Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Childhood Reimagined

                In the two month history of this blog, I think I’ve set myself apart with a few traditions- slow declines in readership, writing in such a way that I think of better ways to say simple sentences only after I post the finished product, and terrific movie ideas. So let me weave you a… weaving… of terrific plot lines. And awful metaphors.

                A male character, John, has it all. He’s got respect from his numerous friends as the head of their local government. Suddenly, a mysterious stranger shows up. This stranger, Steve, challenges everything John worked so hard to achieve. Using his modern techniques and impressive technical knowledge, Steve begins stealing friends and respect from John. John is enraged, not to mention highly jealous. So John hitches a plan. He stages a fake crisis in order to take Steve out of the way of his regaining the respect of others. How does John plan to get rid of Steve? MURDER. By pushing Steve off of a cliff, he hopes to return back to the way things were. However, one of John’s former friends witnesses the attempted murder and attempt to detain John. John escapes thanks to a lucky intervention by a higher governmental official.

                Some time later, John reunites with the very not-dead Steve. They fight for a short time before being detained in an old pickup truck, and transported to a restaurant, where they are traded off to a serial killer and are then detained at his house. The killer decides to wait until it is sunny (as is his MO) to torture and eventually kill them. During this time, Steve slips into a clinical depression and loses all hope for remaining alive, even becoming unsure if he wants to live or not. Steve goes as far as to almost jump to his death, but he survives the fall. John decides that in order to escape, he has to work together with his former enemy. Luckily, using the disfigured remains of his previous victims, Steve and John manage to drive the killer insane and escape.

                Sound like a good movie, if a little David Fincher-y? Well guess what- THAT’S TOY STORY. Replace “John” with “Woody” and “Steve” with “Buzz” and you’ve got yourselves a classic Disney animated classic. How messed up is that? A children’s movie filled with attempted murder and serial torturing.

I'll make them all pay.
               That's something that really gets overlooked in the viewing of this film. WOODY TRIED TO KILL BUZZ. We're supposed to believe that after Buzz smashes Woody's face into a gas station parking lot, all is forgiven? And what happens to Sid (the evil kid)? For the rest of his life, he is going to believe toys are alive and always judging him. Silently judging him. He'll tell everyone he knows, and he'll be telling the truth, but who will believe him?

                Okay, since those ideas are already taken, how about this drama- a boy, David, is confronted with a broken home. His father and mother are getting divorced, despite the fact that David’s mother had very recently given birth to a baby girl, say within one year. In order to deal with all of the stress including moving away from his emotionally (and physically) absent father, he starts to dabble in escapism. It begins honestly enough, playing with some birthday presents he received in his last party in his father’s home. But soon enough, it takes a dark turn as he begins having black outs, hiding his toys and losing track of them. While preparing for the move, he deals with his psychosis and also the influence of his disturbed neighbor. This neighbor has all the tell tale signs of growing into a troubled adult, with possible murder charges in his future. The movie details David’s troubled growth into a teenager.

                Oh wait. TOY STORY AGAIN.  “But Mick!” you ask “How do you know Andy’s parents are getting divorced?” Well nosy reader who can’t just take my word for it (Also known as "Matt". Screw off, Matt), because of the semi. When Woody and Buzz finally make it to the moving truck, there are about a dozen boxes and no furniture. This means that Andy’s father is keeping all the major items, and the rest of the family is stuck moving into a new house with only their clothes and piggy banks.

The contents of the moving truck- toys, boxes, and a dresser.

                But assuming the family is getting divorced, this raises further problems in Andy’s life. The dad is not present at Andy’s birthday party. As in the very last time his son will ever celebrate a birthday in his house the dad is nowhere to be seen. Also, as the movie closes, Andy is celebrating Christmas. Once again, no father for Andy. No wonder the only solace Andy can find is in father figures like Woody and Buzz.

               One often overlooked line in the film is when Woody is convincing the toy "zombies" to work with them to allow the main characters to escape. He says "Now, we're going to have to break a few rules, but it'll be worth it." DOES THIS CREEP NO ONE ELSE OUT?! These toys are not only alive and feel pain, but they have a set of rules that span all brands and kinds of toys. That suggests a much higher level of coordination between play-things than was previously alluded to. Whether it be instincts or something that the toy company teaches their products before shipping them off into the world, every toy knows the "rules"- don't let humans know you're really alive inside. Always hold a smile and let your children do anything they want while playing with you.

             Another depressing aspect- those "zombies" in Sid's yard- what happens to them? They don't escape with Woody and Buzz. They stay in their yard, only receiving a quick "Thanks for your help we gotta go" from  Woody on his way back to Andy's van. What is Sid going to do once he uncurls from the fetal position? If he has anything like a rational human brain after Woody destroyed his mind, he will undoubtedly destroy every toy in his local living space. Now instead of scraping out an existence as freaks, these tortured souls will be thrown into a fire or chopped up with an ax in Sid's attempt to get their silent, judging, unmoving eyes off of him. Also, did anyone else notice they never talked? That's how emotionally and mentally scarred these toys were, even before their owner knew that they could attack him while he slept.

"Hey, uh, no biggie or anything but could you maybe help US escape our sadistic owner?
I mean if it isn't too much trouble for you beautiful toys. No, no, you go have fun
with your loving and caring 'Andy'."

                Disney movies are all sorts of messed up. A teenage girl gives up her voice in order to be with a cute boy. Absolutely no emotional connection was made before she decided she didn’t want to talk anymore. If you ask me, I’d say that’s the perfect woman. A red-head with a clamshell bikini that doesn't talk?! Jackpot. HOOOOO Mick you so crazy!

We'd have to work around the whole "fish tail" aspect but I could manage.

                I can’t be the only one who finds these sorts of things hilariously amusing to discuss. Did the writers of Toy Story set out to create a story rich with attempted murder, depression, and assumed dismemberment? No, of course not. But can I misconstrue everything good about my childhood and change it into a depressing, animated Sev7n? Check and mate, son.

You've got a friend in him,

Mick Dickinson

Morgan Morgan Morgan.

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