Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You... are a CHILD'S PLAYTHING!!!

"Suddenly, my imagination has come alive - like toys, when my back is turned!"

- Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock

It has stunned me that my animation blog has run for this long, gained this many readers and secured this many opinions without anyone calling me out for being a Pixar fanboygirl. I've been waiting for it to happen just so I can justify myself.

Dear Dreamworks, Blue Sky, Sony Pictures Animation, Disney (yes, Disney!!) and all other competing CG Animation studios:

You're doing it wrong.

I originally approached Toy Story 3 with slight trepidation; how could Pixar possibly pull off a "part three"? The sequel of a sequel tends to be either when a movie series falls off the rails, runs dry of ideas or simply stops trying. I am glad to say that with Pixar's latest effort, this is not the case. Toy Story 3 may be one of the best animations Pixar have ever produced, sliding into position next to The Incredibles and Wall-E.

Now to explain my position, I am not completely crazy about everything Pixar makes. In particular, I tend to cock an eyebrow in the direction of John Lasseter. I love the man for his insistence that 2D animation is, and should be, far from dead (admirable words coming from the man who started this whole '3D Animation' craze in the first place), and I love him for wanting to bring some goddamn magic back into the cold-hearted business of the Disney board of executives after all these stolid years.
But the guy just can't come up with cool ideas.

What he can do is take any asinine concept for a story and write it into something totally engaging. Even if he leaves the titles of such films off-puttingly basic: Cars, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc and Toy Story don't really grab your attention in the way something more abstract like Ratatouille might, but the films are solid and they are watertight, completely devoid of the eye-rolling problems I am infected with every time I set eyes on an animated film by a rival company. Why is this?

Because John Lasseter gives a fuck about the story!!!

Enough, at least, to stop for a second and say "this isn't working. The script feels wrong." This is about eight steps further than Shark Tale ever took. Pixar take their time with movies and often spend months rewriting the scripts for their films until they are happy with it. There are legends surrounding story teams (a term I doubt even exists in a studio like Dreamworks Animation) spending weeks locked in the writing room trying to iron out a difficult problem that is slowing the film down or causing the film to suffer, and they do not move on until they have fixed it.

What this all comes down to is that basically, even Pixar's weak films are good. I actually enjoyed Cars. Despite it starring Owen Wilson!! A Bug's Life is a lark, even though it is kind of pointless by Pixar standards. Monsters Inc. seems a little light, but is very touching and I like it the way it is.

Toy Story 2 was one of those movies for me. It was a movie that I thought was really good, I don't know about fantastic or fucking brilliant, but a heartily pleasant romp and proof that Pixar can handle sequels.

Obviously Toy Story 3 was going to be the same thing again, right? Perhaps with just a smidgeon less impetus, but still more fun to watch - if only for nostalgic reasons - than Cars. Right?

I am not particularly embarrassed to say that Toy Story 3 had me fighting tears at several points. I laughed hysterically at the jokes; I shrank forward on my seat wondering what could possibly happen next; I felt my eyes well up at the many expertly handled moments of pathos; I felt my skin crawl at that GOD DAMN CREEPY MONKEY.

The trailer showed such a paltry amount of what this movie has to offer. It was a shadow of the full experience. Why is this? Because if they included anything more, there would be spoilers. Allow me to put my scriptwriter's hat on for a moment...

Script is perfect. Do not touch.

Toy Story 3 is a touchstone in storytelling. It is the best "part three" of a film series I have ever seen. It is not so much a sequel as a reinvention of Toy Story. Buzz and Woody's closing chapter has as much of an impact today as the first installment had on the film industry, and the world, back in the seemingly ancient year of 1995.

The hilarious part is that before the film rolled onto the screen, I had to endure a series of insufferable trailers for 3D movies that at the best of times, made me giggle once for every two winces of unbearable discomfort, and at the worst of times, had me locked in a perpetual cringe. At a later date I will be interested to directly compare the strangely familiar premises of Megamind and Despicable Me once they are released on our shores, but I honestly don't think I have the energy or patience to withstand Disney's Tangled. As for that movie about the owls, well, the Australian accents are just fucking offputting. After such struggles of endurance (and only at a minute or two each!!), Toy Story 3 stampeded into my senses like a billion, trillion, zillion first orgasms in my brain.

I want to see this again. And I am going to.

That is all.

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