Strong men also cry
Wed, Sep 30, 2009 (6:17 p.m.)
- Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D
- Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen.
- Directed by John Lasseter.
- Rated G. Opens Friday.
- Beyond the Weekly
- Official Site
It might be the most subversive moment ever in a G-rated movie, one whose impact continues to be felt by a generation of hapless parents. It comes about halfway into Toy Story 2, and at first it’s so subtle you can barely sense what’s coming. Woody, captured by an evil toy collector, is about to escape, but is talked into staying because, as Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl explains, eventually every child gets tired of his or her toys and discards them. So follows a sequence tailor-made for fans of sob porn—Sarah McLachlan plaintively sings “When She Loved Me,” written by Randy Newman (the master of subversion—listen to “Sail Away” or “Birmingham” if you don’t believe me) as Jessie dredges up her own tragic tale of abandonment. Pixar had to be really careful here. One false facial expression and the whole thing could have been maudlin and laughable. But this sequence, perhaps more than any other in Pixar’s history, cements its legacy. Not only does it work, but it’s also absolutely devastating. Millions of moviegoers asked, “Can I really be crying about a frigging toy?” And I’ll readily admit that no matter how many times I’ve watched as Jessie is left under a bed (for perhaps years, with the requisite dust covering her), later found and unceremoniously left by the side of the road for a charity to pick up, I totally lose my shit every time.
This is the only children’s movie I’ve actually warned parents against having their children watch. Bambi’s mother dying? Hey, so your kid never becomes a hunter. Old Yeller getting shot? It’s educational—kids will learn that sometimes the hardest decision is the best one. But never getting rid of their toys? Now that’s dangerous.