Toy Story 3
Film review by: Witney Seibold
There is something unbearably tragic about the proceedings of “Toy Story 3.” Here we have a universe where toys, when you’re not looking, have a life of their own, and who live and die by how much they are played with. The pleasant memories of childhood play are cherished, but the toys needs play all the time, or else they begin to have an existential crisis. Their owner, Andy, is now seventeen, and needs his dolls and action figures much less than he used to, and, now that Andy is going away to college, their entire fate is called into question. The entirety of “Toy Story 3” has lurking over it this cloud of dread, the sad realization that the Toys we’ve come to know over two previous films will have to face some unwanted fate, be it the attic, donation to a daycare, or, worst of all, merely being thrown away.
But don’t get me wrong. Lee Unkrich‘s “Toy Story 3” is not a tragedy. Indeed, it’s just as bright, just as fun, and just as witty as anything we’ve come to expect from Pixar. The animation is gorgeous, and the toy characters move with the floppy freeness that a 6-inch-tall, 2-pound being made of plastic would move. The film’s writing (from Michael Arndt) is just as smart as the previous two “Toy Story” films, and features some of that hilarious childhood logic that can only be applied to toys: f’rinstance, when a Ken doll (Michael Keaton) shows up, he is, naturally, obsessed with fashion, and with living in luxury with Barbie. We also get to see what happens when you stick the face of a Mr. Potato Head into other food items. The result had me cackling.
The story is as follows: Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Cowgirl Jesse (Joan Cusack), and the rest of the rogues gallery of toys has returned. They know that Andy is going away to college, and are coming to terms with living in the attic (“We can talk to the guys in the Christmas box! You like those guys, right?”). Through a mix-up, though, the toys end up being accidentally donated to the local day care center, where they meet with a purple teddy bear named Lotso Hugs (Ned Beatty), and the aforementioned Ken doll. The day care seems almost like a utopia at first; the toys will get to be played with all thee time, and they will get new crops of kids every year. It’s not long, however, before our heroes realize the prison-like setup of the daycare. The newbies have to be abused by toddlers, while the higher-ups get the luxury of the slightly older kids. Soon the film becomes a desperate escape from the daycare, and from the tyranny of a teddy bear that, well, didn’t get hugged enough.
I like the continued conceit that the toys’ personality is determined by how much they were played with. There’s also two truly terrifying toy characters that are borne of truly terrifying toys: the broken baby doll with the wonky eyeball, and, nightmarishly, one of those creepy, bug-eyed wind-up cymbal monkeys.
But by the end, I defy you not to tear up a little at the fate of the toys. I’ll just say this: I saw “Toy Story 3” in a theater near UCLA, and, according to an employee friend of mine, most of the college-aged boys seeing this film were the ones most deeply effected.