I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched Toy Story 3 as a near preteen. I was head over heels in love with it! And after this rewatch, I can reassure y’all, it’s quite possibly one of the most overrated movies I have ever seen.
Toy Story 3 has been deemed a “modern-day classic” by many Pixar fans across the globe. It was nominated for best picture and best writing/adapted screenplay and won best animated feature at the Academy Awards. It has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.3 on IMDb, ranking in the top 250 movies of all-time. It also has a 4.1 on Letterboxd which is also quite praiseworthy especially for an animated children’s film. People clearly adore the hell out of Toy Story 3. Yet, the movie to me seems all too familiar and all too nostalgically reliant for me to be rooting with glee on the side of praise this time around for this beloved franchise. Maybe I’m a heartless psychopath, but Toy Story 3 isn’t anything remotely special from my point of view.
So here are the pros:
• Toy Story 3 works as a fun movie. I hate whenever it attempts to be anything more (except for the ending scene), but when it’s just trying to be something kids can have a blast with, I’m all for it.
• Toy Story 3’s theme of Selflessness VS Duty is a neat addition. It isn’t explored thoroughly but it’s most certainly present throughout the entire movie.
• Toy Story 3’s parallel to societal classes and social stigmas is a neat addition to the franchise as well. I felt like I was in 6th grade history class all over again.
• Some of the new characters are cute, I suppose. Hopefully, Toy Story 4 fleshes them out a little more.
• The animation/rendering for human characters finally doesn’t look disturbing.
• The ending and I don’t mean all that trash and fire, incinerator crap, I mean the last scene with Andy and Bonnie is phenomenal. This is BY FAR the best part about Toy Story 3. The ending is, dare I say, P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
• Oh yeah! And that My Neighbor Totoro cameo is nifty.
And here are the cons:
• Toy Story 3 is a light remake of Toy Story 2. Toy Story 3 retreads the exact same themes as its predecessor does and if you don’t believe me, here are the key foundations that both 2 and 3 explore: Andy will grow up to no longer play with his toys and toys can’t last forever. Here are some other moments that also make 3 seem all too familiar:
1) Lotso is a combination of Pete and Jessie’s character. Lotso is a villain who feels like he can never be loved by an owner just like Pete. Lotso was replaced and abandoned by his old owner just like Jessie. Lotso tricks the toys into thinking that he is sending them off to a caring place just like Pete did to Woody. Lotso at the end of the movie gets picked up by an uncaring owner similar to how Pete’s fate commenced. Am I just crazy or is the praise surrounding Lotso’s character completely undeserved?
2) Throw in a starting conflict where one or more main characters go into a box/bag where they aren’t supposed to be in to ultimately be taken somewhere that isn’t Andy’s house. Throw in another reset Buzz Lightyear who thinks he’s a space ranger. Throw in an *insert ever plot point about Lotso.* Throw in a finale where the toys are trying to get one another off of an automated track. Yep.
3) A basketfull of people often highlight the prison break element in Toy Story 3 as something that makes it stand on its own compared to the first two. But wait, isn’t Toy Story 1’s third act about Buzz and Woody creating a plan to sneak out of Sid’s room (AKA, the prison) with a group of toys as well? Yeah, I guess everybody sort of forgot about that.
• Toy Story 3’s sense of location sucks. You’d think with better animation the filmmakers would use this newly endeavored freedom to their advantage to create some fresh, new locations. But nope. We essentially just go to four different locations in this entire film: Andy’s house, Bonnie’s house, a daycare, and a dump. Fun.
• Toy Story 3 is littered with plot conveniences. I’m not going to deny that 1 and 2 don’t have them, but 3 has a RIDICULOUS amount of them. Examples:
1) Andy puts toys in a trash bag even though his mom clearly told him to only put trash in the trash bag.
2) The attic randomly closes so that it looks like the trash bag wasn’t going in the attic.
3) Woody gets out of and into the daycare easy peasy, yet, Lotso claims security has always been a priority at the daycare (he does say that they doubled on guards when Woody escaped, sure, but they said that they still had some before including the Monkey. Woody openly escaped in plain sight as well, so I don’t see why he wasn’t caught).
4) One of the alien toys gets stuck in the garbage-can lids so that Woody can come over and help him/her out only to be grabbed and pulled down by Lotso.
5) Jesse gets stuck between some trash so that Buzz can come over and save her only to get hit on the head with a giant TV so that he can gain his memory back.
6) Lotso gets found and picked up by a crazy new owner just so that the bad guy doesn’t have to win in the end, etc., etc., etc. I know I’m analyzing a freakin’ kid’s movie to the bone, but I don’t think children’s films can simply get a pass for lazy writing just because it’s a children’s film. And Pixar has also proven themselves to be creators of MORE than just “children’s films,” so I have higher expectations when it comes to their projects.
• The incinerator scene (the scene many consider to be the best moment of Toy Story 3) is what I like to call “The Writer’s Fake Emotion.” This is when a writer or multiple writers present a devastating means to an end but then quickly revolt back to the story’s previous moments of hope in an unjustifiable manner. First off, it’s so out of Woody’s character to just give up especially during a time like this. Second off, the alien toys saving the gang with the claw is a prime example of shiftless writing. They managed to cram even more nostalgia into the supposedly most pivotal moment of the film while also smashing in a random solution to a crazy situation. Great. The scene would’ve been much more genuine if Woody had just not given up, or at the very least he gives up but then decides to find a way to solve the issue because he knows he can’t let his friends die and that there’s an owner (AKA, Bonnie) who can still love them all. Either that or they all should’ve died, but I’m guessing nobody including myself would’ve personally been happy with that. The claw part is a pure example of cheaply subverting an audience’s expectations or inserting in an unearned resolution. It’s a poor way to play/trick with the fan’s nostalgic emotions. It puts us in a submissive place and then completely flips it on us and reverts from going full in on something fairly risky to the story. The writers were basically like, “Let’s psyche our audience out by using their connection to these characters by having them almost die but then unreasonably get saved out of nowhere! That should falsely play with their emotions and unconsciously win them over!” Neat-o!
In the storm of a mixed bag, however, I still think Toy Story 3 is at the very least “decent” and it’s significantly better than many other Pixar sequels out there. However, I believe as if the hype and the evocative factor has caused many fans to overlook the massive flaws of Toy Story 3. I’m certainly in the minority here, but as always, I can’t unambiguously sugar code my unfiltered thoughts to appeal to the majority, even if I did grow up loving these Toy Story movies most of my life. It doesn’t quite hold a candle to the first two in my book, and I will stand by that statement truthfully.
Don’t kill me by the way. But feel free to leave a comment on here about why I’m wrong. Or support me with kind words on why I’m right? I don’t know, this plead is probably just a sign of my insecure fears of being massacred for an opinion. Anyways, can’t wait to review Toy Story 4!
This Movie is a Part of My List: Ruining Your Childhood (Pixar Ranked)
“Toy Story 3” is now available to rent and buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and Starz.