I'm not going to lie, folks. I love a good animated film. Sometimes they're the best and they're just fun to watch. Kids movies will always be one of my favorite go-to rewatches. Of course I say that because I don't have kids and are not forced to watch Cars 3 times in a day, every day. But next year is looking pretty great - there's actually a couple animated/family movies I think will be good, but I couldn't fit them all in.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Auli'i Cravalho, Alan Tudyk
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Writers: Ron Clements, John Musker, Taika Waititi
Release Date: November 23
Disney's own animation studio has been knocking it out of the park lately ever since they released Bolt way back in 2008. Since then, their 3D studio has produced hits like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and Big Hero 6. They're probably outpacing Pixar in terms of quality, original movies. So while pretty much little is known about Moana, I'm guessing it's going to be pretty good and will take the internet/youth by storm with some sort of catchy song or two. But the plot sounds like an adventure film - A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui. I hope it's as colorful both visually and story-wise as the above picture.
Starring: Idris Elba, Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin
Director: Bryon Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Writers: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston
Release Date: March 4
If the movie is a good as this clip, I think this is going to be a real treat come March. This clip is the perfect example of mixing in adult-flavored jokes (the DMV is so GD slow!) with kid-centered hijinks (the sloths are so slow and look hilarious when they laugh!). The plot sounds like it'll actually be something we'll want to follow along: In the animal city of Zootopia, a fast-talking fox who's trying to make it big goes on the run when he's framed for a crime he didn't commit. Zootopia's top cop, a self-righteous rabbit, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they're forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends. The directors have directed such hits like Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, so this should be in good hands.
Starring: Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey
Director: Travis Knight
Writer: Marc Haimes
Laika Studios has done nothing but great work since they did contract work on Corpse Bride - the stop-motion film from Tim Burton. They've only had 3 other movies since then (it does take a long time to film this type of animation!) and they've all been great - Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. But Kubo and the Two Strings seems like this is poised to break out in a big way next year. I think the blend of martial arts and fantasy will be a big hit. And the film just looks stunning and wholly unique. Plus the voice talent they've got on board is all amazing. This looks fun.
Starring: Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader
Director: Steven Speilberg
Writer: Melissa Mathison
Release Date: July 1
Roald Dahl is an amazing figure in both history and literature. Not only was he a spy for the British Army, he wrote some amazing children's books - most of which have been turned into movies (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Witches). Steven Speilberg seems like the right choice for this film - there's an air of fantastical and whimsy that he's pretty good at capturing (E.T., Hook come to mind). I'm not a huge fan of the book, but I did enjoy it as a kid and I'm looking forward to seeing what magic Speilberg and his team can cook on screen.
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Diane Keaton, Dominic West
Director: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse
Release Date: June 17
Leave it to Pixar to turn what seems like a dull story about a lost fish into one the biggest animated movies of all time. Finding Nemo is the third-highest grossing Pixar movie (Inside Out edged it out of second place this year) and it's not surprising that with the studio getting sequelitis, this film would see a return of Dory and Nemo and the rest of the gang. From the plot details, it sounds like Dory finally remembers her family and everyone gets involved in helping her get back to them. Pixar has been kind of hit or miss lately (The Good Dinosaur was truly the worst movie they've done - yes worse than Cars 2 or Monsters University). But they've done good sequels like Toy Story 2 and 3 and errr, okay, so they only have 2 good sequels. So we'll see, I hope they find a good story that makes it worth coming back to visit these characters.