Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Toy Story: The Adult Years

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Toy Story: The Adult Years

Generally I write about something that I know will sound familiar to many; words that will resonate across thousands of barriers be they gender, race or class. I try to pick topics that most of you can relate to or see as a possibility of your future or a well dodged bullet of your past. I am both thoughtful and insightful like that. You are welcome. Well today is different, today I must talk to you about what is bothering me and that is Toy Story.

You heard me.

Toy Story.

I am talking about Woody and I am talking about Buzz. I am talking about the terrifying predicament that they found themselves in and the fact that Rex, Mr. Potato Head and (above all) Slinky could not help them. I am talking about the classic film of my childhood where two, beloved toys were accidentally thrown to the wolf that was the terrifying, malevolent thug of a next door neighbour; Sid and had to journey back through a number of harrowing ordeals to be reunited with their little boy. An utter gem in the Pixar crown.

Toy Story: the horror film for toys

But here's the thing; I have not watched this film since it's original release in 1995. Back then, I was ensconced in an Odeon arm chair, fuelled with fruit gums (they lasted longer), sharing my pew with my favourite inanimate dog/rabbit/bear of the moment (don't judge, so I wasn't that picky) and shielding their eyes from the scenes of toy dismemberment. Today, I watched it with the eyes of a mother and I was left a little bereft. I mean tearing plastic toys limb from limb is one thing but it wasn't what troubled me most today. These observations had gone undetected in the ignorance of childhood:

1. Where is Andy's Dad?

This is not a big thing and if they are, in fact, a single parent household then more power to them; because, frankly, Andy's mum is nailing it. She has packed up the house while looking after an infant and an 8 year old, thrown an elaborate birthday party for the afore mentioned 8 year old and chosen the ultimate gift. She is more than enough parent for one family and I think everyone could learn something from Andy's mum, apart from fashion; I mean the floral smock top is quite something to behold and not in a good way.

Is the fact that she is the only parent present, the reason that they are moving though? Is Andy the child of a bitter divorce, or worse; has she been widowed? Is his attachment to particular inanimate objects at the age of eight actually a reflection of his feeling unsettled and uprooted? Or, in fact, is it entirely normal to be so attached to particular inanimate objects at the age of eight? When are children meant to discard their nocturnal comforters be they cuddly, soft, food encrusted or otherwise? Should I be advocating or deterring my children from their comforters? Do I even know anything about children? What am I even doing being a mother?

Should I be planning early retirement for Dog- Dog?

2. Where are Sid's Parents?

The absence of Sid's parents doesn't really strike you as surprising; after all he clearly has free reign to persecute his little sister, wears the same outfit day in and day out, his bed is entirely undressed with no sheet or duvet cover, he sleeps fully clothed with his shoes still adorning his, likely, malodorous feet and his teeth are mottled in appearance like a bar code for an item in the "must go" section of the supermarket. Furthermore, he seems to have unhampered access to a plentiful supply of matches. The only kink in the story is that he uses the matches to light expensive fireworks ordered from the internet, attached to toys which he has won during multiple attempts at an arcade game, based in a local fashionable eating establishment a car ride away. Who is funding these pastimes?

The plot thickens.

3. The Claw Crane

I love this film. I loved it back in 1995 and I love it just as much today, even through the jaded eyes of adulthood. However, I am utterly incandescent with rage over the ludicrous portrayal of this peddler of broken dreams. The number of children who have cleaned out their parents pockets initially trying with their own sticky, dimpled hands to manipulate the device and grasp the coveted prize before turning to their older sibling or caregiver with pleading eyes to take on the challenge. Daylight robbery. Nobody wins; everybody loses. Not in Toy Story though. No, in Toy Story, the dastardly Sid manages to win, not once but twice and on the second attempt bags two prizes for the price of one. Quite remarkable for a device which has previously struggled to lift an sparkly bouncy ball the size of a hedgehog's left testicle!

I apologise. I am calm. I have dealt with the scars of my childhood. I am not defined by material items.

Bouncy balls and My Little Pony were my life (and hats apparently)

Anyway, as I said; a complete fallacy. Do Disney have shares in those companies? Are they aware that they are infecting another generation with misplaced hope?

4. How Awesome is Planet Pizza?

Whilst the thought of Sid and his tortured existence is, indeed, heart wrenching we cannot leave Toy Story without first discussing how utterly amazing Planet Pizza looks. Why has this restaurant not become the world's most successful fast food franchise to date? Disney are not usually ones to shy away from exploiting a potential goldmine, so how on earth was this nugget overlooked? The automatic doors pretending to admit you into an international space station? The slime drinks dispensers? That embarrassing big footed clown with the stupidly coloured perm who goes on about his "double rainbow" pales in comparison to this wonderland.

You had me at "slime", make mine a Galactic Giardiniera.

Pizza + Planets would complete me

When we initially started watching films with the toddler folk we would meticulously run through the storylines in our heads searching for any menacing acts or villains which they may find a little too unsettling. To date we have overlooked:
  • the "poor unfortunate souls" who have been turned into seaweed with anguished expressions and grab at Ariel as she enters Ursula's domain to ultimately sell her soul in The Little Mermaid. Just terrifying.
  • The first beggar who is forced to enter the mouth of the cave by Jafar in Aladdin and meets an abrupt end. "Where has he gone Mummy?"
  • The use of a pig's heart excised by the Hunter and placed in a jewellery box as a decoy in an attempt to try and outwit Snow White's nemesis. "What about the Piggy Mummy?"
  • The riotous crowd brandishing pitch forks and flames as they descend upon the enchanted castle with murderous intent and cries of "Let's Kill the Beast!" "Mummy mummy mummy mummy MUMMY!"

As I watch these classic Disney films which I enjoyed in my youth, I do so with fresh eyes. I try to see them as my toddlers would, albeit from the comfort of the couch and not from behind an oversized cushion. Fairytales are dark and those brothers were indeed Grimm but everything works out in the end. Optimism is what is required to deal with the dark times; obstacles shall be overcome, people will be reunited and love shall conquer all.

Perfect viewing position
Well, except Pocahontas. My daughter is still waiting for John Smith to come back.
3 Little Buttons

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