My first reaction to Toy Story 3 was panic. Panic and shame.
“OMG! Where have I put Halsnalle? Where is he? He must be in the storehouse outside, in one of the hundreds of boxes. But which one? Can he be saved? And how COULD I treat him like this?”
Halsnalle is used to rough treatment. His name, meaning “Neck Teddy bear” (it sounds much better in Swedish), refers to the fact that the throat was the first spot where he got worn out and started to lose his fur after receiving too many hugs from his loving owner.
While his appearance might be a little bit off-putting before you got to know him, I think he would have made a wonderful addition to the party in Toy Story 3. A little grumpier and older than most of the others, not fit to take part of their wildest adventures, but someone they could turn to when they were in need of word of advice or a pat on the shoulder.
But let’s leave Halsnalle for now and talk a little about Toy Story 3. I’m not sure I would have watched it at all if it wasn’t for my favourite podcaster, Mark Kermode. Probably not.
The title tells everything, doesn’t it? Sequels are rarely as good as the original, and the quality tends to decrease over time. While I knew that I did like the first two movies quite well, it was very long since I watched them, and I did it as a mother, accompanying her children, which meant that I had seen it with Swedish voices and with my main attention on the kids rather than on the movie. These days my children are adults (or at least they think they are), and if they’d like to see Toy Story 3, they’d probably rather do it with their friends than with me. The days of family-watching were over and it never occurred to me that I should go and see it on my own.
The glowing review from Kermode changed all of this. I came across it as I listened to some old episodes. In his take on the movie he made a beautiful (and as it turned out very accurate) comparison to the final chapter of Winnie the Pooh, the one that always moved me to tears. So when I discovered that my local library would lend me Toy Story 3 for free, I put myself in the queue to get it. I wanted to see with my own eyes if it was as good as Kermode claimed. And it was. He knows his stuff, that guy.
Toy Story 3 is what I’d say is as close as you can come to a perfect animated movie. It’s got all of the ingredients you possibly could look for; it’s funny, touching and engaging, incredibly imaginative and creative (tortilla potato ftw!), bringing something for everyone, regardless of age. Or rather: almost regardless of age.
I was actually a little bit surprised at how hard-boiled some of the action scenes were, especially one towards the end, when – SPOILER ALERT – the toys escape death by a whisker. That scene was breathtaking in a way I never imagined was possible from an animated movie, but I would have thought twice before showing it to very young children considering the risk for nightmares. (Believe me; it’s possible to give your child phobia about certain things just by showing them the wrong movie. I know it from experience, but I’ll save that story for another day.) However, what do I know? Maybe the children have grown a lot tougher the last 15 years and I’m just overly protective.
A small remark
If you want to hear me say anything negative about Toy Story 3, you’d have to press me hard. The only minor spot I can think of is the view on gender issues. It felt slightly stereotyped at times, especially when it comes to homosexuality and men who like to dress up in pretty clothes. Some of the jokes connected to the Ken doll character were close to passing the best-before-date. But it’s just a small remark.
What really matters is that I too fell in love with Toy Story 3, to the extent that I now consider buying it, and you should know that I don’t buy many movies at all. This is one that I’d be happy to revisit, on my own or possibly in company with grandchildren at some point in the far distant future.
But first I need to find Halsnalle! Last time I saw him, he had huge naked spots on his skin. In some places it had cracked and now displayed the grey stuffing. One of his arms looked as if it had been chewed on by a monster, only half of it remaining. In one way he had. Children can treat their toys quite brutally, as shown in Toy Story 3. But he always bore his suffering with dignity, like Eeyore.
With a sombre face expression he reassured me: “I know what you’re going through, and it sucks, but we’ll always be together and I’ll never desert you, no matter what”. Halsnalle kept his vow of loyalty, just like Woody did in the movie. I didn’t. It makes me sad.
Maybe I should arrange a rescue expedition. Who knows going on in the storehouse at night? I know there are other creatures around, such as the rubber giraffe with the black hair and a troll face. Is he really to be trusted?
Halsnalle – if you read this, know: I’m on my way. And I won’t let you go again. Please, please forgive me for all those years of oblivion and neglect. I’ve learned my lesson. Toy Story 3 showed me the way.
Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, US, 2010) My rating: 5/5