Saturday, July 10, 2010
I really love going to the movies. But it's pretty obvious that good movies are hard to come by, particularly for kids. I hate to say any one production house is better than another, but I confess I have been under the spell of Pixar since its early days, believing it offers my family a "safer" variety of entertainment. Haven't you been? I quickly looked past Pixar's recent flops as exceptions, and kept holding out for another Cars or Toy Story. (Wait. There was another Toy Story but who really got excited about that one?)
Tonight I held out my hope one last time as we took the kids to see Toy Story 3. We went with another family, went to dinner first, and had a great time. But I have to make a couple comments on this piece of cinema. My five year old was on my lap for half the film because he was scared. At one point he moaned, "I hate this movie," as he buried his face into me. I felt like a bad parent at that point for making him suffer through it, not wanting to leave the rest of the group. But I chose to continue whispering positive thoughts in his ear (ie. "Let's see how the good guys are gonna escape! Let me know if you see the way they're gonna beat those bad guys!"), lamely expecting his rational mind to trump his fear, as if he would suddenly start enjoying it.
But really, I was feeling mad. I shouldn't have to talk down my 5 year old in a G-rated film. My son is not normally afraid during the usual movie conflict and action. But something about the villain in Toy Story 3 is more sinister than usual. The fluffy pink bear who smells like strawberries and is named Lotso, is a bit of a chameleon. Just like one would see in a grown-up film, Lotso starts off by being everyone's BFF, but then his true colors are revealed. Apparently, Lotso has a a deep-seated anger from being abandoned, which results in his having a tyrannical rule over all the other toys in his community.
Lotso has issues and says weirdly depressing things like, "No owner means no heartbreak!" He is intimidating, angry, and mean. This is not light-hearted fare, my friends. Lotso is a far cry from Toy Story's first villian, Sid, the boy next door who wants to tie toys to fire crackers. Sid is the equivalent of Butch Cavendish, the cattle rustler, in the Lone Ranger, while Lotso is Vito Corleone. And really, disturbing just doesn't fit into my Pixar paradigm. Well, clearly, it's my paradigm that needs to change, since it seems to me that innocence has left the building.
So after seeing the movie tonight, I remembered that last week, when we went to Toys 'R' Us (and I would have made that "R" backwards like in the logo, if my keyboard would have let me), we saw the largest display ever of Toy Story 3 merchandise. Of course, there were many, many Lotsos for sale. Now, I'm wondering if Lotso comes with "emotional baggage" as his accessory.
Do you see on the box where it says, "I talk! Over 45 adorable sayings,"? I'm guessing some of them are the following:
"I won't bond to you because I'm broken on the inside."
"The rage is because I'm afraid."
"My smile is just a mask for my pain."
OK, I'll get over it. But to you Pixar, and you Toys "R" Us shelf full of boxed, pink, scary bears, I say, Uh, no.