Once Litwik’s Family Fun Center and Arcade closes for the night, the characters of each game visit each other and meet in a power strip that connects them all. Wreck-It Ralph, the antagonist of the game Fix-It Felix Jr., is tired of being the bad guy in his game. When he’s challenged to earn the game characters’ respect by gaining a medal like Felix, Ralph enters various video games causing chaos and hilarity.
I can’t believe that I missed Wreck-It Ralph when it first premiered in 2012. I am so glad that the sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet came out to remind me to find the original. This is a fantastic comedic adventure that will engage the whole family. Kids will root for Princess Vanellope, who they will likely relate to as she’s constantly told “no” and left out of the race. Ralph will make them laugh and gain their support by the end of the movie — a “bad” guy that everyone loves. Adults will enjoy moments like the bad guy support group meetings and the Diet Coke/mentos mountain — a chemical reaction that yields some fantastic YouTube videos.
Definitely give this a re-watch before the sequel comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray in February.
Big Hero 6 is a superhero movie that adults would enjoy watching with the whole family. The plot revolves around orphans Hiro and Tadashi, technological whiz kids living with their aunt. College-age Tadashi created an inflatable robot named Baymax, whose purpose is to act as a portable paramedic/doctor. When someone steals younger brother Hiro’s invention to use for evil, Hiro gives Baymax a few superhero upgrades. Also, check out our list, Great Movies: Kid Movies for Adults.
Moana is a spectacular adventure movie. Charged with returning the heart of the goddess Te Fiti, Moana leaves her island nation and sails away on her mission. I absolutely love the animation of this movie. The ocean is a character in and of itself because of the creative team’s work. Some of my favorite moments though are those of Moana’s introspection and self-realization. Moana is a very different Disney “princess.” First of all, she rejects the word princess, and she has her own agenda, making the decision to follow her draw to the ocean. Also, she alone solves the mystery of Te Ka in order to save Te Fiti.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful music that sets Moana soaring. While I love Auliʻi Cravalho‘s voice (the voice of Moana) and “How Far I’ll Go,” my favorite songs are the ones that are sung in Tokelauan. Lastly, I would encourage you to seek out reviews from Pacific Islander reviewers to speak to the culture represented in the movie. This Buzzfeed article is a great round-up of dialogue, and so is this review from Strange Horizons.
All in all, I think Moana is a genuine, worthwhile story and a great Disney film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
In this beautifully animated movie, city boy Taki and country girl Mitsuha embark on a life-changing journey after waking up one day in each other’s bodies. Both teenagers learn what is important to them as they attempt to deal with swapping back and forth in this vaguely familiar yet completely original coming of age story.
I would recommend Your Name to anyone who appreciates animation, as it is expertly done, blending traditional animation with beautiful hand-painted scenery. It will draw in those who are looking for a bit more in their teen romance stories.
A beautiful animated film wrapped up in the traditions and folklore of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertes (Day of the Dead). Twelve-year-old Miguel wants to be a musician, but his family has banned music from their lives for several generations. Intent on pursuing his dream, his ends up in The Land of the Dead on Dia de los Muertes to find his great-great-grandfather who was a famous musician. Miguel not only discovers his family’s real history but also finds out the importance of family in his life.
Coco won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song (for “Remember Me”). Check out the soundtrack on CD and on Hoopla.
Meet Retsuko. She’s just your average red panda accountant, except for one thing. Retsuko has a secret. In order to release all the rage from her humdrum 9-5 job, she performs karaoke death metal. But shh, don’t tell. No one else can know.
Experience Retsuko’s life with her and all her friends in Aggretsuko on Netflix! Check out one of our Rokus to use the library’s Netflix subscription.
Coco is Disney/Pixar’s newest movie out on DVD/Blu-Ray and it is spectacular!
The animation is crisp and immediately grounds the story in modern-day Mexico before whisking viewers away to the Land of the Dead. The colors and details in the Land of the Dead were vibrant and truly captured the celebratory spirit of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos.
And this wouldn’t be a true Pixar movie without its heart — family and love and dreams. And bonus — soaring music! Seriously, check out the CD (or Hoopla). If you’re looking for a family movie, add Coco to your list.
[Fair warning to those who get teary during movies, this was definitely a two-tissue movie for me!]
Little Chihiro is moving to a new city with her parents. On the way the family takes a detour, and happens upon what appears to be a run-down, out-of-business amusement park. When they are lured further into the park by the smell of food, things soon take a creepy turn. Chihiro’s parents are put under a spell, and she must find a way to save them.
Central to the story is the mysterious bathhouse that Chihiro discovers. There captivatingly odd spirits abound, and the workings of the bathhouse enchant the viewer. The film is filled with suspense, and yet much levity is found in the business nature of the bathhouse, which is run by the autocratic Yubaba—who is equal parts evil sorceress and obliging hostess to her spirit-guests.
I first watched Spirited Away years ago when it won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Picture (the first anime film to do so). I remember being totally captivated by the visual artistry—both the fantastical elements and the more earthly landscapes. Ultimately, though, this ghostly adventure is a coming-of-age story, in which a little girl gains courage and the power to sacrifice for love.
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is timeless movie magic and a visual delight. Burton created this stop-motion animation film in which Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of dreary Halloweentown, finds a secret passageway to Christmastown. He likes what he finds so he decides to better himself by taking over for Santa! This ghoulish fairy tale is in no way mean-spirited. It is more playful than nasty so go ahead and add it to your Christmas movie list!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Wind Rises, an Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Feature Film of 2013 and another exceptional film by the talented director and animator, Hayao Miyazaki.
Jiro, a nearsighted Japanese boy, is fascinated by flying and in his dreams meets Gianni Caproni, an Italian aeronautical designer. The determined and perfectionist Jiro goes on to design military airplanes.
The film is visually stunning with vivid colors. Through hand-drawn scenes, Miyazaki is able to subtly express the emotions of wonder, anger, sadness, and love.
Well-known actors dubbed the English version of the film. The original Japanese version with English subtitles is also available. Miyazaki is one of the last hand-drawn animators and allows no more than 10% of footage to be computer generated.