Woody: So long partner.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Toy story 2 had an armor-piercing dilemma: Andy will eventually grow up and forget about Woody, Buzz, and all his other toys. Despite that Woody decided to stay with his owner deciding to enjoy the time with Andy while it lasts and agreeing that even when it ends Buzz and the others would be there to keep him company. Toy Story 3 deals with the ramifications of that choice in an extremely emotional way making the series go out with a bang proving lightning can in fact strike three times in a row.
The story is that a now grown-up Andy is heading off to college and must make a decision of what to do with his toys having done nothing with them for years. After a misunderstanding all the toys except Woody think Andy was going to throw them out and decide to go in a donation box to a daycare called Sunnyside. They meet befriend all sorts of toys there including the leader named Lots-O’-Huggin-Bear a.k.a Lotso. They learn that not only will all the toys get played with 5 days a week but also that Sunnyside never runs out of children to play with. But as they spend more time in the daycare they discover that there is more to it than meets the eye and upon learning Andy is in fact looking for them must race against the clock back home before Andy leaves.
The story sets off the tearful notes right off the bat. Not only have Woody and the others not been played with for years but they have also lost several old characters between years including Wheezy and Bo Peep. When the toys gather up for a meeting you really see how small their group has gotten compared to the last two films.
The story also can get somewhat horrifying as well. Lotso, despite appearing to be a friendly bear and Sunnyside, despite appearing to be toy paradise are anything but so. Lotso is revealed to run the place like a prison. The toys are kept under surveillance and aren’t allowed to escape on their own. The only way out is by going in the dump. Andy’s toys being the new recruits are forced to endure the reckless playing habits of toddlers so that Lotso and his henchman can be safe and be with the children from the older room.
Lotso is a character that gets progressively worse throughout the movie. If things don’t go his way around the daycare he shows no mercy. He has no morality towards any toy with his beliefs that they are all meant to end up in the trash. His reason for this is that his owner Daisy replaced him after forgetting him at a park. His lack of morality towards fellow toys is particularly evidenced when Buzz refuses the move to the older children’s room without his friends and Lotso resets him to his factory settings. Perhaps his most villainous act is towards the end during the dumpster scene. Lotso is stuck underneath the garbage, which would lead to him being incinerated. Woody and Buzz save him but when it’s time for Lotso to return the favor he outright abandons them. This act alone makes him worse than Sid and the Prospector combined.
The scene with the toys in the incinerator is probably one of Pixar’s darkest scenes. There is barely any dialogue as the toys head towards their deaths. Seeing them silently look at each other accept their fates and holding each other’s hands says so much through so little. Seeing Buzz and Woody who have often led the heroes through the toughest situations in the past being the first and last to accept their fates strikes a heavy chord.
It also ends on an extremely emotional note. The toys make it before Andy leaves but none of them ultimately go to college with Andy. Rather Andy passes on his toys to a little girl named Bonnie. Seeing Andy introduce them to her the way he played with them so many years ago and them playing one last time before Andy departs truly makes you feel the journey you’ve been on with them all throughout each of these movies. Many people were even Andy’s age when the first two Toy Story movies came out making it all the more relatable.
The animation is amazing. Pixar often goes to unprecedented lengths in their films and this is no exception. In this case it’s showing toys in a daycare. All the fabric and material from the toys look incredibly realistic. For instance by looking at Lotso in this movie you really believe this bear is as soft and huggable as he looks. The rest of the character animations are every bit as impressive. There are so many different toys and each one functions differently as well.
Even Andy’s toy-based adventures in the opening have increased in effort. The backgrounds and movements really make you feel alive just as the toys do. The routine in the opening combines the old with the new which once again makes you feel the journey of the trilogy.
All the returning characters are fine and the movie wastes no time in establishing what made them so likable in the past as they are in this movie. None of the new characters in this are unlikable. The good guys are instantly likable and the villains are fun to hate.
There comes a time where a franchise loses its luster. However Toy Story 3 managed to evade that problem. Even the shorts that followed this movie involving the toys’ adventures with Bonnie still have great appeal. Because of this Toy Story can rank itself among the greats in franchises. And with Toy Story 4 coming out hopefully it stays that way.