Sunday, October 11, 2009

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D **** (Double Feature Rerelease)

Toy Story 3-D
***1/2 out of ****

Toy Story 2 3-D
**** out of ****

Overall: **** out of ****

What more is there to say about the Toy Story movies? The classic films are getting a limited two-week rerelease exclusively in a 3-D double feature. This is obviously a very expensive publicity stunt to promote the upcoming Toy Story 3 (out in June), but who cares? It means we get to see two of the greatest animated films ever made on the big screen again, and in a new format that makes it feel like you're seeing them for the first time.
The first Toy Story (one of my favorite movies) is practically the definition of instant classic: an idea so universal and wonderful you can't help but think, why didn't anyone think of that before? The boys at Pixar just got there first. The toys in Andy's room come alive whenever he's not there. Woody the cowboy doll is his favorite, until he gets a cool new Buzz Lightyear action figure for his birthday, and Woody gets forgotten. An accident makes Woody and Buzz get separated from Andy and are forced to work together to get back home. The casting of Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz are inspired and perfect. This was the first fully computer-animated feature film, so obviously features some amazing animation, but the real wonder lies in its unforgettable characters and humor. Who could forget Mr. Potato Head, Hamm the piggy bank, Rex the wimpy dinosaur, the loyal Slinky dog, or those cute little green aliens? It's also amazing how the film has stuff for both kids and adults: the young ones won't catch the many pop culture references or more subtle adult jokes. (I'm thinking of Potato Head's perfect silent "kissass" joke.)
And as it turns out, Toy Story 2 is even better. This film adds great thrills and emotion to the mix. After Woody's arm is ripped, he is stolen by a greedy toy collector (a splendid voice performance by Wayne Knight) and it's up to Buzz and the gang to get him back. The problem is, it turns out Woody is a valuable collector's item. He meets the rest of his set- the excitable cowgirl Jessie, the adorable horse Bullseye, and the wise Prospector. They're being set to go to a toy museum in Tokyo, and Woody is slowly convinced to go with them. The film has a wonderful emotional high point at Jessie's flashback sequence with the Oscar-nominated song "When She Loved Me." The animation is even better, and the film is even funnier. The pop culture references are staggering: kids will love the A Bug's Life merchandise sprinkled throughout, and adults will see the nods to films like Jurassic Park and Rear Window. (Strangely, the faux bloopers at the end provide some of the biggest laughs in the whole film.)
The 3-D is, for the most part, pretty subtle, giving the viewer a chance to peer into the world rather than for the characters to jump out, although there is the occasional right-in-your-face effect. The effects are wonderful, especially for two films that weren't even originally made for that format. They take the films (dare I say it?) to infinity- and beyond. The big question is, are they worth paying for in the theatre if you've already seen them, which most young people in this country probably have? My answer is, if you love these films for what they really are, then yes. They are absolutely worth your money because seeing them at home cannot compare to the experience of seeing them on the big screen. After all, this is also an opportunity for kids who weren't around when the films first came out to see them for the first time. Plus, they are two movies for the price of one.
I would recommend these films to anyone who likes animated movies, especially Pixar. If you've seen them before, these films do not dull with repeat viewings.

You can watch the double-feature trailer here:
You can also watch the original Toy Story trailer here:
You can also watch the original Toy Story 2 trailer here:

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