THOUGH I HAD NOT SEEN THEM for years, my memories of them were just as vivid today as they were back then. I was downsizing my living space and came upon a couple of shelves in the basement that were filled with toys. Some were in their original packaging while others were sealed in plastic bags or bins. They brought a smile to my face as I had to stop my packing and look at each one. There was a boxed game where the players had to pick 5 letters and 5 categories. Writing each one down on a mini-spreadsheet, letters going vertically down and categories across horizontally, the players would be timed as they had to fill in as many spaces as they could within the time frame. This was my favorite game outside of word games. There was a toy on the shelf that I remember getting at the same time as a cousin of mine. It was a moving track, like a miniature moving sidewalk, where I would have to steer a magnetic car through obstacles that would pop up on the revolving track. Each toy I took off the shelf provided me a fond memory; I was not sure if I could part with any of them. IT IS FUNNY HOW FOR MANY of us a toy or stuffed animal can have an influence on our life’s path. I remember playing this word game with a relative, where there was a group of dice that had letters instead of numbers on them. They would be shaken around inside a plastic cube until they settled into spaces set out like a tick tack toe graph. We would turn the timer over to start, then come up with as many words as we could using the letters showing; but, having to only connect the letters down or up and side to side, nothing diagonal. It was this early game that started my love of reading and writing. There was also a babysitter of mine who each time she sat for me would bring me a stuffed animal. I am convinced that menagerie started my affection and first educational direction for animals. Let me say at one time I had almost 2 dozen stuffed animals sleeping with me; I could barely move in the bed. Now it has been many years since I played with toys and stuffed animals; but I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the familiar characters again in this latest installment of the animated, adventure franchise. WITH A COUPLE OF DISCARDED ITEMS and a little imagination Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp), created a new toy for herself. The problem was convincing this new addition that he belonged in her toy collection; something Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks (The Post, Sully), thought he could fix. With Tim Allen (3 Geezers!, Last Man Standing-TV) voicing Buzz Lightyear, Tony Hale (Stranger than Fiction, American Ultra ) voicing Forky and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) voicing Bo Peep; this film was one of the few sequels I have seen that maintained the high standards of its previous movies. The animation was outstanding, and the humor was appropriate and relevant for both children and adults. Also, the story was thoughtful and cleverly laid out to take adult type themes and present them in such a way that was easy for kids to digest. I experienced a variety of feelings from excitement to tension to love; each expertly fitted into the script without overpowering one another. The movie studio did a wonderful job in keeping the integrity intact for this beloved film franchise. I may never get rid of my toys now. There were 4 extra scenes during the 1sthalf of the credits.
3 ½ stars
My first encounter with exotic animals took place at a zoo. It was a family outing and our first time going to the zoo. I remember how excited I was as we passed through the zoo’s tall metal gates. There were signposts that had wooden cutouts of animals standing on arrows, pointing the way to where we could find them. I was struck by the pungent smell as we entered some of the indoor pavilions. My two favorite animals I wanted to see were the tigers and the chimpanzees. There was something about the way the tigers moved that mesmerized me. As for the chimps, my favorite stuffed animal was Zippy the Chimpanzee that was handed down to me from my brother; I wanted to see some of Zippy’s relatives. After spending the entire day at the zoo, the last thing we did before exiting was to visit the gift shop. It was here where the magic of the day solidified for me. Standing in a corner of the shop was a machine that looked like a jukebox. Instead of records there were wheels and molds that would come together and create a wax model of your favorite animal. That was it for me; I deposited the quarters that were given to me and watched as the machinery created a golden tiger. Once I got home I placed the wax figure on the top shelf of my bookcase so it could watch over me as I slept. There were so many wonders discovered on that first trip that vividly remain with me today. If you never had a similar stirring experience regarding the sight of live animals at a zoo then you might enjoy watching this family adventure film. Tim Allen (Wild Hogs, Big Trouble) was the voice of Rex, a king penguin who returned home to Penguin City on South Georgia Island near Antarctica. The movie followed Rex as he struggled against harsh conditions to find a mate and start a family of his own. This sanitized drama confused me; I thought it was gong to be a documentary. When I looked for a movie trailer, I discovered this film was released a year ago as Penguins 3D. It seems as if they added more footage and created this story. I did not see this in 3D nor find anything that had not been shown before in TV shows or movie documentaries. With Tim narrating, the humor was kept at a mild children’s level. If you know nothing about penguins or have a child that has never been to a zoo, then it would be okay to see this movie. For me, it did not provide any joyous wonder.
There is something special about chimpanzees, where people can quickly place human characteristics on these fascinating creatures. I have a special spot for the animals because my very first stuffed animal was of a chimpanzee. Zippy was his name and he had been handed down to me from my brothers. This documentary did not disappoint on the visuals, from beautiful landscapes to incredible close ups of the chimps, every scene was a treat. Where the movie did not do itself justice was who they had narrate the story, Tim Allen (Home Improvement-TV, Wild Hogs). Along with his annoying inflections, I also had to place blame on the script he was given to read. I understand the idea of making this film for the entire family by adding a dramatic story line; however, it started to feel as if I was on one of the rides in the Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World. A 2nd clan of chimpanzees were portrayed as the bad guys; lead by Scar the alpha male. Tim’s grunts and excited reading was ridiculous to me. Instead of observing chimpanzees in their natural habitat, we were given a sanitized tale of little Oscar’s plight within the group. At the end of the movie statistics were presented on what the chimpanzee poplulation used to be and what it was currently, with no explanation on the reasons why. This film was made to entertain the whole family and on some levels it accomplished the task. However, I only wished they could have let the chimpanzees be themselves and avoid being turned into drama queens.
2 2/3 stars