21 June 2019

Toys Come to Life Weekend

Hey there. So we used to discuss the cultural, critical, and commercial prospects of each new film each and every Friday around here. So, that - but the short version because there isn't all that much to say beyond the fact that this weekend bizarrely features both the adorable and horrific aspects of toys coming to life. Toy Story 4 (2019) and Child's Play (2019), everyone!

So, these toys are immortal, right? Will we eventually reach
a Highlander-type situation?
I am a Pixar fan because I am a living, breathing human being with a heart, but the studio isn't without their problems. I just mentioned while talking about Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) that the studio tends to be averse to the more cartoony aspects of animation, relies on cheap tearjerkers as excuses for depth (despite them mostly being earned, which is why their movies are genuinely good), and lately have traded in original stories for easy sequels that just don't the same panache.

And then they crank out COCO (2017) which is the most underrated Pixar movie ever, but also completely out of the Pixar tearjerker playbook. Sad doesn't automatically equal great, although like I said, COCO's tears are mostly earned, so it works.

I tried to get into their sequels, I really did, but they're just not all that good. I don't know why they've decided to go back to the well so often, either. They had a $200+ million streak from Monsters, Inc. (2001) to UP (2009). Even original films since like Brave (2012) and Inside Out (2015) have made consistent bank while the Cars series has had diminishing returns (but way more merchandisable than Princess Merida). Still, the big nostalgia jerkers - the Toy Stories, Finding Dory (2017), Incredibles 2 (2018) - those are making the kind of money that really gets attention. It's not about $200+ million anymore. It's about hitting that Billion Dollar worldwide mark.

So despite having the most satisfying cathartic ending of any movie in history here we are at Toy Story 4. Great. Half the original cast is dead. I honestly haven't even been interested in the trailer. My life if so complete with Toy Story 3 (2010) being the endpoint. I'm trying not to just be a whiner but I'm moved on. I can't even conceive of another adventure for these characters that would feel momentous enough to earn another outing. I'm glad they got Keanu Reeves. I'm sure he's great. I can't get hyped for this.

On the other end of the aisle is the new Child's Play which is totally a thing I didn't realise was happening until I randomly looked at what new releases we had this week. I knew this movie was coming, but Friday? Holy shit! There's Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tee Henry, and Tim Matheson (better known for being the best part of A Very Brady Sequel [1996]). Mark Hamill as Chucky?! Let's watch this!

I feel like I could have told you this doll is evil.
Ooooh he looks like Thunderbirds!
Chucky is so stupid. Just kick the doll away. Once the series started getting campy and insane with Bride of Chucky (1998) it definitely became more its own thing. I don't know if Chucky is a horror icon - I guess so? I'm surprised this hasn't had a more mainstream reboot, but in researching this I was surprised to learn it has had a fairly steady Direct-to-DVD presence. That's not really surprising.

So, let's talk cash, cultural cache, all that stuff. Toy Story 4 is going to make a lot of money this weekend. There's been no great financial juggernaut in a few weeks and there's really nothing next weekend, either. Chucky is great counter-programming and Summer Horror can work, but it's also a property that I don't think that many people care about. We will eventually reach a point where this movie is just debuted on streaming services and we coordinate enough that it doesn't get lost in the shuffle of hundreds of other low budget horror movies on streaming sites. That's not this weekend, though.

Will these movies have cultural weight? I don't think so. How often do you reflect on Monsters University (2013) in your life? It was nice to remember Bride of Chucky. That movie is fun as hell. There might be a little of that going on here - with a much more violent streak. It's a tough tone to do well, and it might get a bit of a cult following. A...Cult of Chucky (2017) following? Eh? EH?!

What are you going to see this weekend? I mean, this is the longest day of the year, do you want to spend it on this crap? Go watch Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). Let's keep that franchise alive!

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