Bittersweet. Deft. Frequently hilarious. Brilliant. Moving.
These are the adjectives that I think describe Toy Story 3 best. I am proud to say that my 11-year-old and 9-year-old were visibly affected by this film and as we discussed it afterwards, they got emotional. Fair enough; so did I.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the movies. I thought the first two were perfectly lovely; they were deft and sentimental and very enjoyable. But I never became a wild fan. Thing is: if it doesn’t have a dragon or ghosts or a science fiction element, I don’t get too excited.
It’s like the Beatles. I recognize why people go nuts over them and love them. I enjoy them here and there, but can’t really get into it. But the Toy Story movies were a little different, because I actually quite enjoyed them.
So when we saw we could stream #3 on Netflix, we decided to make a family night of it.
What a perfect film. I have no critiques- nothing negative whatsoever to say. Where it could have gone sappy and sentimental, it held back and deftly finished the story.
The film begins with a sequence of all of the toys being played with over the years by their beloved Andy. Then we find the toys running an operation to have Andy find his cell in the toy trunk in the hopes that he will remember them and play with them again.
But Andy is off to college soon and the fate of the toys is in doubt. Soon, with some confusion and attempts at heroism, the toys end up at a daycare, which initially seems great. They will be played with endlessly– for eternity! But the day care has a dark underbelly for the toys, and soon our friends are trying to escape the tyranny of a jaded teddy bear.
Meanwhile, Woody has ended up in the home of a little girl who loves her toys and plays with them endlessly. She is sweet and kind. And Woody finds out about the situation his friends have found themselves in. Now he must help them escape.
This cues up a brilliant sequence where the toys effect their escape. And be sure to enjoy the hilarious Ken and his interactions with Barbie– sheer genius. Also, try to keep your gut intact when Potato Head goes undercover. Whoever had that idea at Pixar needs a raise.
When they’ve just barely made it home and when we think the toys will end up in an attic, Andy saves them. The ending is very touching and is done with such a light touch. There is no preachiness, but themes such as friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, courage, heroism and transcendence are dealt with throughout the movie. What is more, there are genuinely harrowing scenes- one of which seems completely inescapable. And as the toys resign themselves in an extraordinarily touching moment, the perfect way out comes to them.
Spasmo, my 11-year-old, expressed well the feelings that I think most audience members have when this movie ends. He said, “I just don’t want to leave those characters. It’s like I always want to be able to see what they’re doing.”
Thanks to the excellent work at Pixar, the story that we will see is at an end, but we know that the toys’ story will always go on.
Pens (writing): 5
Cameras (acting): 5 The voice acting is excellent.
Screens (the entire experience): 5