Ep. 128 – Toy Story 4

June 23, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod try to determine the worthiness of “Toy Story 4.”

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Toy Story 3

June 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles
Directed by: Lee Unkrich (“Finding Nemo”)
Written by: Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”), John Lasseter (“Toy Story 2”), Andrew Stanton (“WALL-E”), Lee Unkrich (debut)

It’s difficult enough for some live-action films to express human emotion through human characters without sometimes crossing the line into melodramatic territory. Who knew 15 years ago it would be Pixar Animation Studios that would create a trilogy of films that would clearly defined the term “unconditional love” and convey it through a computer-generated boy and his plush, pull-string toy?

While the original classic “Toy Story” from 1995 was an exciting, nonstop adventure featuring a cast of uniquely-imagined characters, it was “Toy Story 2” that truly illustrated the intrinsic connection children and toys share with one another. In “Toy Story 3,” the significance of these relationships has come full circle in a sentimental and clever, but also dark and profound narrative undoubtedly worthy of being a part of Pixar’s growing distinction as the best animation house ever built.

With screenwriting duties going to Academy Award winner Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”), it’s evident Pixar – while a majority of its fan base are kids and families – isn’t simply playing for empty laughs. There is some seriousness in “Toy Story 3” from the very beginning.

It would have been easy enough to pick up from the same happy-go-lucky tone the last movie ended on, but instead Arndt and director Lee Unkrich take a realistic approach to the time passed. Andy (John Morris) is no longer the little boy who would play in his room for hours with the assortment of toys we’ve all grown to love. Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and most of the original toys are still present (others have met their fate by way of yard sales and spring cleaning), but at the age of 17, Andy hasn’t played with them in years.

Now, the toys long for the attention they used to receive when Andy was an imaginative grade-schooler. They also worry about what will become of them once Andy leaves for college. What will life in the attic be like once they’re placed in storage? Will any of them be given away or worse, tossed into the garbage?

When Andy’s toys are accidentally placed onto the curb for trash pick-up and subsequently donated to a local day care center, Buzz and the gang try to make the best of it although Woody is insistent about finding their way back home. But when a group of second-hand toys led by the a strawberry-scented teddy bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty) welcome them with open, fluffy arms and explain that “no owners means no heartbreak” the daycare’s newest residents are sold on the idea.

Playtime, however, doesn’t turn out to be what was expected. Lotso and his crew, including Ken (Michael Keaton), an octopus toy named Stretch (Whoopie Goldberg), and a lazy-eyed baby doll, run the daycare like a prison. While Woody is able to escape, he ends up in a whole new situation when he is found outside the day care center and taken home by Molly (Beatrice Miller), a shy little girl with her own collection of huggable toys, including Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), a thespian hedgehog.

Created with any number of prison-break movies in mind, Pixar takes “Toy Story 3” and gives it enough visual flash and flat-out hilarious moments that rival anything the animation studio has ever done. The film’s success, however, doesn’t end at the flawless character rendering and production value. There is an innovative spirit to it that is rare for any animated film to generate. From moments of pure delight and chilling anxiety to one of the most heartbreaking goodbyes in recent memory, “Toy Story 3” wraps up the franchise in masterful fashion and once again proves Pixar is on a level all its own.

Carlos Baena – Toy Story 3

June 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

It didn’t take long for Carlos Baena to decide what he wanted to do with his life after he moved to the U.S. from Spain at the age of 18 in the early 90s. All he had to do was watch a couple of animated films.

“The first movie was ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and the second was ‘Toy Story,’” Baena, 35, told me during a phone interview. “It was then when I knew I at least wanted to try animation. Those two movies really hit me hard.”

Today, Baena isn’t simply trying to make a name for himself in the animated industry. He’s a major player working for one of the most well-respected production studios – Pixar Animation. To top it off, Baena’s career seems to have gone full circle. He is part of the animation department that created “Toy Story 3.”

Since joining Pixar in 2002, Baena has worked on the films “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Cars,” “Ratatouille” and “WALL-E.” In “Toy Story 3,” he helped to animate the character Buzz Lightyear during scenes when the space ranger is accidentally reset to Spanish mode.

During our interview, Baena talked about how “Toy Story 3” complements the entire franchise, what kinds of toys he still enjoys buying, and why the online animation school he co-founded, Animation Mentor, is important to aspiring animators.

How has your experience on “Toy Story 3” compared to other films you’ve worked on in the past?

This was one of the most gratifying experiences in my career. This is a beautiful film in so many ways. It has a great balance of adventure, emotion, and humor. I am very proud of the film. I can’t wait for people to see it.

How does “Toy Story 3” complement the franchise?

I think this one wraps up all three films in a beautiful way. There is a lot of attention to detail and character. It all comes together very nicely. I’ve already watched the movie five or six times and it still gets to me emotionally ever single time. I really think it is a powerful film.

I hear Buzz Lightyear speaks a little Spanish in this new film.

Yes, I had a chance to do a lot of Spanish stuff with that. It was an awesome opportunity – especially since I am from originally Spain – to put a little of my own culture into a character I have loved even before I knew I wanted to do animation.

“Toy Story” was groundbreaking in 1995 and Pixar continues to amaze audiences with every new film. Does it ever surprise you anymore what you can do as an animator as the technology advances?

Yeah, we’re at a point where we can basically make anything we want visually. But the thing I enjoy the most about “Toy Story 3” is that the director and the crew thought it was important that the visuals were in a world that still relates to “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2.” Things look better, but they don’t look too realistic like “WALL-E.” We have all this technology but we didn’t want any particular effects to take you out of the “Toy Story” world.

Do you still have any of your old toys from when you were a kid?

Oh, yeah. I have a whole box of old “Star Wars” toys I grew up with. Now, I don’t have as many toys as I do collectables. I loved “The Terminator” growing up, so I have figures from that movie and some from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” I like to have toys I know will last me for a very long time. I like to display them but if you have a lot of them it’s not fun cleaning all the dust.

You co-founded an online animation school called animationmentor.com. Tell me why it’s so important to start training the next generation of animators.

Well, my partners and I wanted to start an online school that would teach animation in a way we would have loved to have been taught if we went back to school now. It was important to me because to study animation and learn from the people I wanted to learn from I had to move to an entirely different county and culture. While it has been a great, it was also hard to leave my family. With the online school, students can learn from wherever they are and teachers can teach from wherever they live. All of a sudden, we’ve created an animation community from all over the world.