November 22, 1995 [Toy Story]

The bookcase of our old secretary desk, its glass-paned double doors locked with a skeleton key, acts as a family childhood museum--small things mostly, slender picture-books and staring dolls, dusty tiny figurines and gyroscopes, a three-inch-long cannon and a Chinese puzzle box, a Magic Pitcher left over from Pete’s backyard illusionist days, a Wham-O Air Blaster; plus familiar faces--Popeye, Mickey--mixed in with the long-gone or all-but-forgotten--Maggie and Jiggs, Skeezix.  A few Matchbox cars stand nose-first, their interiors dark, while a porcelain Peter Rabbit crouches, Farmer McGregor no doubt approaching.

I wandered over to look at it after seeing Toy Story--and knew that for every small thing kept safe, sitting in our living room so they could still see us, ten more are long gone, some of them dismantled or even firecracker’d--like the poor toys of the movie’s evil Sid next door--the old-time Bad Boy, Huckleberry Finn with a mean streak--and he’s as much in us as is our hero, Andy, who covets with an open heart.

And while this computer-cartoon is as dazzling as anything I’ve seen in this new Golden Age of animation, those two boys seem the most important, giving the toys their character, deciding their fates, showing us what to do with the little object we hold in our growing hand, while the toy stays small--but not young: in the end dust and rust and frozen clockworks will keep them still even when we’re not looking.  Andy doesn’t know that yet, which makes him the toys’ best friend and most reliable curator of his jumbled bedroom archive-in-progress.


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