Although, in this case, it might be said that the third time is ALSO charming.
We waited to see Toy Story 3 until we were together with a bunch of our cousins. My mother was thrilled as 8 grandsons and 1 granddaughter filled an entire row at the movie theater. They all looked so cute: even the Jedi were matchy in clean cargo shorts and striped polos. They even consented to a hair combing for the event.
The previews were fun. There is another Narnia movie coming out later this year that looks as exciting (if loosely based on the books) as its predecessors. Jedi Knight now has another book to get through before he can see the movie. We also saw a clip for Disney's new Rapunzel movie, titled "Tangled." It actually looks quite hilarious, and told from a very cocky prince's point of view. It seems that Rapunzel will use her hair for some awesome Ninja tricks. Still, Padawan leaned over and said, "Looks like a girl's movie." Maybe I could adopt somebody's daughter for the day and take them to see it.
I expected Toy Story 3 to be entertaining. Maybe even highly entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two. What I did not expect, however, is to be crying before they were even done with the opening credits, and then fully BAWLING during the closing credits.
It can be argued that after three films, you become really invested in characters--Tom Hanks is a remarkable actor even when disembodied--and that is the reason for my emotional response. The scene when these amazingly tough little toys are headed to the hellish incinerator is really dramatic and kind of scary. Knowing they are finally out of ideas, they do the only thing left to them: they hold hands, friends forever, and look death straight in the eye.
Uh, spoiler alert.
They don't die. Of course. It isn't a horror movie, after all.
However, I don't think it is my attachment to the characters, wonderful as they are, that prompted the tears. As Andy heads to college, you realize that his reluctance to clean out the toy chest has nothing to do with teenage angst. It is that some part of him realizes that in doing so, he is saying goodbye to his childhood. Before heading to the new phase of his life, he drops his toys off at the house of the most adorable child ever created by Pixar. She takes on these toys as a sacred responsibility, and understanding that he has found a kindred spirit, Andy delays his leaving for an hour to play with her.
To say goodbye to his toys, yes. But really to say goodbye to his childhood.
As I looked at that row of hardly-ever-still boys, ranging in age from 14 to 3, it was as if I was watching their childhoods slip away before my eyes. And I cried.
Last week, on a slow summer afternoon, my little boys asked me to help them take down the Lincoln logs and build some train tracks on the play table. We used to always call it the train table, but nobody has wanted trains built in a long time. I obliged and the kids played and played with Thomas and his friends. Our friends. When Jedi Knight, my train obsessed boy from way back, came home from doing a big-boy thing, he settled right into playing with them, even though he told another little boy a few weeks ago that he had "pretty much outgrown Thomas."
He will be nine in just a couple of months. Saturday we let him stay up and watch Lord of the Rings with Jeff and I. Sunday he wanted to watch a DVD containing episodes of Go, Diego, Go. Such a mature young man, and such a little boy at the same time.
How do moms learn to let go?