsy, gentle giant rhinoceros beetle Dim, kind hearted black widow spider Rosie, bickering pillbugs Tuck & Roll, and my personal favorite hungry caterpillar Heimlich. All with the retroactively impressive voice talents of David Hyde Pierce, Denis Leary, Jonathan Harris, Madeline Kahn, Brad Garrett, Bonnie Hunt, Mike McShane, and late animator Joe Ranft. John Ratzenberger continues his voicing tradition by playing money hungry circus owner P.T. Flea. When an accidental performance gets them fired, Flick discovers the troop fighting off flies.

Leading to a comical misunderstanding where the circus bugs must pretend they’re warrior bugs. Something they only agree to after rescuing Dot from a bird. Which is very threatening from a bug’s perspective. So Flick thinks outside the box by building a bird out of sticks & leaves with the help of the entire colony and circus bugs. Which also sparks an adorable romance between Flick and Atta. Unfortunately the lie is revealed when P.T. returns and Flick’s exile is the closest thing to a tear worthy moment. Dot learns to fly and sets out to find Flick when the grasshoppers take over. With the circus bugs as a distraction, the bird plan works at first, but a fire ruins everything. You can’t beat the powerful moment when Flick at last stands up to Hopper and inspires the entire colony to realize they can fight back. The only snag is the rain that’s a lot more devastating from a bug’s perspective.

A chase ensues where Hopper attempts to squash Flick before his friends come to his rescue. Hopper’s defeat is pretty gruesome as he’s pecked by a bird and fed to her trio of hungry chicks. In the end, the circus bugs regain their purpose, Atta is made queen, and Flick discovers his place by her side. Another fun Pixar tradition that I wish they’d bring back is the mock blooper reel. Which is hilarious, self-referential, and even features Woody from Toy Story. Newman’s music became a staple of the studio, although his only song contribution is the dreamer song “The Time of Your Life.” A Bug’s Life has all the wit, heart, and edge that makes the rest of Pixar so brilliant. It may have been labeled the “kid friendly” ant movie, but it’s societal themes are complex enough to appeal to adults. A Bug’s Life is like a seed, in that it only gets better the more it has time to grow.

5. A Bug's Life

Flick confronts Hopper

You’ve Got a Friend in Me ⭐

Toy Story is my all time favorite animated movie. As well as my favorite computer animated movie, Pixar movie, and Disney movie. Although I’ve been gradually going through the entire Walt Disney Animation studio library, it would be wrong of me not to continue the 90’s with Pixar. An animation studio that I’ve been dedicated to since birth. Pixar has been a pioneer of state of the art CGI since the 80’s. Beginning with short films that caught the attention of both Apple founder Steve Jobs and the people at Disney. Their crude, but affective short Tin Toy eventually lead to the first ever computer animated feature film.

No matter how old I get, Toy Story will always be a beloved part of my childhood. Ensuring its place on my “Top 10 Favorite Movies” list. As high as number two, since I feel like a kid everytime I watch it. Toy Story was released in my birth year of 1995. I was only a baby when it came out, so I was too young to ever question the game changing use of computer animation. I had the appropriate Toy Story toys and I watched the movie on VHS a countless number of times. To the point that I can quote everything word for word. However better Pixar gets, Toy Story remains their greatest achievement…

1. Toy Story

“To infinity and beyond!”

Toy Story asks the question, what if toys came to life when we weren’t looking? Which lead to my entire generation attempting to catch our toys in the act. What I’ve always loved about Pixar, is how they bring emotions to the most unlikely characters. Following a toy’s perspective was a genius idea. Since our imagination helps bring them to life. Although I never inscribed my name on their feet. Toy Story is literally a toy’s story of how being played with by a child who loves you, means the world to a toy. All toys freeze when humans are present and only move when left alone. Andy is a happy child who opens the movie with an imaginative toy playing session.

Woody is a classic pull-string ragdoll with iconic cowboy outfit and trademark hat. He’s Andy’s favorite toy and the leader of the rest of his toys. Which are either original or licensed toys that most kids have had in the past. There’s Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Rex the dinosaur, Hamm the piggy bank, and so many others. Like toy car RC, an army of toy soldiers, Lenny the binoculars, Speak & Spell Mr. Spell, tape recorder Mr. Mike, and even an Etch A Sketch. Andy also plays with his baby sister Molly’s porcelain lamp figurine Bo Peep. Woody runs the room like an office that deals with toy related problems like new toys that arrive on birthdays and Christmases. Andy’s mom throws him an early party before they move.

Enter Buzz Lightyear, the coolest action figure ever made. Buzz is a space ranger packed with awesome features. The clever contrast between a cowboy and space ranger is the best unlikely buddy pairing in Pixar history. Woody finds himself replaced by Buzz, who genuinely believes he’s a real space ranger. An unfortunate misunderstanding leaves Woody & Buzz stranded at a gas station before being picked up by Sid at Pizza Planet. Their experience at Sid’s house allows them to bond and eventually find their way back home. Now that you know the story, this is why it’s my all time favorite computer animated Disney & Pixar movie…

2. Toy Story


Toy Story is so perfect that it has a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. As great as it turned out, the road to get there wasn’t easy. Toy Story had a notoriously rocky production. The original idea was to make a Tin Toy movie starring Tinny and a creepy ventriloquist dummy named Woody on a road trip. Tinny was later replaced by a space themed superhero who eventually became the more cop like Buzz Lightyear. Then Woody became a cowboy doll at the request of an animator. Interference from Disney insisted that Toy Story needed to be edgier. I highly recommend seeing the notoriously bad “Black Friday” test footage. Which features a very out of character Woody. Fortunately the father of computer animation, John Lasseter, fixed everything in time. Truly separating Pixar from Disney’s influence.

The biggest difference between studios is originality. Disney is often based on fairy tales, while Toy Story is distinctly modern. With more adult humor and a more kid friendly edge that helps make the toys feel three dimensional. The computer animation can be rough mostly for humans, but the toys, lived in environment, lighting, and weather has all aged beautifully. Animators had to learn on the fly with ancient computers no less. Another difference was not making Toy Story a musical. Instead the great Randy Newman composed 3 songs that tell the emotion of their scenes. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” is the signature buddy song that represents the main theme of friendship. “Strange Things” represents Woody’s fear of being replaced and “I Will Go Sailing No More” is the closest thing to a tear worthy moment for Buzz.

As much as critics liked to praise the music & animation, Toy Story really does have the story to match. Along with hilarious dialogue that Joss Whedon actually helped write. Opening in the clouds is iconic and so is Andy playing round up with Mr. Potato Head as One-Eyed Bart. Tom Hanks has just the right wit and charm for Sheriff Woody. I had a Woody doll growing up and I even dressed up as Woody for Halloween. Tim Allen is just as likable as a battle ready Buzz who doesn’t know he’s a toy. My theory was always that Buzz’s programing might be why he thinks he’s a space ranger. Buzz’s eventual realization is both heartbreaking and sidesplitting. After a commercial reveals the truth. His initial arrival shows off all his cool features. Pop out wings, laser light bulb, many phrases, a whoosh helmet, karate chop action, Buzz Lightyear was another toy that I loved growing up.

Buzz is pressured into flying by Woody and that’s when we first hear the iconic “To infinity, and beyond.” Buzz falls with style and starts to get the attention of the other toys. Despite how different they are, Hanks & Allen have genuine chemistry. Which really comes out in their banter and heart to heart talk. The rest of the respectable cast is just as perfect. Don Rickles was born to play the cynical Mr. Potato Head. Who has a particularly funny running gag where he keeps losing his parts. Jim Varney’s friendly tone was a great match for Woody’s loyal dog Slinky. Although the dog version of the toy wasn’t as common as you might think. Wallace Shawn is a personal favorite as Rex. A fun play on an eccentric, not so fearsome t-rex.

Along with the Pixar lamp, luxo ball, Pizza Planet truck, and A113, John Ratzenberger first voiced the sarcastic scene stealer Hamm. Rounding out the mostly male cast of toys is Annie Potts as Bo Peep. Woody’s true love who flirts with him in a surprisingly suggestive manner. Of course R. Lee Ermey is the only actor who could voice the green army men’s leader Sarge. I had so many of those toys as a kid and it’s always fun seeing them march on those bases. Woody accidentally knocks Buzz out the window and it leads to a fight that makes clever use of their toy parts. As memorable as every quote is, “YOU ARE A TOY!!!” speaks for itself. Andy’s room is a great central location, but it’s Pizza Planet that I’ve always wanted to experience. It’s there Buzz encounters little green men who worship the claw from the machine.

From a toy’s point of view, a juvenile delinquent who tortures toy’s would be a villain. Even though Sid doesn’t know what he’s doing. His dog Scud is also a problem, but his sister Hannah just sort of puts up with him. Sid’s room is a nightmare populated by misunderstood mutant toys who help Woody after Sid straps Buzz to a rocket. Their break out leads to the toys scarring Sid for life by coming to life right in front of him. The following climax was pivotal to Pixar’s success. Woody & Buzz ride RC to catch up to the moving truck and attempt to board in an epic chase that no one sees. The battery runs out, but Woody lights the rocket to take off.

In what I’d call the greatest moment in Pixar history, Woody & Buzz take flight and Woody says “To infinity, and beyond!” It’s such a triumphant moment that’s sealed with Andy discovering the toys. They celebrate Christmas at their new house and all the new presents set up the sequel. Toy Story was so crucial to animation moving forward that it received three Academy Award nominations. Managing to win a much deserved honorary Oscar for Special Achievement. Toy Story will always have a friend in me no matter how old I get.

3. Toy Story

Andy finds Woody and Buzz

Followed by: Toy Story 2

Would You Like to Know More?

Starship Troopers is easily the most inappropriate movie I’ve ever seen at a young age. From the master of excessive violence and sexuality himself, director Paul Verhoeven. Although he killed his career 2 years prior with Showgirls, many forget how awesome Starship Troopers really was. My parents were fans, but they didn’t really keep us from watching it. Extreme gore still turns me off, expect I’m now completely desensitized to Starship Troopers. The movie is partially based on a 1959 book described as fascist propaganda. So Verhoeven goes for a satirical approach. “Would you like to know more?”

Starship Troopers is set in a future dominated by military power and populated by attractive soap opera stars. Casper Van Dien makes a name for himself as Johnny Rico. A rich kid who wants to join, but only does it for his girlfriend. A year before she was a wild thing, Denise Richards was passionate aspiring pilot Carmen. Neil Patrick Harris is their friend Carl with psychic abilities who basically becomes a Nazi. Johnny later befriends Ace played by Gary Busey’s son Jake. While also being caught up in a love triangle with his old friend Dizzy. Dina Meyer took a no name character from the book and turned her into the most sympathetic soldier. There’s a bunch of other soldiers, but try not to get too attached.

The funniest satire is the frequent newsreel revealing just how absurd the war really is. The enemies are the arachnids. Pointy bug aliens that are either drones, tank sized, plasma emitting, flight capable, or even brainy. The military is only partially armored with moderately effective weapons. Leading to tons of cool bug fights, nauseating carnage, and dead bodies all over the place. Which would feel incomplete without military mainstays like Clancy Brown and Michael Ironside. Of course Verhoeven couldn’t resist having nudity like the totally unnecessary, but welcomed co-ed shower scene. Starship Troopers proves I’m more distracted by the flashy action to care what the commentary is.


Johnny Rico fights bugs