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This week:
Toy Story 3

Filthy says:
"The toys are still lonely."

In Toy Story 3, a bunch of cartoon toys fear the boy who grew up with them will be relegate them to a trash bag in the attic when he heads off to college. I can see where that would be sad. However, these toys were already rotting away in a toybox in the kid's room. It's not like, as a teenager, he opened that chest and broke out his action cowboy, astronaut, Slinky dog, piggy bank and Potato Heads. They are only going from one dark, lonely place where they are unwanted to another.

I know all about that. When my drinking hole, the Arvada Tavern, went all upscale, fancy-ass a while back, the clientele drawn by cheap beer and a community of people too shitty to judge you was cast aside for the pocketbooks of families and hipsters with backpacks. At first, I was afraid to find a new dark, lonely place where I was unwanted. I worried I wouldn't find one good enough: it would be too dark, or too different, or everyone would speak Polish, or I would never feel comfortable drinking beer in a silent funk. I wound up at Binker's with its tin-foiled windows, dank bathrooms and busted up parking lot. To my delight, what I learned is that awful, sad places are all alike. I can drink in just about any shithole and be just as miserable. Hell, I discovered that in a pinch I could hang out with the hobos who hate me behind the carpet and tile place geting pasted on Sterno and Dimetapp, and there are no trash bags deeper or darker than that.

My point is, the toys in Toy Story 3 are a bunch of pussies. They're a little maudlin and a little too worried about being loved. Love is the overrated because it almost always means you have to give something back. Being hated, or even better not even being thought about, requires nothing from you.

The same cast of characters from Toy Stories 1 and 2 have returned. Tom Hanks voices Woody, the dandified, slightly anal cowboy. Tim Allen is the blustery astronaut Buzz Lightyear, and Joan Cusack plays big-eyed cowgirl Jessie. Through three flicks, their owner has aged. He's now moving on to college, but without his toys. Well, he plans to take Woody, but the others are put away, most likely to be forgotten alongside old nudist camp magazines, carousels of slides, a dusty wedding cake and a gown.

In a mixup, the bag full of old toys winds up at a daycare. At first the toys are thrilled because they believe they'll be played with every day by a forever-young rotation of kids. They'd rather be here at Sunnyside than forgotten in a moldy attic. That's before they meet Lotso Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty), a strawberry-scented, stuffed tyrant with an iron grip on the playroom hierarchy. New toys are relegated to the little kids' room where tiny brats chew on doll heads, use them as paintbrushes and bang them off walls unil they're broken. He's the African dictator of plush toys. By sending new playthings into the war zone to be destroyed, Lotso Huggin' protects his own cushy position and the status of those loyal to him.

Woody escapes but returns with a plan to rescue his friends and get them all safely back to the attic, a possibility that now sounds pretty damn attractive. Holy shit, can I relate. Spend a few days in the real world, talking to people or working in a dollar store, and the darkest, dampest trash bag in the world becomes a very attractive alternative. Of course, there are pitfalls and challenges along the toys' path to salvation, mostly from Lotso Huggin' and his creepy henchman, like a baby doll with a lazy eye.

Toy Story 2 is a fan-fucking-tastic movie. That one touched on the feelings of being all used up or no longer wanted. That it covered the themes is the main drawback of Toy Story 3. This time around, the story doesn't break new ground or expose emotions in any new way. Rather, it strikes the same notes in a different way.

The makers of Toy Story 3 are really fucking talented. Typical of Pixar movies, the story is mostly tight. The characters are mostly original. Beatty's Lotso Huggin' is pretty damn good as a villain. The lazy-eye doll is creepy as shit to anyone who had an older sister with one of those baby-sized dolls whose eyes closed when laid down. The action is not entirely predictable, although, moreso than in the first two. The gags are fine and the attention to detail is pretty fucking amazing. The movie has real emotional heft. The toys are written with more sincerity and personality than the characters is 99% of non-animated movies.

But, I think there were two great stories to be told about these characters, not three. Toy Story is about the loyal bond of toys to a boy. A new toy is introduced and the boy's original toys must learn to share the love of the owner. Toy Story 2, has almost nothing to do with kids. The theme is again about feeling useful and wanted, but also stuff like getting old and preparing to move on. Toy Story 3 is the same with different action. The characters haven't grown or changed. They are still worried about being forgotten. The result is a movie that's serviceable, well-made and about as full of good intentions as a brand new sixth-grade teacher. It's just that it has almost nowhere to go.

Some of the characters are surprisingly lame. A Ken doll who loves clothes isn't particularly original. Giving Buzz Lightyear a flamenco Spanish mode is about as easy as you could go with that. The emotions of Toy Story 3, too, feel a little easier. The boy whose toys these are is not much like any kid going off to college that I've ever seen. He's a little too maudlin and too squishy. If this is who he really is, he's gonna get eaten alive once he reaches campus. The story's conclusion is a bit too sweet and convenient for me. It's got more visible strings tugging at the heart than in the previous movies.

Worst of all, the toys are pussies. Go up to the attic, shut your fucking little plastic mouths and suck it up. Being stuffed forever in a trash bag is better than having a job and better than telling people why you don't have one. It's better to be in the dark than in the world with strangers who hate you. Three Fingers for Toy Story 3.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Bill Zwecker of Fox-TV

Grown Ups is "The perfect summer movie!"

I guess our summers sre supposed to suck.

Filthy's Reading
Robert Louis Stevenson - The Black Arrow

Listening to
Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island


The Room