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See the computer (and the entire building process) right here.

I wouldn’t put that thing up on a desk,


…right here:

NOTE: There are NO spoilers here. I loved this movie and don’t want to ruin one bit of it for anyone.

1. A brilliant short titled “Day & Night” from director Teddy Newton. Sure, Pixar continues to amaze audiences with their animation prowess, but this dialogue-less short is innovative even by Pixar standards. It’s both a conceptual and technological masterpiece.

2. I have to admit I was a bit leery going into “Toy Story 3” for a few reasons. First, because Pixar has hit towering home runs on their past two outings (“Wall-E” and “Up”) and I honestly didn’t know if they could keep it up year after year. Second, because it’s hard to pull off even one sequel that pushes the boundaries of originality, let alone a third film in a franchise. But with that being said, and I truly can’t believe I’m going to say this, but “Toy Story 3” just may be the best movie out of the “Toy Story” trilogy.

3. Three words: Mr. Tortilla Head.

4. “Toy Story 2” came out in 1999. That’s eleven years ago, folks. And while the animation and technology used back then is still impressive today, it’s nowhere near what Pixar is accomplishing in the third film. This is the best you’ve ever seen Woody and Buzz; not only is it darn impressive, but it shows that Pixar is in a perpetual state of evolution. I can’t wait to see what they release in 2021. It just might make my head explode.

5. Michael Keaton brings life to Barbie’s soul mate Ken. The addition of this character to the franchise (and Keaton to the cast) is fantastic. I never thought I’d say this but… I love Ken.

6. I said it about their last two films and I’ll say it again: Pixar likes making audiences cry! Their storytelling and character development is so on point here that by the end of the movie I was hearing sniffling and watching grown adults wipe their eyes! They’re crying over a computer-generated plastic toy voiced by Tom Hanks! You win, Pixar! Okay? Next time can you make a movie that doesn’t make me feel like a middle-aged woman watching “Fried Green Tomatoes”?

7. Spanish. (You’ll know it when you see it… I mean, hear it.)

8. The dialogue is both smart and, at times, a bit adult. For example, at one point Barbie goes on a short little rant about democracy that’s simply brilliant. Just further proof that kids don’t need to drag their parents to see Pixar movies; parents want to see these movies.

9. By far the creepiest character (and toy) of the franchise yet is introduced: Big Baby. And I mean creepy in a disconcerting, David Lynchian kind of way. And no, it’s not an action figure of Robert Blake… though that would be awesome.

10. What “Monsters, Inc.” accomplished with fur and hair, and “Finding Nemo” accomplished with water, “Toy Story 3” accomplishes with trash. I know you probably think that “Wall-E” holds the title for believable garbage, but you’d be wrong. The trash in “Toy Story 3” is damn impressive… as odd as that sounds.

One short of a dozen,


Pixar's "UP"

…and the first thought that came to mind after the lights came up was this: “I wish Pixar would stop making movies that make me cry.”

I mean, I’m a 32-year-old man! I have a shaved head (approximately 70% of which is by choice)! I have piercings! Tattoos! And yet there I sat, teary-eyed like a school boy with a skinned knee, all because of a cartoon about an old man and his floating house!

Man… you’re ruining my street cred, Pixar!

The screening was at El Capitan… wait a minute. Let me back up a second.

Last night, Kathy and I watched the series premiere of the new show “Glee.” I thought it was alright, but Kathy absolutely loved it. She especially loved the character of Sue, a hardass cheerleading coach as played by the always brilliant Jane Lynch.

For those of you who don’t know, Jane Lynch is a character actress who has been in “Best In Show,” “A Mighty Wind” and “Talladega Nights,” to name a few.

Here she is in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” with Steve Carell:

Jane Lynch in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" with Steve Carell.

Anyway, on our way to the theater, Kathy was talking to our friend Lille about “Glee” and how much she loves Jane Lynch. Fast-forward ten minutes to us taking our seats in the balcony directly next to… Jane Lynch.

Once again, Los Angeles doesn’t fail at being both insanely bizarre and incredibly ironic.

But let’s get back on track here and talk about “Up.”

First, I should point out that I had fairly high, yet limited expectations for this movie. I had high expectations because in Pixar’s previous nine attempts I’ve only been disappointed once (“Cars”); I had limited expectations because it was the follow-up film to “Wall-E,” a movie I not only think is their best, but also my favorite movie of 2008.

So I walked into the theater both excited and realistic. I assumed we would be seeing a movie that was somewhere in the realm of pretty good, but far from the world of perfection.

I was wrong.

Pixar has somehow managed to take a story about an old man, a young boy, a talking dog and an exotic bird and turn it into a movie that has more heart than 99% of the live-action films being made today.

I found myself actually caring about this old fart! I cared about his past, his well-being… even his house! And he’s played by Ed Asner! What’s wrong with me?!?

But the truth is that there’s nothing wrong with me. The folks at Pixar have just become as masterful in their storytelling as they are in their animation. Because of this, we’re given movies that are as brilliant as they are beautiful.

I said this in the car on the way home, and the more I think about it the more I think it’s true: Pixar makes great movies because their audience isn’t necessarily a deciding factor. They make great movies for themselves; each film seems to be an extremely personal creation to everyone on the team. You can sense it.

That’s why their films aren’t littered with catchy radio-hit jingles, or princes and princesses waiting to fall in love after 90 minutes. They make movies they like to watch. And because of that, most of us like to watch them, too.

I’ve said this in the past about Pixar and I hope it never ceases to be true: What they produce not only impresses me, but it also makes me insanely jealous. It makes me think, “Why couldn’t I have thought of that?” or, “How can I create at least one thing this brilliant before I’m placed in a pine box?”

“Up” is proof of the fact that Pixar’s products consistently go well beyond the boundaries of good filmmaking and enter the realm of cinematic excellence.

I could bore you with story plots and sound design and character outlines, but none of that is as important as me saying this to you: Go see “Up” as soon as you possibly can. You won’t be disappointed.

And bring Kleenex.

Jane Lynch loved it, too,


“Frozen River” (Cohen Media Group)

1. What’s beautiful about this movie is its simplicity. Whereas most movies feel the need to show everything, “Frozen River” successfully tells its tale without overdoing the details. For example, one of the key characters of the storyline, a deadbeat gambling-addicted father, never even makes an appearance. But the rest of the cast brings him to life with the anger and resentment they hold for him.

2. Actress Melissa Leo, who portrays the film’s lead character Ray Eddy, deserves the Oscar hands-down for Best Actress. Of course, she’s the only non-rock star in the bunch and will be completely overlooked, but her performance is light-years beyond anything Kate Winslet did in her portrayal of a Nazi pedophile in the absolute worst movie of the year (possibly decade), “The Reader.”

3. The film is exceptionally realistic and doesn’t rely on standard Hollywood gimmicks in its storytelling. At times you feel as if you’re watching a real-life documentary, not a fictional movie that was distributed by Sony.

4. You end up either liking or at least sympathizing with each and every character in the film; from the credit card-stealing son, to the financially-struggling and human-smuggling mothers, to the 9-to-5 cop who’s just doing his job, it’s possible to relate to them all.

5. “Frozen River” is in my top five films of last year. So is “Slumdog,” and I know everyone has a boner for it right now, but “Frozen River” is an overall better movie. It lacks the Disney fairytale ending that “Slumdog” suffers from, instead deciding to stick to its realistic guns and leave viewers maybe not with a happy ending, but definitely with a better story.

Frozen River Phoenix,


PS: Just in case you were wondering, my top five films of 2008 were (in order of first to fifth place):

1. “Wall-E”
2. “The Visitor”
3. “Frozen River”
4. “Burn After Reading”
5. “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Wrestler” (tie)

And just for fun, here are my top five most-hated movies of last year (in order of totally shitty to just kinda crappy):

1. “The Reader”
2. “Rachel Getting Married”
3. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
4. “Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
5. “Revolutionary Road”

So after having my eyes and ears molested by some of the worst movies to ever come out of Hollywood (look here and here to find out exactly what I’m talking about), last night I was able to bathe in the greatness of one the best movies ever made: “Wall-E.”

I had seen “Wall-E” twice in the theaters when it first came out in June (something I rarely do), and even bought it on DVD the day it came out in stores (something I NEVER do). But last night at the Arclight, “Variety” re-screened the film and followed it up with a Q&A with director Andrew Stanton.

“Wall-E” gives me hope that great movies with brilliant concepts and strong messages can and will continue to be made by studios, as well as be embraced by viewers.

I was able to squeeze a question into the Q&A, and asked Stanton what his thoughts were on how people are pushing for “Wall-E” to be considered for the “Best Picture” nomination.

He said that, oddly enough, he’s not really a fan of animation, and that when he sets out to make a movie he’s just trying to make it the best possible movie it can be. He said animation has no factor in it, and that he sees no division between a great animated movie and a great live-action movie. I couldn’t agree more.

When it was all over, and I never do this anymore because I kind of grew out of it over the years, but I went up and asked him to sign one of the posters they were handing out when we walked in.

Oh, man...

Oh, man...



He wrote "Justin!" That's me!





And he even drew a little Wall-E for me!

So thank you, Andrew Stanton, for getting my movie-going experiences back on track.

Of course, I’m seeing “Revolutionary Road” this weekend, so I might have to give you a call come Monday.

Originally called “Trash Planet,”


Old Poop!