Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Film Yap: Pixar Talk -- Toy Story

Every week Austin is going to have a chat with Victoria Disque about a Pixar film. This is all leading up to a speech Austin will be giving about Pixar at the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center in Muncie on November 18th. Victoria is a producer of The Reel Deal and is currently majoring in telecommunications at Ball State University.

Austin: So here we are at the beginning of our Pixar marathon and let’s ask this: when was the last time you saw Toy Story before this weekend?

Victoria: Maybe 6 months ago?

Austin: Really?

Victoria: Yeah they play it a lot on ABC Family so I catch it usually every time.

Austin: How many times do you think you’ve seen it?

Victoria: Oh geeze. Probably 20 times?

Austin: Yeah? Was this one of your favorites as a kid?

Victoria: Oh yeah. It’s still one of my favorites, actually.

Austin: I remember seeing this one in theatres. I’ve seen every Pixar film in theatres. It was someone’s birthday and we went to go see Toy Story.

Victoria: Yeah, I didn’t see it in theatres. I think the first Pixar movie I saw was A Bug’s Life in theatres. I do remember when Toy Story came on VHS. Got it for my birthday, I think one year and loved it ever since.

Austin: It was one of those big Disney boxes too. Not the simple sleeves, the BIG ole obnoxious plastic boxes! So did you find anything different this time around? Like what did you notice more?

Victoria: I can’t pick out a specific moment, but I just love the humor now and didn’t realize as a kid how many jokes were targeted straight towards the adults. But I still liked it that kids could laugh at the actions the toys had.

Austin: Absolutely. Pixar doesn’t make as many pop culture references. I only caught one in this movie where they are at Pizza Planet and there is a game, a Whack-a-Mole game, but it’s aliens going through a guy’s stomach. It’s great that’s in the background because Dreamworks’ references for adults are very blunt.

There are just a lot of things that are for adults and it amazes me how insecure every character is in this movie. They are just freaking out about Andy’s birthday and how they’ll be replaced and never seen again. They have deep psychological issues to where Buzz even says at one point “I’m just a little depressed right now” after he had a major identity crisis. He fell and disfigured himself and loses his mind.

Victoria: And turns into Mrs. Nesbitt.

Austin: Which is really funny. It’s exactly what the story needed because it just had this really tragic scene of him trying to fly—

Victoria: It’s really sad.

Austin:—and failing and crashing and having his arm ripped off. It’s such a dark moment for the character but works out so well. Then how do you be funny? The answer is put him in a silly hat and have a tea party.

Also it’s a scary movie. Sid is freaky.

Victoria: As a kid I wasn’t really scared of him but as an adult I’m wondering how I wasn’t terrified of him. That kid was insane. How was the mother of Sid not worried? The kid has posters saying “I <3 Explosions”. He blows toys up in the backyard, which shakes his house and his neighbor’s houses and no one complains.

Austin: Do we ever see his parents? We see his sister…

Victoria: We don’t actually see any of the adults if you think about it.

Austin: We see Andy’s mom.

Victoria: Do we ever see her face?

Austin: When she asks, “Let’s go to Pizza Planet” she walks into his room.

Victoria: Oh that’s true. But you never see Sid’s mom. You just hear her voice saying, “Sid your Pop Tarts are ready.”

Austin: Exactly. And it’s amazing if you take away the toy world, Sid is just harmful to himself and his sister like most kids are. He’s not mean to Andy. As an antagonist, he’s just mean to what he assumes are inanimate figures. He’s just a psychopath on his own. Until all of his toys rise up from the ground and tell him that he should never do this again, which should be scarring for a child.

Victoria: And I always wondered about that. It would have been funny if they made a little five-minute short just about Sid to see what happened to him.

Austin: He’s in “Toy Story 3”.

Victoria: I noticed that. Isn’t he a garbage man? But I mean…that would have happened either way.

Austin: So you just want to see him in a rubber room freaking out?

Victoria: Just screaming about toys.

Austin: I was worried that Andy would be psychologically harmed. At one point he should walk into his room and say “Hey, why is my bulletin board down? Why is my globe on the floor? Why are all of my toys constantly in the wrong place?” He should slowly lose his mind.

Victoria: He tended to leave his toys out after he played with them. So I always wondered how did the toys remember exactly where to go.

Austin: It’s funny how they set up this mythology like how the toys shouldn’t be seen and whatnot, but then not focus on it. They could have done a whole story about how the toys have to hide from humans, yadda yadda yadda. Instead they focus on the characters, which is so smart. They only test the mythology when they confront Sid when they “have to break a few rules.” We don’t even know what the rules are. It doesn’t need long exposition. Let’s just do this and move on.

Victoria: I just like this one the best out of the three because if you take away the fact that toys can’t actually come to life, this is the most believable story. They get taken by the neighbor; they have to get across the street. They’re toys. It seems like forever away. I really enjoy the others, but some of them were a little more far-fetched than this one.

Austin: Well they are running through an airport in the second one.

Victoria: Yes and a trash compactor—

Austin: Hell. It is hell. But yes, it is like “Honey I Shunk the Kids” where they have to go through the forest that is the grass. The farthest they get away from the house is Pizza Planet and the gas station. This is the other side of the world for these characters.

It’s really impressive how tight the story is. There aren’t too many locations. I know there is a lot of back history of how this movie got made. This is such a gamble for Pixar. There was no animation like this before, especially in feature length form. They had their successful short, but this was a huge thing. To have this ambitious project…they could have easily had a simple story like “Here are some happy bears”. Instead they said “Here are some dark characters with identity crises having this big adventure.”

It was also smart for them to have new characters and familiar characters.

Victoria: Everyone had a Mr. Potato Head. Everyone had a piggy bank.

Austin: There were a lot more Potato Head jokes than I remember. Every two minutes is a joke about him losing a limb. He’s a bit of a jerk in this movie.

Victoria: I noticed. I used to love him as a kid and now that I’m older I’m thinking “What a complete ass.” He just likes to put other people down.

Austin: He’s not forgiving at all.

Victoria: Every single time Woody tried to explain himself, he shuts him down.

Austin: Rex is still really funny to me. Such a fun casting choice to have Wallace Shawn.

Victoria: I especially love Rex. That voice coming out of what’s supposed to be this terrifying toy and it’s just the most nasal, high pitched voiced that a man could possibly have.

Austin: And they’ve used him again. He was the boss in “The Incredibles”, the very small boss.

Victoria: Yes!

Austin: But that boss doesn’t sound like Rex to me. It should distract a kid, but it’s still such a good fit for every character.

Victoria: What I loved about these movies is that they really seem to think of which celebrities they want as the voices and they pick them perfectly every single time. I don’t think I’ve seen a Pixar film when I’m thinking, “Why did you cast them?”

Austin: My only one would be to doubt Owen Wilson in “Cars”, but even then it’s still fine. They never highlight the stars; they never say in the commercials Tom Hanks is Woody because that would ruin the illusion for a child.

Victoria: Exactly. Like they do with “Shrek”. Mike Myers as Shrek!

Austin: Especially for “Shrek” they should never say it’s Mike Myers because that’s such an irregular voice for him. No one should recognize him.

It’s funny because I can definitely hear Tim Allen in this movie, but I still only think, “That’s Woody’s voice” for Tom Hanks.

Victoria: And I still love the fact that John Ratzenberger is in every single one. Of all of the stars that were in “Toy Story” he’s the one that gets a part in every single one. I don’t like to look up who he’s playing, but I like to try and figure it out. You know, this has bugged me. In “Finding Nemo” is he supposed to be a bunch of fish? Or is he one fish who speaks for the whole?

Austin: I think it’s the school of fish at once, if I recall. Either way it’s funny.

Victoria: I look for him, but I don’t think about him during the movie. He’s just a piggy bank or an abominable snowman or a big semi all with the same voice, but that doesn’t make me think about him in particular.

You know I don’t care much for Pixar sequels.

Austin: The Toy Story ones are pretty good.

Victoria: Yeah, but I would have been fine with the one. It has a happy ending.

Austin: They get a dog!

Victoria: They move away from the crazy kid…

Austin: Which Pixar film have you seen the most?

Victoria: Probably “Toy Story”, but I’ve seen “Monster’s Inc” so many times. I’ve seen “A Bug’s Life” a ton. Most of their early ones.

Austin: Did the animation bother you in “Toy Story” this time around?

Victoria: It’s a lot different than it is now, but it really doesn’t bother me. It’s my favorite out of all the Pixars and not just because it’s the first one. They set the bar so high that I don’t think any of them have quite matched it. They’ve gotten really close, though.

Austin: It was even up for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, which it honestly deserves. They brought in Joss Whedon to help out with the script.

Victoria: I saw that! I saw that and thought, “Are you kidding me?” I would have never have guessed.

Austin: The other three credited screenwriters are people working with the Pixar brain trust, including Andrew Stanton who would go on to direct “Finding Nemo” and “WALL-E”. They wanted to bring in someone who was a known screenwriter to help them with structure and format and whatnot. Then they got one of the best. There are so many clever things in it. Like I can’t get over how funny the idea of “The Claw” is.

Victoria: The claw….

Austin: Of course they would be a crazy cult who were stuck in a box all day worshiping this claw. This makes so much “sense”…once that you acknowledge toys are real. It’s all of the clever things that make the world feel real. The way Etch-a-Sketch doesn’t talk, but communicates through quick drawings…

Victoria: And I love all of Sid’s toys. He’s mangled them, but it hasn’t dampered their spirits. They’re helping everybody.

Austin: None of them speak though.

Victoria: Maybe he tortured them so much that they just can’t anymore.

Austin: And this is a kids film! It reminded me of that really old film “Freaks” One of us, one of us. Yet they aren’t rising up against anyone; they are just this community to support each other because they’re owned by a crazy person who buys rockets all the time.

That reminds me. There is a lot of broad comedy in this one. Woody falls from a great heights all the time.

Victoria: Yes and at one point Buzz punches him and his head goes around three or four times. I really liked the humor you had to think about. I laughed so hard at the beginning when Woody was holding the meeting about how the plastic corrosion lecture went really well the other night. I was floored.

Austin: And it creates this bigger world of what happens when Andy’s not playing with them. Also the army soldier stuff is so funny.

Victoria: I love when they are setting up base. Then the mom steps on one of them. A good solider never leaves a man behind!

Austin: And I noticed the one who is stepped on is the one looking for landmines, which was always the lamest one. He has no gun or anything. He has the thing that looks like a vacuum cleaner looking for landmines.

Victoria: I was wondering what that was supposed to be.

Austin: So that’s why I think it’s funny that he gets stepped on more than anyone else.

Victoria: Love that and love the end scene where Buzz flies. That gets me every time. It’s so emotional. I get goosebumps.

Austin: Absolutely. And it’s not only Buzz coming to terms with what he is and what he wants emotionally, being able to achieve the impossible without losing his head, it’s also the happiest Woody is the entire movie. Woody gets to fly, essentially; the cowboy who gets to fly through space.

Even though I know every scene of this movie, back to front, I’m still so happily surprised when they go to the car instead of the moving truck. That’s great storytelling! Despite the fact that Andy should have noticed if his toys were on top of a box BUT STILL!

Victoria: “Oh I found them!” “Where were they?” “They were here in the car!”

Austin: So does this rank the highest for you?

Victoria: Oh yeah. This is one of my favorite movies, not just my favorite Pixar.

Austin: It’s definitely Top Five for me, but I want to keep watching them all to see where they land. It’s still an incredible film that every age can easily enjoy.


No comments:

Post a Comment