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  #61  
Old 03-18-2013, 02:50 PM
Seth Marati Seth Marati is offline
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"Heaven is for those too scared of nothingness! I will go no further than my mortal wood will carry! This museum is the sickbed of Heaven, Jessie! The eternity of pansy lives!"
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  #62  
Old 03-18-2013, 11:18 PM
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Watch some more pixar movies goddammit
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  #63  
Old 03-19-2013, 12:39 AM
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I actually watched this one last night but because I then decided it would be a good idea to drink a jar and a half of moonshine (spoiler: it's not a good idea at all) I didn't get around to my type-up until now.

Monsters Inc.

So this is the first Pixar movie not directed by John Lasseter (though Andrew Stanton was a co-director on A Bug's Life). When you watch the movies enough times you can really start detecting signature styles of certain directors while the films manage to remain faithfully Pixar in tone. And this early on Pixar was still building their tone anyway. This one comes to us care of Pete Doctor, who had worked on all the previous films but steps up for the first time as the director. Pixar likes to rotate its creative leads in this way to keep their work fresh, and I find that admirable.

This was a movie that really blew away my anticipations for what it would be like. It's not the last Pixar movie to do this and a detail that characterizes most of the cases where this happens is that my initial viewing leaves me with a bit of a "huh" feeling afterward, but upon watching the movie again where I no longer am put off by it being so different from what I expected, it stands up on its own two feet and grows on me instantly. Actually this experience is not exclusive to Pixar, as several Quentin Tarantino movies have had the same effect.

The important part is this movie is totally great and does what I like to call "cute successfully". You get a lot of movies, shows, games, etc, that try to use very heart-tuggingly cute characters but they end up annoying the audience more than endearing them. It's a fine line you have to walk for a character to be truly and successfully adorable. Monster Inc.'s Boo pulls that off. A combination of her incoherent toddler gibberish, precocious mannerisms, and genuine sense of personality and identity make her truly likeable and fun to watch.

But the movie doesn't actually start with her. The entire film takes place but for a few brief sequences in the Monster World, where, as the early trailer promised, there are mysterious beings that come out of spooky closets at night to terrify children. But the fact of the matter is, it's just their job, and nothing personal. The monster city and all of its modern luxuries are actually powered by children's screams and thus this whole pattern of behavior is just dutiful corporate workers generating important resources to keep their society functioning. They work through a surprisingly technological process in which a warehouse full of doors are activated turning closets around the world into teleportation devices that the monsters go through, scaring the child and collecting its scream energy in a special container and then moving on to the next door. Ironically, despite the fact that the monsters are just doing this as a job and not a genuine desire to cause emotional distress to children, they are terrified of them, as a rich tapestry of propaganda has all Monster World citizens convinced that human kids are murderous, deadly, toxic creatures.

All of this sounds ridiculously complex and absurd summed up in one paragraph like that but rest assured in the context of the movie itself it works perfectly and you never question it unless you're one of those nitpicky pedantic types who hates whimsical fun.

So we're introduced to our buddy duo leads, James P. Sullivan or "Sully" for short, and his best friend and roommate Mike Wazowski, voiced by John Goodman and Billy Crystal respectively which should immediately give you an impression of their personalities. Sully is a big gentle-giant type who can be monstrously terrifying when he wants to be, making him Monsters Incorporated's star employee while Mike is his fast-talking self-important assistant who cheers his pal on and supports his climb to the top while trying to charm his way out of filing the paper work. The film starts off as an office comedy centered around Sully and Mike trying to break the company's all time scare record against their rival, a shady chameleon-like monster named Randall voiced by Steve Buscemi.

But everything hits the fan when a series of accidents leads to Sully discovering a door that's been left activated for some reason and accidentally bringing into the Monster World an adorable little girl who seems generally unfazed by the weird creatures everywhere and generally causes a mass panic. As Sully and Mike try to protect their asses from the overzealous CDA they uncover a dark conspiracy beating at Monster Inc's core related to the scare shortage that's been causing rolling blackouts, because as the little girl who becomes attached to Sully, dubbing him "Kitty" shows, kids are becoming harder to scare. Eventually he begins to bond with the girl as Mike remains distant and focused on trying to clear their names and names her Boo, due to her wily ability to sneak around undetected and jump out in surprise, and starts to realize that these human kids aren't as dangerous and toxic as the propoganda has led everyone to believe.

Though the solution to the scare shortage is telegraphed well in advance it's very effective and makes for a great conclusion to the story. The villain(s) of the piece is really great too. Randall starts off just seeming like a shady jerk who wants to embarrass the protagonists but turns out to be a much darker entity with some fucked up cold-blooded schemes to revolutionize the industry going on behind closed doors. The exciting chase scene between him and the protagonists in the Aperture-esque door facility is one of the most wildly imaginative sequences ever put to film. But the second villain deserves mention too, an unexpected figure that is actually very sympathetic throughout the film but turns out to have been in cahoots with Randall all along, not out of the same selfish desire for glory and success though, but genuine desperation to save the company and by extension, monster civilization. The cruelty and wickedness he ends up condoning to reach this end lays bare the very reason this whole propoganda campaign to make monsters fear children probably exists in the first place.

This is the first movie where they really dial back the shtick and focus more on character personality driving the plot and humor. There are still plenty of self-referential gags but they're not infused in the film as they were in Bug's Life and the first two Toy Stories. Boo is cute as a button and a lot of fun to watch interact with the heroes. The buddy duo of protagonists works really well too, with Mike generally being a lot more insensitive and concerned with saving face than doing what's right, but really coming around to be a truly dedicated friend in the end, even before he fully understands the situation as personally and deeply as Sully does. And the joke about Loch Ness, Bigfoot, and the Abominable Snowman being banished monsters is really cle-W-WAIT A MINUTE!

That voice! The Abominable Snowman's voice! I know I've heard it before! It's time to play a new game called

WHO DOES JOHN RATZENBERGER PLAY

At this point in the Pixar series it becomes quite clear that they are going to have the man most of us who were at all alive in the 80's know as Cliff, the eccentric mailman from Cheers, voice a character in each and every single one of their movies. In both Toy Stories of course he voiced the character of Hamm, the sarcastic piggy bank who is always quick with the gallows humor no matter how bleak the situation. And in A Bug's Life he voiced PT Flea, the owner of the circus the team of "Warrior Bugs" originally came from before firing them, who plays a crucial role in fucking up everything near the climax of the film when he comes crawling back begging them to return to his troupe after it turns out that their catastrophic antics were wildly popular. Here he plays the loveably awkward Abominable Snowman who serves as a comic relief one-scene wonder during Sully and Mike's big Best Friend Arguement Scene.

We'll be bringing you more of Who Does John Ratzenberger Play as the story develops.

Monsters Inc is a really great looking movie too. All of the Pixar films have been very colorful to begin with, but this one in particular seems to have a real glow to it, especially in the blues and greens of its main characters. It also introduces Pixar's new fur rendering technology to make Sully a fuzzy character with actual rendered fur instead of just a weird texture. It'll become clear in the next Pete Doctor-helmed film that misleading you with the introductory sequences for a shocking changeup in genre and focus while still maintaining a strong emotional core throughout is going to be His Thing and it's well established here.
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  #64  
Old 03-19-2013, 01:12 AM
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Just pointing out again: The trailer Randall ends up in is the same trailer the bug city is near in A Bug's Life.
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  #65  
Old 03-19-2013, 01:38 AM
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Indeed, and Boo owns both a Jesse doll and a toy clownfish.
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  #66  
Old 03-19-2013, 01:43 AM
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Don't forget, a certain mister David Silverman was one of the co-directors. Which really shines through in a few expressions and poses and so on, particularly in a certain conveyor belt scene.
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  #67  
Old 03-19-2013, 01:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheana View Post
Don't forget, a certain mister David Silverman was one of the co-directors. Which really shines through in a few expressions and poses and so on, particularly in a certain conveyor belt scene.
Oh man that's a great moment. It's practically Looney Tunes with how hilariously morbid it is.
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  #68  
Old 03-19-2013, 02:20 AM
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Well, it is pretty much a straight-up tribute to Feed The Kitty!
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  #69  
Old 03-19-2013, 02:53 AM
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Default Re: Pixar and The Movies About Things That Act Like People

It's astonishing just how casually imaginative Monsters Inc is. There are so many completely unique ideas just pushed up on screen like it's not even a big deal.

I think this is the funniest Pixar film, but not quite my favourite.
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  #70  
Old 03-19-2013, 04:25 AM
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Quote:
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Well, it is pretty much a straight-up tribute to Feed The Kitty!
Oh hey, how did I never make that connection before?
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  #71  
Old 03-19-2013, 04:31 AM
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FUCK, what's wrong with me, I also forgot to talk about the short! Pretend this was in front of the Monsters Inc write-up.

For The Birds

Another example of Pixar doing some very Looney Tunes-esque material, this very simple short is about a bunch of squeaky birds on a wire who mock and mistreat a dopey bigger bird so naive he's not even aware he's being made fun of. It's pretty much just an exercise in amusing facial expressions and sound effects with a well-timed slapstick punchline, not my favorite short but definitely a good one.
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  #72  
Old 03-19-2013, 05:47 AM
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Quote:
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Well, it is pretty much a straight-up tribute to Feed The Kitty!
If this scene had been Mike freaking out, I might find it funny, but watching Sully panic just makes me uncomfortable.
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  #73  
Old 03-22-2013, 10:31 PM
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I've found that doing the write-ups to these Pixar reviews is more difficult than the other threads I've done. My desire to not be too abject in my rampant fanboyism for this studio keeps me biting my tongue and the plots of the films are all very difficult to summarize, because unlike Disney, who manage to have very great but easy to condense and simple to describe stories, Pixar films always end up having so much going on in them that it can be easy to get lost in a synopsis and just ramble on and on and on.

Finding Nemo

This is another one of those films that left me with a strange, unsure feeling the first time I watched in the theater. Summer of 2003, meaning that I was in my late teens, probably at the height of my cynicism as well as self-righteous assuredness in how the world works. We took my barely coherent little brother to see this film and once again it was a film that really caught me defenseless with how different it was from what I was expecting from Pixar at the time. I think part of it was at that age I felt very alienated and distant from my own father, unable to communicate with him well (I guess this is true to this day but not in a way that makes me feel resentful towards him anymore) and a movie so focused on a father's love for his son was, in many ways something that made me vaguely uncomfortable, so I left the theater with an odd pit in my stomach and an inability to form any strong opinion on it whatsoever.

I sometimes wonder if a similar experience is what has some of the other heathens around here disappreciating this film, because as I've grown and watched the movie subsequent times I find myself loving it more and more on each viewing. Seeing its recent 3d release in theaters with my mom was a joyous experience and I now find it holding a warm place in my heart. I am loathe to call it my favorite Pixar movie for the same reason you don't compare Hanzo swords, but I think I can reasonably say that Dory is my favorite Pixar character, possibly my favorite animated character of all.

It's a movie that really more than any up to this point cuts through your barriers. It deals with such adult fears in a stark and unflinching way, a movie that director Andrew Stanton famously pitched to the studios and brass by passionately describing the raw fear and desperation Marlin feels as his son is stolen away by unwitting divers. And though presented through the eyes and environment of a fish, it really cuts deep on the fact that the world is often a very frightening place, full of unexpected dangers and the harsh reality that you can lose people you love so suddenly you don't even get a chance to react to it. If for no other reason I think I might understand people shying away from the film because such deep-cutting material can be hard to sit through at times. But it's such a strikingly beautiful and well-constructed film, with great characters and well-punctuated comic relief, I can't imagine how anyone could fairly hate it. The score, done not this time by Randy Newman but Thomas Newman, you may remember as the guy who did the score for The Shawshank Redemption, a pretty distinct and emotionally resonant sound that really sells the beauty and wonder, as well as emotional gravitas of this world and story.

And the comic relief, certainly is exactly that in this film. It's there to relieve you when things seem darkest, and while certainly all Pixar films are funny, I think this one makes me laugh the hardest because we tend to need humor the most when things get so bleak or scary that we feel completely vulnerable. Ellen Degeneres absolutely nails Dory's persona, making her hilariously forgetful and cheeky but maintaining an emotional consistency that carries through to the heartfelt speech near the end where she begs Marlin not to abandon her that reportedly made the entire recording studio cry. Two lines in particular, "Can I help you?" and "Hey there Mr. Grumpy Gills." are delivered with such impeccable timing that they never fail to make me burst out into laughter. And the expressions in this film, while always one of Pixars strong points, are among the best.

And all the other major characters are great too. Nemo is cute and plucky and has a great arc in learning his courage to try and escape. His secondary father figure Gill played by Willem Dafoe is a perfect foil as well. What I love about him is that this turns out to be one of those films without villains, the closest there is being a hyperactive little girl who won't stop shaking fish bags, and yet he is introduced in a shady and mysterious way that very much makes it seem as if he will be a villain. He's cool, calculating, and willing to put Nemo in harm's way to fulfill one of his cunning escape plans, but expresses genuine dismay and regret at what he's done when the plan goes awry, making him more than just some reckless father figure to be shamed and cast aside.

And then there's Marlin, who I would say is just an example of perfect casting from Pixar, but let's face it, they all are. Albert Brooks takes a break from making guest appearances on The Simpsons to bring this hapless dad to life in such a remarkable way. He experiences a deep, painful loss early in the film and it colors how he chooses to raise his only, crippled son and it feeds into a wild and unstoppable desperation to save him that as time goes on with Dory's influence to grow into true courage. The way they play off of each other is just a joy to watch, he and Dory are one of the finest examples of fire-forged friends ever to grace the silver screen and that they do it without forcing any ham-handed romance in your face as all other movies on the goddamn planet do when the two leads are male and female is just fantastic.

And there's plenty of fun colorful characters they meet along the way. The humans are this close to looking genuinely good, the Dentist who "helpfully" captures Nemo being an amusing character and I always get a kick out of his fish tank pets treating his profession like a spectator sport. Bruce the Shark is my mom's favorite, and he is a great example of a likeable character who can turn absolutely terrifying under the right circumstances.

Ultimately what really has me love the film is its message, that yeah, the world is a scary place and you can want so bad to protect yourself and those you love from harm, but if you let that desire rule you, making you constantly quiver in anxiety and try to shelter yourself from those potential dangers, you'll miss out on the experiences that make life worth living. Sometimes you just have to let go. I wish at times I were better at taking that message to heart.
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  #74  
Old 03-22-2013, 10:39 PM
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Whoops, almost forgot:

WHO DOES JOHN RATZENBERGER PLAY?

Finding Nemo has John show up as the voice of a school of fish that Marlin and Dory ask for directions early on in the film, who humorously like to perform impressions in an attempt to make Dory laugh. A cute scene that is one of his smaller cameos, but probably not the smallest, that'll come in the next film.
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  #75  
Old 03-22-2013, 10:41 PM
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Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming swimming swimming
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  #76  
Old 03-22-2013, 11:10 PM
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Finding Nemo may be my favorite Pixar movie, although ever since that one random wikipedia safari I went on, I can't get over how weird it is that it's about a grief-stricken single clownfish father. Particularly since everything else about the grim little opening though is legitimately well-researched nature-is-harsh-and-cruel stuff totally in-line with that article.
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  #77  
Old 03-22-2013, 11:14 PM
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I think the "sea turtles swimming in a huge school" is also a big innaccuracy. I'm pretty sure I've heard that sea turtles are very solitary creatures.
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  #78  
Old 03-22-2013, 11:29 PM
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Also fish don't go to school in a big mixed group.
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  #79  
Old 03-22-2013, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Googleshng View Post
Finding Nemo may be my favorite Pixar movie, although ever since that one random wikipedia safari I went on, I can't get over how weird it is that it's about a grief-stricken single clownfish father. Particularly since everything else about the grim little opening though is legitimately well-researched nature-is-harsh-and-cruel stuff totally in-line with that article.
Do you really think the changing-genders thing would've gone over well with the general American movie-going public we've got goin' here, there would've been so much crazy conservative outrage over it, Real Nature regardless.
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Old 03-22-2013, 11:40 PM
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When Finding Nemo came out, my neighbors' dad had just passed away, and they all saw it several times, including once with me. Even years later it still made them cry. Needless to say it's their favorite.

I don't have such a personal connection to it, but I think that it struck a very good balance between pathos and slapstick, and, more importantly, transitioned between them without feeling like alternating scenes from two different movies. I've considered that a problem with some others parts of Pixar's output.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:05 AM
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Do you really think the changing-genders thing would've gone over well with the general American movie-going public we've got goin' here, there would've been so much crazy conservative outrage over it, Real Nature regardless.
Almost certainly not, but there's also the potential route of having Nemo's father being killed while guarding the clutch of eggs, causing his mother to get all overprotective.

Either way though, we'd lose out on Albert Brooks really knocking it out of the park voice-acting wise.
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  #82  
Old 03-23-2013, 12:19 AM
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Man, I somehow forgot about Finding Nemo when thinking of my favourite Pixar films. Which is weird, because my little sister was nine when it came out and watched it all the fucking time. I guess that's why I haven't seen it in a long time. I need to watch it again, but thinking about it and reading that write-up, I think there's a very strong case for it being their best movie. It's better paced than a lot of the newer stuff, it has an awesome cast, a great emotional hook and it's really hilarious. Blink already mentioned Dory, but the "I'm obnoxious!" line from one of Nemo's friends at the beginning is one of my favourite lines ever.

Yeah, I think this might be the best.
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  #83  
Old 03-23-2013, 12:48 AM
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I would honestly put Finding Nemo near the bottom of my favorite Pixar movies. I see that a ton of people absolutely love it, but every time I've watched it (4 times, maybe?) it has done nothing for me. I can agree that it is a very well made film, I just don't care for it much. The biggest reason is that Dory is incredibly annoying.
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  #84  
Old 03-23-2013, 01:03 AM
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Quote:
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Man, I somehow forgot about Finding Nemo when thinking of my favourite Pixar films.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rascally Badger View Post
I would honestly put Finding Nemo near the bottom of my favorite Pixar movies.
I love how much variance there is on the Pixar love train. With most companies there is some consensus about which are the best and worst works, but with Pixar it seems like every single film runs the gamut when people start comparing lists.
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:31 AM
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Ooooh, look at meee. I'm gonna go touch the butt~!
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  #86  
Old 03-23-2013, 01:32 AM
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A lot of Nemo doesn't do too much for me. Like those sharks. I really don't know what they add to the movie.

But oh man that whale scene. Pretty much alone that scene bumps up Nemo into the top half of the Pixar output.
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:54 AM
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I love how much variance there is on the Pixar love train. With most companies there is some consensus about which are the best and worst works, but with Pixar it seems like every single film runs the gamut when people start comparing lists.
People do at least seem to clump the movies in their rankings up by director though. You end up with your Lasseter fans, your Doctor fans, etc.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:15 AM
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Almost certainly not, but there's also the potential route of having Nemo's father being killed while guarding the clutch of eggs, causing his mother to get all overprotective.
True! But I think the big thing to keep in mind here is that they were going for a positive Responsible Dad story. So many family films, both animated and not, feature an absent/dead father, to the point of cliche. Heck, even Andy's family in the Toy Story movies is missing a paternal unit. Having a devoted single dad braving an endless gauntlet for his child isn't as common as it should be in this genre, it's mostly single moms waving goodbye to their heroic offspring or runaway troublemaker dads or evil step-moms or full-out orphaning.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:28 AM
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All true, but it's still weird that when they happened to choose to flip that particular setup around they also happened to pick an animal off what has to be a real short list of cute cuddly critters whose lifecycle is at odds with it. It has to have struck at least one person early on too.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:54 AM
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Google, it's that kind of pendatic harping on a non-issue that annoys people to the point of snarky comments.
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