As I am sure many people will admit to, when I was little I seriously wondered if my toys could come to life when I wasn’t around. Then Toy Story was released, and though I was a very sophisticated seven year old (don’t make that face mom) it was hard not to hope that maybe my toys were at home right then doing something ridiculous. As I grew older I stopped looking for the life behind those beady little plastic eyes, yet while watching Toy Story 3 it’s impossible not to sink comfortably back into that childhood fantasy.
Mirroring the years that have passed since the last film, many years have passed for our beloved gang in Toy Story 3. Their owner Andy has grown up and is days away from leaving home to start the college experience, packing all the necessities he will need in his home away from home. Some things that have not made the “Things to Pack” list are the toys, who are coming to terms with this the best they can and accepting their future stored in the attic. However, things don’t go quite as planned as they are mistakenly taken to Sunnydale Daycare (oops! I mean Sunnyside, not our favorite Buffy Hellmouth. But you can see how I might confuse these tots for demons), where a fresh batch of children are waiting to play with the neglected toys once again.
Other than one or two minor bumps along the way (*cough* Cars *cough*), Pixar has yet to let me down with the films they make. Each and every time I am transported to a new world, and it’s hard not to fall in love with them. Which is probably why the major changes going on in Toy Story 3 from the previous films threw me through a wide range of emotions. I don’t even want to know what my face looked like for the first ten minutes of the movie. You know that look when your mouth is hanging open, somehow still forming a goofy smile, as you are transfixed to the screen, oblivious to the ridiculous expression you are wearing? I just know I had that. And then before you know it the humor subsides into a moment of reminiscing as some home videos of Andy playing with his toys comes onto the screen. I actually started tearing up. Tearing up! At fake home videos! Stupid memory lane…
These first 10 minutes basically sum up how the entire film will affect you if you have any remnant of a soul in your body. As I mentioned before, some major changes have occurred between the last film and now. Andy has grown up, the puppy they got for Christmas in the first film has lived out a large stretch of its life, and some familiar faces have been removed from the toy chest (not Wheezy the Penguin!). Fearing these changes, I clung to the familiar faces I grew up with, from Woody and Buzz to Rex and Slinky Dog, watching the adventures that somehow manage to top the previous films. No, not top, almost blow them out of the water.
The story of this film introduces a plethora of hilarious situations for the toys to deal with, melding the familiar characters and their personalities with the absurd, which would be ruined by any attempt at an explanation. All I can say is that it starts out strong and only gets better as it continues on. So bottom line? You have to see it for yourself. The plot points were great, but the attention to detail made this film even stronger, especially in concern to the references. Not only did it pay homage to what started it all thanks to little fan favorites like the Pizza Planet truck and yet another creepy baby doll, but the makers of this film also completely understand the world they are dealing with (that being toys). Thanks to my roommate introducing me to the animation world of Hayao Miyazaki, I was overjoyed to see a plush toy of the Japanese character Totoro; but for those of you who are a little more mainstream, the Barbie and Ken interactions are hilarious and a great addition to the stories of the other characters.
When I returned home from the theatre I turned the corner in my room and noticed the box my mother and I had recently packed full of the stuffed animals I have had for as long as I can remember, and a sort of guilt crept into the pit of my stomach. I thought of the toys in Toy Story 3 and how they made plans to make the best of their life in the attic until hopefully one day they were given to Andy’s kids to be played with once more. It sounds silly, but I made a mental note not to lose track of this box. So thanks Disney/Pixar for helping me see the life behind their eyes again.
Final Grade: A