Every review I've read of TS3 has been positive. Most of them have been glowing to the point of absurd. No movie is that good.
Yet, despite the title of my post, I didn't dislike TS3. I thought it was good. Very good even. But I could have lived the rest of my life without having seen it and been perfectly content.
One danger in seeing a movie of a book you've read is that they will re-interpret the story in a way that completely destroys the world you've imagined in your head. In my life, I've never seen the movie of a favorite book and thought I was better off for it. In virtually every instance, the movie not only peed on the original source material in some way, but it robbed me of the characters' voices and the images I carried around in my head. Books are wonderful friends and you shouldn't trade them in so quickly.
Movie sequels run a similar risk. In the hands of irresponsible writers and directors, our favorite characters can begin spouting things completely foreign to them. And to us. I happily report that Disney and Pixar didn't do that to the Toy Story box load of characters. Buzz and Woody, Jessie and Ham all continue to demonstrate the same characteristics we grew to love in them.
And Andy doesn't turn into a jackass either.
Indeed, he grows up to be a rather decent guy.
But TS3 takes us to places we need not go. Even if all of the characters we love continue to comport themselves in a manner we're familiar with, the movie takes them on a journey we don't need to watch and deposits them in a place that is foreign to us. For my money, TS2 ended well enough: Buzz and Woody staring off into the future, promising to be friends for infinity and beyond. As it turns out, I didn't need to see what infinity looked like. I rather enjoyed imagining it as something else.
TS3 has moments that are dark and intense. That's not unusual, both Toy Story and TS2 had dark moments. But unlike its predecessors, TS3 imperils our toy friends in a way that is too real, too human, too hard to watch. Indeed, the climax of the movie evoked images of Auschwitz (yes, Auschwitz!). It was easy enough to detach yourself emotionally from the peril of Sid's room in Toy Story because although we can all relate to being lost, few of us can relate to the experience of being subjected to ludicrous transplants. You're not afforded that luxury in TS3. The peril and the emotions are too real, too easy to imagine, and in some instances, too darn close to home.
It's not at all clear which audience they were aiming for either. My three year old did not like it and she has told us many times over. ZZUBY was nonplussed. She liked most of it. But this is telling: she has no immediate desire to see it again.
If I didn't need to see Buzz and Woody confront entirely complex decisions, then I also didn't need to see Andy grown up. Whether we admit it consciously or not, we do become emotionally attached to our favorite characters. Hopefully not in an unhealthy way (says the man who yearns to observe Big Block of Cheese Day). This isn't to suggest that we believe they're actually real or actually our friends. But characters from TV shows we watch at length, characters from movies we've enjoyed multiple times, all become part of the fabric of our subconscious. We feel as if we know them. There's a very rewarding moment in the final episode of Happy Days when Mr. Cunningham, Tom Bosely, breaks the fourth wall and addresses us as the audience. In that moment, he acknowledges that we have grown up watching the Cunninghams and in doing so, he welcomes us to the table, as it were. It is satisfyingly honest.
We first met Andy when he was a little boy and when we saw him again a few years later he was, oddly enough, about the same age as when we last saw him. Seeing him now at 17 is, in a word, uncomfortable. It's as if we moved away and came back to the Tri-County area and the friends we once knew there are similar but different. We feel like we've missed something. Their lives have gone on without us and they've changed. And even though Andy's still a remarkably likable character, it's hard to see him now 11 years on. He's also a touch nerdier than we think he ought to be.
Andy thus has become a metaphor for the passage of time in our own lives. You can't help but remember where you were and what your life was like when you last visited Andy and his toys. You understand, it's not just Andy who's grown 11 years older.
And movies shouldn't age us that way.
For our family, seeing an old, tired Buster was entirely too familiar. It was just another way in which the movie invaded our real life. It hurt. And stopped being entertaining.
Still, TS3 has some very funny moments and it is riddled with Easter Eggs if you enjoy looking for those kinds of things. It is a good movie and tells a good, even if melancholic, story.
I just wish I hadn't seen it.