Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pixar Keeps Making Me Cry

And I'm back from another day in the city.  As always, there were ups, there downs, there were adventures and misadventures, and it all revolved around catching a movie.  Pixar junkie that I am, I had to be there opening weekend for Toy Story 3.

Wow.  This is the fourth movie in a row that Pixar has made that made me cry at the end.  Would you STOP DOING THAT PIXAR?  I mean, yes the movies are good, and it makes you the money, and you get the Oscar gold and the good reviews and everything, but damn it all, stop being so good.

As I've blogged several times before, I love it when an animated film surprises me.  Usually, it's when they go down a corner that I didn't expect, and it makes me go, "Did they really just go there?"  The benchmark I always use is the scene in The Iron Giant where the character Dean says, "I'd like to apologize in advance for this," and then unzips his pants to let a squirrel out.

Well, there is such a moment in Toy Story 3.  It goes down a dark path at one point and you just can't help but think, "Oh my God.  This is...wow."  I won't say what it is, so as not be spoilerish, but you'll know it when you see it.

Essentially, it boils down to this.  Toy Story 1 + 2 were made by young adults who still played with toys.  Toy Story 3 was made by middle aged folks letting go of their children.  And it shines through. 

(And I'm sure the streak of Pixar films that make me cry will end next year.  Next year, they give us Cars 2.)

And of course, it wouldn't be a trip to the city without spending too much money on DVDs.  I've been on a bit of a Doctor Who kick lately, catching up on the new episodes online, straight out of England.  A couple of months ago, when my Blu-Ray player was new and exciting, I picked up the complete David Tennant specials.  And I started thinking, "Where's the love for the Ninth Doctor?  Where's the love for Christopher Eccleston?"  I mean, this whole Doctor Who resurgence started because of him!

So, when I saw Doctor Who: The Complete First Series on sale for $55, I knew I had to pick it up.  Actually, I thought about picking it up when I was last in the city 2 weeks ago.  Back then, it was on sale for $50.  This week, it was $55, and I thought, "Gee, I'd better snatch it up before it shoots all the way back up to its full price of $120."  So I did.  I'm looking forward to watching it.  I only caught about half the episodes in this series, so I'm finally going to be able to catch the whole thing. 

And, of course, a day in the city is always fun when you can make someone's day.  You know how sometimes, when you go to a store, the clerk will ask you, "Would you like to donate $1 to charity?" and when you say yes they give you this slip of paper you can sign that they'll hang up on the wall?  Well, I donated my $1 to charity today, and the clerk totally geeked out when I signed my name "Optimus Prime."

(I never sign my real name to those things.  I usually go with the first cartoon character that pops to mind.) 

And after that, it was time for the long drive home.  The long drive is good, because it gives me time to reflect on things.  For example, my Friday night movies. 

If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know that, when I was home for vacation a few weeks ago, I finally laid claim to all my old VHS tapes.  So, the theme for my movie nights right now is "Stuff I still own on VHS."  Last night, I threw in the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty.  I remember buying it on VHS all those years ago simply for the novel fact that it was the letterboxed edition.  Ah, the life and times of a home theatre snob in the mid-1990s. 

As I was reading up on the making of Sleeping Beauty, I stumbled across the fact that the titular character, Princess Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty herself, is only on-screen for a grand total of 16 minutes in the film.  Reflecting on that, I realized that Aurora really isn't much of a character.  She doesn't have any significant arc or development.  If anything, she's more like a McGuffin. 

For those who don't know what a McGuffin is, it's a movie term.  Alfred Hitchcock, who's generally credited with coining the term, described it thusly:  "It's the object that all the characters desire.  In heist films, it's always the necklace.  In spy films, it's always the papers." 

Think about it.  Prince Philip desires her for romantic purposes.  The evil queen Malificent desires her to use her as a tool of vengeance.  Her father, the king, desires to use her to unite two kingdoms.  And the three fairies desire to keep her safe. 

If anything I'd have to say that three fairies are the true heroes of the film.  They do the most ass-kicking as they keep Aurora safe, bust Prince Philip out of prison, and then aid the prince in the final battle against Malificent. 

But  yeah.  It was good to see it again after all those years.

And while I was doing some reading up on Pixar before heading off to see Toy Story 3, I came across some shocking news.  Newt has been canceled! 

Newt was an animated film that Pixar had in development.  A couple of years ago, they announced with much hype and fanfare that it was to be their animated blockbuster for 2012.  But now it's been taken off all the Pixar schedules, and when the animators are asked about it, they respond with "no comment." 

Newt was to be the feature-length directorial debut of veteran Pixar sound designer Gary Rydstrom.  (Rydstrom made his short-length directorial debut with Lifted, the short in front of Ratatouille.)  It was to follow the adventures of a rare blue newt who discovers he is the last of his kind, and lives in a laboratory.  Then one day, the scientists find the only remaining female newt, capture her, and lock her up with the male newt in the hopes they'll repopulate the species.  One problem though:  it's hate at first sight.  Will they fall in love and save their species?

I wonder why this fell apart.  Maybe because it sounds an awful lot like Rio, the next one from Blue Sky Studios coming out next year.  Just replace with newts with parrots and the laboratory setting with the lush rainforests of Brazil, and they become strikingly similar. 

Oh, well.  Hollywood archives are full of animated films that fell apart in pre-production.  This isn't too shocking.  It's just odd, giving all the hype that surrounded the project's announcement. 

And I'm about all rambled out for this Saturday! 

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