Category: Animation Movies

Frozen

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Frozen Movie

Anna, a fearless optimist, sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven – to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom. From the outside Anna’s sister, Elsa looks poised, regal and reserved, but in reality, she lives in fear as she wrestles with a mighty secret-she was born with the power to create ice and snow.

It’s a beautiful ability, but also extremely dangerous. Haunted by the moment her magic nearly killed her younger sister Anna, Elsa has isolated herself, spending every waking minute trying to suppress her growing powers. Her mounting emotions trigger the magic, accidentally setting off an eternal winter that she can’t stop. She fears she’s becoming a monster and that no one, not even her sister, can help her.

Frozen is an American 3D computer-animated musical fantasy-comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 53rd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, the film tells the story of a fearless princess who sets off on an epic journey alongside a rugged iceman, his loyal pet reindeer and a clueless, naive snowman to find her estranged sister, whose icy powers have inadvertently trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

Frozen Movie

About the Story

Elsa, Princess of Arendelle, possesses cryokinetic powers, with which she is able to produce ice, frost and snow at will. One night while playing, she accidentally injures her younger sister, Princess Anna. Their shocked parents, the King and Queen, seek help from the troll king, who heals Anna and removes her memories of Elsa’s magic. The royal couple isolates the children in their castle until Elsa learns to control her powers. Afraid of hurting Anna again, Elsa spends most of her time alone in her room, causing a rift between the girls as they grow up. When the girls are teenagers, their parents die at sea during a storm.

When Elsa comes of age, the kingdom prepares for her coronation as Queen. Among the guests is the Duke of Weselton, who seeks to exploit Arendelle for profit. Excited to be allowed out of the castle again, Princess Anna explores the town and meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles, and the two quickly develop a mutual attraction. Despite Elsa’s fears, her coronation goes off without incident. During the reception, Hans proposes and Anna hastily accepts. However, Elsa refuses to grant her blessing and forbids their sudden marriage. The sisters argue, culminating in the exposure of Elsa’s abilities during an emotional outburst.

Panicking, Elsa flees the castle, while inadvertently unleashing an eternal winter on the kingdom. High in the nearby mountains, she casts off restraint, building herself a solitary ice palace, and unknowingly brings to life her and Anna’s childhood snowman, Olaf. Meanwhile, Anna sets out in search of her sister, determined to return her to Arendelle, end the winter, and mend their relationship. When obtaining supplies, she meets an iceman named Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven, and convinces Kristoff to guide her up the North Mountain. On their journey, the group encounter Olaf, who leads them to Elsa’s hideaway.

Anna and Elsa reunite, but Elsa still fears hurting her sister. When Anna insists that Elsa return, Elsa becomes agitated and her powers lash out, accidentally striking Anna in the heart. Horrified, Elsa creates a giant snow creature to drive Anna, Kristoff and Olaf away from her palace. As they flee, Kristoff notices Anna’s hair turning white and deduces that something is very wrong. He seeks help from the trolls, his adoptive family, who explain that Anna’s heart has been frozen by Elsa. Unless it is thawed by an “act of true love”, she will become frozen solid forever. Believing that only Hans can save her with a true love’s kiss, Kristoff races back with her to Arendelle.

Meanwhile, Hans, leading a search for Anna, reaches Elsa’s palace. In the ensuing battle against the Duke’s men, Elsa is knocked unconscious and imprisoned in Arendelle. There, Hans pleads with her to undo the winter, but Elsa confesses that she does not know how. When Anna reunites with Hans and begs him to kiss her to break the curse, Hans refuses and reveals that his true intention in marrying her is to seize control of Arendelle’s throne. Leaving Anna to die, he charges Elsa with treason for her younger sister’s apparent death.

Elsa escapes and heads out into the blizzard on the fjord. Olaf finds Anna and reveals Kristoff is in love with her; they then escape onto the fjord to find him. Hans confronts Elsa, telling her Anna is dead because of her. In Elsa’s despair, the storm suddenly ceases, giving Kristoff and Anna the chance to find each other. However, Anna, seeing that Hans is about to kill Elsa, throws herself between the two just as she freezes solid, blocking Hans’ attack.

Frozen Movie Poster

Frozen

Directed by: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Screenplay by: Jennifer Lee, Hans Christian Andersen (inspired by the story “The Snow Queen”
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Santino Fontana, Josh Gad, Alan Tudyk, Eva Bella
Production Design by: David Womersley
Film Editing by: Jeff Draheim
Art Direction by: Michael Giaimo
Music by: Christophe Beck
MPAA Rating: PG for some action and mild rude humor.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: November 27, 2013

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Free Birds

Free Birds Movie

Taglines: The greatest turkey movie of all time.

Free Birds is an American 3D computer-animated buddy comedy film produced by Reel FX Creative Studios, directed by Jimmy Hayward and it stars the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler. Originally titled Turkeys. It was scheduled for 2014, but it was released on November 1, 2013 by Relativity Media.

On a quaint, family-owned farm, a giant turkey flock lives a quiet, complacent, corn-stuffed life. All everyone cares about is feeding time and grazing in the sun with the Farmer, who they swear will bring them to “Turkey Paradise.” Everyone, that is, except for Reggie (Owen Wilson), a whip-smart turkey whose badmouthing of the Farmer and disinterest in the mundane, overfed turkey existence makes him an outcast among his flock.

Reggie’s life is changed forever when an unexpected visit from the President of the United States lands him the esteemed honor of “Pardoned Turkey.” This means living the plush life at Camp David, complete with TV On Demand and cheese pizza. By being pardoned, Reggie has found his own Turkey Paradise — a place where he (and he alone) calls all the shots! That is until Reggie is plucked from his paradise by Jake (Woody Harrelson), the relentless founder– and only member–of the “Turkey Freedom Front.”

Jake has only one mission: to change history forever and save all of turkey-kind. But he can’t do it alone: a mission like this needs brain and brawn, and that’s why he needs to induct Reggie into his effort. “It’s our destiny!” he proclaims, much to Reggie’s scoffing. Despite Reggie’s refusal to abandon his life of luxury, Jake kidnaps him, and together they break into a top-secret government lab and hijack a time machine named S.T.E.V.E (George Takei), taking them back to the year 1621, just days before the first Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, as soon as they arrive in the past, they find themselves in the crosshairs of Plymouth Colony Commander Myles Standish (Colm Meaney), an avid hunter on his own mission to capture enough birds to feed the colonists and their Native American allies for the upcoming Harvest Feast. Before Reggie and Jake become a main course at Standish’s dinner, they are rescued by Jenny (Amy Poehler), the beautiful and fierce daughter of the Wild Turkeys’ Chief Broadbeak (Keith David).

Jenny leads the pair to the edge of the forest where the rest of her flock is hiding from the Pilgrims. Jake must teach the wild flock about the future and rally support for his mission to change history, but Reggie is apparently on a mission of the heart: falling beak over-tail for Jenny.

Inspired by Jenny’s bravery, Reggie leads a daring raid on the Pilgrim village to free their captured comrades. However, their rescue plans backfire when Jake’s feather-brained scheme actually leads Standish and his hunters to the flock, putting Jenny, her family, and the future of all turkey-kind in jeopardy.

Disheartened, Reggie flees to the present day with S.T.E.V.E., following his longheld philosophy that “it’s better off if you go it alone.” But his life at Camp David no longer feels like it’s enough without Jenny and Jake around. Reggie finally realizes that Jake’s crazy mission IS his destiny, and he and S.T.E.V.E head back to help fulfill Jake’s effort to get turkeys off the menu for good!

In this irreverent, hilarious, adventurous buddy comedy for audiences of all ages, directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!), two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history – and get turkey off the holiday menu for good.

Free Birds Movie Poster

Free Birds

Directed by: Jimmy Hayward
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, Keith David, George Takei, Kaitlyn Maher
Film Editing by: Chris Cartagena
Art Direction by: Kevin R. Adams
Music by: Dominic Lewis
MPAA Rating: PG for some action/peril and rude humor.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: November 1, 2013

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Taglines: Something big was leftover.

Flint Lockwood now works at The Live Corp Company for his idol Chester V. But he’s forced to leave his post when he learns that his most infamous machine is still operational and is churning out menacing food-animal hybrids.

After the disastrous food storm in the first film, Flint and his friends are forced to leave the town. Flint accepts the invitation from his idol Chester V to join The Live Corp Company, which has been tasked to clean the island, and where the best inventors in the world create technologies for the betterment of mankind. When Flint discovers that his machine still operates and now creates mutant food beasts like living pickles, hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees and apple pie-thons, he and his friends must return to save the world.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is an American computer-animated comic science fiction comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film is the sequel to the 2009 film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was loosely based on Judi and Ron Barrett’s book of the same name. It was directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, produced by Kirk Bodyfelt, and executive produced by the directors of the first film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The film was released on September 27, 2013. The film grossed over $274 million worldwide.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Poster

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Directed by: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Starring: Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Kristen Schaal, James Caan, Benjamin Bratt
Screenplay by: Judi Barrett, Ron Barrett
Production Design by: Justin Thompson
Film Editing by: Robert Fisher Jr., Stan Webb
Art Direction by: David Bleich
Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh
MPAA Rating: PG for mild rude humor.
Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
Release Date: September 27, 2013

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The Little Mermaid 3D

The Little Mermaid 3D Movie

Taglines: Love has no boundaries.

Swimming into the hearts of a new generation—beautifully restored and this time in 3D—“The Little Mermaid” features the beloved Ariel (voice of Jodi Benson), a fun-loving and mischievous mermaid, who is enchanted with all things human. Disregarding her father’s order to stay away from the world above the sea, she swims to the surface and, in a raging storm, rescues the prince of her dreams. Determined to be human, Ariel strikes a bargain with the devious seawitch Ursula (voice of Pat Carroll), trading her fins and beautiful voice for legs.

With her best friend Flounder (voice of Jason Marin), misguided seagull Scuttle (voice of Buddy Hackett) and the calypso-singing Caribbean crab chaperone Sebastian (voice of Samuel E. Wright) at her side, Ariel must win the prince’s love and save her father’s kingdom – all in a heart-pounding race against time. Originally released in 1989, “The Little Mermaid” garnered two Academy Awards®, including Best Original Score (Alan Menken) and Best Original Song (Menken/Howard Ashman, “Under the Sea”).

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who went on to direct “Aladdin” and “The Princess and the Frog,” “The Little Mermaid” returns to the big screen on September 13, 2013, and be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

The Little Mermaid 3D Movie Poster

The Little Mermaid 3D

Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Rene Auberjonois, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll, Paddi Edwards
Screenplay by: John Musker, Ron Clements
Film Editing by: Mark A. Hester
Art Direction by: Michael Peraza Jr, Donald Towns
Music by: Alan Menken
MPAA Rating: G for general audiences.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: September 20, 2013

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Disney’s Planes

Disney's Planes Movie

Taglines: From above the world of Cars

“Disney’s Planes” is an action-packed 3D animated comedy featuring Dusty, a plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. But Dusty’s not exactly built for racing–and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator who helps Dusty qualify to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty’s courage is put to the ultimate test as he aims to reach heights he never dreamed possible, giving a spellbound world the inspiration to soar.

Hitting theaters in August, “Disney’s Planes” is an all-new big-screen adventure produced at Southern California’s Disneytoon Studios. Directed by aviation enthusiast Klay Hall (“King of the Hill,” “The Simpsons”), produced by Traci Balthazor-Flynn (“Return to Never Land,” “Bambi II,” “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” as digital production manager), and executive produced by John Lasseter, the film showcases the crop duster’s desire to do more than what he was designed to do.

Says Hall, “I think people will really relate to ‘Disney’s Planes’ because it’s a great underdog story. It has a lot of heart and a message we can all use: If we can believe in ourselves, step out of our comfort zones and get past whatever fear is holding us back, we’d be surprised with the results. And that’s exactly what happens to Dusty in this movie. He’s a crop duster who’s never flown above 1,000 feet, but he dreams of being the fastest air racer in the world. He has a lot of obstacles to overcome and needs to dig pretty deep to find the courage to become more than what he was built for.”

According to Balthazor-Flynn, the global setting of the film invites audiences along for the ride. “Dusty has never been far from home, so he’s experiencing the world for the first time,” she says. “The film visits places many of us–like Dusty–have never seen. It features characters from all over the world–diverse personalities we can get behind and root for. It’s a real adventure–a road movie in the sky.”

Disney's Planes Movie

Head in the Clouds

Klay Hall was into airplanes long before “Disney’s Planes” ever got off the ground. So when executive producer John Lasseter asked the Disneytoon Studios veteran if he’d be interested in directing a feature film set in the skies, it was a no-brainer. “I’ve always loved airplanes,” says Hall. “My dad was in the Navy and his dad was also a pilot. They flew all their lives and passed that love of aviation to me.

“When I was a kid here in California,” continues Hall, “my dad and I would grab some burgers and Cokes and go to the local runway to watch the planes take off and land. I’d sit there and sketch as he talked about the characteristics of the airplanes. I still have a couple of those drawings. So when this project came up, I was able to really jump into this universe.”

Hall’s passion for and background in aviation clearly made him the ideal choice for the film — but the director was already on board another project when “Disney’s Planes” landed in his lap. At the suggestion of John Lasseter, Hall spent more than six months researching and building a story set in the American frontier and featuring railroading. “I’m a history buff — just like John — and it was neat world full of steam locomotives,” says Hall. “It really seemed to be coming together and then John called me. I remember exactly where I was when my phone rang. He said, ‘What do you think about shifting gears and working on a film about planes?’ I paused for a second — John likes to say that as soon as the blood went back to my head after I got off the floor, I was all in. I told him that if there’s one thing I love more than trains and the wild west, it’s planes.”

The director, who attended Cal Arts with fellow animation vets Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph”) and Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL*E”), came to Disney in 2005. “My background has always been primetime comedy,” says Hall. “I spent 10 years at ‘The Simpsons’ and then ‘King of the Hill.'”

So when it came time to build the story for “Disney’s Planes,” humor was a key ingredient — along with the kind of action a film about airplanes called for and — of course — authenticity and heart. Hall credits the story team with finding the right blend. “What’s really cool about making an animated film is — hands down — the collaboration. I think animation is the most collaborative art form there is. It takes an army of talented people to do one of these films.”

Hall, Lasseter and Jeff Howard came together early in the process to hammer out the story. “We sat in a little room for five or six hours,” says Howard, who welcomed the opportunity to brainstorm with Lasseter. “We all respect him so much, creatively — and we were invited to hang out and spitball with him. That’s when we came up with the idea of a crop duster who wants to be a racer. We named him Dusty that first day and talked about a race around the world where he’d meet racers from different countries.”

“It just felt right,” says Lasseter. “There’s a great group of new characters who fly throughout different parts of the world — Iceland, Germany, India, Mexico. We knew from the start that it had to be better than good. It had to be great. And it is. It’s beautiful. To say that I’m excited about this movie is an understatement.”

Disney's Planes Movie Poster

Disney’s Planes

Directed by: Klay Hall
Starring: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Priyanka Chopra, Gabriel Iglesias
Production Design by: Ryan L. Carlson
Film Editing by: Jeremy Milton
Art Direction by: Ryan L. Carlson
Music by: Mark Mancina
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild action and rude humor.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: August 8, 2013

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The Smurfs 2

The Smurfs 2 Movie

In this sequel to Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation’s hybrid live action / animated family blockbuster comedy “The Smurfs,” the evil wizard Gargamel creates a couple of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties that he hopes will let him harness the all-powerful, magical Smurf-essence. But when he discovers that only a real Smurf can give him what he wants, and only a secret spell that Smurfette knows can turn the Naughties into real Smurfs, Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette and brings her to Paris, where he has been winning the adoration of millions as the world’s greatest sorcerer.

It’s up to Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity to return to our time, reunite with their human friends Patrick and Grace Winslow, and rescue her! Will Smurfette, who has always felt different from the other Smurfs, find a new connection with the Naughties Vexy and Hackus – or will the Smurfs convince her that their love for her is True Blue? Returning cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, with Katy Perry as Smurfette and Hank Azaria as Gargamel. Brendan Gleeson joins the cast as Victor. Joining the voice cast are Christina Ricci and JB Smoove as Vexy and Hackus.

About the Production

In Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation’s 2011 hit The Smurfs, the world’s favorite three-apple-high heroes proved that fifty years of success in every medium is no accident. Since first appearing in the pages of a Belgian comic book in 1958, Peyo’s Smurfs have entertained children and adults around the world, coming to life in comics, books, television series, films, videogames, live shows, figurines (over 300 million sold)… and, finally, they ruled the world’s box office.

The Smurfs 2 Movie

The film was truly a global phenomenon, going on to take in over $560 million. “Whether you live in Brazil, or in China, or in Russia, or Paris, or Belgium, or New York… whether they’re los Pitufos, or i Puffi, or les Schtroumpfs… everybody loves the Smurfs,” says producer Jordan Kerner. “With The Smurfs, and now The Smurfs 2, we’re seeking to make films that translate across all geographical boundaries – which fits, because the themes of the Smurfs cross all cultures.”

“These are characters that live in people’s childhoods,” Kerner explains. “They are remembered and revered in the hearts of the generations who saw or read them. So we believed it was our duty to take the characters that the audience knew and loved, and expand them into a present time, from an emotional and a comedic standpoint. Peyo’s daughter and a co-producer on the film Veronique Culliford and I work extremely closely together on the development of the stories – I’m very lucky that we get to work on a second film, because I love the characters, I love to see how they grow and change, and I desperately want to know what’s going to happen to them after the movie’s over. How could you not want to know what happens to Clumsy, Brainy, Grouchy, Papa, Smurfette, and Gargamel – the characters the writers and Raja brought to the screen?”

And what happens is this: where the first film saw our adorable blue friends taking a bite out of the Big Apple, The Smurfs 2 sees them showing off their cosmopolitan appeal with a new adventure that takes them to the City of Light – Paris, France!

“The most exciting thing for me, as a director, is setting this huge adventure all through Paris,” says Raja Gosnell, who directs the film, reprising his role from the first film. “We even got to film places where, to my knowledge, no one has ever filmed before. We were on stage in the Paris Opera House, we shot in the flying buttresses of Notre Dame. Between the great love of the Smurfs and the work that Jordan and our co-producer Raphael Benoliel did with the Paris authorities, we got into places where I thought we’d never get to shoot. What more can a director ask for?”

As the film begins, Smurfette is in the Smurf village, surrounded by her brothers and Papa, but still feeling somewhat alone. After all, she hasn’t quite come to terms with her origins. As everyone knows, Smurfette was created by Gargamel as part of one of his evil schemes – but Papa used love and a magic spell to turn her into a True Blue Smurf. That was all a long time ago, but still… she’s not quite sure about it all. “She starts to ask herself some questions: where does she come from, does she fit in,” says Katy Perry, who voices Smurfette. “In a way, it’s like she’s becoming a teenager, asking the same kinds of questions we all go through when we come of age. She’s really trying to figure out if she’s a real Smurf. She was created by Gargamel, so there’s a bit of naughtiness that’s been subdued for a long, long time. But it’s not about where you came from or who created you; it’s what you choose to be and where you want to go in life.”

About the Smurfs

Feisty SMURFETTE hasn’t been feeling like her sparkly self – it’s her birthday and that always brings reflection. She’s been having some uneasy thoughts that maybe she isn’t really 100% true blue Smurf. True, Gargamel created her, but Papa used magic to make her a real Smurf. So, when Gargamel kidnaps her on the eve of her birthday, and she is introduced to her newly-created siblings, the Naughties, she starts to form a bond. Papa musters a daring rescue, but will she choose the family she knows, or the new family she’s discovered?

Nine-time Grammy Award nominee Katy Perry lends her own nuanced, energetic, and sensitive combination to the voice of Smurfette.

“It was fun to get back into character,” says Perry. “I blocked out a couple of days to prepare for it, because I get into a zone where I really have to turn it on. Smurfette isn’t my normal voice – it’s like my voice and a bag of rocks, with a pinch of sugar.”

Perry says she was gratified by the chance to work in scenes opposite Christina Ricci. “It’s nice to know that she’s playing my evil twin,” says Perry. “I really look up to her, both as a person and as an actress – she’s done so many incredible films.”

“Katy’s performance is amazing, because she’s able to portray both sides of Smurfette – from one moment to the next, she finds the character immediately,” says Kerner. “On the one hand, you have the kittenish, funny, sweet Smurfette character that everyone in Smurf Village embraces. On the other hand, this is a very dramatic story for her character – she’s kidnapped, separated from the Smurfs, and thinks she’s never going to see her family again. All of that sense of abandonment, and loneliness, and fear comes through in Katy’s vocal performance. She’s just revelatory as a comedic actress. She will be a major comedienne in films. Brilliant instincts, inherently funny, and just beautiful.”

PAPA SMURF is, of course, the wise, kind and gentle parent to his 100 children (99 boys and 1 girl), doing his best to make each one feel safe and loved and keep the Village a happy place. When Smurfette is kidnapped by Gargamel, it’s all for Smurf and Smurf for all! Papa loves all his children equally, but can’t deny that the bond with his adopted daughter has always been special. She’s always felt like she doesn’t belong, and even Papa isn’t quite sure how to prove to her that she’s a True Blue Smurf.

The late comedy legend Jonathan Winters is the voice behind the altruistic, gentle and wise Papa Smurf. Even after a heroic trip to New York City, CLUMSY has not developed any new, graceful moves. That’s OK – he knows that it’s what’s on the inside that counts most. So while he might not seem like an obvious choice for a rescue mission – and in fact, it’s his two left feet that bumble him into the job – he just might be a perfect choice after all.

Anton Yelchin gives voice to the innocent, exuberant Smurf with a heart of gold, Clumsy. He says that coming back into the booth to record the character was as comfortable as wrapping oneself in a warm blanket. “We had already done the hard work, on the first film, of figuring out what the character was going to be, what he was going to sound like, so I could just enjoy myself,” says Yelchin. “The second time around, I was used to the way it works – in animation, lines can change, animation can change, and that gives you a freedom in the booth.”

“The first film was about Clumsy discovering that he doesn’t always have to just be clumsy; he can be heroic, too,” Yelchin continues. “I think this film builds on that – he’s still doing everything that got him the name Clumsy in the first place, but now, he thinks of himself as a hero, too – it’s fun to play with that idea. I enjoy playing Clumsy because he’s so much fun – he’s very sensitive and tender, but also very funny and silly. And did I mention he’s a hero? He’d be very upset with me if I didn’t mention that.”

GROUCHY has always been the Smurf to see a dark cloud in any silver lining and going on another rescue mission really ticks him off! But that’s all about to change. In a fit of negativity, he looks for inspiration. He’ll proudly rename himself Positive Smurf! (Really?) With his glass now half-full, he discovers how much an upbeat attitude can contribute – but will the sunny disposition hold up when the Smurfing gets tough?

George Lopez is the voice that captures all of Grouchy’s irascible personality. “Everybody loves a curmudgeon,” says Lopez. “The rest of the Smurfs are all so happy, so it’s fun to see one Smurf try to throw the others under a bus. Even when he complains, you still love him. But in this movie, he gets tired of that. He’s going to try to be positive. It doesn’t work out for him, but he’s trying.”

“There are very few characters that are known all over the world like the Smurfs are. How many people get to be a part of something like that?” he continues.

Meet VANITY, definitely the most handsome guy in the Village – as he’d be the first to tell you. Sure, he’s got charm and looks, but as far as being a valuable member of a search-and-rescue team, the only place you’ll find him looking is in a mirror. Even so, Vanity might just surprise you by revealing an inner depth and courage at a time when it’s needed the most. Or not.

English comedian and star reporter for “The Daily Show” John Oliver provides the voicethat puts the panache in Vanity. “Vanity’s role begins and ends with himself, so there’s no real interaction between Vanity and his immediate surroundings – unless those surroundings are reflective,” says Oliver. “He’s the star of his own world. His first and only skill is narcissism – but if that can help save someone, that’s great.

”Playing anyone that selfish is appealing,” Oliver continues. “The first thing you’re taught as a child is not to be selfish, to share things, to be nice to other people. And Vanity kicks against all of that. To him, no one is as good as he is. That’s quite fun to mess around with – the idea that spectacular things can happen all around you, and all of it is less impressive than your own face.”

“I’m British, which, by extension, makes me European, so the Smurfs were an iconic part of my childhood,” says the actor. “It wasn’t something you needed to seek out – it was just there all the time. They were a predominant cultural force – these strange, blue, Belgian creatures.”

The film is also packed with cameo roles, ranging from Shaquille O’Neal (Smooth Smurf) to Jimmy Kimmel (Passive-Aggressive Smurf) to Sean White (Clueless Smurf) to Mario Lopez (Social Smurf) to Kevin Lee (Party Planner Smurf) to Mario Lopez (Social Smurf).

About Gargamel

He’s back and out for blue! Unbelievably enough, the repulsive and nasty GARGAMEL is now a global superstar, admired by countless fans who find his Parisian magic stage show astounding and his “evil wizard” act charming. Regardless of all the fame and fortune, he still desperately seeks what he really wants – to be the most powerful conjurer in the world and capture the Smurfs to extract their essence! Creating the Naughties and kidnapping Smurfette is just the beginning of a dastardly plan that might be his ticket to power.

Hank Azaria once again steps into the madness of this wicked wizard. “He’s a miserable, angry, sad person, and the Smurfs are so happy that he takes it personally,” says Azaria. “He hates them for how happy they are. And, because he’s an evil wizard who is obsessed with Smurfs, he naturally concludes that they are all that is standing in his way from becoming the world’s most powerful wizard.”

For Azaria, revisiting Gargamel is sweeter the second time around. “It was easier this time. It’s such a weird character that it made me nervous the first time,” recalls Azaria. “I have to credit Jordan Kerner; he really wanted to make sure the character stayed medieval and antiquated, and Raja Gosnell wanted to make sure that he was heightened and always passionate and crazy. Now, Raja and I have a good shorthand with each other, what we want to try and what we want to do – it’s very pleasant, it’s a really fun job, coming to work and making these little creatures come to life every day.”

In fact, for Azaria, playing Gargamel is like no other role. “It is like being in another world. It really is odd,” describes Azaria. “The experience of making the movie is a little bit insane, since I’m mostly yelling at, screaming at, and chasing nothing – except on the occasions when they bring in a real cat.”

And ah, that cat. Azrael – the only “special someone” in Gargamel’s life. “I think it’s really funny that he has this intensely intimate relationship with a cat that is smarter than him,” says Azaria. “The cat knows better than he does, and when the cat meows he can tell what the cat is saying. I find that amusing.”

“Azrael really is smarter than Gargamel,” says Gosnell. “And the cat lets him know at every turn.”

“They are essentially an old, annoyed at each other married couple, and the romance has gone out of their relationship,” adds Azaria. “Every film, I try to get in the line, ‘Why did I ever marry you?’, saying it to the cat, but they never really keep it in there; one day, if we keep making these movies, one day I’ll be able to say that.”

“The relationship between Gargamel and Azrael was very much Hank’s creation,” says Gosnell. “Hank really didn’t want to be monologuing the whole movie – it was better for him to have a character he could bounce back and forth with, even if it is a cat.”

Kerner says that realizing the character of Azrael meant walking a fine line. “Azrael definitely has a voice, but isn’t a talking animal,” he says. “Azrael can say ‘meow,’ and Hank, as Gargamel, can reply with, ‘Why are you angry with me, because we left Paris?’ Meow means 10 million things to Gargamel.” On camera, the cats Cheeto and Krinkle, along with a few other hero tabbies, did most of the heavy lifting as Azrael; for his facial performance and scenes requiring a fully animated cat, the filmmakers call on Sony Pictures Imageworks for the CG cat. Voice actor Frank Welker gave the tricky kitty his meow.

It’s said that the clothes make the man – and surely that was never more true than about Gargamel. Azaria spent hours in the makeup chair every morning to help get him into character. “The overall look with his head being shaved, the teeth, the hair and everything, it changes him so much,” says makeup effects department head Todd Tucker. “When he gets into that makeup, he can’t help but go into Gargamel zone.”

“The wardrobe gives him a padded belly and back, his posture changes, he hunches over for the character,” adds Tucker. “His whole body movement, everything about him changes pretty drastically, so it’s a very different character than Hank is for sure.”

“As soon as Hank steps out in makeup and hair, he completely inhabits the role. He becomes Gargamel,” says Kerner. “It’s in his posture, it’s in the way he carries himself, it’s how he modulates his voice. He puts up with all the makeup, he puts up with shaving his head completely bald, he puts up with the big teeth we put in his mouth, and he’s having so much fun doing it that he’ll immediately give you ten variations on his performance.”

It takes about two hours, all told, to turn an actor into an evil wizard – about 90 minutes of makeup, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of hair.

As might be fitting, Gargamel’s robe gets a makeover for The Smurfs 2 – one deserved by the toast of Paris. “We changed the lining of the cape, making it red,” explains Montreal costume designer Véronique Marchessault. “It also had to be kind of magical, because at one point he’s in his robe, and then, seconds later, the squirrel wings appear.” Gargamel uses those wings to fly off of the Eiffel Tower into the portal he conjures at the Trocadero Fountain.

Playing Gargamel in the Smurfs films has been a virtual rediscovery of Azaria’s childhood imagination. “You get to play like you’re a child; you’re imagining these little creatures. I had three imaginary friends when I was a kid, and I would spend a lot of time with them,” says Azaria. “It’s like I’m doing that again, only I’m a little more angry at these imaginary friends than the ones I grew up with. I’m playing with a pretend cat, pretending to do magic, and waving a magic wand, and then somebody makes a light effect happen. When you’re a kid, you always dreamed you could do things like that, and then you get to do it as an adult, and then they pay you – it’s pretty nice.”

The Smurfs 2 Movie Poster

The Smurfs 2

Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Jacob Tremblay
Screenplay by: J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick
Production Design by: Bill Boes
Cinematography by: Phil Meheux
Film Editing by: Sabrina Plisco
Costume Design by: Véronique Marchessault, Rita Ryack
Set Decoration by: Frédérique Bolté, Marie-Soleil Dénommé, David Laramy
Music by: Heitor Pereira
MPAA Rating: PG for some rude humor and action.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: July 31, 2013

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Turbo

Turbo Movie

Taglines: He’s fast. They’re furious.

From the makers of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and The Croods, Turbo is a high-velocity 3D comedy about an underdog snail whose dreams kick into overdrive when he miraculously attains the power of super-speed. But after making fast friends with a crew of streetwise, tricked-out es-car-goes, Turbo learns that no one succeeds on their own. So he puts his heart and shell on the line to help his pals achieve their dreams, before Turbo-charging his own impossible dream: winning the Indy 500.

Turbo is ah American 3D computer-animated comedy sports film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is based on an original idea by David Soren, who also directed the film. Set in Los Angeles, the film features an ordinary garden snail whose dream to become the fastest snail in the world comes true. The film was released on July 17, 2013.

About the Story

In a suburban San Fernando Valley garden in Los Angeles,[11] Theo, a.k.a Turbo, is a snail who dreams of being the greatest racer in the world, just like his hero, 5-time Indianapolis 500 champ, Guy Gagné. His obsession with speed and all things fast has made him an outcast in the slow and cautious snail community, and a constant embarrassment to his older brother, Chet. Turbo desperately wishes he could escape the slow-paced life he’s living, but his one chance to live proves a near fatal disaster when he tries to recover a prize tomato and needs to be rescued by Chet.

Turbo Movie

Demoralized, Theo wanders onto a freeway to admire the traffic and wishes he was fast on the first star (which is actually an airplane light). Suddenly, he gets into a freak accident when he gets sucked into the supercharger of a drag racer, fusing his DNA with nitrous oxide. The next day, when Theo wakes up, the incident finds himself vested with incredible speed and accuracy, as well as some characteristics of an actual car. Unfortunately, Theo’s first attempt to show this power off ends with him crashing a Big Wheel tricycle into the garden, getting himself and Chet fired from the garden crew by their foreman.

As the siblings quarrel over Theo’s problems, Chet is snatched by a crow, but is pursued and rescued by Theo at a run down strip mall called Starlight Plaza. There, they are captured by Tito, a “Dos Bros” taco truck driver, and are brought to a snail race held by him and his co-workers. Theo astounds both humans and snails alike and earns the respect of the snails, led by Whiplash, with his crew members Smoove Move, Burn, Skidmark, and White Shadow, who have skills of their own.

Inspired by this extraordinary snail, Tito dreams to revive the strip mall with Theo as an attraction, and eventually with the help of the snails who manage to divert and strand a tour bus and drum up impressive business. At this success, Theo convinces Tito to enter him in Indianapolis 500 as a competitor. While Tito’s brother, Angelo, still declines to support him, the neighbors agree to put up the entrance fee and accompany them to Indianapolis.

Turbo Movie Poster

Turbo

Directed by: David Soren
Starring: Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Luis Guzman
Screenplay by: David Soren, Robert Siegel, Darren Lemke
Production Design by: Michael Isaak
Cinematography by: Chris Stover
Film Editing by: James Ryan
Art Direction by: Richard Daskas
Music by: Henry Jackman
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild action and thematic elements.
Studio: DreamWorks Pictures
Release Date: July 17, 2013

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Best Friends Forever

Best Friends Forever Movie

Taglines: Two girls, a ’76 AMC Pacer, the open road and an impending nuclear apocalypse.

Best Friends Forever is a clever dark comedy and heartfelt road trip buddy film wrapped in an apocalyptic disaster story, with two badass girls. Harriet (Brea Grant), a perpetually optimistic comic-book artist, dreams of escaping her past in Los Angeles and hits the road for a new life in Austin, Texas. She drags Reba (Vera Miao), her seemingly devil-may-care BFF, along for the ride. In the hush period following mysterious nuclear explosions, the girls are forced to ask: When faced with the end of the world – what is most important to you?

Best Friends Forever is an American dark comedy film written by Brea Grant, Vera Miao, and directed by Brea Grant. The film stars Brea Grant, Vera Miao, Sean Maher, Glen Powell, Constance Wu. The film began a limited theatrical release in the United States on July 1, 2013.

Review

It takes a real set of balls to make a movie about the apocalypse without actually showing the apocalypse. It’s ironic that Brea Grant is the person who has those balls. She wrote, directed, and stars in the alternately quirky and morose Best Friends Forever. The film tells the story of two young women who embark on a road trip and end up at the beginning of the end of the world.

Best Friends Forever Movie

Harriet (Grant) is a comic book artist who has recently been released from psychiatric supervision. She’s planning on a fresh start in graduate school in Austin, Texas. Harriet plans a road trip from Los Angeles to the Texas capitol with her best friend Reba (Vera Miao), including some out-of-the-way stops along the way. However, once on the road, the duo enters the isolated desert without the knowledge that a nuclear bomb detonated in L.A., essentially wiping the entire city off the map.

As Harriet and Reba learn the fate of the City of Angels (including that of Reba’s family, who live there), they have chance encounters with symbols of apocalyptic dangers. One comes in the form of a hipster band whose scarves and dark-rimmed glasses mask their true form of bandits on the road. Another comes in the form of a religious nutjob who picks up the girls hitchhiking and begins a blame-fueled sermon. Other dangers include abuse of authority, anarchy, and general mistrust of friends leading to feral behavior.

This entire journey becomes not simply about survival but about the bond these women share. While the world crumbles around them, the story is less about the millions that die and more about how these two hold themselves together.

There are several impressive elements to Best Friends Forever, not the least of which is the restrained presentation of a nuclear apocalypse. This is where the heart of the independent film lies. There’s no big budget for a blockbuster-sized destruction of a city. Almost void of visual effects, Best Friends Forever hints at the apocalypse but never tries to survive on the spectacle.

Best Friends Forever Movie

Instead, first-time director Grant wraps the film in the characters (specifically its two leads) and how the end affects them emotionally. One might be tempted to call the Harriet and Reba’s reactions somewhat muted, and that wouldn’t be inaccurate. However, considering the characters’ isolation from the action and the fact that real reactions to such intense (albeit distant) trauma sometimes lead to underwhelming results rather than a string of would-be Oscar clips, it highlights how disconnected they are.

Both Harriet and Reba are distant individuals. Harriet is such by her own design, hiding behind her artwork and the lies she tells herself. Reba is removed from her overbearing family, choosing a life of relative promiscuity and rebellion. She uses sex not for comfort but for distraction, and that comes back to haunt her throughout the film. Their being caught up outside the apocalypse lets their world end the way they lived it: somewhere in the background.

Grant handles this film well, able to direct herself with some smart decisions, namely to let Reba carry the overt emotional burden of the story. She also frames the results of the apocalypse in a familiar way. Rather than relying solely on corny news commentary (although those snippets do show up from time to time), Best Friends Forever tells its story through its characters eyes and actions, for better or for worse.

There are some wrinkles along the way, however. One of the greatest dangers of being so close to your story and characters is that you fall in love with them so much that you cannot allow the natural flow of the story to keep its course. Grant falls into this trap multiple times, playing a bit of softball with the threats to both Harriet and Reba.

The reality is that the film works when it gets dark, and it travels down those unlit paths several times. One of the best was a fantastic moment in the film when real panic sets in for the characters, proving they would resort to anything to save themselves and each other. Unfortunately, there are a couple missed opportunities and a few other moments that steer down an extremely dark and dangerous path only to be brushed away with relative ease.

Still, this leaves Best Friends Forever as a warm and somewhat uplifting film about the worst day the planet will ever see. It’s an honest, down-to-earth look at what might happen when everything around you crumbles, yet it manages to have its heart in the right place.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that Best Friends Forever was shot (rather proudly, I might add, based on the production notes) on Super 16mm film. In a world where digital options are quickly becoming the standard (which is increasingly more cost-effective to the independent filmmaker), it’s nice to see people actually committing a story to celluloid again.

Best Friends Forever Movie Poster

Best Friends Forever

Directed by: Brea Grant
Starring: Brea Grant, Vera Miao, Sean Maher, Glen Powell, Constance Wu Screenplay by: Brea Grant, Vera Miao
Screenplay by: Brea Grant, Vera Miao
Production Design by: Carolyn King
Cinematography by: Michelle Lawler
Film Editing by: Jacob Chase, Amy McGrath
Costume Design by: William Boye Jenkins
Art Direction by: Ryan Spindell
Music by: Matthew Puckett
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Release Date: July 1, 2013

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Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 Movie

Taglines: Back 2 Work.

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster Despicable Me entertained audiences around the globe in 2010, grossing more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. In summer 2013, get ready for more Minion madness in Despicable Me 2.

Chris Melandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team create an all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of (former?) super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls, the unpredictably hilarious Minions… and a host of new and outrageously funny characters.

Now that the ever-entrepreneurial Gru has left behind a life of super crime to raise Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Gru, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and the Minions have some free time on their hands.

But as he starts to adjust to his role as a suburban family man, an ultra-secret organization dedicated to fighting evil around the globe comes knocking. Now, it’s up to Gru and his new partner, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), to discover who is responsible for a spectacular crime and bring him to justice. After all, it takes the world’s greatest ex-villain to catch the one vying to take his place…

Despicable Me 2 Movie

Life Post-Villainy: Despicable Me 2 Begins

In Despicable Me, we were introduced to our protagonist, super-villain Gru, who was given a monumental challenge when he encountered three orphan girls who unexpectedly changed his life. The arc of the relationship between Gru and Margo, Edith and Agnes was the heartbeat of this animated adventure, and remains an essential element in what has grown into a franchise.

As the filmmakers approached the story for Despicable Me 2, they felt that the ending of the first movie—Gru realizing how much he loved the girls— was truly a beginning for the characters. The formation of this unusual family, and how they will move forward, provided a rich and identifiable point of engagement for moviegoers across the globe who saw their unique families reflected in this animated one.

After Despicable Me’s success, what became clear to the team was that the first film served as a launching pad. Illumination Entertainment CEO Chris Meledandri elaborates that it was the outpouring of support that ensured that there would be more tales of Gru and his family: “After Despicable Me’s success, it was clear that we wanted to make another film. The storytelling process of determining what was going to happen in the next film was a natural evolution. I’ve never had an experience where a conversation about a sequel was as organic as it was with Despicable Me 2. The characters and relationships that had been formed suggested many different places that we could go with the story. But we knew that the underlying core was going to be about the evolution of this family. That was absolutely clear.”

The creative team behind Despicable Me returns for Despicable Me 2 with a unified goal: to honor what worked so well in the first story, to amplify those elements through character and story, and deliver the combustible mixture of the sweet, the subversive and the unexpected that had such an impact on audiences. Meledandri acknowledges that this was no accident: “The team that made Despicable Me over a four-year period was nothing short of extraordinary. From our incredibly talented directors, Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin; to our writers, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio; to my producing partner, Janet Healy; and all of the animators, designers, storyboard artists, technical directors, sound mixers—there were hundreds of people who brought their talents together to realize this wonderful film. I am fortunate enough to have them back to make the sequel. The relationship that was forged through the first film has translated into shorthand and a collaborative spirit on the second film that’s extraordinary.”

Healy reflects that this easy rapport among her colleagues made for a much more fluid process this time around: “Because Despicable Me 2 represents a reunion of the same crew, we knew one another very well and how to complement one another’s strengths. It made it much easier to revisit these characters in this world. This allowed us to think more about what their story would be this time because we didn’t have to figure out the look of the picture or how bad Gru should be or the characters of the girls. It was all there for us to mine.”

In Despicable Me 2, we pick up with Gru, the girls and the Minions, and we see what life for them looks like post-villainy. For Gru, there are practical questions that he has to answer: Is he capable of being a good father and leaving the exciting (not to mention lucrative) world of villainy behind? How will he provide for his daughters and continue to employ Dr. Nefario and the Minions now that the spoils of wickedness are in his past? Sums Meledandri: “For Gru, it’s life after villainy, and now his primary responsibility is his family. He’s trying to figure out how to support them and has started a cottage industry in his lab. He’s retrofitted his lab to become a jam and jelly factory.”

Despicable Me 2 Movie Poster

Despicable Me 2

Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Ken Jeong, Miranda Cosgrove, Moises Arias, Russell Brand
Screenplay by: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Production Design by: Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon
Film Editing by: Gregory Perler
Music by: Heitor Pereira
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and mild action.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: July 3, 2013

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Monsters University

Monsters University

Taglines: School never looked so scary.

After visiting Monsters Inc.—Monstropolis’ most profitable and best-known scaring company—on a school field trip, a young monster named Michael “Mike” Wazowski dreams of being a scarer when he grows up. Eleven years later, Mike is a scare major at Monsters University, where he meets his new roommate, Randall “Randy” Boggs, and a large, blue, furry monster named James P. “Sulley” Sullivan.

Mike studies hard, while the privileged Sulley—who comes from a talented family of scarers—relies on his natural scaring ability and begins to falter. At the final exam, Mike and Sulley’s rivalry makes Dean Hardscrabble fail them both and drop them from the program, prompting Roar Omega Roar to remove Sulley from their team. Mike decides to prove himself by entering the Scare Games, but Oozma Kappa—the only fraternity that was removed from the program—is denied entry as they are one team member short. Seeing the competition as his ticket back into the scare program, Sulley joins and Mike reluctantly accepts.

Oozma Kappa fails the first challenge, an obstacle course where the contestants dodge harmful, glowing “urchins,” but miraculously advances when another team is disqualified for using protection gel, which violates the Scare Games’ rules. The contestants attend Roar Omega Roar’s party where the other competitors humiliate and discourage Oozma Kappa. Mike arranges a secret visit to Monsters, Inc. to lift their spirits, but Sulley still doubts that Mike can be a true scarer. After the team wins the final round, Mike discovers that Sulley cheated to improve Mike’s score. Determined to prove he is capable of becoming a scarer, Mike breaks into the school’s door lab and enters a door to the human world, but the door leads to a summer camp and he is unable to scare a cabin full of children.

Back at the university, Sulley confesses to Hardscrabble that he cheated, just as she is notified of the break-in. Realizing what happened, Sulley enters the door to look for Mike. After finding and reconciling with him, they try to return but they find they are trapped in the human world because Hardscrabble has deactivated the door while waiting for the authorities to arrive. Mike realizes that the only way to get back into the monster world is to generate enough scream energy to power the door from their side.

Monsters University Movie Poster

Monsters University

Directed by: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Aubrey Plaza
Screenplay by: Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanlon
Production Design by: Ricky Nierva
Film Editing by: Greg Snyder
Music by: Randy Newman
MPAA Rating: G for all audiences.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation
Release Date: January 14, 2013

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