Director Lee Unkrich says that when he embarked on this film he watched every movie he could find with a “3” in its title, hoping to find a good one he could use as a role model. He came up empty-handed. Perhaps that’s one reason he and his colleagues at Pixar put so much effort into this sequel—to validate its existence. It’s that work ethic, along with creativity and seemingly boundless imagination, that makes Toy Story 3 so good.
In today’s risk-averse movie business, we’re seeing more remakes than ever, including retreads of films that don’t seem that old (to some of us). After a screening of the new Karate Kid I asked a couple of ten-year-old boys if they knew the 1984 movie, and they did, thanks to DVDs and cable TV reruns. Interestingly enough, neither one wanted to compare one version with the other: they like them both. I do, too.
The original Karate Kid, written by Robert Mark Kamen and directed by John Avildsen (in the same mold as his first smash hit, Rocky), was a shamelessly manipulative but well-told story, perfectly cast, with Ralph Macchio as a boy who needs to learn how to defend himself and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita as his unlikely mentor in martial arts, Mr. Miyagi. (In real life, Macchio told me the other night, Morita “couldn’t touch his toes.”)
That premise is the only tangent that connects the 1984 hit and its new incarnation, written by Christopher Murphey and directed by Dutch ex-pat Harald Zwart, whose previous American credits include—
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