Thursday, March 31, 2011

Toy Story 3 - Strength in Unity

The toys that spawned an entire generation's imagination are here. Andy's beloved toys are back in action from languishing for years in a toy chest. Toy Story 3 comes after 15 years  of our original introduction to the unforgettable characters of Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of Andy's troop. Directed by Lee Unkrich, we are once again transported to a world where toys are characters, they have emotions. Inhabiting a child's imaginative world of playacting, they are individuals in their own right.

Andy is setting off to college and as that day comes in every youngsters' life when they are leaving the cocoon their childhood was safely encased in, they have to decide the future of those childhood belongings, their precious toys. Some get donated, others trashed and a lucky few still have their home intact. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Cowgirl Jessie, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, Rex, Barbie and the rest suddenly find their future uncertain. While Woody being Andy's favorite, singly makes it to the coveted box Andy shall take with him to college, the rest have to be content with being stored in the attic. Not so bad, except a mix up has them thrown in the dumpster instead, convincing them that they are being abandoned. A sorry feeling for anyone to have, even these toys who are more trusting and loyal than mere mortals. After escaping from there, hurt and rejection set in which goes hand in hand with the betrayal of good faith and even though Woody tries to convince them otherwise, they elect to get donated.

And so they land up at Sunnyside daycare and we are introduced to a plush bear who smells of strawberries and is named Lots o' Huggin', call me Lotso (Ned Beatty). He is almost grandfatherly in his manner but we soon witness his dark side, ruling all the toys in the day care. Aiding him are Big Baby who stills yearns for his mama, the little girl who lost him and Lotso, and a host of other toys. Thrown in for tremendous fun is Barbie's eternal soulmate Ken (Michael Keaton). The daycare after hours, metamorphosises into a prison where the poor toys are held captive with no chance to escape the cruel life, in which by day they are manhandled by rowdy toddlers during playtime,  and later ruled by Lotso and company. Well, escape they do and in style. The remaining movie is a whirlwind ride of their adventures and the great escape.

A lot of heart has been put into this franchise and this third installment is all heart with huge doses of wit and humor injected in. The big picture of loyalty, love and unity with the fear of abandonment and sense of betrayal are all there. The final reels are an achievement in emotional high. There is a scene which is reminiscent of 'The Titanic', where the characters face an almost certain end in fire rather than water. The  strength of character that Woody and his mates embody are a lesson for the little kids and the big teary eyed kids in us. The well played out conclusion is neat and I cant imagine it being done any other way.

The disney Pixar animation is ambitious and as with all animation movies these days, comes in a 3D version. Not at all necessary in this case. However, the escape sequences are wonderfully handled, characters like Big Baby in a zombie like act with a sad expression are positively chilling and yet heartbreaking at the same time. The action holds well. The thrills are plenty and we cheer for these toys to find their home.

We are a world inhabited by cynics, losing our innocent childhood selves in the jungle that awaits us adults. Monsters are not born. Circumstances create them. Lotso the bear is a prime example. And yet if we have faith and can hold on to the inherent goodness in all of us, life may just turn out all right. Sitting next to my child, witnessing her drink in this beautiful tale with glee, I hope when its her turn to venture out into this world made so complicated, she carries with her the sense of hope, joy and addresses the concerns of life with as much verve as these beloved toys. There's a great lesson to be learned here.

1 comment:

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