My wife and daughter and I were among those Americans who contributed to the $109-million box office weekend posted by “Toy Story 3.” We’ve been Pixar fans since I saw their first short and have seen all eleven of their big-screen creations, own most of them on DVD, and even owned stock in the company until it got swallowed by Disney.
“TS3” continues their perfect record. It’s clever, beautiful, sentimental, and exciting — four words rarely used to describe the same movie — and it’s remarkable to see how much better the animation is compared to 15 years ago. In the first “Toy Story,” the humans looked plastic. Now, they look like people.
One complaint: we coughed up a few extra dollars per ticket ($10.25 each!) to see the movie in 3-D, and it wasn’t worth it. I’ve never been a fan of 3-D, from the days of the plastic blue-and-red lenses in the paper frames to today’s they-look-like-sunglasses. Frankly, I don’t need any optical aids to see all the dimensions in my entertainment. I’ve seen thousands of movies and television shows and my brain is perfectly capable of interpolating depth in any well-made scene. Worse, 3-D movies always look gimmicky, with gratuitous stuff thrown into the foreground, or pointy things aimed at the screen, as if to say “oooh, it’s coming right at you!!” The worst ever: “Jaws 3-D,” a low point in the filmographies of Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, and Lou Gossett, Jr.
Pixar doesn’t need to waste energy on cheap 3-D tricks. They already understand that story comes first and the technology follows, and should give my brain some credit for grasping perspective.
The “TS3” story hit home with us because it’s about Andy leaving home and going away to college, a scenario we’ll face with my daughter in two years. What happens to the toys and other playthings once a kid moves on? It just so happens that earlier this month, we were cleaning the basement and decided to finally get rid of some of the implements of my daughter’s early childhood — her high chair and tray table, a little car she padded about in, a couple of push toys, a portable crib, and other items stored way in the back which hadn’t been used in over a decade. I took them all to Goodwill, which we hope will help them find a new home for some other kid to grow up with.
Doing so brought on a wave of nostalgia, and “TS3” only reinvigorated those feelings. My daughter was sorry to see those things go — even insisting that we retain a bin of Legos and wooden trains — even though she hasn’t touched or seen them in so long and her world is full of modern toys instead. We wouldn’t dare get rid of all the stuffed animals that still ring her room, some of which may make the trip to college in 2012, yet she (and we) paused awhile before severing the cord to those innocent baby days.
While we all have to grow up and move on, our memories don’t. To me, they’ll remain forever, and in at least three dimensions.