June 22, 2010


Can we all just take a step back for a minute, take a deep breath, and MARVEL at what Hollywood can do??? OK—time's up.

I would tie "Toy Story 3" with "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" for best flick of 2010, but I still like "Wimpy Kid" a little more because it's real people and although we're not as cute as CGI dolls, stuffed animals and Fisher Price toys, I still like us better. I can't get that scene in "Wimpy Kid" of the mean older brother telling the spooky Halloween story to his younger brother out of my head. Genius. Also, "Wimpy Kid" was a PERFECT movie. Like a Nadia Komenich of movies. Or a Stella Kim Yu-na. " (Search for my review of DOWK on this blog.)

I don't think these kids' movies are great BECAUSE they're kids' movies or because they're innocent or squeaky clean or anything. They're just super-duper high quality. Massively entertaining for adults also. "Toy Story 3"—which I did not witness in 3-D*--is not a "perfect" movie: especially the over-the-top melodramatic ending which never ends. But it was very funny and suspenseful. The incredibly creepy "big baby" doll and hellfire of the dump may be extremely scary for extremely little ones. (3D glasses should come with flaps for impressionable wee moviegoers.)

There's no need to have seen the first two "Toy Story" movies to understand anything at all in "Toy Story 3." I would love to compare the technical advances since them, though! Buzz Lightyears away from each other, I'm sure! Speaking of Buzz Lightyear, my nephew—who had his own beloved BL action figure and never tired of lisping: "To infinity and beyond!"—is now a street legal (just got his driver's license), strapping 16 year old, so it's been a while since the other two installments! Andy himself, the toys' "boy," is 17.

A really great feature of "Toy Story 3" is its ability to get squarely inside a child's head and remind us exactly what it felt like to be a child, and how children play and dream and imagine and act their play out in total unfetteredness. For those of us without kids who don't get to relive our childhood with our progeny, "Toy Story 3" is a blast from the past in this regard. Oh yeah!—I used to make up those rushed, rambling stories, too!

Lots of theological reflections to be made. Even though the toys are unplayed with** and feel useless at this point (Andy is going off to college), Woody—Andy's favorite toy--is content to stay in the attic if that's his lot, and "be there" for Andy, however and whenever Andy might need him. (Or Andy's children someday!) I couldn't help thinking of a Chicago priest who had been a terrific pastor in several Chicago parishes. Toward the end of his life he spent many years in a nursing home, forgotten. For sure, the many families he helped along the way remembered him fondly, but people are busy, people and priests move and get transferred, people lose touch with each other. One grateful parishioner, however, always went to see him and this is what the priest said: "You know what? They are still my people and they still need me. I'm going to offer all my physical and spiritual pain and suffering for them. I'm still their priest." Wow. No identity crisis there. True love stays. True love sticks. Seen or unseen. Appreciated or unappreciated. "Your life is hidden now with Christ in God," Colossians 3:3.

There's a fantastic Christian "love your enemy/save your enemy" scene toward the end which is NOT reciprocated by the enemy. And there's no bitterness about that. It was done in the gratuitous spirit of the famous "Do It Anyway" poem. Another lesson is that enemies CAN become friends, but they have to want to. It's their choice.

Theology of the Body? There's lots of true love: Barbie and Ken, Jessie and Buzz, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, a pair of dinosaurs…. Seriously, there is plenty of sacrificial heroism, but even better is the point that we BELONG to someone (and to each other). Woody alone of all the toys truly penetrates and lives this. He urges the toys to look at their feet where "their boy" printed his name, "Andy." (Baptism, anyone?) "Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's," Romans 14:8. The teddy-bear-gone-bad Mr. Lotso (he was abandoned by his girl) says: "No owner, no heartbreak." He has opted out of love.

You must stay till the very end of the "Afterword" mini-movie during the credits, which showcases Buzz Lightyear like you've never seen him before. All I'm gonna say is that it involves the Gypsy Kings.

I could definitely go for a round of "Toy Story 4."


--Where's Bo Peep??? She's gotta come back. Woody needs a girlfriend.

--The music is fantastic, hilarious and really aids the storytelling.

--Mr. Taco Head!!! Ha ha ha ha.

--Ken's fashion show!!!

--Chuckles, the clown!!!

--The monkey!!!

--"TS3" begins and ends with EPIC sequences!

--The voice acting is soooo well cast.

--Tons of great lines.

--Mr. Lotso speaks for nihilism: "We're all just trash!" (God doesn't make trash, Mr. Lotso!)
"Where's your kid [God] now?" (Certainly not working through you, Mr. Lotso! And what about that Golden Rule, Mr. Lotso? How about being the change you want to see, dude? How about being that miracle? How about a little gratitude? How about spotting the toys in a bit of a pickle? How about returning the favor? How about some common plushie [human] decency? How about the milk of plushie [human] kindness? Huh? Huh?!)

--Dinosaur: "I hate all this uncertainty!"

--"Holy moly guacamole!"

--Great line (reminds one of death). Woody reminds the toys that they "always knew the day would come" when Andy would no longer play with them…. Toys: "Yeah, but now it's here."

--Toys love to play!

--Besides playing, toys have the vocation of "being there." The ministry of presence! Wow! Pause for theological reflection….

--I saw an animated show some time ago where some teddy bears would come to life when humans weren't around like the toys in "Toy Story." They called it "going teddy" when they would freeze and go lifeless. So, in a nun community that I lived in, we used to say "I'm going teddy" when we were going to bed. And you needed to know this because….?

--Computers/technology as part of our everyday lives and that of kids' lives is rather organically woven in. Felt very natural. Seemed to be in a sort of proper place alongside kids' unplugged lives. Or maybe we should call "unplugged" life "regular life" and then distinguish/make the contrast with "plugged-in life."

--Attics are wonderful, magical places. Even if we didn't get to see Andy's attic. My toys are not my treasures that I can't part with, though. It's my childrens' books. I still have every single one of them. And they were legion. I think I got my first bookcase in first grade (5 long shelves).

--The animation is so lifelike at times that it looks like real filming: Mom pulling out the driveway, looking over the garbageman's shoulder…. Spooky. To quote another movie: "More human than the humans."

--"TS3" started with a long short in an old-fashioned 1950's style animation (are you confused yet?) of two big blobby cartoon creatures, one with a film of daytime running across his body, the other with night running across his body. Totally clever. It's very Theology of the Body, starting with the beauties of Nature corresponding to bodily functions: waterfall—well you can guess; ducks—laughter; moon—belly button; sheep—sleep; wind in trees—yawn. The only words were a radio speech about not being afraid of the new and that the best things in life are MYSTERIOUS. It appropriately ends on the figure of a woman. It's a celebration of life, God-made and man-made (Las Vegas!). You just have to see it. It's called "Day and Night." Ends with a dance as does "TS3."

--Lately, I've been in this weird mode where I think of a Bible passage for, like, EVERYTHING. It's probably our Google, hyperlink, Twitter, follow-the-link, instant references, multi-tasking, info/resources at our fingertips, fragmented media habits that's doing it to me, but it's also kinda cool.

--Don't want to be a spoiler, but:

“I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.”Psalm 30:1-3

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”Psalm 40:1-3

*I’m convinced I’m in the category of the 56% of Americans who have troubles even seeing 3-D—I’ve never been able to do those hidden pictures in magazines where you put the page up to your nose and slowly pull the magazine away, and 3-D movies are pretty much a big blur for me even though I’m wearing the glasses--and I KNOW I’m a member of the even vaster (I hope) army who dislikes 3-D all together and wants it to go away all together. http://hd.engadget.com/2010/05/20/having-problems-seeing-3d-the-american-optometric-association-w/

**This also reminds me of St. Therese who told the Child Jesus that He could treat her like a toy ball. If He didn't want to use her anymore, He could just throw her in the corner and that would be fine. I told Jesus--in no uncertain terms--that He must never, ever do that to me.

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