Thursday night around 10pm, AMC Woodland Hills.
Everyone’s abuzz with excitement, because Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 3 is about to hit the big screens for the first time. A new installment to wrap the stories of Woody, Buzz, and co. that we’d grown up with. This movie about children’s toys that was now resonating with a whole new audience–the line is already around the side of the building, masses of young adults our age, 20 year olds who had loved Andy’s toys like their own and now felt the pressures of growing up. Pixar masterfully crafted this movie to appeal to both an entirely new generation of children as well as the ones who had grown up a ways since then. We were still Andy. Experiencing college, learning to say goodbye, even packing up our childhood favorites as we realized that we’ve grown out of them.
My own group of 10 almost-grown-ups joined the queue, not sure exactly what kind of resolution to expect. We were all reasonable enough to understand that Andy could not and would not keep his toys, and the prospect of being boxed up in the attic for who knows how long was distressing. These were not inanimate objects to put aside until convenient. We’d spent two movies growing to know and love them as true characters. Their fate was of direct concern, and the answer wasn’t going to be easy.
I have yet to experience a moment of such sheer, horrifying helplessness as the moment felt when the toys clasped hands and turned to face their impending doom. I’m certain I’m not the only one–sobs broke out openly throughout the theater, as everyone stared on, wide-eyed. It’s a moment I’ll never be able to forget, shared with both friends and strangers alike. But in that moment, we were all one in the same. Terrified children facing the prospect of permanently loosing the friends we had come to love and cherish.
I definitely had my moment of despair wherein I actually believed that these precious companions would perish in the fires of a dump. I could see no way out, no other option, and despite logically knowing that Disney/Pixar would never resolve a film in such a dark way, I honestly thought that was where we were heading.
The movie brought laughter, tears, and fond recollection. We saw people from no less than two generations coming together and loving the film in the same way, with wild abandon and fondness. Strangers in the theater shared sympathy and comfort for the end of an era. Because, while the toys and their stories go on, their time with Andy was done. It was a perfect metaphor for our own lives in so many ways, lending to its success and resonance. And it was a perfect ending. One that left me (and most of the theater) bawling like an infant, but lovely in all the right ways.
Five years later and I still find myself revisiting the film whenever the little cousins want to watch it. It holds up. It’s not quite the classic the first one was, but it presents a wonderful and emotionally poignant resolution to so many childhoods. And, despite the crying that starts during the scene in the dump and continues through the ending credits, it’s an extremely entertaining film.