Brad Bird Archives - Inside the Magic Walt Disney World, Disneyland and more! Sun, 29 Aug 2021 15:47:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.0.3 Brad Bird says one fan theory gives Pixar too much credit https://insidethemagic.net/2019/09/brad-bird-says-pixar-theory-gives-too-much-credit-bb1/ https://insidethemagic.net/2019/09/brad-bird-says-pixar-theory-gives-too-much-credit-bb1/comments/ Thu, 19 Sep 2019 20:48:02 +0000 https://insidethemagic.net/?p=237921 Are you a Pixar fan? If so, you’ve probably heard about the many Pixar fan theories. We Pixar fans like to find correlations between the many Pixar films we have come to love like “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo” (and Dory), “Inside Out,” “The Good Dinosaur,” and others. There have even been books written […]

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Are you a Pixar fan? If so, you’ve probably heard about the many Pixar fan theories.

We Pixar fans like to find correlations between the many Pixar films we have come to love like “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo” (and Dory), “Inside Out,” “The Good Dinosaur,” and others. There have even been books written on the subject that propose to connect every single Pixar film that has ever been produced.

Pixar theories attempt to explain the relationships between characters from different films. For example, in “Toy Story,” Andy wears a red cowboy hat that we learn in “Toy Story 2” is the exact same hat worn by Jessie. Because of this, one Pixar theory states that Andy’s mom was Jessie’s owner who left her in a donation box.

andy toy story
Credit: Disney

It’s not too often that a Pixar director weighs in on the topic, but on Tuesday, Pixar’s Brad Bird, Director of “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” among others, recently took to Twitter to dispel a popular Pixar theory about Remy the rat in “Ratatouille.”

Brad Bird Pixar
Credit: Disney

This particular theory connects Anton Ego, the food critic in “Ratatouille,” and Remy, the rat who knows his way around the kitchen very well. This theory says that Remy learned to cook in the same house where Anton Ego grew up. This is based on two scenes in the film–one scene that shows Remy learning to cook and another scene that shows Anton remembering his childhood when he takes a bite of ratatouille in the restaurant.

anton ego as a child
Credit: Disney

The theory states that both scenes take place in the same kitchen, which would mean that Remy learned everything he knows about cooking in the same kitchen where Anton enjoyed ratatouille made by his mother (supposedly in Anton’s childhood home).

But Director Brad Bird explains that the “same kitchen” scenario was not meant to suggest a connection between the hard-nosed food critic and the “Little Chef.”

“I’d love to confirm that we were ultra-deep thinkers and that there was a narrative behind the narrative,” Brad posted on Twitter, “but…we had a hellacious deadline, and only 2 of the film’s many sets were built. Truth is we were just trying to reuse props where we could.”

Sorry Pixar conspiracy theorists, this particular scene didn’t include any intentional “Easter eggs,” as the hidden clues are often referred to. But we don’t think it was so far-fetched to connect the two. In fact, it could have made sense completely.

And just because Brad Bird says it isn’t true doesn’t mean all the Pixar theory fans will accept his explanation as fact. As fans, we’re glad that more Pixar directors don’t come forward to dispel our theories about the inter-connections of each Pixar film to another. Walt Disney once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” and we think it’s kind of fun to think the impossible.

Are you a fan of the many Pixar theories? What do you think of this one? Do you have any Pixar theories of your own? Let us hear them in the comments below!

Source: Cinema Blend

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Brad Bird working on original live-action/animated musical with Michael Giacchino https://insidethemagic.net/2019/01/brad-bird-original-live-action-animated-musical-michael-giacchino/ Mon, 07 Jan 2019 19:06:24 +0000 https://insidethemagic.net/?p=209245 Writer-director Brad Bird and composer Michael Giacchino are frequent collaborators on some of Disney’s biggest films, and now the pair is working on an original, live-action/animated musical, says Bird. During an interview with Variety at the BAFTA Tea Party, Bird revealed a few details about his next project: Well, it’s a musical, actually. I don’t […]

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Writer-director Brad Bird and composer Michael Giacchino are frequent collaborators on some of Disney’s biggest films, and now the pair is working on an original, live-action/animated musical, says Bird.

During an interview with Variety at the BAFTA Tea Party, Bird revealed a few details about his next project:

Well, it’s a musical, actually. I don’t know anything about musicals so I figure I should do this because I’m deathly afraid of it and that sounds like a cool thing. It’s a project I’ve been wanting to make a long time. It’s got about 20 minutes of animation in it. It’s an original project I assure you, you don’t know. 

When asked who was doing the music for the new project, Bird revealed Michael Giacchino is on board. Though he didn’t specifically say the project is for Disney, the duo has teamed up on several successful Disney features in the past. Most recently, they worked together on “Incredibles 2,” which enjoyed major box office success this past summer. Their other collaborations for Disney include “The Incredibles” (2004), “Ratatouille” (2007), and “Tomorrowland” (2015). Outside of Disney, they worked together on “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011).

Details on the premise and plot of the new project were kept under wraps but Bird promises it will be an original story, so we can rule out a sequel. If the project is indeed for Disney, the studio is no stranger to live-action/animation hybrids. A few notable examples of the technique include the recent “Mary Poppins Returns” (2018) and, of course, the original “Mary Poppins” (1964). Disney also released “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” under its Touchstone Pictures division in 1988.

While we don’t know much else about the project at this point, it definitely has us intrigued. Based on the previous collaborations from Bird and Giacchino, we’re excited for whatever else they have in store in the coming years.

For more from Brad Bird, be sure to read our recent interview with him on his time working with Disney’s Nine Old Men.

Source: Collider

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INTERVIEW: “Incredibles” director Brad Bird reflects on working with Disney’s Nine Old Men https://insidethemagic.net/2018/12/brad-bird-interview-nine-old-men/ Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:43:48 +0000 https://insidethemagic.net/?p=207563 Disney’s Nine Old Men, the core group of animators in the early days of Disney Animation, have all reached Disney Legend status. For many aspiring animators, the chance to work with these masters of animation would have been a dream come true, but for a young Brad Bird, that dream became a reality. Bird, who […]

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Disney’s Nine Old Men, the core group of animators in the early days of Disney Animation, have all reached Disney Legend status. For many aspiring animators, the chance to work with these masters of animation would have been a dream come true, but for a young Brad Bird, that dream became a reality.

Bird, who began his career as an animator for Walt Disney Studios with “The Fox and the Hound” (1981) and “The Black Cauldron” (1985), was introduced to Disney’s Nine Old Men when he was just 11 years old. By the age of 14, his talent as an animator led to a mentorship with Milt Kahl, who worked on characters for “Peter Pan,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book,” and many other classic Disney films.

On December 15, 2018, Bird spoke about his time being mentored by the Nine Old Men during the Walt Disney Family Museum’s Nine Old Men: Masters of Animation exhibition. Ahead of the sold-out talk, Bird chatted with Inside the Magic to give us a few highlights from his upcoming presentation.

Brad Bird
Brad Bird at Walt Disney Family Museum, Dec. 15, 2018

Cristina Sanza, Inside the Magic: Can you talk about how your work first caught the attention of Disney’s Nine Old Men when you were a teenager?

Brad Bird: I had always loved cartoons but I started getting into the idea of animation as a job when I saw “The Jungle Book.” I started working on a film and around the same time, friends of my parents mentioned they had gone to school with George Bruns, who did the music for a lot of the Disney features at the time. They asked me if I would like to meet him because he was going to come up and visit them and I said, “Absolutely.” So he came up and I just heckled him for probably three hours straight with questions about Disney Animation and he was very sweet and indulgent and answered all my questions. At the end of it, he said, “Do you ever get down to LA?” and I said, “Well, yeah, sometimes.” He said, “Next time you’re down, I’ll take you through the studio and you can meet everybody.”

I looked at my parents with a trembling lip, like, “When? When can I go down?” They made sure I got down there pretty quick and George gave me a tour through Disney and I met all these animators. So I was 11, and I remember meeting Frank [Thomas] and Ollie [Johnston], and George saying, “Brad has just started a film and he wants to be an animator,” and they smiled at me a certain way. I still remember their faces. But it was a way that said, “You’re gonna lose interest in this in two weeks, kid, and we’re never gonna see you again.” It was this sort of patient smile, like, “Yes, that’s very nice.” I think they were shocked when, three years later, I sent them a 15-minute animated film.

My parents told me when I got it done, they said, “You should send it to the best person, the best people you can think of, and when they turn you down, you think of who’s the next people you admire. And then when they turn you down, you say who’s the next?” They said that way the first person who agrees to talk with you will be the best person you can get. So I thought, “Who’s the best?” and I said, “Well, it’s Disney.” So I’m going to send my film down to the Disney Studios and see what they say, and when they turn me down, I’ll figure out the next place. So I sent it to Disney but they didn’t turn me down. They were impressed, and they started me on the road to my chance to be mentored by some of these masters. I was just 14 when that happened.

Brad Bird at Walt Disney Family Museum, Dec. 15, 2018

ITM: What kind of mentorship did you have with them?

Bird: They didn’t have any formal mentorship program there because they were just starting to get the idea that their animators weren’t going to live forever. They had never had any need, once they got all the talent trained in the ’30s, they had enough people to do everything they wanted to animate. Because the animation department got smaller over the course of time, particularly after the ’50s, they never had a need to bring in any new talent because they had everyone they needed and everyone was fine and able to whatever was required. But they were surprised when some of the later films they did became real hits and they were starting to think there’s no one trained in this style of animation, there’s no one to replace us. I kind of happened along at that time and so they didn’t have a mentorship program in place. They thought, “Who’s one of the best animators we have?” And it was Milt Kahl.

So I got mentored by Milt Kahl, and later on, they figured Milt was not a verbal teacher. He kind of sputtered and would do these amazing drawings to show you what you were missing, but Eric Larson was probably a more gentle teacher. So, Eric became the guy years later, but at the time, they were just sending me to who they thought was just great, and that was Milt. Fortunately, I had the kind of personality that I was not intimidated tremendously by Milt the way some people were. He was very supportive of me and encouraging. He was very critical, but critical in a way that I could handle because my family was sort of an outspoken family. We were rowdy at the dinner table, kind of like the family in the “Incredibles” scenes. Everybody was kind of talking at once and sharing what’s going on, so for Milt to be forthright in his criticism, it didn’t tremble my knees or anything like that. I was okay with it. But he scared a lot of young people, apparently. For whatever reason, I had the kind of temperament that was absolutely fine with that and I learned a lot from him.

Milt Kahl

ITM: Do you have a favorite story or piece of advice you got from Milt?

Bird: Milt, like I said, he kind of sputtered around a lot. People have done imitations of him, I do an imitation of him. He kind of stammered a little bit when he got passionate about stuff, which was frequent. He also got so tremendously into what he was doing. It was infectious because he absolutely loved it. As good as he was at draftsmanship, just plain drawing was not interesting to him. I was shocked that he said he didn’t particularly enjoy drawing because his drawings were so magnificent and he did them, seemingly, easily. I think that animation and its particulars was somehow the perfect job for Milt and I don’t think he ever derived the kind of pleasure that he got from animation from anything else. When he went into retirement he got into wire sculpture and did some painting and all that but I never sensed that he got the kick from it that he got from animation.

I think that beyond draftsmanship, he loved that he could be anything in animation. He could be an old, refined French woman, he could be a tiger that was arrogant, he could be a punch-drunk bear, he could be Peter Pan. He could do anything and as much as he could do a serious piece of draftsmanship that you have to just be bang-on to do well, he could do really cartoony characters just as easily and have a ball with both. I think he enjoyed the more fun animation. Often, he got assigned the prints because other people weren’t able to do the prints the way he would be able to because of his level of draftsmanship. He didn’t particularly like those assignments — he took a certain amount of pride in them because no one else could do them — but he didn’t enjoy them the way he enjoyed doing Shere Khan or Madame Medusa or Kaa or King Louie. Those were more fun for him.

ITM: Can you speak a bit about what guests will learn during your talk, Nine Old Mentors: Brad Bird’s Reflections, on December 15?

Bird: Essentially, it’s a group of animators who made a collective, huge impact on the development of Disney Animation. But because other animators have given talks around the Nine Old Men, my talk is also going to feature four other animators that were in many ways the mentors of the Nine Old Men, who were instrumental in Disney Animation before the Nine Old Men. You know, who were the masters when the Nine Old Men entered the studio. So in addition to the Nine, I’m going to talk about four other old men, slightly older old men, who greatly influenced the Nine.

Disney’s Nine Old Men

If you missed Brad Bird’s sold-out talk at the Walt Disney Family Museum, you can still catch the Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: Masters of Animation exhibition through January 7, 2019. To learn more, visit the Walt Disney Family Museum website.

Memories From the Children of the Nine Old Men, the final talk in the Nine Old Men exhibition, takes place on Saturday, January 5 at 2:00 PM. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

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REVIEW: “Incredibles 2” is a Super sequel on Parr with the Disney/Pixar original https://insidethemagic.net/2018/06/review-incredibles-2-is-a-super-sequel-on-parr-with-the-disney-pixar-original/ Mon, 11 Jun 2018 16:00:08 +0000 https://insidethemagic.net/?p=188838 “Spider-Man 2.” “The Dark Knight.” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” The superhero genre is the rare category of movie that has regularly delivered second installments which live up to or surpass the original entries in esteem and/or success at the box office. And while it took fourteen years for Disney/Pixar’s smash hit “The Incredibles” to […]

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“Spider-Man 2.” “The Dark Knight.” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” The superhero genre is the rare category of movie that has regularly delivered second installments which live up to or surpass the original entries in esteem and/or success at the box office. And while it took fourteen years for Disney/Pixar’s smash hit “The Incredibles” to receive its follow-up film “Incredibles 2,” I’m extremely pleased to report it will be remembered alongside those other examples as a more-than-worthy sequel.

Auteur writer/director Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant,” “Ratatouille”) returns to bring the super-powered Parr family to life once again in “Incredibles 2,” along with talented original cast members Holly Hunter as Elastigirl, Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible, Sarah Vowell as Violet, and Samuel L. Jackson as friend-of-the-family ice-conjurer Frozone. Joining the fun this time around are Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) as the enthusiastic billionaire Winston Deavor and Catherine Keener (“Capote”) as his tech-head sister Evelyn.

The two philanthropists are intent on bringing superheroes back into the public spotlight after their exile fifteen years earlier, with an eye on putting their best food forward by utilizing Elastigirl to lead the charge. But the mysterious villain The Screen-Slaver has other plans, setting in motion a scheme to hypnotize and control all the world’s Supers, with the ultimate goal of getting them banned even more permanently.

In true comic-book form, the story picks up immediately after the events of the first entry, with the Incredibles battling the Underminer (Pixar mainstay John Ratzenberger) through city streets while trying to avoid government intervention. The only noticeable incongruity here is Dash, voiced by new actor Huck Milner after originator Spencer Fox aged out of the role. But Milner settles into the role nicely with the required high-speed enthusiasm and the movie gets off to an exciting start.

Without being overly similar, the plot is almost a mirror-image of Bob Parr’s adventure in the first movie, with Helen taking the spotlight on a solo superhero assignment until (of course) being joined by the remainder of the family later on. In the meantime, Mr. Incredible is stuck finding out just how difficult it can be raising three children, and the interplay between him, baby Jack-Jack, and an innocuous raccoon is undeniably one of the highlights of the movie.

Having rewatched “The Incredibles” last week to prepare for the sequel, it’s amazing how Pixar’s animation technology has improved by leaps and bounds since 2004, with textures, faces, and landscapes now appearing close to real on the big screen, as opposed to the blockier, far more primitive look of the first movie. And while the writing, action, and humor were always on point in the original, they all feel refined and fine-tuned to meet the visuals in “Incredibles 2.”

After establishing an impeccable track record in animation, Brad Bird took a successful stab at live-action with 2011’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and then stumbled in 2015 with the Disney theme park-inspired “Tomorrowland,” but “Incredibles 2” proves an indisputable return to form. He also returns as the voice of Edna Mode, the Parr’s irascible Edith Head-esque costume designer, though that character feels a tad underused this time around considering her cult-like popularity.

Still, Mode steals the show in her brief amount of screentime alongside baby Jack-Jack, as Helen and Bob reestablish themselves as the perfect superhero straight men to the equally daunting worlds of crime-fighting and child-rearing, respectively.

The phrase “more of the same” never quite sounds like a good thing, but in this case you can feel free to take it as a shining endorsement: “Incredibles 2” is just as rewarding—with and equivalent level of thrills, laughs, and heart—as its predecessor.

Disney/Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” will be released into theaters nationwide this Friday, June 15.

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VIDEO: Disney/Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” cast and creative team join forces for Super press conference in Los Angeles https://insidethemagic.net/2018/06/video-disney-pixars-incredibles-2-cast-and-creative-team-join-forces-for-super-press-conference-in-los-angeles/ Fri, 08 Jun 2018 02:30:00 +0000 https://insidethemagic.net/?p=187980 We’re just a week away from the highly-anticipated release of Disney/Pixar‘s new sequel “Incredibles 2,” and this afternoon saw the sure-to-be-blockbuster movie’s cast and creative team assemble on stage together for a forty-minute press conference in Los Angeles, California. On hand were “Incredibles 2” writer/director (and voice of Edna Mode) Brad Bird, Craig T. Nelson […]

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We’re just a week away from the highly-anticipated release of Disney/Pixar‘s new sequel “Incredibles 2,” and this afternoon saw the sure-to-be-blockbuster movie’s cast and creative team assemble on stage together for a forty-minute press conference in Los Angeles, California.

On hand were “Incredibles 2” writer/director (and voice of Edna Mode) Brad Bird, Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Elastigirl), Sarah Vowell (Violet), Huck Milner (Dash), Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone), Bob Odenkirk (Winston Deavor), Catherine Keener (Evelyn Deavor), Sophia Bush (Voyd), and producers Nicole Grindle and John Walker.

WATCH FULL “INCREDIBLES 2” PRESS CONFERENCE:

Also on display at today’s press junket were a wide variety of collectibles, apparel, and toys that make up the merchandise offerings for “Incredibles 2.”

WATCH “INCREDIBLES 2” MERCHANDISE DISPLAY:

Disney/Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” opens on Friday, June 15 in theaters nationwide.

MERCHANDISE PHOTOS:

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VIDEO – A closer look at Edna Mode, the new “Incredibles” meet-and-greet character coming to Pixar Pier https://insidethemagic.net/2018/05/video-a-closer-look-at-edna-mode-the-new-incredibles-meet-and-greet-character-coming-to-pixar-pier/ Thu, 24 May 2018 19:07:36 +0000 https://insidethemagic.net/?p=185473 Words are useless, dahlings! Edna Mode is coming to Disneyland Resort‘s Pixar Pier as a meetable walk-around character, and she can’t talk– but she can, and does, look absolutely fabulous. The famous fashion designer for “The Incredibles” (voiced by director Brad Bird in both the original Disney/Pixar superhero movie and this summer’s sequel “Incredibles 2”) […]

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Words are useless, dahlings! Edna Mode is coming to Disneyland Resort‘s Pixar Pier as a meetable walk-around character, and she can’t talk– but she can, and does, look absolutely fabulous. The famous fashion designer for “The Incredibles” (voiced by director Brad Bird in both the original Disney/Pixar superhero movie and this summer’s sequel “Incredibles 2”) will meet-and-greet with guests when Disney California Adventure‘s new area opens next month.

At this week’s Pixar Pier media preview event, I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with Edna Mode, and I have to say she’s just as irascible and charming in person as she is on the big screen. Not to mention her outfit is just to die for.

WATCH:

Pixar Pier will welcome guests beginning Saturday, June 23 at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

PHOTOS:

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“Incredibles 2” To Open At El Capitan Theatre With Live Stage Show Featuring Edna Mode, Frozone, And The Incredibles https://insidethemagic.net/2018/05/incredibles-2-to-open-at-el-capitan-theatre-with-live-stage-show-featuring-edna-mode-frozone-and-the-incredibles/ https://insidethemagic.net/2018/05/incredibles-2-to-open-at-el-capitan-theatre-with-live-stage-show-featuring-edna-mode-frozone-and-the-incredibles/comments/ Mon, 21 May 2018 22:51:12 +0000 https://insidethemagic.net/?p=185097 We’ve said it time and again here at Inside the Magic. Still, it undeniably bears repeating: there’s no better place to watch a new Disney movie than at Hollywood’s historic El Capitan Theatre, which goes all-out with every feature from Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Disney live-action and animation, and of course Pixar. With that in mind, […]

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We’ve said it time and again here at Inside the Magic. Still, it undeniably bears repeating: there’s no better place to watch a new Disney movie than at Hollywood’s historic El Capitan Theatre, which goes all-out with every feature from Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Disney live-action and animation, and of course Pixar.

With that in mind, the highly-anticipated sequel “Incredibles 2” is set to smash its way into the El Capitan next month, and with it comes an all-new live show starring the Parr parents– Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl– along with their fellow superhero pal Frozone. Plus, that eccentric fashion designer Edna Mode will be making her stage debut during this presentation which precedes each show at this majestic movie house on Hollywood Boulevard.

Edna Mode

“There is truly only one place to to experience all things ‘Incredible,’ and that’s The El Capitan Theatre,” said Ed Collins, General Manager of The El Capitan Theatre.  “Before the movie, El Capitan Guests will see a multi-media character show with in-theatre special effects featuring Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone.  Plus, a fashion icon makes her El Capitan Theatre stage debut, dahling.  And to top it all off, the all-new Pixar Short ‘Bao’ will be shown before every screening of the movie.”

Related :  Video: New “Incredibles 2” Featurette Pays Tribute To Edna Mode, The Disney-Pixar Fashion Icon

As if that weren’t enough, the El Capitan is also hosting an “Incredibles” double feature (featuring the original 2004 Disney/Pixar hit “The Incredibles” and its sure-to-be-blockbuster follow-up “Incredibles 2,” both directed by acclaimed filmmaking mastermind Brad Bird– on the evening of Wednesday, June 13. That’s right, attendees of this event will be among the first fans to ever see the latest instant classic from Pixar.

For more information on the “Incredibles” double feature and dazzling regular shows of “Incredibles 2” at El Capitan, be sure to visit the theater’s official website.

WATCH “INCREDIBLES 2” CAST AT D23 EXPO 2017:

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Looking back at “Tomorrowland” – Was Disney Studios’ 2015 epic ahead of its time? https://insidethemagic.net/2018/05/looking-back-tomorrowland/ https://insidethemagic.net/2018/05/looking-back-tomorrowland/comments/ Sat, 19 May 2018 16:00:32 +0000 https://insidethemagic.net/?p=184005 Disney’s movie Tomorrowland, which hit theaters on May 22, 2015, centered on the struggle for just a few people to make a discernable difference in the future. Not your traditional summer blockbuster, the film began and ended with a simple message: Don’t give in to fear. Recently, none other than The Villiage Voice posted a […]

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Disney’s movie Tomorrowland, which hit theaters on May 22, 2015, centered on the struggle for just a few people to make a discernable difference in the future. Not your traditional summer blockbuster, the film began and ended with a simple message: Don’t give in to fear.

Recently, none other than The Villiage Voice posted a story entitled, “Apocalypse Numb: It’s the end of the world as we know it — and I feel tired.”

In the piece, reviewer Bilge Ebiri wrote:

I was about two-thirds of the way through Avengers: Infinity War when I realized just how tired I was. Not “tired” as in bored, but “tired” as in exhausted, depleted — maybe even a little depressed. That’s not, for the most part, a qualitative assessment of the movie — for the record, I found it significantly more engaging than the last Avengers film but not nearly as entertaining as the first. Rather, it’s a response to the constant, bludgeoning promise of repeated apocalyptic devastation.

As a moviegoer, I am tired too.

I have been cowed via the consistent browbeating from Hollywood’s fascination with the end of days. However, when that onslaught becomes too much to bear — or when too many of my heroes vanish at the whim of a demigod — I turn to tomorrow.

Better yet, I turn on Tomorrowland.

The Brad Bird (director) and Damon Lindelof (writer)-helmed opus had a simple premise [as described by IMDB]: “Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.”

However, Tomorrowland was no simple film…

“Tomorrowland is a highly original, occasionally even visionary piece of sci-fi filmmaking, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie,” wrote Slate’s Dana Stevens, and a whole lot of folks agreed. With a 50% (rotten) review score on Rotton Tomatoes and a 49% audience rating, the film underperformed at the box office and faded into obscurity.

Or did it?

Four years ago, two friends started TomorrowlandTimes.com, a site dedicated to “unofficial source for the latest news, rumors, viral marketing, and interviews on the upcoming Disney family action-adventure movie, Tomorrowland!” I’ve been a loyal follower of their @TheTomorrowTime Twitter feed, and I was thrilled to connect with Nick to get his take on the legacy of the film.

Tomorrowland Times was forged out of ‘The Optimist,’ an immersive alternate reality game produced by Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development which took place in the narrative world of the (yet unshot) film, two years before its release,” he explained of the game [ covered extensively by ITM on YouTube ]. “My co-pilot Hastin and I met playing that game during its six-week run in Summer 2013. When it was finally revealed the game tied into the movie (a fact not made immediately apparent), we wanted to have a place for Optimists to speculate and anticipate the film’s release.

“In the ensuing years, we’ve attempted to keep the flame burning by reporting on the fan community’s emerging cult status,” he said.

The legacy and meaning of any film — even a wildly successful film — is often difficult to place. But with a movie whose reception was so mixed, I was glad to solicit an expert.

“Big question,” said Nick. “I spent a hearty sixteen minutes on YouTube breaking down exactly why I think Tomorrowland is a brilliant movie, and how it has become a functioning mythology in my life.

Tomorrowland is a challenging film that asks a compelling question: When the structures of yesterday fail us, what of today will carry us into tomorrow?”

The film is, in fact, built on nostalgia, what with the beginning of the movie finding its place and pace during the 1964 Worlds Fair, with “A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” the theme from Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, and the attraction “It’s a Small World” providing a soundtrack and setting for young Frank Walker’s adventure.

“Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing,” explained Nick. “After Frank [George Clooney’s character] is cast out of the city of the future, he escapes into his past. People failed him, so he turns to the raw creation of technology.

“[Frank’s] dovetailing character arc with Casey [Britt Robertson], a renegade optimist focused only on destroying that which inhibits progress with no eye toward actual creation, takes them both on a shared journey to an ideological reconciliation of the framing question: take inspiration from the past without succumbing to that which caused past failures.

“An ode to the scientific method, embracing failure itself as a necessary process of creation,” he said.

An inherent optimism was clearly in the movie’s DNA.

Named, of course, after the embodiment of Walt Disney’s futurism — Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in Anaheim — the film’s premise tugged at the heartstrings of anyone who watched “Uncle Walt” (or even Michael Eisner) on Sunday nights.

“People had a very positive idea about the future, even though there were bad things going on in the world,” Bird said to the LA Times. “But there was a sense we could overcome them. And yet now we act like we’re passengers on a bus with no say in where it’s going, with no realization that we collectively write the future every day and can make it so much better than it otherwise would be.

“We have to shut out that mentality, those voices that are scared and don’t know anything. And we have to bring in new ideas. Or we’ll end up with nothing left.

How often do all of us wish we’d retained a measure of the inherent optimism we once felt while watching Disney’s “Man in Space” or the PBS program “3-2-1 Contact” or even “merely” seeing a shuttle lift off from the very launch pads that Casey tries to save in Tomorrowland? How often does the act of putting on the news, check our Twitter feed, or watching a movie feel like a parody of Frank’s opening speech or an actual viewing of ToxiCosmos 3: Nowhere to Go (a fictional film advertised in Tomorrowland)?

In fact, much of the critique of Tomorrowland lay in the fact that the first chapters of the flick are precisely what most viewers expected (wanted?) when they sat down in cineplexes, i.e., a view of “tomorrow” which is much different than the world they see out their window today.

And it was the juxtaposition of that gleaming future (symbolized by Athena — played by Raffey Cassidy — and the new realm she represents) and the philosophical and physical conflict that takes place in the failed Tomorrowland (embodied by the villain, Nix, played by Hugh Laurie) which left audiences confused.

“People ask, ‘Why did you spend so much time in a car when you could have been in Tomorrowland?’ But the movie was always intended to be a road movie, and its title seemed to suggest, to some people, that the whole movie was going to take place in Tomorrowland,” said Bird to Oh My Disney in October 2015. “But just running around Tomorrowland is not a movie.

“There has to be a conflict… We set out to make a fable or a fairy tale about what happened to the positive view of the future and how can we get it back and pursue that idea.

“For better or worse, we did.”

Speaking to Collider in 2017, Lindelof, agreed, adding:

“We were trying to say something about the future and about the way people think about the future that tapped into Walt Disney’s fundamental idea back in the 1950s that the future was bright, and that’s a much harder idea to get across these days because we have a fixation with the apocalypse. It feels like we keep making these movies where the future isn’t bright and Tomorrowland was gonna try to thread that needle. I still celebrate the ambition of the movie and I certainly celebrate Disney’s big swing on letting us make it.”

Four years later, it’s the conflict, and the call to overcome fear — particularly fear of the future — which remain the essential traits of the movie.

“The film has proven to be disturbingly prescient — particularly with its isolationist villain — which, for me, is a hallmark of great science fiction,” continued Nick from Tomorrowland Times. “I can tell you the message that the film spoke to me, based solely on the content of its cinematic ‘text.’

‘The final image of the film is the pure metaphorical imagery of myth,” he added. “From Casey’s isolation, alone in the field of wheat, through her shared journey, we’ve arrived at an ideological evolution that places us all in the field together.

“It’s not enough for us to be dreamers,” he said. “We’ve got to dream together.”

Which, in a way, brings us right back to the message behind Tomorrowland the film, and its progenitor, “Tomorrowland” in the Disney parks.

“Sometimes a piece of art comes into your life, and it’s exactly what you need, right when you need it,” said Nick when asked about the movie’s impact on his own life. “There are times it feels as if Tomorrowland was made just for me.

“I’m so grateful that Disney took the risk to make it a reality… [and] I can’t responsibly say what Walt would have thought, but I like to think Tomorrowland is ambitious ways that would have made him proud.

“At the very least, this movie inspires me in the same way he did,” he said.

For me, the real worth of Tomorrowland lay in its impact on my oldest son, Jack.

Just five at the time, it was the first “big boy” movie he and I attended, and it — and Disney movies in general — became a source of camaraderie. The film replicated the joy, both of discovery and adventure, I felt while, at Jack’s age, I watched already-classic Disney films like Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Tron, and The Black Hole at the annual summertime film series at the local library; or when I turned on “The Wonderful World of Disney.”

Unfortunately, some of those programs and pieces — seminal to my development — now seem dated, slow, and sometimes embarrassingly out of step with modern audiences (and my own little boys).

But here was Tomorrowland, centered on the struggle to make a  difference; a film about the responsible use of technology and natural resources. Yes, there were dire consequences should the group fail, but in the end, it’s a movie — a Disney-made summer blockbuster — which began and ended with a message that unequivocally stated, “Feed the right wolf…”

For that, and for giving Jack and I a moment that no critique or pessimism can ever take away, I thank Bird, Lindelof and the cast and crew of Tomorrowland. And this year, three years out from its debut on May 22, 2015, my family and I will take the time to dream.

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Frozone’s wife Honey was almost an on-screen character in “Incredibles 2” https://insidethemagic.net/2018/04/frozones-wife-honey-was-almost-an-on-screen-character-in-incredibles-2/ https://insidethemagic.net/2018/04/frozones-wife-honey-was-almost-an-on-screen-character-in-incredibles-2/comments/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:19:57 +0000 https://www.insidethemagic.net/?p=179818 “Honey, where is my supersuit?” One of the most quotable scenes from Disney/Pixar‘s 2004 smash hit “The Incredibles” features a character that is never even seen on-screen. Frozone‘s wife Honey (voiced by Kimberly Adair Clark of Pixar‘s own human resources department) exchanges a few hilarious lines with the superhero’s alter-ego Lucius Best (Samuel L. Jackson), but […]

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“Honey, where is my supersuit?” One of the most quotable scenes from Disney/Pixar‘s 2004 smash hit “The Incredibles” features a character that is never even seen on-screen. Frozone‘s wife Honey (voiced by Kimberly Adair Clark of Pixar‘s own human resources department) exchanges a few hilarious lines with the superhero’s alter-ego Lucius Best (Samuel L. Jackson), but never shows up where viewers can see her.

According to “The Incredibles” director Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant,” “Ratatouille”), that almost changed with the sequel “Incredibles 2.”

“We wanted to show Honey in this movie,” said Bird during a recent press conference at Pixar headquarters in Emeryville, California. “We didn’t end up doing it because it’s funnier as a voice. We actually went through all the trouble of designing the character, and the design appears in the movie, but not as Frozone’s wife.”

“She’s in there,” confirmed producer John Walker.

“We have used her design and she is a hero,” continued Bird. “There’s not a lot of screen time, though.”

So while Honey may not show up on camera in “Incredibles 2,” we’ll still get to hear her voice, presumably in another humorous exchange with Frozone himself. And we’ll have to keep a close eye out for what the character was supposed to look like when the movie is released into theaters nationwide on Friday, June 15th.

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Q&A – “Incredibles 2” director Brad Bird discusses the proliferation of superhero movies and why the Parr family is getting a sequel https://insidethemagic.net/2018/04/qa-incredibles-2-director-brad-bird-discusses-the-proliferation-of-superhero-movies-and-why-the-parr-family-is-getting-a-sequel/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:01:25 +0000 https://www.insidethemagic.net/?p=179813 Brad Bird began his career with Disney in the early 1980s, working as an animator on the movies “The Fox and the Hound” and “The Black Cauldron.” After serving as a creative consultant during the early heyday of FOX’s “The Simpsons,” he moved on to directing feature films. His first effort “The Iron Giant” (for […]

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Brad Bird began his career with Disney in the early 1980s, working as an animator on the movies “The Fox and the Hound” and “The Black Cauldron.” After serving as a creative consultant during the early heyday of FOX’s “The Simpsons,” he moved on to directing feature films. His first effort “The Iron Giant” (for Warner Bros.) earned universal critical acclaim, became an instant cult favorite among animation enthusiasts, and earned him the opportunity to follow up with “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” and “Tomorrowland” at Pixar and Disney.

During a recent media event for the highly-anticipated sequel “Incredibles 2” at Pixar’s headquarters in Emeryville, California, Bird sat down alongside his producers Nicole Grindle and John Walker to discuss how and why he and his team brought the super-powered Parr family back together for a second entry in the “Incredibles” franchise.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Q:  We’ve heard about how little time you had in putting together this movie. Can you explain the constraints you were under?

Brad Bird:  I would, except there’s no time. [laughs]

John Walker:  Next question. [laughs]

Bird:  It has happened a number of times [at Pixar]. The original ‘Incredibles’ was supposed to be after ‘Cars.’ It was going to be ‘[Finding] Nemo,’ ‘Cars,’ [then] ‘Incredibles.’ And our reels came together a little earlier than ‘Cars’ did, so we moved up [in the schedule]. The same situation happened here with ‘Toy Story 4.’ They’ve been going a number of different directions [with the] story and it was concluded that we were a little further along than they were, so we moved up. That was a challenge for us, but the studio is three times bigger than it was during [the first] ‘Incredibles.’ So if we didn’t choke, we could actually theoretically get the movie made. That is what came to pass.

Nicole Grindle:  I would just add that it can be a real benefit to the production to be under some amount of pressure. Obviously it was very intense for this team, but having worked here on a number of films, I can tell you when there’s that kind of schedule and intensity, people really rise to the occasion. Sometimes they even do better work.

Bird:  When I got involved with ‘Ratatouille,’ it was a little over a year and a half between my involvement and the finished film. And we only retained two lines of dialogue and two shots from all of the previous versions that had been done. It was like running in front of a moving train laying down track like ‘Wallace and Gromit,’ but as Nicole said, everyone rallied. As long as it’s clear where we want to go, people rise to the occasion.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Q:  Can you talk about the decision to set the beginning of ‘Incredibles 2’ at the moment the original ended? Had you considered any other options?

Bird:  I thought about aging [the characters] the way everybody does, and then I thought, ‘No, that sucks.’ [laughs] So that’s about as deep as it went.

One of the conceits of the original film when I was first starting to work on the project– long before Pixar [got involved], even I think before ‘Iron Giant’– when I first had the idea, I went to a comic book shop and thought, ‘I’ve got to think up new powers.’ And after about a half an hour in the comic book shop, I realized every power has been done by somebody somewhere, even if it’s only a hundred issues self-published in Ohio. Everything has been done. And then right after that, [I had] a little epiphany. I realized I’m not very interested in the powers. That’s not the part that interests me. What interests me is the idea of having a family, and having there be a reason to hide the powers.

Once I had that insight into what I wanted to do, I picked the powers based on who they were in the family. Men are always expected to be strong, so I had Bob have super-strength. Mothers are always pulled in a million different directions, so I had [Helen] be elastic. Teenagers are insecure and defensive, so I had Violet have force fields and invisibility. Ten-year-olds are energy balls that can’t be stopped, and babies are unknowns– maybe they have no powers, maybe they have all powers, we don’t know.

That’s what Jack-Jack was. He was seemingly the first normal one in the family and then at the end of ‘Incredibles’ you find out that he’s the wild card, and that he’s sort of a swiss army knife of powers. And that to me reminds me of the way babies can grasp languages really easily and adopt them easily.

So that idea changes if you age the characters up. The insight into those periods of your life and those particular perspectives disappears once you age them up. I’m not interested in a college-age Jack-Jack. I’m interested in my sons growing up, but in terms of the interest for me in these movies, it stays more iconic if everyone situates themselves [in the same age]. I also was [a creative consultant] on the first eight seasons of ‘The Simpsons,’ and that’s worked out rather well for them. [laughs]

The two ideas that were in my head as the first movie was ending, like ‘Oh, this would be interesting,’ is a role switch between Bob and Helen and exploring Jack-Jack’s powers, making Jack-Jack a main character rather than a side character. Those were in from the beginning and never left the project. What changed is the plot, the superhero / villain plot, and that shifted endlessly and it drove me insane. I was always faced with the release date, and if something didn’t work, I couldn’t sit there and try to bang on it. I had to throw it away immediately and go to another idea that solved some of the issues that the first idea didn’t have. So that half of the story was always shifting.

Concept art by Deanna Marsigliese, Matt Nolte, Bryn Imagire, Paul Conrad and Tony Fucile. ©2018 Disney•Pixar.

Q:  The first movie came out before Disney bought Marvel, and before the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. How has the recent superhero movie Renaissance affected ‘Incredibles 2’?

Bird:  Well, on some level it’s kind of like going out to the football field and there’s been way too many games on it, and there’s just this dry dirt with a few sprigs of grass and everything’s kind of clunky, and life doesn’t grow there anymore. So there’s that aspect, where you feel like, ‘Oh jeez, it’s really been covered.’ It kind of reminds me of westerns were in the late 50s, where if you had a television, 95% of what was on was a western.

So we’re in that phase a little bit, and it makes it very challenging on a story level, because not only do you have every superhero under the sun, and cross-promoting films, but you also have a bunch of television shows. Even years ago, there was a show called ‘Heroes,’ [which] the creator of actually told me it was a mash-up of the movies ‘Crash’ and ‘The Incredibles.’ But ‘Heroes’ used to do five, six, ten different superheroes with storylines that continued on every week. And it seemed like everything had been done.

So it’s easy to freak out and go, ‘Why even try? Everybody’s got everything done to death,’ but then again I return to what makes us unique. And it’s this idea of a family, and that superheroes have to hide their abilities. Those things actually are unique to us, and there’s plenty left to explore.

Walker:  When we were trying to sell the idea of the first ‘Incredibles,’ one of the criticisms of it was, ‘Well, what is it? Is it a family movie? Is it a spy movie? Is it a superhero movie? What is it? Pick one!’ And I think that’s been the strength of both the films, that they are all those things, and it isn’t rooted in just the superhero genre.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Q:  Mr. Bird, you’re the rare Pixar director who works alone, without a co-director. What makes this approach preferable to you?

Bird:  I’m not one of these people that [delegates] sequences. I’m elbows in. I have very strong opinions about how I like to see things staged. Ask people. I’m heavily into choreographing the shots and I have very strong opinions. That said, I try to create an atmosphere where I will get the shot that I want, but if somebody comes up with an alternate shot that they think would be cool, they can persuade me.

There are a million different ways to make a film, and one of the great things about this company is that it allows for that and accommodates that. I always look at the other filmmakers and I go, ‘Why would you give up any part of this movie? Why would you give it to someone else to do?’ And they just wave at me like, ‘Shut up.’ [laughs] That’s the best way to handle me. Just tell me to shut up.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Grindle:  One thing I would say is on the first movie, you were able to choreograph a lot of [the action] very carefully in storyboarding, and because of the limited schedule [on the sequel] folks were throwing a lot of that stuff up there and bringing it back to you this time.

Bird:  We had to move fast. And there were a lot of good ideas that I used. I’m not opposed to other people’s notions. I just want to make sure that I get mine in first. [laughs]

Q:  Can you talk a little bit about the voice cast in ‘Incredibles 2’? Were there any standouts in your mind among the returning actors and new additions?

Bird:  There’s no weak link. I’m the worst person to ask, because I think they’re all just fantastic. When I was an animator, I really hoped that I would have a good soundtrack to animate to, because what takes an actor five seconds to say may take an animator three weeks to animate. They have to listen to that dialogue over and over and over, and if it’s flat and boring you just want to kill yourself. But if there’s dimension to the line reading, something to grab onto and explore, you can dive deep on a single line and it’s endlessly fascinating.

So I try to collect the kind of soundtracks that I would want if I were an animator. And all of our actors delivered. Of the new actors, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, and Sophia Bush just kick it out through the roof. I love our voice cast, and I loved returning to working with Holly [Hunter] and Craig [T. Nelson] and Sarah [Vowell]. We have a new Dash, who is amazing, just every bit as good as the first Dash, who was also amazing.

Bud Luckey, who did the voice for Rick Dicker, he was sick and he’s since died. We had to replace him and we got Jonathan Banks. I’m a huge “Breaking Bad” / “Better Call Saul” fan, so he took over the role. And as Walker says, the first Rick Dicker you can’t imagine that he possibly could have killed a man, and this Dicker [you can believe it].

Walker:  Or more than one. [laughs]

Bird:  Jonathan Banks is a wonderful actor and he’s really great as Rick Dicker. I would love to tell you that one person was excellent above all other, but they’re all on that level to me. I’m the worst person to ask.

Q:  There was a very interesting idea in the first movie about what makes someone super, and exploring the concept that if everyone is special, no one is special. To you, what ideas are being explored in the sequel?

Bird:  It explores a lot of ideas. I don’t like to talk about the ideas as if that was the reason I made the movie, to push some agenda. It’s more like you create something that’s hopefully fun and entertaining, and then there are places where you can put little ideas here and there that add dimension to it.

The most important mission of the first movie was to entertain the crap out of people. The second thing was, we have some other things we’d like to comment on: the role of men of women, fathers and mothers, how teenagers view the world, mid-life crisis, that kind of stuff. There were a lot of little things buried in the movie. Certain things got more attention.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

[In the sequel] we have things about, again, exploring the roles of men and women, the importance of fathers participating, the importance of allowing women to also express themselves through work, and that they’re just as vital as men are. There’s aspects of being controlled by screens, feelings about the difficulties of parenthood, that parenting is a heroic act. All of those things are in this movie, but if I start to single out one of them and say, ‘This movie is about that,’ it doesn’t give you an accurate picture of the movie. It makes it sound like we’re having broccoli and not dessert. And I don’t mind nutrition, but I’d like to have it in dessert, if possible.

Q:  How challenging was it following up a movie that so many people love?

Bird:  I think it’s really distracting to think of that. If you think about pleasing an audience that has no definition– it’s old, it’s young, it’s east, west, north, south, conservatives, liberals, everyone in between– if you try to think about pleasing that, and ‘What will they like two years from now?’, you just will curl up into a fetal ball and never come out of your room.

A better way to think about it is, ‘I’m going into a darkened movie theater, the curtains are opening, and I’m seeing what? What do I want to see?’ If you ask that question of yourself that way, you’re always connecting with the person that wants to be told a story. And to me, I feel comfortable answering that question, rather than ‘What will audiences like? What will critics like? What did they like about the last one, and do I do it again because they like it, or do I try to surprise them?’

The answer is a little bit of both: you want the characters to feel consistent. You want the world to feel consistent. But you don’t want to be able to know what’s going to happen next. So that’s the challenge, and it’s not an easy challenge to meet. But it definitely is your job if you’re making films.

Walker:  The fact that we took fourteen years to do it suggests that we took the challenge seriously.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Bird:  The thing is, many sequels are cash grabs. There’s a saying in the business that I can’t stand, where they go, [sleazy Hollywood voice] ‘You don’t make another one, you’re leaving money on the table.’ Money on the table is not what makes me get up in the morning. Making something that people are going to enjoy a hundred years from now is what gets me up.

If it were a cash grab, we would not have taken fourteen years. It makes no financial sense to wait this long. It’s sheerly [because] we had a story that we wanted to tell.

Disney/Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” will be released into theaters on Friday, June 15th.

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