Toy Story 3: Plastic Fantastic

NO SPOILERS CONTAINED BELOW. We went to see Toy Story 3 today.  Little Alice was not only clutching a replica plastic Buzz but was also dressed like him (see below). I was dressed like a sort of scarecrow doll with scruffy hair and the stuffing coming out of him although of course I always dress like that. We loved the first and second Toy Story films and so were looking forward to seeing this latest instalment.

Usually I hate kids’ films. When Stuart Little is on I feel like drinking rat poison. But even I love the Toy Story films. The first one was great, the second even better… I couldn’t imagine how the third one would keep up the standard.

Well, it starts off with an action sequence set in the Wild West which is great fun. And the first half of the film is pretty good with the usual funny lines and inventiveness. This did not prepare me for the rollercoaster ride which came in the second half. I feel like a real wuss saying this but the climax of the movie  is so heart rending, so utterly touching on an emotional level that it had me wiping tears away on Alice’s purple Buzz Lightyear skullcap. At one point I almost dropped my Doritos (not something any grown man wants to do in public). This film is astonishingly clever, not just technically with its superb animation but also with its perceptive portrayal of human emotion. I’m not giving too much of the plot away by saying that there’s this scene where the toys are inside a furnace and facing their own deaths; that scene is so powerful, so moving and yet so understated… it made me want to sob like a Tiny Tears. I had to make a real effort to get a grip before the cinema lights came up. Truth is Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex, Ham and the others are brilliantly drawn (in every sense of the phrase) and, even though they’re toys, they are some of the least plastic, most human characters you’ll find in any film, kid’s or otherwise.


Dirty Harry

We are currently mouse sitting Harry the Hamster (above). He needs cleaning every few days and likes to come out of his cage for a run around each night. Unfortunately he likes to run upstairs and pull out the carpet from under the bathroom door with his teeth. I don’t usually see the attraction to keeping animals like hamsters and rabbits as pets. If I was going to have a pet I’d choose one which would give me unlimited amounts of misplaced adoration and brainless affection like a dog or a footballer’s wife. But Harry and I have really bonded. Have to end this entry now; me and Harry are just about to phone for pizzas. I’m having chicken and sweetcorn; Harry’s having… Freddie Starr.

Hot Enough For You?

Have you noticed that whenever two men discuss football one of them always has to say the phrase “it’s just big business nowadays”? It’s a bit like when you get in a cab you always have to say “what time you on til?”as noted by Peter Kay. Certain phrases HAVE to be said in certain circumstances. For example, have you ever been asked “how you doing?”by a work colleague? What do you reply? I’ll tell you what you reply… you say “I’ll be better at five o’clock”. You HAVE to say that. It is a reflex reaction hard wired into the speech centres of our brains. Another example is when you meet an acquaintance during a spell of hot weather; it’s IMPOSSIBLE not to say “Hot enough for you?” Even as you say the words you know that you’re spouting a tired old cliché that is not even momentarily amusing and makes both participants in the exchange want to suck a rifle. But you still say it. And I haven’t even mentioned that classic “See you!”, “Not if I see you first!” chestnut. I’m not sure if these abominations are restricted to England where I live. I suspect different parts of the world have their own nightmare social nicety disasters.

I think we should try to break out of this lazy and unfunny way of interacting by throwing in unexpected and colourful phrases. The next time a work colleague asks me how I’m doing instead of the usual “I’ll be better at five o’clock”, I’m going to say “You don’t care about me you bastard, I want a divorce!” I’ll make a note of the reaction to this and let you know. Similarly, when someone says “Hot enough for you?” I will reply with “My pond has turned into crazy paving you insensitive arse!” I think this will be a very interesting experiment and I intend to write to Noam Chomsky with my results. Watch out for coverage in New Scientist.

To be honest, I started this post intending to write about football but then remembered that I am utterly, mind-numbingly bored by football and so wandered off the point a bit. Sorry. Instead of an in depth analysis of where the England squad went wrong in the recent World Cup campaign here is a really funny clip featuring David Mitchell.

His Shit Life So Far

I just came back from Porto Pollenca in Majorca. My camera isn’t working since it was involved in a freak mayonnaise accident so I have no photographs of the trip. It’s boring hearing about other people’s holidays anyway so I’m going to tell you about the book I read while I was away instead. I wasn’t a huge fan of Frankie Boyle’s although I’d laughed at him on Mock the Week a few times but I got his book from my 3 year old daughter Alice as a Father’s Day present (I think it was the title My Shit Life So Far that caught her eye) and so took it with me to read in Majorca. It is absolutely brilliant! The only other book that has ever made me laugh out loud is Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James but this had me chortling away like an escaped lunatic in Primark trunks. I know that Boyle is quite a controversial figure and has got into trouble for telling ‘offensive’ jokes. All I can say is, I wasn’t offended by anything in this book. I would have been extremely offended if it had not been funny. That’s the thing that offends me most of all actually; comedians who are unfunny. As I am offended by unfunny comedians surely they should be removed from the TV! I must write to the Daily Mail about it.

Its a complicated debate, the one about which comedy is offensive and which should be allowed on TV. I’m not sure I know where I stand on it. I know that when exposed to more than fourteen seconds of Jim Davison’s stand-up routine I feel an urge to throw myself under a walrus. I know that when I see Roy Chubby Brown in that stupid hat I want to put my head in a Flymo. Yet when Frankie Boyle does ‘offensive’ material, I laugh. Is it the material or is it the person delivering the material? Maybe its the fact that Boyle is often quite self-deprecating which sort of cancels out any attacks he might make on anyone else. I don’t really know and, to be honest, people who get endlessly drawn into debating the nature of comedy are usually a bit short in the old sense of humour department. I just think this was a really funny book and I’d recommend it to anyone. (I would not recommend Primark trunks to anyone though as the drawstrings are actually not real drawstrings and are in fact purely decorative. Guess how I discovered that.)

Threatening Shrek

Little Alice had a McDonalds happy meal the other day and got a plastic talking Shrek figure. After she finished playing with it she threw it on the floor of the car. Now every time I drive over the slightest bump a really threatening voice shouts “Hey!” or occasionally “I’m warning you!”

Formula 1 Fiasco

photo by Mark Anderton 2010

Thanks to Mr A for sending me this pic of his view of the current excitement at Silverstone. Is there something going on there to do with cars? Is it a giant boot sale? I don’t really follow motor racing. You picked up on that I suppose. I think some of the recent fuss surrounds a certain Mr Button who sounds like some kind of children’s TV character to me  (as was the similarly fabric-fastener themed Zippy).

From what I can pick up, there has been something wrong with Mr Button’s car. I can identify with this as things often go wrong with my own Renault Scenic Megane (or Migraine as the repair bloke calls it, ho ho!). If his car is anything like mine I would imagine Mr Button’s desperate situation at the Grand Prix has had something to do with Rich Tea biscuit crumbs getting lodged down the dashboard. It may also be a problem with too many 2 and 1 pence pieces rolling about in the little circular bits meant for cups. Or it could be petrol receipts from 2008 flying up and causing a distraction. Equally there may be a problem with a Galaxy which has melted inside its wrapper and begun to seep across the fascia. I have regularly called out breakdown recovery services over these faults. Outrageously I am often treated with derision on these occasions. One mechanic even tried to press his thumbs into my eyes (they were oily too!). All because I called him out on a simple job at 3.30am. I suppose he just wasn’t a morning person but even so…

Anyway, despite not understanding the fascination I hope my mate Mr A has a great time at Silverstone. I may pop down there at some point so watch out for me in the vehicle pictured below.