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Toy Story 3


The pleasant half-truth

This story seems made to showcase the deus ex machina. The happy end is desperately deserved. But common sense knows it is impossible. – The good guys help the bad guy, who is nevertheless bad, & would destroy them. It does not matter that the bad is only bad because of psychological trauma going back to an unhappy childhood… – Nothing to be done about that now. – If you want to push your luck, just point this out to people. You may wonder why they are so sensitive… The innocence! The sentimentality! I will not spoil the story, but who believes innocence ever wins?

Don’t let’s kill the toys. Perhaps we may agree that the toys stand for our hopes & fears, such that we may teach them to children, whom we believe rather hopeful than fearful, lullabies to the contrary notwithstanding. – Then the toys arouse these passions; the best story about them is the best story about the conventions by which we live. It might be the ultimately conventional story, but it could work, depending on what resemblance toys bear to the beings. Otherwise, it would be self-flattery.

Tom Hanks is a very American guy, let’s never forget that, & his voice is quite as American. He is not a special or a very particular man – not very tall, nor very strong, nor incredibly handsome. But a man he is. He was not born to high station, great nature, or astounding wealth. But he has made it up in the world. It is not just that the American dream worked for him – he is an actor & so he must also represent the American dream.

If you put the story about Tom Hanks together with the story about the toys, then you might see a relation between convention & reality – of course, we would have to get rid of the accidents of life, but I think we are inclined to do that in storytelling anyway.

But a story whose heroes are an astronaut & a cowboy, science & manly daring together, is such that someone must get hurt. We would not take the measure of our heroes without the villains they face. We could not possibly know the truth about our lives without such a perspective.

Perhaps children cannot learn these things. In the pretend sequence in the beginning, the boy is playing with his toys, his two heroes facing enormous enemies. Then the boyish fantasy is suddenly interrupted. You never see the end of that fight. So also with the story… Going away to college suggests the problem with Pixar toys: they never grow up. When a boy makes his way to college, he must leave them behind.

The end of a saga. For nostalgic fans.