Monday, August 15, 2011

"Toy Story": the ripoff of the century

Hi, everybody! Just thought I'd go ahead and share with you all a wonderful memory I have of discovering a certain animated movie out there which really touches my heart and reminds me of a very special time in my childhood. :)

See, there was this movie that came out once upon a time, it was about a child who had a favorite toy and returns home from school in time for a birthday party. Meanwhile, what said child doesn't know is that toys are truly alive. They all live, move about, think and talk just like people do, but only when the coast is clear!

And the moment their owner has left the bedroom, they all talk excitedly about things and about how wonderful a birthday is...

...and suddenly one of the child's new birthday presents is in the room, a brand new toy, which is suddenly the center of attention! But that toy doesn't feel the slightest bit comfortable regarding fitting in with the others as some mere toy, not even being conscious that they are in fact a toy at all...

...and eventually the new toy becomes LOST SOMEWHERE OUT THERE BEYOND THE BEDROOM WINDOW! GASP!

So of course other toys have to go out and rescue the newcomer, while hoping at the same time that said newcomer toy finally comes to their senses in the process!

Ah, such wonderful memories I have of discovering this movie on television in 1981 by accident, I didn't even know it was on until accidentally stumbling across it late that one fateful summer night long after it had debuted in the theaters back in 1977, but since I was never taken to see it during its initial release I was indeed grateful to see it being broadcast just for me since Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure was long gone before I could have a chance to ask if I could go see it... what?

Huh? Wait a sec, what are you talking about? What do you mean, we're not talking about Raggedy Ann and Andy? What, you thought we were talking about some thing released by Pixar called Toy Story? Sorry pal, not in my neck of the woods.

Toy Story, as is everything else "created" (stolen) by Pixar, is a complete ripoff of that earlier film. The 1977 feature certainly had its flaws, but it was highly enjoyable nevertheless, especially when compared to the trash Hollywood hands us all these days. Everyone would normally be aware of this already except for the two facts that (a) the original film was a bomb due to kids' refusal to see G-rated films during the '70s, and (b) Pixar has by now built an entire Plagurist Empire upon Raggedy Ann's corpse. The only thing Pixar did not steal were the exact details connecting the plot's dots. Other than that, exactly the same concept with precisely the same basic plot.

There's one other difference between the two films as well. A big one. The original Raggedy Ann film was once described this way: "This film was hampered by an unfairly short production schedule and (Richard) Williams's own inexperience as a producer; at times it can really drag. At its best, though, it is hypnotic and lovely." In spite of its flaws, Raggedy Ann was nevertheless a very sweet and innocent piece of well-meaning animation. By comparison, Toy Story is remarkably sarcastic and mean-spirited. Certainly the visuals are nowhere near as gorgeous, and the music simply not as special as in the earlier 1977 production.

Toy Story could very easily have been renamed Raggedy Ann and Andy Gone Horribly Wrong. Or, perhaps, They Got Paid For Someone Else's Idea? Maybe just Bad Film-Making: with Guest Celebrity Voices. Actually, Trendy Nihilism seems to have the best ring to it.

Poor Raggedy Ann and Andy, having a $4 million dollar budget and top talent and yet being outsted by upstart hacks.

Think of that the next time you decide to go bonkers over Woody and Buzz at Disney World.

Cars 2: It has finally begun.

Cars 2

Well, it's finally begun. I knew it would happen eventually, but now it's official.

After a strong opening weekend, Cars 2 TANKED. It immediately began plummeting disastrously off the top-grossing movie charts and has been declared Pixar's first critical bomb.

This is it, folks, the beginning of the crowd's finally realizing that the Emperor isn't wearing anything after all. It has taken over a decade and a half, but finally people are beginning to realize that Pixar is not the be-all-end-all talent that the press has been proclaiming them to be.

When I had to see it (and believe me, I wish to make it clear that I did not pay money to see this stupid movie -- that was someone else's responsibility, thank God), I honestly didn't think it was any better or worse than all of the rest of Pixar's junk; it was simply more of the same.

What happened is that people are finally wisening up. The calculated focus-grouped formula is finally beginning to stop working. And I personally think that one of the many reasons why critics for ages have all praised these things is because all the peer pressure made them feel forced to participate in proclaiming them masterpieces; they didn't want to appear as fogyish as they are. It certainly would not have been the first time this has happened with anything related to Hollywood (remember the fight over the "hot" script to Radio Flyer?).

I can't recall the source off the bat, but I read today somewhere some newspaper critic bemoaning that they "hope Pixar isn't succuming to the same sequel-itis that plagued Disney sequels". Uh, guess what? They've been doing that for years now! It's just that no one has wanted to admit it! What they've been doing is what every other studio often attempts to do when it decides to pull the insane stunt of "creating one movie a year": release sequels to keep output appearing while at the same time producing the next "real" project in the shadows. It doesn't work, and is always the kiss of death for any studio attempting to "keep up appearances", as the saying goes.

So now that critics and more of the general public are suddenly starting to realize that saying Pixar isn't perfect won't make them uncool after all, let's all watch and see what happens. Pixar may wobble back and forth for a little while with "Oh good, another hit! See? It was just a one-time fluke" and "What, again? Another bomb? Pixar, what happened to you?" before the dust finally settles and folks realize that they've been had.

But one thing's for sure: as far as the press is concerned, Pixar now finally has a chink in their armour. And that's never a good thing for any marketing franchise, which is what Pixar really is after all.