Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks - Movies Based on Toys

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join us by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and saying a little something about them!

It's Christmas season, which means everyone will soon be packing our nation's malls and big box stores trying to get that one perfect present for their favorite someone. And we all know what that means. Fights over who gets the last Tickle-Me Elmo! Or whatever the hot toy is this year, I personally have absolutely no clue.

In the spirit of the season, this week's programming on Thursday Movie Picks is centered around movies based on toys. Not a particularly illustrious group, and the three I've picked this week couldn't be more obvious, but they also cannot be bettered. I dare anyone to try.

Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995) The movie that introduced the geniuses at Pixar to the world is still an utter delight to watch on just about every level, and it's based on a hook so simple it's hard to believe no one had ever thought of it before: the life of children's toys when their owners aren't around, and how they react to the hot new toy shoved into their midst. Equal parts funny and sweet, it's easy to see why this was such a big hit and an enduring favorite among Pixar's stellar output.

Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter, 1999) The Empire Strikes Back of animated sequels, it's almost impossible to believe that this was originally going to go direct to video. Personally, I think this is one of the best films of Hollywood's most recent annus mirabilis, taking complex themes of abandonment and ownership of one's own identity and dealing with them - VERY seriously - through a story about children's toys, of all things. And it's just as funny and exciting as the first.

Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, 2010) I don't think, 10-11 years after Toy Story 2, that anyone was particularly clamoring for a second Toy Story sequel, making this a trilogy or, God forbid, a series... but then it came out, and made just about everyone in the world cry ugly, ugly tears, including this guy right here. I would blame the 3D glasses, but I don't think that would account for the great big heaving SOBS I cried in a theater packed full of children and their parents. Whatever alchemy was going on behind the scenes at Pixar when they wrote the last act of this movie, I can only hope that it's still there, and will be for decades to come, because as far as I'm concerned, this is the studio's crowning achievement, a complex, well-thought-out film that stands on its own AND as the completion of a trilogy, both a complex meditation on death and a rollicking adventure story that is equally enjoyable whether you're 5 or 105,

12 comments:

  1. I knew the Toy Story films would be heavy favorites today and it makes me feel a bit of a grinch to say I hate those films. Well that is to say I hated to first one, what I could get through of it and so never returned to the others. They're beloved, just not by me.

    I struggled with this week mightily and almost sat out when it looked as if I was only going to be able to come up with films I hated which seemed too Scrooge like for this time of the year. But I took a different angle, films where toys play a major part as opposed to be the actual basis and still had to cheat on the last.

    Babes in Toyland aka March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)-In Toyland Stannie Dum (Stan Laurel) and Ollie Dee (Oliver Hardy), live in a shoe along with Mother Peep, Bo Peep, a mouse resembling Mickey Mouse (actually played by a live monkey in a costume), and many other children. The evil Silas Barnaby who wants to marry Bo Peep holds the mortgage on the shoe. Barnaby offers the old woman an ultimatum – unless Bo Peep agrees to marry him he will foreclose on the shoe. Widow Peep refuses, but is worried about where she'll get the money to pay the mortgage. Ollie and Stannie scheme to get the money including making wooden soldiers for Santa but bungle that (building 100 wooden soldiers at six feet tall, instead of 600 soldiers at one foot tall). After many false starts and chicanery happiness prevails.

    Pinocchio (1940)-Toymaker Gepetto carves an almost lifelike marionette who he names Pinocchio. Lonely he wishes that Pinocchio was a real boy. Overheard by a fairy who grants his wish and assigns Jiminy Cricket to watch over Pinocchio on his quest, the two start on a journey that will lead to him becoming that real boy. Classic Disney with many great songs including When You Wish Upon a Star.

    Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)-This is a cheat since it is a TV special but at least it’s seasonally appropriate! Narrated perfectly by Burl Ives as Sam the Snowman this tells the story of poor Rudolph who is born with a bright red nose making him an outcast, all of the other reindeer use to laugh and call him names…they’d never let poor Rudolph play in ANY reindeer games! Feeling isolated he runs off to the woods and meets elf Hermey, a frustrated wannabe dentist, and the two forge a friendship but run afoul of the Abominable Snow Monster. On the run they meet prospector Yukon Cornelius and the three flee to the Island of Misfit Toys. Returning home later they find Rudolph’s family threatened by the Abominable Snow Monster but manage to save the day until a blizzard blows into town causing Santa to consider cancelling Christmas. But wait! Santa goes to him and says “Rudolph with your nose so bright…won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” “Then how the reindeer loved him! As they shouted out with glee "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, You'll go down in history" As an added bonus all the Misfit Toys at last find happy homes!!

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    1. Very creative picks, Joel! I've always enjoyed Babes in Toyland or whatever it's called, and of course Rudolph is a classic (although frankly, for me that story has always been about how people are just assholes until they realize they need you for something). But I've never been a huge fan of Pinocchio for some reason.

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  2. Ah yes! All Toy Story all the time. I think the second is my favourite but that furnace scene in 3 is unforgettable.

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    1. The second is PROBABLY my least favorite, but it's also the one I've seen the least. HOWEVER, "When She Loved Me" is my second favorite scene of the whole trilogy, after the final scene of the third.

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  3. The first Toy Story was great, but I hated the sequels. They're such downers compared to the first one.

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  4. I almost did the same trilogy:) This makes me want to see them all again. I find them all great

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  5. Love that you went all Toy Story! I wanted to do the same but then changed my mind, and picked only the first. I've watched them like a million times and I still can't believe how good the sequels are.

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    1. I know, right?!?! They're all so good. That NEVER happens.

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    1. This comment fills me with such joy, Dell.

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