When my friends told me that the third installment of Disney and Pixar’s Perfect Union would make me cry, I thought they were exaggerating. They were not.
I’m pretty sure this movie should have been rated higher than G, because it involved some Pretty Serious Issues, like abandonment, destruction by fire, and the abundance of waste in the world. Toddlers and grade-schoolers probably shouldn’t be exposed to that stuff quite yet, but in any case, this movie was brilliant.
I missed Toy Story 2 (whoops) but I felt like I hadn’t really been left out of any of the jokes. (THE CLAWWWWWW was still very much A Thing, in fact.) The only character I hadn’t met yet was Annie, voiced by the awesomely Midwestern Joan Cusack, but that story was pretty easy to pick up on. (If it weren’t, I’d be screwed, because this is technically a kids’ movie.) Toy Story 3 also introduced a few new characters, one of which was a dinosaur voiced perfectly by Kristen Schaal. I am now going to imagine all triceratops (you know, real ones) with this voice for the rest of my life. Anyway, Disney and Pixar really achieved something special with this tri-fecta, as far as I’m concerned. They created a whole host of incredibly lovable characters, from ringleaders Woody and Buzz to secondary sidekicks like Rex and Slinky and the helium-filled aliens. You root for these characters, even though they’re toys, because they tap into something so basically human and so sentimental.
Now, like I said, there were some seriously serious themes in this movie. Andy, the toys’ Kid Du Jour, was finally going off to college, so the toys weren’t sure if they were fated for the attic, the donation bin, or the trash. That’s a big decision for a teenager to make, let alone for a poor toy to think about. Of course, Andy chose Woody over the others to take to college with him, and the rest of them somehow wound up in this incredible, creative complex twist of events that took them to a horrible daycare with Freak children and a Mafioso-like Head Teddy Bear, a death-defying bout with a trash compactor, and a run-in with a decent, adorable little girl who actually knew how to play with toys without covering them in spit or painting over their eyes or gnawing on their arms. In the end, the toys ended up with this little girl, which almost begs for a Toy Story 4 (though I hope they quit while they’re ahead), but the way they got there was storytelling at its best, with unpredictable twists and turns and tribulations. Today’s action movies aren’t this enthralling, folks. Suck on that, Vin Diesel.
Anyway, it wasn’t just the plot that was entertaining. As my Dad pointed out, Disney/Pixar thinks of EVERYTHING. When they animate Woody climbing up a bathroom stall to escape the daycare, they include him tripping on the toilet paper and almost losing his hat and all of these little slapstick-comedic details that are just so much funnier when they happen to a floppy little doll. I think my favorite part of the whole movie, however, was when Potato Head threw all of his attachments out of a tiny opening (that his body itself couldn’t fit through) and the little parts re-attached to a tortilla so that he could “walk around” without his body. And then the tortilla fell apart because a bird started eating it. GOD. WHO WRITES THIS STUFF? I love it.
On top of all this detail, the D/P peeps managed to convey a few deep messages without getting all preachy, which I alluded to before. Number one: Don’t throw away anything, ever. All of your trash goes into a scary, fire-breathing landfill and ruins the earth forever. Two: Play with your toys. They need it, obviously. Three: When you donate, do it the right way. Give to people who really need it. And four: It’s totally okay to cry at a kids’ movie. Just be discreet.