Book Review: Funny! (The Pixar Story Room)

Twenty-five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room

Forward by John Lasseter / Intro by Jason Katz

Right out of the gate I will say this book was a disappointment. ‘Not Very Funny!’ would probably have been a more appropriate title.

The book covers the first sixteen animated movies released by Pixar up to The Good Dinosaur. It contains sketches from the story department that were used to pitch gags to the various directors of the productions. I have no doubt that it must be very funny, and fun, to work in the story department at Pixar, but no real hilarity comes across in this publication.

         

Cute, but no belly laugh

Each film is featured in a chapter with brief snippets of wit and wisdom from one of the story persons who worked on it.

OK, I would buy this in die-cast!

Some of the ideas, pictured in this post, are amusing. But I wouldn’t consider the majority of them to be ‘funny!’ at any stretch.

It took all of one hour to read through and digest the images in this book making the purchase price of $29.95 US feel a bit high. I’m glad it wasn’t priced at the much higher figures of similar books from Disney Press. Perhaps being manufactured in China by Chronicle Books brought the price down?

My expression after finishing the book

Final Review: I’m not always gushing with my praise for Disney books and I certainly rarely pan a Disney book so thoroughly! But I can only give this effort a 2 out of 5 Stars.

The potential was high but the reality ranged from boring to disturbing with only a few chuckles in-between.

Disney’s Top Five Best Decisions of All Time

Recently I listed what I thought Disney’s Top Five Worst Decisions were and so in the interest of fairness I now present my Top 5 List of Disney’s best decisions:

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   FIVE

Live-action Versions of Animated Classics

So although these aren’t my cup of tea the general Disney fan/public has embraced these ‘remakes’ with a passion! Cinderella did very well and the latest, The Jungle Book, also did a brisk business. And the upcoming Beauty and the Beast practically has people frothing at the mouth in anticipation.

While these are obvious attempts at recycling ideas and extending profits from established franchises, one can’t argue that they are beautifully done. My main complaint is that they haven’t strayed much from the original animated source material so there aren’t any surprises or new interpretations.

Maybe the live-action Beauty and the Beast will break out of this provincial approach and break new ground.

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   FOUR

Promoting John Lasseter

I just love this guy! From his early antics on the Pixar DVD releases to his many appearances to promote new productions in both Pixar and Disney studios, you can just feel his enthusiasm for both animation and the Disney legacy.

With Walt gone and no more Disney family members stepping up to fill the void, Lasseter is the next best thing. That doesn’t sound too complimentary until you realize whose shoes he is basically filling!

I hope to see him grow with the company for many years to come, but do wonder just who could fill his shoes when the time comes for him to step down?

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   THREE

World Showcase Ethnic Casting

The best part of World Showcase in Epcot at Walt Disney World is the Cast Member interaction. And the fact that each pavilion has CM’s from the actual country being presented is a brilliant stroke of casting!

And so many benefit! Young people from around the world get to have an experience that they will never forget. The guests get to meet them and learn first hand about the culture and activities of all eleven countries represented in World Showcase. And those of us who are not American get to visit the country of our origin (if represented) and unite with a fellow countryman.

It’s win-win all around and I hope Disney never abandons this decision!

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   TWO

Acquiring Marvel/Lucas Film

    

As I stated in my post about the worst decisions Disney has made they should never have acquired Pixar. I feel it ruined the creativity of that company. But as it comes to Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm Ltd. I think Disney has only helped to grow these companies.

Largely by leaving them alone, Disney has given the people at Marvel full support to continue to develop the MU in a very interesting and profitable way. The acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. is too new to really tell how things are going to turn out, but if the first Star Wars film under the Disney banner is any indication, it’s not going to badly.

Maybe Disney has learned that putting up the money and just a little creative input is the way to acquisition success?

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   ONE

Keeping Vintage Attractions

This is a highly debatable decision but I put it in the number one spot for a reason. Walt was all about nostalgia. And nothing sparks nostalgia like the original attractions that were in the parks when they opened. Or that came soon after.

Rides from the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair like The Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World still interest park goers today just as they did in the past. And the fact that Disney fans mourn each time a beloved attraction is demolished confirms this as truth!

While other parks continue to focus on thrill rides Disney wisely nurtures its attraction heritage of dark rides and corny shows. Hey, if it works…

Conclusion: For every bad decision there is a good decision. And given the success of the multi-billion dollar business that is Disney, one would have to believe that the good decisions are outweighing the bad!

Eric Larson

#DisneyTrivia – Eric Larson

Eric Larson

Image ©disney.wikia.com

Walt’s Nine Old Men were a core group of supervising animators who created Walt Disney Studios’ most famous work – such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Rescuers. Walt jokingly called them his “Nine Old Men” (even though most of them were in their 20s when they first started at the studio) – referring to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s nine Supreme Court judges. All nine of these talented gentlemen were named Disney Legends in 1989.

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s #TiggerificTuesdayTrivia post!  I’m joined as always by my dear friends Jodi from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and Heidi from Heidi’s Head.  This month we are sharing some great trivia revolving around Walt’s Nine Old Men.  Today we are sharing some trivia about Eric Larson.  Almost more important than the works he is credited with, check out the list of some of those animators that went through his training program!

Eric Larson from Utah (born 9/3/05) began work at the Disney Studios on June 1, 1933.
Larson started as an assistant animator on the shorts The Tortoise and the Hare and Two-Gun Mickey. By 1940, he was an animation director and had designed Figaro the cat for Pinocchio. He also animated the horses and centaurs for the “Pastoral Symphony” sequence in Fantasia. Larson assisted Marc Davis in creating the title character of the 1950 Cinderella and animated Caterpillar for the 1951 Alice in Wonderland. But his most famous sequence, is the flight to Neverland in the 1953 Peter Pan. After Walt’s death in 1966, Larson was placed in charge of finding and training new talent (along with animator Walt Stanchfield) – in addition to his character animating work (which ended as a consultant for the 1986 The Great Mouse Detective). Many well-known animators went through Larson’s training program, including Brad Bird, Don Bluth, Tim Burton, Ron Clements, Andreas Deja, Glen Keane, and John Lasseter. Larson retired in February 1986 after 52 years with Disney – making him the last of the 9 to retire. He passed away just two years later.

Thank you for stopping by today!  Now, please go check out the other entries in our post this week, and have a great day!

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