Pixar Pulls Our Heartstrings

Toy Story 3
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris
Director: Lee Unkrich
Disney Pixar
Rated G

With Toy Story 3, Pixar goes back to the Academy Award winning franchise that started it all, and provides a perfect conclusion that will satisfy all fans, children and adults alike. It’s been fifteen years since the adventures of Andy’s toys began, and their worst nightmare has just come true—their owner has grown up and no longer plays with them. Toy Story 3 sends Woody, Jessie, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the toys off into the sunset in a touching farewell to an unforgettable trilogy. Toy Story 3, as well as Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are now available on VUDU in SD, HD, or HDX.

Andy (John Morris) is about to begin college, and Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of Andy’s toys worry about their future. Woody is optimistic that Andy will store them in the attic, but the rest fear they’re destined to be sold, or worse, thrown away. Neither happens when Andy’s Mom (Laurie Metcalf) accidentally donates them to a local daycare center. Only Woody knows the toys were meant to be stored in the attic, but no one listens to him. The toys are greeted by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a stuffed bear who is in charge of all the toys at the daycare. All of Andy’s toys are thankful to be there, knowing they’ll be played with again. But Woody escapes, professing his loyalty to Andy. He returns to the daycare, though, when he learns that Lotso runs the daycare like a prison, forcing Andy’s toys to be played with by rowdy and destructive toddlers. Now, Woody has to save his friends, and get them back to Andy before it’s too late and he moves to college.

It has been a pleasure to see Pixar evolve their animation technique over the past fifteen years. With every movie, the animation looks better and better, to the point where Pixar is the gold standard of what CGI-animation should look like. The attention to detail in Toy Story 3 is something to be admired. Everything from the dirt stains on Lotso’s stomach to the tiny freckles of children’s faces adds to the realism that Pixar has always strived for. With every movie, you think that their technique can’t possibly get any better, but with each subsequent movie, Pixar surprises us all.

Pixar has always stated that even though they are an animation company, story is always the most important. While millions of their fans are always clamoring for sequels to their favorite Pixar film, Pixar has repeatedly said they would only do a sequel if the story was right. While most film companies are quick to jump into the sequel game in the name of profit, Pixar thankfully isn’t one of them. When a film becomes a smash hit, a sequel is often quickly put into development, often too quickly. As such, the sequel can’t live up to expectation established in the first film. Pixar takes its time—that’s a good thing! They are meticulous about their writing and storyboards, and they take great pride in doing so. There must be something to that method, as the results can clearly be seen at the box office.

Pixar also knows its audience very well. It knows how to make movies that appeal to people of all ages. The humor and themes can be appreciated by everyone. Pixar has done something very clever with Toy Story 3. They know that the audience that was around for the original Toy Story is now grown up. The themes of growing up and moving on resonate to that audience that is now fifteen years older and no longer plays with toys. Toy Story 3 is filled poignant emotion that echoes this. For those of us who were young when the original Toy Story premiered, we can certainly understand how the passage of time has affected us. With Toy Story 3, we are reminded through both humor and emotion that tugs on our heartstrings that growing up is a part of life, and that the innocence of youth is something we can’t hold onto forever. And as the film beautifully illustrates, we don’t need to lose our memories of youth. We can pass them on to the next generation.


While Toy Story 3 is the last planned film in the Toy Story franchise, it isn’t the end of the Toy Story characters. Director Lee Unkrich has already announced that Pixar is at work on a short film that will feature the Toy Story characters. The short film is scheduled to debut in front of “Cars 2”, which opens in theaters in 2011.

VUDU Goes to Infinity, and Beyond!

Walmart and VUDU have joined forces to deliver physical and digital copies of one of the year’s biggest blockbusters for one low price. Starting today, anybody who buys Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 3 Exclusive Special Edition 3 Disc Set on DVD or Blu-Ray at Wal-martgets a digital copy on the VUDU streaming movie service.

Yes, you read that correctly – buy a physical copy at Walmart and the digital copy is included via VUDU. The future of media has officially arrived, and it is awesome!

If your kids want to watch Toy Story 3 but the physical disc is in the minivan — no problem! Just stream the digital copy to your home theater with VUDU. Or, conversely, if you are on the road and need to play the movie but the disc is at your house – also no problem! With your Internet connection, you can stream your VUDU movies directly to your PC or Mac via Boxee’s free media center software. Walmart and VUDU have delivered a “watch anywhere” world, where users aren’t limited by “how” they bought a piece of content. Physical or streaming – done.

We are excited to be part of this ground breaking offer, coupling physical and digital media in an awesome new way (sort of like when peanut butter first met chocolate). This holiday season the leader in children’s entertainment (that’s Disney), working with the world’s largest retailer (that’s Walmart) and the world’s best streaming movie service (that’s us – great to be on this list!),  are making it easier than ever to get one of the year’s best movies (that’s Toy Story 3).

Timeless Classics

Back to the Future
Back to the Future Part 2
Back to the Future Part 3
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover (Part 1), Thomas F. Wilson, Elisabeth Shue (Parts 2 & 3), Mary Steenburgen (Part 3)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Universal Studios
Rated PG

2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the first Back to the Future movie. Most people who grew up in the 80s consider the Back to the Future trilogy to be amongst their favorite films of all time. The Back to the Future movies have always been in high demand among the films’ fans. There have been several iterations of the movies released to the home video market, from the early days of VHS to the current era of high-definition. Universal Studios has finally made good with their fans with a digital restoration and high definition upgrade of all three Back to the Future movies. Now all three films can be viewed on VUDU in SD, HD, and HDX!

In Back to the Future, teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) helps his friend Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd) test out his latest experiment—a time machine created from a DeLorean. During the test, Marty is accidently sent back in time to 1955. He hunts down “Doc” Brown in 1955 and has to convince him to help him get back to 1985. Unfortunately, Marty’s presence in 1955 has already caused dire consequences—he’s inadvertently prevented his father, George (Crispin Glover), from meeting his mother, Lorraine (Lea Thompson). Now, Marty has to do everything he can to make his parents fall in love, include having George stand up to Biff (Thomas F. Wilson), the local bully, before he’s wiped from existence. He also must face great risk to get back to his own time, or be stuck in the past forever.

Back to the Future Part 2 finds “Doc” taking Marty and Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue), Marty’s girlfriend, twenty years into the future to 2015 to prevent their future son from making a horrendous mistake that is destined to ruin the McFly family name. After they succeed and return to 1985, they soon realize that things aren’t how they’re supposed to be. They discover Future Biff from 2015 stole the DeLorean, went back in time to 1955, and altered the time line. Now, “Doc” and Marty must travel back to 1955 and set things back to the way they should be.

In Back to the Future Part 3, Marty goes back to 1885 to rescue “Doc” who’s trapped in the Old West. Unfortunately, with the DeLorean damaged and no modern tools to fix their problems, they must come up with a new way to get back to 1985. Things become complicated when “Doc” falls in love with local schoolteacher Clara (Mary Steenburgen), and “Doc” decides to stay in 1885. Marty now has to convince “Doc” to return to 1985 and prevent “Doc’s” death at the hands of Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), great-grandfather of Biff.

The Back to the Future films are that rare mix of genres that somehow works. Science fiction, adventure, comedy, and even Western (in Back to the Future Part 3) somehow meld together perfectly to create a truly memorable viewing experience. It is also one of those rare experiences where acting, directing, writing, cinematography, and musical score are in perfect harmony. The music of the Back to the Future films has become so iconic that it is instantly recognizable. Everything works together so well that to watch all three films is an enjoyable experience in and of itself.

There was some controversy a few years ago when the first DVD set was released with the films not being in their original aspect ratio. It was evident that Back to the Future Part 2 and Back to the Future Part 3 had framing issues, in some cases omitting a great amount of the original image. Universal offered replacement discs with correct framing, but many fans felt slighted that their favorite films were given such a shoddy treatment. The fans should be able to forgive Universal now with these far superior upgrades. Supervised by producer and co-writer Bob Gale, the high-definition upgrades on all three films have them looking the best they ever have.

Universal has done a great job in cleaning and upgrading these films. As can often be the case when remastering older films, the original look and feel can sometimes be cleaned up too much given today’s advanced technology. Universal, however, maintains the look and feel of movies that were made from the 80s, keeping the right amount of film grain and making sure things don’t look too “polished”. It helps when people who were close to the original production, in this case Bob Gale, can guide the restorers to make sure that the integrity of the movie isn’t lost in the upgrade.

The Back to the Future films will always have a place in film history. The appeal of these films is not just limited to a fervent and loyal fan base. These films appeal to critics and film historians alike, so much so that in 2007 the original Back to the Future was chosen for preservation by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Such an honor is only reserved for those films that are considered to be culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. If you’ve never seen any of the Back to the Future films before, now is the perfect time to do so. And if you’re just a fan who’s seen the films hundreds of times before, now is the perfect time to see it as it has never been seen before—fully restored and remastered in high definition.


Many people know that Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly, and that after five weeks of shooting, he was let go and replaced by Michael J. Fox. What many people don’t know is that Eric Stoltz’s firing also had an adverse effect on another actress. Melora Hardin (Jan from the US version of “The Office”) was the original Jennifer Park, Marty’s girlfriend. She was let go because she was now considered too tall when compared with Michael J. Fox.

Chilled to the Bone

Winter’s Bone
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt, Lauren Sweetser, Sheryl Lee
Director: Debra Granik
Rated R for some drug material, language and violent content

Winter’s Bone is the type of movie that exemplifies independent cinema: there is no big budget; there are no big name actors. There are face and name recognizable actors, but in Winter’s Bone they take on supporting roles. There is a realness and rawness to the film that is rarely seen in Hollywood cinema. The movie also does what many independent films do best: it takes a little-to-unknown actor, captures their amazing performance, and launches them into prominence.

Winter’s Bone stars Jennifer Lawrence as Ree Dolly, a seventeen-year-old in the unenviable position of having to raise her younger siblings and care for her mentally-impaired mother. Her deadbeat father is on the lam, evading prosecution for cooking meth. Ree is informed by Sheriff Baskin (Garret Dillahunt) that her father put up their house and land for his bail bond. If Ree’s father fails to show for his court date, the bail bond company will seize control of the house and land. Ree vows to locate her father to prevent that from happening. Now she’s forced to enter the seedy underbelly of her community, encountering her father’s known drug associates and her uncle, Teardrop (John Hawkes), a terse, strict, and violent man, all to save her family from homelessness.

Jennifer Lawrence delivers a star-making, potentially Oscar-nominated, performance as Ree Dolly. She carries the weight of the world on her back with anguish and turmoil frozen in her eyes. With her world falling apart, however, she somehow stays positive, a glimmer of hope behind the anguish and turmoil. The opening of the film paints her hardship perfectly, tending to house chores commonly associated with a parent—laundry, cooking, caring for the young children. Her distress is more evident when she takes her siblings to school and she sees people her age doing the things people her age should be doing. However, she doesn’t let this overwhelm her; she perseveres. Her strong-willed and resolute performance is something rarely seen in young actors, and she pulls it off with the finesse often reserved for veteran performers.

The directing and cinematography are also highlights in Winter’s Bone. The muted color palette is heavy on browns and pastels, perfectly capturing the locale of the Ozark Mountains. In a world where things are falling apart for Ree, so too are the places around her: buildings and homes are worn down, in desperate need of repairs and paint jobs. The world the director and cinematographer have created allows the audience to be completely absorbed into Ree’s universe. There’s a general sense of uneasiness in the setting and atmosphere, further emphasizing the tremendous trials and tribulations that Ree has to endure.

Winter’s Bone premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim. It won the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic Competition, as well as the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Winter’s Bone is quickly wowing critics and audiences alike for its taut and gritty performances. As award season starts rolling around, this movie is a shoo-in to take multiple nominations for its cast and crew. Winter’s Bone is now available to own or rent in SD, HD, and HDX. Go to “Explore Catalog” and select the collection “Bargains Under $10” for this and several other great movies.


The effects of Winter’s Bone have already launched Jennifer Lawrence into stardom. She already has a heavy development slate, including the upcoming “X-Men: First Class”.

VUDU: Streaming to You on PC, Mac and the D-Link Boxee Box!

Today we announced VUDU will soon be available on Boxee – users will be able to access VUDU’s immense streaming library via PC or Mac and on the upcoming Boxee Box this November. Get ready to watch what you want, where you want it!

VUDU users will be able to  download Boxee’s free media center software on Mac or PC to access our massive SD movie collection, including thousands of titles available for $2 rentals for two nights.

On D-Link’s Boxee Box, VUDU users will experience the full HD and HDX library in 1080p streamed directly to their HDTV with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound. Millions of HDTV owners can turn their HDTV into VUDU-enabled HDTVs for the highest quality movie experience.

VUDU adds a huge collection of Hollywood hits and indie films to Boxee’s premium TV shows and Internet content– we look forward to streaming to you on Boxee!