Toy Story 3

Woody, Buzz, Jesse, and the rest of Andy’s toys are back for the grand finale of the beloved Toy Story trilogy. A lot is riding on this film to offer sufficient resolution—an audience wants to know that the toys are going to be safe and sound by the end of the movie. We can all certainly anticipate a happy ending from this Dream Works film. What will keep you on your toes are all the hoops, disappointments, dangers—and yes, even trauma—that these toys must endure before their happy ending.

As the movie opens, we find the toys reminiscing about the good ole days when they were still played with. But, sadly, Andy is grown up now and getting ready to go to college. Invading his room with boxes and trash bags, Andy’s mother insists that he be decisive about his remaining belongings, including the toys. Despite Woody’s optimistic leadership, a sense of desperation fills the screen. The toys’ recent attempts to get Andy’s attention have proved disappointingly unsuccessful. Fears of abandonment and garbage dumps begin to plague their imaginations; the suspense and uncertainty of their future destiny is almost too much to bear.

Rather than waiting to be discarded, the toys (against Woody’s advice) decide to take fate into their own hands and escape via daycare donation box. They soon find themselves at Sunnyside Daycare where they are welcomed by the current residents and their pink, strawberry scented ring-leader, Lotso Bear. Here, there is no risk of heartbreak, desertion, or neglect, and belonging to no one seems to have its perks. All seems well and good—that is, until the kiddos show up. Being used as paintbrushes, nose plugs, and pacifiers was not quite what the toys had in mind. Having resolved to escape Sunnyside and return home to Andy, the toys find that the once-welcoming daycare toys are accomplices in Lotso’s spiteful determination to squelch their affection for Andy and keep them at Sunnyside forever. Escaping will prove a more risky and seemingly impossible venture than they had at first anticipated.

There are several elements that make Toy Story 3 a great movie, perhaps the most obvious of which is the great values portrayed within the story. Teamwork and responsibility to others are both dominant themes throughout the entire trilogy. Nothing gets done apart from the help of others as you work toward a common goal, which teaches selflessness for the sake of the good of others. Woody, though still an imperfect cowboy who perpetually has a snake in his boot, is a great example of conscientious leadership.

The whole film hangs on dramatic irony, a classic story-telling device that reveals parts of the plot to the audience that evade the characters within the story. This is a pretty effective way to draw your audience into the film as it creates frustration and urgency, even perhaps a greater sense of empathy for the characters.

The personalities are already well-developed at this point in the trilogy, which presents a unique challenge to the story writers. How do you keep an audience engaged with the humdrum and familiar? The addition of new characters and new surroundings is always an effective way to draw out different idiosyncrasies that would otherwise go unseen. Dream Works was able to come up with some creatively subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways to push the characters out of their element. And I gotta say, finding Buzz’s “Spanish mode” was probably the most brilliant aspect of character novelty within the film.

On a more peripheral note, I thought that the film score was rather mature for this movie—in a good way, of course. It’s the job of any good composer to invoke the desired affect within his audience at just the right time. It’s a true art. I was almost surprised at how deeply I was moved during one of the most climactic scenes of the film, and this was due in large part to how fitting the music was to the desired emotional affect.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. Not only will it leave you with a sense of contented closure, it’ll likely inspire you to pull out all your old childhood toys and reminisce with a good old-fashioned playtime—or at least give them a good cuddle. Don’t fight it. Just go with it.

This film is rated G and is available on DVD.

About Amber Monroe

I read too much. I spend too much money on coffee. And sometimes I write music.
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