Toy Story 3

Dir: Lee Unkrich, 2010. Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack. Children's.
Toy Story 3

All children take their play very seriously, and you might be one of the many adults who look back on playtime as one of the most engaging and memorable aspects of your youth. Children create a world and mimic what they see when they are playing, and this activity is, without a doubt, a fundamental building block for our species. When Toy Story came out in '95 it was a big success. The story of a group of toys who were loyal to their owner and overcame outlandish obstacles was brilliant. Seeing toys that actually felt emotions and had attachment issues helped me understand and define my relationship to my mother. It also urged me to take care of my toys and stop chopping off Barbie's hair. The family featured had a single-mother, which was an interesting dynamic and something that many children can relate to. It also gave me a silly curiosity growing up; I checked on my toys to see if they actually had a life of their own. The documentary The Pixar Story explains the company's success with its animation techniques and its first film, Toy Story. Toy Story 3, made over a decade later than the first, would become one of the highest grossing animated films, and one of three to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

For those of you who haven't seen Toy Story 1 or 2, let me indulge myself with a brief synopsis. The first film is about the anxiety of being replaced. Woody and his preschool-appropriate buddies fear that Andy will get a new toy for his birthday and replace one of them. He gets a Buzz Lightyear action figure and goes through a brief phase of being obsessed with space and the new toy. The quarrels between the delusional Buzz (who thinks he's a real space ranger) and the former favorite, Woody, leads to a huge accident. The two end up outside and in the hands of a kid who likes to torture toys. They decide to work together in order to get home before their family moves to their new house, or the sinister kid across the street blows them up.

The second film was also a huge success and a little darker. Buzz and Woody are friends and everything seems swell. The pending doom with this movie is a yard sale, which means that older or broken toys might be sold for a quarter. Woody tries to go out into the yard in order to save a toy that was plucked from the room and ends up among the other goods. A scheming fat man steals him (he needs Woody to complete his Woody's Roundup collection) and hopes to get rich by selling the lot to a museum in Japan. While at his apartment, Woody meets the other toys who were part of his collection. They convince him to stay, claiming that children always abandon their toys and that life being on display will be wonderful. But Woody struggles with his attachment to Andy and must decide his own fate. Toy Story 3 opens on a depressing note as the now 17-year old Andy is preparing for college. We see a flashback, via his mother's camcorder, that shows him growing up and spending all of his time with his beloved toys. As a teenager, he's put them in a chest where they assume they'll stay forever. The toys go through several efforts to try and make Andy notice them in what they've dubbed “Operation Playtime.” By stealing his cell phone and putting it in the chest with them, they use a 2nd phone to call it in the hopes that he'll discover his cell and them. But their efforts only lead to a glimpse of his hardly recognizable face, and if one of the toys is lucky, Andy will pick it up for a moment. From there we see them having an emergency meeting as Woody tries to cheer everyone up with the prospect of going to the attic. The other toys are fixated on the idea that they'll be thrown away, just like the many toys before them that didn't make the cut.

Andy's mother urges her children to clean up their rooms and help her collect toys to send to their former daycare. By accident, the bulk of Andy's toys are almost thrown away, until they decide to make a break for the box that's going to the daycare. Once they've arrived, they are overjoyed at the thought of being played with daily. They're greeted by the other toys and think they've gone to heaven, until the ring leader escorts them to the younger preschool room. Their excitement drops to fear as the children begin tossing them around, putting them in their mouths and using their hair/fur as paint brushes. Meanwhile, the other toys lounge in the older preschool room, with children who actually know how to play with them. When the group pleas to be transferred to the other room, they learn that there is a certain ranking that prevails. No one leaves once they've entered, and no one exits the younger preschool room until they've earned their stripes and taken a few blows.

There are so many things that made this movie a wonderful treat. The consistency of the story is the film's most admirable feature. All of the original cast came back to do the voices, and instead of picking up with Andy as a child, they've used the time since the last film to speed things along. The animation far surpassed that of the first two, and respectively, those prior to Pixar's 2009 hit, Up. The story became darker in a sense, but it still kept those endearing messages about growing up and letting go. The dialogue wasn't as witty as the others, but as a former preschool teacher, I found that much of the comedy was replenished by the filmmakers' realistic portrayal of early childhood education. There were honestly times when I would pick up a toy and be horrified at its appearance, and they executed the reckless behavior of the children very well. The introduction to new toys and characters was splendid and refreshing, and as a whole, it was a wonderful end to an endearing classic.

__________________________ Toy Story 3 won two Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. It was nominated for an additiona three Oscars: Best Sound Editing, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Posted by:
Edythe Smith
May 12, 2011 12:01pm
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