As seventeen-year-old Andy prepares to leave for college, his toys worry about what the future holds for them. Woody (Tom Hanks) tries his best to convince the gang that they should retire to the attic in case Andy ever has kids of his own, though Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) sides with the majority’s idea of going to a daycare and being there for other children. The toys soon find Sunnyside Daycare less appealing than they had hoped, though they know deep down that they no longer have a place with Andy, either. Their journey confronts each of them with various questions of purpose, self-worth, how to let go, and the value of sticking together.
Toy Story 3 has a good deal of humor, but the overarching themes carry much more weight than the first two pictures. Toy Story 2 has the best balance of humor and sentiment, and to me is the best of the trilogy, but I don’t fault Pixar for tipping the scales on this last chapter. Goodbyes deserve to be rich and heartfelt, and Pixar summons phenomenal depth and emotion in this story about plastic characters. There’s one scene in particular that I’ll not dare describe except to say that it’s largely devoid of dialogue, meaning the animators provided the acting. As the toys looked into each others’ eyes and took each others’ hands, I could scarcely believe the power and poignancy of it.
On the humorous side, Pixar rolls out some gems, most notably the addition of Barbie’s famous beau, Ken (Michael Keaton). Ken’s personality absolutely nails the strangeness of representing the masculine ideal while ultimately being a girls’ toy. Other great laughs come when Mr. Potato Head inserts his parts and appendages into something other than his potato body and when Buzz Lightyear gets reset and wakes up speaking Spanish.
Coming on the heels of such heavy pictures as WALL•E and Up, I thought Toy Story 3 would mark a return to the light-hearted humor of old; boy, was I wrong. The subject matter of the series has grown up along with its viewership. The kids who saw the original in 1995 aren’t kids anymore, and though Toy Story fans of all ages will enjoy Toy Story 3, I feel like this film was made especially for those young adults who remember being awed by the original. I hope Toy Story 3 is the end of the road for these characters, because the journey ends exactly as it should (though I admit that I felt the same way about Toy Story 2). It’s a story about growing up, letting go, and the enduring power of friendship. Most everyone will love it, but while kids will mostly connect with the adventure and humor, parents would do well to take some tissues.
I saw Toy Story 3 in 3D and found that the 3D effect added little to the experience. I thought 3D was used very well in Up (and even in last year’s 3D re-release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2), but you might as well save the extra bucks this time around and see Toy Story 3 in a traditional format.
Also, Pixar continues its charming tradition of showing an animated short film before the movie, and this year’s Pixar short is one of the best they’ve ever done. It’s called Day & Night, and it wouldn’t even make sense if I tried to describe it here. Just trust me; it’s an incredibly innovative, heartwarming short, and it reaffirms Pixar’s greatness before Toy Story 3 even starts.
Click here to view the trailer.
For the Parents:
MPAA Rating: Rated G
There’s some suspense and peril here but nothing to worry about. Kids will totally eat this up, and so will you.