At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Tom Cruise thriller to open Urbanworld Film Fest
Tom Cruise's new thriller, Collateral, will open the eighth annual Urbanworld Film Festival Aug. 4 in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports. In the film, Cruise plays a contract killer who hijacks Jamie Foxx's taxicab. It also stars Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo. "Collateral is the perfect film to open this year's Urbanworld," festival founder and Urbanworld Films president Stacy Spikes said in a statement Monday. "This picture illustrates what the term 'urban' truly represents in 2004. Urban is about sensibility, not just ethnicity." lass="storylinks">Collateral opens nationwide Aug 6. The festival, which runs August 4 - 9, will include panel discussions and feature, documentary and short film screenings. It will also feature the Actor's Spotlight, with former honorees Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Dee Williams, Vondie Curtis Hall and Rosie Perez.
Zach Braff's film wins Maui Film Fest
In other festival news, Zach Braff's feature directorial debut Garden State was awarded best feature film at the fifth annual Maui Film Festival. According to the AP, a record 20,000 people who attended the festival. Braff, who plays Dr. John 'J.D.' Dorian on the NBC sitcom Scrubs, accepted the award as the five-day festival concluded over the weekend. The film, which opens in limited release July 30, revolves around a man (Braff) who returns home for his mother's funeral and breaks free of a lifetime of medication-induced passivity, striking up a relationship with a quirky young woman, played by Natalie Portman. Braff, 29, also wrote the screenplay.
AFI releases 100 best movie songs
The American Film Institute released a list of 100 best movie songs Tuesday, with the song "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz taking the No. 1 spot. The song made famous by Judy Garland as Kansas farm girl Dorothy was followed by "As Time Goes By" from Casablanca at No. 2, and the title tune from Singin' in the Rain at No. 3. The rest of the AFI top 10: 4. "Moon River" from Breakfast At Tiffany's; 5. "White Christmas" from Holiday Inn; 6. "Mrs. Robinson" from The Graduate; 7. "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio; 8. "The Way We Were" from The Way We Were; 9. "Stayin' Alive" from Saturday Night Fever; 10. "The Sound of Music" from The Sound of Music.
Jessica Simpson cancels concert due to illness
Jessica Simpson had to cancel her Tuesday show in Providence, R.I., because of a kidney infection, Columbia Records spokeswoman Renee Pfefer told the AP. According to Pfefer, the 23-year-old singer is under a doctor's care and planned to resume her summer tour promoting her album In This Skin in New Hampshire on Wednesday. Simpson, who stars with her husband Nick Lachey on the MTV's reality series Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, was scheduled to go on stage before a nearly sold-out audience. Organizers hoped to reschedule the performance.
David Bowie gets sucker punched
A wayward lollipop hit singer David Bowie in the eye during a concert at Friday's Norwegian Wood Festival in Oslo, and although he wasn't seriously injured by the candy, the incident was enough to piss off the 57-year-old singer. "Lucky you hit the bad one," Bowie quipped to the crowd of 7,500, reminding them he only had one good eye since the other eye was damaged in a childhood fight. According to the AP, Bowie continued to joke about the occurrence throughout his performance. At one point, he threw one of his guitar picks into the crowd, and then asked if he'd hit someone in the eye. Norwegian newspapers tracked down the alleged culprit, who claimed it was an accident, but didn't publish her name.
Doris Day gets Presidential Medal of Freedom
Doris Day, who is being honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday in Washington, said her fear of flying will keep her from traveling to the capitol to accept it from President Bush. Day, who won an Oscar nomination for the 1959 romantic comedy Pillow Talk and made several gold records, blames her fear of flying on too many overseas trips with Bob Hope entertaining U.S. troops. "I saw him on his knees many a time, " she said. "In fact, we were all on our knees. We flew in snowstorms, whatever, to get to the next show. When I hit the ground, I said, 'Never again.'" The entertainer has also been recognized for founding the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which has sponsored annual Spay Days to reduce animal overpopulation. The Medal of Freedom distinguishes service in a range of fields, including the arts, sports, business and science.
Lollapalooza canceled due to poor ticket sales
The 2004 edition of the Lollapalooza tour was canceled due to weak ticket sales, organizers said Tuesday. This year's Lollapalooza lineup included Morrissey, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey the Flaming Lips, Pixies and Wilco. But Pollstar magazine editor Gary Bongiovanni told Reuters Lollapalooza was also was a victim of a talent roster that appealed to an older audience. "I look at that lineup and I see a lot of acts that have been around a long time. They're probably not bands that are going to be in the top five acts that your average 15-, 16- or 17-year-old is going to be listening to," he said. "The older you get, the less inclined you're going to be to spend eight hours out in the sun with 15,000 other people." He cited the Vans Warped Tour as an example of a tour that has done consistently well because its heavy emphasis on the "skate punk" bands that are popular with young listeners.
B-ball beats Clinton in TV ratings
Despite all the hoopla over his new book and hour-long TV interview, basketball finals beat out former President Bill Clinton's appearance on CBS' 60 Minutes in the week's TV rankings. Here are the Top 10 prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen Media Research for June 14-20: NBA Finals Game 5: L.A. Lakers at Detroit Pistons, ABC, 21.8 million viewers; 60 Minutes, CBS, 15.8 million viewers; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 14.1 million viewers; CSI: Miami, CBS, 14 million viewers; Without a Trace, CBS, 12.8 million viewers; Law & Order, NBC, 11.8 million viewers; Cold Case, CBS, 11.4 million viewers; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 11.4 million viewers; Two And a Half Men, CBS, 11 million viewers; and Last Comic Standing 2, NBC, 10.4 million viewers.
Joan Rivers returns to Sin City
Joan Rivers will return to Las Vegas for the first time in nine years, appearing for four nights at the Stardust hotel-casino starting next Wednesday, the AP reports. "The last time I appeared in Las Vegas, they were wearing hoop skirts and Davy Crockett hats," the comedian joked. "But they say, 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.' And as far as fashion is concerned, that's a good thing." Rivers will be performing her "Can We Talk?" routine, a candid discussion about everyday life. Rivers also will be hosting the awards ceremony for the Stardust's Red Carpet Celebrity Slot Tournament, which is scheduled for Thursday.