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8 items from 2008

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Horton Hears a Who’ a Playful Movie, Average Blu-Ray

15 December 2008 10:20 AM, PST | | See recent news »

Chicago – Fox animation tries to keep pace with DreamWorks and Disney with their high budget, extras-packed release of “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who”, an entertaining animated adventure but a Blu-Ray release that does nothing to rise above average.

With a mediocre video and audio transfer, a frustratingly organized collection of special features, and the fact that the highlight of the package is essentially a commercial for another movie, the Blu-Ray release of “Horton Hears a Who” has to be considered a disappointment, even if the film itself is more consistently enjoyable than most adaptations of the legendary author.

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who is available on DVD/Blu-Ray on December 9, 2008.

Jim Carrey voices the title character, a playful pachyderm named Horton who happens to hear a sound coming from microscopic speck of dust. Horton discovers an entire community known as Who-ville existing on that floating orb and realizes »

- (Adam Fendelman)

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The 2008 Annie Award nominees! DreamWorks rules with 27 nominations

2 December 2008 12:49 AM, PST | | See recent news »

DreamWorks' excellent "Kung Fu Panda" lead the 2008 Annie Award nominees with a total of seventeen nominations which included Best Feature, Best Feature Writing, Best Directing, Best Animated Effects, Best Character Animation as well as Best Animated Video Game. (See featured store items at the bottom of the page) Disney/Pixar's heart-warming "Wall-e" ended second best with a total of eight nominations. Also faring well was another Disney pic in the recent "Bolt" voiced by John Travolta and Miley Cyrus. The adventure comedy scored five nominations. DreamWorks, which also released "Kung Fu Panda" companion piece "Secrets of the Furious Five" and "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," landed a grand total of 27 nominations.  As listed, here are the 2008 Annie Award Nominations by CategoryPRODUCTION CATEGORIESBest Animated Feature BoltWalt Disney Animation Studios Kung Fu Panda – DreamWorks Animation $9.99 – Sherman Pictures/Lama Films Wall•E – Pixar Animation Studios Waltz With Bashir – Sony Pictures Classics/Bridgit Folman, Les Films D’ici, »

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The Annie Award Nominees are Announced

1 December 2008 12:49 PM, PST | Rope of Silicon | See recent Rope Of Silicon news »

Photo: DreamWorks Animation The International Animated Film Society announced the nominees for the 2008 Annie Awards and Kung Fu Panda is leading the way with 17 nominations followed by Disney's Bolt with 9 and the Disney/Pixar feature Wall-e earning 8. Panda picked up a healthy amount of noms in categories such as Character Animation, Character Design, Music, Production Design, Storyboarding, Voice Acting and Writing. In each of those categories it was either nominated while Bolt and Wall-e were not or secured multiple nominations giving it the outright nomination lead by 8. Could this be a sign of a Panda-over-wall-e Oscar upset? The nominees are listed below and you can check out the official award site here. Best Animated Feature Bolt (Walt Disney Animation Studios) Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks Animation) $9.99 (Sherman Pictures/Lama Films) Wall-e (Pixar Animation Studios) Waltz With Bashir (Sony Pictures Classics/Bridgit Folman, Les Films D'ici, Razor Films) Best Animated Home Entertainment »

- Brad Brevet

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'Panda' earns 16 Annie Awards noms

1 December 2008 8:05 AM, PST | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda" fought off stiff competition to earn 16 nominations -- the most for a feature -- for the International Animated Film Society's 36th Annual Annie Awards.

That includes a nomination for best-animated feature, a category that includes Pixar Animation Studios "Wall-e"-considered the frontrunner for the Oscar-which earned seven nominations. "Panda" and "Wall-e" also earned one additional nomination each in the best video game competition.

The top category is rounded out by nominations for Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Bolt," a 3-D release that earned five nominations; Sony Pictures Classics' "Waltz With Bashir," Israel's award-winning documentary, which took four nominations; and Sherman Pictures/Lama Films "$9.99," a stop-motion title that earned two nominations.

Blue Sky Studios' "Dr. Suess' Horton Hear as Who," a Fox release, also had a strong showing with five nominations.

All of these features are short listed by AMPAS for this season's animated feature competition.

Dwa earned a total of 27 nominations. »

- By Carolyn Giardina

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Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig & More are 'Despicable'

13 November 2008 9:45 AM, PST | Cinematical | See recent Cinematical news »

If you rue the era that canned voice actors for big celebrities, you might not like this bit of news, but if you love big, star-calibre cast lists, you might like this:

Variety reports that Steve Carell has signed on for a new 3D CG-animated film called Despicable Me, from Horton Hears a Who scribes Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. But he's just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the voice cast includes: Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride, Russell Brand, Jemaine Clement, Jack McBrayer, and Julie Andrews.

Carell will voice the title character, a "deplorable man" named Groo who "masterminds the mother of all heists when he plots to steal the moon." Since his evil mother (Andrews without a spoon full of sugar) is egging him on, there's only one obstacle between him and the big cheese chunk in the sky -- three orhpaned girls »

- Monika Bartyzel

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Steve Carell is "Despicable"

12 November 2008 11:28 PM, PST | | See recent news »

Chris Meledandri of Illumination Entertainment has started his Universal Pictures-based family film unit with "Despicable Me." This is a 3-D CG-animated film that has which will have the versatile Steve Carell lending his voice to the title character. Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride, Russell Brand, Jemaine Clement, Jack McBrayer and Julie Andrews are also in the mix for the film which will see a 2010 release. Carell would play Groo, a man who, under the influence of his evil mother (played by Andrews), schemes to steal the moon. However, he finds that three orphan girls who temporarily fall under his care to be an obstable as they won't leave. Universal will be fully financing the film directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin. Co-director Sergio Pablos came up with the idea. "Horton Hears a Who" writes Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio reteam with Carell. »

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Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

10 March 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This CG-animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! is a delight, brimming with colorful, elastic characters and bountiful wit.

To take nothing away from Fox and its Blue Sky Studios, much, much, much of this owes directly to the book published in 1954 by Theodore Geisel's alter ego, Dr. Seuss. So credit the filmmakers for knowing a good thing when they see it. The film captures all the charm of the book from its rhyming text to its themes and fantastical characters.

This family entertainment represents the first big film of the year with a potential for $100 million-plus in domestic markets. A long life on many video shelves is assured.

Horton, given a comically innocent voice by Jim Carrey, is a rubbery elephant in the jungle of Nool who one fine day hears a tiny cry. It comes from a speck floating in the air, which actually is a tiny planet, home to a city called Who-ville, inhabited by microscopic denizens known as Whos.

Horton can't see these creatures but manages to communicate to its excitable Mayor (vocal magic by Steve Carell). Realizing the vulnerability of this entire civilization, Horton undertakes to shield it from harm while the Mayor must alert Who-ville to the danger. Both suffer mockery from fellow creatures unable to believe in what they can't see.

Vlad the Eagle (Will Arnett) and the sour Kangaroo (Carol Burnett) torment Horton while the Who-ville citizenry call the Mayor a boob. But Horton, with advice from his pal Morton the Mouse (Seth Rogen), perseveres, believing "a person's a person no matter how small."

Directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino hew closely to Seuss' drawings and designs, while writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio blend the author's rhymes with hipper contemporary lingo.

Despite a brisk pace, Seuss' many characters all get a chance to display their unique idiosyncrasies and viewpoints. The filmmakers imbue the harrowing experiences in the parallel worlds with both suspense and rich comedy. Thus do the filmmakers ride the coattails of Seuss' imaginative powers to cartoon glory.



A Blue Sky Studios production


Directors: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino

Screenwriters: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio

Story: Dr. Seuss

Producers: Bob Gordon, Bruce Anderson

Executive producers: Audrey Geisel, Chris Wedge, Chris Meledandri

Art director: Thomas Cardone

Music: John Powell

Editor: Tim Nordquist

Voice cast:

Horton: Jim Carrey

Mayor: Steve Carell

Kanngaroo: Carol Burnett

Vlad: Will Arnett

Morton: Seth Rogen

Councilman/Yummo Wickersham: Dan Fogler

Running time -- 85 minutes

MPAA rating: G


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College Road Trip

7 March 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

As family road trip movies go, Disney's College Road Trip is a longer and more arduous journey than even "RV" or "Are We There Yet?" On the other hand, those movies performed well at the boxoffice.

Families seem to be extremely tolerant of taxing movie car trips. Perhaps the trick is that everyone is simply glad it's happening to another family and not theirs.

This excursion teams Martin Lawrence with Disney Channel star Raven-Symone. You wouldn't want to accuse either performer of subtlety, but here the two seem to be in a contest to outdo each other with screams, facial contortions and wails of exasperation. Let's call it a draw.

What is puzzling is the incompatibility of the two leads with their roles. Raven is supposed to be a high school senior on a road trip to check out prospective universities. But she acts like a adolescent on a sugar high during a weekend sleepover. Lawrence plays a small-town police chief, one who borrows and totals a squad car, sneaks into a college women's dorm and acts like no cop you've ever seen, in or out of movies.

What Lawrence's James Porter is, in fact, is the worst-case scenario of a control-freak dad: He will not let his Precious Girl grow up and live an independent life. Despite this, Raven's Melanie Porter is sweet-natured and obedient though her dad does drive her nuts.

Dad wants her to go to Northwestern -- because it's a short drive from their Illinois home. When an opportunity to apply to Georgetown comes up, Melanie joins two friends (Disney Channel actors Brenda Song and Margo Harshman) on a road trip to D.C.

But Dad decides to escort Melanie himself. Then her younger brother (Eshaya Draper) and his pet pig stowaway in the trunk. It's hard for a girl to grow up in a Disney family film. The pet tricks by this extremely well-trained animal provide a running gag that culminates in his crashing a hotel wedding and essentially destroying everything under its tent.

Nothing happens with any logic here. The destruction of the police cruiser, the wedding turmoil, a skydiving episode and a golf course duel with clubs and carts all happen because the road trip needs a bit of excitement, not because anything leads rationally to these incidents.

Direction by Roger Kumble is as hamfisted as the screenplay by four writers is shorn of any sense of how families actually behave.


Buena Vista Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures presents a Gunnfilm production


Director: Roger Kumble

Screenwriters: Emi Mochizuki, Carrie Evans, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio

Producer: Andrew Gunn

Executive producers: Ann Marie Sanderlin, Anthony Katagas, Raven-Symone, Michael Green

Director of photography: Theo van de Sande

Production designer: Ben Barraud

Music: Edward Shearmur

Costume designer: Francine Jamison-Tanchuck

Editor: Roger Bondelli


James Porter: Martin Lawrence

Melanie: Raven-Symone

Doug: Donny Osmond

Nancy: Brenda Song

Trey: Eshaya Drapper

Michelle: Kym E. Whitley

Grandma Porter: Arnetia Walker

Katie: Margo Harshman

Wendy: Molly Ephraim

Running time -- 84 minutes

MPAA rating: G


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