What Are They Saying In Those Movies (part 2 of 4)

The Incredibles, Monster's Inc., and WALL-E

The Incredibles
The Incredibles is my favorite of the Pixar movies.

Alright, so a lot of the early humor stems from the fact that Mr. Incredible is simply too big. Since most of those gags are visual, I can't really point them out here. I like that "TIs" is a spoof of superhero movies, which actually starts out with Mr. Incredible being sued for trying to save people (one's supposed to laugh at the irony), which results in the govt. starting "Witness protection, superhero division" for the supers themselves. In the very beginning, Mr. Incredible is doing "mundane" things like rescuing cats out of trees and chasing bank robbers (with a very Bondish car). I should also add that he has a run-in with an extremely nerdy fan who invented rocketboots. In response to the kid's assumption that  he will join Mr. I as his sidekick, Mr.I replies "I work alone." and ejects the kid out of his car. Eventually, after a very busy day, he marries another super named Elastigirl. That scene is interesting because you can spot several supers in the background who turn up dead later. As I said above, there are a lot of "sight gags" and the ones that aren't require extensive background.

Things that are good include the fact that this is a very family-centered movie,  numerous sight gags, and basically the whole of the first paragraph. Mr. Incredible's best friend Frozone and the supersuit maker Edna Mode are also funny. Mr. Incredible's idea of a workout is funny because it's so oversized.

Disappointing things about this movie are things like the sequence in which Edna Mode decries the use of capes. At each name, they show a clip of an unfortunate super's horrible death, which I guess they added because the talking wasn't enough. And there are stupid mistakes like "If Syndrome's scanner thing was supposed to detect life, how could it have been fooled by sitting behind a skeleton? Major flaw there" (Syndrome the villain, by the way, is Buddy the ultimate fan at 30 years old, who was turned toward destruction because "You always said to be true to yourself, but you never said what part of yourself to be true to.") We also see a return of the clone troopers. Every kids' movie that portrays a huge army of humans never fails to put them all in identical eye-covering uniforms, so you'll think "oh it's ok, they're bad guys." not "they're people being killed" and Syndrome did not have to be sucked into a turbine.

On the whole, though, this is probably the film with the strongest morals, simply because the whole film portrays Mr. Incredible slowly realizing that he needs help and that no one works alone , and by the end the dsyfunctional family has molded into one unit that works together. In this one above the others, they are definitively glorifying the family as a unit.

Monster's Inc.
Monster's Inc. is the consensus favorite in our house. We have watched it so many times the tape is damaged.

Mike and Sully are hilarious together, Mike is good by himself, Randall's comeuppance (vaguely) resembles Hulk's reaction to Loki, the monsters' opinion of human kids is hilarious, the great spoof "heroes' march" scene,  the awesome "door chase" which seriously ought to be a virtual reality ride in Disney parks, the Abominable Snowman, the CDA (child detection agency,... well, basically everything.

But... there are flaws in everything... It is perhaps overly sappy at some points and there a couple of plot devices/ holes, but not having seen it recently, I can't think of them at the moment.

In Monster's Inc., the question is integrity or success, another question that can only be answered one way. And it's pretty clear: Sully (integrity) becomes CEO. Randall (dishonesty) gets pounded with a shovel. What can I say?

If there's one thing we object to in kids' movies, it's blatant political messages, which WALL-E is based on.

WALL-E is the last working unit of an army of Waste Allocation Load Lifter -Earth class robots, the purpose of which is to clean up Earth, which has been too unsanitary to live on for the past 700 years. (the cubed junk reaches the top of the Empire State building. There is no clean spot on Earth. Somehow, WALL-E finds a plant that's still alive, taking it back to the trailer where he stores himself. Eventually, a scanner comes back to Earth, takes the plant from WALL-E, and reembarks on the spaceship it came on.

It is funny to see how lazy (enabled by the handy hovercraft chairs provided) people get get in space, because the look simply absurd. There is an interesting "suspense" element. People have also gotten absurdly stupid. Sinde that's a main point of the humor, you will never like WALL-E the movie if you don't think that's funny. WALL-E the robot, by the way, only ever says "waall-ee"

First, there's the in-your-face plot-turning Greenpeace message. My family, though not opposed on principle, refuses to believe it's a big deal, so that bothers us when it's shoved in front like that. The entire world is owned by a Wal-Mart-like conglonerate called Buy-n-Large, the CEO of which had far more power than the U.N. assembly combined, or any world governments. 

On the whole, WALL-E is a so-so movie, with unexceptional good parts and annoying, but not terribly so, lame parts.

The quite obvious message of the film is a demand that people focus on the environment and get out and be active, which, of itself, is an excellent compound goal.


What They Are Saying In Those Movies... (Part 1 of 4)

Yes, I like Pixar. You all know that now. However, this post is not intended to be a pro-Pixar essay, or anything of  the kind. I intend only to expound my views on the films and what I think is going on in the "heads" of the movies. The listing of the titles is in the order I thought of them, not the release order (duh) or my personal preference ranking.

The Toy Story trilogy
Toy Story 1
On the whole, TS is an absolutely hilarious movie that never fails to crack us all up. The time-lapse sequences with the songs (i.e. Strange things are happening and "Buzz's flying song") are fun to watch. Also, the climactic bit where Woody is planning the escape with "Sid's" toys is great. "wind the frog!" And the car chase aboard RC is great too. But now to the cons.

I have always looked down on obvious filler "romance" bits, so Woody's relationship with Bo Peep the lamp decoration is rather awkward, but it isn't a bother. The real trouble lies in the film's relationship with the "bad guys" , Sid and his dog. Sid's dog, of course, is nothing more than a dog who tears up toys for his own (and Sid's) amusement. And he chases things, which is really only significant because it provides extra emphasis to the chase and results in the most awkward multi-car crash you'll ever see. Sid himself is a different story. In short, Sid is quite obviously criminally unbalanced, which they had to lay on thick in preparation for the revelation/rescue/reunion bit just before the car chase. That whole sequence where the toys come alive in front of Sid used to be funny, but as we aged, we realized that it's just plain creepy. It results in Sid going from criminally unbalanced to downright paranoid insanity and leaves you pitying him.

The moral code in TS1: This bit is only meant to point out the "why did they have to do that?" elements in the film which might give people pause. For instance, in this film, real families are irrelevant. Andy doesn't have a visible dad, and the most you see of Sid's parents (which might explain his behavior a bit) is one quick shot of one of them (probably dad) slouched on  a recliner in front of a TV, snoring his face off.. And, if you want to say that, there's also the implicit claim that toys have a life of their own when you're not looking. But that, however, is not really a moral sticking point, and it is obvious by now that imagining a non-human centered world, or seeing "us" from the viewpoint of say, a rat, is a hallmark of Pixar. The message I see coming out of TS1 is "Never give up, never leave a man behind, and understand that your relationships trump your ego." 

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 opens the year after the original. The best part of TS2 is the ongoing consequences of Buzz running into a "new and improved" version of himself who comes with a "super utility belt". After some one-sided conflict, during which old buzz attempts to reason with new Buzz over his place in the world, old Buzz is locked in a spaceship package and new Buzz takes his place. The humor stems from new Buzz's relationship with the old toys, in which he calls them by generic names like "slotted pig", "vegetable man", and "lizard man". The opening sequence, which portrays Buzz infiltrating Zurg's fortress, which is then revealed to be a video game being played by the toys. Woody's discovery of his own fame is also good for a lot of laughs. As a bonus, there are Star Wars reference jokes, even if they're a little forced.

What I don't really like about TS2 pretty much amounts to Jessie's hopeless breakup song, which, I'll admit, is more interesting than having her sit there and say it. It's intended to break Woody's confidence that Andy wants him back, thereby inducing Woody to go into the toy museum with them. In my mind, the jury is out on whether Stinky Pete the Prospector is a legitimate antagonist or not, since he amounts to a guy with a grudge that he was left on the shelf. Also, as with Sid in the first one, the results of ruining Al's plans seemed a bit over the top. Yeah, he's upset, but does he have to cry on TV?

The focal point of TS2 is a philosophical question that only has one answer: True happiness or immortality? The Woody's Roundup toys want Woody to choose immortality, but he wants true happiness, which of course is better than immortality. One might appreciate immortality at first, but after a few extra years life would get boring (and agonizing too unless you stopped aging). Happiness or fame?

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 occurs after another ten years have passed. Andy's graduated from high school, and, like many teens these days (so the stereotype says) spends his days in front of a computer screen while maintaining a latent sentimentality toward the old toys who've been in the box for years. Although he never does anything with them, he still likes them enough to put most of them in the attic while adding Woody to the college box. Of course, the toys in the bag can't tell what's going on, so when Andy's mom mistakenly puts them out by the dumpster, they assume Andy did it and their loyalty to him disappears. They wind up in a daycare center room for rowdy toddlers.

The fun elements of this film are Buzz in factory default mode /Spanish voice mode, the gangster Fisher-Price pull-me telephone who outlines the escape plan, the whole escape sequence, highlighted by Mr. Potato's transition into a cucumber by way of a tortilla, and the craziness that goes on at Bonnie's house. It doesn't hurt that the video by the How It Should Have Ended people is hilarious if you like Pixar. (It might still strike you as funny if you aren't a fan, but definitely not as much.)

The parts that are disappointing include the melodramatic bit where the toys, sliding down into an incinerator, resign themselves to their fate, and then promptly get saved by the toy aliens, who conveniently disappeared and found a crane the was conveniently there. ;)... (duh... the main characters are not getting burnt into oblivion halfway through) but when you actually see the scene, that's harder to realize. The villain in this one is a stuffed bear who's so far gone that believes that since he's been replaced, (by another copy of himself) no other toy deserves happiness either.

I know, movies like this are not allegories. I'm just checking to see if they seem to be condoning beliefs that aren't acceptable. What does it glorify or punish? Well, in this one (TS3) I can't see anything notable. You may have other opinions, and if so, say so. I've always had trouble with that sort of thing, so I wouldn't know. In the end, the villain is being tormented and the good toys are having the time of their lives. What is there to say?

I will be going through all the films, up to and including Brave.