Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Toy Story 3D Double Feature, Picture Show

I was lucky enough to get out to the Toy Story 3D double feature on the last night of it's two week run. Obviously I enjoyed the movies, and the 3D was suburb. To someone like me who very quickly gets headaches from red/blue 3D, the current technology is like a gift from heaven. The fact that I had re-watched both movies, with commentary, only a few days before took nothing away, but it re-enforced the fact that so much repeated viewing can have a dulling effect on their emotional impact. For me, one of the hallmarks of the Pixar cannon is its ability to force an otherwise emotionally stable adult man, me in this case, into a state somewhere between a bit misty and a moist pile of blubbering flesh. UP set a new speed record for the latter. Even on first viewing, the first Toy Story was a dry-eyed experience for me, but I'm powerless in the face of Jessie's back story in TS2. It hasn't made me want to seek out any more of Sarah McGlacklan's work, but it's one of the reasons that I am a hard-core PIXAR fan and have seen all of their features in the theater. Except for CARS, I saw the writing on the wall there. I still own it on DVD.
If I had one major complaint about the Toy Story 3D experience, it would be the unfulfilled promise of a "sneak peek" at Toy Story 3. Technically this was paid off with the trailer at the beginning of the program, but I was expecting a bit more for my fourteen dollars than the same teaser trailer of the title graphic that has been circulating for months now.
In between the pictures, we were provided with a ten minute intermission. I was glad to see that the "Bathroom Break" as they called it consisted of some original material in the form of "Toy Story Trivia" and brief bits starring the cast. The reused material consisted of the "Toy Story Treats" bumpers made for the ABC late 90's Saturday morning line up. I have these on the "Ultimate Toy Box" set from a few years ago, but I know must people don't and they're still fun. The only trivia question that I couldn't answer asked the name of the airline that Big Al booked his flight to Japan on. I could recall their logo- a blue koi jumping up and framing the red Rising Sun of Japan, but that was it.
It's Far Ease airlines.
When seeing a movie in the theater with a bunch of people that one wouldn't normally be caught dead with, it is an opportunity to see things through an fresh perspective. I had always seen the characters of Buzz and Woody as a classic buddy movie and as a story of an unwelcome and slightly mad outsider intruding upon and upsetting the status quo, eventually coming to grips with his situation and finally becoming a productive member of society and thereby transforming it for the better. Thanks to an excitable young man, (thankfully) towards the rear of the theater, I realized that his generation saw him a little differently.
"BUZZ LIGHTYEAR! YAY! BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! ROCKETS EXPLODE!!! TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!!! BUZZ!!! YAAAAAAY!!!"
It dawned on me then that small children love Buzz Lightyear in a totally un-ironic way. This kid probably did want Andy to throw out that that raggedy old cowboy doll and just play with Buzz because he is soooo awesome. "What's a cow-boy Mommy?" I could imagine him asking in all honesty. This is the sort of aggravation people like me face when they insist on seeing children's movies in the theater. We start to get the idea that we're the core audience and that the bothersome, unwashed children have just wandered in, and would be just as happy to sit and watch hot dogs rotating at the concession stand. Some might, but the fact is, kids do love PIXAR's films. Maybe not the screaming babies that pig-ignorant parents insist on dragging into the theater, but the slightly bigger ones who actually can keep still for eighty minutes. This is revealing of one of the less obvious brilliances of the Pixar Films. As these kids grow up, some of them will go back to these films and see them in a whole new way. That's what quality children's entertainment does. It plays to the kids and the adults simultaneously and speaks to them both with equal poignancy, and if a person is lucky enough to see something like Toy Story as a child then he or she gets to experience it both ways. They can watch it at age six and get excited at the cool space man with the laser and then as an older person who empathizes with the aging cowboy's fears of being abandoned and forgotten.
When Toy Story 3 comes out in 2010, a full fifteen years will have passed since the original. Viewers who were in kindergarten when they first saw Buzz and Woody will return to the theater, and maybe that will be the spark that makes them give another look to those "kid's movies" that they once loved. They might just realize that they're are a whole lot better than a lot of the "grown up" movies that they'd been getting so excited over.

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