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Toy Story 3: My love of Disney/Pixar and beyond!

June 30, 2010

Last week the FH and I went on one of our weekday date nights to dinner and a movie.  We usually hit the movies on a weeknight as opposed to a weekend for various reasons, the most prominent being movie going audiences. People just don’t know how to go to the movies these days. I suppose with the ever growing technology of home theater systems, people have gotten used to talking, texting, drinking, and general debauchery in a movie theater as if they were in their very own living rooms. (And don’t get me started on people who do this in the theater where the people on stage can actually see/hear you being a douchebag). Granted I do these things too…in my own home. Just this past weekend a friend and I spent the night downing an industrial size bottle of Pinot Grigio and exhaustively ridiculing quite possibly the worst movie I have ever seen as we watched it. But that crap shouldn’t happen in the theater. The last time the FH and I went to a movie on a weekend was to see Iron Man 2. The douche bag couple behind us, fresh from Hollywood Tans, popped a bottle of Hypnotiq (seriously) and proceeded to get tanked, make phone calls and fight throughout the entire movie. Finally the bleached blond girlfriend in her Juicy sweatpants had had enough of the “stupid ass guy movie” and marched out, Hypnotiq in hand, followed a few minutes later by the white tank-wearing boyfriend. Ah…good times at the cinema. So that’s why we go to the movies on weeknights. The fewer the people, the fewer possible d-bags in attendance.

But hey! This post is about Toy Story 3!!! Focus! Indeed, there were some rowdy kids, but hey, it’s technically a kid’s movie, despite the brilliance of Pixar and their ability to make cartoons for adults. It’s not like the time when someone in front of us had an infant at Transformers (ah…another ridiculous movie theater story). Thankfully the kids were thoroughly engaged and their only audible remarks were responses to the movie.

A little back-story, I’m a Disney nerd. (Gee CBC aren’t you a nerd for just about anything? Well, not vampires and/or Twilight, but that’s another post). I was an elementary school lass during the 90s Disney Renaissance; the time of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King, which for all intents and purposes ended in 1995 with the first Toy Story. (Sidenote: I do love me some Tarzan, Mulan and Hunchback, but Renaissance they were not). Those movies for me are total escapism, reminding me of a time when I didn’t have a job, bills and still had time to “figure out what to do with my life.” Even now I can always sit down with a glass of wine and pop in Aladdin and recite every word (I try to do this when the FH is not home, so as to not annoy the crap out of him). And they were GOOD movies. Well drawn, well written, gorgeous music.  So when Toy Story came along, a whole new era was born: the Age of Pixar.

The Age of Pixar has brought us many a gem, among which my favorites are Finding Nemo, Wall-E and the whole Toy Story trilogy (check out EW’s rankings here, which I don’t really jive with). Even after seeing Toy Story 3, I think my favorite of the three might still be Toy Story 2… *might be*. I’m not 100% sure yet. In any case, Toy Story 3 was a high quality conclusion to the trilogy that we’ve all grown up with. It was especially poignant for folks my age. Being kids in 1995 and now adults, we’ve followed the same path as Andy, Toy Story’s main human. The toys in Andy’s toy box could have been ours, and we feel the same remorse packing them up these days as Andy does in the film. At the start, Andy is heading off to college, faced with the challenge of cleaning out his room and deciding what to do with his old toys. After years of growing up (11 years since TS2) only a few of the gang remain. There’s the old west crew: Woody, Jessie and the freaking cute horse Bullseye (I WANT one!), plus Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Slinky (RIP Ernest), The Potato Heads, Ham, Barbie and the Little Green Aliens. Andy naturally packs Woody, his favorite toy in his college box, (don’t even try to scoff at that guys, I know plenty of dudes who brought their favorite toys/blankets/stuffys to college and beyond. FH I’m lookin’ at you). The rest of the gang is content to spend their free time in the attic, hanging with the Christmas decorations and entertaining themselves where they don’t have to hide their animation abilities so often. When there is a mix up, however, and the toys are headed for the donation box instead of the attic, Woody goes after them. Where they end up is Sunnyside Daycare, where they meet numerous other toys lead by Lotso, the big pink teddy bear who runs the operation. Lotso seems nice, yet is kind of creepy in a southern snake handling minister kind of way. Sunnyside seems heavenly to the toys, whose only desire is to be played with. Kids come in every day just to play? And whey they grow up, there’s new kids to take their place? Suffice to say, Sunnyside is not as heavenly as it seems, and Lotso emerges as our villain.

 

Warning! The following paragraphs contain spoilers! Skip to below if you haven’t seen the movie!

 

In the end and after many hilarious shenanigans, the toys manage to escape Sunnyside, though not without a truly frightening encounter with an incinerator. As I was watching I thought to myself how freaked out and crying I’d be if I were seven years old and watching that whole scene. Heck, I was kind of freaked out anyway. On a big screen and from a toys perspective, that thing seemed HUGE, like the very chasms of Hell. For a moment, the audience was afraid of, nay facing the fact that our beloved characters were about to melt into a plastic oblivion. They seemed to face it as well, and their finale hand-holding circle made me (and many grown men) shed tears. As I watched, I was thinking, “No WAY are they going to kill them. It’s just NOT going to end that way.” A lot of folks were surprised that it didn’t end in the demise of the toys. How many toys, after all, are incinerated every day? Really, I understand the point. “Children’s films” are particularly blunt when it comes to issues of life and death and inevitability, hence why kids seem to always deal with issues better than adults.

But honestly, as soon as I noticed that the Little Green Aliens weren’t in the pile, I called the claw rescue.  I knew they wouldn’t kill them. Toy Story has never killed any of its characters, even the villains, but that might simply because, they are toys and…how does one approach that? They’re toys after all. How does plastic die? And how the heck would a parent explain that to a child when all they want them to do is clean out their closet? Thankfully, the toys survive, and Andy is given a great opportunity to make another child happy. He donates his toys to a little girl named Bonnie. How freaking adorable was Bonnie? I admit, back in 1995, the computer animated humans freaked me out a bit; I thought they were trying to be too lifelike and just didn’t work. Now that CGI has become so advanced, I see now that they are a little less creepy, and stylized to fit the story. And Bonnie was freaking ADORABLE!

How awesome was it to see a little girl in this day and age OUTSIDE and playing with TOYS and using her IMAGINATION as opposed to sitting on the sofa in front of a virtual reality video game. There’s something to be said about good old fashioned toys. The characters may have felt used and old and out of touch, but I have this feeling that humans will always need them, and turn back to them, when their video games just provide too much of what our imaginations can do themselves.

 

Things that I love about the Toy Story movies in general:

–         That Woody always looks like a flailing psychopath when he runs.

–         That Ham is always the villain in the human’s imaginations.

–         That they always have such excellently subtle yet in the moment commentary.

Things that I loved about Toy Story 3

–         That Barbie was surprisingly book smart.

–         The librarian was a Glow Worm!

–         The film noir style Playskool phone.

–         Three words: Spanish Mode Buzz.

Skip to here, yee spoiler avoiding folks!

Yesterday CNN blogger Frisky reported that Ms. Magazine is none too pleased about the “misogynistic and homophobic jokes,” in Toy Story 3. Er…huh? While I can see their point regarding the quantity of female characters, or even the absence of female centric Pixar films (Note: Pixar’s next film, Newt, reportedly revolves around two female lead characters) the arguments just don’t hold up in my opinion. Take a read and come back. I pretty much agree with the most of Frisky’s retorts. We are dealing with toys belonging to a boy, Barbie is already a stereotype (and doesn’t she break that stereotype numerous times in the film?) and Ken’s penchant for fashion was funny as hell because the fashion was bad, not because he was gay or straight. Though, I do disagree with Frisky’s generalization of all Disney films. She says, “one film after another is about a helpless princess needing a man to get her out of a nasty situation, ending with the two falling in love and the woman giving up whatever life she had before. Most of these movies teach boys that all girls want is a handsome man with lots of money.” I refer back to my love of the 90s Disney Renaissance. Ariel is not a good example as she literally gives up her voice to be with a man (oh the womens studies papers I could write) but consider the following:

Jasmine: a total smartass who refused to marry for money

Belle: saved the Beasts life TWICE

Pocahontas: brokered peace during a race war

Mulan: dressed as a man to infiltrate the army and saved an entire country

So…yeah.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 12:00 pm

    Oh man, Spanish Mode Buzz!

    I loved all three of these movies, and the high-quality conclusion of the trilogy has put the Toy Story movies on the top of my Favorite Pixar Films list. Second is Wall-E. Also, how fantastic was the short film before the movie started! So great.

    And I think you’re right — I did not catch any misogynistic or homophobic undertones in Toy Story 3, and I am on the lookout for that stuff!

    Disney does have a problem, though. Consider the film they’re about to release — it’s the Rapunzel story, but they didn’t want to alienate their young, male audience, so instead of making it “princess-centric”, they have made the “prince” the protagonist and renamed it “Tangled”. This is absurd on multiple levels, not the least of which being the fact that female viewers make up MORE THAN HALF of a movie-going audience, and yet are ridiculously underrepresented in the films they go to see.

    (As far as your list of Disney heroines goes, I agree with all of them except Jasmine — she’s not the protagonist of the story, so regardless of what she does, it’s not her we’re rooting for or following.)

    Anyway. Woo Toy Story 3!

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