Echos of Smartmom’s life in ‘Toy Story’

for The Brooklyn Paper
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You would have thought they’d be tired. Indeed, the humidity was incredibly high and the family had spent much of the day outside. Smartmom trudged up and down Seventh Avenue for the street fair, the Oh So Feisty One was out with her friends; Hepcat went to see the Red Bull air races in New Jersey.

And Teen Spirit, no fool he, stayed in all day in the air conditioning.

They all came home hot and sweaty. Zapped by the humidity, Smartmom took a long nap. OSFO just stood next to the air conditioner and drank a tall glass of cold lemonade.

You would have thought they’d be toast by the time they ate the Smartmom-made Father’s Day dinner: chicken and vegetables in Calcutta Kitchen’s delicious Masala simmering sauce.

You would have thought they’d be ready for bed but someone — Smartmom thinks it was Hepcat — made the suggestion.

And then Smartmom googled it and found out if it was within the realm of possibility.

“It’s playing at 10:05 at the Pavilion,” Smartmom said aloud.

“Let’s go,” OSFO said.

Smartmom and Hepcat eyed each other cautiously. Their 13-year-old daughter, who barely ever wants to be with them, just agreed to do something with them. Silently, they were shocked and thrilled and ever so careful not to mess up this incredible opportunity.

They were about to have a high-quality family experience even if it was 10 o’clock on a school night.

“Let’s call Eastern,” Hepcat said, wasting no time and dialing the ubiquitous car service as Smartmom ordered the tickets online.

Waiting for the car downstairs, Smartmom wondered if she’d make it through the movie. The night was still thick with humidity, and she felt like if she closed her eyes she might fall asleep. She looked at her watch and suddenly felt completely irresponsible. They were taking their 13-year-old to a 10:05 movie on a Sunday.

“This is kind of crazy,” Smartmom told OSFO as they got into the car. OSFO shrugged. She seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. Smartmom wondered if any of her neighbors saw them going out.

As if by Disney magic, they were transported to a movie theater on Prospect Park West. Nearing the theater, Smartmom realized that she’d forgotten her wallet (and the credit card they’d purchased their tickets with) and they had to drive back to Third Street. Hepcat ran upstairs, got the wallet and they were back on their way to the Pavilion reminiscing about “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2.”

“You weren’t even born when the first one came out. I remember seeing it with Teen Spirit in Manhattan,” Smartmom told OSFO.

“And the second one. You were just 2-years-old. You sat in my lap at the Cobble Hill Cinema. Do you remember?”

OSFO didn’t even bother to answer that one.

That’s when Smartmom realized that going to see “Toy Story 3” at 10 pm on a Sunday night on the weekend on which it opened made sense. The first two were markers in their lives, memories of wonderful movies they’d first seen in movie theaters and then lived with over the years on video and DVD.

Smartmom cried with 8-year-old Teen Spirit during the scene when Jesse reminisces about her first owner, Emily, and Sarah Mclaughlin sings, “When Somebody Loves You.”

Smartmom’s tears became a family joke. The second or third time they saw the movie in a theater Teen Spirit looked Smartmom’s way during that sequence to see if she was crying. Yup.

There’s something about these films that delight and touch very deeply. They manage to be so deep and so funny and so …

Hepcat and Smartmom became Pixar fans the first time they saw Luxo, Jr. at Siggrap (short for Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques) in Dallas in 1987. This was Pixar pre-Steve Jobs, pre-Disney. This was Pixar, the great innovators in 3-D animation, making wacky short films about inanimate object.

“Toy Story 3” at 10 pm on a Sunday night did not disappoint. In fact, Smartmom was enthralled from start to finish. There is barely a moment that is not infused with creative genius. The characters are as rich and deep as ever and hilarious in their physicality and personality: Woody with his big eyes and penchant for heroism and loyalty; the oh so feisty and wonderful Jesse; the loopy Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head; Dino, voiced by Wallace Shawn, in full neurosis mode; and the very smooth and brave Buzz Lightyear, who doesn’t believe that he is just a child’s play thing.

Andy, the owner of the toys, is off to college now and that resonated with Smartmom big time. She so wished that Teen Spirit had been with them, but he was performing at Public Assembly. Besides, he’s off to college in September.

Andy’s sister keeps talking about getting his room when he leaves. That rang a bell, too. OSFO is determined to take over Teen Spirit’s room when he leaves. Andy’s mother tells him to pack up his room.


And the toys. What is to become of them? They have to face the fact that Andy is growing up. He hasn’t played with them in years, so this story actually conveys so much emotion and humor about the human condition, the passage of time and the pain of letting go of that which we hold dear.

It’s harrowing at times, and always existential. Seeing the toys on the verge of annihilation in a landfill dump is almost too much to bear.

But it’s the movies, thank goodness. And at 11:30 or so when the credits rolled, Smartmom and her brood were delivered to a beautiful and redemptive scene.

It may have been 11:30 on a school night, but Smartmom knew that she’d just seen another children’s masterpiece from a trilogy right up there with the greatest kids classics of all time.

Louise Crawford, a Park Slope mom, also operates “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.”
Updated 5:18 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bridgette from Park Slope says:
Wow, your life is just like a movie - it's toy story, with a touch of sexy the city, and a sort of crying game style surprise ending.
You are a star! Star mom :-)
June 23, 2010, 7:06 am

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