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Toy Story 3 (2010)

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I’ll admit, when I initially heard that Pixar’s next project was going to be a third installment to the Toy Story franchise, I wasn’t sure what to think.  Pixar is the top dog for creativity and I’ve been thrilled with their not-so-recent efforts of Up and Wall-E. Soooo another Toy Story?  Haven’t we heard this story before?  Twice?  But then I thought some more, and I’m as big of a fan as any of Woody and his gang and those movies define my childhood.  And Pixar is always right.  So I trusted them.

It’s a good thing I did.

Toy Story 3 is about grown-up Andy leaving the roost to go to college.  One card that Pixar played to solidify awesomeness was to release this movie just as the first generation Toy Story watchers are heading out to college themselves.  It definitely hit me differently since I too was embarking on the same adventure.  Good move, Pixar.  You always did know how to tug at the heart strings.

Anyway, as so morbidly predicted by Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2, Andy has forgotten about his toys.  In the confusion of packing and getting everything ready to leave, his box of the beloveds (Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Bulls Eye, Slink, Rex, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Hamm, 3 alien squeak toys, and even Molly’s old barbie) are accidentally taken to Sunny Side Daycare, instead of the attic where he wanted them.  (p.s. I totally listed those characters from memory btw.  Go me).  Woody tries to convince his buds that they need to go BACK to Andy’s.

Woody eventually heads off on his own.  Buzz and the rest of the crew are at first excited for their new lives – they meet a welcoming Care-Bear named Losto and his side-kick Big Baby, and Barbie finds true love in the apparently-straight-but-sooo-gay Ken (“That Barbie sure has nice handwriting!” “Uhh, Buzz?  I don’t think Barbie wrote this…”).  Unfortunately, our toys are assigned to the dreaded Caterpillar room, and tyrannically excluded by Lotso from the coveted Butterfly room.  What’s the difference?  Malicious torture by toddlers.  Turns out Woody was right.  They need to get out of this murderous mess.

Soo my first reaction told me that this was a little too much like Toy Story 2. The plot didn’t sweep me off my feet.  The sequence of things felt all-too familiar, and I was slightly disappointed.  On a side note, I honestly think one of the reasons I had these few drawbacks was due to Roger Ebert’s review, which gave it a positive rating but not a home-run score.  I’m torn between reading critic reviews for movies or not, but that’s a post for another time.  Anyway, the emotion behind it all outweighs this drawback.  I was freaking crying like a little baby by the end.  Seriously.  Tears were a-flowin’.  It’s a good thing it was 2 am and everyone else had fallen asleep so I didn’t even need to pretend that I got something in my eye.  I mean, these were practically MY toys!  Their camaraderie and care for each other is powerful, and in the end this is simply a beautiful story about friendship and looking out for one another.  But really though, let’s not forget the classic humor and wit that always accompanies a Pixar flick.

Barbie: “I”
Ken: “Love”
Barbie: “You!
Ken: “See, that time I said Love!  See what I mean, it changes every time!”

Ken’s fashion shows, Spanish mode Buzz (heck, Spanish-DANCING Buzz), and Pickle-Potato-Heads.  It’s hard not to giggle like a maniac at some parts.  Technically speaking, everything’s essentially flawless.  Perfect animation.  Excellent voice acting (Tom Hanks and Tim Allen of course, but also Michael Keaton, Ned Beatty and Bonnie Hunt in her small role).  Classic music.  Everything.

Pixar, you do whatever you want.  You have now successfully created a trilogy for the ages that is satisfying and complete.  I will forever treasure the Toy Story movies and the characters in them.  “So long… partner.”  8/10


Written by laurenthejukebox17

January 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

Toy Story 2 (1999)

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Just when we thought Toy Story was the best thing there was – Toy Story 2 comes out.  Pixar’s third effort is out to prove that these flicks are way more than just kids’ movies because seriously this movie has got more emotional baggage than Terms of Endearment. Okay, not really, but you get the picture.  Toy Story 2 opens with awesome exchange between Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and his nemesis Emperor Zurg (Andrew Stanton) complete with Star Wars references.  After Buzz gets his top blown off, we’re initially scared out of our pants.  Luckily, he’s actually in his very own video game – and other than Rex’s (Wallace Shawn) short arms things are well in the world of Andy’s bedroom.  Our favorite Woody (Tom Hanks) is off to Cowboy Camp, Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) is lovin’ married life, and Buzz is still Mr. Popular.  That is, until Woody gets his arm torn and then he gets sold in a yard sale to a crazy chicken man only to find out he’s worth bank and then be sold to a museum in Tokyo… Okay I just got way ahead of myself on that one.

Anyway.  Throughout this whole climax, we find out that Woody isn’t just Andy’s favorite toy.  He’s a rare Sheriff Woody doll, with a round-up gang and his face on a yo-yo to boot.  Woody doesn’t know what to think of his gang at first, but soon bonds with Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack), The Prospector aka Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer) and Bulls Eye (a real, live horse I’m sure).  Meanwhile, his friends from Andy’s room (Buzz, Rex, Slink, Tater head, and Hamm) are doing everything in their power to rescue him – even crossing the street without adult supervision.  In the end, it’ll come down to whatever Woody decides is more important, being loved by a child or being preserved in top-notch condition forever and ever while being pampered with cocktails and other special treatment along the way.

Toy Story 2 is driven by emotion.  One of the most moving and sad moments occurs when Jessie tells her tale of being forgotten by her owner, Emily.  Man is that heavy stuff.  First, Woody’s havin’ creepy nightmares about his being left behind by Andy, then Jessie REALLY gets left behind by Emily, then Buzz gets rejected by Woody … it really makes you think doesn’t it?  The boundary between toys and humans thins considerably as we find our eyes watering at the realization that we, too, could be forgotten one day.  Morbid.

But this movie is far from depressing – it’s hilarious!  Witty one-liners and Buzz Lightyear imposters and married spuds and tour guide Barbies.  Oh, and more Star Wars homages. That’s when you KNOW a movie is good.  Just kidding.  But not really.

On a last note, the animation is incredible.  Those cheeto puffs look as edible as any I’ve ever eaten – I am absolutely amazed at the detail.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve prob been living under a rock in Ghana, but see it.  You won’t regret it. 10/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

December 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm

quote-of-the-week #5

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Are you crazy?!  A man in a really nice camper wants to put our song on the radio!  Gimme a pen – I’m signin’!  You’re signin’! We’re all signin’..

~Lenny, That Thing You Do! (1996)

This is one of my favorite movies, and Steve Zahn is quickly becoming a favorite as well.  It’s just so snappy.

Written by laurenthejukebox17

July 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Posted in 1990s, movies

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Toy Story (1995)

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So there’s an endless supply of TS3 reviews right now.  They all pretty much say the same thing:  A+, 4 star, 10 points, 5/5 etc.  I haven’t seen it.  It hasn’t even been RELEASED in Tahiti yet.  You know I’m actually getting used to watching movies ages after they come out.  Nothing was worse than waiting 7 months for The Dark Knight.  I can deal with anything now.  But I got myself pumped anyway for when I do watch it… by watching 1 & 2 a couple weekends ago.

From the get-go Pixar was something special.  They needed no practice runs.  Toy Story raised the bar a whole ‘nuther level for animated pictures featuring both a quality story for all ages and top notch animation.  Although Pixar does nothing but improve in the effects department, the detail here is still incredible and better than any other animated predecessor.

I doubt I really need to add any plot summary (even if you haven’t seen it, I’m pretty sure you know what it’s about…) but what the heck.  Andy (voiced by John Morris) is a kid just like any other who enjoys playing with his favorite toys.  But, don don don, as soon as he leaves the room, his toys come alive.  Surprised, aren’t you?  Our chief character and leader of the pack is Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks), Andy’s favorite toy.  Other toys include Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), and Slink (Jim Varney).  After Andy’s birthday party (a very delicate affair complete with green army dudes for a stake out) the new toy arrives. Buzz Lightyear of star command (Tim Allen) is pretty new to the toy-verse.  He still believes he’s a space ranger but regardless his mental state, there’s no denying that this toy is slick.  He comes complete with a karate chop action arm, wings, glow in the dark capabilities, a laser, and his helmet does that WHOOSH thing.  Pretty soon Woody is no longer the bee’s knees amongst his peers and owner.  Laser envy!  Buzz and Woody’s rivalry takes them on adventures they never could have imagined in their toy dreams,  “one minute you’re defending the whole galaxy, and, suddenly, you find yourself sucking down Darjeeling with… Marie Antoinette and her little sister.”

While I probably prefer numero dos to this one (I like it better when Woody and Buzz are friends…) there’s no denying it remains one of Pixar’s very best.  Buzz particularly stands out as the cocky space toy, er, ranger who falls with style better than anyone I know.  But who can’t love our sheriff Woody?  These characters will last for ages.  This movie also deals with issues far deeper than your usual happily ever after tale.  No one wants to be forgotten or left behind.

Not only is the animation new and fantastic, Pixar proved that an animated flick (or any flick) doesn’t have to be childish to appeal to kids.  The script is fun for everyone with such sharp wit!  “Hey look I’m Picasso!”  “Gee, I don’t get it.”  “You uncultured swine!”

Complete with an excellent soundtrack by Randy Newman, Toy Story isn’t getting old any time soon.  9/10

“Right now, poised at the edge of the galaxy, Emperor Zurg has been secretly building a weapon with the destructive capacity to annihilate an entire planet.  I alone have information that reveals this weapon’s only weakness.”  Now read that and tell me it isn’t Star Wars…

From: Marc Ciafardini (
Sent: Thu 7/08/10 2:20 PM

Hey All,
I sent out an email yesterday and wanted to see if anyone would be interested in a multi-blog-a-thon I’m crafting. Here’s the details:

In the success of Andy’s Desert Island DVD’s and Mike’s 27 Movies that Made Going to the Movies Suck, I’d like to suggest another big event that should be equally as fun entitled Films That Defined Us.
Since we’re all pretty much life long film fans, I thought it would be fun to write about the movies that really set the bar for us. More specifically the movies were were raised on which (probably) forever defined our tastes. It’d not only be a fun trip down memory lane, but also a way for us to find out what makes our friends tick.
The format would be as follows:
Please identify 1 or 2 titles from any applicable genres (comedy, horror, action, romance, mystery, etc) which will highlight no less than 5 and no more than 8 of your favorite films from your impressionable years. I’m leaving it all open and imagine that you can mix and match however you want. Choose movies from just one genre, omit certain genres, whatever. It’s all up to you so write about the movies you want to write about…I just want to keep the total low and don’t want people coming up with like 20 entries. The 5 to 8 is a good and concise number.
Each entry would require 3-4 sentences of 1. Why it dazzled you at a young age  2. What still stands up about it, and 3. Why you think it sets the standard for the genre of choice.
Since this is a personal list, don’t worry about trying to impress anyone with seemingly sophisticated tastes. Remember, these are the films that you saw at a young age and the ones you constantly refer back to as classics…even if they really aren’t 😛
If anyone is interested in this, please let me know. I plan to post this on Friday August 13 but would like to have your shortlinks sent to me the weekend prior (which would be the August 7/8th) so I can link all participating parties.
Let me know if you want to be a part of this. Be glad to have you on board! Oh and pass this on to anyone you feel might want to participate as well!
Marc V. Ciafardini

Written by laurenthejukebox17

July 8, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Happy Father’s Day!

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Yeah, yeah.  I know Father’s Day was yesterday.  But in honor of the holiday (and my own wonderful father) I thought I’d post the top ten movies that remind me of my pops!

10) It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Every Christmas my mom and I have a Christmas movie/TV marathon with all of the Christmas movies and TV eps we can muster.  My dad is selective, he only tunes in for the good stuff.  We always save the best for last, and Dad has gotta be present!  He always gets into it.

9) You’ve Got Mail (1998) This is a funny selection, but I chose this because my dad will always join us to watch (it’s one of my favorites) but will always, always complain.  Key phrase: “It needs some editing.”

8) Galaxy Quest (1999) I chose this one because he introduced our family to this movie.  One day he randomly brought it home from the video rental store and I’ve watched it over a thousand times since.

7) Hoosiers (1986) My love of basketball comes from my brother’s and father’s love of basketball.  My dad has always loved this movie.

6) Freedom Writers (2007) I saw this in the theater with my dad.  I was fifteen, and my dad said, “Hey, let’s go on a daddy-daughter-date and see a movie.  I’ve heard of this one inspiring one…”  I hadn’t even heard of the movie at the time, but we had a good time together.

5) Chariots of Fire (1981) This is another film that my Dad introduced me to.  My mom was out for the evening so he recommended we watch a movie today (if I do recall… I think I had other plans.  But I’m not one to argue).  I remember making a few snide remarks about the over-use of the theme song and how cheesy it’s becoming only to be shot down with, “There’s nothing cheesy about this movie.”   Anyway, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t too into it that first time, but a few viewings later and I’m sold.

4) Pride & Prejudice (2005) Yeah.  My dad watches Pride and Prejudice.  Does YOUR dad watch Pride and Prejudice?

3) The Guns of Navarone (1961) Generally if I ask my dad what his favorite movie is he’ll say, “Oh… maybe The Guns of Navarone…”  I’m not sure if this is true or not.  But nevertheless, we own this movie because he likes it.  Jk, it’s a pretty awesome movie too.  Love Gregory Peck.

2) The Inlaws (1979) See, my dad can be kind of a serious guy.  And few of my friends know the “real him.”  This movie brings out the “Real Dad” and most importantly his “real laugh.”  Man, is this movie funny.  Alan Arkin is one of my favorite actors too, btw.

1) The Freshman (1990) This movie takes the cake.  My dad laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs.

Happy Father’s Day!

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm