Monday, July 5

Toy Story Trilogy Review

Toy Story
In 1995, the first computer-animated movie was released. I can see this movie over and over again, it is the most original movie to be related to Disney. Pixar, by no question, are better storytellers than the current Disney brood. We all know the story behind the scenes, of Black Friday where they had a badass Woody and the movie almost got canceled (partly because Katenzberg asked for 'more edge') and how it began with the short film "Tin Toy" and it was going to be a TV movie but then get upgraded to movie by Disney. Woody originally was a ventriloquist dummy and Buzz was to be red and more theatrical. In the final project, Woody indeed had some edge. The Plot: Woody is Andy's favorite toy and Buzz Lightyear becomes the new favorite toy. Andy is jealous of Buzz, who isn't aware he is a toy and thinks he is an actual hero. Andy gets Buzz knocked out the window, Andy has no choice to take Woody out with him and Buzz follows them. They end up getting lost and kidnapped by Sid, who threatens to blow them up.

At the point where Buzz is accidentally dropped out of the window, the movie felt a bit alienating but the movie did get pretty good with the emotional stuff where the toys end up in Sid's House. One of my favorite writers Joss Whedon helped with the structure of the movie, the only thing he can remember writing was "Wind the Frog." So they added the frog toy. One idea Joss had was to have Barbie, but Mattel didn't allow it. I liked their reason, that little girls have a vision for how Barbie should be and didn't want to give one solid vision. Joss wanted Barbie to be tough and hero and be like Sarah Connor. The humans do get kind of creepy looking and seeing it 15 years later, the movie does look old, the computer graphics are great but they do look outdated. But I still like the design and style. I saw the movie in the theaters, had the tape and recently got the DVD.

Toy Story 2
Released in 1999, I was already 17 and didn't see the movie in theaters. I did rent the movie and having no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought having Jesse was a bit too tacked on, like adding a female character that looks like the male protagonist but it was a clever story. Woody was from his own franchise, like the Buzz franchise, three toys from the franchise had different stories. Jesse had abandonment issues, Stinky Pete was a jerk--haven't be rejected and never been bought and the horse Bullseye, who is like a dog--loyal and caring. We also got the villain Al (Wayne Knight). Another stroke of genius was to have Kelsey Grammer as the voice of Stinky Pete. Andy had grown up a bit and Woody was convinced to be a collectible because he knew Andy would soon abandon him like Jesse was. I liked how Jesse had some edge, she wasn't easily pushed over. Buzz leads a group of our favorite characters: Potato Head, Hamm and Rex and have a heck of an adventure to get Woody.

I did like how they got to all be outside and far from their house for once, the movie was a bit like the first one where Woody saved Buzz and now Buzz saved Woody, but I think it was different conceptually and structurally. It does make me wonder if the creators had in purpose that the villains of the first two movies: Sid and Al, both male, abuse or do things to toys in different ways. Sid was creative with his toys, he abused some (blowing up a Commander Carl) and mutated some (the Spider Baby). Al was a collector, he left his toys on shelves to collect dust. The only character flaws they had was Sid didn't respect his toys and Al was just greedy (money). The other villain Stinky Pete was conniving, smart and vengeful. One flaw in the movie is how Buzz quickly scoffed at Woody wanting to be a collectible so quickly, it would have helpef to have more context or lines about it.

Toy Story 3
11 years after the sequel and 15 years after the first one, we all know the story how Disney threatened to make their own 3rd movie without Pixar. Pixar blew them out of the water with their concept. A fully realized concept that fits right in with the other two movies with plenty of references to the movies. The beginning dream sequence is a more bloated and elaborate opening where Andy played with his toys in the first movie, with the additions of Buzz, Jesse, Bullseye, Mrs. Potato Head, and three Aliens. Andy has grown up and is plenty cute, he is off to college and hasn't played with his toys for years. He has only kept 11 toys: Woody, Buzz, Jesse, Bullseye, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Rex, Hamm, and the three aliens (for some reason). I am sure lots of people have seen the movie, and you haven't, you should see because it's great, so I'm going spoil anyway.

Andy is told to put garbage in black garbage bags and stuff to go to college in college box. He puts Woody in his college box and the others in a garbage bag, planning to put it in the attic. He goes to help his little sister and leaves the bag. The attic ladder is closed by accident. The toys are insulted and disappointed they are in the garbage and have no idea he meant to put them in the attic. Mom finds the bag and puts it on the curb. Sid makes a cameo as a garbageman. The toys escape the garbage and go in a box that will go to Sunnyside daycare, Woody tries to deter them but ends up going with them. The daycare seems like paradise, Woody escapes but ends up being taken by a cute little creative girl by the name of Bonnie. The toys soon find out that the daycare is no heaven, they are trashed and abused by pre-school babies and it was all engineered by the Care Bear-like Lotso, who was originally supposed to be in the Tin Toy TV Movie. Lotso has an interesting backstory and is much like Stinky Pete as they are evil toys. Ken doll is a interesting character, as he initially is Lotso's soldier but slowly becomes one of the good guys.

Barbie, even though being Andy's sister Molly's old toy, does stick with the other toys and come through for them. Ken's initial outfit is based on Safari Ken, the producers had found him in Keeping Ken but have not credited the webmaster for it. The webmaster was hoping for tickets to the premiere but who knows if it happened. The movie gets pretty dark and I like it, it is deliciously dark. There is a creepy symbol monkey, which I covered before that I was scared of. The eyes are the freakiest part. Anyway, my 23-year-old nephew told me the movie would make me cry as he did. I started crying at the part where after the toys escape the daycare, end up in a garbage dump and are about to be incinerated in big fire. They all have been through so much and I see these toys, that we have grown to love for 15 years, as a set, inseparable. Lots of people identify with Andy and toys because when the first movie came out, those kids that saw it, are now college age, much like the real life voice actor, John Morris, was 8 when the first movie was recorded and is now 25, he has provided the voice for all 3 movies. The ending is very touching as Andy says goodbye to his toys and there is a happy ending, albeit bittersweet.