Patt Morrison

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A ''Toy Story'' Story, and War Stories On the Air


You know how Hollywood slices and dices box office numbers – Tinseltown’s magical bookkeeping can even make ‘’Titanic’’ look like it lost money. But any way they spun it, ‘’Toy Story 3’’ came up aces over the weekend, and I put in my own ticket-window spondulix to make it so.

The film reinforces what makes cartoons succeed: that they work on a grownup level at the same time they appeal on a kid level, from the sly cartoons of the 1930s to the winking wisecracks of Bullwinkle and beyond.

Film lovers especially can find more to love in ‘’TS3’’ than the contents of a toy chest. The Pixar screenwriters delivered moments of homage to ‘’Cool Hand Luke,’’ the ‘’Raiders of the Lost Ark’’ trilogy, pinches of ‘’The Great Escape’’ and dollops of Hitchcock and even Tennessee Williams.

Yet what ‘’TS3” put me most in mind of is the wonderful tale ‘’The Velveteen Rabbit.’’ The book’s subtitle is ‘’How Toys Become Real,’’ and it was written in 1922, well before movies could talk, but when every child absolutely knew that toys could.

When I was little, I read and re-read my copy until it grew as shabby as the Velveteen Rabbit himself. If you’ve read it, read it again, even if you think you’re too old for it, and if you haven’t read it, however old you are, do yourself a favor and read it.

Do yourself another favor and listen to our program on Monday to the stories Megan Stack is telling. She’s my LA Times colleague who’s covered the conflicts from Afghanistan to the Mideast almost since 9/11. She ‘s put together some astonishing and moving tales in her book, ‘’Every Man in This Village is a Liar.’’ Good title – and the stuff between the covers is just as good.

We’ll also explore the law about illegal immigration – is it a crime to be in this country without the right paperwork, or a kind of code violation, or something else? It’s evidently more nuanced than you think, and with the Obama Administration about to challenge Arizona’s law, it’s time we found out more.

I’m told the event is sold out, but on Tuesday evening, I’m at the LA Central Library for another in the Aloud series, this one about that Peabody-winning PBS documentary about the Chandler family and how it shaped the Los Angeles we live in to this day. I’ll be talking to filmmaker Peter Jones and Bill Boyarsky, author of the companion book. I know a good bit about that family and this city and even so, I learned even more.

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