A Love Letter to Pixar

Okay. This is a total geek-out post that I just can’t hold in any longer.

After Inside Out totally and completely rocked my inner world and forced me to rearrange my mental furniture, I decided that Pixar Animation Studios had reached the peak of perfection. And suddenly, I didn’t care if they had another major success or not, because in my mind, their work was done. 

But the geniuses in Emeryville are just getting started, apparently. With the release of The Good Dinosaur on Thanksgiving, I thought I’d write out a little ode to show my love – and thanks. 



John, Andrew, Brad, Pete, Ed, Darla, and many many more names that encompass the greatest company ever built: Thank you.

Thank you for your courage to tell the truth in your movies. The format of your stories are kid-friendly, but the themes and messages are largely for the intellectuals, the deep thinkers, the workers, the dreamers.

You inspire the rest of us to take risks. You create role models for our kids to look up to and admire. You change the world by inspiring us to live better; to sacrifice; to explore; to not just survive, but to live!

When will other companies learn? You’ve put out several books on how to do business, how to tell stories, how to make a lasting impression. Where are the followers?

I’m one.

When I write, I constantly ask myself, “Does this live up to Pixar’s standards? … Would this live up to Brad’s or John’s expectations?”

I write to “Wow” you.

I have never visited Pixar Studios, nor met anyone from Pixar (top of my bucket list just below getting plugs), but I imagine I work for Pixar. I imagine that the people at Pixar will read every book I write. And perhaps one day they will and they’ll see talent…or at the very least, potential.

Pixar team, it’s because of each one of you I wake up each morning and dare to not give up on my dreams of becoming a bestselling author (and maybe one day writer for Pixar). To the artists who labor day in and day out on a monster’s hair flow, or the scales on a fish – your job is not to have your work noticed. Well, you are noticed, and appreciated.

You inspire me to grow old with my wife, to focus on creating joyful memories for my kids, to keep my friends close.

You make movies that matter – movies that last – and often, movies that change our perspective or even our lives.

Thank you for the thousand-and-twelf rewrites.

Thank you for changing course at the last minute.

Thank you for not accepting mediocre and always shooting for better. And then even better than that.

Thank you for the shorts that bring no financial gain to you whatsoever.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. From my family, thank you. From my grown-up corkers whom I will eventually convince that they’re missing out on something great, thank you on their behalf that there’s something great to be found.

Hopefully I’ll get to visit soon and wander the halls and eat your cereal and pose with the Lego Woody and Buzz. Maybe one day my kids will meet one of you and when they do, I’ll tell them, “You just shook hands with a world-changer.”


My Review of the Disney Short Films Collection


As for many Disney fans, it was a delight to see that Disney was finally putting their short films together in one collection. We initially bought it to play in the car for the kids during our sixteen-hour drive to Florida we were supposed to take next week. But that trip got postponed because one of our dachshunds hurt her back and might need surgery. So she’s on bedrest for two weeks and we’ll stay home with her.

Lorenzo_(film)_posterAnyway, Sarabeth and I watched the short films collection and we have mixed feelings. Mostly because of the one entitled Lorenzo, where the self-indulgent cat with the demon-possessed tail tries to kill him.

Okay, honestly, I loved it, because it was totally morbid and the charcoal artwork was astounding to look at.

There’s one called The Little Matchstick Girl, which I loved because it made me blubber a little bit. (No one, anywhere, said that animation had to be for kids!)

The only thing I have to complain about with this collection is that it does not includeMV5BMTY1NTI2OTA2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTQ4Mjg5._V1_SX214_AL_ Runaway Brain – remember that Mickey Mouse short that was featured before Tall Tale back in the mid-90’s?

But my ultimate favorite animated short of all time is Paperman. Every time I watch that one, it gives me chills. I can only hope they make a full-length feature doing what that movie does by combining 2d animation and computer generated imaging. Feast is a very close second to being just as amazing.

Have you purchased your copy of this awesome collection of Disney shorts? Which ones are your favorites?

What in the World is Wrong?


“Let’s give this a try – it’s got a great premise,” I said, as I pulled up our DVR recording.

“And this is the movie American Sniper lost to?” Sarabeth asked.

“Yeah. It better be one heck of a movie.”

Needless to say, our expectations were set high for Birdman since it won best picture at the last Academy Awards.

We had watched American Sniper last week and were both extremely moved (I think that word is a gross understatement). I have never had so much respect for our troops before watching it. I want Chris Kyle’s book for Christmas and I’ll be getting his wife’s book for Sarabeth.

And then we watched Birdman. It had all the ingredients going for it – Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, bm_spanish_online_1sht1fantasy/reality, award-winning… but in all honesty, it just plain stunk. It stunk so bad we agreed to turn it off twenty-five minutes into it. I felt like the whole thing was just a pity party we were forced into because this has-been actor was no longer in the spotlight.

Honestly, I kept tuning out. The dialogue was bland and middle-school-esk. The plot was hard to get involved with, and I just can’t connect with/feel sympathy for a character who had it all. He’s lived his high life and reached his pinnacle. I don’t want to watch him wallow in his self-pity when I’m still trying to reach my own pinnacle in life.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy ended up either a) getting a second big break but not finding fulfillment in it or b) killing himself because he felt unappreciated out of his prime.

But I’ll never know, nor do I really care to.

In this house, American Sniper was the worthy movie of the year. I may love the genre Birdman falls under, but the deliverance was lame and petty. I typically do not like modern war movies (don’t get me started on Hurt Locker), but this one, American Sniper, is the Saving Private Ryan of the war in the Middle East.

I think it’s our patriotic duty to watch it and pay homage to a true American hero.

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Why Inside Out is the Perfect Father’s Day Movie


Alright, hopefully you’ve all seen Jurassic World by this point, because obviously, that’s the movie to take your dads to with there being dinosaurs and explosions and all that fun stuff. And the hype is true – it really is almost as good as the original!

But if you’re looking for something else now that that’s over, you might want to consider taking him to a very different kind of movie – a family movie.

This is not your typical “kids” or family movie – Inside Out redefines the family genre in every way. It also does for storytelling what Toy Story did for the animation movie industry. This is a movie with a lot of brains – and heart. If your dad is cool like me, then he will be anxious to see Pixar’s latest installment anyway.

So why is Inside Out a good Father’s Day movie? Why would I suggest a movie that primarily focuses on the inner workings of an adolescent girl?

tumblr_nl2dpdR8eW1un8fiuo1_400Because this movie will give your dad an idea about what’s going on inside his kids’ heads, and it will most assuredly remind him of when he himself was a kid, filled with innocence and wonder and goofiness.

And yes, this movie is ridiculously sad, but never once does it get sappy. No, you won’t find any Full House corniness here. All the emotions are as honest and real as they can be.

This movie is a gift to every person on the planet, especially to fathers and their children. And I can almost guarantee that by the end of the movie, your dad will give you a big, weepy hug.

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What to Expect From Pixar’s Inside Out (Spoiler Free)

inside-out-Eggman-10-12-11-002I had the opportunity to attend an advanced screening of Inside Out last night where the director and producer took us on a virtual tour of the Pixar studios (yes, Finding Dory and Toy Story 4 are actually happening). My strong desire to visit  Pixar in Emeryville, CA only deepened.

The short film before the movie, Lava, was kind of weird, but also really breathtaking both visually and audibly. I won’t give anything away other than you’ll be saving your money to go to Hawaii ASAP.

And now let’s talk about Inside Out, Pixar’s first original movie since Brave. There are no spoilers.


Being quite possibly the biggest Pixar nut on the planet I have been dying to see this movie for a long time. And let me just say, like Jurassic World, the wait was worth it. But unlike Jurassic World, the payoff was much, much deeper – and emotional.

Go ahead and search the web for any bad review about Inside Out. As of the writing of this post, you won’t find one, and you certainly won’t find it here.

Inside-Out-Movie-Review-Image-5Let me just first start off by saying that if you’re a parent of little ones, this movie is going to absolutely wreck you, as it did me. I saw my 18 month old in Riley growing up – they actually look similar. And the hardest part about the movie was realizing that, like Joy, I won’t be able to keep my little girl happy all the time, and that realization tore me up.

Much deeper still, echoing the themes of Toy Story 2, I also was reminded that I can’t stop my kids from growing up.

Though the main characters look silly and cartoony, there are very few jokes in the movie – however, riley-inside-out-trailer-2-pixarthey’re very well placed and sharply hilarious. The movie is filled with clowns and hockey and unicorns and rainbows and characters made out of cotton candy – yet it’s one of the darkest movies out of the Pixar canon, save for maybe Toy Story 3. 

The movie is faceted with so many layers that it not only makes me reflect as a father but causes me to look inside myself and I wonder, with deep sadness, when did my childhood end? What memories have I forgotten? And whatever happened to my imaginary friend (he was a mouse in overall suspenders named Chucky)?

Inside Out isn’t primarily about growing up, per se. It goes a step beyond that. It’s about the death of childhood. And it hits hard. Yeah, it’s Toy Story-sad and comes very close to being as sad as Up, and on some days, if you watch it at the right time, it can be sadder, I’m sure.

I don’t use the word masterpiece flippantly or ever, really. But Inside Out is just that. And I can tell without a doubt it’s going to be one of those movies that gets better with age.

Oh, and you know how Woody is my favorite Pixar character of all time? Well, he’s got a contender, and her name is Joy.

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Go See Jurassic World


The Internet is currently inundated with reviews for the country’s latest record-breaking box-office smash hit, Jurassic World

I’ve been waiting forever to see this movie, and have been more excited than the average person. In preparation to the release I watched the previous three Jurassic movies, read both books, got the Jurassic World blizzard, and have been playing dinosaurs with Baby A. nonstop.

My poor wife has been obliging me in all this nonstop dinosaur talk.

Finally went and saw the fourth (or should I say the second installment) last night and the wait was very, very well worth the excruciating pain.

All the reviews that say Jurassic World is almost as good as the first movie given to us in 22 years ago in 1993, are spot on.

It was great to see the world’s most awesome amusement park functioning as a fully operational theme park…the crowds, the tourists, the attractions, the lines, the ticket counters, and even Starbucks and Ben and Jerry’s.

Part of Jurassic World‘s genius is pretending the previous two movies never even existed, which, in our best moments (even as die-hard dinosaur fans) we wish never really happened.

The only thing this movie lacked from the first one – and I mean the only thing it lacked, was that it didn’t drag out the suspense as long as the 1993 hit did. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of scary moments and jumps, but I just wanted that intensity to be dragged out just a bit longer.

Jurassic World provides us with the greatest opening of the franchise, very few cheesy moments, subtle and hilarious laughs, and some brand new favorite dinosaur moments. It’s definitely a thrill ride for the ages and I will be anxiously awaiting the next installments!!!

Check back tomorrow for my advanced review of the highly anticipated Inside Out!

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Our Jurassic Curiosity

JurassicWorld.posterIt’s true. I fell captive to commercial marketing.

I willingly subjected my wife and myself to 2,000 extra calories from a DQ blizzard just because it came in a Jurassic World cup (a picture of the giant mosasaurus opening its jaws to swallow a great white). My monthly DQ update in my email inbox had me at the words “Jurassic Crunch.”

I will be lining up to see this movie early next week as I’ve been waiting forever to see it.

What is it that drives us toward dinosaurs (or monsters in general)? Why are we so compelled to run to the theaters when we know we’re going to see people eaten and torn apart by ferocious prehistoric beasts?

Personally I think it’s more our desire to see how people would respond in alternate universes or in fantastic scenarios that the adventurer in us kind of wishes would actually happen. I often find myself daydreaming about what plan of action we would have to take as a family if we were faced with some sort of apocalyptic disaster.

At any rate, I’m super excited to see how this Jurassic installment holds up in the franchise. Word on the street is it’s almost as good as the first one. That’s saying something.

Oh, and the Jurassic Crunch from Dairy Queen is awesome (if you like cookie dough).


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