Tuesday, June 29, 2010
"Now Woody, he's been my pal for as long as I can remember. He's brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special, is he'll never give up on you... ever. He'll be there for you, no matter what. "
Andy, Toy Story 3
I have friends a lot like Woody. Friends who never give up, who are there when you need them. I hope you know who you are.
Monday, June 28, 2010
LDS missionaries are not allowed to go see movies. We had other responsibilities to attend to, but I have to admit it was very difficult to know that the theater in the next town over had an extended showing of a movie animated not by hand, but by computer. Being the all around animation nut I am, it took everything I had to stick to the straight and narrow through the winter of 1995, and into the following spring of 1996. Every time we drove past the theater showing an extended run of Toy Story, I just kept chanting to myself, "I'll be home in four months, and I can see what it's all about then." It was a long four months (but the best two years of my life - up to that point).
Yes, I eventually made it home from the mission field, and I did get to see Toy Story, albeit on video tape. Two years later, I waited patiently in line at the SCERA theater in Orem, Utah to see Pixar's newest offering, a bug's life. It couldn't be as good as Toy Story was, could it? I was proven wrong - a bug's life reached the mark set by Toy Story, and the start of Pixar in jokes, such as the Pizza Planet truck and the use of John Ratzenberger, started to become familiar points to watch for.
Toy Story 2 set the bar even higher and became one of the rare sequels that outdoes the original. Then came Monsters Inc.
James P. Sullivan, Monster's Inc. top scarer. Behind the fangs and fur, this monster was a regular joe, just trying to do his job to the best of his ability.
THEN SOMETHING GOES HORRIBLY WRONG!!!!!
His world is changed by a little girl. He learns that children aren't dangerous, and by the end of his first day with "Boo," she's got him twisted around her little finger. I didn't think much of it at the time.
And then my world was changed by a little girl. My daughter was born about four years after Monster's Inc. was released, and I suddenly realized why Sully was so protective of Boo. I also came to learn for myself the great feeling that accompanies the final frame of the film.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The soundtrack also included "When Somebody Loved Me." Jessie's song about Emily, the little girl who owned and forgot about her, really affected me. Where Toy Story showed the secret life of toys, Toy Story 2 dealt strongly with the fact that, eventually, children outgrow their toys, and these characters, who thrived on playtime with their owners, could become lonely and forgotten. The film also focused on the collector mentality, which I did get caught up in a few years later, that maintains that toys are for looking, not playing. But the lesson that Jessie and Woody learned is that being loved as someone's toy, even for a short time, is more important than being locked inside a gilded cage, never to be played with again, avoiding the pain and heartbreak that would inevitably come. Wait a second, I'm half afraid this post is about to turn into a review of Toy Story 3 (good movie, go see it).
Jessie was a welcome addition to the cast. While the writers gave her a valid reason to want to avoid further heartache, Jessie seems to have the biggest heart of all the Toy Story characters. She does everything big, with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm. Where Woody retains the floppy physics of a rag doll, every move Jessie makes, while perhaps exuberant, is calculated and certain. It is Jessie who helps Woody realize where he came from, and it is for Jessie's sake that Woody makes the choices he does in Toy Story 2.
Jessie has also become one of my daughter's favorite characters, which is interesting, because her other favorites are the Disney Princesses and Tinkerbell. One of my favorite Disneyland memories is of my daughter meeting Jessie and having some one on one time together in a quiet corner of the park.
As a post script, my collector mentality gave out about the time that Cars was released. I purchased the toy Cars figures to display and keep on my bookshelf, out of the reach of young children, with no intention of taking them down.
Flash forward a couple of years. My son loves his (my former) Lightning McQueen and Mater cars, and won't go to sleep without Red, the fire engine. And you know what, I'm happy they're no longer on the shelf and that the paint has become chipped from countless drops on a tile floor. My son loves them, and that's what brings them to life.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Always at the mercy of the latest Muppet Labs contraption, Beaker gets right back up and takes whatever comes at him.
He might not say much, but meep meep meeep meep meep, meep meeep meep meeep meep. I don't think anyone can say it better than that.
He also plays a mean guitar.
Beauty and the Beast was released November 21, 1991. I was a junior in high school who, honestly, felt very out of place and insecure, especially when it came to girls. Upon my first viewing, I felt a connection with the Beast. He was unsure of who he was. He had accepted what he had become and convinced himself that no one could love him. Like the Beast, I was wrong about myself.
An interesting aspect I've only just come to realize, is that this is the first Disney film in which the lead male character was saved by the lead female. It was the Beast who was in need of rescuing, not Belle (okay, yeah, she wanted to escape her provincial life, but she didn't need a prince to do so, and there was that whole wolf attack thing).
As time went on, I found myself feeling more like the Beast. The broadway musical added a song to those from the film, "If I Can't Love Her," in which the Beast loses hope of Belle ever loving him. The song is very melancholy, and echoed how I felt entering the fall of 2002. One late October night, I got a call from a friend who wanted to set me up on a blind date. Before I could decline, I then got a call from the blind date, who was expecting me to pick her up the following morning. I couldn't say no, and found myself looking forward to meeting this impetuous girl. Six months later we were married. Finding my wife evoked a transformation within myself, like the Beast, only unlocked once I truly loved another, and knew they loved me in return.
Nearly eight years later, as I watch Beauty and the Beast from the perspective of a husband and parent, the film takes on a different meaning. But the Beast remains my favorite character. He reminds me of where I've been, and of the joy I've found in love.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Another blog I'm following, which has also been going through the doldrums, posted a list of 30 Disney related topics. Each topic was to be the focus of a different blog post each day. I figured, what the heck, if anything can get me writing daily, that just might be it. I've seen 365 day blogs, and while I'm not quite ready to commit to that kind of goal, 30 days, with all of the brainstorming done, just might help me out.
By the way, I'm starting tomorrow. Here's the list any, in case anyone else feels like doing the same. I'd like to see what you would have to say about these topics.
Day #1: Your favorite character
Day #2: Your favorite Muppet
Day #3: Your favorite heroine
Day #4: Your favorite Pixar Character
Day #5: Your favorite hero
Day #6: Your favorite animal
Day #7: Your favorite sidekick
Day #8: Your favorite villain
Day #9: Your favorite original character (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, etc.)
Day #10: Your favorite song
Day #11: Your favorite love song
Day #12: Your favorite villain song
Day #13: Your least favorite song
Day #14: Your favorite kiss
Day #15: The first movie you saw
Day #16: Your favorite classic
Day #17: Your least favorite classic
Day #18: Your favorite Pixar film
Day #19: Your least favorite Pixar film
Day #20: Favorite sequel
Day #21: An overrated movie
Day #22: An underrated movie
Day #23: A movie that makes you laugh
Day #24: A movie that makes you cry
Day #25: Your favorite scene from your favorite movie
Day #26: Saddest death
Day #27: Your favorite quote
Day #28: Your favorite theme park
Day #29: Your favorite theme attraction
Day #30: Your favorite theme park show