Is it still entertaining to mock Harry Knowles, or have we moved on to the point where we view him as just sort of faintly sad? I mean, at this point we all know exactly what Knowles’ flaws are as a film journalist, but is he still relevant enough that we can take deep pleasure in seeing him suffer?
I ask because I found his review of Toy Story 3 while wandering through the site a few weeks back, and it has to be one of the sweetest pieces of schadenfreude I’ve seen in a long time. If you really feel like it’s not worth it to make fun of him, though, just let me know and I’ll give you written permission to skip the rest of the entry. (Please allow 4-6 weeks for processing of your request.) Oh, this would also be where those of you who don’t want spoilers for Toy Story 3 should skip out.
For those of you who do think it’s worth making fun of Harry Knowles, but have sworn a solemn oath never to click on any link that leads back to his website, allow me to sum up: This review is Harry Knowles explaining that while he loved the vast majority of the film, the ending left him so absolutely furious that he is demanding a Toy Story 4 solely to retcon away the final moments that he detests so much. He explains at great, frothing length, of course (Harry Knowles’ writing style reminds me of nothing so much as a quote from Transmetropolitan: “Use shorter sentences. Or just whittle everything down to ‘I’m all fucked up on big red pills.'”) But the short version is that he can’t stand the thought that the movie ends with Andy giving away Woody to some little kid. This is ANDY, after all!!! This is the special toy of his childhood, his closest and dearest friend, and he’s just GIVING HIM AWAY!!! He didn’t even check to find out how much Woody was worth on eBay!!!
Needless to say, Harry would never have given up his favorite toy like that.
For those of you who have unaccountably missed Toy Story 3, the end of the movie is all about Andy realizing that his beloved childhood toys are, in the end, just that. They are toys. They are meant to make a child happy, to bring the light of joy and wonder to their eyes. To be played with. Andy has a moment where he looks down at Woody, his beloved childhood toy, and realizes that although there will always be a special place in his heart for Woody, the most important thing in the world is making a little kid happy with that toy. That to keep it is essentially selfish and petty. His giving the toy to Bonnie, the little girl whose mom works at the local daycare, is an act of the purest altruism.
And Harry Knowles responds to that like a vampire being confronted with a crucifix. He can’t even conceive of the idea that giving Woody to Bonnie is the right thing to do. The notion that people are more important than pieces of inanimate plastic, and that it’s not worth it to hang onto those items just because they may have some sort of totemic significance? It’s not just incomprehensible, it’s anathema and incomprehensible. He acts like he just saw someone having sex with farm animals: He doesn’t understand why they could possibly do it, but he knows it’s wrong and disgusting.
The parallels to Al, the overweight emotionally-stunted manchild who sees toys as “collectibles” and accumulates them without ever really caring about them, are so obvious that they’re almost not worth pointing out…which doesn’t stop nearly a hundred people from doing so in the comments section. (The best part is when he compares his reaction to the end of Citizen Kane. That’s right, the message of Citizen Kane isn’t “don’t let the quest for material things change you and destroy your childlike innocence,” it’s “keep the damn sled!”) But those parallels are lost on Knowles. This movie and the themes that drive it, the idea that toys are to be played with and loved, not just hoarded…he doesn’t even understand why it’s so sad that he doesn’t understand.
Toy Story 3 and the unselfish love it displayed infuriated Harry Knowles to no end. That alone is enough of a reason for me to love it.