Pixar Pulls Our Heartstrings

Toy Story 3
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris
Director: Lee Unkrich
Disney Pixar
Rated G

With Toy Story 3, Pixar goes back to the Academy Award winning franchise that started it all, and provides a perfect conclusion that will satisfy all fans, children and adults alike. It’s been fifteen years since the adventures of Andy’s toys began, and their worst nightmare has just come true—their owner has grown up and no longer plays with them. Toy Story 3 sends Woody, Jessie, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the toys off into the sunset in a touching farewell to an unforgettable trilogy. Toy Story 3, as well as Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are now available on VUDU in SD, HD, or HDX.

Andy (John Morris) is about to begin college, and Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of Andy’s toys worry about their future. Woody is optimistic that Andy will store them in the attic, but the rest fear they’re destined to be sold, or worse, thrown away. Neither happens when Andy’s Mom (Laurie Metcalf) accidentally donates them to a local daycare center. Only Woody knows the toys were meant to be stored in the attic, but no one listens to him. The toys are greeted by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a stuffed bear who is in charge of all the toys at the daycare. All of Andy’s toys are thankful to be there, knowing they’ll be played with again. But Woody escapes, professing his loyalty to Andy. He returns to the daycare, though, when he learns that Lotso runs the daycare like a prison, forcing Andy’s toys to be played with by rowdy and destructive toddlers. Now, Woody has to save his friends, and get them back to Andy before it’s too late and he moves to college.

It has been a pleasure to see Pixar evolve their animation technique over the past fifteen years. With every movie, the animation looks better and better, to the point where Pixar is the gold standard of what CGI-animation should look like. The attention to detail in Toy Story 3 is something to be admired. Everything from the dirt stains on Lotso’s stomach to the tiny freckles of children’s faces adds to the realism that Pixar has always strived for. With every movie, you think that their technique can’t possibly get any better, but with each subsequent movie, Pixar surprises us all.

Pixar has always stated that even though they are an animation company, story is always the most important. While millions of their fans are always clamoring for sequels to their favorite Pixar film, Pixar has repeatedly said they would only do a sequel if the story was right. While most film companies are quick to jump into the sequel game in the name of profit, Pixar thankfully isn’t one of them. When a film becomes a smash hit, a sequel is often quickly put into development, often too quickly. As such, the sequel can’t live up to expectation established in the first film. Pixar takes its time—that’s a good thing! They are meticulous about their writing and storyboards, and they take great pride in doing so. There must be something to that method, as the results can clearly be seen at the box office.

Pixar also knows its audience very well. It knows how to make movies that appeal to people of all ages. The humor and themes can be appreciated by everyone. Pixar has done something very clever with Toy Story 3. They know that the audience that was around for the original Toy Story is now grown up. The themes of growing up and moving on resonate to that audience that is now fifteen years older and no longer plays with toys. Toy Story 3 is filled poignant emotion that echoes this. For those of us who were young when the original Toy Story premiered, we can certainly understand how the passage of time has affected us. With Toy Story 3, we are reminded through both humor and emotion that tugs on our heartstrings that growing up is a part of life, and that the innocence of youth is something we can’t hold onto forever. And as the film beautifully illustrates, we don’t need to lose our memories of youth. We can pass them on to the next generation.


While Toy Story 3 is the last planned film in the Toy Story franchise, it isn’t the end of the Toy Story characters. Director Lee Unkrich has already announced that Pixar is at work on a short film that will feature the Toy Story characters. The short film is scheduled to debut in front of “Cars 2”, which opens in theaters in 2011.