Andy giving a loving look at his favorite toys. Picture from IMDb.com

Family Movie Night Column

This week the third installment of the Toy Story franchise will come to theaters.

 Andy is about to go to college and his mother mistakenly gives his old toys – Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the whole gang – to a day care with other toys she meant to give away.

 Are you going to see it? I know we are. Our house has loved this series of movies. We had the first movie on VHS when our second oldest was a toddler. He loved watching this movie so much it became a daily routine.

 When Toy Story 2 came out on VHS, we had to get it just for him. Then I had to make the one-movie-per-day ruling because that child wanted to watch both movies every day.

 On the other hand, this child also had some speech problems and by

Buzz and Woody fighting at the gas station. Picture from IMDb.com

repeating the lines over and over, it helped his annunciation. I would come around the corner and listen to him saying Woody’s lines or making Buzz and Woody fight.

 For a while we had just about every character in toy form. Over the years, some have been broken and had to be thrown away. Broke my heart every time.

 Why? Because a part of me buys the premise that when we fall asleep or are not in the room, toys come alive. They seem very real. There has to be a reason toys are never where you put them or why game pieces suddenly go missing.

 Before you go to Toy Story 3, go ahead and rent Toy Story and Toy Story 2. See how Pixar broke the mold of family movies by making them with

the gang crossing the street to rescue Woody in TS2. Picture from IMDb.com.

solid plots, good characterization and taking away those bad parental figures.  We love these characters because they have our faults and graces. We know them inside and out in a good way.

I like that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have always managed to find the right notes for their characters. Woody may be a benevolent despot but he likes to be in control of his world. Yet, his character always manages to grow and do the right thing when he wants to do otherwise. And Buzz? I can’t think of anything mean to say about him. He is just a great guy, even when he believes he is a real space ranger.

I have watched Toy Story several times, loving it with each viewing. I can repeat dialogue and know when everything is going to happen. I have analyzed the music, noting how Toy Story 2 uses incidental music that sounds like it could come from a 1950’s serial flick.

Jessie, Woody and Bullseye watching their TV show in TS2. Picture from IMDb.com

In the end, I believe that Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are in that small group of perfect movies in the world. And I am hoping Toy Story 3 is just as good at pulling my heartstrings without making me feel manipulated.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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