Toy Story 3
by Sawyer J. Lahr
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With Toy Story 3, Pixar maintains its loyal fan base of all ages, ethnicities, even sexual orientations - Ken Barbie - while passing on a franchise to the next generation of youth five years plus. The animation studio that cranks out hit after hit is owned by The Walt Disney Company but knows how to exploit nostalgia better than most Disney movies. The third installment of adventuresome Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and friends confronts what happens to toys when their owner grows out of his play-phase and is moving away to college.
Like every Pixar production and probably every animator behind the work, play is ageless. In war and peace, everyone finds a way to entertain themselves, loosening the gears and giving up monotony for spontaneous recreation.
All the toy drama of the last two films made over ten years feel as alive and fresh in the third as if without the gap. The story continues at least eight years later, propelling the toys into a major turning point, their imminent disposal, indefinite storage, or donation. When Andy picks Woody as his only toy to travel with him to college, the circle of friends is threatened with separation. Insistent as always on keeping the band together under his leadership, Woody must rescue the other toys from a bitter teddy bear called Lots-O-Hugs the Tsar of the preschool where Andy’s mom donates his toys.
A mission impossible-like escape from the prison of torturing toddlers is the best stuff of the film. The dangers of the outside world are pitted against the fragile but clever playmates. A razor-sharp trash shredder and a towering inferno threatens to melt the toys from cartoon consciousness, but alien invaders appeal to their claw demigod for some last minute toy team work.
Released after some smoldering summer movies that will too soon burn out, Toy Story 3 has every likelihood of sending the green monster Shrek and his babbling donkey friend into never-never land. Fans of the originals and children far and wide will not only see the movie, but buy all the happy-meal toys early twenty-somethings did in the late 90s. In the spirit of Toy Story 3, those toys should come out of our attics and into the eager hands of the youngest generation of children who are growing up gnawing on cell phones and Wii controllers instead of using their imaginations.
Sawyer J. Lahr is Chief Editor of the forthcoming online publication, Go Over the Rainbow. He also writes a monthly film column for Mindful Metropolis, a conscious living magazine in Chicago, IL.
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