Comfort Blanket

In a 6.27 interview with the Telegraph‘s Tom Teodorczuk, I was asked to explain reasons for the success of Toy Story 3. One of them, I said, is that the film “is a love letter to how Americans like to see themselves. Toy Story 3 is all about the constants we’d like to have in our lives — loyalty, love, standing by our friends, and caring for those close to us. It’s telling us what we want to believe in ourselves whether it’s true or not. It’s delivering in a very persuasive and cool way an agreeable, comforting myth about who we are.”

29 thoughts on “Comfort Blanket

  1. Dan Revill on said:

    I finally saw it last night. Definitely teared up at the end, although I wasn’t a blubbering mess like some have confessed to being. For a moment I thought they were gonna end on a real downer.

    Anyhow, I think it was a satisfying conclusion to the adventures started almost 15 yrs ago. I have purposely held off on buying the blu-rays of the first two flicks, and I’m glad I did. This is definitely a must buy trilogy. Until the ending, I would have said it was a fun film, but the last ten mins or so put it in the realm of Wall-E, Ratatouille and The Incredibles for me.

  2. I finally saw it last night. Definitely teared up at the end, although I wasn’t a blubbering mess like some have confessed to being. For a moment I thought they were gonna end on a real downer.

    Anyhow, I think it was a satisfying conclusion to the adventures started almost 15 yrs ago. I have purposely held off on buying the blu-rays of the first two flicks, and I’m glad I did. This is definitely a must buy trilogy. Until the ending, I would have said it was a fun film, but the last ten mins or so put it in the realm of Wall-E, Ratatouille and The Incredibles for me.

  3. Don’t forget that, as a viciously anti-gay culture, Americans like to laugh at depictions of negative gay stereotypes. Thus the biggest laughs come from mocking the closeted gay Ken character in the movie.

  4. Don’t forget that, as a viciously anti-gay culture, Americans like to laugh at depictions of negative gay stereotypes. Thus the biggest laughs come from mocking the closeted gay Ken character in the movie.

  5. I could not disagree with Wrecktem more. The joke is that Ken is a girl’s toy; interpreting that as “negative gay stereotypes” is on you.

  6. I could not disagree with Wrecktem more. The joke is that Ken is a girl’s toy; interpreting that as “negative gay stereotypes” is on you.

  7. Totally agree, Jeffrey, this movie, like any other movie that made cash over fist in 2010 is all about loyalty and the American myth. Wait, scratch that. I meant eye-popping 3D.

  8. Totally agree, Jeffrey, this movie, like any other movie that made cash over fist in 2010 is all about loyalty and the American myth. Wait, scratch that. I meant eye-popping 3D.

  9. Ken’s gay? I thought he was a flaming metrosexual. Why else would he have love at first sight with Barbie? If he was Perez Hilton, Barbie woulda done nothing for him.

    Americans also like to laugh at negative straight stereotypes. (The Hangover, Adam Sandler, etc.)

    And yeah, I’d say one reason the Toy Story movies succeed is because they’re uplifting, they have positive messages, it’s about good people (er, toys) doing the right thing, and overcoming injustice (Sid, Stinky Pete, Lotso).

  10. Ken’s gay? I thought he was a flaming metrosexual. Why else would he have love at first sight with Barbie? If he was Perez Hilton, Barbie woulda done nothing for him.

    Americans also like to laugh at negative straight stereotypes. (The Hangover, Adam Sandler, etc.)

    And yeah, I’d say one reason the Toy Story movies succeed is because they’re uplifting, they have positive messages, it’s about good people (er, toys) doing the right thing, and overcoming injustice (Sid, Stinky Pete, Lotso).

  11. Interesting take, Jeffrey, but aren’t the constants you list fairly universal? If not, how do you explain the $100 million box office overseas?

  12. Interesting take, Jeffrey, but aren’t the constants you list fairly universal? If not, how do you explain the $100 million box office overseas?

  13. It amuses me that a mediocrity like “Little Miss Sunshine” isn’t called out as comfort food, while a legitmately well made movie like Toy Story 3 is. It was clear from a month and several posts ago that Jeff was going to need to have some vague problem with this picture, primarily because it is too successful.

  14. It amuses me that a mediocrity like “Little Miss Sunshine” isn’t called out as comfort food, while a legitmately well made movie like Toy Story 3 is. It was clear from a month and several posts ago that Jeff was going to need to have some vague problem with this picture, primarily because it is too successful.

  15. Funny that you’d mention LMS, Clear, given that Michael Arndt wrote the screenplay to TS3 (a fact that I can’t believe hasn’t gotten more press).

  16. Yeah, that was actually my reason for bringing LMS up, and I’m kinda surprised that linkage has been mentioned more myself.

  17. Yeah, that was actually my reason for bringing LMS up, and I’m kinda surprised that linkage has been mentioned more myself.

  18. Time to roll out a maxim of the movie biz I’ve seen proven time and again:

    For a movie to be commercially successful, it must endorse the religion of the time. Challenging the religiion of the time is almost a guarantee your film will commercially tank.

    Run your favorite movies through this test and you’ll not only see it’s a pretty damn solid yardstick, you’ll also learn more about the cultural pool we’re all swimming in at any given time.

  19. >For a movie to be commercially successful, it must endorse the religion of the time.

    Not challenging is one thing, but I daresay any number of commercial hits have very little to say about any religion.

  20. Avatar, for instance. Does it endorse Christianity in any sense except in a very vague “it’s good to be nice to people” way (which could equally apply to any number of religions)? Its spiritual elements seem more pantheistic, actually.

  21. Don’t pretty much all religions have one version or another of The Golden Rule? Is this not a universal truth? Is there a tenant of atheism that says “Screw over thy neighbor?” Even Pulp Fiction has that cheer-worthy moment where Butch says “You know what; I can’t leave Marcelles in that situation.”

  22. That’s just it, though: Whatever people tell polls, christianity IS NOT the “religion of the time” right now.

    America right now has 2 religions: object-love (think iphone lines) and nostalgia. TS3 evangelizes both: its a fantasy of your stuff loving you back’ and a reaffirmation that childhood really is as all-important and life-defining as you remember it.

  23. I finally saw it last night. Definitely teared up at the end, although I wasn’t a blubbering mess like some have confessed to being. For a moment I thought they were gonna end on a real downer.
    Anyhow, I think it was a satisfying conclusion to the adventures started almost 15 yrs ago. I have purposely held off on buying the blu-rays of the first two flicks, and I’m glad I did. This is definitely a must buy trilogy. Until the ending, I would have said it was a fun film, but the last ten mins or so put it in the realm of Wall-E, Ratatouille and The Incredibles for me.

  24. I don’t quite see how “loyalty, love, standing by our friends, and caring for those close to us” are particularly American qualities. Those are just human, which is why the films have such broad appeal. Does any country positively value betrayal, enmity, and spurning those close to us?

    The American myth is more about a sort of a DIY, rags to riches by the sweat of one’s own brow narrative, no?

  25. Literally just walked in from seeing it and will readily admit it: TOY STORY 3 is most satisfying film I’ve seen so far this year. (SPOILERS DO FOLLOW)

    I really have to give them credit for avoiding what would have been the autobiographical route and having Woody stay with Andy at college, as surely all the Pixar people did with their toys.

    I was very surprised they also nixed having Andy keep them for his own eventual kids – which does cause a problem with the continuity from the other films. Woody was a family heirloom toy, which explains why a kid in 1995 would be playing with a cowboy toy. So when the mother did not specify that Woody had to stay, it was at odds with her not selling him to the toy collector in TS 2.

    I don’t think it’s success is anything more complicated than the fact that it’s the latest edition of a franchise that has improved with every new installment from a company that is the gold standard in popular entertainment. It’s clear that Lasseter will not allow a single sequel to be released under the Pixar banner unless it can demonstrably improve upon the predecessor. So strong is this philosophy that Disney nearly drove Pixar into the arms of another studio.

    There’s actually holes in Jeff’s theory because the entire plot revolves around the other toys not trusting Woody after he has repeatedly demonstrated that he has their best interests at heart.

  26. MovieBob: That’s a bingo. And the deeper you burrow into that path you’re on, the more light that shines on our times. HBO and Showtime endorse the religion of snarkier than thou and Coldplay endorse the religion of positive masochism. Even “Hangover” endorses the “screw this, let’s party” religion, which, being from Fontana, I was of course born into.

    Challenging the religion of the times? Bresson did a hell of a job and my current favorite is Mel Gibson. It’s not essential to be a rage-fueled paleo-Catholic to get really out of step with the current zeitgeist, but anyone who says gravity counts automatically gets suspicious looks from the Name of the Rose keepers of our cultural rules. Yeah, yeah, I know someone will cite “Passion” as endorsing Christianity, but that’s what’s so wonderfully subversive about Mel: he’s really saying that the founders of the Church are in league with Satan and only those willing to burn down the cathedrals and start over are worthy of the Nazz. Kind of like Bruce Springsteen and “Born in the USA,” which the patriots like Reagan all took to their hearts and Bruce took to the bank with nary a word of protest.

  27. Yeah is true! All of us stayed impressed with Toy Story 3 and we love it, but because is how we would like to live, in a happy world without troubles.

  28. I don’t think a movie about love, care and support in relationships is something new. Hollywood movies are not only confined for Americans, in fact the movies goes around the world attracting a large number of movie goers in other countries. Americans workaholics and shopping freaks but we also have the most brilliant people in the world. If only we take a deeper look into the qualities we possess I think there is more then what most people feel for their loved ones. We love our community and we unitedly come up with innovative ideas instead of depending on our government to do everything for us and this is something new.

    Liepers Fork real estate

  29. loyalty, love, standing by our friends, and caring for those close to us. It’s telling us what we want to believe in ourselves whether it’s true or not. Vimax

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