Toy Story 3
Top five favorite toys from my childhood:
5. Hess trucks. Whenever I went out with my parents and we passed a Hess gas station, I had to have a toy Hess truck. If you put batteries in them, the headlights and tail lights would light up. The doors to the cab would open. I had one with a retractable hose. To this day, I could not tell you why I was so into them. I just was.
4. Lincoln Logs. I was a fiend for building toys. With this, I liked the way the logs fit into the notches at the ends so neatly. I wasn't very creative in building my log cabins, but that was okay. I just liked putting the logs together, little by little.
3. Tinkertoys. These, on the other hand, were the kind of building toys with which you could go nuts. I think I favored abstract sculpture-type designs. I didn't care what they looked like. The weirder the better.
2. Lite Brite. Loved this one! It was a bunch of colored lights that you stuck in specific patterns into holes on a kind of light box. You'd get images like a clown face, or a sailboat or a house, stuff like that. When it was finished, you turned off the lights in your room and turned this on and voila!
1. Domino Rally. Oh. My. God. I could not get enough of this. You would line up these small colored tiles shaped like dominos and knock them down. They came with all these cool accessories that you could add to your rally, like bridges, contraptions with rolling marbles and moving parts, etc. I would set it up on the kitchen floor, which always pissed my mother off because she wouldn't be able to walk through the front door until I knocked the dominos down.
I don't recall imagining my toys having lives of their own. I didn't have many dolls or action figures or stuffed animals, though, so it likely didn't occur to me much. Given how big action figures have become, I kinda regret not having any. I saw the same commercials for GI Joe and Transformers and He-Man and the Superfriends as everyone else, but I never bugged my parents for them. They probably would've gotten them for me. My interests were in other kinds of toys.
The Toy Story films, as far as I'm concerned, stack up with any live-action movie, past or present, foreign or domestic, you care to name. They show how cool it is to be a toy. Buzz has delusions of being an actual person (sort of) in the first movie, but Woody sets him straight. Why? Because nothing is more important to a toy than the bond between it and its human owner. It's what they live for. That's the theme that runs throughout the entire trilogy. They're not miniature people. They're toys - and they're meant to be played with.
Okay. The crying. I'm gonna proceed on the assumption you've seen Toy Story 3 (if you haven't, what are you doing reading this? Go watch it; it's great) and jump straight to the climax of the movie: the part where they're trapped on the garbage conveyor belt, about to be melted into slag by the incinerator.
I saw TS3 theatrically. As this scene took place, a part of me knew they weren't really gonna die... but I wasn't sure! It was one of those no-way-out situations in which the hero(es) somehow finds a way out, but I didn't see a way out. I was on the edge of my seat, dog!
Then the Pizza Planet aliens snatched them up at the last second ("THE CLAAAAAW!"). I swear to you, I cannot remember the last time a movie left me feeling so euphoric. My tears at that moment were mixed with laughter. It was one of those rare moments where it felt good to be alive! That animated characters could make me feel this way was a tribute to the remarkable work Pixar put into making them real over the course of these movies... and the story wasn't even over yet.
The ending. Omigod, the ending. Even now, I can't think of it without choking up. Why? Perhaps seeing grown-up Andy hand off his toys to little Bonnie triggered some latent paternal instinct in me - which is odd, because the last thing I want is to be a parent. Perhaps it was coming to the end of the road, the parting of ways between Andy and Woody, that made me so emotional. Perhaps it was a little of both. Either way, I was a puddle of goo afterward - and I don't think I was the only one in the audience in such a state.
Toy Story 4 is happening. I would say, "How can they possibly top the last one?" but I said that after 2, about 3. So I guess I'll reserve my spot in line now... with extra handkerchiefs.
TS3 and Oscar's anti-animation bias
Other movies that have made me cry (that I'll admit to):
Field of Dreams
Breaking the Waves
The Children's Hour