Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Toy Story & Toy Story 2 in 3D

Toy Story & Toy Story 2 in 3D

Rated: G 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: October 9, 2009 Released by: Walt Disney Pictures

The "Toy Story 3D" combo is really a fun playdate (with a ten minute respite) in this reproduction (which really doesn't stand out) of something groundbreaking in computer animation to the newly chic format for all ages to revisit an odd couple indeed - pullstring cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) and plastic spaceman Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).

To see where animation has come in the last decade and a half, with the improvement of graphical design and so on, it's still amazing how Pixar set the bar and continues to create such a high-tech pedigree of material that juggles for children and adults what really is enjoyable "to infinity and beyond".

The shift to 3D almost seems like John Lasseter and his crew originally intended it this way. Characters, scenes, and set pieces may be familiar, but there's still something humorous and vibrant from next door neighbor Sid's ominous bedroom (in Toy Story) to a frantic finish at the Far East airline terminal in the more action-packed sequel. Disney knows how to tease and titillate its broad audience for Toy Story 3 (in 3D) of course before this still exemplary reissue (in a two-week theatrical engagement).

The films demonstrate the willingness of Woody and Buzz to perform some heroic, if unsavory acts as the 3D has a natural look and feel, showing where the subtleness in its use for films like the recent Coraline and the studio's own Up has added an extra depth of perception and prescient quality to them. One can notice how the epidermal qualities of humans and animals have evolved in this time as the technology to refract and reflect light and shade with motion to the source seems to rise on an exponential level.

Even in there 35 mm two-dimensional heyday, the films make the humans look human and the toys look plastic. Some scenes from the two films (many thought Toy Story 2 even improved upon the arguably more coherent original) stand out, whether the heated confrontation with more Buzz Lightyears or the nemesis in Zurg, or the climactic car chase in the original. The films work off of jealousy and greed from the characters of toy-torturing neighbor Sid or Wayne Knight's paranoid-ish. Both emphasize the importance of friendship and downplay self-recognition as Hanks and Allen nuance their characters not just through inflection to bring purpose and understanding to what is sometimes madcap, but also sophisticated in its sense of humor.

Young fry will like the recreation of such engaging playful, assiduous situation with toys like Lightyear a kind of space commander with electronic features like a powerful laser and plastic wings. Their parents and older companions will have nostalgia of seeing their old toys like Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky the Dog (the late Jim Varney), even Hammy the bank (voiced by Pixar regular and "Cheers" mailman John Ratzenberger), as well as a plastic dinosaur (Wallace Shawn), a battalion of soldiers (led by R. Lee Ermey), and a barrel O'monkeys.

As Lasseter and proteges like Andrew Stanton don't need to tidy up what's been transferred here, the personality and detail to what was and continues to be state-of-the art doesn't pander to demographics. It shows how animation can be proficiently pertinent, distinct, very funny with actors like Kelsey Grammer, Laurie Metcalf, and Joan Cusack, among many contributing their talents to what still has enormous strength with the family audience in the early 21st century.

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Toy Story & Toy Story 2 in 3D        A      A            A 

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