Itâ€™s come to a pretty awful pass with regard to Hollywood movies these days, when the most sharply humorous, creative and character-driven escapade is an animated feature about childrenâ€™s toys . . . and the latest (and most probably final chapter) of three. Disney-Pixar just owns the family-friendly movie franchise by sheer force of creativity. (Well, and that practically every other studio of note seems to have abandoned the family movie-watching demographic anyway. Even if they hadnâ€™t, Disney-Pixar would still stand head and shoulders above the competition.)
If Toy Story One explored sibling rivalry and Two wove a story of family loyalties â€“ Three explores the bittersweet question of what happens when a child grows up and puts away childish things. What happens then, to those loyal toys of long standing when their owner Andy heads off to college? Is a box in the attic the best that can be hoped for â€“ or as one character observes, â€œLetâ€™s see what weâ€™re going for on E-Bay.â€ Through the machinations of the plot, all the toys â€“ Woody, Buzz, the Potatoheads, Jessie, Ham, Barbie and the rest â€“ wind up being donated to a day-care center. All but Woody think it to be the best situation imaginable; What could be a better situation, then to be played with constantly by children? They make new friends among the toys there; the cuddly purple stuffed bear, Lotso, for one, and Barbie â€“ who knew she was a strict Constitutionalist? â€“ meets Ken, whom we always suspected was just an accessory. And Buzz Lightyear reveals his inner Lothario, too. But all is not well inside the walls of the day-care center, and suffice to say that the cuddly purple bear is not at all genial â€“ or well-disposed to Andyâ€™s old toys. (It must be a specialty of the Disney-Pixar house to have initially bluff, hearty, friendly characters metamorphose into menacing and manipulative ones.) It becomes imperative that the toys escape, and thereby hangs the rest of the exciting and ultimately poignant story.
Extras are lavish on the Blu-ray version, which alas, I could not watch. The purely most fun of the DVD extras was the short â€œNight and Day,â€ and the up-close look at all the expanded cast of toys, old and new. The 4-disc combo pack of Toy Story Three is available through Amazon and other retail outlets.
Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her Adelsverein Trilogy is also available through Amazon.com. More about her books, including Daughter of Texas, due for release in April 2011 is at her website www.celiahayes.com.