Can we talk, toy to human?

Despicable Me
An animated film from Universal Pictures with the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segal, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews; Directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin

Toy Story 3
An animated film from Disney/Pixar with the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Ned Beatty, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Estelle Harris, John Ratzenberger; Directed by Lee Unkrich


(This week’s review is guest written by Wii, the home video game console.)

Hey kids, listen up.

Put down your handheld pointing devices for a sec and press pause.

I want to tell you about some movies playing at your neighborhood multiplex. I know, that means that you would have to turn me off and go outside the house. Sorry, but these films are not yet available on Netflix for home viewing or your laptop.

In Despicable Me, three young girls challenge an evil genius.
Photo by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment

You might be tempted to check out these films (or dragged to them by your demanding parents) if for no other reason that they, like me, are multidimensional. As you know, I detect movement in 3-dimensions to produce dazzling, almost realistic visuals and effects for your time-killing fun. Similarly, these films have eye-popping 3-D visuals. Um, I’m just sorry to have to say that you cannot interact with those visuals like you can with me. I know, that can get real boring real fast.

Oh, and it may be a major drag that your parents may like these movies more than you. That’s because they have lots of stuff to appeal to your folks. Stuff like references to things that they grew up with — James Bond villains, Austin Powers’ Doctor Evil, playthings like Mr. Potato Head, and social commentary about things for grown-ups. Yeah, I know, that can be so lame. It can lead to long, boring stretches. With me, you can simply switch to another game, increase the difficulty level, get updates even in “stand-by” mode, or even add players — cool stuff like that.

But, if you find yourself at these movies, you may see that they give you a lot of credit. Instead of “hitting you over the head” with lectures about how kids are negatively influenced by modern entertainment, these movies say just the opposite. That’s right — playing with your friendly and non-threatening Wii is A-OK. It turns out that you young people are incorruptible after all. But then you knew that already.

In one of these movies, Despicable Me, three young girls are mistreated at their orphanage by a mean adult, and yet they manage to stay golden. Later, they are subjected to all kinds of harsh words and inappropriate dangers from an evil “genius” who takes them in to be used as part of his nefarious plots with violent gadgets — gadgets that are essentially toys. In fact, all of the adults are nasty; in addition to the evil genius and the orphanage master, there’s a smarmy nerd who has a penchant for shooting all kinds of weapons without any concern to who might get harmed, a duplicitous (surprise!) banker who refuses to provide funds to a man supporting three young orphans, and a mad scientist who would rather be rid of the little girls so that he and his boss can get on with their work.

Now, I ask you, how is that any worse than any awesome game that I might offer that involves using gadgets to vanquish foes? And yet, in spite of all this, these young girls manage to melt the evil genius’s cold heart and remain the wholesome, plucky and untraumatized cuties that they are at the get-go.

In the other film, Toy Story 3, a young boy outgrows his toys and yet, because he played with them, he has learned the value of imagination and sharing. Guess what? I provide the very same service. He seems not to have been harmed by playing with his toys and is a well-adjusted young man. That just goes to show that toys and games are not the source of social ills like some may want to suggest. And, like the message of this film, we toys sure do appreciate all the attention we get from you.

In Toy Story 3, a young boy outgrows his toys and yet he has learned the value of imagination and sharing.
Photo by Disney/Pixar

I will also say this about these movies: They are sleek and well-designed entertainments just like me. They are not clunky like some older “digital” animated films. In other words, they look great and sound great. They will keep your eyes and ears busy, and you can keep your hands busy by eating popcorn and soda — just please try and refrain from using your hands for texting.

I realize that your attention may now be wavering and you are itching to get back to the game you have been playing with me, so I’ll just end by asking if you have seen my new games yet. They are awesome! Bet you can’t wait to play 'em too.

Wait, don’t look over at your iPad…why are you picking up that iPhone? No, no, no. Look at me!

Doug Young is the film critic for The Statesman­­.