i am getting old and other non-news

I don’t keep in touch with many of my past students. While I’m sure my teaching in three states over the last five years has something to do with not being Mr. Warmth online, I mainly keep coming back to the fact that, over the years, I’ve become a big believer in a separation between “home life” and “school life”. I know many teachers who have the exact opposite opinion of me and I can’t say that they’re wrong. I share as much of my life as I can with my students in the classroom, but when it comes to kids MySpace messaging me, I draw the line.
That being said, I do have one student with whom I’ve made an exception and am friends with on Facebook. She was in the class of my first year of teaching in Brooklyn, although she never had me as a teacher. She’s a wonderful young lady and by all appearances is doing very well for herself. Although I had absolutely nothing to do with her success, I am proud of her. It’s a little shocking to me to think that the very first class I taught as a professional teacher is now of college age, but I am sure that is just the first of many such shocks like that for someone who’s planning on teaching for a long time.
A couple of days ago, she posted something on Facebook that got me thinking about a movie I just saw for the second time last night. Going to the movies once is rare for a parent of a two year old and a seven month old… going twice really means there was something about the flick that made it worth the while.
This girl said “Toy Story 3 is the official movie of the Class of 2010.”
I was fourteen when the original Toy Story hit theaters in 1995 and like most other people, I was wowed by it. I’ve been a lifelong fan of animation and cartoons, and Toy Story was a game changer. You could tell when you first saw it- not only was it a feast for the eyes, but the story was mind-blowingly good as well. I saw it many times in theaters. I bought a Buzz Lightyear action figure, the one that Pixar so deftly lampoons in Toy Story 2, wherein Tour Guide Barbie points out that “short-sighted retailers did not order enough dolls to meet demand.”
I loved Toy Story, I loved Toy Story 2… but I didn’t realize that my love of these movies was of a completely different brand from other peoples’ until I saw Toy Story 3.
You see, the kids I first taught in 2004…. they would have been four or five years old when the first Toy Story was in theaters. I may have loved the movie from the standpoint of a teenager who could appreciate the craft that went into its’ making, but for most of these kids, this was their movie. It was theirs. I think this is one of the reasons there are so many stories about movie goers coming out of Toy Story 3 weeping. The movie hits close to home for that generation of kids, with its themes of growing up, letting go, and moving on.
Toy Story 3 is interesting to me in a lot of ways, not all of them as wonderful as all that. It’s hard for me not to be cynical, I guess. There are parts of TS3 that seem so overstuffed with new toys that I couldn’t help but think “Wow, Disney’s going to be making toys of these background characters for YEARS after this is out on DVD.” Heck, even the presence of Barbie is indicative of how much this movie markets to kids- Mattel wouldn’t let Pixar TOUCH Barbie when Pixar wanted to use her in the first Toy Story movie. Now she’s up there, front and center.
Despite that, I think Pixar really nailed it. I hope they leave well enough alone and leave it as a trilogy, although I would have said I hoped they wouldn’t have made a third one a month ago, and this one turned out terrifically. I’m more a fan of what the company has announced, saying that they’re going to keep the brand alive with several short films to air in front of their future animated features- a Toy Story short will sit in front of Cars 2 in 2011 and make it one of the only reasons to go see a sequel to Cars that I can think of.
Anyhow, I started off simply to make the point that I think this movie means a lot to the students I worked with in my first year of teaching and then I went off on a bit of a tangent. If you haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet, it’s well worth your time… but not worth spending the extra money to see it in 3-D. I’m pretty unsold on 3-D movies, although I have enjoyed a few of them in the past few years. TS3 doesn’t really need the gimmick. Even in two dimensions, it’s got more depth than most of the movies that have come out this summer.

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