TOY STORY 4 – Review by Susan Granger

It’s been almost 25 years since the first Toy Story, and Pixar keeps coming up with lovable characters inhabiting relatable stories, culminating in a bittersweet conclusion. Now that Andy’s off to college, little Bonnie (Madeline McGraw) has inherited his beloved toys: Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), et al.

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THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 – Review by Brandy McDonnell

Meanwhile, the sprawling menagerie of Max’s NYC pet pals get into their own hijinks. Left to guard Max’s favorite toy, pampered Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) lets the beloved ball bounce through an open window into the local cat lady’s apartment. The pup’s plan to infiltrate the peevish pack of toms and tabbies involves taking lessons in how to pass as a feline from the quintessential cat Chloe (the deliciously droll Lake Bell).

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OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATION SHORTS – Review by Diane Carson

Each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominates five short films for the Best Animation Oscar. This year’s compilation offers diversity. From hand drawn to computer animation, with everything from muted to vibrant colors, realistic to surreal scenes, these five Oscar nominees testify to the wide range of subjects and styles gracing animation.

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DR SEUSS’ THE GRINCH – Review by Susan Granger

Illumination Entertainment, best known for creating the Minions in the “Despicable Me” franchise, does the crisp, visually alluring CGI animation, artfully coordinated by directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier. Kudos to Angela Lansbury, Kenan Thompson and Rashida Jones for adding far-too-brief vocal enhancement to their characters. And everyone is obviously ready to make that inevitable transfer to a Universal Studio theme park.

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LIYANA – Review by Loren King

Liyana is an innovative blend of documentary and animation that tells a moving story of resiliency and the power of imagination. Directors Aaron and Amanda Kopp follow orphaned children in Swaziland, who’ve suffered traumas from abduction to assault; and most have lost parents to AIDS (Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world). Well-known South African actress, activist and storyteller Gina Mhlophe leads the kids in storytelling sessions that are therapeutic.

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LIYANA – Review by Cate Marquis

In Amanda and Aaron Kopp’s touching documentary, an acclaimed South Africa storyteller, Gcina Mhope, guides a group of orphans in Swaziland as they craft their own fairy tale story about a girl named Liyana. The children live in a peaceful rural compound, surrounded by mountains and rolling fields, but their lives before they came to this idyllic spot have been anything but peaceful.

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