In Toy Story 3,
a bunch of cartoon toys fear the boy who grew up with them will
be relegate them to a trash bag in the attic when he heads off
to college. I can see where that would be sad. However, these
toys were already rotting away in a toybox in the kid's room.
It's not like, as a teenager, he opened that chest and broke
out his action cowboy, astronaut, Slinky dog, piggy bank and
Potato Heads. They are only going from one dark, lonely place
where they are unwanted to another.
I know all about
that. When my drinking hole, the Arvada Tavern, went all upscale,
fancy-ass a while back, the clientele drawn by cheap beer and
a community of people too shitty to judge you was cast aside
for the pocketbooks of families and hipsters with backpacks.
At first, I was afraid to find a new dark, lonely place where
I was unwanted. I worried I wouldn't find one good enough: it
would be too dark, or too different, or everyone would speak
Polish, or I would never feel comfortable drinking beer in a
silent funk. I wound up at Binker's with its tin-foiled windows,
dank bathrooms and busted up parking lot. To my delight, what
I learned is that awful, sad places are all alike. I can drink
in just about any shithole and be just as miserable. Hell, I
discovered that in a pinch I could hang out with the hobos who
hate me behind the carpet and tile place geting pasted on Sterno
and Dimetapp, and there are no trash bags deeper or darker than
My point is, the
toys in Toy Story 3 are a bunch of pussies. They're a
little maudlin and a little too worried about being loved. Love
is the overrated because it almost always means you have to
give something back. Being hated, or even better not even being
thought about, requires nothing from you.
The same cast of
characters from Toy Stories 1 and 2 have returned. Tom
Hanks voices Woody, the dandified, slightly anal cowboy. Tim
Allen is the blustery astronaut Buzz Lightyear, and Joan Cusack
plays big-eyed cowgirl Jessie. Through three flicks, their owner
has aged. He's now moving on to college, but without his toys.
Well, he plans to take Woody, but the others are put away, most
likely to be forgotten alongside old nudist camp magazines,
carousels of slides, a dusty wedding cake and a gown.
In a mixup, the bag
full of old toys winds up at a daycare. At first the toys are
thrilled because they believe they'll be played with every day
by a forever-young rotation of kids. They'd rather be here at
Sunnyside than forgotten in a moldy attic. That's before they
meet Lotso Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty), a strawberry-scented,
stuffed tyrant with an iron grip on the playroom hierarchy.
New toys are relegated to the little kids' room where tiny brats
chew on doll heads, use them as paintbrushes and bang them off
walls unil they're broken. He's the African dictator of plush
toys. By sending new playthings into the war zone to be destroyed,
Lotso Huggin' protects his own cushy position and the status
of those loyal to him.
Woody escapes but
returns with a plan to rescue his friends and get them all safely
back to the attic, a possibility that now sounds pretty damn
attractive. Holy shit, can I relate. Spend a few days in the
real world, talking to people or working in a dollar store,
and the darkest, dampest trash bag in the world becomes a very
attractive alternative. Of course, there are pitfalls and challenges
along the toys' path to salvation, mostly from Lotso Huggin'
and his creepy henchman, like a baby doll with a lazy eye.
Toy Story 2
is a fan-fucking-tastic movie. That one touched on the feelings
of being all used up or no longer wanted. That it covered the
themes is the main drawback of Toy Story 3. This time
around, the story doesn't break new ground or expose emotions
in any new way. Rather, it strikes the same notes in a different
The makers of Toy
Story 3 are really fucking talented. Typical of Pixar movies,
the story is mostly tight. The characters are mostly original.
Beatty's Lotso Huggin' is pretty damn good as a villain. The
lazy-eye doll is creepy as shit to anyone who had an older sister
with one of those baby-sized dolls whose eyes closed when laid
down. The action is not entirely predictable, although, moreso
than in the first two. The gags are fine and the attention to
detail is pretty fucking amazing. The movie has real emotional
heft. The toys are written with more sincerity and personality
than the characters is 99% of non-animated movies.
But, I think there
were two great stories to be told about these characters, not
three. Toy Story is about the loyal bond of toys to a
boy. A new toy is introduced and the boy's original toys must
learn to share the love of the owner. Toy Story 2, has
almost nothing to do with kids. The theme is again about feeling
useful and wanted, but also stuff like getting old and preparing
to move on. Toy Story 3 is the same with different action.
The characters haven't grown or changed. They are still worried
about being forgotten. The result is a movie that's serviceable,
well-made and about as full of good intentions as a brand new
sixth-grade teacher. It's just that it has almost nowhere to
Some of the characters
are surprisingly lame. A Ken doll who loves clothes isn't particularly
original. Giving Buzz Lightyear a flamenco Spanish mode is about
as easy as you could go with that. The emotions of Toy Story
3, too, feel a little easier. The boy whose toys these are
is not much like any kid going off to college that I've ever
seen. He's a little too maudlin and too squishy. If this is
who he really is, he's gonna get eaten alive once he reaches
campus. The story's conclusion is a bit too sweet and convenient
for me. It's got more visible strings tugging at the heart than
in the previous movies.
Worst of all, the
toys are pussies. Go up to the attic, shut your fucking little
plastic mouths and suck it up. Being stuffed forever in a trash
bag is better than having a job and better than telling people
why you don't have one. It's better to be in the dark than in
the world with strangers who hate you. Three Fingers
for Toy Story 3.
to tell Filthy Something?