February 13, 2011

Pixar: Helping Us Leave Childhood Behind. ~ Audrey Mangan

Screencap from Pixar’s Toy Story 3.

{Warning: Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen this movie, stop reading and go rent it immediately.}

Though a little late to the game,

I just finished watching Toy Story 3 for the first time. Normally I wouldn’t think home cinema is blog-worthy, but this 103-minute trip down memory lane just brought me to tears. You might be wondering, and rightly so, why my reaction to a months-old kid’s movie is relevant to anything. Here’s why:

  1. Woody, Buzz and friends filled the imagination of my seven year old self, along with the imaginations of children all over the world. I’m sure it is no accident that the gamut of emotions the toys experience when Andy goes off to college parallels viewers’ reactions to the realization that it was fifteen years ago when they first fell in love with Mr. Potato Head. We grew up, or watched our children grow up, with these characters. I certainly couldn’t believe how much time had passed—I can vividly recall watching the VHS so many times with my brother that the tape broke. If nothing else, this movie will make you nostalgic for a time when the imagined secret lives of toys, not iPads or smartphones, captivated our minds.
  2. Toy Story 3 breaks our hearts, reminding us of how beautifully simple life was when the most important thing in the world was being as loyal to our friends as Woody is to Andy. Deep down we all know how important it is to remember where we came from, but somehow seeing how obvious it is through the eyes of a bunch of toys makes me want to pack my bags and visit home right now.
  3. The animation is absolutely amazing. I’ll have to watch it again just to appreciate just how far digital animation has come.
  4. They may be animated characters, but this is no kids’ movie. The toys’ acceptance of their fate in the incinerator scene gave me goose bumps on par with the Mount Doom scene from the final Lord of the Rings.
  5. With the memory of going off to college still relatively fresh, watching Andy drive off into the sunset and leave his childhood behind was especially poignant. Maybe some of us can’t pinpoint exactly when we realized we were no longer children, but relating to the transformation as I watched it happen on screen to a beloved character is what really made Toy Story 3 the best movie I’ve seen all year. It’s hard to put into words, but somehow that moment just floored me.
  6. The Oscars are coming up on February 27 and Toy Story 3 is nominated for five awards, including Best Picture. I don’t know the exact statistics, but I’m guessing it’s pretty rare for an animated film to be nominated for the top cinematic award of the year. The items I’ve listed above probably have something to do with it.

Moral of the story: if you haven’t seen Toy Story 3, plan on watching it for your next movie night and get ready to reconnect with your inner child.

Audrey Mangan is a recent east coast college grad-turned-Coloradoan trying to find new ways to enjoy the outdoors and connect with her inner child every day.

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