Toy Story 2.1

Summer is a season for movies. When the weather gets hot, sitting in an artificially cooled dark room for a couple hours, even if it is with strangers, seems like a good idea. Generally the movies I see in theaters are family movies – I’ve never been one to go to a theater alone and my personal taste in movies is unique in my family. The more interesting flicks usually have to wait until DVD release before I see them. Nevertheless, the movies are an experience that many of us remember fondly from childhood and children deserve good movie memories. Since the movie theater was invented it has become one of the signatures of culture in many parts of the world.

Last weekend, during the East Coast Heat Wave – a weather event so much talked about that it should have had its own theme music – we went to see Toy Story 3. In an unusual departure from my focus on religion, my comments here will focus on creativity. (Good religion is creative, after all.) Toy Story 3 opened to much critical acclaim, so my expectations ran a little high. A little too high. While I found the story to be interesting, it was a bit familiar. For those acquainted with the franchise, it felt like a remake of Toy Story 2. Both films open with the toys worried about their future because Andy is going away. In both 2 and 3 Woody is separated from his friends and has an epiphany that leads him back. Buzz gets returned to factory settings to reprise his humor in the first film. An evil toy in both movies holds the others captive against their wills. Meanwhile Woody makes new friends and with their assistance rescues the threatened toys. The evil toy ends up getting his just deserts and Andy’s toys successfully integrate.

The story line values friendship and commitment, and there is nothing to complain about there. Yet, after stepping out into the harsh sunlight, I felt like I’d just paid to see a movie I’d already seen before. Creativity – the factor that leads to truly new concepts – is not always valued in movies. This is particularly so in children’s movies. Our kids are being programmed to accept recycled stories as something new. It is not only Toy Story that has fallen into such rehashing: how many fresh ideas are shortly followed up by a 2, 3 or 4? Even if 1 wasn’t so good? I’ve even been told by publishers that publishing houses prefer to take few risks – they would rather have a product that is “like” one that has already proven a blockbuster. How many wizards and vampires have populated tween books over the last decade or so? It seems that the safe money is in the recycled story. In a society hooked on convenience, new ideas might seem just a little too dangerous. Once there was a cowboy blog…

Best friends forever and ever and ever

1 thought on “Toy Story 2.1

  1. Telling my daughter how harry potter was going to end during the 5th book was all good until it ended that way.

    Teenage girls don’t like spoilers no matter how prescient papa appears..


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