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Jim and Rob - Toy Story 2 and Literary Theory

Rob: I was watching Toy Story 2 yesterday, and I watched it with commentaries on. Then itís a completely different movie, ya know? Thatís what I finally figured out. When you watch a movie with commentaries on, you donít have to pay as close attention to it. And itís a completely different thing. Itís a movie about a movie. So, Iím watching it, and itís pretty interesting listening to them because theyíll point these things out that you didnít notice. You know, these really subtle things. Like, Woody tears his arm. Itís not torn off, but itís just hanging there. And they said that the lighting right there shifts, because they kinda made it look like a cloud moved in front of the sun. Itís very subtle. You have to really pay attention, but itís there.

And then they were talking about plot lines. And they were talking about how virtually any storyÖwell, any story worth paying attention toÖthereís a first act, a second act, and a third act. You have the introduction, where you establish the situation. And then, once the situation has been established, you go through the experience of the characters dealing with the situation. And then you have the wrap up of the situation. And authors usually have problems with the second act, because all the really cool stuff tends to happen in the first act, and the last act. But in the second one, itís sorta like, ďwhere the hell do we go?Ē

And in Toy Story 2, the first act involved Woody getting his arm torn partly off. And then his getting stolen. So, that established the problem. He got his arm torn, and he was placed on the shelf for toys that seldom get played with. And then, the mom grabs a toy from the same shelf that sheís going to sell in a yard sale. So, that setup his insecurity about being disposed of by Andy. Then he was stolen, and the arm becomes almost irrelevant at this point. And now, they have to try and get him back. But what are they going to do during the second act? If the second act involves them simply trying to get him home, that may be kinda weak. So, how can we add depth to the second act? Well, he was stolen by a collector, and he was put in a collection. And now, the Miner, if you recall, if youíve ever seen the movieÖ

Jim: Years ago, like, right after it was first out.

Rob: Right, you know, you have the traumatized cowgirl, and the toy in the box (the bitter miner.) And the Miner is trying to convince Woody that itís really better to go to the museum, because that way he will have a safe home where heís going to be admiredÖforever, practically. Whereas, if he goes back to Andy, heís going to grow up, and then his futureís uncertain. Heís going to have lost his boy. So, you see, thatís the crisis in the second act. So, in the second act, itís a dual thing. You have him dealing with those elements. Heís trying to escape, and at the same time getting screwed with on a psychological level about why he shouldnít go back. And then the other toys are trying to find him. So, they did a great job of populating the second act with extremely interesting things to pay attention to. And, in a way, the second act has become a different story. What they did was, instead of having a boring in-between first act and last act, they changed the second act around to where it did connect the first and last act, but it become a story all of its own. And I thought that was really interesting the way they pointed that out. And whatís really interesting is, you know, youíll have literature classes, and youíll have people analyzing other peopleís work. Theyíll try to break down the author work into first, second, and third act. And theyíll try to show symbolism and all that. But the problem ultimately is that they didnít write the fucking book, and they donít really know what the author intended.

Jim: Right.

Rob: You know what I mean? But these people wrote that movie, and theyíre telling you exactly how it worked out for them. So, it makes it much more interesting, because you actually can hear how they created it. Instead of some second-hand bullshit where they think they know what the author intended.

I think thatís one of the things I like about it. I watched the commentary for Legend. You know, that Tom Cruise movie. And that was interesting because the commentary was made by the director, and it was like 10 or 15 years after he made the movie. Because they didnít put it out on a DVD until then. And then at first, when they started putting DVDís out, I donít think they had commentaries or anything like that on them.

Jim: No, they had talked about that with potential for it, and things like that. Because a lot of the DVDs, there really arenít any extras. Youíre lucky to get the trailer, or anything else.

Rob: So, even though what this guy was doing was kind of a recollection thing, it was still interesting, too. And he was the only guy talking. They usually have more than one person doing the commentary. But it was just the director in this, and he was going based on his recollection of everything.

One thing in Toy Story 2 Ė Iím sure you will not remember this Ė at some point Buzz gives the other toys a pep talk as theyíre trying to get where Woody is. And then the American flag shows up behind him. You know, heís standing there, valiant, and then the American flag inexplicably shows up behind him. And then he fades out, and the flag turns black and white, and then they back up, and itís the American flag on the TV where Woody and they were watching the old footage of the Woody show.

Jim: Kinda like Howdy Doody?

Rob: Yeah, but he was a marionette in this show. And the show was cancelled prematurely because when Sputnik went up, all of a sudden everybodyís attention turned to space stuff. So, the commentators were saying that they knew the American flag wasnít going to go over in other countries, so they actually made two versions. You know, they had the version with the American flag, and then they had this other version where they just had fireworks going off. And then they have some sort of generic tune playing, instead of the Star Spangled Banner. And I thought, well, that is actually pretty important, because Iím sure seeing the American flag is not going to go over in, say, Iran. You know. ? Thatís gonna shoot your market to shit.

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