1995’s Toy Story and its sequel four years later both set a high standard in animated comedy that appealed to both adults and children. The story of a group of toys that come alive when their young owner, Andy, isn’t in the room, Toy Story captured the hearts of more than one generation, while the lead characters of Andy’s much loved Woody the cowboy doll (voiced by Hanks), and newer toy, space hero Buzz Lightyear (Allen) became recognised and loved the world over.
It must have been daunting – even for those very clever chaps at Pixar Animation – to revisit such classic characters more than a decade on for a third film, now that the techniques they used in the first movie that so wowed us have become mainstream, and young kids expect even more such as three-dimensional animation to keep them entertained.
Happily, Toy Story 3 succeeds both as entertainment for the whole family and as an impressive piece of 3D animation. The story begins as we learn that Andy is all grown up and off to college, and he has packed his toys away for good. That’s not so bad (life in the attic could be fun), except the box they are in is accidentally given to the Sunnyside Daycare centre, and Woody, Buzz, cowgirl Jessie and pals soon find the kids playgroup is run by pink despot Lotso Bear, who makes sure that our toy pals are not in the room with the kids who play lovingly with their toys, but instead are banished to the room where they are daubed in paint, pulled, twisted and tossed by kids on their way to earning their first ASBOs.
Darker than the previous two films, this may unsettle very young viewers when the toys are damaged, and when they band together to escape the daycare centre only to find themselves on a conveyor belt at a rubbish dump, linking hands as they look into a fiery incinerator pit of doom. There is lots of humour, of course (especially when Buzz’s language setting gets switched to Spanish, and the addition of a camp Ken doll, voiced by Keaton), but for grown-ups especially there’s a surprising amount of sadness too (no parent will be dry-eyed during the final scenes as Andy leaves home).
Is Toy Story 3 suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
As mentioned above, young (under-8s) viewers may find the scenes in the Caterpillar room of the daycare centre, where Woody and pals are pummelled, upsetting.
Lotso Bear will be scary for young viewers, as will the disfigured Big Baby doll.
The scene at the garbage dump/incinerator is surprisingly intense, and will upset young viewers.