The original 1996 Toy Story remains one of the best-animated films of the past fifty years as well as one of the most influential. Pixar’s game-changing blockbuster most directly inspired Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, sequels widely considered as good, if not better, than the first Toy Story. That’s no small feat given how beloved the original Toy Story remains. Toy Story less directly led to three stone-cold winners in The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, and Wreck-It Ralph, all of which took the Pixar classic’s “What if your toys came alive and had a surprisingly rich, deep and metaphorically loaded culture, mythology and civilization” conceit and ran with it.
But Toy Story is also indirectly responsible for some of the worst animated abominations of the past three decades as well, crimes against cinema and branding like the fascinatingly misconceived Foodfight!, which tried to do for supermarket brands and mascots what Toy Story did for toys and instead emerged with an all-time stinker, an unholy marriage of grotesque over-sexualization, Nazi imagery, nightmare-inducing character design, and clearly unfinished animation.
Toy Story similarly led to the universally reviled The Emoji Movie, whose primary distinction is that Sir Patrick Stewart literally played shit in it, in that he was hopefully very well-compensated for voicing the poop emoji. Now Toy Story is responsible for another animated atrocity whose very existence screams, “We couldn’t afford the rights to Funko” in Bobblehead: The Movie, which just hit streaming.
If you liked Foodfight! and The Emoji Movie you have astonishingly bad taste and should, honestly, feel deeply ashamed of yourself. But you’re also the microscopic target audience for a staggeringly misconceived insult to the public’s intelligence like Bobbleheads: The Movie.
Bobbleheads: The Movie brazenly steals Toy Story’s sturdy premise of children’s toys coming alive when the kiddies aren’t around and having adventures and learning life lessons in the process. Otherwise, the filmmakers decided that the way to give these annoying little doo-dads the big screen close-up they neither asked for nor deserve was to remake Home Alone as an 82 minute Blue Collar Comedy Tour sketch with bobbleheads in the lead roles and an even more pronounced hatred of poor people who have the audacity to want the material goods of folks who are richer, and consequently better, than them.
But before a slumming Luke Wilson can humiliate himself with an extended tribute to the cornpone comedy stylings of Larry the Cable Guy, only dumber and fatter, as dim-witted, morbidly obese hillbilly cartoon Earl, whose cheap flannel shirt cannot, of course, contain his massive gut, we’re first treated to a bewildering bait and switch.
Bobbleheads: The Movie’s first few scenes create the distinct impression that it will follow the misadventures of Audrey, a bratty thirteen-year-old so obnoxiously entitled that she’s overcome with rage that she has two impossibly perfect, loving, supportive parents who clearly adore each other and work at home so they can spend lots of time with her and give her and her friends free tickets to the THEME PARK THAT THEY WORK FOR because, they don’t, I dunno, give her enough space or something and sometimes ask her to look after her baby brother.
This little monster ditches the aforementioned baby so she can mope to a snooty English cat bobblehead voiced by Julian Sands. When the baby nearly falls backwards and busts his skull open and dies an agonizing death in his older sister’s absence, the sociopath sneers that she was OTC, or “off the clock” and consequently her parents would be responsible for any possible brain damage the poor baby would incur. The monster is rewarded for being the worst person in the world with an impromptu vacation somewhere expensive and fun with her loving parents. She then disappears from the movie for 75 minutes so it can focus on bobbleheads whose incessant bobbling never stops being annoying.
These anthropomorphic tacky pieces of junk are afforded an opportunity to be heroes when the house is invaded by a portly, unrelentingly stupid, and tacky redneck couple whose central presence combines fat-shaming and classism with a healthy dose of misogyny in the form of Earl’s equally awful wife Binky (the great Jennifer Coolidge at her check-collecting worse), who is just as tacky and overweight as hubby but much more sinister and evil in their scheming and womanly duplicity.
Bobbleheads: The Movie uses a climactic three-minute cameo from prominently billed guest star Cher as a bobblehead version of herself who LITERALLY COMES DOWN FROM THE SKY IN A SPACESHIP to teach the requisite messages about believing in yourself, teamwork, and family but its real message seems to be that poor people are fat and dumb and tacky and worthless and should be laughed at and scorned.
A typical gag here finds a dog farting in a sleeping Earl’s face and him mistaking it for his wife’s breath. This pervasive mean-spiritedness makes the script’s intermittent stabs at meaning seem hypocritical as well as bizarre.
Scattered throughout Bobbleheads: The Movie are references to a bobblehead code of conduct and a bobblehead creed. “Bobbles never bobble when it comes to defending your humans”, “Bobbles bobble but are always righteous”, “Bobbles bobble wisdom”, “Bobbles bobble and look bobble-icious”, “Bobbles bobble and bring joy” and, on an annoyingly literal level, “To retain one’s value as a collectible by staying on one’s base at all times” are all posited as possible creeds.
Needless to say, Bobbleheads: The Movie does not bring joy or wisdom. It’s impossibly padded even at eighty-two minutes. Like simpatico stinkers The Emoji Movie and Foodfight! it represents the worst-case scenario for an idea so terrible that it could never lead to anything halfway watchable, let alone good.
The idea of heroes with cold, metallic springs connecting freakishly over-sized heads to distressingly under-sized bodies in violent defiance of God’s design is supposed to be adorable and cute but instead feels Cronenbergian. This isn’t fun for the whole family: it’s accidental body horror about unlikable, badly animated monsters of cold, hard plastic, cheap metal, seedy commercial calculation, and tawdry commerce.
Beware cinematic endeavors that feel the need to tell you they’re a movie. They oftentimes fail to meet that very modest criterion. Bobbleheads: The Movie is no exception. It would be obscenely generous to deem it an actual movie. Instead, it’s 2020’s final insult, a lump of cinematic coal dumped haphazardly into our stockings as a way of putting an exclamation point to the mind-boggling awfulness of a singularly terrible year.
The Bobbleheads Movie is available to rent on Amazon for $5.99 if you dare.