Toy Story 3 (2010): ****
Directed by Lee Unkrich
This is my favorite movie of 2010. It is the only movie that made
me cry. And twice! Once with laughter, and once with genuine emotion.
It seems impossible, but it could just be that the Toy Story
movies get better with each installment. Toy Story 2 made
the first Toy Story seem like it was just a prologue. I
couldn’t really imagine what story could top Toy Story
2, but after seeing Toy Story 3 I realize that this
is what all of the Toy Stories have been building to the
whole time. Toy Story 3 seems inevitable, not just like
another adventure with these characters., like the themes behind
Toy Story 3 have been bubbling beneath the surface of the
other two films the whole time, and now it’s time for them
to burst forth.
That theme is one of loss and growth and the inevitability of change
and endings. About having and then losing a purpose, and the desperate
lengths to which you’ll go to hang onto it. Heady stuff for
a kids’ movie, eh?
At the beginning of the film the (remaining) toys are getting ready
to retire. Or at least the toy version of retirement; they’re
getting ready to go to the attic. And it’s sad; they’re
only purpose in life has been to be Andy’s toys, and now he’s
going off to college and hasn’t played with his toys for many
years. This is it. This is how it ends for the toys, not with a
bang but with a whimper.
Of course, through a wacky string of circumstances and misunderstandings,
the toys are presented with what seems to be a way to start over,
to fulfill their purposes anew. Of course, things aren’t always
what they seem...
It’s difficult to say just how good of a movie this is. The
feelings of loneliness, pain, frustration, sadness, and resignation
of the toys at the beginning of the film is palpable. And the glimmer
of hope they get seems so wonderful at first, until it’s yanked
out from under them. Then the movie becomes an absolutely thrilling
and hilarious prison-break type of movie. The 3rd act action climax
contains a moment of absolute, unbelievable terror that transforms
itself somehow into a moment of beautiful resignation and solidarity.
And then there’s the very moving denouement about how difficult
it actually is to enter a new phase of life, but makes you feel
absolutely joyous and sad at the same time. It’s amazing.
The case has been pared down quite significantly for this film,
explained as yard sales and donations having thinned the cast over
the years. What we’re left with is the core characters, so
the film isn’t too bloated with people. All of them get their
various chances to shine. Particularly hilarious are any scenes
with Ken & Barbie; Buzz’s multiple transformations; and
the surprising implications of the Potato Heads’ detachable
parts get thoroughly explored. The villain was a little too obviously
a villain, but his origin story is a dark mirror of Jessie’s
origin from Toy Story 2, illustrating just how fragile
a toy’s position in the world actually is.
This is a fantastic film. The Toy Story movies are kinda
dangerous, though. They might turn people into hoarders, because
after watching Toy Story 3 you’ll never want to get rid of
any of your possessions EVAR AGAIN.