I’m 40 years old this year. “Toy Story” debuted when I was 25, and though I was no longer a kid, that film transported me back to the years when I would let my imagination run wild just like Andy in the movie.
Pixar immediately established itself as what the Disney brand used to be: a guarantee that the movie that followed would be visually impressive, thoroughly entertaining, well-told and family-friendly. They have yet to make a movie that wasn’t a superior film to most anything else made by Hollywood. Half of their films should have been Best Picture contenders if not winners.
“Toy Story 2” was originally going to be a cheapo straight-to-video, second-rate cash-generator, as the Disney studio has been cranking out for the last two decades. (“Lady and the Tramp 2”? Really?) Pixar wasn’t all that interested in doing sequels…but as the plot came together, they fell in love with the idea, shifted gears and made a sequel that was as good as the original in story and better in terms of visuals.
“Toy Story” was about a child’s natural tendency to lose interest in old toys as new toys debuted, with a side-plot about the kinds of children who do not treasure toys. “Toy Story 2” carried the theme a little further: that a child’s fascination with toys doesn’t last forever, and is it better to be treasured in a glass case or to be loved intensely for a limited time?
There is a logical flaw in “Toy Story 2” which I only realized as I re-watched it this week-end. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t wreck the movie: it may be illogical, but the actions are driven by emotions.) The entire misadventure occurs because a damaged toy is being put on the yard sale and Woody tries to rescue it. Of course, rescue it from what? If it sells, won’t the penguin toy be off to a new home with someone who loves it the way it is? Isn’t that better than sitting on a shelf, un-repaired and gathering dust?
It turns out that this question is the entire theme of the third movie: What happens to the toys when the child becomes an adult? Should they be kept in the attic for a possible future generation of kids to play with, if the adult even remembers they’re there? Should they be handed down to someone? Given to a charity toy drive? Kept as an un-playable memento of childhood? Or perhaps, being in a glass case in Tokyo should have been given more consideration? How about winding up in a landfill, only to be dug up by Wall*E 700 years later?
The toys’ donation to a day care center turns into a nightmare, where they are beaten on by toddlers by day and bullied by a toy overlord by night. The second half of the film becomes a prison escape movie. The climax, which I will not spoil, is almost too frightening for kids. Frankly, I’m amazed that this is a rated G picture, given the intense drama of the climax. Also, this film features the dreaded bug-eyed monkey toy that has prompted more than one horror movie, and the sight of it frightened me!
By the end of this film, I had tears in my eyes. I can only imagine how powerful “Toy Story 3” would be to someone who was Andy’s age when the original movie came out.
As for the 3-D, I would say skip it…except that the short film “Night and Day” playing before it is a stunning example of what can be done with today’s 3-D techniques. Aside from it, the 3-D does little to enhance the film.