Dads, bring the tissue. New ‘Toy Story’ might make you cry
Much is being made about the ability of the latest installment of the “Toy Story” franchise to make grown men cry.
Critics, including Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly, have written their confessions of crying in the dark theaters behind their popcorn boxes. And in doing so, they have embraced “Toy Story 3” as a tearjerker that even men can love. (Our reviewer Chris Garcia was not brought to tears, but concedes that the potential for waterworks exists.)
I have not seen the movie (daughter Ayanna is deathly afraid of the dark), so I asked my former colleague Gary Susswein, a father of two who saw the movie on Father’s Day weekend, “What’s up with the tears?”
This is what he wrote back (Spoiler alert: There is some description of the ending, so if you are trying to avoid spoilers stop reading here.):
“I thought the movie was fantastic. And while I didn’t exactly get ‘weepy,’ maybe, just maybe, a fleck of popcorn got in my eye during the last scene and maybe, just maybe, it caused me to tear up.
Melanie, the kids and I had just returned from a Disney cruise a week ago, so I was sort of immune to the typical Disney schmaltz. After seeing Mickey Mouse save our ship and then watching Peter Pan teach a girl to fly with nothing more than fairy dust and her dreams, I didn’t get even slightly emotional throughout most of ‘Toy Story 3.’ The film was funny and beautifully done but, overall, it was just a really well-executed piece of Disney schmaltz. That includes the scene in which the gang holds hands as they slide toward the incinerator. Schmaltz.
“But the final scene — in which Andy passes his toys onto Bonnie — was a cut above the usual fare.
It was moving to watch this character we knew as a young boy grow up and separate from the toys that had defined him for so long. It evoked memories of personal ‘moving on’ experiences from both childhood and adulthood. It was especially poignant on Father’s Day as I sat between my daughter who, amazingly, is preparing for first grade and my son who’s about to go off to overnight camp for the first time.
“And, frankly, the 3-D animation made the whole thing — especially the moment when Andy pulls Woody back from Bonnie — seem more realistic than a couple of child actors ever could have.
But the most endearing part of the scene was the sweetness that Andy retained even as a teenager. There were allusions throughout the movie to a girlfriend, his long hair, frustrations with his mother and other typical teenage issues. But, deep down, he was still a boy who loved his toys and who hadn’t become hard or cold. I hope my kids can retain that same sweetness and will never be afraid to admit they still love their stuffed ‘guys’ or tear up in a movie.
“But, yeah, it was the popcorn.”
Age of Reason: 3
We are two weeks into age 3 with Ayanna and, wow, is it different from age 2.
About two days before her birthday, it was like a switch flipped on in her head. The change appears to be permanent.
We have entered the Age of Reason.
Ayanna has a lot of reasons, in fact, why she will not do the thing we ask. All of them are echoes of reasons we have given her.
Mom: “You need to try your vegetables.”
Ayanna: “No. My hands are full.” (Holding her head in her hands to make the point.) Dad: “Put your toys away.” Ayanna: “No, I’m too short.”
Mom: “Put your clothes back on.” Ayanna: “No, it’s too hot.” Sometimes she skips the reason and goes directly to “No. Nope. Not.”
We have also entered the land of the “why?”
“It’s time to get up to go the airport.”
Or, “It’s time to go to school.” “Why?” I now get “why” a half dozen times a day. I suppose I should be ecstatic about her mental development (and I really am amazed and happy), but I swear it’s exhausting. Because sometimes in explaining I raise more questions than I answered.
Ayanna: “Let’s go for a walk.”
Mom: “Not now. After your sister eats.” Ayanna: “She’s done.” Mom: “No, she’s not; she’s just taking a break.”
Ayanna: “Elizabeth’s broken?”
You try explaining the concept of figure of speech to a 3-year-old.
Food as health lesson
No. 1 rule of feeding children? If it’s bad for them, they will eat it.
Maybe not. As the mother of a preschooler, I was not convinced that all this talk about teaching kids how to eat wasn’t largely bunk. That once they were cut loose from Mom’s kitchen, kids would revert to their sweet, carb-seeking ways.
We don’t keep juice in our house because our 3-yearold would beg for it every day at every meal and never touch another drop of water or milk. Same thing if we bought soda or anything with a cartoon character on it. I don’t buy the stuff, because I just don’t want to have that fight. I’m not strong enough to keep saying “No.”
The last time I bought apple juice was while my daughter was sick and I needed to push the fluids. Once healthy, she saw the juice in the fridge every time I opened the door. We tried hiding it behind other food so she’d forget about it. We tried reasoning with her, telling her she could have it once a day. Finally, my husband and I poured half the jug down the drain.
But this weekend I saw the light at the end of the tunnel while visiting family in Houston. My sister-inlaw has put an enormous amount of energy into teaching her school-age kids to read labels and to know the difference between carbohydrates and protein — and what is a fat gram.
At age 11, my niece Berit has the vocabulary and ability to recognize when she is making good choices.
It’s a good reminder to me that while I still have to engage in the game of keep-away for now, I need to explain why I’m doing it.
Andy (voiced by John Morris) is being nagged by his mom (voiced by Laurie Metcalf) to pack away or donate his old toys before he heads off to college in ‘Toy Story 3.’