Friday, July 9, 2010

They Done Bo Peep Wrong —
I saw Toy Story 3 tonight, and the more time goes by, the more I have to say about it. (There are spoilers left and right here!)

ONE: As I've said before, and I'm sure I'll have to say it again, the modern 3-D effects are impressive, even subtle and beautiful at times, but they contribute absolutely nothing to the movie. They just don't. I had to pay extra for the 3-D. It's not worth it.

TWO: Disney is now doing to their theatrical movies what they've been doing to their home videos for years. Over the last decade or so, we've all become accustomed to bombardment by commercials before the movie. Not just movie trailers, COMMERCIALS. For cars, soft drinks, TV shows, even the military... and often the very SAME commercials we've already seen on TV. But the one thing that's never changed is that after we see the "And Now Our Feature Presentation" bumper, the movie we paid to see actually starts. Well, tonight I saw something different. After the bumper, there were MORE commercials for other Disney movies. And they were in 3-D. They were not separate reels like the other previews, they were part of the feature. Just like every Disney VHS tape and every Disney DVD, where you can't skip or fast-forward through the commercials, the theater can no longer choose to go without previews. They are attached to reel 1. That's Disney.

THREE: The short cartoon called Day and Night was very interesting and innovative. This was one instance where the 3-D effect was used creatively and integrated into the very concept of the film. The characters were drawn in a throwback style reminiscent of the flat minimalism of early television or UPA animation. Their body outlines acted as 2-D portals through which we could see living 3-D worlds. It was very effective and impressive. Leave it to Pixar to create something new. The action of the film was sometimes risque and violent in surprising ways, again like animation of an earlier era. Very much worth seeing.

FOUR: And here's the meat of the review. Bo Peep was gone. Just gone. In the first movie, she was the love interest, and Barbie wasn't there. In movie two, Bo was there, but a lesser player, and Barbie had a cameo. Today, Bo is gone and Barbie is the heroine of a major sub-plot. Her own separate movie, really!

Throughout the film, the toys stressed over and over how they could not be separated because they were "family," they needed to be there for each other. The ONLY reference to Bo, however, was a single line. "Some of us didn't make it... like Bo." An afterthought.

Here's what I remember reading about the last movie. Pixar had approached Mattel about making Barbie the love interest for the first movie, but they declined, not understanding the brilliance of Pixar and the huge hit they were about to create. Pixar invented Bo Peep as a Barbie analog. For the sequel, Mattel had to eat crow and ask nicely for whatever they could get. Pixar gave them a cameo, but made it clear that Barbie was NOT a major player.

And today... I don't know what happened. All the toys acted like Barbie was one of them and always had been. While I was watching the film, I didn't think about it, I just enjoyed it. But afterward, it started to sink in. Something changed. Bo was pointedly written out. Barbie was redacted in.

Oh, she was FUNNY! Her scenes were some of the biggest laughs of the movie, especially her scenes with Ken. (Cue Gary Wright's Dream Weaver.) Yes, Ken was there, and it was hilarious. "You ascot-wearing pink-noser!" says Rickles Potato Head. "You're not a toy, you're an accessory!" Brilliant! Merciless!

But there's a bad taste in mouth now. They done Bo WRONG!

FIVE: Where were the songs? I remember the other movies having good songs.

SIX: Was it me? Or was there something... how can I say it... oddly sexual about Jessie this time? I like Jessie, I think everybody does. But she's NOT sexual. When she was introduced in the last movie, it was with a sigh of relief (a least on my part) that we saw a non-romantic character, just another toy with owner-abandonment issues, another symbol of Pixar's unswerving dedication to doing-what-the-story-needs-above-all-else. She's Woody's partner toy, not relationship material. They went out of their way to design Jessie with no shape at all, just a flat cloth bag. She's NOT Barbie, and deliberately so.

But when Buzz turned on his Spanish language circuits, and became a sort of aggressive, romantic bullfighter who couldn't resist pawing at Jessie... she RESPONDED! It was weird. And funny. I don't know if I liked it.

SEVEN: What county landfill has an incinerator that's built like Dante's Inferno? The world of Toy Story, aside from the living toys, is starkly realistic. The whole dump scene was too much.

EIGHT: Chuckles!

NINE: Bonnie, the toys' new owner, is something special! This is what Pixar does best. They can make you cry at will. And they DO.

Even with all this philosophizing, I recommend TS3. Go see it! Support good movies!


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