Harry finally reviews TOY STORY 3 - BUT it is almost entirely regarding the ending, so SPOILER WARNING!
I've been working on cracking my feelings about TOY STORY 3 for an entire week.
At one level, it is the best film I've seen this year in terms of entertainment, thrills, laughs, emotion and just pure enjoyability. TOY STORY 3, like the two prior incarnations, is a near perfect film. It's an absolute blast. I went in with as little information about the actual story for this one as I could - and as the film played - my face was a combination of an open mouthed smile, wide opened eyes and cheeks that turned to waterfalls throughout.
Then at another level, the movie pissed me off. Oh sure, it's just an amazing gift of awesome. Technically light years ahead of the two previous films. The detail and the restraint used by the artists that made this film is amazing. The original film couldn't have this detail, level of movement and work because... the computers simply were not up to it. The detail is lovely.
But how could TOY STORY 3 piss me off?
I'll tell you. And this has been the part that has been driving me fucking bugnuts. I've come to the conclusion that there is no reason to feel shame for the MASSIVE PROBLEM that I have with the story. I can accept the ending. I can even say I cried throughout it. And when I exited the theater I was wholly in love with the film. Then I started to write my first review.
A curious thing happens to me when I start writing a review. I don't think about the films I'm writing about in a consistently linear manner. Often time the A to B to C, all the way to Z of the plot and story... I just don't care about. Because I've always considered THEME over all else. To look past the various exchanges between characters - and really boil the film down to what is it about. What is the great THEME of TOY STORY 3?
Without a doubt it is LETTING GO and MOVING ON.
My favorite film with this theme is INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE - and I know people that scream at me for saying that. I know evil people like MORIARTY, that have given me a good deal of strife over my love of LAST CRUSADE - and there at the end of the film when the Grail is just beyond grasp and Indy's Bond of a Father tells him to "Let it go, Indiana" - CHILLS. I love it. LOVE IT! But there's a reason that Indy let's go. Taking it. Reaching further still for the grail will result in destruction. LETTING GO was absolutely integral to survival. No matter how great the potential glory, fame and riches that clutching that Grail - the pursuit of his Father's entire life - all that is meaningless when held next to the preservation of life. AND for me, that's why I love INDIANA JONES 3 so much. Well that and I love Connery and Ford's chemistry, the Blonde is crazy fucking hot, I love Hitler's autograph in the Grail diary, I love the dialogue in the film and find some of it the most awesome crazy quotables around. BUT the lesson of letting go and recognizing personal self-destruction, well those are the great reasons I love LAST CRUSADE.
But here... in this movie... I fall out of love with ANDY because he hands over WOODY. Now I get it. Ultimately, that's what Woody wanted, to be with his friends with an ideal imaginative great kid with a peculiar imagination. And Andy has one of those stupid mothers that would harp about his toys. Handing him a box and a trash bag and telling him to choose. What the hell? It is bad enough that this family has never figured out the actual value of Woody in the collectibles sphere... but the idea that in the end, Andy would give up WOODY. It kinda pisses me off.
Now, we've never found out why ANDY had Woody - and in all the time in that house, we've never seen Andy's father. I bring this up, because I'm writing this on FATHER'S DAY. What is Andy's father situation? The father isn't there the day the boy goes off to college? We met Andy right after the birth of Andy's sister - and there was no Father then. I like to think that Andy's father died in some manner that left Andy's mom with the money to buy the house and take care of the two kids. Whatever happened to Andy's father, he was out of the picture significantly in advance of the first film... but... I always harbored the suspicion that WOODY was Andy's father's toy. That Woody's obsessive compulsion to be there for ANDY came from that relationship he had with Andy's father. And that it was possible, that Woody never necessarily knew this. I imagine that Woody was played with by his previous owner, that he went into the attic - then perhaps when Andy's father passed away, his Grandmother went through her son's things and found Woody - remembered how much that Woody meant to Andy's father - and felt it should go to Andy.
Obviously WOODY meant everything to Andy for awhile. The wallpaper, the bedsheets - all for a toy that was beyond Andy's time. But this toy meant the most. Even at the end of the movie, he finds it incredibly hard to let go of Woody, but there's something about the notion of Woody still being played with that makes him happy.
The notion though of leaving childish things behind, giving your toys to the next generation... I loathe that conceit. Now, my own Toy Story resulted in almost the entirety of my 70's & 80's Action Figure collection going to pay for my College books, but there is literally no force on this planet that could get me to give up Vietnam Andy. That was my Woody. My dachshund, Dr. Demento - my childhood dog, not unlike Andy btw - tore off Andy's right arm and left leg in a massive argument he and I had about the ownership of, at that time, merely Andy. You see, Vietnam Andy started off life as a Raggedy Andy. When "Dr." maimed him, I applied Elmer's Glue to the torn cloth to "seal his wounds" - as a child does, I remember searching my room for something. In my 3-4 year old brain, something missing arms & legs was "Vietnam".
I was young, didn't know much about Vietnam, but in the 70s - soldiers with missing limbs were just about everywhere, kinda like today unfortunately, and to my child brain - this battle-damage made Andy - VIETNAM ANDY - and as I said, I was searching my room and I found this rubber barbed wire necklace that I got at Oat Willies when I went with my parents, yes, they were Hippies... and I wrapped the rubber barbed wire necklace around Andy and ran to show my parents: VIETNAM ANDY. My parents, being the kind of hippies that threw Psychedelic Light Shows, published UNDERGROUND COMICS and were politically active - they gave me all kinds of good stroke - having me show it off to their friends... but most important. Andy, Dr and I had a great many backyard adventures - and when I went to College, I took him with me. At my Dad's house - in my old room - he was the centerpiece of the toy army that I created. His appendages were sewn shut by my mother to enhance my battlefield repairs - and Andy hopped and fought my 12 inch GI JOES, Gene Simmons, Alien, Roger Moore's Moonraker doll, Boba Fett and the large run of Johnny West toys that were all in the same scale with him, though he was technically slightly taller.
I can't conceive of letting him and my old playschool Chainsaw go. So watching ANDY hand over Woody - KILLED ME. I'm still angry at that ignorant bastard boy. And I love that he played with them one last time, but I'm angry. Very angry. I'm like that Strawberry Bear bitter.
And yes, I love the movie.
I've pretty much decided that this is absolutely not the end of the TOY STORY. I'm hoping for a second trilogy - the first would be a pure Bonnie story. I'd love a TOY STORY that was all about how the toys subtly help their child as opposed to a major crisis story. The second would be Bonnie as a teenager that hears about Andy being hurt - and wanting to take Woody, who has ANDY on one boot and BONNIE on the other, to visit. With Woody ultimately staying. And the third film would be about ANDY & BONNIE's home - and the children they raise. And yes, that's a pat story arc - and yes I expect PIXAR to do much better, but I am absolutely not accepting TOY STORY 3 as the final act.
I love these films and as we all know - we all to a one do love them. The fact that Pixar gets the toys to emote is simple, that they get their audiences to emote is miraculous. As most of us know, watching TOY STORY 3 with an audience is something of wonder. To see a film play an audience like this is something that should be MORE common, but sadly isn't.
My silly personal hang-up aside, seriously - I love the film... all you should see it more often. Not that I need to tell you that. The way this summer is going, I imagine you'll just find yourself going to it again and again because not only is it that good, it makes everything else look rather dreary by comparison.
And before I go. HOW MANY OF YOU - had your sphincter's tighten to make diamonds during that incinerator sequence. When Buzz looked at Jessie, I lost it. When they all started holding hands, I kinda began to freak. Here... in a TOY STORY movie, we were looking at all our beloved characters accepting their fate, holding hands and committing to die together. I still kinda shake thinking about it. That they took us right to the edge of that inky black fate and yet pulled us back in a manner so absurdly perfect that I was clapping through tears.
While the majority of this review is detailing the single problem I have with... not so much the movie, as the societal bs that guilts the newborne MEN & WOMEN to put behind their childhoods... something that prematurely ages, makes one dreary and frankly OLD... well it is something of a tragedy in a Toy's story.
Knowing the kind of person that John Lassiter is... I find myself doubting seriously if this is the last time Woody and Andy see each other - and often times, letting go... leads to regret, and I wonder... will they explore that? If so, when. After this weekend's success, I imagine that on Monday - Team Pixar will begin to think... Do they have enough for a second trilogy - and I say YES! So long as Tom Hanks can speak, there should be a Toy Story.
Now I know this is all back story that I made up in my head.