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Movie Review: Toy Story 3

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The past few weeks have been a celebratory time at my house. We revisited the first two installments of Toy Story and fell in love with the characters all over again. Then my daughters took me to Toy Story 3 on Father’s Day. We had a great time.

And I highly recommend that one watch all three movies back to back to back. Together, they form a near perfect story arc. They are the best feel-good movies of our times while also being painfully sad. They are our It’s a Wonderful Life.

We watch as Andy ages from a child having birthday parties at Pizza Planet (I remember those days) to a preteen going away to camp, his toys left behind on a shelf. In the latest, Andy is a young man going away to college, packing his toys away in boxes and garbage bags.

The trilogy is also about the growth of Pixar. I remember how amazingly eye-popping Andy’s world looked to me back in 1995 and how much more densely detailed it looked in 1999 for the sequel. But re-watching them made them look so charmingly quaint.

Toy Story 3 looks to my 2010 eyes like something truly state of the art. The backgrounds have the same depth and detail as last year’s Avatar only with greater wit. I can’t wait to see what Pixar will be doing in 2020. Will Andy have kids and his kids have toys of their own?

There is a poignant scene in Toy Story 3 that brought a tear to my eye as I glanced over at my 18-year-old daughter sitting beside me. Andy is leaving for college and his room has been stripped of his belongings. His mother walks into the room, eyes moist, and looking lost.

I remembered when I moved out of the house and my mother fell apart in the carport as I loaded the last box into the back seat of my Toyota Corolla. It made me realize how soon I’ll be fighting back tears as my daughters move on. And then I realized what the story’s toys represent – to me.

The toys are us. They are like parents watching their kids grow up. They go from feeling central to the lives of their little ones to feeling almost superfluous. They are stuck in a time past while their children change with the times from one day to the next. I often feel like a vinyl guy trying to keep up with my daughters in these MP3 times.

The final scene of Toy Story 3 is absolutely beautiful and a perfectly fitting and inevitable ending to the saga of Andy, Woody, and Buzz. It almost – but not quite – made me want to adopt a baby, even if it would mean diapers all over again.

I do have one negative comment. I’m growing weary of this 3-D craze. The glasses are uncomfortable, the picture isn’t as bright as it should be, and there always seems to be a smudge on the lens no matter how many times I try to wipe it away.

Have you ever held up your hands to your face to shield your eyes from the sun to peer through them as if looking through a tunnel? You can see what is straight ahead, but you lose that sense of expansiveness gained from peripheral vision. That’s how I feel while watching a movie through 3-D glasses.

Toy Story 3 is rated G. It’s great for all ages.

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