A combination of unceasing advertising, nostalgia from watching Toy Story and Toy Story 2 with my son when he was a tot, and needing something to do with said son and his pal for her birthday led me to the megaplex to see Toy Story 3. Skipping the 3D option was probably the only good thing about the afternoon's screening.
My biggest complaint about the film was the horror. The baby doll was utterly creepy. The monkey was terrifying. The bear was ghastly. And the adventure was one frightening peril after another. There were way too many unhappy under-10 year-olds in the theater, either bored or clinging, and I was amazed that there was so little good feeling throughout.
Repeating the horrors of Sid the bad kid from the first flick and the adventure and hiding under stuff to escape being crushed or captured from the second flick didn't help much either.
Did Ken help? The tiniest bit perhaps.
Did Latin-lover Buzz help? Not me.
And the worst of all for me, I think, was the message that toys don't have adventures so much as hope not to be thrown away, abused by tots at daycares who receive no adult supervision, bullied by other toys, or tossed into attics. Where I actually cried when I watched the scene with Jessie and the song "When She Loved Me," I just felt like there was no hope at all in Toy Story 3. People suffer, but toys suffer more. How much guilt do I need to lose all pleasure in toys' adventures? This movie tested my limits and gave far too little back.
THIS POST IS FULL OF SPOILERS AND DESPOILING. SO THERE.
You wanna tangle with me, whitebread? Do ya, ogre? Want me to feel sorry because boo-hoo your life is boring while your mindless wife loves the monotonous routine and never complains? So you wish it all away and then you're sorry? It's a Wonderful Life without the excuse of financial woes? The Incredibles with better fart jokes? Well, bring it, Dreamworks, bring it. Oh wait, you did.
I enjoy twisted and fractured fairy tales with the best of them. I like that Fiona's happiest when fat and gassy and living in a swamp (too bad you give her voice to blonder-and-skinnier-than-thou Cameron Diaz, though). There have been some wonderful moments along the way with the Shrek franchise, and I will always have a soft spot for Mike Myers. I even enjoyed this new one…but it should not have had to use a stupid rehashed lame-ass sexist plot about the poor middle-class man with midlife crisis who wishes he was single and a slob while his wife is entirely oblivious.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand he has to figure out that he had it good before and wah wah wah boo hoo hoo it's all about ME ME ME.
What put this over the top, though, compounding the offense, is what happened at the end, after we've gotten to meet the tougher, hotter Fiona who is the leader of the ogre rebellion and rescued her own damn self from the tower (go white girl go white girl go!). She has no memory of that angry but/and amazing alternate self and goes right back to contented clueless housewife. The writing makes that a necessity. Damn, people, I don't object to contentedness, I object to mindlessness, and Fiona has it.
It kills me that this mess would have been so easy to fix! First, use simple misunderstanding instead of malcontentedness: Fiona seems unhappy, Shrek decides he can fix it but oops fixes it by getting suckered and then the same middle of the film. Or let their be trickery when neither Fiona nor Shrek is looking. Then: at the end of the film, the magical "exit clause" can have an exit glitch and Fiona somehow remembers her old self! She decides heck yeah, she'd like to do a little more axe-wielding now and then and less drippy Ye Olde Chuck E. Cheese birthday party nonsense. Is that so hard?!?!?!
I'm not saying I didn't enjoy some of the twists and turns and laughs. But this tired old plot about the tired old Dad who dreams of tired old adventures while the oblivious wife just wants normalcy? I'm over it, like fairy dust.
And don't go telling me Fiona wants normalcy because her childhood was hell. For one, whose wasn't? And for two, this is Shrek, where we turn fairy tales upside down. Let Fiona need wildness now more than ever given her upbringing. She couldn't save herself so she starts a women's self-defense class. Or she has occasional need for friends who aren't her husband's dumbass donkey sidekick and Puss-in-Boots. Ya know, a little sisterhood. I know! Maybe the mom from The Incredibles who prefers laundry to adventures and the wife from UP who never got adventures can team up with Fiona to star in a twisted 3D remake of Xena: Warrior Princess. After all, these CGI women need something, even if it's make-believe.