I will confess to loving the Toy Story Trilogy, they may simply be the best trilogy ever made. They combine adventure, pain, introspection, love, loss, and family into one great package. I've been disappointed with just about every third movie in a trilogy, and I was apprehensive about seeing Toy Story 3. It had been years since Toy Story 2, and sometimes life changes you in ways you are not even aware of. With each passing year my sense of humor burns less and less, while my disappointment with the human condition grows more and more. Now being over 50 I wondered that even if the movie was good, had I changed so much I'd be unable to enjoy it? Pixar has a certain magic for me, would it still hold sway over me?
Luckily the Pixar magic was in full swing, starting with the short Day and Night, and since this is not a film review, I'll just say Pixar is still at the top of their game.
My wife's dog Lucky passed away two weeks ago. He had been my mother-in-laws dog, but when she died of cancer seven years ago we took Lucky and her cat Jerry into our house. It was my wife's last connection with her mother as she was an only sibling. Jerry had passed on several years ago and Lucky was all she had left. He had a brain tumor and various other ailments and at the end he could barely walk. We are all old enough that most of us have gone through the slow pain of watching your pets life peter out. When we put Lucky to sleep I knew my wife was going to have a tough summer.
At the beginning of the movie you see the young dog playing with the boy, then time leaps forward and the dog is fat, old, and near the end of his time. It is not meant to be poignant as they play it for a laugh, but for the two of us it was an all too recent memory. Tears flowed. Adventure followed, and Pixar gave me what I considered the perfect ending. Tears flowed again. For many movies they have everything going for them but the ending. Toy Story Three ended on the perfect pitch. The world is not this perfect, but when you have the world we have, being able to escape the hypocrisy of our times, for even a few hours is a welcome relief.
As the Toy Story gang goes through their wondrous adventure you can't help but wonder about the toys you left behind. The Toy Story series started long after I was an adult and had no more toys but I've wondered for those who started watching the films when they were six - ten years old did the movies leave an imprint? Did you look at your toys differently before you saw the movie? Did adults climb into the attic to see if the old toys were still boxed away?
Even in this video age, toys still abound in every house. Each child still has a favorite they carry around, imagination still reigns supreme, as they scoff at the high tech toys that people in white coats create not understanding the magic of the imagination.
I didn't play with toys but with dolls. GI Joe's to be exact and those GI Joe's allowed me to enter a world of imagination where I played the sporting news baseball box scores over and over. In the end I had one GI Joe, the full size guy, who could bend his legs/arms, and fully rotate his arms. I'm sure I had more then one, but all I remember is the one that was left. One Christmas I got a Cowboy and Indian (Cherokee) to augment my collection . These characters were both about two - four inches taller then my GI Joe, They didn't have the same flexibility of the GI Joe but I made do. The Cherokee had some color to him so when I needed a black ballplayer I used my Cherokee. Living in Germany with no English TV to entertain me, between second - fourth grade I spent countless hours reproducing baseball games with my trio of playmates. If you ever wonder why I know the Dodger lineups inside and out from 66 - 68 it is because I was that lineup for hours. During the winter months I would create whole new baseball universes complete with Phil Gurnee being the best hitter on the team. I was a solo act and did not like anyone trying to enter this world. None of my dolls had names, they were Sudakis, Crawford, Haller, Willie Davis, John Purdin, Don Drysdale, Joe Moeller. John Purdin would win 20 games not flame out, Willie Crawford became the star he was expected to be when he was drafted out of Crenshaw High, Bill Sudakis became a home run machine.
Whole seasons were played one game at a time. The rubber bands wore out on the arms/legs, time went on but I kept playing until one day you simply realize that it is time to stop. I don't know when that time was but one day I was playing with my GI Joes, and the next moment I was trying to impress Barbary Overbay and the world had changed, and I was never going back. Like every child before us, someday we have to put the toys away.
I miss that chapter, everything was still possible then, I still could have been a baseball player, a star, a hero. The Dodgers always won the championship, life was never disappointing, no one died ( that I didn't want to die), happy endings ruled the day.
While I miss the empty canvass of a ten year old, I would never trade it for the real life I've ended up living. Imagination is cool, real life however is where the home runs are really hit. Phil Gurnee never became the player he dreamed of being as he played with his GI Joe's, but Kirk Gibson did something so improbable it never even made it into my imagination.
Not including video games, what was your favorite toys growing up? Do you remember what you happened to them?