Monday, June 19, 2006

Toy Story 2

TS 2 has some dark elements. Most of the movie's a meditation on the toy equivalent of mortality - falling out of a child's favor. The new musical number for the sequel is a song about how a 50's cowgirl doll (a companion to the Woody doll) once was loved very much, but isn't anymore because the toy's owner lost interest. The central dilemma for the main character in the movie, Woody, is whether he'll choose to go on display in a museum and have a kind of toy eternal life or whether he'll go back to his owner, knowing that the same thing will happen to him ("It'll be fun while it lasts" Woody says when he returns. That is, it won't last forever).

There's a scene in which Woody is talking with some of the toys marketed alongside him in the 50's. The cowgirl toy (Joan Cusack) has to contemplate being put into storage for an extended period of time, because she won't be able to be displayed if the Woody toy isn't alongside her. This had happened to her before, and in the movie the she flips out and starts having a panic attack. And if I were to contemplate being packed up in a box with no freedom of movement and no human contact for a period lasting decades, well...that's pretty fucked up.*

Additionally, there's a dream sequence in which Woody falls into a pile of cards, all aces of spades. Which surely is a reference to the aces of spades used in Vietnam in printed propaganda material:

Also, more famously, aces of spades were placed on the bodies of dead enemy soldiers by US troops:

"Die! The same thing will happen again…"
Regardless, it's a very adult reference for a kid's movie featuring a talking piggy bank. But the movie's very good and worth seeing, in no small part because it has a ton of cute Star Wars references.

*There's a great Werner Herzog film about Kaspar Hauser, a wild-child type who was supposedly kept from all human contact, locked in a tower, for virtually all of his childhood. In the movie, he's portrayed (by schizophrenic street musician Bruno S.) as fundamentally broken, psychologically damaged by the lack of human contact. And it's a fate that, for a human being, seems unbearable. How equivalent the toy experience is, who knows. The Herzog film has a German title of Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle. The English title is "The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser." The translation of the German title is "Every man for himself and God against all."

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