Contest for Teachers Only: Toy Story 3 Art Book

Posted on January 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

I have one copy of this gorgeous book about the artwork behind “Toy Story 3” for some lucky teacher. Little kids will enjoy seeing pictures of their favorite characters, older kids will appreciate the behind-the-scenes information and everyone will learn a lot from the way the people at Pixar, well, learn a lot as they try many different ways to tell the story before they finally get it just right. The fact that the movie itself is about the power and importance of imagination and story-telling makes that lesson even more compelling.

Write me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with Teach in the subject line and tell me about your classroom. Just a sentence or two will be fine! I look forward to hearing from you and I wish I had enough books for everyone. (I have another teachers-only prize coming up soon, so stay tuned!)

My policy on conflicts and accepting promotional items is available on this blog.

Related Tags:

 

Behind the Scenes Books Contests and Giveaways

Toy Story 3

Posted on November 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

A
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: G
Profanity: Some brief schoolyard language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Characters in frequent peril, tense confrontations, bully, dealing with loss
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: June 18, 2010
Date Released to DVD: November 2, 2010
Amazon.com ASIN: B00275EHJG

You won’t just forget you are watching an animated movie; you will forget you are watching a movie. That is how completely we enter this wonderful world, and how reluctantly we leave it.

“Toy Story 3” has more honest, acutely observed, and engaging characters, a more authentic understanding of the poignant complexities of the human condition, bigger laughs, and better action than most live-action films and is close to being as authentic and involving as real life. You have to remind yourself, a little sadly, that these are not toys you’ve played with and people you know. It is by any standard and in any category a masterpiece.

It was just 15 years ago that Pixar released the first “Toy Story” and changed the course of movies forever. They made it about toys because the limited motion and smooth, shiny surfaces of plastic made it possible to hide the limitations of the technology of the time. And as they have with every film they produced, they made the story and the characters come first. It was the writing — and the voice performances by Tim Allen and Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast — that made the movie come to life. Ten record-breaking, genre-shattering films later, Pixar returns to the story of Buzz and Woody with all of the humor and action and even more heart. The early works were kids’ movies adults could enjoy but as they showed with “Up,” they are now making films for grown-ups that kids will appreciate.

As with “Up,” “Toy Story 3” begins with a brief flashback sequence filled with a breathtaking mastery of telling, evocative detail. Once there was a time when children played with toys powered by imagination rather than batteries. We go back in time to see Andy playing out a fabulously inventive adventure and the buoyant energy of his vision, acting rather than re-enacting, is jubilant with the pure pleasure of making things up. (This must be what it is like to work at Pixar.)

But time has gone by. Andy is packing for college and the only way the toys who love him can get his attention is to hide his cell phone in the toy box. He has to clear out his room. Where will the toys go?

Through a mix-up, they find themselves at a day care center where they are at first warmly welcomed by the toys who live there, led by Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (voice of Ned Beatty). It seems perfect; with new children coming every year they will never be outgrown or neglected. “No owners means no heartbreak.” They have a chance to do what they love — making kids happy.

But things begin to go very badly. They are placed with children who are too young to make up stories for them or care for them. When Buzz Lightyear protests, he is rebooted, restored to his original programming. Once again, Woody must come to the rescue, and once again, they must decide what their purpose is and where their loyalties are.

The first movie came out in 1995, but the toys were intentionally retro, more familiar to the parents in the audience than the children. The little green soldiers, the barrel of monkeys, the Potatoheads, the slinky dog, and the cowboy were old school. Part of the poignancy of the first film was the arrival of the first battery-powered, space-age toy, Buzz Lightyear. And part of the charm of the second film was its theme about what value means — is it better to be in mint condition forever and sold on eBay as a collectible or to be played with and loved, knowing that childhood is brief and the person you are devoted to will leave?

The new characters in this film are perfectly rendered replicas of toybox classics (bet you grown-ups can’t get through the movie without saying to the person next to you, “I had that!”) and originals that fit in so perfectly you can almost remember seeing the ads and humming the jingle. Barbie (voice of “The Little Mermaid’s” Jodi Benson) and Ken (voice of Michael Keaton) show some unsuspected depth (her political views are surprisingly well-founded) and he has some unanticipated growth opportunities. His wardrobe provides some of the movie’s most delicious moments, especially when he reverses the usual movie convention to put on a montage try-on session. I also loved Mr. Pricklepants (voice of Timothy Dalton), a Vincent Crummles-style thespian (a stuffed and stuffy hedgehog) who reminds Woody about the pleasures of play, a theme that gently deepens and expands, so entertainingly you don’t realize how stirring it becomes.

All of this is done with wit and style and action-packed chase scenes, and then it is brilliantly, perfectly resolved, showing us that the time the toys spent with Andy helped to make him who he is. I dare you not to cry. It’s a happy ending that like all great movies makes us think more wisely about our own sense of purpose and connection. And it reminds us, too, of the pleasures of imagination by showing us what it can achieve.

Related Tags:

 

3D Action/Adventure Animation Comedy DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week For the Whole Family Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families Series/Sequel

Interview: Tom Hanks on ‘Toy Story 3’

Posted on October 30, 2010 at 8:00 am

Disney generously shared this interview with Tom Hanks, who plays my favorite “Toy Story 3” character, Woody. It comes out next week on DVD and Blu-Ray with wonderful extras including the fabulous short “Day & Night” and behind-the scenes interviews and storyboards.
Q: The “Toy Story” films are beloved by audiences worldwide. What makes these films classics?
A: The “Toy Story” films accomplish what timeless classics aim for — innocent characters who face an endless trail of adventures. We all know the likes of Woody and Buzz. We wonder who we would be if we were toys. There’s this great logic that John Lasseter and Lee and Darla , and all the writers adhere to that makes moviegoers just kind of relax and let themselves be transported to this magical place and time. When you can do that with a movie, it’s amazing. With “Toy Story 3,” you come back to a lovely, familiar and happy place.
Q: Disney-Pixar is renowned for creating story-driven films with a heart. What can audiences expect from “Toy Story 3?”Toy-Story-3-Woody-Movie-Poster.jpg
A: “Toy Story 3” is a big massive adventure that has you constantly on the edge of your seat. It’s part “Great Escape,” with the same kind of excitement as Dorothy escaping from the Wicked Witch of the West. And yet they take those elements and turn them into something that is very emotional. We’re talking about toy dinosaurs and Mr. Potato Head, and yet you feel for them and don’t want them to get recycled or stuck with the bratty kids. You want them to be together and played with at the end of the movie. You’re worried for their essence. The filmmakers at Pixar always manage to get you right in the heart. The story is as simple as growing up and having a guy go off to college, but it is so profoundly emotional that you can’t help but have tears in your eyes.
Q: This will be your third time playing the pull-string cowboy sheriff Woody. After all these years, how would you describe Woody’s character and what makes him so lovable?
A: Woody is a passionate guy who throws himself into every action. As soon as he has an instinctive thought like “I have to help them,” or “I have to run away,” he does it with 100-percent commitment. You gotta love that about anybody. What’s great is that I get credit for the way the character and the humor come off. I have kids that are now in college come up to me and say, “when you told that neighbor kid to play nice, that really meant a lot to me.”
135_ThrownAway_013.jpg_rgb.jpgQ: How has Woody’s relationship with Buzz evolved over the course of these three films?
A: I love the way the relationship between Woody and Buzz has grown. They started off as pure adversaries and learned how to accept each other’s strengths, forgive each other’s failures, and respect each other as individuals. Opposites definitely attract in this case.
Q: What are some of the obstacles that Woody must face in “Toy Story 3?”
A: There is a huge ground shift in the lives of these toys. In one scene, Woody must watch his buddies get inadvertently thrown in the garbage. It is heart-wrenching for him. Another challenge he must face is when he chooses to walk away from his toy friends because of a temporary difference of perceptions. It is a big, tough decision for him. Without giving too much away, there is this tremendous life-shattering and life-saving adventure.
Q: What other character would you like to play if you could not be Woody?
A: Wow, that’s a very, very good question. Quite frankly, I am of the Slinky dog persuasion. I think Slinky can go places other toys can’t go and he can do things other toys can’t do because of his ability to stretch. I think that would be fun.
Q: “Toy Story” was released in 1995. What are some changes to the animation process that you have experienced over the years?
A: For the first one, we were shown the movie through storyboards mounted on walls. So you walked into a building and about a quarter mile later you understood the movie because they literally walked you through every sequence. This time they did this brilliant thing where they just showed us the entire animatic. An animatic is a process where every voice and every sound effect is added to rough animated drawings and it lasts exactly as long as the final movie. So you actually get to go into a screening room with the rest of the cast and you get to see it all at the same time.
Q: Describe the process of working on animated films.
A: I have been working on a Pixar movie on and off for a long time. It astounds me every time that it takes about four years to create these films. It seems like every two weeks they call you in to record, but it turns out to be about every six months. When I started doing the first “Toy Story” film, I had two kids; I now have four kids.
Q: Disney-Pixar has an amazing track record of creating animated films that achieve critical acclaim. What is the secret to Pixar’s success?
A: The Pixar people continuously amaze me. They come up with something that actually looks as though it takes place in this happy, real-world. Every plot line is not just plausible, but oddly authentic. The stories are full of adventure, humor and love. The characters are written with great human dimension. I don’t know how they do it but they astound me.
Q: What do you think of the technological advances in live-action and animated filmmaking?
A: Motion pictures are just beginning to live up to their true potential of being this immersive experience–going from beyond black and white flickering images to fully immersive 3D color high-definition. You don’t even know where the real world starts and the fake world begins. And yet, none of that’s going to matter unless the story and the emotions that they allow us to become invested in are something that we can recognize. Pixar is able to do this in ways that almost defies speculation. And isn’t it grand that the “Toy Story” films are such a great example of this power to deeply connect with an audience?

Related Tags:

 

Actors Behind the Scenes Interview

‘Toy Story 3’ creates commercials for Lots-o-Huggin Bear

Posted on June 16, 2010 at 9:26 am

The “Toy Story” movie characters have a warm, retro feel. For parents and grandparents, one of the many pleasures of the movies is the evocative memory they bring back of the beloved toys of our own childhoods. Woody, Jessie, and Buzz are Pixar creations that fit so well with the real-life Etch-a-Sketch, green soldiers, barrel of monkeys, slinky dog, and many others that we slip easily into their world. This third installment adds some new characters based on real or almost-real toys from the 1960’s, including Lots-o-Huggin Bear (with strawberry scent!), voiced by Ned Beatty.

Those madcaps at Pixar have created a fake 1980’s-style commercial for Lots-o-Huggin that are so perfectly realized those who grew up in that era will almost believe we might have a Lots-o somewhere in our attic.

They even did a “Japanese” version!

Related Tags:

 

Shorts
ir.gif

Opening this Week: Toy Story 3 (in 3D!) and Jonah Hex

Posted on June 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Can it really be only 15 years since Pixar first introduced us to Woody and Buzz Lightyear and the world of computer animation? The 1995 release of Toy Story didn’t seem revolutionary at the time. But its impact on not just animation but the movie industry as a whole continues to resonate. Pixar was a start-up and some people thought it was more of a stunt than a studio. But it became the most successful movie studio in history, with the average international gross over half a million dollars and 24 Oscars.
Pixar ultimately merged with Disney and now the Pixar folks are in charge of the premier animation facility. This week, they return to the characters that got them started with a third chapter, this time in 3D. One thing I’ll be watching for is the difference in what has become possible in computer animation. The reason the first movie was about toys was that they were simple, shiny, and plastic, without much movement. Since then, Pixar has developed an astonishingly vivid technology for presenting some of the biggest challenges for computer graphics like water, fur, and facial expressions. They now have 229 different facial movements they can tinker with to create what must be seen as animated performances. But they never lose sight of what matters most — the story and the characters. Wired has a great story this month about how “Toy Story 3” came together.
The other movie opening up this week is a fantasy western, Jonah Hex, starring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox, based on the graphic novel.

Related Tags:

 

Opening This Week
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik