In my first post on this site I stated that I there are only 5 movie sequels that I love. Well, I saw Predators the other night…and that didn’t change the count, in fact Predators was bad. But the following night I got the kid some snacks and we saddled up Toy Story 3. I may be the last film nerd to have seen Toy Story 3, and I don’t have a great excuse (it has been on my DVR since May). But I expected the third one to be like the second one, loved by almost everyone, but lacking the magic of its predecessor. Toy Story 2’s themes of ownership did not strike a chord in me like the themes of companionship in the first. Toy Story 3 unlike so many sequels, is a great stand-alone film. Yes, that means there are now 6 sequels that I love, adjust your scorecards at home.
I don’t have to warn about spoilers do I? It’s been a year and a half! Anyway, it was great to begin the film with the extended play sequence. This establishes the relationship that the toys and Andy have lost as Andy has grown older. The plot of the film is really like a prison break, and like a heist movie, watching a well-planned crazy jail break is lots of fun. I think Pixar has learned something from Incredibles, watching characters sneak around is suspenseful and adds to the enjoyment of the film. Pixar will always introduce interesting characters and enjoyable gags, but these factors only setup the conclusion of the film. The gang had been through numerous obstacles and as Rex happily reports, “We’re in a garbage truck on the way to the dump!” At the dump, the gang faces their impending doom in a very long sequence that seemed excessive. The gang was saved at the last second as expected, but before the rescue, something amazing happened. The gang accepts their fate and holds hands. The act of unity was very simple but amazingly effective. This is the kind of quality writing what separates Pixar from the rest.
There were many emotional scenes throughout the movie, but the emotional payoff for me was unassociated with peril. The sweet sorrow of Andy saying goodbye to his cherished toys created a swelling of emotions I was not quite prepared to face. When I was watching it, I had trouble understanding why I was feeling such emotion. In retrospect, I think the scene represented an emotional end of childhood. The conclusion of a person’s childhood rarely comes down to a single moment. Andy, who we’ve grown up with, has decided to move on from his childhood, except for one last shred (Woody). But Andy is suddenly forced to move on from this stage in his life when he finds Woody in the donation box. Pixar used misleading point of view shots to trick us into believing Woody would stay with Andy, and I fell for it hard. Andy recoils at the thought of losing the longtime childhood companion, but the jarring reality hits both Andy and the viewer. His childhood was over. I don’t know if anyone slightly introspective can watch this without thinking back to his or her childhood longingly.
What was important to me 20 years ago?
How have I changed?
What did my mom do with those Legos?
Now I am in a house surrounded by my son’s toys that take on a life of their own every time he picks them up. And I must remind myself…he too will outgrow them.