Toy Story 3By Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: G
Release Date: June 18, 2010
Running Time: 1 hour and 49 minutes
Plot Synopsis: As Andy heads off to college, his toys know it's the end of the era -- but will they end up going with Andy to school, in a box up in the attic, or in the trash bin? Woody is optimistic that everything will turn out well but when the rest of the toys are accidentally carried out to the curb, they decide to escape via a donation box to Sunnyside Day Care. Everything seems grand at day care with so many kids to play with them, but a sneaky teddy bear named Lotso and his henchmen manipulate the gang into moving into the hard-playing preschoolers room and won't let them leave. Will they get free and make it home to Andy?
Sex/Nudity: When Ken and Barbie get a look at each other, it's love at first sight, especially because Ken lives in a dream home with a whole room devoted to trying on clothes. There's also a growing affection between Buzz Lightyear and Jessie, particularly when Buzz gets reset to his Spanish language settings and the two do the tango together. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are also still very much in love.
Violence/Gore: In an imagined play scene that opens the movie, Mr. Potato Head as One-Eyed Bart robs a train filled with orphans and then blows up the bridge on the tracks ahead of them. The preschoolers at the day care center play really hard with the toys, nearly breaking them. Lotso the bear and his gang lock up the toys in bins at the day care center to try to keep them from escaping. They send Mr. Potato Head to spend the night in the sandbox outside. Woody and Slinky tie up a monkey who is spying on them with plastic tape. Lotso and his friends beat up the Chatter Telephone to find out the details of the toys' escape plan. The toys end up at the dump where they are almost put through the chipper and incinerated.
Which Kids Will Like It? Children from a whole range of ages will find things to love in Toy Story 3. The story is complex enough for teenagers while the characters' cute and lovable qualities should appeal to little ones.
Will Parents Like It? Like most of the Pixar films, Toy Story 3 features enough clever dialogue, resonant emotions, and exciting plot twists to keep adults engaged. They'll also enjoy reminiscing over the older toys shown in the movie.
Kaboose Review: It's been fifteen years since the release of Toy Story, the first solely computer generated feature length movie, and the kick off of the groundbreaking animation studio Pixar. In the intervening years the kids who first loved Woody the cowboy and Buzz the astronaut have grown up, so it seems only fitting that this third installment features Woody and Buzz's owner Andy going off to college. But even though Toy Story 3 has some poignant themes -- like what happens to all of those beloved toys when we get too old to play with them -- ‑the characters are as charming and hilarious as ever.
Everyone grows older and even toys feel the effects of time passing. Ever optimistic, Woody knows that Andy is too old to want to play with him and the rest of the toys but Woody expects they'll be moved to the attic until Andy's own kids are ready for them. The rest of the toys are more pessimistic -- Rex the dinosaur and Hamm the pig bank fear they're destined for the trash. The toys have also gotten lonely waiting around with no one playing with them, so when they get the opportunity to get into the hands of an ever rotating cast of kids at the Sunnyside Day Care center, they jump at the chance.
It's a real testament to the screenwriters Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich that they're able to keep these well-worn characters fresh with new adventures and new relationships. Even though the toys are just inanimate objects brought to life by children's imaginations, their emotional lives seem so real. The movie also does a beautiful job depicting how kids play with toys, as sort of a Dada movie adventure with improvisational dialogue, that's both funny and realistic. The best toys are like actors in a child's imaginary script, so when Woody gets adopted by a new little girl named Bonnie and easily steps into her scenes, all of Bonnie's other toys hilariously compliment him on his excellent acting skills.
But as important as toys are to children, the relationship is equally as paramount the other direction. We learn that when the strawberry-scented bear Lotso, the head toy at the day care center, discovered his owner Daisy replaced him with an identical stand-in he snapped. This remorseless pink teddy is one of Pixar's scariest villains ever and his story really taps into our primal need for love and the despair when it disappears.
Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Cast: Tom Hanks (voice of Woody), Tim Allen (voice of Buzz Lightyear), Ned Beatty (voice of Lotso), Wallace Shawn (voice of Rex), John Ratzenberger (voice of Hamm), Michael Keaton (voice of Ken), Estelle Harris (voice of Mrs. Potato Head), Joan Cusack (voice of Jessie), Don Rickles (voice of Mr. Potato Head), Kristen Schaal (voice of Trixie), Jodi Benson (voice of Barbie)
Movie poster courtesy of Disney/Pixar.
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.