I would have thought that the Toy Story (2010; dir. Lee Unkich) narrative had exhausted itself. But, even though Toy Story 3 is really just a further embellishment on Toy Story 2, which showed toys worried about being forgotten by their owner, this third and presumably final installment is entertaining and, forgive my use of the word, heartwarming. The animation is so good that you don’t even think about it. Instead you focus on the characters, all of whom have distinct personalities. Toy Story 3 shows us how the toys approach the day when their owner leaves home for college. Will they be thrown out with the garbage? Will they be relegated to the attic? What fate awaits them?
My suspicion is that this film is designed more for the parents of children who play with toys than for the children. It hit a sensitive spot of mine with its focus on the boy about to leave home and childhood behind. Several scenes seem aimed directly at adults. A sequence in a daycare center is full of dark humor and satire. The toys in the center are terrorized by the younger children. A stuffed bear that smells of strawberries and his capo, a one-eyed plastic baby doll, keep the other inmate toys in a state of fear and submission. It’s a gulag for toys. Any parent who ever felt pangs of guilt for leaving a child at a daycare center will find much of interest here. The most intense scene, which takes place in an incinerator at the city dump, is too strong and terrifying for young children.
In this fantasy, you don’t question the logic or sense of what happens. You just get to sit back and enjoy.