Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 (2010): United States – directed by Lee Unkrich

Rated G by the MPAA – contains some action

Pixar hasn’t fooled around much with sequels, outside of Toy Story 2 [review here].  And why should they, with so many unique and original ideas?  But there was a story lingering after the second Toy Story movie, one aimed at those who were children when Toy Story [review here] was first released.  As the audience grew, so did Andy (John Morris).

In Toy Story 3 Andy is about to head off to college.  He is now a young man, responsible and caring, even if his younger sister still bugs him and his mom embarrasses him at times.  He’s faced with a difficult decision; does he pack up and store all the toys he used to enjoy, or take them off to college with him?  Or does he merely throw them all away?

Thanks to a misunderstanding the toys get mixed up, with the majority of them being donated to a daycare center.  Here they are warmly greeted,  especially Barbie (Jodi Benson), by Ken (Michael Keaton) and the leader of the Sunnyside Daycare toys, Lotso (Ned Beatty).  But not everything is as hunky dory as it seems and the toys are soon relegated to the preschoolers, where they are  constantly drooled on and torn apart.  All of them except Woody (Tom Hanks), who ended up in Andy’s college packing.

Woody heads up an effort to rescue the toys after he learns that not everything is as simple and clean at the daycare as it appears.  Lotso is merely the head of a brutal gang of toys that works to ensure that order is maintained and only the newest toys get decimated by the preschool horde.

The opening scene of Toy Story 3 is the strongest, as the audience is immediately immersed in the Wild West.  Sheriff Woody is chasing down a train full of innocents that has been commandeered by the nefarious Potato Head (Don Rickles).  The scene is gorgeous and alive, with detailed scenery and fluid action.  As a vital bridge explodes there is a savior from the skies, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), who teams up with Woody to put a stop to the evil plans of Hamm (John Ratzenberger).

In the middle of fantastic explosions and exciting chases, the scene dissolves to reveal cardboard sets and plastic spaceships, with a young Andy orchestrating everything from the center of the action.  This is how I played when I was little, with Lego’s that exploded and got cut in half at every opportunity.  But it was almost as real to me then as it appears to Andy.  And truthfully, isn’t that exactly what cinema accomplishes, for grown-ups?

There are other moving scenes through the film, and I know a great many people have cried at the ending.  But there is a scene (and major spoilers may lie ahead) that moved me even more, as the toys are facing their inevitable death at the hands of the incinerator.  There’s a moment of understanding between all of them where they accept their fate and relinquish themselves to the fact that they will perish.  But they will perish together, and that is where they find their comfort and peace.

Toy Story 3, more than the previous entries, blends adult emotion with exhilarating action.  But there is a great deal of action, and a great deal of detail for those willing to peruse the backgrounds of every scene.  Much of the film is reminiscent of The Great Escape [review here], and that certainly isn’t a bad thing.  The characters are all present and accounted for, and occupy their standard roles in the gang of toys.

The film looks amazing; I’m not sure another animated film has equaled Toy Story 3.  The 3D is natural and subtle, adding a pleasant textured look to the whole film.  This may not appease people hoping for constant “pop outs,” but there are other 3D films to satisfy those urges.  The entire movie is pleasant and enjoyable, and it’s hard to find any flaws.  My only concern is the ending.  It is touching and appropriate, but also seems a bit forced and unnatural.  It is odd to see Andy act as he does in the last scene, and I felt distanced from the emotionality because it seemed strange to have a teenager act this way.  But this is a relatively minor concern, as Toy Story 3 is a resounding success and worthy of its critical and commercial success.

4 thoughts on “Toy Story 3

  1. Jeff (Second Reel)

    “But there is a scene (and major spoilers may lie ahead) that moved me even more, as the toys are facing their inevitable death at the hands of the incinerator. There’s a moment of understanding between all of them where they accept their fate and relinquish themselves to the fact that they will perish. But they will perish together, and that is where they find their comfort and peace.”

    Perfectly said. I thought this was one of the best moments in the movie, and while I suspected it couldn’t be the end of the toys, I was entirely prepared to accept it as the end of the film.

    Definitely had moments of Great Escape, and I also liked the quick references to Mission: Impossible (when Woody falls out of the tree and is saved from hitting the ground by his pull-string) and Return of the Jedi (when Big Baby — a great, weird character — picks up Lotso, Vader-like, and throws him in the trash).

    I missed this in the movie, but I just noticed in your still above how the hearts on the window are placed right between Barbie and Ken. This is a superficial example of Pixar’s deep success: they mind the details (and they don’t start shooting until they have locked down a really great story).

  2. Tim Irwin Post author

    To be honest, I didn’t notice the hearts above Ken and Barbie until you pointed them out. You are most certainly right, though; Pixar’s attention to minutiae consistently provides additional depth to each of their films, no more so than in “Toy Story 3.”

  3. Scotty 3

    This movie was really good. I gotta go back and watch the others in order to determine which I like the best. What got me most about Toy Story 3, though, were the religious allegories throughout the movie.

    Spoilers ahead:

    For example, Woody (Jesus) reminds the other lonely toys that they’ll remain together together when Andy(God) puts them all in the attic(Heaven), but all the other toys feel betrayed by and denounce Andy when they end up on the curb by mistake, so they end up at the abusive daycare center (Hell). Then, as if it wasn’t obvious, Lotso taunts “Where is your kid(God) now?” before sending them to their fiery fate in the incinerator.

    I found this to be really interesting that Pixar added these kind parallels into the movie. My friend I saw this with, who is a rabid Pixar fan, says he believes Wall-E is somewhat based off of Noah’s Ark and Adam & Eve. Just something interesting I noticed that I think added another nice level of depth to the movie.

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