Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Hidden Gems: The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

*Just as in the first film, the Mickey Mouse watch makes another appearance at the Rescue Aid Society.

Hidden Gems: Basil The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

*Bill, the unfortunate lizard from Alice in Wonderland (1951) who gets sneezed out of the chimney by a giant Alice, here reappears as one of Rattigan’s henchmen.

*When Basil investigates the toymaker’s shop, there is a Dumbo toy blowing bubbles.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Hidden Gems: The Rescuers (1977)

*At the Rescuers’ headquarters, a Mickey Mouse watch on the wall doubles as a clock.

*When Orville gets sucked into Madam Medusa’s engine, he makes a high pitched scream which is actually the Goofy holler. It happens at around the 7:10 mark.

Hidden Gems: Brother Bear (2003)

*Towards the beginning of the film when Denahi and Sitka are fishing, Nemo can be spotted.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Hidden Gems: Tarzan (1999)

*During the ‘Trashin’ the Camp’ sequence, Mrs Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast (1991) can be spotted.

*When the apes hold Professor Porter upside down, a toy version of Little Brother from Mulan (1998) falls out.

*One of the men on board Clayton’s ship is a caricature of animation legend, Glen Keane. 

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Hidden Gems: Fantasia (1940)

*The name of the sorcerer in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment is named Yensid, a semi-palindrome of Disney. (The implication also being that Yensid, like Walt Disney, was a rather intimidating authority figure amongst his employees).

Hidden Gems: The Incredibles (2004)

*At the beginning of the film when Mr. Incredible is in pursuit of some criminals, the map which he looks at features the names of streets surrounding Pixar studios.

*In this shot, ‘The Luxo Deli’ is a reference to Luxo Jr. (1986) and ‘Andy’s’ is a nod to Andy from Toy Story (1995).

*The Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em toys from Toy Story 2 (1999) appear in Bob’s office.

*A113 is referenced twice. The first is a room number which Mirage tells Bob to visit. The second is far more subtle; Elastigirl checks the monitor to find where Bob is being held and discovers that it is on Level A1, in cell 13.

*There’s a lot of controversy regarding whether or not the Pizza Planet truck appears in The Incredibles. Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3 (2010) claims there isn’t one, but John Lasseter disagrees. According to Jim Hill Media, the Pizza Planet truck does appear during the finale when the camper van is driven at high speed through New York. However, it goes by so quickly that it’s only possible to see a vague blur. Anyway, here are the images that site provided and I’ll leave it up to you to make up your mind.

*During the final battle with the Omnidroid, Doc Hudson from Cars (2006) can be seen in the background.

*The two old men who comment after the battle are caricatures of legendary Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. They even provide the voices!

Hidden Gems: Cinderella (1950)

*Does that shadow on the wall remind you of someone? It should do; it’s Peter Pan!

*I trust you’re all familiar with the Goofy holler? Not to be confused with the Wilhelm scream, the holler is Disney’s own unique scream, predominantly used by Goofy but occasionally by other characters as well. If you’re not sure what it is, please familiarise yourself:

And here’s the holler in Cinderella from the scene in which the Grand Duke reveals the glass slipper to the King:

Friday, 27 August 2010

Hidden Gems: Fantasia 2000 (2000)

*Just the one hidden joke here. In the Pomp and Circumstance segment where Donald Duck plays the role of Noah, Mickey and Minnie can be seen on the ark. 

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (12A)

Scott Pilgrim should come with a disclaimer: If you’ve never played a videogame, leave now. So unashamedly does it flaunt its geek-centric credentials that it runs the risk of alienating anyone without a phD in all things Mario. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate; even the most uninformed viewer should have something good to say come the post-film discussion. Still if you’ve never heard of a 1-Up before, you’re going to struggle. Yet rather than detract from the overall experience, this limited appeal is actually its greatest asset.

From the moment the Universal logo bursts onto the screen in retro, 16-bit graphics, Scott Pilgrim makes its intentions blatantly clear. Although the first five minutes convinced me this would be a film I would love to hate, I simply couldn’t resist its charm. This is not merely a bunch of Hollywood fakers cashing in on a geek chic trend but a cast and crew fully in-tune with the material. And it shows. Whether it’s a dream sequence set to a Legend of Zelda score or a one-liner greeted with canned laughter, this is a film dripping with post-modern charm, which is of course thanks almost entirely to director Edgar Wright.
As Hot Fuzz (2007) (and to a lesser extent) Shaun of the Dead (2004) proved, Wright is a man who does not like to mess about. He finds the centre of a scene almost instantly, throws up a plot point and then moves on. Camera shots are sharp, levelled and deceptively simple while his rapid editing technique is virtually unmatched. Some may bemoan his methods for placing style above substance, which is arguably true, but substance implies emotional content, which clearly isn’t this film’s intention. This is all about style and in that sense, Scott is a success. The sheer speed at which Wright traverses the narrative plain is phenomenal, throwing onto the screen as many graphics and subtitles as the budget allows. In fact a director hasn’t been this chaotic since David Fincher’s Fight Club (1999) which by comparison looks like an elderly, less energetic brother. However, it’s in the Street Fighter-inspired battles that Wright really proves his mettle. Cartoony whilst maintaining a sense of peril, he manages that rarity of making the action a memorable spectacle instead of sheer filler.

It’s difficult to translate quite how much fun there is to be had here. In fact, it’s so much fun that it becomes almost excessive. The tempo remains the same, but by the third act it starts to burn itself out. The finale in which the game references go into overload threatens to tip the whole affair into the world of Scrubs’ smug self-confidence, but the infectious humour wins through. Actually, you’re likely to be laughing so often that you’ll forgive Michael Cera for once again rolling out his Arrested Development persona which hasn’t been appealing since Superbad (2007). Mary Elizabeth Winstead avoids the kooky outcast persona of say, Juno (2007), but she’s neglected by a script that cares more about comedy than romance. Very little time is spent building a rapport between the two lovebirds and by journey’s end you may question what exactly they were fighting for.

As plots go, Scott Pilgrim is hardly the most taxing; once the premise is established, the script takes a backseat to a series of fights with the only aim to be really, really, good looking. But this isn’t so much about storytelling as having fun whilst doing it. As long as you remember that, you’ll have a blast.


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Wayne's World (1992) *****
Wayne's World 2 (1993) ****
Hot Fuzz (2007) ****

Hidden Gems: Aladdin (1992)

*During the scene in which the people line up to see the prince enter the palace, the two characters who speak are caricatures of the film’s writer/directors, John Musker and Ron Clements.

*When Aladdin tells the Genie he will use his third wish to set him free, the Genie, not believing him, transforms into Pinocchio.

*When Aladdin wishes to be a Prince, the Genie browses through a book of recipes and at one point gets his finger pinched by Sebastian from The Little Mermaid (1989).

*Beast from Beauty and the Beast (1991) is hidden amongst the tower of toys belonging to the Sultan.

*After Jafar is defeated, Rajah transforms back from a cub to an adult tiger. It’s impossible to see without pausing, but in a few of the frames he takes on the appearance of Mickey Mouse.

*Just before the Genie departs he is wearing a Goofy hat like those found in the Disney theme parks.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Hidden Gems: Tin Toy (1988)

*The old Pixar logo is on the top left hand corner of the paper bag.

*See that photo in the background? That’s director John Lasseter when he was a kid.

*There is a picture of Luxo on the wall.

*One of the toys in the credits is called RenderMan, which is the name of the software used by Pixar.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Hidden Gems: Cars (2006)

*Lightning McQueen’s name is a dedication to Pixar animation supervisor Glenn McQueen who died in 2002.

*The number 95 on Lightning’s side is a reference to 1995, the year Toy Story was released. Also, the tyres are produced by the fictional company ‘Lightyear’, an obvious spoof of the manufacturer Goodyear and named after Buzz Lightyear.

*The number 86 on Chick Hicks is a reference t0 1986, the year Luxo. Jr was released.

*The King is sponsored by the fictional company Dinoco, an oil company first referenced in Toy Story.

*One of the cars in the opening sequence is sponsored by Apple. This is because Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, was also the CEO of Pixar.

*The Jackalope from the Pixar short Boundin’ (2004) appears on the back of a trailer during the opening scene.

*The car in the Rust-eze commercial has an Emeryville licence plate, Emeryville being the location of Pixar Studios.

*During the ‘Life is a Highway’ sequence the camera passes by the birds from the short film, For The Birds (2001).

*When Mack passes the truck stop several of the trucks have the initials for Pixar films emblazoned on the side, including Toy Story, Finding Nemo (2003) and The Incredibles (2004), the latter of which uses the same ‘i’ found on Mr. Incredble’s original costume.

*The train which Lightning narrowly avoids has an A113 licence plate.

*The stickers on Fillmore’s back contain lots of in-jokes, including one which says ‘Save 2D animation’.

*Stanley, whose statue is in Radiator Springs, first appeared in Boundin’.

*Mater also has an A113 licence plate.

*The final race takes place in Emeryville.

*As three planes fly over the race track you can see a bird’s eye view of the area around Pixar Studios.

*An anthropomorphised Pizza Planet truck appears during the final race.

*The flamingos, swimming pool and palm tree in front of the campervan during the final race are a reference to the Pixar short, Knick Knack (1989).

*During the credits the characters go to watch car versions of Pixar films including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life (1998) and Monsters, Inc. (2001). In a classic example of postmodernism, Mack (voiced by John Ratzenberger) points out that the same actor has been re-used to play Hamm, The Abominable Snowman and P.T. Flea. The joke being that he was the one who played each of those characters.