Toy Story 3 had a lot riding on it: certainly the affection of myself and my entire age group, who basically grew up alongside Andy and had very high expectations born of the high quality of the first first two movies. A trilogy or series comes with a guarantee of a loyal crowd at the box office, but this is balanced by the responsibility to get things right. Filmmakers can, and often do, ignore that responsibility at their peril.
Even outside this personal attachment to the series, anyone who watches this movie will relate to the central idea. Everyone has had to struggle with the changing significance of a beloved childhood toy. Do you keep it? Give it away? Throw it out? Surely not!
We all need to see this struggle faithfully represented.
Andy, now 17, knows he can’t take his toys to college. He also can’t face the dustbin, so he chooses the attic.
Of course the toys never make it to the attic and are pitched out by his well-meaning mother. Hilarity and confusion ensue. Woody knows there’s been a mistake and is desperate to make it back to Andy; the rest of the toys pity him as deluded and try to embrace a new life in a daycare centre.
The structure and pace are faultless, an assault on the attention span. Although it is incredibly fast-paced, it sustains attention with the feeling of the whole story being one scene that just keeps extending relentlessly into the next catastrophe. I’ll wager kids would be as glued to their seats as I was. If something can go wrong, it most certainly will (and has, RIGHT NOW!)
This escalates until the climax, which is almost amusingly epic. Yet you care so much about these toys you won’t laugh.
You just perch on the edge of your seat, entranced by a fabulous use of scale that shows just how vulnerable these tiny beings are; how much they love each other and will stick together until the bitter end.
The animation is spot on and endlessly impressive, particularly the scenes at the children’s playrooms, which glow with colour, life, cuteness and creativity. The care and appreciation that’s gone into the movement of a bunch of toys and dolls has an almost uncannily beautiful result. But it’s nothing nothing less than they deserve. They have a grace, humanity and momentum that’s vintage Pixar.
Andy is done as you would wish. His appearance, movements and speech are all pitch-perfect 17-year-old, as is his confusion about the best final resting place of the relics of his childhood.
This movie never hits a wrong note. It’s hilarious without being heartless, and touching without being sickly. Somehow, the makers managed to find a perfect ending for the series and please all parties. Everyone gets a good deal. You won’t have to hate Andy, and neither will his toys.
At its heart is an honest recognition of an emotional truth – how attached human beings can become to objects. If you put the time into it, it is in many ways alive and worthy of your love. Anyway, that’s how I justify crying like a little girl at the end.