“When the kids get old, new ones come in. When they get old, new ones replace them. You’ll never be outgrown, or neglected. Never abandoned or forgotten. No owners means no heartbreak!”
I wonder how they’re going to pull off Toy Story 4, because one thing that’s great about the original trilogy is the thematic arc and how the story creates a sort of cycle: toys being played with, then toys not being played with, then back to toys being played with. Maybe it will restart and Toy Story 4 will feature a new toy named Luzz Bightyear who doesn’t realize he’s a toy. Anyway, Toy Story 3 is a good movie.
The movie is easily the most disheartening of the three, with Andy’s collection of toys fearing they will be dropped in the trash as Andy moves off to college. When they find an alternative, they take it: a day care center where toys receive lots of care and attention. It’s not all fun and games, however, as the toy “in charge” of Sunnyside Daycare is a ruthless manipulator named Lots-o (Ned Beatty). It’s up to Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang to take down Lots-o and find a place where they can be happy in these uncertain times.
Pixar upholds the tradition of starting the Toy Story movies with some big set piece. In this case, it’s a zany, wildly entertaining showdown of all the toys in a Wild West heist scenario. It serves as a fun reminder of the importance of play and carries the toys for the rest of the film as they continue to chase after these fond memories of playtime. Also, though, it shows how far Pixar has raised the bar in ten years. Every toy maintains its look, but they all have incredible new details that give you a sense of awe and nostalgia about how awesome these characters were and how the movie might take them on some fun new adventure.
I like the dynamic of the movie: one group of toys entering a much larger setting where they have to take down the leader. It feels like a Western at times, and I’m glad they didn’t rely on old plot points too much. Lots-o is a fun villain with great voice work from Ned Beatty, and he serves as a powerful thematic foil to that of the toys. It’s textbook storytelling to have the villain give a convincing but flawed moral argument that has everyone convinced until someone starts poking holes in it, and Lots-o’s “no owners, no heartbreak” philosophy is a smart way to escalate the themes of the first two movies even further.
I’m more and more amazed at every Toy Story installment at how Pixar juggles so many characters, and Toy Story 3 more than doubles the number of important characters flawlessly. Complex characters (Woody, Buzz, Lots-o) are given appropriate screen time, and the comic characters we’ve come to love (Mr. Potato Head, Rex, Barbie, etc.) are allowed to have their zingers while also functioning as the mob that the big players are trying to win over. It’s a tricky challenge, but the movie works, and I just really admire how Pixar never shies away from a storytelling challenge like this one.
These movies are genuine Pixar classics. Even if there are better Pixar movies in my opinion, I think a book like the 1001 Movies would be wise to include the trilogy as an example of Pixar’s fine progression over the years and to indicate the incredible care being put into some children’s movies. I’m glad I got to revisit these wonderful stories, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time.
Films Left to Watch: 849
(I’m restructuring how I do this counter. There are 1007 movies because of trilogies counted as one entry, so I’m just gonna keep track of 1007 minus how many movies are on my “Complete List” page. Should be easier and more accurate this way moving forward rather than worrying about counting trilogies as one.)