Movie villains are best when they smell of strawberries

Meet Lot-so-Huggin Bear. He just might be on your little one’s Christmas wish list this year. After all, who could resist a pink, lovable, huggable bear that seems to want endless hugs and endless love? He’s the teddy bear of your child’s dreams; He’s also a toy’s worst nightmare.

In the world of potentially evil toys, you’d think the good ol people at Pixar would have picked one of the most scary looking things they could find as their super villain in Pixar’s Toy Story 3, but instead they go with Lotso Bear. Lotso Bear is a the friendly on the outside, evil on the inside bear at Sunnyside Daycare.  Lotso rules the daycare with an iron fist (or in this case, a wooden mallet/walking stick) and has dominion over all the toys that have been donated to the place over the years.

Over the years, we’ve bonded with Woody and Buzz Lightyear and friends and so Pixar gave us one more chance to see where the toys go once Andy is all grown up. Woody and pals end up being donated to a daycare by mistake and suddenly find themselves in a seemingly heavenly place filled with play time. Little do they know, they will quickly find themselves wanting to return home to Andy once they find out the toddlers abuse toys!

Perhaps what works the best in Toy Story 3 is their villain of choice, Lotso Bear. An aged bear that smells of strawberries and seems welcoming and grandfatherly turns out to be a nightmarish foe for Woody and friends. You see, Lotso has control over the daycare and that means everyone pays their dues in the toddler room. Those that make it out in one piece eventually graduate to the big kid play area controlled by Lotso and his minions. And with Lotso keeping the place on lock down once the day care closes, no one disobeys his word.

Of course Lotso isn’t the only exciting part of the film, but he is perhaps the most interesting character to look at. Once a bear who loved everyone, he feels like he was discarded by his owner and is now filled with bitter rage. It’s hard not to love the crotchety old bear as one moment he is the nicest bear in the world, and the next a spitfire of pent up anger. Lotso may be evil, and in the end doesn’t really have a moment of redemption; None the less, you do feel for him. After all, Lotso has lived a tough life and it’s tough for everyone can agree with his tactics.  However,  he’s acting like this because he has  put up a a wall to protect himself from the hurt of being replaced. Perhaps it’s the fact that Lotso isn’t a redeeming character that makes him such a great character. Toy Story 3 points out that in the real world, not everyone has a change of heart. There are just bad people, or in this case just lousy Lotso Bears.

While Toy Story 3 falls right in line with its predecessors, I really felt that this one strives to be something more. I loved how Pixar focused on how much the toys missed being part of now grown up Andy’s life, and would do anything (including stealing Andy’s phone) just to be touched again. Of course one could go on for hours about the little things Pixar does to make you laugh, such as a the little army men, who declare “playtime mission accomplished”, and accept their 17 year fate by heading to the trash. After all, if you think about it, the little green army men are always the first to get tossed out once you are older and sorting toys! They mention the loss of toys to yard sales such as a departure of Bo Peep and Etch and quickly make you feel like Pixar’s Toy Story world emulates real life. Toys come and go, but Andy’s favorites still are there for him.

As we finally say goodbye to Andy, I realized how old I truly was- but I look back over the years at the Toy Story saga and cherish the great care Pixar has taken in great story telling and great films . It would have been so easy for them to crank out direct to DVD sequel after sequel, but Pixar knows better than to do that. They’ve made film that is a perfect companion piece for the now adults that grew up with Woody and at the same time made a film entertaining enough for the wee ones.

As you’re filling the world with Christmas cheer this holiday season, why not fill a stocking with a copy of Toy Story 3 on DVD. And while you are at it, toss a Lotso Bear under the tree. After all what child wouldn’t want a lovable, huggable, cute and cuddly, evil bear to play with on Christmas morn?

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