#398. Small Animation Studios

When you think of full-length animated features, what studios come to mind? Obviously, there are heavy hitters like Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks. These companies regularly put out high-quality movies and have collectively dominated the animation realm for decades. To stand out, some lesser-known animation studios have had to find a niche and stick to it. Whether it’s the classically-drawn anime of Studio Ghibli, the Claymation of Aardman Animations, or the stop-motion work of Laika, these studios have also created incredible animated films, but perhaps not at a rate that’s nearly as fast as the bigger animation studios. And yet, with the proliferation of better technology and faster processing power, there are plenty of lesser-known animation studios that are starting to compete with the “big three.” This week’s two films highlight some lesser-known animation studios.

EpicEpic
Year: 2013
Rating: PG
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

While the bigger animation studios are mostly their own entities, some of the lesser-known studios receive much of their backing from large film studios, essentially making them an “animation subsidiary” of the larger conglomerate. Recently, Universal has relied on small studios like Illumination to create hits like the Despicable Me franchise. Even before Illumination became a prevalent force in the industry, studios like Blue Sky have been making animated movies for Fox since the start of the millennium. It hasn’t been until somewhat recently that these animation companies are known for their filmography, especially as they define the “look” that makes their studio distinctive. Blue Sky has seen success over the years with franchises like Ice Age and Rio, and especially with The Peanuts Movie (2015)—their most critically-acclaimed film to date. Personally, I like the charm of films like Epic (2013) from their catalog.

When Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles) chooses a leaf pod to be her heir as the Queen of the forest, a group of enemy Boggans chase after her and attempt to steal the seed. If they can get the pod to bloom in darkness, a blight can spread over the forest. A few Leafmen warriors come to her rescue but are too late to prevent her death. To save her forest, she magically shrinks nearby human M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) down and gives her the task of delivering the pod to a safe place where it can bloom in light and revitalize the forest. If M.K. can perform this task, she’ll return to normal size. When she arrives at Moonhaven—with the help of the Leafmen warriors—M.K. places the pod in the light of the full moon, only to have the light go out by the bats controlled by the Boggans’ leader, Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). It’s up to M.K. to use her father’s technology to drive away the bats and save the forest.

The Adventures of TintinThe Adventures of Tintin
Year: 2011
Rating: PG
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours

Sometimes there are so many companies involved in producing a movie, it’s hard to tell where one ends, and the other begins. With subsidiaries and partnerships, sometimes the only way to have a novel idea for a film come to fruition is via the combined effort of multiple companies. While studios like Nickelodeon Movies are partially known for their animated fare, the real workhorse behind the motion-capture animated film The Adventures of Tintin (2011) was WingNut Films. Having previously shown how superior their motion-capture work was in films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) and King Kong (2005), Peter Jackson’s WingNut Films was able to create a fully-digital film with The Adventures of Tintin (2011). The argument then comes as to whether or not using motion-capture makes an animated movie truly “animated,” but the result is still stunning, nonetheless.

Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a young boy who has a knack at finding great stories and great adventures. After buying a model of a boat called the Unicorn, he suddenly finds that a lot of people have interest in it. Tintin is disappointed when his canine companion, Snowy, knocks the Unicorn over and breaks it while in pursuit of a cat. Unbeknownst to Tintin, the model held a secret scroll which rolls under the furniture during the scuffle. When he learns there is more than one model of the Unicorn, Tintin also leans that each holds a scroll with a piece of a puzzle that leads to a treasure. Shortly afterward, he finds himself imprisoned on a ship, flying through a thunderstorm, and walking through the desert—all thanks to his new friend, Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). Haddock’s ancestor is tied to the Unicorn legend, much like Haddock’s rival, Ivan Sakharine (Daniel Craig). Who will get to the treasure first?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 semi-obscure animation studios

#397. Miniature Worlds

“It’s a small world, after all.” While we often associate this song lyric with our ability to meet people from our different spheres of influence who happen to be in the same place at the same time, what if this repetitive stanza from an amusement park ride is taken at literal, face value? A world that would be considered “small” includes many dangers we normally wouldn’t think about in our standard sizes. These small worlds can be magical in their details that would normally be overlooked by much larger people. Some creatures are so small that they only ever know the worlds we would consider “miniature.” Sometimes, we get a chance to experience a difference in scale ourselves through the magic that is the movies. This week’s two films highlight what it’s like to live in miniature worlds.

Toy Story 2Toy Story 2
Year: 1999
Rating: G
Length: 92 minutes / 1.53 hours

Toys have the innate ability to mimic the world around us on a smaller scale. This is partly due to the children who play with these toys being able to manipulate the world of the toys to suit the situation they want to reenact. In instances like The LEGO Movie (2014), or its 2019 sequel, the scale comparison is difficult to find, since everything around these miniature plastic people is built to suit their smaller scale. However, in movies like Toy Story (1995)—and its four sequels: Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010), and Toy Story 4 (2019)—the challenges of being a toy in a human world become readily apparent. The few yards between houses can seem like an enormous canyon. The many stories of a tall apartment building can seem like an impossible height to climb. A classroom for children can seem like a prison camp. Perspective shifts are common when dealing with miniature worlds.

When Andy (John Morris) leaves for cowboy camp, the toys go into rescue-mode when his mother decides to hold a garage sale and get rid of some of Andy’s old toys. While the rescue operation succeeds, Woody (Tom Hanks) is a casualty to the garage sale when he’s stolen by toy collector Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight). Now it’s up to the rest of the toys to figure out where Woody was taken and rescue him. Once in Al’s apartment, Woody learns he’s to be part of a Japanese museum exhibit celebrating the 1950s television show that spawned the toy line in the first place. After Woody’s friends find him and convince him that life in a museum is no existence for a toy, Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammer) kidnaps Woody to ensure they all go to the airport together. The race is on to get to the airport and retrieve Woody—and his newfound friends—before the plane leaves for Japan.

EpicEpic
Year: 2013
Rating: PG
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

While most toys will never experience the human world at human size, there are plenty of instances in the movies where humans are shrunk down and interact with the miniature world. In some instances, humans will have the chance to interact with the inhabitants of the smaller world, like in The Secret World of Arrietty (2010). Sometimes, someone will gain the opportunity to shrink down and experience this little world themselves. Occasionally, this shift in size is intentional, like in the superhero films Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). Sometimes the shrinking is accidental, or outside the person’s control, like in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! (1989) or Epic (2013), respectively. In both cases, when people manage to survive the smaller world, they grow to appreciate their larger world when they return to normal size.

Professor Radcliffe Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) has been researching the forest around his house for years in the hope that he can discover a society of tiny beings known as the “Leafmen.” His daughter, Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), has come to live with him and—in true teenager fashion—demands that she be called M.K. After an argument with her father, M.K. leaves the house only to moments later have to chase after their dog as he races into the woods. As she searches for the dog, she finds Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles) as the tiny woman falls to her death. With her last bit of magic, Tara shrinks M.K. down to the size of the Leafmen and requests that she protect a pod that will either sprout in light and rejuvenate the forest or sprout in darkness and spread destruction. It’s up to the Leafmen warriors to stop the evil Boggans and protect M.K. so she can get the pod to sprout in the light.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 small settings

#396. Tim Allen

While it seems most actors strive to eventually escape from the small screen of television for the big screen of movies, some of these actors find the realm of Hollywood is a lot different from their experiences in television. Of course, Hollywood also scopes out actors who have proven themselves successful in television so the name-recognition can transfer over to the movies they’d star in, thus bringing in more money. This transition can often happen at the end of an actor’s popular television series, sometimes as a way to continue their career past the finale of the series. But what happens if the movie career doesn’t pan out? These actors will often fade into obscurity or will return to the medium that made them famous in the first place. Tim Allen seems to be just such an actor. This week’s two films highlight some of the best of Tim Allen’s movie roles.

Galaxy Quest!Galaxy Quest!
Year: 1999
Rating: PG-13
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

It’s truly no surprise that Tim Allen trended toward comedies during his time on the big screen. His origins in stand-up comedy helped land him the leading role in the television show, Home Improvement, after all. Perhaps due to the family-friendly nature of his television show, most of the roles he ended up portraying in cinema were in movies considered to be “family-friendly,” even if the humor in them was prominently slapstick in nature. Movies like Jungle 2 Jungle (1997), Galaxy Quest! (1999), Big Trouble (2002), Christmas with the Kranks (2004), and Wild Hogs (2007) all seem to exhibit these traits. By the time he directed his first film, Crazy on the Outside (2010), the novelty of his Home Improvement fame had mostly worn off. Since then, he has successfully transitioned back to television with the show Last Man Standing.

Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) has been riding high on the ego-stroking fan conventions for the cult science fiction television show, Galaxy Quest. While his co-stars have usually had to endure his off-screen antics with eye-rolling sighs, they inevitably go along for the conventions, since they were part of the show as well. When Jason is approached by some individuals he thinks are fans, he soon finds himself in outer space aboard a perfect—and functional—replica of the spaceship from the show. It’s at this point when the Thermians reveal themselves to be actual aliens in need of assistance. They are unaware of the fictional nature of the show and believe these actors can help them defeat the warlord who wants to see their race obliterated. With the initially-reluctant help of the other actors, Jason manages to re-live his time on Galaxy Quest by going on an actual galactic journey.

Toy Story 2Toy Story 2
Year: 1999
Rating: G
Length: 92 minutes / 1.53 hours

Tim Allen was fortunate enough during his movie career to have leading roles in at least two franchises. The Santa Clause (1994) was his first significant foray into cinema during the height of his popularity. This film spawned two sequels, The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006). While it’s been more than a decade since the last Santa Clause film, Tim Allen is still acting in the Toy Story franchise, with the fourth installment set to release this year. Much in the same way The Santa Clause propelled him into the movies, Toy Story (1995) has allowed Allen to expand his craft via voice acting. While most will know his performance as Buzz Lightyear in films like Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010), and Toy Story 4 (2019)—along with a smattering of short films set in the Toy Story universe—he also used this skill in the live-action film, The Shaggy Dog (2006).

After Woody (Tom Hanks) is accidentally sold at a garage sale, it’s up to Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) to rescue his friend from the cheese-snack-encrusted hands of the toy collector, Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight). Buzz learns Al is the eponymous owner of “Al’s Toy Barn,” and sets out with the other toys to get Woody back. Meanwhile, Woody learns he’s actually the lead character from an iconic 1950s television show known as Woody’s Roundup. At this revelation, Woody decides that being on display in a museum wouldn’t be so bad since Andy would eventually grow up and get rid of him anyway. When Buzz finally arrives in Al’s apartment to save Woody, he has to remind the stuffed cowboy that toys are meant to be played with. Unfortunately, just as Woody is about to escape, he’s taken away to the airport. Buzz must race to catch the plane and make sure Woody isn’t on it.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 terrific Tim Allen roles

Bacon #: 2 (For Richer or Poorer / Wayne Knight -> JFK / Kevin Bacon)

#395. Galaxy!

Every evening, when humans look up at the sky and see the stars twinkling above, many of them wonder what lies beyond our galaxy. Sure, we’ve explored outer space a little bit, but there’s so much more we haven’t even gotten close to discovering outside our solar system. This speculation of what lies beyond the sun’s gravitational pull has fueled science fiction writers for decades. With so much potential in the galaxies beyond our own, the results are almost fantasy in comparison. Over time, computer technology has improved to the point where filmmakers can also capture the wonder and awe tied to the unknown beyond the galaxy. While the science of these movies might not be accurate, they help answer the “what if” questions. This week’s two films focus on settings located in far-off galaxies.

Guardians of the GalaxyChris Pratt
Year: 2014
Rating: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes / 2.02 hours

With the current limitations of physics preventing humans from exploring the rest of the galaxy, there’s a lot we don’t know about when it comes to the beings and technologies located in other galaxies. Many people consider humans to be “alone” in our galaxy, but that still doesn’t stop many others from searching for other forms of sentient life. Others are convinced that we have been visited by aliens from distant galaxies. These visitors have allegedly abducted humans from Earth, but what if these humans eventually learned to live their lives in these new galaxies? While humans would be rare in these situations, we’d still have a unique perspective that likely wouldn’t be present in other alien communities. Could humans use these attributes to save the very galaxy that so few of them have visited?

Despite being abducted as a child in the late 1980s, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has made the best of the situation and is now traipsing across the galaxy under the pseudonym of “Star-Lord.” As a treasure-hunter and mercenary, Peter finds himself in possession of an orb that has attracted the attention of several individuals. After an incident on Xandar, the individuals who want the sphere have been captured and sent to jail in the Kyln. Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) team up with Peter, who also manages to convince Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to not kill Gamora and join them on a mission to confront Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) instead. When the orb is revealed to hold an Infinity Stone, the fight is on to protect the galaxy by preventing Ronan from giving the power to Thanos (Josh Brolin).

Galaxy Quest!Galaxy Quest!
Year: 1999
Rating: PG-13
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

When something becomes popular enough, eventually it becomes a parody of itself. Movies like Spaceballs (1987) made fun of Star Wars (1977) for the somewhat ridiculous space opera that it is. Similarly, the original 1960s run of Star Trek has spawned numerous parodies over the years. With a cultural influence that can’t be ignored, Star Trek has been lampooned by other television shows like The Orville (which itself actually takes the ideas presented in Star Trek pretty seriously). In terms of movies, though, Star Trek’s one notable parody would have to be Galaxy Quest! (1999). The original series of Star Trek was so ridiculous by the standards of the late-1990s, that it was easy to create a somewhat “meta” comedy based on the television series that has lasted for so long and spawned numerous imitators.

After the show Galaxy Quest became a cult sensation, fans began holding regular conventions for it. The cast of the show would regularly make appearances at these conventions, especially Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who portrayed the lead, Commander Peter Quincy Taggart. When he agrees to help the “Thermians” during a convention, he quickly learns aliens are real and that they used the television show to construct a working replica of the spaceship. Unfortunately, while the specifications for the ship were mentioned in Galaxy Quest, none of the aliens who made it know how it works. Enlisting the help of his former cast mates, Jason has to overcome their perception of him as a narcissist to help the Thermians defeat Sarris (Robin Sachs), a warlord who wants to see the Thermians exterminated.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great galactic adventures

#394. Chris Pratt

Have you ever noticed how some actors just seem to burst onto the scene? Like, one day they’re on a moderately-popular television show, then the next day they’re starring in many successful movies. Sometimes, a bit of luck is involved when an actor chooses to make a concerted effort in developing their film career. If they make the right choices and pursue the projects that end up making them stars overnight, then they’re almost immediately established as an A-list celebrity. Actors like Chris Pratt definitely fall into this category. As the television show Parks and Recreation increased in popularity, he was given more chances to expand his acting to the big screen. Then, almost suddenly, he had three starring roles that propelled him into the limelight for years to come. This week’s two films highlight the meteoric rise of Chris Pratt.

The LEGO MovieThe LEGO Movie
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

Partly because Chris Pratt became a household name almost overnight, there are many films before his breakthrough that show he paid his dues with smaller roles before moving up to the big time. Bit parts in movies like Wanted (2008) eventually led to roles in movies with more critical prestige like Moneyball (2011), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), and Her (2013), all three of which were nominated for Best Picture. Of course, most people knew him as lovable Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, which is probably why one of his breakout films was also a comedy. What also helped was the franchise potential of the films he starred in during 2014. While The LEGO Movie (2014) was his first starring role, it essentially guaranteed he would be back to play Emmet Brickowski in this year’s sequel, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019).

In a world created from a wide variety of LEGO bricks, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) blends into the crowd as a construction worker who isn’t particularly unique. This all changes when he falls down a hole at his construction site and wakes up attached to the legendary “Piece of Resistance.” This item is the key to stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from using the “Kragle” to freeze the entirety of the LEGO realms. A resistance of “Master Builders” is dead-set against this plan, since it means all creativity that comes with rearranging and rebuilding would be eliminated. As the rebellion tries to get Emmet and the “Piece of Resistance” to Lord Business’ headquarters, the enemy attacks and leaves a wave of destruction in their wake. In a last-ditch effort, the Emmet infiltrates the base and soon finds the “reality” of the situation is outside his control unless he can become a Master Builder himself.

Guardians of the GalaxyChris Pratt
Year: 2014
Rating: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes / 2.02 hours

While The LEGO Movie started a franchise, the other half of Chris Pratt’s success seems to have come from joining larger franchises that were already well-established. Even if Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) wasn’t its own successful franchise yet, it was part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, which helped spur some of its success. This led to two sequels, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017) and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 (2021), as well as the inclusion of Pratt’s character in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and its follow-up sequel, Avengers: Endgame (2019) a year later. And yet, the physical conditioning Pratt underwent to play the role of Star-Lord likely helped him land a starring role in the Jurassic Park (1993) reboot/sequel, Jurassic World (2015), and its sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018).

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has been wandering the universe under the pseudonym of “Star-Lord” for almost three decades, making the best of being abducted from Earth back in 1988. Finding a mysterious orb on planet Morag, Quill soon discovers that many others are interested in obtaining said orb. Due to the ruckus they cause in public, Peter is detained with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an assassin sent to retrieve the orb, as well as with Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), a genetically modified raccoon and a “talking” tree, respectively. The trio escapes prison, along with Drax (Dave Bautista), who has a vendetta against Gamora’s adoptive father, Thanos (Josh Brolin). The four of them learn the orb contains a legendary Infinity Stone, which leads to an all-out battle over the skies of Xandar, which ends in the most unexpected of ways: a dance-off instigated by Star-Lord.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 prime opportunities for Chris Pratt to rise to stardom

Bacon #: 2 (Avengers: Infinity War / Mark Ruffalo -> In the Cut / Kevin Bacon)

#393. Phil Lord / Chris Miller

Two heads are better than one. Of course, when it comes to humor, there have been numerous duos who have been known for their comedy. Abbot and Costello is one example. Laurel and Hardy are another. Being able to partner up with another comedian can produce legendary results, especially if one of them is the “straight man.” Stand-up comedy can be brutal, so with another person, comedy can be a little easier. Directing a movie can also be a daunting task, but if two people partner together to make it happen, the results are similarly outstanding. Plenty of siblings have paired up to create films, with the Coen Brothers and the Wachowskis being two prime examples. The key to any partnership is being on the same wavelength. Concerning comedy and directing, Phil Lord and Chris Miller certainly have a great partnership. This week’s two films highlight some comedy gold by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

                                                 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Year: 2009Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Rating: PG
Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours

When Phil Lord and Chris Miller met at Dartmouth College, they found they both had similar artistic tastes and passions. One of these passions was making animated films. While they created short animated films growing up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) was their breakout movie. It took them almost six years to see the movie come to fruition. During this time, they learned a lot about characters, story, and writing, partly because they were fired from the project, then re-hired to finish it. Executive feedback drove them to develop as writers and directors, which certainly helped their craft. At the very least, even the CGI used to create Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was used in such a way as to emphasize their love of traditional animation, hearkening back to their humble origins.

Somewhat based on the children’s book of the same name, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is set in the small town/island of Swallow Falls. The town is floundering due to its lackluster sardine industry, and the locals are sick of having to eat the excess amounts of the oily fish. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is an idealistic inventor whose creation of a device that can turn water into food has the potential to save the town. It’s not until after his initial test of the machine fails that he realizes the device is using the moisture of the clouds around the city to make it “rain” food. Everyone is delighted that there’s something else to eat other than sardines, thus making Flint an overnight success. Unfortunately, the device starts to go out of control and the food gets progressively bigger, threatening to destroy the town with a hurricane of food. It’s up to Flint to stop his machine and save the city.

The LEGO MovieThe LEGO Movie
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

After the success of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Lord and Miller managed to become the directors of 21 Jump Street (2012) and its sequel, 22 Jump Street (2014), straying somewhat from their animation roots, but sticking to the comedy they proved they could produce together. Their adherence to comedy has created some friction over the years, causing them to be removed from directing such films as Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) since it didn’t meet the tone Disney wanted to convey for the movie. Despite stepping back from the directing side of filmmaking (having only directed four films), they have been writers and producers for many films, including the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs sequel in 2013. Fortunately, the movies they have written and directed have been quite hilarious, including the phenomenal The LEGO Movie (2014).

Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is a generic construction worker in the city of Bricksburg. He goes about his normal routine, touting how everything about his life is awesome. One day, he finds a mysterious woman named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who seems to be searching for something. Going to confront her, he falls into a deep hole and discovers an odd device known as the “Piece of Resistance.” After passing out, he wakes up under interrogation from one of the subordinates of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) with the Piece of Resistance fastened to his back. Through a series of adventures, he’s rescued by Wyldstyle and meets many other “Master Builders” who are trying to stop Lord Business’ plan to use the Kragle to glue all the LEGO pieces together, permanently. It’s up to Emmet to band the resistance together, discover his own latent talent, and save the world.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 animated adventures by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Bacon #: 2 (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (directed) / Danny Mann -> Balto / Kevin Bacon)

#392. Brain over Brawn

“Work smarter, not harder,” is the motto of many a business that wants to succeed by creating efficiencies in their processes. The trick that comes with this idiom is that taking the brute-force approach can sometimes appear to be the easier path to success. If there are multiple steps needed to set up a more efficient process, it can be seen as cumbersome—until it works, that is. We’ll often see character stereotypes in movies where the “successful” individual is physically stronger, but the underdog of the story is inevitably smarter. How can the smarter characters win over the stronger ones? While “the pen is mightier than the sword” might work for politics, using intelligence as a weapon is often the only way some characters can triumph over their bullies. This week’s two films highlight the intelligent characters who use their brains and come out ahead of those who only use their brawn.

MegamindMegamind
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

If Revenge of the Nerds (1984) has taught us anything, it’s that the downtrodden people in society who are often scorned for not being as pretty/handsome or derided for their physical weakness can use their superior intelligence to enact their revenge on the bullies in their lives. In the realm of superheroes, though, brains and brawn are the common archetype of the villain and superhero, respectively. While a villain’s schemes are rooted in intricate plans, they must account for their adversary’s super-human strength in some way. Whether it’s through creating super-strong robots or using the hero’s weakness against them, the genius supervillains intrinsically know they have the deck stacked against them from the start. Overcoming such odds can feel exhilarating, but there is a cost involved.

Megamind’s (Will Ferrell) latest plot to defeat Metro Man (Brad Pitt) seems like every other unsuccessful plan he’s dreamed up over the years. This time, however, it works. With Metro Man dead, Megamind takes over Metro City and rules with a black-leather fist of villainy. Unfortunately, without the daily sparring between the villain and hero, Megamind becomes bored with his newfound success. Using his technology and superior intelligence, he sets out to create a new hero with some of Metro Man’s DNA. Acting as a mentor to Titan (Jonah Hill), Megamind tries to mold the formerly scorned cameraman into a hero he can go toe-to-toe with. Unfortunately, because Titan’s past was filled with loneliness and weakness, his newfound powers backfire and create a violent and out-of-control menace for the city. It’s up to Megamind to now don the hero’s cloak and save the day.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Year: 2009Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Rating: PG
Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours

We all want to be popular, as it can validate who we are as a person. And yet, today’s society seems to still rely on the primal sections of our brains to determine who is popular and who isn’t. The characteristics like beauty and strength were used long ago to determine the adequacy of a mate, but this has continued into modern times and caused many intelligent people to be scorned. Their smarts and passion for the topics in life that they love will often give them the label of “nerd” amongst the more popular individuals of a society. What we often seem to forget is these “nerds” are regularly responsible for the inventions that make all of our lives easier. Do these smarter individuals turn to inventions to feel validated? To create a legacy that’s not predicated on physical appearance? To altruistically create a better society? Sometimes they’re the only people smart enough to deal with a disastrous problem.

Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), is a passionate inventor who lives in the floundering city of Swallow Falls. While his father, Tim (James Caan) is employed by the failing local sardine economy, Flint sees the writing on the wall and wants to make his own path. Despite his failed inventions, Flint continues on and finally creates a device that can turn water into food. Needing more power for his machine, he accidentally rockets it into the sky, thus ruining the opening of Sardine Land, a last-ditch effort by the mayor of the town to attract tourists. As the townsfolk are berating Flint, it soon starts raining cheeseburgers, thus saving the city by attracting “food tourists.” Unfortunately, as the orders for food multiply, so does the size and intensity of the food storms. To stop the food hurricane, Flint must fly to the device and put a stop to it before the entire island is destroyed.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 superior smarties