I was lucky enough to be one of the folks that went to see “Toy Story” in theaters back in 1995 when Pixar premiered their newest animated adventure. It was an amazing experience then, and it is still one of the best movie going experiences of my life. Back then, the very notion of a motion picture completely computer animated was absurd and made people gasp in shock, even when Pixar boasted about creating a large realistic world. Just producing Homer Simpson in computer animation for a segment of “The Simpsons” cost a lot of money and took immense man hours, just think of a movie based around the medium. “Toy Story” is gladly not a film you’d expect to be computer animated since Pixar takes great pains to unfold a world that’s charming, magical, and grounded in enough reality to enjoy.
Disney keep their favorite little toys alive with yet another short adventure, this time in the vein of Halloween. While, it’s not a full length narrative, it does present the same stakes and personal back story that the three feature films have, and is an entertaining look in to the lives of the toys with their new owner Bonnie. After watching a horror movie while on the road with Bonnie, her mom and she stop at a local motel where Mr. Pricklepants is convinced horror awaits them.
We must warn you that there are immense spoilers and plot twists to “Toy Story 3” revealed in the following essay, so please display caution and read at your leisure.
Ultimately the “Toy Story” series comes full circle when we learn it’s all one big metaphor for the power of love, the sadness of growing up, and god. Many will dispute this fact, they’ll claim others are looking far too deep in to what is just a kids adventure film, but since when has a movie by Pixar ever been just about adventures and laughs? “Up” was about the sanctity of life and love, “Wall-E” about mass consumerism destroying the world and how love can save humanity, et al.
“Toy Story 3” is very much a take on religion in the end as while the first installment explored the blooming maturity of Woody’s master and the threat of being replace, and “Toy Story 2” focusing on the lessening importance of mementos, “Toy Story 3” dares to delve in to the after life of toys and dabbles with the concepts of these characters beliefs and their faith that could lead them down an interesting path in an after life that’s alluded toward but never revealed for us after the credits have rolled in front of our eyes. When the question of an after life and the potential death for the toys arises we’re immediately drawn in to a discussion about their fates that could have potentially varying degrees of experiences.
What many are assuming is the final installment in the “Toy Story” franchise (until Disney assigns these characters to a new child protagonist) is an otherwise classy and entertaining finisher to what has been a three part exploration in to childhood and the doldrums of growing up and getting rid of the past. While the child audience has taken great joy in the adventures of Buzz Lightyear and Woody for the last ten years, like every other Pixar production it’s about much more than what’s on the surface. “Toy Story 3” much like its predecessors is about recalling a more innocent time and the relics of our past having to face that they’re just not needed anymore.
Toys can mean a lot of things to popular culture and fiction. They can be props, they can be used to sell things, they can entertain, they can impress, they can exploit, and they can become symbols for greater things. The sled in “Citizen Kane” was a toy but a huge symbol for something key to the development of its main character, in “Winnie the Pooh” they were characters facing the blossoming adolescence of their keeper Christopher Robbins, in “Inherit the Wind” Henry Drummond likened religion to a toy rocking horse with a gold coating and a rotten center, in “Poltergeist” a clown doll became an instrument for evil, in “Wall-E” our robotic hero collected toys and mementos that reflected on a world he was never a part of but wishes he would have been, and even in cult classics like “Monster Squad” protagonist Phoebe’s teddy bear became a last gift to her friend Frankenstein as he was doomed to a life in Limbo and torment.
Toys can do so much for the world, and they’ve become a link for our nostalgia and our childhood reminding us a childhood we wish we had and a childhood that we had that we enjoyed until we had to grow up and move on to bigger more mature things and responsibilities. In honor of “Toy Story 3,” we count down the “Our Favorite Movie Toys” from all of cinema and describe why we love these fragments of film that made us laugh out loud, cry our eyes out, and shiver in fright.
What are some of your favorite Movie Toys? Let us know in the comments!