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Review: Sanjay’s Super Team and The Good Dinosaur

Pete Sohn, Review, Sanjay Patel, Sanjay's Super Team, Short Film, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Simoa • November 24, 2015

Remarkably brief, “Sanjay’s Super Team” weaves together a story so unlike anything Pixar has ever produced. Quite a feat considering that it’s a short film. It probably would have made a better pairing with Inside Out back in June, because the volcanoes and prehistoric world of “Lava” would have suited The Good Dinosaur better. Nonetheless, “Sanjay’s Super Team” is a real, wondrous delight.

Based on a true story from director Sanjay’s Patel’s childhood, it involves a prayer ritual with his father. Sanjay is dressed up like one of his favorite cartoon superheroes, and has little interest in his father’s tradition. He wants to watch the caped heroes on TV, but his father calls him for prayer. Sanjay reluctantly joins him, bringing his action figure along. Sanjay soon becomes immersed in his father’s prayers, imagining himself with the three Hindu gods. They become even more heroic than the cartoons he loves so much.

In the small cabinet where Sanjay’s imagination and the deities come alive, it’s a vibrant world. The gods glow in translucent shades of blue, pink, and green. It’s a great contrast to the rather drab and ordinary world of the family living room. Even if you don’t practice the Hindu faith, the story is universal. Sanjay learns to appreciate and take pride in his culture. The photographs featuring Sanjay Patel with his father at the short’s conclusion may also make you feel a little misty eyed.

And now for the main feature!

65 million years ago, dinosaurs never went extinct. That’s the initial premise of The Good Dinosaur, but rather than show the immediate aftermath of the asteroid passing, the story takes place millions of years later still. The dinosaurs continued to evolve and now they’re farmers. It’s a concept that would lead you to scratch your head, but an original, intriguing one that surrounds a familiar story. TheGoodDinosaur5612ef11d27c8
A newly growing Apatosaurus family are the farmers here. Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) and Momma (Frances McDormand) are expecting three baby dinos to hatch from their eggs. First is Libby, who is mischievous from the moment she hatches. Buck is second, breaking through his egg feet first and charging about. One of the film’s early funny moments centers on Buck finding a stick and gleefully whacking things with it, like his father’s leg and the last, unhatched egg. This egg is the largest of the three and houses a baby dinosaur much smaller than Libby and Buck and already much more timid. This is Arlo. Right away his entry into the world clues us into a key idea: the world is much too big for little Arlo.
Soon Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) grows, and along with Libby (Maleah Padilla) and Buck (Marcus Scribner), works on the family farm. Each is assigned a task. Libby and Buck excel in their respective roles, but not Arlo. He’s always messing up his chores (along with everyone else’s), and he scares too easily. This fact is not lost on Buck. It seems that Arlo is never going to make his mark. Literally, it’s an imprint or paw print made on the silo built by Poppa to store their food. Libby and Buck along with Momma and Poppa have made their marks on the silo and in the more figurative sense.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR - Pictured (L-R): Momma, Poppa, Arlo, Buck, Libby. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Poppa aims to help Arlo make his mark and get through his fear. Poppa loves Arlo tremendously and believes in him too. When the young dinosaur is too scared to try or see past his fear, Poppa encourages him. He can sense Arlo’s potential. “You’re me and more.” is a beautiful line that really stands out. It’s meant to give the young dinosaur confidence. It also solidifies Poppa’s love for Arlo and his belief in him.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR - Pictured: Spot.

After Poppa, Arlo forms his most meaningful relationship with a feral human boy named Spot (Jack Bright). The two meet under less than ideal circumstances and Spot frightens Arlo at first. Though tiny, he’s ferocious, but adorable too. Spot moves like an animal and as director Pete Sohn said, “It’s really fun to push Spot’s canine quality. We want it to be clear that he reacts like an animal in the beginning, but there’s a boy deep, deep down.” Though he belongs to the wild, Spot is very much a regular, rambunctious little boy.
Arlo meets more friends and foes along the way. The T-Rexes are the most impressive of the bunch, friendly and fearsome. These rexes are ranchers who herd longhorns and they agree to help Arlo find his way, but not before he gives them a hand with their lost herd. What’s so inspired about the rexes is that they move like cowboys but in a believable way. Those famous little arms really do resemble cowboys in their movements. The rexes help Arlo overcome his fear while also letting him know that fear isn’t the worst thing. And they’re such a funny, memorable group. Butch is the father, voiced by Sam Elliot, and speaks in a rich baritone voice that recalls steely cowboys in westerns. It’s quite a perfect match. Anna Paquin as Ramsey, Butch’s daughter, is totally convincing with her twang. AJ Buckley as Ramsey’s brother Nash is also excellent.

A TRIO OF T-REXES - An Apatosaurus named Arlo must face his fears (and three impressive T-Rexes) in Disney•Pixar's THE GOOD DINOSAUR. Featuring the voices of AJ Buckley, Anna Paquin and Sam Elliott as the T-Rexes, THE GOOD DINOSAUR opens in theaters nationwide Nov. 25, 2015. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The score by Mychel and Jeff Danna is fantastic, giving the movie its western sound to match the look.

Like most Pixar films, The Good Dinosaur is a buddy picture about two unlikely buddies. The progression in Arlo and Spot’s eventual friendship happens in such an organic way. Spot as the human takes on the role of dog, and just like a dog, he’s fiercely loyal to Arlo. The latter too becomes a protective “owner.” Both support each other and learn quite a lot. Spot doesn’t speak, so there are moments within the film with absolutely no dialogue. One scene in particular, with its wordless poignancy, will have you reaching for tissues.

The Good Dinosaur is also about self-discovery. Arlo is making two journeys; one back home and one to find himself. It sounds cliché, but the script by Meg LaFauve pulls it off. Arlo is able to tap into that unknown potential Poppa wanted to draw out. This is his journey from timidity to confidence. Arlo gets to prove himself and show that he is indeed made of so much more.

The story here isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but it is deceptively simple. A boy and his dog, a journey of self-discovery, and learning to see through fear – these three main ideas play out against a backdrop of stunning visuals. The real strength of The Good Dinosaur lies in the artwork and designs. Wide shots feature the most breathtaking, expansive scenery. Jaw dropping is another apt descriptor.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR (Pictured) The T-Rexes. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR - Pictured: Arlo. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Early on, Sohn stressed the fact that nature was another character, an antagonist. This world is perilous, filled with frightening beauty. “We didn’t want it to feel like a walk in the park. This world feels big – even to a dinosaur.” Arlo actually figures so small in the foreground that the size of the world is quite overwhelming. It’s rather striking that such a huge, unpredictable landscape could lend itself to moments of stillness and silence. There are sequences that allow you to just take in the scenery, admire simple but gorgeous details on leaves and the glassy surface of a lake.

A film about dinosaurs and a small boy who acts like a dog could easily turn trite in the hands of lesser filmmakers. But The Good Dinosaur is somewhat unexpected. The jokes and gags aren’t ever forced. There’s even one surreal sequence that sent the audience at my screening into hysterics. And who could forget, “This is Dream Crusher. He makes sure I don’t have unrealistic goals.”?

We may never know what Bob Peterson’s original film looked like, but I’m confident that Pete Sohn and his crew gave us another stellar Pixar feature. This film is a sleeper hit. I wouldn’t be surprised if people overlooked or ignored it in favor of Inside Out. Their loss, really. This is such a tender, moving film, one that examines the love between two friends and shows just how vulnerable and sensitive little boys and dinosaurs can be. The Good Dinosaur is indeed good, and more.

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Happy 20th Anniversary, Toy Story!

Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Pixar, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 20th, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 4, Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Nia • November 22, 2015

In celebration of Toy Story‘s 20th anniversary, we asked our readers to tell us how important the film is to them. Here are some of the most touching responses that will make you want to re-watch the film and hold your childhood toys close. Please note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

toy story 20th

“My daughter has always been a true and dedicated fan of Toy Story, and has also gone through several bouts of chemo with Woody and Buzz comforting her.”

My daughter was 4 years old when Toy Story came to be. She had already gone through surgeries, chemo, and was starting on radiation when she was mesmerized by Woody and Buzz. My daughter has always been a true and dedicated fan of Toy Story, and has also gone through several bouts of chemo with Woody and Buzz comforting her. She turned 24 last year. In fact, when we booked a Disney Cruise in September, I asked DCL if there was anything they can do for her. Low and behold, she was treated with a private session with her two favorite characters! I’ve never seen her smile that big. – Susan and Kayla Gordon

“Toy Story has always been my favorite childhood movie, and it eventually became the film that convinced me to be an animator.”

I could write a book about how Toy Story has impacted my life. I like to joke that the day the film was released in theaters was the best day of my life. Toy Story has always been my favorite childhood movie, and it eventually became the film that convinced me to be an animator. I have very fond memories of my Toy Story toys, from playing with little Buzz and Woody figures with my older sister, to my dad dressing up one of my other Buzzes in Barbie clothes to act out the Mrs. Nesbitt scene. I’m now in my second year of art school, and the more I learn about the history of animation, the more I see how Toy Story rocked the industry. It was a groundbreaking marriage of technology and art, and the foundation of many of the films we cherish today. The production of Toy Story itself is a story of having a dream and not giving up on it, no matter how much others try to convince you that it’ll fail. This is what inspires me to pursue my own dream of making films someday.  – Allie

“Every time I watch the original Toy Story it’s like visiting an old friend, and the movie brings me back to my childhood.”

I can’t remember a time where I didn’t treat my toys as if they were real (I was three years old when the original came out). I probably owned some small toys from the movie, but the one I interacted with the most was the computer game. Generally speaking, I loved playing all the storybook computer games from the ’90s Disney movies, and Toy Story was one of my top favorites.


The films itself hold a special place in my heart, and though I don’t remember the first time I saw the original and its sequel, they both came out around pivotal moments of my life. The first one came out two months before my first sister was born (the first time I’d become a sibling), and the second one came out seven months before my second sister was born. And the third one came out at exactly the right time: I had just graduated from high school the day before its release, and Andy saying goodbye to his toys sadly reminded me that I’d have to do the same in the next two months as I was moving to another state, away from the friends I grew up with.


Every time I watch the original Toy Story it’s like visiting an old friend, and the movie brings me back to my childhood. I may have outgrown playing with the toys I used to love, but the fond memories are still there. – Keisha

“Sharing Toy Story with my Dad is one of my best memories I have with him as a child.”

I was 8. I have a lot of clear and random memories regarding the film. I went to see it in the theater with my dad and I loved it, which was surprising because as a child I was deathly afraid of toys coming to life to the point that I had vivid and chronic nightmares. Toy Story was the movie that spun it all around for me, it made me stop fearing the idea and my nightmares literally stopped.


I love Woody more, but for some reason I really wanted a Buzz Lightyear so badly that my dad went to three or four Burger Kings to find one of the promotional plush toys they had. We couldn’t afford the actual replica toys that came out in the stores. I’ll always remember the night he brought it to me as a surprise. Buzz and I were inseparable for months after that. Sharing Toy Story with my Dad is one of my best memories I have with him as a child. – Atta Lynne

Toy Story played a very large part in my childhood.”

It was the film I watched repeatedly when I was young. Once Toy Story 2 came out, it had become my favorite movie. Toy Story 3 was probably the biggest event of 2010 for me and I also had quite a few toys at that point. With the 4th film coming and all the shorts, Toy Story will continue to remain a big part of a life for a long time. – JKOP

“May the toys continue to embrace more kids and adults for generations to come.”

I was just a baby when the first Toy Story came out. But, I loved it when I first saw it on home video and I still love it today. I have all the movies (and the TV specials on Blu-Ray and DVD), I still have a lot of the toys (the main ones like Woody and Buzz I haven’t stored away yet), and I just love this trilogy! May the toys continue to embrace more kids and adults for generations to come! To infinity and beyond! – Josiah Mielke

“My parents decided to try and spark some interests by putting on movies for me. I’d only watch one the entire way through: Toy Story.”

It all started when I was around 11 months old. I allegedly didn’t do much, I crawled around a bit, I slept, not much else. My parents decided to try and spark some interests by putting on movies for me. I’d only watch one the entire way through: Toy Story.


And so, that started a very long cycle of re-watches for years and years. Because of that, Toy Story had such a big influence on me. It’s what made me want to become an animator, made me want to work for Pixar, sparked my hobby in filmmaking, heck, it’s one of the main reasons I started talking.


In fact, anytime I go to the Disney parks, I always try to meet the Buzz Lightyear character. Unfortunately, DLP don’t really “get” the Toy Story hype, but luckily, I have met him twice; once in 2006 and once this year, in 2015. Even this year, the ride I went on most was Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.


As I write this in bed, I have a giant TS3 poster looming above me, and the Toy Story characters from Disney Infinity close by. – Noah Carolan

“Toy Story and its characters are really my oldest and closest friends, and without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

What does Toy Story mean to me? Well, where do I even begin? For starters, it was the first movie I ever fell in love with. My Toy Story experience began early, like a lot of people my age. I was 13 months going on 14 months. When my dad came home with the VHS for Toy Story, I was hooked. I don’t remember this, but my mom has told me every time she popped the film in the VCR, she knew she had about an hour and a half of free time because I was just mesmerized.


Just a few weeks ago, I decided to sit down and re-watch the trilogy. I’d really forgotten just how amazing all of those films are. I still laughed at the jokes, even though I know them all by heart. I still cried at the end of Toy Story 3, even though I knew what was coming. I referred to the movie marathon as “catching up with old friends” on an Instagram post I made. Toy Story and its characters are really my oldest and closest friends, and without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. So, thank you to everyone who has ever worked on these films, for crafting something that people from 1 to 99 can watch and still laugh, cry, and connect with in a way not many other films can achieve. Thank you Toy Story. May you continue to inspire people for infinity and beyond. – Forster Keenoy

“20 years later, Buzz is still my favorite character and I’ve still got Disney magic in my heart.”

I’ve been a hardcore Pixar fangirl ever since I was little. I wasn’t like most Disney-loving girls my age (i.e. I favored Buzz Lightyear over Disney Princesses).


Every time I watched a Pixar movie I was enchanted. And all three times we went to Disney World, I went Pixar crazy. I loved riding Buzz’s Space Ranger Spin, playing Toy Story Mania, dancing in Block Party Bash, and meeting the Pixar Pals.


20 years later, Buzz is still my favorite character and I’ve still got Disney magic in my heart. All three Toy Story movies bring back lots of good memories. Thank you Disney and Pixar. To infinity and beyond! – Buzzfan120

Thank you to all of the storytellers at Pixar who have brought magic to our lives. Here’s to the future and the great stories to come.

With love,

Upcoming Pixar.

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Toy Story’s 20th Anniversary

Toy Story, Toy Story 20th, Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Simoa • November 14, 2015

Toy Story turns 20 on the 22nd of this month! Can you believe it’s been 20 years already? Nia and I wanted to do something special for the occasion, and we’re asking you, our readers, to help us.

Most of us were just four or five when we saw Toy Story. We might even be the same age it is now. This movie revolutionized animation in 1995 and made Pixar a household name, after years of short films and commercials. Much more than that though, Toy Story is also meaningful for those of us who grew up with it. Andy’s toys were our toys. We went on adventures with these characters. The first film led to two more, becoming the best trilogy in recent memory, and now a fourth one is on the way. Toy Story 3 turned five back in June of this year, and that too was a meaningful film for high school graduates and college students.

It seems fitting that 2015 marks 20 years of Toy Story. Inside Out was released to widespread acclaim and love this year, and we also have The Good Dinosaur to look forward to this Thanksgiving. Much has changed about Pixar and computer animation. Toy Story is 20 years old and can stand alongside those films and feel just as new. Because of this, Toy Story represents so much more than nostalgia. It’s timeless; its characters, humor, and heart are as vibrant today as they were in 1995.

What we want you, our readers to do, is to tell us all about your Toy Story memories. Did you see it in theaters? How old were you? Do you have any of the toys? What does it mean to you now? Anything at all you’d like to share is welcome. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your name before 11:59 pm est on November 21st. That means you have a week. On the 22nd, we’ll put together all your contributions and share the Toy Story love and magic.

So for everyone who has ever wondered if their toys moved when they left the room, for anyone who’s loved a toy, who still watches Toy Story as enraptured as you did so many years ago, this is for you.

To infinity and beyond!

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