Toy Story (1) was the first movie my son and I both enjoyed equally. He was five or six when I took him and I remember our shared delight at the scene with the little aliens.
And therein lies at least part of Pixar’s absolute brilliance. For those who have yet to see TS3, I won’t spoil you. But you’d have to have been living under a rock not to be aware that this is a movie that reduces many of its adult viewers to tears. I was okay, mostly – I even got through Andy’s mother suddenly choking up as she realises this really is it, her little boy is leaving to go to college.
But the point is, that five year old who giggled with me at the aliens is now waiting for his A Level results and will, DV, be off to college himself. At the end of the show my son and daughter walked ahead of us, suddenly both looking so mature and self-contained. I took my husband’s hand and left the theatre with something firmly lodged in my eye.
Damn you, Pixar, you did it again. Your technical brilliance alone ensures you record box-office takings and a place in cinematic history, but it’s equalled if not surpassed by your grasp of the emotional issues that touch human hearts. You also know how to place cues and trail a plot resolution that seems to come completely out of left-field but has, in fact, been perfectly set up earlier. I love the way you do that, and the way that every single one of those toys has a vital part to play in the story, with the most insignificant, apparently, turning out to be the most important of all.
I rather hope there won’t be further sequels. We’ve been on a perfectly defined emotional journey with this wonderful trilogy, the ending embraces the inevitability of change, even when it’s painful and, as the Doctor says, "Everything has its time." And no matter how much we grandstand and bluster and put hands on hips and declaim, "To Infinity And Beyond", deep inside the vast majority of us human beings want to love and be loved in return, to have someone we need to be there for, who will recognise, sooner of later, how much that relatlionship means to them. The toys are desperately vulnerable. Anyone can throw them in the trash, shove them in the attic, lose and then replace them, or just forget about them. A lot of the time, they have no control over their fates and they know it, which is why they fight so hard for their dreams, and they don’t give up.
In one respect, TS3 and The End of Time are similar. Both present their characters with the option of making the best of a bad job. Some of the toys – heck, all of them in their different ways – are ready to take that option at various times in the movie. The great thing is that, just as one loses hope, another will find it and pull the whole group through. In the end, they keep going and fighting for the best possible outcome, however unlikely it seems. Collectively, they never give up on Andy (and by association, the universe) to come through for them. That’s the reason why the movie can take us through terrible pain but leave us moved and elated when it ends.
I wish RTD’s who had been more like the Pixar universe. You don’t have to break your characters and leave them with nothing to make the point that the world is a harsh place. In fact, you’ve a duty to leave your audience with hope, precisely for that reason. We watch movies to teach us how to cope with that world, and to inspire us never to lose sight of the possibility of a better outcome than the one that seems unavoidable. And before anybody protests that we need stronger intellectual fare than Toy Story, I’d like to point out that (a) you have to be really, really clever to make a movie as good as TS3 and (b) I once saw the Grigori Kozintsev, three-hours-plus, Russian-language of King Lear, and it left me with a lot more hope than The End of Time did, even though everybody dies at the end.