We first met Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear fifteen years ago when Pixar released the original Toy Story in 1995. They returned to the big screen in Toy Story 2 in 1999. And now, they're back again! In 3D! Andy has grown up. The toys still want to play. The childhood they've shared with Andy is just not long enough. Toy Story 3 is a heartfelt and inspired movie about attachment and the end of childhood. The owner-toy bond will face the ultimate test when Andy prepares to leave for college.
"We have to be there for Andy," says Woody. These words fall on deaf ears. Unfortunate trash bag placement and bad timing convince Buzz, Jesse, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and the whole gang to run away to day care rather than face their uncertain future with Andy. At the Sunnyside Day Care Center, they meet Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear, or Lotso. He's cuddly and strawberry-scented on the outside, but emotionally damaged on the inside (flashbacks reveal a traumatic abandonment by Daisy, his owner).
Lotso is the opposite of Woody. Woody has a secure attachment with Andy; this is reflected in the caring way Woody relates to his friends. Lotso has an insecure attachment with Daisy; this is reflected in the controlling manner with which he rules over Sunnyside. When the gang discovers Lotso's not-so-nice nature, they plot a Mission Impossible-style escape with split second timing and secret signals sent by shiny objects and wagging tails. They want to get home to Andy.
The escape scenes may be scary for little kids. The security guard monkey appears menacing when he clangs his cymbals and shrieks his alarm. The situation is frighten- ing when the toys cross paths with an incinerator. While intense, these scenes fit the emotional tone of the story. There is a crisis in the toys' lives. The journey home is not meant to be an easy one.
There is, happily, no escape from the humor. Almost every toy has a punch line. My favorite toys are Hamm and Buzz Lightyear. Hamm delivers this line in the opening scene: "That's MISTER Evil Dr. Pork Chop to you." Buzz Lightyear suffers from a very entertaining case of multiple personality disorder (Spanish lover, evil prison guard, spaceman hero) triggered by uninvited meddling with his backside.
This movie has it all. It has a wonderful story that captures the friendships and innocence of childhood in a way that respects the importance of those early bonds formed by play. It has a spaceman, a cowboy and many beloved and enduring characters. And it has my must-have in a children's movie - a happily ever after ending. After being there for Andy, in the end, Andy is there for his toys, too.
Toy Story 3 is a must-see film. It is appropriately rated G.