Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Review: Toy Story 3

As a film critic/analyst, I understand I have to be open to all types of cinema, I am. But last night, I was in no mood for Toy Story 3. Due to my friends' request we ended up going to see the 3D adventure, in actual 3D, and guess what? I friggin' laughed more than a few times, and then, I must admit, I even grew a little sad once or twice.

Tom, Joan, Tim and the rest were quickly welcomed back into my mind for the 103 very wisely spent minutes. Here is my acclaim for the 15 year old franchise installing it's last figurehead on the mantel that is Pixar's flagship.

We open said film with an elaborate sequence involving Woody, Buzz and Jesse (Hanks, Allen and Cusack) in the desert fighting the evil Mr. and Mrs. Potato head, Hamm, and Slink in an western style chase and showdown. We see the monkeys, the pink convertible, the aliens, and the army men. I was again happily thrust back into Andy's room for play time. But alas, this play time was merely caught on tape, and is a long ago memory now for celluloid only. Andy is now 17 and preparing to leave for college. Cut to operation playtime, where the toys attempt to garner Andy's attention long enough just to simply be played with. They are not. They are now a decision Andy has to make, who goes to college, who get's donated, who get the trash can.

The drive for the story is the love lost and found again for Andy's long ago play time friends, and excepting new lifestyles with open arms, but never forgetting the old ones.

As Buzz tells Woody,
"Our mission with Andy is complete."
Yes, it most certainly is. I'm not 17 anymore (thank god!) but I do still have many, many, of my toys from childhood in my parents garage and attic. I get reminding of the times I had with them when my niece and nephew come to visit and pull out all the old memories. Toys are friends to us, and they guide us through hard times, create new and cherished memories and become shoulders to lean on. At least, they did for me when I wasn't hangin' with buddies.

Now cast aside to a daycare center by mistake, everyone finds themselves at ease with a seemingly heaven-esque place of virtue and love for all. Woody, as it turns out, was chosen to live the college life with Andy and decides to make the trip back to Andy's, begrudgingly leaving behind the toys he's known for years. Of course, he doesn't simply make it home now does he?

Would this really be a Toy Story film if any toy simply walked A to B with no problems? No, it would not. And that's the magic of these films to me. They keep us locked on screen due to the comic nature of toys, the witty humor they shouldn't really have sometimes, and the intricate and perplexing sequences of their stealth nature, how their plans come together and they never seem to be caught not exactly acting like a toy. At least for me, that's one of the biggest pay-off of these things. This film is chalk-full of things like that. Watching the work as a team to try and solve their problems. Another message these hold, team work, friendship, they never get anywhere unless they ALL work together. Together... but with whom now if not with Andy?

Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear who smells like Strawberries provides this new "together-dom". He is the dude in charge of Sunnyside daycare with his lieutenant, Ken (Keaton) run what seems to be at first the lovely place of home for the toys from Andy's room. They find out however it is not. Replacement is another issue these films seem to deal with, and Lots-O was indeed replaced and took it rather badly. Ending up at Sunnyside, he takes over and turns it not into a playtime extravaganza, but an internment camp, a prison, and he is the warden. (He even borrows a tactic from his earlier film The Captain) These toys quickly realize that it's no fun, and decide they have to leave. Beatty, an actor of great magnitude plays his Lots-O as an uncle from the south you don't want to cross. He is told about his tryany by Barbi of all things,
"Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force!"
Nice work with the allegories I saw with the war, or with government in general, with lazy political figure heads wishing others to take the rough-stuff for them. Or maybe that was a complete accident? I dunno. It's there either way.

Anyway, I feel I'm babbling. I tend to do that. This hit high notes, low notes, but not exactly the in between notes. This didn't really grab me though, the way the original did. I remember the feelings I got, sitting in the theater with my horrible friend, his bother, their mom and my mom. Then we all begged to go to Burger King, eat food, and we all raided their toys and got the stuffed dolls they had of Woody and Buzz. I wasn't screaming to my buddies after the movie to go to Burger King, ya know? But always rich for laughs and giggles, and at times, for for some genuine emotion, this is a rare three-quel that measures up. And how many of those are around? Yeah, keep looking... (B3 will be. . . Lol, bat-fan to the bone, just sayin')

Munki out.

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