Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Did Pixar Phone One In?

We went to see Toy Story 3 on Labor Day (I know; we’re incredibly slow getting to new movies. Blame high theater prices and the fact that we don’t want to have to pay more for a trip to the theater than we’d have to for a DVD).

Yeah, about that blog post title. I kinda think they did.

Now, the movie had its moments. Watching Mr. Potato Head become Mr. Tortilla Head was hilarious. “Spanish Buzz” was also a lot of fun.

But the folks at Pixar didn’t stretch themselves on this one.

I know it’s a sequel. I know there are going to be repeated elements (characters, music, et cetera) but when they did Toy Story 2, they stretched themselves. They story was great. Al – and the prospector – were great antagonists. And there were new songs – Jesse’s lullaby still brings tears to my eyes.

Toy Story 3 has similar moments – watching Baby long for its past life as a loved toy was pretty heart-wrenching. But I think the backstory for Lotso and Baby and the clown (can’t remember his name) is what bugs me. It’s lacking. Not enough motivation there for Lotso to turn Sunnyside into a prison camp. The only message I got out of this one is that, hey, if you’re shallow and self-centered then yeah, when you can make the world revolve around you, do it. Fortunately, Pixar pulls out of that a bit with the final scene with Andy and Bonnie (and with the toys going on to play with Bonnie, rather than being stored in the attic) but that seemed phoned in, too. They might have been better off going to that toy museum in Japan and making Al get his “buck-buck-bucks!”

Plus no new songs or music – long one of the most enjoyable Pixar elements. Pixar knows how to handle music – just look at Carl and Ellie’s waltz from the opening of “Up,” and the use of songs from “Hello Dolly” in Wall-E and you know this. And the voice work? Ohoned in as well. I kinda figured that was Michael Keaton doing Ken’s voice, but, well, they kind of wasted all that kinetic energy, didn’t they? And I know Pixar likes to use off-kilter voice actors (Ed Asner, Craig T. Nelson) but Ned Beatty? He could have been used much better than the story used him. Pity.

All they did on this one was go back to the toy box, find all the parts and put them together in a slightly different way. I’m a bit disappointed.

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