Toy Story 3
Release Date: June 24, 2010
Frankly it’s worth seeing Toy Story 3 just to witness a moment in history toy manufacturer Mattel has never revealed – the day Barbie met Ken. This latest edition to the award-winning Pixar franchise not only mines our collective childhoods, it models our futures as well.
Eleven years after the last installment, Toy Story 3 opens at a crucial moment for Woody, Buzz and the gang: Andy is leaving home for college. His mother wants to know what he will do “with these old toys”, then solves the problem by donating them to the Sunnyside Daycare. Woody and Co. emerge from a cardboard box to discover they’ve landed in the toy version of a retirement resort. Predictably what seems ‘too good to be true’ is, and so begins the third battle to get back to the boy who values them the most.
Toy Story 3 tackles the thorny subject of growing old and losing your usefulness. You can’t help wondering whether the scriptwriters are reflecting negatively on how we treat our seniors. However it dodges the more difficult questions associated with the end of life. Woody and the gang go through some harrowing moments that provide the most thrilling Toy Story finish yet. But rather than try and find some way of attempting to explain that even our best pleasures come to an end, we see Woody handed on to a bright future that will last apparently as long as his plastic. Yet a friend of mine once warned, “Never teach a child something they have to unlearn,” – they seldom forget the ‘favour’, especially when reality breaks in. Toy Story 3 is great family entertainment but it dodges a necessary truth and toys with a hope this world cannot fulfill.
Distributor: Network TEN
Release Date: Tuesdays, 8:00 PM
The dysfunctional family is hardly a new device for generating laughs, but this fresh American series ups the ante by introducing three. Modern Family is built around three contemporary styles of relationship: the gay couple, the blended family and the too-cool parents.
In the first we meet Mitchell and Cameron who have just adopted an Asian baby girl. The second consists of Mitchell’s much older father Jay and his trophy bride Gloria, with her teen son. Rounding off the set is Mitchell’s sister Claire, her sadly hip husband Phil, and their three children.
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The comedy is less about families, more about parenting. Each of the family units struggles in its own way – the writers don’t shy away from the problems for children that arise from adults who are too old, too flamboyant or too ready to be a friend. The assumption, however, is that ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’ and this modern extended family will manage to muddle through to some profound understanding by the end of the show.
The problem is how glibly the series deals with some of the more serious issues at stake. Marrying for sex, for example, has more issues than just the straining of elderly joints. Studies have shown that the ideal environment for raising a child continues to include a mother and a father. And households where mum is made to do all the heavy lifting where discipline is concerned are headed for counseling, not congratulations.
All up Modern Family is a good laugh, but heaven help us if we think any of these models could build a happy home.