Tom Hanks

October 17, 2013

This is Halloween (TV): Toy Story of Terror

DEVILISHLY

Toy Story of Terror – Devilishly

The one thing you can count on with Pixar is that you always get quality.  Despite some of their weaker efforts (“Cars” “Cars 2” to a lesser extent, “Brave”) there always seems to be a silver lining to anything Pixar creates.  I may not like “Cars” but I can respect that it looks gorgeous.  Sorry “Cars” fans, I just don’t find fart jokes spun by a redneck comedian to be very funny.

While most Pixar fare is made for the big screen, and evokes such emotion and heart, its nice to see that Disney/Pixar (yes, I’ll give Disney their due) created something for the Halloween season, and it very well might be the best thing you’ll see this Fall.  This of course is the devilishly clever “Toy Story of Terror” a spooky mini adventure starring all of your favorite “Toy Story” pals.

The writers at Pixar have to be some of the best writers in the world.  They know how to perfectly cater to fans of Disney while at the same time sneaking in little odes and jabs to other films and their appropriate genres and fans.  They just get it, simple as that.  “Terror” begins at some point after “Toy Story 3” ends.  Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the crew are in the care of Bonnie as they head to some undisclosed location on a dark and stormy night.  After a flat tire, Bonnie, her mother, and the toys settle into a roadside motel while they wait for the tow truck in the morning.  Needless to say, hi-jinks and close-calls ensue and of course there is a happy ending.  Like most Pixar films, its not the story that’s always compelling, its the actual journey.

What I respect the most is that all the voices from the previous “Story” films return, including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Joan Cusack, but there are also a few extra treats along the way, including Ken Marino, or as I like to refer to him as, Louie, the “I WANNA DIP BY BALLS IN IT” guy.

Along with Ken Marino, what would a “Toy Story” be without some new characters, and the best has to be Combat Carl, voiced by Carl Weathers.  This character is so perfect and I love the subtle reference to “Predator” thrown in as Combat Carl is missing a hand.  Those are the things that make me love Pixar.  Who would throw in a “Predator” reference into a TV show made for children?

Timothy Dalton is also great as Mr. Pricklepants, who’s essentially Randy from the “Scream” series.  He calls out horror movie cliches at every turn and it’s wonderful to see it done in a Shakespearean way.  The more I think about “Terror” is that the animation is for the kids, while the dialogue is made for adults who love horror and action films.  Maybe Shane Black ghostwrote this entire special?

Bottom line, “Toy Story of Terror” is a wonder to behold.  The story is perfect for the time allotted, the introduction of new toys now looking for their owner adds a great side story to the entire “Toy Story” mythology, and Pixar and Disney spare no expense to create a standalone story that rivals anything in the Pixar catalog.  Hopefully this tradition continues and becomes this generation’s “Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.”

Fun Fact:  Everyone knows that the Cowboy Woody doll is pretty sought after in the “Toy Story” universe.  You’ll notice that the $2,000 winning bid was from Al McWhiggin of Al’s Toy Barn.

August 11, 2012

Simplistic TV: White Collar

CUTE

In 2002, Steven Spielberg directed the film Catch Me If You Can starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.  It centered around the true story of a brilliant con artist gallivanting around the country and the relentless FBI agent tasked with capturing him.  It is one of Spielberg’s better, yet, forgotten films.  Hanks is great, Leo is great, and Christopher Walken steals every scene he’s in.  The film itself ends…(SPOILER ALERT) with Leo, the criminal, beginning to help Hanks, the FBI agent, solve some of the white collar crimes in order to commute his sentence.  This is where the USA Network show White Collar picks up.

White Collar is a procedural dramedy…or…comedrama…wait…that sounds stupid…lets stick with dramedy….about a master thief/con artist helping the FBI capture criminals while trying to stay on the straight and narrow himself.  A concept that serves as a great foundation and a smart jump off for some very original ideas rarely seen on a typical procedural cop show.  As with most USA Network shows, White Collar doesn’t shine when it sticks to the monster of the week procedural formula.  It shines when they focus on their character’s chemistry and ONE all encompassing story arc.  If there is one thing you can say about USA, most of their shows have casts and characters WITH CHEMISTRY.  Whether that be Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, and the LEGENDARY Bruce Campbell on Burn Notice….Gabrielle Macht and Patrick J. Adams on Suits…or here with Tim DeKay, Matt Bomer and Willie Garson on White Collar.  You like these characters and you like to see them have conversations with each other, no matter what they’re talking about.  This serves White Collar very well.

Where White Collar draws some critique is in its occasional tone shifts.  Where Catch Me If You Can is more drama than comedy, White Collar is more of the latter.  It feels more at home in the CUTE, light-hearted format.  For example, the tone of film The Sting, is where White Collar might want to stay.  However, there are instances where the show tries to get serious and dark.  However, it doesn’t ring very believable because its such a departure from the tone it has originally set.  Burn Notice is a show that can be fun then turn dark and it works because of the nature of the hero. (A Burned Spy)  A white collar criminal or con artist isn’t usually confrontational.  Danny Ocean isn’t ever going to beat the sh*t out of someone or kill anyone.  Neither should Neal Caffrey.

Now, I can’t blame the show runner Jeff Eastin too much for something that happens occasionally.  I’m willing to bet they’ve been knudged into shifting tone by USA during finales or sweeps.   Mainly because there is nothing that television networks love more than running an ad with somber music and a gravely voiced narrator whispering “On A Special Episode Of….Fill In The Blank” with text flashing across the screen that reads “ALL…BETS…ARE…OFF!”  And for the most part, Eastin’s show stays true to it’s better nature.

White Collar benefits from its concept, its cast, (Which includes KELLY F*#KING KAPOWSKI) and its cleverness.  Its good fun when it remembers it is supposed to be fun.  Watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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