Disney’s The Jungle Book

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Full disclosure: the original 1967 animated version of The Jungle Book is one of my favorite Disney films. So when I first heard that it was added to the crop of “live-action remakes,” I was apprehensive but cautiously optimistic. I wasn’t quite sure how they’d be able to pull off the whole talking animals thing and still make it feel realistic.

The more I saw about the movie, the more intrigued I became. And then when I heard mostly positive reviews flowing in, I was fully on board. But I have to admit that I never actually saw the film in the theaters. Life got in the way (as happens with young kids), and we just never found the time.

So I jumped on the opportunity to finally watch the film now that it’s out on blu-ray and available to stream. And the reviews, hype, and hooplah that surrounded the film didn’t set it up for failure. When we finally popped in the blu-ray for family movie night, it was a resounding success. The kids were amazed and tried to figure out how the movie was made, and I was thrilled to see a new take on these characters (and songs).

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GKIDS Retrospective: The Secret of Kells

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We continue our series of reviews chronicling all of the (non-Studio Ghibli) animated films distributed by GKIDS Films — some of the most original and breathtakingly beautiful animated films from around the world — and how they hold up for a young American audience.

We’re traveling chronologically (the entire retrospective is found here), and this time we’ve got…

The Secret of Kells (2009): Tomm Moore, director

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GKIDS Retrospective: Eleanor’s Secret

Eleanor

We continue our series of reviews chronicling all of the (non-Studio Ghibli) animated films distributed by GKIDS Films — some of the most original and breathtakingly beautiful animated films from around the world — and how they hold up for a young American audience.

We’re traveling chronologically (the entire retrospective is found here), and this time we’ve got…

Eleanor’s Secret (2009): Dominique Monféry, director

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GKIDS Retrospective: Sita Sings the Blues

SitaGoddessPosterA1

We continue our series of reviews chronicling all of the (non-Studio Ghibli) animated films distributed by GKIDS Films — some of the most original and breathtakingly beautiful animated films from around the world — and how they hold up for a young American audience.

We’re traveling chronologically (the entire retrospective is found here), and this time we’ve got…

Sita Sings the Blues (2008): Nina Paley

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Interview With Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsuki: Bringing The Dam Keeper to Life

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(This post originally appeared on GeekDad here.)

The Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film is always a collection of some of the most beautiful and artistic stories set to film in any given year. Last year was no different. Even though Disney’s Feast grabbed a lot of the headlines and spotlight (mostly by being attached to the mega-successful Big Hero 6), fellow nominee The Dam Keeper is arguably a better film.

Directed by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke (Dice) Tsutsumi, The Dam Keeper tells the story of young Pig who lives and works in a windmill perched high atop a huge dam on the edge of town. His job is to keep the windmill running and thereby keep the encroaching black fog at bay. If the windmill stops, the black fog could envelop the town.

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GKIDS Retrospective: Mia and the Migoo

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We continue our series of reviews chronicling all of the (non-Studio Ghibli) animated films distributed by GKIDS Films–some of the most original and breathtakingly beautiful animated films from around the world–and how they hold up for a young American audience.

We’re traveling chronologically (the entire retrospective is found here), and this time we’ve got…

Mia and the Migoo (2008): Jacques-Rémy Girerd, director

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GKIDS Retrospective: Nocturna

Nocturna

We continue our series of reviews chronicling all of the (non-Studio Ghibli) animated films distributed by GKIDS Films–some of the most original and breathtakingly beautiful animated films from around the world–and how they hold up for a young American audience.

We’re traveling chronologically (the entire retrospective is found here), and this time we’ve got…

Nocturna (2007): Victor Maldonado & Adrià Garcia, directors

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GKIDS Retrospective: Azur & Asmar

titleThis is the first in a series of reviews that will chronicle all of the (non-Studio Ghibli) animated films distributed by GKIDS Films. GKIDS distributes some of the most original and breathtakingly beautiful animated films from around the world, and I’ll be taking a look at how these films hold up for a young American audience.

We’ll be going chronologically in order of release, so first up is…

Azur & Asmar (2006): Michel Ocelot, director

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The Muppets Take Manhattan

The Muppets Take Manhattan

“Hey, I tell you what is. Big city, hmm? Live, work, huh? But not city only. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples.”

This review is part of the 1984-a-thon, a collaborative multi-blog effort to review one of the best years of film: 1984.

Let’s begin by saying that it’s impossible to top The Muppet Movie. There just aren’t enough adjectives to do it justice. It’s one of the most enduring children’s movies of all time. Hyperbole? Not if you’ve seen it. It’s so close to perfection that the difference is negligible.

It may be impossible to top, but that doesn’t stop the machine. Indeed, there have been seven subsequent theatrical films. Some were good; some not so much. For my money, though, only The Muppets Take Manhattan comes close to being truly great.

The Muppets Take Manhattan closes out the original Muppets trilogy and marks the last feature film with Jim Henson’s direct involvement. It’s his swan song with the characters he created, and it’s the last Muppets film that should be required viewing.

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The Chipmunk Adventure

The Chipmunk Adventure (1987)

This was a pure nostalgia trip for me. As a kid, I was a HUGE Alvin & The Chipmunks fan. I had nearly every toy available, and I watched the show whenever it was on TV. Naturally, when a movie came out, I made my dad take me. I remember it so clearly. We were in Florida visiting my grandparents, and I somehow convinced him to take me.

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