Toys want to be played with. That’s the simple moral for kids of a sequel aimed more towards audiences who had been kids during the first Toy Story movies. Time passes and toys eventually have to be given up in order to face the realities of adulthood is the more complex moral for the rest of us.
While not as carefree as its predecessors, Toy Story 3 still has the silly sight gags and cute toys working together for an ultimate goal. Thankfully Pixar didn’t take the addition of 3D as an excuse to have things flying at your face, instead using it to make the already well-developed world inhabited by these precocious toys more real and easier to get lost in.
Rather than rehash a number of stories regarding the toys getting separated from owner Andy when they'll be missed, Toy Story 3 instead utilizes the time gap between sequels and ages its main human character 10 years to age 17, where toys are nothing more than clutter with emotional attachment. Andy doesn’t want to give up his toys due to said attachment, but due to a misunderstanding his old friends end up at a hellacious day care run by a mob headed by a strawberry-scented pink bear who had been jilted by a former owner.
Of course this leaves Woody, Buzz and the gang the monumentally difficult task of returning to Andy before he leaves for college. They are toys after all. It’s not like they can just open a door and walk away. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Woody had declared, “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone!”*
New gags involving a tortilla and a metrosexual Ken doll join returning catch phrases “To infinity and beyond!” (in Spanish no less) and “Oooh, the claw!” A lot of the gags fly over the little ones heads, meant more for the viewers who have a fond nostalgia for the original.
There were a lot of unnecessary emotional elements that seemed drawn out for too long. Pixar now wants to pull at our heartstrings – I mean, look at the beginning of Up – but is it really necessary for the sappier moments to last so long? Sobbing is not a particularly attractive thing to do in a crowd.
While kids obviously still found it amusing, the story really stuck to the melancholic nostalgia of lost youth and letting go. Most kids probably didn’t understand why mom and dad were crying by the end, but they will eventually.
Rating: 3 out of 5 (good enough for a fun afternoon, but not something I’d rewatch)
Bonus: One of my favorite web comics, the hilarious Hijinks Ensue, graphically illustrated what Pixar achieved. This comic is SFW, but others might not be depending on where you work. And I totally had both those toys too.
* If you didn't get the Lost reference, you have some catching up to do.