Monday, June 28, 2010

Toy Story 3

Hello. This review of Toy Story 3 is brought to you by Marian’s oldest toy. My name is Teddy.

I know, imaginative. What can I say, we all thought she’d grow up to write technical manuals. Anyway, back to the movie. Gotta do this quickly before I go back into the suitcase.

Andy, the little boy of the first two movies, is all grown up now and ready to go to college – which leaves the fate of his toys up in the air. He decides to take Woody with him (though even if he did, I’ll bet Woody would be deep-sixed the moment a girl came over for a study date). But the other toys?

After being mistaken for trash, they end up at the Sunnyside Day Care, which turns out to be like Cowslip’s warren in Watership Down. The toys already living there, who know what the deal is, welcome the newbies with open paws. Except it’s all part of a plan on the part of Lotso, the bear who runs Sunnyside.

Lotso come across as warm, avuncular and folksy, but he’s a wolf in teddy bear fur. Cold and cynical thanks to being replaced by his owner, he’s turned Sunnyside into a maximum-security prison complete with patrols, torture and a really disturbing “eye in the sky”. His chief enforcer is Big Baby, who reminded me of Sid’s baby-headed toy in the first Toy Story, except about a hundred times more freakish and scary.

Thankfully I never had to live with one of those; the My Little Ponies were vapid enough.

So of course Woody comes up with one of his plans to break the toys out, which ends with a scene that reminded me of Frodo and Sam poised over the lava in Mount Doom. In other words, maybe not a scene really small kids should watch.

Then again, I don’t think this film is made for them. The Toy Story films have always had fairly serious themes of rejection and loss, but this one underlines the fact that sometimes, change is not only inevitable but irreversible. It’s not like the first film where Andy’s fondness for Woody remains despite his apparently greater fascination with Buzz, restoring the status quo at the end. And there’s a bittersweet poignancy that’s reflected in everything, from Buster the (now elderly) dog to Andy’s departure.

Makes me wonder what would have happened to Hobbes if Calvin had ever grown up. He’d probably have ended up in a suitcase too.

But there’s much more to the film than its sad moments and the whole Sunnyside-as-Dachau concept. The trademark action sequences and the humor are very much in evidence, such as in Buzz’s dance after he’s switched to Spanish mode. My favorite line was when a recovered Buzz asks where they are and Rex replies with delight, “In a garbage truck, on the way to the dump!”

And I’m not surprised Ken was won over to the good side after hearing Barbie’s reply to Lotso: “Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force!” She’s come a long way since “Math is so hard!” Rowr.

I hope they let the series end here. Let it go out on this high note, with the symbolic torch being passed on to a new generation. The toys have more than earned that.

Now I’m off to organize a mass escape from the suitcase.