Our high expectations of Pixar Studios are met right at the beginning of this wonderful film. Cowboys, narrow escapes, train wrecks and speed fill the screen, and it's all in 3-D. We, the audience, soon realize that we are experiencing something even more remarkable than this cinematic feast set before us; we are looking into the fertile mind of Andy, the owner of the beloved Toy Story characters. He is PLAYING. His toys are acting as catalysts for his creative imagination, fostering motor and language development, while helping Andy tell his story.

It is hard to believe that Andy is ready for college, but then again it has been 15 years since the first Toy Story appeared. Like so many incoming freshmen, he has to make decisions about what "stuff" comes with him. This certainly reflects a reality, as we all have witnessed the numerous stuffed animals in dorm rooms while on college visits. The film's plot deals with the adventures and growth of the Toys, as they face a change of venue and function. Therefore, psychologically the film is about the various transitions in the Life Cycle, including separation and meaning, as well as loyalty and individuation. The movie is also an allegory about our disposable culture, which discards toys as well as people.

Toy Story 3 is an entertaining film for adults, as well as children with several hilarious set pieces involving Ken's wardrobe and Buzz as a Latin lover. However some of the scenes in the not sunny Sunnyside Daycare Center and the dark garbage dump are a bit scary, thanks to an ego inflated Lots-o'-Huggin Bear (Ned Beatty), who seems to be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because of the fast editing and quick thinking of Woody (Tom Hanks), however, these frights didn't seem to affect my 5 year old nephew, Jonah, who seemed more focused on the heroics of the cute, space doll toys.

The action in the film moves along and is spectacular from a cinematic perspective with its vivid colors, attention to detail, and non-intrusive 3-D.

Special praise should go to the actors Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Jodi Benson (Barbie) and Michael Keaton (Ken), who are quite convincing. But the real stars are the two big play sequences that take place at the film's beginning and in Bonnie's (Emily Hahn) bedroom. They are both remarkable for the insight they provide into children and their play, which here includes mastery and control over impulses and the need for love. One doesn't have to be a child psychiatrist to appreciate the peek we are getting, from this PLAY into a child's private world.

The movie is rated G, with one or two frightening scenes.

Michael Brody, Chair of the Media Committee AACAP
mbrody@umd.edu