When my daughter was 3 years old she chose to be Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. I was a proud mom, indeed. No pink tulle costume for my girl. Adventure, determination, hero status, and loyal friend. What could be a better role model?
(This year she went as Selena Gomez, so there you go.)
The characters of Toy Story have lived with us for a decade, in film, coloring books, and in toys. It tops our list of all time best animation (especially Toy Story 1) and has tugged at our heartstrings every time we fall upon it. There was resurgence this past week when digging out the battered DVD cases of 1 & 2 in preparation for the viewing of Toy Story 3, which we decided was to be a family-only event. I saw the outing as a closure of sorts, with my 10 and 12 year olds on the brink of outgrowing this movie category. Yes, those darn animations have filled up my movie going over many years in lieu of indie flicks and foreign films – and now we’re moving on to more mature films like Twilight (well, maybe).
I had been vaguely warned by another mother that the dramatic ending was not expected and to “be prepared.” What, they all die? I thought. (I’m not giving away the ending, don’t worry.) At the theater I sat with my older daughter and my younger one sat behind us in the last row with her Dad. Highest elevation matters to her and being in the center matters to Dad.
Woody is out to save his best friends, as usual, and goes to great lengths to do so. He combats an evil teddy bear and his baby doll sidekick and the toys suffer though the demonic play by a bunch of toddlers in a preschool. Yes, what could be worse than being mangled by three year olds during the day and imprisoned by possessed toys at night? What a nightmare!
The power went off in the theater at one point (resulting in free tickets) and when the sound came back on it was the music track only, no voices. But wouldn’t you know it, this occurred at the scene where Buzz is on “Spanish mode” and dances a swank Pasadoble with Jesse. It was subtitled so we didn’t miss too much. A bit of romance in the third installment – how sweet.
Of course, the climax of the film did happen to be one of existential crisis for Woody and his lot – and a moment of utter tenderness when the toys clasp hands as they bravely face their presumed fate. I sobbed, “Oh my god it’s a holocaust!” My daughter gestured with her face in her hands, then turned to me and laughed at my drama. The one behind me whispered to her Dad, “This is the part where Mom cries.”
Later, wolfing down burritos, my younger daughter said, “I didn’t like this version. It was so intense.” She offered a better ending in her mind, one that did not include the possibility of familial annihilation. She felt that Andy could have seen his beloved toys wave goodbye to him, some live evidence of their humanity before he went to college.
And why not?