Monday, June 21, 2010

The Loss of Bo

I saw Toy Story 3 last Sunday and, yes, it was a tearjerker. The film's ending was not a downer, though; just very sentimental. Given how much joy the first two films have given moviegoers over the years, Pixar has every right to be sentimental about the end of this trilogy.

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, there's a lot of material about loss what with Andy moving to college and leaving his toys behind. We've been told it has been years since Andy has played with them, and when the full contents of the toy box tumble out after he has left the room, the audience (who so fondly remember their first introduction to Andy's room in the first film) will immediately notice how much smaller this group has become.

Woody talks about this and mentions the loss of friends over the years by donations to thrift stores. And then he names names: Etch, Wheezy and... Bo. Woody doesn't actually say this last name at first. Someone else does it for him and he responds by repeating her name and looking very, very wistful.

This may sound silly, but it's a hell of a blow. At least for me it was. Here was Woody's girlfriend, with which he shared a special moment at the end of both previous films, and now she's... gone. Just like that. We don't get to see how that goodbye went between Woody and Bo Peep, but for these characters we have grown to know and love so much over the years, we can only imagine.

Yet it perfectly sets the stage for the film, reminding the audience that happy endings can be thwarted, and also allowing the audience to accept the possibility (at a certain harrowing moment near the end of the film) that things could go very badly indeed for our intrepid toy heroes.

It also provides a much needed motivation for Woody. He relentlessly persists in his belief that Andy will one day return to them, and he argues to his fellow toys that it is up to them to remain loyal to Andy no matter how long it takes. He was loyal to Andy before, of course, but we can (again) only imagine how this changed when Bo left and Andy became all he had.

This is not to besmirch the love he has for his fellow toys. Indeed, by the end of the film he does realize that his loyalty and love for his friends trumps all else. Even Andy. That aforementioned harrowing scene (seriously, that image will stick in your brain for awhile) proves that in spades.

So, in the end, the loss of Bo was a necessary one. It's just one more proof that Pixar is a master of the storytelling craft, and I for one can't besmirch them for dropping a character in such a way. Heck, I imagine even Annie Potts approved.

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