Wreck-it Ralph (2012) vs. Toy Story (1995)

November 2, 2012 Joe Rassulo

When we Baby Boomers were kids, our toys had lives of their own to us. Now that our children are young, it’s their video game characters that seem real to them. So, having once cherished my Davy Crockett coonskin cap and toy rifle, it was easy for me to see poetry in Toy Story’s Woody, a child’s inanimate cowboy doll by day, and a fretting, insecure, full-blooded character, when no one was looking at night.

My 10-year-old son Jack never had a doll like Woody to play with, but he did grow up with video games and movie characters, including Mario and Luigi. So naturally, Disney, which teamed with Pixar to bring us Toy Story, has jumped into the breach with a similarly themed movie for the Millennials. The new film, Wreck-It Ralph is also about the secret lives of children’s play-things once humans are out of the way. And the same John Lasseter who skyrocketed to prominence as Toy Story’s writer-director is overseeing Ralph as executive producer. […]

Thoughts on the Dark Night

July 24, 2012 Joe Rassulo

There have been many ridiculous and meaningful thoughts thrown out there about the “dark night” of Friday July 20. Violence, gun control, terrorism and insanity notwithstanding, they all probably make some sense after a few drinks and a lot of inherent frustration and anger about the apparent randomness of the recent violence in a Colorado movie theater.

Still, there are some things that bear mentioning. […]

Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) -vs- Ice Age (2002)

July 12, 2012 Joe Rassulo

In 2002, in the wake of Shrek and Monsters, Inc, 20th Century Fox launched what was soon to become one of its most successful children’s franchises, Ice Age. With few expectations and little fanfare, it became a surprise worldwide, animated hit, rivaling both those other films, if not in total box office, then certainly in audience loyalty. Its two subsequent sequels, Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006) and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) proved that unquestionably.

This week, Fox launches Installment 4, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and what was once a total surprise is now laden with great expectations. Unlike the original straight-ahead journey of our unlikely, but charming heroes, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary), along with the indomitable prehistoric squirrel, Scrat, and his acorn, audiences are hoping and expecting this new outing to be nothing less than extraordinary. […]

The Way We See it: Joe Rassulo on the Oscars

February 8, 2012 Joe Rassulo

The Artist is this year’s most talked about and most overrated film. Yes, it’s charming and filled with lovely, touching performances and indelible moments of black and white reveries of movies and times past. It is a wonderful homage to an era long gone. Its obvious relevance to today is its theme of technology leaving many obsolete in its wake. There’s a familiar resonance to the despair many feel in today’s technological storm, which has left so many jobless and even homeless. But the film touches on that theme in a broad, superficial way. “Modern Times” it is not. It’s a singular, gimmicky, almost-silent film that works on every level except one of true substance. And, I believe, a best picture of the year should do more than charm. […]