Showing posts with label Joan Cusack. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joan Cusack. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Toy Story 2

"Your not a collectors item... You're a toy!"

Toy Story 2 finds the hero of Toy Story kidnapped by a rare toy collector. Woody (Tom Hanks) is taken from his owner, Andy and kept in a Perspex box ready to be shipped to Japan where he will become an exhibit in a toy museum. In an attempt to rescue Woody, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Rex, Slinky, Mr Potato Head and Hamm head out of the safety of Andy’s room and into the open world in order to rescue him. Woody meanwhile has discovered that he was a big hit in the 50s and had his own TV show. He has to decide if his place is back with Andy or with his new Roundup friends.

What started out as a direct to video movie became one of the best loved sequels of all time. I personally don’t think it is as good as the original but I only The Godfather Part II is a better sequel in my opinion. The story is much more sprawling than Toy Story and it encompasses many more locations. The plot is fun and exciting but isn’t as neat as the original film. I like that the plot touches upon how toys feel when they are no longer played with, a theme present in both Toy Story 1 & 2 and the main theme of the third instalment.  It is beefed up by the introduction of some new characters, including Buzz’s nemesis Zurg and Woody’s Roundup Gang; Jessie, Stinky Pete and Bullseye. I found Jessie a bit irritating but liked the additions on the whole. In addition characters from the first instalment are given greater depth, with Slinky’s rear end developing its own character and Rex becoming much more rounded and less one dimensional. While making the original film, Pixar were unable to secure the rights to use Barbie but after the success of that film, Barbie makes an appearance here with obvious product placement.

The animation isn’t notably different from the original but is perhaps more detailed. I don’t think the film is as funny as the original but there are still funny moments. The car chase scene stands out both in terms of humour and action. The addition of a second Buzz presented plenty of laughs and the references to Jurassic Park, Star Wars and James Bond are also enjoyable. The toy’s dreams and fears are explored in greater detail here, something that is seen early on when they panic about being sold in a yard sale.

Overall this is a very good film but is in my view the weakest of the trilogy. That being said, it is still funnier and more action packed than 90% of animations and doesn’t follow the tradition of lazy, cash-in sequel.   


Saturday, 10 March 2012

High Fidelity

Record Store owner Rob (John Cusack) is the focus of this story about a man who has difficulty understanding why his relationships always fail. After being dumped by long term girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle), Rob decides to look up his top five exes to find out where he has been going wrong. Rob spends most of his time surrounded by records either at home or in his shop where he is always in the company of his employees/friends Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black). There they discuss music with an annoying sense of elitism and openly mock the ignorance of customers who they deem unworthy of their musical knowledge.  

The narrative of the film is told with Cusack’s Rob breaking the forth wall and talking directly to the audience. I think this works well and allows the audience to feel a part of Rob’s life and the world which the film creates. The story is fairly interesting and the film mostly entertaining but I didn’t find it very funny. There were a couple of laughs but this is much more of a drama-comedy than comedy-drama. At times I felt incredibly uncomfortable in the record store setting. Jack Black’s attempt to ridicule people for their musical taste reminded me of every time I went into a record shop or video game shop as a child and was confronted by the same sort of vehement when I asked about something which wasn’t to the shop staff’s liking. It at least recreates a realistic record store feel.  

The acting was fairy good. Cusack comes off as the kind of easy going guy you’d want to go for a drink with but I didn’t think that his redemption was complete. He is well cast in the role and is convincing. Jack Black, someone who I’m not usually keen on, was very well cast as the snotty music shop assistant and stole the scenes he was in. Todd Louiso pulls off the geeky but shy character well and Iben Hjejle is excellent as Cusack’s ex. She is the only main character living in the real world and brings a sense of adulthood to the film.

I’m not as keen on this film as many of the reviews I’ve read. It’s not bad but I was a bit put off by the setting and felt alienated from it. My musical knowledge is not great so much of it went over my head. There wasn’t very much comedy but I did like the way it was filmed and enjoyed watching John Cusack’s character battle himself to the realisation that his future mattered and it was he who could do something about it.