When I was in school, I always vaguely loathed the way teachers would try to reveal hidden 'layers' within a book. To me a book was about its plot and its characters- all the alleged symbolism and allegory that people were forever finding in books was more accidental than deliberate. Then again, in high school I believed all sorts of things that turned out to be untrue, starting with my belief that a moustache would suit my countenance perfectly.
I left the theater in 1995 after seeing the original Toy Story feeling strangely moved. I was only seven and probably didn't know who Tom Hanks was, never mind Tim Allen and Joan Cusack, but I did know – at least on a basic level of storytelling – that it was fantastic. As you age, nostalgia often has to compensate for quality (or lack thereof) in your perception of the books and movies you once loved. Suddenly Small Wonder isn't as hilarious as it once was. Tinkle is monotonous. Tom and Jerry is plain silly.
Toy Story, oddly, has always been the exception to the aforesaid rule. It is, perhaps, another of those works of art with 'layers'- there is more to it than meets the eye. There is a scene in the new instalment where Woody, Buzz and co. end up having to choose between a life of luxury at the day-care centre and a less-enjoyable one in the place they once called home. I have an odd feeling a large chunk of the largely-expatriate audience was reminded of the choices they had made themselves. Or perhaps that's just my month-long stay outside India getting to me.
The allegories don't end there. There is another scene that seemed straight out of 1984. And another that smacked of Holden Caulfeld-esque cynicism. Toy Story 3 is, in many ways, the most complete movie ever made.
Or perhaps I am just reading too much into a Pixar flick where toys talk, fall in love and do lots of other crazy stuff.