Message to men: Yes, it's okay to cry at 'Toy Story 3'

toy-story-3-videoImage Credit: Disney/PixarToday’s EW poll about Toy Story 3 (“Did you cry?”) prompts me to make a little confession of my own. At the screening of the movie I attended, I was seated directly between a couple of EW colleagues who are both good friends — a pleasant situation that, by the end, turned just a little bit uncomfortable when I realized how hard I was working to conceal my tears. Now don’t get me wrong: I’ve cried at a lot of movies in my time, it’s not really that big a deal — and in this case, besides, I knew I had my trusty 3-D mega-glasses to hide behind. But what you have to understand is that when it comes to my reaction to Toy Story 3, I’m not just talking about shedding a tear or two, or having that Brian’s Song lump in the throat. I’m talking about that soppy, awkward thing where you make sounds. Even in our huggy-sensitive post-New Age it’s-okay-for-men-to-cry culture, I was, quite frankly, a little bit embarrassed. So now, with the hope and cause of transcending my shame, I would like to own up to my inner sap and ask my fellow weepie male moviegoers to join me in saying: I cried at Toy Story 3, and it’s okay!

There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now have a cookie.

I think I know why Toy Story 3 gets to me — and, from all evidence, a lot of other men — on that primal sniffle level. I can’t talk about it, though, without plunging right into the end of the movie. So please, if you haven’t already seen it, stop reading. I have no desire to spoil your pleasure.

The thing about the end of Toy Story 3 is that it works on so many layers. It doesn’t so much push buttons as touch little themes and bubbles of emotion that have been planted throughout the movie. On the simplest level, of course, the ending is a homecoming, with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang finally finding a place for themselves — finding, that is, a child, a little girl named Bonnie (voiced by Emily Hahn), to be their newly devoted owner and playmaster and friend. It’s a classic happy finale: They’ve been rescued from the darkness and given a home. That’s enough to give you that Lassie Come Home three-hankie feeling right there. Andy’s introduction of each of the toys to Bonnie, as he moves on to adulthood, is a series of little heart tugs: nostalgia and loss and friendship and and rebirth, all at the same time.

As always, the desire and goal of the film’s chattering menagerie of toy pals is, quite simply, to be played with, and that in itself is such a highly delicate and unusual and touching force to encounter in the heroes of a kids’ movie. It’s just so…generous. (They’re like faithful, eager-to-play pups who come with their own toy-size, squabbling, play-act version of the egos of humans.) It’s what’s always been so moving about the Toy Story toys: that they’re programmed, in their plastic and polyster DNA, to be part of something larger than themselves — to do everything in their power to make a kid glow with delight. When Woody decides to stay with the gang, rather than go off to college with Andy, he’s affirming his very destiny as a plaything. He has to abandon the owner whose favorite toy he was to be the true toy he is.

By the end of Toy Story 3, however, we’ve come to see that Woody and the rest really are old-school toys, scuffed and battered plastic relics from a lost era. There’s something a little sad about them. They’re dolls and action figures and rigid little animal models; with the possible exception of Buzz, they barely have moving parts — they don’t do anything. The universe of this kind of toy really came into being in the early 1960s (which is when I got my first Mr. Potato Head), and even Buzz, the spaceman, now seems a “futuristic” figure out of the past. However old and classic these toys may have been in 1995, when the original Toy Story came out, they seem much, much older now, in an age when toys are often digital games and gizmos that flash and dazzle and light up.

But here’s the thing: The new wave of toys is so techno-magical, so advanced, that a lot of them basically do the work for you. They practically do have lives of their own. And that’s where the ending of Toy Story 3 touches something profoundly tender and heartfelt that’s worth getting all choked up over. The movie’s toy heroes seem forever innocent because the kind of play they inspire is innocent. With a Sheriff Woody figure, who does nothing but look straight ahead and say stuff like “There’s a snake in my boot!” when you pull his string, his glory, paradoxically, is that he himself does nothing — that he depends on a child’s imagination to animate him.

That’s the spirit that technology is now taking out of our world. Which is why the ending of Toy Story 3, in which little Bonnie starts to play with those toys, is more than a cuddly sentimental homecoming. It says: That spirit of imagination hasn’t gone out of our world — it’s there every time a child picks up an inanimate object of fun and sees, feels, experiences the hidden life in it. The fact that the movie’s snips-and-snails-and-puppy-dog-tails collection of ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s objects have passed from Andy to Bonnie makes its own statement. It’s saying that girls now own the keys to the rough-and-tumble imaginative kingdom as proudly as boys once did. In its way, it’s a passing of the torch.

But for the men, like me, who grew up with cowboys and soldiers and spacemen and Mr. Potato Head and a Barrel of Monkeys, there’s something deeply special and transporting about seeing those toys find a second life in the new century. It says that they — and we — are going to be okay. As long as we remember that our inner child isn’t what we’re told, but what we invent.

So time to fess up: Who among the men out there cried at Toy Story 3? And what was it that got to you?

Comments (487 total) Add your comment
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  • Allen from Austin

    In some reviews I read I beleive they were getting the ending all wrong… Woody let Andy go.. so he could stay with the gang.. and Yes I did cry.

    • dave

      @Allen from Austin

      Your g&y

      • Steve

        @dave
        It’s “you’re g&y”. Unless you were signing off with an implicit offer to be his g&y. Which would make you g&y.

      • bkwurm1

        dave, you are a clod and apparently threatened in your own manhood.

        Allen, you got it right. Woody let go of Andy every bit as much as Andy did Woody.

      • mikel

        You cried at a Kid’s movie. You are not only g&y, but super g&y.

      • Chris

        Seems to me, that (according to the other posts here) that you are outnumbered. Thank goodness for that!

      • Chris Price

        Don’t feed the trolls

      • f_ckyoudave

        are you happy with yourself dave? you’re the one who’s gay and childish giving out “macho” comments.. shhh get a life!

      • @steve

        that is hilarious!!

      • davesboyfriend

        Dave please stop. When we were at the movie, you cried too. Remember holding my hand while I grabbed you a tissue.

      • JoseOle

        First of all crying as a man is not bad. Second the end of Field of Dreams gets me everytime. If you say you didn’t cry when he shares a catch with his dad, then either you’re a liar, or your father hated you.

      • daves best amigo

        i though u cam out of the closet lat month?!?!?

      • GregR

        Ha HA!

      • JPX

        Sigh. Dave’s “your g&y” comment reminded me of every jerk in junior high who liked to bully the smarter kids. Isn’t it amazing that Dave can’t even use proper grammar with the two words he writes? Dave, it’s not “your g&y”, it’s you’re g&y”. I’m not surprised by your dumbness. You may now return to the schoolyard and give more wedgies. Man, Toy Story 3 rocked, didn’t it people?!

      • LOL WUT

        What the hell is a g and y? Gandy?
        I’m so confused

      • bengalaxy

        @dave:

        HAHA! HAHAHAHAAHHH! HAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH!

        You are such a brainless idiot that you don’t even know what you wrote there. You don’t see it, do you? Oh the irony, the sweet, sweet irony.

        Wow. That was the best laugh I’ve had all day.

      • William

        Dave you just made yourself look like a self-absorbed tool. Women actually appreciate a human being not just some guy named Dave who thinks he’s tough because he thinks Toy Story is for kids. Seems like you still haven’t grown up, and Andy and all the toys did. :\

      • killdave

        shut up dave ur the only one who is acting like a girl

    • poop

      Okay I’m not going to lie, I’ve never cried during a movie before. And I’ve seen a lot of movies. But, to tell you the truth, I cried during Toy Story 3. Not once, not twice, but three times. I did’t what it was, but that movie struck a chord, and Owen, your’e right on everything. I was embararassed. I knew people had cried during this movie went I went to go see it. But I did’t think I would.

      • dave

        you’re three times a b*tch!

      • Woot

        seriously dave? it’s not even funny.

      • Julia

        I didn’t expect to cry, but I did and my kids were surprised. I cried because I felt as the mother did, looking around at Andy’s “baby” room that he had grown up and would never really come back. I cried because I remember what it was like when I had to put my own toys away forever…it was a chore, but I also had the sense that my childhood was ending. I also cried because I remembered the sheer joy of just pretending.

        I wish I could play that way with my own kids, but I suppose I’ve been a grown-up just a bit too long. I can read with them and hear their stories, but sitting down to play pretend and zoom around, that’s harder.

        Beautiful movie.

    • Rashad

      I didn’t cry, but my eyes did get teary. So technically I guess I did cry…lol. Toy Story 3 was GREAT!!

    • Stacy

      This was such a great story and they ended it so well, I got teary-eyed in the end too.

      I found this article using Buzzdock realtime search.

    • Wolfric

      I watched the movie on my Computer, and yes, I did cried to that ending, really cried, awesome movie, and nostalgic.

  • Nivan

    Oh give me a break. Really? men have been crying for ages now. Maybe this country would be better if we tried swing the damn compass point back a little from the non stop overly female emotional society we know have. Jesus I am female and guess what I don’t see any men who have an issue crying. So please don’t ruin a beautiful movie by making it about that nonsense

    • Dahlia

      A blog post admitting that a male reviewer cried at a movie and it’s okay is nonsense? That’s not being overly emotional, it’s being honest. Oh, and learn how to use punctuation.

      • Andrew Thompson

        Actually, it’s 80s stuff. Or even 70s. Who really cares? We don’t need anymore advice saying ‘men can cry’ we already know it now. “Message to men…..” it’s condescending. We know it!

      • Dahlia

        If you read some of the responses, apparently it’s not condescending. It’s permission.

    • Anne

      Uh, decaf, maybe?

      • crispy

        This movie didn’t have Justin Bieber, so it wasn’t good, so I didn’t cry.. geez some people these days.

    • Dave

      Nivan is a moron

      • bringbackrocky

        Can we start a poll and confirm that it’s Dave that’s the moron and no one else posting here?

      • bringbackrocky

        Sorry – I meant dave (with a small “d”) who’s the moron. Not Dave.

    • Peg

      Nivan, look at all the responses here calling people g@y for crying and then tell me that it’s nonsense to talk about it and say, it’s okay. I don’t know where you come from, but most men I know are still very embarrassed to show emotional honesty and they do need reminders that it’s okay.

      • ajstandsforsomething

        I actually think it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world for a man to cry. A real man, in my opinion, isn’t caught up with society’s “macho man” idea. It really is okay for a man to cry. It’s actually really immature to think that a man is gay if he cries. And pretty rude to use the word “gay” with a negative connotation. Love is love. It holds no special requirements.

    • Muffy

      Some women never cry. But society keeps telling use men are not supposed cry, and women always cry.

  • Chichi

    My husband sat through most of the movie stoned faced, then one of our boys began crying and he began to cry.

  • ManlyMan

    I don’t know how “manly” this will be but I got choked up reading the Little Golden Book adaption to my four year old son prior to seeing the movie, for all the reasons you indicated above. I was deeply touched and reminded of the fun I had with my action figures growing up.

  • Robert

    My girlfriend & I saw this on Sunday, and we were both bawling towards the end. It’s rare that Pixar does anything that doesn’t bring out the tears. They just seem to know how to perfectly play on our heartstrings, and I for one, welcome it.

    • Daniel Saunders

      Agreed. When I saw it yesterday i saw it on my 18th birthday, with my mom, and just two months before i go to college. She was bawling, and i was crying too.

      • Donna

        I know your mom was a mess! I sent my daughter off to college last year and I was a sobbing fool. That’s why this movie got to me!!!!!! Tell your mom to hang in there!!! :-)

  • Jack

    To me, as a twentysomething I was hit more by the themes of growing up and moving on, leaving childhood behind, etc. I still recall my leaving home for college and even leaving college and entering the “real world”, that little gasp that Andy gives as Bonnie goes for Woody is what got me. I know I, and I’m sure most people my age, have that one thing from their childhood that they either still have because they’re so fond of it, or they just don’t want to let go of it.
    Loved the movie, love anything Pixar…this one spoke a lot to my generation because we’re the ones who grew up with the first two and can all relate to what Andy was going through (and the toys with the moving on aspect)…I’ll fess up to teary eyes.

    • Dave

      I agree, Jack. It was more of the leaving childhood behind that got me emotional. And I was a little emotional at the scene when thay all joined hands being resigned to their impending doom at the dump.

      • Ashtin

        I agree Dave. I held it together until that scene at the Dump. Then I had to pretend not to notice my girlfriend looking at me as I tried to stealthily wipe away the tears.

      • Tony

        The dump scene was when I lost it, too. Trying to hide tears from a 17, 15, and 14 year old is impossible.

      • Matt

        i agree with both of you guys, I’m 17, the same age Andy is in this movie. I still have 1 year left of highschool but canr relate because I’m starting to feel like i have to start leaving my childhood behind soon. I nearly cried,it was emotional. I loved the movie though

      • Matthew

        And the fire pit too

    • John A

      Absolutely! I was 5 when the first movie came out and Andy was, what, 6? And this time around I was 20 while Andy was 17. As much as the lessons and themes were relevant for people of all ages, I definitely felt a special connection to them, as I’m sure many people in their early twenties felt too. There were tears :).

      • Brady

        I’m the same as you, John. I was 6 when Toy Story came out and I remember seeing it in theaters opening weekend. Now I’m 20, I’ve gone off to college, and the ending of Toy Story 3 definitely hit me hard. I cried. I’m pretty sure that half of the theater was crying, too. There were a lot of sniffles.

      • So True

        My 21 year old daughter saw the original in the theaters as a child as well and genius is that after all this time you remember the joy and love you felt for these characters and how smart of Pixar to allow them to age along with you all! And how human of you to allow yourself to feel emotion, I wish her boyfriend could be as open and honest!

      • Elizabeth

        I was 9 when the movie first came out so I am completely with you on this one. I feel like I sort of grew up with Andy. It was such a great movie!

    • Heather

      I totally agree. I’m also a 20-something and leaving for college, which included cleaning out old toys, clothes, etc is still fresh in my mind. I couldn’t hold it together when Andy is going through the memories of each toy. We were just kids when the first Toy Story came up so the nostalgia is relevant for us as well!

      • Ilan

        I watched the first toy story when I was 8. Now I’m 23 and I gotta tell you…that last scene made me cry and sob almost uncontrollably. At first I tried to understand why, but then I just let go and felt that emotion of letting go off the innocence of childhood. Powerful movie.

    • Mary

      I’m with you in the twenty-something boat. I remember seeing the first Toy Story in theaters when I was a 10 year old kid. Now, 15 years later, I’m a “grown up,” yet the movie still felt magical to me. In fact, I’m glad I got to experience this movie as an adult, I can’t really explain it, it just felt so poignant to me.

      And not only did I (a woman) cry, but my boyfriend admitted to tearing up as well.

    • Kelly

      I completely agree, I think it can reach everyone on that level. I had all of these flashbacks in the very beginning of the movie where Molly just carelessly throws some toys into the donation box and when Andy ignores the pile of toys in the trunk. It’s as if you are well aware at that point that they’re inanimate objects but since it wasn’t that long ago that they were real to you, they wait in the “attic” of your mind like a lingering piece of childhood. I agree though, when Bonnie is so excited to see Woody and Andy realizes he has to let go, that’s exactly the point where I started to cry. Every adult can relate to that, with toys, or any object for that matter that had to be removed in order to grow up. Every one of these movies has a specific theme about the relationship between kids and toys which tug at the nostalgic side of all of us. It’s the reality that says, “sometimes, you gotta let go.”

    • Lachlan

      Yeah I totally agree with Jack. I moved out of home 6 months ago, and one of the first things you have to do is figure out what you’re going to do with all the stuff you had lying around your room from when you were younger. All your childhood toys and books that you used to play with. You really do have to figure out where you’re going to put your childhood. I blubbed when Andy gave his toys away, because it’s like bringing y one chapter of your life to a close. I put all my toys in the attic, though!

  • Hope Martin

    I think it’s beautiful and manly for guys to cry it shows us women they have hearts and emotions like us but show it differently.

    • Oh Hope

      Everyone, Hope’s comment makes me laugh. “Beautiful?” No. I think men who cry are so ugly, it’s like those lines in that Rihanna song.

      • Carolyn

        Ugly? Really? Wow-that’s harsh…

      • So True

        Yes Rihanna knows how to pick real men LOL

      • Hope Martin

        @Oh Hope Thanks I’m glad you got a laugh out of it but everyone can have an opinion.

      • TJ

        To “Oh Hope”…Simply put, you’re a moron.

      • bengalaxy

        Rihanna, eh?

        There’s a great example of how to pick a good man.

    • AnneL

      When my husband and I were dating we went to see “East of Eden”, and he got a little teary-eyed. I fell in love with him instantly, irrevocably, and forever. It is beautiful.

    • Elizabeth

      Agreed. :)

  • Jeremy

    I’m not gonna lie, a tear rolled down my cheek….when Andy’s mom walked into Andy’s now virtually empty room and realized that Andy wasn’t gonna be there anymore my mom who I was sitting next to went to pieces.

    My little brother is Andy’s age and is going away to college in the fall, my mom lost it and it broke my heart. So many mannerisms of brother I see in Andy…the way he slouched in his chair while he sat in his empty room to the way he becomes goofy and a little kid when he’s playing with the young girl.

    My brother has matched Andy step for step through the 3 movies…Toy Story 3 was the perfect ending for the series…To Infinity and Beyond guys…..to infinity and beyond….[we'll miss you all]

    • Andrew

      yeah my mom did too…because I’m moving away in a month and I’m pretty much like Andy…it was amazing

      • Daniel Saunders

        Same story, am going to college too this fall, and was with my mom.

      • henryt3

        I think it’s great you guys went to the movie with your moms. that rocks, seriously.

    • denny

      I’m so glad I didn’t see this with my mom, or else we both would have been absolute messes the whole damn night, starting with the scene when Andy’s mom says goodbye. As it is, I got a lump in my throat that scene, had tears trickling down my face when Andy gave the toys to Bonnie, and completely lost it – big, heaving SOBS, stuff coming out my nose, the whole nine yards – when Andy found Woody at the bottom of the box and decided to give him to Bonnie too.

      Sh!t, now I’m crying again just thinking about it.

      • paulo

        Yes u r right!
        I’m here tearing up just thinking and man I’m 52 years old..lol

      • Ulyssus

        LOL me too, age 32. It starts with laughing to myself about how this cartoon is playing me like a fiddle, and before I know it here come the waterworks again. This “cartoon” is playing with some powerful themes indeed.

      • krm

        If you held your tears during the first two scenes denny is talking about, it might not be a problem. But if you did not cry when Andy gave the decision to let Woody go, then you’ve got a problem…

    • ICRIED.

      To infinity, and beyond!

  • Ricky18

    If id been alone at the movies watching this,id be crying my a** off! Its the saddest movie ive EVER seen! It came out on my 18th bday so i felt emotional,like im never gonna get my childhood back:( This is now my favorite movie of ALL time!!! Im going to see it a third time!!!:)

    • Flynn

      When U have kids, u will see some of ur childhood return to u

  • Jamie

    Owen…damnit…you’ve got me crying again right now! I watched the film with my three children. My four year old girl sat in her own seat, my three month old daughter slept in her mother’s arms, and my two year old son sat in my lap the entire movie. And that’s why I cried…because like Andy, those moments don’t last forever.

    • LIGrrl

      It’s funny. I went with my 5yo and 7yo. They were the ones who I hid my tears from, because I didn’t have the words to tell them why. When Andy drove away is what put me over the top. I was ashamed of my tears until I looked around and saw other adults wiping their eyes too.

  • Paul

    I raise my hand and, without shame, add my name to the list of adult males who shed more than a couple tears at this movie. It was such a beautiful full-circle ending for the toys, while simultaneously being a beautiful transition ending for Andy’s childhood. Truly incredible.

  • Andrew

    I’m a 21 year old guy and I almost cried at the beginning when woody, Jessie, and Bullseye first showed up in that action scene because it brought SO MANY memories and so much enjoyment. I DID cry right after the fire scene and at the end…it was perfect…I smiled the entire movie! (even while I was crying haha) Oh, and I went with a group of ten people that were all around my age with the exception of two 15 year olds and we ALL laughed hysterically throughout and cried at the end of the movie….this is definitely the best!

  • Ricky18

    Well said Jeremy! Well miss u Woody and Buzz and the whole gang!!!! Thanks PIXAR,for this amazing series!!!

  • Johnification

    It’s a lot of things, and even if I didn’t consciously think of those broader societal connections, Owen, they were there inside me (I think Toy Story 2′s bygone-era-nostalgia-factor was a little stronger, seeing that shrine of ’50s stuff and thinking about how I just never even SAW that era of Americana).

    What made me cry was how awkward Andy let himself be at the end telling Bonnie all about each toy and why it was special to him, and then letting himself just play. Andy certainly wasn’t any kind of angsty teen, but him going back to that place was just very powerful for me.

  • Genuine

    I am a woman and I just cried reading all the comments here about the movie… Gotta go see it and buy the movie when it comes out my children will play it over a 1000 times..cant wait..Thanks for the comments

    • Thought i was the only one

      me too! i saw this movie w/ my 8-year old cousin and my 20 yr old sister (i’m 33.) and we all cried. this movie crosses every generation.

      • Evan

        Ive seen it twice now. The first time i took my mom out to see it. I am 17 now, and i have grown up with andy, woody, buzz and the gang and have always loved the toy story series. This was deffinately the best yet.
        It was VERY bittersweet for me the first time i saw it. At the scene where they all held hands when they thought they were going to be burnt was when i first felt the need to cry (although i never actually did). Then when Andy handed the toys over to Bonnie and drove off, i wanted to just starting SOBBING.It really hit me at that time that my childhood is now COMPLETELY over, as the past year i have gotten my license, got a car, got a job, about to be a senior in High School. This was great closure to one of the best series ever made, and even better a closure to my childhood.
        Thank you Pixar! Toy story 3 gets a 10/10 without a doubt.

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