TOY STORY 3 - Time Marches on for All Toys
“Toy Story 3” shows that growing up is harder for a toy
Toy Story 3
Realease Date: June 18th, 2010
Date of My First Viewing: June 13th, 2019
“Toy Story" 4” is about to hit theaters, and the early reviews are already being published. This is what drove me to finally getting around to watching “Toy Story 3” after a gap of 9 years. It is funny considering I thought this film had come out way past 2010. For some reason, I was under the impression is was a 2013 or 2014 release. The passage of time, though, is fitting because “Toy Story 3” directly deals with the impact of time. It is a movie that shows no one is immune to time’s reach, not even a toy. A child will grow up and move on to other things, but a cherished toy, a toy that provided an abundance of good memories, is what gets left behind. Leave it to Pixar to once again hit its viewers directly in the emotions with some heavy issues.
The plot of “Toy Story 3” is pretty simple. Andy, the main human character from the previous two films, is going off to college so he is having to pack up his room. That means throwing things away while also sending other items to the attic. The main core of toys from the previous films, now practically neglected by Andy, are resigned to a life in the attic with other toys that have already taken that journey. Woody (Tom Hanks), though, is selected to go with Andy to college. Through a mix up, the toys end up in a pile of toys that are donated to Sunnyside, a local daycare. The toys are initially happy to have a continuous flow of children to play with, but their happiness is short-lived.
It turns out that the toys of Sunnyside are ruled with an iron fist by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a stuffed and scented teddy bear with a dark past. After initially welcoming the toys, Lotso drops the hammer on them. He confines them to a room of toddlers and a life of rough play. While this is happening, Woody, who escaped in an effort to get back to Andy, ends up at the home of Bonnie, a child attending Sunnyside. This is where Woody finds out the truth about Lotso and Sunnyside. Woody then makes it his mission to break back into Sunnyside and rescue his friends.
I am sure not many people were expecting a huge chunk of this film to be a prison breakout movie, but, hey, it was a nice touch. The real heart and soul of the movie, though, lies with Woody’s quest to get back to Andy while also coming to grips with changes he and the others cannot escape. The toys can and do escape Lotso’s Sunnyside prison, but they cannot escape the passage of time starting at them. The main group of toys is ready to move on from Andy, but Woody has a hard time dealing with this. His bond with Andy is different, and only someone the caliber of Tom Hanks can deliver a voice acting performance to get this point across.
Being resigned to one’s fate is another important theme that “Toy Story 3” touches upon. Lotso, the chief antagonist, is reisgned to living a life where he remains bitter about being abandonded and forgotten. He takes this out on all the other toys in his orbit by serving as a cruel prison warden. I legit thought he was going to redeem himself during the film’s last act, but I am glad Pixar made the choice to not take that easy route with the character. Time hardened Lostso beyond reapir.
The other key sequence dealing with being resigned to one’s fate is the harrowing climax that involves the main group of toys after they escape Sunnyside. I had actually seen this clip via YouTube years ago (Yes - I actively search out spoilers. Deal with it) so I knew what happened. Though, it still did not diminish the emotional impact of the scene. They toys were resigned to a fiery fate, albeit one that they were ready to face together.
Of course, Pixar did not show us a whole slew of loveable characters burned in the inferno of an incinerator. This is where the character of Bonnie comes back into the story. I don’t feel that I’m spoiling anything by saying Andy ends up giving the toys to Bonnie. I know some immediately criticized the move by saying Andy should have held on to the toys and gave them to his kids (Andy’s family dynamic could be the subject of a whole different post), but, practically, it made sense for this particular resolution. Bonnie can enjoy the toys immediately and give them a new outlook on life, including a soon to be released sequel. Even though Woody is still wistful about saying goodbye to Andy, he now has a new loving home with his toy family and a child that will play with him.
The “Toy Story” films have always been the emotional backbone of Pixar, and with good reason since “Toy Story” introduced the world to the studio on a grand scale. The growth and development of the studio, both technically speaking and emotionally speaking, stem from this series of films. “Toy Story 3” is a grand and fitting entry that would have been a beautiful cap on things, especially with that last shot of Woody sitting on the steps and watching Andy go off into adulthood. This is also Disney we’re talking about so, hey, here’s hoping “Toy Story 4” has an ending just as fitting.