Iris Out

Tom Pilcher

Before I begin, I should get this out of the way: I’m generally not big on the whole Disney/Pixar animated genre, so I don’t remember the intricate plot elements of “Toy Story” or “Toy Story 2.” However, those did come out in 1995 and 1999 respectively, so I haven’t seen either for a while.
All things considered, “Toy Story 3” can really stand on its own, which is a nice trait to see in a sequel film – especially a third one. The plot centers on Andy’s mischievous crew of childhood toys coming to grips with their owner’s impending departure for college.
The underused toys grow jealous when Andy only picks Woody to take to college with him, but then through some standard mix-ups in the packing process, the group of toys ends up being donated to a surprisingly dark – at least from a toy’s perspective – day care center. The crew must get back to Andy’s place before he leaves for college on Friday, or risk being forgotten about entirely.
Though it’s easy to criticize the filmmakers for waiting 11 years to release the third installment of this franchise, the wait actually functions as a really cool marketing move on the studio’s part, and no doubt a lucrative one.
Think about it: “Toy Story,” Disney/Pixar’s first completely CGI animated film, came out in 1995 when everyone who is currently around college age played with toys routinely, whether in kindergarten or elementary school.
Flash forward to 2010: All of those kids who identified with Andy’s love for his toys have grown up too. Most likely, we’ve recently moved away from home for the first time, and we’ve just gone through that sad, strange experience of packing up our childhood room into boxes, just like Andy.
Waiting those 11 years to release “Toy Story 3” lets Andy age realistically with a group of viewers, making the film’s themes of growing older and nostalgia for youth all the more poignant. Not only will viewers identify with their first move away from home, but many college-age people will also remember seeing “Toy Story” for the first time when they were at a much different place in life.
All of this wouldn’t even be worth talking about if the film wasn’t up to snuff, however. Luckily, the creators of this “three-quel” sidestepped most of the problems facing films of this nature. The storyline is compelling, the characters – or toys, rather – develop in both expected and unexpected ways. Most importantly, the film is pretty funny.
One particularly funny storyline unites Barbie and Ken together at last, a plotline that nicely mocks the Barbie brand’s preoccupation with surface appearances. When Barbie gets mad at Ken, she goes straight for his clothes, causing Ken to exclaim, “Not the Nehru jacket!”
However, the film isn’t without its flaws. For an adult, it can get pretty formulaic at times as the gang oscillates from safety to being in danger of not returning home to Andy. Some of the jokes are also clearly panned toward the younger audience the films are made for, especially when Buzz gets set to “Spanish mode.”
When they get things right, Disney/Pixar specializes in deftly animated films that have something for both kids and adults, and “Toy Story 3” works as another addition to that canon. Though not as strong as “Wall-E,” the film’s elements of nostalgia and moving out convey universal feelings, which is what a good film should do.
“Toy Story 3” can be corny at times, but it’s a Disney movie – what do you expect? Just let the film wash over you, and think about what your childhood toys are doing right now, and what you did with them when you moved out of your room. It can be pretty powerful.