You Got a Friend in Me: 5 Tear-Jerking Moments From Toy Story 3

toy story 3 Poster.jpgUp until now, summer 2010 seemed like a vast wasteland of disappointment. Shrieking harridans and chubby, middle-aged marksmen marred the multiplex week after disappointing week. But like an oasis in a desert of suck came Toy Story 3. And it was brilliant and funny and exciting. But it was also possibly one of the tear-jerkingiest movies to come out of Pixar yet. Click through to see what scenes caused the most waterworks, but, of course, beware of spoilers.

5. The Toys Accept That Andy Won't Play With Them Anymore

The first misty-eyed moment comes early on in the film, as a flashback shows young Andy gleefully playing with all of his toys in an elaborate villainous pig-based scenario. This gets contrasted with the glum reality of present day as the toys languish in the toy chest. It's the first time that the toys really see that, despite happy times before, they're no longer needed.

4. Andy's Mom Takes In Andy's Room

A rare solely human moment in the Toy Story world, Andy's mom -- who previously had been a human tornado in getting Andy packed up for college and his old room cleaned out -- stops and takes a moment to look at the now-empty room of her son. It hits her just how much is about to change and that her little boy is gone.

3. Woody Has to Leave Bullseye the Horse Behind

Leaving the rest of the toys behind at Sunnyside Day Care to go join Andy at college, Woody must force his trusty pal Bullseye to stay behind. The emotion in Woody's voice as he knows he may never see his oldest friend again is palpable and Bullseye's sadness is evident even though he doesn't utter a word. It recalls Shane, but with computer generated cartoons instead of Alan Ladd.

2. Woody and Friends Accept Death Together

Tell me this isn't one of the darkest, yet somehow the most heartwarming, scenes in a movie meant for kids. After narrowly escaping the grinding teeth of the trash chipper, the toys try to escape from the burning maw of the incinerator. They struggle mightily but are all out of moves and in one last show of unity, link hands, silently waiting to be destroyed together.

1. Andy Hesitates Handing Woody Over to Bonnie

Frankly, this can just stand for the last five or so minutes. Andy donates all of his beloved toys to Bonnie, his young neighbor, who gleefully scoops them up. But Andy hesitates to hand over Woody, who -- surprise! -- made it into the box. As the college-bound young adult tells Bonnie who Woody is and how she must take care of him, you can see how much Andy will truly miss his beloved buddy when he's gone. But! Before he does leave, Andy plays with Bonnie and the toys one last time. And as he drives off to college, Bonnie and the toys are lined up on the porch to say good-bye. Speaking for myself, I was happy -- for once -- to have those ridiculously heavy 3D glasses on, if only to help mask the fact that by this time, I was weeping buckets. You've done it again, Pixar. You've done it again.


  • Lem says:

    "I was happy — for once — to have those ridiculously heavy 3D glasses on, if only to help mask the fact that by this time, I was weeping buckets. "
    Oh God, I know right....the tears were flowing after they linked hands in anticipation for their death. From there on out, I was done.

  • Chip says:

    Great list for what is now one of my favorite movies of all time. The entire trilogy together is my favorite movie of all-time. I actually prefer Toy Story 3 to Toy Story 2; everybody mentions Jessie's song in Toy Story 2 being so powerful, and it is, but all of the moments you listed in Toy Story 3 put me on the verge of tears more than that song ever has. Yeah, it's powerful and is probably the turning point of the trilogy, but Toy Story 3 has more powerful emotion throughout without the need of a song (except the "You've Got a Friend in Me" at the beginning).

  • Patrick McEvoy-Halston says:

    Re #5: It's not so much that they're not needed, but that they don't fit his understanding of himself as one of the chosen still permitted the path of blue skies, clipped yards and picket fences; college on; the full realization of the American dream. Bringing one precious toy with him would just show anyone who happened inside his dorm room that he came from the right past of involved parents and idyllic (romanced traditional) childhood interests and attachments. Bringing the whole horde would suggest he's too much akin to those broken who won't now find their way to college (increasingly, probably not even the full way through high school), who cannot but now cling to everything with some, with even the faintest bit of, friendly link, as the threat of abandonment or disaster can never now be pushed far enough away from conscious presence to not seem an any-moment possibility.
    Re #4: Andy's mom is acting out the drama of son departing for college, in just the fashion all mothers continue to dream of acting out -- because of its resonance of family fitness, healthiness, job-well-done-election -- but which we all know and sense that fewer and fewer will able to realize. The mother's look inside the barren room is today's version of Marie's "let them eat cake." Sad indeed.
    Re #3: Woody is still infused with a sense of election, from proving to have the stuff to be the only toy to find uncompromising relevance in Andy's movement along the right path, his shift away from all that might compromise him. "Bullseye, you're just so sad. Just like a kid, you were always too dependent: no would-be emerging adult in this biting world wants to be reminded of having once been THAT vulnerable. May you find solace in the trash -- but whatever you dumb clinging pony: just find some way out of my sight. ... Now that's a good pony."
    Re #2: Sad, because we all know it's a result of Woody's naive sudden trust of the bear-thing (what happened to the Woody who took like forever to accept the spaceman?), which seems strangely out of character, and possibly therefore born of some kind of death-wish, willingness, desire to be placed in a situation where you'll be sacrificed. Last straw, or the realization of foremost desire? I suspect the later; may no Afghanistan-bound young American see this film lest s/he believe solace, group camaraderie, sweet resting home and eternal acceptance, lies in letting oneself passively be drawn into its inner, urgent, hungry maw.
    Re #1: The toys go to Bonnie, and get a 5-year reprieve -- until she discovers boys. After that they'll need a savy PR spider to join their cause and "spin them" as the "most specialest of toys," so as to give them some chance of not being donated to some of the increasing numbers of mongoloid, bent kids, who will obliterate themselves once they've finished off everything before them, and whose mothers cannot but call thrift stores their home.

  • Lujah says:

    Oh Man that scene at the landfil where they look at each other an then hold hands in acceptance of their end was so sad, intense and just amazing. Sealed the movie as an Instant classic for me. The Claw FTW.

  • LickyDisco says:

    Re the above post: Um, whatever?
    One of the best lines from "Postcards From the Edge" came from Mary Wickes when she was in the hospital watching as Shirley Maclain's and Meryl Streep's characters were bawling and sqwaling over something she had said to them: "Go ahead and cry, you'll pee less later." Well, after watching "Toy Story 3" on Friday, I didn't have to pee until Saturday...and I'm 50. Oh, Pixar, I love you so.

  • LickyDisco says:

    (Pssst...not your post, Lujah, Halston's. You and I posted at almost the same time.)

  • A.C. says:

    It's amazing how this movie affected everyone in similar ways. It takes powerful storytelling to craft something this well received. (And a well-deserved reception it is!) I really hope that Oscar voters remember this movie when it comes time to cast their ballots. For the first time ever, I think an animated movie stands a good chance at winning Best Picture.

  • Lem says:

    "because we all know it's a result of Woody's naive sudden trust of the bear-thing (what happened to the Woody who took like forever to accept the spaceman?), which seems strangely out of character..."
    Nope, not out of character...he saved Lotso because he was going to die. It would have been out of Woody's character to watch a helpless toy die.

  • keslie says:

    The 1st and 2nd ones made me cry like a baby! I couldn't hold the tears back.

  • Patrick McEvoy-Halston says:

    It was meant to play out as Woody being (apparently) doomed, for being in the moment immediately receptive and trusting (and therefore the considered play of the bear being wide-eyed frightened, pinned, weak, and vulnerable). He wasn't principled though begrudging, but naive and trusting: simple; from my remembered sense of him, this isn't the Woody from the first two films, who could get wickedly upset when his friends fall for simple charms. Not meant for the real world is this Woody, whose innocent gallantry could make him fall for the first deception a slickster puts in his way.

  • Jen says:

    I would have to add the moment when Big Baby saw his little heart with Daisy's name on it and said "Mama?" That one got me too.

  • duane says:

    Wow. You use a lot of big fancy words.
    But it doesn't disguise that you're wrong.
    The Woody of the first film isn't cynical. He's assured because of his place. When he loses that place to Buzz, he's angry (like a small child) but grows to realize that trusting and placing his trust in another (Buzz) is his only hope of salvation.
    The Woody of the second film BEGINS the movie saying that no toy gets left behind. Woody wouldn't abandon anyone, and is quick to even give Stinky Pete a chance at happiness with Andy. He is truly shocked when Pete betrays that trust.
    The Woody who gives Lotso a reprieve is a culmination of Woody's journey from self-assured ruler of the roost to loving and caring leader of the toy family, and one who believes that every toy should get a chance.
    Which is why your analysis is wrong.

  • Patrick McEvoy-Halston says:

    Thanks for the great counter -- particularly your Stinky Pete example, which I admit I don't remember all that well, and will have to look at again. Examples aside, though, my overall sense of Woody as someone too worldly-wise and adult -- and sometimes cynical -- to not only feel the need to urgently rescue Lotso but to trust him to rescue them rather than once again deceive and abandon them, was established in the first film, with his long exasperation at everyone elses' idiotic simple trust and naivety (their pre-schoolness), their dumb eager willingness to fall for what should be the most obvious of scams. In TS 3, his instant naivety was meant to make him seem too innocent to thrive, and make their rescue and new home more salvation-like and cling-worthy -- you weren't thinking of the games they were going to enjoy, but simply that they'll have the mercy of a few more years away from the curb.

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