Animation particularly when it comes out of the Disney/Pixar stable is one of those areas of filmmaking that regularly inspires the phrase "They don't make them like they used to." In the case of Toy Story 3 however it's more accurate to say "They have never made them like this." It's certainly not unheard of for an animated film to be good for a Pixar film to be great or for the third film in a trilogy to be outstanding (though that's the rarest of the three) but in the case of Lee Unkrich's film the sheer degree at which it exceeds at all three is not just rare it's unprecedented.
Eleven years have elapsed since Woody (Tom Hanks) Buzz (Tim Allen) and all of Andy's favorite playthings had their last adventure -- rather 11 years have elapsed since Andy stopped playing with his toys. Buoyed by Woody's never-failing devotion the gang is all optimistic that Andy will elect to bring them with him to his first year of college but as that fateful empty-nest day approaches it becomes clearer and clearer that the only toy that will be making the trek to school is Woody. The rest are all by a series of unfortunate events consigned to live out their remaining days at Sunnyside daycare. Things are actually looking up for the neglected entertainers until they realize just how careless the ankle-biters are when it comes to playing with toys.
Unfortunately there is no escape in sight for the lovable personalities Pixar has been refining for over a decade. Lotso Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty) runs a tight ship at Sunnyside; the new toys are just going to have to be sacrificed to the aggressive toddlers so the old veterans can have a relaxing time with their more mature counterparts. Eventually Woody catches wind of what kind of life his old pals are being forced to live and Toy Story 3 quite brilliantly becomes a riff on classic prison escape movies as Woody seeks to breach Lotso's security measures and bring his bunch back to Andy where they belong. And while this on-the-run chunk of the film is some of the most thrilling material Pixar has ever delivered it's also some of the most touching.
Unlike most sequels not a moment of Toy Story 3 feels artificial. There's no sense that Pixar decided to make a third film because it knew that the box office would gladly support another entry; no sense that this is a cash grab (unlike a certain green ogre's most recent trip to the big screen). All of those typical sequel pitfalls are carefully avoided by a swelling sense of finality. Toy Story 3 isn't just another adventure with these characters -- there is in fact no doubt that this is their final adventure their final hoorah together. Director Lee Unkrich and screenwriter Michael Arndt meticulously lead the audience along with bated breath the entire time culminating in a life-or-death scenario for the toys that is more heartfelt and genuine than most live-action films can ever muster.
It's astonishing how the creative team at Pixar can make you forget that what you're watching is all a bunch of digital wizardry. Maybe it's the 3D this time around maybe it's that this is the studio's most accomplished technical feat to date (there are single shots at a landfill that pack in richer detail than the entirety of the pioneering first film) that makes Toy Story 3 such an immersive experience. Or maybe it's simply because Pixar treats its property which is ostensibly for children with the utmost sincerity. The result is an overwhelming success the rare kind of film that were it a human being would be your best friend.
One could reasonably make the case that Toy Story 3 is the single best animated film ever made. I wouldn't outright agree with such grandiose claims but it's certainly not a baseless proposition that you'd be laughed at for bringing up. However with part three now tucked under Pixar's belt one could present an even better case that Toy Story is the best film trilogy ever made -- a claim I am far more comfortable signing on the dotted line for.
The comedy, starring Bruce Willis as a New York police officer, was released in the U.S. last month (Feb10) and has been slated by reviewers, with many claiming the movie is let down by a weak script, lacklustre jokes and a contrived plot.
Smith is fuming about the unflattering comments, insisting he feels like his film has been "bullied" - and has vowed to force critics to pay to review his movies from now on.
In a series of posts on his Twitter.com page, he writes, "I gotta say that every day I hate film theory & film students & critics more & more. Film fandom's become a nasty bloodsport where cartoonishly rooting for failure gets the hit count up. Watching them beat the s**t out of it was sad. Like, it's called Cop Out; that sound like a very ambitious title to you? You REALLY wanna s**t in the mouth of a flick that so OBVIOUSLY strived for nothing more than laughs. Was it called Schindler's Cop Out?
"Writing a nasty review for Cop Out is akin to bullying a retarded kid. All you've done is make fun of something that wasn't doing you any harm and wanted only to give some cats some fun laughs."
And the experience has convinced Smith the system is "backwards" - he'd prefer to turn the job of reviewing movies over to members of the public.
He adds, "Realised whole system's upside down: so we let a bunch of people see it for free & they s**t all over it? Meanwhile, people who'd REALLY like to see the flick for free are made to pay? Bulls**t: from now on, any flick I'm ever involved with, I conduct critics screenings thusly: you wanna see it early to review it? Fine: pay like you would if you saw it next week. Why am I giving an arbitrary 500 people power over what I do at all, let alone for free? Next flick, I'd rather pick 500 randoms from Twitter & let THEM see it for free in advance, then post THEIR opinions, good AND bad. Same difference. Why's their opinion more valid? It's a backwards system."
The filmmaker's latest release stars Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as a pair of detectives on the hunt for a stolen collectible baseball card.
Smith admits he was reluctant to read the script at first because he was turned off by the "homoerotic" original title, A Couple of Dicks, but he realised the movie had potential when he finally picked up the plot.
He tells WENN, "In my lap came 'A Couple of Dicks,' the original title for Cop Out, which sounds really homoerotic so I didn't really take a look until I (received a) call from Warner Brothers asking me if I read it. I thought they wanted me to re-write it or be in it and they wanted me to direct... I read it and thought, 'I could handle this.' It's like Lethal Weapon with 60 per cent less action, it's just Clerks (his 1994 comedy) with cops."
But Smith reveals there was a more personal reason behind his decision to take on the project.
He says, "The reason I really connected to the script was my father, who passed away a few years ago, would take me out of school in the afternoon on a Wednesday to see all those kinds of movies like 48 Hours, Die Hard, The Last Boy Scout, Running Scared. So this would be the movie where my father would think, 'Oh, you do make movies for a living,' because my other stuff he'd be like, 'Does it count as a movie if all you talk about is Star Wars and other movies?'"
And Smith's convinced his dad Donald would be proud of his efforts: "Now with this, if he was alive he'd be like, 'This is a movie! It's got a plot, guns, Bruce Willis is in it and he's a movie star.'"
The film's title was eventually changed to Cop Out after pressure from studio bosses. Smith wanted to stick to the controversial title, but relented after learning commercials promoting the project would be banned from three of the top U.S. TV networks.
In addition to his current job as the plus-size thorn Southwest Airlines’ side Kevin Smith also happens to be a filmmaker albeit one of steadily diminishing relevance. After earning widespread acclaim with his 1994 debut the d.i.y. comedy hit Clerks Smith followed up with two solid efforts Mallrats and Chasing Amy before beginning a slow sustained descent into the crowded ranks of Hollywood hackdom. And yet somehow he still managed to corral the likes of Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan to star in his latest film Cop Out an inane infantile buddy comedy that might very well represent his creative low-point.
Sample any of Smith’s countless anti-Southwest screeds and you’ll doubtlessly discover material more interesting than anything found in Cop Out. It’s a pity that Smith directing for the first time with someone else’s script couldn’t have harnessed all that creative fervor and vitriolic wit to punch up Robb and Mark Cullen’s lifeless screenplay which pits Willis and Morgan as a mismatched detective duo on the trail of a stolen baseball card. Or he might have focused that energy on polishing the film's sloppy aesthetic which looks as if it was pieced together with scissors and scotch tape then soaked in bongwater.
Funnyman Morgan seems tailor-made for Smith’s R-rated environment with its juvenile array of dick jokes and scat gags but without the wit — and restraint — of 30 Rock’s writing staff his dimwitted schtick becomes paper-cut irritating. Except apparently to Smith who can’t bring himself to yell “cut” until each aimless riff has thoroughly exhausted itself. Overplaying every mannerism every gesture every reaction in order to squeeze a few laughs from Cop Out’s barren material he can barely elicit a forced smile from lethargic straight man Willis who seems to be just marking time until production starts on the next Die Hard flick. The awkwardness of their forced rapport is intermittently relieved by a third party Seann William Scott whose needling childish petty thief is Cop Out’s best comedic asset. Fittingly he abruptly disappears in the second act.
Most perplexing about Cop Out (aside from the baffling fact of its existence) is that it isn’t fashioned as a parody but rather a loose homage. Smith’s copious nods to iconic '80s buddy cop flicks right down to the synth-pop score from Beverly Hills Cop composer Harold Faltermeyer are all made with a straight face. He isn’t trying to make fun of 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon; he’s trying to make 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon. With dick jokes.
Warner Bros. today released a raunchy red-band trailer for writer-director Kevin Smith's buddy cop comedy Cop Out, starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. The latest clip helps somewhat to alleviate the poor impression created by the film's previously laughter-averse trailers by fleshing out and adding some context to the heretofore unfunny jokes. Plus, it's got a kid getting punched in the nads. The new footage doesn't necessarily exonerate Cop Out, but it's enough for us to upgrade the film's status from "completely unwatchable" to "possibly tolerable after a six-pack."
If you're of age, check out the adults-only trailer (NSFW):
Cop Out opens February 26, 2010.
The Clerks filmmaker wanted to use the controversial title for the forthcoming film, but changed his mind after learning commercials promoting the project would be banned from three of the top U.S. TV networks.
Smith, who encountered similar censorship issues with his 2008 Seth Rogen film Zack and Miri Make a Porno, admits it was a tough decision to make, and he likens the namechange - to Cop Out - to being castrated.
He tells EW.com, "Losing A Couple of Dicks was almost akin to losing my own d**k. It was a perfect buddy-cop movie comedy title.
"You couldn't say that title to somebody without a f**king smile crossing their face. But what I had gone through with Zack and Miri Make a Porno - 'porno' had become very problematic - it became tough for us to advertise (the film).
"Warner Bros. decided, 'Hey man, we'll call the networks and see if we're going to get any problems (with A Couple of Dicks as a title), months before the movie's ever going to come out.' The top three networks - CBS, ABC, NBC - said we can't run one of your spots before 9 o'clock."
Smith has credited bosses at Warner Bros. with fighting to keep his movie vision intact - but he realised the title had to go when his mum made him see sense.
He adds, "If I hadn't gone through Zack and Miri Make a Porno, I think I would have gotten my old-school f**king angry indie spirit, if you will: 'F**k it, we live or die by A Couple of Dicks, or I take my name off the picture!' But even my mum was like, 'I might go see Zack and Miri, but I would never go see Zack and Miri Make a Porno.'"
Director Smith recruited the actor for his upcoming cop movie A Couple of Dicks and the pair sparked speculation of a falling-out over Willis' demands to add his own creative input to the film.
The Die Hard actor brushed off reports of a feud, but Smith insists he did struggle to direct Willis on set.
He explains, "Bruce Willis is probably the most intimidating actor I've ever worked with. I find him - and I don't mean this in an insulting way - undirectable.
"He has all sorts of range, but what he's predominantly known for is playing the guy who holds his gun down by his side and saves people. How do you tell Bruce Willis to be Bruce Willis?"
The Clerks director was uninspired and unsure where his career was headed until the Pineapple Express star talked him into smoking cannabis last summer (08).
Now Smith lights up at least three times daily and is swamped with new projects, including a Batman comic and the release of upcoming movie A Pair Of Dicks, starring Bruce Willis.
He tells the New York Post, "I know you're supposed to tell kids not to do drugs, but, kids, do it! Do weed! Don't do the other stuff, but weed is good. What you want to do is what I did, build a movie empire and, at age 38, smoke it all away."
And Smith concedes he's "just not good" at directing his own screenplays anymore: "Judd Apatow is way better at being Kevin Smith now than Kevin Smith ever was. So Judd Apatow should do it for a while, and I should figure out something else, and weed has been helpful with that."
Willis was noticeably absent from the wrap party in New York, fuelling reports the pair has been at odds over the action star's demands to add his own creative input to the film.
According to the National Enquirer, Smith took advantage of his star's absence to criticise him in a scathing toast, reportedly telling guests: "I want to thank everyone who worked on the film, except for Bruce Willis... who is a f**king d**k!"
However, Willis insists there's no bad blood between the pair.
His spokesperson tells WENN, "There is absolutely no rift between Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith. Bruce very much enjoyed working with Kevin Smith as well as his co-star Tracey Morgan. The only reason Mr. Willis was not at the wrap party for the film is that he was in Los Angeles taking part in a press junket and press activities for his movie Surrogate."
The action star was noticeably absent at a recent wrap party in New York, reports the National Enquirer.
According to the publication, the pair has been at odds over Willis' demands to add his own creative input to the film - and Smith took advantage of his star's absence to criticise him in a scathing toast.
Smith is said to have cheered, "I want to thank everyone who worked on he film, except for Bruce Willis... who is a f**king d**k!"
A spokesperson for Willis had not responded to requests for comment as WENN went to press.