Summer 2015 Animated Features Preview

Well, animation fans, summer is finally here; perhaps not strictly according to the calendar, but at least according to the thermometer outside my house, which means it’s time to take refuge from the heat in an air conditioned theater and enjoy a few good animated features. While last summer’s feature animation lineup was relatively sparse, with only How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Planes 2 making their theatrical debut over the warmer months, this summer is a little more packed, with four to five features being released this summer (depending on if you’re reading this from the UK or the US). Here’s what to look out for this summer when looking to beat the heat at your local cinema: Summer2015


Inside Out — June 19 US/ July 24 UK

This is the big one, folks. Easily one of the most anticipated animated features coming out this year is Pixar’s Inside Out, their first film release in two years and the first original story film (not a prequel, sequel or otherwise) in three. Directed by Pete Docter (Monster’s Inc.Up) and featuring the voice talents of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Heder, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling, the story centers around Riley, a young girl uprooted from her Midwest life when her family moves to San Francisco. Riley is led by her emotions, Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness, which all live in Headquarters (the control center inside Riley’s mind) where they help advise her through everyday life. Although Joy, Riley’s most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the remaining emotions conflict on how best to adjust to a new life in San Francisco. Inside Out had its world premiere at Cannes last month, and the reviews were amazing. I have been following this film pretty closely and everything seems to point to this being another amazing, touching, and innovative Pixar feature. I’ll certainly be standing in line to see this one the moment it comes to my local theater. See all the awesomeness at the official website


Minions — June 26 UK/July 10 US

Hot on the heels of Pixar’s big summer release is a feature from the popular Illumination  Entertainment, featuring the world’s favorite babbling evil sidekicks, the Minions. Minions takes fans back in time before Gru, exploring the early history of the yellow henchmen, from their dawn-of-time origins as single-celled organisms to the present day. Habitually unable to keep their evil masters in business (or even keep them alive, as in the case of their prehistoric T-Rex master), the minions find themselves unemployed and deeply depressed. But three minions concoct a plan, and set out to change their fortunes by finding work with Scarlet Overkill, the world’s first female super villain. I loved the minions in both Despicable Me films, especially the way they allow filmmakers to make use of some of the older comedic gags from the classic days of animated cartoons. That being said, I am a little wary of the ability of these little guys to hold a full length film together on their own. Hopefully the full film will be as fun and entertaining as the trailer makes it out to be, with a story that keeps things moving smoothly. Learn more and see some fun fan stuff at the official website


The Seventh dwarf — July 31 us (NYC & la)

For those of you lucky enough to be in New York or LA this July, Shout! Factory has announce the limited release of it’s internationally co-produced animated film The Seventh Dwarf. In preparation for the birthday of Princess Rose (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty), everyone in the kingdom has come to Fantabularasa Castle to celebrate — including Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood. But just before the stroke of midnight Bobo, the youngest dwarf, accidentally pricks the finger of Princess Rose with a cursed needle and sends the kingdom into a century-long slumber! Bobo and the other six dwarfs must go on a treacherous journey to find a way to save the princess and the kingdom from the evil curse. I know we’ve seen other twists on the fairytale genre from other animation studios, but I am hopeful that this one will be fun. While the animation itself isn’t as glitzy as some of the stuff coming out of Dreamworks or Pixar, the comedy seems fresh and genuine (at least in the trailer) and I like the focus on the dwarfs as a way to freshen up the timeless tale. Moreover, I enjoyed that last film Shout! brought to these shores (Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart), so I have a good feeling that this one will be worth the price of a ticket. Roadtrip, anyone?


SHAUN THE SHEEP — August 7 US

I covered this one back in my winter preview, but Shaun the Sheep is finally making his American theatrical debut this summer, so it is worth covering again. The new feature film from Aardman Animations (creators of Wallace & Gromit) features BBC favorite Shaun, the clever but mischievous sheep, and his flock as they try to make their way safely back to the farm after they find themselves in the Big City. I am quite excited to see this one, because I think Aardman Animations has a great track record of pulling off dialogue-less, coincidence and mishap driven scenarios, and Shaun is the perfect protagonist to keep the story moving along. See more at the Shaun the Sheep movie website


Underdogs (Metegol) — August 14 US

It seems a little disingenuous to be calling this one a new release, since Argentina and Spain had the pleasure of seeing this film released in their countries almost two years ago, and it was distributed in many other European countries in 2014. But, with the help of the Weinstein Company as distributors, this lovely animated feature will finally be seen by audiences in the US. Written and directed by Juan J. Campanella, Underdogs (aka “Metegol”) follows Amadeo (“Jake” in the English language version), an awkward young man living in a small village whose greatest talent is foosball. When the school bully Amadeo had bested at foosball years ago returns to the village as a football superstar, he steals Amadeo’s romantic interest, destroys the village bar and breaks the foosball table. When his tears bring the foosball players to life, Amadeo and his tiny companions team up to save their village. I have high hopes for this film, not just because I am a fanatic football (soccer, for you Americans) fan, but because this looks like a film with real heart and a solid story, which is the most important thing when crafting a good film. Learn more at the Underdogs website (site is in Spanish, but has lots of good behind the scenes stuff!)


El Americano — August 28 US

The first animated feature film from Animex studios, El Americano is a fun film about Cuco, a young Mexican parrot that would rather imitate the stunts of his TV superhero, El Americano, than help with his chores at the family bird circus. When a gang of birds threatens his father and takes over the circus, Cuco sets off on a journey to Hollywood to enlist his hero in his fight. This film has been waiting for distribution for a while, so it’s nice to see that it will finally get its time in the theaters in some cities in the US. Visit the official website for El Americano

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