Quick Review: Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 is in its second week in theaters. Featuring the same band of characters, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and friends, plus some new toys and humans, Pixar has served up another successful film. My thoughts:

1. Andy is off to college. An interesting plot device as the toys have to switch gears – but also seems connected to a Pixar interest in chronicling life changes. Up contrasted an old man and young boy. Cars looked at changes in a small town. These films are not just about a moment of time but they involve complicated contexts for the current story. These transitional periods, such as a move from childhood to college or from mourning and grumpiness to meaning and joy after the loss of a spouse, have much potential for exploration.

2. There does seem something a little strange about watching a movie about a kid playing with toys. Andy is depicted in his youth running around his house with his cast of toys – no shots of him sitting at a computer, in a movie theater, texting. Older Andy is tied more to his computer. Yet we are paying money to see a sentimental movie about a kid playing with his toys. Does a movie like this inspire kids to be more imaginative with their toys or simply encourage them to watch more movies?

3. Pixar is really good at invoking sentimentalism without being mawkish. Andy eventually reflects on what the toys mean to him – and it is a touching moment. The typical sweeping Hollywood soundtrack is not present (thankfully) and the characters are not overdramatic. Even though Pixar makes animated stories, the key to their success are engaging stories.

4. If you were curious, the door is left wide open at the end for another film with a new set of human characters.

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