On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 29, 2013

Leave it to Pixar to deliver a movie that is not only fun, but honest in a way most films for kids tend to avoid. When movies aimed at the younger set skew the truth in order to make everything turn out in the best of ways for the main characters it is hard to sometimes take the lessons it is trying to teach with more than a grain of salt. Now, given the fact we know where the story of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) eventually ends up it is not without surprise it was an adventure getting to that point, but what is slightly surprising is the way in which they so effortlessly stumble upon their careers in a world that's been completely imagined and realized through technology. This authenticity of the world created for these movies lends itself well to the lesson here that you aren't always going to get what you want no matter how hard you work, but instead the cold truth has to be accepted and in some ways you come out stronger and more proud having admitted and come to terms with your own weaknesses. Though the idea of hard work always paying off is a nice sentiment and in a perfect world might be true, the real world doesn't always allow our dreams to pan out the way we hoped and so we have to adjust to fulfill the potential of the hand in which we were dealt. That all may sound somewhat insightful given the fact the point of discussion here is an animated film, but that is what continues to set Pixar so much further ahead of the pack. Sure, they've had their missteps over the past few years as no one was asking for a sequel to Cars and despite the fact I found it gorgeous and engaging the majority of audiences and critics weren't too pleased with Brave. And as Monsters University may not be the return to top form the majority of people are hoping it would be by this point the bar is so ridiculously high for Pixar it is almost unattainable. On the plus side, this prequel to 2001's Monster's Inc. is a hilarious and colorful adventure that will have the kiddies in stitches and the parents chuckling at all the references and college humor their children are too young to even comprehend. Full review here

R.I.P.D. desperately wanted to be a franchise. It will never happen, but man did it want to be. What's been done here is director Robert Schwentke (RED) decided that instead of sticking with the last obscure comic book adaptation he made and successfully turned into a hit (which coincidentally opened against this film) he would go on and make another one with the hopes that he could push another three or four films out of it and be set for the rest of his career. It makes sense and they obtained all the right parts to make R.I.P.D. a flashy summer bonanza. We have the two big name leading men, we have a large enough budget to pull off some serious action scenes and CGI and they have source material that in some corner of the globe has a fan base that might appreciate it while also riffing on plenty of other, very successful, summer blockbusters before it. Why this didn't work at all though seems to be from a lack of any kind of faith in the project. Though, the studio shouldn't have been surprised by its final product as this comes to us courtesy of the guys who wrote such things as The Tuxedo, Aeon Flux and Clash of the Titans. What exactly were they expecting? They wanted a mindless actioner that told the familiar story of a buddy cop film where the older, experienced cop gets a rookie partner and they fight at first and can't stand one another only to have that relationship blossom into something special by the end of their first adventure together. That, with Men in Black-level genre elements thrown in. It is an easy comparison to make, but that is essentially what R.I.P.D. is. Take out the aliens and replace them with dead people, take out the government and replace it with God. Simple as that. Hire a few studio writers and a director who was able to make a profitable enough hit with his previous potential franchise-starter and you have all the ingredients, right? The failure of this film presents solid proof that the system doesn't always work and the calculated way in which these studios try to push new franchises down our throats doesn't pay off when you're trying too hard and R.I.P.D. is trying way too hard to be something it didn't have to be. Full review hereD

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