Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Film Yap: Pixar Talk - Toy Story 2

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 December 9th. Victoria is a producer of The Reel Deal and is currently majoring in telecommunications at Ball State University.

Austin: I’m going to switch up the first question just to be rebellious: what movie did you like more, “Toy Story” or “Toy Story 2”?

Victoria: “Toy Story”.

Austin: No question?

Victoria: Nooo. I think it’s sentimental reasons. Not any of the Pixar movies can compare, not just the Toy Story films. Like I said before, “Toy Story” is one of my favorite movies in general. “Toy Story 2” not so much.

Austin: Do you not like this one?

Victoria: No, I do but it’s just no “Toy Story”.

Austin: You know in the age when every movie gets a sequel and the fact they made this movie on such a small timeline—They usually take four years and this took 8 months to make—it’s a really great sequel. One of the really worth sequels.

Victoria: I’d agree with that. I hate sequels. I think there’s no need for them, but as far as sequels go this is a really good one.

Austin: It’s funny because I watched it a ton as a kid, but now I really see it as a companion to the original movie. It’s almost a mirror image of the first one where Buzz went from completely oblivious to irrational where Woody goes through the opposite of rational to this fame obsessed setting. Then there’s plenty of other parallels like instead of driving RC car through the streets, it’s Buzz riding a horse.

Victoria: I love all the space/cowboy things.

Austin: We talked about how dark the first one was. This might be darker.

Victoria: Yeah!

Austin: Within the first 10 minutes—I know it’s a video game sequence—they obliterate Buzz. You don’t know it’s fake. Then Woody is mangled again because everyone in Toy Story will lose an arm at one point, weird motif to have. He has a dream sequence when he’s abandoned by Andy, thrown into a trash can, and attacked by an arm monster.

Victoria: Jesse’s Song…

Austin: Oh yeah. That’s a powerful scene.

Victoria: That kills me every single time.

Austin: The song, I know to prepare for. It’s the most emotional part of the movie. It’s right after when Woody has nothing to say that always seems rougher. Speaking of Jesse, how great are the new characters? That’s a thing that sequels usually mess up.

Victoria: Joan Cusack is one of my favorite actresses. Even then, I don’t think of her “as” Jesse. I can only hear Jesse’s voice. Such a great person to pick.

Austin: She always has a certain amount of neurotic energy in her films, but never this amount of energy. I can’t picture her in the studio either; it’s just Jesse. We also have Stinky Pete, played so evilly by Kelsey Grammer.

Victoria: He starts off so charming. I remember seeing this in theatres and finding out that he is evil. That was a twist to me. I know I was nine years old at the time, but that really worked for me. If I saw it for the first time today, I don’t think I would see it coming. You’re led to believe that the villain of this movie is Al. You don’t expect one of the toys to be the villain also.

Austin: In many ways, Al is the new Sid. He was like the new Sid. Aside from stealing Woody at the beginning, he doesn’t know how much harm he’s actually doing. Much like Sid he gets his. Oddly by recording a commercial while he’s crying which he then puts on TV at the end. “No we don’t need a second take! Let’s just cry on air.” He was good, though. Wayne Knight was over the top.

Victoria: He was another one that was great voice.

Austin: I think Al is even less approachable than Newman from “Seinfeld”. I really don’t want to hang out with that guy. Ever. Especially the Cheetos sequence. Even as a kid, I thought this was gross. The burping and the Cheetos landmine.

Victoria: I thought from an animation point of view, that was a really good scene. With all the Cheetos spread across, it looked so huge. It looks like he has to cross a desert to get to this guy.

Austin: Then you have Bullseye who has four legs, who needs to do the same thing. You know, just like RC, he doesn’t have a voice. He’s like a pet. Did you see “Tangled”?

Victoria: Oh yeah.

Austin: The horse in that movie is a dog. He responding like a dog and it’s fun. When people look at the whole trilogy, they often forget that Jesse and Bullseye weren’t in it from the beginning.

Victoria: I feel they decided to create her character because the first one was so male driver. You have Bo, but she’s very much in the background. She hardly has any scenes. With this one, you have Jesse and Mrs. Potato Head. I just love Jesse.

Austin: We also have the ultimate girl toy of Barbie. Another funny sequence.

Victoria: Wasn’t the voice of her, Ariel?

Austin: Yep, Jodie Benson. Going back to voice actors. I think she did a number of Disney films, but Ariel is the main one.

Victoria: She was in “Enchanted” as a person. They would even play “The Little Mermaid” songs in the background.

Austin: Disney loves their inside jokes. I found a lot of Pixar in-jokes in this movie. Like when Hamm is rapidly flipping through the channels, half of the things he’s flipping through are their old shorts.

Victoria: Wow. That’s impressive. That’s one of those blinks and you miss it and I missed it. One of my favorite cameos in a film ever is Geri from “Geri’s Game”. The old man playing chess fixes up Woody. I recognized him the first time I saw it. That is my favorite Pixar short.

Austin: That is mine as well. Again, he’s not really a villain. He’s just a professional going against the main character’s plot. He is creepier in this one. He has all these shadows on his face and he covers up the word “Andy” on his boot.

Victoria: What an a**…

Austin: I do believe that the biggest Pixar nerds work for Pixar. Again, looking at the parallels of the two films. My favorite one is when Buzz is trying to get a new belt and when he looks up it’s the exact same shot as when Woody saw Buzz for the first time.

Victoria: I loved that! I thought that was brilliant.

Austin: You watch “Toy Story” and it seems like they went through every single toy concept. With this one it took it a step further and brought in: storage, abandonment, toy stores, garage sales.

Victoria: I loved how there were more pop culture references in this one. Obviously the “Star Wars” reference. At one point, there was a reference to Forrest Gump where Slinky Dog says “I’m not a smart dog, but I know what road kill is.”

Austin: I was watching this with my roommate earlier and she asked me while I was laughing when Buzz was jumping on the steps to get to Zurg and it was because it was the music to “2001” “Dun, dun, dun, DUN DUN.” Then he falls. I often criticize DreamWorks for too many pop culture references but aside from the “Star Wars” one which is so obvious, they are still subtle enough that no kid is going to feel left out for not getting it. Well, for the “Star Wars” one, they are probably going to get it. I had seen “Star Wars” before this.

Victoria: They also had a lot of good humor that was their own. I like how Zurg’s power was a levitating battery. I crack up when they try to get into Al’s Toy Barn and they have to jump to get the door to open.

Austin: Also, I love Rex’s view on the world. He’s saying that the sign says closed, but then one of the managers go in, then he shouts “But it’s closed!”

Victoria: I’m really glad that with all the new characters they brought in they didn’t lose any of the favorites.

Austin: We did lose RC.

Victoria: True. For the rest, they didn’t lose any of their personalities. They didn’t look at it by saying “We have Jesse now so she’s over the top and therefore everyone else should be more logical.” Everyone felt the same, like Rex and Hamm.

Austin: I guess the one person who change between the films was Mr. Potato Head because he’s a married man now. He can’t be that much of a jerk anymore.

Victoria: I love when he leaves her to go on their journey, his moustache comes back on. He goes back to the way he was before.

Austin: Guys’ weekend.

Victoria: The part that bugs me is when they are crossing the street under the traffic cones and his shoe gets stuck. Mr. Potato Head’s shoes are always stuck together.

Austin: You’re not upset about the giant traffic jam, all the damage to the cars, people freaking out…

Victoria: Well, that’s believable.

Austin: (Laughs) People have to see the cones moving! Not a single car thinks about hitting the cone.

Victoria: Well that’s another mirror to the first one with Scud causing a traffic accident.

Austin: Also it’s more of the little carriages at the airport, but it reminds me also when Woody and Buzz were in the trash trying to get into Pizza Planet. Once again, we have a jump up in the animation. They are able to portray more adults which can then factor into the story. They can have scenes with Al, very close up.. Too close up. Except for one thing which I didn’t think looked that good and that was Buster the dog. All of its hair never moved.

Victoria: Yeah I agree. I thought he looked better than Scud, but that could just be because I think he’s a cuter dog.

Austin: I started to realize that the animation was too good. “Toy Story” reminded me of some of the older Disney films I watched like, “The Rescuers”, where the characters would have these go-to expressions that were ridiculous. So in “Toy Story” they would have their typical face and then ridiculous face when they scream something like “Buzz watch out!” In “Toy Story 2” they were subtler, which is weird to complain that it was too nuanced and good.

Victoria: You know aside from the toys coming to life it’s believable. This one is pushing it a little bit. Maybe more than a little bit. The traffic cones and all of the giant locations they are running around. An airport! How many people are there to see them?

Austin: There was one moment when rewatching this, I thought was just too unbelievable. I’m sorry but Bullseye running as fast as a plane is insane! Whereas Rex was tired from walking down the street. Bullseye is bionic.

Victoria: If Woody’s an original doll how does he not remember the show?

Austin: It seems that only the Buzz Lightyears are so oblivious that they think they are from the show. I don’t know if Woody was from a box like that, maybe he never saw the box. Only Buzz has the entire backstory from his TV show immediately once he wakes up from the box. Then again…I don’t know because I’m getting really confused about this mythology. This is me watching too much “LOST” and being able to come up with answers that make sense.

Whatever. Any final thoughts on “Toy Story 2?”

Victoria: It’s not one of my favorites, but it’s one of the best sequels I have ever seen.

Austin: I’d agree with that.


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