Saturday, June 19, 2010
Toy Story 3
Me: So we were able to slip away to catch an early afternoon show of Toy Story 3 yesterday. I thought that since it was opening day, it would be smart to catch a 3:50 pm show. We'd be able to sneak in before most other people got off of work and brought their families to see a later showing. The theater was a bit less crowded, but what I forgot was that this plan doesn't necessarily work well during the summer. Since there is no school now, we didn't exactly have an exclusive showing. Instead of having a theater full of kids and their parents, we got a theater half full of kids without their parents around to contain them somewhat. Still, before I sound like a cranky old man, it wasn't really that bad. I'm just pointing it out in case anyone else was considering this plan.
We also saw the movie in 3-D, but it was completely unnecessary. The 3-D effects did not enhance anything in the move at all. Sure, it looked fine, but my choices were to either spend the extra money (and pad the movie profit figures appropriately) or wait 2 hours until the 2-D showing. We sucked it up and watched a movie that had no business being in 3-D.
Anyway, Toy Story 3 picks up with Andy grown up and about to go off to college. His toys have been slimmed down over the years and those that do remain are left unplayed with in his toy chest. This cut down on the cast and characters a bit, which is fine since it was getting a little large with supporting roles. But these were the toys that Andy was most attached to and held onto the longest. Somehow the generic Potato Heads and a piggy bank made it through the cuts, but most surprisingly the slinky dog toy has apparently survived ten or more years of not getting irrevocably twisted and bent. I never played nearly as much with my Slinkys as Andy played with his slinky-dog toy and mine never lasted more than a month before they were just a twisted tangle of metal once shaped as coils.
But anyway, they survive and as Andy is ready to move onto college, he has to decide what to do with his toys. Take them with him to college and never get laid? Put them in the attic where they will sit until his mother passes away and he eventually has to clean out the house? Or should he toss them in the trash as a symbolic rite of passage into adulthood before moving onto college?
I don't think the movie was quite as blunt with these options, but it was still what Andy had to decide.
Ultimately, the toys end up being mistakenly donated to a local daycare. The daycare is run by a manipulative teddy bear who wants new toys to be put in the toddler room where the toddlers mistreat and break toys. He fears that if the toddlers did not have a fresh supply of toys, then they will start to take toys from their preschooler room and they will risk being ripped apart, painted and eaten.
Now, here's where I have a little problem with the movie. My daughter goes to preschool and so I have a little insight on how they are run (at least how her preschool is run). Our preschool does not let anyone play with toys that are weapons or any toys whose primary role is to fight. Kids cannot even bring in fighting toys for show and tell (Molly, for example, cannot bring in her Powerpuff Girls plush dolls and kids cannot bring in GI Joe action figures or a Spiderman toy). It may just be our little hippie preschool, but there is no way that they would be letting in a Buzz Lightyear toy. Secondly, they let the Potato Head toys into the toddler room. You know, the toys with all of the removable parts that are choking hazards? And lastly, kids are hammering with the toys, painting with the toys and doing all kinds of inappropriate things with them. But the thing is, these are toddlers. The toddler room is grossly unsupervised for having toddlers in it.
So, basically, if your kid goes to Sunnyside Daycare, you might as well be leaving them at home alone with some oily rags and a packet of matches to play with and have the same sense of security and well-being for your kid, but at least save a few bucks in the process.
As the toys try to escape, they first have to contend with one of those friggin' creepy-ass Monkey Shines toy monkeys with the bulging eyes and cymbals. That monkey is a little intense and creepy for a kid's movie. But the our toy protagonists get past him and are about to escape when the are ultimately caught by the bitter, evil and manipulative Lotso Love Bear and end up in the trash (with Lotso as well). The toys end up at a very efficient city dump as they immediately find themselves on a large conveyor belt dragging them towards a garbage shredder that they narrowly escape (in another scene that is rather intense for kids) and then find themselves moving into the incinerator. At this point, the toys give up and hold hands, ready to accept their fate and get burned because it really seems hopeless.
Yeah, of course they are saved, but the scenes are intense enough and the toys are so desperately resigned to their fate that I wouldn't have been too terribly surprised if they did all get burned up and the movie ended.
Anyhow, by the end the toys end up back with Andy who then decides to give his toys to a little girl who knows how to play with her toys right and treats them right. Woody, who Andy had decided to take to college with him (thus being the only Woody of Andy's that would get played with at college once the girls there saw that he still kept toys), makes the decision to leave Andy and join his fellow toys at the house of the new kid. Andy reluctantly lets Woody go and teaches the girl how to play with his toys and thus gets to play with them one last time before he leaves them in her hands and goes on to college.
The end. Well, except for some dumb, silly stuff that happens during the credits. After a few weeks they'll replace the dumb, silly stuff with dumb, silly outtakes to try to get people to go back out to the theaters to see it again.
So, what did I think about the movie? Well, as I mentioned earlier, it was too intense for young kids. Really, Molly was less frightened at "How to Train Your Dragon" than at this movie. And that one had dragons trying to kill people in it.
My main problem with the story, however, is that it really too much of it seems like a rehash of Toy Story 2. In that one, Woody was ready to give up on Andy and live an appreciated life in new hands, coaxed and later forced by the manipulatively evil Stinky Pete, but not before a Buzz Lightyear mistakenly thought he was a real space ranger to rehash some jokes from the first movie. In this one, however, it is everyone BUT Woody who is ready to give up on Andy and live an appreciated life in new hands, coaxed and later forced by the manipulatively evil Lotsa Love Bear, but not before Buzz Lightyear mistakenly thought he was a real space ranger to rehash some jokes from the first two movies.
But beyond that, I suppose my biggest problem is the ending. I mean, I did not like it one bit. I just don't get it. Andy gave his toys away to a new girl and Woody, whom Andy was originally going to take with him, decided to manipulate the situation so that he would stay with the toys instead of Andy. So, does that mean that the point of the movie is that Woody chose his friends (Buzz, Jessie, et al) over his family (Andy)? Really? Was that the message? I mean, Andy wanted to keep Woody, but Woody intervened and manipulated Andy to give him to the new kid. I just don't get it.
Part of the problem might be that I already had envisioned what I thought the ending would be when they were mentioning the attic early in the movie. Here's the much better ending as I envisioned it:
The toys make it back to Andy and he packs them up and puts them up in the attic, except Woody. He takes Woody with him to college and he spends his time sitting up next to his computer monitor.
Cut to the toys up in the attic: With a resigned sigh, Buzz opens the box they are in and helps the toys out of the box into their new home. The attic is dark and a little lonely, but with heavy hearts, the toys are resigned to make the best of it. Some heavy-handed Randy Newman music plays something that is supposed to be emotionally stirring, but you cannot get past the singer's prejudices against midgets to get the full effect. There is a small montage while the music plays of the toys in the attic passing the time. They play cards and perhaps read a couple old books up in the attic while Randy Newman weepily croons about having a friend in him or something.
The darkness of the attic is brightened a bit and the surprised toys quickly dart back to their box. Someone in the shadowed darkness takes the box and drags it down out of the attic.
Point of view shot from inside the box: It is dark and the toys all lay still as they look up at the box lid. It opens, casting a bright light onto them. Randy Newman's Elmer Fudd voice fades from singing and you just have the instrumentals as a figure in the light comes into view. It is Andy... But he has a beard now and wisps of grey at his temples. He smiles at the toys and picks up one of them and smiles, turning to a kid who looks like a young Andy and he hands him to the boy, saying something like, "This is Buzz Lightyear. This used to be one of my favorite toys when I was a kid." The kid, obvious now that it is Andy's son, excitedly takes Buzz Lightyear and starts to play with him. The other toys are pulled out and similarly given to Andy's son. Andy's son is excited and plays with them for a bit until he says, "Buzz Lightyear, I want you to meet a friend of mine..." He pulls out a very well-worn Woody and holds him up to Buzz and says, "Buzz Lightyear, this is Woody. He's my best friend and the best sheriff ever!" Grown-up Andy then starts to play with the toys with his son and the gang is reunited once more and Andy now can play with his toys again, but this time as a father playing with his son. And at some point during this, Andy's son takes Buzz Lightyear and looks at his feet where his dad has written "ANDY" on it years ago. He takes a pen and carefully adds "Jr." after it. The Randy Newman music cues louder and you hear him reassuring us that we've got a friend in you or something like that as we fade out to a montage scene of grown-up Andy playing with his toys and Andy Jr.
Then we pull back slowly on the scene while Randy Newman sings and we see that they're on a moon colony, you know, to denote that this is the future and shit. And then some giant meteorite spins past and comes out towards the screen and a defensive grid laser drone comes out and blows it up, sending chunks of it flying out over the audience in fiery bits just to give one friggin' 3-D effect that was worth paying the extra money for. Fade to black and more Elmer Fudd singing.
You see, in my version, we find that we should remain loyal to our family and friends. It's a happier ending and everyone gets to be played with by Andy again as he is a good father and plays with his son and toys. But we didn't get that. We instead got a pseudo-friends over family choice instead that is just kind of unsettling. And my version also uses the friggin' 3-D effects for something other than just padding your movie profit numbers.
Molly: (As always, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at a computer and I'm typing up what we are saying as we speak, then going back afterward to format it. Her review will be in a Q&A form, due to her age. She's sitting next to me at my computer as we do this.)
Chuckie: What did you think about the movie, Toy Story 3?
Molly: Um I like the part about... um... about the cowgirl.
Chuckie: You mean Jessie?
Chuckie: What did you like about her?
Molly: Um, I want to talk about Buzz Lightningyear.
Chuckie: Okay, Pixie.
Molly: I like that him trapped the girl and the dogs and the other ones.
Chuckie: So, did you like the movie?
Molly: Year, I liked that Buzz Lightningyear was out and the doggie whistled and Jessie was so mad and the cowboy had to go.
Chuckie: So what happened in the movie?
Molly: Um, Woody saved the bad guy.
Chuckie: What did the bad guy do?
Molly: Then he didn't push the button because him didn't want to and him a bad guy and that's what bad guys do.
Chuckie: What did you think about the 3-D effects with the glasses?
Molly: Why are we talking about that, Daddy? We should be talking about the movie, not the glasses. I'm not reviewing the glasses, you silly goof.
Chuckie: But didn't the glasses make the movie seem like it was coming out of the screen?
Molly: Well, not to me.
Chuckie: Why not?
Molly: Because it didn't do that in the movie. It stayed in the screen in the movie and only came out in the commercials. (This is primarily because Molly wore her glasses during the 3-D movie previews (and was, at the time, wowed by them as she first exclaimed, "Wow! Is this stuff real?" when she saw the first thing popping out of the screen in a good effect. But she took her glasses off part way through the actual movie.)
Chuckie: Do you think that's because you took your glasses off after the commercials?
Molly: No, it's because my glasses were too foggy and you unfogged them and but then I was looking at the movie it couldn't come out. (She is right that there was minimal real use of the 3-D effects other than just depth that made it look like you were watching it through a ViewMaster.)
Chuckie: You seemed scared at parts of the movie. Was it too scary for you?
Molly: Um, I just wanted you to cover my eyes when I thought that they were going to get breaked and caught on fire. But when they didn't, you didn't have to cover my eyes, so I wasn't scared.
Chuckie: Well, you seemed a little scared to me.
Molly: (Adamantly.) Nuh-uh. I wasn't, I wasn't scared, Daddy. It's not like there were ghosts in the movie feater or anything. THAT would be scary, Daddy.
Chuckie: Fair enough. But you did seem scared at the monkey in the movie.
Molly: (Gets serious.) Yeah. Him was too loud and his eyes came out of his head. I didn't like the monkey.
Chuckie: So, what was your favorite part of the movie?
Molly: Um, the dog was sad and Jessie was sad too.
Chuckie: Why were they sad?
Molly: They were sad because the cowboy couldn't come back. Daddy, I want to talk about Buzz again. The bad guy trained him to dance with Jessie the cowgirl. (She starts singing "Jessie the Cowgirl" again and again.)
Chuckie: Okay, Sweetie. Enough singing for now.
Molly: Okay. She didn't mind the dancing though. She liked Buzz Lightningyear and wanted him to be her boyfriend.
Chuckie: You really are obsessed with boyfriends, aren't you? It's going to be really tough once you're like thirteen or fourteen, isn't it?
Chuckie: So, how would you rate this movie?
Molly: I want to do the stars, moons and suns now. I want to give it sixty hundred stars.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of sixty-sixty.
Chuckie: How about instead of stars, moons and suns, you just tell me if it's a good movie, okay, Pixie?
Molly: Yeah. It is.
Chuckie: What made it a good movie?
Molly: Um, because I liked it. Now can I do the suns and moons?
Molly: Um, I'll give it fifty moons.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of fifty. And suns, Daddy?
Chuckie: Sure. How many suns?
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Chuckie: Sweetie, you know you can't divide by zero, right?
Molly: Huh? Why not?
Chuckie: Um, you don't get a real number. It's meaningless and undefined.
Molly: (Puts on a pout and folds her arms across her chest.) I NEVER get to do zero.
Chuckie: Fine, you can keep the zero, but it's just not a meaningful mathematic real number, okay?
Molly: (Brightens.)Thanks, Daddy.
Chuckie: You're welcome.
Chuckie: Do you think people will like this movie, Pixie?
Molly: Yeah. Edison, Mason and Grandmom and Pop Pop and Grammy and Pappy and Mike.
Chuckie: Well, I mean what kind of demographic; what kind of people would like it?
Molly: Um, my daddy and my mommy.
Chuckie: Is there anything else that you want to tell people about Toy Story 3?
Molly: Um, I think everyone would like it if everyone would watch it.
Chuckie: Did it make you want to treat your toys better?
Molly: Why? You mean not put paint on them?
Chuckie: Yeah, and just be nicer to them.
Molly: Yeah, I'll be nice to them so they can stay nice and healthy.
So, that's our review. I thought it was too much a rehash of jokes from the first couple of movies and too much of a rehash of plot ideas from the second movie. The 3-D effects are well done, but pointless in the movie. I would suggest just seeing the 2-D version of the movie unless you are really into 3-D for the sake of 3-D or giving the box office and extra $2-$3 per ticket. Ultimately the movie is passable, but surprisingly intense for a young kid. Molly's seen some intense movies, but I think watching living toys almost being incinerated is a little disjointed in theme. I would also suggest that if you wanted to see a better movie with a more appropriate message, that you just close your eyes once the toys make it back home to Andy and imagine my ending* instead. It's much, much better.
I give the movie two out of five stars. It is entertaining enough in some respects, but intentionally, deliberately and obviously tries too hard at points to pull on heartstrings to get the audience misty-eyed. But the movie is hampered by the message of the ending as well as the intensity of some of the scenes and the weak use of 3-D.
Molly gives it sixty-hundred stars out of sixty-sixty, fifty out of fifty moons and twenty-twelve out of zero suns, even though that's not a real mathematically defined number. She also thinks that Jessie is the best part of the movie and has decided to be nicer to her toys so they can stay nice and healthy.
*Meaning the ending that I suggested with the toys in the attic. Not the ending I also suggested with the toys getting incinerated in the city landfill.